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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wednesday Eats and Treats: Roasted Chicken Legs with Garlic and Potatoes

My kids love it when I oven-roast chicken legs. I usually just rub them with olive oil, sprinkle on some lemon pepper or whatever seasoning mix is handy, and shove them in the oven. This week, I went for a little more pizazz, and, boy, was it worth the effort. The bonus: your house will smell WONDERFUL while this is cooking!


Ingredients:
2 sticks butter
5 pounds chicken drumsticks
8 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks or 1/4-inch thick rounds
8 tablespoons jarred minced garlic - this is the key ingredient. Don't skimp here!
One lemon, sliced into 1/8-inch rounds (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the butter in a large roasting pan and melt in the oven. Swirl melted butter to coat the bottom of the pan. Place drumsticks in the pan, and then add potatoes. Spread garlic over chicken and potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir chicken and potatoes to evenly coat them with butter and garlic. Top with lemon slices, if desired.
  3. Bake about 40 minutes -- until chicken is no longer pink inside and juices run clear. Baste 3 times with pan drippings.
  4. If needed, return to oven and bake until chicken and potatoes are tender and browned (up to 20 more minutes -- meat thermometer should read 165 degrees).  To serve, pour pan drippings and garlic over chicken and potatoes. 

I served this with broccoli and hot rolls.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Musings: Weeks 42 and 43 Spending Reports

Week 42 Spending (Oct. 13-19)
Groceries  
$200
Miscellaneous
$7
Clothing
$15
Toiletries
$13
Total  
$235

Week 43 Spending (Oct. 20-26)
Groceries  
$35
Entertainment
$8
Miscellaneous
$70
Toiletries
$5
Total  
$118

I have 9 more weeks left of my spending challenge – 8 weeks until Christmas. This year has flown by unbelievably fast. I plan to cut off my spending record for week 44 on Friday so that makes accounting for monthly expenses a little easier. In the days ahead, Syd and I need to determine how we plan to meet the spending challenge and approach Christmas giving. I had wanted to do homemade gifts for everyone. I did get a few of them done, but not for everyone. I don’t think there is time between now and December 25th to get that many items made, especially since some of the ones I’ve already started are in various stages of, shall I say, “development.” This is going to be a real dilemma.


We've been needing a new vehicle for a while, and I really worried the kids one day when I stopped at one of those roadside car lots on Highway 82 to look at a turquoise Town N' Country Wagon, circa 1975.
I envisioned "flower power" stickers meandering along the sides of the wagon with vinyl letters announcing "The Newman Family" kind of like on this adorable Beetle.
I was enamored until I discovered the wagon had been used as a hearse and had no second seat, let alone a third seat. 


The deal was off, but I do have some exciting news. On October 13th, Syd and I travelled to Dallas and were able to pay cash for a Suburban! Now, you must understand that this isn’t the 2015 Suburban that comes in at a cool $48,000. This is a new-to-us version, that has a few years and a few miles on it, but it still has a lot of life left in it. Relieved to be traveling in a "normal" car, the kids are loving the spaciousness -- this baby seats 9 people. We’ve used it to travel to church, but the true test will be an 800-mile roundtrip to San Antonio we plan to make soon. (I wonder how those flowers would look on the Suburban? Hmmm...)


Things around the home front are getting a little better. On Tuesday I went to get a massage for my achy neck and shoulders. Afterwards, I had some time to spare, so I wandered over to the Carter Blood Care donation center and prepared to give them a pint of my rare and much-desired O-negative blood. I completed all of the mini-physical, but when it came time to test my iron level, it came back at a very low 7.8. (Normal for women is 12.0-15.5.) The phlebotomist freaked out, refused to let me leave, called the medical director, and made me talk with him. Once we determined I wasn’t at death’s door, I was sent away with 2 pints of orange juice and orders to get iron supplements. Since then, I have been eating a diet of iron-rich foods (including my favorite: steak) and taking lots of iron. This plan is to continue over the next 4 weeks, and then I get another blood test to determine my progress. I’ve also been told to get extra rest, which isn’t the easiest thing for me to do. I have been pretty tired, so I’m trying to get myself on a somewhat “normal” sleep schedule.

So, it’s 10:47 p.m. on Sunday night, and rather than spending hours delving into the deeper meaning of rest in a spiritual sense and my need for it, I am going to go to bed. Yes – bed before 11 p.m. That’s practically unheard of in my life, unless a major dose of antihistamines is involved! Sweet dreams, everyone.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday Eats and Treats: Southwestern Beef and Rice

Southwestern Beef and Rice
This began  as a simple skillet meal. Rather than cooking rice with the other ingredients, I prefer to cook my rice separately, ladle the beef mixture over the rice, and top with cheese, picadillo, or peppers. Any extra quantity can be frozen.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients
2 pounds extra-lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 10 ounce can Rotel diced tomatoes and green chiles
2 cups frozen or canned corn
2 cups frozen or canned green beans (or rinsed black beans)
---
6 cups of cooked white rice (Begin with 2 cups uncooked rice.)
---
Toppings, as desired
Shredded cheddar cheese
Picante sauce
Pico de gallo
Sliced jalapenos
Sour cream

Directions:


  1. Cook rice in saucepan.
  2. While rice is cooking, in a large skillet, brown ground beef and onion with chili powder and   cumin. 
  3. Add tomatoes, corn and beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. If you want an all-in-one skillet meal, you can stir in the rice, top with 2 cups of cheddar cheese, and cover the skillet. Let stand for 5 minutes until cheese is melted.
  5. I prefer to dish up the rice on plates, ladle the meat mixture over the rice, and let everyone use the toppings of his or her choice.
  6. Serve with chips or flour tortillas.
  7. Leftovers make great lunches or can be frozen.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Harvest Spiced Envelopes

I hit a great sale on Puff Pastry, so I bought several boxes. This recipe makes a delicious fruit-based snack or dessert. The filling is delicious, and I'm sure you could use it along with your favorite biscuit recipe to make an equally pleasing dessert.


Harvest Spiced Envelopes

PREP: 20 MINUTES           BAKE: 15 MINUTES          SERVES: 24

INGREDIENTS
1 orange
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Gala apples, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
1 cup fresh cranberry
Salt
3 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pistachios, toasted
All-purpose flour
1 pkg. (17.3 ounces) Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
1 1/4 cups white chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS
 1.  Heat the oven to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Finely grate 2 teaspoons zest from the orange.

2.  Heat the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apples and cranberries and cook for 6 minutes or until the apples are tender-crisp, stirring occasionally. Season with the salt. Stir in the sugar and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute. Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the walnuts and orange zest. Let the mixture cool for 30 minutes.

3.  Sprinkle the flour on the work surface. Unfold 1 pastry sheet on the work surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a 12-inch square. Cut the pastry into 12 (4x3-inch) rectangles. Repeat with the remaining pastry sheet.

4.  Place about 1 1/2 teaspoons white chocolate chips in the center of each pastry rectangle. Top each with about 1 tablespoon apple mixture. Brush two opposite corners of each pastry with water. Pull one corner up over the filling. Pull the opposite corner up over the filling and tuck it
 under the pastry, enclosing most of the filling but leaving the ends open. Place the filled pastries on the baking sheets.

5.  Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Let the pastries cool on the baking
sheets on wire racks for 10 minutes.

6.  Recipe Note: Parchment paper keeps the pastry from sticking to the baking sheet and also makes for easier cleanup. If you don't have parchment paper, you can spray the baking sheet with cooking spray instead. However, cooking spray may cause the bottoms of the pastries to brown more quickly, so begin checking for doneness 5 minutes early.

7,  Heat the remaining white chocolate chips in a double boiler until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally. Drizzle the white chocolate over the pastries.

Flavor Variation: To serve these pastries as a gourmet appetizer, omit the white chocolate and substitute 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced, for the apples.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Pepperidge Farms. You can access the original recipe here.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Monday Musings: Week 41 Spending Report


Week 41 Spending (Oct. 6-12, 2014)
Groceries  
$173
Entertainment
$19
Miscellaneous
$21
Clothing
$28
Toiletries
$22
Household
$15
School
$7
Total  
$285

It’s been a rough week – a really rough week. I had several situations spinning out of control, and it seemed as if it was too much to bear. No, actually, it was too much to bear. Multiple attacks on multiple fronts – some of them were predictable, but others came out of nowhere. One, at least on the surface, has been resolved, but others will take a long time to play out.

I’m normally one of those “the glass is half-full types” – I really do try to see the good in things and situations and people. But this week, my glass was empty – bone dry, in fact. I thought I’d write about how the incidents have impacted my life and what I’ve learned from them. But I can’t – not yet – maybe not ever.


So this week’s post is short and certainly not “surprisingly upbeat.” Hopefully, and prayerfully, things will work themselves out. In the mean time, I covet your prayers.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wednesday Eats and Treats: Crock Pot Chicken with Cream Cheese, Corn, and Black Beans

 

My family loves this chicken recipe because it tastes great. I love it because it is quick and easy. It’s the perfect meal for those late nights when we have basketball practice.

Serves: 8
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours

INGREDIENTS
8 boneless chicken breasts
2 (15 1/2 ounce) cans black beans
2 (15-ounce) cans corn
2 (15-ounce) jars of any flavor of salsa
2 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese

----------------------------------------------------------
DIRECTIONS
1.         Put frozen, boneless chicken breasts into crock pot.

2.         Add black beans, drained, salsa, and drained corn.

3.         Cook  on high in crock pot for 4-5 hours or until chicken is cooked.

4.         Add packages of cream cheese on top and let it sit for about 1/2 hour.

5.         Can be served over rice or as a filling for tacos.

6.         Serve with salad or guacamole and chips.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Monday Musings: Weeks 39 & 40 and September Spending Report


Week 39 Spending (September 22-30)
Groceries  
$81
Gifts
$56
Miscellaneous
$35
Toiletries
$7
Cash
$20
Total  
$199

Week 40 Spending (Oct. 1-5)
Groceries  
$122
Entertainment
$23
Miscellaneous
$27
Clothing
$15
Toiletries
$31
Piano Lessons
$25
Cash
$20
Total  
$263

September Spending Report

Category
Spent
Budgeted 
Savings
Groceries
$369
$700
$331
Miscellaneous
$76
$120        
$44
School
$16
$50
$34
Entertainment
$138
$75
(-$63)
Toiletries
$70
$50
(-$20)
Piano Lessons
$20
$80
$60
Clothing
$35
$60
$25
Gifts
$122
$75
(-$47)
Hair Care
$0
$30
$30
Benevolence
$36
$35
(-$1)
Discretionary Cash
$20
$25
$5
Total  
$902
$1300
$398
That $398 total savings represents 31% of my monthly budget for September. This money will be added to our emergency fund.

It’s 3:10 in the morning, and I need to get some shut-eye so I’m not falling asleep on my friend at our coffee date which commences in less than 6 hours.


That’s all for now. I’ll try to get a 3rd quarter report done and post it, along with some deep thoughts, on Friday.