Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Finally Finished

I finished Gone with mixed feelings.  I thought the second half of the book was very exciting.  The book took so long to get going though, and I really thought the kids were portrayed as being very "stupid."  All the adults are gone, and it takes them four or five days to think about checking the houses for infants that might be helpless???  The entire first third of the book is about finding Astrid's autistic brother, and it doesn't occur to them that there may be others that need assistance.  Also, how long would it take most 12 to 15-year-olds to try to drive a car?  Most teenagers I know would have been hopping in all those cars within hours, not fearfully, after days of contemplation.  I just thought that the teenagers behaved, especially at the beginning of the book, like seven-year-olds.

I'm getting ready to start The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  This one has been on my list for a long time, and my daughter just finished it and said, "Mom, you have to read this, you will really like it!"  So, I will.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bean soup last night

I made North Woods Bean Soup last night from my Cooking Light cookbook.  None of my family liked it much except me.  I think it was the spinach -- maybe a bit too much.  I got to use one of my new Christmas presents -- an immersion blender -- to partially puree the soup.  What a great tool!  My kids are excited to make smoothies with it.  I served the soup with a simple salad -- grape tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, and parmesan cheese with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  Tried the asiago cheese bread from Walmart -- very yummy, but probably not very healthy.  Everyone said it was the best part of the meal.  Thanks a bunch for that. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A festive drink

I know I usually talk about what we cooked, but the other night we were wishing for a festive after-dinner drink.  I made these B52s and thought they turned out pretty good.  I need some practice getting the liquids to stay separate.  They are made with Kahlua, Baileys, and Grand Marnier and tasted good! (These are SHOT glasses even though they look bigger in the picture.)

I'm also including a family Christmas picture -- BF included (after over 5 years, he is pretty much family!)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dinner and a Gingerbread Competition

My daughter made Rachel Ray's You Won't Be Single for Long Pasta last night for dinner.  This is another recipe that we make over and over.  Everyone loves it, except my husband, who eats it, but it's not his favorite.  There's vodka in the sauce, and even though people say it doesn't have much flavor, it does something wonderful to the tomato sauce.

I'm not posting a picture of the pasta, because after dinner the kids and their "significant others" had a gingerbread house decorating competition.  It was a lot of fun.  I was the judge -- but my daughter and her boyfriend pretty much capitulated to her brother and his girlfriend when they became so detail oriented that they were making shutters for the windows.  Both houses turned out really cute, and both had very creative detailing.  The best part was all the laughter coming from that room . . .

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Caramel Roll Tradition

My annual holiday specialty is Caramel Rolls.  I have made them for several years from a recipe I adapted from a couple of cookbooks.  I make them in the bread machine and I use this same dough for dinner rolls and even pizza crust (we like thick and chewy pizza crust like Papa Del's in Champaign!)  I freely share the recipe with everyone, but all my family and friends still wait for me to make them and give them away.  I did change the recipe a bit this year -- I use part whole wheat flour now, and I use 1/4 cup of Splenda Blend instead of 1/2 cup of sugar.  I still wouldn't call this a "healthy" recipe, but I do what I can.

Carmel rolls in the bread machine

This is for the big size bread machine. Cut in half if you have a small machine. This makes 2 dozen rolls.

2 tsp (scant) yeast powder
2 1/2 cups white flour
2 cups wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar (or 1/4 cup Splenda Blend)
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup shortening (I use butter flavor crisco)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk (I warm the water and milk a little in the microwave)

Set bread machine for dough mode - you don't want it to bake.

When dough is ready (I let it rise in the bread machine), make the caramel sauce.  In a saucepan combine:

1/2 cup margarine or butter (DON’T use crisco this time!)
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp dark Karo Syrup

Bring to boil for about 1 minute.
Pour into two layer cake pans or pie pans. Sprinkle with pecans.

Split dough in half. Roll into rectangle. Spread with margarine, and sprinkle with LOTS of sugar and cinnamon. Roll up and slice into 12 pieces. Place on top of sauce in the pan. Let rise in warm place.

Bake until brown (for about 17 minutes) in a 350 degree oven. Let cool a little. Turn out onto plate.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

My latest creation

I made these candy cane ornaments for my friends and family.  I think they turned out really cute and were fun to make.  Pattern from Embroidery Library that I bought a couple of years ago and never stitched out.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

New Book

I finished Airhead.  It was OK, but kind of crazy, in a Freaky Friday sort of way.  Also, leaves a lot of loose ends for the sequal to resolve.  I really don't appreciate that.  Not nearly as good as the Princess Diaries.

The next book is  Gone by Michael Grant.  No adults, no technology.  Just children are left.  What's gonna happen?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Another repeat recipe . . .

Last night I made Rachel Ray's Linguini with White Clam Sauce, a recipe I have made many times.  It's quick and easy and I really like it.  I use whole wheat pasta of course, and prefer the angel hair.  It is a juicy sauce, not thick and creamy and it's healthy!  It isn't my husband's favorite (he wants a more saucy pasta) but he eats it.  I always keep these ingredients on hand, so I can make this any time I'm in a rush.  I omit the lemon juice -- I know that is "classic" with seafood, but I don't like the tang it gives (which is what everyone else likes, I guess.)  Also, even if you don't like anchovies, DON'T leave them out -- they add great flavor, and they melt into the sauce, so it's not like you have chunks of anchovies.  Trust me.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This Year's Christmas Tree

We always have a real Christmas Tree.  My family owns a Christmas Tree farm, so I would meet resistance if I didn't.  Which makes every tree look different, even if I use the same decorations.  I've got to tell you from YEARS of experience -- any tree will look GREAT if you put enough lights on it.  This tree, which stands around 9 feet tall, and is pretty sparse, has 10 strings of lights on it.  It's hard to tell from the picture, but it is positively AGLOW.  It takes a long time to put the lights on it, because I try to wrap each branch from the inside out. 

The past several years, I've chosen a pre-cut tree (not grown on our farm because balsams don't grow this far south.)  This year, I went back to a freshly cut tree.  I was all by myself -- kids too busy for this anymore -- and my husband cut it down for me (and of course, Mollie the dog was there.)  It's a special tree for several reasons -- my father-in-law trimmed this tree at some point -- probably more than once.  My husband sprayed and mowed around this tree every year.  My sister-in-law helped bail it and she and I carried it to the truck.  I put it up ALL BY MYSELF.  So it is truly a family tree.  Also, it's really TWO trees!  It has a nice shape, but the trunk splits about a foot from the bottom, so it has two trunks.  It is a tree that probably no one would have purchased, so I "rescued" a tree from eventually becoming a wreath or some other horrible destiny!

It's fun to flip back through the pictures of past Christmases, and see all the different trees.  No one can ever decide which one is the prettiest, because they are all beautiful, even though they are different.

A New Book - Already!

Part-Time Indian was a very quick read.  Actually finished it Friday, but haven't had time to post.  It's an entertaining story about an American Indian who leaves the rez to go to an all-white school, so he can better himself.  A quick look at life on the reservation and the hardships that are faced.  The main character actually is eventually accepted by the kids at the white school, so that sends a hopeful message, in this day when we hear so much about how pervasive bullying is in schools.

Now I'm on to Airhead by Meg Cabot.  I understand that this book has a far-fetched plot (brain transplants) by I trust Meg Cabot to make it work.  The awkward, unattractive, unpopular girl ends up in the body of a supermodel.  This book is also the "first in a series," so that always makes me worry.  As long as there is an ENDING to this book that's OK.  I don't like one book, one plot, that is chopped into three pieces.  I read so much and try to choose a variety, that I very rarely read past the first book in a series.  Exceptions:  Harry Potter, Twilight, and Luxe.  I'll let you know what I think of this one.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Book

I'm now reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.  I know it's not a new book, but it has taken me a while to get to it. It was a National Book Award winner, so it's been popular.

I really liked The Season.  I would recommend it to fans of the Luxe series, but others also.  This book has more of a mystery associated with it, although it takes a while for the mystery part to get going.

Christmas Sewing

I purchased this pattern from Embroidery Library.  It's called "embossed embroidery."  I've always been a fan of tone-on-tone embroidery, and I really like this.  The pattern suggests that you embroider on fleece or terry cloth.  I think sweatshirts would look good too.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Illini Football

Had a great time yesterday at the Illini Football game.  It was COLD -- around 30 degrees -- but it was sunny, and that helped a lot.  We witnessed the highest scoring game ever played at Memorial Stadium -- Illini lost 53 to 52.  It was the most unusual and exciting ending to a game I've ever seen.  You should read about it, if you are interested.

I made some snacks for after the game.  I made chocolate chip banana bread and Mary Alice's (from Ace of Cakes) Hoagie Dip.  We all liked this recipe a lot, even my son who is kind of a meat and potatoes kid.  Said he doesn't like some of the stuff that was in there, but liked the combination.  He's always willing to try new things, which I give him credit for, and because of that he's beginning to expand his tastes a bit.

I served the dip with slices of french bread.  I don't like to put dip in bread bowls, because then if you have leftovers you pretty much have to throw them away.

Began a new book

I really liked The Lost Symbol. I thought it was very exciting -- a page turner.  I just didn't care for the last 50 pages, after the climax of the book, that seemed to go on and on.  I thought it was kind of preachy.  As with all of Dan Brown's books, now I want to visit the setting (in this case Washington D.C., where I've been probably 8 times) and go to all of the places he talks about.

I've started The Season, by Sarah MacLean.  I thought it sounded like the Luxe series, which I loved.  Takes place in the 1850s and is about three girls who are experiencing their "coming out" season.  I'll let you know.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Spaghetti Soup!!

You probably have discovered my interest in soup.  Well, last night I made what I call Spaghetti Soup.  Basically, I made spaghetti sauce and thinned it with beef broth and added some pasta.  Yummy!  Here's the recipe:

Saute 1 onion, 2 carrots, 2 stalks celery in olive oil until tender.  Add 4 oz. mushrooms.  After the mushrooms are tender, add one pound hamburger and cook until browned. Add one can petite diced tomatoes, and one jar of spaghetti sauce.  (I used garlic spaghetti sauce, otherwise I would have sauted some garlic with the other veggies.)  I like to add a tablespoon of sugar.  Add 3 cups of beef broth and bring to a boil.  About 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, add two cups of pasta (I used tri-color rotini, because I didn't have any whole wheat pasta on hand.)  Serve with parmesan cheese.  You can adjust the amount of broth according to how soupy you want your soup!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Ornaments

I stitched out these ornaments, from a package from Embroidery Library, this weekend.  Not sure I'm happy with them -- they stitched nicely, but I can't get them to stay spread apart.  They are stitched in three pieces and then slid together.  It takes 1 1/2 hours to stitch each one, so it's rather time-consuming too.  Looking for something to make for gifts and I'm not sure this is it, but they do look pretty.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A sewing day

Been in the mood to sit at the sewing machine.  I finished a new purse today (bags and purses are my favorite things to make.)  It's from McCall's pattern 4936.  I made it from scraps, so I only purchased a zipper and the little "feet" for the bottom -- a new purse, for about $5!   I'm pretty happy with it, but havn't really used it yet, so we'll see.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What I'm Reading

Liar is highly recommended.  I will be thinking about this book for a long time.  Can't wait to discuss it with someone who has read it -- I'm going to start recommending it to my teens!

Now I've chosen The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown.  Lots written about this book -- no need I say more.  The reason I'm reading it NOW is because I made it to the top of the list at the library -- there are over 300 holds on this book, so I need to read FAST.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Soup Week

We love soup.  And I really like to try new soup recipes.  On Friday, I made Chipotle Chicken and Tomato Soup from my new Cooking Light  cookbook (Pictured here).  Go easy on the Chipotle in Adobo -- they are really hot!

On Saturday, the kids were home, with their "significant others," so I made two soups because my son doesn't like sea food.  I made Crab Bisque (my own recipe) and Broccoli Cheddar Cheese from my Is it Soup Yet? cookbook.  First time I tried this one -- a very basic, simple recipe.  Both soups were a big hit.

Last night (Tuesday) I tried a recipe for Beef-Barley Soup from Cooking Light that I've had my eye on for a while.  It turned out very tasty.  I used lean stew meat, chopped really small.  I also left out the bay leaf and put in some oregano and parsley.  I added more barley that it called for, but still didn't seem like enough.  (I also added about a cup extra of beef broth.)

I recommend all of these!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Breakfast for Dinner

We like to have "breakfast for dinner" once in a while.  Not very healthy-we had scrambled eggs with bacon and cheese in them, and hash brown potatoes.  But we also had waffles made with my Whole-Grain Waffle Mix from Taste of Home.  I always mix this and keep it in the refrigerator and use it for pancakes and waffles.  We think they have a really good taste -- they are more than just a platter for syrup!  By the way, we use homemade syrup  -- 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 tsp. maple flavor.  If you can't get real maple syrup, this is much better than the bought stuff made with corn syrup.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving stitching

I bought this design from Embroidery Library and decided to make myself a t-shirt for the festivities this week.

A sad time . . .

Our 2 1/2 year old dog, Oscar, was hit by a car and killed on Friday.  What a shock it is, and how weird it feels to not have that warm body around.  It was his own fault -- he was a great dog and always minded -- unless a bunny was in site, and then he couldn't resist.  He took off in the dark and was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He was a stinker sometimes, but we loved him.  His best bud, our 3-year-old shepherd has been wandering around confused for the past few days.  She will have the biggest adjustment to make.  I'm posting a couple of the last pictures that were taken of Oscar, last weekend when we were camping. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Next read . . .

The Summer I Turned Pretty was good.  I think teens would like it better than I did.  I was confused by how it keeps jumping back in time (you have to notice the chapter headings) but that might just be me. Some of the characters (Taylor) were not very well developed.  The ending is somewhat predictable, but satisfying.

Now I'm reading Liar by Justine Larbalestier, which is about a compulsive liar (duh.)  I love the cover.  Just recently learned that she's married to Scott Westerfeld.  What a team!  I'll keep you posted . . .

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Time for a new book .. .

The Knife of Never Letting Go gets a mixed review.  First of all, it took me about 150 pages to really get interested.  Secondly, it is the first in a series, and it's one of those series that require to you read all the books.  This story doesn't end.  There is no resolution of conflict.  Fortunately the second book is already out, but I'm so mad that I might not read it JUST FOR SPITE!  The book becomes very exciting, with the main characters narrowly escaping death over and over again.  Great for those reluctant readers, but a bit unbelievable for me.  So, yes it was exciting and eventually kept me captivated.  But more appropriate for the younger crowd.

Next on the list is The Summer I Turned Pretty, by Jenny Han.  She also wrote Shug, which I haven't read but heard is good.  Sounds like a heartwarming, feel-good read, and I'm looking forward to that.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Last Night's Dinner

I made Shrimp Pad Thai, a Cooking Light recipe.  I have several recipes for Asian shrimp with a nutty noodle sauce, and this was a good one.  First time I used Sriracha (hot chile sauce) and of course my husband had to add a bunch more to his portion.  Some other recipes I have tried call for match stick carrots, and I think that would have been good in this recipe too.  I used whole wheat angel hair spaghetti, but didn't have any "low-sodium" teriyaki sauce, so I used the regular.  As I was cooking the peas, I thought it got kind of dry, so I added about 1/2 cup of chicken broth.  I recommend you give this a try!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Sewing Project . . . Finally!

Got the sewing machine back, finally.  Here's my first project.  It's from an Embroidery Library pattern, that I bought for 50 cents on sale!  I thought these earrings turned out pretty cute.  I bought a ghost pattern too, but didn't get the machine in time to make those.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Beef and Vegetable Potpie from the new cookbook

Here's a link to the recipe. It was a good hearty meal, easy to make, with lots of vegetables but needed SALT!  The herbs just aren't enough for us.  Even though it has worcestershire sauce, that still didn't add enough salt.  It's an attractive dish, but I think I might also brush the top with melted butter or margarine after it comes out of the oven.  Served it with a green salad made with fresh spinach out of Mom's garden.  Made an apple crisp using apples from the farm too.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Latest read

Little Brother  was the best book I've read recently.  It was a little bit far-fetched, but the technology and security discussed and the history of those issues kept me rapt.  I would highly recommend this book to any gamers or geek kids out there.  The book will keep me thinking for a while, and I like that in a book.  There are two afterwords that add to the sinister feeling.  Very "Orwellian."  I need someone to read this so we can talk about it.  I gave it to my husband; I think he will like it.

Next on my list is The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.  Might be a good complement to Little Brother, since it's about a society where everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts.  No privacy whatsoever.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Love a new cookbook

I picked up a new cookbook at our school book fair.  Cooking Light The Essential Dinner Tonight Cookbook: Over 350 delicious, easy, and healthy meals.  It is arranged into two sections -- weeknight dinners and weekend meals.  The weeknight section is divided by soup, poultry, fish, meat, etc.  Each page contains the main entry and a picture (yeah!) and directions for a simple side dish on the side of the page.  I marked a bunch of pages, and now I need to cook!

Update:  Going to pick up my sewing machine tonight -- so hopefully I'll be posting some sewing projects soon!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The latest novel . . .

Burn My Heart  was a really good book about a period of history I knew nothing about.  It was somewhat painful to read about the oppression of the people of Kenya in the 50s and 60s.

I've begun Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow.  It's a book about a teenager's fight to conquer a government out of control after a terrorist attack.  I think it is sort of a modern-day 1984.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sunday dinner . . .

One of my husband's favorite Campbell's soups is "Bean and Bacon."  I made homemade Bean and Bacon Chowder from a cookbook I have called "Is It Soup Yet?" by Dot Vartan, Among Friends, and Shelly Reeves Smith.  It called for canned potatoes which get puréed for thickening -- I just boiled a few potatoes -- I've never used canned potatoes, and predict that I never will.  I also used chunks of ham instead of the hot dogs the recipe called for.  It was a winner.

To go with it I made Absolute Mexican Cornbread which is my new favorite cornbread recipe.  Try it!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What I'm reading . . .

Finished Swim the Fly and it was quick -- and laugh-out-loud funny!  Really enjoyed it.

The next on the list is Burn My Heart by Beverly Naidoo.  About race relations in Kenya in the 1950s, from the perspective of two teenage boys.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fun in the kitchen . . .

I had fun this weekend cooking.  On Sunday I made chili -- I won't give you the recipe, because I make it different every time, but my secret "standard" ingredient is chunky salsa.  I like the Mexican "zing" it gives the chili.

I wanted to make a caramel apple pie -- with apples I picked from the farm on Sunday!  All the recipes I found were for double crust pies, which I don't care for.  So, I melted some caramel (about 1/2 a bag) or you could use caramel sauce.  I poured a layer of caramel in the bottom of the crust before I put the apples in.  Then, I made the usual French apple crumb topping (1 cup flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 cup cold butter).  I drizzled the rest of the caramel on top of the crumb topping.  It was YUMMY!

Also got the bread machine out, to practice making rolls for the holidays.  I make dinner rolls, caramel rolls, and use the same recipe for pizza crust!  But, I wanted to try it with some whole wheat flour and Splenda.  The dinner rolls I made were delicious -- not much different than the originals, so I'm happy with that.  Tonight I'm making pizza with the other half of the dough.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What I'm Reading Now . . .

I finished Finding Nouf and liked it.  It is a murder mystery, and I didn't figure out who did it before the end, so that's always a positive.  I learned a lot about the Muslim religion and beliefs and still find it hard to believe that the women tolerate such a life.  Not only the segregation and having to wear the burqa, but the fact that, if you are rich and have servants, you sit around all day and do nothing.  You always end up fat, and it would seem to be also a very unhealthy existence.  A really enlightening look at that culture.

I've decided on something lighter this time.  Swim the Fly by Don Calame.  I read some positive reviews of this book before it was even published.   It's about some teenagers who make a summertime goal to see a real-live naked girl for the first time.  Sounds like a fun read -- and it looks like it will be a quick one too.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Here's how I make pork fried rice . . .

I have no idea if this is how the experts make it, but this is one of my husband's favorite meals.

Heat 1/4 cup oil in large skillet.  Add 4 cups cooked rice.  Fry the rice until it starts to brown.  Add 3 or 4 chopped green onions, 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 Tbsp. Wostershire sauce, 3Tbsp. soy sauce, hot sauce to taste, 2 cups of cut up cooked meat (I usually saute a few pork  chops).  Cook until onions are tender.  Crack three eggs in a bowl and scramble them.  Make a hole in the middle of the rice and pour the eggs into the skillet.  Just stir them into the rice as they cook.  You can add 1/2 cup slivered almonds.  Add 1 cup frozen peas and cook until heated through.  At the last minute add 1 Tbsp of sesame oil -- this is the absolutely essential secret ingredient!

Some people add carrots, green peppers, or other veggies too.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Last night's dinner . . .

I made Broiled Tilapia Parmesan, which was really good.  I also made Tomato Pea Couscous, which was in my Taste of Home Busy Family Cookbook.  The recipe link here is correct, but the recipe in the cookbook says 1/2 CUP of cumin, instead of 1/2 TEASPOON.  Don't worry, I didn't use 1/2 cup, but I did use more than 1/2 teaspoon!  It tasted OK, but this was my first experiment with couscous, and it was very dry.  It needed more moisture, so I wouldn't recommend this recipe.  I'm going to keep trying with the couscous, though.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Annual Weenie Roast

This past weekend we had the family weenie roast at my sister's house.  All the "grandkids" were there!  That never happens, so it was quite the occasion.  We roasted hot dogs on the bonfire and s'mores too.  I brought apples to slice and caramel and nuts to make caramel apples in a bowl.  It was a beautiful, sunny fall day and we enjoyed it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What I'm reading . . .

Sewing machine still hasn't returned, and I'm really antsy to sew.   Bought some new embroidery patterns ( gets me every time . . .) and I'm anxious to try them.  Some patterns are for halloween, so I hope the machine returns soon!

Anyway, I finished Isolation Ward and really enjoyed it.   I was in the mood for a suspense, and this one fit the bill.  It takes some interesting twists and turns, and there is some witty dialog that I enjoyed.  The main character is kind of a hot head and does some stupid things, which is frustrating, but adds to the story.  The book has been compared to a Michael Crichton story, so if you like that sort of thing, you should try it.

Now I have started "Finding Nouf," by Zoe Ferraris.  A "taut psychological suspense" that takes place in Saudi Arabia.  A young girl is murdered and her Saudi family doesn't seem very interested in solving the crime.  So far, so good, but the print is way, way tiny.  Don't know if there's a large print available.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What's cooking . . .

My daughter is home from college for the weekend so I made her some muffins to take back.  We almost always have some sort of muffin around, hopefully a healthy, high fiber one.  These "Heath Nut Blueberry Muffins" from are our favorite.  The only change I make to the recipe is that I use pecans instead of walnuts (actually for my daugher, I leave out the nuts.)  Also, I use Splenda Blend in place of the sugar (remember to use only 1/2 the amount.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

What's cooking . . .

Last night I was in the mood for soup.  Couldn't decide what kind, but I wanted something creamy.  I wondered if I could make a fettuccine alfredo type soup.  Somewhat healthier than the original.  I searched the web for recipes, but didn't find anything.  So I decided to create.  My husband said the result "tasted wierd," but he's not an alfredo fan, and was expecting a more traditional chicken noodle soup.  Here's what I did, and I thought is was pretty good.

Cook 4 chicken breasts in olive oil (salt and pepper.)  Remove from pan and cut up.
Add 4 cloves of garlic to the pan and saute for a minute.
Add 3 cups of chicken stock and 3 cups of water to the pan and bring to a boil.
Add 1/2 pound of fettuccine noodles (broken up) and boil for 10 minutes.
Add 1/2 cup of sour cream, 1/2 cup of cream cheese (I used low fat for both), 1/4 cup butter.
Add 1 to 2 cups of milk (you could use cream here, or 1/2 & 1/2 if you want it richer)
Add 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese.
Add salt & pepper
Whisk until smooth.  Add the chicken back to the pan.

Add some fresh parsley right before serving.

What I would change:  I think I would use macaroni or some other type noodle.  Even though the fettuccine was broken, it still kept sliding off the spoon.  You could also add some peas or greens like spinach or kale to make it even healthier.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What's cooking . . .

Last night I made homemade granola bars.  I've made them several times and we really like them.  The recipe is one of Ina Garten's from Food Network.  It's quick and easy to make, and a sweet treat that's relatively healthy.  So far, I've made it just like the recipe says (which is unusual for me), but I'm sure you could use different types of fruit if you wanted to.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Second Trip in the New Camper

We had a great time this weekend in the camper.  All the comforts of home, but much more relaxing.  It rained for about the first 20 hours of camping -- one thing's for sure -- no leaks!  The weather the rest of the weekend was sunny and nice.  The sailboats on the lake were beautiful and we enjoyed the fall air.  It was a challenge to build a fire with wet wood, so we didn't stay out too late in the evenings.  But . . . we brought the old Nintendo and I played Super Mario and Mario Cart.  What a blast from the past!  The kids and I used to play these games when they were little.  Can't wait to go on another camping trip.

Monday, October 12, 2009

What I'm Reading Now . . .

I finished Beautiful Miscellaneous this weekend and really liked it. It's a story of a teenage boy trying to grow up in a very idiosyncratic family. Not much action, but a good story. I started Isolation Ward, by Joshusa Spanogle. It's a medial thriller, like Robin Cook's books. I heard about this book on my Book Lover's Calendar that I had last year. I saved all the pages that had books I thought sounded interesting, and this was one of them. I'll let you know . . .

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Spoiled Ones

Here's some pictures of our "babies." They keep us occupied and entertained. They play together nicely, and love running on the farm and camping with us.