31 January 2016

Game Day Chili #SundaySupper

My family loves the Green Bay Packers!  My husband and I both grew up in the 60s and remember watching them win the Super Bowl back in the day.  We are also huge Dan Devine fans, for multiple reasons!  This week at #SundaySupper we are giving you a multitude of ideas of great foods to serve for the big game!

This week's #SundaySupper is being hosted by T.R. from Gluten Free Crumbley.  Thank you for hosting us, T.R.!

This vamped up chili has a little sweetness to it, due to an unusual addition in the ingredients. Plus we've added some veggies for that healthy touch!  Perfect served with grilled cheese triangles and your favorite toppings.  I love sour cream in mine!

My husband, who cooks!
Chili can be made a day ahead of time, giving you a little less to do on Game Day.  Put it in the crockpot on low the day of the game and it will be warm and delicious in time for the big game!

Game Day Chili

by Terri Steffes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients (10 one cup servings)
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1.2 lb ground turkey
  • 1 15 oz can light red kidney beans
  • 1 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 lg onion
  • 2 t chili powder
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1 t salt (or more if needed for your taste)
  • 1 t ground black pepper
  • 1 bottle Not Your Dad's Rootbeer
  • 2 c water
Dice onion, carrots, and celery. Brown hamburger and turkey together. Add in chopped vegetables and cook until vegetables soften. Add beans, tomatoes and seasonings. Pour in the beer and stir. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cook for 10 more minutes.
Serve with a variety of toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped green onions, crushed fritos.
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Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It's easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Appetizers and Sides
Main Dishes
Desserts and Drinks

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It's easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

30 January 2016

Review of The Finest Hours

My husband, Bob and I, went to see a preview of the film The Finest Hours, a true story of a small boat rescue said to be the greatest feat of the Coast Guard.  The film was shown in 3D.

On February 18, 1952, a deadly nor'easter struck New England, powerful enough to crack two T-2 tankers in half.  One, the SS Pendleton headed to Boston, trapped 30 sailors in the sinking stern.  The senior officer, Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) takes charge of the crew and works through a myraid of difficulties and crew differences to ride out this massive storm.  The Coast Guard station in Chatham, Massachusetts hears of the disaster and Warrant Officer Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana), but has already dispatched their more seasoned crew members to assist the other tanker. As a result, he orders his “second-team” crew to assist the Pendelton.  Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) and three others set out in a small Coast Guard boat facing 60 foot high waves, hurricane force winds, and bitter cold.  To complicate the rescue mission even more, the compass is lost after a wave crashes into the boat and submerges it for a short time.

We enjoyed the work of the actors, and especially loved the performances of Chris Pine and Casey Affleck. On the other hand, we had a severe dislike for Eric Bana, which shows that the actors did a good job of developing their characters.  Holliday Grainger (Miriam) was believable as a strong and determined woman of the 50s, yet maintained a charming way about her.  I enjoyed the accents, with the southern tilt of Eric Bana falling hard on the ears next to the soft Bostonian drawl of Chris Pine.  Casey Affleck mumbled through much of the early dialogue, but his character and his voice gained strength as the film progressed.  I enjoyed the parallel characterization of Chris and Casey, as each starts out as quiet and unassuming. As the story moves to its climax, their determination and intensely strong convictions add to the tension. In was fun to watch their ingenuity at solving the unexpected problems, including the frantic game of “telephone” on board the SS Pendelton in a last ditch effort to ground the ship. Some of the minor story threads were awkward and under-developed, including the relationship of Bernie and Miriam, the stubbornness of Daniel Cluff, and an unsuccessful Coast Guard attempt to rescue the crew of a boat several years previous.

The film was shown in 3D, which did little to enhance the film.  There were a couple of great moments, when the snow is falling and it looks like it is coming at you, but overall, the film did not need the 3D effect to make the movie outstanding. If anything, it created an unnecessary challenge in watching the already dark night scenes.

I was wowed by the cinematography. The blizzard was well-filmed and the ocean scenes were large and dramatic.  While as an adult it feels rather "safe" for a disaster film, this is one that the whole family can see.  The rescue itself is daring, and you may find yourself holding your breath and closing your eyes!

29 January 2016

Top 5 Recipes of 2015

Jenny from The Jenny Evolution is hosting a party today where we each share our Top 5 Recipes for 2015.  Check out her blog for all the wonderful bloggers who are participating!

My numero uno recipe "topped" them all by a long shot!  This Shrimp Tomato and Bleu Cheese flatbread was so popular it ended up on another popular roundup!  That was a first for me!

My Roasted Banana and Black Walnut Bundt Cake hit the spot for a lot of folks.  This bundt is full of banana flavor and the walnuts just accent, not over power.  So good and I want some now!

Third on my list was the Lemon Confetti Bundt Cake.  Such a fun cake for a celebration, the lemon is a perfectly light lemon flavor and the confetti is sprinkles!  Delicious!

Fourth on the list is Wedge Salad.  This recipe appeared in a #SundaySupper post featuring Retro foods.  That post is fabulous for bringing back memories of foods from my childhood.  Jello salad, anyone?

Fifth on my list of five is the Tipsy Chocolate Cherry Cookies.  Oh my.  These cookies start with soaking cherries in cherry vodka.  Shall we say decadent?  They are and only for adults!

One of my goals this year is to investigate more decorative frosting.  I think a lot of my recipes would have been enhanced by some pretty work!  This awesome chart would be so helpful in knowing what tips to buy to get a specific effect.  I wanted to share it with you, too!

Source: eReplacementParts.com

28 January 2016

Fun and Romantic and Easy-to-Make Valentine Card

So what happens when you put a group of motivated bloggers together?  You get a fantastic blog hop, that's what!  This month, treat yourself to a lot of fun Valentine activities!

For my part, I wanted to find an easy to make card for your sweetie!  I know a lot of people think this holiday is all about selling cards for the big card companies.  If you are one of those, then make your own!  It's not hard to be creative, when you are using an idea from here!

Here is a super simple card, but one I would love from my husband, who has made me cards before!

Start with a plain notecard, the kind that comes in a packet of 8-10.  You can find these at Walgreens, or if you are desperate, go and check out your significant other's stationery drawer.

Find an unused key or purchase a blank from Lowe's or other hardware store and place it where you want it on the card.  With a pencil, make a small dot above the key and below the key and then remove the key to the side.

Above the dot, write You Hold the Key.

Below the dot, write To My Heart.

Write your sentiment on the inside, like, I love you even when you misplace the car keys, or if that is a sore subject just write, I love you!

Go back and glue the key to the front of the card.  You can use any glue, but some take longer, and take more glue, than others.  You can also use a pretty piece of washi tape!

Pretty simple, but straight to your sweetie's heart!

Here are some other sites for cute cards!

Real Simple Magazine

Better Homes and Gardens Magazine

Martha Stewart


Check out these other motivated bloggers for their fun activities below!

Bubble Wrap Heart Decorations by Crafty Kids at Home
Valentine Pet Project for Kids by Sunny Day Family
Hand Knit Hearts by Nemcsok Farms
Homemade Lip Gloss by Study at Home Mama

27 January 2016

Cork Valentine Wreath

Imagine my surprise when I went to look for my Valentine's decorations and discovered that I didn't have one single thing left after purging old decorations last year!  I decided that this was a chance to create something new for my house, and so I started looking around at what I already have, and my eyes landed on.... corks!

We have an abundance of corks in our home and I love to use them in craft projects!  My daughter and I made this adorable pinboard of cork at Christmas one year, my husband made my jewelry holder and I have created a lot of ornaments.  We made a wreath of corks that has long been gone but it had a special place in our home in Jefferson City.

How do you make a cork valentine?

First, I separated the corks by color.  Some wines soak into the cork better than others, for many reasons, one being how long the wine has been corked!  I wanted an ombre look to the wreath, so I sorted them into four piles.

Then I shaped them into a messy wreath, so I could gauge the approximate size of the wreath.  I didn't want anything too big, but I did want to be able to see it from the street.

Next I cut a template from some foam board so I could follow the curve of the heart.  I didn't glue it to the foam board, I just used it as a guide.  I continued to eye it from time to time to make sure it was symmetrical, but not too symmetrical!

I added some twine to hang it with and let it dry inside overnight.

We happen to drink all the wine where we get our corks, but you can check in with a local bar to see if they would collect them for you.  I know someone who found bags of them in a local thrift store.

If you make one, I'd love to hear from you!

26 January 2016

Book Review: The Hill by Karen Bass

One of my favorite books to read to my classes was Hatchet by Gary Paulson.  The book, full of adventure about a young boy who survives a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness, sparked the imagination of my students.

When I heard of the book, The Hill by Karen Bass, the description sounded like a more modern version of Hatchet, and I was eager to dive in and see what might a survival book for 2016 might look like.  I was pretty disappointed, as the survival skills shown were at a minimum and were nothing new, such as eating berries and pemmican.

If you like zombie chasing scenes, I believe this is the book for you!  The descriptions were not overly scary but there was some tenseness built into the scenes.  The night in the teepee was my favorite.

So while this wasn't the book I thought it might be, that's not the fault of the author.Perhaps the description might say something to the effect of a long Native American legend is chasing them.  Otherwise, you might get people like me, who think it was a bear.

25 January 2016

SRC Reveal~January

I love that you have to read my post to find out who my Secret Recipe Club partner is!  He he he.

I was paired with a very special lady who blogs about many things, mostly food, but even more.  I was intrigued by her category of Rabbits.  We have an overpopulated rabbit problem so I won't tell you what happens to rabbits in New Town, but you can see why I was interested.  ;)

So then I went to her About page and honestly, she's just a doll.  You need to meet Nicole, from I Am A Honey Bee.  She is going to just die when she finds out how many of our experiences connect, especially when she figures out that I am 57.

I had pink hair.  LOVED it.
I correct people's grammar.
I love peeps, just like she does, fresh, old or chewy.
I love all things Greece, but I haven't been there.
I know all the words to, nope, not Shoop.  Other songs.

I had a blast looking through her blog.  I have that danged Shoop song in my head, though.  So as I was looking through and finding a recipe, I saw this one that she made from a cookbook she reviewed.  It sounded perfect, as there are just two of us in our home and I would love to make this for my husband and me.

But before we get to the recipe, check out these two: Crock Pot Cool Ranch and this Brown Sugar Balsamic Pork Slow Cooker recipe.  Both perfect for these winter months.

With just the two of us at home, we look for recipes that don't have a lot of leftovers.  This one had enough for the both of us and for one lunch.  It was cozy and delicious and perfect for a supper.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup for Two

Makes 2 servings
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 Cup shredded carrots
  • 1 Small Onion, diced (about 1/2 Cup)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 Cup heavy cream (I used half and half, to reduce the thickness)
  •  2 1/2 Cups frozen broccoli florets
  • 3 Cups freshly grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, more to taste
  1. In a large pot, over medium-high heat, melt the butter.
  2. Add the shredded carrots, onion, and garlic; cooking until the onion is slightly tender and translucent (about 5 minutes).
  3. Turn the head down to medium-low. Add the chicken broth and heavy cream. Stir to combine, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the broccoli florets and cheddar cheese. Stir until all the cheese has melted.
  5. Sprinkle the flour on top and mix to fully combine.
  6.   Add the salt and pepper, and simmer for 10 minutes or until the soup as thickened.
  7. Serve in a bread bowl or with some toasted bread.
To lighten it up a bit, we substituted the chicken broth with vegetable broth and left out the cream.  Instead of carrots we added 1 potato, diced.  The potato acted like the thicking agent so we didn't need flour, either.  

22 January 2016

Cook the Books Club: A Place at the Table

I am sure I loved this book because it combined so many things that I love to read about: southern lifestyles, good food, and characters that you want to be friends with.  A Place at the Table by Susan Rebecca White starts you with a scene in the 1920's North Carolina and from there takes you to New York City and California, spinning a tale around three distinct characters.  Even with their individual flaws, I fell in love with each of them and the story of their lives.

Alice, an author of a famous cookbook and restaurant owner, Bobby, a gay man outcast from his family and Amelia, a weathy woman who likes to come to the cafe are all wonderful characters and the book draws them together for a remarkable ending.

Then there's the story of the pound cake, and the life of a chef.  What foodie doesn't yearn to own their own restaurant?  I certainly do, although I know my own limitations.  That's what inspired my own recipe for this month's Cook the Books Club:  Banana Pudding with Toasted Angel Food Cake.

I don't remember pound cake being a major contributor of my childhood eating.  I do remember having angel food cake, as a base for strawberry shortcake and also for birthdays, spread with pink frosting and sprinkles.  Thus, this version of the book's banana pudding was born!

Banana Pudding

by Terri Steffes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients (12 servings)
  • 1 container of low fat cool whip, thawed
  • 2 boxes of low fat, sugar free vanilla pudding
  • 4 c milk, 1%
  • 1 prepared angel food cake
  • 3 bananas, ready to eat
  • 1 1/2 t banana flavoring
Heat oven to broil. Tear angel food cake into small, bite sized pieces and place on a cookie sheet prepared with parchment. Place under a broiler for 1 minute, watching carefully, removing pieces that are toasted and continuing until all pieces are toasted. Set aside.
Prepare pudding according to package directions. Add 1 teaspoon of banana flavoring to pudding. Stir until well incorporated.
Add 1/2 t banana flavoring to cool whip. Stir until well incorporated.
In a trifle dish, add one layer of toasted cake. On top of the cake add 1/2 of the pudding mixture. Slice one banana on top of the pudding. On top of the bananas add half of the cool whip. Repeat layers, ending with cool whip.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.
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Bimonthly, the Cook the Book Club gives us a book to read with the idea to be inspired to cook something!  The next book will be a Feb/March read, so come and join the fun!

20 January 2016

Top Ten Valentine Dinner Dates with Kids!

I know there are a lot of people out there who believe that Valentine's Day is just a day for the card companies to make money, but I am one of those who believe that sometimes people need to be reminded to stop and say, I love you, once in a while.

Traditionally the protocol is to send flowers, go out to dinner, exchange gifts and cards.  Last year my husband and I did things a little bit differently and had a fabulous time, which inspired this post:

Top Ten Valentine Dinner Dates!

1.  White Castle.  No, I am totally serious.  My husband and I went there last year before Beach Boys concert. The waiters were awesome, the menu was printed and on our table, which had a tablecloth and decorations.  The restaurant was closed to walk in traffic, which made you feel extra special.  If you have kids, they are welcome, plus it's super cheap.
2.  Plan a group date.  Get neighbors together, plan a dinner party, then split up the duties.  Get a babysitter to come to one of the houses and all the kids go there.  Great way to have a wonderful meal, at a fraction of the cost and with great company!

3.  Volunteer at your local soup kitchen.  Instead of paying big bucks to go to a fancy dinner, find a soup kitchen in need of help that night.  Serve others and flirt with each other during the service.  Your kids will love/hate it!

4.  Have a dance party!  Get dressed up,  download your favorite tunes when you were a kid, some current pop tunes, and some of grandma and grandpa's favorites.  Skype with your in-laws while your kids cut a rug to their favorite tunes.
5. Take a cooking class together.  Cooking classes are so much fun, and some allow hands-on training while others are more of a watch-and-learn.  Either way, most classes include dinner and wine, and for a really reasonable price.
6.  Picnic at home.  Grab your favorite deli food and eat in front of the fireplace, on the floor.  Fire up the fireplace, turn on a romantic movie, and enjoy each other's company.  This can easily be a family event, order heart shaped pizza from your local pizzeria.
7.  Cook at home.  In today's world, we are all so busy that we rarely have time to sit in the kitchen preparing a good home cooked meal.  My husband is a fabulous cook, and there isn't a restaurant that can cook a steak like he can.  Plan a menu together, set a pretty table, share kitchen duties, and enjoy a great meal!
8. Pay it forward.  Go out to dinner.  Look around.  Pay for another couple's dinner.  Have the waiter give the couple a pre-prepared card that says, "Happy Valentine's Day! We paid for your dinner, all we ask it that you pay it forward someday."  Keep in mind that you could be doubling your dinner price (or more) but it will be a blast picking out your recipients together!
9. Hang out.  Go to an arcade, get a cotton candy, hold hands and giggle.  Wear your favorite blue jeans and sneakers.  Grab a burger at your favorite burger joint.  Wear your old letter jacket, if you can!  Create a mix tape of your favorite tunes.
10.  Camp out.  Make foil dinners and banana boats for dessert.  Play card games and look at the stars. If you can, build a fire in the firepit and snuggle up.

Check out these other bloggers for Valentine's ideas.  Stuff to keep your kids busy and happy, recipes and other fun posts!

Top 10 Free Printable Valentines from Our Whimsical Days
Top 10 Valentine’s Day Dinner Dates with Kids from Our Good Life
Top 10 Valentine Keepsake Gifts from Rhythms of Play
Top 10 Valentine’s Day Treats from The Resourceful Mama
Top 10 Heart Crafts for Preschoolers from Powerful Mothering
Top 10 Valentine’s Day Sensory Bins from Still Playing School
Top 10 Valentine’s Day Sensory Bottles from Little Bins for little Hands
Top 10 Candy Experiments for Kids from Lemon Lime Adventures
Top 10 Free Printable Valentines for Boys from Preschool Powol Packets
Top 10 Valentine Quotes on Love from Creative World of Varya

18 January 2016

St. Charles Convention Center Winter Tasting

My husband's job as Director of the St. Louis campus of Columbia College has some fun perks!  One of them is the biannual event at the St. Charles Convention Center where we get to taste their new platings for events.  We recently attended the Winter Tasting event where we had such a good time chatting with the event coordinators and seeing people we know who were planning spring and summer events.

We were greeted with wine and passed hors d' ouvres.  I sampled the mini eggroll and a darling cone filled with a mixture of Mexican spices, cheese and chicken.  Very delicious.  All the servers were fun and had a bit of conversation with you while you were eating.  I like that.

Once inside the main ballroom, you could see the spaciousness of it.  The room was set up as if for a reception, with a band at the far end, food down the center, and tables on both sides.  It looked amazing, with fun tablecloths at the stand up tables.  Not just the well ironed cotton!

We checked out the desserts first.  There were over 20 different offerings of items from a cake pop to a decadent layered brownie topped with toffee.  Oh my.

We got our drinks and found a table.  Our table was round, seating 10, with chair coverings.  The table was covered with a brocade style cloth.  The centerpiece was simple but sparkly.

Our food was delicious too, sometimes the beef was a bit over cooked for our liking. The sauces were delicious and perfectly seasoned, with just enough salt.

My favorites were the mushroom ravioli and the vegetable lasagne, yum!

The vegetables and the prime rib were delicious!
We sat back and relaxed to the music, talked to a few servers, enjoyed our food and then made our way back to the front.  We were asked how we enjoyed the event and we decided to take off.  Already eagerly awaiting the Fall tasting!

15 January 2016

Food 'n' Flix: Failure to Launch

Welcome to 2016 and Food 'n' Flix.  Food 'n' Flix is a monthly group who watches a film and gets inspired from the movie to cook something!  This month we are hosted by the lovely Amy from Amy's Cooking Adventure.  Go and visit her site sometime.  You will be drooling by the second word.  Yep, it's that good.

First a bit about the film:  Failure to Launch is a hilarious look at a thirtysomething man who still (willingly and happily) lives with his parents.  The cast is to die for, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew McConaughey, Kathy Bates, Terry Bradshaw, Bradley Cooper, and Zooey Deschanel.  The premise of the movie is that Al and Sue, the parents, want their son, Tripp, to move out of their home.  They hire Paula, a professional at getting grown sons to move out.  She guarantees her work and assures the family that the son will soon be out.  What she doesn't account for, as it has never happened before, is that she falls for the son.

For a movie NOT about food, the movie offers plenty of inspiration, with restaurant scenes, cooking scenes, and family dinners. The scene that got my attention and the inspiration for this recipe, is when they are all at the ball park and the boy asks for ice cream.  I have beeen wanting to create a ice cream that I can have that doesn't send me into a sugar high, so I create the "Launch Pop."

Launch Pops

2 envelopes of Weight Watcher vanilla smoothie powder
1 scoop protein powder
2 T sugar free chocolate pudding
1 1/2 cups sugar free almond milk
1 c crushed ice

Put all ingredients into a blender and pulse until smooth.  Pour into individual Dixie style cups.  When partially frozen, insert stick for handle. Continue to freeze solid.  To eat, peel paper away from pop and enjoy!

The movie ends the way I hoped it would, and I think you will enjoy it, too.

14 January 2016

DAR Book Club Review: George Washington's Secret Six

First, let me tell you that DAR is the Daughters of the American Revolution, and that we are history buffs and especially as it relates to the American Revolution.  All members, including myself, have been able to track our relatives who fought for Amerian Independence.

We love to read both fiction and non fiction about the American Revolution.  The nonfiction books help us to determine if the fiction was accurate or not!  This book George Washington's Secret Six: The Spy Ring that Saved the Amerian Revolution was a nonfiction book that read like fiction.  The book was spellbinding and often I found myself reading far too late into the night.

The book centers around six people who bravely helped George Washington get information from the British while they were holding New York City.  One of the people was a woman, who was caught and taken to the prisoner ship in the bay.  No other news is learned about her and so it is thought she died on the ship.  No one knows her name.

The others, all men, had written correspondence that was kept by either George Washington or by family members and over a course of 200 years, pieces of the puzzle have been put together.  A serendipity moment places some family letters in the hands of the author, and he is able to weave another piece of the spy ring puzzle.

Throughout the book, historical figures such as John Andre, Benedict Arnold, Nathan Hale, and General Howe, come to life as real men. George Washington is fascinating to read about, his decision making, his strategies and over all brilliance shine through in this book.  Truly I haven't known the man that succeeded in beating the British back to England until now.

These six make up the ring:  Robert Townsend, newspaper editor whose identity was even secret from Washington, Austin Roe, bartender who put both his job and life on stake (his pub is still standing today), Caleb Brewster longshoreman who carried messages between Connecticut and New York, Abraham Woodhull who had perfect family excuse for New York travel, James Rivington who was responsible for collecting information from British officers in his shop,  and a female called Agent 355, whose identity still remains unknown and who used her woman's opportunities to deceive men and learn useful information.

A wonderful book about a fascinating time in our country's history.