I am SO uninspired this week. I had to actually make myself sit down and do this. Jeff said to just blow it off if I wanted, but we still have to eat. If I don't come up with a plan I know we will just eat out or do take out. The budget (and waistlines!) just can't afford that simply because I am feeling lazy. I think it's the time of the year. Blah. February/March is probably my most unfav time. Grey skies, cold and rainy (or worse, cold and snowy!), cooped up in the house all the time. Gosh Kiy, whine much? But I think that most of us feel that way about now (well, except for my friend Christina who lives in Australia who is enjoying her summer right now, and the lucky folks who live in places like Key West!).

I am carrying some things over from last week, again. We have some projects around the house that we are working on and I find myself with limited time. I can either work on those or watch/play with Emi. Emi 'helping' is a scary thing! So, instead of working on dinner during nap times, I am working on the projects. So, the next several weeks I will be doing massively simple and easy, tried and true, and crock potting. I want healthy, fun and yummy ... with none of the work! I can fuss over meals another time (like summer and fall when it's fun) but right now, it's all about getting a meal on the table.

With that said, here's the plan with no specific days mapped out. What we have will be determined by how much time I have on any given day.

Pasta with Creamy Pancetta-and-Pea Sauce (carry-over from last week), possibly something in reserve for Emi in case she turns her nose up at this - but I doubt she will, except for the meat these are things she loves - pasta, sauce of some kind and peas! I am so determined to make this. It looks amazing and fun and yummy, and I have all the ingredients in the house except .... the noodles! In fact, I went to make it last night and found out, no pasta. How is that possible in this house? But, sent Jeff to the store today so we now have the pasta!

Chili with a Little Sass (also a carry-over from last week), cornbread, frozen vege (Is it summer yet? I sure do miss the Farmer's Market!)

Garden Vege Burgers on the grill, Oriental Salad (this can also be used as a stand-alone meal, but using it as a side dish will allow for leftovers and take-to-work lunches for Jeff)

Spinach-Artichoke Cheesy Tortellini
(One pot meal although I will toss together a frozen vege for Emi who is not a big fan of spinach OR artichokes. In fact, I will probably save out some pasta plain for her so I do not have to pick through the dish to get what she will eat).

Jules' Homemade Tomato Soup and grilled sandwiches

Bison Burgers on the grill, frozen vege (for Emi), Spinach and Mandarin Orange Salad (I've been craving this!)

Don't forget to head on over to Laura's at I'm an Organizing Junkie for more MPM!

Original Post: Menu Plan (February 22 - 28)

How sad is this. Last week's ENTIRE menu, is being carried over this week. And, I can honestly blame it on Emi. No, she wasn't in charge of cooking (although, I am sure that time will come!). She came down with a cold last Saturday, which meant little-to-no sleep for Mama and Daddy on both Saturday and Sunday. Needless to say, I could have cared less what we ate Sunday night, we may have had one of my stand-by's: eggs and grits. Considering that I think of myself as a northern gal and Miss Emi most definitely is not from the American south, we all love it and have come to think of that as a sort of comfort food. Funny how finally learning how to cook grits (several minutes longer than the package states and at a lower temp) can make a person fall in love with them.

Miss Emi woke on Monday morning with most of her cold gone. Hurray! Sadly, Mama had the beginnings of it that same morning and it was raging by afternoon. Daddy had it by Wednesday. Emi had her cold for 48 hours (roughly), Jeff and I had it most of the week and still are feeling a bit off. Figures. But, that works as this one kicked me in the butt and caring for both Emi and I while sick would not have been fun. Although she was quite herself all week, which made keeping up with her interesting!

We lived off whatever we could find in the fridge and pantry. Also, I hate to say, take-out. Although no MickeyD's or anything like that. We had Japanese one night (miso soup and yakisoba noodles, yum ... Emi can almost eat/drink us under the table with miso soup, she loves it!). We did have the bison burgers (as they are easy - grill food!), and Jeff brought Applebee's home one night. I know we had something else but darned if I can remember what!

So, here is last week's menu this week. I am *determined* to make each and every thing on this. So help me! :)

I am not going to link up my menu plan this week, as there's nothing new but if you are looking for inspiration head on over to Laura's at I'm an Organizing Junkie for more MPM!

Chili with a Little Sass

Cinnamon-Beef Noodles

Toasted French Toast & Oven Poached Eggs

Bison Burgers on the Grill

Billie Ruth's Catfish Parmesan

Pasta with Creamy Pancetta-and-Pea Sauce


Stuffed French Toast

Serdmom's Apple Crisp

Original Post: Menu Plan (February 15 - 21)

In honor of Valentine's Day (reminder: next Saturday), I am doing a special Friends Week. This is a week full of recipes that I have been given (or 'borrowed') from friends, some I have tried and some are new (the recipes, the friends are all old ... err, wait). I am not going to pick days, just list the recipes in no particular order). I haven't decided yet which meal will be on which day (hey, today I am going to be lucky to get this post done at all!) :)


Chili with a Little Sass - this recipe is incredible and we always get a smile when we have it. For one thing, Barbara (Candy Hearts & Paper Flowers) posted it and I totally had to try it. For another thing, poor Jeff's life is filled with a little sass (both wife and child). I love Barbara's site. I rarely do what she has going on as, I will never ever have a love of housework (yikes, don't read this mom!) even though I love a neat, tidy and clean house. Keeping house is a chore to me, something to get done as quickly as possible. Barbara really cares about doing it well and right, I just want it done and forgotten about! However, I do think if I followed along on her daily ideas that maybe the house wouldn't be such a chore to me. Maybe. Some day.

Cinnamon-Beef Noodles - Gina (Olivia, Opinions & Occasions) shared this recipe with me. I have only made it the one time, but we loved it! I have been wanting to make it again, and this week is the perfect time. I am toying with saving this for Saturday night, as I want something special but not something that keeps me in the kitchen all day long. Gina and I met through the adoption of our two girls. Sadly, we were not in China at the same time but we have made a friendship that makes me *know* that we will meet someday! I love her sense of humor and I find the longer we know each other, the more in common we have. Head on over to her site, meet the ever-wonderful Olivia. She's a delight and her parents are just simply great people!

Toasted French Toast & Oven Poached Eggs - I've tried a variation of Tamy's (3 Sides of Crazy) french toast before (mainly, toasting the bread) but wanted to give the whole thing a whirl. This is the week. She has also raved on her baked eggs and I seriously have wanted to try them. I keep getting stuck at the bacon. Oh, I love bacon but not the mess. But, this once, I will make it and see how it goes (probably in the microwave, however). I can't remember exactly how I met Tamy. It was either from menu planning, or quite possibly, through Barbara. But we continue to chat in short emails (almost like IM'g without the, you know, IM!) and I have enjoyed getting to know her better.

Bison Burgers on the Grill - Two of my very best friends do not have blogs (hi Aunt M and Uncle R!). The she part of the couple doesn't like to cook all that much (although I hear that is changing a bit!), and he does but I am not sure he is a recipe kind of guy. But, one of my fondest memories is when we had cookouts at their home. He makes a mean ANYthing on the grill. No, really, he does. Their home feels like home, every time I walk in. Which, sadly, isn't as often as it used to be as we live on opposite ends of the country (working on that!). Their home continues to be one of my most fav places to be. I could spend hours on their back patio, drinking sweet tea, soaking up their wonderful landscaping, and chatting. Some friendships become family, this is one of those. In their honor we are having yummy bison burgers on the grill this week. We love them and while we have not had these burgers with this couple, I know they'd love them!

Billie Ruth's Catfish Parmesan - I am actually making this for a friend, rather than getting the recipe from a friend. That friend would be my very best friend, my husband. My life is richer for having him in it. I am happy, contented, loved and so very very lucky.

Pasta with Creamy Pancetta-and-Pea Sauce
- Lythrum (Goblins in My Garden) shared this recipe with me several years ago. I keep wanting to make it but then forgetting about it. I found it again today when I was wandering through my recipes. Lythrum and I seemingly have very little in common, yet have a lasting friendship. We can go awhile without chatting (emailing) and then pick up like we talked yesterday. We are both (sorta) new moms learning our way, with our girls just about a year apart in age. My one big wish is that we lived closer, as I would love to have my backyard look a teensy bit like hers (okay, I'd love it if it looked a LOT like hers but I am just not willing to do what it takes!).


Stuffed French Toast - Not everyone is lucky enough to call their mom, friend. I am. And I know it. This recipe is a memory trigger. It reminds me, of course, of my mom but also of one of Jeff and my first Christmases together. I have just recently started making it again for special occasions and we love it. It also is a hit with Miss Emi. My current plan is to make this Friday evening for Valentine's Day Breakfast. Mom and I talk, almost every day. Someone once asked us, separately, what we talked about. Everything and nothing. We have a special relationship that has formed into a friendship. I don't take this for granted, and neither does she. And no, it wasn't always like this. See above, Chili with a Little Sass. But I grew out of it, or rather the teen sass, the adult sass is here to stay. :)

Serdmom's Apple Crisp - Serdic (Tritely Banal) has many recipes (ginger sparklers!) but he tends to like to fuss more than I have time for these days (I'm told he is an *amazing* cook and his baking - ooh la la!). This is quick and easy, and I am not sure that I have ever told him I've made it (oops). Serdic is a friend that I made long ago, who also lives far away. He was there from day one when we started our paperchase for Miss Emi. He always had a shoulder, ear and heart to lean on when needed during that time. He has also been one of our biggest cheerleaders (yikes, visual, sorry - no short skirts were involved!) when it came down to 'do we stay in the program or give up'. Thankfully, we stayed in. Now, Miss Emi has an Uncle Serdic (and Aunt TheSinger @ Reports from the Dewey Decimal Zone!). They love her dearly, and we love them.

I have more recipes from other friends, but only so many days in a week. This was so much fun I think I will do it again! I hope you have enjoyed meeting my friends.

Don't forget to head on over to Laura's at I'm an Organizing Junkie for more MPM!

Original Post: Menu Plan (Feb 9 - 14)
Pasta with Creamy Pancetta-and-Pea Sauce
Thanks to Lythrum for this recipe!

1/4 c. chopped pancetta or bacon
1 tsp. olive oil
1 c. diced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
2 c. 1% low fat milk
1/4 c. (2 oz) 1/3 less fat cream cheese
2 1/2 c. frozen green peas, thawed (Note from Lythrum: I use baby ones)
1 1/4 c. (5 oz) grated fresh Parmesan
1/3 c. chopped fresh basil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
5 c. hot cooked pasta (I like farfalle for this)

Heat a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add pancetta; cook 1 minute or until browned. Place pancetta in a large bowl. Heat oil in pan.
Add onion and garlic; sauté 7 minutes. Add onion mixture to pancetta. Place flour in pan, gradually add milk; stir with a whisk until blended. Cook over medium heat until thick (about 5 minutes); stir constantly. Add cream cheese; stir until cheese melts. Stir in peas, 1 c. Parmesan, basil, salt and pepper. Add cheese sauce and pasta to pancetta mixture; toss well. Sprinkle with 1/4 c. Parmesan.

Note from Lythrum: I have found that about 1/2 c. of thinly sliced, chopped ham is outstanding with this. I saute the onion and ham in the bacon drippings, then add in the peas (because I always forget to thaw them) and cover the pan for a few minutes to let the peas cook. I add the flour to the pea-onion mixture and stir it, then add the milk. This gives you less chance for flour lumps to show up. I make the cheese sauce in with everything else, because it works fine and makes for easier clean-up.

Had this for dinner tonight, it's pretty quick, and really good. It's from Cooking Light, so it's healthy as-is. If you use my ham suggestion at the end, it will add to the fat content a bit, but I think it's worth it.
Serdmom's Apple Crisp
Thanks Serdic!

3 lbs apples, peeled, cored and sliced
Place apples into glass baking dish, 11 X 7 x 1.5

Sprinkle with the following:
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves

For the crisp:
3/4 C flour
1/2 C butter
1 C brown sugar

Mix these together and form crumbly mixture. If it's not crumbly enough, put it in the fridge for a bit. Once it's crumbly, sprinkle over the apples.

Bake for 30-35 min at 350F.

Let cool, and enjoy.
Oven Poached Eggs

2 Jumbo eggs per person
1 tablespoon butter per person
2 slices bacon per person
grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cook bacon until crisp.
  • Melt butter and coat entire inside of ramekin or muffin tin.
  • Break 1 egg (try not to break the yolk) in each ramekin or muffin slot.
  • salt and pepper.
  • Bake 8-10 minutes or until just set.
  • Top each egg with a slice of crumbled bacon and then grated cheddar cheese.
  • Bake another 3 minutes.
  • Serve with chilled juice and toast.

I use oven safe ramekins at home, but when we're camping I use a cupcake tin.
Toasted French Toast ~ We hate soggy French Toast and this recipe conquers that.

8 slices thick white bread (Kiy Note: I will most likely use wheat or a wheat mix, it's a rare thing for us to have nice, wonderful, yummy white bread in the house. Bummer. I hate eating healthier!) :)
1 1/4 cup milk
5 egg yolks
1/8 cup flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Toast bread, but not browned.
  • Preheat griddle and coat with a small amount of butter.
  • Whisk together the egg yolks, milk, salt, vanilla, butter and cinnamon.
  • Whisk in flour until smooth.
  • Pour milk mixture into a baking dish.
  • Soak bread pieces for a few seconds on each side.
  • Grill for several minutes on each side until golden brown.
  • Serve with warm maple syrup.

Overnight Grits CrockPot Recipe

Day 134.

I am not from the south, which means I am not very familiar with grits. I did watch a southern cooking show on the Food Network that discussed grit cooking methods, and I love "My Cousin Vinny"---so I know that any self-respecting Southerner stays away from instant grits.

But that's pretty much where my knowledge ends.

So I turned to the experts: the blogosphere. I ran a google blog search for crockpot grits and found The Kitchen Madonna. She has a recipe for overnight crockpot grits.

And it's perfect.

The Ingredients:
1 cup grits
5 cups of water
1/4 cup butter
1/2 t kosher salt

The Directions:
I used my mom's 4qt round crockpot for this recipe. I haven't given it back since Easter. sorry, mom!

Combine all of the ingredients. I didn't spray the stoneware, or bother to melt the butter. I just threw it all in (butter floats!).

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

This cooked for exactly 7.

Stir well and top with desired fixens'. The kids and I used a bit of shredded cheese the way that The Kitchen Madonna recommended. My mom likes to stir in preserves.

The Verdict: Wow. I like grits! They weren't slimy the way I imagined them to be, and the texture was really nice in my mouth. The big kid wasn't terribly impressed, but the little one ate almost a whole bowl. I loved how easy they were to prepare, and that they are naturally gluten-free.

I have quite a bit of the package left over, and grits are now going to make it into the regular breakfast rotation.