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I am a lucky Woman, I have a Husband that loves me, a beautiful grown step-daughter, a 15 yr old son and a 8 yr old son. I try to create a home that is warm and will linger with memories of Mom's cooking and being home for my children. This isn't always possible, considering they rough house, I get tired and hit the Mcdonald's drive thru and sometimes buy clean socks for them instead of wash it.... I try to do a menu plan, hang our clothes out to dry, use coupons, go to Church every week.. and pretend I am a stay at home Mom while working 40 hours a week

Friday, May 27, 2011

Whoooooaaa I need a easy lunch to pack!

        So- It is 7:30 am and I have no idea what to make for lunch- let alone what I am wearing for work... yes I am that disorganized, it happens people, no reason to judge.... you've been there and you know it. This post is gonna help us all.. by admitting we are disorganized and just plain grateful that the kids teeth are brushed before we get them out the door.

See- All he needs is sneakers and a backpack.. the battle is almost over!

         I pack lunch for Brian and I - at least 4 times a week, I say 4, but most weeks it is everyday. This can get annoying, since we work in the same building, I will carry our lunch in a larger soft cooler bag with ice packs in it, so I do not use the employee fridge (don't me it isn't worth the answer). Now- most days- I pack our left overs from the night before, sometimes there are no left overs and I am left standing in the morning trying to figure out how to produce a lunch that Brian will eat from the limited contents of our fridge. Not that he is picky- but he certainly would not call a hunk of bread and some cheese lunch like I would. He wants a sandwich, soup or something of substance to eat, and I can't blame him.. 

         This morning I was at a loss cause even though we had left over Mandoori Chicken, Brian and Max ate it for dinner last night. I almost cracked and figured- hey.. it is Friday we should eat at Sheetz or Burger King. Then it dawned on me.

I had a lunch - easy peasy... PB&Jelly...

I could consider it homemade right? I was using the Strawberry lemonade jelly I made last summer. That counts! I only needed to add a coupla more things to the lunch bucket.


 And a Diet Pepsi for me....which would be gone by 10 am anyway


  Lunch was saved- and so was about 10 bucks when you figure running out for fast food costs.

Other quick options for lunch?

~I have made a salad out of the pre-made bagged coleslaw, frozen tilapia from Gordon's,1/2 a lime, salsa and a cuke... quite good. All I did was microwave the fish planks according to directions and flake it over like 2 handfuls of the slaw then squeeze the lime over it, add the salsa and cuke.. like a beachy lunch! Crumble some tortilla chips over it and Voila!

~Left overs- you can never go wrong with left overs, when I cook dinner- what ever is extra I will literally pack in the containers to take to work the next day just to make it easier on me.

~Tuna fish sandwiches- mmmmmm

~Boca Burgers or any other meatless burger- they microwave really well.

~Hardboiled eggs- for egg salad

~Ham salad from left over ham- put ham and mayo and a little sweet relish in the food processor- even Max like this for lunch on the weekends.

~Chicken salad from left over grilled chicken.

What are your favorite go to quick lunches?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mandoori Chicken.. an experiment

            Yes- you read that right- Mandoori Chicken- not Tandoori Chicken. I was trying to come up with something for dinner that we have never had before, I was reminded in the Weis Market about Tandoori Chicken, that my cousin Irene had made at our family camp last year on her night to make dinner. My boys loved it. Well- in the international area of the grocery store, there was the pack of seasonings to make it, I allllmooosttt bought it.. but it was like 4 dollars and being the frugal frannie I am, I decided to read the ingredients, then thought.. Duh~ google it!
           Which I did, once I got home, I started the prep last night since this needs to marinate... now- why you ask I call it Mandoori Chicken? Well- I have adjusted the seasoning levels and the ingredients a bit... so I am claiming it!
I will post the link for the original recipe at the end of the post for those of you who want to actually follow directions- but I gotta tell you- my boys ate this up!

In a large bowl I combined 1 Cup of Sour Cream, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 3 TBSP of lime juice,2 TBSP dried minced garlic, 1 TSP ground ginger root, 1 TBSP ground cumin, 1/2 TSP cayenne pepper, 1 TSP dried cilantro, 1/2 TSP ground cloves.

Here is a close up of all the wonderful smelling spices

I then put 4 ice glazed frozen chicken breasts in a ziplock bag and added the sour cream mixture to it

I placed it in the fridge overnight, then in the morning before I left for work, I flipped it so that the other side would be able to marinate in the amazing mix- which I was half tempted to dip pretzels in last night!

When I got home from work, I started some rice to serve the chicken over, took the chicken outta the bag and sliced it into long strips and placed it in my beautiful new All-Clad grill pan, which - I got at a Yard Sale for 5 Buckaroos!!!

Okay Okay- here is the chicken- I had to show off my new 5 dollar pan though!

I let them cook until they were no longer pink and the juices were clear....I had to add about a cup of water to the pan so that they would make more marinade, and not simmer all the juices away. Then I added rice to the bowls, cut the chicken into bite size pieces and plated it up!

So- this meal was pretty easy- and the prep was easy considering I did it at 9:30 last night. I made corn and green beans to go with it and all the boys ate it- to me... that is a success!

Here is an easier to copy version of the recipe:

 Mandoori Chicken

In a large bowl combine
1 Cup of Sour Cream
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 TBSP of lime juice
2 TBSP dried minced garlic
1 TSP ground ginger root
1 TBSP ground cumin
1/2 TSP cayenne pepper
1 TSP dried cilantro
1/2 TSP ground cloves

Place 4 large chicken breast in a ziplock bag and add sour cream mixture. Allow to marinate at least over night if not 24 hours.
Cook until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.. serve over rice.

For those wondering why I am calling this Mandoori Chicken instead of Tandoori Chicken- My family and school friends call me Mandy... :)
Here is a pic of Irene and some other family members from about mmmm 2 yrs ago?

Left to Right~
Irene~ Ira~ Me~ Patty (Kneeling)~ Brian~ Maddy
Satchel~ Josh~ Joey~

And here is a link to the original recipe I totally butchered... but in a good way:
Original Tandoori Chicken Recipe

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Got Morels? I did!!!! and I shared them!

                Sooooo- it is apparently Morel season here in Central Pa. I know my Uncle has looked for them for years, I never bothered much attention, but now that I am older- I was curious.. the pictures were flying on facebook of all their basketfuls of mushrooms. I wanted to try them, noone was offering them so I figured, oh well such is life...but- then a Friend sent me a message with an invitation to their farmland to Morel hunt! Brian and I were ecstatic! We were going to get to some of the coveted mushrooms! That for some reason people act like the Davinci Code or the Holy Grail might be at stake if you share or take people with you... mmm yea- I am not like that, which is the main reason I think we got an offer to go to someone's hunting ground in the first place. I was just excited to go hunting and I actually gave a few baggies of them away, seeing those people's eyes light up was well worth it!

And get them we did! 

They were huge. And please ignore the fact that for some reason my hand looks like a chubby 9 yr olds, I am tempted to take another picture of my hand now...

              So now we had them- what to do with them? other than eat them? and how to eat them? i had no idea.. I started scouring the web looking for ideas. The best idea came from one of Brian's coworkers.. slice in half and saute in butter.
               We did and made Mushroom Swiss burgers. Max loved them, so did Pap (my Father-in-Law), my Mother-in-Law didn't try them she "didn't like the looks of them" . Cara and Max both decided they had an almost sweet maple flavor to them. They did taste wonderful on the cheese burgers!

                  I had read about dehydrating, freezing raw, freezing cooked all of the ways to preserve our harvest. I went with air dehydrating. Most of the sites recommended the air drying and finishing off in a 200 degree oven after a few day of drying to make sure all the moisture was gone. I read a few sites that did not suggest using one of those store brand, or "Ronco" food dehydrators, as they could burn the mushrooms- I was not about to take a risk burning these babies!

                  So - here is what I did....filled the sink with cold water with a tablespoon or two of salt and washed the mushrooms- we let them soak for about 2 or 3 hours, before we took them out and placed them on kitchen towels and let them dry a little. I knew it was late so I stored them in those Rubbermaid Fresh produce containers until I had time to slice them in half and lay them out to air dry. This was before I read that slicing them before you wash them helps make sure you have no hitchhikers in them (bugs) and helps make the cleaning of them easier.
I cleared the kitchen table (big deal for our household if you have read my previous posts), put clean towels down, then paper towels on top.. and put the mushrooms on them.

I put the ceiling fan on to kind of speed up the drying... in the morning I replaced the paper towels and the towel under it.. since they were pretty damp, from soaking up all the liquid.

This is how they looked after about 2 days. Yes it is a long process.. after most of the mushrooms seemed leathery- I put them on cookie sheets and put the oven on 200, put them in the oven for about an hour, and left the oven door slightly open to circulate air. They came our perfectly dry! 

I now have a quart of dried Morels!

Hopefully this winter I will be posting on using my little gems!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day Lilac Jelly

            So- I have Lilac Bushes in the yard, quite possibly my favorite flowers in the world, other than Hydrangeas and Hyacinths. I actually told Brian when I was pregnant with Connor- that if I was having a girl I wanted to name her Hyacinth. He promptly replied we will not name any child a Flower, Root or Herb. I figured I would sneak it in as a middle name if I had to. But - we had Connor- probably a good thing- since I can not spell Hyacinth without googling it or using spellcheck!
             Any way- for Mother's day I wanted to make a simple yet pretty jelly - and I had been thinking of Wild Violet Jelly- but we don't have any Wild Violets, we have Lilacs... so Lilacs it is .....

              The First thing I did was pick a big bag of the Flowers, I knew I was going to have to separate them once they were picked so I just sloppily grabbed them using scissors and filled a grocery bag full of them hoping that would be at least 4 cups of blossoms.

              This amount turned out to be PLENTY! I spent about 30 min picking the flowers and placing them in my batter bowl to measure out 8 cups... since I can not follow directions that well, the recipe called for 2 cups of blossoms to 2 cups of water ... I doubled the recipe- so I would need four cups of blossoms.. I figured 8 cups would be even better!
              The idea was to make a tea infusion with the blossoms, using the equal amount cups of blossoms to boiling water and allow to steep 24 hours or at the least over night.

Here are the pretty pretty blossoms in the pot

Here they are with the boiling water poured over them.....

             Once they had steeped overnight, I strained the tea infusion thru a cheese cloth and added 4 cups of the liquid to my large stockpot plus 2 packets of pectin and 1/2 cup of lemon juice and brought it all to a boil. Once it is boiling you add the sugar all at once, stirring the pot and bringing it back up to a boil for at least a minute. Obviously you want to be sterilizing your jars by now and have them ready to fill.
            When I took the jelly mix off the heat, I added- well Brian added food coloring- cause yes- I wanted the Lilac Jelly to be a purplish color- and it was more of a brownish color- and I am that superficial, I had read thru various sources that the Jelly would be a brownish color. So I was already looking for the formula ratio of how to make purple on the back of the food coloring box.
Fill your jars and process for 10 minutes in a Hot Water Bath (HWB).

Here is the recipe not doubled for those who want less that 9 half pints and 2 whole pints of the jelly....
Lilac Jelly
2 cups of Lilac Blossoms
2 cups of boiling water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 box powdered pectin
4 cups sugar

Pour boiling water over lilac blossoms and allow to steep 24 hours or over night.
Strain infusion thru cheesecloth.
In a large stockpot add 2 cups infusion, Lemon Juice, Powdered Pectin and bring to a boil stirring occasionally.
After it boils add Sugar all at once, bring back to a boil, stirring occasionally... allow to boil for at least one minute.
Pour into clean, sterile jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 min. allow to cool and sit untouched for 12- 14 hours while jars seal and jelly sets.....makes approx. 5 half pint jars...

Friday, May 6, 2011

Creativity, Cardboard and Connor

            The other day Connor asked if we had a pizza box in the house, 
I said " No, why?" He answered, " Well on Total Drama World Tour, they made a laptop out of a pizza box." I felt so bad I was tempted to pull into the cheapo pizza joint and buy a 5$ pizza just to get the box, I mean a 5$ laptop is surely worth it right? Then my little guy said," Wait we have boxes in the basement, I can use one of those!"
             Once we got home, I went downstairs ( this was a total busy night as Brian and I had scored like 3-4 lbs of Morels- another post- as I have lots-o-cool pics of them cooking and now in the process of dehydrating), found an approved box by Connor and started to cut away the parts he deemed unnecessary
The best part of the exchange between us was when he stated that he did NOT want a laptop like mine, he wanted one like Daddy's an "Apple or Pear whatever that fruit was on the back." Despite his obvious smackdown on my laptop, I was a good mom and helped him. Here is a semi-ok pic of his " Screen Saver" it is Mario World...

              When I posted pics on my Facebook page- I was encouraged to find I wasn't the only mom who has a kid who does this, that being creative is more important than being wealthy enough to provide a 7 yr old with a laptop. Many of my other MommyFriends posted that their kids usually had more cardboard technology than they had read technology. Whew- so I wasn't being a "Third world loser mom' after all. He now faithfully checks his email, so far no scammers from India wanting him to open a bank account have tricked him- He usually only gets email from his buddy Mason. Oh and he checks his Netflix account and You tube videos alot...

                Brian and I whole heartily believe that making the kids work for their most wanted prized possessions makes them appreciate them even more. Max unfortunately was the first to learn if he wanted that 100 dollar GameCube, he was going to have to earn half of the money to buy it, same went for the Wii and the PS3... the sad part was that by the time he wanted the PS3 - Brian and I both knew the time would come that Max would appear out of his room with the 150 bucks and throw it down and announce," Here is my half I would like the PS3 now" ... don't get me wrong, Max doesn't ask for much of anything EVER.... the game systems seem to emerge near his birthday- and we try to get it- as long as he works for some of it. Which he does- anytime he makes anykind of money doing chores or stuff for Pap- the money goes into a hiding place that noone one knows about and then emerges when he needs to use it, it is kinda funny, last year for his birthday,my Brother bought him an actual safe. The theory so far seems to work, the kids are all very careful with their electronics...because there was some "earning it"