Friday, December 22, 2006

Eggplant Parmesan


Made this for dinner last night and it was better than a restaurant....YUM-O! And, it is a lighter version to boot. Enjoy!

Gifts


I'm a giver. I love giving gifts to people. I love making gifts for people even more. This year I made some ball jars filled with candy and then I wrapped them up pretty with ribbon, paper and handmade tags. I gave them out to teachers and bus drivers, etc. I hope they have as much fun eating them as much as I enjoyed making them. :)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Candy Cane Run




Every year at this time our local volunteer firemen do a candy cane run. They come to the neighborhood in their fire truck and honk their horn delivering candy canes and stopping to talk to the kiddos and even pose for a few photos.

Such a FUN tradition!!!!!

Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas!!!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Silly Clown


My little drama queen has been attending an after school class called Rising Stars. She loves it. They sing and dance and actually had to learn a part in a play, The Little Engine that Could.

Natalie had to play the part of the clown...how fitting. She is my silly little goose. :)

We were invited to come see them perform at the last class a couple of weeks ago. It was adorable. The instructor did a fabulous job getting the kids to learn their lines and really act their parts.

And, at the end she even presented them with their own Oscars!!!! Natalie wanted to know why she got a statue of a naked man???? Oh, she kills me. ;)




I'm so grateful for these little after school programs. :)

Our Tree Tradition


Every year about this time we and our really good friends, the Nemeceks, go up into the mountains and chop down our Christmas tree. We eat dinner or lunch and make a day out of it. Good times!

And, there is always a story to tell. Always a great memory made. One year Phil decided to pull his tree from behind instead of pushing it in front like the rest of the people. Well, almost all the way down the hill Dylan says to Phil..."where's your tree?" LOL!!!! Here he was bragging and boasting how brilliant he was because pulling it from behind was so easy. Sure, it was easy when you are not pulling a huge Christmas tree. LOL!!!

This year did not disappoint. Just as we were getting ready to leave the tree farm, our trees all secured on top of the cars, their car wouldn't start. After a jump start from us all was well but we couldn't stop laughing because it's always an adventure.

Good Times for sure!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Candlemaking


Last week the girl scouts went to Westmoreland Sanctuary to earn a try it badge for candlemaking. This place is great. The woman who runs the programs is so knowledgable and wonderful with the kiddos. I've seen her do a thing on maple syrup. :)

Anyhoo, the girls LOVED it. They got to choose the color candle they wanted to make and then they hand dipped wick tied on a hanger into hot wax. They were so into it and counted just like they were told. I think it took 50 dips to make a taper candle.

Natty decided to make a green one and she's going to give it to my Mom for her birthday this Saturday....so CUTE!

Meals for the Week

For all those in a dinner rut, I've got some recipes for you. If you are short on time but want big flavor, try these out. It's a week's worth of recipes.

Monday:

Grilled Fish with Orange-Fennel Salsa

5 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
5 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons sugar
3 oranges
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed, cut into matchstick-size strips
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
4 (6 ounce) fillets rockfish or sea bass


Whisk 2 tablespoons oil, vinegar, cilantro, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, ginger and sugar in medium bowl. Cut peel and white pith from oranges; discard. Holding oranges over bowl to catch juices, cut between membranes to release segments into bowl. Add fennel and onion; toss gently. Season with salt and pepper. (Salsa can be made 3 hours ahead. Cover; chill.)

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Mix 3 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and garlic in glass pie dish. Turn fish in oil mixture to coat. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Grill until just opaque in center, about 3 minutes per side.

Transfer to plates. Spoon salsa over.

Yield: 4 servings (Serving size: 4 servings)


Tuesday:

Goat Cheese Spinach Pizza

1 (14 ounce) package Pillsbury pizza crust
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 (6 ounce) package baby spinach
Olive oil
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the dough on a baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil and the Parmesan. Bake for 8 minutes. Toss the spinach with olive oil. Top the crust with the spinach, tomatoes and goat cheese. Drizzle the pizza with more olive oil and bake for 15 minutes more.

Yield: 4 servings (Serving size: 4 servings)


Wednesday:

Crispy Parmesan Chicken Breasts

1/3 cup KRAFT 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
3 tablespoons butter or margarine melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix cheese, crumbs and seasonings in shallow dish.
Dip chicken in butter; coat with cheese mixture. Place in greased 15x10x1-inch baking pan.
Bake 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Yield: 6 servings (Serving size: 6 servings)


Thursday:

Pork & Bean Chili

1/2 pound sliced bacon
4 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large white onion, chopped
1 fresh jalapeno chiles, seeded and chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
1/3 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 (14 ounce) can beef broth
1 cup brewed coffee
1 cup water
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes with puree
2 (19 ounce) cans small red beans or kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Cook bacon in a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, turning, until crisp. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain and pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot. Crumble bacon. Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper. Add oil to pot and heat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Brown pork in about 6 batches without crowding and transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate. Add onion and jalapenos and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. Add garlic, oregano, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne, then cook, stirring, 1 minute. Return pork to pot with any juices accumulated on plate and add broth, coffee, water, and tomatoes with puree.
Simmer chili, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until pork is very tender, about 2 hours. Stir in beans and bring to a simmer, stirring.
Serve chili with bacon and accompaniments.

Yield: 8 servings (Serving size: 8 servings)

Friday:

Grilled Salmon

1/4 cup low-fat or nonfat plain yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
4 (4 ounce) center-cut salmon fillets (see Tip)
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Stir together yogurt, parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, oil, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup for sauce; cover and refrigerate. Place salmon fillets in a large sealable plastic bag. Pour in the remaining herb mixture, seal the bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes, turning the bag over once.
Meanwhile, preheat grill to medium-high.
Oil the grill rack (see Tip). Remove the salmon from the marinade, blotting any excess. Grill the salmon until browned and opaque in the center, 4 to 6 minutes per side. To serve, top each piece with a dollop of the reserved sauce and garnish with lemon wedges.

Yield: 4 servings (Serving size: 4 servings)


Saturday:

Kung Pao Chicken

1 1/3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sherry
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar or rice vinegar
2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1/2 cup peanuts
4 scallions, white bulbs and green tops cut separately into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes

In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the sherry, and the 1 tablespoon cornstarch.
In a small bowl, combine the sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, water, and the remaining 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sherry, and 2 teaspoons cornstarch.
In a wok or large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately high heat. Add the peanuts and stir-fry until light brown, about 30 seconds. Remove from the pan. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the white part of the scallions and the red-pepper flakes to the pan and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the chicken with its marinade and cook, stirring, until almost done, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the soy-sauce mixture and the scallion tops and simmer until the chicken is just done, about 1 minute longer. Stir in the peanuts.

Yield: 4 servings (Serving size: 4 servings)

Sunday

Beef Tacos
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or corn oil
1 small onion, chopped small
3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Table salt
1 pound 90% lean ground beef (or leaner)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons vinegar (preferably cider vinegar)
Ground black pepper
8 taco shells (warmed according to package instructions)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, or Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
2 small tomatoes, chopped small
1/2 cup sour cream
1 avocado, diced medium
1 small onion, chopped small
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
Hot pepper sauce , such as Tabasco


Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat until hot and shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, spices, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ground beef and cook, breaking meat up with wooden spoon and scraping pan bottom to prevent scorching, until beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar, and vinegar; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently and breaking meat up so that no chunks remain, until liquid has reduced and thickened (mixture should not be completely dry), about 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
Using wide, shallow spoon, divide filling evenly among taco shells; place two tacos on individual plates. Serve immediately, passing toppings separately.

Yield: 4 servings (Serving size: 8 tacos)


You can get recipes like these to jazz up your weeknight menus at allrecipes.com. Enjoy! :)