Monday, February 28, 2011

Thai Grilled Chicken with Peanut Dipping Sauce and Italian Pasta Salad - It's an International Dinner Delight!

Ok, today I couldn't decide what "nation" I should visit for dinner, so we are having Thai and Italian. I cheated with the marinade and used store bought. It isn't really Thai - it's actually Teriyaki marinade, but the dipping sauce is Thai inspired... ok, it's an international nightmare, but I can guarantee it will taste great! The dressing on the pasta salad is bottled dressing, too. Not everything has to be from scratch :)

I took 3 boneless breasts and sliced them into about 4-5 strips each and tossed them in a 1/2 c. teriyaki marinade with a teaspoon each of garlic and onion powders and tossed it well. They are marinating in the fridge for about an hour and then I will grill them on the grill pan or in a non-stick skillet. I am thinking non-stick since I don't really feel like scrubbing the grill pan - I just did my nails. The recipe for the peanut sauce and the pasta salad follow. I get tired of dipping chicken in ranch or honey mustard. This peanut sauce is easy - 3 ingredients!! The pasta salad can take whatever you want to throw at it. Kami is a veggie-phob, so I would have put more in, but she kept nixing everything I suggested. I did sneak in a few frozen peas. Personally I would throw in some artichoke hearts, zucchini and roasted red peppers...and maybe a handful of feta cheese, but this is going to be a simple one. The beauty of pasta salad is how versatile it is. Just cook some pasta, toss in salad dressing and feel free to experiment and put in what you like and leave out what you don't!


1/3 c. peanut butter (if you use chunky, make is a 1/2 cup)
1/3 c. milk
1/3. c. teriyaki sauce/marinade

Pop this in a microwave safe bowl and nuke it for 2 minutes. Stir to combine well. Serve warm or at room temp. Easy, huh?


1 lb. bow tie pasta
1 c. vinegar-based dressing (your choice...or Kami's, lol),
1/2 small red onion, minced
1 med. can sliced black olives
1/2 c. frozen peas
1 c. chopped broccoli
Optional: diced tomato, diced cucumber, diced bell pepper, zucchini, whole snow peas, artichoke hearts... whatever veggies you like raw or lightly steamed

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and immediately toss in 1/2 c. salad dressing while it is still hot. When the pasta is cool, add in remaining ingredients, the additional 1/2 c. salad dressing and salt/pepper to taste.

Simple, easy, fast. I like meals like that! Tomorrow I am tossing beef stew in the crockpot to cook while we are at CHET. I'll coerce David into cooking some rice before we get home and dinner will be ready and yummy.

Until next time, stay warm and loved, my friends!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Southwestern Black Bean Soup - It's a Cheerleading Competition Kinda Day!

It's been a busy week. I wish I had time during this last week to post a few recipes, but it was not meant to be. I think last night was the first night that I was home all week. I feel like I wake up in the morning and hit the ground running, barely having time to grab a cup of coffee before I have to head out the door. Kami's birthday was on Monday and she turned 14. I remember being pregnant with her - it feels like it was just the other day. It is hard to believe that God has blessed us so tremendously with her. For those of you who don't know her story, here are a few highlights:

In early June of 1996 I found out I was pregnant for the 3rd time. It was a bit of a surprise - ask David. he didn't want to even talk about it for almost 2 months. At the same time I had been experiencing some stomach pains. We went on a family vacation and while we were gone I had a horrible attack of abdominal pain. When we got home I went to the doctor. They did tests, blood work, ultra-sound... all showed nothing. He said it "sounded like" gallstones, but they saw nothing. He advised me to go on a fat-free diet and rest as much as possible. If it WAS gallstones, they wanted to wait until after I had the baby to do any kind of surgical procedure. On July 3 I was in the emergency room and headed for surgery. There were 15 stones in my gallbladder and I had already passed 13 that were lodged in my bile duct. I spent 2 weeks in the hospital at which time they thought I may be miscarrying... but that did not happen, thankfully.

I have horrible morning sickness issues. Both of my other pregnancies landed me either in the hospital (Ali) or sent me to an outpatient clinic a couple of times for IV fluids because of severe dehydration. This one was no different and I begged for fluids at home instead, which the doctor allowed. David learned how to change the fluid bags and a home health nurse came in frequently to help. I was pretty sick... it went on for about 8 weeks (nothing to eat or drink) and I developed a pseudo-cyst on my pancreas - think pancreatitis pain and throwing up all the time - so NOT fun! Back to the hospital I went. I had not eaten for 8 weeks, so needless to say my body was depleted of all nutrients. It took 2 weeks of a variety of fluids as well as 2 or 3 blood transfusions before they would even consider surgery... still pregnant and about to hit my 2nd trimester. I spent another month in the hospital after the surgery before I begged to go home. They did. The doctors said that because of all the radiation I had, the baby would have developmental delays, possible learning disabilities, etc. What do they know?? :) Kami was born 4 weeks early, walked at 7 1/2 months, is brilliant, an incredibly talented cheerleader/tumbler and so full of energy and spunk, you would never know she had gone through so much before she breathed her first breath. Thank you God for blessing us so richly!!

So... today we are off to the World Spirit Association's competition at David Lipscomb University. Kami's squad is competing for the 5th time this year. Please let them win it!! Soup will be waiting in the crockpot when we get home! YUM!


1 lb. dry black beans, soaked over night
1 med. onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. diced carrots
1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 can whole kernel corn
5-6 cups chicken broth (homemade from the freezer!)
1 t. cumin
1 T. chili powder
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper

Soak the beans overnight or bring to a boil, boil 2 min. then turn off heat, cover and let sit for an hour. Add to crockpot with all remaining ingredients. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Enjoy :)

That was quick, but yet again, I have to hit the ground running! If I had celery, I would have put that in too. Until next time, stay warm and loved, my friends!


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Basil Garlic Chicken Breasts or Finding Time To Be Creative

I spent the morning (and early afternoon) with Ronda. Friendships are amazing. This one always has a way of leaving me refreshed, energized, feeling loved and encouraged... everyone needs a Ronda in their lives! We laugh together, have cried together, have held each other accountable, told each other when our ideas are both crazy and wonderful. I'm still waiting for our first "road trip" together. That will be fun. Yesterday we went to Southern Salvage. She is wanting to put in new cabinets in her kitchen and she is trying to figure out how much it is going to cost - weighing the pros and cons of buying unfinished v. finished, what will the configuration be, etc. Me, I'm looking to paint a bathroom and put in new mirrors...and hopefully a new floor, but beggars can't be choosers!!

We hit Home Depot and then had a delicious lunch at Baja Burrito. They are the home of the most amazing fish tacos in Nashville. Really. Don't try to argue with me because nothing can compare to them. I think that is because they are the first ones I ever had and everything else, in my opinion, pales in comparison.

Behind Baja Burrito is this cool, funky little shop full of the most amazing little finds. They have some handmade things in there and Ronda thinks we can pull together some of our own knitted creations and sell them. I'm thinking it would be fun, but I am trying to figure out where the time will come from... right now I need to finish out this busy year of teaching plus direct the drama portion of the church's Easter production AND my CHET drama class's production in May. I think I will have to wait until summer to be creative. It is fun to dream, though. Anyway, it was a fun 6 hours yesterday with Ronda. I don't often get 6 hours to just do what I want, so it was energizing and a BLAST!!

We had chicken again last night. I love chicken, so it was no big deal. Ali wanted baked chicken, so this is what we had (along with baked sweet potatoes, broccoli and garlic spinach)


6 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (or 1 per person)
fresh basil leaves
6 whole garlic cloves
olive oil
kosher salt
cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 375'. Cut each garlic clove in half through both ends (not across the middle) so you have 2 flatter pieces of garlic. Loosen the skin on the chicken and slide in a leaf of basil and the two halves of the clove of garlic. If you like it really garlicky, next time try more - but try it this way first and see how you like it. Repeat with all the pieces of chicken. Place on baking sheet, drizzle with a good drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper and roast in the oven for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

The garlic gets all soft and smooshy under the skin and adds a great taste to the chicken. If you have to make chicken for chicken salad or another casserole recipe, this is a great way to have some really flavorful chicken instead of boiling it on the stove!

Off to get ready for church this morning. It's a busy day in the Brasells' house. Hope you all have a wonderful, blessed day! Until next time, stay warm and loved, my friends!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sticky Chicken (that isn't sticky) - It's a Wonderful and CRAZY Life!

It's been a few days, I know. Sometimes life just gets busy and I need to remember my priorities. As much as I love blogging, I know there are times when I have to get papers graded and laundry done and dinners cooked. With all of the snow we had over the last month, classes were a bit sporadic and I guess I had a little more time on my hands than usual. This week was back to the steady grind. We even had church on Wednesday night, which we had missed the previous week. It is good to be in a routine, but it reminds me how little time I actually have that is just mine to do with as I choose. Between being a mom and wife, I have to teach classes to about 120 students, most of which turn in pesky essays every week that need grading :) It is also time to start putting together both the Easter musical at church and the CHET drama performance...more on the script chosen as soon as I let the kids know ... but it is going to be lots of fun!

Tuesday night's dinner was Sticky Chicken. It is really not sticky, so I don't know how it got that name, but it is very good. When it is not on a Tuesday and I make it in the oven, I make two. This week I put it in the crockpot and came home to dinner all ready because David cooked the rice and the vegetable. It is simple and easy and delicious!! It reminds me of the rotisserie chickens that you get in the deli case at the grocery store.


For each 4-5 lb. whole chicken you will need the following spices (if you are doing 2, double the amounts):
2T paprika
1 T. garlic powder
1 T. onion powder
1 T. thyme leaves
1 T. salt
1/2 T. white pepper

Combine the dry ingredients and then coat the chicken well. Place in a ziploc bag and put in the fridge overnight, or a minimum of 6 hours. Heat the oven to 250'. Place a whole peeled onion in the cavity of the chicken and roast for 5 hours, uncovered. Yes, 5 hours at 250'. It takes some time, but worth the wait. You can do the same thing on low in a crockpot. Either way, it is delicious!!

I'm on the run. Maybe some more entries this weekend...after I grade papers :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sun Dried Tomato Couscous and the IRS

I tried to do my taxes yesterday. Honestly, I did. My first job was to figure out how much we spent in medical expenses over the last year. I opened all of the statements of benefits, or whatever they were, I even went online to the health insurance website and downloaded our quarterly reports. I guess I just don't get it. I am going to have to call someone, and that means sitting on the phone for hours listening to either someone-with-very-bad-musical-taste's choice of music or announcements about how much they value my time and appreciate my call and how I will be helped by the next available representative...blah, blah, blah. Needless to say, I didn't get very far with the taxes yesterday. How did I get roped into doing the taxes every year? Probably because I cringe at the thought of paying someone to do it for me! So Monday, Cigna and I have a date on the telephone. Unless I can figure it out before then. I will, however, get them done on Monday.

Last night I pulled "something" out of the freezer for dinner. I have no clue what it was - I think some kind of chili at one time, but I did not date it or label it and when it thawed it smelled like plastic, so I dumped it out and pulled ham out of the freezer - THAT I recognized. I am going to have to be better at dating and labeling what goes into the freezer!! We had carrots and I had 2 boxes of couscous that I decided to make along with the ham. Couscous doesn't have much flavor on its own, but you can doctor it up a little and have quite a tasty dish. It was originally "roasted garlic and olive oil" flavored, but it still needed a little kick to make it even better. Here is what I came up with.


2 boxes couscous (any flavor, or none at all - your choice)
1 small onion, minced
2 T olive oil
2 T. butter
5-6 sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil, diced
3 c. chicken stock
1 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly cracked pepper

In large saucepan heat olive oil and butter. Add onion and saute until tender and slightly golden. (If I did not have garlic flavored couscous I would probably have tossed in a minced clove of garlic or two towards the end of the cooking time here). Add the couscous and stir to coat in the onion mixture coating as much as possible. Add in the seasoning packets from the boxes of couscous and salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add in the stock and tomatoes, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and allow to steam for 20 minutes. I do not wait until it comes to a boil before reducing the heat. It will heat on its own and be nice and done. trust me on this. DON'T PEEK!! Fluff with a fork before serving. Stirring and boiling are the sworn enemies of couscous. It will become a gummy ball if you do any peeking and stirring!!

Hope you love it!! Until next time - be warm and loved, my friends!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Shepherd's Pie vs. 3 Teenaged Boys (It Wasn't a Fair Fight!)

Didn't I tell you about teenage boys yesterday?? My afternoon centered around taking 6 teenagers (3 girls, 3 boys) shopping. Insanity probably runs in my family, but we hide it well from the general public. I was smart, but not smart enough. I dropped the boys off at the mall and they had a grand time talking to strangers (some were not amused), yelling at benches (they won't be doing that again!), playing hide & seek and hanging upside down from the "inversion tables" at Sears. (David and I came up with that name. Neither one of us is really sure what they are called). They were smart (or dumb) enough to take some videos... good evidence for later, I guess. I kinda wish I had gone with them instead of the girls. I am not much of a shopper :)

The girls and I hit Target - Kami has been trying to find something to spend a $10 gift card on for a while and can't quite settle on anything. I feel another trip up there in the not too distant future. This one was trip number 4. Still left empty handed. Me, I would have hit the chocolate aisle and called it a day. Or a scarf... nah, it would have been chocolate.

Ali met us there since we were "in the neighborhood" and then we headed to TJ Maxx. Kami found a few cute things and one thing that I put the old "Mom Kibosh" on. Lord have mercy!! Honestly, one lucky shorts manufacturer out there would make a killing if they realized the apparently untapped market for modest shorts that may not come all the way down to the knee, but somewhere decently in between there and what she put on! Gracious! So the shorts were a "no-go" but a cute dress and a cute top later (plus the athletic shorts I bought for her and the washcloths for Jessica) we dropped Ali off at her truck and headed over to Kohl's. She managed to spend every last penny of her babysitting money (plus a little bit of MY money) on jeans and another top.

Next we headed to the mall, nabbed the boys, had a snack, a quick trip through American Eagle and I shuffled them out to the car - it was late and I had kids to return to their homes. David worked on dinner at home while I played taxi driver. It was nice to come home to dinner ready and waiting. It is one of our family's favorites and I am pretty sure if you don't already make it, you will, and you will add it to your regular monthly menu. It is simple and not quite like the British version, but more like what you had in the school lunchroom of your childhood. I had leftover mashed potatoes from the other day, which saved a lot of time and made it easy to throw together. All he had to do was brown the meat and make the layers.


1 lb. ground beef (or turkey)
1 med. onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic minced
1 can cream of celery (or whatever kind) soup (low-fat works well in this recipe)
1 1/2 c. frozen corn (or 1 can) (really, any veggie works great - use what is leftover in the fridge)
1 c. shredded cheddar
3-4 cups mashed potatoes

In large skillet, brown ground beef, onion and garlic until meat is no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cream of celery soup and heat it through. Pour this into the bottom of a casserole dish (David did it in an iron skillet last night - they do everything in iron skillets at the fire hall). Top this with the corn, then the cheese and finally top with the mashed potatoes. If you want to be really nostalgic, sprinkle on some paprika and you will feel like you are back in grade school "back in the day". Throw it in a 350' oven for 20-30 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Add a green salad and you are good to go! You can brown the meat right in the same iron skillet that you bake it in and save a dish or two!

I don't have a photo... did I mention I had 3 teenage boys in the house last night??

Until next time, stay warm and safe, my friends!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Steak Gyro Sandwiches and Tzatziki Sauce (and pictures from Greece!)

I love Greek food. I think I have said that before when I wrote about the Greek salad. One of my dreams in life, based purely on photographs, was to go to Greece. The color of the Mediterranean Sea against the rocky cliffs dotted with the white houses topped with blue domes matching the color of the sea really called to me. I was fortunate enough to be able to see that in person back in 2004, and it is every bit as spectacular and then some more. I don't think pictures can capture the depth of color and they certainly don't capture the smells and sounds and the panoramic beauty. One of our visits was to Rhodes. We rode donkeys that day (I will never do THAT again!) in Lindos up to the Acropolis (see it in the distace?) and went to the Valley of Butterflies. It was breath-takingly beautiful.

view of Lindos and Acropolis
View of Lindos and Acropolis in Rhodes

"artsy" shot

To see some more of the incredible shots (mostly taken by David) go here: http://community.webshots.com/user/szazzy61265

So back to the food. I had a craving for some Greek flavors. While I was grocery shopping I got a great deal on some petite sirloin steaks and had a bright idea for a great knock-off of a gyro (correctly pronounced "year-oh"). They came out quite delicious. Here is the recipe. Enjoy it!


8 petite sirloin steaks (You can use any steak you like. This is just what was on sale last week)

2 T. olive oil
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper

Combine and pour into gallon-size zip-lock bag. Add steaks, toss and refrigerate 2+ hours - turning occasionally. When you are ready to prepare dinner, grill or broil the steaks to desired doneness, allow to sit for several minutes before slicing into thin slices against the grain.

TZATZIKI SAUCE - this is vital and yummy and works as a great veggie dip or salad dressing, too. Greek yogurt is easily found now in the grocery store, produced by both Dannon and Stonyfield Farms (from Londonderry, NH - one of my best friends in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD lives there practically in the backyard of the house she grew up in and where I spent many many nights... remind me to tell you about the night her hamster slept in my hair)

16 oz. Greek yogurt (or plain yogurt...not vanilla, and certainly NOT blueberry)
1 large cucumber
3 cloves garlic
1 lemon, juiced
1 t. dried dill (or fresh up it to 1 T)
2 T. olive oil
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper

Place the yogurt in a bowl. Peel the cucumber and grate it on a box grater using the larger grate as you would for cheese, right into the yogurt. Mince, crush or microplane 3 cloves of garlic into the yogurt and add in the remaining ingredients. Whisk until well combined, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Taste before serving - you may need to add some more salt.

For the sandwiches you will need:
Pita pocket bread
cucumber, sliced thin
tomatoes, sliced thin
red onion, sliced thin
feta cheese
black or kalamata olives

In the pocket bread add your choice of vegetables, top with some of the sliced steak then top with feta, olives and a couple of spoonfuls of tzatziki sauce.

I had teenage girls eat this last night and tell me it was yummy... they are some of the best critics. Teenage boys will eat ANYTHING, so I don't usually trust their palates. The girls ate it all up, so I am satisfied that this is a keeper... plus Kami told me I needed to make it more often. So this time I am grateful for the blog so I know where to find the recipe next time :) I would love it if you would pass the blog posts on to your friends. I am really enjoying doing these on an almost daily basis and hope that you are both inspired to try new things and to cook more often for your friends and family. I would love to see some "followers" who are not my personal friends on facebook, so if you are reading this and not a "follower" sign on and follow me. Also, I love the comments when you post them. Remember, you can post as "anonymous" if you don't have an account. Just tell me who you are :)

It was 4 degrees here this morning. I love winter, really I do. I am just glad to see the sunshine. It has warmed up 20 degrees in less than 3 hours! Until next time, stay WARM and loved, my friends!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pumpkin Gingerbread - It's just that kinda day

I love winter. Really, I do. But I live in the South and we don't get Winter, we get winter... BIG difference. Apparently someone didn't tell the jet stream or whatever it is that makes weather happen. We have had 7 snow storms this winter according to Channel 4. That's a lot! It is very pretty, though, when the sun shines on it and it is all sparkly and fresh. I am, however, ready for Spring.

I need to bake. I am going to make this once I drop Kami and Emily off at cheer practice. Ella has been sick this week so she is going to hang out at the house with me and while they are tumbling around, I am going to make a batch of this bread. It is warm and so yummy. I got the recipe at the same place where I got the Santaberry Sauce that I posted back in December. I wanted to bake this several times over the course of the last year, but apparently something tragic happened to the pumpkin crop in the US and I could not find canned pumpkin to save my life until around October. I nearly had a little party in the canned fruit aisle when I saw it. I bought several cans and am building up my arsenal. You never know when you will need pumpkin bread. This is the best recipe I know. It should actually be called "Gingery Pumpkin Bread" because it is not gingerbread at all. Won't you bake some too?? It may end up replacing your favorite recipe.


3 c. sugar
1 c. vegetable oil
4 eggs
2/3 c. water
16 oz. can pumpkin
2 t. ginger
1 t. each (all ground) cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice
3 1/2 c. flour (all-purpose)
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350'. In large bowl, mix together sugar, oil and eggs; add water. Beat in pumpkin and spices. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; add to pumpkin mixture and stir just until blended. Pour into two greased 5x9 inch loaf pans. Bake 1 hour or until bread tests done (toothpick inserted into center comes out clean). Occasionally I have to bake it a little longer.

Lemon glaze: combine 4 T soft butter with 2 c. powdered sugar and then thin with lemon juice until it is just thin enough to spread, but not too thin. Frost when bread is cool.

May your house smell wonderful, warm and sweet! Until next time, stay warm and loved, my friends!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Andrew's Fudgies - School Lunch memories

I grew up in New England - contrary to some (cough cough, Emilie), it is not a foreign country :) I had the joy of attending the local public schools. In those days they were small - not quite one room schoolhouses, but small - Memorial School housed 1st and 2nd grade and then I was in the first 3rd grade class at the brand new Peter Woodbury Elementary. It housed 3rd and 4th grades. Middle School was at McKelvie Middle School - all in Bedford, New Hampshire. I think all of the schools are still there, but I am not sure how they are being used. I do remember school lunches... Hot lunches were .40 or $2 a week. I remember milk being .05 and when I was really little, it came in glass bottles with paper stoppers. We drank it through red and white paper straws. We would get two straws because they did become soggy midway through lunch. I even worked in the cafeteria for a while in middle school. I don't remember why I did it, but I remember serving jello and bread and cake - and a wonderful dessert called Andrew's Fudgies. In the 70s, when I was a youngin', I recall Fridays being fish (or meatless) days - since the majority of the population was Catholic, that is not surprising. I also remember the government allotments of soybeans and peanut butter often found their way onto our lunch trays. It wasn't all that bad; in fact, today's school cafeterias might want to take a step back into the 70s for a lesson in healthy meals. Pizza was rare, fries were non-existent, and there were vegetables every day. Granted they were from a can, but still, they were there none-the-less!

But back to dessert - one of the most memorable items on the tray - a favorite was Andrew's Fudgies. I think it is a New England recipe. I looked it up online to see if I could find its origin and found some links to an old radio show host and some other things. All of the posts mentioned it being from New England, so that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Apparently it is also Portuguese - who knew? I found a "Provincetown [Massachusetts] Portuguese Cookbook" with the following history:
"Andrew's Fudgies
Rachel Silva White
Rachel White's friend Mary Anastasi, who was born in Portugal, obtained this recipe as a gift for her husband Andrew from a baker in Fatima. Hence the name Andrew's Fudgies. In exchange for the recipe, Mary had to give the baker all of her silk stockings as a gift for his wife, including the pair she was wearing. She flew home happy, but bare legged.
The baker told Mary that the original recipe called for one cup of oil and two or three squares of solid chocolate. He was forced to substitute cocoa and increase the oil because solid chocolate was not available in Portugal in the 1960's."

My recipe card for this is old, stained, and folded in several places, so I figured I would make a more permanent copy here on the blog. Mine seems to be almost exactly the same as Mary's recipe. I hope you enjoy it!


2/3 c. plus 1/4 c. cooking oil
3/4 c. cocoa
2 eggs
2 c. plus 3 T sugar
2 1/2 c. flour
1 t. soda
1 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 c. cold water
1 c. chocolate chips
1 c. nuts (pecans or walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350'. Beat all ingredients, except for the chocolate chips, nuts and 3 T. sugar. Place mixture in UNGREASED 9x13 or 11x17 pan (the bigger the pan, the thinner the fudgies). Sprinkle with chocolate chips, nut and last the sugar. Bake at 350' for 45 minutes.

There is your chocolate fix for now! We are expecting more snow tomorrow afternoon. Yeesh! This Yankee is DONE with winter!! Until next time stay WARM and loved!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

My "Apparently Big Football Game That I Didn't Watch" Party Recipes

I am not a fan of football... so shoot me. Fortunately for me I did not marry a football fanatic. He watches the games, but I don't think he has ever owned a jersey or called a team "his". The kids also are not big sports fans. My dad watched sports. I remember even watching bowling on Saturdays, listening to the Red Sox on the car radio on the way home from somewhere... church, the Shuler's house, somewhere obviously less memorable... I remember him yelling at the TV, but somehow those genes were not passed along to me. I really could care less, don't understand the game, and don't have any allegiance, other than to the Patriots because, let's face it, New England really is The Promised Land :) I have watched very few football games in my life. Until a year and a half ago I could honestly say that I had never even watched on. Joey Keefe at church looked at me with such shock and horrified amazement when he found out that little tidbit of trivia that I thought I must really be missing something and decided that I would be come a fan. I watched a few games, even watched the BIG ONE last year. I tried, honestly I did. It didn't take. This year I was positioned so I could barely see the screen. I didn't mind a bit. I would rather talk than watch... except for the commercials and half-time.

This year I listened in horror as Christina Aguilera (or however you spell her name) totally botched our National Anthem. Really... they should have to sign a contract and pass a couple of memorization tests before they are allowed to sing that song. How can you mess it up? It really is not that long... apparently she likes the line, "What so proudly we hail at the twilight's last gleaming" more than "Or the ramparts we watch were so gallantly streaming" since she sang that twice. I guess I shouldn't knock it. I am not the one singing it in front of billions of people. I would be under the stage in a fetal position...not that they'd ever ask me to sing it, I'm just sayin'. The Black Eyed Peas were not that great either, disappointing in fact. I thought Fergie was the singer of the bunch, not the screamer. She should stick to singing.

What I do love, is the fellowship and the snacking. I made some delicious Oreo truffles and a pizza fondue. I thought I would share those recipes with you. One comes straight from Nabisco, the other from my own head, and what I can remember of the recipe that was in my crockpot's cookbook from 22 years ago, now long gone. Don't be chintzy with the cookies. Buy the real thing.


1 1b. pkg. Oreos
1 8oz. block of cream cheese
16 oz. white or chocolate almond bark

In food processor, reduce the entire package of cookies to crumbs. Add in block of softened cream cheese and process until thoroughly combines. You will have a nice scoopable dough. Make this into balls. I use a small scoop, but you could use teaspoons. The point is to make them bite-sized. You should get about 48 of them. Cut up the chocolate and melt it in the microwave according to the package directions. Dip the balls into the chocolate and place on parchment or wax paper to harden. Store in airtight container in the fridge. I recommend putting a motion sensor alarm on them, too, if you want them to make it to game day :)

For the fondue, feel free to add whatever "toppings" you like and leave out what you do not like. It is very versatile. It is everything you would put on a pizza without the crust.


1 lb. Italian sausage, browned
1 pkg. pepperoni, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 pkg. mushroom, chopped
2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1 28 oz. can tomato puree
1 t. garlic powder/granulated garlic
2 t. oregano
2 t. basil
2 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1 T. sugar
1 c. freshly shredded Parmesan
1 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella

Brown the sausage, put all ingredients into the crock pot, except for the cheese. Allow it to cook for 2-3 hours on high so it is really hot and the flavors meld together. About 30 minutes before serving, first stir in the Parmesan cheese, about 1/3 c. at a time. Then stir in the cheese about 1/2 c. at a time. Serve with tortilla chips or chunks of Italian bread for dipping.

I have some leftover that is going on pasta tonight with melted mozzarella on top :) Should be yummy!!

Until next time, stay warm and loved, my friends!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Summer Squash Casserole and the Daily Grammar Lesson

It's Friday. I am so glad to have made it through the week. Snow and icy weather threatens us for the next week. Wonder how much we will get and how or if it will affect the roads. We shall see!

I am pretty much a stickler for grammar and spelling; however, I am not perfect myself. I often make typos and sometimes forget to hit "spell check" before I hit "publish post" and then pay for it. It is odd that the spelling errors or typos don't show up when I skim over it, but when I hit post and then look at it, they are like strobe lights!! Most of my friends (and family) know that there are things that stick out to me and make my skin crawl. When I hear someone say, "Now, that's a whole nother story!" I have to admit it is like fingernails on a chalkboard...my kids will crane their necks to see my reaction if they are in the same room. There is NO SUCH WORD AS "NOTHER"... or is there? I looked it up. Apparently its first known use (notice the lack of apostrophe in "its" - possessive) was in 1909 - over 100 years ago. It does say that it's (contraction for "it" + "is") primarily used in speech and informal writing. I guess I can give it that. I guess I just don't understand why we feel the need to give a dictionary entry to a word that is the result of "poor English." Why can't people just say it properly... "That is an entirely different story!"

The other thing that really "chaps my hide" is that we were so beat over the head to say "she and I" that we forget that "her and me" is still proper English, too! You should say "She and I went to the store." when "I" is part of the subject of the sentence. If it is not, the word "me" may be perfectly acceptable, in fact, it is probably right! "They gave the awards to her and me." You wouldn't say, "They gave the awards to she." or "They gave the awards to I." I heard a public speaker say it wrong the other day a couple of times and I have to say, I wished I wore hearing aids so I could turn them off :)

Ok, off my soapbox for now... Summer Squash Casserole (Melissa, you have my permission to leave the cracker crumbs off of the top). When I was in college they made a casserole similar to this on the Sundays that they made fried chicken for Sunday dinner. It was one of the best things to come out of "that school," lol. This is not their recipe, which I am sure was loaded with butter and other very fattening things. But it is just as yummy!!


4-5 summer squash or a mix of summer squash and zucchini, sliced in 1/2-inch thick rounds
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. olive oil
1/2 c. sour cream
1 c. shredded cheddar
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
salt and pepper

In a saucepan, heat oil and saute the onion just until it begins to soften, then stir in the squash and garlic. Add in about 1 t. salt and 1/4 t. black pepper. Cover and let it steam until the squash is soft, but not mush! Preheat the oven to 350' and grease a 9x13 casserole dish. Toss the squash with 1/2 c. sour cream and 1/2 c. shredded cheese. Taste for seasoning then spread in prepared pan. Mix together the cracker crumbs and the other 1/2 c. cheese and top the squash. Slide into the hot oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Kale Soup - The Portuguese Way

Yesterday I posted a Portuguese recipe for cabbage rolls. That is just one of the Brasells family traditional recipes, with a few little additions of my own (I can't help it). My sister-in-law, Beth, knows all about the history of the Brasells family... how they came over from the Azores, where they had migrated from Portugal to escape the Spanish Inquisition, how they changed the original spelling of their last name from Barcellos to Brasells, which family members came, who got mad at whom and never spoke to them again (I almost imagine those grandmothers of old spitting and casting an old Portuguese curse, lol)... I just have a couple of recipes. I hope those continue on in the Brasells family. Nate is the only boy of the only boy of the only boy of his great grandfather, so he is the one to carry on the family name in this particular line. He can cook - I hope he passes this one on to his children... and has a couple of boys, instead of just one :)


1 med. onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 beef soup bone, shank or other
2 t. salt
2 cans kidney beans
2 bunches Kale, cleaned well and chopped
6 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 head cabbage, shredded
1 lb. linguica, sliced
1 lb. elbow macaroni, cooked

In stock pot, place onion, garlic, soup bone and water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer until meat on the bone is cooked through. Add kale and cabbage, and return to a boil. Simmer until kale and cabbage is about half cooked, then add linguica, potatoes and kidney beans, cook an additional 30 minutes until potatoes are tender. Serve over elbow macaroni.

David likes to cook the macaroni in the soup, but for me, I do it separate. When you eat the leftovers, and there WILL be leftovers, the macaroni tends to absorb all the broth and get too mushy for my liking, so I keep them separate. Do it either way you like it. Also, I prefer to eat it up as opposed to putting this on in the freezer since freezing cooked potatoes is not a good idea either - they get all grainy.

Today is Pepperoncini Pulled Pork in the crockpot :) Doesn't that sound yummy!!
Big snow heading to the Midwest - missing us, thankfully!!
Until next time, stay warm and loved, my friends!!