The SLow Down

Ah, February – the month of Love!  January did a fly by on my radar.  It was a busy month, full of emotionally charged days that I’m glad are past me.  I ate my way through the month and I’m currently trying to come down off the high of feeding my stress.  As I sit here typing this, I’m wishing I had on my pajama pants since my jeans have become less like clothing and more like a torture device.

My mother had her aortic aneurysm surgery in the middle of January and she did very well.   I can now say with certainty for a fact, I am not capable of taking care of her in any way, shape or form.  And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.  The facts are as follows:

#1. She wants things the way she wants things and I am too much of a controlling person to be ok with that.

#2.  She’s not willing to help herself and I cannot feel responsible for that.

#3.  She does not trust me, never has, never will.

We are oil and water and a life and/or death situation does not change that fact. Those reasons are enough to fuel the fact that this type scenario will not – can not – take place again.

However, every rain cloud has a silver lining.  About 7 years ago when we moved to Indiana, we (I) gave away our dachshund and I’ve never really gotten over wanting another one (or feeling guilty that I gave him up).  Knowing this, the Better Half decided to buy me a new dachshund puppy as a late Christmas gift.  She is an absolute joy!  She’s adorable and so, so sweet!  My youngest daughter named her “Gretchen Wieners” but to simplify things a little bit, we call her ‘Indy’.  She, like most doxies, is a cuddle bunny, her favorite thing is to be held and snuggled.  She bunks with the oldest as she doesn’t have a “pet” other than her Betta fish, Bae and he’s too hard to snuggle with.

It’s been chaotic trying to potty train her and to keep up with everything else, but I have no doubt as things calm down and I can focus more attention on her she’ll have it in no time!  As they say, there are no bad dogs, only bad owners and I don’t want to be a bad owner!

It’s only the 1st, but I’ve already started working towards Valentine’s Day!  It’s one of my favorite days of the year. Here are some of the ideas I’m tacking for this Valentine’s Day.

Valentine Pretzel Buttons

Seven Days of Love, for both the Better Half & the girls

and because they know I love to make them, the girls requested my cut out sugar cookies, which I’m happy to do because really, who doesn’t love ❤️s?!

Yesterday I jumped in feet first and decided to experiment with my new silicone heart molds, I melted some Ghirardelli dark chocolate wafers and some Ghirardelli white chocolate wafers.  I put in the heart molds, pistachios, craisins, dates, toffee chips, mallow bits, rainbow & crystalized sugar sprinkles and then piped in my melted chocolate.  Placed them in the fridge for abut 30 minutes and boom!  Instant “homemade” chocolates!  Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!  You can see it here at No.2 Pencil!

I do hope you all have a beautiful and love filled February!  I hope to see more of the blog this month!!  (I’m saying that a lot these days, aren’t I?!)

Do what makes your heart happy!

xoxo

 

 

Chicken Salad Casserole

I’m making a classic chicken dish and I wanted to share it with you since I couldn’t find this particular version of the recipe online.  Although I’m almost positive it’s around here somewhere!  The versions I came across are mixed with more fattening options, such as condensed soups, sour cream, buttery crackers and potato chips!

So far I have done really well in 2017, cooking for the family and losing some unwanted Christmas poundage.  And I’m continuing on…

Tonight’s dinner is Chicken Salad Casserole from the American Heart Association Cookbook.  I have doubled the recipe since we have a family of 5 and not everyone’s on a diet!

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Chicken Salad Casserole
Makes 8 servings (about 7 cups)

1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. skim milk
4 c. cubed cooked chicken
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 8 oz. can mushrooms, drained
1 c. water chestnuts, chopped
1 c. onion, chopped
1 4 oz. jar sliced pimento, drained
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. thyme
Freshly ground pepper

Salt
1/2 c. fat free cheddar cheese
(I am adding to this recipe: salt, of course and some fat free cheddar cheese.  I know people don’t care for the taste of low fat or fat free “fake cheese” and that’s fine.  You can use full fat, it just ups the calories and fat content.)

In a 2 quart casserole, combine milk and mayonnaise; mix in all remaining ingredients except the cheese.  Cover and bake at 350* for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven sprinkle top with cheese and place back in oven uncovered until cheese melts and heated through.

Nutrition Facts
Servings 8.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 258
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13 g 20 %
Saturated Fat 2 g 12 %
Monounsaturated Fat 4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 6 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 63 mg 21 %
Sodium 528 mg 22 %
Potassium 143 mg 4 %
Total Carbohydrate 9 g 3 %
Dietary Fiber 1 g 6 %
Sugars 3 g
Protein 24 g 47 %
Vitamin A 13 %
Vitamin C 35 %
Calcium 12 %
Iron 4 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

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I thought this was delicious!  My kids however, thought the vegetables were a little overwhelming, but they did like the chicken!  I would have to agree, if I were a kid, I probably wouldn’t have liked it either.  But shhhh, cuz I didn’t tell them that!

xoxo

 

 

Finishing

Happy New Year!

My 2017 has finally begun!  Four days late, but hey – better than never!!  I wish I could go back and write every day for the last month, but there’s absolutely no way that’s going to happen!!  I’ll be good to finish a thought here, today, now!

December was busy doing normal December things, shopping, baking, eating, decorating and just enjoying (well, not a lot of enjoying, mostly running from one thing to another) but it was good all the same.  Nothing monumental and thankfully, we all plowed through unscathed.

To begin the year off on the right foot, I did a little critiquing of myself.  I found that I am a terrible “finisher”.  I used to finish EVERYTHING I started and I couldn’t – wouldn’t – stop until I finished.  And I did it well too, none of this half-assed stuff.  That was when my OCD was at it’s worst.  However, as I’ve come to be more comfortable with myself (and loved for who I am not for who someone wants me to be) I have become much more lax in my abilities to finish what I start.  Starting is really easy, finishing is (apparently) extremely difficult!  And instead of concentrating on finishing what I’ve started, I’m wanting to take on more and more things!

Here’s just a few examples of things I’ve started that I really, really need to finish!

#1. The girls baby books (and they are 14 & 15).

#2. A cross-stitch I started over 20 years ago for my now ex-husband.  I work on it off and on because I WANT to finish it!  The funny thing is it’s of endangered animals and I joke, they’re all gonna be extinct by the time I finish the damn thing!

#3. Organizing my photos

#4. Painting the basement.

#5. Making CD’s for our jukebox.

And this is only a PARTIAL list…there are tons of projects that have been started around here and I’ve just set them aside.  This year I am vowing to finish things I’ve started.  I am not going to start another project until I complete the ones that are hanging out there.  It’s going to take definite determination and focus.  There are tons of things I want to be different this year than last, focusing on my family, weight loss, projects both new and unfinished, keeping up with my cooking, my photography, etc.  I’m hoping that I can share a lot more of my 2017 with you!

xoxo

 

I’d Like “Sa-moa” of Those Please

Like a lot of kids, I wasn’t a fan of nuts or coconut when I was a kid.  And of course, as my daughter states, “Mom, fruit in a dessert is NOT a dessert”, I didn’t really care for fruit filled desserts.  Although I wouldn’t turn them down, they certainly weren’t my first choice.  (I could suck down three or four Hostess fruit pies, but are those even real fruit?!?)  Well, and like a lot of things, my attitude towards many foods have changed over the years and I am now, indeed, a fan of all of those things and then some.

My favorite Girl Scout cookies were thin mints, samoas and tag-a-longs.  But as I grew older, I found myself just wanting the samoas.  The buttery, chewy caramel with just the right amount of chocolate and coconut, so yummy.  A couple weeks ago when I was searching Pinterest, a pin for Samoa truffles showed up on my feed.  I thought, hmmm, those look delicious!

A few days ago I compiled a Christmas baking list and the Samoa truffles definitely made the cut.  I mentioned I was making them and my mother said, “oh, the Girl Scouts gave away their recipe did they?”  After tasting these I’m beginning to think they may have!

Here’s the recipe: Samoa Truffles from shugarysweets

 

The only difference, I couldn’t find the dulce de leche so I used jarred Smucker’s salted caramel. The samoas did spread some and were very soft but they were still delicious and I would make them again in a heartbeat with or without it!!  I just simply kept them in the fridge.  I have since found the brand she recommends using at our local grocery store in the Mexican Food aisle.

If you like samoas, I would suggest giving these a go.  They really do taste just like a samoa.  Such buttery goodness!

xoxo

Brownies with a Twist (actually more like a sharp turn)

Good morning!!  I owe you a huge thank you if you’re still with me!  I’m not doing my part here at ALL!  Hard to fathom it’s been almost a month since I’ve posted anything.  The last three to four weeks has been filled to capacity with one thing after another.  After our trip to Shipshewana, we all proceeded to enjoy a viral infection that ran it’s course through all four of us and has really taken it’s time leaving.  The better half and I still have some congestion, but thankfully the girls are all clear.  We do believe our cat has it currently, as she’s sneezing and her eyes are squinty and watering.  We took her to the vet on Tuesday and they gave her an antibiotic injection. 

My mother flew in from Georgia the week before Thanksgiving.  She has come for the holidays as per tradition, but this time she will be gracing us with her presence for a bit longer than usual.  She has an AAA, an abdominal aortic aneurism that will need to be fixed via “open” surgery.  We have been running to and from doctor’s offices during the past couple weeks to make sure all is well.  She’s already met with the surgeon and recently took a stress test, which we are now awaiting the results.  I believe then the surgery can be scheduled.  Once the three hour surgery is complete, she will spend a week in the hospital and another 6-8 weeks recuperating.  It’s going to be a very long, long three months for me.

This Christmas the girls will head to their dad’s.  We will delay our Christmas with them until the end of the month.  It’s not the worst thing in the world, it gives me a little more time to shop for last minute gifts but I sure don’t like them not being home – no matter what time of year it is.  All a bit stressful, but so far manageable with wine.  But despite all that – the REAL news here is – I baked something AMAZING yesterday!  This is the first thing I’ve baked this holiday season (other than a poundcake that turned out to be pretty gross).

Let me introduce to you…Godiva Liqueur Brownies!  Holy Smokes, these little beauties are to DIE for!!  Godiva became my favorite chocolate a few years ago during my stressful, five year divorce I was going through.  We really bonded during one New Year’s Eve, when I broke down and spent $350 on a box of handmade Godiva chocolates and spent that night in bed watching the ball drop and all whilst marveling over every bite.  Yep – it’s a tight bond.  I’ve never forgotten her getting me through that New Year’s.  She will always hold a special place in my heart.

I don’t drink alcohol any more only wine, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like liquor, I just don’t drink it – but I will eat it on occasion!  Like when I saw this recipe and immediately said to myself, “yep, that’s gonna be in the Christmas Lineup!”  So without further ado – here’s the recipe, found in the December 2016 Taste of Home 12 Days of Christmas Cookies by Terry Rasey, Cadillac, MI.

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Godiva Liqueur Brownies

3/4 c. butter, softened
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. packed brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 c. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
2 T. chocolate vodka (I used 360 Double Chocolate)
2 T. creme de cacao (I used dark)
 1 1/3 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. baking cocoa (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 t. baking powder
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used mini semi-sweet chocolate chips)

Glaze: (although I turned mine into icing by tripling the recipe)

1 c. confectioners’ sugar
4 t. butter, melted
2 T. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
1 T. chocolate vodka 
1 T. creme de cacao

Preheat oven to 350*.  Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the liqueur, vodka and creme de cacao.  In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking cocoa and baking powder until well mixed.  Stir in the semi-sweet chocolate chips.  Fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture just until combined.  Transfer to a 13×9″ baking dish coated with cooking spray, bake just until center is set, 24-28 minutes (do not overtake).  Cool brownies completely in the pan on a wire rack.  

For the glaze, mix all ingredients until smooth, spread over brownies.  Cut into 24 bars and store in an airtight container.  

Really, these are super delicious!  If you’re baking for adults (my kids tried them but weren’t big fans of the icing) that enjoy a little nip with their holidays, give these a try!  Have a wonderful day and I swear, I’ll post more than this one post this month!!

xoxo

Zucchini Bars…anyone?!

I’ve really been concentrating on my weight loss lately.  Trying NOT to indulge in baking all the yummy things I enjoy, but the ole Waffle Blog is suffering – it’s just too quiet over here!!

This past Thursday, we drove to Shipshewana, Indiana.  Just for a mini getaway before my mother arrives.  We didn’t really “do” much, just saw the sites and walked around the town…oh, and of course, ate.

For one early dinner, we visited the Blue Gate Restaurant and had their buffet.  It was good, I’d give it a B- as I thought it needed more vegetables but the taste was good.  It was the standard hometown fare – fried & baked chicken, mac & cheese, you know the drill.  I should have stopped at the salad and the baked chicken, but nope…I just had to try the desserts!

All that I tasted were good, but there was one in particular that I enjoyed more than the others.  It had chocolate chips sprinkled on the top and it wasn’t super sweet like the other cakes and it had green “things” in it.  My first thought was – zucchini cake although to my knowledge I’ve never had zucchini cake before.  I asked the waiter and after checking with the kitchen staff, he claimed it was zucchini bars!  They were delicious!!  Of course, ever since I ate it, I’ve been on the hunt for THIS particular recipe…chocolate chips on top, no frosting, mild spice flavor like cinnamon, zucchini bars or zucchini cake.  So far I’ve found one with the chocolate chips on top, but it was made with Bisquick.  I’m going to take a guess that that ain’t it.

This week, I WILL be baking SOMETHING with zucchini in it, so be on the look out for it!  And if anyone may have a recipe for zucchini bars that sound like the one I had in Shipshawana, please, please let me know!

In preparation for my mother’s arrival this evening, I’ll be making some creamy chicken soup and some pull apart pumpkin bread that I found on Pinterest.  Be on the lookout for an update to this post as well!

Have a great day everyone!

xoxo

Well – the layzies set in.  I cooked dinner, but I didn’t make the pull apart pumpkin bread.  Of course, as soon as my mother walked into the kitchen, “Did you make dessert?”  LOL  Uh, no…I didn’t, but here’s a pork chop.  I did make some Creamy Chicken Soup though!  I followed a recipe from @cj_losingit on Instagram!  It’s delicious and SO easy!

Here’s my version:

Creamy Chicken Soup
10 servings about 287 calories per serving

2 (32 oz.) boxes chicken broth (I use Swanson’s)
chicken bouillon
1 Family Size Healthy Request Fat Free Cream of Chicken
1 (12 oz.) can 2% or fat free evaporated milk
Chopped or sliced – onion, celery and carrots
1 (8 oz.) pkg. wide egg noodles (I started using Inn Maid)
3 trimmed chicken breasts, meat only
1/2 c. frozen peas, optional
salt, pepper, parsley

Boil the chicken in the broth.  Add bouillon if desired for a stronger chicken flavor.  Add vegetables and allow to cook until vegetables are tender and chicken is done and pull-apart-able.  Remove the chicken from the broth and pull apart, add it back to the broth.  Add the cream of chicken soup and evaporated milk, stir to combine.  Then dump in the whole bag of egg noodles.  All those to cook until done.  Add peas and any seasonings you may want and allow to cook until peas are cooked.  Serve and enjoy!  

I love this soup and so does my family!  It’s so easy!

Have a great one!

xoxo

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