“In order to keep a true perspective of one’s importance, everyone should have a dog that will worship him and a cat that will ignore him.” --Dereke Bruce

LIFE WITH LYNN


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

JOGGING DOWN MEMORY LANE!














OK, so the COOLEST thing happened to me!

A dear childhood friend, who I hadn't seen in DECADES, was thinking of me recently, googled my maiden name, found me through Google Profile, and emailed me!  I was soooo jazzed to hear from her!

She still lives in my old hometown, in the same neighborhood we grew up in.  We have had the best time strolling  jogging  streaking down Memory Lane!

Cheryl 













So, we both remember...

...Playing Barbie by the HOURS on a blanket under her big shade tree.   (I was enormously jealous of her double red plastic Barbie case and impressive collection of tiny clothes and accessories!)

... Happily DECESRATING the big Sears and JCPs catalogs.  We would pour through them, imagining we were wives/moms and on a budget and carefully "spending our money", choosing just the right clothes, furniture, accessories, etc., for our families!  We would also cut out the people and other pictures from the catalog pages and arrange "vignettes", sticking them to the wall -- arranging and rearranging!  

...Playing "Invention" (we double, double, toil and troubled crazy, goof-ball mixtures like laundry soap and kitchen salt and Elmer's Glue... not sure now what we were actually trying to invent??! Shoot, not sure we even knew THEN!!  And um... to be honest, this endeavor was not our greatest achievement, LOL!)

...Working feverishly on a secret language that only we would KNOW, and creating a comprehensive DICTIONARY of ALL the words -- oh, I kid you not!!!  (By the way, I even remembered that "mojo" was our code word for "bra" -- something I did not yet own but aspired to need one day!)

...Playing "Jewelry Store" outside, again BY THE HOUR, making "brooches" out of clover or daisies stuck down through leaves, "earrings" from pussy willow buds or buttercups, "rings" from long braided blades of grass!  We would meticulously CREATE our jewelry, then display it artfully on rocks and bushes and hedges, and then carefully (and seriously!) "shop" the wares!  Don't laugh, it was great fun!

What don't we remember?  We don't remember EVER "being bored", watching TV, arguing or fighting.   Even from very young ages, we both clearly remember always being treated by the other with kindness and respect.  We were never mean girls!  

She was the one who first told me about periods.  Her mom gave her a pamphlet, and as a public service announcement (LOL!), she shared the info with me.  And since discussing these types of subjects was NOT my mother's strongest suit, I was deeply appreciative! 


Cheryl is HILARIOUS, some of her emails have left me LOL.  And her memory is awesome, she remembers things that I had long ago forgotten.  For example, that 3 feet tall "walking doll" I had with the eerie, freakishly large eyes and the stiff-legged, stilted walk that always slightly spooked me.  :::shivers!:::

We have found that we have a lot in common.  Just like me, she is married to her high-school sweetheart AND she is a slightly OCD, jewelry-lovin', cat-crazy QUILTER, too!  Can you believe that?!

So it's been a blast reconnecting with her, "catching up", and fondly remembering the innocent days and endless summers of our childhood.  

Thank you, Cheryl, for thinking of me, looking for me and finding me.   But most of all, thank you for being such a sweet and good friend to me "way back when".  xoxo!





















Photo credits:  HERE and HERE.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

WEEK NIGHT WONDER - TEX-MEX SKILLET BAKE

















This simple skillet supper uses shredded potatoes as a base. The potato mixture cooks on the stove top first to get it browned and crisp on the bottom.

Ingredients

  • 4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • 4 ounces Mexican chorizo (I used TJs soy chorizo, no need to pre-cook)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup enchilada sauce
  • 1/3 cup grated white onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds Yukon gold or baking potatoes, peeled and shredded (YES, I used a bag of Ore Ida shredded hash browns with bell peppers and onions - VERY EASY and delicious!)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped avocado
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped white onion
  • 6 radishes, thinly sliced

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 450°.
2. Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon canola oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Remove the casings from chorizo. Add chorizo to pan; sauté for 3 minutes, stirring to crumble. Add garlic, and sauté for 30 seconds. Remove sausage mixture from pan. Combine the sausage mixture and enchilada sauce.   (NOTE:  If you use soy chorizo, like I did, just mix all these ingredients toether, no need to pre-cook!)
3. Add remaining 3 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Combine grated onion, salt, pepper, potato, and egg; toss. Add potato mixture to pan, pressing gently; cook for 10 minutes (do not stir). Spread enchilada sauce mixture evenly over potato mixture; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand for 10 minutes. Cut into 6 wedges.
4. Combine avocado and juice; toss gently. Stir in cilantro and remaining ingredients. Serve cilantro mixture with casserole.

THE FINAL WORD:  Don't skip the avocado/cilantro/radish topping... it really MADE THE MEAL!  *YUM!*




PHOTO CREDIT:  HERE

Thursday, April 12, 2012

WEEK NIGHT WONDER - REUBEN CASSEROLE














So one of my favorite ways to cook is to try familiar, delicious, tried-and-true flavor combos and use them in an unexpected new way.   Like the Taco Soup or Stuffed Pepper Burgers I made recently.  Um, *YUM*!

Well, we LOVE Reubens.  But sometimes I'm not especially in the mood for a sandwich for dinner, you know?  Well, enter Reuben Casserole.  All the flavors (and more) of a Reuben, in a hot, creamy, satisfying comfort-food-at-its-finest casserole.

There are a lot of variations of this (apparently it was not an original idea!)  But I combined several recipes that I found online to create my version of this casserole.  We were very happy with the way it turned out. It was delicious.  It was also fast, easy, and fun.  PERFECT for a busy weeknight supper.

REUBEN CASSEROLE

INGREDIENTS:
3 cups (give or take!) mashed potatoes.  (Leftovers from your Sunday supper work great here!)
1 pound high-quality deli corned beef, sliced and then cut into1" slivers.
1 pound Swiss cheese (I like mild Alpine Lace, but use your favorite Swiss), sliced.
1 bag sauerkraut, drained
1 (8oz) jar Thousand Island dressing
1/2 c chopped fresh sweet onions
4 or 5 slices of lightly toasted, buttered Jewish rye bread, cubed.
1 cup sharp grated cheddar for topping

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Layer the sauerkraut in the bottom of the dish.  Pour the Thousand Island dressing evenly over the sauerkraut.
Layer the corned beef next.  Layer the cheese slices.  Layer the mashed potatoes.  Top with onions and rye bread cubes.  Cover with foil and bake for approx.30 minutes.

Remove foil, sprinkle cheddar cheese on top, and return to oven (uncovered) for about 10 more minutes.

Let stand outside the oven for 5-10 minutes, then serve.   ENJOY!

PS:  Honestly, I'm not exactly sure how mashed potatoes made it into a Reuben Casserole, but several of the recipes I found did indeed call for that.  And since we LOVE mashed potatoes, I added them.  Ditto with the chopped onions... not really a traditional Reuben *thang*, but does add a nice crunch and flavor to the topping. 


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Something for Zoey


















Our good friends have a beautiful baby girl named Zoey.  Zoey is impossibly adorable and I am simply crazy about her!

I'd been itching to *make something* (you know me!) and had the compelling desire to make a little something for her.  I found this pattern company online and fell in love with their stuff.  I mean, really, what is NOT to love?!  

When our daughter, Kendra, was little, I sewed A LOT for her.  I had tons of fun choosing fabric, mixing and matching, and creating darling one-of-a-kind clothes and accessories for her.  And (bless her sweet little heart!) she loved and proudly wore what Mom had made.  It was win/win, and YES, I miss those days!

So now that I no longer have a little girl of my own to sew for (*sniff*), I guess I will just have to start sewing for friends! 

THIS is the pattern I chose.  (Lots of different fabrics to choose and a strip pieced skirt -- right up my [quilter's!] alley!) And this is Zoey's dress (made in size 12-18 months) in progress:

























I gave the present as a surprise on Wednesday.  The next day we saw our friends at a special event, and would you believe Miss Zoey was already wearing her new dress and headband!  Zoey's mom was so sweet and appreciative; she said she "LOVED IT!" and would have bought that little dress in any store, "no matter the cost".  Yeah, I was ticked pink and positively bustin' buttons!  

The dress seemed to fit perfectly (I was a little worried about that!) -- and do you know that darling baby kept that headband on ALL EVENING LONG!  You can see why I adore her?!

So afterwards I got to thinking that the little dress needed a pair of bloomers to match.  I had some of the feature fabric left so I got busy this morning to do just that. I told my husband that I hope Zoey's mom doesn't regret encouraging me, LOL!!!  (You know, like feeding a stray cat?!)

















And here's Miss Zoey in her new outfit.  Isn't she precious?























TOP PHOTO CREDIT:  HERE

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

WEEK NIGHT WONDER - SWEET POTATO CHICKEN CURRY

















OK, so I have been holding out on your guys.  No, not reeeeeally!!!  But I have been a cookin' fool and have made some really good stuff lately (if I do say so m'self, and I do!) and decided it's past time to share some of it with you.

Here's my typical cooking gig.  I love to cook on the weekends, and if I'm gonna do something fancy-schmancy, that's when that's gonna get done.

But funny thing, we like to eat during the week too, LOL!  But week nights follow work days, and frankly, I am tired.  So my Monday - Friday recipes always need to be easy-peasy.  Healthy and delicious is a given.  "One-pot" is a bonus. 

So, shooting for once a week or so, I thought it would be fun to share a "week night wonder" that WE have made and enjoyed.  And if, in the process, you add a few new favorites to your own personal cooking repertoire... then SCORE!

SWEET POTATO CHICKEN CURRY
Elevate your chicken curry with the addition of sweet potato and by serving the mixture over steamed jasmine rice.
  • YIELD: 7 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)
  • COURSE: Main Dishes

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups vertically sliced onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled sweet potato
  • 3/4 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preparation

1. Combine curry powder, coriander, turmeric, salt, black pepper, red pepper, and bay leaf in a small bowl.
2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove chicken from pan. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion to pan; cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Increase heat to medium-high; return chicken to pan. Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Stir in ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add curry powder mixture; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add broth and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour. Stir in potato and chickpeas. Cook, uncovered, 30 minutes. Add peas; cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice. Discard bay leaf.

-- Cooking Light,  Nov 2009
Photo credit: HERE

MY NOTES:  I served ours over steamed basmati rice with toasted cashews and for total easy-peasy-ness, TJ's frozen naan bread.  But I will make this recipe again, and next time, I plan to make my own naan bread.   Like from THIS recipe, or THIS one.  *YUM!*