Mama’s Love Muffins!

Love for the Morning of Love Day.

Valentine’s Day at our house. Home made love notes and sweet treats.

Fresh hints at spring to come.

Home made tummy love:

Pizza Recipe:…g-to-regret-it/

Love from the youngest hands in the family, to those she holds dear.

I have it on the very good authority of the four highly discriminating pallets that the special sweet popcorn treat was a-m-a-z-i-n-g.

super simple: air pop some popcorn, or use 2 bags light buttered microwave popcorn. Melt 1 pkg of Wilton’s vanilla candy melts. Toss some M&M’s etc into the popcorn, pour in the melted candy coating and stir well. Spread out on a sheet pan to let cool and harden.  Break into pieces and share with the ones you love.

Mama’s Love Muffins:

1 1/2 c. wheat bran

1 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup apple sauce

1 egg

2/3 c brown sugar

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 c raisins

Preheat oven to 375. Grease or line with paper, muffin cups. Mix together wheat bran and buttermilk, let stand for 10 min. Beat together egg, sugar, and vanilla and add buttermilk/bran mixture. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt. Stir flour mixture into buttermilk mixture, until just blended. Fold in raisins and spoon batter into prepared muffin tins. Bake for 10-15 min, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and enjoy!

Posted in cooking, home cooking, pizza, pizza recipe, recipes, Uncategorized, Valentine's day food | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Secrets of a Former Fat Girl

Book Review:–/dp/0452289246/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1328110277&sr=1-1


A bit of a different blog this evening. I just finished q real quick read of “Secrets of a Former Fat Girl, how to drop two, four (or more) dress sizes–and find yourself along the way” by, Lisa Delaney. Of course the title of the book caught my eye among the many, many, many books on diet and nutrition in our county library.

That’s me, Former Fat Girl. I was curious, did this Lisa Delaney know what I know? Does she know something I don’t? So, I brought it home.

It was a quick read. I skimmed parts, probably the last few chapters. The book is laid out in chapters that are each a “secret” she’s giving us. The first was: forget dieting. Yes, we’ve been hearing this over and over, especially if you’re part of the clean eating movement. Forget dieting, its not about dieting, its a life style change, blah, blah…..yes, THEY are right, its not a quick fix diet you should focus on, but a Life Style change. BUT, Delaney’s twist on this sage advice, is don’t even think about dieting. Don’t. Just go about your days eating the way you always have, what she wants you to change is your activity level. Not sure that’s the best advice, BUT its what worked for her and that’s what the book is about. You know what else? If I think about it, that’s kind of how I started too. I started my journey by training to walk a marathon. Delaney started by going to jazzersize. I did gradually change my eating too. I began to think of food as fuel for my long training walks. I can still, to this day, remember the very day I walked seven miles. I felt invincible. Delaney eventually added jogging. She has memories of what it felt like to run a mile for the first time, the confidence that built up in her was the driving force to keep going, to keep pushing. (she lost nearly 40 pounds just by running–she eventually gave up jazzersize and increased her running to 5 miles a night–over a year or so. She went from a size 16 to an 8, and continued to eat what she wanted.) As a note, she is 5ft 4in.

The next chapter was one of the biggest things in my own journey. In fact I couldn’t believe I was reading someone else’s experience that so matched mine. She said to keep it a secret. Keep your plan to lose, your plan to increase workouts etc, secret. That’s exactly what I did. I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing, except for my husband. I secretly headed out on my journey to freedom  from weight each day without the recommended walking/workout buddy. This is a benefit for many reasons. You don’t have to worry about matching your pace, speeding up, slowing down to accommodate a partner. You don’t have the added stress of wondering if they are in better shape than you and therefor can’t keep up a running conversation as easily as your buddy and then they must know just how sorry of shape you are in because you huff and puff up that hill, while they just breeze on up. You can put your tunes in your ears and just go. Keeping it a secret that you are heading into uncharted waters for your self and your health also means you won’t have all those helpful people offering advice, asked for or not. You know. This flies in the face of the “experts” advice too. One of the first things you are told is get a support system set up. This probably does work for most, but not me. Then you run the risk of disappointing them–not just yourself, but others. Other people add a lot of stress with real or imagined super high unrealistic expectations. It also keeps the focus on me. I am doing this for me, not for my support system. For me. I am accountable to no one but me. So there! I did delight in seeing people’s reactions to my dwindling size, and more so that I did it by myself. No “plan” no points, no pills, no surgeries. I did it.

Delaney’s third chapter is about INO. Its Not an Option. This is to be your mantra when you need it: when you’re tempted by foods, to skip a workout etc. You just get this mindset that its not an option. My personal one was, “I am worth it.” I was worth the time the long walks were taking. Lets face it, a 3 hour walk is hard to fit into your schedule regularly for training, as a mother of three home schoolers, seasonal caterer etc. I was worth the “special” foods in the shopping cart, the ones that were just for Mama, and no I was not sharing. I was/am worth it. So are you!

The next chapter was a bit of “fluff” for me. It didn’t pertain to me, nor mirror my story.  She wants you to “see yourself thin.” Bah. I have a mirror, I go clothes shopping, I know where I am. More importantly, I know where I am going! I felt such pride, such joy when I drove across “the Long Bridge” into town, which is about a mile long and there are always people running, walking, biking across it, I was becoming one of them. I wanted to roll down my window and shout that I too am taking control of my health! I too was doing something good for my body! I too was actually taking responsibility for my actions and getting healthy and strong! I am one of you!!!

The next secret is “You are not like other people.” This one is still something I struggle with. I want to eat what others eat and look like them. How come “Shelly” can eat burritos for dinner and have a slice of pie and still be a size 6? How come “Jenny” can have spaghetti and garlic bread and still rock a little black dress? Grrr! How come I am not like them? Because my Creator saw fit to make me unique. I am not like them. My body needs pure, whole foods, with less saturated fat, less empty calories etc, etc, to be running smooth and strong. My body is different than theirs, than yours. A favorite quote I read along my journey is “Losing weight is an experiment if one.” What works for someone is not guaranteed to work for me. There are basics that we have in common, obviously, but the variables are so great. DNA, lifestyle, family history, body chemistry on and on. The whole point is, even if you don’t see some dramatic change in the first couple of weeks, you must know in your head, in your heart, that no matter what the outside looks like, you KNOW that inside your blood is pumping, your digestion tract is thanking you, your cells are  running more efficient than ever before. You are doing good for your body. It will eventually all fall into place, I promise.

Finally, Delaney wants you to protect yourself from the “pushers” and her last chapter is about being comfortable in the uncomfortable zone. Personally, I didn’t have much to deal with when it comes to the “pushers.” She became a vegetarian and her family couldn’t understand it and they “pushed”  her to just have a little bit, just a bite etc. By keeping the whole thing secret to begin with you avoid the “pushers.” In my case, the “pushers” were simply not a part of my life. Guess I lucked out there. Now, the business about being comfortable while in an uncomfortable zone….the gym was my hurdle. I baby-stepped my way there. I started with my half marathon training, eventually added Curves to my weeks and once I fulfilled my year’s contractual obligation, and having lost 100 pounds, I found the confidence to join a “real” gym. I bet the first 2 months I did the same thing: elliptical and treadmills. I was too chicken to try the weight machines, although they were my ultimate goal. (I didn’t want to look dumb trying to figure them out) I began buying magazines and devouring them and eventually started lifting with the free weights, then finally, I started the machines. I’ve never looked back. Weightlifting is my favorite thing to do. I really don’t like cardio much, unless its a rocking dance aerobic class! Or being on my mountain bike and making it up hills that 10 years ago I thought you would be insane to think I could make it up! I thrive off of challenges like that.

So, in a nutshell, that was the book. If you’re ready for some, “been there, done that” kind of inspiration give it a look see.


Posted in book, dieting, food, improving body image, marathon training, strength training, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

My quest to use winter squash continues

A lot of us are trying to do the New Year, New You thing, although very few of us would probably admit that in public. I have been making an effort to clean up our family menu this month. The month we just came through was full of sugar, butter, rich foods and excess. I think we are all feeling the effects. So, in trying to be resolute about a few things in life, tightening the budget, eating better etc, I am on a quest to use as many nutrient dense, home grown foods as possible. (2 birds, 1 stone, yada, yada) I hope I can inspire you to do the same. Squash is inexpensive right now, and they are so versatile. I challenge you to try to include it your menu once a week. 

To continue in the celebration of my love for winter squash, here is another use:

Roasted Winter Vegetable and Kale Soup

Peel, seed and dice 1 butternut squash

dice 1 onion

dice 3 carrots

slice the top off one head of garlic

brush a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil, toss in veggies listed above, sprinkle with a bit more olive oil, salt and pepper.

Roast in a 400′ oven until browned and tender.

once the veggies are roasted, remove from oven. Spoon the vegetables into a large saucepan. Add 2 cans diced tomatoes. I used my home canned italian tomatoes:

add 4 cups of vegetable broth to saucepan with tomatoes and roasted vegetables. Once it heats a bit, ladle out some liquid into your rimmed baking sheet that you roasted the vegetables on. Heat it a bit if necessary, and scrape all the tasty browned bits off and into your saucepan of veggies, toms and broth.

add to the saucepan, 3 cans of beans….I used kidney beans that I had cooked earlier this week, but any will do: black, navy etc. I tossed in some left over home grown frozen corn as well.

remove ribs from a bunch of kale and chop approximately 4 cups of kale into bite sized pieces, and add to the soup. Add a splash of red wine vinegar and let simmer until the kale is wilted and soft and voila! Now you have a healthy, nutrient packed, flavorful soup to help you recover from the month of sweets and butter and rich foods you just went through. This soup is so full of good for you things, tastes and textures, once you add a slice of crusty bread for mopping up the bowl, you have a satisfying winter meal. This soup passed the taste test of my 10yr old, all the way to the father of the house. Good stuff!

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Hubbard Squash Risotto with a side of manicure …

Hubbard Squash Risotto

Hubbard Squash is just like any other winter squash, wonderful, bright and colorful, full of goodness. We grew a bunch of the Hubbard squash this past summer and I have vowed to find many uses for them. I have used them just as I would any other hard squash, like pumpkin or butternut. The most versatile way is to oven roast them and then puree the soft orange flesh.

One of my new, favorite, comfort foods is risotto. NOT the kind that my manicurist was excitedly explaining to me. She doesn’t cook much, but she says she can “Do Rice, and I mean Really, Do Rice, and Do it WELL, you know?”  Mind you, Gentle Reader, this is during my once maybe twice a year manicure that I get to use a gift certificate for. The gal knows what I do for work, so obviously that makes me wide open for food-talk. She proceeded to explain in great detail as she lotioned up my arms and massaged them until my eyes wanted to flutter close, her dinner the evening before at her girlfriend’s home. They were going to have risotto, and both were very “stoked” about the whole thing. (Did I mention that she has an 18 yr. old daughter and a 16 yr. old?) The girlfriend wanted to lift the lid and “check” the progress of the risotto, and Miss Manicurist quickly and firmly put that kabosh on that plan. “Everyone knows you absolutely Do NOT open the lid for that 20 minutes when the rice is simmering.”

I peaked at her from the corner of my eye, without trying to draw much attention that I was paying attention, but, “You said you guys were making risotto? Right?”

Miss Manicurist: “Oh yes, you know after you open the box and add the water, you put the lid on and Do NOT open it.”

uh huh. She had taken my new found comfort food, for which I have become very adept with skillfully executing the patient adding of white wine and butter and then the hot broth and stirring until the broth is almost gone and then adding more broth and more stirring and again and again, all the while thinking lovingly of those you share your heart with sitting down to partake of that heavenly goodness you so carefully, lovingly, created 40-45 min. later; and She profaned it to coming out of a BOX and slapping a lid on it for 20 minutes and VOILA! YOU HAVE RISOTTO!????? Yes, Gentle Reader, you are meant to perceive my voice escalating in volume and cadence. Risotto is something I take very seriously. Careers in the kitchen can be made or broken on risotto. It DOES NOT COME FROM A BOX.

Without further pressing of your patience I give my two loves in one:

Hubbard squash Risotto:

The basic ingredients are shown: pureed squash, a bottle of our neighbor’s home-made wine (which was FABULOUS!) and the arborio rice

FIRST: get approx. 5 cups of chicken broth simmering on a back burner.

Step 1. Melt 2 TBSP butter in large sauce pan

Step 2. add 1/2 finely diced onion to the melted butter and saute until it begins to soften and turn translucent.

Step 3. add 1 cup of arborio rice to the butter and onion and stir to coat the rice.

Step 4. pour in 2/3 cup white wine to the rice and onion and stir and cook until wine is nearly evaporated.

Step 5. stir in 1 2/3 cups of squash puree, and 1 ladle-ful of HOT chicken broth into the rice and continue to stir until the broth is nearly absorbed.

Continue adding the hot broth one ladle at a time until it is nearly absorbed and the rice become aldente and creamy.

In the picture above, you can see it is nearly there.

aha. The difference is subtle, but you can see the grains have swelled and the starches are creamy. You may or may not need the whole 5 cups of hot broth, you’ll know when the rice stops absorbing (hence ONE ladle at a time) It will thicken upon resting too. This rice is almost perfect. I now remove it from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of grated high quality parmesan cheese…..NOW its perfect….


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2nd Half of the beginning

So, I made a private challenge unknown to all but my husband. I decided I would start training for walking a half marathon. I adopted a lower carb diet (notice, LOWER carb diet, NOT CARB free) and got down to business. I researched online a bit, found a free training schedule that fit the timeline I had for a local half marathon, then I focused. I quit my job, honestly telling my boss that I didn’t enjoy it anymore and that was tough on me because I loved cooking. I changed our phone number and kept it unlisted, so that I had a firm boundary between myself and my mother’s insanity. I began to walk. I began to believe in myself. I did, unconsciously what all the experts tell you, I PUT MYSELF FIRST. I remember the first day I walked 4 miles. I felt invincible. I LOVED looking down and seeing MY feet walking a sure and cadenced march onward. I pictured my heart getting stronger and stronger as I worked it by going up hills that before had made me sit back down on the couch. I was pumping my heart, like pumping iron, it had to be gaining in strength. I was seen by our neighbors on a daily basis, walking and walking. I silently challenged my friends to notice my changing body. I started in mid-January, and by May I was down 40 pounds and my girl friends were noticing. I still hadn’t told anyone what I was doing, but I started getting the “once-overs” from my friends. This made me secretly giddy. I would show up to soccer practice and a girl friend would be there to drop off her child and we’d have a quick exchange in which I could see she was trying to look, without being rude and obvious. Finally, at a birthday lunch my girl friends had for me, I let my cat out of the bag. They were so supportive and loving. Three of them volunteered to walk the half marathon with me, I know they could have easily ran it. During this time, I began to look at my food as fuel for training, not just food. I studied a lot and learned the basics of good nutrition. I cut as much “white” stuff out of my diet as possible. White bread, flour, rice, potatoes. I doubled and sometimes tripled my servings of vegetables on my plate to be full. It worked. When I finished my journey, I dropped 110 pounds of insecurities, 110 pounds of hurt, 110 pounds of fear. I found Me again. I found the Me I always felt I was. Now I ride horses again, I lift weights, I jog, I cook, I live

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The beginning….

What makes my story, my cook book any different from the 1,000’s of others that are spilling out of the over crowded shelves at the increasingly rare bookstores? I am just a girl, with a story to share, who has been there, 278lbs. done that, lost 110 lbs, and maintained it for nearly four years now, while becoming the manager of a cafe and the head chef for a company that hosts international seminars. My life literally revolves around food, from my relationship with it, to working with it to supplement my family’s income.
I want to share my story in the hopes that it will help and encourage you to be exactly who God intended you to be. I also want to share some recipes along the way.
I come from the same beginnings as most of the people in my generation, divorced parents. I was dropped off here and there, both parents remarried and I became lost in the shuffle of new families, new children. Some of my earliest memories of when my parents were actually together are horrible to me now, although at the time, I didn’t know any different. It was my reality. I can see in my mind’s eye, my mother on her knees before the toilette with her finger down her throat, I can remember trying to immitate her too, when I was maybe 4 or 5 yrs. old. Alarm bells should be ringing now, here’s the first negative body-image influence I experienced.  I can remember a car chase of sorts, where after a particularly violent fight between my mom and dad, mom grabbed me, tossed me into her 56 Chevy Nomad and we raced away while my dad jumped in his truck to follow us. I remember my mom pounding on her sister’s door to let us in quick and then sitting inside on the couch listening to my dad pound and yell on the otherside of the door. I remember wking up in that house to the used “bongs” that were scattered in the living room and my cousins and I putting our mouths on them like the grown ups did the night before. I have recollections of my mom chasing my dad around our tiny two bedroom house with the claw end of a hammer, and someone throwing guns through the plate glass window in their bedroom. Then came the divorce. I lived with my mom, she remarried a drugged-out, epiletic with a son of his own. We lived in his parents’ garage for a bit, until a house on the corner came available for rent . I remember being dropped off from spending the weekend with my dad and crying like it was the last day I would ever see him again, and my mother threatening me with the belt for whipping and the verbal threat of not getting to go with him the next time. I remember spending what seemed like hours in the car in the parking lot of our apartment complex while my mom hid from that crazy man of a step-dad, because he told his dad he was going to kill us, and his dad had called to warn my mom. I can remember running next door, in the same apartment complex begging for help, because he was beating my mom in the head while she laid on the couch, 7 or 8 months pregnant. Eventually she left and divorced him too. Then she married one more time, when I was in junior high, and living with my dad and his new wife. I was a messed up kid. Dad and step-mom had children together, mom left me and moved to Idaho with my little brother, then remarried a man with two kids of his own. Where did I belong? Who was mine? No one. Things were very bad with my step mom and myself and therefore my dad and I didn’t have much of a relationship either. He has his other three new girls, he doesn’t need me. My mom’s final marriage (Third for those keeping track) ended in a mess as was par for the course. They fought, violently. The kind of fights that cause the neighbors to call the police. Ten years into the marriage and nearly one year after I married and moved out at the ripe old age of 18, mom had a mental breakdown and has been in and out of the state mental ward 5 or 6 times since. We (my mom and I) don’t have a relationship anymore.I haven’t spoke with my real father in over 20 years. I got tired of feeling unwanted, so I quit trying to communicate with him.
Thankfully, the Lord had His eye on me and I married my high school sweet heart. When we were first married things were rough. My husband has an amazing amount of love and patience. He had to deal with my insecurities and fears about being abandoned. While we were beginning our life together, he became a “roofer.” To get the “good” money, he took a lot of “out of town” jobs, which left me home alone. I was lonely and insecure. I found food. I occupied my time by going to college and cooking my way through cookbooks. I became the happy-homemaker, the Martha Stewart wannabe. I went from being a high-schooler with a yard chores and a barn to clean daly, to a sedintary wife and student. I also became 278lbs heavy! During my childhood, I also turned to food for comfort. Feeling left out, forgotten, used. I recall being left home to baby-sit half-siblings and as soon as my parent’s car was out the drive way, I hit the fridge. A favorite was a warmed flour tortilla with butter slathered all over it. So, naturally, when I was feeling low and lonely as a newlywed, I again turned to food. White food. White bread, white rice, mashed potatoes with butter, sour cream etc. The menu I grew up with. Cheap food.
We’ll skip the sordid details of the very justifiable reasons I put n so much weight, and jump ahead to how I lost it. That’s what everyone wants to know anyway. There came a time in my life when I reached that, “enough is enough” moment. I was burnt on my job of cooking, I didn’t enjoy it anymore, I was feeling used and unappreciated at work. I was the mother to three amazing children and my mom was in and out of the mental ward and I was the only one left who still communicated with her, which meant I was the one she verbally abused. My husband, bless him, was always my rock. Always believed in me. Always listened to my woes. I can remember the day everything changed, as if it were yesterday. I was at dinner with some girl friends. I was the fat-friend. I was the biggest at the table. I sat quietly and listened to them tell stories of how their trainer tortured them that day at the gym. I listened as they spoke of another lady they all knew and how well she did with a weight-loss program, how good she looked. I listened as they ordered their steamed fish and veggies. I had nothing to contrbute the conversation. They were very unintentional in making me feel so out of place. They were a very loving and caring group of lady friends. I just realized that day that we were in two different realities. I left the restaurant that night with a determination that someday they would be talking about me, like they did that unknown lady, saying how successful I’d been, how good I looked etc. I detremined that I was going to change.

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2011, in the books, now its time to write MY book!

2011 is nearly in the books. I have found some pictures that take me through the year, and ends with me ready to write MY book….2012 will be My year to get MY book done!

This is where we began 2011, at a little cabin by the lake…..oh, how I wish we had snow now! Also where and when I finally figured out that I was severely lactose intolerant. Darn it!

In February we went to the Idaho State Capital, a 13hr. bus ride…..

March was a mishap in the garage….you really should bleed the brakes before you use them, automatic door openers vs. van…my hubby did it, not me!

Easter in April, we went for a trail ride and found the snow!

the garden comes to life in May in North Idaho

Rebekah had her first piano recital in June…

The kids and I had our own horse camp before heading to the 4-h horse camp, in June

July was INSANELY busy, as is par for the course in North Idaho. Somehow we found time for a trail ride, and this was dinner afterward.

Huge catered event, Dr. Bird’s 90th birthday party, beginning of July….300+ people

My amazing crew! In July, for the big events

I also found time to host a garden baby shower for a dear friend, in July 2011

July is also our anniversary month, we went on a trail ride together, first time in 20 +/- years!

July is also the month for horse shows….this one is the 4-h county show, both girls placed so well!

The District horse show followed one week after the county show, look at those tired smiles!

August was quiet, finally!

September brought tons of new changes, the 2 oldest kids went to school for the first time, after home schooling for the first 10 years of their school years…

September also brings FOOTBALL!!!

September’s first win!

My youngest has her birthday in September, this was our annual birthday trail ride….


My son injured his knee in an October game, here is with the team before a final play off game….

Post surgery, 2 days before Halloween…

November brought on the final big catering event….LOT’S of appetizers..

Veterans Day event at the Museum 11-11-11….where were you??


Which brings us to the coming year. I do not want to make any resolutions. Something about it seems “hokey” or silly. It doesn’t seem like anyone ever has a successful resolution to share three months from now anyway, unless they happen to be a paid spokesperson from some weight loss company. I do have a plan. The next 3-4 months for me are very quiet when it comes to cooking and catering, which a good time to focus on things I don’t have time for the rest of the year. Since my husband has been getting me more and more pieces to my weight set, I am making a plan to use it! I can’t wait to get the garage back in order (since he “unpacked” from elk camp, the garage is a bit un-useable) and get my weight lifting area set up and get my “sweat” on!

My other big idea that I will begin this week will be the writing of my cook book. I have a book in me, its time to not procrastinate on it anymore. My grandma has been asking me to write a book for years, and now she also asks that I do it before she dies……no pressure!

Every single seminar or event I catered this past season the guests asked if I had a cook book they could buy.  I want this cook book to be personal, not just a collection of recipes, but a story, and inspiration. I gained 110 pounds in my 20’s and kept it on for  nearly 10 years. Then, things in my head changed and I found out who I was, and I began the work needed to lose it. In that time I also became a head chef at Percussionaire Corporation here in North Idaho, manager of their museum cafe and special events caterer for the Museum as well as their personal events.

So, I would love to hear ANY ideas you may have on a cookbook, from a self made chef, who has been there 278lbs. and done that165lbs, yet is deeply enmeshed in food–good food, rich food, NOT DIET food and KEPT it off…..

I’ll take all ideas!

Happy New Year!

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2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 3,700 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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11/11/11, photo essay

Poppies, to support our troops.....

getting ready for the flag ceremony

“I used to be a boy scout….”


listening to the Old Gray Bearded Warrior, was like being there with him….

 Thank You.

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a day in the life, making appetizers!

A day in the life of Wannebechef

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Its the day before the Big Day, 11/11/11. There is to be a HUGE celebration at the museum honoring Veterans. There are lots of dignitaries staying on the premises. I got a phone call yesterday afternoon, asking if I was available to “do” hors d’oeuvres for tonight, for 12 adults+ kids. They need to be the best of the best. After a quick brain squeeze, I came up with a plan and headed into town for Big Turkey’s physical therapy appt, as well as shopping for the prep ahead.

So, here we go:

6:30 am, woke, spent time in the Word.

7:15 am made a breakfast 2 eggs on toast for Gardener and I.

7:30 am, got a quick shower

8:30 am, helped Little One with her school work,

9:00 am, visited a bit with Gardener when he came in for break

9:15 am, went out to van to bring the groceries from last night’s trip (its colder than a refrigerator outside at night, and we were tired when we got home)

9:30 am, started cooking. First up was the brie en croute. Let me start by saying that I used the recipes and inspiration for a couple of my dishes from the America’s Test Kitchen, All Time Best Holiday Recipes, 2011. I HIGHLY recommend this magazine and its counter-parts,  Cook’s Illustrated and Cooks Country. If you like Julia Child’s books, you’ll like these. I like them because, just like Julia, they test, test, re-test, taste, adjust, and keep at it until they’ve got it fool proof for the home cook, plus they explain their reasoning why X didn’t work and Z was the better choice.


roll out store bought puff pastry to 12" square and then trace a 9" circle and cut. Brush edges with beaten egg.

pleat the pastry around the brie

open the pleats and then brush the whole thing with egg. This will go into the oven for 20 minutes, at 400'

here they are, all puffed and pretty, ready for their apricot jam and almonds

here they are all dressed up for the fancy occasion, with almonds and pomegranate seeds

I know the brie is very simple for such a special occasion, BUT it’s one of my Boss Lady’s favorites.

10:00 am, While the brie was in the oven I started on the mushrooms,

in the bowl of a food processor add: 4 oz goat cheese, 2 oz cream cheese, 1 TBSP olive oil, 1 TBSP chopped fresh basil, 1 TBSP chopped fresh tarragon, 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme, 2 cloves garlic, minced, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper

pulse 1 piece of hearty white bread, and add it to: 1 TBSP fresh parsley, 3 garlic cloves and 2 TBSP oil, toss to combine. This is your topping.

10:20am, remove stems from 24 mushrooms, toss with 1/4 cup oil, 1 tsp lemon juice, a bit of salt and pepper.

line the pan with foil and use a rack, this is the secret to mushrooms with a pleasant texture as opposed to mushy and slime.

10:40, am

after 20 minutes at 450, turn them over and roast for an additional 10 minutes

10:50 am

put your cheese filling in a ziplock and snip off the corner. Fill each mushroom (which are now pleasantly roasted dry and nicely browned)

11:00 am

turn each filled mushroom over into the bread crumb topping and bake 10 minutes more.

here they are toasted a lovely brown

11:15 am start the next appetizer: smoked salmon spread. There isn’t much to this one, I just took a block (8oz) of cream cheese, 4 oz of smoked salmon (lox style), lemon juice, about 1 cup of sour cream, 1/2 a pkg of ranch seasoning mix, and 1 pkg of knox gelatin I softened in about 3 tbsp boiling water and whizzed at all in the food processor. I sprayed my mold, poured in the salmon mixture and put it in the fridge.

here it after a couple of hours in the fridge

11:45 am, wash up the sink load of dishes, clear counter space. Have a bite to eat.

12:05 pm, head up to museum for some items for the next and final dish.

12:30 pm, come back home and visit with Gardener while he finishes his lunch of homemade lentil stew from last night’s dinner.

12:40 pm, get back in the kitchen for the last hoorah. I am bushed by now.

in a bowl, mix together about 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 2 cups of sharp shredded cheddar cheese, add about 1/2 cup cooked bacon bits, 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, some sauteed onions.

roll out some pie dough and cut out shapes

place 1 tsp of cheddar bacon filling on a cut out and brush the edges with beaten egg. Top with another cut out and seal edges.

here they are, brushed with egg wash and ready for their trip in the oven, 375 for 20 minutes or so.

some leaves to go with the turkeys

I didn't plate them, because I wanted Boss Lady to be able to reheat them and serve them warm. They are pretty though.

2pm. Pack everything into the van and head over to Boss Lady’s place, so she can rest easy knowing the appetizers are done.

2:30, come back home and tackle the dishes again, the counters, the floors.

3:45 pm, SIT down for 15 minutes, turns into 30. Decide I’m feeling frumpy and “fluffy” and a walk always seems to help. I have to get it in gear though, because the sun is already setting.

4:20 pm, I get outside and hit the road with my ipod and my sweat shirt. Feels good. I should have gotten out sooner, I don’t want to turn back towards home, but its pretty dark. Wish I could run, but even just this fast pace walk is making me remember I injured my hip somehow. Darn it. I feel so good, just to be moving and the tunes are perfect. Wish I could run and run in the moonlight.

5:00 pm, home and time to start dinner. and my blog.

6:30 pm, dinner is done (burritos) and I’m nearly finished writing.

next will be kicthen clean up, AGAIN, then some time with my books and magazines and plans for the upcoming dinners and gatherings. Next week I am cooking the Senior’s Turkey dinner for them, and we are attending a 4-h potluck, need to decide what to bring.

Hope you all have a great evening! See you soon.

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