How to Make a Marginal Lasagna

That title makes you want to tune in, doesn’t it?  In an effort to help me be better organized on my weekday meal planning, which I mentioned in Sunday’s post, I made the Pinterest Crock Pot Lasagna.  Here’s how The Hive residents weighed in on the results.

 

The recipe said to take one bottle of any pasta sauce, uncooked lasagna noodles, one 16-oz carton of cottage cheese, and 2 cups of mozzarella cheese.  Start with the sauce and make three layers.  Cook for 5-6 hours.
Results:  Worth trying again but with these modifications — use two jars of sauce.  It was a little too dry which I think is what made it cook faster than the 5 hours.  By the 5th hour, the edges were starting to burn.  And although I like my lasagna to have a little crispy cheese edges, this was burnt.  I think this extra liquid would also insure that all the noodles were soft, a few were still a little underdone.
I would also use more cheese, like double the amount.  It wasn’t very cheesy.  Lasagna is all about the cheese.  I might even use thick slices of mozzarella along with shredded.  This would give it more substance.
I think the cottage cheese amount was fine and the nine or so noodles I used were adequate.
It needed flavor.  I might add a few teaspoons of Italian herb seasoning to the sauce and maybe a teaspoon or two of sugar.  I like sweet sauce.  Chopped onion and a little garlic would be good.  In fact, I would probably take the two jars of sauce and add sauteed onion and garlic and heat it up on the stove.  Add a little red wine and the seasoning.  Let it simmer, then add it to the Crock Pot.  Obviously, this makes it a little more time consuming but I think the extra effort would yield a yummier lasagna.
Two out of three residents said it needed more umph.  Mr. Bee said it was great…on his second helping.  He’s easy to please so I am not sure he should be counted in the poll.
If you want the recipe, follow me on Pinterest and check the board “Crock Pot Meals.”

Quick Pottery Barn Orchid Knockoff

I was flipping through my new Pottery Barn catalog last night and I spotted something I wanted to try and replicate on my own.

I love the centerpiece using the glass hurricane with the orchid.  It’s not a new idea, but I think I liked how the orchids were placed in the glass with moss making it look kind of terrarium-ish (I just made that word up).

The glass hurricane sells for $79, but I wanted to come in way under that.  I already had the orchid stems.  I need a few bags of moss sheets, balls, and floral putty to hold it down.  I knew I also wanted a tinted glass hurricane.  I found one at Target for $23.

I gathered all my supplies, which cost less than $16 at Michaels, plus a pair of clippers for the floral stems.

 I bought two bags of moss, and one bag of six moss balls.

 And one bag of clay.

I took the wide mouthed hurricane and placed a big piece of clay at the bottom

Then placed the three stems of orchids in the clay


I emptied both bags of moss around the bottom of the stems to hide the clay, then placed the balls on top.  I wanted an end result of rustic elegance.  Not too fixed. 

An easy simple update, with a splash of color.

Have a fab Friday.

Mrs. Creel’s Monkey Around Bread

I love my church lady friends, because they can cook anything from casseroles to monkey bread and it’s amaze balls (this is my new favorite word for 2014).  I went to an ornament exchange and my friend Mrs. Creel brought this.  I ate three-fourths of it and I wasn’t embarrassed in the least.  I realize that today, being the first day of the year when most people have “EAT NO MORE SUGAR” at the top of their resolute list, it’s not the best time to give you a recipe for monkey bread, but I don’t care.  It’s delish, so deal.

Mrs. Creel’s Monkey Around Bread

1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 cans of Pillsbury Grand Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing
1/2 cup chopped pecans (if you’re not a nut person, you can omit)
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a Bundt pan. In a large ziplock bag mix the cinnamon and sugar.  Separate the rolls and cut each roll into 4 pieces.  Place the pieces in the bag and shake so they are covered evenly with the sugar mixture.  Take the pieces out of the bag and set aside on a plate.

Melt the butter and brown sugar and bring to a low boil.  Add the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture, reduce heat and stir till well combined.

Place a third of the dough pieces in the Bundt pan.  Pour a third of the syrup mixture over the dough.  Repeat twice more.  Press lightly the rolls into the pan.

Bake 30-32 minutes till golden brown and no longer doughy in the middle.  Cool on  wire rack for about 10 minutes.  Invert on a rimmed plate (because the syrup may run).  Spread the icing from the cinnamon roll cans on top.  Or if you prefer, use none of the icing.

Then proceed to eat three fourths of it throughout the day because it is yummy.

After you make this recipe, then you can start with the “Get Fit” resolution.

Happy New Year’s Day!

Off to a New Year’s Eve Party

Very soon after we moved into our home, almost seven years ago, we became friends with the neighbors in our section of the neighborhood.  We really enjoy getting together and for the last six years we’ve each taken turns hosting a NYE party.  We’ve had theme parties, like dress from a character from the ’60s, and come in your pj’s. 

I found this clever idea for goody bags for the ladies from oh so beautiful paper.
I just used white lunch sacks I had on hand, and printed the tags from the link.

I included a can of black eyed peas for good luck in the new year, a packet of Emergen-C for good health (they used a packet of Alka Seltzer), and Hershey Kisses for love in the new year (I used dark chocolate kisses for more good health).

These are the cute labels you can print on card stock.  Their webpage made me want to go on a hunt for washi tape of all kinds for my craft room.  But, I just used black and white ribbon I already had.

Stuff everything in the bag.  Then I made a punch in the top, tied the ribbon through it, and stuck the label on with double sided tape.  We’re also taking poppers for midnight.

Miss Bee made a low-calorie key lime pie from the Skinny Girl Desserts Cookbook.  She is really excited about serving it.

I hope all of you have a safe, healthy and peace-filled new year.  I really appreciate all of you that take the time to read my blog.  I look forward to more fun times ahead.

Cheers!

Who Wants Hot Cocoa?

You know how moms have to buy their own gifts, wrap them, put them under the tree and act all surprised when they open them on Christmas morning?  I do that.  It’s okay, this way I get exactly what I want.

This year I treated myself to the Williams-Sonoma Hot Cocoa carafe.  It’s on sale right now for $14.99 (from $34.99, so it’s a sweet deal).  You could pick up a few for next year or they would make a great Valentine’s Day gift.

It is the cutest thing I have ever seen.  It holds three cups of hot cocoa.  Made of ceramic, you can heat the milk in the carafe in the microwave, but I think the preferred method would probably be to make your cocoa the usual way on the stove, then pour it in the carafe to keep it warm. It also comes with a built-in, battery operated whisk so you can give your cocoa a few whirls before serving it to make sure to mix up the settled cocoa.

Oh, I saw Anchorman Two this evening.  Terrible movie, but awesome soundtrack.  Cheers!

Scenes from my Christmas vacation

Our family tradition has always been to spend Christmas at home.  When Daddy passed away in 2011, we knew it would be hard for Earnie to wake up and not have him there with us so we all went to Ruidoso, New Mexico for a little getaway.  Daddy loved the mountains.  And, the best part of the trip, it snowed!  As if he ordered the snow just for us.  It was really special being there with my sister and brother-in-law and my family.

So this year, with it being our first Christmas without Earnie, we went to her favorite place — the beach.  I put Mr. Bee in charge of finding us a spot.  My criteria was that it needed to be a beach front property within just a few feet from the water.  It had to be private with no chatty Kathy’s on the porch asking me where I was from, etc…  And we needed a place that was dog-friendly so we could take Ruthie, the wienerful.  Mr. Bee scored on all points.

We traveled to Gulf Shores, Alabama (just a ten hour drive) and stayed in a private community called Martinique on the Gulf.

Our place was in a gated community with homes and condos nestled among the Bon Secour Wildlife Sanctuary.  Our unit was on the bottom floor and had a perfect view of the water.  The short boardwalk in the pic was right by our patio.  It was private and very quiet almost like we had the entire property to ourselves.  We were told that if you want quiet this was the best time to stay there because starting in March it stays crowded and loud until October.

We went for long walks on the beach looking for sea shells. This was Ruthie’s first time at the beach and she loved it.  She wasn’t interested in the water, but loved running up and down the beach.  I think the sand felt good on her feet.

I sat out on the porch and read and sipped spirits.  The owner of the property was an avid reader so it was filled with all kinds of books.  I read two of his mysteries while I was there. Under the book are two layers of blankets…and Ruthie.

I sipped mimosas.  The Champagne was a gift from a neighbor for house sitting over the summer. He brought it back from France.  I saved it for just this occasion.

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I napped with the windows open to hear the sounds of the ocean.  I stared for hours at the horizon thanking God for the miracles of the sea.  I marveled at how a whole seashell could make it to the shore unbroken from it’s journey among the waves crashing into the sands.  I watched the seagulls and sandpipers soar and look for food.

We ate some really good seafood, this was on Mr. Bee’s wish list.

Gator bites from Crawfish Town.  I had never had alligator and I thought what better place to try it.  It tasted just like chicken.  Honest, it did.

Fried shrimp and hush puppies at Tacky Jack’s right on the bay.  It was a dive, but had really cold beer and even better fresh fish.  We found a fish market near us where you could purchase fresh fish to take home.  We peeled several pounds of fresh steamed shrimp and Mr. Bee ate his weight in fresh oysters.

On Christmas Eve we had pizza, Miss Bee’s pick, and I made a pumpkin pie.  On Christmas morning I made monkey bread, biscuits, eggs and bacon.  Every morning started with coffee on the patio.

It was perfect.  Until some kind of flu bug invaded my body and for two days I had 101 fever.  But, at least I was convalescing someplace pretty.

I’ll post the recipe for the monkey bread next week. I hope all your Christmas dreams came true.

Vintage Memories of Christmas

This morning, as I was laying in bed, I was thinking if I could go back to any point in time at Christmas when would it be?  I decided it would be during the “wonder” years, when you are little and you know for sure there is a giant, fatherly man coming down the chimney after midnight.  That time period would have been in the late ’60s, early ’70s.

Here are the top things I remember:

Tons of Friends Coming Over for Parties:

People like Mary and Rhoda were always at our house. Earnie had such great friends (just like me) who never had to come up with a reason to throw a party.    Earnie and Ray would have parties for their employees, a Christmas Eve party for close friends, neighbors and family, then get together for Christmas day with family for an entire day of eating, playing, and celebrating.  Not to mention the luncheons and coffees with close friends she’d host mid-week.  I remember going with Earnie to the Winn-Dixie to load up carts of jams and jellies so she could make gift baskets for people who dropped by.

Perry Como:

Move over Michael Buble’ the hottie of my time was Mr. Perry Como.  This might have been what started my love of older men.  His smooth musical stylings and TV Christmas specials, along with Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams, were the best way to spend an evening.
Christmas Decor:

Earnie decorated every room in the house.  She had a storage area in a bathroom that housed all of her decor.  She’d get up on the ladder and hand me things telling me the room they were to be delivered to.  By the end of the day our house was transformed into magic with Perry playing on the HiFi.

Cheese Grits:

This was a Christmas brunch staple in our house.  She’d serve her grits in a lovely copper chafing dish on her beautifully decorated buffet table complete with a long centerpiece of greenery and candles down the middle of the table.

When I moved to Maryland for a brief stint in my early young life, I made these and the east coast people thought they tasted like barf (that’s probably why my first marriage ended).  Here’s Earnie’s recipe from Jane Justin’s cookbook “Prescriptions for Hunger” copyright 1968:

Preheat Oven to 350
Put 8 cups of water in a large saucepan and add 1 TBL of salt.
When water starts to boil add 2 cups of grits
Cook slowly until grits are thick
Pour grits into a large bowl and add:
1 TBL Worcestershire sauce
1 Cup of whole milk
2 beaten eggs
1 tsp black pepper
3 TBL melted butter
1 Cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Mix well and put into a greased casserole.
Sprinkle with more grated cheese and a few dashes of paprika
Bake one hour at 350 degrees.

Have a fantastic Friday!

Dress Up Your Muffins

I am on a roll with the blogging.  Having a snow storm ice you in for five days makes for a well-rested Queen getting caught up on cleaning, organizing, decorating and baking.

This morning Mr. Bee helped me make Orange Cranberry muffins.  I picked up a bag of Oceanspray cranberries in the produce section recently and decided to make them since cranberries are so holiday-ish.  I made the recipe on the bag and I used new muffin papers I found at Kroger of all places.  Dressing up your muffins with these little papers makes them look like you’re a gourmet chef!

Mr. Bee helped me chop the cranberries.  Most of the ingredients you will have in your pantry…nothing fancy here.

Just before putting them in the oven I topped them off with some Turbinado sugar.  I got turned onto this when I made my first trip to England with Mr. Bee.  The English use this in their hot tea.

Here are the muffins right out the oven.  The papers pulled away from the bread perfectly.  Mr. Bee professed they were the best cranberry muffins he’s ever eaten.  Miss Bee, who is in teen-style mode right now, said nothing.

Here’s hoping you are having a motivational Monday.


A New Tradition

The day after Thanksgiving, my sister-in-law hosted a cookie decorating party.  It was so fun.  The night before I assembled all the ingredients from the Pioneer Woman’s My Favorite Sugar Cookie recipe and then the morning of Miss Bee and my soon-to-be new niece (my nephew popped the question to his sweet girlfriend while he was here) made the cookies.

Auntie M had royal icing and sprinkles galore ready for us to decorate.  We listened to Christmas music and ate bowls of taco soup during decorating breaks.  We finished the afternoon off by watching the movie Elf.  It was a great way to spend time with family creating a new tradition we can look forward to next year.

Here’s the recipe for the cookies:

1 1/3 cups of softened butter or butter flavored shortening
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 tsp of grated orange zest (I used lemon because Lolly gave me lemons from Mississippi the size of my head)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBL, plus two tsp of whole milk

Mix butter, sugar and zet till smooth, add eggs then vanilla.  Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, add in batches to butter mixture.  Add milk and mix.  Then roll out onto a floured surface and cut with your cookie cutters.

Sour Cream Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas

Remember last week when I made the creamy chicken chili?  Well, I had tons of leftovers that I put into the freezer.  I decided to use the rest to make enchiladas.  I made up my own recipe last night and I have to say they were pretty tasty.

I took a 8-oz container of sour cream and a can of Hatch Green Chili Enchilada sauce and whisked them together in a bowl.

Then I took corn tortillas and filled them with onion, the chicken, Mexican blend shredded cheese and rolled each one placing them in a 9×13 greased dish.  The dish fit 10 enchiladas.  I poured the sour cream mixture over the top, topped with shredded cheddar cheese and baked for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  I served them with a southwestern chopped salad.

I still have chicken left from the original recipe!  So, one meal will now turn to three when I use the rest to make grilled tacos.

Have a thrilling Thursday.