Wednesday, October 30, 2013

In the Kitchen with Gram...Thanksgiving in a Bite! (Meatballs!)

With the holidays just around the corner (wait...did I just say that?! It's not even Halloween yet...but have you been to any local retailer? Kohl's? Macy's? WalMart? CHRISTMAS IS EVERYWHERE.) Gram and I thought it would be very apropos to bring this "Gram Original" recipe to you!

"Thanksgiving in a Bite" are meatballs (we used the Swedish Meatballs recipe as a guide...and if you haven't made those yet, you are SERIOUSLY missing out!) that incorporate all of the flavors of one little bite! Seriously, so good.

Okay, so start with your ground turkey and ground pork...(raw meat just looks so appetizing, no? Or not. Grody.)

Add onion and egg:

And process a bunch of celery:

Make the stuffing into crumbs, and add it in:

Now, get that "Gram handful" out and ready!  Salt!


Sage! (Or maybe...Poultry Seasoning! Or Thyme! I can't tell the difference! Why am I using exclamation points all over heck! Please send help!)

Thyme! (Or maybe...Sage! Or...okay, I'll stop...)

Poultry seasoning!

Now, time to put all squeamishness aside and DIG IN! Use your hands to mix the squooshy raw meat mixture together.

And mix.

Approximately RIGHT HERE I would put a photo of us using a small scooper from Pampered Chef to form our meat balls...IF I WAS A GOOD BLOGGER, but apparently I'm subpar, so I neglected to take a photo of that. 

Just pretend for me, m'kay? ;)

Anyway, two options to cook your meat-a-balls, one is to fry them in a pan (add a bit of butter):

The other (read: easier) way is to put them in a HOT oven for 10 minutes or so, to get them nice and brown. I like to do the cookie sheet way, then transfer them to a pan to get a bit more color and to get some good drippings going for the gravy.

Speaking of drippings...add a smidge of butter to them,

A packet of turkey gravy,

And the cream of chicken soup...if you feel more creative at making your own gravy, have at it sistah! (Or brotha...can't discriminate.)

I also like to sprinkle in a bit of the seasonings I used in the meatballs to jazz up the gravy.

Serve the meatballs over mashed potatoes (not picture) and along side some of Gram's amazing Cranberry Sauce and you've got yourself one heckuva yummy meal!

Gram's "Thanksgiving in a Bite" Meatballs

3# ground turkey
1# ground pork
1 large onion, process to fine in food processor
4 ribs celery, process to fine in food processor
1 (6 oz) box stuffing mix, processed to crumbs
3 beaten eggs
4 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. sage
1 tsp. thyme
salt and pepper to taste (2 "Gram handfuls")

1 envelope Turkey gravy mix
3-4 cans cream of chicken soup
A pinch of each of the seasonings listed above

Combine all ingredients in large bowl, form into small balls (the small scoop from Pampered Chef works great!), and fry (use a bit of butter) or brown in oven at 450*F. (Hint: Fry a couple of meatballs to taste if season is right, add more if needed!) Mix 3 cans of cream of chicken soup into drippings and add one package of turkey gravy mix and seasonings, spoon over meatballs, serve on top of mashed potatoes with Gram's Cranberry Sauce alongside!


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ups and Downs.

Today was an emotional roller coaster.

Our sweet, lovable pup, Nikki, passed away this morning...while we're not sure exactly what it was, she was being treated for an ear infection, and had had a couple of seizures with it. We woke to her seizing, and can't be certain how long it had been going on.

When she came out of the seizure, her breathing was labored...the kind of labored breathing that made my nurse's brain know that it wasn't good. BUT...she had had odd behaviors in the past (which we now think were probably post seizure behaviors) and had come out of it just fine. However, when the Mr. went to check on her at lunch time, she was gone.

And then I had to break my Belle's sweet, soft heart when she came to my office after school.

There were tears. Many. And sorrowful squeaks and heart broke for her, even while I tried to explain that Nikki wasn't suffering any more. 

Oh, yeah...and Belle lost a chick this morning.

It was a super tough day for her.

But then, we got home...and there was a suspiciously large envelope from my alma mater, addressed to my biggest boy, who had recently applied to attend college there. You know what they say in the world of college letters: Big envelopes = good news. 

Pal hadn't heard that yet, so when I handed him the envelope, he glanced at it and set it aside (granted, his mood wasn't the best either...I caught him on his cell phone just before he got home to let him know about Nikki). I then told him the aforementioned theory on big envelopes from colleges and he opened it up and sure enough:

"Congratulations, Pal! We have reviewed your application and would love to welcome you!" (Or something along those lines...)

Boy, that is one great way to brighten a person's day!

My heart is still heavy, it's hard losing a pet. :(

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Holiday Cookbook...Pioneer Woman Style!

A couple of weeks ago, I received a fun little email informing me of!

It was the day after I accepted the "new gig" and I was kind of already flying high on excitement (and fear!) and when I opened the email from "Morgan" that read, "Ree Drummond would like to send you an advance copy of her 'A Year of Holidays Cookbook'"...well, I got a little giddy, it was like the cherry on top of an ice cream sundae!

Only I don't like cherries on sundaes. But, you get the idea, right? :)

So, last Saturday, when one of my kiddos came running in from outside with a package that looked suspiciously like a book, I tore it open and sure enough...this was inside:


I quickly thumbed through it, and guys? I love Ree's style of cookbook writing. (No, I haven't been paid, or encouraged, or even asked to say anything at all about the cookbook...just doing so 'cuz I like what I see!) She intersperses her recipes with stories of her family and I may or may not have teared up at the Mother's Day introduction.

You can't make me tell. *sniffle* *tear*

Gah. I'm such a about moms and grandmas and I turn into a puddle.

And the granita? Yorkshire pudding? Prime Rib? Pecan Pie?

Can you hear my tummy growling?

Dear Pioneer Woman, 
Will you adopt me? 

All my love,
Hungry in Minnesota

(Oh, and I just looked it up...the cookbook will be released on October 29th! Less than a week away!)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Real Time...Weekend Edition.

Well, here I sit, with my family scattered about the house, basking in the goodness that is life,  and recuperating from yesterday...

Last night I was the "hostess" for a smashing party for my sweet Tara and her soon-to-groom. I'll level with you guys, I'm not much of a planner...cake? Oh, yeah, cake. Nametags? Whodathunk it? Games? Gah. But, thankfully for me, Tara has amazing people.

And, with the new job starting and some photo sessions planned prior to the new gig and a rescheduled birthday party (want some fun? Take five 12 year old girls to a haunted hayride/house...hilarity!!)...and on Wednesday I was panicking...I hadn't been able to give the party the attention I'd wanted to and holy moly I was about to sink.

Tara's friend Reggie saved the day (and my life) when she helped with the games and basically just agreed to stand by my side. Then, she also stepped up and manned the door and directed people on where to go/what to do. She was SUCH a blessing!!!

Anywho, the kiddos are currently tuned into Phineas and Ferb on the iPad, while the weather outside has us all thinking about Christmas.

Yup, it snowed today...not much, not enough to really stick to the ground much, but our deck is covered and it sure is a reminder that the holiday season is just around the corner!'

Belle has pumpkin seeds roasting in the oven, after the kiddos carved their pumpkins from the garden. I have a love/hate relationship with pumpkin seeds...I love the idea of munching on them, but I really kinda hate them when I do. They remind me of eating sunflower seeds with the shells on!

Oh, and JUST WAIT until I show you what I got in the mail on Friday...squeee!! Fun. Put a smile on my face and growl in my tummy. :)

Tomorrow I fly solo at my new job...eeeeek!! I've got this. I totally got this. I think. I hope. ;) My sweet Belle just said the other day, "Mom, it's gonna be like you're a stay at home mom with this new'll be home whenever we are!!!"

Exactly, my girl...exactly. 

And, because this photo makes me grin from deep inside...a peek at our haunted hayride girls!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Goodbyes and New Beginnings.

As I sit here, Sunday night, writing this post, my eyes are misty with goodbye tears. I worked one of my final "regular" shifts at the hospital tonight and wow, it was tougher than I thought it would be, saying goodbye to those amazing ladies.

My "work mom" started my tears off, by asking me to come out of my patient's room so that she could give me a hug...when I walked out, there she stood, eyes welling with tears, and before I knew it, my own tears were falling as we hugged and laughed and cried. This lady literally taught me everything I know...she trained me in as a postpartum nurse, then as a labor nurse a year later, and then as a lactation consultant a couple of years after that.

And when I hugged her goodbye, I realized just how much of my life I've shared with my L&D family over the last 14 years.

They were there when I became a "Mrs.".

They helped welcome 80% of my children.

Basically, they were by my side as I became a woman...the person I am today. My heart is sad to leave them, but I am ready for my new challenge.

Change is always hard, particularly when you've shared so much of your life with a group of people. When I accepted my new position, I decided to stay on in a "casual" position at the hospital (a couple of shifts a month), today made me realize just how grateful I am to be able to continue to dip my toes in the L&D world with the amazing group of women that I've grown up with.

And so, as you read this on Monday morning, I will be embarking on my first day at my new job. Training in with a new group of people who will soon become just as much a part of my life as my L&D family.

Here's to hard goodbyes...and exciting new beginnings.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

My Advance Apologies

So, I'm about to do something.

Something that will likely cause the weather to abruptly make a turn for the worse.

I'm about to change out my summer clothes for winter clothes. Now, this exchange usually bears more weight in the Spring, when the last thing we want is to be jinxed with more snow, but I'm pretty sure the summer clothes exchanges bodes just as poorly for us.

Our fall has (so far) been absolutely glorious. Beautiful.  Breathtaking. (In fact, our world is MORE green now, than it was in August!) Sometimes hedging on "hot", even. But, I fear with this swapping of clothes, that I'm about to ruin the weather...

And so, I am apologizing to everyone. Please forgive me for causing the dreadful weather that is likely to come within the next several days.

Respectfully yours,

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hump Day Real Time...

Sitting here, going through oodles of paperwork for my new career...still feeling simultaneously excited and scared silly about the new job! Excited about the new challenge and working with a great team...scared, 'cuz well, you know, IT'S NEW.

Talked with my big boy who just got home from work...he's been a hunting fool lately, deer, duck, goose, you name it, he's after it.

Had our second night of religion tonight and man, after teaching the same curriculum for two years, then switching? Well,'s tough! The new books are so different from our old ones, that just figuring out what was what confused the heck out of us.

Oooooh, guess what? I went shopping today and bought three, THREE, pairs of shoes!! It was like Christmas morning for me! But...the new shoes are for work, I've been wearing pajamas (scrubs) to work for the last 14 years, so this whole "getting dressed for work" thing is foreign to me!

And now, I bid you adieu...this Mama's plumb tuckered out! See you in the morning!

Monday, October 7, 2013

An Announcement...

So, I've been keeping a little secret. 

Annnnnd, at this point 97% of you are assuming I'm about to change my blog name to "Six Crooked Halos", aren'tcha?

Well, no, I'm not. There is no bun in the oven...but, there is something else that's been cooking.

In one week from today, I will be starting a new job!! 

Yup, in one week, I will be starting a new position as District Nurse for the school district that my kiddos are in! I am amazed at how this whole thing worked out, and without going into ALL the details, let's just say it all played out in a way that could only serve to prove that THIS was the right decision to make and that God had His hand in it!

Y'all know how much I love babies, so I have decided to stay at the hospital in a "casual" position, so that I can still sniff baby heads and yell, "PUSH" from time to time. ;)

I am thrilled to be gaining the opportunity to work with some pretty amazing people...students AND staff. The job change simultaneously excites me and terrifies me...but I'm ready for the challenge! 

Wish me luck and send some prayers my way...I know I'm gonna need them!

To new beginnings!!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

In the Kitchen With Gram...Ham and Asparagus Crepes!

This recipe is a recreation of a delectable dish my gram would order at a quaint little restaurant in Venice, Fl, back when they were snow birds down there! 

I believe she said the restaurant was "Le Petite Jardin"...doesn't it sound delightful?! Just that name makes me want to go there and lunch!

Okay, first up, make yourself some crepes (I'll put the link below to our previous crepe recipe we posted):

Then, make some "asparagus puree" (Trust me, it will be...)

Cook some asparagus until just that side of al dente. Which side? Well, whichever side it is that you prefer your asparagus cooked to...I like it just beyond al dente. However, forget to take a photo of this, cuz that how we roll...

Whip up a bechamel sauce...butter,



Salt and some nutmeg!

Now, mix some of that bechamel sauce with your asparagus puree:

And line up your wrap ingredients...ham, asparagus, crepes, bechamel, and asparagus puree (also, I think some Swiss cheese would be OUT OF THIS WORLD on these!):

Now, start wrapping...ham on top of crepe,

Then asparagus,

Then puree,

Then fold in sides:

Top with bechamel and warm in oven until heated through.

Mmmmmmm are these delicious, and a smidge on the "fancy but easy" side!

Gram's Ham and Asparagus Crepes

Crepes (Recipe here)
Ham, very thinly sliced
Al dente-ish asparagus, lightly steamed
Very well cooked asaparagus for puree, about 4 stalks, cut into pieces and pureed in blender.

Bechamel Sauce:
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
Milk (start with 2-3 cups, keep pouring and mixing until "drizzleable" consistency)
1-2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Lay out a crepe, place 2 pieces of ham on crepe, top with 4 (or more, if desired) pieces of asparagus, spread approx 2 T asparagus puree over the top of the asparagus, fold sides if crepe over ham and asparagus, top with bechamel sauce, place in 350* oven until warmed through!



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