Saturday, July 22, 2017

So That's A Purple Finch

As I grow old, I've been blessed with the visions wondrous wild life creatures.

At an annual picnic in Plum Borough, my friend who hosted the picnic had several bird feeders hung back away from the house above a wooded area.

Purple Finch
Of course, my attention was immediately drawn to the creatures that were feeding there.  I was thrilled when I saw a slightly red headed bird that I didn't recognize.

My friends had only recently moved into their new home which they had built for their retirement years.  They told me that they had only hung the feeders that weekend using the feed they had left over from their previous home.

These beautiful finches came immediately and have been feeding there ever since.  She also has hummingbirds but she attracts them with the hibiscus planters she has on her deck.

House Finch

In my yard I get House Finches at my feeders.  They have red feathers on their heads and breasts.  The rest of their feathers resemble sparrows.

Goldfinch at my feeder
Yesterday, the Goldfinch flew past.  It was headed for my bird feeder but when it saw me it turned in mid flight and zoomed away to the neighbors fig tree.

Pete's fig tree is always alive with birds
This has been a wonderful summer for my love of bird feeding and watching.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Prayers and Money

A very wise man, my grandfather, once told me, "A penny saved is a penny earned."  He was obviously expounding Benjamin Franklin. Papa was a frugal man who had come through the depression on the other side of wealth. Once a steel mill executive, he was now a hard working pipe inspector who went to work daily on his split shifts. He was by no means wealthy in the form of money but his advice and parenting were golden.

As small children, Papa would give my brother and I a nickel and then later in life a dime with the same piece of advice which revolved around saving. Every week, I would run around the corner to the local store to buy my nickel or dime's worth of penny candy. I hadn't learned the lesson of saving for a rainy day yet.
That's not to say we didn't have the proverbial piggy bank. Ours were plastic Planter's Peanut Men. Mine was green and my brother's was red. It was stuffed with birthday money and what I thought was a fortune in silver dollars.
As we got older, Papa increased our weekly money to a quarter and I felt like a millionaire as I went down street to the five and dime variety store to spend my fortune. I loved paper dolls and every week I would come home with another booklet of dollies with an assortment of beautiful clothing. My pride and joy was my Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles paper dolls.
Then came the day that I wandered across the street to a new shop. It was called the Swagger Shop and it carried a little more expensive toys and sundries. In the window was a dress making doll. It came with a doll and what I thought were gorgeous dresses and cost a small fortune; almost $10. I lusted for that doll for months and months.
It was about that time that I learned the secret to praying for money. What you really needed you were to ask in Jesus' name. Every night, I would say my night prayers and at the end I would add a prayer for that doll set until I finally forgot all about it and quit asking. A couple of months later came my birthday and in my envelope from Papa was a crisp $10 bill. I had no trouble spending that $10. I all but ran to Swagger Shop to make my purchase. As I said, it had been months since I started praying for that toy. In the end, it gave me less pleasure than I had thought it would and the packaging was very deceptive. There were no clothes with those dolls just the material to make them clothes. Here was another lesson lesson to learn, "All that glitters is not gold."

Papa lived with us a few more years and retired from his mill job at the age of 75. I remember my mother telling us to not ask Papa for money because he was retired and didn't have the money to spend that he used to have.  Papa was the only driver in our little family and when he retired he sold his automobile which cut back on those luxury trips we had learned to love.
By this time, I had learned my lessons that Papa had taught us.  When he left us, I soon began my own earning life.  At the early age of 12, I begged my Dad to let me do dishes at his little diner that he had purchased when Papa passed. I did that until he no longer had the restaurant and I was old enough to get a paying job at the age of 16. Hard work never hurt anyone they say and I started young. I'm well past 65 now and I'm still working rather than rust away. I may not work until I'm 75 but that is my goal.  It is my time to respect what God has given me and spend it wisely on what is needed.
I still ask God for what I think I need and in the name of Jesus for the important life events. What God wills me to have he gives me.  God always answers my prayers, but not always at the time I ask and the answer sometimes is "No" because it's not in my best interest.
The best Prayer by which to live our lives is the Serenity Prayer:

The lesson here is: "Yes, God answers our prayers for money but only to the extent we need it. He also tempers in some of life's lessons to go along with what he provides for us."

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Parmesan Allergy: White Garlic Sauce Made Without Parmesan

Garlic Sauce Pasta
When I was younger, I often wondered why I would become nauseated when I would go into an Italian home when they were making sauces.  A good Italian sauce gives a home an ambiance of a welcoming home and fills the house with an aroma all it's own.  In my case though, I found that I was allergic to Parmesan and that is what caused my discomfort.  Here is a white sauce recipe for those you you who share my allergy.

Melt Butter

This recipe calls for melting a half cup of butter over a medium heat.

Add Cream Cheese & Garlic Powder

Add one 8 oz. package of cream cheese and 2 teaspoons of garlic powder and stir with a whisk until smooth.

Add milk

Slowly add 2 cups of milk and whisk to prevent forming lumps.

Add a dash of pepper to the mix and then remove from the heat to thicken.  The sauce will thicken quickly and if it becomes too thick you can add a drop or two more milk to thin it down.

Tortellini and Broccoli with Garlic Sauce

It is now ready to toss with your favorite pasta recipe.  I prefer tortellini and broccoli with my mock Alfredo Sauce.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Chuck Roast and Leftover Recipes

Sunday dinner should be special but with this recipe you can do a pulled beef for summer sandwiches.

Beef Roast made into Pulled Beef
All you need to do is pull out all of the vegetables around the roast and then pull out the beef into wonderfully small pieces.

When I was a youngster, my grandfather always bought the meat for our Sunday dinner.  He was not what you would call rich but he shopped at a local butcher shop and came home with the best cuts of meat for Sunday's dinner.  He always came home with a roast or whole chicken and Sunday's were always special.  I remember hearing my mother say each time she made a beef roast that chuck roast was the best tasting of the beef cuts.  I can honestly say that I do remember there being something a little more flavorful when the cut of meat was a chuck roast and the leftovers were tastier.  You know the second day is better after the meat has time to marinate overnight.

Beef Pot Roast

My mom would put the roast into a roaster that the bottom was lightly lined with bacon grease and little water to prevent the meat from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  The cover was put over the pan and it was lined with onions and celery to add to the flavor.  I'm not sure if that added to the flavor of the entree or the ensuing gravy but that was the reason for the vegetables around the roast.  About an hour before the roast was done peeled potatoes were added to the pan.  The vegetable was always something that was cooked on top of the stove and I don't remember there being any carrots in the roasting pan.  The result was a delicious tender roast.

Beef Roast in Crock Por
OK!  With all those nice instructions, here is my same recipe but done in my modern-day style.  I don't use my oven to make my chuck roast.  I put the cut of meat into my crock pot that has been lined with a little water to prevent sticking.  I start the roast with onions and celery cut around.  I normally start the roast on the high setting just to get the meat going.  I sometimes use pearl onions that I buy the in freezer section of the store.  In about a half hour, I add carrots, unpeeled red potatoes and about a cup of water and then turn the crock pot down to slow cooking on the low setting.  I leave this go for anywhere from three to four hours or until we can't stand the aroma any more and are too hungry to wait.  The result is the most tender meat you have ever tasted.  It just falls apart as you cut it.  If I'm being really lazy, I do the above but instead of using all the fresh vegetables, I open a bag of frozen stewing vegetables over the meat when I start it and let it cook slow for the whole two to three hours.

Beef Pot PIe
I buy a larger roast than I need for one meal and if there is any left over, I use the juice from the crock pot to make gravy and the next day the leftovers are cut into smaller pieces and cooked with the gravy for beef stew.  This recipe is the same as my Pork Pot Pie recipe but you just replace the pork with beef cubes.

If there isn't enough beef left over to make a whole meal the next day, I make the beef stew but instead of simmering on top of the stove I make 8 or 9 inch pie crusts and make a pot pie for the family to enjoy.  The beef stew is put into the bottom crust and covered with the second crust.  The pie is baked at 350 deg. for about 30 to 45 minutes. 

If you feel like being fancy, you can make the pot pie into a shepherd's pie by making mashed potatoes for you top crust and baking it the same way.  For both pies your gravy needs to be a little on the thick side.

The point is the roast may be a little expensive (but remember I got a buy one get one special) but you get more than one meal out of that piece of meat.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Cheesy Potatoes Or Loaded Potatoes

Our family has a new favorite side dish.   We have always been a potato salad family and that would be the choice to have my daughter make for the any family gathering.  Let's be honest, we love a good potato salad that has just enough crunch from the chopped vegetables and just the right flavor from the hard boiled eggs and salad dressing that is used.  There are many types of potato salad to choose from and each family has their own favorite recipe.

Leftovers from 13x9" casserole
We were first treated to this recipe when my daughter was asked to bring Cheesy Potatoes to a birthday party.  She followed this up by bringing it to Our Christmas Eve dinner.

On Christmas Eve, our family tends to not eat meat from a tradition that my late husband started with my children when we married many years ago.  My first husband's family is Polish and they do not refrain from eating meat on Christmas Eve.  In fact, I remember gathering at his grandparent's home on Christmas Eve where there was a fully baked ham on the table ready to slice for sandwhiches.

Last year we were treated to meat balls and my daughter was asked to bring Cheesy Potatoes.  She normally bakes off a pound of bacon to go into these potatoes; but for some reason, she is the only one of my children who clings to the Italian tradition of no meat on Christmas Eve.  Christmas Eve we ate Cheesy Potatoes without Bacon added to the recipe.

This year we are gathering at my daughter's home for Christmas Eve and I'm hoping that she has these potatoes on the table.

That brings up another subject.  These potatoes can be made from scratch if you want to peel and grate 2 pounds of potatoes and you want to bake off the pound of bacon.
Grating Potatoes
I'm sure the finished product would come out with the same wonderful flavors.  However, I purchased my potatoes already grated country style potatoes from the frozen food section of the store and Hormel natural bacon pieces from the dressing aisle at the supermarket.  This recipe calls for finely chopped onions but I did not use them in mine.  In retrospect, I could have bought the O'Brien style hash brown potatoes and achieved a more flavorful casserole.

The recipe calls for canned cream of chicken soup, sour cream, grated cheddar cheese and melted margarine.  When you use all of these and add them to the O'Brien style potatoes you will achieve what we refer to as a loaded potato casserole.

This recipe is a great way to welcome in the colder days of Fall to go along with a meatloaf or any other entree.  In any case, I hope you try these and enjoy this home style cooking side dish that has become such a favorite in our family.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Praying Mantis, Bunny and Chipmunk appearing in my yard

Being from a neighborhood that boasted entrance to the woods within walking distance, I was used to seeing wildlife in my yard.  We always had bunnies, chipmunks and squirrels with the occasional possum that would show up under our garbage can stand.  When I moved to my present home, I was disappointed that I never got to see these creatures within the limits of my yard.

This year has shown me an abundance of wildlife again.  We had one chipmunk, there could be more, that came back and forth in the alley from a neighbors yard to climb my bird feeder pole and raid the goodies that I put out for the birds.

But this year for the first time, I was privileged to see a newborn bunny that would go back and forth between yards eating the clover.  It is now half grown and still gives me pause to wonder at the beauty of nature.

We talked about the purple finch that visited the gardens in a friend's yard.  We talked about the goldfinch that flitted across the neighbor's garden and stopped at my bird feeder.

In another event, I was sitting idly thinking about all the weights of the mind that cloud a peaceful day.  I have excellent peripheral vision and movement of bugs and spiders catch my attention for no other reason but that they moved.  That day I was not aware of being watched ever so carefully by the tiniest of preying mantis that I had ever seen.  It had been a few years since I had spied a full grown mantis crawling up the side of my house.

Before the new owners tore it down, my neighbor and I shared a dead space between another neighbor's garage and our property lines.  Behind this garage grew a menagerie of vines that I'm not totally sure what they are.  For years I have bent them back and tried make them grow away from the fence that separates our yards.

I spoke to my neighbor about trying to cut them back together and he said he was trying to find a natural weed killer instead of using one that was on the market.  To make a long story short, I concocted a batch from one I had seen on Pinterest and sprayed the vines.  When I reported what I had done my neighbor told me he had not sprayed the vines because he had spied two preying mantis among the vines.  I felt horrible because I had literally killed their home.

To my relief, this little fellow came to visit me.  All is well with the world again because nature has proven to me that it's creatures do survive.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Old Fashioned Penny Candy and Fudge

In years gone by, I remember penny candy that we would buy from the corner store.  Don Kahn, our local grocery store owner, and many like him across the country had glass cases just lined with these delightful candies that sometimes sold two for a penny.  After Don came Ruth's Store and she was known to shut down the candy sales during the dinner hour so that the children would not ruin their supper.

I have searched the Internet but cannot find a picture of one of my favorites which was the tiny pie tin that had chocolate fudge in it with a tiny tin spoon to eat it.  The poster I borrowed from another blog has the closest picture I could find.  They sold for a penny each and they came in chocolate or vanilla fudge.  The link is to Old Fashioned Fudge Recipes.

Of course, everyone remembers the licorice whips which you can still buy in the candy section in bags sold as Strings.

Along the same line, was the red jelly candy coins.  These were normally cherry flavored.

During holiday seasons, you might find some of these treasures in the candy case.  They were chocolate medallions covered with gold foil.
When I had more than a few pennies to spend I would buy the candy balls that would change colors as you sucked on them.  In and out of your mouth you would pop them to see what color they had turned into.  Then there were the fireballs that were red hot as you sucked away at the sweetness.

I remember those waxy little bottles that were filled with just a drop or two of sugary flavored syrup that we called soda pops.

Tootsie Rolls and Daisies

Who could forget the Tootsie Pops that are still popular today

Tootsie Rolls that come in various sizes and bags of the bits in your local candy aisles.

In this selection you have your Mary Jane that were peanut butter flavored and a Bit-O-Honey another hard candy.  Banana Flips were popular too.

Fruit slices were not among my favorites but you could buy them in various flavors.  The most popular being the orange slices.  You can still buy these by the bagful at the grocery store.

The day of the penny candy is gone but not from my memory.  Candy has become a big business and most of these candies are still sold in various containers and sizes of bags.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Alternate Transportation, Riding the Rails

on his 50th birthday

Three years ago, our family booked a family reunion in Orlando, Florida.  Some of the family went by airplane, but my son and I decided to book onto a train that would take us from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Orlando Florida.  The cost was right and we would be on the upper level with the option of watching the sights go by and not having to keep the foot on the pedal or pull over to see the scenery of our country.

After we booked our trip we told my second son about the great prices and they decided to book the same train for his wife and two children.  The plan was hatched.  Double deck train to Washington DC and then in the regular Amtrak cars from DC to Orlando.

Everything was fine until the my oldest son had a foot amputated and we had to change our e-tickets for handicapped seating.  My son and I sat on the bottom deck and the other son and his family sat in the upper deck.  He boarded with his wheelchair and was seated in a front seat.  This was a shame because he missed the opportunity to get to the dining cars and to the observation car.

I did the running between cars to get sodas and snacks from the cafe which was a trip up the stairs then cross over from one car to another twice and then down the stairs to get to the cafe.  Remember, I'm the one with the handicapped parking and hovering just below 70.  But, I made it.  We are a coca cola family so that meant we had to substitute Sierra Mist for our drinks because Amtrak carries only Pepsi products.

I did get to see the observation car it was nicely laid out with seats that faced out the windows and tables for larger groups to sit.

Other than that the trip from Pittsburgh to DC was great.  We left about 15 minutes behind schedule but ended up getting to DC about 45 minutes late which cut us back to a much smaller time to get into the station and onto the platform for the train to Orlando.

The second half of the trip was overnight.  I think if I were to do this trip again I would consider getting a sleeper.  My son and I were very uncomfortable and needed to switch often.  The only good thing turned out to be a bad thing.  We were seated right behind the bathrooms.  There are two on each car.  The rest of the bathrooms were having customer problems and the two by us seemed to be the choice of the entire four cars that were on this train.  They were lined up constantly for the train until someone did the unthinkable and stopped up the big one.  Then it was locked for the rest of the trip into Orlando.

My sons are smokers and the younger boy was able to hop off the train on the longer stops and grab a quick puff or two from a cigarette.  If he lucked out and there was someone being loaded by the lift then it took longer and he got two cigarettes.  The oldest boy though was confined to the inside of the car and was not able to get out for a cigarette.  The conductor offered to get him out at one station because they had four people who were going to need to be lifted onto the train.  That was very nice of them since they are not obligated to offer that service.  He refused the courtesy though because we were so close to Orlando by this time and we were well over an hour behind schedule.

We were behind schedule because we had to sit on sidings and let freight trains pass by.  That is because Amtrak uses Conrail tracks and Conrail has preference if there is a conflict on a one track section.  At one point the freight train passed us and then another Amtrak train whizzed past us going like the wind.  That held us up from getting into the next station even longer.

Coming home the conductor explained to us that they let already late trains wait if they have one that is on time go first to stay on time.  This picture show us so much more relaxed on the way home since the son had two massages that gave him two and a half hours of therapeutic massages.  I got a half hour Swedish massage while I was in at the timeshare.  We traveled home by way of train from Orlando to Washington DC where we rented a minivan for the rest of the trip home.  We decided to do this because there was going to be an eight hour layover in DC while we waited for the next train into Pittsburgh and then a seven hour train ride.  Even though we had to wait for the car rental office to open we were home in Pittsburgh before the train left DC.

Even with the cost of the car rental my round trip only cost the two of us $750 total.  That was the full train ride from Pittsburgh to Orlando.  The Train ride back from Orlando to DC and the car rental.  I don't think we could have flown for that price and at least I had the opportunity to get up and walk around.

All in all, I enjoyed the ability to move around during the ride and even though it took a longer time to get where we were going, I got to see places and things I would never see from the air.

It is my recommendation if your travels allow enough time for taking the train to give it a try.  Our check in was for Saturday at 4 pm.  We left Pittsburgh on Friday at 5 am and arrived in Orlando well before our check in time at around noon on Saturday.  Of course, coming home was more of a hassle but would have gotten us home by train before the end of day on Sunday.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

All Work and No Play Syndrome

     The phrase, "All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy-" is so true.  For years, I have been throwing myself into work because of losing my life's companion.  When I was hospitalized a few years ago, I found that the phrase was so true.  I had been staying away from all of the fun things that we had enjoyed doing as a couple and was not mingling with other people except for a select number of friends.

     As a result, I was just that a dull Jane.  I started going out again with the select friends but to a social club where I could mingle with others and enjoy the music for an evening.

     Then disaster struck again.  My youngest son died and my oldest son broke his ankle which has had him off work for four months so far.  Needless to say that put a crimp in the budget because being the person I am I took on too much and left the fun side of me go back into my shell.

     My youngest son is gone a few years now and my oldest step-daughter along with him.  I find that I'm not mourning as deeply as I did when my husband passed.  I have been able to get myself back into the swing of things so to speak.  I went back out to the social club and I bought a ticket for the picnic and went.

     I know it sounds callous to say you can't miss what you didn't have, but to be honest I have only been with my son and step-daughter a select few times over the past two decades because of where they were living.

This year my oldest son, who had been fighting diabetes, passed away and I find myself knee deep in grief again.  It was a total shock when he went downhill due to undiagnosed MDS, pre-leukemia,  in a matter of three months.   I live in disbelief that he has gone on to a better life and I am left behind to pick up the pieces.  Again I'm working more than I should to keep busy.

I miss them all but I know I have to get on with what is left of my life because there may not be that much of it left.  We never know what tomorrow will bring.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Cooking Using the Basic Crepe

The recipe for crepes isn't all that different from making pancakes except you expect a crepe to be thin and you don't use baking powder.

I remember when my children were in their teens and my oldest stepdaughter, Lisa, who God called home this past Christmas, would stand in front of the old gas stove and make crepes in the small cast iron skillet until she got them right.  Lisa was born to be a Italian chef but just never got the chance to do it.

Crepes Ala Orange

Crepes have always been a signature dessert in French cuisine.  I remember that the owner of the first company I worked for was something of a Gourmet Chef.  Even though he was Jewish, he treated the employees to a Christmas Party which was a gourmet meal that he would cook himself at a famous Pittsburgh restaurant.  The dessert was a Crepe Ala Sch......  This was his own crepe filled with fruits and and orange liquor sauce that he flambeed at the table.  It was a sight to behold for an awe struck 18 year old.

The Italian side of my life was filled with crepes that were also used for desserts but they were fruit filled according to the season, rolled up with whipped cream on them.  They weren't fancy but they were always deliciously light at the end of a filling meal.

Another use of the basic crepe in the Italian household is to make ricotta stuffed specialties such as manicotti.  You can use the basic ricotta and egg mixture to fill these or you can make the filling with spinach along with the eggs.  I prefer the ones with spinach because not only do they make a better appearance they are more healthy to eat.  The crepes are laid out on a greased glass dish and then covered with a marinara sauce and grated cheese sprinkled over the top before they are put into the oven.

As I think about it, I don't see why you can't use your basic crepe as a start for your Cannoli.  After all what is a cannoli except a rolled up shell with delicious sweet fillings and powdered sugar.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Flower Explosion

We have had such a mild winter that the growing season for flowers was upon us faster than we expected.  During a similar winter a few years back, I was disappointed when I found the bulbs from the previous year's lilies unearthed in my little side garden by my entrance stone.  It seems my neighbors were not so nice when they were walking their dogs because they dug them up for me.  I took them out and dried in my basement to replant them in the Fall.  The bulbs took nicely and I now have a profusion of Asian Lilies in front of my newly painted Madonna.

I did some pregardening and dug up the dandelions in front of my pedestal.  After I re aligned the pedestal, I moved my Madonna statue back onto her pedestal and planted two new Asian Lily plants that had a lot of buds on them.  Now I see the dogs missed one of my white lilies because the stem is popping out of the ground and the ones on the other side of the entrance stone are coming up.

I wanted to add some new plants this summer but had not made up my mind what to plant.  I love lilies of the valley but they only bloom once each year and then you have greens the rest of the year.  I may do those and then I wont have so many weeds showing in the garden.  My neighbor gave me some from her garden but when my other neighbor was weeding for me last year he pulled them out.  This year yet another neighbor gave me some from her garden when she was thinning them out.  Hopefully, these will take hold and I wont have to do anything there in years to come.

I'm not a good gardener.   My grandfather had a green thumb and could grow anything.  Each year he went to the greenhouse to pick out something new for his garden.  I just want to get something growing that will come up year after year and look nice.

This year I bought some annuals that were left at the garden center too long and I planted them between the Asian Lilies and the front of the garden.  I got some delphiniums and lantas.

If you have any suggestions on what to put in such a small planting area, please comment so I can consider your suggestions.

Sunday Farmer's Market in Aspinwall, Pennsylvania

July weekends are great for going to the Flea Market.  Find that treasure and to support your Aspinwall Volunteer Fire Department.

From April through the end of October, weather permitting, the best farmer's market can be found in Aspinwall, Pennsylvania at the AVFD Flea Market.  The Sunday after Easter was the start of another season of the best of the best.  Come to Aspinwall to view some of the best vendors on the flea market trail.

The farmer who is featured here has been a vendor at the flea market for many years.   The young people who sell their vegetables come from a family that has a history of selling door to door in Aspinwall with their fresh cut meats and vegetables.  As a child I remember them coming to our street with their produce.

The family run farm stand has added their refrigerated fresh butchered meat van.  The truck is a full travel trailer and features their home grown and butchered meats.

While the flea market itself has many vendors that display their wares, the main attraction each week is the local produce.  Being at a Port Authority bus stop is another feature that allows many people who don't drive to attend this weekly event and buy items that they can carry home on public transportation.

Early Years in a small location

What is especially good is that all of the produce is professed to be locally grown and the young people who run the stand are from a local farm.  This farming family started out in a smaller location in a corner of the lot.  They have since moved to the center of the lot taking up three prime spots selling their produce from the truck and collapsible tents.  They are in the center of attention each week.

Freedom Farms a family run farm
High quality fruits and vegetables.
The flea market doesn't need any more publicity because it is run by the Aspinwall Volunteer Fire Department and has been for many years.  As in any event worthwhile attending, parking is at a premium since the event itself is held in the community's public parking lot and attendees need to find parking on nearby streets.  But the result of your trip is well worth the time it takes to visit the stands of this hard working family.

In Pennsylvania, senior citizens who live on limited means are presented with four gift certificates for fresh vegetables early in the season to be used over the summer months.  Each certificate is worth $5 and must be spend entirely on produce that is locally grown.  Freedom Farms is a local grower and they do accept these certificates in payment of their fruits and vegetables.

I have spent many a Sunday morning picking out just the right zucchini or apples for the recipes that I love to make for my family.  I recommend a trip to the flea market in the coming summer weeks.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Easy Casserole Dinners

Just being lazy is one reason to make a casserole.  In some recipes it all goes in one bowl and the result is a delicious change to your menu.  When I'm being particularly lazy I buy a pan of macaroni and cheese and then microwave a chicken breast and some broccoli.  When the macaroni is just about done you can add the chicken and broccoli and you have a one dish dinner that is tasty and mostly nutritious.
Mac and Cheese with Broccoli and Chicken

Of course, you can do it the long way and make it all from scratch such as the linked recipe for home-made macaroni and cheese with chicken and broccoli.

Sausage, Apples & Rice Casserole
Another one of my favorite casseroles is Sausage Apples and Rice.  This recipe I made up after eating something similar at a cafeteria where I worked which used Stouffer Recipes.  I served it to my step-children soon after I married my second husband and to this day they are asking me for the recipe.  It's rather easy to make and the secret to it's good flavor is that I boil apple juice to make my rice.  The apples come from the ones I put up for winter usually or I have to microwave a batch while the rice is cooking.  The sausage is usually leftovers from breakfast but you can start by cooking down the sausage from scratch.

Chicken and Stuffing Casserole
I have to admit I got this idea from the side of a box of stuffing mix.  I mix the stuffing with chicken broth, place chicken breasts on top of the dish, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees until the chicken is cooked through and the stuffing is moist.  You can also add some broccoli to this recipe.

Each of these recipes is easy to make and takes varying cooking times but the result is a fabulous dinner.