Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday 4.5.2011

Today is also Top Ten Tuesday. This is my first time taking part in this meme and I seriously ♥♥♥ it! 
Click the graphic to join in all the fun!

Also, serious thanks to Amanda for not only the meme but for my Top Ten List idea today, my top ten chocolates to 'reward'  myself with! If you get a serious craving, its not only my fault...☺☺☺

  1. Godiva's " Raspberry Ganache Twirl." This chocolate is SO decadently dark and filled with real raspberry puree, not a faux thickened raspberry flavored syrup. It is NOT a sweet filling but the natural mild sweetness of the  berries foils the dark sweetness of the silky chocolate perfectly. 
  2. Another Godiva, this time "Dark Caramel Embrace." I am not a really big caramel person except on my frappucinos but it pairs lusciously in this one. Enough to make me want to eat a pound at once. 
  3. For something completely different, may I recommend Dagoba's "Lavender Blueberry 52% dark" chocolate squares? I was sampling these out one day at the local Shaw's as part of my job and wow, I am seriously hooked on these little squares of relaxation and happiness...hehe! 
  4. To really knock your socks off is another Dagoba...a stunning combo of "74% dark chocolate, chili pepper and cacao nibs." Sinfully smooth, surprising little kick and really energizing. These are very fun if you like to walk a little on the wild side.
  5. True decadence comes in the form of "John and Kira's chocolate figs." These are whole Spanish chocolate figs filled with a whiskey ganache and dipped in dark chocolate. A little naughty but nice to share with a loved on. Only $22 for six at www.johnandkiras.com/category/Chocolate-Figs
  6. A little more accessible and inexpensive, I LOVE Black and Green Organic chocolates. I can't really pick one flavor for a fave, I love ALL of theirs...but you can't go wrong with dark chocolate mint or dark chocolate raspberry choices. 
  7. Available at every grocer pretty much are Lindt's truffles and bars. My favorite truffles are the chocolate peanut butter and white chocolate lemon. In bars I love the 70% dark with a touch of sea salt. 
  8. It's getting close to Easter and that means my seasonal indulgence, Cadbury Creme Eggs, are back! Thank goodness you can't get these year round or else I don't know what I would do...have to buy stock in the company, probably, to keep from going bankrupt...
  9. An everyday choice that I will grab at the Irving or the Rite Aid when I am there are my Reese's dark chocolate peanut butter cups.  I was SO happy when they made those! 
  10. Lastly, my childhood favorite that always takes me back are Almond Joys. Me and my dad used to share them when would go out and run errands with him. They remind me of simple summer days being daddy's girl and not thinking about grown up stuff. 
Here's hoping you all have 10 terrific things to share! Join in the fun! 

It's time for Gratituesday again, ladies! Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

I have so much to be grateful for, especially after some news received today. My husband works for Walpole Woodworking here in Maine and he simply LOVES his job. I love that he is supporting the family in a way that allows him to use years of skills and talent he has built in the woodworking, home decor and furniture making trades. It is SO nice to have a hubby that comes home from work praising what went on and uplifting his co-workers instead of one like so many I know firsthand that come  home from work and want their wives and kids to leave them alone; kick back in a chair in front of a TV with and beer and act like their families are burdens instead of blessings at the end of the day. 

Minus the beer part, his last job at a flooring mill in a neighboring town was like that. He was SO wiped out at the end of each day that he just wanted to come home, shovel dinner down and go kick back in bed with a good book. Too much noise and interaction were upsetting to him because he was pushing a broom  instead of using his considerable skills.

Another thing I am grateful for today is my daughter's continued recovery from heart surgery on the 17th. Due to vehicle conflicts and people not following through I had to miss her follow-up appointments with her surgeon and cardiologist; however both called and told me she looks great, is doing fabulous at this point in her recovery and probably will be able to return to school next week. She is VERY excited about that according to Dr. Hourihan.

Finally I am grateful for my love of cooking. Today is rainy, chilly and kind of blah SO I am going to whip up a biscuit and gravy casserole for dinner tonight. Basically you cook and crumble a half pound of your favorite breakfast sausage until it is cooked. Set it aside and whip up a batch of biscuits using your favorite recipe, mix, or even canned refrigerator biscuits. Bake til they're done and while they're baking cook up some home fries until golden brown and crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. Dump the home fries in a casserole dish, top with the split baked biscuits, and set in a low (200* F) oven to keep warm. Return the sausage pan to the heat, add 2 cups of milk, 1 tsp of black pepper and salt (to taste). Bring to a boil slowly, stirring constantly. Once it has boiled add in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch  mixed with two tablespoons of COLD water to make a paste. Keep stirring until the gravy has thickened to the consistency YOU prefer...we like ours a little thicker than most. Pour it over the warm biscuits/taters and serve. MMMmmmmm....can't wait to get cooking!

Thanks for joining me on Gratituesday! What are YOU grateful for?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Tonight's $5 Dinner Delight

Today's meme is part of the blog-ring for $5 Dinners and since we have some weird combo weather, a mix of snow and sleet and regular rain, I am cooking up something warm, yummy, and budget friendly tonight!

$5 Tamale Pie
  • 1 London Broil or flank steak, about 1 1/2 pounds. Looking for 'dollars off' coupons or price slashes on the meat is the tip for getting this meal in under budget; I got a lovely 2 pound LB at my local IGA this morning for $2.00! 
  • 1 can diced tomatoes ($.69) drained
  • 1 package corn bread mix (I use Jiffy which usually costs $.29 to $.49 a box
  • 1 can creamed corn ($.59 - $.69)
    • The rest of these ingredients are staple items that are usually found in every house and don't count toward the cost:
      • 4 cups water
      • 3 Tablespoons red or green taco sauce/salsa verde
      • 1 clove minced garlic (about a teaspoon if pre-chopped)
      • 1/8 tsp salt
      • 2 teaspoons lime juice
      • 1 small onion, sliced
      • 1 Tablespoon EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil) 
      • 1 teaspoon EACH cumin, garlic salt, and chili powder
      • 1/4 cup milk (for cornbread mix)
      • 1 egg (for cornbread mix)
Chop the steak into bite-sized cubes. While you're doing that bring the 4 cups water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the steak, the taco sauce, garlic, salt and lime juice. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until meat is tender.  Drain the meat.
Heat the 1 Tbsp oil over med heat just until it shimmers. Add the sliced onion and saute for about 4 minutes, just til it softens and turns fragrant.  Remove from the heat and combine in the larger pot with the meat. Dump in the can of tomatoes, the cumin, garlic salt and chili powder and stir to combine. Pour the meat mixture into  a lightly greased 8"x8" square casserole dish or a 9" pie pan. Preheat the oven to the temp specified by your cornbread mix (for my Jiffy this is 350*). Combine the cornbread mix, the creamed corn, the milk and egg and stir to make a batter. Spoon this gently over the meat and spread carefully to the edges of the pan. Bake at the specified temp and for the time (mine takes 20 minutes). Test for doneness with a toothpick, skewer or cake tester. The pick should come out of the cornbread clean with maybe a couple clinging crumbs.
Let cool for 10 minutes and slice into wedges (pie pan) or squares (casserole) and dish up.
Inexpensive side dish: a package of Knorr or Lipton Spanish Rice/Taco rice ($.79 to $.99).
Condiments: sour cream & more taco sauce, shredded cheese (Mexican four cheese blend, straight cheddar)

The breakdown:
     Tomatoes...........  $.69
     Cornbread mix.....$.49
     Creamed corn......$.59
     Lipton Taco Rice.$.99

Happy eating!! Share YOUR $5 dinner winners!!

An Amish Christmas-December in Lancaster County BookSneeze Review

Well, I am finally getting some spark of order back in my life; after months of being under a cloud of depression and in a haze doctors have helped me find the road of light again. I am pleased to be able to finally review a simply stunning book I received from BookSneeze back in December called An Amish Christmas: December in Lancaster County. This book is actually four titles under one cover with beautiful artwork:

The first story in the collection is A Miracle for Miriam by one of my favorite authors, Kathleen Fuller. As a child, Miriam had a pretty intense case of puppy love for Seth. A cruel joke on the playground shatters her confidence but not her feelings. Years later Seth is in a terrible accident and returns to the simple life in the Amish community after withdrawing into himself for a while. He finally notices that plain little Miriam has grown up into a strong, lovely, helpful and hardworking Amish woman...can he repair the hurt feelings from long ago and start a new life with her? This was a terrific story and one of my two favorites from the book. 

A Choice to Forgive by Beth Wiseman is the story of Lydia who's husband of 15 years dies suddenly. To add to her sadness and confusion during a very troubling time her first love, Daniel, has returned to their Amish community after disappearing on Christmas Eve nearly 16 years before. As an added twist, Daniel is also the brother of Lydia's deceased husband. Can Lydia pick up the pieces and go on with her life, even with her lost love as her neighbor?

In Barbara Cameron's terrific tale One Child a Christmas Eve birth will spell remarkable changes for two very different Lancaster County couples...what's the mystery? Why the changes? You HAVE to read this story to find out. It had me riveted and is my second favorite from this fabulous collection. 

Lastly, in Kelly Long's Christmas Cradles spirited and sprightly Anna Stolis takes over for her aunt in the role of midwife on Christmas night. Throughout the night more than one baby is born, several gorgeous Amish quilts take the stage and, surprise of surprises, the taciturn Asa Lapp, a man with a story of his own, helps her out. Will Christmas give these two plain folk a present they didn't bargain for?

In all I give this fabulous collection 5 stars. It is very readable and brought me endless joy during an already joyous season. A definite must read and one you'll want to keep in your Christmas collection to re-read each year during the Christmas season.