Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Old Mission Point Light

Michigan Memories is a section of my blog where I'll be sharing some wonderful pictures of my beautiful home state of Michigan.


This is Old Mission Point Light on Michigan's Traverse Bay. It sits exactly between the North Pole and the Equator on the 45th parallel.

Chris & I were on a wine tasting trip with friends and on the way home we stopped to see this light (I LOVE lighthouses.) I crouched down to take this pic & Chris told me not to wast the film. With the sun backlighting the lighthouse he thought it wouldn't turn out (ha, film!) I was confident that my picture would turn out, I am the daughter of a professional photographer, after all.

It did turn out & I love the way it looks. To me it seems like the spirit of God is shining through. I even used it in the header for my other blog Devotional Daze. Check back soon for another Michigan Memory.



Simply Delicious Sunday is hosted by Tamy at 3 Sides of Crazy.

Chicken Enchiladas

This is a recipe that even people who don't like Mexican food will like!

4 skinless chicken breasts, cooked & shredded

4 c. Montery Jack cheese

10 8 inch flour tortillas

2 c. chicken broth

1/2 onion, chopped

4 T. margarine

1/4 c. flour

1 c. sour cream

1 small can jalepenos or diced green chilis (depending on how hot you prefer)

Melt margarine & stir in flour, cook for 1 minute. Whisk in broth & cook until thick.

Add sour cream & peppers.

Saute onions & mix with chicken and 2 cups cheese. Divide into 10 tortillas. Roll & place in greased 13 x 9 pan.

Cover with sauce & remaining cheese.

Bake 20 minutes @ 425.

Really, really yummy!

Hamburg Gravy

This is an old fashioned recipe that my dad grew up with & so did I. I recently re-discovered it & love it just as much today.

1 1/2 lbs. ground chuck

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 cup flour

salt & pepper to taste

4-5 cups of milk or water (water was used during the depression)

Cook beef with chopped onions & drain. Rinse with hot water to remove all grease.

Stir in flour, salt & pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes.

Gradually add in milk or water; bring to a boil.

Cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes.

Serve over mashed potatoes.


Cordon Bleu Appetizers

This appetizer is really tasty and a little different.

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Swiss cheese

3/4 cup diced cooked ham

1/2 cup minced chives - divided

18 slices French bread (1/2 in. thick)

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and mustard until smooth. Stir in the Swiss cheese, ham & 1/4 cup chives. Spread 1 Tbsp. mixture over each slice of bread; place on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Sprinkle with remaining chives.

Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

1 pkg instant oatmeal ( I like plain or apple cinnamon)

1 t margarine*

3 packages of Splenda*

1/8 t baking soda

cinnamon to taste

raisins or dates

1/2 t vanilla

drops of skim milk

Preheat oven to 350. Cream margarine & splenda together.(*I used ICBINB spray & 1 t splenda. I just added it to everything else, no creaming together & they turned out fine) Add baking soda, cinnamon, vanilla & oatmeal. Add drops of milk until cookie dough consistency. (*Be careful w/ milk I added too much) Stir in raisins or dates. Put on cookie sheet sprayed with Pam. Bake 12-15 min. Cool 5 min. on cookie sheet.

Makes 3-4 cookies, which is one serving.

These are great to make & take with you & they're perfect with a cold glass of milk!

*This is a Nutrisystem compliant recipe. I make it with NS oatmeal & it counts as your breakfast entree & your breakfast fruit.

Macaroni & Cheese

6-8 oz. of uncooked pasta. I like seashells or bowties.

1/4 c. margarine or butter

1/4 c. chopped onion

dash salt & pepper

1/4 c. flour

1 3/4 c. milk

12 oz. cheeses. Mix them up for different flavors. I like a combo of sharp cheddar & swiss.

Cook pasts as directed; drain. Cook & stir margarine, onion, salt & pepper over medium heat until onion is tender. Stir in flour to make a roux. Cook roux for about 2 minutes & then whisk in milk. Heat to boiling. Boil & stir 1-2 minutes until sauce is thickened. Remove from heat & stir in cheese until melted.

Mix with pasta & pour into a greased casserole dish. Top with Italian bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes at 375.

Sooo much better than the box with the flourescent orange powder.

Mimi's Hot Bandanas

Filling:1 (7 ounce) jar Kalamata Olives, drained and sliced

1 1/2 cups diced, peeled white onion

1 lb ripe beefsteak tomatoes, chopped (I have used good quality canned that I drain)

1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, diced

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 cloves pressed garlic

2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp dried basil

1/4 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

Buns:10 hard Kaiser rolls

3 Tbs soft butter

3 fresh basil leaves

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Mix the next 6 ingredients in a small jar and shake to mix. Mix dressing and tomato mixture. Hollow out Kaiser rolls and put mixture in them. Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve in cloth bandanas if desired.

These are vegetarian & you can customize the ingredients your own way, and since there's no mayo or meat, their not very likely to go bad for a picnic or a hike.

We always pack these when we hit the road to go camping. I wrap them in foil & then if they aren't all eaten on the way, we put the extra over the fire & the cheese melts & the rolls get toasty.

Pasta Carbonara

1/4 lb. bacon

1 stick butter

1 c. milk

2 Tb. wine vinegar

1 lb. pasta (fettuccine or linguine), try fresh if you can

2 eggs, whipped

1/2 c. fresh grated parmesan

Cut the bacon into little pieces and cook in butter until clear. Heat milk in a small saucepan (do not boil), and add to bacon & butter. Add the vinegar; this will turn the milk to cheese. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the sauce cooks smooth.

Boil the pasta al dente. Drain & return to pan. Immediately throw in eggs, the bacon sauce & cheese. Salt & pepper to taste.

Mimi's Tummy Filler Soup

This is more of a method than a recipe, but I get asked for this a lot. I have been on & off of the Nutrisystem diet plan for a year or so now. (Lately I've been very off plan!)

This soup is based on the principle that many veggies are considered "free foods". The base is also very diet friendly.

Veggies I always use to make “Tummy Filler” soup are celery, cabbage, zucchini, yellow squash & mushrooms. I make these the basis of the soup because they have very few calories. Greens like spinach, kale & watercress would be perfect in the soup, also. I usually also add diced onion, broccoli, cauliflower & green beans. I avoid things like peas, potatoes & corn based on their amounts of sugar.

I chop all the veggies & sauté them in a couple of sprays of olive oil flavored Pam until they start to soften. Then add low-sodium, low-fat beef stock to cover. Most of these stocks are 25 calories or less, for one cup. I also throw in some low-sodium V-8 Juice for some additional flavor and some salt-free Mrs. Dash. (For 6-8 cups of soup, I usually add about 8 oz. of V-8.)

One full cup of this soup is usually only 25-35 calories depending on what veggies you use. I make big batches & freeze them. I use this in place of salads a lot in the winter & since I’m not using any salad dressing I think it’s actually better diet wise.

As you can see it’s not really a recipe so much as the way I throw things together, but it's healthy, hot, filling & diet friendly!

Italian Cupboard Soup

This soup seems so simple, but the flavors are SOO good. I often use leftover pork roast.

2-3 lg. pork chops – cut-up

1/2 of a med. onion - diced

1 stalk diced celery

1 t. minced garlic

3 chopped mushrooms

1 14 ½ oz. can of chopped tomatoes

15 oz. great northern beans – rinsed

27 oz. chicken stock

Brown pork in olive oil. Saute with onion, celery & garlic. After a few minutes add chopped mushrooms. Add tomatoes, beans & chicken stock. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Quick Thousand Island Dressing

This is really yummy. More like McD's special sauce & less like thick, gloopy bottled thousand island. I also like it because there's not high fructose corn syrup or any other crap.

*Bonus~each tablespoon is only 12 calories & I usually have most of these things on hand.

1/3 cup low-fat mayonaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I used the kind in the bottle & it was fine)
2 tablespoons minced red bell pepper (tip, I chop & freeze these to use in recipes when I need them)
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves (I did not have these, my dressing way yummy without them)
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
a pinch of cayenne (or drop of Tabasco)
1/4 cup water.

Blend all ingredients until somewhat smooth in a blender or food processor, I used my Magic Bullet & it rocked.

Add up to 2 tablespoons of additional water if needed to thin dressing to desired consistency.

Keeps in the fridge about 10 days.

**While you're here please stop by my Devotional Daze blog to enter my Inspiration Giveaway.

Peach Pancake Napoleon


1/2 cup fat free cottage cheese
1 tablespoon skim milk
1 tablespoon sugar or splenda
1/2 cup of canned peaches
3/4 cup of Heart Healthy Bisquick
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
whipped cream if desired

Mix cottage cheese, skim milk & Splenda or sugar. I used my Magic Bullet Chop 1/2 of the serving of peaches & stir them into the cheese mixure.

Mix Bisquick with water to make it pancake consistency (I'm sorry I didn't measure the water). Stir in vanilla.

I sprayed my small pan with Pam & put in 1/2 of the pancake mix.

While that is cooking, microwave the cheese & peach mixture for a little bit to just warm it.

Take out the first pancake, top it with the cheese & peach mixture & make the second pancake.

Put the second pancake on top, then top with the remaining chopped peaches & a dollop of Cool Whip Free.

*This is a recipe for one serving, but you can see it would be easy to multiply.

My husband was jealous & my son accused me of cheating on my diet.

If you are on the Nutrisystem plan this counts a complete breakfast, fruit & dairy + 1 free food (Cool Whip)

*this would work really well with some ff ricotta & a little Splenda instead of the cottage cheese, but I didn't have any ricotta

Super Easy Crock Pot Pot Roast

This is easy, inexpensive if the beef is on sale & feeds lots!

1 3 to 4 lb. beef roast
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can french onion soup or 1 envelope onion soup mix mixed with 1 cup water
splash of worcestershire sauce
1/2 an onion - rough chopped
4 or 5 whole potatoes
2 cups of button mushrooms

Drop beef into crock pot (it can even be frozen)

Top with soups, worcestershire & onion.

Cook on high heat for 2 hours, then switch to low for 3 or more hours.

About 2 hours before roast is done served lay potatoes on top of beef to cook. I leave them whole & in their jackets.

Half an hour before roast is done add chopped mushrooms.

Remove all solids from sauce & skim off any grease before serving.

All Of Us

I'll start with my husband, Chris. I'm not sure what I ever did that was so good to deserve this man, but boy am I ever greatful. I met Chris after I was divorced from my boys dad. We worked together & we were friends. We were not, under any circumstances, going to get involved. I was a divorced mother of 2 young boys & he was a bachelor with a varied group of friends & an eclectic, exciting life. I chased him like a dog. He is the most caring, giving person I know. He is one of those people who is just truly good. He has taught me that life is about the journey.
Now I must also tell you that we had to get married. Not because of what you may be thinking, but because we happen to share the lamest sense of humor ever. We crack each other up while others just look at us with confused looks on our faces.
At 16 JD stands about 6 foot tall & love music & movies. School work not so much. John has been involved in our church for about 5 years. He is actually the one that got us into the church. He has been on the youth ministry team for about 4 years and also attends a second church youth group on Wednesday nights. Sarcasm drips from this child's pores & he reminds me daily that I could not possibly know the answer to anything. *insert eye roll*
This is a picture of Jack's feet. Jack is 13 & will only wear Converse High Tops. Jack is my baby who immediately upon turning 13 became a teenager. He then gave himself permission to act like a teenager & try to shock me as much as possible. He got his height from his father & my father. Let's just say that unlike JD, Jack is compact. Jack is also involved in the youth group at our church & he is the peacemaker. He wants everybody to be happy & will probably give himself an ulcer trying to accomplish. While JD sometimes hovers around like a black raincloud of teen angst, Jack is sunshiney & kind. For now.
This is Oskar. He is a miniature schnauzer & he is in charge around here, just ask him. He is quite sassy & has saved us from rouge grocery bags attempting to charge the house on many occasions. He is also in charge of the landscaping of our back yard. He is an expert at putting holes in the perfect spot to step in and twist your ankle.
Here's Chloe. She's our calico cat & she is technically obese. I'm not judging, I have a few lbs. to lose myself, but the vet was alarmed at the size of her tummy. In this picture she is disguising her weight in a clementine box. Chole talks and chirps all day long. She also eats until she throws up.
Finally we have Mo, who is a tortishell. When we adopted her she was already named, but I refused to call a cat Maureen, so we shortened it to Mo. She spends her days getting her 22 hours of sleep in anywhere sunshine can be found & hoping her sister Chloe will let her get a bite to eat.
There you have it. Us in all of our glory!

2009 ~ A Year In Books

My bloggy friend Rachael at Scientific Nature of the Whammy posted a book re-cap of 2008. Now besides my Mr. Bear,


books were my first true love. I have decided to kind of copy Rachael & my good friend Leala, at The Bookwhore's Guide to Books and keep a running commentary of my books read this year.

Let me know if you find any books you love this year!


The Liars Club & Cherry by Mary Karr

These memoirs cover the time from Karr's earliest memories through her teen years. Living in a Gulf town in Texas with a mentally unstable mother, and an increasingly distant father left her with a very unique childhood. The Liars Club takes us until she's about 12 years old. I found it much better than Cherry, simply because a lot more happened. Cherry is about her teen years which were filled with drug use to try and escape her circumstances. Mary Karr is worth spending some time with.


To Be Mona, Kelly Easton (YA)

To be Mona is a slim book about high school teens trying to find themselves in their senior year. Sage, wants to be Mona, the "popular" girl. But as so often happens, she often finds that getting what you want isn't what it's cracked up to be. Sage has an unstable mother who ends up being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It's a relief for Sage to find an answer to her mothers mood swings. The book offers great references for people with bipolar & those who love them. The book does a good job of bringing up the subject of a mentally unstable parent, while still focusing on all the trouble high school can bring.


A Field Guide to the British: The Anglo Files, Sarah Lyall

I was really excited about this book. Lyall is an American expat married to a Brit. She touches on all of the British cliches. Bad teeth, bad news reporting, their painful modesty & the oddity of the Royals. When I say she touches on these things I was wrong, she give a million examples of each. I actually quit reading this book. I almost never quit a book once I'm past a certain point, but this just got too boring. It's 260 pages. It would be a great, fun read at about 130!


Triple Shot Betty's In Love, Jody Gerhman (YA)

The follow up to Triple Shot Betty's really steers away from the things that turned me off of the last book a little bit. This time Gerhman stays away from the teenage drinking and focuses on the love lives of the teen girls. A fun follow up.


Learning Joy from Dogs Without Collars, Lauralee Summer

This short blurb about this book would be "homeless to Harvard." Lauralee's upbringing offered her few choices, but she made her way to the hallowed halls of Harvard. It's a great story, but something about Summer just didn't make me really get emotionally invested in the story. Still worth reading.


Assisted Loving: Tales of Double Dating With My Dad, Bob Morris

This is a story about Morris trying to understand why his recently widowed father needs to jump back in the dating pool so quickly after his wifes death. I didn't end up liking Bob Morris too much, he comes across as quite self absorbed, although he admits as much in the book. Something that bothered me is that he often describes how handsome his 80-something father is, yet put a very unflattering photo of him on the cover. I think Morris still has some passive aggressive issues to work out!

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Bringing Home the Birkin, Michael Tonello

A fun book about Tonello's move to Barcelona & suddenly finding himself jobless. He starts a lucrative business finding the elusive Birkin bags & reselling them online. Not a bad read, but gets a little old by the end. Bonus cute points for the book design, the paper part is small & comes off leaving the book looking like an orange croc Birkin bag.


Dirty Laundry, Daniel Ehrenhaft (YA)

A cute mystery about a teen celebrity going undercover at a "last chance" boarding school. The characters were fun & I didn't know what was going to happen next. Worth reading.


Spud-The Madness Continues, John van de Ruit (YA)

This is one of my YA books. I read Spud a few weeks ago. This was a grand follow up. Truly just an extension of the first book. A nice change from the YA chick-lit type books, more of a dude-lit.

Best Friends Martha Moody Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket

Best Friends & The Office of Desire, by Martha Moody

I'm not sure what to say about these 2 books. Best friends was her first book & the one I read first. Now let me say that I give a book about 50-100 pages before I quite reading it, if I don't like it. Too many books & too little time for books that don't hold my interest. I didn't stop reading either of these books. They were just different. Odd twists thrown in at odd places. They were interesing, but for me, were lacking a certain type of sparkle & they really could have used a little humor. I'd say they were just "okay".


Spud, John Van De Ruit (YA)

This YA book is different than most I have read. It's written by a South African and is set in a South African boys school in 1990, the year Nelson Mendela was released from prison. I personally have a soft spot for books about boarding schools & this one did not dissapoint. Spud refers to the main character. He's given this nickname because at 13 puberty hasn't hit him yet. As the mother of 2 teen boys, it was really an interesing perspective. Spud likes girls, falls for a couple girls, but his body hasn't caught up yet. Good book.


Apart From The Crowd, by Anna McPartlin

This was a great book. Set in Ireland it's the tale of 4 lifelong friend & what happens to them with a handsome American moves into their small town. I really thought this book had it all. It was funny, but had plenty of real touches of sadness. McPartlin has 2 previously written books & I'm headed over to my library's website now to put them on hold.


Love The One You're With, by Emily Giffin

I have read her books in the past & enjoyed them. I really enjoyed this one, too. It wasn't too predictable, which is good. The only complaint I would have is that after take approx. 320 pages to get to the crux of the story, it's neatly wrapped up in a bow in merely 20. It did, however, keep me guessing as to which path our heroine would end up taking. I would recommend it.

Now as a person who reads voraciously, I often read young adult (YA) books. Maybe part of it is because I think that I could be a successful YA writer someday. The other part is probably my immaturity, but does that really matter?


Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty, by Jody Gehrman (YA)

Geena, a high school junior desperately wants her cousin Hero & her BFF Amber to get along over summer break. Predictably the path is rocky, but not in a way you would assume.

Triple Shot Betty is set in the wine country of Sonoma, so that might explain why these teenagers are often given alcohol by the 'responsible' adults in this book, but it just seems like a bad literary choice on the part of Gehrman to make this seem o.k. The kids in this book drink often, and drink often with their parents. Only on one occasion does this have any negative effect to our lead characters. I really think this was an detriment to the book.

The girl power ending was a little trite for me, but it was a fun read overall. I would not recommend it to the tween audience it was intended for, given casual approach given to high school drinking.