Saturday, June 28, 2008

Scrumptious Saturday #8

White Chili

This is about the easiest, yummiest dinner that I know of. It is crock pot dinner "in a can." SO, since my life has been more than a little busy this weekend I decided that this is the time to pull out the "big guns." Here are the ingredients:

OK, if you couldn't read all of the cans, here is the list!
1 can Canellini Beans
1 can Great Northern Beans
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 and 1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 small can diced chilies
2 pinches chili powder
1 and 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
chopped scallions (these don't come in a can, sorry)
Soy Sauce
2 large cans chicken (I prefer light and dark for flavor, but as you choose)
Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese

I love these Crock Pot liners and recommend if you use them, follow the directions and let the meal cool completely before you try to remove the liner for discarding.

"Marinate" chicken in soy sauce, I drain the liquid out of the can and add Soy Sauce while I'm putting the rest of the meal together in the crock pot. Add chicken and cook 6 - 8 hours. Serve with shredded Monterey Jack Cheese. My husband added a little more cheese (no harm in more cheese, right?).


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Superhero Tips from the "Green Girls" - Saving the Planet One Lightbulb at a Time

Well as I am absolutely covered up this week it is looking like I will be re-using an old Green Tip post. Please be ready for something fabulous next Thursday and for now please enjoy this post from my files.

Easy: Did you know that for every minute you leave a faucet running full force you dump a gallon of water? 1 minute = 1 gallon. WOW that’s a lot of wasted water! So what to do? Don't leave the water running when you’re brushing your teeth, men shaving their face. When washing dishes by hand, don't put soap on the sponge and wash one dish at a time while leaving the water running - VERY WASTEFUL! Fill sink with as little as necessary and as long as you have bubbles, you have enough soap to clean what’s there. Wash all then rinse all together!
Want to do more? Look at this:
Only about half the water used by the average household needs to be of crystal-clear drinking quality. Water for the toilet and the garden can be recycled from bathtubs, showers, washing machines and the kitchen sink using so- called gray-water recycling systems. The higher content of chemicals like phosphorus and nitrogen in gray water can even be a source of nutrients for plants. A gray-water system can be anything from a tank that collects laundry water to a comprehensive system using plants and micro-organisms to treat water from all household outlets. Check with your local water authority on rebates for approved gray-water systems.

We have only one Earth, let’s treat it with respect so our children can learn from our example and have a great place to raise their children.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Children's Book Review

"The Second Princess"
by Hiawyn Oram & Tony Ross

Taken from Book Jacket:
The Second Princess cannot stand being second. She'll do anything to get rid of her older sister! The palace Cook agrees to help, but there is a price. "I want your mother's jewels," she demands. So the Second Princess sneaks into her mother's bedroom to look for her [jewels]. But when she is caught in the act . . . [she] is terrified when she imagines what her punishment will be.

This is an absolutely fabulous book for only children as well as siblings. It has some great lessons about honesty, fairness and accepting life on life's terms (shhhh, don't tell the kids all these lessons are included!).

Who can blame the Second Princess for wanting her sister out of the way? Look at the room. Her sister's picture and hers. Her sister's toys and hers. Her sister's dress and hers. You'd think the king and queen might have noticed the BIG GREEN MONSTER (jealousy) that was being created... but hey, its just a book.

She tells her parents the truth even though she fears the worst sort of punishment. What a great example of honesty in the face of fear!

In the end the King and Queen come up with a solution that everyone can live with... well most of the time. I'm not so sure the King is feeling very "Kingly" at the moment, more like a good old "Daddy!"

This is yet another book that we'd recommend for girls more than boys, maybe we'll see if there is one about a Price or Knight? We'll do a gender neutral book next time. "Siblings of all ages, no matter if they are first or second, will cheer for the Second Princess!" Excerpt from Jacket.

Last week a comment was left asking me how I select the books? Well our library is wonderful and many of these have been out on display and easy to pick up. This one however was shelved and I was just scanning titles when I saw this and thought it would be a good one for my little Princess (who is an only Princess) and I'm glad I found it - we have loved to read and re read it for the past week.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Scrumptious Saturday

Tonight's menu was Barbecue Chicken, Roma Green Beans, Cornbread and Fried Green Tomatoes. I will do a little bit on the beans and Cornbread, but the feature of this post is Fried Green Tomatoes! Never fear I use a healthy oil, whole wheat and white flour. It IS still fried, but at least it's healthier than the "old" way.

Remember those beans we were picking at her Grand dad's garden? Well here we are stringing and snapping them for dinner. We have been doing this together on this swing since she was 2! She's an old pro now at it! SO for the beans, wash them (even organic has dirt on it) and I prefer to cook them in a 10" pan with high sides (larger surface area, more shallow). I put about one and a half cups of water in and a 1" cube of salt pork. I put a lid on it and cook it on low for about 3 hours. Make sure to check that the water is evaporating some, but don't let it all go or you'll have burnt beans and that is NOT a pleasant smell!

Corn Bread / Johnny Cake Style

I added some corn kernels and sugar to this one, but sometimes I'll add sunflower seeds (which goes over really well) or minced hot peppers depending upon my company and their personal taste.

First preheat your oven to temp required on your chosen package. I have and will always use Jiffy Mix for my Johnny Cake. I put my cast iron skillet in the oven as its preheating to heat that up as well. Then mix ingredients as package directions. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Take your skillet out of the oven and coat it with non-stick spray, oil, grease or butter - whatever you choose. Pour batter into the skillet and if its hot enough it should almost pre-cook the sides of the Johnny Cake as pictured here. The sides are a bit cooked (and raised higher than the center if you can see it in the picture).

Cook for approx 20 minutes depending upon the package directions. DO NOT open the oven to see how its doing. It takes the oven a bit of time to recover that heat and when baking this can be detrimental!

When done take the cast iron pan out and set it on something like a cooling rack (my stove works well for this since its gas). Let it sit for a good 10 or more minutes before trying to cut and serve. If you've done really well and greased it perfectly you can turn the pan over and have the whole Johnny Cake pop out onto a plate and cut it into quarters!

And the Coup De Gras... Fried Green Tomatoes!
Not a Southerner that is living in the South? Need to impress someone with your ability to cook Southern Food? Try this recipe, its easy, tasty and will impress the locals and transplants alike!

First thing is first, the tomatoes must be green! This means they will be small because green tomatoes are not yet ripe therefore not grown up to their fullest size. You'll need to figure no more than 3 - 4 slices out of each tomato, so gauge your purchase accordingly.
Notice the flaws in my tomatoes?
Yup, I like the ones that DON'T look perfect. The fruits and vegetables that look too perfect have little flavor in my opinion. I purchased these at the local Farmer's Market this morning. Don't get any that have any signs of ripening (yellow, orange or reddish skin), they just wont taste as good.

Heat oil in a skillet (I always use cast iron to fry in) about 1" deep. The egg wash I use is 2 eggs, about 1 Tbsp. of milk and salt (I always salt my egg out of superstition). The batter I use is White Lily White Flour, King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour (sometimes I'll use Jiffy Mix Cornbread mix instead of corn meal, but I skipped this all together tonight and it didn't seem to make a difference) and some seasonings - I used a basic chicken seasoning tonight. So set your assembly line up like this...

I'm working from Right to left as thats the space allowance in my kitchen. The skillet is on the far left just out of the picture. So Tomato, egg wash, flour, skillet. Repeat until the skillet is full, but do not let them touch if you can help it.

Last bit of info, if you'll put a cake cooling rack on your plate between the plate and paper towel (that you'll have to drain the oil off of the tomatoes) you will drain better and have less oil and grease in your meal. This works for bacon and anything else that you might drain on a paper towel and keeps things ever so slightly on the healthier side.

And here is the finished product. About 21 - 26 Fried Green Tomatoes (hubby ate a few in the process so the exact count isn't available!).
And I don't know if this is Southern or just the way we got the kiddo to eat these, but they aren't too bad with katsup either...! ENJOY

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Superhero Tips from the "Green Girls" - Saving the Planet One Lightbulb at a Time

This is going to be an extension to last week's post on Shopping Tips. The Maryville Farmer's Market that I showed some brochures from last week had a Green Day on this past Saturday, so I have a lot of lovely pictures of the Keep Blount Beautiful Booth (Blount is the county we live in)

as well as some from the kids activity booth (with Maddie as always posing like a super model!). I'd like to show some pictures from this wonderful event, share some of the information that I learned from the wonderful lady at the Keep Blount Beautiful Booth as we had a wonderful conversation.

  • Some of the things that I learned are more about litter and how it affects our lives all the way around. It never occurred to me how closely everything is tied together. Check out the information at for more information!
  • Water! You all know how much I love to blog about water and what we need to do for ourselves and our children when it comes to clean water. Here's just a few tips taken from a Marine Litter Prevention Brochure: 1) Pick up litter around storm drains. Storm drains can carry rainwater and litter from streets directly into waterways. 2) Take children on a picnic near the water. Tell them why it's important to handle waste and litter wisely. 3) Find out if you, your group, or business can adopt a section of stream or river and pick up litter several times a year. Remember every little bit helps!
  • Reduce, Reuse & Recycle!!!!! Here are 5 tips taken from another Keep Blount Beautiful Brochure: 1) Reduce product purchases. Do you need this item? Can you repair or reuse something you already have instead? 2) Make product selection carefully. Are you buying more than you need? Does this product have more than a singe use or is it disposable? Is this product made from recycled materials? Is it safe for the environment? 3) Select product in most responsible packaging. Avoid plastic or Styrofoam. Is packaging excessive? Is packaging recyclable? Bring your own shopping bag! 4) Give unwanted items to a friend or charity. What better way to start your recycling efforts! 5) Know what, where and when to recycle. For example: #5 plastic is recyclable, but there are no recycling centers locally that accept it. Check with your local recycling program to be sure of what they accept and where!
  • And last but not least DON'T FORGET TO "CLOSE THE LOOP" and buy Recycled items and products in recycled packaging. When you buy recycled, markets are created and a use is assured for recyclables being collected in your community and in thousands of others. Manufactures will respond by continuing to use recyclables in their products.

And one more way to help the environment... Grow your own!!!! Here are some pictures of the garden, the grape vines and fruit trees on my in laws property. Don't think you have enough space for that kind of production? They live on less than 1 acre of land!

Maddie and her Grand dad picking beans and all the family "helping" Grand dad.

These grapes are looking pretty good! And Check out the pear? Don't you wish you had these?

And though it has nothing to do with being green, but we were animal advocates in this case. There was a baby bunny in Grand dad's garden! Maddie saw it first and when it ran to the corner to get away from us it got its little head stuck in the "rabbit wire."
If it wasn't for this sad little face full of worry for the baby bunny,

Grand dad might have released this bunny from his garden in a whole different manner. As it were, we got some wire cutters and I held his little backside and those kicking feet still so we could cut the wire without cutting him! The bunny LIVES another day to get back into Grand dad's garden and if he's lucky Maddie will be there again to show her sad little face!

Grand dad's hand in the first picture to show some perspective! This little guy was tiny!
We have only one Earth, let’s treat it with respect so our children can learn from our example and have a great place to raise their children.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Article is on Blount Today Website!

Article in Blount Today!

Ginger and I are in her shop!

There is an article in the Blount Today about Maddie & ME and Gingerly Dressed! Please take a moment to check it out. I am so thrilled about this I can hardly contain myself. I'd like to extend a special thank you to Stefan Cooper who penned the article and to Leslie Karnowski for the wonderful photographs! You two are the best!

Maddie & ME in front of, well Maddie & ME!

This is Ginger's daughter in one of my terry cloth lounge sets.

Thank you!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Scrumptious Saturday #6


Yes, Sushi, my stepson recently learned how to make sushi so we decided to make some and do it for my weekly recipe. So in honor of my wonderfully talented step son this post is...
Sushi a la Taylor!

Mind you he did the shopping, the prep and really this is all him. I took the pictures and notes on how to do this so I can repeat it again (and again as my husband loves sushi!).

Tools you will need are:
a bamboo roller
several sharp knives (a long fillet and short paring knife were our choices)
a bowl of water to dip hands in for handling rice and towel for drying
a butter knife for cream cheese and soup spoon for avocado
large wooden spoon for spreading rice on seaweed

Ingredients we used are:
seaweed (spend the money and get the good stuff, we've learned from experience that it does make a difference)
sticky rice ( see previous recipe on how to make good STICKY rice) rice should not be moist!
fish - try to get a Sushimi cut, we used Sushimi cut Yellow Fin Tuna
cream cheese (be sure it is real cold and keep it that way, its easier to work with)
avocado, large firm green ones
also you may like some very thin sliced cucumber (we didn't have any this time, but its nice)
soy sauce
Wasabi if you like the hot stuff

For the avocado slices you need to cut the avocado around long ways grab each half and twist, use the knife to remove the seed (take knife and embed it into the seed, when you lift the knife back up the seed should come with it). Use the soup spoon to scrape out the avocado from the skin trying to keep it in tact. Slice the avocado into about 1/4" to 1/2" thin slices as pictured above.

Using the sharpest knife you have slice the fish into slices about 1/2" thick - uniformity is the key here. We want them to all be as close to the same as possible.

Open up a seaweed, spread a thin layer of rice on it flattening it as uniformly as possible. At one end place the fish, avocado, cream cheese and cucumber (no cucumber pictured here). Roll using the bamboo roller starting at the end where the fish is and as tightly and carefully as possible roll it. Push ends together as needed and even wet seaweed a little and press it down to seal. Carefully cut off the ends, and slice it into about 1" thick slices.

Here it is pictured in the full roll and slices (with avocado slices).

Shown cut at 1" thick and on sharp angle!

Dip in Wasabi and / or Soy Sauce and enjoy!

I personally do not care for the seaweed so we have devised a way to make it for me that I enjoy as well. That, however will be in another post!

Duck Tales Inflation Lesson


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