President’s Weekend

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We had a great weekend!  We are rocking this polar vortex/snowstorm season by spending as much time as possible on the slopes.  Hayden is the best skier in the family….he can swish his way down any double black diamond slope with ease.  I come next with a shaky single black diamond skill but most comfortable on the advanced blue slopes.  Evan is (to no ones surprise) a speed demon!  He takes the tow rope up to the middle of the hill, ski’s over to the chair lift which takes him to the top and then simply points his skis downhill and goes, in a tuck position and everything.  Morgan is more cautious but has just as much fun and my hubby rounds out the bunch.  He has not skied in 30 years and I must say he is making great strides at proficiency. It has been quite entertaining to watch and thankfully he has a great sense of humor.

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Hayden coming in to spray his brother with snow.

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Evan looking confident and much too cool to turn towards the camera. :)  I may have been embarrassing him by calling out his name, repeatedly, in order to get him to look at me and smile at the camera. C’est la vie…that’s life with me as your mom.

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Morgan and my hubby on the bunny slope.  In the background you can see the other skiers and snow tubers riding the magic carpet.  This is a wonderful invention that runs much like an escalator. You stand on it and it gently brings you up to the top of the bunny slope where an attendant is there to help the newbies step/ski off.  Go to the right and ski down to the bottom, go to the left and use your inner tube to launch yourself down the tubing slope.

Everyone was happily exhausted by the end of the day and the kids were starving so we packed it up and headed out.  

I whipped up a platter of nachos when we arrived home.  The chili was leftover from supper the night before and thus assembly of the nachos was quick and easy.

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I had a bag of tortilla chips in the pantry, monterey jack & extra sharp cheddar in the fridge, leftover chili, and banana peppers. 

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I grated 2 cups each of the monterey jack and sharp cheddar and set aside on a platter with a big scoop of banana peppers.

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I cover my heavy-duty cookie sheet with parchment paper.  This will make it easy for me to transfer the nachos out of the oven and onto the platter later.

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Start with a single layer of chips.  I try to keep them in a circular shape as that is the shape of the platter they will be transferred onto later.  On top of the base layer of chips spread a layer of cheese.

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I cover the cheese with another layer of tortilla cheese. 

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Next I scoop on some chili which I have warming on the stove.  I don’t drown the chips in chili, just carefully pour on the chili so it covers the top and sides of the chips.

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On top of the chili I add some banana peppers. (Morgan doesn’t love spicy nachos so I do spicy on one side)

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Another layer of chips with chili and cheese on top.

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Cover the entire mountain of chips with cheese.

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Place cookie sheet with nachos into a preheated 350 degree oven.  I bake my nachos for 7 to 10 minutes but oven temperatures vary so watch your nachos to make sure they don’t burn.

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I carefully use the corner of the parchment paper to slide the nachos off the cookie sheet and onto my large round platter.

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I trim the parchment paper around the platter.  (If you do this step please be very careful as the cheese is molten lava hot.)

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Hot and delicious…this feeds our family of 5 with no leftovers.  It is quite filling with all the layers of chili and cheese.  You can change this up and make larger platters for a bigger group…swap out toppings for the things your family likes best.  

I hope everyone has a chance to get outdoors and enjoy what mother nature has to offer in your neck of the woods.

-Andi


Shrimp & Grits

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I have been on a quest to expose the boys to different foods.  I want them to have more of an appreciation of not only healthy food but also foods that they don’t normally see at local restaurants, the school cafeteria or at home.  I want them to be brave eaters and not be afraid to try new things. So far my two oldest are game but the youngest is not on board.  Example: when I offered fruit salad to everyone as dessert one night during the holidays he informed me that he doesn’t like fruit or salad and would not be eating any!  Ummm, hello?  You do to like fruit!

Anyway, I am not giving up and in that spirit I made a delicious meal of shrimp and grits for dinner.  Hayden loved it and barely came up for air while eating.  Evan loved the shrimp as they were buttery with lots of garlic & lemon.  He was less enthusiastic about the grits but he did give them a try.  I think grits may be a food he will grow into if I serve it more often.

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First I peel and rinse 1 pound of large shrimp (20-25 per pound), set aside to drain, and gather the rest of my ingredients.  Old fashioned grits, salt & pepper, lemon juice, minced garlic, fresh parsley, grated cheese, unsalted butter & olive oil.

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Next comes the grits:  Bring 4 cups of water to boil.  Add 1 cup of grits and turn the heat down so the grits cook (covered) at a simmer until all the water is absorbed (20 – 25 minutes).  I check the grits and give them a stir every so often.  Grits cooking away nicely in the photo below.

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While the grits cook I get to work on the shrimp.  In a large cast iron skillet I heat up some olive oil and a pat of butter.  I drop in the shrimp and spread them out evenly in the pan to cook.  I am working on medium hi heat and I don’t leave the stove.

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Watch the shrimp as they are cooking in the pan and turn each one over as it becomes pink on one side.  They smell sooooo good.  Look at those delicious little morsels sizzling in the skillet.

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After flipping all the shrimp over add 3 tbsp. lemon juice, 2 tbsp. minced garlic and a couple of tbsp. of freshly chopped parsley.  Just tear some parsley off of the bunch and roughly chop it up before sprinkling over the shrimp.  Cook the shrimp for another 2-3 minutes.  They are basically done at this point so turn off the burner and remove them from the heat.

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Time to get back to the grits.  Lid off the pot and give the grits another stir.  When you see that all the water is gone and the grits are thick and creamy take them off the heat.  Next stir in 4 tbsp. of butter and 1 cup of shredded cheese.  I use a blend of cheddar and monterey jack.

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Stir it all together until well combined.

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Warm, scrumptious, and filling on a cold winter night. :)

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This recipe makes about 4 servings. Bon Appetit!


Holiday (I am sick of turkey) Stir-Fry

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We occasionally have chinese take-out for dinner.  After so much turkey at Thanksgiving and again at Christmas we splurge on a night of chinese takeout to break up the dining routine during the holidays.  I always order waaaayyyy too much food and thus leftovers are a given.  What to do with all that leftover fried rice?  Well, I make a mean beef stir fry.  

It’s really easy……I purchase pre-cut beef round, add some vegetables, usually what I have in the refrigerator, and I am ready to go with a meal in minutes.

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Beef Round (pre-sliced into strips)

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Red onion and broccoli florets

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Broccoli & onions into a hot skillet with a little olive oil.  I cook on medium high heat until the onions begin to soften and the broccoli softens as well.  The broccoli are still crisp at this point as I like a little texture (crunch) in my vegetables.  Remove the veg from the skillet and set aside.

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Next the beef strips go into the same hot skillet with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking.  I season the beef well with garlic powder, salt & pepper.  Keep moving the beef around in the pan, it is very thin so it only takes a couple of minutes and it’s done.  If you cook it too long it will become tough so don’t walk away from the stove at this point.  

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Beef is just about finished so back into the skillet with the broccoli and onions.  Turn off the stove top and add a little bit of sesame oil and shake some low sodium soy sauce over the top.  The cast iron skillet retains heat very well so everything will keep on cooking even after the stove top is off. 

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Plate up your beef and vegetables with warmed up vegetable fried rice and you have a meal in no time at all.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, whether you celebrated Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or just reflected on the year that has past as you plan for the new one to come.  

Many blessings from me to you.

 


Pecan Pie In A Jar

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  No traffic jams at the airport or on the roads.  You made/ate the best turkey ever and the kitchen magically cleaned itself! :)  

That was my wish anyway, not only for myself but for every American celebrating.  On that note I want to share my pecan pie making secret with you.  I don’t actually make a very good pecan pie — so I cheat a little…..

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I discovered this wonderful product last year at christmas time.  Pecan pie in a jar – what a fun concept!  I purchased a couple of jars and proceeded to make the most delicious pies.  My family and guests devoured them.  At first I was going to take credit for the pie magnificence but…I am not a very good fibber and the guilt would have gotten to me so in the end I shared my secret with everyone at the table.  

They were very understanding.  Not everyone makes a good pie they said, baking isn’t for the faint of heart my sister chimed in.  *Snort*  I am a good baker, I just don’t make a good Pecan Pie!  Geez, you would think I had no skills in the kitchen at all.  (I am all about shortcuts in the kitchen as long as they do not detract from the finished product.)

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The ingredients needed are few.  To make 2 pies you need 4 eggs and 4 tablespoons melted butter.

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Pre-made pie crusts if you have some available but if you prefer to make pie crust from scratch then by all means do. :) 

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Beat the eggs in a large bowl until they are just combined, then add in the melted butter and stir.

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Pour in the contents of the pecan pie from the jar.  The directions state to microwave the jar, lid off, for a minute or so to soften the contents and make it easier to pour out.  This is a must as otherwise the sugar and pecans are so thick and sticky that they will never flow from the jar without the extra help from the microwave.

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Stir it all together.

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Pour equal parts into your pie crust(s).

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Bake pies at 300 degrees for 50 minutes.  To bake one pie only increase your baking time to 1 hr. 20 min.  The pies puff up as they bake and fall a little when they are cooling.  The directions state to let the pies cool for a minimum of 4 hours so they can set properly or overnight.  If you do let it rest overnight be sure to warm up the slices before you serve them.  Nothing worse than ice-cold pecan pie from the fridge.

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The finished product, minus the tip that Morgan snatched off with his little fingers and ate.  I love the snowman plate, just perfect size for dessert.

I found these plates at HomeGoods.  There are three in the set and each has a different illustration.  Snowman, Christmas Tree and Reindeer. So cute!

Cheers!
Andrea