Friday, April 30, 2021

Z is for Zucchini


Z is for Zucchini

Z is indeed for Zucchini. I can't believe today is the last day! I made it! I feel like I need to throw confetti and dance around in a circle and clap my hands! Yay! Yay! Yay! I've also realized that I have some really great recipes and have only shared a few! The other thing I've realized is a large majority of my really awesome recipes have been given to me by wonderful friends and family members.

On to Z . . . .Zucchini! The picture below does not look very appetizing but the recipe is really yummy. Skinny Taste is another great resource for those on WW. While we were safe at home, I found this recipe and decided to make it and I've made it several times since then. The first time I made it my Shipt shopper couldn't find the chicken sausage recommended so she substituted Apple/Chicken/Gouda sausage. I ended up having to change the way I prepared the sausage because all of the cheese was oozing out but I finally made it work and it was delicious. I've made it several times and I think I've used a different chicken sausage every time and they have all worked.

Zucchini is actually fairly versatile. Sometimes I peel part of the zucchini - leaving a think green stripe every so often for color. I spread it on a cookie sheet (covered with non-stick Reynolds Aluminum Foil) and spray the zucchini with olive oil and sprinkle Cavender's seasoning over all and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. On the night below, I finished out the cookie sheet with rounds of yellow squash.

I don't have any pictures of the third way I cook zucchini. Slice the zucchini like above (on cookie sheet) and cook in a skillet along with some slices of onion and if you like you can add mushrooms. After zucchini begins to brown a little, add a can of tomatoes and zucchini from the grocery store. Sometime I can find it and sometimes I can't. I also add another can of diced tomatoes that are seasoned with garlic and something (the Italian ones). This recipe needs to cook quite a while -- it needs to "cook down." It is a good side dish in the winter.

Last but not least would be zucchini bread! I haven't made it in a long time -- not at all during the pandemic -- but zucchini bread is a great way to use up extra zucchini. It also freezes well.

What food or recipe do you eat/make that begins with the letter Z?

Thanks so much for visiting my blog over the last month!! I've had a great time! I'm going to start a new series soon -- All Around the House. It will be a once a month link up on Thursdays where we share different rooms in our houses and our thoughts about those rooms - why we chose certain furniture and decorations, etc. and if it is a success, who knows where we will go?? Hope you will check back and link up with us!

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Y is for Yogurt Breakfast Parfaits

Today is the next to last day of the April A to Z Blog Challenge! I've been thinking about all sorts of things all month -- I wonder if most of the other 306 bloggers who signed up for the challenge work full time? I wonder if most people are like me and write at least 3 posts on the weekend and then get up really early to post links, etc. or if they carve out time to write daily? 

On to today's food -- Y is for Yogurt Breakfast Parfaits. I had read about making overnight oats and had several friends who made them and brought them to work (pre-pandemic). Since I'm conscious of WW points, I varied my recipe to make it as low point as possible.

On this day, my cast of ingredients was Fage Fat Free Greek Yogurt, Monkfruit sweetener (the truvia is in this picture but I didn't use it), fresh strawberries, and quick oats.

I sliced the strawberries and started layering. I started with yogurt and sprinkled a little Monkfruit sweetener on the bottom layer of yogurt. I then added half of my strawberries and about 1/2 - 1 tablespoon of oats. I then repeated the layers. If I'm feeling decadent, I might chop 2 pecan halves or a couple of pieces of walnut on top. I personally have to add a little sweetener to the yogurt. It is so tangy. I do love the Fage brand because it is thick and creamy. 

Speaking of yogurt, have y'all seen those little squeezy pouches of yogurt? Our granddaughters love those!

Over the last year or so, I've begun to substitute fat free Greek yogurt for sour cream in a lot of my recipes. I use it in place of sour cream in my Poppyseed Chicken Casserole. If I were making it for company, I would probably use sour cream. I've used it in several dips. It is very versatile.

Do you like yogurt? Do you have a favorite flavor?

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond

1. What are some memories you associate with spring? As a kid I remember when the days started getting longer and we were able to play outside later into the evening. We played kickball and we played baseball with a tennis ball.  As a teenager, I remember sunbathing as SOON as the first hint of spring arrived. I found out I was pregnant with twins in the spring of 1986 and I remember having our windows open . . and I was sick as a dog. I remember sitting in the bathroom floor thinking, "oh no - I hope our neighbors can't hear me!" The next spring arrived and I remember putting those sweet babies in their infant seats and sitting outside on our tiny front porch (stoop?) in the sunshine. By the next spring, we were purchasing a sand box and a swing set and once again warmer and longer days brought more time to play outside.

2. April showers bring May flowers...was that saying proven true where you live? Snapdragons, anemones, carnations, lilacs, sweet peas, tulips, lily of the valley, orchids, roses, gardenias...which one on that list is your favorite May bloom? We live in Alabama so spring usually arrives pretty early. We have had a good bit of rain this month and flowers have been blooming all over our neighborhood. We have lots of azaleas and dogwood trees in Alabama. In our yard we have hydrangeas and I noticed this afternoon that there are the beginnings of flowers on each bush!! I don't have a favorite from that list.

3. What are your top three distractions and how do you deal with them? We have constant interruptions in a church office but that is often when ministry actually happens. When I'm home, the internet and social media are both distractions. For Lent, I gave up Facebook and Instagram and that helped. I haven't been on social media as much since Lent ended. So I guess my 3 distractions are people, Facebook, and Instagram. My answer sounds really lame. 

4. Do you eat beef? In the course of a week, how often is beef on the menu? A hamburger, steak, prime rib, or a roast beef dinner...which beef entree would you choose and yes you have to choose. Unless you're a vegan, and then you may pass. I love beef but we usually eat it only once or so a week. Tonight we had hamburger steaks - you can check out my H post here to see how I make them. We bought a couple of whole tenderloins sometime during this last year and Mark sliced them into steaks and we have those a lot on Saturday nights. A good steak or a good hamburger are both hard to beat.

5. In what way were you creative during the month of April? I participated in the April A to Z Blogging Challenge - I feel like that was creative. I don't think I made a single crafty thing this month which is unusual.

6. Insert your own random thought here. Our internet is giving us fits. We've been contemplating getting rid of cable TV and going with only internet TV but we get so frustrated at night trying to watch an episode of anything! I would love to hear pros and cons of going with just internet TV.

X is for . . . .

Y'all -- today is X and then Y and then Z and I will have made it through the #AprilAtoZChallenge for bloggers! X is for Xmas Morning Sausage Squares. When our children were growing up we would get up on Christmas morning to see what Santa had brought during the night. Then we would open our presents to each other. The minute we finished opening, we loaded up in the car and headed across town to my mother-in-law's house to have brunch and open more presents. Over the years, we've always served some sort of breakfast casserole - usually an egg casserole along with sweet rolls and fruit. We try to keep the menu fairly simple. As my children have become adults, eggs don't always make their tummies happy! 

About 10 or 15 years ago I was at an Emmaus team meeting and part of the group provided breakfast. Merrie Lynne served this wonderful "breakfast casserole." I immediately fell in love with it and thought my kids would love it so I asked for the recipe. She said, "It is so easy." I said those are my favorite kinds of recipes!! I have now made this recipe so many times that I don't even have to look at the recipe anymore because it is indeed so easy. Every time I make it and take it somewhere . . .someone comes up to me and asks for the recipe! It doesn't have to be Christmas morning to enjoy this recipe!

There is actually no name written on my recipe. She actually tore a piece off her folder of information to write the recipe on so I have a jagged torn edge paper in her handwriting in my recipe binder. I need a recipe that begins with X and so I'm making this fit. 

Xmas Morning Sausage Squares

2 packages of refrigerated crescent rolls (you can use the lower calorie ones if you can find them)
2 lbs breakfast sausage - one hot and one mild
2 8 ounce packages cream cheese (I use 1/3 less fat)
1 cup (or more) grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350.
Spray a 9 X 13 pan with pam.
Brown and scramble sausage in a large skillet. Drain grease. Put sausage back in skillet and add cream cheese and stir until cream cheese melts into the sausage.
Place one package of crescent rolls in bottom of pan.
Pour sausage and cream cheese mixture over rolls.
Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.
Cover with remaining package of rolls.
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
Cut into squares.

This is good stuff y'all! 

Just in case you ever wondered . . .After the brunch is eaten and the presents are opened, we play croquet on Christmas Day in my mother-in-law's front yard.

Does your family have a Christmas breakfast or Christmas morning tradition?

sausage squares in progress
minus the top layer

golden brown sausage squares
fresh out of the oven

Yum! Yum!

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

W is for Wheel -- Big Wheel!

W is for Wheel – Big Wheel Sandwich!

Have you ever heard of a big wheel sandwich? My friend Angela gave this recipe to me years ago and I have made quite a few of these sandwiches because my kids love them! I've made the sandwiches for tailgate parties and Saturday night suppers. I have made them for our staff. They are really yummy!!

1 round loaf Hawaiian Bread
1/4 lb ham (thinly sliced)
1/4 lb turkey (thinly sliced)
4-6 slices swiss cheese
1/4 lb roast beef (thinly sliced)
4-6 slices American or cheddar cheese
6-8 slices cooked bacon
4 paper thin slices onion
4 paper thin slices tomato
mayo (I use Hellman's light)
1/4 - 1/2 stick butter, softened (do you remember what I use? Land O' Lakes!)
Aluminum Foil 
Wax Paper (optional)

At some point you will need to preheat oven to 350 degrees. It might take longer to make the sandwich than how long it takes to preheat your oven.

Using a long blade serrated bread knife slice bread horizontally -- you need to slice this loaf into 7 layers.

There are pictures at the bottom that might make directions easier to understand.
I cover my assembly space with wax paper - makes a much easier clean up!
Starting with bottom layer -- place bottom layer of bread back in little tin pan that the loaf came in. Add cooked bacon to bottom layer and place next piece of bread on top of bacon. Add a small amount of mayo to next layer along with swiss cheese slices. If you have someone in your family that doesn't like mayo or mustard, if you use it sparingly on this sandwich they will not know.
Top Swiss Cheese with next bread layer. Spread a little mustard on this layer and add ham slices. Top with next bread layer and American (or Cheddar) slices. Add next layer of bread and turkey slices. Add next layer of bread and roast beef slices. Add layer of bread and place tomato and onion. I truly slice the tomato and onion so thin that you can see through it. I pull the onions into rings and spread those out. Top with last layer (which may be tiny). Ice the sandwich with softened butter. Wrap entire sandwich (including the little tin pan) in aluminum foil. Place in oven (the one you preheated to 350) and heat for about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from oven and using a sharp knife slice sandwich into pie shaped wedges. 

Have you ever eaten a sandwich similar to this?

Monday, April 26, 2021

Very Easy Tollhouse Pie

We are close to the finish line of the #AprilAtoZChallenge. Planning ahead and writing a lot on the weekends has made this year's challenge easier to handle. I'm already thinking about what I want to write about in April 2022! Today is V -- V is for Very Easy Tollhouse Pie. What food or recipe do you immediately think of that begins with "V"?

Very Easy Tollhouse Pie

Recipe is for 1 pie but I always double and make 2

1 pie crust - can be frozen (thawed) deep dish or you can use Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust
1 stick butter (I use Land O' Lakes - if you've been following along A-Z, you know I like Land O' Lakes)
1/2 cup sugar (granulated white)
1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
2 eggs (I use jumbo)
1/2 cup self rising flour (I use White Lily)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Melt butter in microwave - I use a large microwave safe glass mixing bowl
Stir in sugars (I use my trusty wooden spoon)
Stir well
Add 2 jumbo eggs - stir well
Add 1/2 cup self rising flour - stir (don't stir too hard at this point - you don't want pie to be tough)
Fold in chocolate chips and nuts (if desired)

Pour into pie crust and bake 1 hour. After 1 hour, stick a toothpick in the middle. When you pull out toothpick if pie is still "goopy" cook another 10 minutes.

Like I said, I always double this recipe and divide between two pies. I've made this pie as a "birthday present" and I've made it for neighbors and I've served it to our supper club. This pie is great served with a spritz of whipped topping or a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on top.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Sunday Stealing

Joining up with Bev Sykes at Sunday Stealing.

1. What issues are important to you? The first thing that comes to mind is Human Trafficking. Pre-covid, I actually went to an all day training event to learn how to volunteer at a local facility where women of all ages are brought to heal and where they can feel safe. I hope to be able to volunteer there at some point in the future. 

I also read a novel this year, American Dirt, and I cannot get it out of my mind. The book tells the story of a mother and son who have to get away from cartel violence and chronicles their journey across the border. I know it is a novel but it has changed the way I think about those crossing our border. I don't have a solution and I can't argue politics but I CAN put myself in the place of another mother who is desperately trying to get her son to safety.

2. Which breakfast foods are your favorite? I love waffles and pancakes made with Kodiak mix. I also love Morningstar Farms "sausage" patties and I eat those several morning a week. I also love a good biscuit or a side of good grits!! 

3. How often do you change your hair style? How embarrassing . . .I can't remember the last time I changed it. I've been wearing the same hair style for a long time.

4. Your most peculiar talent or interests? I don't think I have any peculiar talents or interests!!

5. Something you’re a natural at . . .LAUGHING! Seriously (pun intended!) I LOVE to laugh!!

6. Women who inspire you -- this is going to sound weird but just this week we studied Lydia in the book of Acts. I've been thinking about her all week. I also have a friend who started seminary this last year. Her kids are almost grown and she heard God's call and is acting on that call. She inspires me! My daughter and daughter-in-law both inspire me, too. They are such good mothers to their daughters.

7. How often do you take a break from everything? Not often enough!!

8. What are your go to dancing songs? I couldn't think of a single song and was getting ready to type "don't have an answer for this one" and then I started laughing (see #5). I love to be with a fun group of people and do something silly like dance to YMCA!! Mark will slow dance with me (at a wedding reception) but that is about it! Way back in 1979 or 1980, my friend Karen and I took Disco Dancing at UAB as an elective. Yes, I know I just dated myself. At the time, I loved to go out and dance. 

9. Favorite carryout and takeaway foods to order - just today we ordered from Urban Cookhouse. I probably get take outs from there once a week. I love a good salad and they have 3 great salads and you can add protein.

10. People you like to spend time with -- our family and our close friends and my work friends . . . and people who make me laugh!

11. Hobbies you started within the last year -- I didn't start any new hobbies this year which is actually crazy because I love to do all sorts of things!

12. What scents, sounds, and sights of Spring do you like? Scents send my allergies over the edge so I've been thankful for masks!! Just today I told my husband that the trees were so green, the sky was so blue, and the sunshine was magnificient . . .and it was just so bright!! I love to hear the sound of the wings of a hummingbird and I love to watch them at our feeders.

13. Cultural aspects you cherish and enjoy -- I live in Alabama and most of us were taught southern manners by our parents. I sometimes think good manners have flown out the window.

14. TV shows and films you liked this month -- we just finished watching all of the seasons of Bosch (warning language) and we are watching Alias now. I've also watched a ridiculous amount of HGTV. I watch it while on the treadmill and while on the recumbent bike. I also record This is Us and watch it later while on the bike!

15. What do people usually come to you for help with? People sometimes come to me just to talk -- I guess I'm maybe a good listener and people know that I can keep things confidential.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

U is for Unbelievably Easy Snack Cracker Mix

Unbelievably Easy Snack Cracker Mix

1 package Oyster Crackers
1 box Cheez-its
1 bag Goldfish Crackers
3/4 cup oil
1 pkg Hidden Valley Dry Ranch Mix
1 tsp Lemon Pepper Seasoning
2 tsp dried Dill

Mix oil, dressing mix, and all seasonings together in bottom of very large bowl. Add all crackers and stir gently to coat all crackers. Store in air tight container.

I shared the basic recipe above but this recipe can be tweaked in all sorts of ways. I always add a box of mini saltine crackers sometimes in addition to the oyster crackers and sometimes in place of oyster crackers. This is one of my favorite recipes to make and share so sometimes I make a HUGE batch. I have a vintage Fix-N-Mix Tupperware bowl that holds something like 26 cups that works really well. If you don't have a really large bowl, you could always use a 2.5 gallon storage bag. Mix your oil and seasonings in a small bowl and then put everything in the giant zip lock and gently move baggie around until all crackers are coated.

When our kids were growing up we had "backyard" neighbors who were around the same age as our kids. The daughter in that family was a few years older than our kids. I made these snack crackers one year at Christmas time and packaged for the neighbors. Ruth loved those crackers so much that she contacted me every year for quite a few years to get the recipe again.

I made the snack crackers for our neighbors in our new neighborhood a couple of years ago and the packages turned out so cute.

In your neighborhood, do you exchange baked goods or other small treats during the holidays? If so, what are some of your favorites that you have received or given?

I had these ornaments left over because
I had purchased a LARGE number of them.
They worked perfectly as a gift tag!
Hey Neighbor is our tagline at
our church.

all spread out on the island and almost ready 
to take to the

sealed tightly with twist ties

The finishing touch - tied with red and
green ribbon

Friday, April 23, 2021

T is for Taco Soup

T is for Taco Soup as I continue with my #AprilAtoZChallenge. I love soups of all kinds. Mark will eat them because he is kind and will eat pretty much anything I cook but soups are not his favorite. The beauty of most soup recipes is they freeze well. I make a pot of soup and portion it out into containers that go into the freezer. Here in Alabama we've had a weird chilly week and I actually made soup.

Taco Soup is easy and one of my favorites. It is also very WW friendly if you are on the blue or purple plan. It calculates as higher points for those on green plan.

You can see how many recipes I have for this soup and to be honest, I don't even use a recipe but feel free to read and combine.

For the pot of soup pictured below, I used the following ingredients:

plus corn - I forgot it in the picture above! I prefer to use shoepeg corn in this recipe but shoepeg corn evidently has more sugar because using shoepeg corn changes the WW points value.

Taco Soup

2 cans light red kidney beans
2 cans pinto beans
2 cans black beans
2 cans petite diced tomatoes
1 can original Rotel
2 cans corn (I didn't have any canned corn but had some corn in the freezer)
1 can of water (I usually use the diced tomato can)
1 packet Hidden Valley Dry Ranch Seasoning Mix
1 packet Taco Seasoning
1 onion chopped
1 pound 99% fat free ground turkey (original recipe called for ground beef - when I use the ground turkey, I add about a tsp of beef bouillon granules)

Chop onion. Add onion and ground turkey to skillet and cook until turkey is no longer pink. I use my all clad non-stick skillet. If using a regular skillet, either use a little olive oil (maybe a tsp) or spray with pam before adding raw meat. There is VERY little fat in this meat and it will stick.
Open all of those cans and dump into a large pot (including the can of water). The only beans I drain are the black beans and I only drain them because they make the soup a weird color. That is a personal preference. Add seasoning packets and cooked ground turkey (and onions). Allow to simmer for a couple of hours. Enjoy. You can actually cook the meat and onions and dump everything into a crockpot and allow it to cook on low all day. Technically the soup is edible after about 30 minutes but we like to cook it longer because it takes the "tin can" tomato taste away. Do you know what I mean? If you are cooking for just 1 person or if you don't want any leftovers, cut everything in half.

Ready for my lunch!

Do you like soups? Do you have an easy soup recipe?

Thursday, April 22, 2021

S is for Sheetpancakes . . .maybe I made up that word!

Back in late May or early June, I saw a Pound Dropper recipe I wanted to try. Since 1990 ish, I have taught a large adult Sunday school class so I rarely had time to try a new recipe on Sunday mornings. When the kids were growing up it took everything to get us all dressed, in the car, and to church. During our Safe At Home time, I still taught Sunday school but did so via Zoom . . .in shorts and a tshirt PLUS it basically added another whole day to my life for lots of months. I often cooked breakfast and even tried new recipes on Sunday mornings. So I made this recipe from Pound Dropper. It was tasty and I love all of her recipes but we decided that we weren't fans of chocolate chips and bananas together for breakfast. Right around that same time we went to a blueberry farm and picked blueberries and I decided to experiment using Pound Droppers basic ideas. Here is what I came up with:

Blueberry/Cherry/Banana Sheetpancakes

Preheat oven to 350
2 fairly large bananas - ripe -- mash with a fork in a mixing bowl - mash a lot until there aren't many "lumps" left behind
Add 2 jumbo eggs and stir
Add 2 cups Kodiak pancake mix (we love this stuff!)
Add 1 cup water 
Add 1 tsp vanilla extract
Stir ingredients until combined but do not overstir
Add at least 2 generous cups of fresh or frozen blueberries and/or frozen pitted sweet cherries (I use a little bowl and zap the fruit for about 45 seconds in the microwave.
Fold fruit gently into batter.
Batter will be thick and fruity

Spread parchment paper on a jelly roll pan (like a really big cookie sheet with short sides). Spray parchment paper with pam (or other spray). Spread batter onto parchment paper.

Bake for 25 minutes. As soon as it comes out of the oven, I use my giant cookie rack and I flip the entire sheetpan onto the rack. Peel off parchment paper. We cut into 6 giant pieces - a serving is 1 pieces (to fit in a baggie cut giant piece in half). I'm on WW blue and it is 3 points per serving.

This is important - do NOT put away right now. I usually cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave on the rack all day. If you store too soon, condensation gets in the baggie. These will keep in the fridge several days.
cast of ingredients (minus water)
bananas and eggs already in the bowl

mashing the bananas

adding the eggs - the one on the
right was a double yolk!

defrosting the fruit

raw batter - we ran out of
blueberries so this day was evidently
cherries only

hot out of the oven

ready to flip onto the rack

Yum! Let's eat!

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond
join us as we answer the questions and feel free to connect over at From This Side of the Pond.

1. Find a penny. Look at the date and tell us something about your life or what you were doing that year? First of all, who made the dates SO TINY on those pennies. I had to put on double reading glasses and turn on my phone flashlight and hold the pennies just so to even read the date! Of course, I then had to look at every penny in my wallet and I had 10 pennies ranging from 1960 (I was 2 years old) to 2018. These pictures were already "together" so here we go - June of 58 and Winter of 1960. This is what I was doing then. 

I had lots of pictures from 2018 - I went to Israel, our daughter got married, plus these:

we were busy being Gran & Pops

we climbed to the top of a fire tower with friends

I fell on the metal pier at the beach
and it is a miracle nothing was
broken. I've never had so many
bruises in my life.

2. Were you given an allowance as a child? Did you have to earn it in some way? Did you learn to save money when you were a child or is that something you figured out as an adult? I think I was given an allowance sporadically and it seems like it was $.50 or $1.00. We all had to do various chores from dusting to washing and drying dishes. I did not learn to save money as a child and I give thanks every single day for my husband who taught me to save . . .though I went kicking and screaming.

3. April 23rd is National Take A Chance Day...what's a chance you need or want to take? I guess we are all taking a "chance" as we begin to venture out again into the world.

4. What's some outdated slang you seem to use a little too often? I don't know how outdated this is but my daughter, daughter-in-law, and son all told me not to say "cray cray" ANYMORE! Alrighty then.

5. It's National Poetry month and I always like to make us work our brains a little...

Roses are red
Violets are blue fill in the rest with something original...

I'm going to cheat -- I have a greeting card that says:
Violets are blue.
Roses are red.
You're another year older
and closer to dead.

I'm saving this card for someone special . . .not sure who . . .

6. Insert your own random thought here. I'm still working on my April A to Z Challenge and blogging each day about different foods and recipes. On one hand I'm loving it . . .and the other hand is counting down the days. Speaking of counting days, I made an old fashioned sticker chart/calendar last night to count down the days until we go to the beach. I am so ready for a vacation.

I'll close on this . . .one of my pennies was a 1982 and I think that was the year I was in the Iron Man Ski Queen competition. We didn't have to ski - we just had to ride in a boat in a bathing suit. I was first runner up and the Queen and I rode together. This photo was from my "portfolio" - what a weird time in my life. (but the next year, I received free tickets and invited Mark to go with me and we've been together ever since).