Cat Nap

A day in the life of your average kitty cat…

They say felines sleep on average, 18 hours a day. I have never counted the hours any of our felines have slept during a day. I have, however, enjoyed watching them sleep peacefully.

Meet Bear, my family’s Tuxedo Tabby.

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Photos taken with Pentax K-50  f/5.6  1/80 sec.  ISO 1600

I love the little 2-tone pads on his feet–pink & grey.

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[A Devotional] Let God Handle Your Baggage

This month I have chosen a second devotional to read through on the Bible app. It’s called: “Fathers and Mothers: Devotions from Time of Grace”
Today’s Devotional, I thought, was really good and felt it needed to be shared. And really it’s not just for parents.

“Laying a Foundation: Let God handle your baggage”
Author Unknown

I love people-watching at airports.
A common sight is a small person dragging a huge load of baggage piled up higher than he or she is tall. Does that sound like your life? Dragging a pile of fear, guilt, failure, and messes that are taller than you?

The Bible’s many human stories teach us the dirty secret of life–we’re all messes.
What about the people who don’t look like they have problems?
Well, maybe they just hide it better.

Can you imagine how long the list would be if we inventoried all our regrets and failures?
Maybe you’re burdened by maxed-out credit cards.
Are you bleeding over the ripping apart of your family?
Have your children made such bad choices that you feel like a failure?
Or possibly does everything seem overwhelming?
You force yourself to put on a happy face, but you are barely holding things together.

Maybe God has allowed your messes to pile up to the point where you are ready to let Him be your baggage handler. Behind all of our troubles is sin. Sin makes us fear that God won’t help us, or worse, that He will just get angrier and pile on the punishment.
Here are some sweet words from the apostle John: “I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of Jesus’ name” (1 John 2:12).

If God forgives you, you can forgive yourself. If God likes you, you can like yourself again. If God will reveal the way out of your problems in His time, you can wait in peace.
Baggage? What baggage?

Tropical Paradise in a Glass

Today I made a new flavored syrup to use with our SodaStream.

I let my kids try it and they said, “It’s like a tropical paradise in our mouths!” (They are 7 and 9 years old).
I tried it and couldn’t claim the same. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it. It was because I had brushed my teeth about 20 minutes before and still have the minty essence on my taste buds. So I will give my formal opinion on it later. So for now, here’s the recipe:

Tropical Paradise Flavored Syrup

3/4 cup Pineapple Juice
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (actually about 3/4 full) imitation Coconut Extract

Bring to boil while stirring until sugar is dissolved. Cool Completely.

Again, I used 3 Tbsp of syrup with 6 to 8 ounces of carbonated water.

ENJOY!
Reminder: ONLY carbonate water with the SodaStream.

Making Your Own Pop (Soda)

More often then not I drink water, but I’ve been getting tired of the bland taste all the time, and happened to mention it to my husband awhile ago.

Two weeks ago, while he was shopping, he spied a SodaStream Soda maker on sale and bought it. It came with 6 trial sized flavored syrups, three of which we did not try. (We don’t drink Diet, Energy drinks, or Grapefruit). The other three were gone in one day (Root Beer, Orange, & Lemon-Lime).

I had been trying to think of what I could make to use in the SodaStream until we could purchase a few of the syrup flavors. I had searched online for different ideas: infused water, homemade syrups and thought that I could probably come up with something else using simple syrup.

Well… last night, I did just that.

I made a simple syrup, and while it was cooling I added a few tasty extracts and came up with a refreshing low calorie idea:

Strawberry-Lemon Mint Syrup

Simple Syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar

Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool completely.

Additives:
1 tsp. ReaLemon lemon juice
1/4 tsp. Imitation Strawberry extract
1/8 tsp. Pure Peppermint extract

I added them in while the syrup was still warm. Cooled it almost completely before storing it in a plastic squeeze bottle with a cap.

I’m glad I didn’t double the simple syrup recipe as the 1:1 ratio filled the squeeze bottle and had enough left over to make a cup of pop.

I shared the first cup with my kids; they thought it was pretty good. I think it was too.
It’s sweet, and the strawberry and mint come through. I personally can’t taste the lemon very much, so I might increase it next time around.

I used about 2-3 Tbsp of the syrup per cup of water, about 5 servings–and ONLY 77 calories per serving.

 

If you have a SodaStream, please remember: you’re only suppose to carbonate the water.

ENJOY!

xCraftyChickx’s Queso Chicken & Rice Skillet

I love the simplicity, and clean up, of a one (or two) pot meal. This is my latest kitchen creation:

Queso Chicken & Rice Skillet           Serves 6-8

xCraftyChickx’s Queso Chicken & Rice Skillet

Rice, cooked (2-qt saucepan 1/2 full)
1 Tbsp. butter
6 bone/skinless chicken cutlets or breasts
1 (14.75 oz) can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 1/2 cans water (I used the empty soup can)
4 Tbsp. Dill Vegetable Dip
4 Tbsp. Salsa con Queso dip
4 Tbsp. Chunky Black bean & Corn Salsa
2 Tbsp. Bacon Ranch Dressing
1 (2.25oz) can ripe sliced olives (or 8 Tbsp sliced ripe olives)
2 Tbsp. Seasoned Bread Crumbs (used as a thickener)
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese

Cook rice as directed being sure it’s not too wet and sticky.
In a large skillet, melt butter on medium heat, and cook chicken until no longer pink and browning; remove from pan, cube, and set aside.
In same skillet, on medium heat, add soup, water, dill dip, salsa dip, salsa, and dressing; mix well. Stir in olives and bread crumbs.
Re-add chicken and stir in cheese until it begins to melt. Fold in cooked rice.
Serve hot.

Proud of Myself

It’s been a pretty good week. And a great cooking week.
My back and body hurt but I have no complaints. I feel accomplished and proud of myself.

This week we celebrate(d) two birthdays: P’s (hubby) and Little Miss (our daughter).

Both days I made special breakfasts. Wednesday we had Creamed Eggs on Toast. This morning I made French Toast, with a side of home fries, and their choice of bacon, sausage, or scrapple. (Sorry no recipes tonight, but maybe some other time). But what I’m most proud of is the cake I made for dessert tonight.

I haven’t done any baking in the last several years. I haven’t been able to–no oven, (screams), until…
Just before Thanksgiving we ordered a toaster oven. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, it just makes toast. But really they’ve come a long way. They make some models now where you can toast, bake, and broil. Unfortunately ours isn’t big enough to cook even a small turkey, but it works pretty well for pork loin, beef roast, individual pizzas, cookies, cupcakes/muffins, CAKE, and of course, toast.

Ok, so, back to the cake…
I haven’t baked a cake in at least a decade. And I hate to admit it, but I have never made one from scratch. (I make most everything else from scratch, so cut me some slack here).

I used a white cake mix, and baked two 8″ cakes, one at a time and cooled them as directed.
I had an almost full can of butter cream frosting or 2 cans of chocolate frosting to choose from. I used butter cream between the layers and topped it with chocolate (hubby’s fave). I decorated the sides with shredded sweetened coconut. Our son and I used plain M&Ms, coconut, rainbow sprinkles, and leftover cookie icing to decorate the top.

It may not look like something you’d order from a Cake Shop but this is the best looking cake I’ve ever made. In previous tries I hadn’t let the cake cool long enough and it was crumbling and blended with the frosting, which also melted and looked like… well… to put it nicely, a MESS.

So without further ado…

Top of Cake

Side of Cake

Creamed Eggs

It was my husband’s birthday a few days ago and I got the idea to make this for the family for brunch. It’s a recipe my mom used to make on occasion, when I was growing up. And I haven’t made it in several years; not since my son was an infant or toddler and he’s almost 10 now.

This is a great recipe. The sauce can be made for several different recipes.

Creamed Eggs on Toast              Serves 6

Creamed Eggs on Toast

1 Tbsp. Butter
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
salt & pepper to taste
6 eggs, hard cooked, diced (perfect recipe to follow)
2-3 slices of bread per person, toasted

In a 2-quart saucepan, on medium heat, melt butter. Cook until bubbly and beginning to brown.
Add flour, whisk together with the butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown.
Whisk in milk, and turn heat up slightly. Keep whisking, it will start to thicken, DO NOT STOP whisking; turn down heat to medium.
Add in diced, cooked eggs. Add salt & pepper to taste and remove from heat.
Serve over toast or over toast that’s been torn into small pieces.

VARIATIONS: For Chipped Beef sauce, omit eggs and replace with 2 packages of chopped dried beef (also known as chipped beef–see photo below). You will also want to omit the salt as the beef is salty.

Dried Beef aka Chipped Beef

For Biscuits and Gravy sauce: omit eggs and replace with 1 pound bulk sausage cooked, drained, crumbled. Again, omitting salt as sausage is salty. Serve over warm biscuits.

The ‘recipe’ for Hard Cooked Eggs comes straight from America’s Test Kitchen.

Hard Cooked Eggs

Eggs
Water

Place 6-8 eggs in a 2-quart saucepan. Fill pan with cold water until eggs are covered.
Bring water to a boil; remove from heat and set aside for 10-15 minutes.

*Note from ATK: “We finally got our foolproof boiled egg recipe by tinkering just a little with a technique recommended by the American Egg Board: Start the eggs in cold water, bring the water to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat and let the eggs sit for 15 minutes. Our tests showed that 10 minutes of sitting time was enough; our tasters agreed that these were perfectly cooked eggs.”