Saturday, February 26, 2011

Gastric Bypass Adventures 4

My Gastric Bypass Adventures 4

Prep For Surgery

Well folks I have already told you some of what I had to do to get ready for surgery... But I first had to recieve confirmation from my insurance company that they would help pay for the whole kit and kaboodle!

Waiting on the insurance company can sometimes seem to take forever. And because of the nature of this surgery, you have to prove sound medical reason for having it....I guess some people have it for vanities sake??? Some insurance company want you to be on a doctor appoved diet for a certian time period before you can have the surgery done....who knows all their reasoning. My suggestion...call you insurance company...find out what their guidelines are for this type of thing...and meet them before you go see the doctor. Just be sure to have some sort of written confirmation. I guess it took about 6 weeks for me to get approval from the insurance company. But once I had approval my doctor was ready to go! I could have had my surgery on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving! But I had already made arrangements to take the month of December off from work and I didn't want to leave any eariler and put my boss in a bind. So I chose to wait until the Tuesday after Thanksgiving...which was December 2, 2008.

Now when someone who enjoys eating and cooking as much as I do is faced with the fact that she is making a major life changing decision. She panics and tries to eat everything that she is not supposed to eat ever again!

Ok let me explain...after a couple of doctors appointments, this protien diet that you are on, and your impending surgery...you are gonna get a little nervous. My doctor also has you go through an education class a week before your surgery is scheduled. During this class you learn all you need to know about taking care of yourself post surgery. Also the dos and don'ts of what you can eat after you have had your surgery.

Now the big 3 no no's after surgery are Bread, Rice and Pasta. <Gulp!> Now I want you folks to set back and think about all the things that you like to eat...now how many of them contain one of these three ingredients??? If you were like me....most of the thing I like to eat or cook! I finally realized that these three foods are our main dietary problems in life and most of the time pasta and rice are just filler food. I have learned a lot over the past couple of years...trying to adapt what I cook to what I can eat.

Now getting back to preping for surgery. The main thing that my doctor wanted me to do was to follow his protien diet. As I explained in my previous post, it helps to prep your body for surgery by reducing the fat around your internal organs. It also helps to prepare your mind for how you will eat after your surgery.

I tried my best to follow this diet...and I would love to tell you how much weight I lost and how well I did....the sad truth is I failed! I couldn't tolerate that protien, it just made me want to gag...but I knew I had to find a way to drink the stuff because after surgery you become dependant on the it to get your daily protien needs met! So I made do on the salads...and tried to drink the protien....but didn't have much success. I finally found that I could partially tolerate the chocolate flavor if I mixed it with Skim milk....but it was still hard to swallow. But I tried!

Of course having a major holiday celebration and my birthday fall just days before my surgery...didn't help much either! I chose to get off my diet for the day so that I could enjoy that last holiday meal...I was sure that I would never enjoy one again! <laughing to myself at this point>. I found that when I fixed my plate at Thanksgiving that I could only eat a small portion of what I placed on it??? My stomach had already begun to shrink! I was excited to find out that my dieting over the last 8 weeks had paid off even when I was bemoaning the fact that I could not eat what I wanted! So I enjoyed my small portion and the birthday cake that my Momma had made for me in my favorite colors.....
Mama D and the Bear with my Cake
Now folks you have a cut off point before surgery where you are not supposed to eat any solid foods...then you have to drink that nasty clean out your body stuff...then you can't have anything but liquids. All in preparation for surgery! When I came to that point where I wasn't supposed to eat anything....I ate one last thing...why I chose to remember this part of the journey I'll never know...but I made some excuse to my husband to go to town...went to Sonic and ordered a Double Meat Double Cheese Sonic Burger with Mayo...and I literally inhaled it! Out of all the bumps in the road that has got to be my guiltiest moment of them all! From then on out I was good...but that one moment in time still gives me grief!

I had done everything that I could think of to get ready for this day. My daughter was taken to Grandma and Poppa's house for the week. My husband had taken off work to be with/take care of me. Prayers were being said for mine and the doctor's safety. And I was following the doctor's orders to the best of my ability. I took the month of December off work...really not that big of a deal since I worked at a daycare that followed the school schedule and we miss two weeks out of that month anyways!

Tool Man and I drove to the next big town over the evening before my surgery and checked into the motel across from the hospital. This little motel is great, they have really economical rooms, and they are there for hospital patients and their families. It is a really great place! Since I had to report for surgery at 5 AM...and we live about 65 miles away at the time...well I don't want to get up at 3 AM to drive for over an hour! Tool Man and I checked in early then decided to get some Christmas shopping done! We knew that I probably wouldn't feel like it later in the month....so it was a good time! Besides I was nervous...and me being nervous in a small room with nothing to do is not a good thing.

The next morning I got up and took my shower with my special soap and off to the hospital we went! I was getting more nervous by the minute! There were two other ladies that I had met in my training class there with me that morning. All of us got there before the staff arrived for that floor. It is kinda spooky being on a deserted floor of a hospital at 5 AM....your imagination runs a little wild. I was very grateful for the steading influence of my Tool Man! He was wonderful through out the entire process! He even managed to make me laugh a couple of time...even though we were both sleepy!

When the staff got there, they took us back to small hospital rooms one at a time to check us in, let us change into hospital gowns, and get our I.V.s started. They of course ask you fifteen bajillion questions...some of which have already been answered...some you just wonder why they are asking you that! I then had the pleasure of taking a ride on the hospital bed to the pre-surgery waiting room. Weee.....I really hate not being in control of things...so this was not exactly fun for me!

Of course this whole time I am wondering where is my Daddy??? Tool Man is right beside me, Pop and Mom are taking care of Bear, and My Momma started a new job the day before and was in training...but my Daddy was supposed to be there!

Now the pre-surgery waiting room is one of those ward type rooms that you see in movies....a large room with a bunch of beds and the only thing between you and the person next to you is a curtian! There I met my favorite person! The anthesiologist! He of course asked me all sorts of questions then gave me a lovely pill that helped me to relax. I was getting super nervous by this time....was fixing to grab my hubby, my clothes and say C-YA! So the pill was a really good thing! About the time it really kicked into effect my Daddy shows up! I really don't remember doing much but giving him a silly/strained smile....the next thing that I knew Daddy and Tool Man were kissing me goodbye and I was being wheeled away for my surgery......

Until next time....
God Bless, Mama D

Friday, February 25, 2011

Chocolate Cream Pie

Do you know that I have made dozen of Chocolate Cream and Coconut Cream Pies over the years...and I don't think that I have made one for myself! I like both pies, and will happily make them for someone else...but I guess I just prefer other sweets. Oh wait...I am not supposed to eat sweets! Well everyone, y'all just keep quite...a bite here and there never hurt anyone!
Tomorrow is my Daddy's 59th birthday. And my Daddy has got to be the easiest person ever to buy a gift for. He loves to read as much as I do....so I typically by him the latest best seller and make him something for his tummy. He is the one that comes up with all the really cool stuff that I know how to make. You know homemade fried pies, egg rolls, wheat bread.... Of course he is diabetic so I have to watch the sweets with him! He just loves it when I find sugar free recipes for him...but I would rather use the real stuff!

My Bear even got in on helping with Grandpa's birthday this year...and with some parental encouragement decided the perfect gift was homemade bookmarks for Grandpa's new book! I hope that he is pleased! I just love doing for my men folk!

To make my Chocolate Cream Pie you have to start with a really good pie crust! My Grandmother Edna's Egg Pastry has always served me well! I have found some other really good pastry recipes...but they can get complicated and as long as you treat this one gently it remains flaky and pretty!

Egg Pastry

3 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup shortening
1 egg- beaten
1 tsp. vinegar
1/2 cup cold water

Sift flour and salt together. Cut in shortening until a fine crumb. Combine remaining ingredients and gradually add to flour mixture. Mix until dough holds it's shape. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Makes 3 to 4 crust.  (just so you know I make my crust in the food processor now...I follow the same steps...just use a different method to mix everything up!)

Divide your dough into thirds. Roll 1/3 into a circle big enough to cover a 8 or 9" pie plate. Gently place pie crust in plate. Form your edges. Take a fork and poke hole generously on sides and bottom of crust. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Chocolate Cream Pie

1 cup sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups milk
2 1-oz. squares of chocolate
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine sugar, salt and cornstarch in sauce pan. Gradually add milk. Chop chocolate and stir into milk mixture. Cook over medium heat until bubbly. Stirring continuously. Cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Pour a small amount of hot mixture into your egg yolks. Stir, then add to remaining hot mixture. (this is an important step that you don't want to skip....if you don't temper your egg yolks you could cook them too quickly and have scrambled eggs in your pie instead of your nice creamy filling!)Return to heat and stir while cooking an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. Stir until butter is melted. Pour into pre cooked pie shell. Cover with waxed paper while you make you meringue. (also an important step....this will quickly form a skin while it cools...you want this to be as hot as possible when you place the meringue on top so that it will help to cook ...the skin will prevent your meringue from adhering to the filling!)

Meringue

3 egg whites
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cream of tarter
1/2 cup sugar

Beat egg whites with vanilla and cream of tarter till soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating till stiff and glossy. Spread over hot filling, sealing edges of pastry. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden. Now by my own research...and through trial and error, I have found that meringue make better if you egg whites are at room temperature.

Now my Egg Pastry recipe is one of those heirloom recipes...but my Chocolate Cream Pie and Meringue recipes came straight out of the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book. I find when I want just a basic recipe...or someplace to start from that this is an excellent choice.

I was really in a baking mood tonight....so I used the leftover pie crust to make my darling Tool Man some mini apple pies that he loves!

Mini Apple Pies
Just because I love him and he is such a wonderful hubby...I have to spoil him every once in a while....or it could be I didn't want the pie crusts to go to waste and I had some apple pie filling in the pantry that I picked up for $.99 each. Or it could be that I wanted to keep him out of MY Chocolate cake....he loves cake...hates icing...so he scrapes off the icing and eats all the cake!

My Chocolate Cake with Cream cheese Icing!
Oh well I will let you come to your own conclusions!
Happy Cooking!
God Bless,
Mama D

German Meat Loaf

Yummy German Meat Loaf

This is by far my favorite meat loaf recipe ever....it is not over powered by veggies, it is just a little sweet, a lot savoy...and amazingly it doesn't give me heartburn. My 6 year old daughter and 13 year old sister tear this recipe up....I have to hide the left overs (so that I can make sandwiches of course!)
I hope you enjoy!

Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

German Meat Loaf

1 1/2 lb. ground beef (sometimes I increase this if we are having company)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup milk
1 cup crushed crackers (normally I use saltines....but Ritz work in a pinch)
1 beaten egg
4 tbsp. Catsup

Mix all ingredients well and put into a 9x13" pan. Pour sauce over meat and bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours! (if you use a smaller pan this needs the full time listed in the recipe...however I have found that if you use a 9x13" pan you need to reduce the time to 1 hour)

Sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
2 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup catsup
Bring to a boil in a small sauce pan. Pour over Meat loaf before baking.

Now this is also a great recipe to put in the freezer! I have made multiple batches before and placed what I wanted to go in the freezer in a gallon sized Ziploc bag, just be sure and place the sauce in a separate bag. Label both and it is good to go!

I hope that you enjoy this wonderful recipe!
God Bless,
Mama D

What We Ate This Week

OK because I like to do things a little differently....I am gonna start posting What We Ate this week instead of a Monday Menu Plan. I do make out a meal plan...normally a month in advance, BUT I don't follow it strictly.  I tend to use it as a guideline as to the groceries I have available to make certain meals. Some days I don't have time nor do I feel like making complected meals. So Last week I posted a meal plan....and I think I only cooked about 3 out of the 7 meals I had listed. So this is what I did this week and why.....let me know what you think!

MONDAY Fried Pork Chops (because Tim went to the store with me that morning and found them on the clearance rack) Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli and Cheese


TUESDAY Enchiladas (for my customers and because I only had enough tortillas to make my orders) / Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans


WEDNESDAY Ate out because I spent 2 1/2 hours in the doctor's office with Bear...by the time I got home Tool Man had just enough time to eat and walk out the door!


THURSDAY Hamburger Patties, Macaroni and Cheese and Peas


FRIDAY Chicken Fried Steaks, Mashed Potatoes, Green Salad, Homemade Bread and Gravy

I am gonna post my recipe for Meatloaf in a little while...you should try it...very kid friendly....my Bear eats it ALL the time !

God Bless, Mama D

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Gastric Bypass Adventures 3

Gastric Bypass vs. Lap Band


EWWWW...Fat Me and My Momma!
Hello again folks! Well this topic happens to be on my mind a lot lately...so these posts are coming faster than I originally intended....bi-weekly has turned into every other day! However, I suppose that this is a good thing for those of you impatient souls, that don't like things drawn out like they do on those silly reality shows!

One of my first hurtles had been met. I decided to quit smoking! And I accomplished that with no problems other than internal worry.

My second hurtle was abiding by the pre-surgery diet. Basically quit eating...simple enough for a fat chick! YEAH RIGHT!!!! I was to drink a protein shake (made with water!) for breakfast, lunch and dinner and for lunch I could have (oh JOY JOY!) a side salad with spray dressing and a small serving of lean meat. Oh and I had to leave off all the really good salad things like grated cheese, croutons....you know all that stuff that makes salad taste good! UGH!

Needless to say, I didn't do to well on this diet! It was the protein that killed me the most! I made the mistake of getting lemonade flavored! Can I just say YUCK!!! OK folks, my doctor's office has what is called a Resource Center, they have all kinds of protein powders, vitamins, samples....basically all the supplements that you need before and after surgery! When the lady at the counter recommends you get a certain type of protein...listen to her...she knows what she is talking about! She suggested chocolate or vanilla....those happen to be my favorites...now that I have learned how to drink the stuff without gagging! It took me a year and a half to find a combination that didn't just make me want to throw up after each swallow! I promise to share my recipes before this series is over!

Oh and did I mention that part of this diet was not drinking anything but water??? Oh yeah that was part of the plan too! I could have as much water as I could drink and the only flavoring that I could put in was those Crystal Light things! No coffee, tea, SODAS, milk, juice...nothing but water! (A plan to break you of all caffine if I ever saw one!)

I finally figured out that this diet had a dual purpose!

Firstly it was to prep your body for surgery. You see when you go on such and extreme diet you do lose weight (I lost 11 pounds in 3 days), but more importantly you lose weight internally. Which it so happens helps your surgeon when he is working on you. So no matter how bad it is...your gonna want to do this diet or whatever diet your doctor puts you on...because in the long run it helps you and him both!

And I am pretty sure the other reason is that it gives you a preview of what your eating style is going to be in the future! Sad but true!

Now my third task from my first office visit was fairly straight forward. I had to choose between lap band and gastric bypass. Now Dr. Warnock explained both procedures to me by drawing on the paper that they use to cover the examination table. I wasn't sitting on it at the time....I was tearfully holding Tool Man's hand for support and trying to internalize all this new information I was being bombarded with.

OK...from what I can remember your stomach is set up pretty simply. Food goes into you mouth, travels down you esophagus, into your stomach, exits your stomach into your intestines, and then travels onward.

The lap-band procedure literately puts a band around the upper part of your stomach that restricts the amount of food that can go into your stomach. There are silicone sacks around that band that are adjusted as needed through a port in your side.

Okay this didn't appeal to me on so many levels.

1. The whole adjusting thing sound like to much temptation to me...."well the holidays are coming up and I have all these parties...and I enjoy eating." Kinda defeats the whole purpose...I am not that strong willed!

2. The foreign object in my body....I could just see some kind of allergic reaction to all that hardware...then I met a woman that had lap band surgery done previously and was in the office to have gastric bypass done, she had gained back about 80 pounds and her stomach had grown up around the band! Can I just say YUCK, again??

3. Your weight loss is about half as fast with lap band. Now that seems like a really silly reason...I know it is safer to lose weight slowly...however I need my weight off and I needed it off last year...not 2 or 3 years down the road.

Now Gastric Bypass is a little more complected and involved. They actually go in and make you a pouch out of your own stomach (about the size of an egg) and connect that pouch to your small intestines at a certain spot. You see your intestines have certain areas that absorb food/nutrients differently. The very first part of the intestines right below your stomach absorb all the bad stuff you ingest, sugar, fats, now you go on a little further and the intestines get a little pickier....it only absorbs the good stuff and it rejects the bad...sometimes in a violent manner. This picky area is where they attach your new stomach pouch! My doctor also highly recommended removing my gall bladder while he was in there....said it was totally unnecessary and would save problems in the future!

OK...I wanted my weight loss to be permanent. I didn't want to go back to being unhealthy and fat. I wanted to avoid diabetes if I could. The thing I found out through my own research is that patients that have gastric bypass, rarely have a problem with diabetes. They are finding out that alot of people's problem with diabetes is coming from what is being absorbed in that very first part of the intestines....and when you have had gastric bypass...that problem is resolved! Also many people who have this surgery that have previously suffered from things like diabetes, high blood pressure and a variety of other illnesses no longer have to take their medication just DAYS after surgery!

Do you see how appealing this is sounding to a person that has the possibility of suffering from one if not all of these maladies? I was already having problems breathing, suffered from sleep apnea and arthritis....I could see myself going downhill fast! I couldn't control how I ate so I felt I needed a governor switch on my stomach! (hey I really like that analogy!)

Now this is a big decision. My doctor had already recommend gastric bypass, and that is the way I and my Tool Man were leaning....but my Daddy had other ideas. Now you will find out quickly that my parents love me and are very protective of me and they were very worried for me! Not only for the current state of my health but the extremes that I was willing to go to rectify the situation with my body. What parent wants to watch their child go under a surgeon knife voluntarily??? I know mine didn't but on the other hand they understood mine and Tool Man's decision. My Daddy's opinion was that I needed to have the less invasive lap-band. Part of his reasoning was that it was fully reversable...and that if this was doing me more harm than good then I could just have all that paraphenial removed. As much as I love and admire my Daddy I had to disagree...and in the mean time I did a little more research, made a couple of phone calls and found out that the gastric bypass is also fully reversible! They don't remove your stomach...it is just dormant in your body, so you can change your mind and have things reversed if you want to....but seriously...who would want to????

Now before my next appointment I had made the decision that gastric bypass was the way for me to go...now I just had to wait to hear from the insurance company.....I don't like waiting.....Patience is a Virture!

Until next time....
God Bless,
Mama D

Ok Folk...this here is my disclaimer... all research, thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone. DO NOT take my word as fact! This is intended as a shared learning experience. I just want those who I know and love to understand why I have done this surgery. And I pray that my story helps someone in some way in the future, weather I know that person or not. God Bless, Mama D

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gastric Bypass Adventures

Quitting

Well I have decided to make this a series of sorts....there is just way to much information that I would like to share to put this in just a couple of posts. So bear with me I will finish "the rest of the story"....eventually!

The very first thing that Dr. Warnock made me promise to do (notice, he didn't ask, he made me promise!) was to quit smoking!

I don't think the man knew how many times that I had tried that in the past! I had been smoking for 13 years at this point. I smoked a pack and a half a day! (That's 30 cigs per day) I was spending over $300 a month in cigarettes alone.

Smoking was what I did...most of my friends, co-workers and family smoked! I smoked when I was upset, nervous, depressed, bored, happy, worried, mad, furious...you name it I could come up with a reason to walk out side and light up. My favorite thing to do was take my current read, go sit out in my Jeep and just read and smoke for 30 minutes. I used smoking as an excuse, a reason, a crutch, a hobby, an escape!

If you can't tell this was a huge step for me...and although it really doesn't have anything to do with gastric bypass...it was part of my journey...an important part!

I was truly terrified on my walk out of Dr. Warnock's office. My husband was with me for this all important visit. He listens intently to whatever my doctors say and he makes sure that I follow their instructions....even the ones I would prefer to ignore! So even though Dr. Warnock didn't realize it, he had one very determined husband agreeing with everything he said!

My husband had been trying to get me to quit smoking for the whole 6 years of our marriage. I had tried the patch, the anti-depressants, the little pills, cold turkey...you name it...if I could afford it and my cigarettes that week I tried it. But none of them worked because I didn't want to quit bad enough. I LOVED to smoke...as sad as that may seem...that is the truth of the matter.

But do know what the amazing thing about this whole story is??? When I made up my mind....I laid those cigarettes down...and I QUIT. As of October 10, 2008 a cigarette has not touched my lips....not ONE!

I didn't have bad withdrawals...just a headache for a couple of days. The amazing thing to me was the amount of time that I had been wasting! I was always going outside. I didn't enjoy my daughter. I didn't take the time to converse with my husband. I burnt things I was cooking. I didn't get any house work done. I didn't enjoy my hobbies.

My problem was that I didn't know how to relax. I had no idea what to do to wind down after a day at work....I had to find something to do! So I started taking long hot baths....I would fill my tub up with super warm water, light my candles, grab a book, close out the world and sink down into that water and just relax. After 2 1/2 years...that is what I still do every night before I go to bed.

I then began noticing things that I didn't notice before.....I could smell again! I didn't realize how badly cigarette smoke smells! My Jeep smelled, my clothes my hair, my coats, my CHILD.....everything smelled! It is a good thing that I never smoked in my home...I would have had to desmoke everything! I can still walk by someone and be able to tell if they smoke or not. I also realized that I am allergic to cigarette smoke! Who would have thought???

Well as you can tell....I fulfilled my promise to Dr. Warnock!

Fat enough to play Santa at a Christmas Parade 2007
Next Challenge....basically quit eating!

Until next time! God Bless, Mama D

The Pioneer Woman Black Heels to Tractor Wheels-Update

Well I finished the book last night! I laughed, I cried, I shook my head at the luck....I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I even have my very own Tool Man interested in it...he just couldn't understand why I wouldn't put it down till the very last page! That is until I started telling him bits and pieces of the story! He loved what Marlboro Man gave Ree for their first Christmas together and the way he proposed! I loved it all! If you have an opportunity to read this book it is great!!!!

God Bless
Mama D

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Good Eats Pancakes

Once upon a time I had Dish Network with it's plethora of channel choices, 24 hour cartoons for my child, DVR for recording my shows....you know all those little luxuries in life! Now I have a Digital converter with about 6 stations, a DVD player and two ancient VCR! The point.. I used to love watching the Food Network! Good Eats with Alton Brown was possibly my favorite show of all times....I learned so much from my main man Alton!!! He reminded my of my high school science teacher who put onions in liquid nitrogen one day and threw it at our feet where it shattered like glass!

One of my favorite Good Eats recipes is Pancakes! Oh they are sooooo very good! My hubby eats them with out syrup! They are light and fluffy and so very good! Mmmm...we have eaten them two days in a row!

Now of course I have altered the recipe just a bit...not really anything earth shattering...just skipped some steps to make it easier to put together!

Good Eats Pancakes

The Mix (I make up a batch and store it in Tupperware in the cabinet!)
6 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar

Whisk together!

Pancakes

4 tblsp. melted Butter
2 eggs
2 cups of buttermilk (use the real stuff folks...it makes a difference!)
2 cups of The Mix

Place The Mix into a medium sized mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients! Whisk together until dry ingredients are wet. This should be lumpy....if you over mix trying to make it smooth the pancakes won't be fluffy. Also resist stirring your mixture as you make your pancakes...Alton explained it all and I have experimented with this...and he is so right!
Heat a skillet over medium heat! When hot, rub with butter...it should bubble!
Pour batter into pan and let cook till bubbles start to pop on top of batter. Flip and cook thoroughly!
Serve warm with butter and syrup!
Yield-6 pancakes

God Bless, Mama D

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Pioneer Woman Black Heels to Tractor Wheels

The Pioneer Woman Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond

Well Folks, I love to read! Books have been my constant companion since I was a child. I started out reading Barbara Cartland romances when I was about 10 years old.....and I haven't stopped reading since. I always have a book going! This is my entertainment. Always has been always will be. Considering the volume of books I read on a monthly basis I can't even come close to reviewing them all! However I have recently discovered a fellow blogger, that lives relatively close (shh...don't tell my Daddy she's an Okie!), I have loads in common with and do I wish I were her somedays! Mrs. Ree Drummond with The Pioneer Woman blog.

I saw an article about her in one of the many magizines that my grandmother subscribed too...and began following her blog about a month ago. I have found some fantastic recipes and discovered that she has also written a novel! A Love Story no less!

Now I have many avenues for obtaining books (we will save that for another post)...and I very rarely purchase a hardback....but while shopping at Wal-Mart today I found a copy of her book! I was so excited I bought it! I have spent the last three hours reading ....and I can already tell I am gonna love it! It even has recipes in the back!!!!!

I can already tell this is gonna be one that I am gonna pass on and let my Momma read! It is funny, interesting and I can't put it down....I mean this girl is always getting herself into a pickle and trying to hide it from her take charge cowboy! She has already cooked him two gourmet meals...to a meat and potatoes Cowboy!!!! I am sorry but this Texas Country Girl knows that fancy pasta and meatless dishes just don't work with the men bred in this area of the world. I can't wait to find out what she gets up to next!

I won't ruin the story but I would recommend this book! And Momma I will be passing this along just as soon as I get it read....shouldn't take long!

Gastric Bypass Adventures

Section 1 - The Choice

Well as many of my friends and family know, I have had gastric bypass surgery in December of 2008. I enjoyed my last full Thanksgiving dinner, celebrated my 30th birthday and 5 days later I underwent surgery!
Before Surgery at my birthday party
My husband and I decided this was my best option for good health. I had this surgery for many reasons.... Earlier that year my father had undergone surgery to have a toe removed. He has been fighting Type 2 diabetes for about the last 13 years. My grandfather and great grandfather also have/had Type 2 diabetes. I was 30 years old, smoked heavily, weighed 300 pounds, had arthritis, sleep apnea, limited mobility, no energy and very little luck losing all this weight on my own.

Now I had tried to lose my weight. I have been chunky or just down right fat since I was 5 years old. When I was 10 years old my Momma put me through the Weight Watchers program....we had a lot of success...but when we quit I gained all my weight back. I struggled with my weight, tried all kinds of diets...sometimes I just didn't care, sometimes I was so depressed that I just ate and ate and ate! If you didn't catch it in my previous paragraph...I also smoked. I started smoking as a teenager, quit and picked it up again when I started college. I had about as much success quitting smoking as I did losing weight.

I married my Tool Man in 2002 at the time I weighed about 220 pounds and was a size 20W. By the time I got pregnant with my daughter in 2003 I weighed 270 pounds...I gain an extra 30 pounds during my pregnancy and I never lost it. I carried that weight around for 5 years folks.....at the height of my weight I wore a size 28W and really should have been wearing a 30W.

During that five years I tried to quit smoking numerous times. I tried joining Weight Watchers again....my Momma had a lot of success...me not so much! I began to have problems with my knees and shoulders hurting all the time. I was having problems with sleeping and discovered I had sleep apnea. And the list just goes on and on.

When my Daddy had his surgery to have is toe removed (due mainly to his diabetes and nuropathy)....I got scared! I saw myself 10 years down the road...still fat, struggling with my own diabetes, totally miserable and dependant on my husband instead of being his partner in this life. I dreamed of having another child...but my husband wouldn't even consider it...I was just too unhealthy.

A friend of mine had recently undergone gastric bypass surgery. She had wonderful results and was a great inspiration for me!  Tool Man and I discussed this many times. We talked to my parents...whom were just as worried about my health as I was...and they were okay with the surgery but worried all the same.

So I made the call....here in North Texas the most widely recognized Bariatric Surgeon is Dr. Kenneth Warnock. Anyone that has ever gone to Dr. Warnock knows that he is a wonderful, caring, Christian man and one very excellent surgeon. Everyone that I have ever talked to that has come in contact with this man has given him rave reviews!

I met Dr. Warnock with my husband on October 9, 2008. And I understood exactly what everyone was talking about. As I sat in tears telling this man why I would like to have weight loss surgery, he just nods his head, hands me a tissue and starts telling me what we need to do to make this all happen. The first thing I have to do is STOP SMOKING! FOR EVER! Never again am I to pick up a cigarette! IF I agree to this and several other dietary changes immediately, then we will check with the insurance company and see about my surgery! I left after receiving a heartfelt hug and encouragement that everything would work out for the best.

Guess what I did the very next day????

As this story is long and involved....I am going to break it up into segments. So of you will find this interesting and inspiring...others won't care.... I felt that I needed to share my story, that it might help someone else out there struggling to lose their weight!

God Bless, Mama D

Go Fish - The Mom Song



For some reason My Tool Man thinks that this song fits me perfectly!!! Especially the looker part! Hahahah Have a blessed weekend! Mama D

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

DIY-Chicken Stock

Ok...Homemade Chicken Stock! Cheap...Easy....Delicious...Freezable...Versatile....mmm how many more words can I come up with to describe this????

<Smiling> I'll quit now that you get the point.

I am going to tell you something...I don't really care for chicken! I know...What? How did you lose so much weight without eating chicken? Isn't it supposed to be the ultimate diet food? Well see chicken gets really dry really easy....and dry meats and my tummy just don't agree. So unless it is floating in some kind of sauce I don't dare eat it....however I have a hubby that would eat it roasted every other meal. So I tend to cook it quite frequently. My other problem is doing the whole deboning thing. Can I just say YUCK!?


Bob the Rooster
 If it is boneless I can pretend it doesn't look like Bob the Rooster in the backyard....but boneless chicken is expensive and I can generally find chicken with bones in it a lot cheaper a lot more often! I mean I found whole chickens for $.99 each a while back! So I suffer through the deboning process...and I tend to do alot at once so that I don't have to do it very often!
Now this is how I do it...if you have a different easier method please share it with me!

DIY-Chicken Stock

1 Large Stock Pot (it is even better in a Crock Pot but you can only fit in one at a time)
1-3 whole chickens (breasts, thighs, leg quarters or whatever kind you prefer...mine is called the cheapest!)
2-3 carrots
2-3 stalks celery (that limp stuff you forgot you bought works great!)
1 large onion
water to cover completely

Remove you chickens from the packaging, remove neck and gizzards (I throw them away...you do what you want) and rinse thoroughly.
Place in pot with enough water to cover. Now wash a couple of carrots, you don't even have to peel them, just give them a good washing and cut the tops off! Wash your celery. Peel and quarter your onion. Now throw all these veggies in the pot...don't worry you won't be eating them...they are for flavor and vitamins! Place lid on pot and simmer until you chicken is falling off the bone.
Remove chickens from pot and debone! Use chicken immediately or store for later use.
Place bones back in pot and simmer overnight! (And yes I said place the bones back in the pot...didn't you know that's where all the good stuff is? That's why doctors want you to eat homemade chicken soup when you are sick....all those wonderful nutrients from the chicken stock!) The next morning turn the heat off and let stock cool. Then strain off all the solid stuff in the pot, discard....and all that liquid is your chicken stock! Yummy!
I place mine in glass freezer jars and freeze it...but any freezable container will do!
I do hope you enjoy this...it always takes me a couple of days to eat chicken after this whole process...but I am weird like that!
God Bless, Mama D

Monday, February 14, 2011

Weekly Menu Plan

Well folks I had to revamp this weeks menu plan....being flexible is good...especially when you plans change! And I found out the end of last week that I am going to have a house full of company this weekend. Don't get me wrong I love company, it is generally family and I love family get togethers....and my Momma helps with the cooking, It's all good!

I am also utilizing a couple of those $.99 chickens I got a couple of weeks ago. I have several dishes that contain chicken in the menu this week...so I took out two of those lovely birds and have been cooking them most of the day. I deboned them this evening and used part of the meat for our supper, then threw the bones back in the pot to finish making homemade chicken stock! Yummy!!! Beats that canned stuff hands down any day and super easy! (I will do a post tomorrow!)

Sunday
Red Beans and Rice (which is officially struck from my menu...the sausage and spices tore both mine and my husbands tummy's up....so we no likey!)

Monday
Chicken and Stuffing
Green Beans
Sweet Corn

Tuesday
Homemade Chicken Pot Pie
Buttermilk Biscuits

Wednesday
Meatloaf
Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans

Thursday
Egg Drop Soup
Egg Rolls

Friday (Company)
Sandwiches

Saturday
Combination Meal with the Family

I hope everyone has a wonderful week!
God Bless, Mama D

Saturday, February 12, 2011

DIY-Homemade Vanilla

Homemade Vanilla....oh I was so excited when I read the first post I found on making your own homemade vanilla. You see when I was a senior in high school we lived 10 miles from the border of Mexico....and when friends and family would come and visit we would go shop across the border. One of the most asked for gifts from Mexico was their Pure Vanilla! And it was super cheap!!! Less than $5 for a liter!!! That's a lot of vanilla! Now 13 years down the road...my Momma, grandmothers and I have all run through our stockpile of vanilla! I do a lot of baking and can sure tell the difference....I miss that glorious rich vanilla!

About 6 months ago Momma and I ran across a post on how to make your own vanilla. We were amazed at how simple the ingredients and instructions were, and we decided then and there to make some for ourselves. However our road block came with the expensive of the vanilla beans themselves....it didn't occur to us to get less beans and use less vodka!!! Silly us! However this week I finally got all the ingredients together and put together my first batch of homemade vanilla....which should be ready about August! If it turns out like I am hoping it will ...I will have enough to share with my good friends....maybe even sell some...who knows!!!

Do It Yourself - Homemade Vanilla

1. Search EBay, Amazon.com, the Internet.....buy a 3/4 to 1 pound of vanilla beans.

My two bottles of cheap vodka and 1 pound of vanilla beans
 I couldn't find anyplace that sold 3/4 pound of vanilla beans and couldn't afford $50 for the Madagascar beans that were recommended. I bought mine on Ebay for $15....I just hope I don't regret it!

2. Buy 2-1.75 liter bottles(1 gallon) of Vodka.....the cheap stuff will do! And don't ask me why I bought two different kinds of Vodka...I don't know...it just seemed like the right thing to do at the time! I don't buy alcohol very often, and when I do I am generally buying for someone else and just get what they want! I just don't drink...so it is not something I am all that knowledgeable about...and when you are faced with a 15 foot isle of Vodka... I get confused and over whelmed....who knew there were that many kinds and varieties!!! 

3. Now you need a clean, glass, gallon sized jar! I found mine in that back of the cabinet....my grandmother kept all kinds of things!!! This appears to be a pickle jar....if you don't have one big jar, several smaller jars would work!

4. Take you kitchen shears and cut each vanilla bean in half ....but leave about 1 inch together so the bean with not fall apart!
Vanilla bean cut in half!!!
Now this step is the only tedious part of the process. But your hands smell really good afterwards because you have the oil from the beans all over you hands!

5. Place all the vanilla beans in you glass jar.
Vanilla Beans in Jar
6. Pour all that cheap vodka over the beans and put the lid on!
Vanilla Beans soaked in Vodka
7. Now leave your jar in a cool, dark, dry place for 6 months! And you should come out with wonderful homemade vanilla extract!!!!

OK...now I am a forgetful person! I get some many things going at one time that I forget what I am doing! And the instructions that I read suggest that you shake your vanilla about once a month....just to mix it up some. I will forget when I made this ....I will only remember that it will be done in August. So to help myself I marked my kitchen calendar every month on the date that I needed to check on my vanilla. I also put these labels on the lid.
Reminder Label on the lid!
That way I have record of the date that I made this vanilla, and can mark off each month that I check/shake my jar.
And just for my own curiosity I am gonna take pictures of it each month so you and I can see it's progress!
Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! God Bless, Mama D

Friday, February 11, 2011

Golden Mushroom Meatballs!

Golden Mushroom Meatballs
When I was growing up my Momma always had a couple of meals that were either reserved for special occasions or were served when we had company over after church on Sundays. This happens to be one of my Momma's recipes! It can be prepared ahead of time, frozen if need be, it can be heated up in a variety of ways, and it is a people pleaser. Now I am gonna warn you this is not a meal that stretches that meat allowance that some people have...and I have only tried this recipe with ground beef or ground beef mixed with venison, however I am sure that if you want to cut some calorie corners and use ground turkey or chicken...go right ahead...just don't cut out the Golden Mushroom Soup!

Golden Mushroom Meatballs

1-2 lbs ground beef (I got about 15 servings out of 2 lbs)
1 egg
1 pkg. dry onion soup mix
1 -2 heels of bread, crumbled
Flour for dredging
Oil for browning
1 -2 cans Campbell's Golden Mushroom Soup

Place a large skillet on the cook top over medium heat. cover the bottom of skillet with oil...I used olive oil to give mine a little extra flavor...you don't need much just enough to brown your meatballs!

In a large mixing bowl combine your ground meat with egg, onion soup mix, and crumbled bread. Salt and Pepper to taste. And yes I used my bare hands and it got all over them...I even had Bear taking pictures for me!
Roll your meat in to balls...Mine normally fit in the palm of my hand...but you can make them whatever size you need....just remember the smaller you make them the less time it will take them to cook!

My Meatballs turned out this size!

As you form your meatballs, roll them in flour and place them in your hot skillet.
Rolled in flour
Now you want to brown your meatballs on both sides. You are not fully cooking them at this point just getting them brown and crusty. Depending on how many you made...you may need to do these in batches.
The one that is turned over is what they should look like when browned.
Now at this point you can place these meatballs in a freezable container, let them cool, label and freeze. Or put them in the fridge for the next day. My Momma likes to make a big batch of these, serve half for the current meal and put the other half in the freezer for later.

Once all you meatball are browned.....mix your Golden Mushroom Soup with a can of water, pour over meatballs, cover and finish cooking.

Ready to be covered and cooked
Now you have more than one option on how you finish cooking these baby's.

1. I choose to finish mine on top of the stove. I just popped a lid on top of this skillet, turned my heat down on low and let it cook for about 45 minutes.

2. I could have transfer this to a casserole dish and baked it at 350 degree for 30 minutes

3. Or I have even made these in an electric skillet, following the same stove top method.

4. I suppose you could place these in a crock pot if you wanted to...if you do let me know how it turned out.

See what I mean on how versatile these are!!??? You can also freeze these fully cooked!

*Note* I did not have the dry onion soup that this recipe called for in my cabinet....so I did a little search online to find a recipe....I will never buy that stuff again! It is way to easy to make! I just used 8 tsp. of dry onion, 1 tsp onion powder...I didn't have the beef bouillon that it called for but they tasted just fine with out it!

Now my Momma always served these with some kind of green veggie, mashed potatoes and a slice of bread or homemade rolls. The soup makes a fantastic gravy!!!

Happy cooking and God Bless,
Mama D

Thursday, February 10, 2011

New Mixer

Well there is a club here in Texas called the Texas Extension Education Association....most people remember them being called the Home Demonstration Clubs....anyways....the point is I used to be a member of one of our local chapters. I enjoyed working with them but my family situation changed and I need to spend more time concentrating on my family and less time doing stuff for club. However, the local clubs are full of friends that I know and love, and I occasionally help them out with various things. This week I offered to make cookies for them....5 dozen for most of the club members at a discounted price equals Mama D making 95 DOZEN cookies! Luckily I have lots of freezer space and heavy duty stand mixer! Or so I thought!
My old Mix master
This is my trusty Stand mixer....I have been using this for about the last 7 years. I loved it! It died as I was making cookies on Monday of this week! I had a couple of panicky moments...you remember the 95 dozen cookies I was talking about! I had a 1970's version that I found in the back of the cabinet when I moved into my Grandmother's house...after trying to make one batch of cookies I discovered why it was in the back of the cabinet!

Lucky for me one of those really nice club ladies called me Monday night...said she had a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer that I could borrow for the week! AAAhhhh....do you hear my sigh of relief!

OK now I have been wanting one of those Kitchen Aid Stand Mixers since forever!!! It has always been one of those unattainable dreams...1. they are really expensive (especially for mine and my husbands budget), 2. I had this more reasonably priced Mix Master, 3. it just wasn't practical! So I drool over them when I see them in stores....amazed at all the really pretty colors that will match your kitchen and personality....dream over all the things I could make with one....but never really thought that I would get one.

My husband decided that I needed one....so when he decides I need something I generally get it...as long as he has the means to get it for me! Now let me explain something about my husband....he really doesn't buy me gifts for Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Birthday, Anniversary, Christmas...it's not that he doesn't love me, he just doesn't remember things like that till its too late and he has paid the bills with his pay check, you know silly stuff like that...he just blows all of the money he makes taking care of us!! BUT he considers out tax return extra money....and depending on our financial standing depends on what he does with the tax return....this year we are doing good. So, because I have become Ms. Homemaker Extraordinaire and make everything from scratch, cater, bake for the public to bring in extra money and generally use my stand mixer on a daily basis, a want became a need and need became reality!

All pretty and shiney! It needs flour dusting!
My new Professional 5 Plus arrived on Wednesday morning!!! I was so happy I did a very bad Happy Dance! And of course the first thing I did was take it out of the box and take a picture of it...then put it to use! I have had it a little over 24 hours and it has made about 40 dozen cookies and a 5 Flavor Cake...and before the weekend is over it will have made much more! I am so excited about this machine!

Now it took me 2 weeks to shop for this mixer and finally pick out the one I wanted. Do you know how many varieties there are of this simple looking Stand mixer??? Well I didn't count, but there are a bunch! I found through my comparison shopping that the main differences are the wattage of the motor, the size of the mixing bowl and weather the bowl lifts or the head tilts! My model came with a 450 watt motor, a 5 quart mixing bowl and a bowl lift!

The other thing I figured out is that the shopKitchenAid.com website had the best prices for their product. Which is kinda surprising to me....most of the product websites are the highest! Or so I thought! They also offer refurbished models. Now when I saw that I immediately thought that they meant broken ones that had been fixed and were being resold...and that was partially true! However most of them were returns that had been inspected and resold...and they still come with a 6 month warranty! Now this is the route that I took...I managed to get a mixer that would have cost me over $400 for just a little over $200! Yay Me! I would call that a bargain!

I hope you have a wonderful, warm and pleasant evening! I have spaghetti on the stove and a family waiting!
God Bless, Mama D

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies

Yummy Peanut Butter Cookies....I have always liked peanut butter cookies but have never really found a recipe I liked.....well I finally found one! And it is surprisingly similar to a chocolate chip cookie recipe! These turned out just perfect! I made a quadruple batch today....26 dozen cookies! Whew!

This recipe averages 6-7 dozen cookies per recipe!

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup Butter (I used 1/2 butter 1/2 margarine)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup peanut butter
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter until soft and creamy, then add both sugars. Add eggs and beat well. Add peanut butter and mix well. Combine dry ingredients and add to wet ingredients. Blending well. Roll into small balls (I used my handy dandy small scoop) Flatten with fork in a criss cross manner. Bake 8-10 minutes.

Mama D's Tips

Before baking check the expiration date on your baking soda and baking powder. That has ruined more bacthes of cookies than I can count in this house. That is until I finally figured out what was wrong. They both have an active shelf life of about 6 months...so if you are not sure....buy new!

German Potato Soup

OK folks I have to apologize for the lack of pictures here....I will add some later....but somewhere between my living room and my kitchen my camera went missing! Hey it's a big house! I search frantically for it for about 15 minutes...then decided getting dinner on the table was much more important than having pictures for my blog! So here it is my pictureless blog entry! Of course after everything was cooked, eaten and put away, my darling husband walked out of the room and came back with ....can you guess??? Yeap my camera! And he is just ornery enough that he won't tell me where he finds stuff like that because he knows it drives me insane!!!

OK now that I have shared with you that little tidbit about my life, let me tell you what I cooked for dinner. German Potato Soup....yummy! It's creamy, cheesy and full of good for you veggies! It has and always will be my favorite potato soup! My Momma's best friend shared this recipe with her when I was a little girl. Every time I make this recipe I think of Linda and her girls, Stephanie and Shannon! Thank you for all the wonderful memories!

German Potato Soup

5 cups water
5 chicken bouillon cubes (or substitute both with chicken stock)

Bring to a boil in a large pan.

1 cup peeled and diced carrots (sometimes I get lazy and use baby carrots)
1 cup diced onion (mine wear already chopped and in the freezer!)
1 cup diced celery (same as the onion)

Add to boiling water and cook for 20 minutes.

5-6 cups of peeled and diced potatoes

Add to veggies and cook for another 20 minutes.
When veggies are tender add 2 cans of Cream of Chicken Soup and 1 lb. of Velveeta Cheese cubed. Stir frequently and reduce you heat to prevent sticking. Heat until cheese has melted and serve! Cornbread is the perfect side!

Mama D's Variations

Okay sometimes I substitute red potatoes for the regular potatoes...it all kinda of depends on if I can find them on sale or have them on hand.

I have also been know to add some sweet corn to the pot when I have some leftover in the fridge.

Now my Daddy the Meat Eater...who doesn't think he can eat a meal without meat in it has us add ham to the mixture...I don't really care for that addition so we started leaving his ham on the side and let him just add it to him portion.

Also a can of chopped green chilies gives it a little kick...this is something I like but don't do often because of my picky eaters!

I hope you enjoy this as much as I always have, with this next round of cold weather coming our way tonight....it would be a good thing to try!
God Bless, Mama D

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

MMM...My new favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe!

I believe they go by the name Neiman Marcus Cookies or Million Dollar Cookies.....but they are basically a Chocolate Chip Cookie with Oats. The oats gives it a really nice texture and some extra nutrients (yeah right we are talking cookies here). The recipe also makes A BUNCH! The recipe that I pulled of the net said that it would make 50-80 cookies which translates into 4-6 dozen....they must be making awlful big cookies because I got 10-13 dozen out of mine! Considering I am making, at last count, 90 dozen cookies this week....yes I am a little nutty! A recipe that makes that many was excellent!

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups butter (I used 1 cup of butter and 1 cup margerine)
2 cups white sugar
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
5 cups oatmeal
4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
24 oz. Chocolate Chips (two packages)
3 cups chopped nuts (optional)
1 8 oz. chocolate bar (optional)

Bleand oats in food processor or blender until a fine powder. Mix with flour, soda, baking powder, and salt, set aside!
Cream butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients. Add chocolate chips, shaved chocolate and nuts. Roll into balls. (I used my small scoop) Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 10 minutes @ 375 degrees.

Mama D's Cookie Making Tips

Parchment Paper is awesome! From someone who hates clean up...this makes it easy and one sheet will last until you are done baking!

A small scoop is mandatory in my kitchen....it keeps my cookies the same size...you can use it one handed...and for those cookies you roll into a ball you can get them done up ahead of time, then all you have to do is roll them in sugar!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Meal Plan for 2/6 to 2/12

It's been quite a week around here. We got some major snow on Monday night and have been "almost" housebound since then. They cancelled school all week long and my Bear has a major case of Cabin Fever!

We also have a couple new additions to our "family". Bob, the Rooster came home with my husband last weekend...my daughter has fallen in love...and tells me frequently that I can't fry Bob, "He's a good chicken, Mama!" My soft hearted family!!!

Also coming into the family is a calf that was orphaned on Wednesday. She is taking her bottle like a good girl and now thinks I am her Mama....and you wonder why my nickname is Mama D!!! We are not naming her yet, but she will likely get dubbed before it is all said and done.

My menu plan gave me trouble this week....I had too many things that need mashed potatoes as a side...so I did a little rearranging and hope I have time to cook all this! I am gonna be doing a lot of baking this week for some friends so be prepared for post on my favorite cookie recipes and some variations on my homemade bread!

Sunday - Frito Pies with homemade Chili
Monday - German Potato Soup, Cornbread
Tuesday - Golden Mushroom Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Wednesday - Rotisserie Chicken, Baked Potatoes, Peas and Carrots
Thursday - Spaghetti, Corn on Cob, Garlic Bread
Friday - Pizza Night
Saturday - Leftovers

Hope you have a great and wonderful week!
God Bless, Mama D

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pork Tenderloin

Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Baked Potatos, Corn, Broccoli and Cheese
Now doesn't that just look yummy???? My family thought it did! Can you tell we like cheese??

This pork tenderloin was easy to make and you can put whatever side that you want with it.

Now if you have never cooked pork tenderloin before please listen carefully....toward the fat end of the tenderloin (normally come two to a package) there is this white shiney layer of something, sometimes it is covered by a thin layer of fat. You want to very carefully trim that off. You can't chew it, it makes it hard to cut the meat...it is just generally unneccessary. So take a thin knife (I find a filet knife works best), start at the narrow end and just shave it off.

Ok...that is the only difficult part of preparing pork tenderloin. I placed mine in my favorite meat marinade (post on that at a later date) in a ziploc bag for about 30 minutes while I did my dishes (my never ending task).

Potato Bag
Now before I started my meat I placed my potatos that have been scrubbed in this potato bag....now for those of you that have never heard of these, they are really nifty!!! You can place potatos, corn on the cob, tortillas, etc. in this little bag and cook it in the microwave. You don't have to poke holes or use paper towels or come out with that potato that is all dry and shriveled at one end...they are really cool and such a time saver!!! If you would like one let me know....I know where to get them...or how to make them for that matter!

Cast Iron Grill Pan
Now this is something I would like to have!!! I borrowed this one from my Momma to try it out on this recipe and can I say I LOVE IT!!!! It is literally like having a grill on my cooktop...so very neat since I love to grill in the summer time! The only thing that would have made this the perfect pan was if it had come with a lid to trap all that wonderful heat!!!

I heated my grill pan, till it was piping hot...about 10 minutes on medium low heat! Then I seared each side of my pork for about 5 minutes each. I then placed both of the pork tenderloin in a 9x13 casserole dish and baked it in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

After removing it from the oven I let the meat rest for about 10 minutes.
Sliced Pork Tenderloin

I sliced mine about 1/2" thick....that gave the four of us 3 to 4 sliced each...which is a generous portion. I only used one of my tenderloins...the other I wrapped in foil and refrigerated, for another meal...probably some kind of stir fry tommorrow! If you remember I found this Pork Tenderloin on sale on Monday for $.99 each...what a bargin that I get more than one meal off this fantastic bargin!!!

God Bless,
Mama D

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars vs. Giant Breakfast Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars vs. Giant Breakfast Cookies
Well Folks one of my favorite blogs is Heavenly Homemakers, Laura has a lot of wonderful advice and recipes that brings me daily pleasure and inspiration! One of the recipes that I have meaning to try for a while now is her Giant Breakfast Cookies. I mean just the idea of feeding my 6 year old cookies for breakfast is just wrong....I keep thinking you are such a bad Momma! Then I get to thinking about all the sugary things that she eats now...pancakes, donuts (rarely), cereal and the list goes on. I determined a while back to limit her sugary breakfast items...our favorite breakfast is scrambled eggs...full of protein and energy with out the sugar! But I had to give these Giant Breakfast Cookies a try.

The conclusion that I came too...these are two totally different equally delicious recipes. The Giant Breakfast Cookie is a wholesome, healthy (but don't tell the kids) cookie shaped muffin. It has a soft cake like texture with the little bits of sweetness provided by the chocolate chips (you can also use raisins).

Since I am new to the blog world I really don't know if it is polite to share other people's recipes without their permission????? So until I know for sure, I don't want to offend anyone...if you want Laura's recipe...Google, Heavenly Homemakers and look up her Giant Breakfast Cookie under recipes!

My recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars you are most welcome to and I hope you try and enjoy it for many years to come. I tend to make this recipe instead of traditional cookies. I mean it's a cookie bar! You put it in a pan and bake for 25 minutes....then cut it into small pieces...so much easier than baking 4 dozen cookies! This is one of my Momma's favorites!

My Momma came walking in my house the other day with 2 bags of flour, a canister of oatmeal and a bag of brown sugar. I just looked at her and asked why she was bringing me the main ingredients to My Man's Cookies!!! She just laughed and said that the brown sugar would go really well in Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars too! I always like groceries....especially when I don't have to go and buy them!

Now the recipe....

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

The Ingredients
2/3 cup shortening
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
2 cups of chocolate chips

Melt your shortening. I have found that if you use a glass measuring cup that shortening measures out the same in it's solid form as it does in it's liquid....so save yourself some aggravation and just measure your shortening into you measuring cup and microwave it!
Brown sugar and melted shortening.
Combine your melted shortening, brown sugar and vanilla. Set aside to let mixture cool.

Now sift you dry ingredients together. Add eggs to sugar mixture; beat well. Stir in your sifted dry ingredients, nuts and chocolate chips.
Bear helping Mama grease the pan

And pouring in the chocolate chips after sneaking a few!
Grease a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides) or a 9X13" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 mins. Cool and cut into squares.


Spreading them in the pan.
I always use a jelly roll pan for this recipe even though you can you a 9x13...they come out thinner and cook better for me. If you choose to use the 9x13 be sure and watch it the last 5 minutes or so.
The hard part is letting them cool enough to cut and eat!
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does! And yes Momma I have some put back for you and will bring them to you tomorrow!
God Bless, Mama D

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Garfield Day - Lasagna

Well folks...I did quite a bit of cooking yesterday....I decided since the weather was gonna be iffy today that I would go ahead and cook what I had planned for today....and that way it would be ready to go if we did lose power. Did you know that you can reheat Lasagna in a skillet??? All you have to do is cut it in bite sized pieces and reheat....it tastes better than microwaving it!

Of course the draw back of cooking all that food was my Bear decided she was starving and just had to have some of Mama's Lasagna before she went to bed.....which I gave her a small serving with the promise of more today! I told her she was gonna turn into Garfield if she ate anymore!

This is a wonderful make ahead recipe...if you are having company it will store in the refrigerator for a couple of days. What.I do is double my recipe...it doesn't take more time just a little more effort...and I put one in the freezer for later. I have even been known to make several smaller servings and share with my brother, who loves to come home and take home my freezer meals. Here lately I have been making small versions of my favorite meals and selling them to my friends who don't like to cook or just like a little help in that area from time to time!

Lasagna is fairly simple even though the instructions can get complicated at times....the ones on the back of the boxes always make my eyes cross. So hopefully my explanation will be a little easier to follow.

Homemade Lasagna
1 lb. ground meat (I used beef....but adding in some sausage works well too)
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
2 or 3 jars of Spaghetti Sauce (the Tool Man claims that a combination of Prego and Ragu is the best...but use whatever you like or make homemade)
1 - 15 oz container Ricotta Cheese
1 Egg
1 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning
1 pkg. Parmesan or Italian Blend Cheese
1 Pkg. Mozzarella Cheese
1 box of Ready To Bake Lasagna Noodles



My Ingredients
Ok because I made a double batch there is more here than what you would use in a normal recipe.....I didn't take a picture of the meat that I had already browned or the extra spaghetti sauce that I added....some things just get redundant!!!

1. Brown you ground beef with you onions and bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drain the grease and add your pasta sauces to heat.

These are blended for your cheese layer
2. Now you need to mix up your cheese layer ingredients. In a medium sized bowl mix Ricotta Cheese, egg, 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning, and about 1/2 to 1 cup Parmesan Cheese. If you don't have ricotta cheese you can substitute cottage cheese...if you want the finer consistency of ricotta run your cottage cheese through a food processor.
Ricotta Cheese Mixture
Ok now you can assemble your Lasagna. When choosing a pan be sure it deep.....it needs to have at least 3 or 4 inch sides.

3. Start with a layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan. Top with three of you pasta sheets. I personally love the ready to bake Lasagna noodles...it saves a step in the cooking process, I don't have another pan to wash and you don't have to struggle with slippery pasta.

4. Divide your Cheese mixture into thirds...and spread 1/3 of the mixture over the pasta sheets.
Cheese Mixture Layer
5. Next you want to spread a layer of your pasta sauce over the cheese layer. I find a soup ladle to be extremely helpful for this process.
Pasta Sauce Layer
6. Now sprinkle on a combination of your cheeses. I normally use a handful of each...but I like cheese so I tend to be generous on this issue.
Grated Cheese Layer
7. Now start all over again with a layer of your pasta sheets. Repeat steps 4, 5, and 6 twice more.

8. You can either stop here or I add another layer of pasta sheets, topped with whatever sauce is left and the remaining cheese.
Before baking.
This is what I managed to make with the ingredients that I had. The big casserole I baked and divided between my crew and my Momma and Daddy down the road (Lil' Sister and Grandma live down there, too!) . Two of the smaller (2 serving pans) went in the freezer and one went in the oven with my big pan. One of my friends likes hers where she can just reheat it for lunch.

9. Bake your dish, uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes! If you choose to refrigerate or freeze this, you are gonna need to let it cool completely and then wrap with foil and mark with instructions.
Yummy!!! Garfield Food!
We keep this meal simple...I normally make some whole kernel corn or corn on the cob, a green salad and garlic bread....wish I had a picture of that! Like I said yummy and guaranteed to make any kid into a Garfield!

Happy cooking and God Bless, Mama D