So, how are YOU doing?

I don’t know about you, but watching the news and reading the papers lately is NOT conducive to making me feel reassured about the ‘Debit Crisis’ – how about you? Yes, I finally got my very first Social Security check about a week ago and we’re hoping the economy doesn’t totally ‘tank’ with all the threats. We’re not the ones living from Soc. Sec. check to Soc. Sec. check each month but I know quite a few people who are – what about them? Quite a few of my special needs ‘kids’ (mentally challenged adults) rely totally on their monthly checks and are very worried right now – I don’t blame them! One of them I drive to our group every week and he confided in me that without that money he won’t have a place to live OR any money to live on! That’s VERY scary!  I truly hope that those in Washington ‘in the know’ would get their agendas straight about just WHO it is they’re serving and who exactly this money crisis would impact the most; yes, I have a political view but at this time in history I don’t care AT ALL WHICH side makes the right move – I just don’t want to see millions of people suddenly homeless/without food or shelter or any means of support. Yes, there are some who ‘use’ the system to their advantage (and I’m sure you’ve either heard of  or know some who ‘use’ the WIC free food, etc) but I’m not talking about them. There are legitimate people who can’t work for one reason or another who will suddenly be thrown UNDER THE BUS! It’s THEM I’m worried about AND what this will do to the entire nation’s economy if we default. I’m no economics wizard but I can figure out that it won’t be good for any of us who are not millionaires – for sure!  I remember about six months ago one of my sons was following a particular website which advocated a national disaster of epic proportions; that site suggested stocking up on at least six months worth of non-perishable foods/water/paper products/medicines, etc. plus paying off all credit cards, clearing out all bank accounts or any monies which could be affected by a collapse of the banking system. I was terrified when he showed me this but, at the time the ‘crisis’ passed. Now we have this ‘new’ crisis and it’s not just on one website – it’s all over the news/radio/tv.  Did I follow the suggestions of that previous website and stockpile? Not exactly – and now I’m wondering if I should have (or still should do this).  Sorry if this is my political diatribe but I feel it’s important at this time in history to be very aware of what’s going on around us – and what we, as a people, actually don’t have much power to change! (and no, I’m not a Tea Party member, so don’t worry). (Makes me almost feel like Paul Revere – scary stuff).

On a lighter note, am working on afghan #296; have had our grandson for almost the whole week and he’s very interested in the idea that other people actually knit or crochet squares and mail them to me. (I showed him the boxes of squares and he was quite amazed). He said I need to knit him an afghan and then I told him I already did – his Dad has the afghan I knit for his baby shower. It was amusing listening to them discuss this last night – grandson wanted to know why they didn’t ‘use’ the afghan and his dad said: “Well, son – it’s summer and you don’t exactly NEED blankets at this time of year!” (that worked – he dropped the discussion). He’s been asking me if his uncles (my other 2 sons) knew how to knit or crochet and just WHY they didn’t! Too funny.

On to cooking: I had to go down to our basement and dig up my Mother-in-Law’s old crockpot, as I’d discovered a hairline crack in the liner of mine. Now, mind you – it’s been a good 12 years or so since she died and this crockpot LOOKS like shades of the 70’s! The good thing was it works AND it’s a 6 quart; my old one was a 4 quart. I threw together what turned out to be a rather yummy dinner: peeled & cut into chunks about 8 potatoes (put them on the bottom), then covered them with a bag of baby carrots (all I had), then a $3.00 chicken (from when Kroger’s had them on sale, this one was a good 4 lbs.); seasoned it some with Worchestershire sauce, garlic powder, a little pepper and added a bag of dry onion soup mix. Cooked it on high for a good 6 hours – the meat was falling off the bones so I took it out, put it in a roasting pan and threw it under the broiler until the skin was a nice dark brown. Even my picky grandson liked it! (Of course, he had to ask why the carrots were a strange color – they get darker from cooking in a crock, but I convinced him it didn’t change the taste – he was ok with that.)

=========================

Twice-Baked Ranch Potatoes

4 large baking potatoes
1 (3 oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 T.milk
1 (1 oz) pkg. ranch salad dressing mix
1 1/2 C. mashed potatoes
1/4 C.shredded Cheddar cheese
Â
Scrub and pierce potatoes; place on a microwave-
safe plate. Microwave, uncovered, on high for18-20
minutes or until tender, turning several times. Let
stand for 10 minutes.Meanwhile, in small mixing
bowl, combine cream cheese and milk; beat in salad
dressing mix. Add mashed potatoes; mix well. Cut a
thin slice from the top of each potato; scoop out pulp,
leaving a thin shell. Add pulp to the cream cheese
mixture and mash. Spoon into potato shells. Top with
cheese. Place two potatoes on a microwave-safe plate.
Microwave, uncovered, on high for 3-1/2 to 4-1/2
minutes or until heated through. Place remaining
potatoes on a baking sheet. Freeze overnight or until
thoroughly frozen; transfer to a freezer bag. May be
frozen for up to 3 months. To use frozen potatoes:
Place potatoes on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave,
uncovered, at 50% powder for 8-9 minutes or
until heated through.
——————————————————-

Mound Bars

2 C. graham cracker crumbs
1/4 C. white sugar
1/2 C. melted butter
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 C. flaked coconut
1 (12 oz) pkg semisweet chocolate chips, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted
butter or margarine. Mix and pat into the bottom of
one 9×13 inch baking pan. Bake 15 minutes. Combine
condensed milk and flaked coconut. Spread  over crust
and bake 15 minutes. Spread melted chocolate chips
over the top. Let cool and cut into squares.
(recipe: Mary Free-Mary’s Recipe Exchange)

—————————————————–

Sandra's Strawberry Delight
(overnight recipe)
 
1 loaf angel food cake, torn apart into pieces
1 (9 oz) carton Cool Whip, thawed
1 pkg strawberry Jell-O (dry), 3 oz size
1 quart strawberries, fresh or frozen
   (can sweeten fresh berries),sliced

Use a 9 by 13-inch dish.  Mix Cool Whip and
dry Jello together, then stir in strawberries.
Layer  shredded cake, then strawberry mixture;
repeat until all are used up. Top with Cool Whip.
Refrigerated overnight before serving.
(recipe: Carolyn - DDJ)
-------------------------------------------
Taco Chicken Stuffed Tomatoes 
 
 2 cans chicken chunks
 2 C. cabbage, shredded
 1/4 C. sour cream 
 1/4 C. mayonnaise 
 2 tsp. chili powder 
 1/4 tsp. onions (dehydrated flakes) 
 4 medium tomatoes 
 6 leaves lettuce 
 
 Drain chicken. In a mixing bowl, combine chicken, cabbage,
 sour cream, mayo, chili powder, and onion. Toss lightly till 
 well mixed. For tomato cups, cut out 1/2 in of the core from 
 each tomato. Invert tomatoes. For each, cut from top to, 
 but not quite through, stem end, making six wedges. For 
 salads, line plates with lettuce or cabbage. Place tomatoes 
 on plates. Spread wedges slightly apart; fill 
 with chicken mixture. Top with cheese. Serve.
 (recipe: Sandy-Mary's Recipe Exchange)
---------------------------------------------
Cream Cheese Tarts

2  8-oz pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla  extract
2 eggs
12 vanilla wafers
1 (21-oz) can cherry pie filling (or other flavor)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
Place paper cupcake liner in each cup of muffin pan. 
Beat cream cheese with a hand held  electric mixer 
until fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla, beating well. 
Add eggs, one  at a time, beating well after each 
addition. Lay a vanilla wafer, flat side down, in 
each muffin cup. Spoon cream cheese mixture over 
wafers. Bake 20 minutes. Allow tarts to  cool 
completely. Serve with cherry filling on top, 
or filling of your  choice.
(recipe: Joan-1_Comfort_Foods yahoo groups)
---------------------------------
Slowcooker Honey-Garlic Chicken

1 1/2 lb.boneless skinless chicken thighs
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon  dried basil
1/2 cup  soy sauce
1/2 C. ketchup
1/3 C. honey

Using a 4 quart slow cooker, place
chicken into cooker. In a small bowl, 
combine rest of ingredients, then pour 
evenly over chicken.Cover and cook on low 
for 6 to 8 hours, or on high for 3 to 4 hours.
Serve over basmati rice with your favorite 
steamed rice.
Serves 4
(recipe: Cupa Babi-Slowcooker Digest)
------------------------------------
Italian New Potatoes (crockpot)

4 t. olive oil
24 small new red potatoes, unpeeled
2 envelopes zesty Italian dressing mix

Pour oil into plastic bag; add potatoes.
Add dressing mix and shake until coated.
Pour potatoes into crockpot & cover.
Cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours.
Remove from crockpot, place on a flat
sheet and place under broiler to crisp
outsides of potatoes.

(recipe: July/2011 issue "Today in Missisippi"
submitted by Linda N. - Slowcooker digest)
-----------------------------------------
Trifle Fruit Salad

2 C.fresh pineapple chunks
2 C. strawberries, sliced
2 C. blueberries
2 C. seedless green grapes

Topping:
1 1/4 C. Milk
1/2 C. sour cream
1 pkg. instant banana pudding (3 3/4 oz. size)
8 oz can crushed pineapple, un-drained

In large glass serving bowl, layer fruits. In medium

bowl, combine milk and sour cream; blend well. Add
pudding mix; beat until well blended, about 2 minutes.
Stir in pineapple. Spoon pudding mixture over fruit to
within 1 inch of edge. Cover; refrigerate several hours
to blend flavors.
(recipe: Sandy-Marys Recipe Exchange)
————————————————-
Stuffed Kielbasa

1 (16 oz) pkg. kielbasa

1 (7.6 oz) pkg. roasted garlic flavored instant
        mashed potatoes
1 1/2 cups sauerkraut
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 350
degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add

kielbasa and boil for 8 to10 minutes to reduce the
amount of fat; drain. Prepare mashed potatoes
according to package instructions. Cut kielbasa
into 4 equal portions, then split each lengthwise
so that they lay flat but are still attached. Layer
each sausage with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes.
Top with grated cheese. Bake in preheated
oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until heated through
and cheese is melted.
(recipe: Mary Free – Mary’s Recipe Exchange)
—————————————
Grilled Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar

1 pound thin asparagus spears
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Prepare grill.

Snap off tough ends of asparagus; place in 
a bowl or shallow dish. Drizzle asparagus 
with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper, 
tossing well to coat. Place asparagus on a 
grill rack coated with cooking spray; 
grill 2 minutes on each side or until 
crisp-tender. Place asparagus in a 
bowl; drizzle with vinegar. Serve 
immediately. Makes 4 servings.
(recipe: Recipe du Jour 7/27/11)
-------------------------------------
Ham Quiche Biscuit Cups
 
 Ingredients:
 
 8 ounces cream cheese softened
 2 tablespoons milk
 2 Eggs
 1/2 cup Swiss cheese shredded
 2 tablespoons Green onion chopped
 1 can of 10 flakey biscuits dough
 1/2 cup ham finely chopped
 1/4 cup jalapeno pepper (chopped optional)
 
Preheat oven to 375F. 
Grease muffin cups. Beat cream cheese, milk, 
and eggs until smooth. Stir in cheese and onions. 
Separate dough into biscuits. Optionally you can 
then split each biscuit in half again. (this is 
why flakey dough works best). Place one biscuit 
in each cup pressing down to form a "biscuit cup".
You should be able to form about a 1/4 inch "rim". 
Place 1/2 of ham at the bottom of the biscuit cups. 
Spoon about 2 Tbs. of egg mixture into each cup. 
Top with remaining ham and bake until filling is 
set and edges of biscuits are golden brown. Bake 
20-25 minutes, test for doneness. 
Remove from pan and serve immediately. 
(recipe: Joan-Cream_Cheese or Sour Cream digest)
-----------------------------------
Well, friends – that’s about ‘it’ for this post. Hoping you are having a
great Friday – AND that it’s nice and DRY where you are. We have
had tons of rain the past two days – so much so that our roads
have been flooding BIG TIME! Yesterday I was driving on a
5-lane road and came to a total stop; the local Sheriff Dept.
had the entire road closed down to ONE lane because of
an immense puddle (lake) of water which covered all four
lanes (we’re talking at least to the tops of car tires deep!).
Going a little further on up this same road there was
MORE flooding; this time it covered an entire corner
making traffic routing very difficult – traffic
driving in the on coming lane to avoid the water!
Today, however, it’s nice and dry (85 degrees F.)
at almost 4 p.m. and sunny. Enjoy your day!
Hugs;
Pammie

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