Don’t Blink – it will Change!

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Yesterday husband & I were out driving and I noticed that gas prices in our area were at $3.09/9 – that’s pretty low! Earlier today I was going shopping and saw my favorite gas station had it at $3.19/9 (not happy with the jump, but thought I’d catch it on the way home). On the way home – SAME STATION, about 1 1/2 hours later – it had jumped to $3.29/9 – that’s as high as it was about THREE WEEKS ago! Not fair! Am hoping to check out a station tomorrow that’s rumored to have lower prices according to my son’s – we’ll see.

How are you doing with your Christmas present buying? This year, for us, is much different than in years past: all three of our boys are sort of in financial difficulties – I’ve explained before: youngest son’s ‘present’ was the rather pricey cost of fixing his truck; middle son has asked that we help him with some of his bills (which just about equals what youngests costs were); oldest son has ask for a computer – which will about equal the other two. That makes Christmas day and opening presents a bit different. I’m a Mom – so now, whether they need them or not, the two younger are getting pajama pants and socks; oldest is getting socks. (I should preface – about 12 pairs of socks, each). Today I went to Meijer and caught some of their sales (2 liters Mountain Dew for 88 cents/limit 5 – that’s a GREAT price); also picked up a big bag of pistachios for my husband, for his stocking (he loves them). Next was on to Dollar Tree (they opened a new one near me) – didn’t really have any particular items in mind but was very happily pleased to find they carry really CUTE present bags ($1 each – no matter the size) – ended up getting about 6. I have a few people who are kind of difficult to buy for: you know – you want to get them ‘something’ but don’t want to spend a lot/or look like they should reciprocate? While at Meijers I noticed they had Caramel Sea Salt cocoa tins – bought 2 of those then will team them up with really cute Christmas towel & matching pot holders – that will make nice presents. Grabbed some stocking stuffers (found beef jerky sticks there – the guys all want them in their stockings), Andes mint candies (for husband’s stocking) and a few other things. Next it was on to ABC Warehouse – they have a sale on individual CD players – this one’s for ME! The one I’ve been using is a good 10 yrs. old (belonged to middle son – he loaned it to me). I like having it available when I’m knitting – I can listen to MY music without disturbing the household (or practicing the Christmas contata songs and not disturbing my husband!). They had them for $11.99 (without ear buds) or $13.99 with ear buds – I chose the ‘with buds’. Also in my purchases there – found 3 varied sizes sheet pans for a good price – we can always use those! Found a CD movie of the Blues Brothers ($5.99) for husband (he’ll love that!) and they even had wrapping paper for 69 cents a roll-40 ft. – bought two with really cute gingerbread men on them. Yes, it was a good day to shop! I’m still at a bit of a loss as to what to get my 7 1/2 yr old grandson. Bought him 2 games for his Nintendo DS – only to find, when his dad asked him WHERE the DS (hand held) game system was, that he’s not sure – either at his dad’s or moms – that leads me to believe he hasn’t played with it in a LONG time! Sigh . . . grabbed him a nice tin of Dominos – he likes playing those with me (we have a double 12’s set), his is double 6 – maybe he can coerce his Dad into playing with him? I just texted his Dad with a ‘what does he want for Christmas?’ message – hope he has SOME idea! I’m totally stumped!

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Christmas Rice Pilaf

1/2 C. finely chopped onion
3 celery ribs, finely chopped
1/2 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped
2 T. butter
4 C. chicken broth
1 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 C. long-grain rice

In large saucepan, saute onion, celery & peppers
in butter over medium heat 2 minutes or until
crisp-tender. Add chicken broth, salt & pepper;
bring to boil. Add rice, cover & reduce heat to
Low; simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat;
gently fluff with fork & serve. Makes 6 servings.

(recipe: Rhonda G-Marys Recipe Exchange)
————————————–

Cinnamon Cookies
(chill, then bake)

2 large eggs
2 sticks (1 C.) margarine, softened
1 C. sugar
1 T. vanilla
3 C. flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 T. sugar (for sprinkling)

Separate 1 egg, set aside.
Beat 1 C. sugar with softened margarine in
large bowl using elec. mixer until light &
fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in whole egg,
egg yolk & vanilla; beat in flour. Divide dough
into 4 pieces; shape into logs. Wrap dough in
plastic wrap; chill at least 2 hours or until
firm.
=
Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Remove plastic wrap; roll dough to 1/8″ thickness
on floured surface. Cut out cookies, arrange on
baking sheets lined with parchment paper. If
dough becomes too soft, return to fridge to firm
up. Brush tops of cookies with lightly beaten egg
white, then sprinkle with remaining 2 T. sugar
blended with cinnamon. Bake 10 minutes or until
edges are just golden brown. Let stand 2 minutes;
remove cookies to wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 6 1/2 dozen.

(recipe: CountryCrock)
———————————————

Roasted Garlic Mushrooms

16 even-sized mushrooms, stalks cut level
3 T. cooking oil
1/4 C. unsalted butter, softened
3 cloves garlic, chopped very fine
2 T. fresh thyme, chopped
1 1/2 T. lemon juice
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/4 C. fresh breadcrumbs

Preheat oven 400 degrees F.
Lightly fry mushrooms, cap-side down,
in hot oil 20 seconds. Arrange them in a
shallow roasting dish with stalks facing
upwards. Mix butter, garlic, thyme, lemon
juice & seasonings; spoon a little on each
mushroom, lightly press breadcrumbs on
top. Bake 10 minutes.

NOTE: can be made (but not baked) and
refrigerated for later use.

(recipe: Facebook)
——————————————-

Pizza Spaghetti Casserole

1 lb. ground meat
1 (16 oz) box uncooked spaghetti noodles
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 C. milk
1 egg
2 oz. sliced pepperoni
1 (26 oz) jar pasta sauce
1 (16 oz) can diced Italian-style tomatoes
1/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese
1 (8 oz) pkg. shredded Italian cheese blend
(any other pizza toppings you like: sliced olives,
chopped green pepper, sausage, onions, etc.)

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Boil water & salt for spaghetti noodles; once
boiling, add noodles & cook until al dente.
Brown meat in frying pan; drain. Once noodles
are done, drain & place in greased 9 X 13 baking
pan. In separate bowl combine milk & egg; whisk
& pour over pasta. Add jar of sauce, can of tomatoes,
garlic powder & oregano – mix all together well. Layer
on top of pasta mixture: ground meat, pepperoni,
sprinkle Parmesan & Italian cheese. Layer more
pepperoni then bake 30 minutes.

(recipe: Facebook)
—————————————————–

Chocolate Pudding Dump Cake

1 box chocolate cake mix
1 small box chocolate pudding mix
1 1/2 C. milk
1 1/2 C. chocolate chips

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Combine dry cake mix, dry pudding &
milk in bowl; mix until combined. Grease
a 9 X 13 baking pan with nonstick spray;
pour batter into pan & top with chocolate
chips. Bake 30 minutes or until edges
pull away from pan.

(recipe: bunsinmyoven.com)
———————————————-

Cheddar, Broccoli & Chicken Casserole


1 1/2 C. milk
1/4 C. flour
3 T. margarine, divided
2 C. cooked, cut up chicken
4 C. vegetables, cut up: such as broccoli
florets, red bell pepper, onion
2 1/4 C. finely shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
1 T. garlic powder
1/4 c. panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven 425 degrees F.
Melt 2 T. margarine in large nonstick skillet;
saute vegetables until crisp-tender. Whisk
milk & flour in large bowl. Add chicken,
cooked vegetables, 2 C. cheese & garlic powder;
toss to mix. Pour into an 8 inch baking pan
which has been sprayed with nonstick spray.
Combine panko crumbs, remaining 1 T. margarine &
remaining 1/4 C. cheese in small cup; sprinkle over
top of casserole. Bake 30-35 minutes or until crumbs
are golden brown & mixture is bubbly around edges.
Serves 6

(recipe: CountryCrock)
—————————————

White Bean & Ham Soup


2 T. margarine
1 C. sliced carrots
1/2 C. diced celery
1 C. chopped fully cooked ham
2 (15 oz, ea) cans Great Northern beans,
drained & rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with basil,
garlic & oregano, undrained
1 (14 oz) can chicken broth
1 1/2 C. water

Melt margarine in large saucepan or Dutch
oven over medium-high heat. Add carrots &
celery; cook 8 minutes or until vegetables are
tender, stirring occasionally. Add all remaining
ingredients; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to
medium-low; simmer 5 minutes. Serves 6
(1 1/4 C. each)

(recipe: readyseteat!)
———————————————

Zippy Chicken Corn Chowder


2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
4 T. butter or margarine, divided
1 large sweet red pepper, chopped
2 medium leeks, chopped
3 T. flour
1 T. paprika
4 C. chicken broth
2 medium potatoes, cubed
4 C. frozen corn
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1 C. Half & Half cream

In large soup kettle or Dutch oven, saute
chicken in 2 T. butter until lightly browned;
set aside & keep warm. In the same pan, saute
red pepper in remaining butter until tender. Add
leeks & cook for 1 minute. Stir in flour & paprika
until blended. Gradually stir in broth. Add potatoes;
bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover & simmer 15 minutes
or until potatoes are tender. Stir in corn, Worcestershire
sauce, salt, hot red pepper sauce & reserved chicken;
bring to a boil. Reduce heat & cook, uncovered, 5-8
minutes or until corn is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir
in Half & Half; heat through (do not boil)Serves 10

(recipe: Pilgrims Pride)
———————————–

Berried Spinach Salad with Chicken


2 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3 T. vegetable oil, divided
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 (10 oz) bag fresh spinach, washed, dried &
stems removed
1 pint strawberries, hulled & cut in half
1 small red onion, sliced thin
2 T. cider vinegar
1 T. sugar
1 tsp. poppy seeds

Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes. In large skillet
over medium heat, saute chicken in 1 T. oil,
until chicken is lightly browned & cooked
through, about 5 minutes. Add 1/4 tsp. salt &
pepper. With slotted spoon, remove chicken
to large bowl; cool. Remove & reserve pan
drippings in skillet. Tear spinach into bite-
sized pieces & place in bowl with chicken. Add
strawberries & onion. In small bowl, stir
together vinegar, sugar, poppy seeds , 2 T.
oil & 1/4 tsp. salt, plus reserved pan drippings.
Stir until well blended. Pour over salad & toss
lightly to combine.

(recipe: moms2moms.com)
———————————————-

Cranberry Walnut Bread


1/4 C. vegetable oil
1 1/2 C. brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg white
3/4 C. applesauce
2 C. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch ground cinnamon
1 C. dried cranberries
1/4 C. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Spray bread pan with nonstick
spray. In a mixing bowl, stir oil,
egg, egg white & applesauce together.
In separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder,
salt & cinnamon together. Fold flour
mixture into applesauce mixture. Fold
dried cranberries & nuts into batter; pour
into prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes or until
bread is golden brown & a toothpick inserted
into center comes out clean. Cool on wire
rack 10 minutes before slicing. Serves 12

(recipe: moms2moms.com)

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How is your weather holding up? It’s colder today (right now it’s 6 p.m. and it’s 28 degrees out – another reason I really didn’t feel like pumping gas in the cold!). Reading our forecast, looks like we’re going to be getting colder and, possibly, the “S” word soon (hope not, but am expecting it). Looking over the forecast for the next few days: 27 degrees F., 29 degrees F.,32 degrees F., 26 degrees F. – ah, yes . . . Michigan in winter and you KNOW it will only get colder! Oh well – we have a nice warm house, warm clothes to put on, blankets/slippers/sweaters – we are BLESSED!

Finished the first of the two Red Heart Sashay ‘yarn’ scarves yesterday and wrapped the next one on the cardboard; that might sound strange BUT this is almost like working with lace and I remember reading somewhere that if you take the time to stretch the ‘yarn’ over a chunk of cardboard FIRST, it will help it to not be crinkly when you go to knit it. It’s ‘supposed’ to be a QUICK project, but if you factor in the time taken to stretch it on the cardboard (about an hour) then knitting it up (another 2 hours) it’s not really (in my humble opinion) a QUICK project! Yes, I’ll give you that they really look nice once their done (the red one I knit yesterday looks very pretty and will look great with my friend’s red wool winter coat). Finished another knit baby hat today – only have 6 more to go before delivery some time next week (I hope). I usually push myself to get them done & delivered, leaving me lots of time to create more (since the hospital never expects I’ll get them done quickly – so when I call for a delivery, they’re totally surprised!).

100_2477This is a photo of three scarves I did last year using the Red Heart Sashay ‘yarn’ – just so you have an idea of what it looks like.

Well, friends – time for me to get off here and go start the second scarf. I don’t know about you, but does this week/time feel like we’re just ‘in waiting’? I’m not really motivated to put up the tree or bake cookies – guess I should be, but I’m not. Hopefully NEXT WEEK I’ll be more ‘in the mood.’

Hugs;

Pammie

ps: Remember to treat yourself to SOMETHING!  A nice, hot beverage, a few minutes nap, a cookie, watching a movie or just listening to some Christmas music! Enjoy your day/night!!!

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