Monday, October 15, 2018

The Best Breakfast Potatoes ... and a bushel of laughs

I will get to the recipe (you can see the potatoes at left in the photo above) in a moment, but first, a little background. 

During our recent trip to Elko, Nevada to visit family, one of the nicest blessings for me was the very rare opportunity to go out for breakfast with both of my daughters.  I'm so tickled that they thought of doing this.  It was a wonderful time, with conversation and laughter flowing freely.

Joanna, who lives in Elko, suggested McAdoo's, and it was a wonderful choice.  We all chose the breakfast croissant sandwich, and it was a fantastic choice, as it was filled with things like egg, bacon, greens, and avocado among others.  We also found that the potatoes that accompanied this sandwich were amazing!

We spent more than a few minutes trying to dissect the recipe -- but we also spent a great many minutes laughing hysterically.  Our server brought Joanna a bottle of ketchup to accompany her potatoes, and the problem started when the ketchup refused to leave the bottle.  (It was a brand new bottle.)  I think many of us have probably had a similar experience with new bottles of ketchup.  Usually a quick jab into the ketchup with a knife breaks the suction or whatever is holding the ketchup back. 

In this case, the knife maneuver did not work.  Worse, when Joanna attempted to remove the knife from the bottle, it would not come out.  No matter how much she worked at it, it would not leave the neck of the bottle.  Carrie then stepped in and held the bottle with both hands so Joanna could jiggle the knife with both hands.  Still no go. 

By this time, we were all laughing hard.  I wanted so badly to take a video with my Kindle, but two things held me back: I was shaking with laughter so couldn't have held it steady; and also I was pretty sure the knife was going to come out quickly, spattering ketchup everywhere, including my screen.

That didn't happen, however.  At this point, a rugged-looking young man seated near us had grasped the situation, and he signaled to Joanna to let him help.  She handed him the bottle and ... guess what?  He couldn't budge the knife either!  We had to return it to the counter like this:

Fast-forward to last week when we were having guests for brunch and I wanted some sort of easy potato dish to accompany an egg bake.  I was looking through my Gooseberry Patch fall cookbooks.  In Flavors of Fall, I came upon a recipe called Golden Parmesan Potatoes and decided to try it.  I had to adapt it a bit anyway to meet a dietary need, but that adaptation turned out to be just the ticket to potatoes that tasted very much like those we had at McAdoo's.  (I also cut the recipe in half to make a smaller amount, so that is how I will write it.  If you need a larger quantity, just double the recipe and use a 13 x 9-inch pan.)

I made these again for a supper guest the same night.  Absolutely delicious and so easy!

2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons Italian seasoned bread crumbs (I used gluten-free)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 medium potatoes (or 6 small ones) scrubbed, rinsed and cubed
3 Tablespoons butter or olive oil

Heat oven to 375º.

Combine the cheese, crumbs, salt and pepper in a gallon size zip-top plastic bag.  As you prepare the potatoes, put the cubes right into the bag of crumbs.  When all the potatoes are in the bag, seal it and shake very well to coat the potato cubes with the crumb mixture.

Coat the bottom of a 9-inch square pan (I recommend non-stick metal) with either butter or olive oil.  Add potatoes and any remaining crumbs.

Bake at 375º for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes or so.  Serves 3 or 4 generously.

We loved this and I hope that you will, too!  No ketchup required.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Friday five

Time for a quick version of Friday five! 

1.  A lakeside lunch with two cousins, last Saturday.  So much fun to have reconnected now, after all these years!

2.  Seeing God give wisdom every day as we look to Him.  Watching Him give guidance and direction for every day if we will only pay attention.

3.  My favorite lamp being repaired!  It stands by my favorite chair and I rely on it to see my Bible in early morning quiet times, or  occasionally to see needlework of an evening.  Recently it stopped working altogether, but my wonderful hubby was able to find what he needed at Walmart and fixed it in minutes!

4.  Wonderful fellowship yesterday with friends visiting our state all the way from Nevada.  Their first time seeing New England fall foliage, and they loved it!

5.  And the reason this must be quick: Mr. T and I have the opportunity to head out to a couples' retreat this afternoon!

Happy Friday, everyone!

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Creamy Sausage Stew, take 3

Photo from Taste of Home
Sunday we had guests for lunch  after church, and I made this sausage stew in the slow cooker to serve with corn muffins.  It's a perfect meal for fall!  I've had this recipe for a long time and have posted about it at least once previously.  I found it in a Country Woman magazine in 1995.  It was a great recipe to begin with, but I have tweaked it over the years.

As I noted in my other post, I usually use half the amount of sausage, cut in smaller pieces than specified, and I usually use light or turkey sausage.  I also use half-and-half instead of the heavy cream.  It even works with fat-free half-and-half!   The dish still tastes very rich but it is a lot lower in fat. 

You can find my other post about the sausage stew here and the original recipe from the Taste of Home site here: Creamy Sausage Stew.   The original recipe called for roasting the vegetables and sausage, and it is very good that way, but I have been tweaking it to try and make it work easily in the slow cooker.

Here is my most recent take on this recipe:

8 medium potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 to 2 yellow onions, cut in 8 wedges each
1 large green pepper, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 large red pepper, cut in 1-inch pieces
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, halved
14 ounces turkey kielbasa or smoked sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced about 1/2 thick
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Half-and-half to taste
Cornstarch and water to thicken if desired

In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients except for the half-and-half and optional cornstarch/water.

Cook on High for about 2 hours, then turn to Low and cook for 3 to 4 more hours.  (Or you could just cook it on High for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.)

When ready to serve, add half-and-half to your taste.  If it seems too liquid or not as creamy as you'd like, just mix equal parts of cornstarch and water and add to the stew, stirring well and allowing to cook for a few more minutes until it is as thick as you'd like.

This got great reviews from our guests on Sunday, with everyone having a second bowl of stew!  I hope that you and your family enjoy it also!

Friday, October 05, 2018

Friday five

Not sure how another Friday rolled around so quickly, but it has!  Here are five blessings from the past week:

1.  Safety as thousands of miles were traveled during our vacation.  We traveled from our home in NH to Boston by bus, then flew to Salt Lake City.  Our family picked us up there and we drove to Nevada.  We took a four-day road trip to south central Idaho and then back to Nevada.  This past Monday we all drove to Salt Lake City, then we flew out from there Tuesday morning.  Had a brief layover in Minneapolis, flew from there to Boston, caught a 9:30 pm bus to NH and were home shortly after midnight.  Whew!  It makes me tired just to think about it (still a bit jet-lagged!) but so thankful for the safety God gave.

Yes, there are even Dunkin' Donuts out west!  America truly does run on Dunkin'.  This one is in Wells, Nevada. ⬇

2.  The kind and generous hospitality of friends.   During our vacation, Mr. T and I were blessed to stay in a lovely quiet apartment in the basement of our son-in-law's parents' home.  D and J stocked the pantry and fridge for us and even loaned us a car during the time we spent in Nevada.  We definitely feel that this blessing enabled us to come back more refreshed and rested!

3.  Wonderful fellowship with God's people.  We attended church services last Sunday with folks who have come to be like our own church family.  In the afternoon, several families from church joined us at a local park.  The kids played safely while the adults visited ... just a lovely time of fellowship.  Wednesday evening saw us back with our own church family here in NH, which was certainly a blessing as well.

4.   Quality time spent in God's magnificent creation.  We were so blessed to enjoy a hike in Lamoille Canyon last Friday.  I was even able to spend some time in prayer as I rested on a large rock in the midst of this beauty.  (Photos below are from my daughter Carrie.)

Sadly, a fire began near the Canyon on Sunday.  You can read about it here: fire in Lamoille Canyon and see an update here: Range Two Fire.  Thankfully, the fire was 50% contained as of last night, and rain was helping with the firefighting efforts.  Still, those who know about such things say that the canyon, a treasured local resource loved by many people, will not be the same in our lifetime.  So thankful we have had numerous opportunities to enjoy its beauty over the years!

5.  The chance to attend a grandson's soccer game last Saturday.  We can occasionally get to a local grandchild's game or event, but have never been able to do this with regard to the Nevada grands.  So thankful for this opportunity, even though his team lost this game.

And a bonus, because I forgot to mention this last week.

6.  The fun of baking with grandkids, using the Concord grapes from our daughter and son-in-law's backyard.  They had a bumper crop of grapes this year, so we enlisted the kids and baked two grape pies.  Their grapes were quite small, so it took many hands to slip off the skins to make the pie.  Emily, a pie crust expert (at age 10!), tutored Julia in rolling out and crimping.  The result was delicious, although I failed to get pictures of that.  (These photos are also by Carrie.)

 If you should be interested in baking a grape pie of your own, the recipe for grape streusel pie is here on my blog in this post: Grape Streusel Pie.  You will need to scroll down to get to the recipe.  I was so glad I had written about it, since after volunteering to bake the pies, I realized I didn't have the recipe with me.  I did a search on my own blog, and voila!

So ends another Friday five!  Hope you've enjoyed these glimpses into our vacation.  I hope to write some actual vacation posts soon.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

October goals

Lovely autumn graphic by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings

I'm a few days late, but it's a new month, and so it's time to set some goals for October:

* Continue with my Bible study of Colossians
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses and review some older ones.
* Add 4 pages to my "What Do I Know About My God?" Scripture notebook
* Continue study for Sunday School -- A Woman Who Reflects the Heart of Jesus
* Get to bed by 9 pm each night  
* Limit sugar and red meat.
* Drink enough water each day.
* Walk and/or exercise each day.
* Keep up with Flylady's homemaking zones of the week.
* Do something creative each day
* Post in this blog at least twice weekly if possible
* Continue working on several UFO craft projects
* Continue planning for family birthday gifts and crafting any handmade ones
* Continue stocking my Etsy shop and continue selling vintage items
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family
* Help and encourage my local daughter as I'm able
* Get together with friends from Nevada who'll be visiting our state
* Attend a couples' retreat with my hubby
* Continue to encourage and support my hubby as he works through a pastoral search for our church
* Clean church and set up for fellowship time
* Sort out and declutter my dad's house; work on estate
* Plan meals with a greater emphasis on healthy eating

OCTOBER'S HEALTHY HABITS:  Drink enough water/exercise/eat healthfully/get enough sleep
WORD FOR 2018: Settled

And here's how September went:

* Continue with my Bible study of Colossians -- done!
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses and review some older ones -- done!
* Add 4 pages to my "What Do I Know About My God?" Scripture notebook -- done!
* Continue study for Sunday School -- A Woman Who Reflects the Heart of Jesus
-- done!
* Get to bed by 9 pm each night-- not done
* Limit sugar and red meat -- did well limiting red meat, not so well with sugar
* Drink enough water each day -- doing better with this, but still not the best
* Walk and/or exercise each day -- technically not done, but we did do a ton of walking and hiking on vacation, so I'm calling this done!
* Keep up with Flylady's homemaking zones of the week -- not done
* Do something creative each day -- done!
* Post in this blog at least twice weekly if possible  -- done!
* Continue working on several UFO craft projects -- not done
* Continue planning for family birthday gifts and crafting any handmade ones -- done!
* Continue stocking my Etsy shop and continue selling vintage items -- done!
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family -- done!
* Help and encourage my local daughter as I'm able -- done!
* Fine-tune our vacation plans -- done!
* Attend a ladies' retreat !!-- done!
* Continue to encourage and support my hubby as he works through a pastoral search for our church -- done!
* Clean church and set up for fellowship time -- done!
* Sort out and declutter my dad's house; work on estate -- not done, but I've kept at it
* Plan meals with a greater emphasis on healthy eating -- done!

SEPTEMBER'S HEALTHY HABITS:  Drink enough water/exercise/eat healthfully/get enough sleep
WORD FOR 2018: Settled

Hoping to have a more productive month in October, but we will see.  Later this week I hope to write a few blog posts with pictures and details about our vacation to Nevada, Idaho and Utah.  Stay tuned!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Friday five

Friday has rolled around again, so it's time for a quick version of Friday five. (It's still Friday somewhere, right?)  Here goes:

1.  Ladies' retreat two Fridays ago at The Wilds of New England.  Meaningful sessions  on the topic of Craving Connection.

2.  Meeting the retreat speaker, Denise Cunningham, and enjoying breakfast with her sitting at our table.  I've been reading Denise's blog for years and had greatly looked forward to meeting her in person.  So thankful God worked that out!

3.  A short break from teaching Sunday School.  Just two weeks, but a refreshment.  Thanks to my friend Chris and missionary friend Bonnie for filling in for me.

4.  Breakfast out with both of my daughters.  A rare opportunity, and I'm so thankful.

5.  God's hand in providing for and working out the details of our vacation.  More information to follow!

So ends another Friday Five!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Easy Layered Tortellini Salad

It's not too much like fall yet to share one more main dish salad recipe.  This is a sort of adaptation of a recipe I used to make a lot, years ago.  I've recently been preparing it again and we have really enjoyed it.  Since it's so easy and adaptable, I thought others might like to try it, too.


1 pkg. frozen cheese tortellini (I like the tri-colored variety)
Lettuce or greens of your choice
Tomatoes or cherry/grape tomatoes
Chopped ham, chicken, or turkey
Ranch dressing
Bacon bits

In a large glass bowl,  make at least two layers each of salad greens, cooked tortellini, tomatoes, and meat.

Drizzle ranch dressing to taste over the top of the salad.  Sprinkle with bacon bits and chill until serving.

Enjoy! 😊