Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween & Snack Day!

Tonight is Halloween.  I had decided 3 years ago to bestow a new tradition on my family.  Dinner in a Pumpkin.  Growing up we didn't have many traditions so I wanted to have a fun one that we could easily do.... and this is it.  I will paste the original recipe but I must say that every year I tweak it.  Its a good base... but every year it gets better.  I have a few in mind already for next year.  I will post my changes after the recipe:

Dinner in a Pumpkin

Much of this meal can be made a day in advance: Complete the first baking of the pumpkin and the beef-and-rice mixture, then cover and refrigerate. The baked pumpkin can accompany the beef and rice as a side dish. From Washington Post Book World contributing editor Evelyn Small.

• 1 small to medium pumpkin (the size of a regular soccer ball)
• 1 to 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
• 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
• 1 cup finely chopped button mushrooms (may include stems)
• 1 1/2 to 2 pounds lean ground beef
• Salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
• 1 10 3/4-ounce can low-fat cream of mushroom soup (may substitute cream of chicken soup), such as Campbell's
• 1 8-ounce can water chestnut slices, drained and diced
• 1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a sturdy rimmed baking sheet.

Cut off the top of the pumpkin (as you would if you were carving a jack-o'-lantern), to be used later as a lid, and set aside. Discard the pumpkin pulp and seeds, making a clean, hollow space inside. Place the pumpkin on the baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for a few minutes, then add the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes. Add the meat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for several minutes, stirring to break up any clumps of beef, until no pink remains. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar and soup, stirring to combine. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the water chestnuts and cooked rice. Transfer the mixture to the pumpkin; cover the top with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes or until the mixture inside has heated through and the pumpkin flesh is tender when pierced with a fork. Transfer to a serving platter; decorate the outside of the pumpkin with a jack-o'-lantern face and serve warm. Makes 6 servings

First, I use ground turkey.  2 pounds of it.  When we do meat.. we DO meat.

Next, this year I added 5 sliced carrots when doing the onions.... I also added 2 LARGE cloves of garlic.  I do not pulverize everything (mushrooms, onions, chestnuts) like they call for... I did it the 1st year and it was like mush.  We like chunks.

Next year I will omit the brown sugar and Im thinking about using worchestershire instead of soy but we'll see how I feel when the day comes.  I will also use more garlic..... NEVER TOO MUCH GARLIC!!!

Otherwise a great 'tradition' meal

Tomorrow I am the snack mom for D1's preschool.  I attempted making sweet potato chips.  They are good... bot after 2+ hours making them I didn't have a ton (they take FOREVER to cook) so I am mixing them with dried apples.  WALA!

Some pics of our spread.... Hubby roasted the pumpkin seeds... so we had alot going on in the kitchen!!  So I HAD to bust out my new favorite wine!!  OZV.... OMG GOOD!!!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Rubber Mulch and HEALTHY DOGS!

It was again a busy week.  Hubby worked much of it so I flew solo most days.  I had an amazing board meeting with my Mom's Club mamas which always makes for a GREAT week!  Thursday was interesting.  I had decided to take the pups to a holistic vet.  First, I must say that much of it I cannot describe.  Not that I don't WANT to... just that I CAN'T.  I don't know how to put it into words.  She spent 2 hours with me, hands on my pups.  She is a DVM but also a holistic practitioner.  I believe that there are certain people put on this planet that have abilities above and beyond.  She is one of these people.  My dogs took to her immediately.  Luey was practically laying in her lap.  It was a TON of information and recommendations.  I plan to do them all.  Luey is a Rottweiler and weighs 112#.  Far too much. Bubba has horrible allergies.  Their health boot camp started today.  They will now be on CORE grain free food, yogurt & veggies.  Yep, veggies.  I must have completely look at the Dr sideways when she asked me if I owned a juicer.  I said "ummmm... yeah".  She suggested that I put the pulp into their food.  THEY LOVE IT.  Its amazing.  I will fall over if this dog loses 10# this month.  Guess time will tell.  They are now on a few supplements... which are made from different foods.  Its just such an interesting concept.... can't wait to learn more!  I swear I want to take before and after photos of the pups!

Luey Chowing

Today I was supposed to testify as a witness to the incident next door with the rogue backhoe but apparently the scumbag plead out.  Thank goodness.

After I found out that I now had a free day the delivery company called about the rubber mulch I ordered.  The could deliver today!  The landscapers charged me next to nothing to sod cut and to dig down 3" to put down mulch around the girls' play set.  Today's job consisted of laying the landscape fabric and 5000 pounds of rubber mulch.  We decided to go with it because of the safety factor as well as the cost factor.  Every year we re-mulch the house.  Every year we say.... we are switching to every other and it just never looks good enough to switch.  So it was an easy decision.  Its pricey... but it never needs to be redone!   Dad helped ALOT.  He loaded the bags onto trailer and drove the tractor to the area.  There were 125 40# bags.  The man will need some Motrin tomorrow!!!  We got everything laid out in about 2.5 hours.  I have to trim up the landscape fabric but I was going to wait a week or so until 1.) the rain stops and 2.) the mulch settles a bit.  All I can say is that it looks FANTASTIC!!!
3 pallets delivered

Looks FABULOUS... and its SAFE!!!

No more mowing in and out of swings... NO MORE WEEDWACKING around the darn thing!!!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Grad School & Pond

So much has happened in the last 3 weeks.  I hosted a board social which turned out AMAZING... then I ran a board meeting and a general meeting.... and then this past weekend was our fall consignment sale.  I've put in a TON of hours for the club lately but I am very proud of the accomplishments. After the sale we donated 61 trash bags and a few boxes FULL of clothing, books, shoes & toys to local shelters, rescue organizations and Easter Seals.  Monday night was Preschool Information Night.  We hosted this event with the NRECPTA.  Our 2 chairwomen had life altering events so I stepped up and took charge.  It was stressful for me but I pulled it off with the help a wonderful committee.  This is an event where local preschools all come to one location so that our members (and the community) can interview and weed out the schools before visiting.  Its a huge service to our membership as well as the community.  All the facilities seemed VERY happy so I was ecstatic.  I am happy to say that I get to lead a pretty AWESOME group of women.  This has truly been a position that I am proud to hold. Thank you to all of my Brecksville Broadview Heights Preschool Mothers Club mamas!
Today is an AWESOME day.  I submitted my grad school application to Ursuline College about a month ago and had not heard a peep.  From time to time I think about it, but have just been too busy to do anything about it.  I have had my interview outfit picked out in my head and I occasionally rehearse what I would say.  Just last night I decided to get my Kent State application ready to go as a backup.  Well, today, it came.  It was a packet from Ursuline.  I thought it was too heavy to be a rejection letter.  I tore into it.... and I HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED!!!  They put me into the Spring 2013 class although I enrolled for Summer 2013.  I emailed and was told that they put me in for spring in case I want to start taking classes.  AWESOME.  I am SO excited to start the next chapter!!  Hubby is even excited now that he knows that there is retirement in his future!

Flowers, a card & celebratory wine from Hubby

The pond is done.  The landscaper came today to "rock hound" the area and smooth up a few areas before we seed.  CAN NOT wait to see some green going on.  Its beautiful now but by spring when its green and almost full it will look AMAZING.  We got our landscape mound that we covered with trees.  In the second photo you can now barely see the 6000 square foot home that is being built next to us!  Hallelujah!

Something else that I wanted to blog about.... a very good friend called me last week.  She has gained some weight and has decided that its time to take it off.  She called ME.  I think that's pretty damn awesome.  She said that I inspire her.  What an honor.  I had her watch Fat Sick & Nearly Dead.  Needless to say, she bought a juicer.  I still have my 10# to my goal... but I am very excited to help her in her journey.  XOXOXOXOX