Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ohhh... NOOO!!

I am so very very sad!  My favorite crockpot with the stoneware insert and timer that switches to warm has died!  What is a busy mom to do????  Sigh....I have another crockpot, but it doesn't have the little switch-to-warm feature and tends to over cook most things - we'll just have to do other stuff until I can get a new one!

Monday - KK has a basketball game, then afterward she and SS will be heading to spend the night with their dad.  He has been gone for a few weeks and they have been a missin' him.  I think I'll make Red Lentil Curry in their absence.  More for me!  :)

Tuesday - Another basketball game for KK, so that leaves SS in charge of her favorite - baked potatoes and I'll have a dish of shake n' bake pork chops ready she can just pop in the oven too. Everybody will be happy when we get home!

Wednesday - I found some salmon on sale, and my cooking friend, Dishy has some really great salmon dishes, including this Lemon Dill number plus a couple of great chowders you need to check out!  We will be having the Lemon Dill with some broccoli.  YUM!

Thursday - I have a couple of big T-bones laying around in the freezer that need to be eaten.  I have a slab o' goat cheese in the fridge that needs to be eaten.  So, I'm going to use the idea from PW's Grilled Ribeye's with Onion Blue Cheese Sauce  and shake it up!  I'll use my t-bones and give them the seasonings from this AR recipe, broil them up and top them with the onion sauce from PW, but made with a touch of goat cheese rather than blue cheese.  I'll report the results for sure!

Friday - It worked last week to have something I really loved and that is totally easy for dinner of Friday.  I am sad to report that my giant Costco jar of kalamata olives is empty - so I guess Chicken Thighs alla Puttenseca will have to wait a couple of weeks until a can get another jar.  LOL I think this week we'll have Caramelized Red Onion-Feta Burgers - I have all the ingredients except for cucumbers and I could use the practice on burger shaping!

Saturday - It's time to make another batch of the THE spaghetti sauce.  I'm down to just want bag in the freezer!  As you know, I love this sauce.  This time I'm gonna do something just a little bit difference to see what happens - instead of just chopping the veggies, I'm going to chop them and take them for a little whirl in my food processor to see if I can up the thickness factor and reduce the chunk factor.  I have nothing at all against chunks, I just want to see what it does to the texture.

Sunday - It's Superbowl Sunday.  I like football.... I don't really watch football much anymore - but do usually try to tune it for the big one and all the fun and festivities involved.  What's football's biggest game without wings???  I don't know which I'm going to make, but here are some of my favorites from years past:
Restaurant Style Buffalo Wings  *****
My personal favorite.  Crispy, spicy, and yummy!
Caramelized Baked Chicken Wings *** 1/2
It was on okay honey-soy wing.
Fantastic Hot N' Spicy Wings No Rating
I haven't made these, but I have them in my 'Zaar recipe box and Kittencal rarely steers you wrong (afterall, it is her spaghetti sauce recipe I love!)

Have a great week!

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Friday, January 29, 2010

PW's Asian Noodle Salad

In keeping with my goals for 2010 - here is a picture of PW's Asian Noodle Salad.  I'm just using a little point and shoot KK got for Christmas.  :)

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Review Round-up

Let's talk about all the things I've been making!  Some you've seen coming from my meal plans - others are just random things I made 'cuz the mood struck me.

Green Beans with Cherry Tomatoes ***** 
I can't believe I forgot to tell you about this in my Holiday Eats review.  I made these for the Christmas Eve dinner the mini-chicks and I had.  It was so good - I was sad when they were all gone the next day.  I used fresh green beans and grape tomatoes cut in half.  I can't wait until summer when somebody (hint, hint - to my friends with gardens) gives me some green beans.

Perfect Southern Greens ***** 
These were very good - I think the pre-blanch did help with the bitterness and I ate the leftovers for lunch for a few days.  Good stuff.

Pork, Apple, and Ginger Stir-fry *** 
This was okay - pretty unmemorable.  I won't make it again with my little Costco pork roasts.  The chickies weren't huge fans.

Mahogany Beef Stew with Hoisin Sauce **** 1/2 
I mentioned in my post with pics that it turned out pretty sweet.  However, I ate the leftovers for a lunch for the next two or three days - and the sweetness really mellowed over time.  I think I'd make this again and freeze it, to be pulled out and thawed and then eaten.  

Green Chile Pork Roast ***** 
Now this is what I'm talkin' 'bout as a good use of my pork roasts!  We all enjoyed this very much.  I definitely think I'll make it again.... simple & tasty.

PW's Asian Noodle Salad ***** 
This is some good salad eatin', let me tell you!  It makes a TON, requires chopping, chopping, chopping, and uh, and a little more chopping.  I added the noodles to the salad fixings - but didn't add the dressing until I was ready to eat it.  I brought it a couple of days for lunch and had people following me to my desk asking, "what's that?" and  saying "that looks good".  

PW's Basic Macaroni & Cheese ***** 
It's the answer, people.  It is the answer.  Pure and simple... it's the egg.

Greek Chicken Casserole ***** 
This was sooooooooooo good.  I used my Costco Kalamata olives and a tad more feta cheese.  KK said, "it tastes wayyyyyyyy better than I thought it would."  LOL SS even ate it without complaint.  

Tomato Barley Soup **** 
KK started complaining that she didn't want "chunks" in her tomato soup - so I buzzed it with the hand blender before adding the barley.  I liked to way more than the chickies did.  SS complained loudly!

Company Cauliflower **
A big disappointment.  The cheese separated from the sour cream it was just a big gloppy mess.  :(  

Chole (Chickpea Stew) ***** 
mmmmmmmmmm....... it was so good.  Miss Picky Pants (aka as SS) did not like it because nothing I said wouldn't convince her that they weren't hominy, which she hates.  I tried and tried to tell her they weren't, but she wasn't having any of it.  Who made that girl so freakin' stubborn??!?!? (I actually blame my mother - LOL).  KK said it could have a 3 in her world - but it my world it is solid 5!

Best Ever Cinnamon Rolls *** 
Best ever?  Not for me.  It might be my inexperience in working successfully with yeast doughs - but they were dry and really lacking cinnamon in my opinion.  The dough was so sticky - I'm sure I over-worked it and made it dry, if I were to make them again (umm... which I won't - I'll try something different.  I'm dying to try these from Coleen - but didn't have the ingredients when the mood struck) I would more than double the cinnamon & butter.

Creamy Chicken Lasagna ***** 
I'm rating this a 5 because if I'd have used the recommended amount of sauce it would have been perfect.  I used too much and it was a bit soupy-ish, but the taste was very good.  Both the chickies loved it.

Heavenly Potatoes & Ham *** 1/2
It should have been better than it was - it was pretty dry (I'm not a fan of dry) and very lacking in flavor.  I'll just stick to a regular cheesy potatoes in the future.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Gray, Gray, Go Away.....

Wowsa... these gray days of January are startin' to wear pretty thin on my psyche!  I'm ready for some sunshine around here!  The only thing saving me is that little widget over there ----------------------------->
saying there are only 77 days to go!  YEA!  Our week is pretty ordinary.  LOL
Monday - Comfort food to the max.... chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, and mushroom gravy.  I got a giant package of cubed steak on sale awhile back and there are still hangin' in the freezer (with the whole chickens - I think I have a problem with buying whole chicken, I have no less then 5 in my freezer right now.  ???  I just can't resist them when they are on sale for $.77/lb!).  I think we will go Weight Watcher friendly and do the fake fry bake.  They are still pretty good that way.
Tuesday - Tina from Mommy's Kitchen  did a post about the Spaghetti a la Philly and it sounded just like she said, a nice change from regular spaghetti.  I will use THE SPAGHETTI SAUCE   and reduced fat cream cheese.  I bought a big bag 'o salad.  More veggies are the way around here!! KK has an away basketball again - so I'm not sure if she'll be able to partake, but more for SS & I... bwahhahahaahah
Wednesday - I bought some cabbage when I made PW's Asian Noodle Salad (which I'll review soon and try to see if any of the 5000000000 pictures I took of ait turned out!) and I discovered that the chickies really like cooked cabbage!  Who knew?  I sauteed the leftovers up with  little butter, salt, and pepper and they both licked the bowls clean!  SS even wanted more!  So, I went searching for cabbage recipes ('cuz it was even on sale at my store this week!!) and found this Cabbage  & Noodles which sounded perfect.  I have some pepper bacon in the freezer that I will probably add too.
Thursday - This is our busy day this week.  I have appointments in Moses Lake (maybe Quincy too if I can get in to get my filling fixed!), Daisy is getting "beautified", and KK has another basketball game - this time here.  Ya'll know what happens when I get busy, right???  CROCKPOT!  And since I have all those whole chickens, I will go the roast chicken route.  Here is my method - I will give it The Famous Dave's treatment for spices (the chickies love lemony chicken), perch it on potatoes wrapped in tin foil, and let it go all day.  If it has gone to far fall-of-the-bone, I might try to throw it in the oven to crisp the skin a bit.   But usually I don't - it isn't a beautiful presentation, but it is juicy and delicious - a winner in my book.
Friday - I have realized something.  I don't make what I put on my meal-plans on Fridays.  I guess I'm tired by the time it rolls around.  We eat leftovers or random things.  I decided the way to change that - put something I LOVE on the plan for Friday!  And I love Chicken Thighs alla Puttenseca.  The bonus - it is so stinkin' easy.  If you can open a can of tomatoes you can make this recipe!
Saturday - So, two Friday's a said we were going to have tilapia and baked lemon pasta.  It didn't happen.  Let's give it a try for Saturday!
Sunday - I also found some short ribs on-sale, so it is definitely PW's Brasied Short Ribs again. Last time I made the polenta but without the goat cheese (I couldn't find it around here), but it wasn't a huge hit with the chickies.  This time I have goat cheese, but think I'll try some in the mashed potatoes.  mmmmmmm.. making my mouth water just thinking about it!
I hope everybody has a great week filled with much sunshine!

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Menu Plan - Soupy Week!

It's a short work week, but I have lots to accomplish which might mean a late night or two - plus we have piano lessons for SS and KK has her 1st basketball game (away) on Thursday.  My M-O this is going to be fairly simple!

Monday -A quick batch of chicken noodle soup - not the kind that takes me 2 days to make, just a quick and easy broth with veggies, chicken, and noodles.

Tuesday - My BFF, Mrs S., got me a subscription to Paula Deen Cooking where I found this yummy looking casserole (I couldn't find a link online - darn!):

Greek Chicken Casserole
Makes 6 to 8 Servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 (3.5-ounce) can sliced black olives, drained
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 13x9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat; add chicken and cook 6 to 8 minutes, or until browned.  Add bell pepper and onions; cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Stir in olives, oregano, basil, and red pepper tossing gently to coat.  Add broth and tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently until combined.  Stir in rice and Parmesan cheese.  Spoon mixture into prepared dish.  Sprinkle evenly with feta cheese.  Bake for 25 to  30 minutes, or until heated through.  Serve immediately.

Wednesday - I guess I'm in a soup mood, cuz this Tomato Barley Soup looks really good and KK loves barley, so I'm hopin' she like this too.  SS loves a good cheesy quesedilla, so that will be awesome with tomato soup!

Thursday - Since KK won't be home until late, I think SS and I will just wing it!

Friday - Ya know what I realized, it has been a few weeks since shake n' bake pork chops!  Wrong, wrong, or so wrong!  LOL For an interesting side, I have a head of cauliflower and thought I'd give Company Cauliflower a try.

Saturday - My red lentils are still just hanging around in my pantry.  I didn't make the soup last week (or was it two weeks ago), but I remembered this Chole recipe my friend Carrie from Vegan Deliciousness recommended.

Sunday - SS said when I asked if there was anything special anybody wanted this week "Can we have YOUR burger?"  Awwww..... So, since I haven't made it about 6 weeks we will be having Caramelized Red Onion-Feta Burgers.  'Cuz practice never hurts!

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pioneer Woman's Basic Macaroni & Cheese

Let's talk about my quest for the perfect homemade macaroni and cheese.  I have scoured cookbooks and the internet for years to rival the macaroni cheesy perfection that is Stouffers Macaroni & Cheese.  I love this stuff - but even though I'm resisting clicking on the nutritional information on that link, I know it's not good!  So, I have a special folder in my Allrecipes online recipe file devoted to Mac & Cheese recipes.  I have tried a lot of them, although some have been good - nothing was even coming close to the creamy perfection of the red box.  Here is a sample of some that I've tried and what I've saved over the years:

Down Home Macaroni & Cheese - I rated this Kraft classic 4 1/2 stars.  I said it was good, put not quite what I was looking for.

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese - Look at the picture of this one... creamy!  I never did make, but I was put off by the whole 1 1/2 tablespoons of dijon mustard.  (I know I could reduce it - but I never got around to making it! LOL)

Creamy Mushroom Macaroni - I'm a sucker for the word creamy.  I gave it 3 stars noting that even though I like the melting qualities of Velvetta it was waaaaaaaayyyyyy to much in this recipe.

Mouse's Macaroni & Cheese - I gave it a 4-star rating saying it wasn't quite as, it's that word again, creamy as I hoped but if you loved cheesey it could be the recipe for you!

Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese - I remember making this, thinking maybe the crockpot is the answer!  Uh- no.  It was dryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

Chuck's Mac and Cheese - This has been in my recipe box since 1/27/07.  I never made it, but my Mrs. S. made it recently and said her family loved it.  (Hey, Mrs. S. - I'm call ya out, at least give us a pic of Band Hero or something!  LOL)

Cafeteria Macaroni & Cheese  - I've had this in my recipe box since July of 2005!  I think (I think) I made it and was like, uh.... heavy, not creamy.

So, as I noted I received PW's Cookbook for Christmas and was immediately enamored with the Macaroni and Cheese recipe that included BOTH a roux and an egg.  I'd never tried that - or even seen a recipe with both.  I followed her recipe exactly - except I used the cheeses lurking in my fridge ('cuz it was clean the pantry week) which included medium cheddar, mozzarella, and a hunk of velvetta (don't be hatin' - it does melt divinely!)  Now listen closely - that one egg DOES SOMETHING!  It doesn't make it all dry and custardy - it was smooth and creamy without being all heavy and too cheesy..... it was macaroni and cheese perfection.  I did cook my macaroni al dente and then just spread the layer of cheddar on top and watched closely under my broiler for about 5-7 minutes to get a few golden brown cheese bits on top.  I think baking it might be what ruins most recipes for me - it because well, too dry & heavy!  LOL

So, let me bottom line it for you.  THE BEST MACARONI AND CHEESE EVER!  (Maybe even better than the red box!  GASP!) Please try it - let me know what YOU think

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Wintertime Blues

I am not really a fan of winter.  It's cold, it's dark, it can be wet or like today it can be gray & foggy.  I have to pull myself up by my bootstraps (that is if I had bootstraps! LOL) and get all things I need to get done - DONE! It's hard, because all I want to do is snuggle down and wait for spring to arrive.  So in an effort to accomplish a lot - let's start with a meal plan, shall we?  I wasn't feeling very well last week either - my tummy decided it hated me and not everything got made last week, so we there are a couple of repeats.

Monday  - Let's ease into things with some basic cheese quesedillas and homemade potato soup.  I make a very plain potato soup with just celery, onions, and potatoes with milk & butter.  Sometimes the simplest things can be the best~!
Tuesday - Hey, guess what?  I'm going to be 42 on Tuesday!  I usually LOVE my birthday, am excited days before hand, and never complain about getting older.  I'm not really feelin' it this year though.  Must be that stupid fog.  I think some Chicken Thighs all Puttenseca will go a long ways to cheering me up!  I love this stuff and I have that huge Costco jar of kalamata olives to use up!
Wednesday - Coleen just posted up this awesome looking Green Chile Pork Roast.  I have all the ingredients and I think I'll just throw it in the crockpot since it is piano lesson day for us..... mmmmmmmm... my house is gonna smell so good when we get home!
Thursday - Since I'm on an easy kick this week - let's make everybody happy and have Spaghetti & Meatballs.  It is guaranteed to make everybody in my house smile wide when they ask "What's for dinner?"  
Friday - I didn't get the tilapia or baked lemon pasta made last Friday - let's try again shall we?
Saturday - I have everything all geared up for the mega-chopping marathon that is PW's Asian Noodle Salad.  I made it once before and loved it - KK wasn't a fan at that time, and I couldn't figure out why - she likes everything in it (she loves cabbage!).  We'll have to see if anything has changed and I thought maybe all the veggies would cheer me up and help bring me off of the holiday sugar high!
Sunday - So, everything this week has been pretty easy and unimaginative, right?  We might as well end the week on an easy comfort food adventure with Chicken & Dumplings.  I made this awhile back during my comfort food extravaganza.  They were excellent and we gobbled down a double batch no problem - my mouth started watering when I decided that I was going to make them!  It's the happiest I've been all day!  LOL

I wish you all the best week - and lots 'o sunshine where ever you may be!

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mahogany Beef Stew with Red Wine & Hoisin Sauce

In keeping with my new resolution - here is my food picture of the week:

I adapted the recipe from Epicurious via Bon Appetit.  It was very sweet - even though I did use the recommended Cabernet Sauvignon.  I served it over some very garlic-y mashed potatoes and that made it a very sweet-savory dish and I'm already looking forward to the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Mahogany Beef Stew with Red Wine and Hoisin Sauce Bon Appétit | February 2002
(My adaptions/substitutions as noted)
4 tablespoons olive oil (Can you believe I was out of olive oil??? I just used a little vegetable oil instead.)
3 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed, cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces
3 1/2 cups chopped onions (I had one yellow-sweet onion and one red onion.)
2 cups Cabernet Sauvignon
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian herbs, undrained (I added 1/2 teaspoon basil & oregano and 1/4 teaspoon thyme to plain diced tomatoes.)
1/2 cup hoisin sauce* (I didn't have quite 1/2 a cup - next time I reduced it to 1/3 cup)
2 bay leaves
1 pound slender carrots, peeled, cut diagonally into 1-inch lengths
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I even had parsley and forget it! OOPS!)

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over high heat. Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper. Add meat to pot; sauté until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Push meat to sides of pot. Reduce heat to medium; add 2 tablespoons oil to pot. Add onions; sauté until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Mix meat into onions. Add 1 cup wine, tomatoes with juices, hoisin sauce, and bay leaves. Bring to boil. (It seemed like a weird way to brown the beef to me - I was afraid I'd boil it and not get any good brown bits, so I browned the beef in two batches, removed and then cooked the onions and mixed the beef back in)
Reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.(Give it at least 1 1/2 hours - you want the beef to be tender, not chewy!) Add carrots and 1 cup wine. Cover; simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover, increase heat to high; boil until sauce is slightly thickened, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes longer. Reduce heat to medium, add cornstarch mixture and simmer until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Season stew with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Bring to simmer before serving, stirring occasionally.) Transfer stew to large bowl. Sprinkle with parsley; serve.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Caramelized Red-Onion Feta Burgers

It seems very fitting that this is also my 100th blog post.  My burger recipe that is taking me to the 44th Pillsbury Bake-off Contest this April in Orlando, FL.  I'm so excited I just might bust wide open! LOL

Caramelized Red-Onion Feta Burgers

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Welcome to 2010!

Is it twenty-ten or two thousand ten?  LOL At any rate, it is my first meal plan of the new year..... and we had our last hurrah today with PW's mac & cheese (which will have its own separate post), t-bone steaks (momma sprang for the good stuff!), and candy.... because I've gained 5 lbs. in the last 2 weeks and I because I don't want it to stay around until April (can you say airline seats???) we are going to have a few more vegetables this week.  
Monday - work.................... whoa.  I'm not sure I'm prepared for the reality of working for 8 hours a day.  LOL How about a nice Asian dish to cheer me up?  Pork, Apple and Ginger Stir-fry looks like it is just screaming out for more veggies than just the broccoli....I have some peppers, mushrooms, and some bamboo shoots.  White rice will make the chickies happy too!   Plus, I have all the stuff in the pantry - BONUS
Tuesday - I bought a bunch of greens..... mustard & collard.  This Southern slow-cooker version looks like it might fill the ticket with a Spicy Rapid Roast Chicken.
Wednesday - I still have some of my prized red lentils, but the last soup I made didn't do them justice.  I'm hoping this Lebanese-Style Red Lentil Soup fits the ticket!  In a multi-cultural fair, we'll have some quesadillas too! LOL  I know we have SS's piano lessons tonight, so this looks like a quick and easy way to go. 
Thursday - I've made this Simply Great Chicken before - and it lived up to its name!  SS asked for baked potatoes to be on the meal plan this week - this looks like a great dish to pair with that! 
Friday - We haven't had enough seafood lately - I found some nice tilapia and I thought it would go well with PW's Baked Lemon Pasta which got two big thumbs up from the chickies when I made it before. 
Saturday - SS is really into this piano thing.  We are going to a piano concert in Moses Lake.  Maybe I'll get some SUSHI from my favorite little place - Tsunami Sushi.  They are so nice there - last time the little old sushi chef, who KK refers to as "Sushi Grandpa" came to our table because he had a saved a copy of the Moses Lake paper that had the article about the Bake-off Contest.  It was tooooo sweet.
Sunday - I have been dying to make this Maghogany Beef Stew ever since Katy @ Food for a Hungry Soul made it a few weeks ago.  I love cooking with red wine!  YUM!
There we have it.... 1st week of 2010.  Twenty-ten.  Two thousand ten.  Whatever you want to call it - I hope its great for you!

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Friday, January 1, 2010

Pancake Puffs with Cinnamon Cream Syrup

Okay... let the laughing commence about the photo.  It stinks.  I'm aware.  Thanks.  LOL I think it looks like some weird meatballs with gravy, but no.  LOL Not even close.

Its really a pancake puff - with syrup!   I'm not a pancake lover - but last year for Christmas, I wonderful friend gave us a pancake puff pan.  It makes the niftiest little pancake balls - I didn't fill them with anything today, but instead made the Absolute Best Pancake Syrup, which it is - if you are searching for a cinnamon cream syrup!  Since the gingerbread eggnog has left our grocery store - I had to make regular ol' buttermilk pancakes.  Okay, but not even on my yummy radar like the eggnog ones were! 

Please pick yourself up off the floor and stop laughing now!

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Happy New Year & What I Want to Accomplish in 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  :)  I wish everybody a great and joyous New Year.  

I'm not really a "resolution" kinda girl - but I do have things that I want to accomplish in 2010.

1.  I want to NOT gain back the 30 lbs. I lost in 2009!  To that end, starting back in January you will once again see lots of my favorite Weight Watchers recipes back in the mix-up.

2.  I want to "relax" more.  Not the kinda relaxin' you do on the beach with an umbrella drink, but the more like "not sweatin' the small stuff" kinda of relax.  Ya know, take a chill.  Not be so uptight about stuff that won't matter in 100 years.  Enjoy more of the good stuff.

3.  And last but not least, I want to start trying to take some food photos.  I think a good goal is to try to take on picture of something I cook per week.  No pressure, no stress  - just one photo a week.  

And can I go to bed now??? LOL

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