Category Archives: cooking

Friendship Friday ~ Cooking Day

Wednesday was cooking day.

I spent the day in the kitchen cooking and baking and preparing food.

All day.

Except for the trip to the library with the little girls and that one to the store for missing ingredients and the drive to drop off the food that I prepared and then back to deliver the tortillas that were forgotten in the fridge.

Confused, yet?

I signed up to take a meal to a friend who was having surgery that day. Note: It was NOT Dave in the picture above but a different friend. Just to squelch any rumors or misunderstandings, since Dave has had enough health trauma and drama without me further muddying the waters with a poorly worded blog that mentions surgery! Keep reading . . .

It was the only open slot that I could take, sandwiched in the craziness that is our summer. It helped that there were no dietary restrictions, and that my burrito filling recipe is pretty delicious. I would just fix an extra pan for our family and dinner was ready.

I also make delicious chocolate chip cookies. Comfort food at its finest. I would whip up a double batch of those.

While preparing the burrito filling, I was prompted in my heart to check on the Shank’s meal schedule to see who was bringing them food that evening.

No one.

The spot was empty.

Wheels began to turn in my head. I could make up more burritos. Scanning the schedule, there had been several Mexican-style meals and more to come. Burritos didn’t seem a good fit.

I’ll just text and ask.

I texted Heather, asking what her family was in the mood for that evening. She said she would get back to me.

Chicken nuggets. Corn on the cob. Macaroni and cheese. It was a comfort food kind of day. And could we stay and eat with them?

That worked!

I got right on the order, hitting up the store for chicken tender strips to bread with gluten-free flour and crushed gluten-free cereal and bake. The girls helped me shuck 20 ears of corn at Sharp Shopper, where they were 4/$1. I used my super-secret Kraft recipe for the mac and cheese (no need for gluten free as a treat, per request) and threw a pan of peas into the mix for good measure. And color.

It’s a good thing I doubled the cookie recipe! Those weren’t gluten-free, either, but oh so comforting after dinner with a hot cup of coffee. There was somewhat of a stampede in our direction when the cookies came out!


We set out to take supper to and eat with our friends. As seven foil pans of food were carried to the van, memories of caring for each other during our childbearing years flooded my mind. How many meals had we prepared after babies came? How many times had our families gotten together with the craziness of littles underfoot?

Those littles have grown. These are our youngest now! They are eating at their OWN tables.



Big kids playing a game together. Were these really our babies?


It was a wonderful evening of friends, laughter in the face of tears, and delightful conversation.

Sometimes you just need a Cooking Day.

Friendship Friday ~ Food

It would be remiss of me if I failed to mention the food that showed up on my table wedding week. Three unsolicited meals appeared, prepared lovingly by dear friends. It was truly a grace.

I am blessed with the kind of friends who call and ask what time they can drop off food, not Do you need any food? or Is there anything you need?

I opened the refrigerator to find foil pans labeled with heating instructions. Venison-beef curry, meatloaf, BBQ beans, creamed corn, creamy mashed potatoes, baked macaroni and cheese, GOOD STUFF. Knowing that we wouldn’t be able to eat all of it at once, I divided and saved and stored some of it for later.

My freezer is now full of delicious food thanks to their kindness. It feels good to be able to have that extra space in the evenings, as we recover from this life event and adjust to our summer schedule.

I have been enjoying the best baked macaroni and cheese ever for my lunch, this week.

I appreciate you, Maretta and Davene!

Thank you for the time you took from all that YOU have going on to bless our family during wedding week. You are both much loved and a precious gift in my life.

Mardi Gras Crepes

It’s Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras. (Paczki Day. I hear Grammy’s voice clearly.)

The year I made crepes to celebrate the occasion, it became a tradition. I don’t even remember when that was, and since I didn’t have a blog back in the day, there is no official documentation. Maybe I should have made PaczkisYes. I even know it is pronounced poonchkeys, and they are like fried jelly donuts.

Thanks to my Grammy.

Did I even have a life back then? Before the world-wide-web?

On Fat Tuesday we eat cherry and blueberry crepes (and, apparently, starting this year, the adults drink Pinot Noir…excellent pairing). I also add a side like bacon or sausage patties. This year was sausage, since we had bacon for breakfast, recently. (Like, yesterday. The snowday morning.)

It’s difficult to believe that I did things like this. Started traditions. Made memories.

But I did!

Now that I have a blog I thought it might be helpful to actually save and share the recipe that I used, since each year seems to be a surprise to me.

How do I make those crepes, again? I know there’s that lemony-cream cheese filling, but does anyone else like that or just me and Steve?

So here goes. It’s a little late for your Fat Tuesday celebration this year but makes an excellent treat any time. In our family, Steve and I and the oldest little like the cream cheese filling added in before the fruit filling, and the little girls just like plain filling.

Roo only liked the sausage. She tried crepes last year and says her tastes haven’t changed.

Everyone who ate crepes, squirted whipped cream on top, except for Mommy, who has had enough Fat Tuesday to last for the next 40 days. She’ll have another glass of Pinot. Orange juice also makes a great beverage choice for this meal.

Basic Crepes
1 c flour
2 eggs
1/2 c milk
1/2 c water
2 T butter, melted
1/2 t salt (If there is anything better than RealSalt mixed equally with Kirkland Sea Salt, I haven’t found it. I am a salt freak. Wait. There IS that Celtic Sea Salt. Whatever salt you like, add 1/2 tsp. or a few cranks with the grinder.)
Mix flour and eggs. Gradually add milk and water. Add melted butter and salt.
Pour a scant (1/4-1/3 c) amount of batter onto hot omelet or frying pan and swirl around to coat the bottom. Cook like a pancake. Remove cooked crepes to plate for filling and rolling.

Fill with fruit or pie filling of choice. We like cherry and blueberry.

Lemon-Cream Cheese filling (if desired to add before the fruit filling)
8oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 lemon, juiced
Powdered sugar until desired consistency (1 or 2 cups)
Mix cream cheese and lemon juice (used Kitchen Aid for this)
Add powdered sugar until desired “icing” or “filling” consistency
Spread on cooked crepe, add cherry or blueberry pie filling, and roll up.

Omit cream cheese filling for small children or those who don’t like it and just use your favorite pie filling or fruit. I also served the cream cheese filling concoction on the side for those who wanted to add some to theirs.

There you have a yummy celebration dish. It is not “free” of anything and it is “fully” everything. Once a year. We can do that. Happy Mardi Gras!

Mealtime Grace

Sometimes it just comes together, like mealtime Tuesday night.

Well, Mom, I’d say your experiment was a success! This is delicious.

The dinner hour has always been messy at this house. Numerous tricks, techniques, and systems have been tried over the years to ensure a pleasant mealtime, or a passable mealtime, or a getting everyone fed before everything falls completely to pieces mealtime.

Tuesday, I arrived home from work and a late afternoon appointment to a kitchen waiting for dinner to materialize. Little Mae, excited to see her toys after a long day, went off to play. I opened the refrigerator door to get a meal vibe going.

A bowl of leftover enchilada filling (chicken and wild rice style) was dumped into a pot on the stove. Leftover crock pot chicken broth was skimmed and added to it, along with a can of condensed milk and some cumin.

As that heated and simmered, tortillas were brushed with olive oil and cut into strips to make homemade crunchy tortilla strips (this was the experiment part).

The white chili was served with cheese and sour cream and tortilla strips to rave reviews. Everyone ate it. And liked it.

Either it was really that good, OR people were famished after a long day. Nevertheless, it was a good feeling; one that I wanted to savor and formulatize.

How can I have a successful family mealtime like this EVERY night? What trips, steps, and plans must I implement?

Truth is, I can be grateful for grace when it happens, and on this particular evening, it happened in my kitchen and at my dinner table after a long day.

And it was sweet.

Where have you found grace for the moment or hour or day? 

Mommy Muscle Monday ~ Insanity Workout Version

Mommy Muscle Monday

Mommy Muscle Monday

Last week I attempted an intense mommy workout. It was one of those insanity types, where you don’t know if you will make it to the end.

I survived.

If you follow my blog or have any type of memory, I was going to have my kids help me in the kitchen. Remember how that didn’t really work? Well, I had an opportunity to redeem that situation by directing an entire week of culinary arts camp with three of my children in attendance.

Last week, I taught a group of children ranging from ages 9 – 14 (not including my 6 and 8 year old girls who also participated) various cooking skills. We cooked bacon and cut up fruits and veggies and grated cheese and mixed up dough and concocted fruit dip and baked cookies and learned to cooperate with each other in the kitchen.


I faced fears and silenced lies and loved on budding chefs and listened to my children’s voices and cleaned up lots of messes.


I learned that Kirkle is competent and Coco is eager and Roo pays meticulous attention to detail.

I learned that it’s not all about me. I am not responsible for the feelings and reactions and experiences of others, and that I don’t have to constantly defend myself or my plans or decisions.

Here we go!

In the end, each budding chef took home a certificate of achievement and a wooden spoon to remember our time in the kitchen, along with a decorated apron and cooking binder. I took home memories and three of the budding chefs who are now even MORE prepared to help me in the kitchen.

Funny how that works, huh?



Today kicks off the month of July, which is pretty much packed with workout opportunities for this mommy. I am going to be strengthening some roadtrip muscles, organizational muscles, and lots of relational ones, too. I think those are akin to the tiny micromuscles that you feel intensely when you finally figure out where they are.

How are your mommy muscles holding up this summer?

Mommy Muscle Monday ~ Training Little Helpers

Mommy Muscle Monday
Mommy Muscle Monday

This week found me focusing on working with children alongside of me. I didn’t have a plan other than to invite a different child to help with whatever I was doing, keeping mental track of who was asked, to give all a chance.

Of course, sometimes this backfired. If I phrased my request as a question, certain ones were fine, thank you, and didn’t need, or want, to help. Then a power struggle may or may not have ensued, and I had to re-evaluate my strategy.

Success in the laundry room was felt, as a little helper would stand by and fold and sort and clean the dryer vent.

The sweetest time was Thursday’s meal planning, though it didn’t feel sweet in the process.

Throughout my homemaking and mothering career, I have had seasons of wonderful menu planning and seasons of soup and bread and seasons of survival eating. Lately, it’s been a bit meh. We eat each night, but nothing spectacular, and it seems to take so much for me to be motivated to plan and grocery shop and cook.

So when I asked Coco what we should have for dinner and she said Stromboli, I went with it. Even more, I invited her and Little Mae to help fix it.

I pulled out the simple dough recipe and ingredients for them to mix up and tried to breathe deeply as flour spilled around during the stirring.

They did it!

They mixed two batches of dough and layered turkey and cheese down the middle (unconventional Stromboli, but we use what we have around here) and baked it, and it was delicious.

Identifying menu planning as a flabby-ish mommy muscle and seeing as how much Coco and Mae enjoyed helping, I am going to work on using Chef’s Helpers this week.

Ok, you moms out there…what works for you when you invite kids into the kitchen?


Here’s the Rub

Today was beautiful and difficult and so many things rolled into one.

We did the Cystic Fibrosis Walk with Team DeeDee.

We went to Costco.

I had a delicious nap.

The kids did their chores.

I woke up agitated.

My amazing husband who did many gallant things for me today (moved the drum set remnants from the front entryway, cleaned out the fridge, and bought me flowers to plant to name a few) was super patient with me as I struggled through my triggers.

Supper time approached, and I was determined to fix a real meal. I pulled a package of pork chops (that I had gotten marked down from Food Lion) from the fridge and saw a recipe for a rub on them. Since I was feeling so bugged and everything was rubbing me the WRONG way, I decided to try something that might rub the RIGHT way and fix this rub.

May I confess here now that I am not a big meat griller like others in my family, and this was my first attempt at such a feat?

It was delicious and easy!

Maybe you eat pork (maybe not, and that’s ok, too) and would like to try this recipe from the peel off on the pork chops.

4 bone-in loin pork chops (I did 6)

2 tsp brown sugar (or more, like me)

1 1/2 tsp coarse salt (I ground up a bunch of Himalayan Pink Salt coarsely)

1/2 tsp coarse black pepper (or so)

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves

You combine these spices in a small bowl then rub them on both sides of the chops. They rest for 15-30 minutes (while you are making the vegan biscuits).

Prepare a medium-hot fire on the grill, and then grill the chops over direct heat for about 5 minutes on each side (Steve did this part). The internal temp should reach 145 F (If you check your meat with a thermometer).

Let them rest for 3 minutes or so (while you get the rest of dinner on the table, maybe salad and biscuits).