Saturday, February 13, 2010

2 Simple Dinners I Just Love!

OK...I don't know about you all, but I am a huge fan of quick and easy recipes that don't taste like quick and easy recipes! I like to cook, don't get me wrong. What I don't like is recipes that require one random ingredient that I will never use, but in that recipe. A few simple ingredients, a bit of time in preparation, and then lets sit down and enjoy. It should not take me longer to eat or clean-up, then it did to prepare.

If you are at all like me, then you will love these 2 recipes. One we used for a progressive dinner our Sunday school class did several Christmases ago and one is from Paula Deen. Enjoy!!!

Sausage and Cream Cheese Manicotti

1 pkg. manicotti noodles
1 8oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 lb. Italian sausage (or sage sausage)
1 jar Alfredo sauce

1. Boil noodles. Drain and run under cold water.
2. While noodles are cooking, brown the sausage. Drain and add cream cheese. Put sausage/cream cheese mixture into a sandwich size Ziploc baggie. Snip the bottom corner off.

3. Spray a 9 x 13 dish. Coat the bottom with about 1/3 of your Alfredo sauce.
4. Squeeze the baggie into the manicotti noodles to fill them. Place them in the dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the noodles.

5. Bake at 350 covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for 15 more minutes.

Lady and Son's Chicken in Wine Sauce
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (I use 2)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6 oz. (about 8 slices) Swiss cheese (or however many to cover your chicken breasts)
1 can cream of chicken soup
¼ cup white wine (or chicken broth)
1 cup herb-flavored stuffing mixed, crushed up

1. Add chicken to a shallow buttered (or sprayed) casserole dish (size depends on how many chicken breasts you have: 11 x 7 or 9 x 13). Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Layer cheese slices on top.
2. In a medium bowl, mix soup and wine, season with salt and pepper, and then pour over cheese. Sprinkle stuffing mix on top and drizzle with melted butter. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Andrew the Laker

What fun, what fun! Andrew is now old enough to participate in the city league sports...and participating he is!!! What started out as a pretty slow season for him has turned into a wild fire. The boy is catching on. It took him until the 3rd game to score a basket, but in that game he made 6 (that would be the bottom, right-hand corner picture)! He can bring the ball down for his team (bottom, left-hand corner picture). He is quite the cheerleader, getting so excited when he or his teammates do something good (middle, left picture). One thing that has really clicked is playing defense (middle picture). He gets his arms up and is certainly not afraid to go after the ball...which led to him fouling out this past game. We just need to work on getting his aggressive streak under control! (To all those who grip at me about small pictures, to see them bigger, just click on the collage.) :)
I do have to say that Andrew has the most amazing coach...his Daddy! Josh is so patient, so sweet, and so good to try and teach these kiddos the fundamentals of basketball. Our team is 0-4-1. Not a great record. But from where they started, they have come a long way. It has been fun to watch these 8 kiddos begin to catch on to what is going on during the game and see them get fired up about being part of that. What started out as a pretty passive, non-aggressive, sit back and watch the other team, has blossomed into a much more get in there and get after it team.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Just One Stop On the Blessing Train!

(I have started running again. And when you run, there is LOTS of time for your mind to wander. This is where my mind has wandered to lately.)

I have a truly blessed life. I have had a relatively easy life full of God's blessings. Yes, I have worked hard, but I am not naive enough to think that I have it rough. Let me share with you just one of those blessings. Bare with a story now!

When I was in high school, I worked at a local grocery store named Randall's. Those of you from the Houston area may be familiar with it. When I went off to Texas A&M, I did not work my freshman year, but starting my sophomore year, I went to work at the Randall's in College Station.

While at work, a mom and her mother came through my line. The mom asked her mom, "How many hours is such-and-such (I do not remember the specific number) minutes?" Being the math minor, I quickly did the mental math and spoke up before her mother could answer. She thanked me and then asked me what my major was. I told her it was elementary education with a minor in math. She said, "You already have a job?" (which was obvious to the both of us.) I, in returned, asked her why she asked. She responded, "I hire elementary ed. students to babysit my kids." I went on to tell her that I would be interested in watching her kids if she so wished. We set up an interview. I went to there house, with the requested references, and met her 2 sweet girls. Margaret was 3 and Farrar was 5. They were dreams!

This lady's name is Tracy. She is an amazing lady who had her CPA's license, but was working on her CFP license through correspondence. I basically watched the girls while she studied. And then there was every Friday for date night. Her husband is Dr. Bob. They would go to dinner every Friday at 5:30 and be home early enough for me to still have plenty of time to go out that night. It was perfect!

Dr. Bob...for the first year and a half, he was the man who read the Wall Street Journal in the front room. He was an oceanography professor at Texas A&M AND he intimidated the fire out of me.

I never would have imagined that after one of those before mentioned date nights, my future would take a huge turn. The first time Dr. Bob ever really spoke to me, this is what he had to say:

Dr. Bob came home and asked if I would be interested in staying on after graduation to work with him on a NASA funded project. Now, before coming to Texas A&M, Dr. Bob worked for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he was the lead scientist working on a satellite. This satellite was name TOPEX/POSEIDON. Its job was to produce the first ever global maps of the ocean surface, which in turn gives scientists a map of the ocean's currents. (well, in my words...that's what it does. There is a much more scientific version, but I will spare you the details.). This had NEVER been possible before satellites. Prior to TOPEX/POSEIDON, scientist had to rely on buoys, tide gauges, boats, etc. All this to say, Dr. Bob is one smart cookie! See why I was intimidated. And now he wanted me to come work him?

He was a scientist who wanted to get all this real time data from the satellite into teachers hands for them to use in their classrooms. What a guy, huh? Anyway, I would work for him, while earning my Master's along the way. WOW! Of course I said yes...little did I know that the lady I would be working with was a Presidential Award (during the Clinton years) winning science teacher from Houston who was working on her Doctorate.

Here I am...little ole me working with a way smart Dr. science guy and an award winning veteran science teacher. Talk about marrying up... To show you just how amazing this man is, Dr. Bob heard that Margaret and I were having to get student loans, so he wrote our tuition and fees into the NASA grant. To accomplish Dr. Bob's goal, we decided to build a website. We named it Ocean World. Let me tell you, since its immature beginnings in 1998, Ocean World has come a long way!

When I say I have had a blessed life, I MEAN a blessed life...God is so good! Stay tuned for more blessings...I have a LOT of running to do getting ready for the big race in March.

I write all of this to tell you that we got a new computer. Well, not a brand new computer, but new to use. Dr. Bob has since retired and is now at home doing computer things. This is his 2 year old I-Mac that we bought so he could buy a bigger one! Yeah for us...just another one of the blessings his sweet family has brought me! (Yes Michelle, that is your blog up on my computer screen). Isn't it just pretty. I LOVE it!