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Friday, February 22, 2013

Say hello to my little friend

I'd like to introduce you to one of my furry little critters.  He is enjoying some breakfast by himself at the moment, usually he has two buddies with him. 

I'm sure you have noticed my fancy dancy squirrel and bird feeders.  These came about in my quest to recycle items I am no longer using for their intended purpose.  Two years in a row I attempted to have pretty flowers in these baskets while they were on the front of the porch.  Two years in a row I committed murder on said flowers. 

I have fed the birds from a bird feeder hanging on the tree, along with some suet blocks.  I always seem to have more birds than my feeder can handle, so I started scattering feed on the ground also.  While looking at my flower killing baskets, I thought to myself, why not move these to the side and put feed in them also?  Sure, I have to sweep my porch everyday to remove the empty shells and bird droppings...but I am quite happy to do it since it means I get a front row seat to watching the wonderful wildlife. 

I have mainly squirrels, Sparrows and Starlings, which is fine with me.  I know many people scoot them away, but they are God's creatures and need to be fed also.  Occasionally I am graced with a Redheaded woodpecker, a couple of Cardinals and a Blue jay.  One afternoon I actually had a hawk in my front yard!  I absolutely adore hawks.  However, I was worried it would go after my other critters, so I must tell you, I was a bit relieved when it left.

My furry and feathered friends have brought much joy not only to me, but also to the children I care for.  They get excited and let me know which birds are eating.  At any given time, I can grab a cup of hot tea and sit in my front window and watch them. 

If you don't already have one, I recommend you put a bird feeder in your yard and watch your own wild life.  However, if you start feeding, you MUST continue through the winter.  These critters have found a source of food and if you take it away, then they must go hungry until they are able to find another source.

If you will excuse me now, I have a furry little friend eating and looking at the house.  I think he is waiting for me to show up in the window.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

No-boiled egg

Hard boiled eggs are one of those things I love to snack on.  They are easy to make, easy to eat, easy to take on the go.   I have discovered a new way of making my eggs which makes this yummy healthy snack even more yummy! 

I will no longer be hard-boiling my hard boiled eggs, from now on I will be baking them!  Yep, you heard me right, baking them in the oven.  It really couldn't be easier to do.  Warm the oven to 325*, place the eggs on the rack and set the timer for 30 minutes.  When the timer goes off, plunge these little white ovals of goodness into cold water until they cool down. 

MmMmMMmmmmm...cooked this way, the egg has a much creamier texture.  I'll be honest with you, when I tried this, I only cooked one little egg.  My thought on this is one egg mess would be much easier to clean up than multi-egg mess if this didn't turn out right and I ended up with an egg explosion in my oven.

A nice perk of cooking my eggs this way is the warming up of my kitchen from having my oven going.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Chicken and Broccoli Pie

I just can't seem to get enough of my Betty Crocker's Bisquick Cookbook these days.  I have gobs of sticky notes marking pages for recipes I still want to try.  One thing that seems to be consistent with the recipes already tried is needing to add extra seasoning.  By following the recipes as they are written, the end result seems to be a bit bland for the taste of Papa Bear and I.  That is an easy fix though, so I'm not too concerned about it.

Last night I made chicken and broccoli pie.  Outside of needing a bit more seasoning, it was very good.  It is getting marked as a keeper for future use.  There recipe calls for making it in a 9" pie pan, however, I don't see any reason it could not be made in a casserole dish.  I will give you the recipe as it is written and you can tweak it to fit your own individual taste.

Chicken and Broccoli Pie

1 10oz package frozen broccoli, thawed, drained and chopped
1 1/2 C. shredded cheddar cheese (6oz)
1 C cut up chicken
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 C. Bisquick
1 C. milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 eggs

1. Heat oven to 400*.  Grease  9" pie plate.  Put broccoli, onion, chicken and 1 cup of cheese in pie plate.

2. Stir remaining ingredients (except cheese) until blended.  Pour into pie plate. 

3. Bake 30-35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.  Bake 1-2 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Next time I make this, I might try using some cream of mushroom soup in place of the milk for a bit more flavor.  I may also add a bit of dill to the wet mixture. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Crab Cakes

I've had a Betty Crocker's Bisquick Cookbook for several years sitting on the shelf with all the other cookbooks.  I was feeling a bit adventurous and decided to plan my menu around this cookbook for a week.  Oh my goodness!  I have been having such a wonderful time trying new recipes out on Papa Bear.  He really is a great guinea pig for me.  The other night I tried the Crab Cakes recipe and it is so darn good I had to share it with all of you.  I will tell you, the recipe below is not exactly the same as I made it...I did a bit of tweaking to it.  Also, I used imitation lobster instead of the crab as that is what I had in the freezer.

Crab Cakes
1 T. margarine or butter
1/3 C. each finely chopped onion, green pepper and celery.
1 C. soft bread crumbs (I used crunched up crackers)
1/2 C. Bisquick
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 14oz package imitation crab flakes, chopped

I also added 1/2 T. horseradish and 1/2 tsp. seasoning salt to give the patties more flavor.

1. Heat oven to 400*. Generously grease 2 cookie sheets.  Melt margarine in 10" skillet over medium heat.  Cook onion, celery and green pepper in margarine about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

2. Mix vegetable mixture and remaining ingredients.  Shape mixture into 1 1/2" patties.  Place on cookie sheets.

3. Bake about 12 minutes, turning once, until golden brown.  Serve with cocktail sauce.

Instead of baking these, I heated vegetable oil in the skillet over medium-high heat and cooked the patties 4-5 minutes, turning them over once.  They will reach a beautiful golden brown.

Papa Bear liked these so much he gave me permission to make them again!   I want to add, these are just as good heated up the next day in the microwave for about 45-60 seconds.