Monday, February 3, 2014

Epic Recipe Fail: Overnight French Toast Casserole

Everyone has those stories on their blogs about recipes that they have that they make every single week or that they bring out, with much fanfare, every holiday season much to the delight of their friends and family.

This is NOT one of those stories.

It started with my decision to make breakfast ahead of time, so that a warm meal might be had that did not include the terms "oatmeal" or "Crock Pot".  I got an idea to make a french toast casserole thinking to myself, "How hard can this possibly be?"

Well, let me tell you, apparently it was above my skill set because my attempt at making this wonderful casserole turned out to be a super dud.

Super.  With a capital "S".

It all started out fine.  I made up the egg mixture with the milk and the cinnamon and vanilla.  I was feeling rather smart.  It looked good, it smelled good, and so I happily wrapped it in plastic and stuck it snugly in the fridge to get soaked up and delicious for the oven the next morning.

When I got up the next day, I couldn't decide how long to bake it or how high of a temp to bake it at.  I went online and found a recipe which called for 375 degrees for 45 minutes.  "O.K.", I thought, "in it goes!"

Forty five minutes later, I pulled it out of the oven.  This after I had been talking it up to my family about how delicious it was going to be and how much they would enjoy this fruit of my labor.

Does it look a little dark to you?  It should.  It looked plenty dark when I was standing here looking at it!

What I had, in that pan, amounted to nothing more than a cinnamon flavored crouton.  It. Was. Terrible.  Absolutely terrible.

And what do you do with a terrible meal?  This:

Yup.  Ended up pitching the ENTIRE thing, it was that bad.  ALL THOSE WASTED INGREDIENTS.  It makes me sad just looking at this picture.

I ended up making eggs for my family.  Nothing fancy, but I knew I couldn't completely mess that up.  I have since scratched this up to a learning experience.  But, oh, was I sooooo disappointed when it happened.


Have you ever had an epic recipe fail?  Were you able to salvage any of it, or did yours end up with the same demise mine met?

None of us is perfect, right?

Here's to making mistakes and trying again!


What I Did When I Was Stuck At Home

The Naughty, Naughty Furnace! Boo!

Today I find myself grounded at home while the furnace is being repaired. Our house has been running about ten degrees warmer than it is supposed to, which is all well and good except for the fact that no one had changed the thermostat settings to make this happen.  Luckily, Mr. Furnace Repair Guy was able to come to the house and take a look to solve our problem.  Hopefully Mr. Oil Delivery Guy will be coming along today or tomorrow to replace the oil our overactive furnace sucked down.

In my spare time I've caught up on Sherlock Season 3 and have scoured my King Arthur Flour catalog for recipes that I can tuck into my recipe box for later.  (Although I do think I am going to give the Soft Bread Sticks a try this afternoon!) I hadn't planned on being home, so I got all my laundry and baking done yesterday.  It's strange to sit down and just relax.  I find that I feel twitchy and almost uncomfortable!  I know I should embrace this moment and I really am trying.

I also spent some time looking for recipes and ideas for the weeks' meals. I have really come to love, love, love my Crock Pots (I have three, all different sizes. Yes, I know, I might have a problem) and have been using them at least three times per week.  I made Hungarian Goulash this weekend and stocked a partial turkey carcass, that was left over from a turkey feast, in preparation for soup this week.  I've gotten into a great rhythm of planning ahead and doing things ahead of time and life has been moving along rather smoothly. Hopefully I haven't just jinxed myself!

In looking at the week ahead, here are my ideas for dinner that we are going to be eating from.

Chicken Noodle Soup
Chili with Breadsticks
Pizza Pasta Bake
BBQ Chicken with SOMETHING (I might need an idea!)
Baked Potato Casserole

I will be utilizing both Pinterest and Mavis with all her ideas to get me through this week.  I wonder how people got ideas before the internet?  Recipe swaps?  Newspapers?  Word of mouth?  Hmmm. Are we better off doing it this way?

Well, here's to another fantastic week ahead.  I hope yours if full of love and adventure.  And that your furnaces work just fine.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Upcoming week 1.20-1.26

This weekend was a much slower weekend.  Between the weather and a small cold that seems to be making its way around the house we laid low for most of it.  I was able to get some chores done that had been nagging at me.  And today, being a day off, Moo, Hubby and I are going to play in the snow while Loola has a social outing.  My nordic skis are all waxed up, thanks to my hubby, and we are going to spend some time in the woods just enjoying creation and getting a little exercise.

Yesterday, I did manage a BJ's trip with Loola and now I'm trying to figure out how to fit all the items I have in the fridge because of how big they are.  It's always interesting to me how packed full the fridge is at the beginning of the week, but by the end it looks like Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard.  I do realize that we are truly blessed to be able to have plenty enough to eat, and so I am making a real goal of not eating outside of the home this year.

Having said that, it is a day to day challenge.  Especially when I'm tired or when we have events.  I know I am certainly not the only one who is managing those things, and plenty of other people routinely do not participate in the take out trap.  Even if we reduce our take out consumption by 50%, that will have us doing it twice per month at most and I would be very happy with that.  I would love to eliminate it altogether, but I also understand the reality of that not happening!

So, to get me geared up for this week, I perused the internet in search of easy, quick ideas.  I have my fall back favorite for homemade recipes over at One Hundred Dollars a Month where Mavis has some "from scratch" recipes for a ton of stuff.  The other gem I recently discovered is the Family and Kids section over at the Food Network's website.  They have a ton of family friendly, quick and "from scratch" meal and snack ideas.  I printed out a bunch to use for this upcoming week.

So here are our menu options for this week:

Beef and Cheddar Casserole
Corn Chowder (I know, I know, this again!)
Cheesy Gnocchi with Ham and Peas
Grilled Cheese and Soup
Bacon and Broccoli Rice Bowls

I'll have to share which are the duds and which are the winners.  I have very honest critics, although they do eat whatever I place in front of them!

I hope you all have a great week.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Part Time Vegetarian

"Do you think we could work in some vegetarian meals?"

That is a direct quote from my husband, and I was surprised to hear him ask.  He isn't veggie-phobic, and he isn't overly rigid about what he will and will not eat.  I think the thing that surprised me was that he asked at all.  Usually, I tell him what I'm making for meals and he happily comes to the table at meal time in a very appreciative manner.  Anytime he makes a specific request I try to honor that.  Not only because he rarely does, or rarely complains about anything that I feed him, but because it is the least I can do given all the building, repairing, and recreational management he does for our family without ever being asked.

I'm also very interested in working some regular vegetarian nights into our weekly meal plans.  I think it would be good not only for us, but also for our food budget (which is something I am always keeping an eye on).

Having said all of that, and with the best of intentions, I am coming to realize that I am not at all versed in cooking a vegetarian menu.  I have an arsenal of books to go through, I have the bottomless pit of ideas that can be found on the internet, and I have a brother who is vegetarian and could, if he chose to, have his own restaurant because he is so skilled in the kitchen.  I am willing to try new things and new techniques, but am afraid that some of my attempts are going to leave us all looking for that bowl of cereal before bed to fill the void left by not enough dinner.

I think I am going to start with the recipe my husband seems most excited about, which is for vegetarian chili.  He is reading a book on ultra marathon training, and this recipe is included in it.  I will post it and some photos of my final product later in the week.  Based on the list of ingredients, it sounds like it will be great.  I'm thinking if I make some bread to serve with it that will be a fantastic meal.

Do you regularly have meatless nights?  What types of things do you eat?  I'm partial to root vegetables myself, but am wondering what dishes people like that do not involve roots.

Thanks for your feedback!  Wish me luck!


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Meal Plan 1.13-1.19

My Mommy Planner, or as I like to call it, My Mommy Brain

What a weekend. Ice fell from the sky, and then it was followed by a torrent of cold rain that made our little environment so slippery that just about no one was able to get out of their house, much less their driveways.  Holy. Moly.  All our beautiful snow has been washed away and replaced with sinister, glassy, smooth ice that makes even the most uninteresting chore or outing turn into its own little survival contest. 

Needless to say, we did not get out and enjoy the outdoors as we have done for the past few weeks.  However, this weekend did afford some time for much needed house cleaning, time at church and friend visits, especially for the kids.  Loola and Moo both got to have sleep overs and we were able to spend some time with adult friends who we had not been able to visit with in a long, long time. 

Once again, I find myself looking forward to the upcoming week and what we have lying ahead of us.  This week is much quieter, which will be a welcome change.  I might even try to get out for a run or two if the weather holds up!  Or maybe I'll work on my hat that I have been knitting for about two years (it's a slow process). Or maybe I'll read any of the pile of partially read books I have around. Or maybe I'll get ahead on something, anything, that will make our lives a little easier this week.  

I think that my problem is that I have so many things I would like to try to do if I had any down time that when I finally do get a sliver of down time I can't decide what to do with it.  Hmmmm, perhaps this is something I need to take a look at and streamline, perhaps narrow down my options. 

Now that is a pile of endless mealtime possibilities!

To get back to planning, this week we will be feasting from the following choices: 

Soup made with rice and chicken leftovers from the previous week
Crock Pot Hungarian Goulash (yes, this was on last week too; we didn't eat it so it got moved forward)
Corn Chowder (yup, same story with this)
Chicken with roasted Acorn Squash and Brussel Sprouts
Vegetarian Chili

Last week I had two (yes, two, I admit it) nights where we ate take out because I got home really late and didn't have the dinner items prepped to throw together.  Or I didn't make things ahead to be brought on the road.  This week we will do better.  I just know it!

I hope you all have a great week.  No matter what your driveway is like, be careful out there!  


Friday, January 10, 2014

Cold: A Haiku Through Chattering Teeth

I'm no poet, but I did write a few haiku-based selections, inspired by some of the really, REALLY cold weather we had within the past month.  Enjoy....

Frost on window glass
Breath, heavy and visible
Cold has descended

Skin stings in the wind
Ice forms on still surfaces
Five below zero

Trees are frozen still
Snow crusts over the landscape
Silence in the air

Templates and makeovers

I love playing with the templates on this blog.

I can't afford to do a makeover on myself, so I tweak the blog to make the backgrounds different each season.  This one makes me feel warm and cozy, and it reminds me of my mom, who is a quilter.

Hmmm, if I could afford to do a makeover on myself, I wonder what that would be like?  It would involve lots of wool and natural fibers, I can tell you that!

Have a great weekend!