Monday, April 30, 2012

Johnsonville Sausage and Gruyere Quiche and Newspaper Flower Pots

Have I mentioned that I love Lucille Ball?  I think I have, but let me just say again…love her.


I spent the morning dealing with a migraine.  I used to have them quite a bit from work stress and too much caffeine.  Since I used to have them a lot, I have a strategy that works decently for me.  When I feel the nausea and headache coming on I drink some water, take some ibuprofen,  lie down with a cold washcloth on my face (it has to cover my eyes) and then go to sleep for a few hours (if possible).  It seems to help.   Migraines suck and I hope I don’t have another for a very long time…meaning forever.

I’m continuing on my quest to add a few more recipes to the Johnsonville Sausage Recipe Contest.  Click here for my first entry.  I plan to submit two more recipes.  I made a Johnsonville Sausage and Gruyere Quiche yesterday. It was adapted from a Plain Chicken recipe and it was delicious.

Johnsonville Sausage and Gruyere Quiche

1 9-inch deep dish pie crust
6 oz Johnsonville Sausage, cooked and drained on paper towel
6 oz Gruyere cheese, grated
3 large eggs
½ cup milk
½ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place Johnsonville Sausage in bottom of pie crust and top with Gruyere.  In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, sour cream, parsley, salt and pepper.  Pour over sausage and cheese.  Bake for 50 minutes, or until center is lightly brown.  Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve!

I found this craft on pinterest (click here).  The kids and I are going to plant cherry tomato seeds today and talk about recycling.  These pots are super easy to make and perfect for growing seeds.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese and a Week of Butt

I just burned like 800 calories giving the dogs baths.  It is exhausting.  The hiding, running, struggling and overall drama that accompanies the baths can wear out a hardcore triathlete.  I took some after bath pictures.

Cujo was exhausted and befuddled.

Saphie wouldn't even look at me.

Harpo ran to every piece of patio furniture and rolled all over it like an insane gymnast.

With just a look, Celie let me know I should sleep with one eye open tonight.

I decided to spend the week seeing how many meals I could make out of a pork roast butt.  I did this mostly because I like to find ways to not waste groceries and save money, but also because it is just funny to talk about butts.  I got the pork butt on sale for $8.74.  I had cheese leftover from my grilled cheese experiments and I got some barbeque sauce on sale.  The first night, I put the roast in the crock pot.  I used the same recipe I posted earlier (click here) because it is really an easy and good way to make roast.  We had that for dinner with green beans and biscuits.   I divided the leftover roast into two containers to save.  The next night, I put one of the containers in a smaller crock pot with the barbeque sauce for a few hours.  We had pulled pork barbeque sandwiches with cole slaw on the sandwich.

Last night, I used the rest of the roast to make a pulled pork macaroni and cheese.  It was delicious and we have enough left for a few more lunches and dinners.

Pulled-Pork Macaroni and Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Four Cheeses

One 4-lb. smoked pork shoulder (also known as a butt)
12 oz. dried ridged pasta, preferably radiator (I used elbow)
Kosher salt
4 Tbs. (2 oz. ) unsalted butter
2 small yellow onions, chopped (1-1/2 cups)
1-1/8 oz. (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
3-1/2 cups whole milk
1-1/2 cups dry white wine
2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh sage leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
4 oz. grated Gruyère (1-1/2 cups)
4 oz. grated Emmentaler (11/2 cups)
4 oz. grated fontina (1-1/2 cups)
2/3 cup panko
2 oz. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (2 cups)
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh chives

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of well-salted water according to package directions until just barely al dente. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large 8-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring frequently, until golden and very soft, about 20 minutes.

Whisk in the flour and cook for 30 seconds. Whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream. Raise the heat to medium high and whisk constantly until the mixture begins to thicken and bubble, 3 to 5 minutes.

Whisk in the white wine, sage, and a 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a low simmer, whisking constantly.
Reduce the heat to low and use a wooden spoon to stir in the Gruyère, Emmentaler, and fontina. Stir in your leftover pulled pork and pasta until well coated. Pour the mixture into a 12-inch cast-iron skillet.

In a small bowl, mix the panko, Parmigiano, and olive oil. Sprinkle evenly over the mixture in the skillet.

Bake until the topping is browned and the cheese sauce is bubbling through the topping and around the edges of the skillet, 40 to 45 minutes. (If the topping begins to brown too deeply, tent loosely with foil.) Let the macaroni and cheese rest for at least 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the chives and serve.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Livin La Vida Loca Backyard

After getting a massive case of poison sumac and poison ivy, two doctor visits, antibiotics, steroids, two trees removed, a visit from Alabama Power to cut all the trees around our power lines, 7 bruises, a broken chair, 52 mosquito bites, a hurt dog toenail and three spousal fights, the backyard is finally up to speed for the summer!  We have a three-tiered backyard.  Coming from Oklahoma, where everything is flat, we were super excited about our layered yard when we first moved here.  We loved the fact that is made us feel like we were sitting on top of a mountain like royalty…because royalty sits on top of mountains in our minds.  At any rate, I’d so love to have a flat yard again.  This is solely for the amount of work it takes to maintain this yard.  We’d obviously fell a little short on that end, but now it is looking good!  I can once again hold a beer and survey the neighbors like the queen of Siam.  They can only look up and see me sitting on my mountain or floating in my inflatable pool and be jealous.  I took a few pictures for you, like I do.

The good thing is once I clean the bathroom, finish the last load of laundry and make some mac and cheese, I’m done for the day.  This means I have a date with my hammock and a book.  I just finished reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.  It was an odd and interesting read.  I really enjoyed it.  I’ll start on Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter today.  I’ve got high hopes so I hope the book lives up to the hype.

Oh one more thing!  I had a coupon for Kraft Fresh Takes.  This is basically a package of cheeses and seasonings you can add to meat.  I usually do all this myself, but a good coupon is hard to pass.  I got the Savory Four Cheese blend and a pound of ground turkey.  I mixed it all together and made turkey burgers.  They were quite good!  Plus, it seems you can always find coupons for this new Kraft product.  I plan to try some of the other flavors, too.  It is really good for a quick, easy and inexpensive dinner.

This is the view from my back door.  This give you an idea of the height we have going for us on our mountain.  You can also see my new inflatable pool!  It has an inflatable seat and cup holders!

My Mommie Dearest rose garden is blooming!  CHRISTINA, BRING ME THE AXE!

This is the chair I broke.  I fell over it and nearly knocked my front teeth out.  The dog head in the picture is Celie's.  She is still deeply concerned about that chair.

You can see my garden is coming along nicely!  I planted tomatoes, potatoes, onions, asparagus, red pepper and cucumbers.

This is the view from the other side.  You can see the hammock I'm about to place  my ass on for the rest of the day.

It was really scary to see that bear falling into my pool when I took this picture.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

GD Poison Plants and Johnsonville Sausage Quiche Cups

I’ve been battling a combo of poison ivy and poison sumac for a few weeks.  I’m ridiculously allergic and apparently deep in my backyard there is a poison ivy and poison sumac party that I was invited to attend.  I’ve been to the doctor and gone through two rounds of steroids.  I’ve got creams and calamine lotion.  Now I’m putting oatmeal on my skin.  I boiled up the oatmeal this morning, let it cool slightly and then started slathering it on my legs.  When thinking through this particular treatment regimen, I failed to include my four dogs in the equation.  I guess I didn’t so much figure they would view oatmeal in the same way a crackhead views crack cocaine.  They began circling immediately.  If I told one no, another would come in and grab a bite of oatmeal.  I’m thinking my dogs will have some cement like bowel movements later. I have to say that the oatmeal I got on my legs did feel really really good.  I think I’ll do it again tomorrow…with the dogs locked outside the house.

I’ve entered another recipe contest.  This one is for Johnsonville Sausage.  I’m testing out two recipe ideas I have.  I made the first one this morning.  I built this one off the Bacon Quiche Cups I posted earlier this year.  Give this one a try, too.  It is well worth it!  Even though it will make cooking difficult, keep your fingers crossed for me to win a year’s supply of Johnsonville Sausage and a set of professional cookware.

Johnsonville Sausage Quiche Cups

3 Johnsonville Sausage Patties
1 package (8 oz) 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons milk
2 egg
½ cup shredded Emmentaler or Swiss cheese (2 oz)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 (4.5 oz) cans biscuits

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray 12 regular size muffin cups with butter no-stick cooking spray.  In skillet, cook and break up Johnsonville sausage patties.  Drain on paper towel.  Crumble and set aside.  In a small bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth.  Gradually add milk and eggs, beating at a low speed until smooth.  Stir in cheese and parsley.  Set aside.  Separate biscuit dough and press in bottom of muffin cup, forming ¼ inch rim.  Place half of the Johnsonville sausage in bottom of dough-lined pan cups.  Spoon cheese mixture evenly into the cups.  Sprinkle top with remaining bacon.  Bake about 25 minutes.  Remove biscuit cups from pan and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Strawberry Banana Pie - WTF and WOW Recipe Wednesday


I was out mowing the yard earlier and my neighbor told me their dog, Mr. Kaiser, died.  I know how important my animals are to me so I really understand the pain associated with the loss of a pet.  I decided a pie might be a thoughtful way to let them know they are in my thoughts.  This pie is an excellent warmer weather choice, you can keep it for up to a month and it is delicious. 

Strawberry Banana Pie

1 package (5 ¼ ounces) ice cream sugar cones, crushed
¼ cup ground pecans
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
2 large firm bananas cut into ¼ inch slices
2 cups strawberry ice cream, softened
1 pint fresh strawberries
1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed

In a large bowl, combine the crushed ice cream cones, pecans and butter.  Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a greased 10 inch pie plate.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  In another large bowl, combine vanilla ice cream and mashed bananas.  Spread over the crust; cover and freeze for 30 minutes.  Arrange sliced bananas over ice cream; cover and freeze for 30 minutes.  Top with strawberry ice cream; cover and freeze for about 45 minutes.  Hull and halve strawberries; place around edge of pie.  Mound or pipe whipped topping in center of pie.  Cover and freeze for up to 1 month.  Remove from the freezer about 30 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Emmentaler Cheese Time Machine

I apologize for today’s blog post.  I ran out of time to really post much of anything.  I went to the grocery store to get some Gruyere, Emmentaler and Fontina cheeses for some mac and cheese I want to make later this week.  When I picked up the Emmentaler, I suddenly felt dizzy and everything went dark.  When I opened my eyes I was someone transported back in time ancient Rome.  I was still holding the cheese and frankly was not dressed properly for ancient times.  I still had on my shorts and t-shirt instead of the standard over-the-shoulder toga of the time.   Naturally, I was a bit surprised and in my surprised state I dropped the cheese.  Suddenly, it all went dark again and I was dizzy.  Next thing I knew, I was back in the grocery store.  Turns out certain cuts of Emmentaler cheese are actually portholes through time.  This explains why this type of cheese has holes in it.  I plan to explore this more later, but I really had to get home, put up the groceries and get ready for work. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Leaving the Beach and Wine Cork Crafts

I drink a lot of wine.  This leaves me with a lot of corks.  I have a few activities I’ve done with kids over the years to get rid of these corks, but also recycle them at the same time.  Have a glass of wine and ponder making these crafts yourself.

On another note, we are leaving the beach today.  We had an amazing time with our friends Melissa and Steve and their three year old son, Ben.  I learned a lot of new things from Ben.  I learned sharks eat vegetables and fruit and their favorite fruit is vegetables.  I learned that sharks hide from eagles and that lobsters live under water with cheese.  I also got Ben an inflatable robot head.  Most kids just nod and smile at my weird gifts and maybe play with them once or twice.  Ben wore his robot head for days.  We've all decided our beach trip should become an annual event! I also included a few more important pictures from our trip.

We went to the outlet mall on a rainy day.  I was soooo excited to find this and for $2.99.  I've looked for one for awhile.   It is an essential tool especially when baking.

There is something so relaxing about Orange Beach.  Perhaps it is the very strong Malibu Rum beach drinks coupled with the soothing sounds of the Gulf of Mexico.

I saw these napkins in the gift shop at Lulu's...such truth.

Cork Boats

What You’ll Need
Hot glue gun
Craft foam
Small eye screws


Cork Snake
What You’ll Need
Corks (14 to 20 – you can cut them to the sizes you want)
Strong string
Large mending needle
Paint or markers
Knife to cut corks

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day

Spending Earth Day on the beach is not at all a bad way to spend Earth Day.  In fact, it might be the best way ever.   I’m pretty much just having a lazy day of leisure so I’m going to get back to that, but I will leave you with this picture of a cat.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Smoked Tuna Dip

One of our favorite get-away places is Orange Beach.  It is perfectly laid back and depending on the time you go, not too crowded.  We usually spend the day on the beach drinking Malibu Rum with pineapple and banana juice, reading and napping.  Then head out for some seafood.  One of our favorite places is Lulu’s.  We always get their Smoked Tuna Dip.  It is delicious.  I’m going to try to replicate it when I get back home.  I found a recipe from Girlson a Grill.  They also included a recipe for smoking your own tuna.  I’m going to try another route and use liquid smoke.  I’m sure I’ll go through several variations.  In the meantime, here’s the recipe if you’d like an easy appetizer or light lunch idea.

Smoked Tuna Dip

+1 pound of smoked tuna, broken into large chunks (smoked tuna recipe) or use +1 pound of albacore tuna and add 1 ½ teaspoons of liquid smoke to recipe
½ small, sweet onion
1 clove garlic, pressed
½ tsp hot sauce
1 tsp of Cajun rub
Juice and zet of 1 lemon
½-3/4 cup mayo
I’m also adding a handful of parsley because I’m pretty sure I saw it in the dip at Lulu’s

Combine all ingredients except the tuna and saltines in a large bowl and mix well.  Then add the tuna, and fold gently.  Don’t break up the chunks!

Allow this to rest, covered, in the fridge for at least 2 hours, and to get very cold.  Serve with saltines and your favorite cold beverage.