Friday, February 19, 2021

February Newsletter

Our next finished puzzle.  : )


I know we have a week left in February, but I will send this out now thinking that next week will be on the busier side for me and then we'll be into March!!!  Can you believe it?  Spring is right around the corner.  Here in Minnesota, Spring can sometimes take it's own sweet time.  Our Easter for the last two years found us hunkering down under blizzards.......so we really can't go by what the calendar tells us.

We just came out of frigid temps and now we're looking forward to some thawing taking place this weekend into next week - it will be wonderful to get out for walks again.  : )

I hope this is finding all of you doing okay.  Thank you for being so patient with me in my comings and goings and now coming back again.......I'm looking forward to it and hoping you enjoy what I have to share.  : )  

Not too much difference in the format but with every newsletter I hope to share some recipes and anything food related, a little about what I've been doing here for us and others, any tips that I might have read about or heard about through others, Bible verses from my morning readings, maybe little ideas for families, and a few questions for you, as readers, that you might be able to answer as a help to me and others who are reading!!!  : )

So let's get going, shall we?

EVERYTHING FOOD

With cold weather, my first thought is to warm up the house by cooking and baking and then, of course, the thing that goes along with that is making the house smell wonderful.  I do have our tried and true favorites, our go-to's that I cook quite often but every so often I think it's important to try new recipes if for nothing else than to get out of the cooking rut!  I'm going to share 3 recipes with you today - 1 of them is an old stand-by and 2 are new and absolutely loved.  I'll give you the new first:

COPYCAT OLIVE GARDEN ALFREDO SAUCE

1 package Penne pasta or Fettucine pasta
1 stick of butter (yes......one stick....it gets better, read on.......)
1 clove of garlic, minced (we love garlic so I think I used 2 or 3 cloves)
1 pint of heavy whipping cream (yep)
1 cup of Parmesan cheese, fresh and grated 
2 Tablespoons of cream cheese (Mmmmmm..........)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Make pasta and set aside.  In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add garlic.  Saute' for 2 minutes.  Add cream and cream cheese.  Heat until bubbly but not boiling.  Add Parmesan cheese and mix until cheese melts.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Either add pasta to the sauce or pour sauce over pasta.  Enjoy!!!!

Seriously, this was SO good and really quick to pull together.  If you've read any of my past posts, you will know that I'm a believer in getting all ingredients ready before cooking or baking.  Be a sous chef and measure out everything, cut up everything, etc.  Then when you're ready to cook all you need to do is follow directions and add things as directed.  I've had this recipe in my box for quite a while and I decided to try it when I found myself having two leftover salmon patties in the fridge and didn't want to just heat them up again.  So once I had the sauce and pasta, I crumbled the salmon patties into it and added about a cup of frozen (thawed) peas at the end to warm up.  Well.......we thought it was very good - as good as you would get at, well, Olive Garden!!!!  : )  I hope you will give it a try and tell me what you think.

Served with steamed broccoli on the side.  *Important note - this does not reheat well at all - the butter and cream separates and isn't very appetizing.  So, you might want to wait for a company night to prepare it.  : )

The next recipe is for Buttermilk Biscuits.  If you remember in a past post, I showed you the label for the canned biscuits in the supermarket that we all know and love.  Well I won't buy those again but have found this recipe that is SO much better and they take very little time to prepare.  Really worth it!  I'm totally sorry that I forgot to take a photo of the finished product.  Here's the recipe:

BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons cold butter, cubed
3/4 cup cold buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment.  In a food processor whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt until combined.  Add in the cold butter cubes until you have small pea-sized pieces.  Pour the buttermilk in and pulse until it comes together.  Scoop dough out onto floured surface and gently work it with your hands.  Pat into a rectangle, fold it into thirds.  Turn the dough, and flatten into a rectangle, fold into thirds and repeat this process two more times.  Pat the dough into a 1/2-inch rectangle (measure this) and using a 2 1/2-inch cutter, cut the biscuits out, gathering leftovers and cutting out as many biscuits as you can without working the dough too much.  Arrange on baking sheet (touching each other) and brush the tops with a little buttermilk.

Bake at 450 for about 15-17 minutes or till lightly golden brown.  Remove and allow to cool for a couple of minutes and serve!!!!!  Really....these are so good and worth making them from scratch.  Again, this comes together quickly (even though it might not seem like it).  : )

The next recipe is one I'm pretty sure I've shared with you in the past, but I wanted to share again, mostly for it's simplicity.  This is my go-to when I don't want to spend a lot of time.  It's healthy, quick, and very tasty.  It's also a great way to use up bits and pieces that we all put away in the fridge and wonder how in the world we'll use them!  The options are endless.  It's my........

FRITTATA

Melt a stick of butter in an OVEN PROOF skillet.  This is where the fun comes in.  Add chopped onions and saute'; add minced garlic and saute'; add pretty much anything you have on hand - I usually add quite a bit of spinach and cook till wilted.  I have added halved cherry tomatoes.  I have added leftover cooked broccoli.  I think you get the picture.  : )  I also try to add turmeric to a lot of my egg dishes, chicken dishes, seafood dishes, etc., so I will sprinkle that on everything along with a little salt and pepper.  Then scramble however many eggs you want and pour that over everything and stir until ALMOST set.  I add a bit of shredded cheese on top and then pop everything into a 375-degree oven for about 8-10 minutes.  Serve and enjoy.  : )  Again, so quick, easy, and tasty.

I serve this with whole-grain toast and either grapefruit or orange slices on the side and I always serve milk to drink.


I try to say how important meal planning is to me.  I just can't wing it.  I need to know every day what it is that I will be making because every recipe takes some time to prepare and if something is going on that day I need to plan accordingly.  It's a very rare day that we rely on take-out.  So here is my way of planning my menus every week and thus create the grocery list that goes with it:


I pull from the cupboard everything I need - my recipe box, my kitchen notebook, my menu from the week before, paper, pen, calculator..........

I like making it a relaxing time.  A time to think about what to serve.  Good nutrition is very important and that takes time to decide what goes with what.  I pour myself a cup of hot coffee, put on classical music, and get to work!

*First, I check my "running list" - this is a list of things that I've written down throughout the week where I've noticed that we're either running low on or have run out.  I add those to the grocery list first so I don't forget them.

*Next, I check last week's menu to see if there was a meal that I didn't get around to making either because I chose to eat up leftovers or whatever reason and I write those meals down in order to make them from the food that we already bought last week.

*Now I go through recipes (old and new) and I look at the calendar to see what we have going on and plan around those recipes that I've chosen depending on how long they take, etc.

*I go to the pantry and look at the inventory to see what I'll need for the meals planned.

*Lastly, I calculate the cost and try to stay within our grocery budget.  I've been doing this for so long that I have a good idea how much everything costs.  Last week, our total bill at the grocery store came to $97.00 and I calculated $96.00!  Not bad!!!  LOL  : )

I encourage you, if you don't already, to plan your meals.  In the long run it saves time (so you don't have to run to the store for forgotten ingredients) and it saves money (so you're not just grabbing whatever looks good while you're in the store).  I actually find it fun to do - reading up on good nutrition, looking for new recipes, anticipating the old favorites and just generally feeling organized about it all.

THINGS I'VE BEEN DOING AROUND THE HOUSE AND FOR OTHERS

Well, I mentioned it was cold.  That's pretty typical around here in February, so indoor activities are the norm.  Which leads me to a question to all of you (including myself!) - what in-home projects do you still want/need to get done before the nice weather settles in and won't want to stay indoors to do them?  I've been trying to make a list of things - it's a short list right now so I need to begin to work on them!

*One thing that I continue to do is make cards -

this is a very relaxing project and if you feel the need to be creative and be able to bless someone else with the finished product, this is it!

*I sent Valentines to the Senior Care Center this month -

again, this is something very important for me to do - I really want to bless the elderly in this - just knowing that they have a little something to open up every month brings me joy.

Every year, my mom used to make and send Valentines out to the Veteran's home and hospital in our home state.  I know through the years she sent 100's.  Maybe that's where I get it from?!  : )

*We had a little pre-Valentine's Day evening with our son and his wife.  We had lots of sweets -



and we played games while munching.  : )  I think sometimes they think I go a little overboard but things like this are fun for me to do.  I feel it's important to celebrate when we can!

*One thing I notice every February is that my thoughts and planning are towards the outdoors.  It happens every year - 1st the seed catalogs come in the mail, then I begin to pull gardening books off the shelves, the notebooks come out, paper and pen is ready, the magazines get cut up for articles on what I would like to try (or just dream about).  This year was no different -




I also begin watching gardening shows such as P. Allen Smith or our local Prairie Yard and Garden.  I just have all kinds of plans for this year!!!!  I know I won't be able carry them all out, but the fun is in the planning.

*I have a favorite spot in our house for a cozy rainy or snowy day -

it's in our living room where my mother-in-law's vintage typewriter is, my teapot, teacup and saucer, and our chime clock over my shoulder.  It's here where I love to sit down with my Bible open and type (the old-fashioned way) Bible verses to include in cards that I send out.  

my mother-in-law used to type letters to soldiers in our military on this typewriter.  She, like my own mom, had a heart for men who served this country.  Probably because their own husbands served and they knew what a sacrifice it is.

*I don't have a Bible verse from my readings this month (I'm in Genesis now) but I did take a photo of some notes that I wrote down.  Whenever I'm listening to a pastor I need to have my Bible open and jot down anything that I want to remember and I wrote this -

my handwriting is like chicken scratch so I apologize for that, but I do like the sermon notes that I wrote down!  So true isn't it?

FAMILY TIME

If you have children/grandchildren who live away from you and the only family time you seem to keep on having is on zoom, there are games that you all can play together and make a day/evening of it!  Bring out the snacks, talk, play, and have fun "together" while playing:

*Yahtzee
*Scattergories
*Battleship
*Pictionary
*............do you have any others that you would like to share?

I do understand that this means that both sides will have to have the same game at each other's houses, but these are classic games that everyone should have anyway, right?  : )  Even our adult son and his wife (when we weren't meeting last year due to covid) "got together" and played these games.  I don't think you have to be of any certain age to enjoy a good game!  Have fun and be creative with this.

HELPFUL TIPS

Only a couple here:

*Keep drinking enough water throughout the day to hydrate!  Dehydration can lead to all kinds of physical and mental problems!

*If you are finding that your skin is dry from all the cold and that your house feels dry and lots of static electricity, put a pan or teakettle on the back burner of your stovetop to simmer and steam to keep the air moist.

QUESTIONS

*I guess I've already asked you if you have any indoor projects that you need to get done.  : )

*And I've already asked you if you know of some games we can all play on zoom.  : )

*My final question is how your cleaning is going.  I know I left off at deep cleaning our home and I was in the kitchen.  Well..........I'm still in the kitchen!!  : )  I remember in past posts telling you that I have times of "doing" and times of "thinking" - I'm in, and have been in, my time of thinking.  That means not a lot of cleaning (other than the daily upkeep) is going on right now.  My plan is to wrap up the thinking and get back to the cleaning on Monday.  For me, deep cleaning is one of those things that I need to get done before the beautiful weather sets in.

OTHER PHOTOS TO SHARE


Anniversary bouquet from February 2nd

always keep some candles burning

regrowing celery and green onions

continuing to knit prayer shawls

That's all I have for this month.  I hope you found it to be helpful in some way and enjoyable as well.  I'm looking forward to this new format of a once-a-month newsletter.  I enjoyed being back and writing and sharing.  Thank you SO much for stopping by!  God bless you in your homemaking.  It's important work.  : )  See you later!









 




























 





8 comments:

  1. Hello!
    I cannot begin to tell you how very much I enjoyed this!
    What a wonderful message you shared with us, complete with recipes, photos, ideas, ans more.I am also a meal planner. I enjoy planning and preparing meals for my family. My children are grown for the most part, 24, 20, 18, and 11, so I send out a "Weekly Menu" in out family group text every Saturday so they know what we are having. I am blessed they almost always join us! Thank you for validating my love of home and family.It is comforting to know that others feel the same. Have a cozy weekend!

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    1. Thank you SO much, Billie Jo! I'm glad you liked it. : ) What a good idea to send out your weekly menu to your family! And how fortunate you are to have them join you on a regular basis - maybe I should try that!? ; ) Thank you for leaving a comment - it's been really fun to hear from kindred spirits through the years - all with a love for family and home. Have a great weekend too! Mary

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  2. I so enjoyed your February Newsletter. I like the thought of a newsletter. I loved all of the topics that you shared. Your finished puzzle is very pretty. I always think that the kitchen is the heart of the home and yours sure is. I love your planning space. You have been keeping busy around your home. I love the garden catalogs ... a sign that spring is just around the corner. It was nice to read about your family time, helpful hints and to see your photos. Thank you for sharing. Enjoy the days that are left in February as March will be here before we know it.

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    1. Hi Teri! Thank you! I'm having fun. : ) Enjoy your days ahead as well. I hope things are warming up a bit where you are? It was 40 degrees here yesterday so we went for a much-needed walk! And, yes......here comes March! : ) God bless. Mary

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    2. Your Welcome. Just wanted to share that we were 70 degrees today with lots of sunshine. Only in Kansas.

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    3. Oh my goodness!! That is wonderful - you, too, went through major temperature changes! 70 degrees sounds so good right now. : ) Enjoy!

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  3. I'm very impressed with your meal planning! Esp with your calculating the total - that's incredible how close you got! I used to be able to do that 20 years ago, but not with my DH shopping with me (or for me) now. Every dollar we have saved from him not driving to work has ended up in the grocery budget because he loves to try new foods. If he will make it (he bought himself an InstantPot and uses it) then how can I complain about the cost? He loves food. I could eat the same things over and over again. I just tried a new asparagus recipe, and roasted carrots and baby potatoes. It was sooo good. Who knew the secret for delicious asparagus was an ice bath? I sure didn't!

    Your cards and Valentine's are beautiful! Yes, you get it from your mom : ) We did homemade Valentine's for 5 widows this year. I helped, but only my son signed his name, and the ladies all loved them. I've had him do this since he was born. In the beginning he really didn't know the 2 ladies well (but they knew him! we only saw them once a year and they have passed now). This year I gave him a choice if he wanted to continue and I'm so glad he said Yes. Your St. Valentine's table looks lovely!

    What a great idea to include Bible verses! Love the typewriter. While I don't "miss" them, they were more satisfying tactilely. I write lots of notes in my Bible, too. What better place to put them?

    Is the celery and onion easy to regrow? How long does it take? I'm assuming it tastes just fine or you wouldn't do it! That was a very nice, newsy letter. I haven't been online much and somehow I missed it in my inbox (I need to unsub from some things). Beautiful anniversary roses! So sweet : ) Hugs, Janine

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    1. Hi Janine! As far as the food goes, I do try to stick to a budget but we never feel deprived by that. LOL : ) We love our food too although lately I've been experiencing digestive issues so my cooking has changed lately.

      And, yes, the Valentine's are so fun to do - I really do want to imagine the elderly opening them up and being happy that someone remembered them. And then to add those Bible verses with the cards just makes it feel even more special - I think we just assume that all the elderly are saved but I'm hoping that if someone is not that they will receive the right Bible verse for them and it will spur something within them to get to know the Lord.

      And, yes, the celery and onion are VERY easy to regrow! Just cut off the root end and stick them in water. All of a sudden new growth appears. So very cool! : )

      Thanks so much for dropping by, Janine, and I hope you and yours have a wonderful upcoming weekend ahead.

      A hug to you!
      Mary

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