Monday, September 30, 2013

Meat Loaf

One of my favorite things about the seasons changing is how our weekly menus change along with the time of year. With fall I think of more "hearty" meals like soups and chili. I think meat loaf falls into this category. Mom sent me this basic meat loaf recipe awhile back and I tried it last week. Usually I'm not wild about meat loaf - I think it's the name I dislike the most! - but I had all the ingredients and needed something new to cook! I love recipes that can be made ahead of time and then just have to be popped in the oven. I think this would freeze really well too. 

Basic Meat Loaf
1 1/2 pounds of ground beef
2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce, divided
1 cup soft breadcrumbs
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 T onion flakes
3/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
2 t dried parsley flakes (or fresh)
1 t Worcestershire sauce
Combine ground beef, 1/2 cup tomato sauce, breadcrumbs, eggs, onion flakes, salt and pepper. I chopped up half an onion instead of using dried flakes and used one pound of ground beef - that's how Kroger sells it! Also, if you don't have bread crumbs just chop the heels of a loaf of bread in the food processor.

Shape meat into a loaf and place on a lightly greased broiler pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

After it's cooked, combine remaining tomato sauce with parsley flakes and Worcestershire sauce and poor over meat loaf. Bake for another five minutes. We ate this twice so it would easily feed four. I served it with roasted sweet potatoes and string beans.
This morning I put out a couple of Halloween decorations, and Scout was excited to see his collar that jingles! Doesn't he look thrilled? I'm missing some of my decorations and I'm afraid they were a victim of my over-zealous closet cleaning out phase over the summer. Oops!

Friday, September 27, 2013


I just finished a piece about dogs and came across these pictures - they just make me happy and excited about Christmas. And make me want to get another puppy.

Christmas morning 1992 - can you tell happy we are? And surprised?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Literary Overload

Yesterday two of my favorite writers were in town. I was in literary heaven and blew my book budget completely into 2015. But it was so worth it!

Julia Reed spoke at the Junior League Sustainers Fall Luncheon. I fanagled my way in (since I'm not a sustainer) by selling t-shirts before and after. It was so much fun! She was promoting her new book, "But Mama Always Put Vodka in the Sangria!" She is a hoot and I'm loving the book so far!

The luncheon was at The South and the food was wonderful - chicken salad, green salad with avocado, pimento cheese and a corn/watermelon/feta salad. Her "McGee Memorial Sangria" was served and it was very tasty! I can't wait to make it.

The first (and last) time I met her was at Ole Miss in one of Curtis Wilkie's journalism classes. I can't remember which one - I took every one of his classes and loved every one. Here's a picture that someone from the DM took and sent to me of her signing "Queen of the Turtle Derby." In my typical Ole Miss uniform - Tri Delt t-shirt and whatever else was clean.

I've kept this picture on my desk at every job as a reminder and inspiration as to what I would really like to do!

After work (two sangrias gave the afternoon a nice glow!), I went to Lemuria where Ree Drummond "The Pioneer Woman" was signing books. I got there when it started - at 5 p.m. - and the line was wrapped around the building! Two hours later, I did get to meet her and she was very gracious and talked to each person, took pictures, etc. She was just as nice in real life as she seems on her blog and show!

One would think that while waiting in line for two plus hours I would have come up with something halfway intelligent to say but all I managed to get out was, "I'm such a big fan." So lame.

Anyway, she was very down-to-earth and after I some what recovered from my awkwardness, I asked her what she thought of Oxford (she was there on Monday). She said she and her daughter, Alex, stayed at the Inn on campus and that she'd called her husband about Alex going to school there, and he wasn't too thrilled at the thought of an SEC school. She also asked about "Hotty Toddy" and that was something we said? I wasn't sure how to explain that.

I must brag on DeeDee and Jane. Jane was a perfect angel in line and DeeDee, I'm guessing, is the only person who waited two hours in line who had never heard of the Pioneer Woman, read her blog or books or seen the cooking show. What a great friend!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Micahel J. Fox Show

I'm really looking forward to Michael J. Fox's return to TV this fall. He was interviewed on Today this morning about his new show and about his life since his diagnoses. I loved Willie Geist's interview with him and wanted to share it! My grandfather was diagnosed with Parkinson's when I was in junior high and he was a big fan of Fox. His interview is here. I tried to insert the video but couldn't get it to work!

And just because here is one of my favorite pictures with Granddaddy - the first of many happy trips with him and Net!


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Catlina Nacho Taco Salad

We eat a lot of tacos and taco salad - I think I could have Mexican food every day and be perfectly happy! This recipe changes traditional taco salad up a bit and is one of Ryan's favorite meals (and mine!).  It feeds a crowd so if you're just cooking for a couple of people, mix in the chips and dressing as needed. I think I used three big handfuls of chips for the two of us. If not, the chips will get soggy. This is one of those wonderful one dish meal - no sides needed for this supper!

Brown 1 pound ground chuck and then mix in one taco seasoning mix and water (as directed by the taco seasoning mix). After this it is just chopping and assembly! Basically add whatever you normally like in your taco salad using nacho Doritos for the chips. I had on hand: two avocados, two carrots, two roma tomatoes, a can of black olives, lettuce and cheese. If cooking for more than four people, I would use two pounds of ground chuck and two packets of taco dressing. You can always make it stretch by using more toppings.

Layer the chips, meat, and then toppings in a big bowl. Pour over Catalina dressing - just eyeball it and remember you can always go back and add more!

Mix and serve. I wouldn't mix it up too far ahead of time - nothing worse than soggy chips in my opinion!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Seeds of Happiness

A couple of months ago my sweet friend Eryn sent me this "seed" and I smile every time I look at it! It's from Seeds of Happiness and the company has a sweet story - a sculptor starting making them out of left over lumps of clay to give out to friends who needed a little smile. I have it on my kitchen sink windowsill and love seeing it many times a day!

We are down to the last week or so of Ryan's medicine rotation - and I'm glad to say it hasn't been as bad as we thought it was going to be in that he's had a few days off and has gotten home at a reasonable time almost every night. He had Saturday off and it was so nice to have a day home with nothing to do! We made pancakes, went to the farmer's market, watched a reining competition at the fairgrounds, got our favorite hamburger at Mugshots for lunch and enjoyed a long visit with Chad and Kristen. My kind of day!

And I'll leave you with this picture of Scout - giving me his please play with me face.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Five for Friday

Five for Friday

1. Last night we went to see Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club at New Stage Theatre. We loved it! Sherlock is hired by a Russian prince to infiltrate the Suicide Club (or as they say suicide by second party - a.k.a. murder). Dr. Watson mistakes Holmes for actually having suicidal thoughts and gets himself in the club to save Holmes but just about gets them all hacked. It sounds a little on the heavy side but was actually very entertaining!

2. I made this Tomato Basil Parmesan soup in the crockpot this week - one of the best Pinterest recipes I've tried to date. We've had it twice and have enough left for at least one more meal. I love meals that I can do 90% of the preparation and cooking before work and then leave in the crockpot. I used fat-free half and half (which probably means I paid way too much for a small carton of skim milk) and it was still very creamy and rich!

3. Cats at work are so entertaining. BooBoo kitten has started to really rattle the nerves of Valentine. Here he is egging her on and disturbing her afternoon slumber. I've never seen cats play fight and tease each other the way the Imaginary cats do.

4. Jane was baptized on Sunday - we were so happy to be a part of her special day! And it was great to see all the Laughlins and Hesters!

5. We've had some really pretty sunrises this week. I'm trying to keep running this month without Ryan - he has to be at the hospital way too early to run together - and sunrises and the Nike Running app are keeping me motivated. I love being able to see my route on the GPS map and know how far I've run and at what pace.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Good Reads & Fall Plants

Lately, I've read several good things.

My Bible Study is reading "A Praying Life" by Paul Miller. I actually started reading it earlier this summer after two friends mentioned it, but I'm excited to go through it with a group. One insight the author offers is this: "Learning to pray doesn't offer us a less busy life; it offers us a less busy heart. In the midst of outer busyness we can develop an inner quiet."

Ryan gave me "Cronkite's War: His World War II Letters Home" for my birthday. It's Walter's letters to his wife, Betsy, while he was covering WWII in London and Holland. I cried yesterday when I finished it - the true sign of a good book! Not that it was a tear-jerker, it was just so sweet to read their story.

I discovered a new magazine (to me anyway) at Barnes & Noble - the Summer issue of The Horse Rider's Journal. It's published in Denmark and more Vogue than Horse & Rider.

Not pictured is "American Wife" by Curtis Sittenfeld. Kim lent me this book and I could hardly put it down - it's a fictional story based loosely on the lives of Laura and George Bush (although their names in the book are Alice and Charlie and they're from Wisconsin).

And now on to other hobbies! About two weeks ago I planted lettuce and Brussels sprouts in a large tin bucket. We've already had several salads from the lettuce. The plants came from Wal-Mart and I used one part top soil and one part Digger's Delight premium potting soil with slow release fertilizer from Lakeland Home & Garden. I do believe good potting soil is the key!

Week 1:
Week 3:
My summer plants by the backdoor are still looking good - vinca, parsley, basil and impatiens. I think after six summers here I've figured out what I can realistically keep watered all summer long. They key is they must be in my line of sight when I'm going in or out! 

I took out the fading petunias out of the front urns and added lemon thyme. Also planted a mum and French marigold. Can't wait to add a pumpkin to the porch in a few weeks!

Now if only the fall weather would stick around past 6 a.m.!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Horse Show at Providence Hill

Yesterday I rode in the Mississippi College Equestrian Program Benefit Horse Show - it was my first horse show since 2001! And my first one riding English. It was at Providence Hill Farm and I had an absolutely wonderful time! The weather was fabulous with just a hint of fall in the air and Providence has got to be one of the prettiest places I've ever seen.

My cheerleaders - Net, Tish, Allison and Ms. Ellen. They are all "horse people" and my love of horses was definitely fostered and encouraged by Ms. Ellen - my first riding teacher! They picked Allison up on their way. I'm so glad they came - Ryan was on call - and I really didn't know anyone else there.

Dakota is such a sweet horse. I only see him once a week so to make sure he remembers me I always bring him apples and carrots. I think in his mind I am "the girl with treats." Yesterday we went through a bag of carrots and three apples. At least he perks up when he sees me!
The barn - there must be a better word for this than barn. It was hard to find any dirt. Calling this a barn would be like calling Buckingham Palace a house. 
Many thanks to Allison for taking these pictures!

Warming up - Dakota is a great horse. The only issue is that it's a little hard to get him going. He sees no reason to work too hard or hurry up. But as one of the other riders told me yesterday, "better lazy than crazy." So true!

I was a little worried that I'd be the only one over 12 in my division but there were others!
It was fun to watch the other riders - this is Popcorn - he is the cutest little pony.
I loved this little girl's bright red bows!
Meredith - my trainer - warming up Who Dat on Friday afternoon. You can't tell in this picture but he is 18 hands - that's huge!
I think this picture is great - Net had just said something that cracked Tish and Ellen up.

And I'm not sure what got this reaction out of Net but I think it's priceless. Net doesn't really like quarter horses - she says Ellen and Tish's father put her on a mean one once. She prefers Walking Horses. It was a great debate yesterday. So thankful they came!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Following Directions

When we were at Becca's house a couple of weeks ago she made the best sausage and cheese roll-ups for breakfast. She told me what she did and so I decided to try to make some on Monday. Ryan has gotten a little tired of my fried egg or cereal options for breakfast and these you can freeze and just pull out a few as needed. It is so nice to have something hot in the morning. And even better when it doesn't involve messing up the kitchen!

I love recipes from Becca because they are straight forward and always delicious! I had the basic ingredients: bisquick, sausage and cheese. How could you mess that up?

I was half-way through the process before I decided to double check my memory by asking Becca. Of course, I'd done it wrong! I pre-cooked the sausage which then kind of melted through the biscuit dough. Then was too messy to cut up. I tried again with thicker dough and let the sausage cool and that worked better but they weren't nearly as pretty as Becca's - Ryan made sure to point that out to me!

Mix biscuits according to Bisquick directions (2 1/4 cups mix and 2/3 cup milk) and then roll out.

Top with UNCOOKED sausage (l pound made two of these) and then shredded cheese (used less than 8 oz).

Disaster! I ended up freezing it like this - I couldn't bear to throw it out!

Second try was much better!

Roll up from the long side and freeze until it is hard enough slice (about 30 minutes). Becca's were much thinner than this but with the cooked sausage this was about as thin as I could get them.

Return slices to freezer. When ready to eat bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes until sausage is done and biscuits begin to turn golden. The only thing I need now is an app that will pre-heat my oven so I don't have to get out of bed! I wonder if there is such a thing?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Freedom Tower

It is hard to believe that it's been 12 years since 9/11. I was in New York two years ago and at the top of my to-do list was to visit the World Trade Tower site. It wasn't complete yet but St. Paul's Chapel just across the street was and the memorials there were so touching. It was a very sombering experience.

Looking at the towers from St. Paul's courtyard.

The Bell of Hope given from London to the City of New York.

Memorial inside the church. The pictures and notes left by family members were truly heartbreaking. The chapel was a refuge for rescue workers and some of the beds were still there.

St. Paul's is Manhattan's only surviving pre-Revolutionary church. It's amazing to think of how much history has passed through this building. 

And for my fellow dog lovers, I came across this article today about 9/11 search and rescue dogs. I'm going to have to look for this book!