We are game players. All of our kids are game players. We are teaching our grandkids to be game players.
There are two types of families. Avid game players and not-so-much game players. Our family is definitely in the former category. Give us a table and we will play a game.
One of the best memories that I have of my childhood was playing canasta on summer evenings on my next door neighbor’s screened-in patio. She was a little Italian gramma who we loved just like our own gramma. I loved playing games with my own children as they were growing up. We spent many a summer afternoon playing cards. Often we would have tournaments that would last all summer long.
Now that most of my grandkids are old enough to play games we spend frequent Sunday afternoons playing. I play Farkle two mornings a week with my nine year old grandson who stops by for breakfast on those days. We have lots of fun and we are both pretty competitive. The Hubs and I play Hand and Foot sometimes almost every night after dinner. Games, games, games!
Right now there are so many new games that the kids are into. I love to learn a new game that they enjoy. Quite a few of them are games that all the players are playing as one team to beat the game. Those are my favorite.
I bought the Harry Potter Hogwart’s Battle game for two of my grandsons for Christmas and we are having so much fun playing it. It is a cooperative deck building game. Aren’t you proud of me that I know what that even is?! We really enjoy it because those two grandsons and I are are fans of the Harry Potter book series.
I encourage you to get involved in some of the newer games that are out. I find that it gives me common ground with the grandkids (and even my sons who like these games). Even if I don’t totally “get” all the games I still enjoy the time spent together. And that’s what its all about for me!
Another favorite game we recently bought and enjoy playing is Codenames. This is a very fun, quick playing game that sparks lively discussions.
For a lot of laughs we play Blurble. Oh my gosh! This one is super lively and super funny. It is a fast game that can be played by all of my grandkids. We just change the rules a bit for the younger ones who don’t read yet.
It’s the day after Easter and in our house that means just one thing: split pea soup! The Hubs and I love it but I only make it twice a year. I make it after our annual Christmas open house and after Easter. Those are the two times a year that I buy the fabulous spiral sliced ham at Costco.
I got a Bella® Electric Pressure Cooker earlier this year and I am just discovering the wonderful things it can do. Steel cut oats cook perfectly. Pinto beans are a snap. Beef stew? Ah-maz-ing. And soup….. 20 minutes!
I found this recipe online and adapted it a bit to suit my tastes. I substituted organic chicken broth for the water and sautéd the veggies before adding the other ingredients. I think it added a nice depth to it.
I read different recipes online and got conflicting instruction regarding quick release vs natural release. I choose to use the quick release because one site said that the quick release results in a creamier soup. I was not dissappointed.
I also switched the sherry to Marsala wine because that is what I had and that is how I roll! Trust me. You will want to add the splash of Marsala. It takes split pea soup to a whole other level. From everyday to “could be in a restaurant” good.
Be sure to clean your pressure valve as soon as it is cool enough as split peas can dry hard quickly, impacting your pressure next time you cook.
Hope you enjoy this soup as much as the Hubs and I did. Let me know in the comment section.
Drunken Split Pea With Ham Bone Soup in the Pressure Cooker
Serves: 4 meal size bowls or 8 cup size servings
1 lb split peas, rinsed and sorted
1 Tbsp avocado oil (or olive oil if desired)
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
4 cups chicken broth
1 ham bone with some ham still attached
Splash of Marsala wine
Sour Cream or plain Greek yogurt to garnish
Turn pressure cooker to sauté function and let heat up a few minutes.
Add carrots, celery, and onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes until onions are translucent. Turn off pressure cooker.
Add split peas, dried thyme, broth, and ham bone.
Press the “Pressure Cook” button and set timer for 20 minutes.
Once pressure cooker beeps do and instant release. I always put a dish towel over the release valve so as not to have the steam spray all over.
Remove ham bone to cutting board and cut off meat. Chop meat and return to soup.
Ladle into cup or bowl, add a splash of Marsala wine and garnish with sour cream or plain Greek yogurt.
Balsamic Onion Relish. What?!? I bought this. I needed it for a recipe and after scouring Amazon I found it. I only needed a little bit so I stuck the jar back in the fridge and forgot about it. Didn’t really know what to use the rest of it for.
Today I was making lunch for the Hubs. My plans were for a plain old turkey and cheese sandwich. Then I got the idea to grill it. He loves any kind of grilled sandwich. Who doesn’t? Bread, butter, crispy grilled goodness. Oh yeah!
Me, being the kind of person who likes to use up what is on hand, searched the shelves of the fridge to see what I could add to the sandwich to make it pop. Lo and behold I found this little jar of goodness just waiting to add some of that pop to said sandwich. I spread some of it on both sides of the bread, put turkey and Swiss cheese in and then grilled it.
Oh my! Such a simple addition but such a big taste. The Hubs described it as “delectable”! Sweet and savory at the same time. And….. grilled cheese!
This Piaz Balsamic Onion Relish is is made by the Apex Food Company in Apex, NC. The company was founded by two American women of Indian origin. You can read about their story here. The Piaz Balsamic Onion Relish is low calorie, has no trans fat, no added colors, no MSG, no artificial flavors, no preservatives and no high fructose corn syrup. What is there not to love here?
This is not your mother’s relish! It is definitely going to be a staple condiment in my house from now on. I can’t wait to come up with more ways to add flavor to everyday food. I’m thinking pizza, burgers, steaks, flatbreads. Who knows where my tastebuds will lead me!
I made this strawberry mango salsa yesterday for my nieces’ wedding shower in the Temecula Wine country. It was so delicious and so perfect for a gorgeous spring day.
I made the sweet version of it for the shower but I made the “little bit” savory one for Easter today. The sweet one can even be dessert like served with cinnamon sugar tortilla chips. I think it looks so pretty and will dress up any table.
It seems that it is the time of year for everything strawberry! We even had strawberry mango pancakes for breakfast. (Not with the salsa though!) The grandkids were here for breakfast and we always dress up the pancakes with a little bit (a lot) of whipped cream and a few (a lot) sprinkles. Maybe that is why my grandkids say I make the best pancakes!
Here is the recipe for the salsa. Enjoy!
3/4 cup finely chopped strawberries
3/4 cup finely chopped mango
2 Tbsp finely chopped red onion
1/2-1 finely chopped jalapeño pepper seeds and ribs removed
Juice of one lime
NOW, here is where you decide if you want sweet or a little savory:
Add honey to taste for sweet
Add sea salt to taste for a little savory
Serve with tortilla chips or you can also serve it as a garnish for chicken, fish, or pork
The stars recently aligned perfectly for the most amazing string of dinners! We recently hosted a couples bridal shower for our son and his soon to be wife. They will be married in May and will blend two families into one big “Brady Bunch”. She has four kids, he has two. “Here’s the story of a lovely lady……” Now I bet that song will be stuck in your head all day.
We did a bbq theme with pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad, cole slaw, watermelon, and a s’mores bar for dessert . It was super fun.
I cooked the pulled pork on our Traeger Wood Fire Grill the day before the shower. This is the recipe I used. They have so many great recipes on their site and so far every one is a winner. If you do not have a Traeger, I highly recommend checking them out. The Hubs bought it at Costco because he HAD to have it. Even though we have a perfectly good gas grill and at the time we had and electric smoker as well. At first I didn’t see why we needed it so desperately.
And then I cooked on it! Let’s just say that I LOVE IT and we DID need it! Everything, and I mean everything, that I have cooked on it has been so so good. I have made ribs, tri tip roast, pork loin roast, pork chops, steaks, salmon, prime rib, roasted whole chickens, and I even cooked our turkey this Thanksgiving on it. Actually, I cook on it WAY more than the Hubs does. We even gave our electric smoker to one of our sons because we don’t need it anymore. The Traeger can do it all.
But, I digress. Back to the pulled pork. I made way to much for the shower. I am terrible at figuring out amounts of food to have for a crowd. I always (not an exaggeration) cook too much. I bought 28 pounds of pork shoulder for 30 or so people. I could have got away with about 10 less pounds. Hence, leftover pork.
Not to worry. We made more sandwiches for dinner one night. The really pretty pulled pork salad above for another night. Pulled pork tacos last night. And last tonight we used up the remainder for pork and cabbage (my favorite).
I served the pork and cabbage over brown rice with a side of the left over watermelon and it was delish!
Here is how I made it:
Pork and Cabbage Easy Style
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp grape seed or canola oil
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 cups leftover pulled pork
1 small head of cabbage medium shredded
Soy sauce to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
Heat grape seed oil in large sauté pan. Add onion and garlic and sauté for about 4-5 minutes until onions are soft. Add toasted sesame oil and pork and heat pork through stirring frequently. Once pork is heated through add the cabbage. It will look like a lot of cabbage but it shrinks down as it cooks. Continue cooking and stirring frequently until cabbage is cooked. Add soy sauce to taste as you are cooking the cabbage. Make sure to leave the cabbage with a little “bite” to it so it doesn’t taste soggy.
Serve over brown rice with a little sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes.
Enjoy! And check out those Traegers next time you see them at Costco!
Oh my! These little nuggets. Add them to a salad, use as a topping on soup, or just snack on them. They are so tasty and pretty much guilt free. You will want to stock up on chickpeas. Trust me!
These are so simple to make and add such a nice crunch. They are also super versatile as you can add whatever spices you desire after you roast them.
I found the recipe here at The Kitchn. I just discovered this site and you MUST check it out. It has everything you could possible want or need to know on how to prepare great meals. Learn how to make baklava, how to care for your knives, five mistakes to avoid when making cupcakes, dinner for a crowd ideas, and so so much more! I’m telling you, this site has it all. I have a feeling I will be spending many, many hours over there at The Kitchn.
Here is what you need to make these Oven Roasted Chickpeas:
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 teaspoons spices or finely chopped fresh herbs, like chili powder, curry powder, garam masala, cumin, smoked paprika, rosemary, thyme, or other favorite spices and herbs
Get the directions here. And while you are there, get lost in all of the goodness to be had!
I get to see my grandchildren all the time. I go to their awards ceremonies at school, their sports games, and their piano recitals. Sometimes their parents drop them off for a couple of hours so they can go run errands or go out. Sometimes I pick one of them up from school and spend a few hours with them. Often I run into them around town at Costco, Target or the mall.
The other day I met my son and his kids at Target. They were getting ready to go on a little mini-vacation and the kids needed some shoes and sunscreen. I really enjoyed watching my very manly man son help his daughter try on the cute pink shoes she decided on. Reminded me of when I used to go shopping with my dad. Did you know that whatever you eat when you are out shopping with your dad has no calories? That’s what my dad always told me and who am I to question him!
After Target we decided to go get a cup of coffee at the nearby Starbucks. My grandson had been clutching a fistful of dollar bills as he was shopping. It was money he had received from the tooth fairy the past weekend for losing two teeth. I thought he was looking around Target for something to spend them on but he was still holding them as we walked into Starbucks.
We got to the counter and he said he wanted to buy my coffee. I asked him why and he said, “Because I love you.” Now, I could have told him that it was sweet of him to offer but he didn’t need to. Then he would have been able to save his money for something else. But I didn’t do that. We went right up to the counter and I ordered my coffee and he bought it for me. I could see the look of pride on his face as he paid the barista.
Let me tell you, it was the sweetest cup of coffee I have had in a long time. And I drink it black! I can’t tell you how much it touches my heart when I see my grandkids showing love to others through kind acts and giving. Of course they can get a bad case of the “will you buy this for me?” when we are out shopping with them and we sometimes frequently give in to it. But when they show their generosity towards you? Heart melt….
How can you not enjoy a cup of coffee as sweet as that?
I love this towel! “Love a towel? you say. I say “Yes!” The reason that I love this towel so much is because the corn bread recipe that is on it is my Gramma Jessie’s actual recipe written in her actual handwriting! Every time I use this I get the warm fuzzies that remind me of being a child and being in the kitchen with my Gramma.
“Where did I get this towel?” you ask. I got it on Etsy at LindsayBurckDesigns. On her site Lindsay says “These beautiful flour sack towels are printed with a special image to honor your loved one—it could be a recipe, receipt or other memorable photo. The 100% cotton fabric towels have your image printed directly into the fabric, which means that the towels are easy to wash and iron.”
I bought ten of these from LindsayBurckDesigns and gave one each to my DILs, my sister, and my nieces and my cousin. What a beautiful way to honor my Gramma.
They wash up like a dream the image has not faded at all over the many, many wash cycles they have been through. And because they are 100% cotton they feel soooooo good!
These towels would make the perfect Mother’s Day gift for the special mom in your life who loves being connected to family.
I mentioned my book club last week and the hot cross buns that I made for our meeting. I don’t know if you noticed the picture that shows the list of books we have read in our nine years together. Thought that some of you would like to know what was on that list!
One of our members keeps track of all the books that we have read together as a club and on our anniversary each year brings us a copy of the list. We love to look over it and remember (or sometimes not remember!) our literary journeys.
We are planning a trip to Napa Valley next Spring break to celebrate our 10th anniversary as a group. The spouses are tagging along as well and we are really looking forward to it. Perfect getaway for our Wacky Wednesday Wino Weaders!
Funny thing about the spouses, they have a “Not Book Club”. After “the girls” had been meeting monthly for about a year they were feeling kind of left out. So now on the last Wednesday of the month while we are meeting they all get together and have pizza and beer. I think they look forward to their meeting as much as we look forward to ours!
If you are in a book club, if your are thinking of starting a book club, or if you just love to read, here are our books choices through the years. I asked each of my girls to choose one favorite and I puts a star next to those choices. Happy reading!
Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst
Beautiful Boy by David Sheff
*The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The 13th Tale by Diane Setterfield
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
The Red Tent Anita Diamant
*The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright
Molokaii by Alan Brennert
The Year of the Fog by Michelle Richmong
The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
The Invisible Wall by Harry Bernstein
The 3rd Angel by Alice Hoffman
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pic Society by Annie Barrows
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
*The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee
The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio by Terry Ryan
First, Do No Harm by Lisa Belkin
*Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
*The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carlton
The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell
The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman
*The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
*The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathon Safran Foer
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Mocking Jay by Suzanne Collins
Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie
The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall/Denver Moone
The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig
To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
Look Again by Lisa Scottoline
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Mary Coin by Marisa Silver
With or Without You by Domenica Ruta
The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti
Bad Monkey by Carl Hiassen
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
Found Manuscripts of Accra by Paulo Coelho
A Dogs Purpose by Bruce Cameron
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro
She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford
The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
The Dinner by Herman Koch
In the Woods by Tana French
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
After You by Jojo Moyes
The Lake House by Kate Morton
Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
I am Malala by Malala…..lalala
The Widow by Fiona Barton
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Remember the sushi party we had last Sunday? These little nuggets were the appetizers. Um…..yum!
I have never made anything with wonton wrappers before. They seemed a little intimidating to me. Sheesh! They are easy peasy!
You can whip up this four (yes, four!) ingredient appetizer in practically no time and really impress your guests.
I adapted the recipe from this one but instead of frying them in oil I sprayed them with some cooking spray and baked them. Save calories whenever possible!
We used Panda Express Sweet Chili Sauce for dipping and it was the perfect touch. It would be fun to make these and experiment with different dipping sauces. I’m thinking sriracha mayo, wasabi mayo, buffalo sauce, fig jam. Use your imagination!
Super Simple Baked Cream Cheese Wontons
Makes 24 Wontons
8 oz Cream Cheese
3 green onions – chopped small
1 tsp Sesame Oil
24 Wonton Wrappers
Preheat oven to 400.
In a small bowl beat cream cheese, green onions and sesame oil.
Place about 2 tsp of cream cheese mixture in center of each wonton wrapper.
Wet the edges of the wonton wrapper and fold in half to form a triangle or bring opposite edges together to form bundle.
Place wontons on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees.