Monday, October 5, 2015

Buffalo Cauliflower...


I'm a firm believer that you can put buffalo sauce on anything and it will taste good.  Cauliflower is no exception.  I have had this recipe hanging on my fridge for months and finally made it tonight. And just as I suspected, it was delicious. I didn't make the cheese sauce but I'm sure it's yummy too.


Cheese Sauce:
1/3 cup nonfat sour cream
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
1 tablespoon skim milk
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Buffalo Cauliflower:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup hot sauce, such as Frank's
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
8 cups cauliflower florets (from about 1 medium head)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

For the cheese sauce: Whisk together the sour cream, blue cheese, milk, mayonnaise, 1/8 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes

For the Buffalo cauliflower: Meanwhile, microwave the butter in a small microwave-safe bowl on high until melted. Whisk in the hot sauce and lemon juice and set aside.

Mix olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup water in a large bowl. Add the cauliflower and toss until well coated. Spread the cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until beginning to brown and just tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Whisk the hot sauce mixture again, drizzle over the cauliflower and toss with tongs to coat. Roast the cauliflower until the sauce is bubbling and browned around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes more. Serve hot with the cheese sauce.

Copyright 2014 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved.

From Food Network Kitchen

Monday, September 28, 2015

Why I Don't Use Pinterest (too much)...

I'm sure I'm in the minority but I just don't use Pinterest much.  It's not that I don't like it or think it isn't useful or super cool.  It's just that it's a time suck.  Like it's cousin Facebook.  And how many time sucks do any of us really need? That's the main reason I just don't use it.

That and how many things that we pin do we actually ever go back to?  Those parenting articles & craft projects- wait 10 minutes and there will be more.  Don't forget to pin them!  I just logged on to my account (you can check it out here) for the first time in I don't know how long.  I totally forgot about all the fun things I pinned (Christmas ideas galore!)  But honestly, I don't think I've completed one craft project or prepared one recipe.

So, I spend valuable time pinning and never using any of the ideas making we wonder, why?

Are a Pinterest fanatic or not?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Corn Chowder...

Soup weather is right around the corner.  Or so they tell me.  It's still well over 100 degrees here and probably will be all week. But in anticipation for the cooler weather I wanted to share (again) my corn chowder recipe. I cannot wait to make it this fall.

Corn Chowder

2 c. chicken broth or water
2 c. chopped potatoes
1/2 c. carrots chopped
1/2 c. celery chopped
1/4 c onion chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Bacon (about 6-8 strips- or to taste)
1/4 c. margarine or butter
1/4 c. flour
2 c. milk
1 c. Parmesan cheese
17 oz can cream style corn
17 oz can corn (drained)
Tabasco (to taste)

Brown bacon and onion. Set aside. Add water/broth to veggies (minus corn). Add salt, pepper. Cover & simmer 10 min. Do not drain. Make white sauce w/ butter, flour & milk. Add Parmesancheese stirring until melted. Mix white sauce with veggies. Add corn and bacon/onion mixture to vegetables. Heat, do not boil.. Spice it up with the Tabasco. You can also add cooked chicken to the chowder at the end.


Friday, September 25, 2015

The Lost Art of Hospitality...


This is a re-post from 2011 but I think it's a timely topic as we go into the time of year when guests and visitors will come a-knocking. 

Is hospitality a lost art?  As I was perusing the Internet for information on hospitality I kept coming across the same sentiment: Hospitality is a lost art.

I see it everyday and I am sure most of you do also.  There are many reasons for the decline in hospitality, the most common being the busy lives we all lead.  Other reasons include things like "I don't cook", "My house is too small", "My kids are at home", "I am not comfortable having people over" & "My house is dirty".  All fabulous reasons, right?  Not really, in my opinion.

Our busy lives do get in the way of many things including spending time in our homes with our friends and family.  It sure takes effort and thought to stay at home for a day- sometimes it's not even possible - there are carpools and sports and girl scouts and groceries to take care of.  I am home alot but even I have to make an effort to spend one day at home without going anywhere.  And it's the rare day during the school year.

So how do we welcome friends into our home if we're not there?  Well, I don't think you can.  You need to be home to have friends come for coffee or have your playgroup over or invite your parents for dinner.  If entertaining your friends and family in your home is important to you (it is to me) you need to make time.  It doesn't have to be elaborate or back breaking.  Invite a friend over for coffee one morning after your kids leave for school - it doesn't need to be an all day event- just a cup (or 2) of coffee.  At home watching your college alma mater play football on a Saturday afternoon?  Invite your brother & his family over to watch the game with you -provide some popcorn and sodas and you're set.  I bet they'll even offer to bring something - take them up on it!

Once you make the time to be home keep the following in mind:
  • You don't need a big house.  Notice how everyone seems to congregate in the kitchen when there's a party?  Notice that it doesn't matter how big the kitchen is?  It doesn't matter how big your house is.
  • You don't need to hire a cleaning crew to have friends over.  Sure, you need to pick up and make sure your guest bath is clean but there are doors on bedrooms for a reason!  And try to have a simple routine for each evening that will ensure your home is ready for any spur of the moment invitations.  The Fly Lady can help with this.
  • You don't need to provide a huge meal.  Let's face it - this can get expensive.  Have friends for a potluck dinner.  Have a dessert get together one Saturday night after dinner.  Invite your gym buddies over for coffee. 
  • You don't need alcohol.  This can get even more expensive.  Hold your get togethers during the day.  If you're having a wine and cheese event have each guest bring their favorite bottle of wine.
The idea of hospitality in your home is sharing and friendship.  No one cares if your sofa is old or your dining table is small or there are fingerprints on your windows.  They care about you and spending time with you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

It's Still Summer...

Photo Credit

Well, I think Fall is finally almost here.  According to my calendar, it begins tomorrow.  Although you would think it started a while back if you've been perusing blogs, Instagram and Pinterest at all.

My daughter turns 14 in January.  Fourteen.  1-4.  How in the name of heaven did this happen?  Especially since I just turned 29 (again).  The time as flown by and to be honest I've been guilty of trying to rush things every now and then - 'I can't wait for Kindergarten to start, I'll have so much free time' (that, my friends, is the biggest mommy myth ever).  'I can't wait for Christmas break so we can go to Park City'. 'I can't wait for summer vacation'. The list goes on and I'm pretty sure you all have a similar one to mine.

At the beginning of the year I decided that I was going to try my darndest to not rush any seasons any more. Figurative and literal seasons.  Hence, the so far pumpkin spice free September Acres abode.  There will be no month long Halloween decorations (who thought that one up?), no Christmas decorations that are up for 6 weeks (guilty!) No more.  Fall goes up tonight on 'Autumn Eve'.  Halloween will go up the week of Fall Break (October 12).  Christmas will go up in - wait for it- December.

I can't do anything about Hobby Lobby putting Christmas Trees up in August but I certainly can make sure I don't do it.

I hope you'll check back tomorrow to see my Fall decorations.  Make it fast though since they won't be up forever...

Thursday, May 28, 2015

My Favorite Dollar Store Buys...

I have a confession:  I loathe 'dollar stores'.  As luck would have it, I believe we live in the town with the most dollar stores per capita.  We have a Dollar Tree, Dollar General, TWO Family Dollar's and a 99 cents only (where everything is really $1) in a town of about 50,000.  That's 1 dollar store for every 10,000 residents if you're into statistics. 

Dollar stores are big business.  In 2011 Family Dollar stores reported net sales of $8.55 billion.  Dollar General's 2011 FY sales were $14.81 billion.  That's a lot of stuff! Dollar General positions itself in rural areas, some of which are too small for a Walmart, which makes it the go-to store for all things bargain-y.

Dollar stores have even made it into the blogosphere.  Blogs like Dollar Store Crafts, & Dollar Store Mom feature really neat crafts using supplies from dollar stores.  Many are kid friendly which I know I like.  Many of the crafts are so amazing you would never know they were so inexpensive.

While I don't personally care for dollar stores there are a few things for which I will venture into one of them.  Remember, I am pretty frugal and there are some things I just don't like to shell out a lot of money to purchase when it's not necessary.  So, the things I'll buy at the dollar store are:

  1. Party goods. $1 for 8 paper plates that will get tossed in the trash? You bet.  $1 for a plastic table cloth that I won't feel guilty wadding up and throwing out?  Sold.  Anything that has a short life is something I want to spend as little on as possible.  In my experience, the dollar stores have great color selections for any type of party goods.  It's the #1 thing that will get me into a dollar store.
  2. Gift wrap & Greeting Cards.  This is along the same line as party goods.  Do I want to spend $5 on a gift bag? No way!  I have found lots of cute gift bags and tissue at the dollar store and it's another thing I'll head in there for.  Wrapping paper is hit or miss for me since some of the paper is really thin and I find using it difficult without ripping the paper. (For wrapping paper I usually head to Target and find some on sale for a couple of dollars.)
  3. Goody Bag items.  Dollar stores are great for the little tchotchke items & candy that end up in goody bags.  Also, prizes for party games. $1 puzzles or books?  Great prizes.
  4. Beach toys.  Plastic sand castle building kind of toys can be found at the dollar stores & since they are the type of things that get lost why spend a ton on them?  I have also found the foam pool 'noodles' for $1.  Beats $3 or 4 any day.
  5. Cookie sheets. Sounds weird.  I use Pampered Chef baking stones for all my cookies so I went for quite a while without a metal cookie sheet.  But sometimes you just need one.  The one I got at the dollar store has been used for crafts and on the grill.  The last thing I want to do is ruin a $30 Calphalon cookie sheet by using it on the grill.  
  6. Aluminum Pans. You know, the kind you can bake a lasagna in and give to a neighbor without worrying about having to get your pan back?  They are great for that as well as for a pot luck dish to take to a party.
  7. Gifts. The past few years we have picked a lot of names of our church Angel Tree.  It really adds up dollar wise but we want to participate so I've been able to make great theme gifts from Dollar Store items.  This is especially nice for younger kids who don't care so much about brands and just want toys- like coloring books and crayons, playdoh & stuffed animals. For older kids I have done an itunes gift card and a $1 pair of ear buds.  They come in fun colors and when they are lost (which, inevitably, they are) it's not a huge deal. Other great gift ideas are nail polish, soaps and lotions.
Are you a dollar store shopper?  What are your favorite buys?

Friday, May 1, 2015

Kids Birthday Parties Gone Wild....

Birthday Party

I'm sure everyone has seen this demanding email by now.  After reading it I first thought 'poor child' and then it started me thinking about birthday parties in general for little people.  I don't know about you but birthday parties when I was younger meant some cake and ice cream and opening (modest) gifts for the lucky birthday girl or boy. Times have changed, yes?  For the better?  Not really.

We've all heard about the parties for celebs kids which are over the top outrageous but how many of us have been to a party with the same outrageous-ness (new word I just made up) just on a smaller scale?  In a world where bigger is better how can we top a really BIG fest next year?  People spend hundreds and thousands (!) of dollars on their little prince or princesses parties.  There are even party planners for kids birthday parties.  Who knew?

We've done big parties here and small ones and I think the smaller ones are more memorable for the kids.  The year we did a 'field day' type of party and I believe every child we've ever met was invited (and attended) was they year I said 'enough'.  Since then I've tried to keep it smallish.

Until a party planner was born.  When my daughter turned 13 in January she wanted to go all out. Oy!  But she did everything herself and we kept the costs down (I'm good at that!) I'm wondering what next year will bring?

One thing I know is that the Dollar Tree is your best friend when planning your party budget.  It's the best place to get all the paper products for the fete.  Remember, it all gets thrown out about 5 seconds after you serve that cake so why pay an arm and leg for it?

The other thing I know is that I have never and will never send you an email with my gift demands for my precious little angel.