Tag Archives: holidays

Go For Green


Leprechaun Visit | www.ThatCookGirl.com

You’re never too old for Lucky Charms or a Leprechaun visit!
Go For Green!

 I see all these moms running around making elaborate Leprechaun traps, fancy treats, costumes…well, you name it, and I’ve seen the over-the-top, make-the-average-mom-look-bad crafts and projects and parties. This may very well come as a shock to some of you, but I am NOT a crafty mom. I used to think I wanted to be a crafty mom…but it looks like it takes a lot of time and energy and I would just rather put forth that time and energy hanging out than crafting. So far, I don’t think my kids have been scarred too much by my lack of craftiness. Now, I may not be crafty, but I still sure know how to have fun and most Holidays around here are memorable. (Let’s not talk about Valentine’s Day this year, please… I failed miserably by forgetting to leave a silly card for my kids to find when they wake up…Hey, I never said I was perfect! I think I redeemed myself by bringing home chocolate strawberries, though.)

How does a non-crafty mom make Holidays totally awesome you ask? The answer is simple! I have a private line to all the well-known Holiday spokespeople. The Easter Bunny, Santa…yes, even the Leprechauns. Having this “in” with these people really helps when you aren’t crafty! It just takes a quick call, email, or text message to confirm that my kids still get a thrill out of the little details of the Holiday, and I’m off the hook for crafting! A special treat will be dropped off by morning and I can get some much-needed sleep!

Such as it was for St Patrick’s Day! A quick “Go for Green” text message and I was off to bed at an early hour. The Leprechauns paid a visit, performed a bit of mischief with chairs on tables, stools turned upside down, milk turned green, even the fruit bowl turned upside down and the fruit stacked on top…and left a treat for the trouble of having to clean up after them. We all get a good giggle at their silliness every year, and this year was no exception.

Of course, this doesn’t let me off the hook for cooking dinner. We will still have our traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage. It is in the slow cooker now and will be ready when I get home from work. Another mealtime saved by the slow cooker!

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Celebrate With That Cook Girl


National Kahlua Day | Happy Birthday That Cook Girl |ThatCookGirl.com

Raise a glass with me! Cheers to another year of awesomeness!

Is it a coincidence that National Kahlua Day and That Cook Girl’s Birthday fall on the same day? I think not. Every year on February 27th the world rejoices. I share this day of rejoice for the awesomeness of Kahlua and for surviving another year of this crazy ride we call life.

I spend the month celebrating my birthday. I spoil myself because I deserve it, and I learned years ago that people will treat you only as well as you treat yourself.

This year I will end my birthday month celebrations enjoying a glass filled with this yummy homemade coffee liqueur I made using my favorite coffee.   Raise a glass with me! Cheers to another year of awesomeness!

I know, I know…you all want to know why I’m not sharing the recipe for this awesome, yummy, sweetness. Well, because I haven’t decided this will be my “go-to” recipe. It’s the first time I’ve made coffee liqueur. I did not use the recipe my Mom uses (ssshhh don’t tell her). And since making this recipe, I have come across many other methods I want to try. Some methods require an instant coffee, others use a cold brewed method, while still others use whole coffee beans (!!!). And then there’s the different choices of alcohol. My Mom’s recipe would use Everclear, and her liqueur is quite tasty. I used a mixture of Rum and Brandy for mine, giving it a bit more depth of flavor. Several of my friends have received gifts of the yumminess I made back in December, and I hope they are enjoying it.

:::CHEERS::: Much love to you, and wishes for another fabulous year!

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Kitchen Tree


I’m sure it won’t surprise you to know that I love Christmas. I love, love, love decorating our tree. I always try to convince my kids that I should leave it up year-round. Last year I even planned on seeing just how long I’d last with it up. I probably could have kept it all the way into summer if not longer. But, we moved and it had to come down. But out of pure stubbornness, on moving day, it was the last thing standing. And we moved in mid-February! Everything else was packed and loaded into cars and there stood my tree, still as beautiful as the day it went up.

ThatCookGirl.com/Kitchen-Tree

ThatCookGirl.com
Kitchen Tree
What? Doesn’t everyone put a Christmas Tree in their kitchen?

But I digress… This year we are in a beautiful house with a big kitchen. And so I got to put up a (small) Kitchen Tree! What? Doesn’t everyone put a Christmas tree in their kitchen?  I added my coffee ornaments, my cooking-themed ornaments, and some favorite childhood ornaments and I found a home for it on my kitchen counter. I will enjoy this tree every morning as I pour my coffee, every evening as I cook dinner (or watch the kids cook dinner, whatever the case may be), and I will enjoy it every time I walk into or through the kitchen.

Who knows. Maybe it will find a permanent home atop my stack of favorite cookbooks in the corner. One just never knows.

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? Do you do anything unique?

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A Thankful Life


Hello my loyal blog-readers. Are any of you still out there, waiting for me to get my act together and start posting again? I hope so.

Well, today seems as good a day as any to see what I can do about getting back to blogging. You may be thinking “How does she have time to post on her blog when she should be busily preparing Thanksgiving dinner for a crowd?” Easy. I’m not hosting dinner this year. Nor have I for several years. You see (and I’m about to get really real with you here), I stopped hosting the big Thanksgiving dinner when my life turned upside down a few years ago. I tried desperately to turn it right side up, to no avail. Life has had me upside down, inside out, backwards, right side up,right side out,and forward again more times than I can count. So I just started rolling with the punches. And boy were there a lot of punches thrown my way in the last 5+ years. All the while I dodged a few, threw a few back, and found myself left breathless and disoriented by even more. In the last 2 years I have held 5 different jobs and had 4 different addresses to call home. Somehow I managed to keep my head held high, if only barely at times. So, I hope you will forgive my immense absence from the blogging world, and just welcome my attempts to return. I make no promises for how often I will blog. I only promise to try to be entertaining when I do.

This morning as I prepare to have Thanksgiving dinner with some much-loved people in my life, it hit me just how very thankful I am. Not only today, but every day. I saw this saying recently that sums up my feelings pretty well:

It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy.

I am thankful for more reasons than seems reasonable at times. But I am thankful nonetheless. For the love I have been surrounded by, the opportunities life has presented to me, the friends who have become family, the friends and family who have stood by my side as I made choices that they may or may not have agreed with but supported me no matter what. More than anything, I am thankful to have my 2 pretty darn amazing teenagers who keep me going when all I want to do is give up. I will show them and the whole world that life doesn’t have to be perfect or even go your way to live it happily.

Now, I am being summoned by a cup of coffee that needs my attention and my world famous artichoke dip that isn’t going to make itself.(It’s famous in my world, that counts, right?)

My wish for you is to be thankful for the small things and the big things, the good things and the bad things, and for every choice you make, the good ones and the poor ones. Each of these things will make for a happy life if only you can find a way to be thankful for them.

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I’m Not Irish


It’s true. I’m not Irish. But you can still kiss me. ;) And you may want to when you see how easy and fuss-free it is to make a hearty Corned Beef & Cabbage Dinner for your family. I have talked to at least 4 people in the last week who have either never had corned beef and/or never made it. So, this is for everyone out there who has never made corned beef, especially if you have never made it because you are intimidated by the task. This will make the top 5 list of “least intimidating recipes” I will ever share with you, I’m sure!

IMAG1320Here are your ingredients:

Corned Beef

Red Potatoes

Carrots

Green Cabbage

Water

 

This is a recipe where you will be so happy you own a slow cooker. It’s what makes this such an easy meal to make. Are you ready? Get your knife out and let’s COOK!

  1.  Prepare carrots in the manner you prefer. (Either peel and cut into 1-2 inch pieces, or wash them and leave them whole, with our without the peel. I prefer unpeeled, whole carrots, myself.) Place carrots in bottom of slow cooker crock.
  2. Wash potatoes and cut in half. Place on top of carrots.
  3. Open the corned beef and rinse well. (Keep that little packet of spices. You’ll need it!) Place the corned beef on top of the potatoes in your slow cooker, fat side up.
  4. Pour about 1/2 cup water into the slow cooker.
  5. Now back to that packet of spices. You can take your pick of methods on this one, too. Personally, I don’t like the little bits of spice seeds, but the flavor is amazing and necessary for the roast, so I do use it. If you don’t mind the seeds, open up the packet and sprinkle over the top of your roast. OR, you can put some holes in the packet with a small knife and toss the whole thing into your slow cooker.
  6. Put the lid on your slow cooker, turn it on low, and walk away. In about 6-7 hours, the corned beef will be cooked and vegetables will be tender. (You can use the high setting as well, if you want it to cook faster. Same results!)
  7. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget the cabbage! Cut the cabbage into wedges. Now, if your slow cooker is large enough and there is room to put the cabbage on top of the corned beef, add it to the top 1-2 hours before dinner. If you don’t have room for it, remove the meat and move it to a platter in a warm oven (COVERED, and maybe add a little of the juice from cooking to keep it moist), and then add the cabbage for cooking.

That’s it! Your dinner is done and it will taste as if you slaved over it all day. Your secret is safe with me, if that’s what you want your family to believe.

In our home, we serve this with bread (and fresh butter of course!) and put some butter and sour cream out for the potatoes, and vinegar and/or lemon for the cabbage, along with mustard and/or horseradish for the corned beef.

There you have it! Enjoy. You may now kiss the Cook Girl. ;)

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Filed under Main Dishes, Recipes, Slow Cooker

Traditionally Non-Traditional


Have I ever mentioned how much I love my kids? They are fun and quirky, just like their Mama, but in their own unique ways. We all embrace each other’s individuality, bringing out the best in each other, making every day life fantastically fun together. Part of our fun is that we love tradition, but we also love to break tradition!

Color Me Happy

It’s Easter. So we obviously had to color some eggs. We even made some tea eggs after seeing my sister’s post about making them. Coloring eggs is one of my favorite things. I don’t know why. I don’t even really enjoy hard boiled eggs all that much. But there’s just something about the fun, bright colors of Easter Eggs that bring a smile to my face. I’ll be coloring eggs long after my kids have grown up and moved away from home. It’s a Holiday tradition I enjoy very much.

Baskets o' Plenty

Let’s not forget the candy, of course. Our baskets were left in front of the fireplace for the Easter Bunny last night. This year, we all have “proper” baskets. I have struggled every year with the fact that my kids don’t have nice baskets that they will enjoy bringing out year after year, even as adults, like I have. I’ve just never found nice ones that we liked. Some years we didn’t even have a basket, so the Easter Bunny would leave their treats in new lunch boxes or new baseball caps. Always fun, but this year when we looked, the kids decided they both really liked the plain wood ones. They are sturdy enough that I think they will last a long time for them! And we awoke to our baskets filled with candy, candy, and more candy, plus some notebooks, coasters, books, and even new toothbrushes for the kids (their Dentist will surely be happy to hear that! lol)

Traditionally Non-Traditional Easter Dinner

So, what does a silly family like ours have for dinner on Easter? I’m so glad you asked. Cheeseburgers, of course. I was asked by someone today if I would be having a big ham dinner. He seemed a bit taken aback when I said “No, we’ll be having cheeseburgers for our Easter dinner tonight.” He asked me if that was a family tradition. It was then that I realized our “tradition” is that we like to be “non-traditional”. He seemed pleased with my response, and thought it was a pretty cool way to enjoy Holidays. [By making a tradition of breaking traditions.]

Our Easter dinner, 2012: Cheeseburgers, piled high with plenty of melted sharp cheddar cheese, fresh lettuce and tomatoes, and some thinly sliced red onion. Paired with artichokes [with lemon butter for dipping!] and sweet potatoes, and of course some deviled eggs (gotta use those colored eggs somehow, right?)

And the weather for this day? PERFECT! We made great use of our deck for the first time since we moved in here, and enjoyed our fantastically fun dinner outside, giggling about our silliness and enjoying each other’s company and laughter.

I hope you enjoyed your Holiday as much as we did.

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Bountiful Baskets


Bountiful Baskets

I have discovered (with the help of my Baby Sis) an amazing resource for affordable fresh produce, and I’m wondering what took me so long to participate in the Bountiful Baskets Food Co-Op. I picked up my second basket this morning, and am so excited about all the fresh foods my kids and I will be having this week! Plenty of fruits and veggies to last us all week.

When I say affordable, by the way, I mean that I got all the produce you see in the picture for just $15! That’s right. I got 6 sweet potatoes, 3 small zucchini, a bunch of asparagus, a large head of lettuce, 2 heads of broccoli, 2 bags of brussels sprouts, a pineapple, a bunch of bananas, 3 grapefruit, 5 apples, and 7 oranges! Thatsalottafreshfood! Will we eat it all? You bet! Possibly not all this week, but when stored properly, most of this will be good for 2+ weeks.

I bet you’re wondering how we’ll use all that produce… well, we started out tonight by roasting some in the oven and topping off big bowls of pasta with the vegetables and some fresh grated parmesan cheese. And for dessert? How about some pudding and sliced fresh fruits? Yes, please! And Thank You. :) And of course there will be plenty of snacks with all those fresh foods! (Hint: If you put out a bowl of cut up fresh vegetables and/or fruits while you’re cooking dinner, the kids will have something to snack on when they say “I’m HUNGRY!” Hummus or Ranch Dressing may make those veggies more appealing to the pickier eater.)

(I bet you thought I was going to be talking about a different kind of Bountiful Baskets, huh? Silly… the Easter Bunny hasn’t visited yet… that’s not til tomorrow!)

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Fabulous Friday


Today is not just Good Friday, it is Fabulous Friday! The perfect ending to a perfect week. It was like shipment central around my place all week, with packages arriving from all kinds of places, including one I have been waiting on for many years. Ok, so not the package itself, but the item. I finally purchased something I have been wanting for many, many years. It’s a French Butter Dish (you may have heard it called a Butter Bell). The husband of one of my friends makes handmade pottery and he does an amazing job. I was so happy to get my much-anticipated new piece of pottery for my kitchen, and getting to support a friend’s business just sweetened the deal!

So, what else makes this a Fabulous Friday? Well, it’s FRIDAY! Need I say more? And I got to run the bar at work today, steaming milk to a perfectly creamy, frothy texture with all it’s sweetness, pouring it over caramelly shots of espresso, chatting with customers and wishing them a Fabulous Friday…what’s not amazing about bringing a smile to everyone’s face?

And in case I hadn’t been given enough reasons to smile throughout the week, I did get some good news via email several times this week. Some relating to my kids and school, an email from an old friend I hadn’t heard from in awhile, and then an email from someone who is planning to make my Garlicky Buttery Shrimp Pasta for some family. I am excited to hear how everyone enjoyed it!

Now I get to enjoy the day tomorrow with my favorite kiddos… picking up our produce basket from Bountiful Baskets, dying Easter Eggs, eating candy, and probably planning more menus!

Excitement abounds. New beginnings emerge. What kind of amazingness are you up to this weekend?

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Fruity Tastes


Cherimoya, Kumquats, Star Fruit

Last week I asked if you could name these fruits. I posed the question here at ThatCookGirl.com and again on facebook. Everyone seemed to know what the kumquats and star fruit were, but most seemed stumped by the 3rd fruit I had pictured. An odd looking greenish-brown fruit that my kiddos and I chose because we had never seen or heard of the cherimoya before.

 
It’s fun to try new foods, and I found it even more enjoyable to share it with my kiddos and talk about what we liked and didn’t like. We all agreed that the smooth texture and sweet flavor of the cherimoya was our favorite of the three. It would make a great addition to a smoothie, or alongside a cup of fresh yogurt. Both of the kiddos said they did not enjoy the kumquats. They were a little bitter, maybe they weren’t quite ripe? I was the only one who said “eh, I could take it or leave it” to the star fruit. It was good, but not something that made me think “where have you been all my life?” But again, I think it was not fully ripe, so I will have to try it again at some point. Maybe alongside the dragon fruit that was suggested by my sister. It is, afterall, the Year of the Dragon, which is MY year!
 
Speaking of MY year! It is still my Birthday Month, too! And I’m still trying new foods. Tonight: Veal!

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Loves of my Life


Heart Day Dinner for the Loves of my Life! xoxo

I celebrated my first Valentine’s Day as a single woman by recognizing the true loves of my life. The two people I spend the majority of my free time with. Who love me unconditionally (even when they “hate” me momentarily), and who I love unconditionally.  They bring me joy every day with their smiles and their laughter. They keep my life interesting and bring a ray of light even on my darkest days.

They are my favorite boy and girl in the whole wide world. They talk back. They forget to do their homework. They drive me crazy. And I love every minute of it, because more importantly, they have smiles and hugs that would melt an ice queen’s heart, they tell stories about their day and about their friends. They tell jokes. They fight and they love and they do it with their entire heart and soul.

I love you, my favorite kiddos! Thank you for sharing Heart Day with your silly mama. xoxo

So… what did I make for these most fabulous kiddos of mine? Nothing super fancy, just some of our favorite foods, shaped into hearts. My easy meatloaf, paired with roasted carrots [drizzled with olive oil and tossed with chopped red onion], julienne beets, and some mashed potatoes [I used up the last of the ranch dressing I made last weekend and that added really great flavor, along with the homemade butter I mixed in.] Comfort food with great conversation and giggles at dinner.

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