Pages

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Menu Plan week of July 20

My son is having issues with his appetite so this week's menu plan is made up of some of his favorite things to eat.
Green Pea salad will be a side with dinner on Wednesday & will be eaten with lunches for the rest of the week. I will make extra hard boiled eggs when I prepare the salad which will be used in Egg Salad Sandwiches for Thursday's lunch.

Watch my Instagram for photos of this week's food & activities http://instagram.com/sparrowapril
Instagram Photos of this week's recipes from the past can be seen below.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Potatoes Stacy Ala April, Cheesy Hashbrown Potato Casserole

I've adapted this cheesy potato casserole from a recipe given to me by my friend Stacy Gaither-Tabor when I first moved to Texas. I began making these as a potato side dish for holiday meals, but I also find it's great along side ham steaks and eggs for breakfast. I used sharp white cheddar for the casserole in the photo.
2014-05-13 20.12.08

Cheesy Hashbrown Potato Casserole


1/2 cup butter
1 onion chopped
1 can cream of mushroom soup, condensed (not ready to eat)
Small Sour Cream, all natural or regular NOT reduced fat
1 pkg frozen hash brown potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded cheese, I like sharp cheddar

Melt the butter in a large skillet & add the onion, cook until soft, allow to cool slightly.

In a very large, giant bowl whisk together, soup, and sour cream. Mix in the butter & onions. Dump the hash-brown potatoes on top, try to break up any large clumps. Sprinkle salt & pepper over the potatoes, try not to dump it all on one spot so that it will be more evenly distributed when you mix.  Use a large spoon to begin mixing just the potatoes at first, when you feel the salt & pepper are mixed fairly well, begin to stir everything the soup mixture & the potatoes together.  Sprinkle in shredded cheese as you mix until it is all incorporated.

Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick spray & spread the potatoes evenly in the dish, use a light hand do not pack the potatoes down tightly.  Cover with foil & back at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until heated through (about 30 minutes) then remove the foil & allow the top to brown for an additional 10 minutes.

Note: if the potatoes are fully frozen or your casserole was made ahead and thoroughly chilled through you may need to extend the baking time accordingly.
2014-05-13 20.08.24

Serves 6-8


Friday, January 17, 2014

Here's to a PLAYful 2014


My aim for this year is to be more playful,
to give myself permission to actually DO the things I want to do,
instead of thinking about what I want to do, but never doing it.
To worry less,
to celebrate more.
To pursue laughter and joy whether or not I have earned or deserve them.
I will stop beating myself up and give myself unconditional love.

The short version…
Here is a metaphor for what I'm trying to accomplish this year…

This year I get to have dessert
without ever asking if I have eaten all my vegetables.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Make-Ahead Migas Breakfast Casserole

Now that Ethan is in high school the bus picks him up before the sun. In the interest of smoother running mornings I've been trying to utilize a lot of breakfast casseroles that can be baked Sunday night & re-heated throughout the week.

I wanted to come up with a casserole take on our favorite variety of migas inspired scrambled eggs. I knew I would need to solve the dry eggs issue in a casserole that was intended to be reheated in the microwave each morning. I remembered that my Aunt Virginia (a caterer) once told me the key to keeping eggs from drying out on a buffet was cream cheese. I've now made this casserole twice & it seems to be the current favorite.

Please be advised if you use a lower fat milk you may have issues with the casserole getting watery on you. The half & half is there in order to create an emulsion. For an explanation of why achieving emulsion is important in egg dishes please see Perfect Scrambled Eggs Made Easy.

For serving I cut a square, re-heat it in the microwave, then top it with taco sauce & sour cream.
2013-11-07 21.58.00
Make Ahead Migas Breakfast Casserole

Chunky Filling Items
10 corn tortillas cut into pieces & fried
Ham I like to use a lot
1 onion, chopped fine
1 green bell pepper, chopped fine
1 can ortega chilis
2 cups of shredded cheese, I like cheddar, jack or a combination of the two

Egg Mixture
1 8 oz package cream cheese softened
8 eggs added 1 at a time
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups half & half or whipping cream
2 green onions (optional)
a handful of fresh cilantro (optional)

Remove cream cheese from refrigerator so that it can begin to soften.

Cut 10 corn tortillas into strips. Fry the strips in batches, in oil for about 2 minutes flipping them over half way through (they'll fry best if you wait to fry until your oil is between 350 and 375 degrees fahrenheit.) Drain fried tortilla strips on paper towels. To skip this step you could substitute tortilla chips but they will be much saltier, and I suspect greasier and containing more preservatives. Or you could use un-fried tortillas, but they will soften & disintegrate in the casserole giving a very different texture.
2013-11-07 19.11.552013-11-07 19.44.32
For breakfast ham I have used several different types depending on what was available at my market at the time. Sometimes I can find small sliced boneless hams that have been shrink wrapped, these are very easy to work with. Last night I had a ready-to-eat picnic ham, it was difficult to work with because of the fat cap & trimming around the bone. I wouldn't go that route again. Sometimes ham steaks are available in my meat department they are also quite easy to work with. Failing the above I get ham from the service deli. I have them slice it on the thickest setting & I get 2-3 slices depending on the size of the ham. The ham from the deli is the easiest option, but depending on the season other hams may be a better price. 

Place ham slices in a large skillet and heat them up, allowing them to brown a little bit on each side. Browning the ham seems to activate the flavors of the ham. Try an experiment & eat a piece of ham before browning, then eat a piece that has been browned. HUGE flavor difference! 
Remove the ham to a cutting board, stack & cut into bite-size pieces.

2013-11-07 20.02.432013-11-07 20.09.39
Add a bit of olive oil or butter to the skillet you used for the ham & saute the onion & bell pepper until soft. I like to use a bamboo paddle or wooden spoon and scrape up the brown left in the bottom of the pan from the ham. Ham flavored veggies is a good thing. When the veggies are soft, mix in 1 small can of mild Ortega chiles. I didn't add chiles to my 1st casserole & I felt it really needed this specific flavor.
2013-11-07 19.56.572013-11-07 20.11.58
Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick spray. You can mix all the chunky filling ingredients with the cheese in a bowl & dump into the casserole dish. Or save yourself the washing of a bowl & add each ingredient to the casserole dish as you prep them, then take a pair of tongs & mix them right in the casserole dish.
2013-11-07 20.13.042013-11-07 20.22.45
Now for the egg mixture. You need to incorporate the cream cheese throughout the eggs, you want to form an emulsion, mix them evenly, not chunks or bits. There are 2 ways to accomplish this.
1) Cream the cheese in a mixer & when it is soft add the eggs 1 at a time mixing until creamed into the cheese (1st photo is after all eggs are added), then add salt, and slowly pour in the half & half or cream while the mixer is running.
OR
2013-11-07 20.18.332013-11-07 20.20.522013-11-07 20.18.28
2) If you have a really good blender like a Blendtec or a Vitamix, you can mix up everything in your blender.
I have made this casserole both ways & both work.
Because I DO have a blendtec blender and I know it will blend evenly I also add 2 green onions cut in half to the blender jar. They gave great flavor. Last night I used the creaming mixture method but I wanted to incorporate some leftover cilantro I had in the fridge so I blended my half & half with the cilantro before adding it to the egg mixture. The cilantro was very subtle but if you have some handy, go ahead & add it.
2013-11-07 20.23.062013-11-07 20.23.22
Pour the egg mixture over the chunky filling ingredients in the casserole dish. I take a pair of tongs & lift up bits of the filling from the bottom in order to allow the egg mixture to flow in and around the ingredients so that I don't end up with chunky stuff on the bottom & eggs on the top.
2013-11-07 20.23.53-1
You could top the casserole with additional 1/2 cup of cheese if desired I don't find it necessary.

Cover with foil Bake in a preheated 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 1hour 10 min. Remove foil & continue baking for 10 more minutes.

If serving hot allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting & serving. Or allow to cool, cover with foil & store in the refrigerator for future use.
2013-11-07 21.58.44

Friday, September 13, 2013

Classes I'm taking right now

Big Picture ClassesChrissyChalkARtLogo Big Picture Classes
School is back in session & I'm also taking a few classes at present.
  • The Art + Science of Scrapbooking taught by Stacy Julian & Jennifer Wilson at Big Picture Classes
  • The Art of Chalk Lettering at Christy Tomlinson's Scarlet Lime site with Chrissy Gardner
  • Hello Story with Ali Edwards at Big Picture Classes
  • Project Life Lessons also at Big Picture Classes with Annette Haring, Elise Blaha Cripe, & Megan Anderson



Thursday, July 4, 2013

Home of the Brave - Omaha Beach

It was my extreme privilege 12 days ago to visit the American Military Cemetery at Omaha Beach in Normandy. Words are insufficient to describe the experience. I will let the photos speak for themselves.
 IMG_2055.jpgIMG_1892.jpg IMG_1899.jpg IMG_1916.jpg IMG_1935.jpg IMG_1961.jpg IMG_1969.jpg IMG_1975.jpg IMG_1982.jpg IMG_1950.jpg IMG_2037.jpg IMG_2039.jpg IMG_2042.jpg IMG_2047.jpg IMG_2053.jpg IMG_2060.jpg IMG_2061.jpg IMG_2067.jpg IMG_2070.jpg IMG_2081.jpg
The star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave. O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Illumination of Rouen Cathedral (Updated Impressionism Video)

We spent 2 days docked in Rouen. There were so many beautiful old buildings to see, lovely shops, confectioners & bakeries. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Rouen. On the second evening we walked out to to see a light show that is projected onto the cathedral.

This presentation celebrates Impressionism and art. Rouen is near Giverny which boasts Monet's beautiful gardens. Monet painted Rouen Cathedral more than 20 times. I've updated this video this one will play on my blog.  The one I had linked previously was edited down quite a bit, this one shows all the transitions & the part at the end where it's as if the cathedral  is rendered in paint. The waterlilies & flower petal sequences are shown in full, now. If you enjoyed the original video, this one is even better!

Rouen has a strong connection with Joan of Arc. She was imprisoned, tried & burned at the stake in Rouen. They have built a modern church in her honor. This presentation is entitled Jeannes (Joans)

"Jeanne(s)", Cathédrale de lumière, Rouen 2013 from Cosmo AV on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

I'm Home From France

I'm home from a wonderful week in France. The first thing I will share is the first page from my travel journal. Before I left on my trip I shared a Vine video showing the blank journal HERE. SMASH* journals come with a pen attached, one side is a black journal pen tip & the other end is a glue stick. IMG_2031.JPG