Friday, January 07, 2011

Games People Play by Megan

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a good end to 2010 with many fun times and happy memories with family and friends.
As I get older, I'm more perplexed by what to do for entertainment at parties and get-togethers. Granted, we're a story-telling family on both sides, and my friends are interesting people I love to listen to. But it's always nice to have a backup activity.
I was the youngest, and therefore the least experienced, the least savvy/conniving, the least intelligent. But I grew up loving games, even though I rarely won. I played Solitaire when I couldn't get my siblings on board. We loved Monopoly (until someone actually read the rules--no money on Free Parking! what's with that?) and sometimes I could get my sibs involved in a game of Rummy. If we left the house, we went bowling, but my brothers were involved with baseball and football, so it was sometimes hard to corral everyone.
The computer has opened up waaaaay too many games (web sudoku anyone?) and I've had to cut myself off from some on FaceBook. But my dear daughter drew me into playing Family Feud so she could win points when I didn't do well. Makes me laugh, but I have to admit, she's earning us more points than I could alone. We sometimes make time for Scrabble together; I love Farmville; and sometimes I'll drop over to Wheel of Fortune or Word Drop. Sometimes WordSearch, but I'm not a fan of timers. I used to have Boggle on an older computer, but I wouldn't let myself put it on my writing laptop.
So I'm on the hunt for something fun for adults to play. I've enjoyed a few games of Apples to Apples, but I'm looking to branch out. Trivia Pursuit used to be a favorite, but I haven't played in years and I hear there's a new version/set of questions. Anyone know about it?
Anyone have a game they enjoy? A cherished family game that has held up through the years?
Megan Kelly

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Favorite Recipes for January

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. Did you have time to read any good books when you weren't shopping, cleaning, entertaining, and cooking? I hope you had some time for yourself during this busy time.

We had ham for Christmas dinner and I still have some left over. Tonight I'm making something very simple that will use most of the ham I have left. It is appropriately called "End of the Line Ham Casserole" from Dottie18 and received four stars on Since it's cool during the day and cold at night here in Texas, this will be good to warm us up.

1 can condensed cream of celery soup
1/2 cup milk
black pepper to taste
2 potatoes, sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 cups cooked ham, diced
2 T grated parmesan (or other favorite) cheese
(Note: I may add some shredded cheddar just because we love cheese!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In an 8 x 8 (greased or sprayed) casserole dish, combine soup, milk and pepper. Layer potato slices, onion slices and ham on top. Cover and bake one hour. Remove cover and sprinkle with parmesan or other grated cheese. Bake uncovered another 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

If I have any more ham left, I'm thinking of making this classic Pasta Carbonara dish with shredded or thinly sliced ham instead of bacon. I love Pasta Carbonara in restaurants and even the Lean Cuisine meal! I usually fix a Caesar salad (I love Ken's Lite Creamy Caesar dressing) and have a very light dessert with something this hearty.

1 lb dry linguine
8 oz bacon (substitute ham) diced
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
3 large egg yolks
1 cup (4 ounces) grated parmesan, plus more for garnishing
3/4 t black pepper

Cook linguine according to package directions, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water. In a large skillet over medium high heat, fry the bacon (or saute ham) until crisp. Transfer to paper towel lined plate. Spoon off and discard all but 2 T of the bacon drippings. (Note: If you use ham, you probably won't have many drippings, but cooking the onion in the skillet will deglaze the pan.) Return skillet to medium heat, add the onion, and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Working quickly, returned the drained pasta to the pot along with the pasta water, bacon, and onion. Place the pot over low heat and cook, tossing frequently, until heated through. Removed from heat and quickly add the egg yolks one at a time, stirring after each addition. Add the parmesan cheese and pepper and stir until sauce thickens slightly. Divide among bowls. Top with additional parmesan.

I hope these two dishes will inspire you to use up all your leftovers and stay warm with a full tummy! Happy eating, happy reading, and most of all, Happy New Year! Please come visit my author page on Facebook and "Like" me there. Thanks.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Wishing Y'all Lots of 'Bests'

So, there I was, half-walking-half-running on the treadmill this morning, thinking about food, when I got to thinking about my relatives’ coffee cake.

We hosted my husband’s family this Christmas, and in the midst of cooking and baking and shopping, we ate my sister-in-law’s mother-in-law’s coffee cake. Mardy’s MIL had sent it to her for Christmas; so of course, she brought it with her to our house. Mardy’s kids proclaimed it the ‘Best Coffee Cake in the World’. I had to admit it was really pretty good. But the best? Between you and me, I wasn't so sure.

Of course, I think the reason it was so tasty to my niece and nephew had far less to do with the ingredients and far more to do with the love and memories it drummed up. Most foods are like that, I suppose. I can hardly look at a pork chop without gagging. (bad experience with pork while pregnant!) But I absolutely love steak.

Steak dinner was my family’s Sunday dinner growing up. For me, it’s still my favorite meal. It has to have essential ingredients, of course: New York Strip, Baked potato, Pillsbury Crescent rolls, and green salad with Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing. That’s it. Every birthday and Mother’s Day, that’s what I ask for, and I’m always so happy to dig into my ‘best’ dinner.

Tonight, we’re having Beef Stroganoff, in honor of it being my son’s last night here before he goes back to college. That’s his favorite dinner, which is actually kind of a surprise, because I wouldn’t say I make it all that well. My daughter would tell you her ‘best’ dinner is chicken pie. My husband? Grilled hamburgers. (That was his family's Sunday meal)

I have to tell you-last week, when my relatives were here, we ate every last crumb of that coffee cake. Actually, by the time my relatives left I was thinking that it had to be one of the best coffee cakes, ever. Of course, I have to guess that that has to do far more with the fun times we had and less to do with the cake.

But, all things considered, I hope next Christmas, Mardy brings it again.

What about you? Anyone have a favorite food or dinner…just because it brings you happy memories?

This year, I hope all of you have plenty of meals that are the ‘best’, and that you have time to enjoy each one. After all, you can always get on that treadmill…

Shelley Galloway

Sunday, January 02, 2011


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