Blue Cheese Bacon Dip

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The relatives are coming!  The relatives are coming!

That is the cry most often heard around this time of year.  What are you going to feed them?  Thursday’s dinner is a foregone conclusion: turkey, stuffing (dressing if you’re a southerner), pecan pie. 

But what about the rest of the time?

This dip is awesome!  I made it the other day and couldn’t stop eating it.  I dipped in pita chips, carrots, corn chips.  It goes with everything.

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Beet Soup and Ballet Shoes

I know, I know.  A very unlikely combination.  But trust me, in my case, they have gone hand in hand.

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First, the beet soup.  It is a favorite of mine.  My fathers side of the family is Polish.  And this is a classic Polish dish.  Many know it as beet borscht.  Except I don’t serve mine with sour cream.  It’s mashed potatoes and bacon all the way.  Here’s the recipe:

Beet Soup

1 bunch sweet beets, greens cut and discarded

4 C. beef broth

1 1/2 lbs. Yukon gold or Russet potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed

3 strips bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled

red wine vinegar

salt and pepper

Wearing kitchen gloves and an apron, peel the beets and cut into long, thin, julienne style strips.  (Trust me, you want the gloves and apron.  Beet juice will ruin clothing and stain skin for days.)

Put cut beets and beef broth together in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes or until the beets are fork tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Peel and cut potatoes.  Boil them until tender and mash adding salt and pepper to taste.

In a pan, cook bacon until crispy. Crumble the bacon and mix into the mashed potatoes.

Now, serve up the soup.  Add red wine vinegar to each bowl to taste.  Everyone won’t like the same amount of tartness. Then add a scoop of the bacon mashed potatoes and enjoy!

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** Now if you weren’t smart enough to wear an apron or use gloves, you now know that beet juice stains.  So this is where the ballet shoes come in!

I have had 2 pairs of pointe shoes in a closet for months.  I found them on clearance.  I wanted to dye them and decorate my daughter’s room with them.  I just haven’t gotten around to it. 

Until I made beet soup.

And saw the gorgeous color of the soup. 

And ruined a white shirt.

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I knew right then and there that I could use the left over soup to stain the ballet shoes.

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They came out the most gorgeous deep pink color.  And they are totally non-toxic.  Vegetable dye at its best!  It’s not smelly or hazardous.  It’s fantastic!

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I sewed on the ribbon (it really brought back some memories) and hung them over the side of my daughter’s headboard.  Voila!

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Day 19: Eating Healthy

I am not a high energy person.  I require at least 8 hours of sleep (Prince Charming will tell you I need 9 or 10) in order to be a pleasant person.  I am not a morning person.  I LOOOOOVE coffee.  Don’t speak to me before I’ve had a cup of coffee! 

funny Coffee Mug, Don't even talk ceramic Coffee Cup MUG-012

(Available on Etsy)

If, for some reason I stay up too late (the Boston Red Sox have a late game), I spend the next day eating lots of sugar and drinking coffee just to be productive.  I know this is all wrong!  I do want to change it. 

We have some very unhealthy eating habits around here.  We like junk food in this house.  We don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.  I would like to change it.  So I’m putting it out there for everyone in blogland to see. 

We will get it together by eating healthier, as a family!

Our biggest flaw is our snack items.  My kids go straight for the chips and the crackers.  Not fruit or yogurt.  This hit me a few nights ago when I was reading to my kiddos at bedtime.  The princess had gotten a new book I Believe in Genevieve by Jenny Craig.  Yes, that Jenny Craig.  It’s a story about Jenny and her slow sluggish horse.  Through hard work, exercise and eating well, both Jenny and her horse perform better.  Yes, I thought.  That is true. 

(available through Amazon)

Now, I know its going to take some effort.  I’ll have to cut up fruit and veggies in advance so they are easy to access after school.  I will have to not buy the Cape Cod potato chips that I love.  I will have to drink more water and less coffee. (Caffeine headache, anyone?)  But I will do it, because it is good for my family.  So here are some healthy afterschool snack ideas that I have found.

Rainbow Fruit Skewers

Vegetable Crudité with Hummus

Super Smoothie (frozen tropical fruit blend, spinach and water)

Lactose free cheese and crackers (Cabot cheese is lactose free!)

Plain Popcorn sprinkled with a little butter and sea salt

Yogurt covered raisins

I think that I need to go to Trader Joe’s.  I have heard that they have amazingly healthy snack items.  We don’t live near one, so you have to plan to go there.  I will put it on my calendar. 

Then I’ll need to reorganize the pantry!

Day 4: The Fridge

Have you ever found a science experiment growing in the back of your refrigerator?  I have.  I’m not proud of it.  But I vow to not let it happen again.  Unless it IS a science experiment.  Then I plan on getting an A!

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I took everything out.  I wiped down every shelf and surface. 

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I bought this lazy susan at Bed, Bath and Beyond.  It is a great tool to have in the refrigerator.  Just give it a spin and see what’s there!  Small jars of things don’t get hidden behind large jars of things.

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I love my refrigerator!  It is the new Samsung with the multi use drawer in the middle.  Seriously, it’s genius!  And my freezer has two compartments, too.  The top one rolls like a drawer.  Awesome!

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Day 3: The Pantry

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I have decided to tackle the kitchen first.  It seems to have the most storage issues and it gets cluttered quickly.  The pantry is the worst!  I have baskets in there but they are overflowing with chips and crackers and who knows what.  Our boxes of canned goods from Costco stay boxed and haphazardly strewn on shelves.  I do believe there are 3 jars of peanut butter in there somewhere but I can only find one.  AAAAHHHHH!

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So, I scour blogland in search of some inspiration. 

Kitchen Pantry Organization Tips

This is from Burlap and Denim.

A Bowl Full of Lemons.  I love this blog for organizational ideas!

One Perfect Room

Pantry Before and After by Design, Dining + Diapers, pantry organization system, pantry organization, organization tips, closet organization

Designing, Dining and Diapers

OK, I am inspired!  I can do this!  I begin by pulling everything out from the pantry.  I throw away stale and expired items or stuff we just don’t eat.

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I already had the baskets.  I got them at Lowes and bought every single one they had about a year ago.  They don’t make them anymore so I’ve had to find similar ones.  That’s hard for me because I like everything matchy-matchy.

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I bought these can organizers from Target.

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The glass jars are from Ikea. 

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I put all of the items we don’t use that often on top.  Trays, a plate rack, cookbook holder, etc.

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That felt good!  I can’t wait for the next purge!  The refrigerator!

Weekly Menu 3/25-3/29

This week is moving week!  So far our kitchen has remained largely unpacked, but that won’t last long!  The menu for this week is not at all what I normally do, but there is goodness to come.  I am moving to a spectacular kitchen and all of my cooking equipment can now come out of storage and get put away.  Bear with me this week and I promise to share some of my favorite recipes, create some and entertain friends again starting in April.

Monday – Take-out – probably burgers

Tuesday – Take-out – Chinese

Wednesday – Take-out – Mexican

Thursday – Take-out – ?????

Friday – Pizza at the new house!!!!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter and that your Spring is full of blessings and new beginnings!

Weekly Menu 3/4-3/8

With the threat of snow in the forecast on Tuesday and Wednesday (Seriously?!  It’s North Carolina in March!), I decided to make some warm, savory stuff.  But later in the week it should be in the 60’s, so let the grilling begin!  (Again, North Carolina in March!)  Stay tuned for the the recipes showing up.  I need to take some photos of the food.  And I need some photography lessons so bear with me!

Monday – Penne with Avocado, Arugula and Spinach Pesto.  It’s very simple – 1/2 avocado, 1 handful each of spinach, basil and arugula, 1 clove garlic, 2 Tbsp. olive oil and 1/2 C. parmesan cheese.

Tuesday – New England Clam Chowder in bread bowls.

Wednesday – Crock Pot Beef Stew

Thursday – Spiced Rubbed Pork Tenderloin and Grilled Fennel – the recipe calls for roasting it all, I’m going to grill it.

Friday – Grilled Tuna with Black Beans and Mango Salsa

Weekly Menu 2/18–2/22

This week is super easy, with the exception of Wednesday.  I have to cook for 2 families on Tuesday so I’m keeping it simple.  Wednesday is super healthy.  The rest is simple and quick.  No fuss about it.

Monday – Asian Lettuce Wraps – I make mine with ground turkey, water chestnuts and scallions tossed with a sauce of soy and honey.

Tuesday – Stir Fry – veggie only on this one!  I am cooking for a family who has an ill family member and though this was an easy re-heat for them.

Wednesday – Kale and Brussel Sprout Salad – this was brought to Thanksgiving dinner and was a crowd fave.  Found on Epicurious.

Thursday – Chicken pot pie

Friday – Cheddar, bacon and tomato panini on 7 grain bread

Weekly Menu 2/4-2/8

We have all been battling strep throat in my house, so this week I am focusing on easy to swallow foods.  All soups and stews on the menu this week.  This menu is meant to heal, soothe and warm the whole family.  I hope everyone is healthy in your home, if not, give this menu a try to get everyone back on their feet!

Monday – Beet Soup – This is a family recipe and soooo easy.  Just boil beets in beef broth until they are easy to peel and tender.  Peel and cut up julienne style and toss into some fresh beef broth.  Bring to a boil again until beets are fairly soft.  (think al dente)  I like to eat mine with some red wine vinegar mixed in and mashed potatoes at the bottom, but that is not a must. 

Tuesday – Butternut Squash SoupThis one is so easy.  Boil a russet potato, a sweet potato, and a butternut squash until easily mashed.  Sauté an onion and an apple.  Toss all ingredients into a deep pot and add chicken broth.  Use an immersion blender to puree.  Add broth until you get your desired consistency.  Viola!

Wednesday – Pappa Al Pomidoro – Thank goodness for Ina Garten on this one.

Thursday – Champion Chili – Another family recipe, but this one I won’t share just yet. 

Friday – Winter Vegetable Soup – I’ve shared this recipe before.  Enjoy!

Weekly Menu 1/21–1/25

I am still trying to get back into the swing of things after the holidays.  January has been jam packed full of events.  My children had an extra long winter break (2 whole weeks!) and my parents stayed for an extra long time to help out.  Prince Charming and I took our first trip without children (much needed but totally nerve racking!) and today is MLK Day so no school again.  I’m ready to get back to a normal schedule.  So this week I have planned some very easy recipes to help me get organized.  Every extra minute is precious!

Monday – Chicken Thighs with Rosemary Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Onions

Tuesday – Italian Seafood Stew 

Wednesday – Broccoli, Ranch, Cheddar and Bacon Baked Chicken (this is a Pinterest recipe in an effort to actually TRY the stuff I pin!)

Chicken broccoli, ranch, cheese, and bacon in aluminum foil and placed in the oven...gotta try this.

Thursday – Spaghetti Squash with Williams Sonoma Organic Pasta Sauce (I thought I’d give it a try)     

Williams-Sonoma Organic Rustic Vegetable Pasta Sauce

Friday – Burgers!