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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Delighting in Mac and Cheese

Lately I have been on a mac and cheese type of craving. Not the regular mac and cheese but dressed up mac and cheese and I have also been trying mac n cheese in many different restraunts. So far I have been delighted. Why Mac n Cheese I think its because it is one of my child hood favorites. Today I am sharing a dressed up version that delighted my taste buds

The Neely’s Mac and Cheese

6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk, warm
1 teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Dash salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dash of hot sauce
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
3 cups shredded Cheddar
1 pound cavatappi pasta, cooked al dente
I cup crushed potato chips
5 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, for topping

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a large saucepot over medium heat.  Add flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute.  Whisk in the warmed milk and bring to a boil, continue to whisk constantly.  The mixture will thicken as the heat increases.  Continue to stir while adding the dry mustard, nutmeg, cayenne, salt, pepper, hot sauce and Worcestershire.  Stir in the 3 cups of Cheddar until it melts.  Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles and add to a 3 quart casserole dish.  Sprinkle the chips, bacon and Parmesan on top and bake for 35 minutes.

shared at one or more of the following parties
Boost Your Post Party- Ducks 'n a Row
Bouquet of Talent- Life on Lakeshore Drive
Check Me Out Saturday (F)- A Vision to Remember by I Am Only 1 Woman
Dare to Share- Pam's Party and Practical Tips
Get Schooled Saturday (Sa)- Too Much Time
Link Party Palooza (opens Friday5)- Tater Tots and Jello, Lil Luna, I Heart Nap Time, Somewhat Simple, Today's Creative Blog
Saturday Dishes (F7?)- Coffee With Us 3, Recipes for Our Daily Bread
Saturday Night Fever (8P)- Sugar Dish MeThe Weary Chef, Yummy Healthy Easy, Lemon Tree Dwelling
Saturday Sharefest (S6a)- SITS Girls
Saturday Sparks- Pieced Pastimes
Say G'Day Saturday- Natasha in Oz
Serenity Saturday- Serenity You
Show Stopper Saturday (S7)- Joyful Healthy Eats, Simply Gloria, Will Cook for Smiles
Show-licious Craft and Recipe Showcase (Sa)- Sewlicious Home Decor
Skip the Housework Saturday (7a)- Reasons to Skip the Housework
Strut Your Stuff (opens Friday9)- Six Sisters' Stuff
Super Saturday Show and Tell (F6)- BakeretteWhat's Cooking with Ruthie

Learning Disablities Awareness Month

Albert Einstein is probably one of the most well known brilliant minds in history.  Did you know that he had a bad memory and a constant failure to memorize the simplest of things? He would not remember the months in the year yet he would succeed in solving some of the most complicated mathematical formulas of the time without any trouble. He may have never learned how to properly tie his shoelaces but his scientific contributions and theories still have a major effect on all of todays current knowledge of science.
He, along with other people such as Alexander Graham Bell, Winston Churchill, Woodrow Wilson, General George Patton, Cher, Tom Cruise, Walt Disney, Thomas Edison and many others suffered from a learning disablilty called Dyslexia.  Dyslexia is a lifelong challenge. This language-based processing disorder can hinder reading, writing, spelling, and sometimes even speaking. Dyslexia is not a sign of poor intelligence or laziness or the result of impaired hearing or vision. Children and adults with dyslexia have a neurological disorder that causes their brains to process and interpret information differently.

Another learning disorder is called Dyscalculia, problems with math.  Another disorder, Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects writing, which requires a complex set of motor and information processing skills. It can lead to problems with spelling, poor handwriting, and putting thoughts on paper. People with dysgraphia might have trouble organizing letters, numbers, and words on a line or page.     

Dyspraxia is a disorder that affects motor skill development. People with dyspraxia have trouble planning and completing fine motor tasks. This can vary from simple motor tasks such as waving goodbye to more complex tasks like brushing teeth. It is not a learning disability (LD) but often coexists with other LD’s and conditions that impact learning.

This month is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month. To learn more about learning disabilities, and ways for you to help, click on the site for the National Center of Learning Disabilities

National Goof Off Day

Good news to all you goody too shoes out there that only do what you are supposed to do there is a national goof off day.  A day to just let go relax a bit and just simply goof off. So today take a moment to enjoy the world around you and simply goof off with those you love.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Dressed Up Grilled Cheese : The Whistlestop

Loaf of Sourdough Bread from the bakery
Mild Gruyère, shredded
Wisconsin Swiss, shredded
Parmesan, shredded
Butter, room temp
Bacon (crispy fried)
Green Tomatoes
Panko Bread Crumbs
Cayenne Pepper
Olive Oil or Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Slice green tomatoes.  One slice per sandwich.  Grease cooking sheet with olive oil or cooking spray. In a bowl crack two eggs and whisk.  In another bowl, mix handful of panko, handful of Parmesan cheese, dash of salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.  Drench tomato in egg and then cover completely in panko mixture.  Place tomatoes on cooking sheet and cook until golden brown (about 30 minutes).  I baked the green tomatoes instead of frying to keep the sandwich less greasy.  Trust me…you won’t be disappointed with the baked green tomatoes.

While your tomatoes are baking, fry your bacon.  You’ll want it to be crispy friend because it is just better that way.  Slice your sourdough bread (avoid slicing it too thick because it will take too long for your cheese to melt).  Butter both sides of your bread and heat up a skillet or griddle (spray with butter flavored Pam cooking spray or add butter).

Build you sandwich like this:  first add Gruyère, then baked (but fried tasting) green tomato, a bit of Miracle Whip, bacon and then Swiss.  Place in skillet or on griddle and grill until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is completely melted.
shared at one or more of these great parties
Anything Goes (3a)- Bacon Time with the Hungry Hippo
Craft Frenzy Friday (Th7)- Craft Dictator
Creativity Unleashed (6a)- Shaken Together Life
Fancy This Friday (6a)- Truly Lovely
Foodie Friday (Th7)- Home Maid Simple
Foodie Friends Friday (opens Thursday)- Foodie Friends Friday, Walking on SunshineFrom Calculus to CupcakesCindy’s Recipes and WritingsBusy Vegetarian MomThis and ThatWinelady CooksIn the Kitchen with JennyThe Chef Next DoorRobyn’s View
Freedom Fridays with All My Bloggy Friends (TR 7:30)- My Turn for Us, Love Bakes Good Cakes
Friday Frenzy (Th)- Staying Close to Home

Friday Link Party (Th8)- The Pin Junkie
Get Him Fed (F7a)- , Dizzy Busy and Hungry, Bakewell Junction, Hungry Harps, The Baking Fairy, Anyonita Nibbles
I'm Lovin' It (opens Thursday 7)- Tidy Mom
Kitchen Dreaming Weekend Social (Th8)- Kitchen Dreaming 
Let's Get Real Friday- Our Little Family Adventure, Juggling Real Food and Real Life, 365 (ish) Days of Pinterest, Calm, Healthy, Sexy, A Dish of Daily Life
Life of the Party (Th7)- The Grant Life

Link Party Palooza (F6p)- i heart naptime, Today's Creative
Pin Me (8a)- Diana Rambles
Pinworthy Projects (7a)- Domestic Superhero
Post Comment Love (1:30a)- Verily, Victoria Vocalises
That's Fresh Friday(biweekly Thurs7)- Prototype Mama
Weekend Blog Party- Krystal's Kitsch

Weekend Potluck (F6A)- The Better BakerThe Country Cook, 4 Little Fergusons, Sunflower Supper Club, Frugal Family Favorites
Weekend Wind-down (F5p)- This SimpleHome
What To Do Weekends (Th9:00)- Crafts a la Mode

French Bread Day

Today is French Bread day and while I could share a recipe for French bread with you the truth is that I normally do not bake my own French bread but do use it quite often. Not only does it accompany many meals from soups to pastas but there are many other things you can do with it as well.

Grilled cheese is great prepared on French bread. Using your choice of cheese you can prepare same as any grilled cheese by buttering one side of 2 pieces of bread and placing cheese on inside of unbuttered bread slice put together. Grilled and enjoy

Make your own croutons for soup or salad. Cut French bread into small cubes.  Combine some olive oil, melted butter, garlic, parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, oregano and pinch of salt in a bowl.  Toss in bread crumbs and gently stir to coat bread cubes.  Arrange cubes on cookie sheet and bake at 300 degress 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. 

I love French bread for French toast after all they are from the same area. The thickness of the bread offers a more delicious taste in my opinion. Prepare by cutting bread  in desired slice size. In a bowl whisk a couple of eggs, milk and cinnamon.  Melt butter in skillet.  Dredge bread slices in egg mixture and fry until golden brown.  Top with powdered sugar and syrup or fruit your choice.

Stuffed is a delicious way to serve French bread as well. One of my best friends would prepare stuffed sausage bread at the holidays for a breakfast celebration. Cut off one end of French bread loaf (about ¼ of loaf) and scoop out the middle, leaving about an inch inside all around (you can use the scooped out middle for crutons or bread pudding btw).  Take about ½ pound of hamburger or ground steak, add desired amount of canned tomatoes, diced onion and salt and pepper and brown in a skillet.  If consistency is watery add some bread crumbs.  When browned, stuff in bread shell.  Using butter, butter the sides and top of loaf and bake in 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

In a bowl, combine a couple seeded and diced medium tomatoes, about ½ of a diced onion, a clove of minced garlic, salt, pepper and extra-virgin olive oil to taste.  Place bowl in fridge.  Cut French bread into desired bruschetta size and broil in oven.  Once bread is browned to your liking remove from oven and to with tomato mixture from fridge and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  

shared at

The Chicken Chick

World Down Syndrome Day

World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) is observed on 21 March. On this day, people with Down Syndrome and those who live and work with them throughout the world organize and participate in activities and events to raise public awareness and create a single global voice for advocating for the rights, inclusion and well being of people with Down syndrome.

All though it has only been officially observed by the United States since 2012 I was aware of Down Syndrome Years before this I was introduced to children with Down Syndrome. I believe my first chance of meeting children with special needs was when my mother started driving the transportation bus that them to the special school. Perhaps on first meeting I was startled because I was so young but I truly do not remember this ever happening. In fact I remember having a friendship with them like no other. It seemed they listened to me better than other friends and I always liked helping others. Many years later I had a friend who had a child with Downs. While she may have been startled at first this never stopped her from taking her young child everywhere. There were people who may have said he can not but she always said yes he can just watch. I love her spirit because of this and I know that their bond is so strong because of their love and strength. In every cell in the human body there is a nucleus, where genetic material is stored in genes.  Genes carry the codes responsible for all of our inherited traits and are grouped along rod-like structures called chromosomes.  Typically, the nucleus of each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, half of which are inherited from each parent. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21.

When my friend Austin was born he was a very sick little boy and still struggles with health issues but every day he is there to put a smile on everyones face. A few common physical traits of Down Syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm.

Down Syndrome Fact Sheet ( ) provides an excellent overview. Below are a few facts from this fact sheet:
  • Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition; one in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome.
  • Down syndrome occurs in people of all races and economic levels.
  • Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades - from 25 in 1983 to 60 today.
  • All people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses.
  • Quality educational programs, a stimulating home environment, good health care, and positive support from family, friends and the community enable people with Down syndrome to realize their life aspirations and lead fulfilling lives.

For those interested in learning more about Down Syndrome, I recommend starting with wikipedia link below, as it provides an excellent starting point.
References and Links:

The Seaman Mom

Common Courtesy

One thing that never seems to go out of style is being courteous to all those you meet. Saying please and thank you, holding doors open for others, and considering the feelings of those you know and meet are things that we should do daily but on March 21 a day has been set aside for common courtesy. I always tell my children that they can attract more positive attention and make friends by being nice and courteous. If everyone was nice the world would be a much better place full of friendship. 

A few things that you can do to be part of the National Courteous day:
  • Say hello to everyone with a smile
  • Hold the door open for the next person
  • If people around you are trying to hear something, such as a movie, etc, be quite.  If you must speak, keep your voice down.
  • If you have extra cookies or cupcakes, share some with your neighbors
  • If you ride the train, subway or bus, offer to give your seat to an elderly or handicapped or pregnant person
  • Don’t forget to say Please and  Thank You, especially to servers who are waiting on you
  • Be considerate of those around you, if you are able, help someone in need, such as helping someone load groceries to their car, or helping an elderly person cross the street

  •  Barney shares with children how to treat each other in the song "Please and Thank You"

    It doesn't cost a dime to be courteous, and the payback you get is fantastic.  Instead of having a Common Courtesy Day, I think we should make it a Common Courtesy Year, or even a Common Courtesy Life!

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

    Happy Happy happy

    Great American Meatout

    A meatout  helps bring observance to a diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. There definetly  are  benefits to a plant based diet. Restraunts, grocery stores and catering operations have all started to take note of those that desire a more restrictive diet. The Meatout started in 1985 and has been the world's largest annual grassroots diet education campaign. The goal is to "kick the meat habit" on March 20th. The American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, Johns Hopkins University and the American Heart Association have all joined the campaign to promote consumption of plant based foods.

     No Meat Chilli
    1 medium onion diced
    2 stalks of celery diced
    1 carrot diced
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    2 tablespoon vegetable oil
    4 tablespoon Chili Powder
    2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
    1 tablespoon ground cumin
    1 can diced tomato (14.5 oz)
    3 cups vegetable stock or water
    salt to taste
    1 can kidney beans,drained and rinsed
    1 can black beans,drained and rinsed
    1 square bittersweet chocolate
    3-4 tablespoon cornmeal

    Sauté Onion,Celery,Carrot and garlic in vegetable oil for approx 2 minutes Add Chili powder,cumin and Italian seasoning and continue sautéing until vegetable become translucent. Add diced tomato, vegetable stock and bring to a boil.Then lower to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes. Add both cans of bean and simmer for 15 minute longer. Add chocolate square and stir until melted. Sprinkle cornmeal on the top of the Chili and then stir in. Allow to simmer until thickened. Serve with your favorite topping (mine is Cheddar cheese and sour cream!)

    recipe source here

    Anipasto salad with pasta

    One of the first recipes I ever made after being married was macaroni and tomato. What a delicious dish especially when I had no idea how to cook. I am so glad that this red gold recipe takes my first dish so much farther and offers a delicious taste in a bowl.

    8ounces bow ties pasta, cooked, rinsed and drained
    2(14.5 ounce) cans Red Gold® Petite Diced Tomatoes With Garlic & Olive Oil, drained
    1/4cup low fat Italian dressing
    2cups cauliflower florets
    1/2cup mini pepperoni
    1/2cup chopped green bell pepper
    3/4cup cubed mozzarella cheese


    Stir together RED GOLD® PETITE DICED TOMATOES with GARLIC & OLIVE OIL and dressing in a large bowl. Add pasta and all remaining ingredients; toss to combine and coat vegetables with dressing. Serve immediately or refrigerate until cold

    shared at
    Get Crafty Party
    Showcase Your Talent Thursday

    Endlessly Inspired
    Love Bakes Good Cakes

    Tuesday, March 18, 2014

    Lazy Cake Cookies

    No time for chocolate? Think again. Check out this awesome Lazy Cake Cookie recipe

    Lazy Cake Cookies:

    1 box yellow or white cake mix
    2 eggs beaten
    5 T melted butter
    2 C M&M's or mini chocolate chips

    Mix together, put in a greased 9x13 pan and bake at 350 for 20 min!

    shared at
    Cast Party Wednesday
    Friday Pin Fest
    Weekend Retreat

    Nature Here At Home

    The beauty here in southern Illinois is second to none in my opinion. The wildlife you may find around every bin is different in size and shape but all just as interesting. Whether you take a winding path along the rock way or head down to the river you are sure to have an enjoyable trip.

    The green tree frog found here in southern Illinois looks very cute but does have a special place in the nature. They certainly love the area here that is forest like and provides exactly what they are looking for. While they are common here in the southern part of the state the rest of the state they seem to be either rare or non existent. The tree frogs spend the day sleeping on the underside of large leaves or in the moist shady places. Commonly found in bodies of water near swamps, floodplains, and marshes.

    Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip, and Pecan Cookies

    My grandmother  is the best cookie maker ever. Oh my to go into her home and find yummy cookies freshly made waiting on me. While nostalgia may take me back to some yummy cookies if you make these up for you and yours all of us will be in cookie heaven.

    1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 5 1/2 ounces)
    1 cup regular oats
    3/4 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    1/3 cup butter, softened
    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1 large egg
    1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
    1/4 cup semisweet chocolate minichips

    Preheat oven to 350°.
    Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt), stirring with a whisk; set aside.
    Place sugars and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add vanilla and egg; beat until blended. Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Stir in pecans and minichips. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until edges of cookies are lightly browned. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.

    recipe source here

    shared at
    somewhat simple

    All Things Thursday Blog Hop

    Goals This Week

    This Week’s Goals:
    Marriage/Mothering/Homemaking Goals

    1. Spring / Winter clothes organizing
    2. dusting everything
    3. spending quality time with hubby
    4. shopping for spring clothes for grand-kids
    5. nephews here for weekend

    Personal Goals
    1. start reading new devotional book
    2. monitor blood sugar more regularly

    Blog/Business Goals
    1. create new review post
    2. create new giveaway  post

    Monday, March 17, 2014

    Easy and Cute Easter Craft

    I love this Easter craft. It reminds me of some Christmas ornaments that we made when I was a pre-teen. So super cute made with fabric strips same as the Christmas ornaments of the past. All these adorable eggs need are scraps of fabric, glue and construction paper. Find out how to make them here

    Get Ready For Spring

    The beautiful crocuses have started to appear in the yard and even though it seems the winter weather wants to still hang out it is a clear sign that spring weather will soon be here. It may be time for early spring prep.

    Take time to shop for grass seed and lawn fertilizer

    The stores are all ready putting out spring merchandise such as seed, fertilizer, spring bulbs and bushes. Now is the time to shop for the best selection. When shopping remember to look for fertilizer that lighter on nitrogen. Its always a great idea to pick up some grass seed to fill in spots that may have been damaged over the winter. This year we saw more snow and ice than in most years which may have led to parts  of the yard damaged.

    Since it may be too cold to head outside to work on the yard it is the perfect time to get yard tools ready for the new season. Beat the rush to get the blades to the mower sharpened When it warms up a bit get ready to clear away debris left behind because of the weather.

    Prepare what you can now and when the time comes you will be ready to enjoy the spring planting season.

    shared at The Dedicated House

    Fluster Buster

    Baked Potato Soup with Cheddar and Bacon

    Baked Potato Soup with Cheddar and Bacon

    4 Russet potatoes, baked, peeled and cubed
    2/3 cup unsalted butter
    2/3 cup all-purpose flour
    1 (32-oz) package low salt chicken broth
    2 cups milk
    2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded
    4 strips bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled
    4 ounces sour cream or non-fat yogurt
    Salt and pepper to taste

    In a Dutch oven or soup pot, melt butter. Stir in flour and cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add chicken broth slowly, whisking until smooth. Add milk and continue stirring. Add half of cheese, pour remaining amount in a bowl for garnish. Add cubed baked potatoes.Just before serving, stir in sour cream or yogurt. Add pepper to taste. Garnish each serving with bacon and remaining cheese. Finely chopped green onions or chives would make lovely garnishes. I use skim milk and light sour cream and reduced fat cheese in this and it still as rich as you'd ever want it.

    shared here

    Elizabeth and Co
    Tuesday Talent Show
    Boogieboard Cottage

    Wildlife Week

    This is national wildlife week. Living here in southern Illinois we are surrounded by wildlife. I am one that loves nature and the beauty it offers. Whether we like all creatures or not they are all still here and we are blessed to have them. One that I do not want to come up close to is the cottonmouth snakes here in southern Illinois. My dad used to travel the back roads a lot and the stories he could tell. The length of these rattle snakes and cottonmouths that dot the road can grow to extreme lengths.

    Come see us tomorrow to see what wild life we share here at Annies Home

    Easy Corn Beef and Cabbage

    I was  telling my friends at work today that for years I could always remember my grandparents serving corned beef and cabbage every St. Patrick Day. So if you are  looking for a great recipe check out this one.
    4 slices bacon
    4 tablespoons butter
    1 head green cabbage, coarsely chopped
    Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
    1 can corned beef 
    Cook the bacon in large pot over medium heat until almost crisp. Remove the bacon from the pot and set aside. Melt the butter in the pot with the bacon grease. Add the cabbage, stirring well to coat the cabbage in fat. Add about 1/3 cup water, and salt and pepper, to taste. Cover pot with a lid, and cook over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the bacon into small pieces.
    Remove the lid from the pot, and scatter chunks of corned beef and chopped bacon over top of the cabbage. Cover and cook until desired doneness. I personally like a little bit of crunch left to the cabbage.
    Tip: Cabbage is one of those vegetables that naturally contains water in its leaves. Begin by adding just a small amount of water. As cabbage cooks, if it needs more liquid, then add more water.

    shared at
    Hearth & Soul Hop

    Lunch TIme Snacks

    American Chocolate week continues with these delicious lunch time snacks. Packing these in lunches should leave those who are packing them with smiles.
    8 cups puffed wheat cereal
    3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    ⅓ cup corn syrup
    ¼ cup packed brown sugar
    ⅓ cup butter or margarine
    Place puffed wheat in a large bowl, and set aside. Grease one 9×9 inch pan. Grease the rim of a medium saucepan to prevent boil-over. Place the cocoa powder, corn syrup, brown sugar, and butter or margarine in the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often until mixture comes to a full boil. Allow to boil for 1 minute, and then remove from heat. Pour chocolate mixture over puffed wheat, and stir until puffed wheat is evenly coated. Using a buttered spatula, press mixture into the prepared pan. Allow to cool, then cut as desired. Wrap squares individually, or store in an airtight container.

    St. Pattys Day Celebration

    shared at
    Seasonal Sunday

    Happy St. Patricks Day

    An Irish Blessing for Saint Patrick’s Day May the leprechauns be near you,
    To spread luck along your way.
    And may all the Irish angels,
    Smile upon you on St. Patrick’s Day.