Friday, November 30, 2012


I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Ours was different this year, but wonderful. It was a day full of family, friends that are like family, food and laughter. My brother had go to work that evening. He is a truck driver so he is gone a few days at a time. His beautiful wife went to Louisiana to have Thanksgiving with her sister, so my brother came and ate with us before he left for work. I am 15 years older than him, so I have always treated him more like a son than a brother. I am so thankful that God has blessed him with such a sweet wife that takes such good care of him. And I am so proud of him for being such a hard worker and taking care of her.

My new daughter in love is from Colombia, South America, and of course, since Thanksgiving is an American holiday, her family does not celebrate Thanksgiving. We invited them over to teach them about Thanksgiving. They enjoyed the food and even though they do not speak much English and we speak no Spanish, we are learning to communicate well. I think their favorite foods were turkey, dressing and broccoli & rice casserole.

That afternoon Kevin's Mom and Grandma came by to visit. Grandma will be 90 years old this month! She is moving a lot slower, but she still gets around.

Later that evening my dear friend, Jaree and her sweet girls came by to eat and visit. My heart was overflowing with thankfulness for all the wonderful people that God has placed in my life.

I started cooking on Sunday in order for everything to be ready to eat by 2:00 on Thursday. So, here is how the week went down:

Sunday - baked pecan pie (without corn syrup) and placed in freezer.

Monday - Made cranberry chutney.

Tuesday - placed turkey in brine (apple juice, orange juice, garlic, salt, pepper & thyme); cooked cornbread for dressing; baked brownies for trifle & made Cole's favorite chocolate crackle cookies.

Wednesday - Made lemon meringue pie, key lime pie, chocolate pudding for trifle and pumpkin roll. Boiled eggs. Took pecan pie out of freezer to thaw.

Thursday - Up early to get turkey out of brine & wash off excess salt. Baked turkey (stuffed orange, apple, garlic in cavity, rubbed olive oil, salt & pepper all over before roasting - juiciest turkey ever!).  Made broccoli & rice casserole in crockpot. Prepared cornbread dressing with sausage & apples; candied sweet potatoes with marshmallows; deviled eggs; Rhodes frozen Texas rolls (my guys' favorite rolls); put Grant's butterfinger brownie trifle together and made Wassail in another crockpot.

My neck decided to get stuck again on Sunday. Great timing! I have herniated discs, damaged nerves & all kinds of nice & painful things in my neck & back. It hasn't hurt that bad in several months, but my neck locked up on me and had a pinched nerve that shot through my right shoulder & caused my right hand to go numb. I am EXTREMELY right handed and had a whole lot of cooking to get done, so this was not good! I would get as much done as I could while Kevin was on the machine and when he got off dialysis, he would stir and mix for me. I hate taking pain medicine, but didn't have time to slow down, so I was popping Aleve and Advil just to keep going. I was in so much pain. I absolutely could not have gotten it all done without Kevin's help.

I didn't try to "healthy" everything up too much. I had way too much to do and not a lot of time to do it in and I wanted Tiffany's family to have a traditional Oklahoma Thanksgiving.  I did, however, use Truvia baking blend in all my baked goods. It is a blend of Truvia & sugar, so it's not sugar free, but it's low sugar. Everything baked up beautifully, except the meringue. As far as taste goes, you can't tell a difference in the taste or texture at all. But the meringue didn't get big & fluffy like it does with real sugar.

Hot apple cider or Wassail is one of Cole's favorite things. It also makes your house smell sooooo good! I make it in a slow cooker.  Tiffany's family loved it and so did Jaree's girls. Here is how we do wassail:


2 - 64 ounce bottles of apple cider
1 cup orange juice
1 can sliced pineapples
1 or 2 oranges, sliced
5-6 cinnamon sticks
handful of red hots (optional)

Place all ingredients (including the pineapple juice) in a crockpot on low setting, or you can put on high, then turn it down once it gets hot.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season full of love, peace, laughter and happiness.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I've been playing around with different cranberry recipes the last few years and the one I made last year was the biggest hit with my family. I was shocked that it became my teenage son's favorite Thanksgiving food, except for chocolate pie. Nothing will ever replace chocolate as his favorite food.

I'm not sure what to call it. It's not really a salad, maybe more of a chutney or relish. Adding a little jalapeno and serving it over a block of cream cheese really put it over the top. The tartness of the cranberries combined with the sweetness of the orange and pineapple plus the little kick from the jalapeno is delicious.


1 - 12 ounce pkg of fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup sugar or 1/4 cup Stevia or Ideal
1/2 cup orange juice (or zest & juice of one orange)
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

OPTIONAL - chopped pecans or walnuts
                       1 jalapeno (seeded & chopped)

Place cranberries, sugar and orange juice in medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until it begins to thicken. The cranberries will burst open and will spit at you, so be careful and keep little ones away.

Once it thickens, stir in crushed pineapple, cinnamon, nutmeg and nuts or jalapeno, if using. Stir for a few minutes until thoroughly combined.

It will be chunky. If you want to leave it chunky, that is fine. Or, ONCE IT HAS COOLED, you can take an immersion blender and blend it up a little. You could also put it in a blender. This does help break up the tiny seeds that you get from the fresh cranberries.

Let it chill for a few hours or overnight. Can serve alone or over a block of cream cheese with crackers. If you love cream cheese as much I do, you are definitely going to want to try this.

NOTE: If you want to thicken it up a little more, add a little Wondra or cornstarch mixed with water. I found a great thickener online at King Arthur Flour Company. It thickens without clumping.

P.S. I just looked up chutney in the dictionary and it says chutney is a mixture of sweet and sour flavors, such as fruits, combined with spices. So, Cranberry Chutney it is!

Wishing you all a very blessed Thanksgiving,


Saturday, November 3, 2012


With all of the natural disasters that have been happening lately, we decided that it was time to stock up and prepare in case of a disaster or emergency. Preparing for an emergency or disaster was part of our home dialysis training. Since Kevin's life literally depends on having electricity and medical supplies, we have to be prepared. About 10 years ago we had a horrible ice storm and were without electricity for 7 days. Since then I try to always have flashlights and extra batteries handy as well as candles and lighters. Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast this week and stopped New York City, New Jersey and others in its tracks. Some people may be weeks without power. Please keep all of these people and the workers in your prayers as they try to clean up and get back to normal. Trying to stock up on non perishable foods while maintaining a healthy diet can be a challenge, but I've been doing some research and want to share with you what I've come up with.

MEDICAL - In home dialysis training they gave us a red folder with a list of Kevin's prescriptions; all of his doctor's contact information; emergency contact information; letters from his doctor stating that he is on life support and needs immediate medical attention in case of disaster or emergency.  They told us to keep that folder somewhere other than our home in case we lost our home, so I keep that red folder in my office at work.

MISC SUPPLIES - Hand held can opener; utility tool; flashlights & extra batteries; wet wipes; hand sanitizer; band aids; plastic forks & spoons; lighters; alcohol pads; dust masks, etc. You get the picture.

FOODS - Canned beans (great source of complex carbs, protein & fiber)
                 Canned veggies
                 Canned soups
                 Tuna (great source of protein)
                 Salmon (great source of protein)
                 Granola bars
                 Canned nuts
                 Peanut butter
                 Juice boxes
                 Bottled water
                 Cans of V8 juice
                 Ensure, Slim Fast or other protein drinks
My local Homeland grocer has Libbys canned vegetables on sale for $0.69 a can this week and Big Lots has Green Giant canned veggies on sale for $0.65 a can. While they are that cheap is a great time to stock up. I also found Kashi and Nature Valley granola bars at Big Lots for $2.00 a box. They are great sources of energy and don't have a lot of junk in them. Big Lots also had canned and jars of nuts on sale. Nuts are a nutritional powerhouse.

Most canned soups are loaded with HFCS, MSG, preservatives, sodium, etc. But Progresso has some without all of that and Campbells now has a new line of "Natural" soups without all the junk in them. Big Lots has the Campbells Natural Soups for $1.25 a can, plus I had a coupon for $1.00 off when you buy 3 cans.

Big Lots also had wet wipes, bottled water, flashlights and jumbo packs of batteries very cheap.

Anyone that knows me knows that I do not go to my local Walmart. Our town has the worst Walmart in the world! I don't have the time or patience to go there. You can't get in and out in under an hour and always have to stand in line to checkout for 30 minutes. The only time I have to shop is my lunch hour, right after work (but I have to be home by 6 to get Kevin hooked up to the machine), and on Saturdays or Sunday afternoons. You couldn't pay me enough money to go to our Walmart on a Saturday. I watch the sale papers, use coupons and shop at Homeland, Walgreens, Dollar General and Big Lots. I can shop in any of those stores and be in and out in 30 minutes.

Eating healthy, stocking up and being prepared for an emergency can be done on a budget. It never hurts to be prepared just in case. If you have any other tips that I left out, please share.

God bless each of you and keep you and your families safe and healthy always.