Heading Into the Holidays With the Wednesday Medley

It's just like the Wednesday Hodgepodge, but with a new name and a new hostess with the mostess! Much thanks to Terri for continuing our Wednesday Q&A...I'm looking forward to being reacquainted with old friends and meeting new ones!

1.  On November 28th, 1995, President Bill Clinton ended the 55 MPH nationwide speed limit that began in 1974 as an energy saving measure during the Mid-East oil embargo.  If you are old enough to remember this (I sure am) did it make you happy?  Do you have a heavy foot when driving or does 55 MPH sound good to you?

Oh, I was ecstatic! I do have a bit of a lead foot.

2.  You are home alone on a rainy/snowy Sunday afternoon.  What Christmas movie will you watch?

The same Christmas movies I always watch...even in July: The Holiday and/or Family Stone.

3.  What is something you have tried that you will never try again?

Skiing. I tried it when I was a junior in high school on a school trip to Minnesota, and I honestly didn’t care for the feeling of not having control. I really wanted to like it; it’s a really cool sport.

4.  Today is National French Toast Day!!  Will you have some?  Do you like French Toast?

How did I not know this? We love French Toast at my house, but I won’t have any today. CH & I like to fix it for breakfast when we’re camping. Instead of adding milk we add a splash of flavored creamer for a little extra oomph.

5.  The Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center will be lighted today, as will the one at the White House in Washington, D.C.  Do you have your tree up and is it lighted?  Have you ever been in New York City or Washington, D.C. to see the trees all lit up during the holidays?

My tree isn't up yet. I usually wait until mid-December to put it up since I keep it up until Epiphany. I bought a pre-lit tree last year and it was absolutely wonderful! Stress-free, for sure!

I was in NYC a long time ago over Thanksgiving weekend when the high school band I was the guard instructor for marched in the Macy’s Parade & I got to see the tree in Rockefeller.
We spent a couple of Thanksgiving weekends in DC when my BIL & SIL lived there.
It was a bit chilly that day!
6.  Tell us something random about this week of yours.

Last week I managed to clean my entire house, dust bunnies under the bed and all. The only thing I didn’t do was clean the windows. Doesn’t a clean house feel great?
I feel very accomplished with this:


I feel refocused on what’s really important in my life just by rearranging and cleaning this room. 

I can't thank Terri enough for taking on this task of coming up with weekly questions! Want to get in on it? Check her blog Your Friend from Florida on Tuesdays to get the questions, answer them on your blog, and don't forget to link up on Wed. morning!

When I Get Tired of Fixing the Same Thing for Dinner

I don't know how you feel about preparing your dinner menus ahead of time, but I find that it's a time & money saver. I started doing this when my boys were little. I've never been one that could walk into a grocery store, know what I needed for the week/month, and walk out with everything I need minus anything that catches my eye. I prepare a menu biweekly, make my grocery list, and hit the store every 2 weeks for "major groceries". There are times, however, when I get tired of fixing the same thing for dinner and decide to try new recipes.
Unfortunately, almost all of the recipes I've tried lately haven't worked out for me. Let me know if you tried any of these and if you modified them, what you did.

If at first you don't succeed...

The Pioneer Woman's recipes are usually very good, but this one missed the mark. CH wanted a chili recipe to take to a friend's for Halloween (they had a chili cook-off). A friend suggested this recipe and it sounded just like what CH was looking for. The recipe was easy enough, and we were able to fix it on the camp stove while we were camping at a state park near CH's friend's house.
chili cooking on a camp stove
It made a LOT. When we arrived at the friend's house, the MIL came in late (just as the judging was supposed to start) but then she insisted that the judging hold off for a while until she was ready. This recipe has masa in it (used to make tortillas), so when it sits, it thickens. It also has a lot of beans (the original recipe has a total of 8 cans of beans) so that didn't help things either. By the time the judges had any, it was pure mush and not appealing to the eye at all.
Pot of chili on a camp stove
Looks good, doesn't it?
I wanted to give it another try with just a few modifications: I only put in 1 can of both kinds of beans but kept the meat as specified and added a can of Rotel instead of the tomatoes. I also cut down on the masa and prepared in the slow cooker. I browned the meat first, then put all of the ingredients in the slow cooker, except for the masa, which was added an hour before we ate. I was really disappointed in the taste. I'm not a picky eater, but I won't be making this again. I'm going to go back to my old "stand-by" for chili from now on.

It's a Southern Thang...

How many of you like "Breakfast for Dinner"? We don't have it very often, but it was a last minute decision right before I went to the grocery store, partly because I found a recipe that sounded promising in my Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House Cookbook: Garlic Cheese Grits Casserole. Even though I'm Southern born and have never lived out of the Southeast U.S., I don't recall ever buying grits. (CH said I did, but I'm not sure I believe him.)
woman in front of grits at the grocery store with a not-so-sure look on her face
I bought the grits and tried out the recipe. I actually thought it was really good and was pleased with how it turned out. In fact, I will probably make this again.
casserole in a white casserole dish
It was a bit much for the 2 of us & I wasn't sure if it was "freezable".  Since the recipe came out of a cookbook and I couldn't find the recipe online by Miss Mary Bobo's, I am not going to share it. BUT...I found this recipe that was very similar; the only difference is that Miss Mary Bobo's uses 4 eggs instead of 1, 1 1/2 cups of processed cheese (I used sharp cheddar instead), and it is baked for 1 hour.

Well, it kinda worked!

The best part about Steak with Beer Sauce and Sweet Potatoes was the sweet potatoes. The steak was way too messy to cook as directed; oil splattered everywhere and there was quite a bit to clean up. Yeah, I probably didn't do something right, but I followed the recipe exactly as it read. I'll definitely keep the recipe for the sweet potatoes but cook the steak some other way. The beer sauce didn't add anything to the steak, but that's my opinion.
Andouille and Chicken Jambalaya was another recipe that I'll save and fix again. I'm not a fan of spicy so I wasn't sure how I would like the andouille. It was just enough spice to give it an "oomph" but not so much that my mouth burned. Just right for me.

Worth another try...or another recipe

The last attempt to find new recipes was Copy Cat Panera Bread Broccoli Cheese Soup. We like to eat soup when it's cold, and I love McAlister's broccoli cheese soup. Maybe that's where I went wrong: I thought it would taste the same. This recipe had way too much cheese in it. If I tried it again I would half the cheese and run the soup through the blender/food processor before I served it. It was very thick and honestly, not that good with all of the cheese in it. Don't get me wrong: I love cheese, but it was just too much.
Along with the soup, I made some bread that is supposed to be perfect for grilled cheese. I tried it and had to add about 2 Tablespoons of milk to the dough because it didn't ball up like it should have. I'm not sure if it was because I used white wheat flour instead of bread flour, but I wouldn't have thought that would have made that much of a difference. The bread just crumbled and tasted like cornmeal. Maybe I'll try it again.
soup in a pot with a ladle in it; grilled cheese sandwich in the top right corner of stove

So tell me: have you tried any of these recipes? Did they work for you or did you modify them? What recipes have you tried lately that were successes?
crumpled paper on countertop with words 2.5 times out of 6 this happened

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