Friday, July 30, 2010

What to do with Banana Peppers

(First off sorry for the blogging delay. Lost my mojo for a few days. I know, no excuses. Geez, I'm not even on vacation yet. I hope to be back with the program now. Thanks for the kick in the pants blue violet!)

Back to the topic...

You may remember several weeks ago I had the weekend project of planting my spring flowers. Along with them I also planted a few banana pepper plants.

I’ve never done any gardening beyond herbs. This was my first adventure into a food item. I’m not sure what possessed me to buy pepper plants. I guess I needed something to fill the blank wall on the back of the house and couldn’t find the right flower. I didn’t want to try tomatoes since I’m not overly fond of them and I didn’t want a kitchen full of something that would go to waste.

Well, they grew a lot better than I anticipated.

Now what do I do with a kitchen full of peppers.

Let me just tell you there are not that many recipes for banana peppers. Most of them are variations on how to pickle them. I might end up doing that next but for starters, I went with stuffed peppers.

I found a recipe on and then I changed it. I do that to recipes. …add a little more of things I like… omit things I don’t really care for ...Ta Da. New recipe. So here’s the recipe I ended up using.

1 small chopped tomato (I know, I said I’m not fond of them but I like to cook with them)
1 ½ cups cheddar cheese
½ lb. sweet sausage cooked
¼ lb. of cooked crumbled bacon
8-10 slices of un-cooked bacon
8 –10 banana peppers (hot or sweet)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Slice the peppers length wise and clean out the seeds.

In a bowl mix together the cooked sausage, cooked bacon, tomato and cheese.

Stuff each pepper as full as possible then wrap with a slice of bacon and place in a baking dish.

Place the dish in the oven for 25-35 minutes or until bacon is cooked.

They were really yummy as an appetizer.

To use up the left overs the next morning, we made our version of an “Italian breakfast”. (It’s a dish that is served at a local restaurant that we make here at home occasionally). Take the leftover cooked (stuffed) peppers and slice. Toss the peppers and all their fillings into a skillet with some scrambled eggs and sauté. You can also add some pepperoni, green or red peppers and onion if you like. Top with some more cheese.

It looks like a mess but it sure is good!

Do you have any other ideas for banana peppers???

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hot or Cold???

It’s no surprising announcement that I like my coffee. I like hot coffee, iced coffee, happy coffee just about any coffee. With that said, I’m not one of those “have to have it every day” kind of people. For me my coffee should be part of an experience. Even if it’s just the three minutes I give myself to sit down and sip a mug full. I can’t drink on the run and I really don’t enjoy having it while I’m busy trying to get other stuff done. I am completely incapable of drinking from a to go mug. Not the kind that you get at the drive thru with the little hole in the plastic lid. I can handle that. It’s the nice travel mugs you fill up at home and take with you. Nope. I either spill it on myself or somehow aspirate and end up chocking. So fine, I’ll stick to my regular mug and sitting at home. My favorite coffee is the cup that comes with a good friend. Coffee is best as a social event.

When I’m cold, I like to curl up with a nice steamy cup-o-Joe. The warmth from the mug soaks into my hands and almost makes my whole body relax. When it’s hot out, I can find just as much relief from a nice iced coffee.
For the kid party the other day I had a huge pitcher of iced coffee made to give the Mommies a special treat.

Here are a few of my tricks for a refreshing iced coffee drink. Let’s say you want to end with a pot of 8-cups of coffee. Scoop a heaping 6 scoops of coffee into the filter but only pour about 5 or 6 cups of water in the coffee maker. Start the brew and wait a few minutes for the coffee maker to do it’s job. As soon as it’s done brewing take the pot off the hot plate and turn the coffee maker off. I open the lid to the pot and let the heat out. Slowly I will start to add ice to bring up the water level to the original desired amount (8-cups). Be careful not to add too fast you don’t want to crack the glass. If you rather, you can transfer the coffee into a plastic pitcher and add you ice there. Once I have the water level up I add some creamer. I like the flavored creamer. The cold creamer will help to chill your drink off a little faster too. I always add more creamer to iced coffee than I would add to hot. You might need to play around with amounts until you get the ratio that works for you tastes. Now pour into a glass filled with ice and enjoy.

If you have planned ahead you might be able to pour that drink over some coffee ice cubs.
The day before I made the iced coffee I took the leftover coffee from the morning pot and poured it into an ice cube tray. With coffee ice cubes I could make sure the coffee was really cold but didn’t have to worry about it become diluted.

I’m pretty sure everyone enjoyed their drink.

Hot or cold…what’s you favorite??
Do you have any ideas on how to jazz up a coffee drink?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Kid Party Survival

It’s a crazy month when you have two kids having a birthday one week apart. For now things aren’t too bad. Little man just turned two so no need for the kid party just yet. Besides, being born so close to the fourth of July, He got a parade on his birthday. One week later his sister turned five.

With yet another older sister in the house “kid parties” are a familiar topic around here. Sometime they can discuss possible themes 6 months or more in advance of the actual birth month.

This year, the now five-year-old, picked; princess Fiona, Tinkerbell, mermaids… no, no wait…
M & M!!!!!
That’s right she wanted an M&M candy theme party. Ok by me!!!!

So let’s get started. Every kid party needs; some decorations, a craft, a few games, snacks, a treat or cake and goodie bags. Since my new addiction is making T-shirt dresses (even for their dolls) I had to make a dress for the birthday girl. Finding the fabric was not as easy as I thought it would be. The M&M fabric was discontinued in 1999. Aaaaagh!!
No worries. Through the magic of the internet, I was able to find some fabric and get it shipped to me 2 weeks before the party. It was green non-the-less, HER FAVORITE COLOR!!!!
With the kids off to camp for a few hours I was able to make the dress with only a two year old as a witness.

With the party girl decked out in her best M&M attire we needed to continue the theme for our guests. I found a font I liked and printed out a pattern then traced it on some felt. I used “tack it over and over” to make appliqués for each guest to wear on their shirts. (In the invite I asked that guests wear a shirt to represent their favorite M&M color).

With that out of the way I was ready to move on to the décor. Since a few of the guests had older sibling I needed to make it simple for the Moms so I thought we could have the festivities in the garage and let the older ones play in yard while the little ones partied in the garage. My brilliant friend likes to use tablecloths as a backdrop for her kid parties so taking a cue from her I covered the garage in bright colored tablecloths to set the scene for some M&M fun.

With some bright colored plastic plates and a several gift bags I was able to make it rain M&Ms in the garage. I glued a few plates together and cut out 60 some little “m”s and then glued them onto plates and gift bags
and suddenly we were in M&M land.

Now for the crafts and activities. Coloring pages were a little more difficult to come up with than I thought. You’d be surprised what comes up when you google “m”!!?!!?!! I like to use Google images and usually, I can find what I need, especially if I type in “outline” or “cartoon” after the word. Since I couldn’t find coloring pages for M&Ms I printed a few M&M images out then traced them onto blank paper with a sharpie and then made several copies.
I even personalized one of them to hold a card for the birthday girl. Coloring is a great activity to have the kiddos do while they wait for all the guests to arrive. It keeps them busy and quiet while you wait.

After coloring, we moved onto M&M bingo. In a word document I made a table and then copied and paste multiple images into each block to create a variety of cards for bingo play.
They weren’t the most aggressive bingo players I’ve ever seen but they did do a good job at marking off their cards.

I found some foam smiley face beads that I called “M&Ms” and the good little kiddos made their own M&M necklace for their craft project then we were off to the next game.
Instead of pin the tail on the donkey we played put the M&M back together. A few sheets of poster board and looking at an image of Ms. Green and I was able to create a suitable likeness.

Part of the fun for me was watching the face of my slightly OCD five year old as the blindfolded kids put Ms. Green together.
Needless-to-say she quickly repositioned her after the participants were finished placing their body parts where they thought they should go. (Poor kid; I should start her therapy now huh???)

After this fun it was time to move to the patio for some cup cake decorating. (I like to slide an activity in wherever I can. It eats up time and keeps the little hands busy) Rather than the traditional cake I opted for cupcakes and asked that they be plain so that the kiddos could decorate their own.
A few tubes of icing and a bowl or two of M&Ms and chocolate chips and they were good to go!!!!
I was actually surprised that they were almost more interested in decorating than eating. There were towers of icing and toppings.
Toss in a few drink boxes and it’s snack time. (I did have some trail mix earlier loaded up with what else but M&Ms??? And I had to have something special for the Mommies… some high-test iced coffee. I’ll post about that soon.)

All in all a great party. One word of advice, keep your checklist with you! Once everyone was gone I realized that I had more prizes to fill their goodie bags with. Oh well, passing them out will be an adventure for us to have in the next day or two. With the kid party done all I have to do is survive the Family party this weekend. Now, where is that bottle of wine?????

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Stress Management!!! ?

Quick update:
My friend had her baby!!!!
The terrible two are in full force just as they should be.
I’m running around like a mad woman trying to organize things for my soon to be 5 year old to have her M&M candy party. (I’ll be sure to post all the details if I survive)

Did you ever notice how any given day can unexpectedly turn into a stressful heap of “Aaaaaaa, get me out of here!!!!”?

Stress is everywhere. Even good things can bring on a certain amount of stress like having a baby, getting married, starting anew job. Then there are the unforeseen things that just pop up like a flat tire, a broken coffee maker when you really need some caffeine or the Sunday driver that pulls out in front of you when you’re already running a little behind.

As a therapist, stress management was one of my treatment goals at least 80% of the time. If it wasn’t a treatment goal I made sure that the topic came into conversation on a regular basis. Even though stress is such a huge part of our day-to-day life and something that we know has a big impact on us when the chips are down, it is rarely ever handled in a healthy manner.

We yell, we hold it all in, we snip at innocent bystanders, we eat, we drink, and we loose sleep. Stress can build to the point of causing additional health issues.

On a good day most people will do at least a few things to take care of themselves. Let’s make a good choice for something healthy: choose fruit or veggies over that bag a chips, choose water over that soda, choose to take a walk rather than sitting in front of the TV stewing over whatever it is irritating you, choose to call a friend and vent. Getting it off your chest really does help. Sometimes it’s just the opportunity to hear it out loud or the feeling that someone else knows or even validates what you are feeling.

We can make good choices but we rarely do. Do something today to help ease your stress. Make it a habit and when things are raining down on you, you‘ll be better equipped.

Let’s start off today with something simple like deep breathing. The next time you need to “count to ten” you’ll know how to get the most out of your ten.

First off, correct your posture… head up, shoulders back. Inhale through your nose and take in as much air as you can. Fill your lungs. Your inhale should take a good 2 to 4 count. Pause for a second and then release. Exhale through your mouth nice and slowly. The exhale should take at least twice as long as the inhale. A good 4 to 8 count. Rest, and then take another breath. Be careful if you’re not used to this you could get light headed.

I’m going to periodically check in to remind you to decompress you stress. I’ll toss in a few other stress management techniques along the way and in the mean time you keep practicing your deep breathing.




Monday, July 5, 2010

Back to Blogging Soon

It has been such a busy, busy holiday week/weekend. A play date one day, off to the local theater for a kid show of Cinderella the next, then to lunch with the wild kiddos. Check in with a friend to see if she’s had that baby yet….NO. Go to an outdoor concert to start the 4th festivities (on the 2nd) then to a friend’s house to run off some steam and get the little man covered in sand. Quick bath and catch some fireflies. Next day, up to serenade the “baby”. Little man is officially TWO! Let the terrible twos begin! Out the door for the best parade in the state, grand marshaled by our towns own Bobby Vinton!!! Tailgate there for a good 3 hours, home for a short nap (baby and Dad only) then off to a friends house for swimming, cook out, bon fire, more lightening bugs and fireworks!!!!!
Sleep hard and fast because we’re up early for church then a few chores while the big 2 year old naps then to a family picnic. Whew, got the girls off to art camp, time for mama to re-group and get ready for another busy week. Back to some real blogging soon, there are all kinds of topics floating around my head.