Getting Ready For the Big Day! Tips For Hassle Free Entertaining on Thanksgiving :)

Thanksgiving will be here before we know it! Please revisit my revised article about getting ready for the big day! Enjoy! 🙂

Creations_by_Char

“Enter His gates with Thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” Psalm 100:4

My bacon green beans!! Sooooo yummy!

I love my wooden candy corns! 🙂

Every year it’s the same. I know Thanksgiving is coming but as it gets closer the same panic ensues thru me. It’s accompanied by excitement and just a sheer love of the holiday but the fear of not pulling it all together in time seems to always take over.

Although, I have to admit I have gotten much better over the years and in my “older” age of chilling a little more and just basically learning to suck it up and work around the challenges.. I have also in all my many years of entertaining learned what works and what doesn’t…and those of you who know me, know I LOVE to share my tips and knowledge! LOL!

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My Big Plans for Creations_by_Char! Please join me!!!

“I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength.” PHILIPPIANS 4:13

I am very excited!! I have recently had some big changes in my life. Found myself living in a very different house…not really an empty nest but pretty close. Most certainly an atmosphere I hadn’t experienced in 34 years! Our youngest went off to college but comes home some weekends and of course on her breaks. I am sure that will change swiftly when her softball season starts to kick in come January. So needless to say, the house has become a lot quieter and my Momma duties have slowed way down! Part of me is heartbroken, but the part of me that has been put on hold for all these decades…and I wouldn’t change it for anything, has had an exploding rebirth!

It took me a while to accept this. It’s like I didn’t know HOW to be myself…well, my old self. It felt completely unnatural. I found myself having time for things I hadn’t even THOUGHT about in so long. Like taking time to really FIX my hair or OMG going to bed ON TIME!!! I hadn’t had more than 4-6 hours sleep a night in decades! I have since remembered how WONDERFUL sleep can be! Been cleaning out closets, drawers, reading, crocheting, etc. Amazingly though, still feeling like something was missing. I was having a hard time TRUELY enjoying this new found existence. Couldn’t shake the sadness of all my babies being gone and I couldn’t settle into it. Something or SOMEONE was working on me and I just hadn’t figured it out yet.

And the baby graduates!

When I was growing up I had a plan from a VERY young age. I WAS going to be a Mom and the best one that ever lived! I knew as the years went by that I had talents that God gave me. Talents that could have been very marketable or could have turned into some nice careers for me…but, none of that mattered to me. I told my husband before we even walked down the aisle that I was going to be at home with our children, and if that wasn’t something he agreed with than he needed to find another girl! Luckily for me he agreed and didn’t run for the hills!

Now let’s face it, not having 2 substantial incomes in a family nowadays is a struggle. And we did our share of struggling to make ends meet…and sometimes we didn’t. I always did what I had to do to bring in extra money and still be able to be at home. Fortunately, we were blessed with my Husband’s hard work up the ladder and his income growing over the years that we were able to make it all work and send our kids to college. It has never been easy and still isn’t but that’s how life is. God never promised us a perfect life…but He did promise EVERLASTING life and to be with us always.

When we took a transfer with my Husband’s company to Tennessee I had the opportunity to not have to work. We were in a new place and we needed to get settled and had a 6th grader, (our other 3 kids were grown or in college and stayed in Ohio) who at the time had a lot of adjustments to make. So, we felt we would revisit bringing in some extra income at a later date. Once we were settled, I got inspired to do something I had always thought about but never took seriously. Remember, I was MOM and that was my job! I wasn’t exactly sure what lane I would pick, because I enjoy sharing SO many things I have learned over my very educational life! I was often told that I have a plethora of knowledge that I need to share with the world. I was always like…yeah that would be fun and I would really enjoy that…I LOVE to help people and make their lives easier but my life is just too busy and my family needs me…just no time. Well, I started to revisit that idea when I wasn’t working and my daughter was now settled in school and making friends. I started to feel like it could actually be a possibility! Whoa!

Now my oldest son has a knack for technology, among other things, but I knew he was the one I needed to go to for advice of how to implement this great idea I was brewing! So long story short, he helped me take my little concept and form it into a reality. I could see in my mind, almost like a vision, how and where this dream of mine would go and I was ready! So I got to work! Creations_by_Char became a reality! After I felt comfortable with the concept I started a blog and social media pages. I went to work on formulating recipes, tablescapes, holiday entertaining, you name it! I was on a roll!

As time went on, we decided some extra income was needed so I took on some work from home to help out. I was still able though to continue on my mission to make my little “brand” a reality! And, it was beginning to really work!

A little show lol called The Chew on ABC was beginning to use some of my food photography and one day wanted to showcase one of MY recipes ON THE SHOW!!!! I almost died! To this day I still can’t believe it! They literally made my recipe and taste tested it on the air! Michael Symon ate MY Mushroom Horseradish burger on the show LIVE and LOVED it! At that moment I really felt like I was on my way! I felt like maybe my little idea wasn’t so crazy after all! So, I kept at it!

This is the infamous Horseradish Mushroom Burger and Potato Wedges

I have NEVER wanted to be famous and STILL don’t want to be. I like my “under the radar” life, but I would love to get paid for my abilities and help our family financially. I kept working hard and the ideas just kept flowing. I truly felt God was helping me along and wanted this to be my path. When He talks, I listen and I really believed he was guiding me down this new road I was on.

As many of you know my new little path was taken down a big detour and brought to a screeching halt when my husband fell ill and had 2 heart attacks. You can read about it in my story called “17 Days” at the top of my blog page.

As with my role as a Mother, I didn’t and still don’t regret my sacrifices as a Wife to help my Husband and my family through that challenging and very scary time of our lives. As you can imagine through those coming years of adjustments, financial struggles, and all the unknowns, my little dream was put back in that little box…for safe keeping…just in case I would be blessed again to open it and say hello. To again revisit that part of “Char” that made an appearance for a short time that I was still so grateful for.

Then to add to all the craziness, we took another transfer and moved back to Ohio. It felt like the right thing to do with all that had happened. We wanted to be close to family and be back with our older kids. So we got settled AGAIN and life went on. We got SUPER busy with school and sports with our youngest and I started working full time from home. My little “dream box” by now was pretty dusty and had cob webs! And still, I was fine with it. The Mom and Wife role was now 24/7 and it wasn’t changing anytime soon!

So, here I am, years later with another opportunity to open that little box. This time however, the feeling of being guided by God is even more strong and I have been listening! I do still work from home so my time is somewhat limited but recently I had some time off and I think God gave me a little kick in the butt and it motivated me! SO….my mind got to work! All those old creative juices started flowing and I am ready to carry on with my plan! We live in a different world now than when I started so my goals and inspirations have changed a little but it’s all still coming from my same heart filled with the desire to spread positivity, creativity, and love.

I want to get back to old fashioned values and bring it to today’s world, our youth, and our beautiful Mother’s, future Mother’s and families. I want to bring back forgotten joys we have lost along the way. I want to share God’s love and inspiration and bring people to His word. I want to get families excited again about the dinner table and slowing down to ACTUALLY talk and enjoy each other. I want to bring attention to the value of prior generations and their knowledge and the beauty of what they lived and experienced. I want to give women the courage and inspiration to take a break and BE OKAY WITH IT…to slow down and see beauty where it has been overshadowed by all the craziness of this world. There is so much in this world to see and appreciate and it lives in simple little places that the forces all around us want to take away and hide forever. I want to with God’s help, bring out my dream and bring about a way of thinking filled with faith, hope, joy, beautiful things, knowledge of all I have learned on my very long journey of hills and valleys, and hopefully have fun along the way! And maybe, y’all will have plenty to teach ME along the way too!

So please join me as I start this new chapter of Creations_by_Char! Please follow me on Instagram and Facebook so you don’t miss it when I finally become brave enough to go LIVE! I plan on going live in my kitchen with cooking, entertaining, holiday planning, crafts, projects, life lessons and so much more! If God gives me enough strength, I may even sing a song or 2! Ya just never know! 🙂

Thank you for supporting me along the way and please spread the word! I want to inspire and help as many as I can! A dream isn’t a dream without beautiful people to join you along the way!

Created with love by:

Creations_by_Char

Char Head 🙂

Please Don’t Forget the Joy of Thanksgiving…

Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven”

Those of you who have followed me through the years know of my love for Thanksgiving. I really can’t remember how many years I have been hosting it but it’s been a lot! I remember the first Thanksgiving meal I made and even though it wasn’t the greatest, I was only 18 and it was pretty darn good considering that! I do recall that the love of this holiday started long before that. There is just something so special about it that no other holiday can capture.

When I was growing up we always went to either my Aunt’s or my Grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving. The memories are STILL embedded in my brain in total detail. The smells, the comforts, getting to see my cousins, and just the sheer happiness I always felt that day. I remember getting out of the car when we got there, which was pretty quick since we didn’t wear seatbelts lol, and smelling the food cooking outside before we even got in the door. It was an instant flood of joy literally through my soul. Now I LOVE Christmas just as much, but you have to agree, that between the Christmas movies, the decorating, the stores being flooded with Christmas retail before HALLOWEEN has even happened, it has really begun to thoroughly overshadow Thanksgiving more and more every year…..and it makes me so very sad.

Thanksgiving is so special for so many reasons. I love it’s simplicity. I love how old fashioned it is without anyone even realizing it. So, what IS Thanksgiving….really? We learn about it’s beginning when we are in school. It’s history we all know, with the Pilgrims, the Native Americans and the Mayflower. I think we celebrate it every year not even realizing what a gem it is. What a joyful and blessed tradition those special people created for us. It is truly one of the most underrated, simple, and old fashioned, traditions still alive and well in this world. Unfortunately, today we have lost sight of some of our most traditional pastimes, that we need to remember and get back to before it’s too late. We owe it to our youth to hold on to these special traditions so they can pass them down as well.

If you stop and think about it, what is complicated about Thanksgiving? Well, NOTHING! That’s the beauty of it! Let me explain it the way my kids like me to explain things…my GROWN kids…We cook…we eat…we watch football…we sleep…we clean up…we go home. That simple! Can we say that about any other holiday? Nope! And it’s all in ONE day! There is no gift giving, no shopping deadlines, no trees to decorate or to bring home from the tree lot, no worrying about Aunt Mildred giving you that look because she didn’t like the gift you gave her, (well, she could still give you that look if she doesn’t like the way you cooked the turkey :)) no stringing lights on the house and fighting about it or falling off the ladder, no fighting people at the stores, (WELL.. I guess THAT could still happen if you and 3 other people have just realized there is only one turkey left in the cooler…ya know, supply chain and all) no endless wrapping…are you getting my point? It’s just as simple as it gets. Now, if you are the one that hosts it, maybe not so much….but, it’s still easier than Christmas, in my opinion. Yes, we have to meal plan, do some decorating, (well, some of us go a little crazy in that department, but if you are a NORMAL person you do SOME decorating haha) shop for what you need, etc. But, so much can be done ahead so on the day of, it just flows! I explain how I do this in an article I wrote a few years ago about entertaining in the Fall.

So…I guess what I am trying to say is PLEASE don’t get so consumed with Christmas every year that you let it overshadow the absolute beauty and simplicity of Thanksgiving. It’s sad how some people can’t wait for Thanksgiving to be over so they can rush to the “pre-Black Friday sales” before their Thanksgiving meal has even had a chance to digest! And if that’s your jam, and it makes you happy, than who I am to judge? I am just fighting for a tradition that modern times and the retail world want to push further and further away. The stores aren’t going anywhere and neither are the sales. I remember when people who worked in retail and food got Thanksgiving off because EVERYTHING was closed. I even remember almost running out of gas on one of our Thanksgiving trips because there were no gas stations open!

And, as for putting up Christmas decor before Thanksgiving…I am for it, but then I’m not. Let me explain… I used to put all my Christmas decorations up starting November 1. It made everything so much easier! You had SO much time to put it up and it was ALL done by mid November and then you could enjoy it longer. But…then I started hosting Thanksgiving and I just could not do it anymore! Remember the “smells” I was telling you about? Well, all the beauty of that goes right out the icy frosted window when it’s mixed with pine and peppermint!!!! It feels UNNATURAL! Also, when you put up 6-10 trees there isn’t much room for 20-30 people to eat turkey! Santa is ho-ho-hoing, reindeer are flying around, Christmas music is humming from all the snow globes and mechanical snowmen. Now the small children are confused because they see trees and Santa’s and are wondering why all they get is a chair at some “kids” table in another room with a plate of food they don’t even like and NO PRESENTS! See what I’m talking about? 🙂

My solution for this, over the years, is I keep my Christmas decor up throughout January. I alter it a bit to more of a “Winter” theme. There is another article I wrote that you can read if you haven’t. It’s called…”Not Totally Letting Go of Christmas…Just Movin on to Winter” It explains how I transition from Christmas to Winter but still have that wonderful feeling around us like we get from Christmas decor.

In this world of crazy, and I mean crazy, and more everyday…if you are lucky enough to celebrate Thanksgiving with family, loved ones, friends, or anyone special to you, please appreciate and savor it’s beauty and soak it all in for that ONE day…that ONE meal. It’s a time to just BE. To just love and appreciate each other, good food, God’s love and what amazing joys are still all around us….and don’t forget the SMELLS!!!!

Created with Love by:

Creations_by_Char

Char Head 🙂

Chunky Chicken Meatballs

Love this recipe! Thought it was time for a revisit!

Creations_by_Char

img_20161110_123248This is similar to my other chunky meatball recipe but with ground chicken..LOVE.. and lower in sodium and just so much healthier! These meatballs are so versatile. You can have them with pasta, rice, pasta sauce, white sauce, or just by themselves. I love to add mushrooms to them but my daughter wouldn’t stand for that…so I don’t have them in this recipe. Try to add them if you are a fan or for variety. And for large groups you can double or triple the recipe very easily. Enjoy! 🙂

You will need:

  • 2 lbs. Perdue ground chicken
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1- 1/3 TBS Olive Oil
  • 10 saltine crackers crushed
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion chopped a little “chunky”
  • 1/4 c fresh chopped Basil ( chop a bit more for garnish)
  • (I prefer Simply Organic or Olde Thompson herbs and spices in my recipes)
  • 1-1/2 tsp Onion powder
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp…

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PRODUCE TIPS! *Ways to extend the life of your produce and save money!*

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The ever frustrating world of produce! We love to eat it and we know how healthy it is but dealing with it is sometimes a job! We walk through the produce section amazed by all the vibrant colors and the great fresh, healthy feeling we get by looking at God’s beautiful bounty all around us. It’s so fun to stop and smell and pick the very best selections of all the varieties we have to choose from. We feel like such healthy “produce pioneers” picking those gorgeous colorful carriers of nutrition to take home to our families and serve in the most beautiful creative ways! Yeah…well….

then everyday life and reality hits. We get the…”Mom! Ewwww! Something stinks in the frig!” When you finally get to it, because you can’t stand it anymore you start your search with the many containers of what you think used to be leftovers. Then when that doesn’t work you open the produce drawer which is packed and you haven’t seen the bottom of for who knows how long. And you begin your search for “the smell”. You start pulling out bags of fruits and vegetables that are now different shades of brown and somewhat unrecognizable. You eventually give up and just bring the garbage can TO the frig. Before you know it the produce drawer is almost empty, except for that one lone grapefruit that still has a breath of life and a couple lemons that you figure can be salvaged for juice. And as you scrape off the sticky gooey remnants of produce from the civil war era (because now it has turned into a project you wish you would have ignored a little longer) you are startled by the 2 rolling grapes that come out of no where that now look like raisins…or maybe they used to be limes?? Who knows???

Ahhhhh…that road of good intention. We just have such great plans for all those beautiful fruits and veggies we bring home. Then at the end of the day when we are tired and cranky and everyone is hungry the last thing you feel like doing is bringing out all that produce to wash, cut, chop and slice and that’s BEFORE you start cooking!

Trust me, I have been there! And even with my new system I have my moments of not wanting to deal with it. But.. I know in the long run I will save money and our family will eat healthier. That’s a pretty good motivator! IMG_8402

*** My grandson nibbling on a “big cold carrot” lol one of my old tips for a teething baby 🙂 Not recommended though once they have teeth but when they don’t it feels so good on their gums! IMG_20180123_170840_786

-TIP #1 Don’t buy more than you can eat! Just because the strawberries are on sale don’t buy more than your family can eat before they go bad. You can usually figure about a week of shelf life give or take for most produce and there are exceptions but produce is perishable so we want to buy it a little at a time. Weekly is a good schedule. Now if you are feeling ambitious and you want to make some awesome recipes with what’s on sale then of course buy more and take advantage of the great prices! Remember though, a sale isn’t a good bargain when it ends up in the garbage!

-TIP #2 Figure out what types of produce you can’t live without and make them a priority. You have a better chance of eating your produce if it’s what you like. For example, in our house grape tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, pineapples, apples and onions are things we feel we can’t go without. And luckily those are items pretty readily available most times of the year. Then there is lots of produce we love but it’s not always at a good price, available, in season or worth buying so I make my decisions for those items by what I see good in the store that week. Sometimes it’s on sale but I don’t like the way it looks or sometimes it’s not on sale but they got in the most beautiful shipment that week so I will splurge. IMG_20200406_143752176

-TIP #3 Try to plan your meals around what looks good or is on sale that week. For example… you see yellow squash is in season and on sale and you buy a bunch of it and you are so excited because you got a great deal on it. But, then you take it home and have no clue what to do with it or have no recipes to use it in. That is not a type of produce you just buy and nibble on it has to be used “in” something. So chances are if you buy produce without a plan it will more than likely end up at the bottom of the drawer for too long or in the garbage…and now you are losing money 😦

-TIP #4 When you shop do it on a day you will have time to food prep. I know that sounds challenging. It’s tough enough sometimes to find the time to shop at all but I promise you if you can make this work it makes all the difference in the world. When you come home and you start to put the groceries away DO NOT put the produce away…yet. I put all my produce together on the counter and make it wait for me to dress it up and make it pretty! *If at all possible, before you go to the store or the night before do an inventory of your frig. Get rid of anything old, figure out exactly what you need or don’t need, make room and wash surfaces, drawers and containers. This will make the food prep go much faster after shopping. Well, gee, I guess that was another tip! LOL

-TIP #5 Now is when we wash, cut, organize and store all our produce and make it ready to eat! You will open your frig and won’t be able to resist it! I promise when you take that extra time to prep all that produce BEFORE it goes in the frig you and your family WILL eat it and it won’t go to waste! You will find you are eating so much healthier because the fruits and veggies are right there stacked in a colorful free vending machine in your frig! IMG_20200406_143943509

Here’s how I prep!

Get yourself some type of stacking containers. Glass or plastic. Snapping lids work the best and have a variety of sizes.

*There is not much prepping to do with root vegetables. Just make sure you store them in a cool dry place and rotate them when you buy new.

I use a colander and a large bowl to wash my produce. You can use a store bought produce wash or use a little vinegar or lemon juice or an organic all natural dish soap diluted with water. I wash one veggie or fruit type at a time. For example…I put my container of strawberries in the colander then put the colander in the bowl and spray it with a little wash. Fill it gently with water and let it soak for a couple minutes. Lift out the colander and rinse gently and well. Then I cut up the produce and put it in the container. I repeat this with all the produce. You will want to cut everything into bite size ready to eat pieces before putting it into the containers.

When I wash delicate berries like blackberries or raspberries I do soak them but rinse them VERY gently and lay them out on a paper towel to dry a little before putting them in the container.

I even prep and put in containers produce like melons and pineapple. Now with apples it is best to wash them and wrap them in plastic wrap so it’s known they have been washed and they stay clean. IMG_20200406_144004375

-TIP #6 I put small pieces of paper towels in the containers to help absorb excess moisture which is something that molds your produce and shortens it’s freshness time. Some produce I put a piece at the bottom AND one on top but one is better than none. It really does help!

-TIP #7 Any produce whether prepped or still in it’s original container needs to be rotated everyday if possible. What I mean by that is it needs to be jiggled around. The worst thing for produce is that it sits in one position too long… let’s mold grow.  If it’s up right flip it to upside down or on it’s side and so on and so forth.  For your prepped produce in containers just give them a jiggle or open them up and move the produce around a little. If the paper towel is really wet replace it.

-TIP #8 DO NOT refrigerate tomatoes! Please don’t! It breaks them down and kills their flavor. I always have a washed bowl of some type of tomatoes on my counter to snack on!

-TIP #9 Strawberries and grapes are the dirtiest! Soaking them to me is a must. A quick rinse just doesn’t do it! Go ahead and check out the bottom of your soaking bowl next time you soak them. Ick!!! I mentioned earlier that I cut up strawberries and put them in to a container. Grapes I wash and leave on the stems and put them in a pretty bowl in the frig. IMG_20200406_145610853

If you can find the time to follow these tips you will surely avoid the produce drawer abyss and get back to enjoying the beauty that God put on this earth for us to eat. The money you will save and the happiness you will feel when you open your frig and see the “fruits of your labor” will make it all worth it! 🙂

Please let me know if you have any questions! I would be happy to answer them! img_20160828_141351376

Enjoy!!

Created with love by:

Char Head 🙂

Creations_by_Char img_20160121_101050-1

 

Grandma’s Cookbook-Recipe Refresh #2 Yorkshire Burger (with mushroom gravy) *1954

IMG_20200426_141308_608This recipe really intrigued me. It’s like a big meatball biscuit casserole thing! LOL!  Refreshing these recipes right now is a little challenging with us being in this quarantine but It’s a great time to learn the “art” of substituting ingredients in recipes. I LOVED this dish with the mushroom gravy but I will say I think a darker brown gravy with or without mushrooms may have went with it a little better. But, really any gravy you have or prefer would work great. And no gravy at all would be fine too! It would be good without it as well! Enjoy!! 🙂 IMG_20200412_144010044

IMG_20200412_135057078You will need:

  • 1-1/2 lbs ground beef, chicken, or turkey (add a little olive oil if using chicken)
  •  (I am not a fan of onion soup mix so I substituted with these next 6 ingredients + the pepper flakes and Worcestershire sauce)
  • 2-1/2 tsp Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic seasoning (or any garlic blend seasoning)
  • 1-1/2 tsp Tastefully Simple Rustic Herb Seasoning (or any herbal seasoning you have)
  • 2 tsp parsley flakes
  • 1-1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp dried minced onion (or just add more fresh onion)
  • 1 small yellow onion minced (about 1/2 c)
  • 1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 slightly beaten egg
  • 1 Tb water
  • 1/2 c panko breadcrumbs (or regular breadcrumbs)
  • 1/4 c parmesan cheese
  • ******************************
  • 1-1/2 c sifted flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-1/2 c milk
  • 3 Tb melted butter
  • (although this batter amount was good as it is I feel like it would be better increased slightly by 50%. Doubling would be too much but if you want more batter around the meatballs give it a try!)IMG_20200412_121117928IMG_20200412_115957176

Combine ground beef with next 11 ingredients. Blend egg with water then add to meat mixture. Add breadcrumbs and cheese and blend well. Form into meatballs and place in a well greased 13×9 baking dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Beat eggs until foamy (I used a whisk but you can use a mixer) Add milk and butter and mix well. Add dry ingredients and whisk or beat until smooth. Pour batter over meatballs. IMG_20200412_123000860IMG_20200412_122847888

Bake 50-60 min or until golden brown. IMG_20200412_135117609

Let meatballs rest 5 minutes. Then cut into desired size slices and cover with gravy of choice. Top with parsley or grated cheese and serve with your favorite side. IMG_20200412_135949851

***Mushroom Gravy

You will need:

  • 3 Tb butter
  • Olive oil
  • 1- 8 oz pkg mushrooms (any kind) cleaned and sliced
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • approx.. 1/4 c flour
  • 1 to 2 cups any stock (beef would be best but all I had was chicken)
  • 1-1/2 Tb Worcestershire sauce (1 Tb if using beef stock)IMG_20200412_133851721

In a skillet on med/high heat melt the butter then add mushrooms. Add pepper and sauté until browned. Add a drizzle of olive oil and stir. Sprinkle flour over mushrooms and blend. Add stock a little at a time stirring with a whisk until desired thickness is achieved. Reduce heat to low and stir in Worcestershire sauce until well blended. Add more stock if gravy is too thick. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm until meatballs are done.

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Created with love by:

Char Head 🙂

Creations_by_Char

Enjoy! 🙂

IMG_20200426_141308_608

Egg White, Basil & Bacon Sandwich with Avocado

IMG_20200418_132305_575I have been putting fresh herbs in my egg whites lately and I ordered this new spice blend from Tastefully Simple and thought I’d give that a try. It’s called Si Si Cilantro. I LOVE cilantro already so that was easy but boy O boy is this blend delicious! So, of course the wheels in my brain got to spinning and I came up with this sandwich and I honestly didn’t think it would be as good as it is. I mean no lie one of the best things I have ever eaten. Now you can certainly substitute some things and I will list some substitutions but if at all possible try to stick with these ingredients because you won’t be sorry. This combination of flavors just clicks and it feels great when your creativity hits that harmonious bullseye and you go…DANG! How’d I do that????? Don’t know, but glad I did!!! Enjoy!! 🙂

IMG_20200418_121505924You will need:

  • Canola oil, butter, or olive oil
  • 4 egg whites (or 2 whole eggs if you prefer)
  •  Fresh basil chopped (about 2 lg leaves or 3-4 small leaves)
  • 1/2 tsp Si Si Cilantro (if you don’t have this you can use garlic powder and dried or fresh cilantro and a little red pepper flakes)
  •  Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 cup shredded sharp white cheddar (any cheese is fine but this one worked so well)
  • 2 slices thick whole grain bread toasted (any bread is fine but thick sliced is better)
  •  butter (softened)
  •  horseradish sauce (mayo would work)
  • 1/2 avocado sliced thin (guacamole would work too)
  •  2 slices thick peppered bacon cooked crisp (Schwan’s peppered bacon is my absolute favorite but regular thick or regular sliced is fine just cook it with pepper)IMG_20200418_122105730IMG_20200418_122253847

In a non stick pan over low to medium heat drizzle some oil or butter and coat the pan evenly. When heated add the egg whites. Sprinkle on while the eggs are cooking the basil, Si Si Cilantro, and pepper. Do not flip. When eggs are almost cooked, evenly add cheese then gently flip half of it over like an omelet and turn off  heat. You can add a few more sprinkles of basil and pepper on top if you’d like.IMG_20200418_122405918

Lightly toast the bread. On the first slice spread horseradish sauce to taste. Next add the avocado, then the bacon (break each piece in half and lay over avocado). Then add the eggs (you can cut the eggs to the size of the bread or just let them hang over the side, it all tastes the same! Lol!) Spread butter on 2nd piece of toast and press butter side down onto sandwich. Carefully cut in half…. YUM!!! **** And if you don’t want to make this into a sandwich the eggs are amazing just as they are! IMG_20200418_132305_575

Enjoy! 🙂

Created with love by:

Char Head 🙂

Creations_by_Char

 

 

Ham Burrito/Bowls (Leftover x2 Meal)

IMG_20200413_140226_895If you made a ham for Easter chances are you have some left. Ham is so yummy leftover but I wanted to change it up a bit. I went with ingredients I had on hand but you can use many different substitutions with this recipe. It is about mild to medium heat so feel free to adjust it to your heat preference. You can eat this filling in taco shells, tortillas, in a salad, as a dip or just in a bowl by itself! Enjoy!

You will need:

-Olive oil

-2 cups of diced ham (you can use pretty much any meat you have on hand)

-3 to 4 cups of sliced or chopped peppers and onions (any kind fresh or frozen)

-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (1 tsp if you want more heat)

-1 tsp garlic powder

-1 tsp dried cilantro (fresh is even better)

-1 tsp curry powder

-1 tsp chili powder

-1-1/2 tsp smoked paprika

-1/2 tsp coriander

-1/4 tsp ground black pepper

-1/2 tsp salt

-1 cup diced tomatoes (you can use canned too)

-1-1/2 cups leftover corn (or whatever you have frozen, canned etc)

-2 bags of boil in the bag white rice cooked (any cooked rice will work)

-Shredded cheese

-Tortillas, taco shells, chips or whatever you preferIMG_20200413_102902329

In a large skillet over medium heat drizzle a good amount of olive oil and after heated add ham. Use a wooden spoon and heat for 1-2 minutes then add peppers and onions and stir. Add all spices and stir until blended. Add more oil if needed. Stir in tomatoes and corn gently until well blended. Add rice and mix until it is coated with mixture. Turn heat to low and continue to stir until it is warmed thru and blended. Remove from heat. IMG_20200413_103658936

Eat any way you prefer with just about any topping you’d like! If you like heat you can add jalapenos or hot sauce. Avocados, olives or any kind of salsa or cheese would be great especially with the smokiness of the paprika.

This would be great leftover! It would also freeze well and can be made ahead as a great food prep weekly meal.

Enjoy!IMG_20200413_140226_895

Created with love by:

Char Head 🙂

Creations_by_Char

 

 

 

Grandma’s Cookbook-Recipe Refresh #1 Jack Pot Casserole (1948)

IMG_20200406_081611_107Choosing recipes for this series is hard enough with so many to choose from within this wonderful book but adding to it the challenges we are facing right now, made it even more difficult with our limited pantries and shopping trips. BUT, let’s face it…it pales in comparison to what people are enduring and dealing with everyday. I will happily manage 🙂

My goal in this series is to take vintage recipes from my Grandmother’s cookbook and refresh them to match our modern times. Some are just fine the way they are and some just need a revamp or to be made with healthier more up to date ingredients. IMG_20200405_144352247

I have always been about substitutions in recipes. Some of the best dishes come from “oopsies” or just not having all the right ingredients. This is probably why I am not the best baker because I am not one to measure or to follow rules in the kitchen lol!IMG_20200323_103606492

So, I will include the original recipe and then also my refresh. I like to avoid sodium in my dishes as much as possible due to my husband’s heart issues but you can always add it if you prefer.

Like I said, with our limited pantries at the moment please feel free to contact me with questions on substitutions. You would be surprised just how many ingredients can be substituted with whatever you have on hand and you will still have a great dish! Enjoy!IMG_20200405_154855271

You will need:

  • 2-  Boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces  (I think ground chicken, turkey, or beef would have been better in this dish (approx. 1 lb) but I didn’t have any on hand)
  • 2- Tb Butter (you can omit the butter and add more olive oil if you want)
  •  Olive oil
  • 1- med onion chopped
  • 3- garlic cloves minced
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 3 tsp cilantro dried or fresh
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1- 14.5oz can no salt added petite diced tomatoes (you could add 2 cans if you are a big tomato fan)
  • 1- 1/2 cup water
  •  1 Tb tomato paste
  •  1/2 package (8oz) pasta (any kind) uncooked (I used elbow)
  •  2- 14.75 oz cans cream style corn
  •  1/4 cup chopped jalapenos (I used jar) add more if you like the heat
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1-1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used a mexi cheddar blend)
  • Crushed tortilla or corn chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Add butter and a good drizzle of olive oil to pan on medium heat. Add onion, some pepper, red pepper flakes and 1 tsp cilantro. Sauté for a couple minutes then add garlic and stir a minute or 2. Add chicken, cumin, chili powder, 1 tsp cilantro, and curry. Cook until chicken is white (chicken will cook more in the oven) Add the tomatoes, (Put a splash of water in the tomato can and swish it to soak up the tomato juice left in can and add to pan. You will also do this with the corn cans) tomato paste, water, and noodles and another couple grinds of pepper. Stir until blended. Cook until noodles are tender stirring frequently. Add corn, jalapenos, and parmesan and stir. Remove from heat.IMG_20200405_155816233IMG_20200405_161208790

Pour into a greased casserole dish ( I used an 8 x 11 rectangular). Sprinkle with shredded cheese and chips and drizzle the top with olive oil. Bake approx. 45 min until golden and bubbly. IMG_20200405_162112387IMG_20200405_162739760

IMG_20200405_170637683Let it rest out of the oven for about 10 min. Serve with remaining cilantro, cheese and chips. Btw I think olives would have been great with this dish but my family doesn’t like them! If you like heat you can serve with hot sauce or more jalapenos. Serves 6-8 and is GREAT leftover! Can also be made ahead! **This is a medium heat dishIMG_20200406_081611_107

Created with love by:

Char Head 🙂

Creations_by_Char

Enjoy!

 

 

My Journey Into My Grandma’s Cookbook

 

fb_img_1456083434628-1I can’t even remember how long I have had it. It’s just kind of always been there. Through all the moves, packing and unpacking, on this shelf, in that cupboard… just always around. I am almost ashamed of that. Like it’s the lost or forgotten of Andy’s toys…dusty, under all the newest and more desirable and it’s prior AND present value and beauty ignored.

I have a wall of shelves in my basement adorned with all my dining and kitchen goodies. Everything you need for table setting and entertaining…well not everything…but I love my collection and it gets lots of love and use. Holidays, dinner parties, birthday parties etc. I LOVE to entertain and that will never change, God willing.

Recently I went downstairs to retrieve some dinnerware for a family birthday dinner I was hosting and as I was digging around for “just the right” items (and sometimes that takes a while because I am unfortunately a perfectionist!) I was trying to grab something in the back of the shelf and there it was! Like I had never seen it before! Ya know, one of those moments where the choir sings and a light emanates around it? It literally stopped me in my tracks. I put everything down and opened this cookbook. I cannot easily explain what I felt. It was overwhelming. At that moment nothing was going to keep me from looking at this treasure. It took me ALL these years to see its glory. It’s as if Grandma herself took it off that shelf and SMACKED me in the head with it! And if you knew my VERY Polish Grandma you would not be surprised! I think I felt that wooden spoon she used to threaten us with, (but never used because we KNEW not to push her that far), cracking me in the behind and a voice saying “Charlene Sue! Why is my cookbook collecting dust?! Do you know how many years of sweat and joy I put in that book? Now open it up and appreciate it!” I honestly haven’t put it down since.

IMG_20200323_103606492The cover is held together by duct tape and the pages are very delicate (a revised edition from 1938). As you turn the pages you can’t help but put yourself in that time. The pictures, the terminology, the old smell, her carefully thought out notations, the drips and stains, the carefully organized recipes in all their categories…just a plethora of a time that has almost been forgotten and not appreciated for the beauty that it was.

I love that women are in a place in time of choices. A little girl can grow up and be whatever she wants to be. Many fought for these rights and choices and aren’t we ever so grateful? I do feel, and this is just my opinion, that one choice has gotten a little lost in the shuffle of modern times….and that is the choice of being a Homemaker. I don’t even think I hear that word used anymore and it saddens me because it IS a choice and a wonderful one! I believe it is a choice that doesn’t get the respect it used to and I also feel women who TRULY want to make this choice are somewhat misunderstood. ” Hi Mary! So nice to meet you! What do you do?” – “Well, I am a Homemaker, Domestic Engineer, a Stay at home Mom.” –  “Oooooo so you don’t work?” –  Mmmmmmmmm……???? 😦

When I was growing up I really have no idea why, but my dream was to be a Homemaker. I played make believe Mom and housewife ALL the time when I was a little girl. I couldn’t wait to get married, set up a home and have children. Boy, if I had a nickel for every time I heard “Aren’t you going to college? What about your career? So, what are you going to do with your life?” Now, granted, I did get married way too young due to family circumstances that I won’t get into, and no I wasn’t pregnant lol, but I can truly understand why people may have been worried about my future, worried I may go down a bad path of struggle and regret, but I knew deep down I was living my dream and I was willing to take the chance….in fact, I made it very clear to my husband-to-be that that was my life plan and he had to agree to it before I would walk down the isle! 🙂 Life IS full of struggle and regret no matter what path we take, but I think it’s how we overcome and learn from it all that molds us into what we become.wedding 1984-3

IMG_20170108_165420629 (2017_09_11 13_04_50 UTC)The reason I believe this has become such a misunderstood career choice is because of the time we live in. It is just about impossible to live on one income nowadays and those few women who may want to be at home by choice just can’t make it work financially…especially when you have children. Those buggers cost a fortune! 🙂 I have had my years of feeling like I had to work outside of the home and I have accumulated marketable skills over the years and did get out there and put them to use…BUT, I never stuck with it because it wasn’t my passion and I was always unhappy trying, so, I tried to earn income in many different ways from home to make ends meet. IMG_20200321_101343086IMG_5504 (1)

Please do not misunderstand me. I COMPLETELY support women in ANY career choice they make…well as long as it’s legal lol, and I DO NOT think a woman who CHOOSES to have a career outside of the home is any less or more than a woman who doesn’t. We NEED to support each other always and respect ALL our choices as the awesome women we are and see their value. As I look through this cookbook I wonder what my Grandma was thinking. Was she happy in her choices? Was she content or did she need more? Did she feel pressure to live the life she lived or was it HER passion? As I read all her little notes and see all her care in every page she saved, every recipe she carefully chose I feel more and more that she DID have a passion for what she did. I am sure there were things she dreamed of doing, choices she wondered about, what-if’s she pondered from time to time, but I can tell you that those times at Grandma’s house were bursting with love. Gave me literally the BEST memories of my childhood. The smells, the tradition, the amazing food, the care she put into every detail. The love and comfort I felt at every event or Holiday at her house stayed with me to this day. I really don’t believe a soul such as she would have been able to make us all feel that way if she wasn’t living her choice OR her passion. If that were the case, bless her heart, she was amazing at making us believe otherwise.

I think I actually just answered my own question. My Grandma is probably the reason, and her daughter, my amazing Aunt Carole, that I developed such a passion for home. Such a passion and a need to nurture and create comfort for all that surround me. I want to make my loved ones feel what I felt during those few and precious gatherings at Grandmas house. And, I DON”T want it forgotten. I don’t want that “choice” to go away. I don’t want that choice to no longer be an option for women who want it, for women who HAVE that passion. I don’t want that choice to be frowned upon or disrespected or not seen for its value. I want to fight for THAT choice to BE a choice in todays modern times for those few who desire it.

There is so much I want to share with you from this cookbook. So I am starting a series dedicated to it. It has SO much interesting material that I HAVE to! Ooooo the recipes! You will not believe the recipes! Not only do I want to spotlight them but I want to revamp them to recipes for “TODAY”.  I even saw a few where one of the ingredients was MSG! Good grief! How far we have come! IMG_20200323_103741944IMG_20200321_101403136

 

 

As I look at THIS picture, this advertisement featuring a young girl so proudly, with the help of her Mother, presenting the most “perfectly” perfected cake to the “MAN” of the house, her Father, and looking so accomplished and joyful! But…I just wonder, knowing the time, was SHE being presented choices? Or was she so gracefully being groomed into what ended up being MY dream…but maybe wasn’t hers?

These are some of the many things I want to explore and share with you and ALL from this amazing cookbook I shamefully put to the side for so many years. Who knew? Who knew I had a magical book by my side just waiting for me to let it shine…let it shine in all of Grandma’s underrated glory. She has been gone, but NOT forgotten, since 2004 and it’s about time I share her priceless treasures and put that precious book front and center where it belongs. Buzz and Woody would be so proud 🙂

IMG_20200323_103842003fb_img_1456083434628-1

Stay tuned……

Created with love by:

Char Head 🙂

Creations_by_Char