It’s funny the things you save.

I was recently going through a stack of papers, okay–recipes, when I came across this…

Kindergarten Kaleidoscoope

This was the weekly newsletter sent out by Megan’s kindergarten teacher–2002!!! Yes, I have a senior!

We loved Union Elementary. It was a small school in the country. We moved back to Arkansas right after school dismissed for the summer. Our only experience there was Kindergarten, but we loved it!

I remember the Fall Fun Fest. I remember the kids being excited. Grammy had sent Halloween shirts. They arrived just in time for the Festival. Megan wore her orange headband. Of course, Katie had to have one too, even though she hardly had any hair.

halloween sisters

kindergarten party

scary face

moon

scary face 1

Oh, we had such fun! We were so busy having fun, there was no time for pictures. Seems like Chip was helping some of the other Dads with some of the games. I was doing good to keep up with the kids.

On the back of the weekly newsletter was a recipe. That is why I saved it, of course!

Pumpkin Pancakes with Pumpkin Maple Sauce

Some of our weekend plans got cancelled. The air was cool and crisp. It was the perfect day to try out the Pumpkin Pancakes recipe. It only took me 12 years!

Pumpkin Pancakes topped with nuts

from above

We took advantage of the weather and enjoyed breakfast on the porch. Ahhh, fall!

Pork Chop Tuesday on the porch

Pumpkin Pancakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 3/4 cups milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • a little butter for the pan

Mix the dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients. Mix the wet with the dry.

Pour on a hot, greased skillet. Turn when you start to see bubbles.

Pumpkin Maple Sauce

  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/4 cups pumpkin
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Heat ingredients in a saucepan until warm.

(The Sauce seemed more like a pumpkin butter to me. I bet if you added a little cream to it, it would be more “saucy”.)

Top with toasted pecans!

It was a dark and stormy night…

Hmmm, I guess that intro has been done.

We did have some storms last weekend.

Nothing says homecoming half-time show like soaked band members. There had been a sprinkle here and there. But half way through “Crazy Train” the sky just opened up! To their credit, none of the band quit marching until the drum major, my daughter, gave them the signal! Thanks to my friend, Sheri, for sharing this video. (There must have been another band parent sitting behind her while she was filming. Either that, or he was really excited to be in the rain.)

The next day was cool and gray–perfect for Corn Chowder.

Mom used to make Corn Chowder for us all the time when we were kids. As a new bride, 22 years ago, I knew I had to have the recipe.

tattered recipe

Here is the copy she gave me. Photocopied from what looks like a novel. I don’t know if her copy was a photocopy or she actually had it in a book.

You can tell I’ve had it a while by how the paper has aged.

For some reason I keep this recipe tucked in a cookbook. I suppose when I got it, I didn’t really have a stash of recipe cards or cookbooks. Seemed like a good enough place for it. I still know where to find it 22 years later! I probably put my hands on this recipe faster tucked in this cookbook than I could if it were in my recipe box! ugh!

The recipe is written in paragraph form. I’ll gather it all together in one place for you at the end–but first, some photos.

The first thing I did was cook up the 8 slices of bacon.

frying bacoon

I fried the bacon first so I didn’t have to dirty up a skillet in addition to my soup pot.

bacon

Set your yummy bacon aside while you proceed with the recipe. Do the best you can to keep your family from passing by and nibbling on the bacon. (Good luck!)

Of course you are going to save all that lovely bacon grease for later use–green beans, fried eggs, grits, etc.

bacon grease

The recipe calls for 12 potatoes! TWELVE.

Since potatoes come in all shapes and sizes, I found that measurement to be vague. I used about 6-7 cups. Yes, still a little vague but a bit more manageable.

cut potatoes

Next the recipe says to cut up 6 onions–SIX ONIONS! Good grief!

I used two. I actually had to have my husband cut up the second one for me. My eyes were watering so bad after one! I can only imagine my condition if I had to cut SIX!

I topped off my 8 cup measuring bowl with the onions.

Potatoes and Onions

Dump your potatoes and onions in the same pot you used to cook the bacon. It is perfectly fine if there is a little bacon grease still in there.

Add water to cover the potatoes and onions. I used about 6-7 cups. Boil until veggies soften.

Potato broth

Add the bacon, 3-3 1/2 pts. of milk, and a “tin of corn”.  A tin? What the heck?!

I’m sure that means a can of corn but what size???

corn

I used 4 cups of frozen Schwan’s frozen corn. Their corn is the yummiest! Four cups is probably more than “a tin”. I figured this was CORN Chowder. I would be okay if there was lots of corn.

By the way, 3 pints equals 6 cups.

Once everything is about to boil again, add 1/4 cup cornstarch that has been dissolved in 1/4 cup cold milk.

Finally, add a lump (approximately 2 tablespoons) of butter to the soup.

lump of butter

Salt and pepper to taste. I like lots of pepper in mine. I also added some leftover chicken I had in the fridge just to make the soup a little more substantial.

Serve it up in fancy orange bowls.

pouring soup

or blue. : )

filling soup bowls

I love these little crocks!

blue soup bowl

Aren’t they cute with their little lids on there?

orange soup bowl

I hope you enjoy this recipe–no soggy band members required!

 

Corn Chowder

6-8 strips bacon cut up and fried (I used thick bacon.)

6-7 cups russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 medium onions, diced

6-7 cups water

4 cups frozen corn

6 1/4 cups milk, divided

1/4 cup cornstarch

2 Tablespoons butter

salt and pepper to taste

(Optional-diced chicken can be added along with the corn and bacon.)

•In a large pot, cook bacon until crisp. Save drippings for another use. Drain bacon on a paper towel.
•Add potatoes, onions and water to the pot. Boil until potatoes are tender.
•Add bacon, corn and 6 cups of milk. Heat until almost boiling.
•Dissolve cornstarch in 1/4 cup of cold milk. Add to the soup. Keep stirring to avoid scorching the milk.
•Stir in the lump of butter.
•Salt and pepper to taste.
Goes really nicely with salty crackers!

 

I love fall. I love that fall appeals to all my senses–beautiful trees, cooler temperatures, rustling leaves, burning fields, apple and pumpkin treats!

Ahhhh!

I enjoy getting out my fall decorations, too.

We usually go to a pumpkin patch for our pumpkins. The summer rains were not friendly to the pumpkin farmers. This year we ended up getting our pumpkins at the Open Arms Pumpkin Fun Run fundraiser.

Typically, I grab some mums at Walmart or Lowe’s to set around with the pumpkins.

After the blooms have died and the cold sets in, I dump the pots in the trash. Yes, I know you can plant them. I never seem to have the time.

Well, last year, the pots never even made it to the curb! Shame!

weeds

They have sprouted lovely weeds courtesy of the wind and the birds.

There is another pot, however, that is different.

mums

It decided to root itself through the bottom of the pot!

I have mums and I didn’t even have to leave home to get them!

They aren’t the perfectly shaped kind from the store–that’s okay.

I have not bought any fancy mums from the store yet.  I may let my “survivor mum” have a chance in the spotlight this year!

I have, however,  added a few decorations to the porch. I’ll get around to the inside of the house eventually.

Don’t you love that you get to use your fall decorations for a long time?!

Happy Fall y'all wreath

pumpkins and hydrangeas

old rocking chair

outdoor fall decor

Now, go make some fall cookies or something. Here is an idea–Applesauce Cookies.

Chip and I enjoy having a lunch date every now and then.

I have wanted to try out The Root Cafe for a while. It is on South Main in Little Rock, AR. The Root has several fun neighboring shops and restaurants.

The Root Cafe

The Root is all about “Building Community through local food!” They use as many products as possible from small local farms. Their menu even notes where items originate.

Locavore Sign

I arrived at the cafe before my date. There was quite a crowd, so I jumped in line.

The place is small. It used to be a dairy bar. Being elbow to elbow with other customers, I felt a little rude whipping out my phone to snap photos.

Keeping a sharp eye out for my date, I studied the menu while I waited in line.

I ended up having to let several folks jump me in line before Chip arrived.  Fortunately, we had studied the menu options on-line a bit the night before, so I knew what he wanted.

He showed up just as I was about to order his Deviled Egg Salad Sandwich and fries.

Deviled Egg Salad Sandwich

French Fries

The bread for the sandwich came from one of the fun neighbors I mentioned, Boulevard Bread Company.

I had the Praline Salad. It was full of praline pecans. The dressing was a spicy cumin vinaigrette and it was very yummy. The salad was served with “seasonal” fruit. So, yours might look different when you go.

Praline Salad

Dining indoors was a little cramped. We ended up on the side porch. There is also a front porch dining area as well as a small garden area. All were full!

porch dining

I really enjoyed the atmosphere at The Root. It felt very urban.

The food was really good. I loved the salad dressing on my salad. I stole a couple of Chip’s fries. They were quite tasty, too. I think next time, I will have a burger and sweet potato fries. I saw several being delivered to tables. They looked amazing.

Chip enjoyed the bread and the egg salad. However, being an egg salad connoisseurs, he was disappointed with the way the egg salad squished out of the bun. He recommends toast.

They had a display case full of lovely desserts. Sorry, no picture of the case. I did snap a shot of the HUGE Chocolate Chip Cookie we split.

Huge Chocolate Chip Cookie

After mowing down the cookie, we headed across the street to MOXY Modern Mercantile. It is a fun little shop with lots of unique gift items…

like this giant pencil!

Giant Pencil

 

The Root Cafe is a fun lunch date destination. Check it out!

Sometimes two are better than one!

Balsamic Beef with Kale and Edamame

I saw a Martha Stewart recipe that sounded interesting–Poached Egg with Rice and Edamame. However, I was not real sure how my family would react to green stuff with an egg.

Later, I stumbled upon a recipe for Grilled Balsamic Flank Steak. Having just picked up a flank steak on sale, this was perfect! Plus meat helps make up for the fact that there are vegetables on the plate!

So, I cut out parts of the Edamame recipe and pasted in the Flank Steak!

I left out the egg. Maybe I’ll try that another time.

I didn’t have red pepper flakes or purple cabbage, so I left them out, too. Everyone seemed okay with that. I think the pinch of red pepper flakes added with the garlic would be good. I did add some ground red pepper. I added what I thought was a little. It might have been just a little too much.

Edamame and Kale

  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1  clove garlic, sliced
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen edamame beans, thawed
  • Coarse salt

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic–cook until you start to smell it, about 30 seconds. Add kale and cook, stirring until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add edamame and cook until heated all the way. Season with salt.

Balsamic Flank Steak

  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pound flank steak
  • salt and pepper

Mix marinade ingredients together and throw it all in a large ziplock bag. Add the steak. Allow the steak to marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature. You might give it a turn half-way through. Grill until it is cooked like you like. (Some folks prefer a little more pink than others.) Let the meat stand, covered loosely with foil, for about 10 minutes. Cut in thin strips against the grain.

I served it all over brown rice. I’m sure you could serve it without if you wanted. We all like brown rice!

Edamame and Kale with Balsamic Beef

The only issue I had with my frankein-recipe was that it was a little tricky to cut the meat on top of all the other stuff in the bowl. I managed okay though!

Critics’ Corner

Chip: The balsamic marinade on the flat-iron steak gets down into everything for a wonderful blend of flavors and textures.

Megan: I think this is my new favorite way to eat kale. It has just the right amount of kick to offset the green taste.

Katie: I must say, it’s not my favorite thing, but it wasn’t bad, either. It was a new and intriguing idea. I will certainly give it that!

Lasagna Cups

I’m a little embarrassed to say this, but….

this was my very first time to use won ton wrappers.

It won’t be my last though!

I don’t know why I’ve never used won ton wrappers before. I guess I thought they were hard to find or use or something.

I was in the big city when I picked up these:

won ton wrappers

I really hope I’m able to find them at my local Supercenter.

I had some ground beef in the freezer that I had cooked up one day.  Boy, was I glad it was there. Now that school is back in session, we tend to meet each other coming and going! The time I spent days ago frying up that meat was definitely recouped when I made the Lasagna Cups!

I also had about a 1/3 of a jar of pasta sauce in the fridge.

Pasta Sauce

The recipe called for the won ton wrappers to be cut into circles. I did not have time for that. I didn’t even have time to get out the good camera. These pictures were shot with my cell phone.

It’s pretty much Lasagna 101–the won tons take the place of the noodles.

Won Ton

Cheese Mixture

Meat Mixture

Layering lasagna

Repeat

Ricotta cheese mixture

Top with Cheese

Bake

Lasagna Cups with melted cheese

I loved these! So did the family. I did miss the noodles a little. However, the fact that the won ton substitute saved a ton of calories made me forget all about the noodles!

Bonus: the leftovers worked well in lunch boxes the next day.

I served these with a Caesar Salad (bagged).

Since these can be fork or finger food, they would work well as appetizers, too.

Lasagna Cups

Ingredients:

24 won ton wrappers

Cheese Mixture

  • 1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 3/4 cup Ricotta Cheese

Meat Mixture

  • 1/3 pound ground beef, browned
  • 1 cup of your favorite pasta sauce

Topping

  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Directions:

• Preheat oven to 375˚

•Spray 12 muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray

•Line muffin cups with won ton wrappers, one per cup

•Fill cups with half of the cheese mixture. Just enough to cover the bottom.

•Spoon half of the meat mixture on top of the cheese mixture.

•Repeat for second layer–won ton, cheese mixture, meat mixture.

•Top with cheese topping.

•Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden!

Let the Lasagna Cups cool a bit before you try to remove them from the pan. You might even need a knife to help get them started.

If you have basil growing in your garden, grab some for the top to make it look all fancy!

Critics’ Corner

Chip: You really got the flavor of the cheese and meat without all those annoying noodles to get in the way–delicious! Maybe better than lasagna!

Megan: It’s not quite as good as with the noodles, but it’s much more fun to eat. (Plus it tastes pretty darn good!)

Katie: These are amazing little inventions of life!

 

I finally made it to the Goodwill Outlet store! I have always been a thrifter. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” really speaks to me. Yes, I have been known to pull things out of another man’s trash.

The outlet store is not on my beaten path. I guess that is why it took me so long to get there. However, it may be soon!

Most things do not have prices on them–furniture is priced. There were more than a dozen rolling bins FULL of clothing, toys, small housewares, etc. I was like a kid in a candy shop!

As I said, most things aren’t priced. You pay by the pound! $1.39 a pound!

I was a little on the cautious side in my shopping. I wasn’t sure what a pound of t-shirts looked like!

Christmas lights in a bowl

Pictured above are the 100+ Christmas bulbs I found rolling around the bottom of one of the bins.

I also picked up the pewter Reed & Barton bowl. It has a little dent in the lip. I figure once I get a flower arrangement in it, you won’t even see it.

Not pictured, but I’m sure I will share eventually:

  • J.Crew leopard belt
  • yellow belt
  • Cabi jacket
  • pleated skirt
  • 22 cloth napkins
  • vintage floral T.V. tray
  • vintage hankie
  • 2 purses
  • 42 cloth gift bags
  • faux gold chain necklace
  • 7 yards of khaki duck cloth
  • plaid cookie tin
  • string of fake apples
  • new package of subject dividers
  • scrap of fabric to use as outdoor pillows
  • 2 beaded valances that I plan to use to decorate my china hutch for Thanksgiving
  • vintage tablecloth

Vintage Christmas bulbs

The duck cloth ended up being the heaviest item in my basket. I almost didn’t get it. It still had the tag from the fabric store on it. Regular price?$31.72! How could I not get that?!

I had so much fun. Dangerous fun!

Several of the ladies I spoke with were regulars–like EVERY DAY regulars! Some of them were standing around waiting to pounce on the fresh bin that was on its way to the floor.

You could tell they knew what they were doing. Many of them wore gloves. I think I will be taking that tip for next time. I left feeling very dirty.

Being an experienced junker/thrifter, I have a couple of tips of my own:

Go early-however,the inventory changes regularly so early may not matter. Go often-The ladies said it was different every day.

Don’t carry your purse. Just put your money in your pocket. Then you are freed up a little more to dig without having your 10 pound purse attack you.

Pack a lunch. My lunch was in the car. I figured I could make two separate purchases if needed.

There was a bathroom there. However, it is outside of the purchase area. Just keep that in mind.

Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. There is not a dressing room, at least that I saw. If you are brave enough to try on clothes, you want to wear leggings and a thin t-shirt or something else that would work.

Are you a thrift junkie like me? What is your latest score?

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