Sunday, February 26, 2012



February offers many reasons to celebrate, but our family has added another, and possibly our best to date. At the end of January I became a grandmother to the most beautiful baby in the world. By the time the dust settled, it was February and we were home loving this sweet baby. I've spent two weeks on the grandmother mountain top, and it's a breathtaking place to be.

Oh, yes, there was incredible joy and celebration when our children were born--joy that continues to this very day. But to see our daughter and her husband become 'Mama and Daddy' overnight exceeded anything I've ever experienced. Their caresses soothe the questions and wonder of this little fellow. His eyes strain to make sense, his toes beg to be kissed, and meanwhile the sound of his Mama's voice mesmerizes him; his Daddy speaking 'bebe nino' in his ear stills him and he feels safe and loved. He's beautiful, he's wonderful, and we are so blessed.

We have celebrated every single day, and we're just getting started. For Baby Lucas there was first his Mama's birthday, which he now shares—what a special coincidence. Then there was Groundhog's Day—we laughed at the sun, but now we're believing it was a serious prediction. Valentine's Day called for extra love and heart shaped cookies (I'm practicing for a couple of years down the road).

Coming up next we had a food lovers holiday. There's no better time for a culinary blowout than Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday. Before the fasting of Lent begins we overindulge and enjoy every carb and gram of fat in one big food celebration with no guilt. Lucas wasn't very interested, but we celebrated anyhow.

And then there was snow! His first snow and it was a good one--to quote a friend, here today, gone tomorrow. Becki claims he was trying to catch a snowflake in a yawn. My Mom saw this picture and wanted to know where his mittens were. I just wanted them to get the baby back in the house. It was a quick photo shoot--and the perfect time to wear his little snowsuit. Unfortunately, the little knitted suit we intended for him to wear home from the hospital will probably fit about mid-August. What was I thinking?

Food? Everything tastes good this month. As a matter of fact, EVERYTHING is good. Life is very, very good.

A couple of easy recipes we've enjoyed:

Jambalaya, Shrimp or Chicken

(6 servings)

1 T extra virgin olive oil

4 oz. Andouille Sausage, sliced into quarter inch rounds

1 medium sweet onion, diced

3 celery stalks, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

2 tsp. Smoked paprika

1 (8oz.) box Jambalaya Mix (I used Zatarain's)

1 (15oz.) can petite diced tomatoes

16 oz. peeled and deveined large shrimp or 1 cooked deli chicken, bones and skin removed and meat shredded

Shredded Monterey jack and mild cheddar cheese as garnish

Add the olive oil to a soup pot over medium heat. Add the sliced sausage, onion, celery and peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4-5 minutes. Add paprika and stir to combine.

Add contents of Jambalaya box, the can of tomatoes (don't drain) and two and one-half cups water. Bring to a nice simmer, cover and low simmer for 25 minutes, or as directed on the box.

If using shrimp, add to the rice mixture during the last six minutes of cooking.

If using chicken, add during last few minutes, just long enough to heat through.

I like the finished jambalaya to be loose, not as liquid as soup, but still loose. Add a little more water or chicken broth if needed.

I know that some frown on using cheese with any seafood, but this is delicious garnished with a nice serving of shredded cheese.

Serve in soup bowls or even mugs.


Turkey-burger Pie

(Pre-Hamburger Helper!)

You can add extras, like sauteed onions and peppers, or change out chili beans for the black beans, chili seasoning for fajita seasoning and ground beef for ground turkey, but this is how we like it. If you don't have an iron skillet, use regular skillet to prepare turkey, seasoning and added cans of beans, corn and tomatoes. Then transfer to casserole dish and top with cheese and prepared cornbread mix.

2 tsp. Extra virgin olive oil

1 lb. Ground turkey

1 packet (1.12 oz.)Fajita seasoning (ie McCormick's)

1 can (15 oz.) seasoned black beans, drained

1 can (7 oz.) Mexican corn, drained (this is a Green Giant product, but you can use any canned corn)

1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes NOT drained

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, or a mixture of your choice

1 box (8 oz.) cornbread mix, mixed according to package directions

Preheat oven to 425°.

Add olive oil to large iron skillet over medium heat. Add ground turkey and saute stirring occasionally until turkey loses its color. Add seasoning and give it a good stir. Add drained beans, corn, and full can of tomatoes and juice. Stir to combine and let it heat through while you mix cornbread.

Mix cornbread according to package directions.

Spread cheese evenly over tomato mixture in iron skillet. Top with prepared cornbread mix, spreading the mix evenly to edges of pan.

Place in oven and bake until cornbread is fully cooked, the time your cornbread mix recommends, usually about 25 minutes.