An Arizona Bash

Last Friday Bill and I climbed into our car and began making our way to our desert house.

A couple of years ago, my sister suggested to us that we consider purchasing a second home with her in Arizona. It made sense. Nearly all of our extended families are here. And we all dislike the cold and snow more and more as we get older. We took the plunge and haven’t looked back. Bill and I spend Christmas to Mother’s Day here, and Jen, who is still working, comes as often as possible. We find we are very good house mates.

We all arrived here on Saturday, and hit the ground running, hosting a huge family party at our house (which we have dubbed Bungalow Bill’s) in honor of my sister’s grandson’s 3rd birthday. We had nearly the entire Arizona gang here, except my older sister who is traveling in Europe, her son who is sick with a cold, and his 7-year-old daughter who was at a sleepover. I have spoken before about my wonderful family, all of whom are enthusiastic, loving, funny, and full of life. Our parties are always lively and there is always a plethora of food. My sister Jennifer was the primary chef this time, and her offerings centered around delicious cheese-stuffed meatballs with rigatoni.

She busily cooked, all the while dodging the kids – cousins ranging in age from 7 months to 7 years and two more on the way – and enjoying the background noise of laughter, squealing kids, and football. We munched on chips and guac and a delicious salami appetizer Jen had gotten from an episode of Barefoot Contessa.

There is hardly anything in the world I love more than getting together with family. All that’s left of this gathering are deflating balloons and a left-behind pacifier! Signs of a good party.

Gatherings of loved ones, no matter how big or how small, remind us that we are not solitary creatures, and that all of those little problems we think are insurmountable really aren’t as long as you have friends and family who love you.

Jen’s meatballs came from a recipe she got from Mix and Match Mama’s blog. Here it is:

Provolone Stuffed Meatballs

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 onion, grated
4 cloves garlic, grated
1 c. panko breadcrumbs
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
2 eggs, beaten
2 splashes milk
1 t. crushed red pepper
4-6 oz. Provolone cheese
Salt and pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine ground beef, onion, garlic, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, eggs, milk, crushed red pepper and salt and pepper. As you roll a meatball, take a piece of your provolone and stick it in the center, rolling the meat mixture all the way around it and then place on a foil-lined, lightly greased baking pan. Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil over all of the meatballs. Roast in the oven about 20 minutes, or until brown.

Serve over spaghetti or have them as individual appetizers.

Kids’ Whimsical Cooking

My mother didn’t teach me to cook.

Don’t get me wrong. My mom was a very good cook. She just didn’t teach me to cook, or my siblings either. She probably thought it was simply easier to do it herself. She prepared the meals; we did other things. As a result, I was a terrible cook when I first got married. Rice that could have doubled for wallpaper paste. A pie crust that was so hard to roll out that I ended up throwing it on the floor. You get the picture.

As the years went by, I must have learned through simply watching Mom how to do some cooking. I got better as time went on. Now I hardly ever throw a pie crust on the floor.

My 10-year-old granddaughter Addie likes to cook. She has liked to cook since she was a really small girl. She has a patient mommy who has allowed her to cook, and who has taught her a thing or two about cooking!

As I continue with this blog, I thought it would be fun to give Addie the chance to blog on occasion as well. She can talk about cooking from a 10-year-old’s perspective. As part of the process, Addie cooked dinner last night, and man! it was delicious.

Here is her first post:

Hi my name is Adelaide Grace McLain (I go by Addie for short). I am 10 years old and I will be doing blog posts about kids cooking on this blog. I have a passion for cooking and that is why my nana (the one who owns this blog) asked me to share my recipes. I have 3 siblings and so my family is a total of six. My favorite color is yellow and my favorite food is mango. I would have to say that my best dish is fettuccini alfredo which is coincidentally my first blog recipe.

I started cooking when I was about 6 years old. My mom was cooking fettuccini alfredo and I said, “Can you teach me how to cook?” After that, I started making breakfast for my siblings many mornings and coffee for my parents that I would bring up to them in bed.

I hope you like my blog posts.

Fettuccini Alfredo

1 stick of butter
¾ of a pint of cream
Enough Parmesan cheese to make the sauce thick.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add the cream to the butter, stirring the whole time. Add the Parmesan cheese until the sauce is thick (probably around ¾ – 1 c. of cheese). This is what it should look like:

Cook your pasta, and pour the sauce on top.

Walmart Wonderings

I am not one of those folks who inherently hates Walmart. I have never quite understood some people’s knee-jerk loathing of this admittedly enormous retail giant.

In fact, I often shop at Walmart. I don’t love it, but I do it when I need certain items that, like it or not, are cheaper there. (And I am nothing if not a tightwad.) Still, Walmart shopping is one of my least favorite activities.

This is from a person who loves grocery shopping. (I can almost hear a symphony of groans.) However, since I am retired, I have the luxury of wandering through a grocery store looking at the various kinds of meats or cheeses, comparing prices on different brands, trying the samples, perhaps even sipping on a pumpkin spice latte, skinny, no whipped cream, that you can buy at the Starbucks that is located in every single solitary grocery store in the United States (even if there is a Starbucks in the same shopping center).

So, today as I shopped at Walmart, I decided to pass my time by observing certain phenomenon that caught my eye.

Why, for example, do so many male Walmart shoppers elect not to push the cart in a normal way, as would any woman shopper? Instead, so many men walk beside the cart and steer it from the side. Do they think it looks more masculine that way? And how do they control the cart? I would (and this is without a doubt) run the cart into a rack of t-shirts selling for $7.47 each.

And, speaking of that, why is that t-shirt $7.47? Why not $7.25 or $7.50, or round up to, say, $8?

And I love to see what they place up at the cash registers for people to ponder as they wait in line. When you look up impulse check-stand shopper in the dictionary, there I am. I have purchased many things that I didn’t know I couldn’t live without while waiting in line. Pipe cleaners. Nascar Bic lighters (and I don’t smoke or watch Nascar). Paula Deen’s magazine. Rachael Ray’s magazine. Weight Watchers Magazine (which I wouldn’t need if I didn’t cook out of Paula Deen’s or Rachael Ray’s magazines).

Nevertheless, my weekly shopping is done. And tonight I’m cooking for three of my granddaughters, ages 5, 7, and 10. I will make them the yummy chicken dish that I got from Pinterest for which I don’t really know the name. I have seen it called Heroin Chicken. I call it Buttery Chicken. Simply can’t serve my grandkids anything with heroin in the name.

Buttery Chicken

4-6 boneless chicken breasts or thighs
2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
3 T. parsley
2 T. dried oregano
3 t. paprika
1 t. pepper
1 t. salt
½ c. melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the grated cheese and the seasonings. Line a shallow baking pan with aluminum foil. I also place a sheet of parchment paper on top to help avoid sticking.

Melt the butter in a pan. Dip each piece of chicken into the butter, and then into the seasoned cheese, coating completely. Arrange in a single layer on the pan. Pour any remaining butter over the chicken.
Bake for 30-45 minutes, until nicely browned.