Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Kitchen Basics: First Aid for a minor cut

It happens to all of us. It even happens to fancy chefs on the Food Network (ironically, it happened to a chef on the show "Chopped"). You cut your finger while slicing some veggies and all of a sudden you are bleeding and you have to act. This may or may not have recently happened at our house to a certain blog writer that may or may not be writing this post.

Here are a few steps for what you should do if you cut yourself:
  1. Remain calm. Hopefully, you don't faint at the sight of blood. If you do, you should be extra careful because you're going to need to get the bleeding to stop.
  2. Stop the bleeding. Minor cuts and scrapes will stop bleeding on their own. However, if they don't, you should apply gentle, but firm pressure to the cut with a clean cloth or bandage for 20-ish minutes and elevate it if possible (above your heart). Do not grab whatever towel you just wiped lemon juice or a salty broth up with. That will hurt like heck and you'll be saying a few choice (four-letter) words about that. Also, do not keep checking to see if the bleeding has stopped because that just prolongs the whole process. If this doesn't work, you may need to see a doctor.
  3. After you've gotten the wound to stop bleeding, clean it with clear water. Don't apply soap directly to the cut because that can really hurt. If there is something in the cut you may need to use a clean tweezers to remove whatever is in there. In my experience, the only that that was in a cut was some spices or bit of food, but that got washed away with the water.
  4. I know some people who say to apply an antibiotic right away and some people say "let the air get at it". Well, according to the Mayo Clinic, you should use some, unless of course you're allergic to it. It helps to prevent infection.
  5. Cover with a bandage (or make your husband go get you one while you stand there applying pressure to the wound). If you have to finish preparing a meal or were bleeding pretty good, you'll want to be sure and have the bandage on otherwise crud could get in the cut that you just cleaned. You also don't want to get anything in the food. Speaking of that, you may need to throw away any food that you got blood on and you should get a clean knife or whatever utensil you were using.
  6. Keep the dressing clean and dry to prevent infection.
  7. If any of these things don't work or if you have a big cut (deeper than a quarter inch or jagged, spurting blood, infected, etc), go see a doctor right away. You may need stitches or a tetanus shot.
Ways to prevent cuts in the kitchen:
  1. Pay attention to what you're doing! 
  2. Keep your knives sharp. I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but a sharp knife will slice things easier which means you won't have to apply as much pressure to the food. When you have to press down hard with a knife, you're more likely to slip.
  3. When using a grater or mandolin slicer, make sure that you have it on the right setting for the food you are using and keep your knuckles out of the way! Make sure that you are on an even surface clear of slippery substances (water, oil, juice, etc.) Also, don't try to slice things over a pan of hot food. Can you imagine cutting your self and then dropping the grater in a pan of simmering food? Yeah, ouch. 
  4. Keep a first aid kit near your kitchen for any "just in case" moments.
Be careful and cook on, Crushers!

Fun fact: before modern antiseptic/antibiotic creams like Neosporin, people sometimes used honey to clean wounds and keep infection away. It even helped clear up bee stings! Before trying this home remedy, please make sure that you aren't just smearing a honey product on your hand. If it's not real honey, you might have just spread corn syrup on a cut. Also, don't give honey to a child under the age of one because of the natural presence of botulinum endosphores. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Stir Fry Fail

Morning Crushers!

Following our meal planning for the week, I made stir fry last night. I totally cheated and used frozen veggies, frozen shrimp and minute brown rice. I was SO hungry, that this was going to be a perfect meal ready in under thirty minutes full of lean protein, whole grains and veggies.

Well, what the heck?

I did this almost exact meal last week, except it had rice noodles in it last time. This week, the sauce was thin, the rice was weird, and it just wasn't the same! After running three miles in a gym and getting slightly dizzy (it's 30 laps), I was so, so hungry. The veggies were good and the shrimp were tasty, but the rice threw me off. Seriously? How do you screw up minute rice?

Hmm... Oh well. I still got lots of healthy food in one bowl. Plus, Steve made a pseudo apple turnover using leftover pizza dough. He kneaded sugar and cinnamon into the dough, spread it out over a cookie sheet, filled  half with apple pie filling and raisins, covered it with the other half of the dough, and baked it. It's like hand-held apple pie. WINNER!

How about you? Have you made stir fry?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Meals for the week

Hi Crushers,
I know I didn't have much to write about last week, but that's for two reasons: one, Steve did most (OK, practically all) of the cooking last week, and two, it was a rough week for my family with funeral preparations for my aunt. One more reason that I didn't cook last week was because it was exam week for Steve's school, so we didn't have as many after school commitments as usual. Also, he makes a killer spicy chili and it's never quite the same.

Hmm, I guess that's four reasons. Anyway, we're getting back on track sharing the prep, cooking/baking, and shopping this week.

Here is the plan for the week, so stay tuned!
Monday: Stirfry
Tuesday: Leftover Chili (with homemade bread sticks from this post) and making some sort of treat for Steve's card night with the guys since I really don't have to cook dinner. Thank you to whoever invented the microwave!
Wednesday: Pasta with chicken tenders from my freezer meal class
Thursday: Chicken and Dumplings
Friday: Up for grabs! Pizza? Fajitas? Who knows...

Coming up this weekend is the SUPER BOWL! Not only is this THE night for NFL fans (unlike the pro bowl...), commercial fans and Beyonce fans, but it is a fun food night. We are going to be attending a party at my cousin's house which should be exciting for a number of reasons:
  1. Her husband is from San Fran, so we've all become honorary 49ers Fans.
  2. She is a good cook and has invited lots of fun foodie people to the party. 
  3. I'm betting that at least 3 people have e-mailed/called/texted her brother/my cousin to make his "bacon-wrapped, chicken bites of holy cow that's spicy". 
I think I'm going to make one healthy option like a spicy buffalo dip with celery sticks and Greek yogurt and then one that is loaded with cheese and such. Any requests? Please write them in the comments!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Freezer Food Workshop

Disclaimer: I was not paid to review the Wildtree Freezer Meal workshop that I attended Monday night. All of the opinions I make in the following blog post are my own. I just happen to like these products.

Good Morning Crushers!

Monday night I attended a Wildtree party where we prepped 10 meals to store in the freezer. We used Wildtree products to season various meats. We got recipes for all of the meals, so later on I can just pull a bag out of the freezer, thaw it and cook it according to the directions. Easy peasy.

Well, sort of. First you pay for a bunch of products that will be ready and waiting for you to use. Then you buy all the meat (or meat substitutes) and prep them. We had our class on a Monday, so I shopped and prepped on Sunday. It took me a little while to find all of the ingredients, but the nice thing was that you could substitute things that are already in your freezer!

Once you are done slicing or cubing the meat, you put them all in labeled bags so they match the recipes. I felt so organized after this, I practically patted myself on the back! Each meal is supposed to have 4-6 servings, so I split them into two and had a bag 1A and 1B and so forth. You just have to remember that if you use a frozen meat (like shrimp or the roast I had sitting in my freezer), you have to keep it frozen. You really shouldn't thaw something more than once.

When we got to the workshop, everything was all set out for us and there were more ingredients to use that we didn't have to buy. We followed some really simple directions (I split mine between the two bags), and by the end of the night, I had a cooler full of food! 20 meals! I don't think I'll need to go shopping for any meat for months! I even came home with a bunch of product since you don't use it all.

Here are some great tips I learned:
  1. When filling a big freezer bag, put it in a bowl once you have a heavy ingredient in it so that it stays up right while you fill it. Or, as my friend Mary did, use two wine bottles to prop open the top of the bag when you fold the opening over it.
  2. If you want to season ground beef/turkey/chicken, putting it in bags or in a big bowl and squishing it all around works great. You meat will be seasoned through and through!
  3. You can keep a list of all the meat or prepared meals in your freezer so that you know what you've used and what you need to replenish instead of digging through your freezer. Whenever I do this I end up going, "huh, look at that..." I think we will have a lot less freezer burnt foods.
  4. Cooking is why you learn fractions in grade school. Sometimes you need to double them and sometimes you need to divide them.
  5. Prepping all your food when you get home from the grocery takes a little while, but is totally worth it. Thanks to a fun food blog on CNN called Eatocracy, you can find more ways to waste less food!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Comfort Food

Hi Crushers,

I find it unique that when major life events happen, people make you food. New baby? Have a casserole! You're moving? Let's have pizza and beer while you pack. New promotion? Let's go get drinks! Death in the family? Here's a lasagna.

Well, I just got news that my aunt, who is also my godmother, passed away today from battling with liver cancer. Although I'm a Christian and I know that she is celebrating eternal life in heaven, it still sucks.

If you could all do me a favor, go hug your aunts. And your uncles. And your siblings. And your parents and everyone.

Thank You.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Stuffed French Toast

Hi Crushers,

As you may have read here and here, I've started baking bread, but sometimes you just want to do something with the bread that doesn't involve making a sandwich. Since the bread you make at home doesn't have preservatives in it, you either have to freeze what you're not using or use it up before it gets moldy. We had bought some regular wheat bread at the store in case my adventures in bread making didn't work out, but since they did, we found that we had more bread than we knew what to do with.

Time to hit the recipe books! I had two problems to solve:
  1. What to feed a hungry guy?
  2. How to use up the bread?
The answer is Stuffed French Toast.

I recently had some friends *waves hi to Susan and Erie* ask me to do some posts on what to do with leftovers and offer some meatless meal options. While this might not totally satisfy Susan's question on leftovers, this fun breakfast-for-dinner option answers the above problems and is meatless.

So much bread!
Note: We don't usually have too many leftovers in our house, but when we do, we usually just have a leftover night and eat up what's in the fridge. If we have specific ingredients like ground beef, veggies, or something else, then those can easily be incorporated into another meal. More on that will come later this week.

Stuffed French Toast (loosely based on this Food Network recipe):
Batter Ingredients:
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp sugar
6-8 half inch slices of day old bread
1 tsp butter

Filling Ingredients:
1-8 oz package of cream cheese (the low fat stuff works fine)
1 medium or large banana
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla

Whisk all of the batter ingredients together except for the bread and the butter. In a shallow dish, soak the bread in the batter for 30 seconds on each side. In a large frying pan, melt half of the butter. When it is hot, fry four slices of bread on each side until it is golden brown. Set those slices aside and repeat with the rest of the bread until it is all cooked. It should take about 2-4 minutes for the slices to cook.

The mix is a little lumpy, but I think it was because the bananas were still a tiny bit green.
In a medium/large bowl (I used the KitchenAid mixer), beat the filling ingredients until they are smooth. Heat the filling in the microwave or in a sauce pan on the stove so it doesn't chill your French toast. Place a piece of French toast on a plate and spoon the filling over the toast. I found it helpful to press down on the middle of the bottom slice of toast to make a little dent or pocket for the filling. Cover with a second piece of toast. If you want (and we did), spoon some more filling over the top. No need for syrup!

I made a dent in the bottom slice on the yellow plate to hold in the filling.
I forgot to do that for one the green plate, so you can see how all of the filling escaped!


  1. If you read the recipe that this is loosely based on, you could put half of the toast slices in the bottom of a baking dish, spoon filling over them, and then cover with the rest of the slices and bake it for about 8 minutes at 350 F. We were too hungry to mess around with baking, so we didn't.
  2. I think that the next time we make this, I'm going to use half of the cheese and more banana to cut some calories and fat.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bread - two variations one dough

Hey Crushers!

Remember that photo of me hugging my brand new KitchenAid Mixer? Well, I put it to good use this past weekend to make bread. The mixer comes with a handy recipe book, so I thought I'd give this a try. Plus, I really wanted to see how the dough hook worked. The recipe says you can make two loaves with this and it gives you suggestions for other things. I went with one loaf of bread and then some bread sticks which I ended up putting in a freezer bag to save for later.

1/2C (4 oz.) milk
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons butter
2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast or 2 teaspoons fast-acting/instant east (.34 oz.)
1 1/2 C (12 oz.) warm water (105F to 110F)
5-6 C Unbleached bread flour (I used regular flour and that worked fine)

Get it all ready to go!
Combine milk, sugar, salt, and butter in small saucepan. Heat over low heat and stir until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Cool to lukewarm (less than 110 F).

If using active dry yeast, dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed bowl and let stand for 10 minutes. If using Instant/fast-acting Yeast, just add it to the flour and mix it in before adding liquids. Make sure you still heat up the water otherwise it could be too chilly for the yeast. I went with the fast-acting yeast and it really worked!

See how it hangs on to the hook? So cool! Also, see all the flour on the top of bowl.
I told you it would fly!
Add lukewarm milk mixture and water to 4 1/2 C  flour. Attach bowl and dough hook. Make sure you have the top locked in place. Turn to speed 2 and mix 1 minute. Continuing on speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 C at a time (slowly so it doesn’t fly out of bowl because it will fly!), until dough clings to hook and cleans side of bowl. Knead on speed 2 for 2 minutes longer, or until dough is smooth and stretchy. Dough will be slightly sticky to the touch.

All the dough in the bowl.
Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about an hour. I was amazed at how huge my dough got. Steve had fun coming in the kitchen and punching it down.

See how high above the bowl it got?!
Punch dough down and divide in half. Shape each half into a loaf and place in a greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. OR only make one loaf and let it rise.

About-to-be bread stick
While that's happening, take the other half and roll it out flat until it is about 12 inches by 9 inches. Cut it with a sharp knife into 1 inch strips. Roll each end in the opposite direction. Pick up the ends and bring them together. The dough should spin around itself making braid-looking bread sticks.

You can bake them both at the same time for the same time and temperature.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks.

Yum! Sandwich (or French toast) ready.

Family Style Pasta - Spinach Tortellacci with Spicy Italian Sausage

Hello crushers,

I did a LOT of cooking over the weekend because we were home getting lots of things done around the house. It was nice to take down some of the Christmas decorations and organize things so we know we can find them next year. It was also nice to get to have enough time to make a gigantic meal for the Packer game so we weren't rushed to have dinner ready by kickoff. Sadly, the Packers did not continue on to the next playoff game, but we had a great meal.

See how big those noodles are?
One of the things I love about recipes is when you know you've made enough for a family to sit down and enjoy a meal without having to get up a million times to grab this or that. Family-style pasta is a great option, and this meal was inspired by two things: the awesome elderly gentleman at Glorioso's, the best Italian grocery in Milwaukee, who hands out cookies to chew on while you decide what cut of meat to order and Giada Di Laurentiis, the Food Network Queen of Family Style Pasta.

Glorioso's is one of my favorite specialty grocery stores to wander through. They will often let you have a taste of olives or something if you're really undecided. I got to try an olive stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese. It was amazing! We left the store with a wedge of Parmesan cheese, a few types of olives including the kind I got to sample, a half pound of caprese salad from the deli, a pound of spicy Italian sausage (they make their own!) and a pound of spinach tortellacci.

No, you didn't read that wrong. I said tortellacci. If you haven't already typed that in a search engine, please let me explain what it is. You are probably familiar with tortellini, the delightful stuffed round pasta. It rhymes with teeny, so it's the smallest. Tortelloni is the next size up. Tortellacci is the biggest version of this stuffed noodle. Another way to remember it is that when you say the words, your mouth has to open the least to say the word for the smallest noodle, and it has to open the widest for the biggest noodle. No matter the size, it's delicious.

1/2 pound spicy Italian sausage (about two links)
1 pound spinach tortellacci, cooked according to the package directions
1/2 green pepper, diced
5-6 button mushrooms, halved and sliced
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce (we like the kind with basil or chunky veggies)
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

(Note: We made side salads to go with this, so we put some of the onions, mushrooms and peppers on the lettuce. We also snacked on the caprese salad and olives. We had plenty of leftovers for dinner the next night!).

First, pour yourself a glass of wine because you're about to make a mess in the kitchen. Second, get out a large pot to boil the pasta in and a large sauce pan because you're going to be cooking everything else in that.

If your sausage is very lean (ours was), then put some olive oil in the pan and let it heat up. Cook the sausage in the pan browning it on both sides. You'll want to make sure that the insides reach at least 160 degrees. Normally, you cook pork to 165, but you'll keep cooking this later, so it'll finish then. I cooked up all of the sausage so that we could have it for another meal later, but you really only need the two links.
Cooking sausage - the white things are rough-chopped garlic.
While the sausage is sizzling away, dice up your veggies. When the sausage is done, take it out of pan to drain on some paper towels. Drain off all but about a half to a whole tbsp of grease/olive oil. Dump all of your veggies in the pan and saute them in the leftover oil. Once the onions get translucent, slice up the sausage into 1/2 inch pieces and put them back in the pan with the veggies. Add your marinara sauce and let that simmer until your pasta is done. Drain the pasta and add it right to the sausage and veggies. Mix it all up and let it heat through together.

Fancy "tailgating" food! If you can see it, there are olives,
mozzarella and tomatoes, and the salads on the side.
While you're doing that you can get all your plates and sides ready to go. Settle in to watch your favorite football team play or maybe light a few candles for a romantic meal or feed a family of four hungry people. Anyway you serve it, I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Meatless Monday options

Good morning, Crushers!

I know that today is Friday, but a friend and I were talking about "Meatless Mondays" as a way to try more veggie-ful and (usually) less expensive meal options. We are very cost-conscious about our grocery bill, but we don't want to sacrifice trying new foods and flavors either. And, obviously, I love to cook, so we don't buy too many pre-packaged meals. At times, eating whole foods can get a little expensive. Not to say I don't love tossing a bag of french fries in the oven or enjoying a frozen pizza now and then!

Anyway, Erie (the aforementioned friend) and I decided to brainstorm some meatless options. Here they are in no particular order:
  • Bean and Rice burrito
  • Bean and Veggie tacos
  • Huevos Rancheros (egg dish)
  • Breakfast for dinner: eggs, omelets, quiche, frittata, pancakes, biscuits and gravy (with beans instead of sausage)
  • Stir fry/fried rice with egg and/or beans
  • Vegetarian Lasagna
  • Bean Soup
  • Meatless Chili
  • Loaded Baked Potatoes (use some of that chili!)
  • Grilled veggie sandwiches
  • Grilled mushrooms burgers
  • Black bean burgers
  • Homemade pizza with veggies
What do you think? What am I missing? What should we try first?

I got a wok for my birthday, so I'm thinking stir fry, but breakfast for dinner is calling my name!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Birthday Dinner

Good morning, Crushers!

Today is my birthday. I don't know about you, but I love birthdays. I love everything about them. I love the warm wishes. I love the cake and ice cream. I love trying to remember how old you are now. I love presents. I also love getting a special meal and sharing it with people I love and enjoy.

Growing up, my mom would throw us amazing birthday parties. That woman knows how to stick to a theme! We would always get to eat fun food and have friends over. One of my favorite birthdays of all time was on my golden birthday when a bunch of my friends came over for a sleepover. This was a big deal in elementary school. We all got to dress up in fun dress-up clothes and have a pretend fashion show. My mom narrated it describing our outfits (many of which were her old bridesmaid dresses and other costumes), and my dad video taped us so that we could watch it later. We felt like celebrities!

Lately, my friends and family would either go to a hockey game and eat Chinese food and have pie for dessert or just have the same dinner at home. I love pie, especially birthday pie! Sometimes we'd be stuck at home because there would be a blizzard.

Last year, I didn't have any big plans, but Steve decided to let my inner celebrity chef run wild. He took me to this amazing Italian deli/grocery in Milwaukee and let me pick out whatever foods I wanted for dinner that night. After being momentarily stunned, I formulated a game plan, ahem, I mean menu, and got to work. We got fresh mozzarella and tomatoes for a capri salad, spicy Italian sausage and marinara sauce, portabella mushroom ravioli, wine and then a very decadent slice of cake. My stomach is happy just thinking of it. It was delicious.

Today, I'm going to go out to dinner with my husband (so neither of us has to do the dishes), enjoy an unusually warm day for January and maybe even walk to lunch with my friends. Sounds pretty great, huh?

Whatever way you enjoy (safely and legally) celebrating, I hope you do it with gusto! I fully intend on enjoying this whole day!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

Hi Crushers,
As many people do, I like to make resolutions or set goals for the New Year. Steve and I set some for us as a family as part of our #24daysoftogetherness. Some of them I can share and some of them are just for us.

  1. Run the Green Bay Cellcom Half Marathon together (or at least start together!). I ran the Fox Cities Half Marathon with some friends and it was a lot of fun training for it and completing it. Steve helped me train for it, but in the end he didn't sign up because it was during football season and he wasn't sure how much time he could devote to running at the end. I think he could have still done it, but better safe than sorry! Running injuries are no fun.
  2. Learn how to make more breads. My sister's mother-in-law gave me a book on making bread. After the success of the rosemary bread I wrote about here, I feel like I could take on other bread challenges.
  3. Learn how to make more Asian dishes. My friends Stacy and Misty make these rice cakes of spicy dragon fire that are amazing! Really, they are called Ddukppoki and they are a favorite street food in Korea. I'd also like to try making Pho, which is a delicious soup. I bet Stacy and Misty wouldn't mind helping me learn how to make these. My cousin Rob knows how to make sushi, so that could be interesting too. Plus, all of these recipes would require a fascinating grocery trip!
  4. Learn how to make pasta. I have a feeling that this will be more effort than it's worth, but who knows? I've kind of always wanted to make my own ravioli, but haven't had the guts to try it yet.
  5. Beat my 5K race PR. Right now, my best 5K time is hovering right around 29 minutes. I'm slow, but I'm ok with that. It's all about finishing what you start!
  6. Do 50 push ups in a row! And not the modified "girly" kind from your knees either! I'm talking regular, from your toes push ups without sticking your booty in the air.
  7. Learn how to lay tile or linoleum or something to repair our kitchen floor. Before we were married, something (water damage?) happened to the floor and it needs to go away. Argh.
How about you? Do you have any? Do you have foods you would like to see us try to make?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year!

Hello and Happy New Year, Crushers!

Steve and I are blessed with having so many friends and family nearby that we got to celebrate seven Christmases. Yes, seven! We host a friend Christmas party every year. This year we decided we were going to have a Hawaiian-themed party. My sister made pineapple iced tea, which was a hit. We also had some Hawaiian steamed pork dumplings (which I bought), BBQ ham balls (I just couldn't make Spam meat balls), coconut shrimp from and lots of other fun treats. I think next year we're going to go for "Fleece Navidad" and combine Mexican foods with an Ugly Sweater party.

We spent Christmas Eve with my family after going to church. This is my absolute favorite Christmas service because all the kids from the school put together a program (or their teachers do) and they recite passages and sing carols. It's wonderful. My favorite part will always be when they recite the passages from Luke 2 just like Linus in "Merry Christmas Charlie Brown." They do a fantastic job leading the service.

Sadly, it was very difficult to get there because a police officer had been shot and a lot of roads were closed in my hometown where things like that hardly ever happen. We were all able to say an extra prayer for her and the poor kid who fainted and broke a tooth right after singing "Silent Night". It was a rough Christmas for a lot of people in various ways, and I don't mean that flippantly. I hope that yours was much happier with family and friends.

After spending some time with my grandparents and opening gifts with my parents, we were 2 down and 5 to go. My grandparents really enjoy holiday parties with everyone so they rallied and stayed up extra late! At my parents' house, I got a... drumroll please... KITCHENAID MIXER! I kid you not, I hugged it. See?
What to make first?
My grandpa on my dad's side is kind of hard to shop for, but there is one thing that he loves to get and that is food! My mom made him a big platter of Christmas cookies, so I tried making homemade rosemary bread since he's a big soup and sandwich fan. I found this recipe and it was super easy to make. See?
Bread finished with a nice egg wash ready to be gifted.
Note: there are no preservatives so if you aren't going to eat it right away, you should keep it in the freezer
Christmas #3 and 4 were on Christmas Day first at Steve's parents' house, to which I brought a no-bake cheese cake, and then at my sister's house, to which I brought a cranberry Jell-O salad. We had such a nice time at church and then at home with everyone!

Although it seemed to be the year of the sweater/kitchen stuff, I got one gift from Steve that should not be used in the kitchen: snowshoes! Please pardon my crazy outfit, but those were really warm pants. My sister said that I looked "like an adorable Christmas Elf." Ha! All of my other snow-wear was in the wash since we did a lot of cross country skiing, too.

After spending Christmas #5 with my extended family, to which I brought an antipasto salad, and singing carols for Grandma, we spent Christmas #6 with Steve's dad's side of the family. There was lots of babies to hold, kids to play with and carols to sing. I was losing my voice! We spent some time up in Green Bay, where I got to see the Packer Hall of Fame for the first time. We ate some really amazing cheese curds at Curly's Pub (named for the Packer's first coach, Curly Lambeau, who is also the namesake for the stadium) and watched the Packers, gulp, LOSE (!!!!) to the Minnesota Vikings. There was a lot of yelling going on in the pub. Fortunately, we are forever fans and have a lot of hope for this weekend where we (pfft, I say this like I'm going to be on the field) take on the Vikings in the first round of the playoffs.
At the Hall of Fame!
Christmas #7 was spent with Steve's mom's side of the family with more caroling and more food! Phew! What a whirlwind!

In case you aren't sick of holiday dinners with ham, here's the BBQ Ham Ball recipe. It sounds weird, but it's really, really good.

BBQ Ham Balls
Ham Balls
1 1/2 pounds ground ham
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
2 cups Cracker crumbs (I used Ritz)
1 cups milk
2 eggs, beaten

1 can tomato soup
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup vinegar
1 tsp dry mustard

Mix ham, pork, cracker crumbs, milk and eggs in a large bowl. Use 1/3 cup of mixture and form into balls. This is also about the size of a tennis ball. Place in a 13 x 9 pan. Bake for one hour in a 350 oven. While baking, mix glaze ingredients in small bowl.  Pour glaze over balls, and bake an additional half hour to glaze. Serve with roasted veggies.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!