Archive for January, 2010

Dear Readers,

Ever so often Mimi actually concocts an original recipe and the following is one.  Had some dried cherries in the cupboard and wanted to use them with a pork tenderloin.  Here is what I came up with.  Hope you enjoy it.

Mimi’s Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Sauce

Bake a 1-1/2 lb. pork tenderloin at 375 degrees in a glass casserole for about 40 minutes or until temperature reaches 160-165 degrees internally.

Let pork loin cool for 15 minutes before slicing.  While it is cooling, you can prepare the cherry sauce.

Heat 1/4 cup red wine with 2 tablespoons water in microwave for 1 minute.  Pour this mixture into casserole dish and scrape off all burned and browned drippings in the casserole.

Then saute 1 tablespoon minced onion in 1 tablespoon butter for 3 minutes.  Then add wine mixture from casserole along with heaping 1/2 cup of dried cherries.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook over low heat 4 to 5 minutes until cherries are plumped.  Spoon cherry sauce over the sliced pork tenderloin.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Here’s another installment of random thoughts floating through Mimi’s brain.

I frequently see rows of birds all lined up and perched on utility wires.  They’re usually there on cold days, so I guess they gather on the wire for heat.  But what if they’re getting too much electricity shooting through their tiny bodies?  Would that mean that some of these same birds also glow in the dark???

I’ve been paying our household bills for nearly forty years and all the various utility companies issue an account number to be used for payment checks.  But why are the account numbers today so long?  Years ago an account number was only 4 or 5 digits long but now many are 11 digits or more.  Even my new checking account is 12 digits long.  The worst offender is my 15 digit Costco membership number.  What I can’t understand is why they put 3 zeroes at the beginning and 3 zeroes at the end.  Enough already!!!

Having a toddler granddaughter, Mimi has rediscovered the pleasure of blowing bubbles.  It’s so much fun seeing how big the bubbles can get before they burst.  I also like watching the steady stream of small bubbles that float up in the air and take a while before they pop and disappear.  It’s so relaxing following the path of these shiny little balls of soapy water, inflated with air.  Why is blowing bubbles just for kids?  I think adults should be able to blow bubbles anytime they feel like it.  What do you think?

By the way, here’s the words to the chorus of “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” first written in 1918.  It’s a wonderful song to sing while blowing those bubbles!

I’m forever blowing bubbles,

Pretty bubbles in the air.

They fly so high,

Nearly reach the sky,

Then like my dreams,

They fade and die.

Fortune’s always hiding,

I’ve looked everywhere,

I’m forever blowing bubbles,

Pretty bubbles in the air.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

This is a continuation of  my account of a recent trip to Las Vegas.

We toured the shops at Caesar’s Forum where the merchandise was much too pricey to even consider purchasing.  At the Venetian Hotel there were gandoliers in their black and white striped shirts with large straw hats trimmed with a bright red sash.  They were poised to take tourists on a canal ride reminiscent of the Grand Canal in Venice.

In my opinion, the prettiest hotel was the Wynn.  There was a floral display outside the casino floor that was absolutely gorgeous.  Rows of double-bloom begonias in brilliant colors of pink, red, white, yellow and orange were planted in front of healthy, vibrant ferns.  On the floors were charming mosaics of various flowers and plants.  In one area, you could stand on one floor looking down to tables below but above this area were large gaily colored parasols suspended from the ceiling.  These magical parasols were moving up and down, ever so slowly.  In the background a huge two-story  window looked out onto a cascading waterfall, that I’m sure was illuminated at night.

The biggest treat of the birthday celebration was witnessing the performance of “The Beatles Love by Cirque du Soleil”.  We had front row seats and it was the most exciting show I’ve ever attended – a feast for the eyes and ears!  Almost got dizzy trying to take it all in.  Countless talented and athletic show people were performing great acts of balance and speed with the surround sound of famous Beatles’ hits.  It doesn’t get any better than this!

Our trip ended all too quickly.  On the way out of Vegas, I marveled at the extreme extravagance on display there.  My friend wisely reminded me that this city was built  on losers; and there are a lot of casino losers in Vegas.  I felt somewhat guilty enjoying this extravagance created by so many losses.  I just hope these losses weren’t too painful!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Recently some dear friends invited my husband and me to join them on a long weekend trip to Vegas to celebrate a special birthday.  I was excited about the trip because I had never been to Las Vegas.  But Mimi did  have a lot of preconceived ideas about the city, and these ideas were certainly surpassed.

Caught my first glimpse of Vegas when driving into town.  The bright lights and tall buildings could be seen from the highway more than 20 miles away.  There’s something about bright, glittery lights that beckons us toward them.  As human beings, we are somehow programmed to follow light.  The city builders wisely exploited this fact of nature.  Bright lights, mounting excitement, freely spending money – they’re all connected.

The first night we ate dinner at a restaurant in the middle of the new city center, only opened to the public about three weeks ago.  It’s a large community of hotels, condos, restaurants and shops clustered together in the heart of Las Vegas.  Most of the construction is green and environmentally friendly.  The walls of this restaurant were rows of glass shelves holding large, smooth rocks ranging in size from 4 inches to 12 inches in diameter  These shelves were backlit and then covered by panes of frosted glass.  It was quite beautiful and very unusual.  But then Las Vegas specializes in the unusual.

A native of Las Vegas encouraged us to visit the older part of the Strip.   So we ventured down to Fremont Street, which is pure Vegas, complete with a large neon cowboy and cowgirl, lots of flashing light bulbs and the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino.  This is what a travel brochure says about the Fremont Street Experience:  “This pedestrian promenade features a light-and-sound show made up of 12.5 million synchronized LED modules and concert-quality sound”.  The evening of our visit, Don McLean’s 1971 hit “American Pie” was playing during the laser show.  Hundreds of people were singing along during the overhead laser show.  It was very exciting being part of a big crowd, all singing a familiar song together.

Have lots more to tell you about the trip but you will just have to wait for Part 2 on Friday.

Keep smilin’!

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Care For A Casserole? #5

Dear Readers,

Here’s another recipe to add to the series of casseroles I have shared on the blog.  You can never have too many casserole recipes, especially when preparing dinner during the winter.  The oven bakes the food and heats up the surrounding area all at the same time.  What more could you ask for?

Vermicelli and Clam Bake

8 oz. vermicelli or spaghetti

1/4 cup chopped onions

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

2 – 6 oz. cans minced clams, drained, reserving 3/4 cup liquid

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 cup cottage cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 2 quart casserole.  Cook vermicelli to desired doneness as directed on package.  Drain, rinse with hot water.  Set aside.

In small pan, saute onion in butter until tender.  Stir in flour and garlic salt; cook until bubbly.  Add reserved clam liquid and milk; heat, stirring constantly, until hot.  Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and Worcestershire sauce.  Combine sauce, cottage cheese, clams and vermicelli; mix well.  Place in prepared casserole; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Makes 4 servings.

This recipe came from a Pillsbury magazine.  Don’t forget that glass of white wine, it pairs well with the clams!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

It is very important for all of us to save our environment and think “green”.  I discovered there are many ways in which lemons can be the “green” answer to household problems and chores just by reading an article in an old Better Homes and Garden magazine entitled “Lemon-Aid”.  I’m going to quote directly from this article.

“When life gives you  lemons, freshen up around the house.  The citric acid in lemons works as a natural cleanser and laundry aid.  Lemons also leave a clean scent.  Here are some common household uses for lemons:

Remove tarnish from copper by dipping a lemon half in salt, then rubbing it onto a copper surface.  Squeeze a little juice onto a pot and let it sit for several minutes to remove stubborn tarnish.

Rub a lemon wedge over your hands to remove lingering odors from working with onions, garlic, fish, or other strong-smelling foods.

Clean some stains (especially food stains) from countertops by squeezing lemon juice over the stain.  Let juice sit for 30 to 45 minutes, then pour baking soda over the juice and gently rub the stain away.

Remove rust from tools and other metal surfaces with lemon juice.  The juice also will loosen bolts that are rusted in place.  Pour juice over metal and let it sit until rust starts to dissolve.  If juice runs off the surface too quickly, saturate a rag or paper towel with lemon juice and wrap the towel around the rusted area.

Erase rust spots and fruit juice stains from white fabrics by dabbing stains with lemon juice.  Dry in the sun to help with bleaching.

Grind lemon rinds in your garbage disposal to keep it smelling sweet.”

I hope this article will help you to always think “green” and to

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Every January we all think about dieting away the extra pounds gained during the Christmas holidays.  Soup is a good choice because it can be both low in calories and very satisfying.

Try this “Creamy Potato Soup” from Holly Clegg, author of the cookbook, “Trim and Terrific American Favorites”.

Creamy Potato Soup

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) light margarine

1 cup chopped onions

2 large garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons flour

2 – (16 oz.) cans fat-free chicken broth

4 cups peeled diced potatoes (about 3 large)

1/2 cup sliced green onions

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup liquid nondairy creamer

Chopped parsley or sliced green onions, to garnish

Melt the margarine in a large pot over medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until tender; about 5 minutes.  Lower the heat and add the flour, stirring until smooth.  Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Gradually add the broth, stirring constantly.  Add the potatoes and green onions.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the potatoes are tender.  Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth, in batches if necessary.  Return to the pot.  Add salt and pepper, stir in the nondairy creamer, and heat thoroughly.  Garnish with parsley or green onions.

Makes 8 one-cup servings.  Each serving contains 144 calories and 4.5 grams of fat.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Every time I pick up the newspaper or turn on the television or computer, the news has been geared toward the massive overhauling of our entire health care system.  No matter which position you take, we can all agree on one thing:  The cost of healthcare just keeps rising and is out-of-control.

Let me take you back to the cost of healthcare in 1945, my birth year.  I recently found an old bill my Mom had saved in my babybook intemizing the cost of my birth and delivery.

The statement is dated October 2, 1945.  Mom stayed in a four bed ward for nine days at a room rate of $5 a day.  Women stayed in the hospital after childbirth considerably longer than today.  The total cost of medications was $2.50; medical dressings, $2.  There was a $10 charge for the delivery room along with a $5 fee for anesthetic.  The final cost was a nursery fee of $4.50.  If you divide it by nine days, the nursery charged just fifty cents a day to take care of me.  The total cost for the hospital stay was $69.  Blue Cross insurance paid for everything but the anesthetic fee.  I guess they figured anesthetics were a luxury during childbirth!

As you can see, healthcare was much cheaper in 1945, but then so was the cost of everything.  Did my Mom think I was worth the $69 bill?  I have a feeling she did!

Keep smilin’!

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