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Oct 18
Oktoberfest!

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Looking for something fun to do this weekend?  Take your family to a traditional Oktoberfest. If there isn't a great Bavarian Restaurant in your area, then perhaps create your own festivities with this wonderful Wiener Schnitzel recipe.

 

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Wiener Schnitzel

8 boneless pork cutlets (2 pounds), 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons season salt (such as Lawry's)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups Italian style bread crumbs
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon dried dill, or 4 teaspoons fresh dill
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream

1.  Use a meat hammer to pound pork cutlets to 1/4 inch thick.

2.  Grab 3 bowls.  In 1st bowl, mix together the flour, seasoned salt, and pepper.  In 2nd bowl, whisk the eggs and milk until slightly frothy.  And in 3rd bowl, add the bread crumbs.

3.  Working with individual cutlets, dredge each in the seasoned flour, followed by the egg mixture, then end by dipping the cutlet in the bread crumbs until thoroughly coated.  Heat olive oil in pan.  Work in batches; place as many cutlets in pan without overcrowding and cook until just browned on each side.  Transfer all cutlets to a baking sheet.  Place schnitzel in a preheated 350 degree oven and cook for about 25 minutes, until juices run clear.

4.  While schnitzel is cooking, add the chicken stock to the pan scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen all the yummy bits.  In a small bowl, mix the dill, salt, and sour cream; add to the chicken stock.  Heat over low to medium heat (do not boil) until thickened.  Will take time to thicken.

5.  Serve sauce over Wiener Schnitzel with lemon slices as garnish; just add fries and a simple salad for a true Bavarian Feast... enjoy!

Oct 09
Apples, Apples, Apples

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​Tis' the season for apples; caramel apples are a delicious and definite treat you will want to make.  If you're short on time, then make this easy Homemade Caramel Sauce.  it's great served warm over vanilla ice-cream, and just as tasty at room temperature as a dip for apple slices.

Homemade Caramel Sauce:

- 2 cups whipping cream

- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar

- 1/4 cup unsalted butter

Bring cream, sugar and butter to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat; stir frequently.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Let cool.  Once cooled, store in the refrigerator and label (using your A Little Book Meal Labels, of course)... enjoy!

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Oct 01
Happy October...

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just before the death of flowers, and before they are buried in snow, there comes a festival season when nature is all aglow.

--author unknown

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There are so many reasons to love fall.  Thick, comfy sweaters with warm, hued scarves.  Cool, crisp mornings and sunlit days.  Apple cider with oven-fresh doughnuts.  Crimson garden mums and golden leaves.  Comfort foods served by a fire.  Football fans wrapped in wool blankets.  Strolls along the lake.  And, of course, hay rides and haunted houses.

So this month, unpack your favorite sweater and head outdoors.  Take a walk, collect leaves, and savor the bounty of the season!  And, be sure to check my site often throughout the month for some terrific, seasonal recipes and great family activities to enjoy!

Warmest regards,

Janet Spiech

 

Apr 03
Spring Cleaning... A Familly Affair

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Spring is officially here.  And with it, comes a whole host of seasonal activities... or, should I say chores.  I'm a big believer in having the entire family involved in Spring Cleaning.  There is absolutely no reason why you need to handle this task all by yourself.   If you can hire help, great; but with the economy the way it is today, the first thing to go is usually the house cleaning service.  So, take heart.  A family spring cleaning can do wonders to clean your home, but more importantly, it can serve to create some great family-time.

Here's how to get started:

First, hold a family meeting.  Explain when spring cleaning is to take place and that each family member is expected to assist.  Children need time to plan and think about a task ahead; so, hold your meeting a few days, or weeks, before actually beginning.

Make the meeting fun and arm yourself with some essential tools.  Cleaning supplies, yes; but special treats are just as important when it comes to motivating children to clean.  Before the meeting, head to your local convenient store and peruse the aisles for fun items that will be an indulgent treat for your children.  For example, packs of bubble gum to chew and smack aloud as they clean.  Popsicle sticks and ice-cream bars for those necessary work "breaks."  And, or course, some bubble blowing toys to let off a little steam in the yard.  And, be a bit relaxed about the "rules" while your children clean.  If your 10 year old wants to chew three sticks of gum while scrubbing the baseboards, then let him.

You will also want to have the appropriate cleaning material on-hand.  Make sure everyone has a few of their own tools.  Pick up a variety of colored sponges, so that each child has their own special color. Also, purchase extra Windex, rolls of paper towel, etc.  Giving your children ownership of their own cleaning supplies is a great motivator while showing them trust and responsibility, too.

So, crank the music.  Throw open the windows.  And, get to work.  Then, once the job is complete, celebrate and enjoy with a wonderful family feast!

 

Mar 19
March Madness!

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March Madness ...sounds like a term used to describe the weather this month, but it's really the title name to the frenzy that surrounds college basketball; and it all starts tomorrow, March 20.

This is definitely an event in which you want to involve your children.  It's not only fun, it's a great time to discuss and learn about a variety of colleges.  If you haven't completed an NCAA Tournament Bracket, do so today; and have everyone in your family complete one.  It doesn't matter if your children (or you) are clueless about the teams, just let them choose as they like.  Then, decide an award for the person who picks the overall winner in the championship game.  In our house, it's an extra large candy bar of their choice.  I have to say, it makes the games very exciting and interesting to all, so be sure to create your own family award.

What is great about having the entire family involved in March Madness is that anytime you can have your children focused on and discussing colleges is a good thing.  It can lead to some wonderful conversations about college life--what's it all about; does everyone go; how do you get in?  This last question is key.  It opens the door to some terrific discussions about working hard and getting good grades in a very casual, non-threatening way.  Your children will be oblivious to the fact that you are actually "lecturing" them about doing well in school.

If you have children in middle and high school, purchase a college guide book.  The Princeton Review has a good one, but there are numerous books out there.  Keep it handy while the games are being played.  You will be amazed how curious your children become to learn all about a school ...especially if it is part of an exciting game and they've listed it on their bracket!

Enjoy ...and have fun!

Mar 14
March: A Recipe for The Budding Gourmet

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Traditional Irish Soda Bread

Crank the Irish Tunes--Enya, Celtic Classics, and are own local favorite Gavin Coyle (who just so happens to be our children's' music teacher) are all great choices--and cook up a storm with your little budding gourmet.  What could be more perfect to make this weekend than baking a Traditional Irish Soda Bread?

If you have never made this traditional bread, know that it is a little bland, but yummy.  We love to serve it warm with butter and jam in the mornings ...enjoy!  And, may the luck o' the Irish be with you!

 

Irish Soda Bread

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs

2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream

3/4 cup raisins

Directions:  heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.  In a separate smaller bowl, whisk eggs and sour cream together.  Add sour cream mixture to dry ingredients and mix until just moist; fold in raisins.  Spoon into a greased 9-inch spring form pan.  Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes; remove sides of pan.  Slice into wedges and serve warm.

* Note:  recipe adapted from Taste of Home

Mar 12
A Bit o' the Irish

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A Bit o' The Irish

What better way to enjoy the "Luck o' the Irish" this month than by serving a delicious Irish Beef Stew.  Be sure to enjoy this tasty dish with lots of crusty, warm bread ...and perhaps a pint or two!  Enjoy and have a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Irish Beef Stew

2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 2-inch cubes

3 large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 ribs celery, diced

2 small onions, cut into eights

1 small leek, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup tapioca

2 cans (16 ounces each) whole tomatoes, undrained

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon salt and ground pepper to taste

8 small new potatoes, cut in half

1/2 cup stout or beer (Guinness works great!)

Directions:   Heat oven to 325 degrees.  In a Dutch oven, mix all ingredients except potatoes and beer; break up tomatoes.   Cover and bake for 2-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.  After, stir in beer and potatoes; cover and continue cooking another 1-1/2 hours until beef and vegetables are tender.  Skim off fat and season with additional salt and pepper.

 

Feb 12
Valentine's Day Menu: Dinner for Two

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Skip the pricey, restaurant menu this Valentine's Day and enjoy dinner in with your loved one.  The below recipe is sure to be a hit; after all, what's a Valentine's Day celebration without a little cocoa?  And, it just so happens that chocolate is the base to this great, easy recipe for Beef Medallions in Rosemary Sauce.  If beef isn't quite what you are hoping to serve, then check-out this great link to all that is Valentine's Day from Bon Appetit ...enjoy!

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Recipe:  Beef Medallions in Rosemary Sauce

1lb beef tenderloin

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon cocoa

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves

1/4 cup dry red wine or beef broth

Directions:  cut tenderloin into 3/4-inch slices.  Heat 1 tablespoon butter in skillet over medium-high heat.  Sauté beef slices in butter for 4-5 minutes on each side, turning once, until browned and center is medium-rare (or to desired degree of doneness).  Remove beef to platter; keep warm.

Cook and stir remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, the cocoa, salt, garlic, and rosemary in same skillet until bubbly scraping up all of the yummy brown bits.  Gradually stir in the wine.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly, and boil for 1 minute.

Serve sauce over the beef with some warm, crusty bread and a salad.  Don't forget the candles and flowers; and of course, playing a little Dinah, Frank, and Louie in the background is sure to set the stage for a wonderful, evening for two!

Feb 09
Tip of the Month: Dinner For Two

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Dinner for Two

With Valentine's Day this week, I thought I would share with you one way my husband and I stayed connected with each other when our children were little.  About once a month, we would feed our kids early in the evening with a simple meal--this is when we saved serving the chicken nuggets and mac & cheese.  After dinner, we would change them into their pj's and settle them down to a movie.  Usually, my husband would watch the show with the children, and I would shower and change for our "date"--dinner at home for just the two of us.  At that time, money was tight, and it was much more enjoyable to plan a date at home without the worry of who was watching the children, or how much money we were spending.

After the movie finished, we would put the kids to bed.  My husband would pour me a glass of wine, and he would head to the shower while I started to cook a new and exciting recipe that I was just dying to try.  We would then go all out in serving our dinner--candles, music, and a beautiful setting in our dining room.  It was wonderful --just the two of us dreaming about what our future holds, as well as our hopes for our children.

Sometimes, going out for the evening can place pressure on you to have a good time, especially if money is tight.  By staying at home some of the time, you really learn that all you truly need is one another.  So, the next time you want to have a nice date with your spouse--shower, dress in something that makes you feel fantastic, and enjoy a wonderful dinner together at home.  It will do wonders for you personally, and for your marriage!

Continue to check my blog this month for some great recipes to enjoy with your hubby on your date at home!

Feb 03
Welcome to A Little Book Blog

Instead of my newsletter, Tip of the Month, my blog is now where I'll be sharing my monthly updates with you.  You will still receive timely tips, great inspirational quotes, wonderful recipes, fun things to do, and event and business news that I think will be of interest to you.  Plus, I will be adding pictures, videos and other great links that I know you will enjoy!

So stay tuned and keep posted!!  And, what's great, you can now comment directly back to me with each post!

Have a terrific February!

Warmest regards,

Janet Spiech