Sunday, January 1, 2012

Dinner and Donations

Welcome to 2012!  I’m sure Bannon will agree with me when I say that we both wish you all a new year filled with health, happiness, and positivity!  I know I’m aiming for that for myself this year.  Eating better, cutting down on soda (my weakness is a can of Dr. Pepper!), and being more proactive!  That means finishing those lingering craft projects, cleaning and minimizing clutter, and blogging more!  I’m also hoping to read a new book a month-I love to read, but I tend to go back to my old favorites, so this is more about stepping out of my comfort zone.

Anyway, I got started to day on my goals by cleaning out my toiletry and cleaning stockpiles, and donating as much as possible to a local homeless shelter.  I’m taking a bundle this week to the Homeless Families Foundation.  Along with soap, shampoo, toothpaste, etc., I’ll be delivering crib sheets and blankets, as well as some kids books and games.  I like that they focus on providing stability to homeless families, but they place a very strong emphasis on giving children stability through educational programs, tutoring, and summer programs.  My little family of three may not be rich, but we are lucky that we can live a comfortable life, and we like to pay that forward.  If you live in the area, please take the time to look at their site, and see if it’s an organization you’d like to help.

I’ve also been spending my free time lately in the kitchen!  I did a guest blog post for my friend Bonnie at The Not So Modern Housewife, discussing the myriad mysteries of fudge-okay, mysterious to me, because that just seems to be how I work.  Please check out Bonnie's blog, and not just for the fudge.  She is an amazing wife, mother, chef, and homemaker, and I seriously want to be like her someday.  I also made birthday cakes from scratch (more on that another day), and I made a New Year’s Day dinner that, to be honest, surprised me by how good it was.  Pork and sauerkraut for people who don’t like sauerkraut, with garlic mashed potatoes and dill green beans.  I think it’s too good not to share, so here it is!

Pork and Sauerkraut for non-kraut lovers
32 oz. undrained sauerkraut
1.5 T sugar
1 12oz beer (something with body, you can go as stout as you like!)
2-3 lb. boneless pork roast
1-2 t. crushed garlic
Kosher salt, pepper, paprika to taste
Place the sauerkraut in a crock pot.  Sprinkle the sugar over it, then add the beer.  Lay the roast on top of the sauerkraut, fatty side up.  Rub the garlic over the surface of the roast, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and paprika.  Cook on high heat for 6 hours.  This will give you meat so tender it falls apart.  And, as a non-kraut lover...I surprised myself and ate it.  I rewarded myself with chocolate.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
1 5 lb bag potatoes
1 stick butter, softened
½ block of cream cheese, softened
Milk/half and half, as needed
2t. minced or crushed garlic
½ c. shredded cheddar cheese (fresh grates works best)
Salt and pepper to taste
Note:  peeling potatoes for this recipe is optional.  I usually just cut off the necessary bits and leave the rest.
Wash, peel if desired, and cut potatoes into quarters.  Boil until fork tender, about 20 minutes.  Turn the burner to low, drain the potatoes, then put them back into the pot.  Place the pot onto the low burner, then mash the potatoes with a hand masher.  After mashing, add butter, garlic, and cream cheese.  Mash a bit more, until ingredients are blended.  At this point, if you feel the potatoes need more moisture, add your milk or half and half.  Mix it in gradually until you feel it is the right consistency.  Once your potatoes are to your liking, stir in the cheese, salt, and pepper.  Seriously creamy and flavorful goodness!

For the green beans, I simply steamed them with 1 t. dill (dried, because I forgot to get fresh), salt, and pepper to taste.  Steam them for 8-10 minutes, or until fork-tender, then transfer them to a bowl and add butter.

I suspect this will be made again well before January 1, 2013!

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