Beef Salami

We recently had a substantial amount of local beef delivered to our home. One of my colleagues owns a beef ranch and I decided to try the product that so many often rave about.  The delivery came with a selection of cuts including various roasts, steaks, and ground beef.  As I looked at all of the individually wrapped beef packages, I was reminded of a recipe that I first spotted in a community cookbook that I’m fond of.  It’s an ole’ time recipe for homemade beef salami and the ingredients are few and common.  I substituted Lawry’s seasoning salt for the “tender quick salt” just because I didn’t have any on hand.  The beef salami turned out just fine.





As the holiday weekend approaches, I thought this might be a fun recipe to try as I’m often assembling plates of appetizers when friends stop by and the kids open the fridge constantly looking for something to munch on.







Traveling with Portable Craft Projects


The greatest dilemma I face when traveling is “How can I travel with a few compact and relaxing crafts while I’m away from the amenities of home?”
Once a year, we travel to Disney World and I am often stumped as to what I can bring along that isn’t too complicated or oversized.

I have thought about bringing quilt squares to hand sew poolside but the sewing machine does a much better job of securing the blocks as opposed to my, less than stellar hand sewing skills. I have also thought about bringing along my long term crochet projects but most are large, cumbersome (blankets or scarves) and too hot to be draped across my lap in the summer sun.
This year, I visited a YouTube website and found a video for a super easy crocheted sock pattern and I was thrilled to find a project that I could easily travel with.  

Here’s the website: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gasKXmcyrXgGlamma’s easy crocheted tube socks

Here are a few pictures of the craft items I carried in my tote bag. 

Here are a few other ideas I packed for soaking up the sun in a relaxed environment:


All were perfectly portable and helped me to find plenty to do as I relaxed in the sunshine of the Walt Disney World – Old Key West -Disney Vacation Club – Main Pool.



Who says Spring Break in Walt Disney World can’t be relaxing?!  Once again, we had a “magical” vacation.

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Pumpkin and Oat Spice Cake

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This weekend, we attended Grandma M’s Neighborhood Oktoberfest. The annual event is held in Chicago and whenever we drive in to the city, we are quickly reminded of the reasons why we decided to move out to the country many years ago. While there is much to do throughout the city, (visit the beautiful lake front campus, spend the day at numerous museums, fantastic shopping opportunities, and great restaurant choices) we certainly don’t miss the sparse street parking, the long wait at frequent railroad crossings and the horrendous traffic situation.
That being said, it really is fun to head over to Grandma’s for her October party. Everyone attending brings along a favorite dish to contribute. Festive tablecloths and autumn colored dishes (holding scrumptious desserts and flavorful appetizers) top the side tables. Pans of bratwurst, sauerkraut, and potato salad sit on the main buffet. Plenty of hot coffee and cider brew in huge pots and the fridge is stocked with plenty of beer.
My contribution included this rich, dense, autumn cake. I had to slap a few hands as I cut the cake into squares and loaded up a serving platter for the party. All wanted a taste before we headed to grandma’s house. I scolded them all telling them that they would have to wait.
This truly is a great recipe and as the cake sits for a few days, the flavor intensifies. Although, very rarely does this cake have the opportunity to sit for a few days…Enjoy!

Pumpkin and Oat Spice Cake

3 cups flour
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup margarine, softened
2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
4 eggs
1 (15 ounce) can solid-pack pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups golden raisins
1 package (serving size) old fashioned style oatmeal with flax, maple & brown sugar

Topping (optional)
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13×9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; set aside.
Mix together margarine and sugar in large bowl on medium-high speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; mix until blended. Turn mixer to low; add pumpkin. Gradually blend in flour mixture. Stir in raisins by hand. Pour into prepared pan. Top with one serving-sized package of flavored oatmeal.
Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
Blend confectioners sugar and water; drizzle over cake. Sprinkle nuts evenly over top. Cut into 12 servings.

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Cooking in Disney World

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The often unpredictable price of eating out while on vacation can be quite costly. My advice to friends is always the same when choosing a hotel for a family vacation; choose one that offers, at the very least, an efficiency kitchen to cook basic meals for the family while enjoying time away. Sure, it sounds great to spend a week away from the daily grind of preparing meals and cleaning up the kitchen, but a week’s worth of family meals eaten out can be mighty costly. And its always disappointing to find that when my family is ready to eat, the chosen restaurant has a line out the door that seems to be a mile long. Once inside and finally seated, the food never seems to measure up for the cost put out. Don’t get me wrong, we have our favorite restaurants in Disney World and we always make reservations at ‘Ohana, in the Polynesian Resort and the Hollywood Brown Derby. We absolutely wouldn’t miss the Polynesian inspired foods served throughout ‘Ohana’s Dinner Show and the incredible combination of flavors carefully mixed together in the Cobb Salad served at the Brown Derby. But, my oh my, things certainly add up quickly. I remember a time when it was common practice to have a soup or salad accompany a main dish or a basket of bread was given before the meal. Nowadays, everything seems to come with an added cost.
This week, our family spent our spring break vacation in Disney World. We are Disney Vacation Club Members and have ownership in Disney’s Old Key West Resort. Purchasing this property over twenty years ago certainly has been a great vacation savings for us. I thought I would take this opportunity to explain how I manage the food budget while on vacation. While we have a few favorite restaurants that we always visit while in Disney, for the most part, we really try to commit to eating “in” for the majority of our meals throughout the week. The vacation home that we stay in comes equipped with a sizable kitchen so I can prepare anything from the basic peanut-butter and jelly sandwich to a delicious pork roast dinner for the family. As mentioned earlier, finding a hotel room or suite with a small efficiency kitchen can really save money in the long run. You may have to pay a little more for the room up front but the food savings can be incredible for a family.
Here are some of the basic meals that I usually prepare when traveling with the family. They’re often prepared with convenience mixes or prepackaged ingredients but they fit the bill for a week away from home on a budget.

On day one, I usually buy groceries for the week. (I also bring from home lots of commonly used dry spices.)

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Some of our favorite vacation meals include…

Spaghetti with meat sauce, crescent rolls and Caesar salad,

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Cheeseburgers with crispy pickles and chips,

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Tacos with homemade salsa and guacamole,

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And finally, pork roast with corn and mashed potatoes,

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It’s a great idea to look at the online weekly sale flyer for the local grocery store where you intend to shop. This way, you can plan ahead to shop for deals. This week, as I grabbed my shopping cart and sale flyer at the front of the store, I noticed pork roast and ground beef were on sale for a great price. I picked up both for separate meals. The ground beef was used for the tacos, spaghetti, and hamburgers. The pork roast was used for the pork roast dinner and pulled pork sandwiches. (I shredded the left over pork and slathered it with barbecue sauce, then topped the extra hamburger buns with the tender shredded meat.)

Now, a vacation wouldn’t be a vacation without some sweet treats…

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J and I will be celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary tomorrow so I made a Mickey cake for our after dinner dessert.

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Some of the other food items purchased for the week include:
Old Fashioned Oatmeal
Greek Yogurt
Breakfast Cereal
Milk
Orange juice
Fruit
Peanut Butter
Bread
Jelly

For Dinners, I purchased:
Ground Beef
Pasta
Ragu- Chunky Garden Style Sauce
Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
Taco Shells
Taco Seasoning Packets
Tomatoes
Onions
Shredded Cheese
Cilantro
Lime juice
Avocados
Pork Roast
Barbecue Sauce
Instant Potatoes
Frozen Corn
Romaine Lettuce
Caesar Salad Dressing
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Hamburger Buns
Pickles
Doritos
Chocolate Cake Mix
Ice Cream
Chocolate Frosting Mix

I paid a little over $150.00 for a week’s worth of food and was really able to stretch my food dollars.
Each of these basic meals can be prepared quickly with very little effort. Convenience mixes and prepackaged food items help to cut down on time spent in the kitchen. Paper plates and disposable tableware can certainly save time on clean up. Thankfully, our vacation kitchen is well equipped with a set of dishes, a full fridge and a dish washer.

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I’ve been cooking in Disney World for years and these meal ideas have been long standing family favorites. My crew seems to enjoy staying away from crowded restaurants and having a few home cooked meals while enjoying our time with Mickey Mouse in the bright Florida sunshine.

Just Like Grandma’s Irish Brown Bread

Simply Made Kitchen and Crafts

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When I was a young girl, my family used to travel to Ireland every year for our summer holiday. My father worked for TWA (Trans World Airlines) and we had a great travel benefit that we regularly used. My mother was born and raised in County Clare and my father from County Kerry. Our wonderful trips into Milltown Malbay, Spanish Point or visiting Ballybunion always bring the fondest of memories.
Oh, the stories I could tell of the laughs we shared as a family. We would load our tiny rental car up with 8 kids, two adults, and lots of luggage. Relatives would meet us at Shannon Airport and take on a portion of our luggage as we headed toward Milltown.
One of my most vivid memories relates to my grandmother, my mother’s mom. She would get up early to milk the cows and feed the chickens. Then, she would…

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Mary’s Irish Scones

Simply Made Kitchen and Crafts

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My family has been making these scones for as long as I can remember. As a young girl, I used to watch my mom make batches of these buttermilk scones without having to use a recipe. She would mix everything up by hand, then swiftly kneed and cut triangular shapes from the rolled dough. During the Lenten season, Mom would make several batches as we would have scones and tea for Friday dinner.
These days, I regularly make scones for my family. I, too, can make them without the recipe but I use a biscuit cutter to uniformly cut the soft dough into circular shapes. We often top the baked scones with homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam.(Although, J and M prefer to top them with gobs of peanut butter.) After removing a batch from the oven, it isn’t long before they’ve all been eaten and everyone is asking for more.

Mary’s Irish…

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Moist and Tender Prime Rib

As tradition would have it, one of our favorite holiday meals includes prime rib. Tonight, my family and I will be enjoying a night out on the town in downtown Chicago. We are going to one of our favorite restaurants, Lawry’s Prime Rib. While I will be pampered tonight, I usually make my own version of this delicious roast. I have reblogged my recipe for those that might be preparing a Holiday feast this week. Happy holidays to all.

Simply Made Kitchen and Crafts

Prime Rib

Prime rib is one of my favorite dishes to prepare for special occasions. Recently, I hosted my extended family for Thanksgiving. Family members traveled in from neighboring states to celebrate the holiday. After an early breakfast, I asked my neice to join me in the kitchen to prepare the prime rib. She is such an adorable kitchen helper…always willing to take on any task and eager to learn. It warms my heart as I watch her run to the kitchen drawer to find my handmade aprons. There she carefully ties the apron strings around her slim little waist. When we first started cooking together, I would hike up the apron and fold a crease in it to shorten the length to match her 1st grade height. I’d scoot a stool over to the countertop so that she could follow along as we cooked together. These days, she’s older and wiser…she…

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