Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Meet my Friend

Meet my friend, Mr. Radiant. He is one hot dish! Whenever I am near him he really gets my blood flowing. He understands my needs and is always at my beck and call.

You see, I have Raynoud's Disease. Although I haven't been "officially" diagnosed, my physician is pretty certain I have this condition. My symptoms are classic. If my hands or feet get the least bit cold, blood shunts away from my fingers and toes, causing a color change to take occur. My toes get dusky blue but my fingers turn pale white! Often times there is pain associated with this, especially with my fingers. It's quite disconcerting.

Having Raynoud's, along with a frugal husband (who keeps the thermostat no higher than 68 in the winter), made it necessary for me to seek this unconventional friendship. If that's wrong, then I don't want to be right!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spinach and Chicken Enchiladas

These may be a bit time consuming to prepare but the end result is fabulous. My whole family raves about these everytime I make them. To quote LOLCats: Nom, nom, nom, nom, nom!


1 cup chopped onion

2-3 cloves minced garlic

1 package fresh spinach, rinsed well

5 tablespoons butter, divided

2 cups shredded cooked chicken (I always use left over rotisserie chicken or roast chicken)

1 small can green chili peppers, chopped

2-3 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon lime juice

1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or a few dashes of red pepper flakes

Fresh ground pepper to taste

2 cups shredded cheese, divided (I usually use a combination of cheddar and monteray jack)

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon coriander

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 cup sour cream

10 - 12 6 inch flour tortillas


Saute onion and garlic in 2 talbespoons of butter until tender.

Add spinach and toss until wilted.

In a bowl, combine spinach-onion mixture with the chicken.

Add green chili pepper, 1/2 cup shredded cheese, cumin, lime juice, cayenne pepper, black pepper, mix and set aside.

Using same pan that you used for the onion, spinach and garlic, melt 3 tablespoons butter.

Stir in flour and coriander and continue cooking for about 3-5 minutes to ensure a nice golden roux.

Once you have an acceptable roux, slowly add the chicken broth, stirring to blend well.

(Helpful Hint Alert! I like to use one of these gadgets when adding my flour to the butter. No more lumpy gravy or sauces...ever!)

Continue stirring, over medium to medium high heat, until thickened and bubbly...then continue to cook and stir a few minutes longer (this part takes time and patience as I find it takes anywhere from 10-20 minutes to get to the "thick and bubbly" stage that I prefer)

Once thickened, remove pan from heat and gently stir in sour cream and 1/2 cup of shredded cheese until sauce is well blended and smooth. (See? What did I tell you? No lumps!)

Add 1/2 cup of this sauce to your chicken mixture.


Add a couple of spoonfuls of sauce mixture to bottom of 13 x 9 baking pan.

Place approximately 1/4 cup chicken mix into tortilla, roll up and place seam side down in pan.

Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Pour remaining sauce over the tortillas and top with the remaining cheese.

Bake in a 350 oven for at least 30 minutes.

To ensure a perfect golden cheese topping, I BROIL the dish for a couple of minutes until cheese is nice and bubbly.

Serve with a side of black beans and rice and you have a perfect "Mexican" meal!
Prep time: 45 minutes

Cook time: 30-40 minutes

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Geraniums for Sale

For my local friends and readers:
My daughter is selling geraniums for her Charlotte Children's Choir fund raiser. These geraniums are absolutely gorgeous and will double, even triple their size over the summer, if planted in a large enough container. With proper care (dead heading "spent" flowers and watering) they will last almost to the end of October.
The geraniums come from Roundtree Nursery in your choice of either red or pink. They cost $12 each. Orders and payment are due to me by April 13. The geraniums will arrive a few short weeks later. Please email me at geraniums@5thsister.com with your order and contact information.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Do You Roku?

Tap, tap, tap… is this thing on? ….testing 1 2 3…. Hah! Now, once again, I have the bully pulpit! No! This is NOT 5thsister! …er, she is a little tied up. This is Mr. Sister once again at the helm. Today’s topic? Will it be… dare I say …. Another technology rating. I know! I got a little long-winded with my browser comparisons (even though Google Chrome rules!!!).

Well, now we will look at a recent technology purchase I made. But, first a little history…. A few months back, I told 5th and the kids that I want to get away from cable and satellite television. I want to get all of our video entertaining from the internet. That piece of news was met with an enthusiastic GROAN! With so much enthusiasm, I took it as total unbridled support! So, last week I ordered a Roku player. What is a Roku player you ask? Ah, it is ONLY the best internet video streamer on the market!!

With a Roku player, you can stream movies from Netflix, or Amazon. Roku inc., is also working on expanding its channels to include such video sites as YouTube and Hulu. (Don’t know what Hulu is? Wow! Do you have a lot to learn! – Check it out at Hulu.com… you’ll love it!).

We have a Netflix subscription and have been using it for only watching DVDs. Well, Netflix has this amazing video streaming feature included for as part of the subscription fee! So, with the Roku player, you can watch these videos on your television!

So, I get the Roku player in the mail yesterday. I assemble it in less than a minute. Every thing is very simple. I connected it to our television, still very simple. But, I thought, no one makes it easy to connect wirelessly to the internet. Especially ours – I use WPA2 encryption! I’m thinking to myself -- “self, this will take an exceptionally long time to connect.” The set up screen comes on. Simple enough! Everything is easy – maybe, too easy! Well, fortunately that was not the case.

The Roku player connected to the internet and played movies almost perfectly. I couldn’t believe it. A device that may live up to its hype! So far, I have found only a few minor flaws:

1) No OFF switch. It is meant to be kept on all the time.

2) With limited bandwidth (everyone using the internet at the same time) the movie sometimes pauses to re-buffer.

3) My son cannot watch a movie through to the end! With so much selection, he’ll start watching one movie then switch to another! ARRRG!!

Other than that, I love it and can’t wait for the expanded channels! What are your thoughts? Have you already tried the Roku player? Or, maybe you are a Boxee type of person (that’s another story!)… Well if you’ve used this device or not, let me know what you think. Do you think my family can EXIST without cable or satellite service??? Do you think I’m a bad husband and father for depriving my family from that slice of heaven called Food Network or American IDOL?

Oh well, tell me what do YOU think!

This is Mr. Sister, once again signing off. Over to you 5th

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tile Work Complete!

I'm pleased to be able to report that the tile work, on my porch, is now complete!

Next week, the screen goes up!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Beach Bummed!

It's always a bit of a letdown to return from a great weekend getaway! We had a wonderful time.
We arrived at Ocean Isle Beach on Friday afternoon. We spent the majority of the afternoon hiking along the beach, collecting shells and just enjoying the soothing sounds of the ocean. Since it is not "beach season" we pretty much had the beach to ourselves.

It was quite chilly and windy that afternoon. That didn't faze our son who decided to brave the water and test it out. By the look on his face I'd say the water was a tad too cold.

What do you think?

Daughter struck a perfect model pose. Notice the breeze catching her hair just right.

Did I say we had the beach to ourselves? I lied.

My husband and I can be such big goofs...

No more wondering where the kids get it from.

After this the boys left us and daughter and I decided to hike to the pier. We got in a good 4.5 miles! I ended up calling hubby to pick us up. Here is a video taken after the hike.

The house we stayed in was just 2 blocks from the beach. It was also 2 blocks from the Intercoastal Waterway.

The next day we decided to drive down to the Grand Strand (Myrtle Beach area) and do some "touristy" things. We ended up at Broadway on the Beach.

Here we are with some obligatory poses:

Wherever we went, our "friends" were sure to follow!

Did I mention that the water was cold? It turned these poor souls to stone!

We spent the rest of the afternoon at Ripley's Believe it or Not Aquarium.
It was better than expected. We all had a great time.
We spent about an hour playing with the stingrays. They were quite friendly.

What are you looking at? You looking at me?

Yeah, well, I'm looking at you!


Oooh...look carefully now...can you spot the seahorse?

Oh goody! A petting zoo of sorts with horseshoe crabs! Did you know that horseshoe crabs are more closely related to spiders and are not really crabs at all? I didn't either.

And now, for your viewing pleasure.

Did I mention that we can be goofy? Well, what would you do
stuck inside a giant clam shell?

We went back to the beach house after our day trip to Myrtle Beach. The boys decided to go fishing and this is what they came back with to serve with dinner.

The weekend was way too short.
We wish we could have stayed for the whole week.
It really was that much fun!

Uh oh. What's this?
Looks like son came home with a pet souvenier.
Does anyone know how to care for a hermit crab? Egads!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Beach Beckons

Ocean Isle Beach, NC
(photo courtesy of Weather Underground)

I will be off for a few days of well needed rest and recreation. Hopefully I will have tales to tell and photos to share upon my return. Take care and have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The "Write" Stuff Blogging Award

Today is Award Day on The 5th Sister.

I was reflecting upon how I got started with all of this blog business. Funny thing is that I really had no intention of blogging...EVER! Gradually, I was exposed to certain blogs of interest through other networking sites I was an active participant on. All Recipe's Recipe Exchange was the most influential. That is where I discovered The Pioneer Woman, Cake Wrecks and other blogs of note being discussed by the exchange members.

During this time, I helped launch a continuing thread on the Recipe Exchange that related to a dream I had about running a race in Africa. These thread of posts detailed our virtual safari through Africa, beginning in Cairo, Egypt and ending in Johannesburg, S. Africa. Members, interested in getting fit, logged their miles that they either ran, walked, hiked, biked, stair-stepped, ellipticalled, rowed or swam. We were able to complete our trek in just 4 short months! Pounds were shed, muscles were defined and friends were made along during this virtual journey! We all had such a great time that we are now in the process of a virtual North American Tour, stretching from coast to coast with a foray into Canada to visit our Canadian friends.

I also began following a particular blog during the aforementioned trek. This on line journal was about one person's endeavor to change their lifestyle from a sedentary one of obesity and ill health to one of fitness, healthy eating and weight loss. I followed this person with great interest as they trained to fulfill one goal to the next. This person's honesty and wit made a strong impact on me and helped inspire and motivate me to do the same as well.

This person's blog gave me the impetus to take ownership over my own state of health. I have lost over 15 lbs. since last summer and can now run a mile in under 10 minutes following the training advice on their blog. Reading their blog made me consider how beneficial it might be for me to pen my own on-line journal. Maybe I, as well, would see improvements in my body, health and mind along the way. That was how my blog was born. Okay, so I have a tendency to ramble on and muse about a variety of topics, but it's a start, right?

In addition to their blog, this person was instrumental in getting both the African Safari and North American Tour exchange threads up and running smoothly...documenting miles and distance...keeping us all on track! This particular blogger was (and still is) a partner and the biggest fan of these threads. He/She busily encourages us along our journey: through funny posts and links to photos of where we are at any particular moment.

Without further ado, I am pleased to announce that the very 1st recipient of The "Write" Stuff award is Luis Bueno of The Muddy Runner.

It may not be a "pretty" award, but it is given with great respect.

You, too, may be the bearer of this award. The rules are simple:

1. Determine what ONE blog has had the most influence on you and your decision to begin your own blogging endeavors.

2. Post about this blog on your site, along with a copy of this award.

3. Let the honoree know of their award by commenting on his/her blog.

4. You may only give out this award ONCE and to only ONE recipient.

5. A particularly influential recipient, may, however, receive the award more than once.

6. The recipient is to acknowledge the award in a brief post on their blog.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Tiling of the Porch!

Update: It's looking good! I can hardly wait.

What do you all think of the design we came up with?

Diagonal with a border!

Thin strips will be going in the space you see that remains open.

'Tres chic', don't you think?

Grouting will be completed tomorrow.

I finally decided on "Sandstone".

I hope it will be the right decision.

Coming next...the screen!

Easy Green Egg Scramble for One

Yesterday I was wanting something a little heartier for breakfast other than fresh fruit or a fruit smoothie. (I have "given up" sugar and foods containing processed sugar, for the past week or so. This means no boxed cereal for breakfast. ) I had some leftover steamed collard greens with onions in the fridge. I also had a package of turkey bacon and some eggs too. This is what I came up with:

1/2 - 3/4 cup steamed greens (collard, spinach, turnip, whatever)
1 tbsp. of minced onion
2 slices of pre-cooked turkey bacon, crumbled
1 egg, slightly beaten
Assorted seasonings to taste: Salt, pepper, cayenne or crushed red pepper.
Cooking Spray


Heat a pan, that has been sprayed with cooking spray to med/med-high heat.
Saute 1 tbsp. onion until just tender (I already had onion in my leftover collard greens)
Toss in greens, bacon and seasonings until heated through.
Add egg and stir until egg is cooked thoroughly.
Remove from heat and serve!

As written above, the total calorie count for this breakfast is 160-170

For the more adventurous, a splash or two of Tobasco will, as Emeril so eloquently puts it: "Kick it up a notch!"

Variations would include adding 1/2 to 1 ounce of your favorite cheese during the scramble, or sauteeing a clove of minced garlic with the onion. Mmmmmm. I may just have to do that next time.

Enjoy this simple little recipe of mine!

You know something? This recipe reminds me of the wonderful Callaloo I had in Jamaica last summer.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick: A True Story


By Peg Luksik, PhD

(Originally appearing, here, on The Catholic Exchange)

St. Patrick’s Day in America has become a day of wild celebration. The weekend was full of parades, and Irish pubs will do a land office business for the entirety of the week as Americans, with or without a drop of Irish ancestry in their blood, toast the Irish and wish each other luck.
Lost in the festivities is the person whose feast day we are actually celebrating. It’s unfortunate, because Patrick is a man worth remembering — particularly in today’s culture.

Born in Scotland, Patrick’s first trip to the Emerald Isle was as a slave. He had been taken from his home by Irish marauders when he was 16, and sold to an Irish Druid chieftain named Milchu. He was to remain there for 6 years, during which time he learned the language of Ireland and the beliefs and practices of the Druids.

After his escape, Patrick entered the priesthood. When the Church’s missionary to Ireland was killed by the Druids, Patrick asked to replace him. The Pope, St. Celestine I, agreed and appointed Patrick as bishop of Ireland.

The stories surrounding Patrick’s conversion of Ireland are filled with acts of courage and inspiration. The confrontation between Patrick and the high Druids at Tara would rival any Hollywood production — except Patrick’s story is real.

It happened on March 26, 433, which was Easter Sunday. The King of Ireland had decreed that all fires throughout the kingdom should be extinguished on Saturday, and remain out, until the Druid signal blaze was kindled at the royal mansion. The Irish chieftains and Brehons and Druids gathered at Tara to defy this new messenger with his Christian tidings. Patrick stood on the hill of Slane, at the opposite end of the valley of Tara, and in the darkness of Easter Eve, lit the Paschal fire. As the light from Patrick’s fire shone forth in the darkness, the druids cried, “This fire, which has been lighted in defiance of the royal edict, will blaze for ever in this land unless it be this very night extinguished.”

The king ordered his druids to extinguish Patrick’s fire, but despite every attempt, Patrick and his light remained unscathed. At daylight, Patrick and his companions began a procession toward the king, carrying a copy of the Gospels with them. The druids were unable to stop them, and the king granted Patrick free passage throughout the realm of Ireland. By the end of Patrick’s life, Ireland had changed from a country mired in Druidic superstition to one that became a beacon of faith.

A beacon that has never been extinguished, despite persecution. Even today, Ireland continues to stand against the culture of death in its refusal to accept abortion as the law of its land.
Patrick’s gift to the Irish was not luck, it was faith. His gift transformed a nation. The Irish were proud and brave and industrious and loyal before Patrick came to them. The faith that St. Patrick brought gave depth and purpose to the natural gifts of the Irish. A depth that enabled them to withstand the persecutions and famines that lay in their future.

A depth that carried the Irish who came to America through the years of “No Irish Need Apply”.
The contributions that the Irish have made to our beloved America are not the result of parades or potables. They flow from the faith that has been at the heart of Ireland since the days when a man named Patrick conquered the Druids on an Easter Sunday morning.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Let the Tiling Begin!

The durarock is down and the tile layout has begun!

Now the hard part....Choosing the grout!


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Signature Spice Blend

Since my last post I have been asked about my Signature Spice Blend. Well, actually, only one person showed any interest. But I thought it would be an easy blog entry to post before I head into work today. I use this spice blend in practically EVERYTHING...On meats, veggies, pizzas and egg dishes and in soups, sauces and gravies.


1/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper (can use crushed red pepper flakes with good results)
2 tablespoons basil
2 tablespoons thyme

Mix all together and store in an airtight container.

Now, how easy was that?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A New "Greek" Recipe

Yesterday, while at the endodontist having a root canal, I found a recipe for a Spinach and Feta Pie in a Family Circle magazine. It really looked appealing and the recipe contained several of my favorite ingredients. I knew I had to try it. I, of course, put my own spin on it. And so I present to you, for your culinary pleasure...

Easy "Greek" Spinach Pie


4 boneless/skinless Chicken breasts
1 large onion
2-3 cloves minced garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 lbs. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1-2 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano (or 1-2 tsp. dried)
1/2 tsp. Polly's Signatue Spice Blend
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese
4 eggs, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper to taste ( I used 1 tsp. Kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper)
20 sheets 9x13 phyllo dough


Take 4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts. Boil until no longer pink. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before shredding.

Chop 1 large onion. I have to chop mine very finely as dear son is under the silly impression that he doesn't like onion. Saute, along with garlic, in a tablespoon or 2 of olive oil until tender.

Add the shredded chicken, spinach, cheese, egg and spices. Mix well and set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare a 9x13 pan with 10 phyllo sheets, spraying each with cooking spray oil between sheets (Olive oil preferred).

Spread the spinach/chicken/feta mixture evenly over the phyllo sheets.

Top with remaining 10 sheets of phyllo, again, spraying between each sheet. Place in oven preheated to 375 degrees for 45 minutes. The top should be nicely browned.

Cut into 8 individual servings and serve. I served mine with dilled baby carrots (carrots steamed with 1/2 tsp. dill sprinkled over the top...simple and good for you!)

Calories are approximately 425 per serving.


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