Monday, November 28, 2011

Gambling on the Rams

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving and even managed to get a jump on Christmas shopping and decorating so we decided to go to a Rams football game yesterday. One of the advantages of being emptynesters is that we can leave whenever we want - no planning or preparation necessary!

My husband and I love to gamble at the casinos in St. Louis. He loves to win and I just love to see how long I can play on $20-$40 dollars as I am not as lucky or skilled as he. We left early Sunday morning and arrrived at the Casino Queen in East Alton at about 8:30AM. We ate at the breakfast buffet. They have a lovely brunch for $9.99 per person. There is an egg/omelet station with all the trimmings plus a Chinese food station, a dinner station with sliced meats and side dishes, a salad bar, and a dessert bar. It is very, very good! We gambled for about an hour - didn't do very well although the Casino Queen boasted of having the loosest slot machines around.

It was raining when we arrived in St. Louis so we went to the Luminere Casino and gambled a little more just to kill some time until the game. We actually won some money playing slots and video poker.

We didn't have tickets to the football game. We thought we would try buying them on the street just before the game started. Here is where we got really lucky. We were walking across the parking lot and a man stopped us and offered us some free tickets that he couldn't use. We offered to pay him but he refused so we ended up with free tickets and they were just awesome! We were 5 rows up from the field on the 30 yard line. We could see everything!

The Rams play football in the Edward Jones Dome. The best thing about the Edward Jones Dome is that it is inside and you stay dry and toasty warm during the game.

The game was very exciting! Years ago, St. Louis was home to Cardinals who now belong to Arizona. There were many Cardinal fans present at the game which made a nice rivalry. The Rams scored the first touchdown early in the first quarter but eventually lost to the Cardinals 23-20. It was a close game and we were able to watch two extraordinary Cardinal players. We saw Patrick Peterson tie an NFL record and Beanie Wells set a franchise record.

We went back to the Luminere casino and won a little more money, enough for a nice dinner at Applebee's on the way home. It was a fun and relaxing trip - something nice to do on a dark, rainy, gloomy day!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Another Thanksgiving Day has come and gone. What a wonderful holiday! A day centered around eating the most delicous foods and no one is expected to diet.  Erma Bombeck said: "What we’re really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?"

What do you do with the leftovers?  Is it safe eat turkey and pumpkin pie all week?

According to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration),  leftovers should not be left out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours, should be cleanly placed in covered containers, and stored at the correct temperature of below 40 degrees in the refrigerator or 0 degrees in the freezer.

Once you get the leftovers into the refrigerator, most are good for around 3 days.  Recommendations: turkey: 3-4 days, gravy: 1-2 days, potatoes: 3-4 days, pumpkin pie: 2-3 days, and cranberries: 10- 14 days. So, you can make yourself a plate, cover it, and microwave or place in 350 degree oven until warmed for the first two days with the exception of gravy. Gravy needs to be boiled for at least one minute before eating. has a really good guide for keeping and using leftovers.

Turkey, vegetables, and cranberry sauce can also be frozen and reused. They can also be recycled into soups and casseroles and desserts. Turkey Pot Pie is delicious and easy to make and can use up a lot your leftovers. There are many recipes on the web but you can simply mix about 2 cups of sliced turkey, a cup or two of vegetables, and a jar of turkey gravy in a sauce pan and heat. Place in a greased one quart casserole dish and top with 2 cups leftover stuffing or mashed potatoes. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Cranberry sauce can be added to pancakes, muffins, desserts, or try one of these 3 drinks from Bar None: Hot buttered Cranberry Punch, Right Gin Christmas Punch, or The Gobbler. Tired of pumpkin pie? Make it into a pumpkin pie parfait using vanilla ice cream or vanilla pudding, or for a special dessert try this Pumpkin Pie Parfait  recipe which also uses pound cake, cream cheese, and cool whip.

I will confess that we love Thanksgiving leftovers almost as much as we like the actual meal but after a few days, we are ready for a nice cheesy pizza.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Creamy Potato Soup

A hot bowl of soup for supper can be very comforting during these dark, dreary, chilly autumn days.

I have been experimenting with soup recipes this month. I've never really had much success making soup in the past, but I have stumbled upon some awesome recipes this  month. Soup is easy to make. It is inexpensive. It is filling and can be stretched to feed a large family. Most soups taste even better when reheated and most can be frozen.

I found a recipe called Ultimate Potato Soup at and tweaked it into my own which I am calling Creamy Potato Soup. It is delicious!

Creamy Potato Soup

6 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
3 stalks cubed celery
1 onion - peeled and diced (or 1 tsp. onion powder)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 15 oz. can chichen broth
2 cubes or tsp chicken broth granules
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 cups milk
2 oz. package instant mashed potatoes

Combine vegetables, spices, broth, and granules in large soup pot and boil for 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add butter and milk. Slowly, mix in instant mashed potatoes and simmer for an hour or more.

I added 1 cup of ham cubes for my meat loving husband. You could also add sausage, bacon, or cheese.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Turkey Prep

Just one week until Thanksgiving!

Have you bought your turkey yet? Just remember - if you buy a frozen turkey it can take several days to defrost in the refrigerator. A twenty pound bird can take up to 4 days to defrost.  You will need about 1 1/2 pounds of turkey for each person. There are faster ways but the refrigerator is the safest. A frozen turkey needs to be purchased no later than Sunday.

Turkeys are on sale this week as are potatoes, gravy, canned vegetables, cranberries, cool whip, rolls, etc. - just about everything you need for your holiday dinner. I bought 2 turkeys and a turkey breast.  My freezer is stuffed but I now I have a turkey for Thanksgiving, one for Christmas, and a turkey breast to roast for a January or February meal. I also bought most of the trimmings: rolls, potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, and cranberries.

There are many websites that can help you cook a turkey but I like the Butterball Turkey site.  It tells you how to plan the meal, how to cook it, how to serve it, and what to do with the leftovers. The Butterball site is loaded with good advice and recipes. They are also available by phone, Facebook, and Twitter. Best of all, they have free coupons and rebates for turkeys and other holiday foods.

Cooking a turkey can be tricky. You want crispy, browned skin with moist delicious meat and you need it to reach the temperature of at least 165 degrees to be safe to eat. That's probably why there are so many recipes and methods of cooking. 10 Weird Ways to Cook a Turkey is a funny article about cooking turkey. Some of them sound delicious!

To be honest, I have cooked turkeys that were not quite thawed out. You just need to be able to pull out the gizzards and stuff from the cavity and you can even do that after it has cooked for awhile. It takes an extra hour or two to finish cooking but you can end up with a very moist turkey.

Happy Turkey Day!