Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Hamburger Baked Beans

My activity level has cranked into high gear which explains my absence here at my bloggy home. I’ve made a trip to Indy to visit my grandsons (and their Mom & Dad of course!), attended a preschool musical and graduation for grandson here, hosted the photo shoot for my granddaughter’s senior prom….and that is just the beginning! Graduation is coming up Friday with a big joint cookout on Saturday to celebrate with Marilyn and her boyfriend. Burgers, dogs, brats and all the usual side dishes will be on the table.

One of my contributions will be baked beans. Since my family prefers a bit of meat in their beans, this is the recipe I will be using. Guess I’d better make a double batch!

Hamburger Baked Beans


4 slices bacon 1 cup ketchup
1 lb. lean ground beef ½ cup molasses
1 med. Onion, chopped 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ tsp. salt ½ tsp dry mustard
1 (16 oz) cans pork and beans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium skillet, cook bacon until crisp; set aside. Add onion and ground beef to bacon drippings and sauté until beef is brown. With slotted spoon, remove ground beef and onion and place in bottom of a 2 quart casserole dish which has been sprayed with Pam cooking spray.

In same skillet add remaining ingredients and heat until hot, stirring occasionally. Add to meat & onion mixture, stir well. Bake, uncovered, for 60 minutes.

Bet you’ll be either hosting or attending a cookout or two yourself during the coming weeks. Hope you’ll be inspired to try this version of a classic side dish.

Happy cooking,

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Tropical Pork Chops

I am sitting here in my home office with the windows open and ceiling fan at full speed. I must tell you I LOVE summer! I realize I have a few more weeks before summer officially arrives, but this brief time of 90 degree weather warms me down to my toes! I feel the urge to put away those stick to your ribs kind of meals that require using my oven to prepare. I am ready for our grill to be in nearly full time use and my mouth is already watering just thinking about fresh sweet corn and home grown tomatoes. (Hey a gal can dream can’t she?!)

In honor of this hint of summer, this week’s recipe is a quick and tasty way to spice up pork chops. Served with a simple tossed salad on the side, you’ll have supper on the table in less than 30 minutes. Now doesn’t that put a smile on your face?!

Tropical Pork Chops


6 pork chops
1 cup orange juice
1 ¼ cups Minute© rice
1 can condensed chicken & rice soup

In a large skillet, brown chops in a small amount of cooking oil. Remove chops and sprinkle rice in the same pan. Pour orange juice over the rice, then place chops on top. Pour soup over chops and rice, being sure you cover all the surface. Cover and simmer until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and the chops are tender.

Happy cooking,

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Letting Go of Guilt

I sat on the side of the bed with my mother as she folded the last things to put into her suitcase. She could barely hold back the tears. I knew she didn’t want to leave, but what choice did I have? A job change was making it necessary for my husband and me to move to a new town. We had already purchased a new home there and our current house was for sale. It was becoming increasingly difficult for Mom to be alone with strangers coming in and out at odd times. My emotions were a tangled mess. Hurting to see her pain yet excited about ‘getting my life back’.

Mom had spent the previous eight months with us while my brother recovered from a serious construction accident. Although she had her own apartment and had been living independently, she was not able to drive herself to the doctor, grocery, etc. During her time with us, there had been signs of increasing forgetfulness and confusion. Signs I chose to ignore for fear it would mean she would have to stay with me.

I dearly loved my mother. It’s just that I didn’t like living with her. In fact, during those eight months there were times I thought I would lose my mind.

So now, here we were. As she recalled all the things she would miss about being with us, I simply sat there saying, “I know. I know. But we have to get the house sold and get this move behind us.”

I could have stopped her pain with a few words…all I had to do was to tell her she could stay. I didn’t and the guilt began.

Shortly after she returned to her apartment in W. Va. It was evident she could not live alone. My brother found an excellent caretaker with whom she could live. I let him take care of all the arrangements, guilt continuing to gnaw at me. When I visited, there were times when she seemed happy, others she spent accusing her caretaker of being mean. I always came away feeling even guiltier. Even though we had been given the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, that only explained her behavior. It did nothing to alleviate my thoughts of how I had abandoned her.

My mother passed away in September 1999. After the funeral my brother and I picked up the few possessions she had remaining at her caretaker’s home. On top of the box was a painting my husband had given her during the time she stayed with us. Beverly, her caretaker, told us there were times she would find Mom sitting on her bed with the painting in her lap, gazing at it and talking to herself. My heart broke again.

During those last years of Mom’s illness, I told myself over and over that I should be a better daughter. I should quit my job and bring her to live with me. Deep down I knew I couldn’t handle it but that didn’t stop the guilt. After she was gone, my guilt was as painful as the loss. I wondered if she knew how much I really loved her. Did she forgive me for making her leave my home? Would God forgive me for being so selfish to the one person in this world who loved me unconditionally?

I wish I could say that I found forgiveness and peace right away, but that would be a lie. I know that God has forgiven me for things I’ve done wrong and for things left undone that I should have done. What has taken much longer is finding a way to forgive myself. Only because of His unconditional love, His mercy and grace am I able to do that.

It still hurts to think about it. I still cry when I think about her last night in my home. But I know from my own heart as a mother that if she was able to speak to me right now from her home in heaven, she would say, “I love you. I forgive you. I’ll see you when you come home.” That is exactly what my Heavenly Father says.

One glorious day that will become a reality when I step into Heaven. Until then, I focus on the good memories of my mother and our life together.
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