A New Year Begins…

I cannot believe it is New Year’s Day 2014.  How fast this last month has flown!  To be honest I have to say that I am so glad this holiday is over and even more glad we are on to a bigger and better year.  So many things to think about, some good and some not so good.

Have you ever received one of those letters over the holidays that tell you how great the year has been and how many achievements the family has had?  I will tell you that I didn’t send out any letters like that this year.  My position as a mortgage lender was not nearly as successful as it has been in the past,  financially it has been more of a struggle and I have had to realize that my children have their own lives and don’t need me like they used to.  And of course there was the devastating loss of my beloved brother Will in October. The holidays were something I always looked forward to so I needed to do something that would help bring the happiness back into our home.

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My husband and I had decided the end of November that we were going to have one of those Ugly Sweater Parties.  I planned, I shopped, and I systematically made food for two weeks so I would be ready and enjoy the party.  I was however, unprepared for how fast all the food was going to disappear!  I take it as a compliment that they ate everything so quickly but for the first two hours of the party I was a lunatic replenishing platters so that there wouldn’t be hungry, drinking people wandering around.  Note to self:  cook more food up front and keep warm in the oven.

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The party, despite my poor food serving planning was great fun and a complete success. I know this will have to become an annual event.. At this point, I do want to mention my friend Marlene Charbonneau.  Here was a woman I befriended on Facebook because I liked that she baked and wrote.  I never met her but ordered some of her beautiful cookies for the party.  They were so amazing, so beautiful and so yummy that I have to give her a shout out.  She truly is my friend and I want everyone to know that her cookies are absolutely the best!

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This is where I have to learn I sometimes cannot do it all.  During the planning of the party, I got a call from a friend who needed help with her husband’s work party.  Unfortunately my husband and I were leaving that day to travel to New York to visit his daughter and then to pick up my mom and bring her back for Christmas.  But then we talked about getting all the food ready and bringing it over the night before we left….and I said yes.  So the day after our party, I shopped for the food and spent the next three days making food, writing instructions and packaging the food to take over and then left the following morning for five days out-of-town.  To those of you who may be crazy like me, I have to warn you to reconsider when you think you can do it all.  Especially when you also have a day job like I have! It was so chaotic that it was only now I realized that I haven’t posted since the beginning of December.  You can never be so busy that you put aside the things you love to do and that for me is sharing my highs and lows in the kitchen with you.  New Year’s resolution number one is to never stop doing what I love.

Anyway,  we managed to get through the month.  There was sadness over the holidays knowing that my brother and Dad wouldn’t be there to share but happy in the fact that my mom and my children were there with my husband and I.  It’s true what they say…you shouldn’t be worried about what is under the tree, but be happy with who is around the tree. Now it is the new year and a time for reflection and hope for the coming months.

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I’ve written this blog for a year now, the end of this month.  I cannot tell you the joy that it’s brought to me and I hope that somehow I have brought a bit of joy, knowledge, new recipes or something to you.  I want to thank you all for your support and following me and I hope you will continue to as I make my way through 2014.  Tell me what you would like to hear about, what you love and what you don’t.  I will continue share no matter what but without all of you I cannot grow and I want to let you know how important your support is to me.

I know it’s going to be a better year for all of us.  2014 will be a great year and I can’t wait to find out what the future is going to bring!

Don’t let your meatloaf!

The fourth annual “Don’t Let your Meatloaf” party happened in my neighborhood this past weekend.  It was the first time my husband and I had been invited to the event and I was terribly excited about going.  A party geared towards cooking something?  Right up my alley.

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The rule was no garlic.  Not sure the hows and whys of where this rule came about but I followed it.  I was not going to be disqualified because of a rule like that…I was in it to win it!  I had a meatloaf recipe that was pretty good, but this had to be the best.  After all, I was going to write about the party and brag how much everyone loved my meatloaf.  I practiced, I added and I tweaked.  This was going to be amazing!

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The time of the party arrived and I thought my meatloaf looked beautiful.  I was very proud.  First mistake of the evening…I didn’t try it.  We arrived at the home of Judy and Steve and pictures were taken.  The rules were explained to us on how to vote.  Wow…this was really serious!  Second mistake of the evening….I thought it was really serious.  It was time to taste and vote but judging the meatloaves was proving to be a challenge because each award needed to be voted on individually and there were a lot of meatloaves!  Vote first for best looking meatloaf and then go back through the line and flag all the bites taken and taste test.  Third mistake of the evening….I thought I could win.

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As instructed, we had to pick a first place winner, second place and third place, one for best looking and one for worst, all separate categories.  Little did I know then how important this could be.  We ate, we drank, we tallied, we drank, we turned our votes in and we drank some more.  The waiting began for the results. (It’s very important to note at this time that everyone drank.)

The bell rang and the winners were announced.  The first award given was for the worst tasting meatloaf.  I wasn’t even paying attention…after all there was no way I was going to be in this category.  I wasn’t paying attention…..until they called my name!  WHAT?!?!?!?!  They called my name…. the one who writes and cooks and shares my recipes received the worst tasting meatloaf?! Holy smokes…what just happened?!  I think I might have died a little at that moment.  All  I could do was smile and accept my award with grace and as much dignity as I possibly could in such a boisterous crowd. (remember, I mentioned earlier everyone drank…I want to believe that may have influenced the voting!)

I do want to mention that they showed me the final results on the voting and I was actually one vote shy of tieing for first.  I also placed in the second, and third category.  That did help with the ego factor a bit, but I was still labeled the worst!  But then I got to thinking,   everyone messes up now and then, everyone makes something that someone doesn’t like….even professional chefs don’t always get it right. Right?  Empowered with that knowledge,  I realized that I could go on with life, despite a flawed entry,  and my husband and I continued to have an extremely fun evening with a great group of people.  I had the will and determination to make another meatloaf, and another 364 days to practice at it!

So just wait until next year’s “Don’t Let Your Meatloaf” party…. I’ll be ready for the big comeback.  Just you wait!

THE WINNING MEATLOAF RECIPE by Lynn Fortunato Hodges!

Lynn's winning recipe!
Lynn’s winning recipe!

2 lbs ground chuck mixed with two cans of Rotel (drained).  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Cover 1/2 of a large flour tortilla with sour cream and chive mashed potatoes.  Slice meatloaf and place 4 slices on top of the potatoes.  Sprinkle with a mixture of shredded Mexican cheese and frozen corn.  Top each slice of meatloaf with another spoonful of mashed potatoes.  Fold over the other half of the tortilla and place in a heated frypan with olive oil.  Brown each side of the quesadilla.  Serve with salsa and jalapeno as garnish.

Winner Lynn Fortunato Hodges
Winner Lynn Fortunato Hodges

 

 

 

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