Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Butter Bean Soup



1.5 c. sliced carrots
1.5 c. sliced celery
1 c. diced onion
2 T. olive oil
2 T. all-purpose flour
1-2 cans chicken broth
(at least) 28 oz. diced tomatoes
2-3 cans large butter beans
salt and pepper, to taste
basil, to taste
parsley, to taste

Sautee your vegetables in oil in a covered stock pot, until soft (about 10 minutes). Stir occasionally to avoid sticking on bottom. Add 2 tablespoons of flour, stir well. Begin adding liquid ingredients and beans. I throw this recipe together, so it's hard to measure it out precisely. If you need more liquid, add water. Sometimes I use 1 can of broth and 1 can of water. Either way is fine. After all ingredients are added, season with salt, pepper, basil, and parsley--just to your taste. I usually add several sprinkles of each...I like a lot of flavor. Let simmer for up to an hour, although I usually do 30 minutes.

This soup goes great with a good grilled cheese sandwich...you know with real butter and Texas Toast. The soup is pretty healthy, you can afford the extra calories--if not, I promise, you will be raiding the kitchen an hour or so later--it's just not very filling. It's a great soup, just a little light. Enjoy!

Nacho Party Dip

1 Block of Velveeta
1 Lg. Jar of Salsa
1 Lb. of Lean Ground Beef, cooked and drained
Tortilla Chips

Melt Velveeta. Mix in salsa and ground beef. That's it. Not an original, but good nonetheless. I mixed in some cooked black beans, I thought it made it even better. Suit yourself. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Change Is Coming...

It seems "Change" is the theme for 2009. I feel a change coming as well...the Christmas decorations that I usually keep up well into the middle of January are already gone, this blog, a new hair style?, yoga, more running, less yelling, more babies?, more time management, more alone time with my man, less spending, more Mexican cooking, less sugar, more calls to friends and family I haven't seen or heard from in a long time, more trips,more reading, more learning, less stalking (stranger blogs), more flowers, less arguments (I live with a lawyer), more love in my home (stopping the little boy fights in my house before they happen!) less wasting time on insignificant anything.

Any "resolutions" in your home?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Christmas Eve



...the mess.

...the help.

...the goods.

It's Christmas Eve. Gifts to wrap, a house to clean for guests, treats to be made, a little shopping left to do, ect. In all the rush and excitement, let's not forget what we are celebrating: Our Lord, Jesus Christ. It's not about the presents, it's about His Presence.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Chocolate Covered Carmel Popcorn



Now this is something extraordinary. It's a copycat recipe of the popcorn those good ol' boy scouts sell around the holidays. Not to take any revenue away from the boy scouts, but I personally don't know any...so I created my own delicious, mouth-watering, give-me-more, treat.

3 qt. of popped popcorn
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. light corn syrup
1 c. packed light brown sugar
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 block Chocolate Almond Bark

Place completely cooled popcorn in a large bowl. Melt butter in large pan. Add sugar and light corn syrup. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add baking soda and continue to stir. Pour over popcorn and stir until coated evenly. Spread popcorn in a 9 X 13 glass baking dish and bake at 200 for 1 hour, stirring every 10-15 minutes.

Let cool completely. Melt almond bark in pan and pour over popcorn. Stir to coat evenly and refrigerate until chocolate hardens. Store in sealed container for 1 week, refrigerated for 2.

This is what I'll be working on for the next two days....Merry Christmas!

Bryce playing peek-a-boo. He always covers his ears instead of eyes.

This little monster goes from place to place to place to place--all places 1 year old boys shouldn't be. It seems as if sometime between Jackson and Bryce I forgot how to parent a toddler. A glimpse...(this all happened this morning)...He wakes up and screeches until I get him out of bed. He goes directly to his high chair and screeches until I put him in it and fill his tray with food. He almost falls out of his highchair because he will no longer sit in it for the duration of a meal. As soon as breakfast is over....he goes to the DVD player and pushes all kinds of buttons, runs a wagon into the Christmas tree, gets in the toilet 3 times, pushes the easel out so he can get into all the crayons, chalk, paintbrushes, ect. that is stored BEHIND it, stands right against the space heater (the kid-friendly kind), smacks it several times, and then pushes it over. Lastly (that I know of) he rips the light cord out of the outlet and eagerly tries to put it back in. I know what you're thinking: child-proof your house! Mostly, it is. We thought we were doing extra good when we put locks on the pantry door to keep him out of the cereal boxes (which were spilled all over floor) and when we put the ornaments on only half the tree (because he pulled it over trying to get the red bulbs).

He is not easily rattled--we say "NO" and he looks the other way. He does, however, want the approval of Triston and Jackson. He will intentionally do things and then look around to see if they are looking at him. He thinks he is funny, too--laughing at himself and then moving right on to the next thing....to the average person, this may seem like a lot--but we sure do feel lucky to have such a bright-eyed curious little guy that is full of personality! ...and to think, we got THREE of them just like this!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Favorites: Cast Iron and Mini-Serving Spatula

We LOVE our cast-iron cookware. We replaced our Teflon with cast-iron and stainless steel a few years ago after learning about the dangers associated with cooking with chemically treated pans. Between the two: cast-iron wins hands down. Aside from being incredibly versatile (stove-top use, oven-use, outside-use), it evenly distributes heat, something stainless steel is not known for. A well-seasoned pan can be nearly as non-stick as its manufactured counterparts, without the risk of toxic chemicals being consumed by your family. Cast-iron offers its own health benefits: iron supplementation in your food. Plus, it lasts forever: pans used by our grandmothers are still going strong. The maintenance is minimal--in some cases the only required cleaning is simply to wipe out the pan with a paper towel. It's wonderful...if you want to know more, go here.

I LOVE my mini-serving spatula from Pampered Chef. This spatula has a sharp edge, not like a knife, but sharp enough to slice through cake or lasagna to serve pieces intact. I have also used it to chop up raw meat, like chicken, while cooking....it's pretty handy. The best part: It costs only 4 dollars!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fabulous-ness

My friend Courtney sent me an award for being fabulous--this is no surprise to me, I get these awards all the time. Didn't you know? :)
Along with the award, I must pass it on to 5 more bloggers who also exude fabulous-ness AND list 5 fabulous addictions I currently have.....fabulous addictions? Okay.
5 lucky bloggers:
Nicol--I know--just do it anyway. We share the same sense of humor and always have a good laugh when we chat, which is never enough, but we've both got three (about to be four for her) kids and there's just never enough time, so what do you expect?!....but, I will say--if I ever win a vacation for just one other person--I choose you!
Shara--who lives half-way across the country now--is super crafty and is really fun. I will never forget watching you strap Xander in the stroller and face him towards the wall for a quick time-out in the mall....genius. I did that just a few weeks ago--it really works. My first friend in Florida!
Brookeanne--The only other person I knew, at the time, that was married and had a baby at our young age of 21! We stayed friends via the phone and e-mail for 3 years while I lived in Florida--it was so great to come home and pick right back up like we used to! Plus, your a patient mother and you spend quality one-on-one time with your kids each and every day--I really admire that!
Katy--Your blog was the first blog I ever read. You have 5 beautiful girls and you are not even 30...and you seem sane, which is more than I can say for myself! Your blog is so much fun to read--actually, your whole family has great blogs--your family is so creative.
Morgan--You are so much fun! A really genuine person and your accent is so cute! (She's from southern Georgia) When you first moved into Mandarin 2nd, I was so impressed with how well you met others and fit right in.I always think of the first time you came to church and stood right up and gave your testimony. Now, I;m in the same position and try to do the same--thanks for being a great example!
Okay, so you bloggers are supposed to post the picture and do the same thing I did--have fun!
Now for my addictions:
Desperate Housewives--I have watched since the very first episode, but now we don't get ABC, so I am missing it! It's driving me nuts.
Stalking Blogs-Travis will come by and say, "Oh, who is that?" More times than not I reply, "I have no idea"....ha ha, great fun though, right? Oh, c'mon....I know you do it to!
Sugar--no lie. I feel like a drug addict. Of course, this started when I was pregnant with Triston and has stuck with me...probably why I can never get rid of the baby jiggle in the front. I'm working on a plan to kick it--look up facts about sugar sometime....it's the quickest way to age your skin, rot your teeth, makes you fat....ect. It's bad stuff.
Exercise--okay, I could have said this one--like a year ago. There was a time when I would feel just bad if I didn't work out. Then I got prego with Bryce and was so tired and slowly stopped over the course of two years. Now, I'm pretty fine with just hanging out.
News--I'm a news junkie. Maybe this stems from my Journalism training in college....or maybe the "shock factor" on mainstream media just got me....when we had cable, I would jump from news channel to news channel several times a day to see what was going on.

Okay, there you go...this took way to long. I won't hold it against you if you don't want to do it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holiday Photos

We didn't have time this year to do a Holiday photo of our family--so I took some pictures of the kids--just for fun. Here's a couple...

Merry Christmas!

Zuppa Toscana

I believe this soup recipe is the same one the Olive Garden serves, or something similar. My whole family slurps this right up--and asks for more. I double the recipe for my family of 5. I didn't drain the sausage well enough this time, so it was a little more greasy than normal, and it shows in the picture, but it was still excellent.

1 lb. Italian Sausage
2 large baking potatoes, diced
1 onion, diced
1/2 package Oscar Meyer Real Bacon Bits
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. Kale or Swiss Chard, chopped
2 14.5 oz. cans chicken broth
1 qt. water
1 c. heavy whipping cream
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Cook sausage in a 300-degree oven for 30 minutes. Drain on paper towels, slice, and set aside. Place onion, potatoes, chicken broth, water, and garlic in large pot. Cook on medium heat until potatoes are tender. Add sausage, bacon bits, salt, and pepper--simmer for another 10 minutes. Turn to low heat--add Kale and cream. Heat through.

Serve with warm crusty bread.

Citrus Salmon with Thyme


This salmon brought a little sunshine on a gray day!

Wild Caught Atlantic Salmon

Kosher Salt (I used Sea Salt)

Pepper

Fresh or Dried Thyme

Lemon

Orange

Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Lay thawed salmon across foil and generously season with salt and pepper. Thinly slice lemon and orange slices to your liking and place atop salmon. Sprinkle dried thyme on top, or place thyme sprigs alongside orange and lemon slices. 350 oven--about 30 minutes.

Serve with fresh spinach salad and long-grain wild rice.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's WAR...

We have a mouse....actually, we had a mouse. Make that two. There could be more--I'm repulsed. Our only evidence that we had been invaded upon was Triston who swore he saw one run from the refrigerator to the stove...this was early last week. "No way," we said. "There couldn't be a mouse". There was absolutely no other evidence (i.e. mouse poop, tampered food containers). Then later in the week, Travis saw it too--running from the refrigerator to the stove--just as Triston had said.
We, or rather--He, set traps when we went to bed. Nothing.
Again, when we had to go to the store. Nothing.
Again, before bed. We got one, and we thought our problem was solved.
Last night, Travis set another trap before bed...just for good measure. At 2 A.M.-ish, I awoke to a few strange noises. I got out of bed to check it out. I remembered the trap in the kitchen and turned on a light to make sure I didn't step on it. It was GONE! I woke up Travis and he checked under the stove with a flashlight...there it was. Stuck by one leg and furiously trying to escape. Now, Travis has a good heart when it comes to animals and he was really bothered by the fact that the mouse was alive and scared and that he was going to have to kill it somehow. So, to save the details--he got the job done.
We have a real history with mice, Travis and I.
Our first apartment was 700 square feet--extremely small. A nest of mice was discovered under our sink--we, ahem....I mean, he had a field day with that one. Since the bottom of the cabinet under the sink was never finished, the mice had easy access to our warm, food-filled apartment. One morning, after hearing another trap go off in the kitchen and then seeing a mouse run from the kitchen to my bedroom, I lost it. I packed up and went to my mom's for the night. Travis, got off work, went directly to the rodent killer section of Walmart, and became the Mouse Slayer (a name he would be extremely embarrassed by, but secretly still claims the title) that very night. He caught 13! 13!!!! Since, I have vowed vengeance on any, and I mean ANY, rodent that wants to mess with my house. We're getting more traps today. Say some prayers for the mice in the neighborhood--I'm on a mission to destroy!
P.S.--I should add here, that I only have extreme intent to destroy. Travis handles all of the mouse stuff. I usually get up on the counter and hide my eyes until it's done away with. Thank you, Travis--you're my hero.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Italian Meatballs

I'm not a big red meat person. In fact, this year I've realized that I could go vegan with no problems at all. But, since I live with a carnivorous man and three little carnivorous man-children, I aim to please...every once in awhile. I've never quite understood the veracity for round balls of meat. For some reason, they tell me, "it just tastes so much better". So...here's the recipe:



1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. Italian bread crumbs
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
A few good shakes of salt and pepper



Put all ingredients in a bowl and combine. C'mon, get your hands dirty. Form into little balls. (Makes about 10)




Put about 1 T. olive oil in skillet over medium heat and cook until done. Serve atop whole wheat pasta with marinara.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Chicken Vegetable Soup

When it's cold outside--all I want to do is wrap up, stay stationary, and eat. (I am foreseeing a weight gain since moving back to Indiana.) This super easy soup takes the chill out of the day.

3 boiled chicken breasts, cut up
2-3 cans of chicken broth
3/4 bag 32oz frozen vegetables
1 onion, diced
2-3 stalks of celery, diced
salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
parsley, to taste
crushed red pepper, to taste
1-2 bay leaves

After boiling chicken, save the water. Add the broth, garlic, celery and onion. Let boil 5 minutes. Add cut up chicken, frozen vegetables, and all spices. Boil a good 10-15 minutes, then simmer 1 hour.
Serve with grilled cheese. Mmmmmmmm.

Friday Favorites

A new series I'm doing: Friday Favorites. Since the title is self-explanatory, here goes:






Bar Keeper's Friend--This product is absolutely amazing. I started using it a few years ago when I got stainless steel cookware. It not only makes my pots and pans shine like they're brand new, it also makes my bathtub sparkle, and removes rust. It costs around 2 dollars per can and lasts quite a while.

Honest Kids Organic Juice--We got these juice packages in Halloween treat bags this year. I believe it only harbors 9 grams of sugar, which is why my interest peaked. The juice tastes good----it doesn't have a full flavor, almost watered down, but in a good way. Also, only 40 calories!

Hershey's Chocolate Mint Truffle--Do I need to explain?! Limited edition for the holidays--go get yourself a bag...or two...or three.

On another note--this is what we're doing today:

Sleep deprivation + 14 degree weather + my monthly girl visit = watching tv all day for everyone.

Sleep deprivation? Why would I be sleep deprived? I have 3 boys who sleep all night long, right? WRONG. Jackson woke up at 3 to go to the bathroom, but let the whole house know it--which woke Bryce up. Jackson goes back to bed, Bryce stays awake until 4:30. I finally start to doze. Triston wakes up at 5 and can't find the army guy he went to bed with. Wakes Bryce up complaining about it. Bryce wakes up with laughs, so I KNOW he's up for good. That's Triston's cue to stay out of bed and wake Jackson up. All three of them are too much to fight about it. Travis has his first case in front of the judge this morning, so I was played good wife--even made him breakfast and packed his lunch.

Shooosh--I need a nap.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Under Construction

I've been planning a site to post my recipes on for awhile....I've finally created it....now, let's just see how long it takes me to start posting!

Also see: Mandarin 2nd Food Lover's. I post there occasionally, but I know most everyone that does post recipes and I can vouch for them! All the ones I have tried from the site have been great.

Holiday Kick-off in Brown County

So we do live in kind of a cool little place. Think Gatlinburg on a much smaller scale--but, not as hillbilly. Well, kind of hillbilly. For instance, we needed a drain stopper for the kitchen sink, so I went into town to find one. My only options were: CVS, a grocery store (where everything is priced so highly, I don't know WHO shops there...probably just tourists.), and a hardware store called Bear Hardware that has the friendliest workers in the world---but no luck with a drain stopper that fits our sink. Next closest place: Wal-Mart--18 miles away.

But, on Friday, our quaint little town hosted a Holiday Kick-off: the town tree lighting, the village (200+ little shops and restaurants) lighting, the Courthouse Christmas Tree Walk-Through, Trolley Rides, Hot Cocoa and Cookies, and of course--Santa.


We had a lot of fun, but quickly realized that it was way to cold for the kids for us to stay the entire time. We missed the tree lighting, but got to ride the trolley through town and talk to Santa Claus. The hot cocoa and cookies weren't too bad, either.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Happy Birthday, Bryce!


The baby of the family: not so baby-ish anymore. At least he doesn't think so. We celebrated the first anniversary of his birth day on Sunday. A quiet little soiree--cake, presents, a singing balloon. All was received by Bryce with happy smiles and a little dancing--and a face full of cake. He is a force to be reckoned with--making sure everyone knows his likes (hands clapping, laughing, and dances) and his dis-likes (throwing himself on the floor, screeching like a banshee, and fat tears sliding down those chubby cheeks) If you know our family, you would know we like 'em that way--personalities that stand out in the crowd. Happy Birthday, Bryce!

iPhone Dump 2019

In January, boys 7th grade took home conference championship Disney on Ice with Emma  Pretty meager winter, we...