Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Completely Selfish 2010 Top 10.

We have had an amazing year with lots of ups and only a few downs that I can think of. If I were writing my family's top 10, it would look much different...things like buying our first home, Travis' running for office and winning, coaching and playing on numerous sports teams this year, Triston's good grades in school, Bryce learning how to ride his bike over the summer, Jackson starting to read, finding out another boy is on his way,  ect. but this is my top 10. The things that I loved and relished in by. my. self. (and that is important, here), things that kept me sane, things that made my day a little brighter (besides my kids and husband). And they're in no particular order...

1. Girls weekend in Indy sans kids.
2. Living 5 minutes from Target for 5 months.
3. Bath and Body Works Lemon Vanilla Lotion.
4. Belly Band by Bella Maternity.
5. Zesta Saltines, Subway, and Coke (my prego must-haves).
6. Date Weekend in Terre Haute sans kids (also when our niece was born, so double whammy).
7. Cooking Light Magazine.
8. Getting back into Grey's Anatomy and catching up on past seasons.
9. Mid-night showing of Eclipse, and then seeing it 2 more times in the theater and then buying the DVD. And Edward Cullen's face. (By the way, where is the calendar I asked for for Christmas?!)
10. Zumba, and pretending I am a Brazilian hottie.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Black Bean Soup

I have been waiting weeks to make this. I don't know why it hasn't materialized other than the fact Travis thinks it sounds gross, so the one day I had time to make it he whisked us all out the door for Mexican. And I had a Chicken Fajita Taco Salad, which is just about the best food invention ever to come out of Mexico, and it trumps this soup any day of the week, so I wasn't sad.

I can assure you, though, the soup is not gross. Travis knows that, he has eaten it countless times. And it doesn't take a long time to make, either, I just have had some busy-ness going on lately and our dinners have maybe consisted of such novelties as frozen chicken pot pies and the like.

I know. But there is something about the winter that makes me buy those little .50 cent pies. And I confirmed with a friend--she buys them in the winter, too, so it is not just me.

I wanted to make the soup and post a picture, but since I haven't made it yet, and you should, here is the recipe that I received indirectly from Christy Astorga through a church compiled cookbook, so these are her directions, which I think suit the soup just fine:

1 T. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium stalk celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. chili powder
1 T. ground cumin
1/4 t. pepper
3 14 oz. cans of chicken broth
4 15 oz. cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz. can of corn, drained
1 16 oz. jar of mild salsa

Saute onion, carrots, and garlic in oil for 5 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, and pepper -  cook 1 minute more. Stir in broth, 2 cans of black beans, and the corn. Heat to boil. Put other 2 cans of black beans and salsa in a food processor or blender until smooth and then add rest of ingredients. Simmer 15 minutes. Serves 6.

Back to me. I like a chunkier soup so I don't process my salsa and black beans completely smooth and I always add a little kick - cayenne or crushed red pepper to the veggies as they are saute-ing. As for garnish, we top our soup with tortilla chips, shredded cheese, and sour cream. Oh, and you can sub the chicken broth for vegetable broth if vegetarianism is your thing. It's good either way.

Now...

I will be gone for an undisclosed amount of time. My Christmas present came a little early and I will be moving all my earthly belongings into our new house starting tonight. Let's see...this makes move number 13 in 8 years. But, this move is permanent since it seems we are signing pretty much everything but the kitchen sink (and maybe that, too) in the bazillion forms that are necessary, so I am calling move number 13 the *lucky move number 13. I was born on the 13th after all, on a Friday no less. (That last one might not be true).

And if you want to know something that is even WEIRDer, we moved from Brown County back to Evansville exactly one year to the day: Decemeber 18. It's a pretty rad story full of modern-day miracles and amazing blessings if you ask me. I will write it for you sometime because stories like that should be shared, right?

So the next time I write on this little pet blog of mine, I will be sitting next to a roaring fire in OUR fireplace looking out OUR window into OUR backyard contemplating the Spring and what we are going to plant in OUR already dedicated raised beds, among other some such things that go along with owning a home.

Merry CHRISTmas!




Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Monster Cake

1 chocolate cake mix (and whatever you need to make that)
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 jar of chocolate ice cream topping
1 small (or large!) container of cool-whip
Your favorite candy

This cake is unbelievable. Unbelievable. Make your cake according to package directions. I usually use Devil's Food Cake because, Hello! It's delicious.

When your cake comes out of the oven, take the handle of a wooden spoon or something similar in size and poke about 9-12 holes in the top of the cake. Pour your sweetened condensed milk over the top and let it seep through the holes and down the sides. You don't  have to wait for it to cool, just poke the holes and pour the condensed milk already! Next, using a small spatula, gently scoop out the contents of the jar of chocolate ice cream topping. Spread evenly over top of cake.

Now for the best part, the cool-whip! I know I've mentioned how much I love cool-whip, but seriously, I freaking LOVE cool whip. So I  bought an extra-large container because you better believe I am spooning it directly in my mouth. But before I do that, I will be spooning a nice thick layer on top of the cake.

Now for the namesake. I don't really know why it is called monster cake, that is just what my dear friend told me the name of the cake was when she gave me the recipe (and made one for me after a baby was born!) years ago.

Choose any kind of candy or candy bar that sets your heart afire. The first time I made it, I chopped up Reese's peanut butter cups and sprinkled them on top. It was rich and delicious. I've used M & M's and Kit-Kat, which are equally awesome. You could probably even use Nerds or something ridiculous like that. But, for tomorrow, I am using broken up pieces of Starlite Peppermint. You know, a little holiday flair for the Republican Party Christmas dinner. And, the peppermint gives a little minty kick, which situates perfectly on your taste buds after a yummy meal, especially when it's cold outside.

Now I know you want to see a picture of this cake in all her Christmas glory and I will attach a picture of it as soon as it is made in the morning.

Oh, and the cake should be refrigerated. I am gathering you got that, but just in case, you don't want to leave your cool-whip topped cake sitting out on the counter over night. :)

Also, you'll want to check out this blog post. All I have to say is, "Yum" and "Can't wait to make those!"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Epic Fail


 a warmer day than today

Today is one of those days. An Epic Fail kind of day, as I like to call it. Let's start from the beginning.

I woke up this morning with high hopes of cleaning the bathrooms and getting all the laundry done, but I toiled around the house and really I am not sure where the time went. At exactly 11:17 a.m. I finally got around to putting the first load of laundry in, but when you live with 4 (almost 5!) dirty guys the laundry ends up being a massive pile the size of a small mountain. So the two loads I actually got done today didn't even dent the pile. Oh, and the bathrooms are still dirty.

Then, I intended to march in to CVS and demand a refund on these DVD+R's that I was told by an employee that I had to use when downloading from my camcorder. Turns out he was wrong and I was left with an $18.00 opened package of CDs that I will never use from a store that I am pretty sure doesn't do refunds. But, after taking Triston to school and I felt how cold it was outside, I came up with every excuse not to go.

Also, you should know that I forgot to feed my kids lunch today! In my defense, I wasn't paying attention to the time, so I gave them a late snack and they forgot about lunch time, too. But, still...this counts as an Epic Fail, too, right?

I realized that I hadn't done much around nap time, but Jackson was being incessant that he wasn't going to take a nap. I laid down with him for just a couple of seconds, but when I got back up, it was magically 1 hour and 15 minutes later. Almost time to pick up Triston, so no time to do anything I would have done while they were sleeping.

I let the kids talk me in to getting them McDonald's for dinner. But I really wanted to make Black Bean Soup, which is really good and healthy, and I could use a new recipe to post on here too, right?

Finally, I planned on wrapping all my Christmas presents tonight after the kids went to bed, but instead I zoned out on facebook and now I am too tired.

Here is what I did do...2 loads of laundry, I cleaned the kitchen (because I did make breakfast!), read books and played with the kids and let them watch way to much tv, took a shower and even shaved my legs, gave myself a mani/pedi, did some on-line browsing, day-dreamed about living in Florida again and made some tenative vacation plans, helped Triston with homework and got him to his Christmas play on time, watched his Christmas play while entertaining two jitterbugs and then even stood in line with those jitterbugs at the over- crowded book fair, now..I am blogging and next, finishing up Season 6 of Grey's Anatomy on Netflix Instant Play.

It is safe to say that this day was a total failure, even though re-living it just wiped me out. Tomorrow is the day. A brand new day and  I will get the laundry done, the bathrooms cleaned, the floors mopped thanks to a cup of spilled apple juice before bed, the DVD+R's taken back and those Christmas presents wrapped.

We hope, anyway.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Results Are In.

30 % of you voted boy.

70 % voted girl. 

Majority vote lost, and I am happy to report for the first time for four pregnancies, I was right!


My Mom and I did a little shopping to celebrate and we discussed important matters, like baby names and the proper way to pronounce our new Speaker of the House: John Boehner. I bet it was rough growing up with a name like that.


And if you're wondering: A girl would have been great, but I secretly wanted another boy. It's just easy...in a hard sort of way. Mommies of little boys will know what I mean. :)

PS: We are positive it's a boy...there was no mistaking it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The First of December



I wrote in a previous post that we are only putting up a table-top tree with mini decorations this year because of another move in December.

And there it is. I'm a traditionalist when it comes to holiday colors. I have to have red on my Christmas tree and in my home, and this year I paired it with green and white instead of gold as I have done in the past. Next year maybe I'll get crazy and do red and aqua.

It isn't much to look at, but it is better than nothing at all and I figured I will be able to use it somewhere in our new home next year. Maybe on an actual table-top though instead of our filing cabinet with a table cloth draped over the top, which just cracks me up. But I am trying to improvise since on Christmas Day we will be surrounded by moving boxes instead of a cozy Christmas-y space. If the Savior of the world was humble enough to arrive in a lowly stable, I can certainly be humble enough to celebrate His birth in a empty home surrounded by my darling family and to celebrate the season with family and friends. For that, I am overjoyed.

I have so many cute things planned that I will never get done. But, I am planning on making a few treats for friends and neighbors. I'm starting with my annual popcorn recipe I ripped off the boy scouts. It is an awesome foodie gift to give to guests or just to have on hand if you find yourself needing an extra gift or two. In past years, I have packaged it in goodie bags with embellished labels made from card stock and scrapbooking supplies or in Christmas containers. One year, I saved all my cylinder oatmeal containers and wrapped them with paper and embellished.  This year, I am putting it in a goodie bag tied with  pretty Christmas ribbon. Simplicity is my new motto.(and my New Year's res.)

Here's the recipe. (And some of you readers might be a recipient, anyway.)


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Number 3 is 3.



Little Brycers is 3. Wowza. For his birthday, I told him the story of when he was born.
It was on November 30, 2007. I was scheduled for an induction at the ghetto hospital in Jacksonville that I can't even remember the name of now, but it was off Beach Blvd. and we lived off of San Jose Ave. and I remember thinking that it was a tad too far for my comfort if #3 decided to come by himself in mid-day traffic.

Luckily, that didn't happen. But he did throw me into labor on the scheduled day before I got to the hospital, which forced me to throw all my plans to the wind. I, being the seasoned laborer, remembered the horrific pictures of myself after my babies had been born. This time, I allotted a little time for me to take a shower, curl my hair (even though it was going to be up, at least my ponytail would be bouncy and cute), and maybe even dab on a little concealer and blush. But when I got in the shower, the contractions had me doubled over and were coming quick. I needed to get to the hospital before the window of epidural time closed. Know what I mean?

So I roused Travis by yelling at him and we flew out the door. There were more stop lights than I remembered and I demanded Travis start driving through the red ones. There was very little traffic at 5 in the morning, but he argued with me anyway. I wasn't amused.

We got to the hospital and I started throwing up. The poor nurse who was trying to get me to sign the papers looked kind of stunned when I looked at her blankly and said, "Where's the epidural release form? That's the only one I want to sign right now."

But I got it and everything was smooth sailing from there. 45 minutes later I started pushing and just after the 4th one, out popped a little black haired gem.


But all that black hair fell out and just a few months later he was a blondie, which should have been my first clue he would become a stinker just like his little blonde brothers. The kids do not have my genes.



And now he is 3 years old and is in love with Scooby-Doo. He thinks he is Spider-Man most of the time. He is picky and sneaky and completely adorable. He sometimes pees in his pants just a little and then tells me it is "Okay because it will dry," like it's no big deal. He loves riding his bike and being outside and will usually take a nap and eat his green beans without a fight because he says "it's good for me". He will run away from me if given the opportunity every. single. time. so he has to wear a monkey leash to town and it is the funniest thing you'll ever see...or he'll sit on the floor and refuse to move, then it's the worst thing you'll ever see. You never know which one is coming at any given time.


Happy Birthday little Brycers.  



Monday, November 29, 2010

To Card or Not to Card...

Everyone loves Christmas cards and I am no exception.

But, this year? Wasn't into it.

Again, we find ourselves moving (permanently!) during December; a reason in itself to not decorate and get all stressed out with...everything that goes along with it.

But, since I did that last year and it was no fun for anyone, I've decided to have some kind of serenity in my home this year. So, I bought a table top tree and mini decorations to stand in place of our 6 footer and I am making an awesome advent calendar for the kiddos (and the grown-ups) as a reminder of what the season is all about.

The rest of it? Staying in storage. (okay, I got a few things out) And even though I have little pin-pricks of jealousy when I drive past my neighbor's beautifully lit home with their ginormous picture window that allows me to see the decorations inside, too. I am okay with it.

And the cards? It was the one thing I could let go of this year without thinking about it over and over and over. Plus, it was one more thing I didn't have to do.

But, one night, I was bored and found myself blog hopping on stranger blogs I had no business looking at. One of the blogs talked about Shutterfly Holiday Cards and they had me hook, line, and sinker.

I followed the link and found myself ahh-ing and oooh-ing over all of Shutterfly's amazing holiday card collection. And then I knew. I am okay giving up my big tree, Christmas lights, and little decorations here and there, but after seeing all those cards, there was no way I was letting the card thing go this year.

Some of my favs?



 

There are just so many to choose from and my boys' sweet little faces would look perfect on one of these cards.You can find your favorites, here.

And, they have fun gift ideas, like calendars that you can design yourself using all your favorite photos. A perfect gift for Grandma and Grandpa, no?

The best part? Shutterfly is giving away 50 free photo cards just for blogging about how awesome they are. You can get the all the deets for yourself, here.

Happy Carding...

PS...Find anything odd in the above Christmas cards? Something most parents wouldn't do?!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A 4.5 Month Bump.



My sweet husband says to me today, "Babe, have you thought about your diet any?" But underneath that cute Southern accent, I actually heard, "Hey Fatty, why don't you scarf down another burger?!"

It's true. I have eaten terrible throughout this pregnancy so far. In fact, currently I weigh about the same as when I gave birth to Bryce, and I wish I were lying! I kind of fell off the face of the earth back in August when I first found out and since then I have exercised twice. Two times, that is it. And at first, it wasn't so bad because I wasn't really eating much either. I have since made up for it, eating everything in my path. I am constantly hungry and go back for seconds. Thanksgiving was a massacre. And as I'm typing I am scooping Captain Crunch into my mouth.

And if you can tell in the picture, where my hand is resting on my gigantic hip, I've got all kinds of cushion in places I've never had before. Here's a story...

During the course of three pregnancies, I have been able to wear my regular jeans up until about 5 or 6 months and then I put a rubber band around the button and go on like normal. This time, I can barely pull my jeans over my derriere at all. forcing me into sweat pants or maternity pants. It's quite terrible.

But, a little tiny sliver of myself is saying, "Who the hell cares?!" Because the world tells you it's only cool to tip the scales when you're expecting and even that is drifting away in today's society. No longer can women have months to get back to normal weight, it is mere weeks. Thank you, Hollywood celebrities, it's so great what you give back.

 I have got to focus on eating healthier, for the health of bebe and myself, but I'm giving in more than I would otherwise and maybe I'll pick up working out again. Just a little. This is my last baby, so when else am I going to have the opportunity to relish?


Next up...Black Friday.

It's addicting. I can't help it, I have to go. Most years, I don't even know what I am going after, and maybe I won't get anything at all, but the adrenaline rush is worth the ridiculousness of it all.

Being at home for Thanksgiving, my only option was Wal-Mart, which I believe is actually what hell might be like in real life. Not even on Black Friday, just on normal days. My bestie Amber and I met up and went in an hour early to scope out the deets. We ended up in different corners of the store waiting for employees to start opening the huge crates lining the aisles at precisely 12:01. She going after a Mario Snuggie and myself going after Hot Wheels, Remote Control Monster Trucks, and Play-Doh. After wading through the sea of shoppers, getting the backs of my heels ran into, and shopping carts into my bump we made it back to our meeting place, re-convened and then went back out to different areas. It was crazy. But a blast...until we were standing in line and I could feel myself start to black out.

All of a sudden I was sweating and thirsty and my eyes were getting cloudy. I ripped off my sweatshirt and pulled my hair up. I grabbed a Sprite and starting chugging. I was left weak in the knees, but it was Black Friday and what kind of shopper would I be if I freaking passed out? I pulled through it and by the time I saw the receipt and all the money I saved, the shopper's high kicked in and everything was back to normal.

Last but not least, check out this breakfast:


Steak and Eggs with Toast. A couple of week-ends ago, Travis whipped this up for breakfast and it just looked so perfect, that I just had to take a picture. And it was delicious. Things always taste better when you don't have to cook them, no?! Speaking of...I could use a plate of that right about now...

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Special Thanks to the Bebe.

Oh. My. Goodness.

What a wonderful Thanksgiving we had yesterday. The food was grand, the company even better. We have much to be thankful for this year (and every year) including:

All the kicking that is going on in my mid-section.

We find out next week what we're having. You can vote over there.

<--------------------------

(I vote boy.)



Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Sides: Mashed Potatoes & the Gravy

Everyone, I hope, knows how to make mashed potatoes. Here is my secret ingredient:

Fresh Garlic.


Thrown in the pot of boiling water, with the potatoes, garlic gives a great subtle flavor. Of course, once you add your butter, milk, and sour cream; your taste buds actually say, "Wow".  I just add a few whole cloves to my pot.

I was going to save the gravy for another post, but potatoes and gravy go so well together they deserve the same treatment here.

For the gravy, which could be one of the main components of Thanksgiving Dinner, I use this:

picture from mccormick.com

I know, right? But, you've got to cut corners somewhere and you really just can't go wrong with this gravy.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Christmas List.

This. Have you seen the infomericals? Intoxicating.

And I would love this to replace my standard bowl, but have you checked that price tag? Yikes. Throw this in, too. But if we want to get fancy, I'll take this one instead.

A print from my favorite artist? It would look great in my new kitchen!

I've been eyeing this for quite some time.

Oh! And definitely this. But, this would totally be even better! It's actually what I always want and would remedy the first link in this sentence quite nicely, don't you think?

Happy Shopping!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thnaksgiving Sides: Green Bean Casserole

original picture from tasteofhome.com

I wasn't raised eating this casserole on Thanksgiving Day, which begs the question,
"Who else wasn't?!"

Now that we've had a few on our own, it was just within the last few years that green bean casserole became a staple at Thanksgiving dinner. I am assuming Travis' side of the family always had it and I must have picked it up there, because seriously? 

It is so good. And Thanksgiving just wouldn't be the same without it.

I've seen some fancy recipes for this dish. Some add soy sauce, some add Parmesan cheese, among other things. But, I like to keep it simple and the best recipe I've had (and maybe the only one I've had) is from the back of a can.

Del Monte's Green Bean Casserole. You can find that here.  I almost always use just a little more french fried onions, although typing those very words brought on the heartburn, so maybe not so much this year.

Enjoy!

Oh, and do go with the french-cut green beans. It's not a traditional dish without them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving Sides: Sweet Potato Casserole

original photo from copykat.com

There are a few things I am famous for. This is one of them. I found this recipe in a magazine years ago and made it one year for Thanksgiving and it just kind of became a tradition all of its own. I can't remember where the original recipe came from, but I've added to it over the years, so now I claim it as mine.

Here's the thing with sweet potatoes: Most people either love them or hate them and if you have people of the latter variety it is hard to convince them they will actually like this. But, they will! Like I said in a previous post, everyone like sweet potatoes if there is enough added butter and sugar, which leads me to my next point.

Although this is an awesome side, it's not something you can eat all the time. Just because it is made primarily from a vegetable, it is not healthy and should be consumed sparingly.

Right.

Maybe that is true for the rest of the year but Thanksgiving is a "free pass" in my book. So get yourself some yams, or if you want to be difficult 3 lbs. of raw sweet potatoes and let's get to work.

Here's the other thing. This could be a dessert. I always serve it with the regular food, though, and it is a sweet little teaser for the actual desserts. But, like I said, it could be placed on the dessert table if you wanted it to. (But, you shouldn't. Take my word).

You'll need:

3 lbs. of raw sweet potatoes, peeled and cooked, or like I said just some canned yams and if I can remember right I think the 3 lbs. yields about 3 cups. I buy I of the large cans and 1 small.

1/2 c. sugar
1 stick of butter, softened
2 eggs
1/3 c. milk
1 t. vanilla

And for the best part, the topping:

1 c. brown sugar (or more, definitely more)
1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. melted butter

Go ahead and combine the topping ingredients and set aside. In a large bowl, mash the cooked (or canned) sweet potatoes. Add the stick of butter, eggs, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until well blended. Pour into a 9 x 13 and crumble mixture on top. I almost always use more than the original recipe called for; maybe I double it. You can also add pecans if that is your thing. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Seriously, you will not regret this one.

Next up, Green Bean Casserole.

In other news, I finally caved and bought the most ridiculous pair of shoes ever.
orignal photo from strappy-sandals.com

I have hated "ugg" style boots since I first saw them, but I couldn't resist the sheep-lined wool insides any longer. Bonus: after a little research, I realized that the brand Bear Paw, sold at Macy's, at half the price of Ugg Brand is made of exactly the same materials. So score for me and everyone on my Christmas list. I have more left over for you. And now I am warm and happy and all is right in the world when that is taken care of.  But, that doesn't take away the feeling of ridiculousness I feel while wearing them. Just so you know, I don't stuff my jeans into the tops, even though it is cute on most people, it's not for me. :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Auntie Anne's At-Home Baking Kit



The people at Auntie Anne's sent me their At-Home Baking Kit for review. I will admit, I have only bought a pretzel from Auntie Anne's a handful of times, but seriously, it rocks, no?

The kids were probably more excited than I was because I decided to make this into a family affair. And it proved to be a fine one. The baking kit came with very easy-to-follow instructions and was very kid-friendly.

The kit contains ingredients to make 10 large salted or cinnamon/sugar pretzels. Once we decided what kind each of us wanted, we went to work making the dough, which we were able to put in our stand mixer and let it do all the work for us.

After just 30 minutes for rise time, we were ready to roll out our pretzels. Step-by-step instructions on how to do just that were also included. The kids decided to make pretzel faces, but were able to make the classic pretzel shape as well based on the pictures from the instructions.

A few minutes in the oven and the pretzels were done. They turned out great. The kids had a blast making them and I think this is a really fun family opportunity. This would be a perfect activity to do with your kids around the Holidays or for family night. It would also be a neat gift for a kid on your Christmas gift list, especially an older child who could make the pretzels by them self, or I guess anyone who loves Auntie Anne's pretzels! I've got a few people I know would love this that might be getting a kit, too!

As for cons, the only thing I could come up with is that instead of enjoying a pretzel at the mall, we were at home. And, I'll take the mall, yes? But, for some, this is a huge pro, which is probably why Auntie Anne's came up with this product. Either way, you get an awesome tasting pretzel so it's a win-win all around.

The kit retails for $7.99 and are available at some Auntie Anne's locations across the U.S. You can find the nearest participating retailer to you here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving Sides: Cranberry Jello Salad

This has nothing to do with the post, but isn't this photo lovely?

 Cranberry Jello Salad. AKA: The best holiday side ever....EVER.

So here's the scoop on the salad. By the way, does anyone else have a problem with calling a non-lettuce dish a salad? Whateves.

You'll need:

1 bag of whole cranberries
1 orange with the peel
1 orange without the peel
1 cup of chopped pecans
1 cup of crushed pineapple with juice
2 cups sugar
1 lg. package of strawberry jello
1 lg. package of lemon jello

Place cranberries and oranges into food processor and finely chop. You can also put in the pecans, if you like a finer consistency, but you don't want pecan powder, you know.

On your stove top, bring 4 cups of water to a  boil. Add Jello and sugar and stir until dissolved. Once dissolved, remove from heat. Add your just processed fruit, pecans, and crushed pineapple; mix well. Pour into a 9 x 13 glass dish and refrigerate until set; 3-4 hours.

Serve with whipped cream...but we like the cool whip around here. Or, at least I do and so that is all I buy.  Ohmygosh, I cannot WAIT to eat some pumpkin pie with cool whip! Ever tried the french vanilla on pumpkin pie? How about Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake? Do try.

As for the recipe, if it doesn't knock your socks off, I don't know what will.

Should we get the sweet stuff out of the way? I think yes. Next up, my special sweet potato casserole, that everyone loves (even if they claim to hate sweet potatoes!). Everyone likes sweet potatoes if you add enough sugar and butter, you know.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Make It on the Weekend. Or....Right Now.

On July 13, 2009 I posted about Simple Biscuits and Gravy, found here. I probably haven't made them since.

But, on Saturday morning, I was feeling saucier than usual, and by that I mean I was willing to serve something other than cold cereal or pre-packaged oatmeal, so I shocked indulged my family by making it again.
And, it was so good. And I could tell that they maybe felt more loved than usual, especially Travis. The old saying that a way to a man's heart is through food is so true.

So I am declaring that anyone who reads this blog and loves their family, or just yourself, should make this very recipe this weekend whenever the whole family (or just yourself) is home. Or, get all crazy and make it for dinner.

I think I am going to make it for lunch today.


The Cranberry Jello Salad is coming your way...just waiting for my mom to send it to me via e-mail. C'mon Mom!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Just a Food Blog?


When Travis decided to run for office, I decided to let my blog go. Mostly because sometimes I ramble and sometimes I don't, but between politics and religion, which I totally think people should be able to discuss openly with no apologies expected, sometimes my mouth (or my type) gets me in trouble. And we're talking mostly politics here or how I may have sort of kind-of let my kids watch the same movie for, like, the whole day one time. Just one time! But still...

So I started just posting recipes with a little of our life thrown in from time to time. But now I'm free again to do what I want...and apparently I'm married to the chief law enforcement agent around these parts, so what is anyone going to do about it anyway??! :)

But, recipes are just fun, right? And it seems as if I am over the sick-all-day stuff that comes along with being prego. So I think the recipes should stay. But, I'm dying to tell someone about the craziness of being a first-time home buyer with four kids. You don't exactly qualify for "starter home" you know? To tell the story of how deranged our then-mechanic is and how our lonely little Durango is still at his residence after 8 months and how we've paid him 1,000 buckaroos and I'm pretty sure pieces of it might be strewn through-out Southern Indiana and what Travis has vowed to do to this man if only we could get ahold of him. It's a perfectly good drama, still unfolding I might add. Oh, and the ginormous on-going fight Travis and I are in over a Nintendo Wii.

Tell me, who is not interested in that?

And for the food. Tonight we had pancakes and bacon. It was awesome and easy and now if someone would only un-load the dishwasher and feed me Christmas Tree Cakes at this very moment, I would be happy for the rest of my life. Because you know, Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes are now available on the shelves of your local grocery and I already bought two boxes.

Oh! The picture above. It's almost Thanksgiving. I'm going to be talking about the marvelous sides. The real stars of Thanksgiving, in my opinion anyway. Stuffing. Mashed Potatoes with a secret ingredient. Green-Bean Casserole. Sweet Potato Casserole. The list goes on, but I am going to start with that blurry little red rectangular box you see above the words you are reading. It's the only exsisting photo we have of it because as soon as it is ready, it is devoured. By me. I ate almost a whole 9 x 13 of it last year. I can't wait to see what happens this year since I'm eating for two.

Cranberry Jello Salad is all I have to say. It's the most delicious divine thing I have ever eaten in my entire life, it's a family recipe that my Grandmother has passed down, AND it beats the socks off plain old cranberry sauce.

Stay Tuned.

Friday, November 5, 2010

POTATO SOUP!

My bestie down in Florida sent me this recipe after I sent out a call for good potato soup recipes. Besides burning it on the bottom and thinking I had bacon in the refrigerator and really didn't, this one turned out really really good.

I'll give you what she gave me, but I would make some slight changes. We'll discuss after...

4  baking potatoes
2/3 c all-purpose flour
6 cups 2% milk
1 cup extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup chopped green onions, divided
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled


1. Preheat to 400 degrees

2. Pierce potatoes with a fork; bake at 400 for 1 hour or until tender. Cool. Peel potatoes; coarsely mash. Discard skins.

3. Place flour in stock pot; gradually add milk; stirring with a whisk (or fork) until blended. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Add potatoes, cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir well until cheese melts; then remove from heat.
4. Stir in sour cream and 1/2 cup onions. Cook over low heat 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated (do not boil). Sprinkle each serving with cheese, onions, and bacon.

8 servings

Okay, so that is the original, but here's what I did/will do differently next time. By the way, the sour cream in this soup is amazing. Sour cream is currently on my favorites list, I even use it as a dip tortilla chips. So anyway, you need more potatoes. I used 5, I think next time I will use 7 or 8 and I will not mash them. I like chunky potato soup and this just wasn't chunky enough for me, so I will cube them after the skins come off, you know, after baking.

Next, I added 2 Tablespoons of butter and it was just delish. Every soup needs just a little butter, don't you think? I just plopped it in the soup after it was done, but you could whisk it in with your flour and milk at the beginning. Yum.

I found that I needed more milk. It became a little to thick for my liking (re-visiting gravy-like potato soup), so I just added more milk and stirred it in to my desired consistency.

Of course, bacon makes everything better and I will make sure I have some next time. Enjoy, and let me know what you think of it if you try it!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

All The Hardwork Paid Off.


...and we pulled out the win!

Travis assumes his new role of elected prosecuting attorney on January 1. Not only did Travis win, but we have a new Assessor, a new Auditor, a new Clerk, a new County Councilman, a new township trustee, a new advisory board member, a new state senator for district 49 and hopefully a new state rep for 76. It was an amazing night for the Pubs in Posey County.


Thank you for all the support and help we received from our family, friends, and supporters. We could not have done it without you!

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Easiest Meal I Ever Made.


The title is true, this meal was uber-easy. And can we talk about that for a second? I am in my late twenties and still don't really know what "uber" means exactly. I mean, I get the just of it and all, but where the heck did it come from and when did people start using it as a phase exactly??

Sorry. I have always been a little mystified by that prefix and I just found myself using it. Anyway, this meal is uber-easy :) to make and my kids actually ate it with no complaints which makes for an easier night for everyone. Am I right, or what?

Also, it has sour cream in it, which makes for another reason that sour cream freakin' rocks. But, who knew that pasta sauce and sour cream are a match? Certainly not me, which is maybe why I am such a novice in the kitchen, but it kind of blew my mind and made perfect sense all at the same time.

So here it is, the easiest meal I ever made. Thanks, Lavender, for the recipe. I heart you.

1 lb. ground beef
8 oz. sour cream
12 oz. pasta sauce (Ever tried Newman' Own? It's good for jar sauce.)
1 lb. rigatoni
salt and pepper
minced garlic
Italian seasoning
shredded mmozzarella cheese..however much you like

Cook pasta until al dente. Meanwhile, brown your ground beef along with a little minced garlic, plenty of salt and pepper, and a little Italian seasoning. Now, I don't really like the taste of Italian seasoning, and you might, but just remember that a little goes a long way.

Once you brown the meat, drain it and dump it into a bowl along with the sour cream, pasta sauce, and some mozzarella cheese. Mix well and dump the drained pasta into the bowl. Toss/stir until pasta is covered with sauce mixture and everything is all snug mixed in together.

Pour this mixture into a 9 x 13 glass baking dish and cover the top with more cheese. I sprinkle just a little parsley over the top for color, plus it makes me look just a tad gourmet, you know? Pop in the oven at 350 for 25 minutes or until heated through and cheese is golden and bubbly on top.



Okay. Anytime I leave a little butter laying out on the counter, I find that someone tried to eat it. In the case above, they just grazed their teeth along the edge. But sometimes, I will see softened butter all over a certain 2-year-old's mouth and hands and rubbed in his hair. I am going to assume this is normal. But, it's normal, right?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chicken and Dumplings, Baby.

My good friend Jamie gave me this recipe back in the Spring and it will make you die on the spot. I won't lie, I think it was better when she made it and brought it to work to share. You know, the whole I-didn't-cook-it-so-it-tastes-better kind of thing.

It is a perfect "cool weather" kind of meal, which is really why I shouldn't make it for dinner tonight because the high today is eighty-freaking three. Now my bestie down in Florida says, "Don't complain...when it is freezing to death up there you'll be glad you had an extra 80 degree day"...but yeah right. First of all, she doesn't have the luxury of switching out summer clothes for fall/winter clothes every season and she doesn't even have to wear a winter coat if she doesn't want to and can go to the beach in December because Florida is Heavenly like that. So, whateves.

I am rebelling against the 80 degree day and making this for dinner, anyway. Maybe I will turn the thermostat down to 60 and wear a sweatsuit. When the weather starts messing with you, you get all crazy like that.

Anyway, here's the recipe..

Chicken, I have used a whole chicken and also shredded chicken breast. Use however much you want (for a family of 4 I would use 3 breasts)
4 C. flour
2 eggs
1/2 stick butter
salt & pepper, to taste
2 T. Chicken Bouillon Powder

Okay, so these directions that my friend wrote down are kind of confusing the first time you make it. Bear with me.

First you need to decide how much water you want. Obviously, enough to cover the chicken in the pot, but you'll have to decide if you want a thick chicken and dumplings kind of meal or a soupy one. I like it on the thicker side, so I usually do about 4 cups of water to start with. And remember, you'll have to remove 2 cups of water to make the dumplings. Also, you can always add more later if you decide you need it.

Boil chicken in water until done. Remove chicken, but keep the water and add the Bouillon and let boil on low. Add butter to water until melted and then remove 2 cups of the seasoned water. Shred or cut up the chicken and place back into pot and mix well. Keep chicken at a low boil.

Add this 2 cups of seasoned water to the 4 cups of flour along with the 2 eggs and mix well. This is going to be your dumplings. If it seems to thick, just add more water.

Knead the flour and roll out on table. Cut into strips with a pizza dough cutter (or a knife) and drop dough into pot (with the chicken and seasoned water). Make sure it is still  boiling before you drop your dough.

Let cook on Med-Low, then sprinkle salt and pepper over top before serving.     

Yum. Yum. Yum. Yum. Yum.

Now, let's talk about this election.

We have just 8 measly days until D-Day. Here's a few facts....

Travis has A LOT of support from both parties. Obviously, all the Elephants are thrilled that he is running and, like I said, a lot of the donkeys, too.

We went through over 500 signs (that most people asked to have...others we asked if we could put them out), a billboard with his pretty little mug, a ginormous postcard that got mailed to 8,000 homes in Posey County (with all our pretty little mugs), over 10,000 brochures with all his information that went out to 4,000 homes that Travis personally walked to. 200 lucky ducks have a Travis Clowers t-shirt, and we see them frequently around town. A bazillion dinners and events were attended and we rubbed shoulders with the best of them...and by this I just mean we met a lot of nice people and ate a lot of pork chops. We attended private events, fundraisers, ect for our fellow candidates. Festivals, parades, and booths were the highlight of the summer and early fall months. Travis has had the opportunity for a few speaking engagements and had a few spots in the local papers.

We're tired.

A judge told Travis that when it came to the end he wouldn't care if he won or lost, he would just be glad it's over.

We care, but yeah. I totally get that.

So, if you would, say a few prayers. Ones of peace and humbleness. Because when it comes down to it, if the Lord has this plan for Travis, then he will win. If not, he won't and something else is in store.

Ya know? I'll let you know...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

How Not to Forget Someone Important.

Today is my mother-in-law's birthday. She is the epitome of everything most women want to be. Here's a running list:

Super in-shape..has lots of energy and is usually running every morning or doing like the hardest workout videos ever.

Very beautiful..always looks great whenever she goes out and makes sweats look super cute

Stylish...I just wish I could look good in half the stuff she wears!

Intelligent..is always researching stuff, especially about nutrition

Funny...she is almost always in a good mood and likes to have a good laugh

Thoughtful: she never misses anyone's birthday and calls just to see if you are feeling okay AND buys you ginger candy that MIGHT ease morning sickness..it didn't but was really nice anyway.

Awesome cook...Travis reminds me of this often and I usually call her if I have any question OR if I need a substitute for something.

Nice to everyone...she rarely says anything negative and always has an excuse for maybe why someone was being ugly.

Goes out of her way to serve others...she regularly will visit people at nursing homes or helps with dinners for families in need. She is the first one to donate time and money. Not to mention all the work she has helped with for the campaign.

Spiritual Powerhouse...she is rock-solid in her faith and it shows in her character.

Is a great mom..and even better mom-in-law....calling to make sure everyone is doing okay and frequently taking her kids on lunch dates

Always there when someone needs her...we've had to call at the last minute (like when Jackson broke his arm) and she comes right over to help in anyway that is needed. She has been there for each one of her grandkids' births (she has 7 and came even when we lived in Florida) and is ready to help out with laundry, cleaning, taking care of siblings, errands, ect after the baby comes home.

Hard worker: her and her friend clean houses and a few businesses every week....and then comes home and cleans her own house!

She is an awesome Nana...she takes the kids to the park or plays with them outside...the best babysitter!

She can sew, can food, make anything, crafty kind of girl...I am way jealous of this.

And for the worst part: After a day of running around doing campaigning/soccer and football games/ yelling at the kids to be quiet so you can take a nap/ another campaign event in the evening/ and corraling crazy children....we didn't remember today was her birthday until about 7 pm.

We are totally undeserving of someone so special. And we're really sorry. I hope she doesn't think were total losers, because that is exactly how Travis and I both feel.

I know it doesn't really make up for it now, but...

Happy Birthday! We love you and are so happy you are our Mom/Mom-in-Law/Nana!

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Call to Arms. Soup Arms.


Okay, seriously....I've been looking for a fantastic potato soup recipe for my whole adult life.

We can all make good potato soup, but I want to make potato soup that tastes like Logan's Roadhouse Potato Soup or even better. Is that too much to ask?

One time I tried to make potato soup and somehow it ended up tasting like gravy. Gravy. Which completely wrecked my husband's confidence in me whipping up fabulous potato soup which he doesn't really even like anyway.

So I am asking, begging, pleading....if you have a *fantastic* potato soup recipe that just sends you over the moon every time you eat it...please have mercy on me and send it my way. Oh, and I don't like soup that uses condensed cheese soup or cream of chicken or whatever, so if that is what you got, just keep it and I'll try it sometime at your house.

Also, if you can replicate Outback's Queensland Chicken Salad, we need to talk. And if you haven't had that? Go to Outback tonight. Other than that, have a good weekend!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chew on This.

Another post about how much I'm lacking? Yeah.

Let's start with dinner first, since this is supposed to be my foodie/recipe blog. Dinner has pretty much went like this: grilled cheese & soup/ McDonald's/ Subway/ a crockpot meal I've already posted about/ no-frills spaghetti/ pizza/ in-laws or someone else invited us over or took pity on us/ sandwiches.

Some of it's because I can't stand food. Some of it's because maybe my kitchen was dirty, and some of it is because Holy Crap, where did the day go?! So I should apologize to anyone who might look to this blog for actual recipes or dinner ideas. Sorry.

Second: I had parent-teacher conference and my kid is behind in reading. READING. My favorite thing/the most important thing and my kid is behind. The plus side: The teacher says that most boys his age are at the same level which really makes him average. But, still. It is such a chore because he hates it (apparently also common for his age group) so instead of fighting with him we just do one easy peasy story and we're done for the day. So...here's to becoming a book-nazi. And for praises? He is rockin' in math.

Third: house cleaning/laundry. I have taken pride in the fact that most times my house is spotless or barely cluttered with things like toys. Now, I can visibly wipe dust with my finger off of pretty much everything and Brycers wrote on our couch with a pen two weeks ago and it's still there. A knob fell off our entertainment center I-don't-know how long ago and I had a child lock on that particular cabinet because it is where we keep the movies....well, the cabinet is now a mass of jumbled up movie cases and loose DVDs which spells out D-I-S-A-T-E-R. And let's talk about the laundry...I had a pile of clean clothes lay on the floor beside the dryer for 3 days because I didn't want to fold them and put them away. My husband is ready to file for divorce. Well, not really, because let's face it: when you have 3.5 kids and a TON of student loan debt, you can't just...leave. Know what I mean? :)

So moral of the story: Don't get pregnant when you have 3 kids in various activities AND are the campaign manager of a very serious election.

Seriously.

Next time, let's talk about this election.

And if you really want an idea for dinner....have you had tacos recently?? Like regular hard shell tacos? We use regular ground beef with taco seasoning for filling, but I also make black beans and if I'm feeling fancy some Mexican rice, too. So we fill the tacos up with all the above plus our lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes and of course sour cream. Simple goodness. I love taco night.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Red Beans and Rice

Why yes. That is a huge butt in the background. Classy.


I didn't grow up on beans. My mom fixed beans maybe a couple times of year, you know the white ones with ham and cornbread. Delish. But, I didn't have them all the time. A wasted childhood.

I know I've said this before, but I really love beans. We eat them a lot around here because they are healthy, cheap, and easy. Did I mention cheap? And healthy? and easy? It's a win-win.

One of my besties introduced me to red beans and rice a few years ago, and I am supposing this was a regular for her family because she is a Southern Girl. And from my time living in the South--Southern Girls know how to eat. (and by that I do not mean she is obese, she is just no stranger to cabbage, beans, okra, bacon, ect. pretty much everything that is smiled on by God.)

My first introduction to red beans and rice actually came to me in a song lyric. "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix Alot. (...and if you are any one of my friends from high school, I know you are dying right now. Maybe from embarrassment...have you watched our prom video lately?)

"Red beans and rice didn't miss her...baby got back" (L.A. face with an Oakland Booty).

So maybe my first inclination was that I was not going to eat red beans and rice because heavy people eat red beans and rice and I don't want to get heavy. I know that is shallow, but come on, I was 16.

And I was so wrong...because red beans and rice is seriously like the best food on the planet. Manna from heaven....wrong kind of analogy, but it is good either way. My middle child even asked for it for his birthday dinner one year and he had the choice OF ANYTHING.

So, you be the judge. And google the video to 'Baby Got Back' while your at it.

1 lb. dried dark red beans
1 lb. smoked sausage links
1 onion, chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper
white rice

Put all ingredients in crock pot (except the rice) and put in enough water to cover the beans. You have to watch them though and maybe add a couple cups of water half-way through. Cover crock pot, turn on high and let cook for 6-8 hours.

When ready to eat, just boil white rice. Serve beans and sausage over white rice. You can add a green vegetable if you wish, but it really is enough by itself. Sometimes, if I am feeling all domestic-y I will make home-made skillet cornbread, but usually I just stick with Jiffy.

Also, you should know...my 2 year old destroyed a library book yesterday. Destroyed it beyond repair and I was left once again wondering what was going on in that little two-year-old head of his. Just exactly what was he thinking? If anyone can actually answer that, we need to talk. Luckily, half.com is hooking me up with a new copy for $1.96. Now I just have to convince the library ladies, who I am pretty sure are supporters of Travis, that my family does not consist of heathens. Think they'll believe me? And do you think they'll still vote for Travis if they don't?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Random Sampler

Can I just tell you about the weird-ness this pregnancy has induced already? First of all, I take great pleasure in eating chocolate. Now this all started when I was pregnant with Triston 6.5-7 years ago, because before that time I didn't really like chocolate. And then suddenly, I couldn't get enough of it. Chocolate ice cream, chocolate syrup (on everything), and chocolate candy bars, which I quickly decided Almond Joy was my favorite.  I discovered I had an infinity for dark chocolate and I started drinking chocolate milk everyday, especially when I was nursing babies. I even started stashing chocolate chips in the freezer and pulling them out when I needed a quick fix or to make chocolate chip pancakes with.

This season of chocolate love has lasted for the last 7 years. I think it may have been at it's height within the last 9 months, when my subconscious consciously alerted me to when it was time to get the fix. And then, as quickly as it started...it just vanished.

One of the first symptoms of this pregnancy was that a single Hershey's kiss gave me incredible heartburn. And then I made a glass of chocolate milk and nearly spit it out--not good. I haven't had one single craving for chocolate in the last 11 weeks, and when I have eaten it just because it was there, there was no satisfaction in it. This is pure madness, my friends.

So what have I been craving?

Apples. Apple Sauce. Apple Juice. Chips. ...and the best: Chinese Food, which is really the worst because we don't have any good take-out places for 20 miles.

Okay, aside from the cravings. I'd like to also tell you about our new friend: A ghost.

Seriously, there is a ghost in our house. And usually I would be peeing my pants and making my husband move me somewhere new, but it's not scary. Isn't that weird, though? That I'm not even scared?

Just right now, as I was typing I thought Jackson had woken up from his nap because I thought he walked down the hall to go to the bathroom because you know, I heard footsteps. But, I checked and he was soundly snoozing. Yesterday during nap time it sounded as if someone ran down the stairs leading to the basement and the other day during nap time the creaking sound of a door swinging back and forth caught my attention...except I couldn't find a single door that was unlatched that could have been making that noise.

And then there are all the other weird noises we hear including my sister-in-law that heard a man's voice whisper loudly behind her.

Okay...now I'm spooked. But what can you do. I'm just hoping it's friendly, and you know what? I don't even care. I'm too tired and busy to care about it anyway, so...GHOST--we'll deal with you after the election.

In other news, we have a kid-free weekend! It's filled with campaign hub--bub, but in between knocking on doors and strategy, we might be able to fit dinner and a movie. I'm stoked. And you betcha sweet behind we're going to Yen Ching. Or Johnny Jang. Have a pleasent weekend!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Slowcooker Sausage and Bean Soup

Isn't this scene beautiful?! I so wish I were there.

So I have this cookbook that I bought last year called, "Family Feasts for $75 a Week" by Mary Ostyn. I've only used a few of the recipes, but they are pretty decent. And she gives lots of money saving tips, which is awesome.

I tried a recipe tonight that I have been eyeing for some time. It turned out good. A really comfortable soup for a chilly day. (or a busy day!)

1 lb. dried white beans
14 oz. can crushed tomatoes or 2 c. fresh cut tomatoes (I used fresh)
1 T. salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. dried sage
2 T. olive oil
1 lb. smoked sausage links, cut into discs
8 c. water

Put all ingredients into crock pot and stir well, mixing everything up. Turn on HIGH and leave alone for 6-8 hours.

That's all!

Next time I think I will add some spinach leaves and serve with cornbread.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Icky Lickies


It was the weirdest thing. I found myself eating the above sucker (only in Strawberry) with a real-life scorpion inside. I bought three of these babies at the Fall Festival today to surprise my little bug lovers.

Triston asked me to try his and it was just so good that I ate half of it. Seriously, the best strawberry flavored sucker I've ever had. I came thisclose to chewing off the scorpions right pincher, then realized what I was doing...

...seriously.

If you haven't gone to the Fall Festival in Evansville, IN you are missing out. One's life just cannot be complete until you've had some of the amazing food like....

...any kind of deep-fried food imaginable, like fried twinkies, snickers, pickles, oreos, cookie dough, butter, cheesecake, ect...

......any kind of sandwich you can imagine including a brain sandwich and testicles. Yuck.....

...apple dumplings, tons of soups, drinks, ice creams, baked goods, monster ears, chicken dumplings, crab rangoons, ect. ect. ect.....

West Side Nut Club Fall Festival runs from Oct. 4 - Oct. 9

If you are close...definitely go!




Friday, October 1, 2010

My Favorite Time of Year...

 Hello, October!

Can we talk about something for a second? My mom painted or replaced all of her decorative orange pumpkins with silver, aqua, green, and white. There is a level of madness to this, I think. I like to see giant orange pumpkins all over the place in October. They can be fake, but they've got to be orange. And maybe white ones are okay, too. Anyway, I am baffled by this.

I am happy to report that the morning sickness is waning. I can look at recipes and cook without gagging. Hooray! This comes just in time for the best time of year to cook.

I'm not happy to report that our computer crashed and we had to get our tower re-vamped (pun intended, it is Halloween season). So my camera software is no longer on my computer and I haven't had time to try to figure it out. Maybe I can download it from Kodak? So for now, I'm going to have to use generic pictures.

And now for the best part: In honor of my favorite month, I am going to be cooking up all kinds of good food. I'm starting with my Sticky Pumpkin Buns, which I first posted around this time last year. In spite of how delicious they are and how beautiful they look, they are really very easy to make.

I've also got some great crock-pot recipes planned. You can't beat the crock-pot, right? In fact, I am making one tonight that will be perfect for our 65 degree evening.

And in the meantime, I am getting out my Halloween decor and making costume plans for a mummy, scarecrow, and army guy. Plus, finalizing plans for our annual "Fall Party", which just happens to be a few days before the election this year and we're all going mad. Especially by then.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

We interrupt this [not so] regularly scheduled food blog...

...to talk about something that has been on my mind today.

First, any other moms out there feeling like everybody needs something from you ALL THE TIME?  Sometimes at the end of the day, I feel like there is nothing left. Seriously, kids are draining.
(I know, have another! Feeling uneasy about this now.)
Second, my second born was a total monster today. I canceled soccer practice for him because he was so bad. And by bad, I mean he was throwing food on the floor at dinner and refused to pick it up until I physically made him all the while he was laughing hysterically...until I popped him on the bottom. That is just one example, it would take days to list on the shenanigans he was up to today.

Third, in the midst of playing my metaphorical violin, my third born brings me one of my favorite pairs of shoes that someone (and I am suspecting number 2) broke. Ripped the strap right off of one side. And of course no one is talking.

So everybody had to go to bed at 5:56 p.m. I am going to finish the kitchen, finish the laundry, pick up all the crap that is strewn about, and eat a giant bowl of plain salted popcorn all by myself.

Heaven, help.

In the meantime, I added this to my recipes list. Looks perfect for fall!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ready, Set, Chili Season!

photo from here

 I am sorry to say I am still lurching whenever I pull up my food blog. All my foodie magazines are lying un-opened on the counter and I'm still making my family eat turkey sandwiches for dinner most nights. Oh, and I did eat almost a whole bag of chips with french onion dip by myself. It was awesome, because if you know me, you know I don't really indulge in such things. My husband was mortified and I had killer heartburn later. Whoever had heartburn at only 8 weeks? I thought there might be twins swimming around in there, but it was confirmed on Monday that there is only one. A girl-type one??

But, I did make chili last night which I thought was a pretty big feat. And although I could  only eat a couple bites along with a whole sleeve of saltines, it was pretty good. I only have a few more weeks to go before the sickness {hopefully} starts to fade.

You'll have to forgive me for lack of photos. Our computer crashed and I haven't gotten the Kodak stuff installed yet on our new one. But, since chili season is right around the corner, I'll give you my go-to recipe for it...

We like thick, chunky chili with no pasta. The great thing about chili is that there is a million variations. My mom always puts little macaroni noodles in hers and I've always hated it, we like a most basic recipe. And, it's good, so no need to change it. I do make a black-bean chili, too. I've posted that recipe before.

1 pound hamburger
1 onion, chopped
chili powder, to taste
salt and pepper
2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes, UN-DRAINED
2 14 oz. cans dark red kidney beans, drained
red pepper flakes, to taste

Cook the hamburger and onion over medium heat until the hamburger is browned and onions become translucent. While cooking, season with chili powder, salt and pepper. I really like a lot of chili powder and sometimes use a quarter of a shaker, but use however much you want...but, just so you know, I always get really great compliments on my chili, so you might want to use the same amount I do...just saying...anyway, drain the meat and onions, set aside.

Pour the cans of un-drained tomatoes and drained beans into a stockpot on high heat. Add the meat and onions and mix well, letting the chili come to a boil. I boil for a little while and turn off the stove, cover with lid and just let sit until ready to serve.

We serve our chili with either cheese and crackers, crumbled tortilla chips or Fritos corn chips with shredded cheese and sour cream, or plain with a peanut butter sandwich. My favorite is the crumbled up chips, cheese and sour cream.

Oh, yum. Now I'm hungry. Think I can make it?? I doubt it.

In case you are trying to vote for me for the Food Blog Contest...I have no idea where I am, either! I cannot find my profile, which makes me think I did something wrong when submitting my first entry and got automatically counted out. Thanks for trying, though, and hopefully you'll find some yummy recipes on the foodbuzz website, anyway!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Project Food Blog #1: Why I Am The Next Food Blog Star.

I have to cook, everyday. I chose this, along with 25 million other things, as my day job when I took the role of "stay-at-home-mom". I am responsible for the nourishment of my three little children for a couple of reasons. First, if it were up to them they would eat candy bars and popcorn for each meal. We actually like our kids and want them to grow up into healthy adults, so this doesn't work for us. Second, my husband is a busy one. Not that he doesn't spend time with us or ever do any chores around the house, because he does. (But currently, because he is running a campaign to become our next prosecutor, he is BUSY and I am in single parent mode.) But, if the meals were up to him, they would most definitely consist of steak and potatoes every night of the week. Also, not an option.

So it's up to me. I love to cook. I love to be in the kitchen. I love making yummy treats and savory sides that my kids lap up. But, I'm not going to lie. I don't love it every day and most of the savory sides get the thumbs down anyway.

I read several foodie blogs and foodie magazines. I'm constantly looking for new recipes or ideas to try. This is NOT why I am the next food blog star, but there is a connection here. I often find myself looking at recipes that I cannot pronounce or ingredients I have never seen on the shelves of my local grocery. Sure, the meals look amazing (sometimes) and the technique of some of the recipes is something that can only be perfected by the most skilled cook (not always), but who has time for any of that?!

I noted that I am "the everyday cook". That is what I am and THAT is why I am the next food blog star. I didn't go to culinary school. I can't make souffle from scratch (without the recipe, of course). I haven't traveled to Tahiti to dine on their local fare while sipping wine under a veranda looking out over the ocean. I cook for my family because I have to and while I'm at it I'm determined to make good, healthy, fun meals.   Meals that you can make in under an hour and require only ingredients that you will find in any grocery store. I want to specialize on my blog, recipes, reviews, techniques, suggestions, ect. that anyone would find appetizing, easy, and if they find they are hard-pressed for time, they can still make a family dinner and have time to sit around the table. Because, really, that is what it is all about. Right?

**Voting starts tomorrow, September 20th! There will be a link for you to click on to take you to voting.You will need to register with foodbuzz.com to vote. (I KNOW.) Remember, each time you vote for me, be sure to leave me a comment telling me you did so. If I win the grand prize, you will be eligible to win $1,000!

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