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.

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