Saturday, October 15, 2011

Crockpot applesauce

Have you ever had a billion apples but you weren't sure what to do with all of 'em?! Well, let me help with at least a dozen of them. =]

You can use pretty much whatever kind of apple you like or even various kinds of apples. You want to peel and core them, I would start with 10 - you may need more depending on the size of your crockpot.

After they are peeled and cored, throw them into your crockpot to fill it up. Add about 1/4 c. of water, some cinnamon and apple pie spice (if you'd like), cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Take off lid, use hand-help masher or whisk to break it up. Viola! All done. You can can it in a water bath or just eat it, we just eat it. It goes too fast to can it in my house. =]

Oh no!!!

My mom and my aunt have both found my blog. This means I have to stop saying all the really mean things I say! haha... Just kidding!!! Welcome aboard, ya'll! Maybe now I will remember to write great things! =]

Monday, September 26, 2011

Perfect pan-fried green beans

Yep. I did it again. Mental checkout from the blog. I think about blogging all the time, I just don't actually do it! ha. No excuses... it just is what it is.

I had a gazillion green beans, literally. Okay, it was just a bushel, but that's like 40 lbs of green beans! With the help of my dear friend, I was able to can 40 pints of green beans with a whole lot left over to pass along to friends.

I had about a pound and a half sitting in my fridge that I HAD to make today, so I did. I kept thinking about green beans my aunt used to make with bacon, bacon fat/lard, onions, and the beans.. well, that sort of think won't work for me anymore, too much fat. So, I was trying to make it with less fat, but not less flavor.

Here's what I did...

1 Tbs. butter
1/2 onion, diced
1 1/2 lbs. fresh green beans, snapped to your likeness
garlic powder
salt and pepper
drizzle of olive oil

In a large saute pan, over medium-high, melt your butter and then toss in the onions. Let the onions get a little brown and then toss in the green beans. Stir it all together so the butter coats the beans and the onions get all mixed in. Then, add the garlic powder, salt, and pepper and cover for about 5 minutes. Remove the cover and stir the beans every couple of minutes until your desired doneness and "burnness" is achieved. It took about 15 minutes for mine. Finally, add a drizzle of olive oil, stir, and recover until ready to serve.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mexican Fiesta!

One of my all-time greatest joys in this world (other than Jesus)(Oh, and other than my son)(And my family)(And the family Christ has given me)(You get the picture) is cooking for other people. It makes me happy all the way down to my toenails! Today I get to cook for another family, which means I am completely in my element. The boy is gone to work, I'm in the kitchen with the radio blaring some old school R&B... Right this second it's some Rachelle Ferrell and Will Downing... OH! Love.

Since I love Mexican food and I want everyone to love it as much as I do, that's the theme I choose. Here's is what's on today's menu.

Black bean and Mango Salad, Black beans with cilantro basmati rice, carne asada tacos.
Black bean and Mango Salad (I don't remember where I originally saw this-been making it for years now):
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups diced frozen mango, thawed
1 red pepper, diced
6 green onions, sliced
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
1/4 c fresh lime juice
1 T olive oil
1 seeded jalapeno pepper, small dice

Add all ingredients into a bowl, toss lightly. Done.

Basmati rice:
Cook rice according to package directions for the amount you'd like. Toward the end, squeeze the juice from 1/2 lime and add some chopped cilantro and recover to let it finish cooking.

Black beans:
2 cans black beans (do NOT drain)
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 T cilantro, chopped
cumin, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste
salt, to taste
Squeeze of lime, optional but good! =]

Saute the onion until translucent, add garlic and cook for 1 minute or so. Add the beans and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Season with cilantro, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Squeeze a little lime juice and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Tada.
Note: I've made HUGE batches of this and let it cook for up to an hour, just make sure you're stirring it so it doesn't stick. The flavors just come together so well!

Carne Asada Tacos:
3-4 lbs. chuck roast
3 dried chile peppers, rehydrated (see note below)
1 small can diced, green chilies
1 onion, sliced
kosher salt
cayenne pepper
garlic powder
chili powder
hot sauce
flour tortillas, medium size
tomatoes, diced
shredded lettuce
shredded cheese

Season the roast with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder on both sides and plop it into your slow cooker on high. On top of the roast, add onions, rehydrated peppers, chile peppers, and hot sauce. Add water to cover the bottom third or so of the roast. Cover and cook for about 6 hrs. By this time, it should be ready to shred. Once shredded (use two forks to pull the meat apart--you can do it in the slow cooker or take it out to shred, discard large pieces of fat that you find), add it back to the slow cooker for about an hour. Assemble your tacos with the toppings you choose. I like the meat to be the star so I don't like to add too many other things. I add tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese.

Now, Mr. Do Right by Jade is playing. I love this song.

Oh, do you want to know how to rehydrate chili peppers? This is how I do it. I choose peppers that aren't broken and have a slight bendability (I'm not sure if that's really a word) to them. Cut the tops off, slice down the peppers to open and get all the seeds and veins out. Place the peppers in a pan thats been heating over medium heat to roast them for just a few minutes. Turn them a lot so they don't burn. Then, place them in a bowl of hot water for about 20 minutes. Slice and add to the slow cooker. FYI - taste the water they were soaked in, it should be a brownish color and if it doesn't taste bitter, use that as your water for the roast. If it's bitter, throw it away. You can always save it for something else too... maybe add some in for the rice water (what a great idea! I think I'll do that!). It's really packed with flavor and I'd hate to waste it if it can be used for something else!

And now I have some Isley Brothers playing... oh. I heart old school R&B!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Breakfast.... SURPRISE!

Such a simple recipe, but people ask for it all the time, so here she is. =] (By the way, this will feed lots of peeps, so adjust it to however many people you're trying to feed. It does keep well, so you could always have leftovers the next couple of days with no problem.)


12 eggs
1/2 c milk
1 bag O'brien potatoes (or fresh small diced potatoes, onions, and red peppers)
1 lb. breakfast sausage
salt & pepper
Shredded cheddar

I've made this a million ways. I'll explain the basics. Brown your breakfast sausage in a large skillet, breaking it up as you cook it. Once it's no longer pink, add the bag of frozen potatoes. You want to let the potatoes sit a little before you stir them and then let them sit again before you stir. You want to cook them very similar to how you would if there were no sausage in the pan. In the meantime, crack the eggs in a bowl, mix with milk and whisk to combine. Once the potatoes are cooked through and have turned a golden brown, pour the egg mixture over the sausage and potatoes. You should let it sit for a bit, but then keep an eye on it and stir it as needed. You want the eggs to set, but no brown. Once the eggs have set, add whatever seasonings you like and sprinkle with however little or much cheese that you prefer. Turn off the heat and cover until the cheese melts. Tada! That's it.

If you're using fresh potatoes, then you can boil them first so they are almost done, then add to the sausage. Also, if using fresh onions and peppers, add that in toward the end of the sausage cooking, then add potatoes and finish like the above directions.

To serve, you can just serve it by itself or with some warm tortillas or top it with some salsa and sour cream or with some toasted bagels or.... You get the picture. You can do anything you want with it. =]

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Isn't it just a little bit ironic how you can be unhappy yet full of joy at the same time? Well, that's how my entire weekend has been. I believe it's because joy and happiness, while often used interchangeably, are really two completely different things.

There are things that make me happy. A foo-foo coffee, a good book, a good movie, a night out with friends. But, joy... that's from within. It's something that makes up the person you are, the actions you take, the words you speak. I have joy even though I don't feel really happy right now. It's amazing.

This weekend started with a Friday off work so that I could just catch up on some rest. I hadn't been sleeping well and I just needed to sleep. I did. It was great. I found myself a bit lonely on Friday, but I knew what was coming the next day and it helped to keep my spirits in check.

Saturday morning I was host to a houseful of ladies for our church Ladies Ministry monthly meeting. You see, a few months ago, God was really talking to me, trying to explain why we needed a ladies ministry so badly. Don't get me wrong, I was in complete agreement. We did need one. However, the second part of God's talk with me was that He wanted ME to lead it! Uhm, I'm sorry, what? God -- I know You're all knowing and all that, but I think You might have this one a little mixed up. I spent a lot of time praying about it and then I eventually poured out my feelings in a letter to my pastor, which recently led to the development of our new ladies ministry! Obedience, right? Got it!

So, Saturday morning was wonderful to say the least. We ate and drank coffee, played a great get to know you game, drew names for prayer sisters, and, best of all, played the Yarn Game. Oh. Have you ever done this? I wish I knew where I first saw the idea, but I can't remember. Here are the basics:

Start with all the ladies sitting in a circle with one lady holding the end of a ball of yarn. The woman with the yarn will tell something about herself, it can be as or as little personal as she likes. Then anyone who has that in common raises their hand and the first woman passes the ball of yarn to one of the women who raised her hand. In some cases, there may be several women who raise their hand, just choose one. Then, whoever is holding the ball does the same thing, says something about herself, then passes the yarn. In the end, all the women are holding pieces of this yarn and we are all connected. We all have something in common. We're all provided to one another, by God, to be there for each other. Whew. I learned a lot of interesting things, but I saw a lot of hurt too. It was a great opportunity to pray for each woman sitting in my living room, one at a time. The verses I referenced were 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

Later that day, I was able to get my house put back together and even color my hair before I was off for a night with my friends. This was a little bittersweet since the night's been planned for a few weeks because we were planning a birthday celebration for my no-longer sweetie. However, instead of cancelling, I went anyway and I'm so glad I did. We had a wonderful time! We saw "The Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and I laughed, cried, got scared, and was mad throughout the movie. I liked it! Then, we had a great dinner at Union Jacks in Winchester. I love that place. It's like an English Pub smack in the middle of Northern VA! =]

On to Sunday, church. Oh, I love my church. I can't say that enough. I LOVE MY CHURCH! =] While at church, I was prepared to put all my hurt from the week aside and just worship God. I did pretty all right. When we sang Majesty, I may have lost it just a little bit. But I recovered quickly! But it was what happened when I was leaving church that allowed me to see just another way God loves me.

During church, I was given two envelopes. When I got to my car, okay, I was already driving down the road, and I opened the envelopes to see what was in them. The first was a card. This song was playing on the radio and I was right at the part that says "But You love me anyway. It's like nothing in life that I've ever known. Yes, You love me anyway. Oh, Lord, how You love me." So inside the card was written a very sweet message along with a small monetary gift to me with instructions to do something FOR ME with it. Really, God? So, now I have to pull over.

The second envelope. Sigh. I have to backtrack to yesterday for a minute... the ladies are going on a mini-retreat to see Beth Moore in Baltimore, MD. The cost is minimal, but when someone has very little disposable income, like me right now, every little bit counts. I wrote my check out, asked if it could be cashed after Thursday so I knew the funds would be available. It was no problem. So, back to the second envelope. Inside was my check with a note saying "Here is your check back because someone has sponsored you for the event."

Can someone please tell me why you WOULDN'T believe that God is in control of EVERYTHING!?

I've written a lot. I could write a lot more. My heart is full of JOY -- deep down, Holy Spirit JOY! And, I hope, if you're reading this, you can understand what that joy is all about. If you can't, let me know... I'll tell you all about my Jesus. =]

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Can ya feel me?

This has been a hard week. A really hard week.

My heart's been broken. Again.

The good news is that this heartbreak comes while I'm living my life with Jesus. Oh, what a comfort He is to me. I know that while my heart breaks, He holds me together. He is eager to mend me. He is in place to rock me to sleep and whisper promises that it'll be okay. He holds my hurt. I love Him. He is showing me a better way. He is protecting me. He is putting back the pieces even as I write this post.

I surrender.

"Creator only You take brokenness and create it into beauty once again" ~ Barlow Girl.

I knew this was a chance I was taking. Allowing my self to become vulnerable. Allowing myself to be a woman and not just mom. Allowing myself to trust. Allowing myself to feel.

It's not wasted. I've learned lessons. A lot of them actually. I've learned that there are men who know how to treat a woman like he should. I've learned that I'm not the best mom I could be. I've learned that loving someone with Jesus in the middle is a much better love than I ever could have expected. I've learned that not all men are a-holes, some just have issues. I have issues.

I will weave my way through this hurt with the most amazing Craftsman I could ever ask for. He will be my guide. Always.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Chicken Wings - bow chica wow wow style

I don't make fried chicken wings. Ever. Like, I have never made them before in my life. I don't fry chicken, or anything else for that matter. Imagine my conundrum today when I had a bag of chicken wings to be cooked and no oven to use (we had a small element fire last weekend and I haven't called the landlord yet!).

My son has been begging for fried chicken. I don't know why -- a teenager thing maybe? Who knows. Anyway, today was the day that I would try my hand at fried chicken. Here's how I did it.

I laid all the chicken pieces on a cookie sheet (after I washed 'em and made sure they were all pretty).

Here's the crazy part - remember that 3 Pepper Mustard that I talked about a few posts ago? Well, put some in a bowl and use your fingers to slather that all over the wings, crazy right?

Lay the wings back out and season with onion powder, seasoned salt, pepper, garlic powder, uhm... I think that was it. Oh, some ground cayenne pepper, too. And a weee weee bit of ground mustard.

Have some flour set aside either in a bag or bowl - I don't like to shake and especially when it's covered in mustard! So I just laid the pieces in the flour and covered them generously then dropped them into a hot saucepan with some vegetable oil. I don't have a deep fryer since I've never fried anything, so I had to do it a make shift sorta way. Saucepan filled halfway with oil will do the trick.

I wasn't entirely sure how to know when it was cooked enough, so it was really a guessing game for me, but those with more experience would probably have an easier time with this. I would say I cooked them for about 5 minutes, then flipped them for another 5 minutes until they were nice and brown.

The end product was a tangy, sweet, fried chicken wing. I didn't need anything to dip them in... I only had a couple, but they were really yummie and not bad for my first go. Even the son's girlfriend said I did good and she comes from a fried chicken family... she, of course, reminded me it wasn't as good as her mom's or memaw's but still a good first time! YaY! So, next time you're frying up some wings, try some mustard on them first! =]

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Here are some things I've realized over the last few weeks:
  • I haven't been blogging much.
  • I haven't been blogging because I found Pinterest.
  • I'm addicted to Pinterest.
  • I have a camera.
  • I don't use my camera.
  • I will begin using my camera - I have so many things to capture!
  • I began leading our Ladies Ministry. God is blessing me ABUNDANTLY through that ministry.
  • I've been cooking, of course, but nothing exciting to write about -- just the normal stuff.
  • I have finally -- FINALLY -- broken down and watched Harry Potter, which has also had me busy over the last few weeks. I am down to Part 2 of Deathly Hallows. I'll be seeing that in the next week or so.
  • I've been with and without a computer a lot in the past month -- also why I haven't been blogging.
  • I am immersed in several bible studies right now. This is GOOD!
  • I love my peeps and I've been spending a lot of time with them lately.
That's it. More to blog soon. =]

Monday, July 25, 2011

Love/Hate relationship with apples.

I know, of all things to love and hate, apples? Really? Yep. Now, don't get me wrong, I love to eat apples. I would eat a nice, juicy Fugi apple every day of my life if I could. The hate comes in when I read a recipe that says - 2 Gala apples, peeled, cored, and diced. UGH! I put off a recipe for TWO days because of that blasted line. Ugh, I don't know why I hate doing it, but I do and that's that.

HOWEVER - I do learn some things from TV, after all... it isn't just mindless energy. I was watching "The Next Food Network Star" this morning and one of the contestants was making a slaw with apple in it. Now, you may already know this trick and after I thought about it I was like... DUH! He peeled the apple and took it to a grater and shredded that bad boy right up... uhm, hello. Thank you, Food Network, for finally allowing me to make the Chicken-Apple Sausage I've been wanting to make for days. Thank you.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Egg Salad

I know, egg salad... boring, right? I made some for a work lunch today and I've had a few requests for "what's in that??" -- so here we go!

12 hard boiled eggs

Wait... I realize, this is going to be really difficult... I didn't measure a thing. Nothing. It's really about feel, texture, and taste. Okay, let's start again.

12 hard boiled eggs
mayo (not miracle whip)
Golden Harvest 3 Pepper Mustard (just a smidge)(by the way, this is SUPER yummie)
sweet relish
celery, small dice
onion, small dice
smoked paprika
chili powder
sea salt
fresh ground pepper
bacon (yes, I said bacon) =]

Once you get the eggs all hard boiled, peeled and cleaned up - this is what needs to happen, it's mucho importante... Put all the yolks in a large mixing bowl and put the whites aside. Now mash those yolks with a fork until it's really fine. It's not cute, at least not to me, to have huge pieces of yolk starin' back atcha! Next, dice the whites up fairly small... You want sizes to be consistent... so egg, onion, and celery should be fairly similar in size.

Mix in the whites with the yolks and add mayo--this is your first texture test. You want it to be creamy, but NOT runny. Then, add the sweet relish, onion, celery, and spices. At this point, you can choose to use or not use the 3 pepper mustard. I love it's zingy taste, but it can be overpowering for some people, so it really depends on what you like. I would taste it without it first and if you think it needs a little something, just add a teenie bit at a time.

Cover and put in the fridge for AT least an hour, or overnight if possible. I forgot the bacon, right?? Nooo... I would never forget that... You want to cook and crumble (small crumbles, remember what I said up there about consistent pieces?) about 6 slices of bacon and let it cool. You can also cheat and use Real Bacon bits, but it has to be REAL bacon... Add that just before you serve and viola! You have egg salad!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Oven BBQ Ribs!

Okay - so I've only ever done one kind of rib and I've only ever cooked them one way. Boneless country style ribs in the crockpot. Boring, I know.

Today - I was inspired by something, I don't know what, to try my hands at ribs. Real pork ribs. Ribs that make you want to suck the bones because they're so good. And I wanted mac and cheese. Strange. These are not foods I crave. Maybe I felt that since it was a holiday and I didn't have any plans, I should be doing something awesome. haha. I did it! Meat fell off the bones and I was suckin 'em tryin to get more!

Here's what I did:

Oven BBQ Ribs
3 1/2 lbs pork back ribs
1/2 c brown sugar
1 T smoked paprika
1 T garlic powder
some cayenne pepper
some sea salt
Hickory brown sugar BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Rays)

Preheat your oven to 300. Mix the sugar and spices to make a rub. Lay a sheet of heavy duty foil on a cookie sheet. Cut the back membrane off the ribs because that's just gross. If you don't know how to do this, you can just start on one end and then peel it back with your fingers. It's gross, but necessary.

Cover the ribs completely with the rub, then lay meat side down on the foil. Lay another sheet of foil on top and fold all the edges to seal in the meat. Pop it in the oven for about 2 1/2 - 3 hrs. Take them from the oven (turn the oven onto broil once you take them out), remove the foil and lay the ribs directly on the cookie sheet and slather the BBQ sauce on the bony side and put them back in the oven, under the broiler for about 3 minutes--keep an eye on them, you want them to look "crispy" but you don't want them to burn. Take them out, turn them over, slather more BBQ sauce and give them another 3 minutes under the broiler.

Cut them into serving sizes--I did two rib bones per serving--and enjoy!

Mac and Cheese
2 boxes Kraft Deluxe mac and cheese
1 small can evaporated milk
1 stick unsalted butter
4 oz shredded smoked gouda cheese
6 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
6 oz shredded jalapeno cheese
Seasoned salt and pepper

The first thing I have to say is this... now, please, pay attention - this is VERY important. =] SHRED YOUR OWN CHEESE. DO NOT BUY THE CHEESE THAT IS ALREADY SHREDDED. Okay, now that I got that out... let's move on.

Preheat oven to 350. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add noodles from the mac and cheese and set cheese packet aside. While they cook, SHRED that cheese. =] Cook noodles until they're al dente. You want NO mush on these noodles. You want them to remain firm. Drain.

In the same pot you cooked the noodles in add stick of butter, two cheese packets, and can of milk. Heat this over medium-low heat until it's all melty. Add a little of the shredded cheeses just for fun. Oh, by the way, you can use more cheese if you like, I make it according to my audience -- todays require less "cheesy" -- I'm not sure what's wrong with them.

Okay, once it's all melty, add the noodles back to the pan. Add the spices you like - I use seasoned salt and pepper. Mix well. Pour half of the cheesy noodles into a prepared (that means sprayed with non-stick stuff) baking dish. Add a layer of all cheeses, about half of the cheese you shredded. Then top with the remaining noodles. Top with remaining cheese and put it in the oven for about 25 minutes. You want it to be all melty, scrumptious, and just starting to brown on top.


Fourth of July!

It's the Fourth of July and I have no plans. I'm not sure how or why that is, but such is life. I did help a friend host a party over the weekend, which had a HUGE slip n slide for adults (that was great!!), so I guess I had some plans for this important celebration. We also had some yummy food! I will share one of the recipes, but it isn't mine... I borrowed or found it and was in such a rush that I didn't even have time to make it my own. (I feel like Simon Cowell or Randy Jackson every time I say that!)

Spinach and Strawberry Salad
  • 3/4 large bag of fresh spinach (You can adjust this according to how many mouths you're feeding)
  • 1 quart fresh strawberries, sliced (again, adjust your servings as needed)
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1/4 c white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar (the recipe called for 1/2 c, but I thought that was too much)
  • some paprika
  • 2 T sesame seeds
  • 1 T poppy seeds
I would suggest to NOT put this salad together ahead of time. I wanted until right before the meal to toss it all. The last thing I wanted was gross, mushy spinach!

In a large bowl, toss spinach and strawberries.

In a separate bowl, or in your Pampered Chef dressing mixer, mix the remaining ingredients and pour over salad. If you don't have a dressing mixer, get one. Really. I love it. =]

The other dish I made was simple grilled veggies in a foil packet. I know we've ALL done this before so it's nothing new and/or exciting. I used onions, tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash, mushrooms, and red peppers. To season them, I used olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Oh, and I used some minced garlic. Put some oil and rosemary on the foil, add the veggies, top with a little more oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Fold up the foil and cook until tender. Easy enough, right?

Happy Fourth of July!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Forty before 40

I've worked diligently crazily feverishly ... Okay, I've just worked on this. It's been a task at times and other times the ideas came faster than I could write. Some of the ideas made the list, some of them didn't. There were a lot of things I wanted to put on it, but I had to remember that what did make it to the list had to actually be attainable. For instance, while I would love a trip to Africa, it isn't reasonable right now. Also, while I would love to be married someday, this isn't that day. And, I would really like to go on a cruise, that will also, mostly likely, not happen. This is all okay with me. I'm only concerned about the things with which I have actual control and ability to make happen--and probably with a little help from the Great Man above, too.

So, with all the formalities out of the way, let's carry on with the actual list (anyone who loves me will hold be accountable, right? Right. Great!).

  1. Write the young man's journal. I've been working, not hard, for about a year and I'd really like to finish it.
  2. Spend a week with my mom.
  3. Spend some much needed girl time with Dana.
  4. Complete two Beth Moore studies.
  5. Commit to my blog. (I think I've been doing pretty all right lately!)(I will blog at least 5 times a month! - Thanks, darlin!)
  6. Learn to make soft pretzels!
  7. Take a cooking class.
  8. Teach a cooking class.
  9. Cater at least one event.
  10. Be financially wiser, with some help. =]
  11. Cook at least one meal a month for another family.
  12. Lose thirty twenty pounds.
  13. Commit to some sort of new exercise routine.(This isn't going so well! LOL)
  14. Go to the beach.
  15. Participate in at least ten training sessions, of some sort, for work.
  16. Master baking my own bread.
  17. Dance more--like really, really dance.
  18. Weekend trip with just me and the kidlet.
  19. This one is private. heh. (I stole this line from the woman who inspired this list-we all have something we want to keep private)
  20. Survive teaching the young man how to drive.
  21. Graduate the young man.
  22. Be a mentor to another young woman/single mom.
  23. Start a freakin' cool women's ministry at my freakin' cool fun church!
  24. Complete all forty things on my list.
  25. Make a kitchen wish list. Done 6/18...see it here
  26. Learn and master risotto.
  27. Learn one new elegant dish.
  28. Stick to a grocery budget.
  29. Acquire at least four things on my kitchen wish list. (Two down!)
  30. Subscribe to Food & Wine magazine.
  31. Start a garden.
  32. Perfect chocolate cake with icing, from scratch.
  33. Play more volleyball.
  34. Host a party.
  35. Love more.
  36. Become better with occasion and thank you cards.
  37. Quality time with Nicole at least once a month.
  38. Complete three wellness quarters at work.
  39. Go to Volt.
  40. Make tart cherry jam even if I have to take a day off work to do it.
By the way, it's important to note, this wasn't my creation. No, I'm not this wise! haha. A fellow blogger, and a woman I don't know, but love just the same, has this on her blog and, if I remember correctly, she got the idea from one of her friends. I recommend reading her blog--she's inspiring. I plan to do this every year for the rest of my life. =]

My kitchen wish list

Don't we all have a wish list. A list of things we want or need... or want and need. Or just want. These fall into a little want... a little need, but mostly, want. heh.
  • KitchenAid stand mixer
  • Cherry stoner
  • Microplane Zester
  • Trifle bowl
  • Tea box
  • Cake keeper and carrier (glass and plastic) (Walmart had a cute orange one for $2.50!)
  • 1 new chef's knife
  • At least 1 mesh strainer
  • Japanese mandolin
  • Thermometer
  • Citrus juicer
  • Baster
  • Knife sharpener (handheld)
  • Grill pan
  • Bench scrap
  • Top Chef knife set with carry case
  • Cupcake carrier
  • Organize it All soup can rack

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My alone time...

I've been enjoying some time alone this week. The boy is at the beach. The housemate is at the beach. I've had to work... while I think there is something very wrong with this situation, I am really glad they've been able to have such a good time. And, even though I've had to work and it has exhausted my brain, I've still enjoyed the nice quiet evenings. It's been nice and cool, the windows are open, I've had time to do laundry, polish my nails, and do nothing of great importance. I haven't been a taxi cab since Monday morning, nor have I been a cook.

I've been working diligently on my "40 before 40" list which consists of 40 things I want to accomplish before I'm 40. I hope to have it posted later this week. Tomorrow is my birthday and I'll have just one year to carry out "the list" -- I'm excited about it. Scared of it.

This week I feel like I've been mentally stretched and pulled and I'm reminded how much Jesus loves me because He knew that I would need a break from being all the things I have to be to the people in my life and He provided that for me. I love that guy! =]

I know I promised the Chicken Pot Pie recipe, it's coming. Promise. One day. =]

Monday, June 13, 2011

Chicken three ways...

Yep - this was a chicken sorta weekend. I don't know why, it just was. I had two whole chickens and made a yummie broth and three filling dinners! Wanna know about it? Yeah? OK... here's my master plan....

  • Take two chickens, place in large soup pot, cover with water. WAIT!!! If you've never cooked a whole chicken, remove the giblets and stuff that are packed inside the bird! Thanks. =]
  • Add 1 whole onion (cut in half) with only the outer skin removed, some seasoned salt, whole peppercorns, a smidge of poultry seasoning, a bay leaf, a couple tablespoons ready minced garlic, and whatever other vegetables you have on hand. Oddly, I didn't have celery or carrots, but I would have added both. I think I added a couple other spices, but I don't remember what they were now... that was SO two days ago. =]
  • Bring that to a boil, then lower heat to maintain a steady low boil for about 1 1/2 hours.
  • Turn the burner off and let the meat cool directly in the broth. This will keep your meat moist and give your broth a little extra "steep" time with the chicken.
  • After about an hour or so... remove your meat from the pot (it should be falling off the bone so be careful when you pull it out) and place it on a cookie sheet to finish cooling.
  • Pour your broth, through a colander to catch any bone, skin, fat, bay leaves that try to creep into your broth, and into two medium sized bowls. Set those on the counter to cool.
  • After a sufficient cooling period, begin to pick your chicken... The fat should come off pretty easily. If you aren't familiar with picking meat off a chicken, it isn't so bad... just dig in. I put a plastic bag in the sink and toss bones, skin, and fat in there as I work. Then I can just tie it up and take it to the trash.
  • Pick through both chickens and put the meat into a large bowl. Mix it up so all the meat is being friendly and you don't have all white or all dark in a handful.

Now, you have enough chicken to make at least three meals (depending on how many you're cooking for) and two large bowls of broth. Once the broth cooled, I poured one bowl into a gallon sized freezer bag and popped it in the freezer for future use. The other one I used a little for the following meals and put the rest in the fridge and I plan to use it in the next day or so to make some corn chowder I've been waiting for fresh broth to make!

I made two of these with the chicken and broth. One was for an awesome family who lets their husband/daddy help me when I have flat tires and things like that. Isn't that nice?!

Then I made a chicken pot pie with the rest of the meat. I'll post that recipe, maybe later today. Or tomorrow. Who knows... I have no idea. =]

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuna Pasta Salad

OK - I know this is simple. Really, it's a no brainer. But this food holds such dear memories for me that I just had to tell you how my friend would eat it and how I feel wrong eating it any other way.

When I was younger, before I had my kidlet... so that was like YEARS ago, I had this tiny, little friend named Roxanne. She was small. Like small small. She was 4'10 and hung right around 90 pounds. She was single mom to two boys and she was feisty as ever. She was mean. I was scared of her sometimes and that's really saying something.

Before I met her, I'd never had tuna pasta salad or if I had, it wasn't memorable. I don't remember how she made it, just how she ate it. So, this is how I make it:

1 box any kind of pasta (I actually used two half boxes. One was WW penne, the other was WW small shells. Don't tell anyone. =])
2 cans tuna (in water), drained
1 can peas or frozen peas, thawed
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
some celery, chopped
some onion, chopped
mayo to taste
salt, pepper, any other "spicey type thing" you want to add

Cook the pasta. Drain. Rinse well with cold water. Add the tuna to a large bowl and break it into smallish pieces, add the peas, celery, onion and mix. Then add the mayo, mix. Then the salt, pepper, and any other "spicey type thing" you added. Finally, mix in the eggs. I save them until last so they don't get all broken and mushy in the process of mixing. OK... now it has to get cold, so I refrigerate mine overnight, but a couple of hours would be good, too.

Here comes the memorable part... When Roxanne would make this, she'd sit with a bowl on her lap (all 90 lbs. of her) and a sleeve of saltine crackers. She would put a spoonful of pasta salad on top of the cracker and pop it into her mouth. It's absurd, right? Who eats crackers with a pasta salad?? Oh, but then I tried it. Yum. I think it's the combo of the crunchy and soft, the salty and the tuna... I don't know, but it's good. Darn good. Now, when I eat it (which is maybe every two years), I eat it with pretzel thins... sort of a preztel, sort of a cracker. It's almost as good as it is with a saltine. I've also put it into a bowl and added oyster crackers. I know, it is weird. You can judge me all you want. =]

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Pig Pickin Cake

This recipe came from Allrecipes, but I did make a couple alterations. And a few people asked for the recipe, so here it is!

1 package yellow cake mix
1 (11 oz) can Mandarin oranges, with juice
4 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used olive oil, it's all I had on hand)
16 oz whipped topping
1 (15 oz) can crushed pineapple (super, duper, well drained)
1 (3.5 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the cake, oranges (with the juice!), eggs and oil. Pour into two greased and floured (or sprayed with Pam) 8 inch round pans. Then bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool cakes completely on wire racks. I let mine cool and then covered them overnight. Just before serving, mix together pudding mix and pineapple, then fold in the whipped topping. Top one layer with the "frosting", be generous, it's okay, there's plenty. Then, add the second layer and top that and "frost" all around the cake. This can be quite messy. I'll be honest, I plopped it on there as best I could and used my fingers to put it where I wanted it. It will not be smooth, it isn't supposed to be. You want it a little pokey piggy lookin'! =]

This IS a food blog, right?

It is. It is. But sometimes my heart is just begging to cry out for more. Right now, I'm sad. Sad for a young lady whom I love dearly. She will never understand the depths of my love for her or maybe she will, one day. You see, her mom and I are very close. We both moved to this area around the same time and became fast friends. She was my rock, shelter, storm chaser, shoulder to cry on, friend to love, and constant companion almost from the very beginning. I love her. Immensely. Of course, that means I love her children with the same vigor and passion that I love her. When they hurt, I hurt. While details are not relevant, at least not for this post, please lift up a prayer for my friends daughter... God knows of that for which you will be praying--He does know everything, right?

So, maybe while this IS a food blog, it can also lend a place for me to pour out my heart from time to time. A place where I can plead with you to pray for me or for those I love. Maybe even a place I can just share what's on my heart at that particular time. I'm not a great writer. I doubt you'll come away with anything great and awesomely spiritual... but you will occasionally find my heart. And the places it hurts or finds joy or just feels something worth sharing.

Burger, Noodley, Go!

Yes. That's the title and the instructions received from my dear friend, Jessica. She was coming over, after work last night, for dinner. She asked, "What's for dinner?" I said, "I don't know. I took some burger out. What do you want?" She said, "I don't know. Something burger and noodley." I said, "Cheesy?" She said, "A little cheesy." Here's what was created from that amazing instruction.
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 15 oz can fire roasted diced tomato, with garlic, undrained
  • small bag frozen corn
  • 1/2 box (or so) whole wheat penne pasta
  • some chili powder
  • some cumin
  • some oregano
  • some fresh ground sea salt
  • some ground red pepper
  • some fresh ground pepper
  • some water (about 3/4 empty tomato can)
  • some shredded cheese of choice (I used mild cheddar)
OK, so by now, you know how I "measure". I don't. Unless mandated, like for bread or something. When I say some, just go with your gut. Here's what I did:

Get a big skillet. Big. Really. Brown the ground beef with the onion. Drain. Add it back to the pan and add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, frozen corn, all the seasonings, water, and bring that up to a nice boil. I told you a big pan, right? Then add a few handfuls of pasta and bring it to a simmer or number 2 on your burner as I like to call it. Cover. Let that cook up, stir it up a couple time for about 25-30 minutes or until the pasta is done. Now is a good time to make sure your seasoning is just the way you like it, too. Add some more things, if you like. Then, sprinkle some cheese on top, turn off the burner and recover for about 5 minutes or until your cheese is all melty and stuff. There ya have it. Eat it. =]

Monday, February 14, 2011

Farfalle pasta with Italian sausage

I first saw this recipe at and it confused me some... mostly because the addition of the cream seemed weird to me... However, I gave it the ole girl scout try and ooooh, man. So yumma!


1 (12 ounce) package farfalle pasta
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, ground
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 diced purple onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans diced tomatoes, the kind with basil, garlic, and oregano
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 oz Provolone cheese, shredded


1.Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente; drain.

2.In a large, deep skillet over medium heat, cook sausage and pepper flakes until sausage is evenly brown, drain and add back to pan. Stir in onion and garlic, and cook until onion is tender. Stir in tomatoes, cream, and salt. Simmer until mixture thickens, 8 to 10 minutes.

3.Stir cooked pasta into sauce, add cheese, and mix in until it's all melty and stuff, and heat through.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chicken, pasta, and veggies!

After an exhausting 4 1/2 hour drive home from work... a drive that typically takes me a little less than an hour and is about 38 miles... I needed to do something to unwind my poor little frantic mind. Of course, I was also famished since I didn't know that I should have packed dinner prior to leaving work, so I needed to make something. This is what I did:

I heated a skillet, with a small dribble of EVOO, and threw in 3 chicken breasts I had thawed in the fridge. While the first side was searing, I seasoned the uncooked side with salt, pepper, and some of that other seasoning I can't say (mentioned two posts ago, with a link!). While that was starting, I brought a pot of salted water to a boil, then added half a box of whole wheat medium shells. I turned the chicken and seasoned the other side - no salt this time around, just pepper and the "other stuff".

While that was cooking, I diced up some onion (about 1/2 an onion). Then, I removed the chicken to my cutting board and added the onion to the hot skillet. I also added some frozen roasted peppers, frozen peas, and garlic. I let that cook up while I cut the chicken into bite size pieces. Sidenote: Whenever I need chicken cut for a recipe, I cook it first, then cut it. It saves my cutting board from contamination and helps me not be all grossed out by having to cut raw chicken. Oh, yeah... in this time, I also drained and rinsed the pasta with cold water.

Then, I put the chicken back in the skillet, along with the pasta, and a can of diced tomatoes in sauce (have you seen these yet??? They are hard to find, but oh, so wonderful!). I added some Italian seasoning, ground cayenne pepper, and probably some more salt and pepper. I season as I go, adding what I think it needs. I let all this cook together for a little bit, then added some Parmesan cheese over the whole skillet and some shredded Mozzarella cheese. I mixed it all together and we ate! Tada!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuna Casserole success!

OK… another request from the man, which I have not made in years, but because I have an strange habit of wanting to make the menfolk in my life happy (which, by the way, is why I haven’t made this in years—my other (young) manfolk doesn’t like Tuna Casserole, so I have avoided it like the plague!!). But, in my aiming to please all involved, I made it on a night when young manfolk was out and older manfolk was in… all were happy! I had no real idea where to start with this, so I went to to get a base and then I made some severe changes to make it my own. Here’s what I did:

My Ingredient list:
  • 12-14 oz wide cut egg noodles
  • ¼ large Vidalia onion, chopped and diced and small ish!
  • 2 large handfuls (yes that’s a real way to measure) shredded Monterey Jack and Cheddar Cheese blend (divided)
  • About 1 cup or so of frozen peas
  • 2 cans of tuna (I’ll add one more next time), drained
  • 1 can Cream of Onion Soup
  • 1 can Cheddar Cheese Soup
  • Some half and half
  • Sm. can of evaporated milk
  • Salt, pepper, other seasoning you see fit… taste it before you put it in the oven and adjust for needed flavor to suit your taste
  • About ½ - ¾ cup seasoned bread crumbs (I poured, didn’t measure… no idea really)
And, go…

Preheat over to 425. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add noodles and cook until al dente. While those noodles are cookin up, sauté your onions in a small pan with a little EVOO – oh, I probably threw in a little garlic, too… because it’s what I do.

In a very large mixing bowl toss in one handful of cheese, peas, tuna, and soups. Mix together. Add your pasta (by the way, did you know that when you cook pasta and drain it, you should then rinse it with cold water because it stops the cooking process! Good news to know!) and mix. Go ahead and add your onions and can of milk and then you can gauge the amount of half and half you need. You want it to me nice and creamy… if not, it will dry out while it’s cooking and—GROSS—who wants nasty, dry tuna casserole?!?!

Spray a casserole dish with some non-sticky stuff and pour the mixture in. On a paper plate or bowl or whatever’s handy, mix the bread crumbs with the other handful of cheese and then top your casserole with it. Put it in the oven for about 17 minutes or so… you want it to be bubbly and the bread crumbs to brown just a little.


Oh, pork chops!

A little back story... I cannot CANNOT cook pork chops. I have tried and failed time and again. So, last weekend, my hunnie pot requested pork chops for dinner. It's a new relationship and all, I could NOT fail this time. I was bound and determined to make it work. This was what I did:

Step 1: Go to Costco. Purchase pork chops (that are WAY thicker than anything in this world) to cook.

Step 2: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Step 3: Dice some onion, either chop garlic or cheat like me and buy the big 'ol jar of minced garlic from Costco.

Step 4: Add a wee bit of EVOO to a large saute pan, add onion and garlic. Saute until the onions are all tender looking. Season the chops as you see fit while the good stuff is cookin. I used salt, pepper, and some stuff that has a bad word in it's name so I won't repeat it on my "family friendly blog" but you can find it here... Seasoning. Throw in the chops to sear them on each side.

Step 5: Breathe... that wasn't so hard, right?

Step 6: Take chops out of saute pan and throw them (or place gently) into a baking dish of your choice.

Step 7: To the saute pan add 1 can of Cream of Onion soup (OMG - why did it take so long for this fancy lil invention of tummy yumminess to happen?????), a splash of "W" sauce and half a can of white wine. I use Fetzer Gewurztraminer because it's the best wine ever... just sayin. Mix all this together real good and stuff.

Step 8: Pour the above mixture over the chops, cover with foil, and let cook forever... OK, or about 1 1/2 - 2 hrs (I had REALLY thick chops) -- this time may be changed to suit your chops better.

Step 9: The chops will fall apart, so get them out gently and enjoy this little piece of loveliness!

FYI - this will make a gravy as it cooks. So you can side dish some potatoes or rice or anything that can be used to slop up the gravy... you don't want to miss the gravy!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Chicken Spaghetti

So, Ree Drummond, has a great blog. Have you all seen it? I aspire to have one only half as awesome as hers one day… One day.

Schools over now (can I get an AMEN!) so one of my goals is to work on, as diligently as I can muster, my much neglected blog. Right now, it’s just about food… why? Because I love food. I love everything about food.

One of Ree’s recipes is for something called Chicken Spaghetti… oh, yum. I have adapted it just a little bit to suit me and my family… so I thought this would be a great first entry for the New Year!


• 3-4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped (and I add a can of chicken for good measure)
• 1 box whole wheat elbow macaroni (yes, I use WW to hopefully make up for the rest of the bad, bad stuff in here…lol)
• 1 can Cream of Chicken soup
• 1 can Cream of Onion soup
• 2 cups shredded cheese (I use Cheddar here)
• 1 jar (4 Ounce) diced pimentos, drained
• Fresh or frozen (and thawed) peppers, diced (I have used both… sometimes I grab a couple handful of frozen mixed peppers and dice those if I have no fresh ones handy)
• Some seasoned salt
• Some cayenne pepper
• Some salt and pepper
• Some garlic powder
• 1 cup (or more) shredded Taco Cheese

And, go!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grill the chicken on your stove top or outside, or boil it or cook it however you like in order for it to be considered cooked. =] While the chicken cools (trust me, you want it to cool some because on top of cutting it, you may want to shred it a little with your fingers), cook your pasta until it’s done, but don’t cook it too long… we don’t want squishy noodles!

Now for the fun part… OK, maybe it’s only fun for me, but, eh, to each his own… You want to have a really big bowl handy because everything except the shredded Taco cheese needs to go into that bowl. Once it’s all in there, you need to mix it up… really, really well. I use my hands—yes, I said it… I use my hands! And, since I don’t measure seasonings, it’s all about taste to me… I will add as I go which means lots of tasting and hand washing! You may want to add about 1/2 can (from one of the soup cans) of water if it seems to dry... that's what I typically do. You want to make sure it's nice and moist.

Good, now that it’s all mixed and yummie… spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and pour it all in there, top with the taco cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.

Now. Go eat. Trust me; you’ll be thanking me later. =]