Friday, November 9, 2012

Baby shower food!

The food table

So, my sweet pretend daughter (see her awesome profile right there? I sure love that girl!), had two requests - she's so easy to please! 

She said to her mom - You have to make your strawberry pretzel stuff. That's what's in the oval shaped dish on the back of the table. I have no idea how to make it, I just know I can't eat it. As a matter of fact, there was only one thing on this table I could eat... pshaw - the things we do for the people we love... I digress...The other request was for me and it was banana pudding. Easy!

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I also made a fruit pizza bar sort of thingy. Here's what you need for that:

Sugar cookies (make them a little big so there's good surface area)
Fruit (I used blueberries, peaches, and strawberries)
Icing (1 regular sized jar of fluff and 8oz room temp cream cheese, mix. Easy peasy, right??) 


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Then there was the Mozzarella Cheese Ball. I've never actually eaten this, but I've made it several times and always get rave reviews. I first saw it on Plain Chicken and I didn't change a thing!


  • 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 package (4 1/2 tsp) dry ranch dressing mix
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • finely chopped pecans


Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl.  Mix well.  Form mixture into a ball and roll in chopped pecans.  I made two of them, so I just doubled the recipe. I served it with good, hearty crackers. 


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Finally, I made Pepperoni Pizza Puffs. I found this recipe a while back on Lick The Bowl Good. She pulled it from a couple places and made her own adaptations. I made them pretty much the way she did except I didn't measure most of it! haha. 


  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of red pepper flakes 
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup cubed pepperoni


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 24-cup mini-muffin pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, Italian seasoning, salt and red pepper flakes; whisk in the milk and egg. Stir in the mozzarella, Parmesan and pepperoni; let stand for 10 minutes.


Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, 20 minutes.Serve with pizza sauce. Really, do it. They may seem like they're missing something if you don't have the sauce! Next time I make them, I may try adding the sauce IN the muffins. Trial and error, baby! 


Baby Boy shower - Favors and Drinks!

It's a BOY! 


We had a baby shower on the cheap. And I mean cheap. I also mean quick. My dear pretend daughter (yes, that's a real term in my world - deal with it), made a last minute decision to move home. Her and her sweetie were living in GA and she just really wanted to be close to family when her baby came. 

So what's a girl like me, who loves through food, parties, events, supposed to do? Well, throw a party, of course!

The photo above was filled with her party favors. We decided to go with cookies because it was something I could do much cheaper than buying gifts for everyone. These are really big chocolate chip cookies with small thank you tags on each one.

Baby boy punch!

I saw this on Pinterest and just knew that I had to do it! Isn't it just about the sweetest thing ever? I did have to make a couple changes, but the idea is just the same!

I used:
1 huge bowl
2 rubber duckies (make sure they are floaters!!)
1 two liter bottle of ginger ale
1 64oz bottle of white grape juice
1 large bottle of Blue HI-C juice
Pineapple sherbet

I used a HUGE pot to pour the ginger ale and juices into and mixed that up first. Then I filled the punch bowl, almost to the top - leaving enough room to add in the sherbet. I didn't measure how much sherbet I used, I just added it until I was done adding it. =] 

Place rubber duckies on top. Done. =]

To serve the punch, we wrapped a cute "Baby Boy" ribbon around mason jars and called 'em glasses. =]

That's how we roll. Yep. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

New laptop!

Okay, so now that I've touted the awesomeness of my new laptop from every mountain I know from which to shout, we can get down to some business!

I literally have a million things brewing in my brain and I knew the time would come when I would have to figure out how to focus my blog.

Maybe I get two?

Here's the thing...

I love food. I love to cook. I love to organize events.

However...

I also have a heart yearning for Christ and longing to love others... 

I don't know how to make both things co-exist on one blog. I mean, I can do it, but if I hope to grow my blog, which I do... where's the focus?

I want ONE place to call home. I don't want to have to wobble all over the place trying to make sure I'm updating the right things, on the right blog, at the right time... I just wanna do it! 

I'm done with the rant. I'll be thinking about how to make this work.

In the meantime, my world is crazy full! I have a few blog posts just waiting to be written. A baby shower post, a bridal shower post, and I think I have a random recipe or two.

I also have a few God things brewing in my heart. None of which I've been able to put to paper, erm blog, yet. They're coming, though.

Until I start spilling... ciao!



Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ham and beans!

There are very dishes that welcome me into the fall season more than ham and beans with cornbread. First, it's SO comforting, isn't it? Second, it's just warm all the way through. Third, it's just good, dang'd it! =]

It's so easy to make, I promise.

Get out your crockpot (a sure sign that the weather has cooled down). And grab these couple things:

2 ham hocks
1# dry northern beans
Onion powder
Salt and pepper
6 c. water

Add everything into the crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours. Take out the ham hocks and pull the meat off, reserve bones and fat for dogs. =]

Put the meat back in and mix it all back up. That's it!

I always serve mine with cornbread - not the sweet Jiffy stuff, but real, honest to goodness cornbread.

Happy eating! =]

Friday, October 5, 2012

Chicken broth

I have a couple ways to make chicken (or poultry) broth. The way I most often do it is this:

Clean one whole chicken and be sure to remove the giblets (fry giblets and feed to the dogs!). Place the chicken in a large stock pot and cover with water. When I say cover, I mean cover it and then add some more water! haha. It really depends on how much stock you want. I typically do a large pot.

Put the chicken on medium high heat. Add two onions, halved. If you have some carrots and/or celery on hand, go ahead and throw those in, too. I don't typically do that, but if I have some that need to be used up, I'll add them in.

Next come the seasonings. This is really personal preference. I use kosher salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, and garlic powder. Since I have a large pot, I use a lot of seasoning. This is something you may want to play with and develop something that suits you best.

Once the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat and let a low boil continue for about an hour. Turn down the heat and simmer for another hour or so; maybe even two. Go wild! heh. While this is cooking, you can occasionally skim some of the fat off the top of the water.

I'll tell you the rest in a minute. I promise.

The second way to do the broth is to use carcasses that you've gotten from dinner. For instance, the day after Thanksgiving is a great time to make stock. You're home and there's a good chance that you have a huge turkey carcass waiting to be stock! Follow all the same steps as above, except you're using the carcass instead of the whole bird. Remember from the beef broth post how I said when the bones have been roasted how they bring another level of flavor? Well, the same is true with chicken or turkey stock. And you can always use chicken carcass to do this as well. Do you throw away your rotisserie chicken carcass? Shame! Make broth! =]~

Okay, so now that your broth is all done - use a large strainer and place it over another large stock pot. Carefully, pour the full pan into the strainer, so it will catch all the goodies, and the broth will fall into the other pan. If you're using a whole chicken or chicken pieces, lay those out on a cookie sheet so they can cool. Once cool, pull the meat off and use it to make something yummy! You can freeze it or use it for dinner that night! =] Once again, the pups get a nice meal of carrots and celery if I used those. You could eat it, but all the flavor is in the stock now and the veggies get pretty mushy.

Cover the stock pot with a clean towel and let it sit on the counter to cool. Once it's cooled down, pour it into quart size freezer bags or freezer safe plastic bowls. Put it in the fridge overnight and place in the freezer the next day. Tada! Chicken stock!

It looks like a lot of work, but it's really very simple. Go ahead, try it. =]

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Homemade beef broth

What?! Why would anyone make their own broth?! Oh, there are a million reasons! My main reason is knowing exactly what I'm eating. That's very important to me. =]

Homemade broths are one of the easiest things to make and probably the first "real homemade" thing I did... it came before canning, jamming, and all that other good stuff.

Right now, we're going to focus on beef broth. It's really simple, very versatile, and just plain good.

You want to start with some good knuckle bones and bones with marrow in them. That's where the flavors at, man! You can get these in any meat department - if you don't see them, just ask the butcher. You want them to have some meat on them still - not bare bones!
A couple onions
A bunch of carrots
Some celery
Salt
Pepper
Rosemary
Thyme
A few bay leaves

You can add any other spices you like, but these are fairly standard for me.  I'm not giving specific amounts 1) because I don't do that well and 2) because it depends on how much stock you're making and how many bones you have.

The trick, in my opinion, is to roast the bones before actually making the stock or broth.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Salt and pepper the knuckle bones generously, place them on a baking sheet, along with all your veggies. Roast them in the oven for about 45 minutes, turning a couple times so nothing burns.

Once that's done, place all the bones, meat, and veggies in a large stock pot, cover the bones with water by quite a few inches. Add the rest of the seasonings. Bring to a slow boil, reduce heat and simmer for hours and hours! =] I would simmer for at least 4 hours, but doing it longer won't hurt.

There will be some fat that rises to the top as it cooks, feel free to skim that off as it cooks. If the water runs low, feel free to add more. Be sure to add more salt and pepper too!

Once it's done cooking, use a strainer and transfer the broth into another large stock pot, allowing the strainer to catch all the veggies and bones. If you have dogs, kindly feed bones and veggies to them - they'll love you forever!

Leave the broth on the counter to cool. Then refrigerate overnight. The next day, skim the layer of fat off the top of the broth. At this point, I freeze. I put it in quart size bags, lay them flat, and store them in the freezer. You can also put them in freezable mason jars or plastic freezerware. All options work fine! I like having smaller portions for when a recipe calls for a cup of broth! It's so convenient!

Note - I am not beneath using bones if we have a big steakfest or a huge roast with a bone. I've done it! haha.

Happy broth making! 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Homemade Enchilada sauce.

I cooked the entire day yesterday. Well, I took some time out mid-morning, after the bacon cups and before the dinner began... Once I was back in the kitchen, though, it felt good! And I felt so resourceful yesterday!

It was Sharleen's birthday, so we wanted to have a nice birthday dinner. The only thing she requested I make was my banana puddin - and I did! It didn't at all match the rest of dinner, but it's what she wanted.

On the menu was some spicy bean salsa with chips, Mexican red rice, refried beans, chicken chimichangas, and, of course, the banana puddin!

In order to make all this happen from scratch, it meant starting early and using every bit of everything. Including the bacon grease from the mornings Bacon Egg cups.

One of the things I made was enchilada sauce from scratch - I've never done that before! It was so easy. I found the recipe here and I didn't really change anything about it.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used Olive oil - it's what I had)
1 cup diced onion
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons hot chili powder (I didn't have hot, so I just used regular chili powder)
4 1/2 cups chicken broth (homemade!)
1/2 (1 ounce) square semisweet chocolate (I used the whole square, I'm a rebel!)
Directions:
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high high heat. Saute onion until tender. Stir in garlic, oregano, cumin and cinnamon; saute for a few minutes. Stir in flour and chili powder and make sure it's all mixed together. Slowly whisk in chicken broth; reduce until sauce reaches desired consistency. Stir in chocolate until melted and well blended. 
Here's what you get!  

Bacon egg cups!

I love finding things on Pinterest! Some things work, some things don't.

This worked! But obviously my camera didn't. I tried at least 10 times to get a non-blurry photo and it just wasn't working. You can get the gist of it, though, right?


All you need to make 12 of these beauties is:
12 strips of bacon
8 eggs
Milk
Shredded cheese
Salt and pepper








I precooked the bacon a little, until it looked like this. I didn't want it too done, but I wanted it to have a head start. While that's cooking, heat your oven to 350. Beat your eggs with a little milk, like you would normally scramble an egg. Add some salt and pepper, and whatever kind of cheese you like. I had some mozzarella and some cheddar - I used both. =]







Spray a muffin tin and start your construction! Add in the bacon by curling it around the muffin cup - it's going to be a little too long, so as you can see, I tore of the extra piece and put it in the bottom of the pan. Then add the egg mixture, I used a little cup to help make this process neater. Once all the cups are filled, place it in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the eggs are set. You may need to use a knife around the edges to pop them out, place them on a paper towel for just a minute, and then serve! Woohoo! 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Beef and noodles

I have NO clue where this recipe fits into my childhood, but I remember eating it. Someone made it and I loved it. I don't know who or when... but I do remember the food.

Beef-n-noodles. Simple food. I had to figure it out.

This was my very first try and there are a few things I will do differently next time, but it was enough of the same that I knew I was on the right track!

Ingredients:
3# (or more) chuck roast
water, lots of it!
2 envelopes beefy onion soup mix

For the noodles:
2 c. flour (plus more for, well, you'll see why!)
2 eggs
pinch of salt
tad of melted butter (yes, tad is a measurement in my world - get over it! =] )

Place the roast in a crockpot on low. Add both envelopes soup mix and cover with water. Walk away. =]


After about 4 hours, you can begin your noodles. Just throw all the ingredients in a big bowl and mix it together - if it seems too thick, add just a bit of water. Once it's well mixed, flour a huge surface and begin to roll out your dough. You want it really, really flat. Continue to add flour to your rolling pin and the surface as needed.

I tried to cut mine two different ways, but I'm still not sure which way I prefer. I suppose, once I do it more, I'll have a preference.

One way was to use a super sharp knife and just cut thin strips while it's laid out on the surface. However, you don't want them that long, so you have to cut long ways and then cut the strips into smaller pieces.

Another way is to take your rolled out dough and roll it into a log, cut all the way down the length so you have two long pieces, and then cut into smaller pieces. 




Once your dough is all cut, add more flour to keep them separated. You can see that mine is all jumbled together, I wouldn't do that next time. I would be sure to have enough space to lay them out in individual pieces. Like I said, you will need a lot of room! Now just let them hang out for a little while. They need to rest.


When the meat is done, about 6 hours, remove it from the crock pot and shred. Now, this is where I ran into some problems, but I will conquer this! I, originally, put the shredded meat back into the crockpot and then threw in two full batches of noodles. I think it was way too much for the space and the noodles ended up clumping together and turned into more of a dumpling instead of individual noodles. Next time, I will put all the broth, along with some added water, salt and pepper, into a larger dutch oven on the stove and cook the noodles that way. Then add the meat back in for the little bit to heat it back up. When you add the noodles, you want a good bit of flour on them still because you actually want them to soak up most of the broth. This dish isn't meant to be soup, but it is meant to be beef with noodles and some gravy! When added to the crockpot, the noodles had to cook for about an hour. I'm not sure what the time frame will be when I try it on the stove.

I look forward to trying this again to see if I can master this simple, comfort dish that is so fondly burned into my memory.

Creamy soup remade!

It's been a long time since I've looked at some of these posts...

It's been a long time since I've written some of these posts...

The good news is - I'm a changed person! I see ingredients that I would never use now and even had to take something off my "pantry must-have" list over there on the side. Canned creamy soup. Any kind. It was *always* in my house. It was a well used ingredient!

I'm free of the canned creamy soup!! Praise Jesus! Right? Right!

Want to break free from the canned creamy soup bondage, too? Let me show you how!

Ingredients:
4 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. flour
1/2 - 1 c. chicken broth (homemade!)
1/2 c. half and half (might be a little more)
salt and pepper, to taste

Melt the butter in a small saucepan then add the flour slowly to make a nice roux. Remove the pan from heat (turn the burner to low while the pan is removed) and add in the chicken stock until it's nice and creamy. Place the pan back over the low heat and slowly add the cream. Bring it to a gentle boil until it's a thick, creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper.

Note: There are SO many variations to this... This recipe will just serve as a base and can be used as is. Or you can add sauteed onions, mushrooms, celery, and any other seasonings you may like. It really depends on the recipe you're putting it into. Also, the measurements are very dependent on what sort of dish it's going into. A thicker sauce or soup base will work well for things like pot pie, while a thinner one would work well to make potato soup or something along those lines. Just try it - you'll find your rhythm! =]


I went MIA!

Remember a while back, I said I was moving... well, I did!

YAY! 

However, in the move, my computer was somehow broken. So, since then, I've been without a computer of my own and it's made blogging most difficult! I was also juggling a couple jobs, but I'm now down to just one and I'm committing to more blogging! I have to borrow a computer to do it, but I'm going to do my best to stay on top of things!

Hold me to it!

I have a lot to write about. =]

Breakfast pizza for dinner!


Breakfast Tortilla Pizza

Want to know how to make two 6 year old girls very happy? Good! I like to know these things too! =]


Enter flour tortillas. They are so dang versatile, aren’t they?!

I wanted to make individual flat bread pizzas tonight for dinner. However, I didn’t feel great and didn’t stop at the store for the needed flat bread. I had enough for the big people in the house, but not for the little people. Time to make a crunch last minute decision!





Ingredients:
2 flour tortillas
Ground sausage
2 eggs
Shredded cheese, whatever kind you like
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt

Now let me say this… and it's really important - cuz I gots important things to say! =] If I were making this for grown folks, the ingredient list would be much larger. Also, if I had a more stocked fridge, it would be much larger. I had to work with what I had on hand to please the little mouths.


Brown the sausage in a skillet on the stove. Drain. Wipe *most* of the grease out, but leave a bit for frying the eggs. Add your eggs to the skillet and cook until almost done. Put your broiler on high. Lay the tortillas on a cookie sheet, top with the sausage, cheese, and add the egg in the center. Place the halved tomatoes strategically about and place in the oven. Don’t close the door all the way or they’ll get too done and that’s never good. After a couple minutes of constantly watching and the cheese is melty and the egg is done, pull them out. Sprinkle freshly ground salt over them and voila!




Friday, February 24, 2012

Oh, satan... you can't hold ME down!

In the years that I've struggled with chronic illness, I've learned a couple of things.

First, this is satan. All satan and nothing but satan. Amen.

Second, I have a choice in this matter. I can choose to allow satan to hold me in captivity or I can break free and allow Christ to deliver me from this. Does this mean I'm healed? I believe I am, it just hasn't shown itself in a physical manner yet. The healing, thus far, has been spiritual and I trust that, one day, God will heal my body. In the meantime, it's up to me how to proceed. I can wallow in my self pity or I can put myself aside and live the life God has for me.

I've been writing this post, in my head, all morning, while scrubbing toilets. It isn't a glamorous job, but it's the one that God has called me to do each morning before I do my other job. As I lay in bed this morning, half crippled by, yet another bad day, I had to make a choice. I could allow satan to win, keep me in bed, and not perform the work God has called me to do or I could get up and go face the day that the Lord made for me. I'm tired of satan winning. I'm tired of him trying to steal joy from me and some of my closest friends who struggle with pain or illness on a daily basis. Today, I choose Christ. Today, I choose joy. Today, I choose to live for whatever God has for me - even if it's just clean toilets for my co-workers. This is MY calling for today and I'm owning it.

I want to encourage my friends who are struggling today - I am praying for you, each of you. I pray for your strength, for your peace, for your comfort, for your faith in healing, and for your courage to face the day that the Lord hath made. I know your struggle. I live your struggle. Let's kick satan's butt today! Today will be BETTER! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Roasted Garlic & Herb potato and Black Bean Quesadillas

I saw this recipe originally made with all processed foods, or mostly, but it sounded so yummy! I adapted!

Ingredients:
4 medium size potatoes
Rosemary
Thyme
Salt & pepper
Olive oil
Garlic
4 oz. can green chilies, chopped
about 2 cups black beans (can use one can, but I soaked some dried beans for this)
2 cups shredded cheese (taco shredded or fresh shredded cheddar and monterey jack - however you roll is fine with me)
8 large flour tortillas
Sour cream/salsa (optional)

Warm oven to 450. Dice potatoes and toss with garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a bowl. Place on a baking sheet and roast for about 45 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven, add the can of chilies and the black beans and mash lightly with a potato masher.Return to oven to heat through, about 5-7 minutes.

Heat a skillet over med-high heat and place one tortilla down. On half of the tortilla add a generous amount of the potato/bean mixture, about 1/4 c cheese, and then fold in half. Cook until cheese is all melty and stuff. Top with salsa and/or sour cream, if you like, or just eat it as is! Cut with a pizza slicer and there you have dinner! =]

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Today's dinner

Today I got to do two things I love. Purge the pantry and make something new!

Since I'll soon be home sharing with someone who has a pantry the same size as mine, I know it's time to do some purging... I love to do that! While over the last couple years, I've seriously minimized my use of canned foods (unless I can them myself), there are still a few things I keep around for those last minute throw together meals. 

Beef and Beans in the Crockpot
1 1/2 - 2 lbs ground beef
chopped onion, to taste
Worcheshire sauce
28 oz can baked beans - do not drain
15 oz can black eyed peas - lightly drain
15 oz can great northern beans - lightly drain
20 oz can pineapple chunks, drained
about 3/4 c BBQ sauce
a little cayenne pepper

Brown the ground beef, along with the onions and worcheshire sauce in a skillet. While that's cookin up, add the other ingredients into your crockpot. Drain the meat once it's cooked through and add it to the crockpot and mix well. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. Done!

The new thing I got to do was homemade biscuits! Here's the thing. I don't do unhomemade biscuits either - I love biscuits, therefore I never have them. Makes sense, right?! It does to me!

I didn't realize that I'd ever made homemade biscuits before until I was cutting them and memories came to me about doing that when I was a little girl with my momma. It was a sweet moment for me. I totally followed someone elses recipe since I'd never done them before and they turned out great! One thing I did learn, though, is that I NEED a rolling pin! heh.

So, to make the dinner complete, I threw a biscuit in the bottom of a bowl, broke it up, and put the beef and beans over top! Simple, delish, and filling!

Home sharing

As I write this, I am preparing my heart for a big change and a huge adjustment. In about a month, I will be moving. After a lot of prayer and consideration, I've decided that things have just GOT to get better (remember, that's my ONE WORD for this year). I went to my dear friends, whom we've often teased with together about this very thing, with the topic of sharing their home with me and my kidlet. Amazingly, they talked about it that afternoon before I even got there.

Some of the advantages for both of us are the lightened financial burdens, lessened demand on each of us in meal preparation and house cleaning, and help with our kids in various ways.

Some of the disadvantages for both of us include a lessened sense of privacy, possible disagreements in household duties, and learning each others quirks in a whole new way.

I would ask anyone who reads this (the whole ONE of you who might! haha) to be in prayer WITH us as we make this transition.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My heart breaks...

Grief is a strange thing. Hearts can feel broken for many reasons, but death is the worst. How do you explain so much sorrow for someone who only shared small moments with you over the years...

My heart breaks because his family is devastated -

because my friends, who loved him so deeply, are broken to the core -

because my son really liked "James with the hair" -

because he had an impact on me (and my kid) -

because the life of a lone driver, who woke up in the morning thinking things were normal, has had his world changed forever -

because my mommie heart knows exactly how close to home this really is with my own son -

because my dear friend is blaming himself -

because another friend carries the burden of the world with her and this will be no different -

because teenagers I love couldn't sleep last night as the tragedy sunk in -

because of lost talent that had the ability to impact the world of music in a way we've not yet seen -

because when I saw him on Christmas, I had no idea it would be the last time my eyes looked at his -

because a group of young men, who loved him enough to do hard things, will have to decide how to move on -

because I know he loved Jesus -

because I know he loved kids -

because 17 is too young -

because I feel helpless -

.....

You will be greatly missed, James.