Thursday, December 31, 2009

This Stuff Is Good Part 2

Around this time of year you're supposed to eat some black eyed peas in order to have luck and prosperity in the next year. So after letting a pound of black eyed peas soak overnight Tuesday, yesterday I put them in the slow cooker with an onion and a ham hock. Six hours later the peas were still not done, the ham hock looked absolutely disgusting and my husband was becoming very cranky. I ended up throwing everything out and fixing egg sandwiches for dinner. I hate it when new recipes don't work out.

Here's a few recipes from fellow bloggers that I've tried with great success.

Mama Loves Food!: Curry Mustard Sauce. When I came across April's recipe it was perfect timing. My husband had been spending most of his days at a local Thai place and I needed an easy and delicious curry sauce recipe to lure him back home. It worked! This is so good served over chicken and diced potatoes.

Evolving Mommy: Individual Mini-Meatloaf. I had never made meatloaf before. I had always thought it took forever in the oven. With Catherine's recipe it only takes about 30 minutes. And ketchup is never optional for me--it's a must when it comes to meatloaf, yum!

My Pretty Purse: Pretzel Peanut Bark. Angie's my sister and when she came up for Christmas last week she brought some of her homemade pretzel peanut bark. I gave a few pieces to our mom and then I took the whole tin back home with me. I love the saltiness of the pretzels with the chocolate. Thank you Angie--and thank you Paula Deen for the original recipe!

Here's Part 1 of more good stuff.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas III

Merry Christmas!!

Luke 2:1-14

Caesar Augustus, the Roman Emperor, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the nation. Everyone was required to return to his ancestral home for this registration. And because Joseph was a member of the royal line, he had to go to Bethlehem, King David's ancient home--journeying there from the Galilean village of Nazareth. He took with him Mary, his fiancee, who was pregnant by this time. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born; and she gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.

That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel appeared among them, and the landscape shone bright with the glory of the Lord. They were badly frightened, but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Saviour--a baby wrapped in a blanket, lying in a manger--has been born tonight in Bethlehem!"

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others--the armies of heaven--praising God: "Glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth!"

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Paging Dr. Morgan

My husband has to work on Christmas but he's had the past couple of days off. He's enjoyed spending time with the boys while they're on Christmas break. And although I'm grateful to have a full house during the holidays I've learned something about myself: 5, 7 and 33 year old males in the house at one time is more testosterone than I can handle. But with a little help from Dr. Morgan (or is it Captain Pepper?) I'm able to hang on to my sanity.

I not only want to thank Dr. Morgan this Christmas Eve, I also want to thank a couple of great bloggers for giving me awards!

Thank you to AmericanTribal for this lovely award! Be sure to check out her blog--especially on Saturdays;) Talk about eye candy for cupcake fanatics!

Thank you Dawna from A Kiss and a Peck for this award! Dawna has a contest going on right now and you could be the proud owner of some Lady Anti-Monkey Butt Powder! You know, if you have a problem with that sort of thing.

Thank you ladies and Merry Christmas Eve everyone!

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Monday, December 21, 2009

To: It, From: Me

Merry Christmas, my beloved 2002 Ford Windstar minivan. Enjoy your brand new intake manifold gasket (upper AND lower), your new fuel filter and your tri-monthly oil change. You know I love you but $448.16?! You're getting way too greedy in your old age. Knock it off. Please.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Grammy's Chocolate Cookies

Last week I posted about finding the holy grail of sugar cookies and today I'm posting the holy grail of chocolate cookies. And while the former came from my husband's grammy (who was not a grammy at all, as she was called mamaw) this chocolate cookie recipe comes from the grammy of Anne Feldman, a grand prize winner of Martha Stewart's Cookie of the Week contest.

I just love how these cookies are so chewy and soft. They're definitely a good thing (sorry, I couldn't resist).

Grammy's Chocolate Cookies (from Martha

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups (2 sticks plus 4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar, plus more for dipping
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1.Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

2.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, 2 cups sugar, and eggs on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix to combine. Gradually add dry ingredients, and combine with mixer on low speed. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and chill until dough is firm, about 1 hour.

3.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with Silpat baking mats. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Dip top of each ball into sugar. Place on prepared baking sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until set, about 8 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

This is the original recipe but I did make a few changes. First, I like salted butter. A lot. So I used that instead of unsalted. Secondly, when you've got a hankerin' for cookies, chilling dough is torture so I skipped that step and the cookies still turned out great. Thirdly, Silpat? Nope. Fourthly (sorry Grammy), I used a cookie scoop and didn't bother rolling them in sugar.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

That's Strange Part II

Time to revisit the Strange Question Meme. Last month, I posted questions 1-10 so here's my answers for 11-20.

11. What was the last thing you ate? Well, it's Monday and I think that frequent readers know that I go on and on AND ON about how I stop at McDonald's after I drop the boys off at school. It's my Monday morning pick me up and this morning I had a breakfast burrito and a latte.

12. Have you bought any new clothing items this week? Do shoes count? I bought a pair of gray flats at Walmart for 10 bucks.

13. The last sporting event you watched? My husband had the Saints game on yesterday and I pretended to care.

14. What is your favorite flavor of popcorn? Good ol' butter flavored popcorn.

15. Who is the last person you sent a text message to? I sent a text to my brother telling him to get my son something Transformer related for Christmas. He texted me back wanting me to be more specific because, hello, am I aware of how many Transformers there are?

16. Ever go camping? Yep. A lot, but that was in my pre-children days. I've never even attempted to go camping since I've had the boys. As a matter of fact, the whole idea of having all 4 of us in one tent in the middle of the woods stresses me out.

17. Do you take vitamins daily? No. I give the boys Flintstones vitamins and occasionally I'll have one, too. I've always loved Flintstone vitamins. And baby aspirin. Yum.

18. Do you go to church every Sunday? Not every Sunday. We end up missing one per month--usually the Sundays when the boys don't have Catechism classes.

19. Do you have a tan? Nope. The whole skin cancer and premature aging thing scares me away from tanning beds. And I have yet to find the perfect self-tanner. Sigh.

20. Do you prefer Chinese food over pizza? No way. I like Chinese food-I love hot and sour soup--but I really have to be in the mood for it. Pizza I can have any time, any day of the week.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Open For Business

I love my dogs. All 3 of them. And even though they are forbidden to ever leave me, I know that sooner or later they will--I'm just hoping it's later. There's an area in the back of our property that I designated as the pet cemetery and I didn't expect to break ground in it for several more years. But last month, my sister called early one Saturday morning to tell me that her boyfriend's cat had died and they were about to pull in my driveway. I rolled out of bed, started the coffee maker, and went into the garage to search for a shovel. Studley was in a box along with the ashes of Billy's other cat, Nub. And they became the first occupants of the pet cemetery.

I've been bad about keeping up with Poetry Fridays but I wanted to share this poem by Sue Ellen Thompson. It's one of my favorites.

No Children, No Pets by Sue Ellen Thompson

I bring the cat’s body home from the vet’s
in a running-shoe box held shut
with elastic bands. Then I clean
the corners where she has eaten and
slept, scrubbing the hard bits of food
from the baseboard, dumping the litter
and blasting the pan with a hose. The plastic
dishes I hide in the basement, the pee-
soaked towel I put in the trash. I put
the catnip mouse in the box and I put
the box away, too, in a deep
dirt drawer in the earth...

(Click to read more)

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sugar Cookies

When my husband's Grandma Freeda passed away a few months ago, I was fortunate enough to inherit one of her cookbooks. It's a first edition of Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook. And like most cookbooks, she had several recipes tucked in between the pages--recipes cut out from newspapers and ones jotted down on paper. And the one she had written down for sugar cookies caught my eye.

My previous attempts at making sugar cookies haven't turned out that great. Okay? Sure, but not great. I was in search of a go-to sugar cookie recipe to add to my collection and after trying Grandma Freeda's, I have found it. Even my 7 year old, aka the pickiest eater in the world, will eat half a dozen of these in one sitting. I've seen him do it. And, ahem, he's not the only one.

Sugar Cookies

2/3 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
4 tsp milk
3 2/3 cup flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Cream together butter, sugar and eggs. Stir in vanilla and milk. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together and add to sugar mixture. Roll out dough and cut into shapes. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A History Of Banners

In the 2 years and 4 months that I've been blogging, I've only had 3 different blog banners. My first one--and boy, can you tell it was my first--was extremely simple:

But I liked the simplicity...for awhile, anyway. Simple soon became boring so during holidays I would change the paw prints to hearts or shamrocks or something like that. But changing the banner every month became a chore so I settled on this:

It's Howard and Lexie! Aren't they cute? I thought so but this banner didn't last long at all. I just never really liked how the rest of the blog looked with it--the link colors, title colors--it lacked cohesion. And it was still a little too boring. So then I came up with this:

I loved this banner! Unfortunately, my sister hated it. I had a long flickr badge on each sidebar with a brown border and I'm sure she thought the whole thing looked like wood paneling. And I didn't want my blog to be the wood paneling of the blog design world so I changed it once again:

It's my current banner and I've had it the longest--probably over a year now. And I have no plans to change it. It's simple without being too boring and colorful without being too busy or distracting. And more than that, I love the picture. It's a girl, outside on a bench, with a dog and a book. I can totally relate.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Chicken Fajitas

A more accurate title for this would be Easy Chicken Fajitas. Nay, Super-Duper Easy Chicken Fajitas. And just like the last recipe for Taco Soup, there's lots of dumping into the crock pot involved. Whenever I encounter a recipe with the words "braised" or "caramelized" it makes me nervous. But "dumping" I'm good with.

And not only is it easy, but it's delicious, too. Especially with my 2 best friends, sour cream and cheese.

Chicken Fajitas

3 or 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 pkg fajita seasoning mix
1 onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 large can black beans, drained and rinsed
sour cream
shredded cheese

Place chicken in slow cooker and sprinkle with seasoning mix. Add onion, peppers and beans. Season veggies with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high 4-6 hours. When done, there's a lot of liquid in the pot so just transfer everything to a platter and shred the chicken with a couple forks. Serve on tortillas with sour cream and shredded cheese.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009