December 28, 2009

Bacon BaNANas BIRTHdays


Heavens to Betsy I feel bloated and hairy.....

Maybe its because I ate this for breakfast....AND then I was forced to eat this for dinner!


The Festival of fat....fried chicken, cheesy potatoes, biscuits&gravy....

If Christmas wasn't enough my boys birthdays are this week. Luke's moving into double digits and Noah will officially become a TEENager! Of course, somehow I have made my children's birthdays all about eating. Favorite breakfast, favorite lunch, favorite dinner, favorite dessert. WHAT have I done? I feel like the girl who turns into a blueberry and rolls away in the middle of the Willy Wonka movie......Cause you know they eat barely enough for a mouse and then mom feels obligated to to not let anything go to waste because there are starving kids....... every where these days.....guilt plays a big factor in my eating.







For dessert Luke wanted chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream filling, and chocolate frosting. I tried to talk him into the 7 minute frosting (fluffy and marshmallowy), but NO, more Chocolate. HELP me...............I love chocolate but that's a bit much! I made the Devils Food Cake from my NEW Magnolia Bakery Cookbook! Filled it with Fox Fudge Freak-out ice cream and frosted it with a chocolate butter cream frosting just as my 10 year old ordered.




Now today I am back to the books...cookbooks that is. The teenager wants chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting....FOR THE LOVE OF........somebody help me. I need respit. Oh I am just kidding....you know I love it, it's my jeans that are hating me these days. Noah is giving me a break mostly for the rest of the day. He wanted Cream of Wheat for breakfast, smothered in sugar and Hershey syrup....I can do that. Then for lunch its potato skins with cheese and bacon.


I'm still working on that one......



Then for dinner the teenager (I like calling him that) wants to go to Kobe its a Japanese Steak House.....they seat you around this big griddle and cook your food in front of you and give you a little show at the same time flipping food in the kids, mouths.....they love it. I don't mind the food, it's the fact that we have to share our table area with complete strangers that bugs me. And if we got seated with another family that would be one thing, BUT we always get seated with some couple that is either on their first date or drunk, or the last time we were seated with a couple that had a crying baby and they were fighting..... YIKES not appetizing, but the rest of my family is usually completely oblivious to our table guests so I guess its my problem.



The TEENager like DOUBLE rice....tryin to bulk up.

I am just about ready to slip into a grease and chocolate coma.....I definitely need to go outside and shovel....but its soo cold out there AArRgggG. I'm never gonna look good in a two piece bathing suit again anyway. Might as well put on a fresh pot of Java Jo and eat another cupcake.

December 25, 2009

number ONE

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

I LOVE that verse! Today is the ultimate birthday celebration! We get to celebrate the birth of the Christ child.

Yesterday was my birthday and my son wrote me a note that said this " I'm sorry I didn't make you a present, but that's not what your birthday is about. It's about celebrating your birth with friends and family and having a great time, and that's what I hope your birthday is like this year." Love your son, Luke. (I promise you I am not making this up, he really wrote it all by his amazing little self)

Wow! That's my hope for you.....just what he said......that you are able to celebrate Christs birth with friends and family and have a great time. I know it's not that easy sometimes, because we live in a world filled with broken families and pain and hurt......but when we keep our eyes on the ONE true HOPE, Jesus, in this world it makes all that yucky stuff seemed to fade away.

Many blessings to you!



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December 24, 2009

number 11

Parties, people, eating, celebrating! I LIVE for these times. I stay awake at night thinking of how much fun I'm gonna have with these people. Hoping and praying that you too are having a amazing party! Here are some of my Christmas highlights............



Christmas Eve Fondue party 2009




Lunch at the Green Well, my favorite restaurant with my some of my favorite Ladies!



THE birthday girls.....can you believe we are ALL under 30? AMAZING!


Degage' -delivering Christmas goodies with some of the most awesome kids on the planet!


OOOh, who are these angels? Look how little they were....now they're all big and stinky!



LIFEChurch Christmas fellowship! You people are awesome, amazing, super, spectaculaR, and stupendous!!! Thanks for all your hard work Life Serve Teams!





"We wisssshhhh YOU a Meeerrry Christmas, WEEEE wishhh YOU a Merry Christmas, We wishh You a Merry Chrisssstmasss AND a Happeeee New Year!"! Caroling with Friends!


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December 23, 2009

Fa la la la la LA LA LA LA!

Never mind the 6 loads of laundry that need to be done, the trays of cinnamon rolls lining my counter. I had to try and recreate a gingerbread caramel corn that I had when I was in Chicago. I did a test run on my Life Church friends, then today I think I perfected it. So why don't you give it a try and let me know what you think.

GinGerBread CaraMeL CorN

20 cups popcorn NOT microwave popcorn (you will need to do it the old fashioned way)
3 sticks butter
2cups brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup karo syrup
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 dashes or shakes ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 heaping tsp baking soda
1 large roasting pan
*preheat oven to 325
In a sauce pan melt butter add the brown sugar, molasses, and karo syrup. Bring to a boil stir constantly for 3-5 minutes. Take off heat add the ginger, nutmeg, and salt stir well. Then add the baking soda, it will foam up a bit, make sure you stir this well also. Put the popcorn in the roasting pan and pour caramel mixture over popcorn, using a big spoon or spatula fold the caramel onto the popcorn. Put in oven and bake for 10 minutes then stir around, do this two more times then take out of oven and pour on to parchment paper or cookie sheets. let cool and EAT! and SHARE! Okay now there are no excuses its back to the laundry. DRAT!

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NuMbEr TeN

BAKING DAY!!!!! Yahoo, Yipee, Yaha! Today is the day! My shopping is done. (I think...) And I am going to take a shower, put comfy cloths on, put my apron on and bake into the wee hours. Then as tradition has it, my very outgoing, loving, friendly husband delivers the goods to THE list of people, and if they aren't home then to who ever he CAN find home! He takes a kid or two with him too. My oldest surprisingly loves this, I say surprisingly because he is my most reserved child, but he has been doing this since he was a baby. Ken would carry him to the door and as soon has he could walk he sent him to the door sometimes by himself. I have gone, but usually I am whipped the next day and need to recover from my baking frenzy. And to be honest it's really more my husbands thing. God paired us perfectly, I bake, he gives it away....no problems!


Who is on the list? Well, its not exclusive or anything....It's neighbors first. And since we don't live in a neighborhood, that means any ones property that touches ours. Then we venture out to friends and basically anyone we find home. So if you have never received baked goods, then STAY home! It's all sort of random shmandom so no hard feelings. Believe me if I had it in me I would make enough for everyone I know by name.


What do I bake.........well that has evolved over the years to basically two things. The majority of the baking is cinnamon rolls. THE pioneer woman's cinnamon rolls these days. I used to make a old recipe from a church cook book, you had to knead the dough and everything. But PW's are much easier so I can make MORE! Then I make Stollen Bread. It's mostly for me, because it is my German fix. But I have a good friend who's husband loves it and then our beloved piano teacher who is German. It literally takes me all day to make the Christmas Stollen, I make it while I am making my batches of rolls. Stollen is a very heavy braided bread with dried fruits and rum in it. I used to make literally 10-15 different cookies and candies. One year I even stood at the stove top stirring this Martha Stewart caramel recipe for 45 minutes, and then wrapping them individually in waxed paper with tiny bows. NUTS! clearly that woman does not have 4 kids and a husband that works weird hours in an ER! I still miss some of those treats.....toffee candy, almond snowball cookies, gingerbread cutouts, sugar cookie cutouts, peanut butter balls, white star candy, chocolate covered cherry cookies, thumbprint cookies....hmmmm. Carmel corn too! Oh the insanity of it! So now I am off the bake my bread and drink insane amounts of coffee.



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December 22, 2009

number NINE




Oh my goodness gracious me............its day nine!




Remember when you had your first baby, or when you got married or when I guess maybe you went to college......people had advise. Lots of advise. I can remember thinking, "uh huh, uh huh, uh huh", not really listening sometimes at all. HOW RUDE! I'm just gonna say right now SORRY to the person who said to me "be careful what you start, you could make alot of work for yourself". I don't know maybe no one told me that, maybe it's something I have had to figure out for my self. And if I had listened I would not have these adorable tiles, nor would the grandparents. It was easy at first, I just took Noah there, he was so good almost one at the time he just sat in his stroller as I put his tootsy toes on 4 tiles and then painted them. Then along came Ainslie, who was born in August and cried nonstop until March. That was the year I enlisted my poor sister to come with me and help. We quickly got her feet prints and sweated like heck painting them so we could get the heck out of there. Then Luke, I think I hired a baby sitter that year to watch the other two and I took him by myself. Well then along came Cece, I think that's the year I was really brave and we all went and I let the other three paint while I did her footsy tiles. CRAZY! I am sure the people at the pottery place were counting the minutes till this mom with a 5, 4, 2 1/2 , and 6month old got OUT of their store. Great memories.............and every year when I unwrap them from there tissue paper packing we all talk about the size of their feet and where we lived that Christmas.....etc....etc.... I could fill pages with pictures of all the things my kids have made over the years. Its all just too sweet. I still have the first ornament Noah brought home from preschool. Its simply a wooden star with gold sparkles glued on. I love that star!


A few years back my dad brought over a baggy, pre zip-loc, he had found it in a box he was going through from the attic. He is always going through some box these days and offing all kinds of junk on my sister and I.........thats a whole other post. What was in the baggy you ask? Cookies! Christmas cookies that I had decorated as a little girl and gave to my Grandma, she couldn't bare to eat them apparently, and she saved them for nearly 30 years!

Amazing the things we hang on to.....

December 21, 2009

Number EiGhT


La la lalalala la lala lalala lala, can you hear my song in your head? Probably not, cause if you were right next to me listening you wouldn't be able to make it out either. I stink at singing! I mean I really stink, ask my sister and my family. If I can't think of a song I will humm it and say "you know that song?!" and they are looking back at me painfully confused, because they know if they don't guess it right they will have to endure my further attempts at trying to sing the song. Okay enough about my horrendous vocals. THIS is my next, and newest favorite thing! I LOVE IT! It says it all doesn't it.............My good friend and fellow foodie (PW partner), is the creator of REDLETTERwords, she gave this to me. And beware because they are my favorite gift to give these days. Take a second and click on the redletter up there and check out her website. Dee loves the Lord and has put Gods word into a format that we can have on our wall in front of our faces everyday! LOVE that... By the way I was singing "Away in the Manger". Yeah, I know it sounds nothing like the song.


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December 20, 2009

NUMBER sEVEn

Are you starting to think I have a thing for little guys??!! A beautiful, friend of mine, who unfortunetly I do not get to see very often, saw this one day bought it and brought it over. She saw it and knew I had to have it! I love that.....love her, LOVE this Santa! He is holding in his hands the Nativity scene. And he is smiling SO big. Makes me smile everytime I walk by him. As you can see this Santa is black, he is very special to our family because of our Cece. Our fourth (last but not least) child, came to us by adoption. I will share more about that later right now you go and love on somebody for NO apparent reason....go, go, shoo, it's Christmas time, give hugs freely!!!!





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December 19, 2009

NumBER 6

This is getting hard. Not because I can't figure out what to put as my favorites, but because there are just too darn many things that I cherish this time of year. One thing I (and my husband) really look forward to is Christmas cards. I LOVE getting cards, its like getting dozens of little gifts everyday. Like when you ordered something online and you are waiting, waiting, running out to the front porch everyday...........



Of course as the saying goes "giving is always better than recieving", NOT SO MUCH to be honest I way rather recieve Christmas cards than give them. I guess it's not so much that I dont want to give them, its just one more thing that I feel like I have to check off my list. But if others like recieving my card HALF as much as I like recieving theirs that makes it ALL worth it!!!!!




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straight UP appleSAUCE

Okay I am really hoping none of you was Johny on the Spot and made the Cinnamon Hanging recipe as soon as you read it. And if you did I am sincerely hoping that you used PLAIN applesauce because I did not specify that in my directions. NO sweeteners just PLAIN ol' simple applesauce. And just to be safe add 1/3 cup then add the 2nd 1/3 gradually to get the right consistency. Well I started to make mine this morning with sweetened, and I now have Cinnamon Glue Soup. It's lovely! AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH. Praying that yours went fabulously......................Remember PLAIN applesauce!

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December 18, 2009

number FIVE

Oooohh, sniff, aahhh do it again ooohhh, sniffff, aaahhh. These little babies smell so amazing. I try to make them every year. I hang them on my garland on the staircase, I put them in baskets in the bathroom. I tie them on gifts of caramel corn and cinnamon rolls, or what ever kinda gift, it doesn't really matter. Tie them on a bottle of spiced wine! Ooh that's a good one, I'll do that. In the cookbook I have they are called Spice-scented Ornaments. I call them Cinnamon Hangy things............ I always have had a way with words.......I'm sure you can tell that if you have been reading my blog at all.


Once again my camera stinks so sorry about the fuzzy, glaring, picture. (if Santa brings me what I asked for, this possibly might improve after Christmas) So I would love to share the recipe with you....I am giving you the recipe doubled, and if I were you I would double it again. Not sure what they were thinking when they published it, because it would make approximately one and a half ornaments. It calls for lots of cinnamon so go to Costco or Sams Club and get your self some cinnamon, its so cheap there less than 3 bucks for a huge container.

Cinnamon Hanging Thingy Recipe

1/2 cup ground cinnamon

2 Tblsp ground allspice or pumpkin pie spice

1/3-2/3 cup applesauce PLAIN must have no sweeteners

4Tblsp white glue or wood glue

Then you will need cookie cutters, extra cinnamon for dusting, straw or tooth pick, wire wrack for drying, glue if you want to embellish with sparkles or beads, ribbon to tie them on to stuff.

Mix all the ingredients together in a glass bowl, add 1/3 cup applesauce then gradually add the next 1/3 cup, (if you do it in plastic its fine but it seems to want to stick to the bowl) it is a very sticky messy dough, you need to use your hands and add a bit more cinnamon if it seems too stick when you get a good ball, then sprinkle some cinnamon on a hard surface and roll out with a rolling pin. They need to be rolled out quite thin, cut with your cookie cutters (I have found the smaller the better, wouldn't advise using a cutter any bigger than three inches, if they get too big they break and are hard to transfer) then transfer to a wire cookie cooling type wrack, with a spatula. Make sure you DON'T forget to put your holes in for the ribbons, using a toothpick or straw. Then simply let dry. You will want to turn them every so often. It may take at least eight hours or a good day, so plan ahead. I just referenced my recipe and it says to let dry 2 to 3 days! Yikes I am not patient enough for that, 1 day is good. One last note, they will last from year to year, I pack them away in tissue with my garland.

I do hope you enjoy my 5th favorite thing!

December 17, 2009

NUMBER FouR

Our Advent Wreath, is one of my favorite things. I look forward to how it brings our family together to remember that "Jesus IS the reason for the Season".

Week one, Hope-the prophet Isaiah gave us Gods promise of a Saviour and that's our HOPE.
Week two, Faith-faith WOW did Mary and Joseph have faith or WHAT???!!*&^% just take a second and pause on the thought of God coming to you as a young teenage woman, telling you that you are caring HIS child, the Creator of the Universes Child!, (Luke 1:26-38), and she believed! "I am the Lords servant, and I am willing to do whatever HE wants." Okay, reality check in my own life............... Week three, Joy- the shepherds candle. To think THEY got to be the first to see the Son of God! Week four, Peace-the angels candle. I just love the thought of the angels singing then and now in heaven. Wow! now that's a concert I DO not want to miss!

So what do we do with this wreath of candles??? Well we give each child a chance to read the scripture that goes with that week and to light the candle. Then we sometimes sing a song, like "Angels we have heard on high", or "Away in a Manger", "Joy to the World", while Noah or
Ainslie plays the piano. Okay don't gag yourself, if you think it sounds like the Von Trap family from "Sound of Music" or something, and you are saying "PaLEEEASE...." Usually there is some sort of argument, Cece is talking while Luke is reading, "why do I always have to go last to light the candle" "I don't want to sing, this is stupid....", sometimes there are lots of rolling of eyes. And to tell you the truth, some nights I just rather let everyone stay in their corner of the house, than haul us all together and hear the whining. BUT, in the end, WHAT is this season all about anyway???? We need to remember....God made a lot of promises and he fulfilled everyone of them for us through Christ. HALLELUJAH!

You don't need a special wreath to do this with your family. Just open your Bible AND your heart to Gods promises, and take a moment to remember what Christmas is really about. Many blessings to you~

December 16, 2009

NUMBER thREE

Okay, this little guy is the coolest thing, I just love him. He is kinda like my Thanksgiving Pilgrim People.........I hug him and make him do a little jig, I sing Oh Tannenbaum as I unwrap him from his Rubbermaid slumber. BUT there is one thing about him that's gross and totally not in line with the Christmas spirit. Its that.............


HE SMOKES! He really smokes. You can't see it in the picture, because my camera stinks.......but this little guy literally smokes his pipe. My kids love it. They are like "make him smoke, make him smoke!". Kinda weird, I know.......You have to tear the little man apart at the waist insert a lighted incense cone in his belly and put him back together and then it appears that he is smoking! One of my souvenirs from Germany. So if you can't find someone to smoke with you (out in our garage) this Christmas season you are welcome to take "little smokin' guy" out in the garage with you!

December 15, 2009

NUMBER tWo

Another of my favorite things is the receipt of our "Germany package". Every year my German exchange sister and I send packages full of things that are special to our memories of the other ones country. She sends me Stollen Bread and Lebkuchen and I send her chocolate chips and taco seasoning! Now that we both have kids it has become even more fun. The kids anticipate the arrival of this box almost as much as Christmas morning.


Andrea always way out does me, with many candies and all kinds of clever small gifts for us all. This year the hit was finger soccer and puzzle balls, and as always KINDER chocolate is the BEST!

December 14, 2009

12 of my FAVEorite THingS

Christmas is by far my favorite time of the year. What other time of the year can you run around like a crazy person spending insane amounts of money on your kids, eat 15 bagillion calories every day for 2 weeks straight, show up at peoples doors with cinnamon rolls and other goodies and not be asked, "what's this for?". I love IT! So I want to share a few (well 12 to be exact) of my very favorite things about Christmas. Some are Christ centered and others are just funky things I have collected. But I hope you enjoy the next 12 days.

NUMBER 1

gIngerBread HouseS




Many years ago my good friends Cindy and Jodi gave me a gingerbread house kit, I think it sat in my cupboard for 3 or 4 years and it made a few moves with me before I used it. (sorry cind and jode) But now I use it every year. Its great. Each kiddo gets their own house to decorate as they want.






This is the sugar bomb that goes off in my kitchen while my crazily, creative children are decorating their houses.




I am still finding royal icing blobs on my floor and table and other places I won't mention. It IS worth the mess, it smells so awesome. And you can smell that gingerbready, spicy smell all season long.

December 10, 2009

gift IDEAS

These are two of the easiest things to make and give away. And most of the ingredients you probably already have on hand so you just maybe need to go buy some cute containers and even those don't need to break the bank. Dollar store that's what I am talkin bout........

Hoping I don't make the Tastefully Simple people mad. Because I am giving away their secret. So NOW you too, can afford to have and give beer bread anytime you like!

BEER BREAD
3 cups of flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt

This is all you need to mix together and put in a package of some sort. Then type out the directions. Add 1-12oz. bottle of beer (any sort will do), and 2 tablespoons melted butter, pour into a buttered bread pan and bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes. Brush with one more tablespoon of butter as soon as it comes out of the oven for extra yummyness! Voila! Beer Bread. You could even give them the beer to go with it.

CAPPUCCINO MIX
1 cup instant coffee creamer
1 cup Nestle Quik
2/3 cup instant coffee crystals
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
instructions: add 3Tbl of mix to 6oz of hot water. ENJOY!

Mix the above ingredients together well. I usually make 5 or more recipes of this stuff at a time, because this is only like two gifts. I guess it depends on how much you are going to give. After making the mix you need to get some airtight containers together and write out instructions. Its cute if you have your kids do it on squares of paper in crayon or maker. Then take a hole punch and attach with ribbon to gift. My favorite way to give this gift is to get mugs (dollar store) or mason jars (cheap at grocery store in canning section), then go to Target and buy those smallish, stretchy gloves that are in bright colors, they are like two pairs for $1.99. Tie a pair of gloves to your container with ribbon and the instructions. Too CUTE! Makes a great teacher gift.

If I wasn't on my stupid laptop I would put in pictures for a visual, I will try to do that later. Have fun. LUV U!

BoYS



Look past the yummy biscuits to the boy in the back ground. That would be my Noah. What is he doing you ask.... finger boarding or tech decking if you are using momtalk. Yes, he is boarding through my baking space. If you have a boy that does this finger board thing, you know how annoying that slap, slamming noise is. SLAP, slam, WHIZ, skid, slap, slam, slap ,slam........... Oh my! My hormones, my head!

If you don't have boys...I'm sorry. I am blessed to have two of each. God is allowing me to experience his creation of man and women two fold. And truly girls and boys are so dramatically different from each other. When I'm cooking the girls are touching, tasting, smelling. They are making pretty sugary things from my leftover dough. And the boys are tech decking through my flour dust. Don't get me wrong. My boys love to be in the kitchen. What they love to do is chop, stir, smash crackers in a bag, brown meat that is spewing hot grease at them. You get what I'm sayin.

I would say if I could do anything all day it would be to stand at my kitchen island with my jammies on, apron over them, and my kids all around me. That's a good day!

December 09, 2009

MOtivVAtor

Potential snow days are apparently a HUGE motivator to me. I guess I need to work something out with our local meteorologist to forecast a gigantic storm every week. One that threatens to shut down the city and then and only then will I be able to accomplish nearly all my Christmas shopping, all my grocery shopping, and I got alot of my food for parties bought AND my toilets got cleaned too!

I hope you don't think I am bragging, but I also got a work out in this morning. NO I am not bragging if you know me you would know that I usually spend lots of time spinning in circles, doing a little of this a bit of that. I have realized, since I turned 40, many things about my self and one is that I am ADD. I find it very hard to focus on anyone thing too long. There are just to many thing to do and only 24 hours in everyday!

Well I really hope that "they" weren't wrong today about this storm, because ME and my kids are gonna be bummed! I guess for me its a win win situation though when I think about it. If the kids don't have school I get a day with my kiddos with not alot of stuff hanging over my head, and if they do go to school then I get a FREE day.........................Lunch anyone?

December 06, 2009

Chicago is my Friend


Have I said "I love Chicago?". Did I tell you that Chicago is the beast? Has anyone ever told you how much I like to visit the windy city? NO?!!!! Well I have only been there three times in the last three weeks, so go figure! There is some goooood eatin in that town, I am hear to tell you and I am wearing my belt a bit looser too because of it. Yowza!
Okay this story needs to start three weeks ago. Yes you guessed it this does tie in to my Pioneer Women experience. When my friend Dee and I went to see PW we had to check out someplace new, we were in a city with 50 bagillion restaurant choices. Why would we go to someplace we could eat at home or had eaten before. BORING. Sorry, that is very boring and I am gonna stick to my opinions about that sort of behavior. We decided to seek out a Diners-Drive-ins& Dives restaurant. Since we both love Mexican food, and discovered that we are both mole' lovers, we went to a place I had seen on the show. They made this amazing looking mole sauce. The whole segment on triple D (above mentioned show) was about this restaurants mole sauce, and how the father flew back to Mexico every so often to get the special spices, it makes my mouth water just writing about it. So we drive all over the place looking for this joint, because Gabbie gets silly sometimes and can't figure out a restaurant from somebodies back yard. Gabbie by the way is our navigational system. So FINALLY we see the sign, Cemita Puebla- authentic cuisine famous for our mole sauce, right on the sign. Yahoo, we could taste it, all spicy and chocolaty. As we stoond there and looked over the menu, the owner greeted us and offered to help us with our choices. I say, "I don't see mole on the menu any where" AND in a thick (but very cute) accent he says "no one a order the mole, I take off menu". WHAT! Are you flippin kidding me??? Is this a bad joke? Dee and I give each other the wide eye, and recover quickly from our near fainting experience. We enjoyed our food very much, it is very cheap and plentiful, and the staff was helpful and friendly. But we laughed our hineys off once we got in the car, because we thought the cute old man was probably saying "none of you will eat my mole, two white chicks walk in here and want the mole!"
Now our family Chi-town adventure! We were a little more conservative with our food adventures, because the kids have there Chicago favorites. Lou Malnatis the best deep dish chicago pizza by far in our book, a must try. And if you are willing to veer from pepperoni try Lous favorite with mushrooms and garlic and lots of spinach. Super Yummy! My youngest had never been to Ed Debevics so we had to go there. Ed's is all about the atmosphere. Don't get me wrong the food is always more than edible, but the show the waiters put on is very fun! We had the meatloaf, ribs, hamburgers, and other normal kids fare. The shakes are worth the calories, my daughter ordered butterscotch, and it was addicting. We also started out with the chili cheese fries and the platter looked like we had all gone around and licked it. Don't judge us we were starving after a day at the Planetarium and Shedds! We went to one of our ALL time favorite breakfast spots for Thanksgiving day dinner , Ann Sather,(which was very odd for us, but we had done our at home Turkey feast the Sunday before turkeyday). The cinnamon rolls weigh at least 100lbs each and they seriously give mine a run for their money. We started our thanksgiving day dinner out with a platter of cinnamon rolls, and other delectable baked goods and ended with pumpkin pie. In between we had the traditional turkey and all the fixens, well almost all.( Hey, Ann you got sumthin against green bean casserole!) If you have to eat out on Thanksgiving in Chicago I would recommend it. Well we also sought out a triple D this week end and it was the HonkyTonk BBQ on 18th south west of downtown. TO DIE FOR! A must try. But two things , make sure you have gone potty ahead of time, cause I guess there toidy gets plugged easy and they ONLY take cash. Everything is all homemade everyday. Must try the mac&cheese if you are a pecan pie folk then do that too!

Okie Dokie, I was back in my home away from home this past weekend. I was a passenger on the D express! I went with one of my favorite foodie friends (hey triple F), Demetria. We stayed with her sister who lives in Chicago, so that was a bonus. More money to eat with my dear...... We tried a place called Mixteco. Guess what? They had MOLE'! I can hear the angels singin..... Or was that me? Oh did they have mole. It was not some place I would take my kids, I could take my kids there, but it was more of an adultish kinda place. The dinner prices were around 14-20bucks a plate. But we were stuffed. That could be because whe had two appetizers and who can leave with out trying the Tres Leches and the Flan! Its on the corner of W Montrose and Ashland. (sorry this is going to have to be continued I have to get something done around here I was just gone to Chicago for three days!)
Phew! Okay I'm back. Sorry about that. My kids had no undies so I had to get some washed! On Saturday we went to the "One of a Kind Show" that was pretty cool. I didn't really buy much, it was just fun seeing ALL the stuff people think of. Check out the link and go next year it was super cool. Okay I have to admit. I did buy one very super cool thing for my boys that I am feeling very selfish and not wanting to share. But I am gonna get over my self...................okay I am over it and now I am going to share the Pook. You MUST check this hat out. The demonstration these guys gave was fit for SNL. Demetria had to reign me in I almost bought 6 of them. (I bought two for my boys)
Two more places we ate were Garrets THE popcorn heaven in my life. I actually went to Chicago three times and only got popcorn at Garretts once. What is wrong with me? The three of us bought about 50lbs of chicago style popcorn (cheese and carmel mixed). It was all warm and we could not wait to eat, so of course we dug in to it as we headed to catch our train we looked like we had a run in with an orange marker, orange fingers, orange lips, "oops little on your nose there". Who can stop eating it? It is more addicting than Mcy D's fries. So quickly two last places I ate in Chicago LeShets, awesome german food! Brought back many a yummy memory of my days in Deutchland. And then last but not least Paulinas a great breakfast spot, near Andersonville. Hey anytime you all are up for a eating adventure in Chicago, I'm your girl!

December 03, 2009

Comfort FOOD

I don't really have much to say. Or I guess I should re word that, because I have alot to say, I am just to lazy to write it all down write now. But I do want to share with you a yummy dinner I made this week. Shepherds Pie! Yummy, yummy, yummy feels so good in my chubby tummy. That little diddy is brought to you by my father who has many a little diddy he likes to say. So ok here it is..............

SHEPHERDS pie

1 1/2 lb lean ground beef

1 can tomato soup

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1/2 sm can or 3Tbl of tomato paste

1 Tbl worcestershire sauce (okay I had to go to my fridge and check the spelling on that one)

1 tsp paprika (if you like smokey flavors use a smoked sweet paprika)

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp ancho chili powder or just regular ol' chili powder is good

1 tsp curry powder

couple shakes of crushed red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy)

season salt to taste

2lb (8-10) yukon gold potatoes

1cup shredded cheese (whatever you have will work I almost always use the Mexican blend)
1/2 stick butter
1 bag of frozen green beans, or corn, or peas (pick your poison)

Brown the ground beef in a good sized skillet so you have room for stirrin. Then add everything up to the seasoning salt, cook until bubbly and flavors have come together 10-15 minutes over med/low heat. Meanwhile boil your taters, drain water add butter,add butter, and splash or two of milk, whip those up with mixer, stir in cheese, a dash o salt and pepper of course. NOW you need to take a casserole dish and layer the meat mix on bottom, your choice of vegi on top of meat (sometimes I put halfsies ie. corn on one side, peas on the other) then spread the whipped cheesy taters on top bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Yummy! This freezes well too, and is better as left overs.

The first time I had this dish was on my honeymoon at a brewpub in Vermont, I would like to go back and see if my version compares with the one I ate there, it was so scrumptious. Then the next time I had shepherds pie I was in another pub in London and it was not so yummy. It was bland, no spice and the taters where dry, BLAH, but what could I say I was in London, so whatever right?!
Enjoy, and make your kids try it, they will come to love as my kids have. Courtesy bite for the cook.

November 28, 2009

PW IV

So sorry, I have to do a part four. I just had to share with you that me, and Dee made it on the Pioneer Woman's "so thankful" post on Thanksgiving Day! My, my, my, its a good thing I was sitting down when I spotted us right there.... well I had to kinda look.... uh, yeah, well if you were to look you probably would never spot us. But I did! Cause I recognized the lady in the red sweater who was even more excitable than me. She is standing up and yes there we are about 4 rows behind her. Dee with her camera up, me with my flip video thinga-ma-bobber in front of my face. I started singing "looks like we made it" by my ol' friend Barry Manilow ......(did I mention we are the last picture, so you must scroll all the way through all her pictures on the post)


All silliness aside. I am still quite geeked about my cookbook signing. I read the whole cookbook from cover to cover this weekend. I was thinking maybe I would do the Sheila and Ree Project. Where I try to cook through the Pioneer Woman's cookbook in say three months and try to not go up a pant size, and blog about it. What do ya think??? Comments please.

November 22, 2009

THANKSgiving EarlY


Aren't the lil' Pilgrims cute? My sister and I both have a set. I love um, I usually have to give um a little hug, and pinch their cheekies. Then I play with them a lot during the meal. Make them kiss, lay them down (they passed out from to much tryptophan), and they even dance sometimes (that depends on how much holiday cheer I have had before sitting down for the Thanksgiving meal).

So, we decided to be daring and try something new for Thanksgiving this year. Daring for us over this holiday is going to Chicago and not having our dinner with my sister her husband, my dad, and my sisters in laws, at my sisters house. We have some pretty strong traditions over the Holidays and going to Chicago breaks three of them. #1 Having the traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner. #2 Creating our gingerbread houses the day after Thanksgiving. #3 Decorating for Christmas. Oh Heck! For one year we can messed things up and do something different. And my sister was very accommodating and said she would do Thanksgiving the Sunday before.

So what do "the sisters" put on the table for Thanksgiving dinner? Many things from the Pioneer Woman's website, so if it says PW after the name you can go to www.thepioneerwoman.com and get the recipe for your self. Otherwise, I will hand over the goods.
THE MEAL
-Brined and Butter basted Crestwick Farms turkey PW (Crestwick Farms is a local farm, awesome! google them)
-Mashed Potatoes PW
-gravy PW
-Stuffing
-Rice and Corn Casserole PW ****YOU MUST TRY THIS ONE! IT'S AMAZING.****
-Sweet Potatoes with pecan crumble (to DIE 4)PW
-home made Cranberry Sauce
-Carlas Green Bean Casserole
-rolls
BEFORE THE MEAL
-deviled eggs
-cheese and crackers
-chips and Amish corm salsa
-hot artichoke and spinach dip
AFTER THE MEAL
-Pumpkin Pie
-Larry's Apple Pie in a Bag
-Whipped topping NOT cool whip

CRANBERRY SAUCE- 1bag(12oz)fresh cranberries, 1/2cup brown sugar, 1/2cup orange juice, 1/4 cup water, 1/2tsp cinnamon, dash of clove, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/2cup light raisins, 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans(optional). mix everything together in a sauce pan EXCEPT nuts. cook on medium for about half an hour until all the cranberries pop and the sauce thickens. Let cool. You can make this a couple days ahead. It will make you house smell fabulous!

CARLAS GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE- you will never want to make your old GBC again, unless of course you already make this one! EASY its so EASY! 6cans of green beans drained, 3cans of mushroom soup, 1/2 of a block of Velveeta cube it up, Frenches onions. Mix the first three ingredients together and add 1/2 cup Frenches onions. Dump it in a greased 9x13 dish then put as many Frenches onions on the top as you can stand and bake at 350degrees for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly and the onions are browned.

ROLLS- easy peasy chicken squeezy! Love these rolls! You do need a BREAD MACHINE though.... 1cup warm water (not hot just warm), 3Tbl softened butter, 1egg, 3 1/4 cup bread flour, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1tsp salt, 3tsp yeast. Put water in bread machine then butter, egg, sugar, salt, then add flour, make a little hole in the flour for the yeast, add yeast. Then set your machine on dough mode. Check it if it looks too dry add a Tbl of water at a time until it looks like its good. Then when dough mode is done, take it out and cut into 16 rolls. (I half it then half it again, and again and well you got it until I have 16 cute lil rolls) put on Pam sprayed cookie sheets cover with a clean dish towel and let rise for 1hr. preheat oven to 375. bake rolls for 12-15 minutes. brush GENEROUSLY with butter right when you take them out of the oven. Try not to eat them all before you get them to your destination.

STUFFING-this is one of those recipes I feel my way through. I just make it, and see how it turns out. So I will try to convey my recipe from my head. You cant really ruin it, unless you over salt it. We don't stuff our turkey we just bake it in a pan on the side so it gets those crunchy edges. YUMMY! 2 bags of herbed bread cubes, 4cans chicken stock (maybe 5), 2eggs, 1med onion, 1 bunch of celery(cleaned up outside banged up stalks taken off ends cut off, but leave the middle leafs in), 1small hand full of poultry seasoning, 2sticks of butter. Saute your chopped onion, and celery (yes leaves and all) with one stick of butter, saute until its translucent, not browned. When done throw in 2nd stick of butter let melt. Mix stock with eggs whisk together. Pour this over bread cubes, then add sauteed vegis and butter, mix well, add spices, some salt a pepper to taste. Add extra stock if it seems dry should be kinda wet. Then butter a big ol' dish and smash it all in there bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours or until brown and crunchy edges form. Savory bread pudding is what it is!

There are a couple more recipes that I would like to share with you like Larry's Apple Pie(need to get permission to post the recipe from Big Lar) and the Artichoke Dip, maybe even the deviled eggs. But right now I gotta go I am starving. I pray you all have an AMAZING and BLESSED Thanksgiving with your families!

November 21, 2009

PW part III

Phew! Okay, it was getting hot in there, there are about 50 of us jammed in to a little seating area and another 200 standing around waiting. The Barnes&Nobles chick has announced the rules for the 6th time. Then finally, she announced "with out further ado, Ree Drummond........" Squeals, and giggles, gasps, cameras flashing where is she? Oh there she is coming in from the back, but first Marlboro man and the two cutie patootie boys.

There was alot of hub-ub about Marlboro Man. This is what I have to say about that. He was handsome, rugged, but he IS her husband. And no I did not get him to sign his butt in my cookbook. (Only my friends cookbooks......ha made ya look) The boys did sign my book though. So funny, the littlest guy had sharpie marker all over his forehead.

PW answered questions for about 15min. "Tell us about your perfect marriage"..."no marriage is perfect" she answered "but we are perfect for each other". "Do you make your kids eat things they don't like?" "No, not really I am lazy that way." Love the honesty! "Are you going to open the lodge up as a B&B someday?" "Nope cause then I would have to change the sheets often, and that would be buzz kill." LOve this woman! Finally some one asked her about her Ethel Merman impression, and would she please do it. Well, after a bit of prodding, but not too much, she broke out into a perfect imitation of Ethel's song "Theres no business like show business...". It was awesome, so fun. I wished she could have left with Dee and I right then and gone had a bottle of vino!

Q&A over it was time to get into line. First twenty five on the first floor from 26 to 250 something line up upstairs wrapping around the store. If I didn't say it already we were 67 and 68. One hour and fifteen minutes later we were up next. YIKERS! Talk about ring-o-fire. My pitts were pumpin out sweat. I felt a little light headed. OOOOh, what was I gonna say when I gave these stupid cupcakes I'd schlepped all over Chicago. How embarrassing, I wanted to kick them to the side and act like I had not just held them for the last 1 1/2 hours. So Dee went first. Thankfully she didn't push me and say "you go first". They chatted like ol pals, Dee is so thoughtful and smart she had her put Hebrew 13:1 (look it up) in each of her books. So they chatted about that verse. Then me with my 10 cookbooks and box-o-cupcakes. I told her that I was member of her sisterhood of the ring-o-fire. She took a look at my sweaty pit and giggled, then told me about her silk shirt incident in Denver. Then we talked about cinnamon rolls. Then I presented her with the cupcakes I had baked her. Hoping she would love them and then HAVE to have the recipe and read my blog to get it. CRAZY I know I am a dreamer, but a girl does have to try doesn't she? She asked if I had a cupcake shop, I told her no baking is just a passion. (I didn't admit to my dream of having some sort of baking business) Then she sniffed the box. Some how or another I blabbed that I had a blog. She asked me to write it down, DONE its already on the attached card. Did we hug? No, maybe, oh probably not, my memory and my day dreaming get things all mixed up. She was sweet.

Pour Dee. While I'm chattin' up PW is stuck with Marlboro man. That made her nervous, what do ya say, "Hi I love your wife"??? We did get to see what was in the bags though T-shirts, Pioneer Woman T-SHIRTS. Nice ones! Like designer cute sleeved t-shirts with out a tag! Yowza! And we each got one!

Ok, so are you wondering who else we saw? What other famous person? Author and fellow foodie, Shauna Niequist! She wrote the book Cold Tangerines. Check it out its really goooood....I tried to find her after we had our books signed, but she was either hiding from me, (cause I also once had her sign a stalker-level number of books for me) or she got sick of waiting and left. You should check out her blog its at www.shaunaniequist.com or even better read her book!

Oh my gosh if you have stayed with me this whole time till now, you truly love me. And I truly love you even if you didn't!

PW part II


Land of Goshen! How could two girls have more fun going to a cook book signing???? I have not giggled that much in a long time. (at least a couple weeks!)

Well to start out our perfectly placed peeps that were supposed to get our tickets for us, were not really at the right shopping mall area. We found this out about an hour into our adventure and my right foot got a little heavier on the pedal when I heard Dee say, "oooooh, you can't find the Barnes&Nobles". It will be "ok" we told each other, it will be "ok". We will just go straight there, no stopping for lunch or peeing, just straight to get our "golden ticket", which turns out was red.

We arrived at the Westfield Mall in Skokie. Got a parking spot. The lot looked very full, they must be lining up already, at 12:30. (I will use Chicago time, so don't get all confused and try to subtract and hour.) But to our astonishment there was no line and wE GOT Number 67 and 68. No not the next number, husbands who think that would be funny.... no names mentioned. YAHOO! We did not do a funny dance or make a scene but we were very pleased with our accomplishment at this point. So we took some pics of us buying stacks of cookbooks by the sign of Ree the pioneer woman. And headed out to get some food! (that is another post entirely, sorry mole lovers you will have to read another days entry to get that story, cliffhanger...)

The Barnes&Nobles lady gave us the scoop. Keep your number, at 5pm limited seats would open up for a Q&A with Ree, at 7:30 she would come out and do Q&A, then shortly after they would line us up like cattle, no posed photography, we had to quickly move through the line. They were expecting about "200", she said. "Ok, good thanks, we got it, we will be back!"

So at 5:15 we arrived back JUST in time to snag the last two seats together! My, my, my that was very close..........so now we wait. Mind you we have 16 books between the two of us, a RedLetterword print and a big box of cupcakes, two purses, water bottles, and two very little butts to fit into the area of two small folding chairs. I could hear the moans and groans around us.........but we bounced back quickly and made friends with our neighbors. "So whats your number?, how much of a stalker of PW are you, are you more into her photography, cooking, homeschooling..." It's always easy to jab jaw with people you have a common thread with. THEN at about 7ish I get a elbow in my side from Dee, at the same time I hear gasps from the crowd "Marlboro Man!". It was Ladd, Rees husband hauling in black garbage bags. The time was drawing near...
Oh my goodness, I need to add pictures and tell you about who else I saw at the signing besides PW. Sorry this is going to have to be continued, in PW part III, my kids are all staring at me with hungry Saturday morning eyes. Stay tuned.....

November 18, 2009

PW

Oh my goodness gracious me..........how can one girl get so excited about meeting another mom, lady, fellow foodie. I feel like I am going to see a friend I haven't seen in years, BUT she doesn't even know who I am! Isn't that crazy??? I know I am not the only one. She is so easy to relate to. When I read her blogging and even the way she describes food, I am like "yes, yes I hear ya, that is what I think of cheese dip too!" or "yes my pits pour out like fire hydrants too!" It's so embarrassing 99% of my wardrobe is planned around whether you will be able to see a giant sweat ring or not. I do the spit test sometimes before buying if you can see wet bright and boldly I can't buy it. Its pathetic.
So back to The Pioneer Woman, if you don't have a clue who I am talking about you need to leave my blog immediately and go to her website.(www.thepioneerwoman.com) It is B-awesome! She loves to cook, she loves her man (she calls him Marlboro man), and she loves being a mom, and extra bonus, she is an amazing photographer! (photography being my long lost love, I can live vicariously through PW) And most of all she is just down right funny and real, she says things 75% of us only think and never say. I know this is why she has best friend wanna bees lining up all over the country to have her sign their cook book!
And tomorrow I will be one of them! The excitement has been building since early September, when my friend Dee (the totally awesome friend that shared her knowledge of PW with me) emailed me "Hey what ya doin on November 19?". Then she blew the news on me that Ree was gonna be in Chicago. I said "oh man I am sooo there with ya"
So we had to wait to see where she was gonna be, it just said on her site "to be announced". Then they announced Skokie, Ill. Skokie??? Okay for you PW we will drive to Skokie. Turns out its just north of Chi-town. She will be at the Barnes and Nobles. We planned on arriving at around 4 o'clock for her 7:30 book signing. But then we saw they are handing out numbers starting at 9am! WHAT! AHHHH! Now what, do we have to to early, do we risk going and not even getting our cookbook signed??!! But God had our peeps in place....a good friend of Dees just so happened would be there early Thursday morning with her mom and they are going to get us numbers so we can still show up later. YaHOO, look out Ree we are comin darlin' and we are coming bearing gifts. You don't show up to see a old friend with out a gift do you? Oh we are such geeks..........to be continued.

November 13, 2009

mOLE'


I do love me some mexican food. I think I could eat it everyday of my life! Chips and guac, fresh salsa, carnitas, tacos, fajitas, quesidillas, chips, did I say chips. OOO la la. Ken and I went to Maggies for lunch yesterday. You MUST go to Maggies if you never have been, its on Bridge near the corner of Stocking. What is so special about Maggies? Well, for me its Maggie. I wished yesterday that I would have had my camera, cause I would have asked her if I could take a picture of us together and put it on this blog. She is so darn cute. I don't know how old she is but I would guess late 70's. Her food is fresh and good and I think authentic, seems authentic, I cant really read the menu, so it must be the real deal. I ordered the pork burrito with green sauce. The sauce was on the inside not the out, so you pick it up and eat it like a wrap. It was huge! But I finished it no problemo!

At one time we saw in the Press that Maggies was closing, we were bummed. She said it was time in the article. But then she never did, guess maybe she realized people couldn't do with out her, she is an institution. Yesterday as we were leaving out the back door, Ken pointed for me to look in the kitchen, there she stood, preparing something, just the sweetest thing, talking away to the other cook guy. I had to restrain myself from hugging her. I wonder if many people do just burst into her kitchen and hug her, just a thank you hug. Thanks for workin so hard, thanks for hanging in there for us mexican food freaks.

Ok you get it I like Maggie, but I LOVE Little Mexico! I should say my whole family loves it. We were seriously in mourning when it burned down. I did shed a tear, I think I might have bawled if it had been my time of the month. We watched the paper like hawks waiting to see, would they reopen, what the scoop was. I have heard many people say "oh Little Mexico isn't that good....", its not that authentic, or whatever. But it is also and institution. It has been there for as long as I can remember. So when I was a kid and we would go to mass at St. James on Sunday night, I can remember turning the corner and wondering what that crazy restaurant was right smack dab on the corner with the weird windows and funny door handle. I never got to go there until I was an adult though. We are still waiting expectantly for it to reopen. Its been nearly a year! Even going out of our way every once in a while to check the progress. Yesterday we watched from Maggies, all the scaffolding is down now so they must be finishing up the inside.... Maybe by Christmas! That would be a present. My favorite is the #13 with poblana sauce. Its a brown, chocolaty, spicy sauce. Its a mole sauce actually. It does have chocolate in it and peppers, its awesum! And I haven't found it anywhere else in G.R.. I am praying that they do not change their menu AT ALL. Cause I will be all grouchy if my #13 is the #5 or worse yet not even on the menu anymore. No I refuse to let my mind go there.....

Okay one last mexican food story.(for today) This summer we took the kids on a 5week adventure. (you can read all about it at www.johnsonfamilyvaction.blogspot.com) Anyway I had done much researching, probably too much, about where we should eat etc. The ONE place that I did not want to miss was the Red Iguana in Salt Lake City, known for their in house made mole' sauce. Well, of course the place was packed, and my over hungry bunch of campers would not wait. I almost just let them leave me and pick me up later, but I pulled it together and we ended up at eating at a touristy Thai restaurant. I should have just eaten there though because I have NOT been able to let it go. I seriously have been planning a mini trip to Salt Lake just to eat at this one restaurant! Yes it is true I am crazy for spicy south of the border food.
Marinated Skirt Steak Fajitas
juice of 2 limes
2 Tbl vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 jalapeno, seeded
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1 lb skirt steak or chicken
salt and freshly ground pepper
In a food processor or blender combine all but the meat. Puree till it is all combined really well, then put meat in a zip loc bag and pour marinate over the meat. I marinate mine at least a day, but the recipe says 30 minutes. Pull out of marinate season with salt and pepper, and grill to your liking. Let set for 5-10 minutes after taking off the grill before slicing up to eat on your fajitas. If I have a big crowd I slice the meat up put it in crock pots with a little chicken or beef stock to keep the meat moist and we have ourselves a fajita bar! with all the fixins. cheese, sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, fresh salsa, onions and peppers sauteed. Its an easy crowd pleaser.

November 10, 2009

Special FOOD

I have been doing a Bible study this fall on Esther. I have always loved the story of Esther especially the Vegi Tale version. Okay, lets pause here and have a show of hands. Who, other than me can say they learned bible stories from appendage lacking vegetables? Okay I knew that I could not have been the only one, thank you for your honesty. Before studing the book of Esther, it was always a glamorous story for me. Sure Esther had alot on her shoulders saving all the Jews and everything, but she was chosen by the King of Persia for goodness sake....come on we are talking lap of luxury! And to a middle class girl from Coopersville that was all way more appealing to me than the pressure of saving Gods people.

What did I see when I actually had the opportunity to study the book of Esther? I saw alot of partying. Wow, those people could put on a banquet. Lots of food, lots of doing nothing but eating and drinking all day long. Day after day.....that would be fun for a while but even this girl that loves to eat and eat some more and then have dessert too. Would need to have a change of scenery. I also saw that Esther was young, alone, orphaned and raised by her cousin, she was thrown into a beauty competition for the kings favor and had to live with lots of other women. SCARY! She must have been one tough cookie. Okay, this story isn't looking so glamorous anymore. Plus Xerxes the king of Persia was gross. He had different women every night, he drank and ate all day and took evil peoples advice. No, not attractive, or glamorous.

What I saw today, in chapter 9, made my heart LEAP! After Esther rose to her God given task ("for such a time as this"), and went before her gross husband and petitioned for the salvation of her peeps. After the Jews won the battle against their enemy. The people rested THEN they celebrated and gave gifts.(Esther 9:19) Only because of Beth Moore and her research and commentaries from smart Bible people did I find out that "gave gifts" meant gave special food! I love that, cause I love to give gifts of special food. It just gets me sooo excited. ooh... I hope when people see me jumping out of my van with a pie or a dinner or at Christmas time cinnamon rolls, they are as excited as I am. What is your special food? Mine just happens to be food. I find joy in giving people nourishment. Some might find joy in giving laughter, time, teaching, money, labor, a hug, encouragement. I have some friends that are super encourager's, that is something I admire in a person, not just when they encourage me, but when I see them encouraging others that is food too, food for the soul. Wow, God has given us all gifts that we can share. What gives you joy to give? What makes you gasp and feel like smiles are popping out all over your body?

CARMEL CORN
5 qt popped corn (not microwavepopped, but real old fashioned popped corn)
3 sticks butter
3 cups brown sugar firmly packed
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 generous tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
spread the popped corn in a large shallow sheet pan (like a 12x15 sheet cake pan)
Combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a 2qt pan. Place on med. heat, stir until sugar dissolves. Continure to boil to the firm ball stage (248) about 5 minutes (i usually go with the minutes) Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. It will foam, so dont be alarmed just keep stirring. Pour carmel over popcorn stir to mix well. Put carmel ocrn in a preheated to 250 oven bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. cool it and then shovel it into containers and get it to all your friends family and coworkers before it cools!

Hey did you think I was gonna give you my CINNAMON ROLL recipe? Well its not really mine, but I call it mine now cause I have made too many batches to count. You can go to www.thepioneerwomen.com. Plus you will find lots of other awesome, yummy recipes there, have fun! LuvU!

November 01, 2009

NEVER say Never....


If there is one thing that I have definitely learned, BUT not perfected, is that I need to never say "never". Oh I have done it so many times, its SICK. Made a statement about how I would never do this or that or maybe I haven't even voiced my opinion out loud, but I have had strong thoughts about it. You know what I mean. Like for example. "Who would be dumb enough to take a guinea pig to a veterinarian?" For crying out loud, its just a rodent, that cost $11. What a waste of time.....blah blah. I have made many a statement like this about anything from animals to cell phones to music. Oh it is so pitiful. Yes this is true confessions by Sheila. I am a wretch. Oh if not by the grace of God.....

Where am I going with this? Ask me where I was yesterday. Okay I will tell you. In the vet with Penny the guinea pig and my frantic daughter. The silly piggy couldn't move its back legs. (We think it was possibly loved a bit too much by lil sister.) It had been discovered the night before dragging its hind side around. We just put it to Ainslie plain, its probably gonna die, it doesn't seem to be in pain. She sobbed as she begged us to take the pig to the vet and see if he could help her pretty Penny. Please, please. She so loves this pet and has been so good with it. And she begged for at least two years for one, and now after two months the thing has been fatally injured. YIkes! I felt horrible for her, Ainslie that is. I didn't really answer her questioning about the vet, because her father, my wonderful husband had said, "do NOT take that thing to the vet, its gonna cost 80bucks".
But after I tossed and turned all night thinking of how Ainslie was probably gonna wake up to her beloved Penny dead and how I was going to have to bury the stupid thing and Ken and to work early(how convenient!) I got up and looked up our Vets phone number. Yeah! they opened at 8am, they could see us at 9:30 and it was going to cost $23 max. But now I had to call people and finagle a ride for brother to soccer and explain I had to go to the vet with a pet. "No not Jack our guinea pig" sheepishly, feeling very foolish. Jack by the way is our 4yr old golden retriever.

While I am in the vet with Ainslie bawling her eyes out, my good friend D calls me, to ask a food question, but I tell her quickly and quietly (too quick and quiet apparently) I would have to call her back because we were at the vet with the pig whose back legs aren't working might have to put it down, please pray for Ainslie she is a wreck, good-bye. After we leave I call D back, her husband says she is at the grocery store. So when I get home I call her on her cell. She says "I am almost there with some donuts hows everybody doing?"( in a very upset and crying voice. Yeah we're fine we brought the pig home. "The Pig???" she says. Yeah they said to watch her and sent us home with oral cortisone. "What you're not talking about Jack?" My dear, amazing, good friend thought we were going to have to put our precious Jack down, NOT a blasted guinea pig! And she was on her way over with fresh, warm pumpkin spice donuts from Post Family Farm!!!! To ease our pain and loss. Oh my goodness gracious, God is so good. We got a good belly laugh out of that mix up, as we watched the silly guinea pig drag its back side around the kitchen island as we ate our yummy warm donuts and gave thanks that we have friends who know what will comfort us when we are down!
I am hoping for mercy in those areas where I have been rigid and said I would never do this or that. And I will pray that I can be merciful, and forgiving to others that I catch in this trap of nevers. Because you just never ever know when you are gonna end up in a veterinarian clinic with a guinea pig.

October 30, 2009

pumpKIN Seeds


I am pooped. This fall/Halloween things wipes me out man........we finally got around to carving pumpkins, that we didn't even get at a pumpkin patch this year. I am an embarrassment to myself. I bought them at the corner gas station! They are actually very nice gourds, but they were not picked from the patch. I thought I was gonna get away with this laziness. BUT no, my oldest announced that it just cant be Fall until he goes to an orchard picks and apple and has a donut! (Whew, thank goodness he did not say AND pick out a pumpkin, cause ol'Maw did that at the corner
station)

Ok, what is my point in all this blathering about pumpkin buying??? We make traditions for our kids and it ends up being alot of pressure and work. But it is good memories for them, things they will talk about with their kids, and hopefully do with their kids. And in the end sometimes we have a year that we have to compromise our selves and buy the dog gone pumpkin at the station cause between all the sports and so on, pumpkin buying got forgot and now its Halloween tomorrow so........we are hoping to try and make it to Robinettes on Sunday and get ourselves a donut and cider. I have heard that Post Family Farm has the BEST donuts on the planet, I have yet to have one, maybe next year.....

And adding to the nostalgia and memories is of course roasting the seeds, cause they are so very yummy! The smell of nearly burning seeds is a memory in itself. I did not burn them this year but I have. And thats such a bummer when that happens. Cause you know you just ain't gonna do that all over again just to have some roasted seeds. So your going to have to wait till next year. Ken says he almost has a cardiac arrest from the amount of salt I put on them, but I think a man could have a cardiac arrest from eating so many so fast...... but thats just my opinion.

Pumpkin Seeds
seeds from 5 pumpkins :D
1 stick of butter melted
a few shakes of cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/4 onion powder
black pepper
kosher salt
rinse seeds well pick out all orange stuff, mix with everything except salt
spread out on cookie sheets then sprinkle generously with kosher salt, bake at 400 till browning then take a spatula and move around sprinkle more salt and bake for another 10 min or so. Store any that dont get eaten that 1st night in an airtight container.
Love them LOVE U!

October 27, 2009

Thankful for Soup!

Have you ever lost anything?  Have you ever thought you lost your kid?  How about someone elses kid, or the whole soccer team for that matter.  Ever have one of those days where your kinda busy, not too bad though.  Just gettin stuff done, actually had time to fold laundry and watch "What not to Wear".  But then all of  a sudden things get crazy and you have to be 10 places at once, okay just three places, but it feels like 10!  And it  raining again, so that makes my head a little funny anyway. 
So I had to pick up Noah from basketball try outs, in the mean time Luke got picked up for soccer, I got home fed the people who were in my house to eat then I had to get Ainslie to her game to cheer (its still raining mind you and harder now), then I have to get over to the soccer fields to pick up Luke and two other boys.  With the rain and the traffic around the metropolis of Grandville, I got a little behind and wasn' late picking up the boys, but I was not early.  Then when I got to the fields I saw some lady friends and we chatted for a minute about rain boots.... then I went looking for the boys.  AND they were not there! Not just my kids but NO coaches or any other kids from their team.  So my ears start ringing and my mouth goes dry.  I call Di, trying to sound casz "hey the boys arent here, could Elizabeth have taken them home?"  She says she will try and reach her and get back with me.  In the meantime, I am straining my eyes and pacing back and forth between soccer fields.  "am I looking right at them? did Luke go to soccer? do I have this whole night messed up? am I at the right place?"  CRaZy, feel like I am going craaazy.  Can anyone relate?????
Di calls back "no Elizabeth is home, she doesnt have the boys". WAWAWAWaaahhh.  oh my, hmmmm well where could they be? in my calm voice.  Then my dear friend and fellow mother of four remembers her conversation with her husband earlier in the day.  "So I'll get the boys? " says the husband, "yeh sure, k luv ya" says the wife (5million chachillion other things going on in her mind) OH my I bet Brock got the kids....apology, apology.  But really no apology is needed, cause I can relate, it happens, our lives keep spinnin.  And sometimes things get mixed up, miscommunicated.  I am just thankful that I know the boys are safe, and I did not loose my mind.  Not today anyway. 
I love my kids.  I love watching them do things that interest them.  I am so thankful that I get to chase my kids around, that I have a dependable vehicle.  (like that word? motorized vehicle, I sound like my grandpa)  I am just thankful......Also thankful that I am hungry for soup and guess what I have 2 legless Costco rotisserie chickens in my frig.  Legless, yes they are legless because my kids always fight over the legs.  "I call leg".  I know its kinda weird.  And of course no one can ever remember who got the legs last time.  So this time I bought two chickens so there would be no fighting over who gets a leg AND rotisserie chicken is so easy to turn over into another dinner the next day.
 So today its Chicken Noodle Soup!
4 stalks celery, plus chop up that leafy stuff in the middle of the celery it gives soup good flavor
1/2 large onion
2 cloves garlic
diced carrots as many as you want
-saute in 2Tbl butter and olive oil till onions are tender
throw in diced left over chicken
1 large container of chicken stock, or 2 cans
2 cups of water
season with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning
-simmer all that for an hour or so then I cook my noodles seperately, don't get them too done, and then I add
them to the pot.  You can really put what ever you like in there corn, peppers, green beans.  Its all good in chicken noodle soup.  Then I serve it with biscuits.  If I feel like making them or good ol Panera bread. Heh! another thing to be thankful for,  a Panera bread a half mile down the road.  Cause this family LOVES  bread!

My Moms Biscuits
2 cups all purpose flour
4tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1Tbl sugar
-using a pastry cutter or a fork with work toss the above together then cut in 1/2cup Crisco or butter  (sometimes if I make a double batch I will put a stick of butter and 1/2cup shortening.)  Cut it until it is mixed well and crumbly, no big chunks of shortening should be hanging out in there.  Then with a fork add 1cup of buttermilk, mix just until its holding together.  Then turn the gooey mess out onto a very well floured surface, put more flour on top and pat down into a workable oval about 3/4 inch thick.  Then I just use a juice glass to cut out my biscuits lay them in a greased cake pan and bake at 375 20-30min until they are golden brown.
serve warm with butter and if you want dessert  put honey on them!

October 26, 2009

Bread PUddin

Oh my I am so stuffed.  Why do I do this to myself.  One reason I think it's better for me to eat out is because I eat then I walk away. I leave the building.  Now I am telling myself  "walk away , walk away, walk away from the bread pudding."  I finally put it in the frig. 
Grandpa was coming over so I got caught up cooking this afternoon.....I am not complaining.  Its my favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon.  We had pulled pork tacos, guac, fresh salsa AND chocolate chip bread pudding.  Luke says he wants it instead of birthday cake this year.  UH huh me too!
So next time you dont use all your french bread or if ya just want to buy french bread and let it sit around for a day or two.  Make bread pudding! 
1loaf french bread
4 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%)
cut the bread in cubes and then soak in milk
4eggs
2cups sugar
2Tbl vanilla (yes lotso vanilla)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice (or maybe a smidge less)
-mix this all together well and then add to the bread and milk mixture
-melt 1/2 stick butter, pour into bottom of 9x13 pan spread around and up the sides
-add 1cup or so chocolate chips to bread mixture
then pour into pan
bake at 350 for 1hour
let sit for 1/2 hour
YUMMY!

You can make whip cream and dop it on there or put hershey syrup on it.  I have to confess that I am a whip cream snob.  I have been known to buy Cool Whip, but not usually.  The REAL thing is the ONLY way to go.  Please, I beg of you take the time to whip your cream add a few tablespoons of sugar and a dash o' vanilla and voilla! Yumminess, to top your bread pudding with.

October 24, 2009

This IS the Day.....

"This is the day the Lord has made so let us be glad and rejoice in it"  I wish I was a scripture memorizing guru, but I am not. I have tried to be.  Some of it does stick, I just cant always remember where to go back and find it.  I did find the above verse for you its in Psalm 118.  I had a big reminder this week about life, and how I so often waste today by dwelling on yesterday or thinking about what I need to get done tomorrow or next week.  I waste toDAY by making lists for tomorrow or even for Christmas.  (which is only 62 days away!!!!!) Sorry hope I don't freak anybody out over that revelation!  But what I am trying to say is each day could be our last.  God has our days numbered he knew before I was born the day I would be born and the day I would die.  So am I making the most of today?  Am I rejoicing in this day that I have given or am I mentally spinning over whether I ordered the right boots from Zappos.... will they last me a couple years? will they stay in style long enough to justify the price?  Aaargh!  My prayer today is that I live and love like there is no tomorrow. 

My reminder regretfully came from the sudden death of a mother I knew... not well but I knew her.  She was always smiling and she seemed to be enjoying life, each day the Lord gave her. She always took to the time to say hi! and ask how my family was doing when ever I ran into her. 

This is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and make the most of it!

In memory of Mary Lee.

October 22, 2009

THE recipe

What makes a good recipe? It should be simple, not too fancy, something you go back to again and again. Food holds so many memories for me. Most of the time when a really good time was had it was always had with food and laughter and loved ones
.
Strawberry Cake, is a family favorite. Its one of those recipes, though that you just don't whip up for an after school snack unless maybe its the last day of school. Its always my sisters birthday cake, and it was even her wedding cake! I bring it to those I love and so desperately want to impress with something yummy!

Strawberry Cake is how you really enjoy life. So get out a white cake mix, crack 4 eggs, 3/4cup of oil, 1cup of smashed fresh strawberries, 1-3oz box of strawberry jello, mix well pour into a 9x13 or 2round pans or cup cake tins.... bake at 350 for 30miniutes or till you poke it with a toothpick and it comes out clean. The frosting is the killer, literally the icing on the cake! 1stick of softened butter, aprox 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1tsp (or a cap full if you are like me and your in too much of a hurry to get our the teaspoon) vanilla, then add crushed strawberries until its a good consistency. Frost cooled cake. Best if you refrigerate then serve..........good things come to those who wait.....

Thanks mom, you always make it the best, with lots of love. And she sometimes will cut strawberries pretty and fan them around the edge. Ahhhhh.... I need a glass of milk just thinking about it.