Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 4)

Goodbye to the Camry I Drove like a Tundra

Saying goodbye is never easy. Especially when it is someone who has been with you through thick and thin, helped you raise your kids, been with you on every trip you have ever taken. This gal has carried around more empty food wrappers, cups, backpacks, animal feed, and whatever else we loaded up in her.

Wrecked Car

I loved my Toyota Camry. This was my second one. Her life in my custody ended at  216,000 miles.  My plan was to make it to 400,000… because I hear Toyotas will go that far.  I was actually hoping to drive it one more year and give it to my daughter who will be driving soon.

But, my plans were shattered! Literally.

A month ago, my daughter and I were headed to my son’s last basketball game. It was 5:00 p.m. and broad daylight. Suddenly, we had a large doe in front of us trying to get across the highway. She wasn’t getting good traction on the highway. Her legs were moving in slow motion. I was slowing down to miss her, all the while watching her legs slip and slide.

wrecked car 2

I’m the girl who knows there are always more than one deer. They never travel alone. I always look out for number 2! Always…except that day.

The one in front of me had my full attention because she had darted out so suddenly. Then, BAM! We were hit by number 2. We never saw him coming…we only heard the loud, shattering crash. My car never lost footing or budged off the road, but we knew instantly the damage was bad.

I slowly pulled over to try and figure out how bad the damage was. I tried to get out, but the driver’s side door would not open. I had to crawl over to the passengers side to get out.

We were close to the town where the basketball game was being played. We were trying to figure out if we should leave the car and catch a ride, drive it home, or press on and go to the game. After several phone calls and some time evaluating, we decided it would be okay to drive it on to the game. I actually continued to drive it for a few weeks after this happened.

Long story short, my car needed a lot of repairs. And, since it was 6 years old and had so many miles on it, my insurance company wanted to total it out, buy it back from me, etc. They paid me the value of the car, but it defeated my goal of making it to 400,000 miles. And, now I had to shop for a new vehicle…a process I never enjoy.

I’m not an easy customer when it comes to buying a new vehicle.  Here is a list of my must-haves:

  • must be bigger than a car
  • must have bigger tires than previous car (I had chronic flat tires.)
  • must sit off the ground
  • must have enough room in the back seat to fit my long-legged boy child
  • must hold up to dirt roads and high miles
  • must meet my middle-of-the-road budget
  • must hold its value even with high, rough miles

Those requirements are as hard to meet as you would expect. I’m so in love with Toyota that it gave me hives to think about driving anything else. I drive SO MUCH and live on such a rough road, I don’t trust anything else to hold up to my driving demands. I average 40-45,000 miles per year.

Normally, my car looks like this. This gives you some indication of why I might need something different this go around.

dirty car

The reason I’ve driven a car for so long and not a pickup is because fuel has been really expensive until recently. And, for someone who drives as much as I do, good gas mileage is important.

On occasion I did wash the beast…but, it never lasted long. Proof here.

clean car

So, goodbye wonderful Ms. Camry. I’m certain your manufacturer never intended for you to be in the places that I took you. But, you were always up for the challenge.

I drove you more like a Tundra, and you never gave me grief. You drove down any road I put you on, even through deep muddy ruts and NEVER once got stuck.

You always kept us safe. The deer (there were others!) were no match to your strong frame. You look innocent and prissy, but the truth is …you were a beast. And, you never cost me a cent in maintenance. For that, I’m forever grateful.

May someone purchase you at a salvage yard, fix you up and keep on pushing you to that 400,000 mark. Goodbye good and faithful one. You will be missed.

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Coffee Brownie Madness

If you love chocolate, coffee and brownies, you are going to love this recipe.

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Once upon a time, at least 15 years ago,  I found this recipe in a magazine while at a friends house. It sounded so good that I took the time to write it down.  That was before we all had a camera phone in our hand and could snap a picture of the recipe or read it on facebook. 

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The Easiest Fried Pork Chops in the World

Pork chops have been a staple in our house for the past few years. This is due to stockshows and pigs. We always have one that we feed out and process. 
 
This translates to a million different ways to cook pork chops. I’ve baked them, fried them, grilled them and more. I’ve tried all the spices in our cabinet and a combination. But, I always come back to this easy, pan fried method.
Full disclosure: I also love them on the grill but we are always out of propane for one reason or another. So I end up frying them! Yum yum!!

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Chocolate Marshmallow Cake

I found this recipe in an old cookbook that was originally printed in 1978. It has been reprinted a few times since then, but it still has old recipes. 

“The Pastors Wives Cookbook”

 


My mom had this in her “toss” pile several years ago, and I scooped it up. In my opinion, old cookbooks always have great recipes. 

It has been THE BEST cookbook ever!


It includes recipes from all the food groups, but I lean heavy on the cakes, cookies and breads.  I have some recipes that have become regular repeats, but I continually experiment with new ones, like this one here.

When I read this, I knew it would be similar to a “Mississippi Mud Cake”.  As I was making it, I quickly realized the cake and icing taste almost identical to my chocolate sheet cake, with the exception of the marshmallow.

I love a simple, homemade, chocolate sheet cake. The milk chocolate is so very yummy. It’s a flavor you can’t get in store-bought cakes. There is something magical when you mix cocoa and butter.

This recipe is super simple. You mix everything together, bake, dump the marshmallow on it, then the icing and let it cool.

My honest review of this cake…decadent…and it’s really really sweet. Like,  makes-your-teeth-hurt, kinda sweet. But, what else do you expect from something with marshmallow oozing all over it, right? That translates to… my kids LOVED it! They didn’t notice the over abundance of sugar. 🙂 

Enjoy!

Ingredients
2 sticks margarine (melted or softened)
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs
1 cup nuts, chopped, optional
1 7-ounce jar Marshmallow Cream

Mix above ingredients together and pour into a greased 9×13 pan. The batter will be thick. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until done. Cover with marshmallow cream while cake is still hot. Spread icing on top of marshmallow cream and swirl it in.

Icing
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 stick margarine
3-4 cups of powdered sugar
6 tablespoons milk

Mix all together. Beat until smooth.

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The Best Green Beans Ever

Remember when you were little and the only vegetables you seemed to eat were green beans and corn? 

Maybe that was just me. 

I despised veggies when I was young. I forver ate my hamburger with meat and cheese only! No veggies!!

As an adult, I don’t eat green beans as often as I used to because thankfully my palate has grown to love other vegetables.
 
However, I’m a sucker for the old fashion green beans with bacon and onion cooked with them! How much more southern can you get? 
 
We were discussing this recipe at work the other day. Every since then I’ve wanted some. 
 
Tonight, I needed a side dish to go with some turkey I had made earlier. This was my chance to fulfill a craving. Luckily I had all the ingredients on hand, but I didn’t have all night so I opted for canned beans vs. frozen. They were great! 
First,  sizzle up one package of bacon. I recommend cooking it crisp. (Like, who wants to eat soft bacon anyway?) Yes, for you oven people, it would work fine in the oven. Just save your grease. 

My recipe is bacon heavy because I love bacon. Feel free to cut the bacon in half if that suits your fancy. 

While the bacon is cooking, chop half of a large onion or one small onion. 

When the bacon is as crispy as you like it, remove the bacon and drain half the grease. 


Then, add the chopped onion.  Cook these until they are clear…well, as clear as they can really be in bacon grease. 🙂
While the onions are cooking, chop the bacon into bite sized pieces. Crunchy bacon makes this step really easy. 

When the onions have cooked through, remove them from the grease. (I prefer to place them on a plate with a paper towel to absorb extra grease.) Drain any excess grease out of your pan and wipe clean with a paper towel. Be careful not to burn yourself…that pan might still be hot! (Every calorie counts…even if this recipe is latent with fat, bacon molecules.)
Next,  add two cans of drained green beans. You could use any kind of green bean that you fancy. This is all I had on hand. Most people make this with a full bean and not a french bean. But it works fine either way. Also fresh green beans would be even better…I just didn’t have any. 

Add your cooked onion and chopped bacon back to the pan.
Add one cup of chicken broth. (NOTE: Frozen beans take longer to cook. If you opt for frozen beans, you may need to add a full can of broth and cook longer.) 
 
Cook 20 minutes on low until broth cooks off. You want to do this slowly so your beans absorb all the savory flavors. Don’t rush it too much. 
Eat them as soon as possible…out of the pan because who can resist green beans all slathered in bacon..right? 

Confession: I ate most these myself. Not all in one setting, but I didn’t let them linger long.

Craving gone! Ingredients
2 cans of green beans – or 1 package of frozen beans
1 cup of chicken broth (one can if using frozen beans)
1 package of bacon (depending on your love of bacon, you could easily get by with 1/2 a package)
1/2 of a large yellow onion, chopped (or one medium onion)

1. Fry bacon until crisp. Remove from grease and drain on a plate with a paper towel. 
2. Chop onion. Cook in bacon grease. 
3. Remove onion. Drain grease from pan. 
4. Chop bacon. 
5. Add green beans to the pan, cooked onions and chopped bacon. 
6. Add one cup of chicken broth. (more if using frozen beans)
7. Cook on low, uncovered for 20 minutes or until broth is gone. 
8. Cool and enjoy!

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How to Make White Gravy

Okay folks, this blog is going to be extremely spiritual…especially if you take your food serious.


Blogging about food is something I haven’t done until recently, but I cook ALL the time so I thought it was fitting.

 


In order to get good food, I just have to cook it myself! Plus, I have a sweet family that enjoys eating so cooking is a must.


My sweet friend Michelle asked me the secret to making cream gravy. She had done it several times and each time it had not turned out well. It reminded me of being in college. My roommates and I would try to make gravy, but we were never successful. It wasn’t until I got married and really started cooking a lot that it got easier. It takes some practice.

I tried to snap some photos to capture the experience. Consistency is not the easiest thing to photograph, but maybe it will all make sense.


These particular photos were taken while making S.O.S. That is fried hamburger meat in white gravy. It is best eaten over biscuits.

First, after I cook my hamburger meat (or you can pour a little grease in the pan), I drain most of the grease out of the pan. I leave around 4 or 5 tablespoons. You don’t have to be exact because you can add more or less flour accordingly.

This photo is hard to see, but I have tilted the pan to try to show you. Leaving a FEW drippings in the pan is good too. It makes the gravy taste better, but DO NOT over do it. You can actually have too many.

Next, sprinkle some flour in your pan.  You want it to somewhat be equal to the grease. Maybe 3-4 tablespoons. Not too much, not too little. (secret #1) This is where the mistakes are made people!!

Now, stir it around. It should be somewhat liquidy, not to clumpy. I recommend using a wire whisk (secret #2). If you are really good, you can use a fork. Cook it until it looks kinda like this. Thick and bubbly…but not too thick. This happens fast. No more than 2-3 minutes.

Now, get ready! Here is where the fun part comes in. Pour in some milk. Maybe half an inch deep and stir with that whisk I told you to use. Make sure you get around the edges and on the sides. Sometimes the flour likes to gather around the edges. You will gradually add milk as you go so don’t panic that this is not enough gravy.

Make sure your temperature is set kinda low, maybe a 4 on the electric stove. You do not want to scald the milk. Cook until the mixture gets thick. (secret #3) DO NOT FORGET TO STIR. If you don’t like stirring, this is not the dish you should be cooking. Stir! I said stir!!!!

Now, see this picture?  Can you see the thickness here.  Not over thick, but starting to thicken. You see that, right?

Now, it is the time to add more milk. This will be the last time you add milk. Do not over do it. Just add about what you added before…maybe a little bit more. If you are not comfortable adding that much milk, you can do it in smaller stages. Add a little, stir, thicken, add some more, etc.

You can go ahead and season it now. I only use salt and pepper. Don’t ask me how much because that just depends on your taste buds. But, you can see from the picture how mine looks. (Equal parts of salt since you can’t see that.) The salt and pepper make the gravy so don’t be afraid to season it good.

You can take some very short breaks from stirring, but never leave the gravy on the stove alone. It can do tricks while you aren’t looking. The milk will burn if you are not careful.

Continue to stir on and off for about 5-10 minutes, the gravy is going to get thicker. This takes a while, but remember…all good things come to those who wait. Your taste buds will thank you.

ALTERNATIVE STEP:  If you are stirring your heart out, and your gravy does not get thick, add more flour. You heard me right, add more flour. It will be fine because you are using your secret weapon – THE WHISK!  It will look clumpy, but whisk it in like it had been there from the start. You can do it.

If your gravy gets thick really fast, then you will need to add more milk. It will also thicken a little bit as it cools off. So, if it gets thick ASAP, and you have not had to stir much, you need to add more milk. Remember, it’s gravy not flour. No one wants to eat flour!

You are almost there.  See this consistency? You are on the right track. Just keep cooking and stirring.

Finally the master piece is DONE! You did it. Can you see this consistency? Kinda thick, but not too thick? That is what you are going for. This whole process takes about 15 – 20 minutes.

When I finished, I added my hamburger meat back to my gravy because I was making SOS. If you are really talented, you can make the gravy with the meat in the pan, but why chance it? Just take it out, make gravy, then add it back.

Click here to share these secrets with your friends! 

And, if all else fails, I have a great alternative for you.

Pioneer Gravy Mix!

This stuff cooks in about 3 minutes and it’s pretty darn good in a pinch.

Making gravy takes practice so don’t be to hard on yourself if it doesn’t work out the first time. Just keep trying. Comment below and let me know how it goes!

Check this out on Pintrest.


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The Perfect Pancake

For the love of pancakes … or panclocks for those of us who have the movie 50 First Dates memorized!

Confession .. my family and I eat a lot of pancakes! It is a weekend ritual. I always throw in a fried egg for protein to counterbalance the sugar.
IMG_7316
There is just something about a pancake that speaks to me. I have a general love for all things pancake. Is this normal?
I have an old recipe. I think it may have originally come from a Betty Crocker cookbook. I’ve changed it up over the years, but the basic ingredients stay the same.
Another little yum factor for making these the best pancakes on the planet is cooking them in a cast iron skillet. (If you love cast iron, check out this facebook page.) The one I have is only big enough for cooking them one at a time, but it’s worth it.  The edges get crispy in the cast iron!
This lets you mix without over stirring.
Getting just the right consistency is tough sometimes. If in doubt, don’t overmix. But the real trick to perfect pancakes is a hot skillet.
Set it to a 5-6 heat setting and get it hot. Spray the pan between each pancake so it doesn’t stick.
This consistency is right before you flip. See how puffy it is? It is just about to bubble.
Look at the color? Beautiful!
I always eat my pancakes with one or two eggs! This helps add protein to all those carbs.
Ingredients 
1 cup milk (2% or whole)
1 large egg
1 cup all purpose flour (maybe a little less depending how thick you like them)
3 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons of oil or butter (I get a better consistency with oil.) Vegetable or Canola oil
2 tablespoons sugar
This recipe yields 6 big, fluffy pancakes. Mix all ingredients together with a fork. Don’t overmix. Leave slightly lumpy. Let it rest a few minutes and give the baking soda some time to work. Preheat your skillet on a medium setting and spray it with Pam between each pancake.
Pour batter in slowly. If the skillet it hot enough, the batter will hold and not run all over the skillet. After the first pancake you may need to adjust your heat. I usually have to turn mine down. The cast iron takes a while to heat but it holds the heat well.
When the edges start to crisp up and the top starts to bubble, flip it over. Slide your spatula under the pancake quickly. No hem-hawing around. This is where my kids have trouble. Flip without fear and you will succeed.
Remove and butter immediatly. There is no buttering a cold panclock! And you must use real butter. I mean it! That is half of the awesomeness.
These are so good you don’t need syrup, but I use it anyway. It’s lovely.

Make these and your family will love you forever. Then, leave me a comment and tell me what you thought of them.

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Don’t Worry Be Happy in 2015

Did you know that one of the main contributors to heart disease is lack of ability to sleep well? And, did you know that worry keeps us up at night? It also produces cancer, ulcers, high blood pressure.

Understandably, I can see where this would be true, but I had not  given it much thought. Then, I happened to catch a sermon on TV by John Hagee over worry. He preached out of Matthew 6:30. 

Jesus is the prince of peace. He tells us not to worry. 

He has already solved the problems before us. Angels go before us. Worry is sin.

Worry is not believing God can take care of you.

Fear not the past, present or the future. Be bold and be strong. The God of Isreal is with you.
Hebrews 13:6

You are a child of God. Do not fear your enemies. “I will make your enemies to be at peace with you.” 

There was a time when my faith seemed much stronger. These scriptures were my lifeline. I quoted them to myself daily and in all different kinds of situations. 

Now, when I hear them, a light bulb goes off. 

I feel something rising up inside of me…a boldness in the Lord. 

I remember. 

I remember these are the things God has spoken in his word.

I remember a time when God came through for me and my family or my situation. Oh yes, now it is coming back!!  I am remembering the things God has done.

Let not your heart be troubled. 

There is so much power in those six little words. There are many real situations that trouble our heart. Death of a loved one. Severe health issues.  Finances. These are hard situations, but the Lord still says to you and me, “Let not your heart be troubled.” 

Sometimes our heart is broken. But, knowing we have hope in the Lord…knowing we will see a loved one again…knowing our aches will be healed…knowing we will not taste death because God has a different plan for his people. That is what helps us to apply this statement, “Let not your heart be troubled.”




God has a plan for my life. 

I know this, but unless I hear it or read it often, I forget. (I like to think I have total control over that!) 

And, when I forget God is in control, I begin to worry. 

When I forget God can handle my crazy life,  I worry. 

When I forget my kids are really his kids given to me on loan, I worry. 

I hold the weight of the world on my shoulders sometimes.  I want to make everything right. I don’t want people to hurt. I don’t want people to be wronged. I can’t stand injustice. I see short term actions that have long-term affects. And, I carry these concerns as if they were mine to own. 

But only God gets to move the chess pieces. He has a bigger plan.  

My job is to do the things he has given me wisdom to do and simply to pray. The rest is up to him.  I have to give him that control. He is the prince of peace. He is the one who gives us rest. 

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Tex-Mex Black Eyed Pea Casserole

I am not superstitious at all; however, I heart black eyed peas in a big way.  And, I love the fact they have their own holiday…New Years! Whoop whoop!

I made this last year and loved it. Soooo, I am making it again! My once-a-year recipe. Yum yum.  

The original recipe can be found here from the Recipe Girl. I changed it up a little to suit my taste buds. The main thing I did different was switch out the spinach for cilantro. So, if you are a spinach lover, check out the original recipe. 

First, get the bacon going. The recipe only calls for 5 slices but I used most of the package. You can use as much as your kids don’t eat while you are cooking it. Save the bacon grease for sauteing the onions and garlic.

While the bacon is sizzling, chop your onion and garlic and get it ready to saute. If you choose to cook your bacon in the oven, you can certainly saute your onions in oil or butter. (We will talk about my butter addiction at another time.)
While the bacon is cooling and the onions are cooking, gather up your rice, broth and spices. This recipe calls for cumin, salt and pepper. If you like stuff hot (I do not), you could easily add some cayenne pepper or chili powder. Even though this recipe includes Rotel, it is not spicy. 

After the onions and garlic are done (clear in color and soft), use a handy strainer like this and drain the last of the bacon grease. 

Put your broth, spices, rice and onion mixture into a pot and bring to a boil. Then, turn your burner down and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is gone. Leave a little liquid to include while baking. 

Now, let me detour for just a minute. Look what I bought myself for Christmas.


Aren’t they cute? They have chickens on the top. I thought they were addddddorable. I loved them so much I even gave some away for Christmas presents. You can find them here at Amazon. They come in all different themes. I originally saw them over at Fresh Eggs Daily.

Now, back to the recipe at hand!


While the rice is cooking, get out your favorite bowl. (Cooking with your favorite items makes cooking more fun. My mom gave me this bowl for Christmas.)  Start piling in the remainder of the ingredients: black eyed peas, rotel, cilantro, and one cup of the cheese.  Chop up the bacon into bite size pieces and include those as well.

Isn’t it pretty? Mix it around with your favorite spoon. I like wooden spoons. They make me happy. 

Next, dig through your fridge and find your  9×13 dish still half full of left-overs. Dump the left overs into the dog bowl. They will love you forever, I promise. Now, wash that pan and hurry up, we got cooking to do!   
Dump everything into the clean 9×13 pan. Put it in the over for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. (Set the timer! Don’t trust your multitasking brain to remember!) Once the timer goes off, add the last cup of cheese and bake for 10 more minutes. 
Look how lovely. All those wonderful mexican flavors nestled in close with the black eyed peas. They look cozy yeah? 

If you also love avocados like I do, you will want to top this off with one and some sour cream. These two items are not required, but I want to recommend you not eat it without them. 😉 I’m just sayin…  I also ate mine with chips. It was a whole meal.

I hope you enjoy this recipe I found over at the Recipe Girl. She has lots of yummy stuff on her page.  Happy eating.

Ingredients 
2 cans of black eyed peas (or you can make your own as in the original recipe)
1 can (10oz) of rotel (tomatoes and green chilies)
5 slices of bacon (or more if you like)
1 cup chopped onion 
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cup of rice (any kind) 
2 cups cheese – divided 
1/2 a bundle of cilantro (the original called for spinach)
Sour Cream and Avocado for topping
Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350. 
2. Cook bacon until crisp. Cool and chop. 
3. Chop onions and mince garlic. Saute in bacon grease until clear. 
4. Combine broth, rice, onion/garlic mixture and cumin, salt, pepper in a pot. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is done. 
5. In a separate bowl, combine peas, rotel, bacon, chopped cilantro and one cup of cheese. Stir it together. 
6. Combined cooked rice mixture with pea mixture and stir. 
7. Pour mixture into 9×13 dish and back for 20 minutes uncovered. Then, put the remaining one cup of cheese on top and bake for an additional 10 minutes. 
8. Remove from oven. Serve hot with avocado and sour cream. 
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Inspirational Quotes

I love inspirational quotes. I am cheesy! I print them, laminate them, send them to my friends, hang them in my office. Yep, I’m that girl! 
And, I got the new iPhone 6 plus for Christmas and I downloaded an awesome new app. Now I can make my own inspirational quotes!!
I hope you enjoy these. I hope maybe you will even print and laminate a few for yourself. (Add a magnet …stick on the fridge..) The possibilities are endless! 
Enjoy!

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