Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow Ice Cream Anyone?

Well, we have had a snow and ice storm. Not as bad as they said it would be but enough to create chaos in Oklahoma. Our idea of clearing the roads is two guys in the back of a pickup truck throwing out sand!

In light of this occasion, I pulled out the old Don Woods snow ice cream recipe. Don Woods was a local weather guy when I was a kid. This was before all the fancy computer maps and such. Each weather guy had to have a gimmick because all he had was a map and a magic marker. One had a lion puppet, don't ask me I didn't understand it either! Anyway, Don drew a cartoon character named Gusty, he was a funny looking little guy. If you were a lucky kid, you're parents would send your name into the station and you'd score an original Gusty sent to you! I was never one of those kids, I've never been very lucky!

He even came to my school once and talked about achieving your goals. I just remember, I didn't win the Gusty! I think Gusty is the Oklahoma state cartoon or something. Don also gave out recipes and tips for weather, remember back then, all they had was a blank map and a magic marker! One of the favorite recipes of all time, was the snow ice cream recipe. Because, at least for me, it meant we had SNOW and no school.

I pulled it out we had it last night. Still good! Here it is if you want to impress your kids with snow ice cream. Remember, don't use yellow snow!
Don Woods Snow Ice Cream
1 can evaporated milk
1 egg - I use 1/4 cup egg substitute, don't want to give everybody salmonella!
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
dash of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 gallon clean snow
Beat everything but snow, then fold in snow.

I was given a snow ice cream recipe years ago that's just as good but easier to make.
Here it is:
8 cups snow
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 t vanilla extract
Mix together. This one is fantastic and really easy!

I'm a fan of the Don Woods snow ice cream because, well, I always did like Gusty!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Let me just say first today, that I'm not against putting hamburger helper on your table every now and then. I'm not one of those women who look down on others if you use a box out of the pantry to get a meal on the table. I reason that hamburger or chicken helper is probably better than the drive through anyway as long as you serve a salad or veggie on the side. I gave up on perfectionism a long, long time ago and my mantra concerning meals is 'whatever works'! Plus, I found out after slaving over things like homemade macaroni and cheese that my kids really like boxed better.

Yes, it was a humbling experience to realize that Kraft macaroni and cheese was loved and mamma's homemade was not but I came to understand that 'whatever works' is sometimes good enough. My daughter came home from a friends house raving about the mac and cheese. 'The best ever', was the exact wording. I casually asked a few days later for the recipe and the mom started laughing hysterically and said 'it's Kraft'! I realized then and there that gourmet is sometimes lost on the young.

If you are a box reader like me, you're probably wondering how I get around all the sodium inside that little blue box. Well, I tell you, I first thought I'd be sneaky and buy a box mac and cheese but only buy an organic, whole wheat, good-for-you, taste like wallpaper paste brand that cost six times as much. It was a no-go at my house! So now I'll let you in on my dirty little secret....I only use half the package of powdered cheese! No one knows but me and I use the rest later to season rice or veggies! No one said a mom can't resort to underhandedness to save my famililes health!

Once I was able to pull that off and had no mutiny, I decided to try it in some of the other boxed meals. Worked like a charm! I do use the rest of the packet in brown rice for later meals. I also always add extra frozen veggies to the skillet after I add the seasonings and liquid. Now my kids think I'm really cool because I let them have hamburger helper sometimes and what they don't know, won't hurt them!

Tomorrow, I'll give you a recipe for homemade hamburger helper. It doesn't have all the salt and preservatives and is loved at my house. I call it mom's hamburger helper and no one knows it doesn't come out of a box! Hey, at my house, coming out of a box is exciting! (at least to the kids)

Look outside today and really see the gifts of nature that are around you! Little blessings really add up!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Happiness is a full pantry

I'm sitting here looking to the north out my window waiting for the impending freezing rain/sleet/ice/snow storm. I can't see it but the weather people tell me it is coming and I'd better be prepared. I made the decision a few minutes ago to let my daughter sleep and not take her to school. I don't want to go get her in the ice!

As I was running my errands yesterday, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things I thought we might need if the family gets to spend several powerless days together. The stores were a madhouse with people packing the carts with everything under the sun. I always have to smile a little smile when I witness this each year when the weather men stike fear in our little Okie hearts that we will be getting ice! Apparently, the majority of people in Oklahoma don't have enough food in their house to get them through the three days that we might be stranded. I also chuckled when I saw the food choices in those carts.

You see, in Oklahoma, we get a lot of ice instead of fluffy, white snow. Ice and freezing rain sticks to trees and looks like glistening diamond forests when the sun hits them. But, ice and freezing rain also sticks to power lines and makes the glistening tree limbs plummet to their deaths which usually takes out some important line carrying electricity. No electricity means no tv, no electric heat, no electric hot water, no electric stoves...well, you get the point. Every other year or so, the residents of Oklahoma endure an ICE STORM OF EPIC PROPORTION!!!!

At least that's what the weather people tell us. Our little house on the hill has a woodstove that not only keeps us warm, I can use to cook on. The kids think it is extremely fun to eat soup that was cooked on the stove. I've even baked bisquits on the grill outside! My son spent part of his day yesterday hauling wood from the pile onto our covered porch. We are prepared!

When I looked into those shopping carts, yes I'm a bit nosy, I saw things like frozen pizza, microwave meals and chips. Ok, so the chips can be eaten without power but the pizza and microwave meals? What are these people thinking?

I thought back to a hundred years ago, to those pioneers who settled this wild land. Yesterday, it was 60 degrees yet I was running around preparing for a snow and ice storm. I knew that today would be different, I would watch the radar and see that hot pink color creeping ever closer to my little house on the hill. Yet those pioneers were actually more prepared than any of us today. They had to be to simply survive the winter. We have so much to learn from those early pioneers.

One thing a pioneer woman needed was a fully stocked pantry. In order for her family to survive a winter without a grocery store a mile away, she needed to prepare in advance. Our pantries don't need to get us through long winter months but it should be able to get us through at least a week don't you think?

A well stocked pantry not only will get us through a snow/ice storm for a few days, it will also get us through a sickness, a 'what's for dinner' night, or a hit on the income. My pantry could easily feed my family for several weeks with careful planning. It might not be gourmet meal eating but it would cover a rough patch if needed. It gives me a peace knowing that if something terrible happened, I could at least provide something to put in our bodies.

A well stocked pantry not only gives me peace of mind, it also saves me money. Planning my purchases in advance allows me to wait for sales and use coupons to refill what has been used. Many of the things in my pantry cost next to nothing. It also allows me to meal plan in advance instead of waiting until I get to the grocery store. When I use something in the pantry, it goes on a list. That item is then purchased when I find it on special.

I challenge you to look into your pantry today. If you can't come up with at least five meals that you could make to feed your family, get planning!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Daughters are so truthful!

My daughter, whose picture is at the top of this blog, is the most wonderful person in the world. She is a joy to be around most of the time and I thank God for the circumstances that allowed to her to be in my life. I've come to realize though that daughters and mothers have a very unique perspective on each other. I learned when I took a bunch of adolescent psychology classes in college that daughters see their mother as a rival so that's why many mothers and daughters have relationships that aren't the best. I'm not sure about that, I think that once the daughter starts adolensence and those hormones begin to kick in, they become as crazy as us!

I wish everyone could have a daughter and a son. It makes the whole parenting thing very satisfying. Daughter only mothers have a messed up sense of the world being all smell-goody and pretty, son only mothers think all bedrooms should smell like body oder. I'm glad God blessed me with one of each. It is kind of the yin to the yang. Nice balance.

My daughter and I have a great relationship, so great in fact, she feels that she can tell me anything. Now, on the surface, that sounds great but in real life, it sure has cut my ego into little bitty egg salad pieces sometimes! I'll confess, I'm not the best dresser. I'm a science nerd and am more happy crawling around on my hands and knees in the dirt running an experiment or looking for bugs than trolling the mall. Makes my son happy, he's the only kid around who has a mom who keeps meal worms and will occasionally eat them to the delight of his friends! This does not impress my daughter or her friends. In fact, I have to pretend that I am a different person in front of my daughters friends! This person really cares about how she looks and my daughter is trying to help me look better!

When she was 4 or 5, I began to realize that she really had an eye for fashion and started asking for help. I would be happy if when I went to the store there were complete outfits tagged together like garanimals for little kids. Remember those? The tags matched so you could pick up an entire outfit that matched! That was the best idea, I just wish they would do womens clothes the same way. I now ask my daughter if I look good or if I should wear this and not that. Makes the hubby soooo happy! He is no longer on the hot seat, giving me that oh-so-smart answer "everything looks good on you dear"!

Because I have begun to use my daughter as my own personal dresser, she now feels that she can comment on my clothes, shoes, hairstyle, etc. When you are your families personal fashionista, you can get away with that. She has sent her dad and brother back to their rooms to change a couple of times so it's just not me she uses her talents on!

Too make a long story short, yesterday, I was feeling really pretty. My hair was laying down, I had on a bright color and even put on a scarf to satisify my personal shopper. I decided to try my luck at wearing perfume! Now normally, I don't wear much perfume. Most of it makes me sneeze and I typically forget to put it on. Good grief, I already put perfumed lotion on my face, wash my hair and spray it with perfumed products and wear perfumed much more do you want? I was really proud of myself for remembering to spritz a little perfume on myself.

We got into the van and my daughter turned to me with that look, that's the one that shows disgust. Usually it's over a smell. She has a highly tuned sense of smell also. I used to worry she'd throw-up in school if the teacher sat her by some smelly boy. She gave me that look and said 'what is that smell?' It smells like nasty cleaning products! much for feeling all perfumey..... I didn't tell her it was me, I blamed it on her brother who had been in the van earlier. He can take it, he smells bad all the time to her. So I threw him under the bus....guess I'll get rid of that scent!

They say a baby can recognize their mothers smell after just 72 hours. I know that's true because I once switched moisturizer and had both kids comment when I bent down to kiss them goodnight that I didn't smell like myself! I think I'll just toss the perfume and smell like myself, apparently, it's not so bad!

Smile at someone you don't know today, it just might be the only smile they get!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Big Batch Cooking 104

Today, we're talking crockpot! I love my crockpots, I actually have 2, one big oval and one small. I use them for different things. The small makes great soup for 4 or velveeta cheese dip or bbq pork. I use the large one for big batch cooking. This is an entirely different appliance than the slow cooker I posted about earlier.

This weekend I used my large crockpot to make a very large batch of chili. I had a large can of tomato juice that needed to be out of my pantry and so I just made the entire crockpot full. I then let the whole batch cool a little and placed about half of it in freezer containers. One time of cooking equals 4 meals served!

Chicken is another great crockpot meal that will end up giving you at least 2 meals. In an earlier post, I gave a recipe for chicken and dumplings. I use the leftover chicken and broth to make that recipe. When I cook a chicken, I usually cook at least one whole chicken and a couple of breasts (we like that part the best)! Serve the chicken one night and save the strained broth and chopped chicken for chicken noodle soup or dumplings. Sometimes if I have a bag of mixed veggies around, I'll go ahead and add it to the soup mixture so all I have to do is add noodles or cooked rice for a super quick meal.

Roast and pork tenderloin make easy crockpot meals, when I can get roast or tenderloin on sale, I really stock up. I will cook at least 2 roasts and an entire pork tenderloin at one time. I season my roasts with onion soup or beef broth. I'll throw in carrots and potatoes for that nights meal. The second roast goes into the freezer with a little broth for later with mashed potatoes. Meal 3 - save the broth and place some leftover roast into a gallon freezer bag for stew starter. Meal 4 - with whatever roast is left over add some mixed veggies(frozen or canned) a little leftover broth with a brown gravy mix mixed in and place in a 9x9 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with a little cheddar cheese. whip up some mashed potatoes, I use the frozen if I'm pressed for time. Place the potatoes on top and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until it hot all the way through.

Getting the idea? when you fire up that crockpot, make double and freeze for later. Then when you have that day from you-know-where, you can find something yummy in the freezer!

Have a blessed day!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Forget 'Leggo my Eggo'; Where is my Eggo?

I was reading my Readers Digest a few days ago and read something that really is important in this world. Forget all the politics and world news, I read that Eggo waffles are in short supply! This explained a problem that has been getting worse and worse over the last few months.

You see, at least once a week, I like to have waffles for breakfast. I am a big breakfast eater. My grandpa was the same way, my grandma would say "I hope the Lord doesn't come back in the morning or Glenn will make him wait around until he eats breakfast!" I know how he feels, nothing is more irritating than an empty stomach in the morning! I refuse to send my kids off anywhere without at least something in their stomachs. Sometimes, they beg for cereal!

I like variety so usually our week goes like this; microwave omelets at least once, cinnamon rolls or waffles, oatmeal with fruit, scrambled eggs and cereal. Confession time: I don't usually purchase the Eggo brand, I purchase the Best Choice brand probably made in the Eggo plant.

Years ago, I traveled with my husband in business and we would go into a lot of food processing plants. There are some brands I still will not eat because of this! Gerber baby food was the cleanest plant I ever visited. It also smelled the best because the day I was there they were processing fruit! Anyway, I learned that most plants would produce several different brands by just changing out the labels in the machine. That's why so many off brands have the same can or jar as the national brands.

I buy Best Choice whole grain waffles. Back in November or so I noticed that they always seemed to be out of them. So when I did find them, I would buy 6 or so boxes thinking I was beating out that other person who liked to buy all my waffles! Did I mention I'm pretty competitive? I say I belong to AA - Athletics Anonymous; don't ask why I had to go...lets just say I embarrassed myself in front of my friends and my pastor at a church league softball game about 20 years ago!

Well, anyway, I had quite a little stockpile going for a while but everytime I would go to a grocery store I would look for more but the waffles began to be scarcer and scarcer! Last week, my normal store had none! I began to ration our waffle eating like a crazy woman! No more than once a week!

I researched on the internet and back in November the plant that produces most of the waffles for eggo and apparently best choice since those are gone also, had a bacteria outbreak or something. The readers digest said it was an equipment error, the internet said bacteria. Don't know which it is, don't care. I just want my waffles back!

I am now reduced to serving cinnamon rolls or pancakes for breakfast. My syrup is getting lonely. Please Kellogg's get this worked out, you're putting a crimp in my day!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Rainy Saturdays are my favorite!

As I'm sitting here in my living room looking out the window watching the rain, I am thinking just how blessed I am. I have two wonderfully talented, smart and Christian children and an equally wonderful, smart and Christian husband. I have a warm home to stay out of the rain in and a completely fantastic hand-me-down rocking chair from my mom to sit my behind in!

I am equally blessed to be multi-tasking without so much effort that it took even 25 years ago. At this moment, I am washing a load of laundry, drying a load of laundry, cooking 5 lbs. of ground beef in my slow-cooker and baking a spaghetti casserole I made several weeks ago and froze for just such an occasion. I am also typing on my laptop computer! Man, I am a busy woman.

I sometimes have to give myself a moment of reflection to remind myself how many ways God has blessed me because I often get bogged down in the day-to-day stuff and forget. It becomes mind blowing to me that I get unhappy with my situation when I already have so much more than most of the world!

I think we, as Americans, get too wrapped up in 'getting more' and don't stop to realize that all this stuff is just owning us. Instead of running around getting stuff, I should just sit and look at all the stuff I've been given. A beautiful family that actually loves me, a wonderful church full of with friends, a great town, 4 acres of land to grow flowers and food, an education, and the list goes on and on.

I challenge you to stop and look around you at the beauty God has given us. You can't buy any of that in a store!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Big Batch Cooking 103

Today, I want to give you a recipe for ground meat that will make three different meals, possibly more, if your really creative! Many may have a meatloaf recipe that has been handed down from mom so use it, but if you don't really have a good meatloaf recipe, this one is good. Even my husband will eat it!

This one recipe will make 2 meatloafs and about 8 patties that will make swiss steak or salisbury steak.

5 lbs. ground meat - I like really lean so there is no grease - I hate greasy food!
1 chopped fine onion
3 tablespoons chopped garlic - I use the jarred garlic, if you don't like garlic, leave it out. This is a very versatile recipe!
3 eggs
1 cup bread crumbs - I use pepperidge farms seasoned bread crumbs (they are in a bag)
2 tablespoons worchestire sauce
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Mix all ingredients well.

Shape into 2 meatloafs (about 1 1/2 lbs each). I make sure they will fit into my meatloaf pan. Place each one on waxed paper and slide into a freezer bag. Label with the date. When ready to cook, take one out and place into your pan. Leave overnight in the fridge.

Cover with aluminum foil. Cook at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 160 degrees in your oven, or you can cook these in a crockpot for 6-8 hours on low. I put it on balled up aluminum foil so the grease drips away, remember, I don't like grease! After about 40 minutes in the oven or in the last hour of cooking in the crockpot, take the foil off and put 1/2 cup tomatoe sauce, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 tablespoon worchestire sauce. Serve with mashed potatoes and a veggie.

The rest of the meat mixture make into patties and place on waxed paper. It should make about 8. Wrap them into your families portions, I make 4-6. Place them into freezer bags.

To use patties, thaw overnight in the fridge or cook frozen on low for a bit longer.

Salisbury steak:
Brown patties in a skillet. After about 10 minutes of cooking, place 1 can cream of mushroom soup and 1-2 cups of sliced mushrooms into skillet. Cook, covered for about 10 minutes then uncover and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve with egg noodles and a veggie.

Swiss steak:
Brown patties in a skillet, place 1 sliced onion and a can of diced tomatoes into skillet. The diced italian tomatoes are good in this. Cook, covered for about 10 minutes and then uncover and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve with rice.

If your family are meatball lovers, this recipe is also good as meatballs. Shape them and place on wax paper to freeze or pre-cook them before putting them into the freezer to save more time later!

If you keep these items in the freezer, you'll always have something to put on the table!
Have a blessed day!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pedicures are the cure for everything!

Ok, I'll let you in on a little secret, I'm not a high-maintenance gal. Yeah, I like a little makeup to keep me from looking like death-warmed-over and I try to fix my hair each day so I don't scare myself. My hair and I came to an impasse years ago, it is very fine and frizzy so it really doesn't matter if I spend an hour or 10 minutes fixing it after about 30 minutes, it's going to look the same! I used to say that my hair has declaried mutiny on the top of my head. I have a double crown also and several cow-licks so getting it to just lay down and behave is sometimes a challenge.

Anyway, I'm not really high-maintenance. I had my first pedicure done a few years ago when my husband got me a gift certificate for mothers day. Now I try to save up my money and go a few times each summer. My birthday is in May so I get a certificate for mother's day and another on for my birthday, makes for an easy gift that my hubby doesn't have to stress over. He knows I'll love it!

If I was as rich as Oprah, I would have a pedicure each week and drink Jamacian blue coffee every morning. Oh, and let my hair stylist do my hair each morning! Well, I fell in love with the pedicure chairs at the place I go! They knead and rub your back while your getting your toenails done some ridiculus color. I never get just natural or get the tips painted white. What kind of thing is that anyway, getting the tips painted? If I'm paying for someone to paint my toes, I want the entire thing painted!

I love the chairs so much that the man that runs the store always puts me in a chair as soon as I come in, even if they aren't going to do my pedi for 30 minutes. He knows that I'll be so very happy sitting in that chair watching taped tv programs on Vietnam. If they aren't busy, he usually sits back there beside me and we talk about the food on the programs. It doesn't matter that I speak Okie and he has a very Vietnamese accent, food brings us together!

Speaking of food, which is where most of my conversations go, here's a quick easy recipe to use that precooked and seasoned ground meat sitting in your freezer! I made up the recipe when we went to a very expensive Chinese restaurant and wanted to re-create it for my kids.

Lettuce wraps:
1 lbs precooked/seasoned ground meat
1/2 cup hoisin sauce (you may need to add more depending on the consistency you like and if you're adding rice, you'll need more. The final product should resemble taco meat)
1/4 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or hot pepper, I like them spicy!
Seasoned rice wine vinegar - serve on the side as a dipping sauce

Warm the ground meat in a skillet until hot, add the hoisin and hot pepper. Simmer for about 5 minutes. If you have a large family and need to stretch the meat a bit, add pre-cooked brown rice to the meat mixture. Remember, a little meat goes a long way if you know how to stretch it!

Serve in lettuce leaves, I like bibb lettuce for this but regular loose leaf is also good. Put about 1/2 cup of the meat in the center of the leaf and roll up. This is messy with kids so I adapted it a bit to serve in flour tortillas, not as traditional but much easier for them to eat! In a large flour tortilla, place about 1/2 cup of the meat and cover with shredded lettuce. fold like a burrito and serve.

I usually serve this with a fruit salad and fried rice or rice pilaf for a light, quick and easy meal.

Now, if I could just justify going to get a pedicure today!

Spread your blessings out today to cover several people!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Big Batch Cooking 102

Now that you've got ground meat cooked up and stored for later, lets talk about chicken, steak, pork chops. I love to grill and do so year round in Oklahoma. But it does take some prep time and quite frankly, I don't have the time somedays.

Big batch cooking saves me when I feel like I need a grilled chicken taco salad on a rainy, foggy this weekend! A few weeks ago, on a nice December day, I grilled 10 pounds of chicken breasts and about 6 steaks. We had grilled chicken for dinner and I put the rest in a freezer bag for later. It doesn't take much more time to grill that much and it's going to really save me time! I sometimes marinate all of the meat in italian dressing or a special Okie marinade overnight but most of the time I just sprinkle Lowry's grill mate on them.

I use grilled chicken breasts in salads, tacos, soups, anything that needs a little pick me up sure tastes better with grilled meat on it. If you need something quick for after church, put some grilled meat; chicken, steak or pork, in the crockpot on low with about 1/2 cup of broth, juice or water and the meat will be thawed and ready to eat when you get home.

If I'm grilling for a dinner party, grill before the guests arrive and put the cooked meat into your crockpot on low. This allows you to visit with the guests instead of slaving over the grill. I do this often because our grill is in the afternoon sun and in the summer, it gets HOT! Don't really have to worry about that now but sometimes it is dark outside when I'm cooking dinner.

Now that you've got pre-cooked hamburger, chicken, steak and pork in the freezer all you've got to do is be creative in getting it to the table. In the next few weeks, I'll share some tried and true recipes that will get dinner on the table in just a few minutes!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Exercise, oh my!

I'm not sure but I think my muscles are slowly atrophying as I type this! It was a nice day today so I thought I'd take the kids to the park and let them bike for exercise while I walked the dog for exercise. I'm thinking that if we don't as a family get more exercise, we'll start looking like the kid in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. You know, the one that gets stuck in the pipe?

Well, anyway, I'm thinking the dog will walk with me and I'll get a little exercise. This dog, who I named Kate, was a stray that showed up back in the fall at my in-laws house. I was feeling out of control with my life and suggested that we take her and find her owner. Long story short, I found out I'm not a no-dog person like I thought I was, I'm just a Large Dog Person! I like having a dog as big as me apparently!

So I'm walking a dog who is as big as me, well, I'm not really walking her, mainly just being drug. I fantasized about riding in a cart behind her, maybe I could get into the iditerod. No, I don't like to be cold... Maybe next time, I'll wear my in-lines, then my son can drive me to the emergency room after I've been drug for several miles. I'm not going to my doctor, I get tired of telling him all the stupid things I've done to get hurt! He actually looks forward to my visits, I think he must be blogging about me somewhere on the internet. He'll probably write a book about stupid things he's seen and I'll be his number one patient.

Kate stops at every tree, which is a good thing because this gives me a chance to catch my breath. I began to wonder, why don't dogs step in dog poo? This is because I stepped in it and she didn't. She certainly didn't miss an opportunity to smell every pile she found but not once did she step into the dog poo.

Finally, the kids were worn out and so was I, Kate however, was not ready to go but I bribed her by letting her sit on the back seat instead of in the floor. Hey, it's my husbands truck I think what the heck! I'll be dead by tomorrow anyway! Back into the car but only after I did the "I have dog poop on my shoe dance", which is to go around in circles on the grass dragging my foot. But only after checking the area for more poop. My shoes are now in the garage.

Now hours later, I'm beginning to feel like I got a cardio workout with weight training all combined. My legs feel like rubber and my arms are hurting as I type. I don't think tomorrow will be good......

I think I'll crawl up to bed now....

Remember you blessings!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Spring where are you?

Well, this week in Oklahoma we're having a heat wave! It is has been almost 60 degrees and will not freeze all week. I love Oklahoma weather because the only time it's really unbearable is the month of August. The rest of the year is typically mild.

Nothing is better than a 60 degree day in January!It's like God is giving us a little gift to remind us that He's still in control. Mild weather gets my gardener going and I start pouring over my seed catalogs deciding what I'll be planting this year. Last year's garden was so bad that I'm really looking forward to starting over. My best produce didn't come until September. It was a really weird year in Oklahoma! I'm hoping not to repeat that again.

I'm also getting my soil tested. Our local extension office will test the soil for very little money and that will help my yields quite a bit. If you are thinking about starting a garden this year whether to save a bit of money or to eat healthy organic food, I recommend getting your soil tested and a book called 'square foot gardening'. I used it for years until we moved to a four acre yard and I still use a modified version for my current garden.

I'll post more about big batch cooking tomorrow, today I just couldn't get myself motivated to write about anything but the weather!

Going outside to soak up some vitamin D!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Big Batch cooking 101

Today I'm going to discuss cooking large amounts of meat to store in the freezer for later. I am blessed to have a large freezer but if you don't have one, you can still big batch cook. You'll just have to do it more often, it will still save you a lot of time and you will eat at home more often!

I have found that cooking a months worth of seasoned ground meat at one time literally saves me hours over a month. How many of your recipes is a ground meat recipe? For our family, it ends up being at least once a week. Tacos, spaghetti, sloppy joes even the dreaded hamburger helper begins with a pound of ground beef.

I will cook 5 pounds with one chopped onion and 1/4 cup chopped garlic. I season it about half way through cooking time. For 5 pounds in the slow cooker, it's about 30-45 minutes. Just stir to break it up every 15-20 minutes. Because I have a freezer, I can shop and catch 90% lean meat on sale and stock up. Ground meat will store in the freezer for around a year. I don't keep it around that long though, we use it up!

After you cook the ground meat, drain it in a colander over a big bowl. Don't put this down the sink! It will be the fat and water that was in the meat. I give mine to the dog but if you need to, put it in a can and through it away. This step will save you a lot of fat grams in your diet. It doesn't take that long and it will really make your food taste better. Who wants any meal dripping with meat fat?

Once it has drained and cooled, split the meat into 5 containers. I use ziploc freezer bags so I can squeeze all the air out of them and they will lay flat in the freezer. Now you have a 15-20 minute head start on 5 of your meals for this month! I look every night to see what's on the menu for the next night. If it calls for something in the freezer, I go get it and place it in the fridge. The meat will thaw overnight and be ready the next day to cook with.

Here's a super easy hamburger macaroni meal that feeds a lot, is better tasting than hamburger helper and more nutritous too!

Hamburger macaroni
1 lb hamburger, seasoned - you've already got this!
1 can diced tomatoes - I usually use my homecanned or frozen but any will do
Fill the empty can of tomatoes with water (about 10 oz)
2 cups macaroni - can be any kind you like or have
1 cup frozen corn or peas - or one can drained - I like corn
1 cup diced velveeta or 6 slices deluxe american cheese

Heat the hamburger in a large skillet. Pour the diced tomatoes, water and corn over the meat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the macaroni. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 8 minutes. Stirring often. Then add the cheese and continue to cook until the pasta is done and the mixture is thick.

Have a blessed day!
This is even better the next day as a leftover lunch!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Learning to Big-Batch Cook

Ok, by now you've probably realized that I'm a lazy person. Not lazy as in 'I don't do things' lazy but lazy as in 'I want to save as much time and only do it once' person! My grandma used to tell me when I'd dusted only about 10 times, 'if you're going to do, do it right the first time! That will save you time in the long run.' Yeah right, if you're grandmother is going to follow you around all the time I'm sure it would!

She did have a point though. I have learned over the years that doing it right meant things like cleaning as you go, putting it where you found it and throwing it way if it was trash instead of laying it aside. I have applied it to cooking also.

I really like to eat and I am pretty picky about what I eat. I like good tasting things that really don't have a lot of extra stuff put in for artificial flavor. Eating out is not only expensive but anymore, I don't know what is being used or who is doing what to it in the back. It makes me want to eat at home much more often!

I'm going to share a trick I call big-batch cooking with you over the next few weeks. It's my trick so you can change it to fit your family, no matter how many there are. I started this back when there were only 2 of us and now that we have 4 in the family and many meal stragglers eating, I really rely on this!

The first tip is to get a westbend slow cooker. It is not a crockpot. It will brown meat and you don't have to stand over it like a pot on the stove. I have worn out one and am about 3 years into another. Here's a post from that shows you what I'm talking about.

It is the best for cooking 5 pounds of hamburger, ground turkey, buffalo or whatever you use. It will also cook a roast with potatoes, carrots, etc. in about 1/2 the time it takes to make it in the crockpot. The bottom is a griddle though with 4 of us in the family, I use a big griddle.

If you don't have room for the slow cooker, you can do everything I am going to write about in a skillet. It will just need to be watched carefully as it cooks. I just don't have the time, thus the big batch cooking!

Tomorrow, I'll post how to get started.....
Have a blessed day!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Get those recipes out!

I've been posting about saving money in the new year so today I'm going to keep on the topic of meal planning.

Find a time when you have about 20 minutes to sit down with your recipe box or cookbooks. Have a cup of coffee and a piece of fudge and make this a fun time! Look through your recipes and take out 5-10 that you like, are easy to make with things you usually have and are good for you. Make those recipes the basis for your first months meal plan. Try to use recipes that you have ingredients for in your pantry. Yes, spaghetti does count if your family likes it.

Don't try to cook like a gourmet every night! I fell into this trap a few years ago. I had two small children and tried to put on a 4 course meal every night. It almost killed me! Then I realized that I wasn't expected to hit a homerun every night. I needed to put something healthy and that my family liked each night. If your family likes sloppy joes, serve sloppy joes. Just round out the meal with some veggies and you're good to go. If you're house is like my house, you never know how many you're going to be feeding and when sometimes. Cut yourself some slack and work with what you've got.

Tomorrow, I'll start on big-batch cooking and give you an easy recipe that feeds a lot of hungry mouths for very little!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Save money, plan your meals

I learned a long time ago that I don't make good quick decisions. I'm one of those people who end up wishing I could say,' uh, could I get back to you on that so I can think about it?'. I lay out my clothes the night before right down to my shoes and I don't allow myself to change my mind because if I do, it's a 20 minute ordeal in the closet! When I started working with two little kids, I realized that even though I thought I was organized, I was woefully wrong! I learned some techniques on organizing the hard way that I'm going to share over the course of the next year.

The first will be meal planning, how many of you end up overspending on eating out because at 5pm you don't know what you're eating for supper? I call the evening meal supper and the noon meal dinner, it's my southern upbringing. Drives my daughter seriously crazy! Anyway, the reason most of us end up going out is that we can't plan and we wait until the last minute to realize we are hungry. Hello! Around 6pm, you will be ready to eat a meal almost everyday!

My first piece of advice is to look in your pantry, freezer and fridge to see what you already have. Take stock so you'll know what you need. Always make sure that you have the basics; flour, sugar, etc. One of my biggest frustrations in life is when I start making something and realize I don't have an ingredient. I never realize this until I've already I don't set out everything before I start, who do you think I am? Martha Stewart?

This leads me to the second piece of advice, a running grocery list. I buy my cards, paper and stuff like that from a company called Current. I have for years and years and they always sell helpful paper products like grocery lists and meal planner calendars that have magnets on the back that will stick on the fridge. You can find them at Or use the back of an old envelope from all those junk mailings but stick it on the fridge.

When you use the last of the ketchup, crackers, jelly...well you get my point, add it to the list. When I make one of my pantry staple meals, like the mc... deli soup from an earlier post, I add the ingredients to the grocery list. When it's time to visit the grocery store, you already have a list of needs and you just need to add the things that you need for the meals you've planned! Saves time and it ends up saving you money because you have a list and you won't go cruising down the aisles looking for good things to buy!

I have actually trained my children to list the things they use up on the list. Momma's mantra, 'if it isn't on the list, it doesn't get bought!' Another one is, 'if I don't have a coupon, it isn't getting bought!" I haven't moved my husband to do this yet and at this point, it ain't gonna happen! He just can't remember to do it.....

Try to start the new year off by taking charge of your kitchen. It will set the tone for your entire household! Getting organized in the kitchen will give you a chance to cook up healthy, quick and easy meals and end up saving a bunch of money. And remember, a home cooked meal is a way to bless those around you!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Heathly eating habits II cont...

These will be the last in the series of eating healthy, losing weight for a while, I promise!

9. Stop drinking diet pop. If it has aspartame in it, that actually causes you to crave sweet things. It doesn't satisify that sweet tooth like sugar so you want to have more. Drink unsweet tea or sweeten with stevia, or water, or green tea. Don't drink more than one 6 oz. juice in a day, eat a piece of fruit instead. It will fill you up. No on has ever gotten fat eating fruit, but some have drinking it!

10. Eat the real thing! Take for instance peanut butter. Have you read your label in the pantry? Most peanut butter contains all sorts of stuff along with the peanuts. So when you make that sandwich, you have to pile on the peanut butter so you can taste the nuts. Natural peanut butter only has nuts and maybe salt. You don't need nearly as much to get a real peanut taste. So by using less but getting the same flavor, you are saving fat and calories. The same with cheese and lunchmeat. Buy the best you can afford and you won't need much for that sandwich, again saving fat and calories. Treat yourself to the best in nutrition, you deserve it!

11. Start a garden in the spring. You will burn calories, eat better, and save money in one swoop! Grow stuff you like! It doesn't need to be a large garden, my first one was on our apartment balcony. My husband knew I needed a house when it began to look like a jungle, but the neighbors liked the tomatoes!

Lastly, I want everyone to know that our society just needs to step back and give everybody a little break. We can't all be super models, not that I want to look like that! God made each of us a size and shape unique to us. We need to take care of what He gave us to the best of our ability but we really get too freaked out about outward appearances.

So I guess my advice is to work on your outside this year, but also, work on your inside too. Work on blessing other people. My grandma used to say, 'pretty is as pretty does'. Some of the prettiest people I know aren't necessarily the best to look at but once you get to know them, they are beautiful to be around!

Remember to bless someone today!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Reason I moved to Oklahoma!

Good grief! It's colder than blue blazes out there this morning. I remember why I moved back down south, I'm a big weinie when it comes to cold. I always say I'd rather be cold than hot because you can always put on more clothes but I think I'm mistaken. There comes a point when you can't put on enough clothes to be warm! I generally do like Oklahoma's climate but this morning I can't help but thinking about the people who lived in sod huts out here 100 years ago, they were really tough. I would have packed it in and moved further south!

I'm thinking about the phrases we say in different parts of the country today. Colder than blue blazes being one of them. As a former science teacher, I know that the blue flame in a bunsen burner is actually the best, hottest flame so why do we say 'colder than blue blazes'? Where does that come from?

I come from a long line of phrase users, it must be a southern thing. My dad's favorite saying is, 'better than a sharp stick in the eye'. He says that when you aren't really pleased with what you're getting. Like a bologna sandwich instead of a ham sandwich. I use that phrase a lot around my kids, 'hey, you don't want sausage pizza, well, it's better than a sharp stick in the eye!' Almost anything is better than a sharp stick in the eye, except maybe a dull stick, not that it would matter. Any stick in the eye would put your eye out and hurt like the dickens! (whatever dickens are is beyond me!)

Here's a short list of crazy phrases that I use on a day-to-day basis:
don't look a gift horse in the mouth
bigger than dallas
crazy as a bedbug
hungry as a horse
lazy as my son - oh, wait, that's not a crazy phrase, that's true! Ha!

Oh well, bless someone today with a gift of service!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cold Enough For You?

Well, we didn't get much snow but someone forgot to tell the sun that it's job is to actually warm us! It's really, really, really cold outside. We made it with no broken pipes, thank goodness! My daughter is out of school today due to the cold so it's monopoly for me! My son homeschools and he decided not to take days off but he's got a big science experiment to do today so it will be fun because he gets to play with fire!

If you're lucky enough to be reading this in a warm climate, be thankful. If you're in the big freeze like me, be sure and check on neighbors, especially older ones. Also, if you've got extra coats laying around, check the day centers and such for donation needs. There are people who live around you that may need help and don't forget your pets!

I have a big german shephard who adopted us this fall that I think doesn't feel the cold. She has a heated doghouse and she still insists on sleeping in the driveway! I have to go out and make her go into her house. My son keeps reminding me that she's a german shephard, from germany. But I'm pretty sure she was born in Oklahoma....

So stay inside and make a good soup! Here's a recipe that I have tweaked to taste like a popular deli's chicken tortilla soup around here. We don't order the soup when we go eat there now because it's so expensive there, we just drink the tea! (hint to the deli)

Mc..... Deli Chicken Tortilla Soup

1-2 diced cooked chicken breast - I like to use grilled ones I keep in the freezer but a drained canned of chicken works in a pinch!
1 large can of cream of chicken soup or 2 small cans; fill the can or cans with water and add also.
1 can campbells fiesta cheese soup, don't add the water
1/2 cup salsa, use your favorite, I use Pace medium
1 can rotel tomatoes, I use mild
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Here's the easy part;
add the soups and water and mix well. Then just dump all the rest in, and cook until hot! Serve with sour cream, green onions and tortilla chips. You can crock pot this on low for a few hours if you need to do something else.

I keep the ingredients in the pantry to make this meal all the time. It's something that is always welcomed at the table. You can whip this together with a salad and you've got a really quick meal!

Keep warm!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Waiting for the blizzard!

I know I said I would post more healthy eating tips today but, well, you know, it might snow so I had to pre-empt it! I'll post more tomorrow, I promise. At least I don't have that annoying display at the bottom of the screen like they do on tv! That drives 'the man' in the house crazy because they switch out of HDTV to show it and it covers up the score!

Well, I'm here, in the house waiting for the blizzard that's supposed to hit tonight. My son and I have loaded enough wood on the back porch to get us through nice and toasty. My daughter is happily awaiting a snow day that probably won't come. I've promised to play monopoly on the first snow day, since it takes all day to play, that's the only time I devote a day to it! My husband will get roped into playing too, because he can't get out of the driveway if it gets too bad. We're all stuck together!

It always cracks me up when we are supposed to get winter weather. The weather people completely come unhinged! When you live in Oklahoma there are very few times when snow, sleet, ice, etc, actually stays on the roads for more than a few days, hours sometimes! The weather people get up whipped into a froth for a dusting. I think the dairy and toilet paper producers give the weather people a kick-back for making up panic! Maybe they get free toilet paper and milk for the season for each run at the grocery store. I remember when I worked for a small grocery store in college and it wouldn't take but the mention of snow and we'd sell out all the tp and milk! People acted like we'd be snowed in for weeks!

I do have to give it to the road people, they do their best. An Oklahomans idea of clearing the roads is two guys in the back of a pickup truck shoveling out sand! So a couple of inches is enough to keep everybody in the house but that guy with the four-wheel drive and he ends up in the ditch because he doesn't know how to drive in snow.

Don't get me wrong, I love Oklahoma snow. One or two days of the stuff and then it gets 60 degrees and melts it all away. Except this time, we've had snow around since Christmas eve. My daughter told me today she was tired of all the dirty snow laying around. It looked kind of like after we open all the Christmas gifts with all the sad paper laying around the room. I thought it was very profound for an 11 year old! This snow has outworn it's welcome! Time to either get melting or get some more snow so it's not dirty. Snow's kind of like that house guest, the first few days are fun but after a while, we're ready for them to hit the road!

I'll keep you posted on what happens with our big blizzard, I'm only bummed because if it comes too soon, I'll have to cook dinner tonight instead of eating at church! We eat at church on Wednesdays and I sure look forward to it. Makes me feel like we're eating out, except it's only $12 for the entire family. Can't eat anywhere for that price and it is really good.

Speaking of that, I made my menu for January today. I declared this month, eat out of the freezer and pantry month. That will help us recover from Christmas bills and eat some stuff that needs to be cleared out. I'll keep you posted on how we are doing. My goal is to just replenish dairy and produce and keep the purchasing to a minimum.

And yes, I keep a gallon of milk in the freezer and extra toilet paper around, just to be safe!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Healthy eating habits, cont...

Yesterday, I started on my food pointers for the new year. Today I'll continue today and tomorrow and then I won't say another word about healthy eating for a while, I promise! If you have an great idea on how you watch your weight, post it! We can all use help!

4. Eat things as close to they lived as possible. I know, this sounds gross, it used to really gross out my students too. But here's the deal, the more processed your food is, the more of the natural taste is taken out and the more fake taste is put in. That's why processed foods have a lot of salt in them. The manufacturers have to replace that natural stuff with something!

Take chicken. If you want chicken, go for a real piece of chicken, not a nugget. Exactly where is the nugget on the chicken anyway? A real piece of chicken, leg, breast, low in salt, not high in fat and tastes pretty good. A nugget, which is ground up chicken, is very high in salt and fat. Same for veggies and fruit, grains and breads. Go for the least processed and you'll always score better nutritionally.

5. If you want dessert, eat it! Don't deprive yourself of a few goodies in life! Have you ever noticed that skinny people often have a sweet tooth? Watch them, they eat the pie, they just don't eat it all. They usually savor it though, eating slowly enjoying every single bite. How often have you scarfed that candy bar and then realized that later you don't even remember eating it? Make those goodies really count!

6. Plan your meals. Truly, if your meals are planned, you will be less likely to just grab something. If you know that when you get home from work today, the ingredients for tacos, chili, your favorite soup, waiting for you to just get out of the pantry, or even better, get it out of the freezer or crockpot, how eager are you going to be to get back in the car and go out? I make my meal plans almost monthly. That way, I can shop a week in advance for the big stuff and just buy produce and fruit each week or so. Yes, I did this when I worked full time, in fact, it was more important then because I had less free time. I can also big, batch cook easier if I had a plan. (I'll go into this later)

7. If you can't resist it, don't keep it in the house! Enough said.

8. Never, never, never go without breakfast. Your body is like a woodstove and if you leave the house without stoking that fire (your metabolism) it will be sluggish all day! Get it roaring and burning those calories! My students always hated this one. My anatomy & physiology kids would roll their eyes but about half of them would begin to eat breakfast during the year and always tell me that it made them feel better! Some even reported losing weight even though they didn't do anything else. Eat something with a protein in it, that will keep you from being hungry.

I'll post more tomorrow!
Have a blessed day!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Chocolate should be a food group

I am a former science teacher so I know all about the food groups and proper diet but as a chocolate junkie, I have always struggled with the fact that chocolate was put in the fats category. The fat category should be reserved for yucky stuff which chocolate is clearly not! Plus, dark chocolate, my personal favorite has been found to have many health benefits. I don't know which federal agency spent the money to find that out but they could've just asked any woman at a certain time of the month! I'm sure a good piece of dark chocolate has kept me from committing murder both at school and at home!

If you stuggle with your weight and have set your new years resolution to get your eating habits under control this year, I have a few pointers that may help you. Remember, I'm not a doctor, I just used to play one at school! Everyone would bring their medical problems to me. I would cringe when someone would say, 'could you look at this and tell me what you think!' I would always say, see the doctor and tell your parents. I figured I couldn't get sued with that response! I also look at life with a little satirical humor, so don't get bent out of shape here...get in shape! Ha!

1. Do not eat standing up or in the car! We as a society tend to eat on the go, so we don't really taste our food. This quick eating fools our bodies into thinking that we really didn't eat. If you are really hungry, find a table to sit down at and eat.

2. Eat what your body craves. If all you really want is mashed potatoes, don't make fried chicken, corn and hot rolls. Just eat mashed potatoes. Ask a pediatrician, a two year old will eat what their body needs. That's why some days all they eat is corn, the next day meat. Get in touch with your body.

3. When your stomach is growling you are losing weight. I heard that on a talk show years ago and it completely changed my atitude about hunger. Americans think it is a bad thing when our stomachs growl. We rush to fill it with whatever we can find at the moment even if we really don't want it. Wait it out to see what you are really hungry for or eat something that once grew in the garden!

I'll post more tomorrow, I think those three are enough to think about today!

Remember to bless someone today, even if they don't know you did it!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Comfort Food Deluxe

Well, we had a few more inches of snow last night! We're not used to keeping snow on the ground in Oklahoma for more than a few days so this has been pretty unique. It's supposed to be below freezing for most of the week and I'm cooking up a batch of chicken and dumplings for a family from my church. They have a son going through chemo for cancer and the ladies at the church are trying to help out by getting them food. Small thing we can do for a family going through so much.

A couple of people wanted my recipe so I said, 'check the blog', that way I only have to type it once! I do something I like to call big batch cooking or lazy woman cooking, whatever you like. Simply put, it is cooking once big time and getting several days of eating on it. My kids are really active in everything on earth so most afternoons we might get 30 minutes to eat and get somewhere leaving little time to actually cook something. I'm not a fan of grabbing something on the go. You should sit at a table and eat as often as possible! This dish is one of my eat later dishes. It can go on the table pretty quick if you have the chicken broth mix already in the freezer!

I start by crockpot cooking a whole chicken. I simply stick a chicken in the crockpot, with celery, garlic and onion shoved in it's backside along with about 6 cups of water and 1/2 stick of butter or margarine. I sprinkle salt/pepper and I like sage on it. Sometimes I put carrots and potatoes under it for our evening meal.

When we've eaten all the chicken we want that night, I take the rest of the chicken off the bone and stick the bones back in the crockpot liquid and add a couple of frozen chicken breasts in it and cook it on low all night.

The next day, I strain the broth from the crockpot. If you refridgerate the broth for a couple of hours you can then take off most of the fat. (this is good since you've been eating fudge!) Dice the chicken breasts and any leftover chicken and put it all in a 1 gallon freezer bag along with a couple handfuls of frozen mixed veggies or whatever leftover veggie I have in the fridge. Now you have the starter for chicken soup or dumplings!

For chicken soup, just thaw and bring to a boil and throw in noodles, enough for your family and season it to taste. You can add more veggies while cooking if you need to. These are good meal stretchers, that's what I do when more kids end up at my house than I declare on my taxes. Word has gotten out that my sons mom can cook so he ends up bringing all kinds of friends home!

For dumplings, here's my recipe, I've tried several over the years but always come back to this one. I like dumplings to be really light and fluffy!


1 1/3 cups all purpose flour- you really need to just use white flour, don't use wheat
2 teas baking powder
1/2 teas salt
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons salad oil, I use olive oil or crisco oil.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Stir together the milk and the oil and add it to the flour mixture. Stir just until it is a soft dough (DO NOT OVERMIX) It will give you the toughest dumplings and could probably use them as softballs!

Drop the dough by spoonfuls into boiling chicken stock, it needs to be boiling continuously but not really hard. The dumplings will sink at first but will rise as they cook. Keep the chicken stock boiling and do not cover the pot for 10 minutes. Do not stir at all during this time. After 10 minutes, cover the pot and cook another 10 minutes. Again, do not stir. I sprinkle the top of the dumplings with a little parsley for color.

I usually double my recipe so we have enough for leftovers the next day.

If I have the stock ready and frozen I can get either of these meals on the table in under 30 minutes. The soup is faster but I think the dumplings are better just because I like dumplings!

This is comfort food at its best, creamy, hot and so very tasty! And believe it or not, each of these dishes are pretty low in fat! Plus, you can get rid of leftover veggies.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Fantasy Fudge Recipe

Here's the recipe I promised yesterday, the stuff in parenthesis have been added by me! To make fudge that isn't runny, use a candy thermometer. I could never make it well until I started using thermometer because I would get in a hurry and my hand would start hurting from all that stirring!

If you've never used a candy thermometer before, you will clip it onto the inside of the pan. Make sure the bulb is not sitting on the bottom of the pan and when you stir, don't hit the bulb. Identify where the target temperature is located on the temperature scale before you start so you don't go over temperature!

You're going to want a medium sized, heavy bottom sauce pan because as it boils it will move up the pan sides and you don't want to clean this off your stove! Some people butter the sides of the pan to prevent this but I don't.

Fantasy Fudge- makes a 9x13 pan
3 Cups sugar
3/4 Cup butter (use the real stuff, if you're going to make fudge, do it right!)
2/3 Cup evaporated milk (this is not found by the regular milk, it is in a can in the baking aisle)
1 regular bag chocolate chips (if you really want to go all out, use dark chocolate)
1 jar marshmallow cream (the small jar, I believe it is 6 oz)
1 teas. vanilla
1 Cup chopped nuts (I use pecans but you use what you like)

Before you start, move the phone, your glass of iced tea, and anything else you think you'll need for about 10 minutes because you'll be in one spot while stirring for that long. Trust me, I've learned the hard way!

Bring the butter, sugar and milk to a boil. Be sure to stir all the time or the sugar will burn and you'll end up pouring it all out in the trash! Once it begins to boil, keep it at rolling boil (that's a continuous boil) for about five minutes until the candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees fahenheit.

When the proper temperature is reached, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips, marshmallow creme and the nuts if you want them. Continue stirring until all the marshmallow creme and chocolate is melted in the butter mixture.

Pour into a greased pan. If you like really thick slabs of fudge, use a 9X9 pan. I use a 9x13 pan because I like it to be about an inch thick.

After you've poured it all out into the pan, be sure and lick the spoon, spatula and all the utensils clean! You want to make sure the kids are occupied during this time so you get it all to yourself! They will look clean after you're finished but they really do need to be washed through the dishwasher to be sanitized!

Let it cool for about an hour then cut into 1 inch squares putting half of them into a smaller container. The rest put in that cupboard above the fridge so you don't have to share! Never eat the last piece until you have made replacement fudge because in January in Oklahoma you never know when the next ice storm/blizzard will hit and you will be stuck in your house with your entire family for days on end, you will thank me for this piece of advice!

Remember, never eat fudge while standing! It should be savored, allow it to melt partway in your mouth before you chew. It is a slow down moment!

Sometimes the greatest blessing we can receive is when we bless someone else even if they don't know it!

Have a great day!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Confessions of a Crazy Foodie!

Well, today is a day for starting new things and my new years resolution is to start putting all these crazy ideas I have on paper! So here goes! I'll start by introducing myself, I am an original Okie from Muskogee. Muskogee, Oklahoma, that is. Born there in 1967, I even have a certificate that says I am. Yes, they really gave those out for a while in Muskogee!

This year, I am going to post recipes, ideas, and personal stories from this blog. I hope you will join me on this journey of self-expression as I try to put down in words my thoughts and feelings and all those silly things that seem to happen in my life!

Since my motto has always been 'I don't want to be laying on my deathbed saying, "I should have had the pie", I will introduce a dessert of the month. Some will be old favorites, some will be new ideas and some may surprise you! My first official act of this blog will be to declare January FUDGE month!

I get through December with all the stress and stuff by thinking about January fudge. This year I cheated and actually made it a couple of days ago but I was out of town and didn't get to eat it until today. I'll post the recipe tomorrow, it's just the old fashioned fantasy fudge but I honestly like it the best. I never make fudge for december eating because I think chocolate fudge should be savored like a fine wine. So many of us scarf our food and treats so fast during December that we don't really taste it. Just as you sip wine, you should savor fudge!

I challenge you to make a pan of fudge this week, slow down and savor this new year as a blessing given to you to make the world a better place!