Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Salad in a Jar

Pinterest is the "in" thing!

Everybody, who's anybody, is on Pinterest!

I'm a nobody.

I'm not on Pinterest.

Well, yes I am.

I'm a ghost pinner.

That's right, a ghost pinner.

My mom is on Pinterest.

She had followers.

She had NO pins . . .

NO bulletin boards . . .

NO repins . . .


So in an effort to keep her cool and her followers intrigued, I've started pinning for her!

It's great!

She's looking cool and I'm seeing some neat things!

Like the salad in a jar.

Not my idea, but I sure thought it was clever.

So I tried it.

That's right.

Made my salad right in the jar.

It was great.

Actually, my girl cherub tried it first and she really thought it was great.

I couldn't let her have a great experience by herself, so I tried it too.

It was great.

Here's the concept.

Use a mason jar, with a lid, and make your salad upside down.

Just pack your ingredients right in the jar -- starting with the dressing. 

This part is hard.  I didn't want to "need" more dressing, but I didn't want too much!

Then I put the yellow peppers and onions and carrots in the dressing -- so they could marinate.

Then I added chopped chicken and topped it with chopped tomatoes and any other wet-ish ingredients.

Sprinkled some feta cheese on that and finished it with chopped lettuce.

Put the lid on tight and carried it for lunch!

Either  a  l-o-n-g fork or a plate to dump it out on would be nice to have!

I made it through lunch without either of those and I was rather happy with my experience!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

One Month and Big Results!

Image from The Lion King; taken from the Internet; www.glimpsefilms.com
We've been gluten free for one month!

Today starts our fifth week of a radically difficult way eating but we've seen instant results!

On Monday, January 2 we woke up to a new way of doing business;  no gluten for our girl.

It's been hard
it's been difficult
we keep learning about this opportunity for alternative living.

But the best thing is that
it's been successful!

Since the very day we started we've had not one, I tell you, not one experience with allergy, rash, itching, swelling, or tingl-y feeling.

Not a smidge of benedryl has been used.  Matter of fact, I don't even know where the benedryl is at our house!

So while I know it seems a little "voodoo-momma" to jump off into a world of self diagnosing, at least I've not made things worse!

We have lots to learn about this gluten-free living and there's a bit of difficulty for our boy cherub to embrace it with full-open, heart-pounding love and adoration; but we're working together!

Many of the recipes I have posted since we've started this living have been gluten free.  While I won't make a claim of a gluten free recipe, I've tried to make the recipes fit our needs without drawing attention to the fact that life is a little different these days!  So if you've made something new this month from this site, then chances are you've eaten gluten free!  It's not too bad, is it?

So with that, I'll close with a funny story that happened just today!

Today, at church, there were donuts.  My girl cherub says, "Oh momma, those look good and I'm so hungry." 

Being the nice momma that I am, I reply, "Ok baby, you can have a little smidge.  I'll break you off a small bite; we'll be headed to lunch just as soon as your daddy finishes up things."

She looks at me and says, so matter of factly, "Mom!  I can't have that!  I'm gluten free!"

"Oh!  You're right!  You are!  Sorry!  I forgot!"

Maybe that's a sign that it's becoming like second nature to us .  . . or I can't remember what I'm doing from one day to the next!  Either one's a possibility!  The good thing is this:  at least one of us "gets it!"

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Nice Surprise

Every year we I send out Christmas cards.

Ummm, that's not exactly the truth anymore.

Let me re-phrase:

I now send out e-Christmas cards.

We I started doing this 2 years ago.

I figured up exactly how much time and money we were spending on sending out cards and I decided we could do more with the money.

Like give it to ministry.

So we've started a new family tradition.

The e-Christmas card goes out
and the money and time goes to a ministry that our family chooses.

It's great.

It's freeing.

It's a blessing -- really!

But here's what happened this week.

A nice little surprise was in our mail box.

I looked at the return address and thought,
"Oh, I bet Heather has sent a New Year's card."

That's the kind of envelope it was in.

I opened it and found this:

"Thank you so much for sharing your 2011 Christmas greetings with us!

We prayed for your family this week.

'In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins.'  I John 4:10

May you know the constant peace of His presence in 2012.

Love, . . "

They had their names and ages . . .well, the ages of the kids, not the parents!

It was such a nice surprise to read that!

I saw her and asked her permission to share it with you -- not as my idea, but as hers!  She said she saw it from someone else several years ago and adopted the idea!

I think it's great!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Vanilla Pudding

You'll never go back after making your own . . .
ok, maybe in a pinch, but not very often!
I love pudding.

But you know what I really love?

Warm pudding.


I know.

Blame it on my mom.

Or my dad.

I remember eating pudding warm when I was a kid.

Specifically, banana pudding.

Without the bananas.

That's how my dad liked it.

Without the bananas.


I know.

Blame it on . . .

Forget it -- go make some pudding.

And eat it warm!

Homemade Vanilla Pudding

3/4 cup sugar
4 TBSP cornstarch
1/8 tsp. salt
3 1/2 cups milk
3 egg yolks
1 TBSP butter
1 TBSP vanilla

Combine sugar, salt, and cornstarch in a pan.

Whisk in the milk and egg yolks.  Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly for 3-5 minutes or until thickened . . .kind of like the pudding you would make if it were from a box.  You'll know what it should look like!

Remove from the heat and add the butter and vanilla.  Whisk until the butter is melted.

Serve warm, if you're daring!

Otherwise, place in a bowl and gently cover the top of the pudding with saran wrap, or the like product.  That prevents "pudding skin" from forming while the pudding cools!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Forever Basil

I love fresh herbs.

In the Spring, we always plant a variety of herbs.

It's so exciting . . .

 . . .at first!

Then, I forget to water them.

I end up with "herb sticks."

You know what those are, don't you?

It's limp, dry, sunburned, unusable wanna be herbs that suffered at the hands of me.

It's sad.

Every year, I vow to do better.

I don't!

But I do try!  That's worth something, isn't it?

Remember, my trips to the grocery store are purely perfunctory.

I rarely buy "new and great, just discovered" things because I don't take time to look around.

I'm working on that -- there really are some great things to try.

But old habits are hard to break and all I want to do is get out of there and get the junk put up at home.

However!  One day at the store, while trying to be interactive with my surroundings, I did find something new!

And boy!  Is it a treat!

It's basil in a tube!

It's great! 

Need 1 TBSP of fresh basil?  Just squeeze it out!

It lasts about 3 months in the fridge!

I also bought the cilantro one too!  It's great!

Today, I made a marinade using this stuff.  Maybe you can find it at your favorite to meander grocery shop!

Lemon Basil Vinaigrette Marinade

1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
2 TBSP lemon juice
2 TBSP basil

Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until incorporated.

Pour over your chicken and marinade for as long as you want.

Either grill the chicken or roast in the oven.

*I used bone in, skin on chicken breasts.  3 very large pieces and this was "just" (as in, could have used more) marinade.  I totally made up this recipes -- so adjust to your taste or add something or leave something out.  Either way - I was happy with the final marinade.

I served with pesto pasta and a salad.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Orange Infused Cream Cheese

On a whim, I whipped this up.

I started with the cream cheese.

Thought I'd add a bit of stuff to it.

But didn't really know why I was making it.

Didn't have a plan.

Didn't have a reason.

That makes cooking fun sometimes!

I thought to myself, "Self, I think an orange cream cheese would taste good."

I was thinking this while cleaning the bathroom and folding laundry.

I gathered my ingredients and I made it.

Viola!  Done!

Now what?

We don't have any bagels to eat it on.

What am I going to do with this stuff, I thought?

Here's what I did.

I put a dollop on top of the bite-sized chocolate rice cake.

Tried it.

Liked it.

Posted it.

Orange Infused Cream Cheese

4 oz cream cheese, softened
zest of one small orange
1/8 tsp. fiori di sicilia (King Arthur; citrus extract)
2 TBSP powdered sugar

Place cream cheese in bowl large enough that you can stir your stuff.

Zest the orange.  I used the entire zest of the orange -- I like it zesty.  Plus, I was using my new microplane zester -- and I was amazed at how wonderful it was and how easy it was to zest and I just kept zesting because  . . .just because.

Add the extract, if you want, and dump in the powdered sugar.  Stir until all ingredients are well mixed. 

Place a small amount in a ziplock bag and cut off the corner and add a cutsy dollop of cream cheese to your chocolate rice cake.  It's a great low calorie snack.

IDEA!!!!  You could just make this in a bigger quantity and frost some chocolate cupcakes with it!  Oh boy, that'd be a treat too!

(For the record, I always use the Weight Watchers cream cheese.  I think it works beautifully in any recipe.  It doesn't taste low-call and it doesn't get weird when you cook with it.  I'm not paid to tell you I like their stuff -- heck!  They don't even know I exist!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cathedral Chicken Salad

There's a lot of chicken salad recipes out there.

From the very basic to the very creative.

Most of us have our "trusted" chicken salad that we always make.

But I want to share another option:

This one is simple.

This one taste really good.

 . . .and I was very surprised!

I'm a chicken "with grapes and nuts and apples and other fun stuff" salad  girl.

We needed lunch one Saturday and I had all of the ingredients to make this salad.  It's from the 2011 Southern Living cookbook.

Cathedral Chicken Salad
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 TBSP lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 tsp. seasoning salt
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/2 cup chopped celery

Place chopped chicken and celery in a bowl.  Mix in mayonnaise, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt & pepper. 

Toss until well combined.

Serve with pita chips, Hawaiian roll, or on a lettuce leaf with a side of fruit.  Makes a great lunch or light dinner.

Monday, January 16, 2012

1,800 and something Days . . .

Our cherub, with her favorite baby in all the world; Gabby Grace

Today, our girl cherub turns 10!
It's been a Birthday-Palooza all weekend!

She has opened presents for 3 days straight!

Last night, she crawled into bed with us and said,
"In 12 hours I'll turn 10!"

"Oh baby, I know .  .  .won't that be fun!"  I said to her.

"Yeah.  But guess what, in 1,800 in something days, I'll be able to drive a car!"


"Yeah, mom.  Just doing some math in my head; in 6 years, that's  a little more than 1,800 days, I'll be driving!"


"Yeah!"  my sweet, 9 year old cherub says . .  .

"MR!  Did you hear what she just said?"
"Uh huh.  I'm ignoring it!"

So goes the ways of the daddy!  The Mr. thinks if he ignores it -- maybe it won't happen!
But guess what!  She speaks the truth!
But, in my quiet place today, I got out the calculator to see if she's right!

Thank goodness, those were big numbers to multiply. . .

there are 2,190 days until she drives!

Whew!  I have a few extra days!

Our cherub, wearing some new birthday clothes!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Puppy Chow

Chex® Muddy Buddies®
Image used from Betty Crocker.com

Not all recipes are new to us.

Some are a flash-back to the past;
something we had a long time ago.

Something that we ate for the first time, maybe even lived on it for awhile,
But now we never make anymore.

Matter of fact, some recipes that we share start a story with, "I remember . . . "

This little treat is one of those "I remember . . . " recipes.

I was in college when I first ate it with some friends.

One of those friends is now my Mr.!

How 'bout that!

Now that I'm trying to cook ourselves gluten-free, it has me looking back through recipes.
Which caused me to find this! 
Which will be my girl cherub's birthday treat at school on Tuesday!

Yeah, Me!

Puppy Chow

4 cups corn chex
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 TBSP butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Place corn chex in a large bowl, maybe even one that is fitted with a lid. (Makes clean up that much easier!).

Place chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Melt ingredients, stopping microwave every so often to stir ingredients together  . . .as well as not to burn it!

Pour chocolate mixture over the cereal and stir well.

Dump the powdered sugar over the mixture and cover tightly with the lid (or place all ingredients in a 2 gallon ziplock bag and seal).  Shake very well!

Pour out onto wax paper and allow the treat to dry.

If there's any left by the end of the night, store in an airtight container.

This is like a family and a half serving . . .or one big boy cherub's serving!  Good thing is; it easily doubles if needed!  (And some days, it's "needed!")

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cheesy Chili Hash Brown Bake

Cheesy Chili Hash Brown Bake Recipe

Photo from Southern Living

On Wednesday nights, I usually try to make easy, kid-pleasing food that I may not otherwise make.

One cherub gets home from school early.

The other gets home late.

One cherub goes to choir at 5:30.

One cherub doesn't go to church stuff until 6:30.

The Mr. is never here for dinner on Wednesdays . . .because it's Wednesday and there is no time to run home from church before having to be back AT church!

In the new 2011 Southern Living cookbook, this recipe caught my attention; thinking the cherubs would probably really like it.

So I made it.

I made some alterations, and will tweak it again, for our own personal tastes.

If you want the original recipe, you can search it at this web address:

Here's my adaptation to the recipe -- with some notes on what I'll do differently next time. 

Cheesy Chili Hash Brown Bake

1- 6 oz can tomato paste
1 empty tomato paste can filled with BBQ sauce
1- 15.5 oz can chili; I used Wolf Brand Turkey 95% fat free chili

1/2 onion, chopped (We thought more onion would be been better too).
1/2 (30 oz) package frozen country style hash browns
(We all thought it needed more potatoes; it was too "saucy" for us)
4 oz cheese, shredded (I used Monterrey Jack cheese)
Fried or poached egg(s)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Stir tomato paste, BBQ sauce and chili together.

Spray a 9X13 pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Pour either 1/2 or more hash browns in pan.

Pour sauce over the hash browns.

Top with chopped onion and cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes or until it is heated thoroughly and cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

While the casserole is baking, cook your eggs; either fried, boiled or poached. (One of my cherubs wanted the egg boiled, and sliced on top of the casserole.).

Scoop a serving of the casserole onto a plate and top with an egg (and maybe a little salsa too!).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pasta Fagioli Soup

I can't believe this recipe hasn't been posted!


I was at the store, looking at the blog for the recipe because I needed to make sure I had all of the ingredients . . .and it wasn't there!

Oh my!

This soup was served at one of my bridal showers.

At the time, I had never had this soup before and it was delicious!

We've been making it every since!

Pasta Fagioli

2 lbs. ground beef, cooked and drained*
1 can Rotel tomatoes
2 cans RanchStyle beans
3 cans Campbell's condensed Minestrone soup
1 can tomato juice

Place all of the ingredients in a large stock pan and heat.
You can also place all of the ingredients in a crock pot and have a hot soup when you come home.

Serve with a side salad and breadsticks or cornbread.

When my family cooks the meat, we add chopped onion with it.  We also lightly salt and pepper the meat too.

There ya go!  Dinner's ready!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Almond Butter

I am a kid at heart.

I like peanut butter.

But now I'm all grown up and I like other butters.

Like almond butter.

I usually don't buy almond butter from the store.

Reasons why I don't purchase nut butters from the store:
  1. It's cheaper to make my own.
  2. It tastes better when I make it.
  3. I have greater control over added salt, sugar, and fat.
I've made almond butter several times and this last batch of butter was the best!  I was looking on-line for some "almond butter help" when I discovered this website:

She has pictures of the "stages" of almond butter-making.

It was very helpful, I must say!

First, it takes time to make great almond butter! 

Matter of fact, if you'll take the time to let the almonds "do their thing" you're going to end up with a great jar of butter.

Also, you're going to use way less oil than you originally thought you'd need.

I wish I had exact amounts, but I don't. 

Because I didn't think I'd need to know exact amounts.

But you can't mess this up.


You can't!

So here's the un-recipe for making your own almond butter.

Almond Butter

Almonds, toasted
1 tsp. oil, maybe

Using a food processor, like the one below . . .this is what mine looks like.  It's O.L.D!
Matter of fact, my dad bought it for me, before I was married, at a garage sale. 
It was old then  . . . and it's old now . . .but it still works!

Back to the recipe,

Using the blade attachment, pour about 2 cups of roasted and cooled almonds in the container.

Attach the lid and turn the processor on high. 

My processor was able to make the almond butter without over-heating.  You will have to do what's best for your machine not to over heat, stop working, and possibly catch fire.  (OK, the catch fire part was just for a small chuckle.  But really, if your food processor can't work continuously, you'll have to stop and start this process.  It won't change the end product, it'll just take longer.)

Allow the almonds to be processed through the following stages (looking at the pictures at the above website will help you understand what I'm not saying very clearly!).
  • dry nut meal
  • moist nut meal
  • it will finally clump together in a ball
At this point, you might become concerned.


Basically, the steps are now going to be worked through backwards, which is going to result in a terrific almond butter.
  • the ball of butter will now, S.L.O.W.L.Y begin to redistribute
  • you'll get anxious and want to add the oil.

Be patient!

  • Slowly, little by little, the oils begin to be fully released from the nuts and you'll begin to see the fruits nuts of your labor!
You'll have almond butter!

Smooth, creamy, and delicious!

Once the processor has done it's job, you may want your almond butter to be just a bit thinner.  If that's the case, slowly add the 1 tsp. of oil into the butter, with the processor on so that it's well incorporated.

Spoon your delicious treat into a container or jar.

Lick the spoon!
Say to yourself, "Good job, thou well and faithful servant!"

Friday, January 6, 2012

Spanish Rice

Image from the internet
Not one of my favorite things to eat.

Not this recipe . . .but Spanish rice, in general.

I've never been a fan.

Until I made this.

This is what the Mr. grew up on, I'm guessing. 

You know, I've never asked him if he ate this as a kid,
but his mom is the one who gave me the recipe.

Maybe she just liked they way it sounded . . .

No, I'm sticking with the thought that it was a family favorite!

Again, like most things I make, it's easy!

You can serve it along side your Mexican food, or add ground beef to it and have a one-pot meal, if you're into those sorts of things!

Spanish Rice

1 cup uncooked rice (instant or long-cook*)
1/4 cup butter
1 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 can stewed tomatoes, with the juice
1 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
1 cup water

Melt butter in a sauce pan, add the onion, green pepper and rice.  Stir over high heat until the rice is lightly browned.  Add the tomatoes, water, salt and pepper.  Mix well, bring to a boil, cover tightly and then lower the heat and simmer until tender. 

Serve hot.

*If you're using long-cook rice, you might have to add additional water as necessary to achieve desired tenderness of the rice.  I've used both kinds of rice.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Authentic Chicken Enchilades

We love Mexican food.

All sorts of Mexican food:
  • Tex-Mex
  • Northern New Mexico
  • authentic Mexican food
Sometimes I think salsa courses through my veins!

I have an interest in preparing authentic, simple and delicious Mexican food.

The food where ingredients are simple and the spices are rich and the taste is out of this world.

I'm not wanting the famed, and often confused for "Mexican" food of Tex-Mex.  Although, I do love this too! 

What's the difference?

Tex-Mex is often spicier, cheesier, and "full." 

Authentic Mexican food is often subtle spices that build a complex taste and fresh, simple ingredients.

Here's a recipe I found on-line for enchiladas.  I adapted it just a bit for our needs.  The changes were subtle and didn't affect the end product!  It made a large pan full -- and enough left-overs for the cherubs to have for lunch the next day!

Chicken Enchiladas

12 corn tortillas
3 cooked chicken breast halves, no bones or skin, shredded
½ cup chopped onions
4-6  oz shredded cheese, cheddar or Monterey jack
¼ cup butter

2 cups chicken broth
3 TBSP corn starch

3 TBSP water
1/2-1 cup sour cream, depending on how "intense" you want the cream flavor to be
4 oz can chopped green chilies
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, if desired
1/2 cup minced onion, if desired


Working with 2-3 corn tortillas at a time, gently heat the tortillas in the microwave until soft.  Divide the chicken, onion, and cheese between the tortillas. Roll them up and place in a greased baking pan, seam side down.  repeat this step with the remaining tortillas.  If you have remaining cheese and/or onions, just sprinkle them on top of the rolled tortillas before pouring the sauce on . . .or save it and top the sauce.  Your choice!

Mix the cornstarch and water together well.  Pour into a pan with the butter and chicken broth. 

Heat the butter, broth and cornstarch in a pan over a medium heat. Heat until it thickens, but not boiling.

Add the chilies and sour cream.  Remove sauce from the heat and stir until well mixed. Pour this mixture over the enchiladas.  Bake the enchiladas for 20-30 minutes or until hot all the way through.   Top with additional onions and cilantro to garnish.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Glazed Almonds

You've seen those glazed almonds in the bag.

They're usually in the produce department -- by the salad fixings.

Sometimes they're in the salad dressing/pickle/olive aisle.

It's a small bag of sweet crunch.

I love to put nuts on my salads.

I love to use the glazed almonds.

But I get tired of buying those things because I think it's expensive for the amount you get in that little bag.

The next best thing -- make your own.  It's so easy and it makes so much more!  I made these and I know I didn't use them all . . .I'm wondering what little container I've put them in?  Better yet, I wonder WHERE I've put them?  I think I'll go look!

Glazed Almonds

4 tablespoons butter (not margarine)
2 cups almonds; whole, chopped, or slivered (I used slivered)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 -1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt, optional   
Line a baking sheet with foil. Grease the foil with 1 tablespoon butter; set aside.
In a large heavy skillet, combine the almonds, sugar and butter. Cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring constantly, until sugar is melted and golden brown.               
Remove from the heat; carefully stir in vanilla. Spread onto prepared baking sheet; immediately sprinkle with salt., if desired.  (I didn't desire!) If you want the salty/sweet combo, it's a good addition.
Cool before breaking into pieces. Store in an airtight container.
Sprinkle over a salad, steamed green beans, on top of a chicken casserole . . . be creative!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Veggie Chili

This is Veggie Chili before I used the blender . . don't let the picture
of it keep you from trying it!

This isn't a recipe I'd normally give a second glance. 

But being fair to all recipes in my new cookbook, and a secret commitment to myself to try new recipes this year, even when they're "not my style", this recipe was the first of the test.

I was all self-talked up when the cherubs asked what I was making.

Very confident, but not overly so, in a gentle, "we have this all the time" kind of voice, I said,


It was truthful --

in a "it wasn't my fault" kind of way.

Honestly, I'd call that a lie by omission, and if it had been my children doing it to me, I'd have given a dose of vinegar.

But it wasn't, and I'm the parent, and I have a secret commitment to myself to try new recipes, and I need them to be supportive of that endeavor, and not make snap judgements if they're going to like it or not before I even finish the cooking!

Wow!  The Christmas break must be getting to me -- because that last paragraph sounded like I'm in need of therapy!

I finished the chopping, and the opening of the cans, and the pouring and the stirring and seeing how "garden-y" the chili looked, I decided to take 1/2 of the chili out and use my immersion blender on it and then mix it all back together again.

I'm glad I did.

I liked it that way.

Matter of fact, I think I'd prefer to have done the entire pot of chili that way and my boy cherub agreed with me.  The two of us must be right!

Next time, that's what I'll do. 

Over-all this recipe, which I adapted from Southern Living, received a rating of 8 from around our dinner table!

That's pretty remarkable, I'd say!

Veggie Chili

2 large carrots, cleaned and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 TBSP oil
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cumin* (or to taste)
1-2 TBSP chili powder* (or to taste.  I used 2 TBSP)
3 cups tomato juice (or the entire can if you want your chili a bit thinner)
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
2 can diced tomatoes
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 small zucchini, chopped
1 small yellow squash, chopped

Heat oil in large stock pan.

Add carrots and onion and saute until onion are translucent.

Add spices and tomato sauce juice and remaining ingredients.  Cook, over low heat with a lid for 30-45 minutes or until veggies are done. 

(I cooked my chili without a lid for about an hour for two reasons.  First, to cook the chili.  Second, I wanted it to reduce while cooking to make the flavors stronger.)  You cook your however your heart desires!

*If you don't have these spices, you can use a chili seasoning packet from the spice aisle.

Serve chili topped with sour cream, grated cheese, and onions, if desired.  Add a side of cornbread and you've got an easy meal!

Monday, January 2, 2012

When You've Got an Itch . . .

My cherub, who got 5 inches cut off of
her hair!  I love this style on her!


It's the new year and I've got a new cookbook, kitchen tools, and King Arthur supplies!

This is NOT, I repeat, NOT what I want to do . . .

but for the sake of our girl cherub, we must.

We must be gluten-free.

That's right.

I hear your gasp! 

You feel my pain!

Together, we grieve!

But for many months, the Mr. and I have discussed this option.

We've -- no, that's not right, I've read and researched and shared vital information with him.

After tubs of benedryl cream and a tingl-y tongue, and itch-y, rash-y neck, it's time we do what's best for our cherub and we see if gluten is the culprit.

Do you know what gluten is in?


E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G!  I tell you!

But after 2 hours at the grocery store for only 1 week of food, I think we're going to make it!

Today, for the first time in a very long time, there's been no itching or weird feeling tongue on our youngest cherub!

Maybe it's coincidence.

Maybe it's a quinky-dink.

Or maybe, just maybe me and the Mr. are right!

Only time will tell.  Our plan is to remove the gluten for a legitimate amount of time then re-introduce a single gluten-containing food at a time and watch for the tell-tell signs. 

It's iffy, and maybe a little "tree-hugger" style of helping our cherub, but if it works then it'll be worth it!  If we're not successful, we will use modern medicine and smarter people than us to help us figure out what's going on! 

Until then, I'll still be sharing with you recipes that you won't want to miss out on . . . and some of them will be gluten free!

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Not my picture -- this was found on the internet.
I've posted a "blondies" recipe earlier -- but it was a cinnamon sort of dessert.

This is just plain 'ol blondies. 




If you have company coming or just need a fast dessert, this is a keeper.  All of the ingredients are basic and if you have the time, energy, or interest to throw some "extras" in -- the recipe is both forgiving AND accepting!

When my boy cherub and I made these, we threw in a small ton of chocolate chips . . .just because we could!  It was a Friday night and we were livin' on the wild side!


1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray an 8X8 pan with cooking spray.

Beat butter and brown sugar together until fluffy.

Beat in egg until well incorporated.  Stir in vanilla.

Add salt and flour and mix well, but no need to over-mix.*  If you want to add in some additional ingredients -- do so at this step.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until center is set.  These are like brownies -- you don't want to over-bake.

Cool before cutting.

**Ideas for mix-ins:
  • chopped nuts
  • chocolate chips or other chips -- like butterscotch, peanut butter, etc.
  • dried fruit, like cherries (maybe with some chocolate chips!)
  • 1-2 TBSP of espresso powder