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Life for Dessert

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Monday, January 31, 2011

The Jello Jog

Today I feel like crap.  Sorry if that word bothers you...but that's how I feel.

I went on Friday afternoon to get coffee with friends and it was great.  What was not great was laughing so hard that i snorted hot cider into my sinus cavity, somehow snorted it back down my throat, and then back up and down again once more, all the while trying not to spew now regurgitated hot cider all over my friend D.

I don't know if it's medically possible to have disrupted said sinus cavity into creating an infection, but that's what I think I did.  And if it's not medically possible, then a real sickness has impeccable timing to start just a couple of hours after the cider-snorting incident.

And, the visitor that my husband likes to call "Aunt Flo" has come again...for the 4th time in 2 months.  Wretch.  And if you're a man reading this, then I'm only understand how this inconvenience affects you, so no comment from you is necessary on this subject.

My body is flat tired!  I told my husband last night that i have been putting my poor body through the ringer since 2007!  After 2 miscarriages (I'll tell you all more about those another day when I'm not already emotionally charged), and a year of trying to get pregnant, and then finally being pregnant, and then finally having Little Bit, and now still nursing Little Bit....I'm tired

And it didn't help yesterday when our family went on an afternoon walk in the neighborhood and to be silly I thought I'd run down the hill pushing Little Bit in the stroller, and things jiggled.  I'm not talking about "the girls" who weren't in a sports bra....I'm talking about other areas...jiggling...and I noticed it.  I think it's time ladies that i got serious and joined the gym...seriously...jiggling.  If the sinus issue wasn't bad enough, the jello run just about put me over the edge.

I think maybe it's time that my life is the only thing that I'm having for dessert for a little while!

And PS. NO that picture is NOT me...but that's how i feel some days!


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bigger fish to fry....Kitchen dreams

I'm in love.  With THIS...

Oh day maybe.

But not today.  Today, I will go on an outing somewhere beautiful with my family since Little Bit is feeling rotten from antibiotics (and probably more-so from the awful diaper rash that's ravaging his bottom) and he doesn't need to spend the morning sick and miserable in the nursery at church.  Today I will enjoy my family because they are who i would spend time in a kitchen like this most of the time for anyways.

But one day, maybe this dream will be real.  For now though, I have bigger fish to fry in the kitchen that I have.

- Logan

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

What's for Dinner?! In 1947....

Oh friends,

My mother just called me laughing so hard she was crying...and then when she finally was able to breathe clearly enough to tell me why, I joined her and it started all over again.

My dad is kind of a pack rat.  His dad was even worse!  So for the past year or so, my dad, uncle, and aunt have been sorting through books and magazines that their father had still when he passed away years ago.  Somehow it took this long for them to get to all these books...but that's a boring long story that I'll spare you.

My parents are at the lake where most of these old gems are kept, and Mom found a real doozie today.

Some of the reading material from way back when is really hilarious.  Lots of it is offensive, and this one...well i don't even know what category to put it in since it's actually both!

So for your delight, and perhaps your dinner in a case of desperation or famine...I bring you from Better Homes and Gardens 1947....

Ham Banana Bake

Ham-Banana Bake
"Firm, whole bananas wrapped in ham, baked in cheese sauce" -

6 bananas
6 thin slices boiled ham
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
2 tablespoons butter or fat
2 tablespoons enriched flour
1 cup milk
1 cup grated American cheese

Peel bananas. Spread ham slices with mustard. Wrap a slice around each banana. Arrange in greased shallow baking dish. Melt butter; add flour; blend. Gradually add milk. Cook over low heat until thick and smooth, stirring constantly. Add cheese. Stir until melted. Pour over ham-banana rolls. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) 30 minutes. Serves 6.  - Mrs. James P. Kelly, Detroit, Michigan. (who actually won an honorable mention for this recipe)

Bringing you love, recipes, and a side of vomit today,

PS. So, the bigger question is...what would you serve with this tasty entree?!  Best idea as decided by myself and my mom, wins this pair of really awesome wood and porcelain earrings that I made today (they're about 2 1/2" long)....bring on your ideas! I'll give you all til 5pm on Tuesday Feb 1 to comment!

*** The winner is Kelli! I have to tell you much as the calf hoof aspic makes me want to wretch, and as much as real sides could potentially salvage a meal like this, the winner of this (my very first contest) goes to Kelli and the hot dog soup. It, like the ham banana bake, reeks of gross Americana and more mortifying to me is that it was shared with Kelli as a real suggestion of a meal. So Kelli, shoot me an email with your address and I'll mail you your earrings! And just in case you all needed a visual of what appears to be hot dog soup, my sister unearthed one from a book called "Regrettable Foods."
I do want to add though since Ashlee posted that something similar was made to the Ham-Banana bake on Iron Chef America, I will indeed be testing the recipe.  More to come...

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Will you be my Valentine...if i give you Sugar Cookies?

One of you gals asked me to do a post on Valentine's for kids classes at school.  I figured I'd show you a picture of the materials we've gathered and give you a quick run-down of our ideas.

Below, i pictured a bunch of scrapbook paper that i picked up for $3 at Hobby Lobby today.  I'm drawing some hearts on the back and letting my 4 year-old cut them all out.  It works on his fine motor skills and he thinks it's fun. The hearts i have to say are hilarious though because they were clearly cut by a 4 year-old.  He's proud of them though and for that reason, I am too! I think perhaps to save me some time though, I might create a template in Microsoft Publisher of different sized hearts on one page, and then just run all of these pretty papers through the printer so that i don't have to keep drawing hundreds of hearts.
 I also cut some construction paper in half and let him fold those halves in half again to make a smaller card.  Then he's signing his name inside each one and decorating each card as he likes with pretty hearts and a glue stick! There are about 18 kids in his class, so this project is one that if you have little kids, I'd suggest doing over several days so they maintain interest.  We have now worked on it twice, to achieve a whopping 5 completed cards.  If the situation gets desperate though, I'll help cut out the hearts and let him go to town pasting and creating them.

The chinese boxes and cookie cutters in the picture were inspired by the idea I had to make Caterpillar cookies for Little Bit's first birthday party a couple of weeks ago.
I thought it'd be more fun for Tid Bit (I'm in the process of coming up with a new nickname for him on here because i can't keep track) if we made cookies together and decorated them with fun icing and each child's name (clearly I'll do the penning.)  We're going to put them in the boxes and give those along with the Valentine's cards that he's working on. 

I'll post pictures of the entire finished product once it's actually finished...closer to Valentine's Day, and I'll put a Fab-O sugar cookie recipe that I recently discovered below.  It uses powdered sugar instead of regular granulated, resulting in a really shortbready tasting cookie...DELISH!  I scoured the internet and cookbooks to find the perfect recipe and for now, this one is about as perfect as I can find! And it makes really good thick cookies, which i love.  I guess if you're a thin cookie person though, that's just all up to you and your rolling pin!  To make the icing just mix powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk (or soymilk) til it's the consistency you want.

(And as another side note for my friends who have food allergies like my little guy, to make this recipe dairy free, i substituted 1/2 the amount of butter with Fleishman's Unsalted Margarine, and 1/2 with Earth Balance Buttery Sticks which i buy at Whole foods.  You really need to mix the two to get it right.  The margarine makes a flavorful, but super soft and sticky dough by itself, and the buttery sticks sometimes have a slightly oily taste but have a harder mixing the 2, you'll keep a good buttery flavor from the margarine and keep the texture right from the buttery sticks.)

Amazing Sugar Cookies
yield: about 75 medium cookies
  1. With paddle attachment, mix butter for 30 seconds. Add a 1/3 of the powdered sugar, mix on first speed for 1 minute. Add another 1/3 of the powdered sugar, mix another minute. Finally, add the last 1/3 of sugar, mix 1 minute.
  2. Combine eggs, vanilla, and almond extract together, add to butter/sugar mixture. Mix for 30 seconds.
  3. Add a 1/3 of the flour, mix 1 minute.
  4. Scrape.
  5. Add the next 1/3 of the flour, mix 2 minutes.
  6. Scrape.
  7. Add the final 1/3 of the flour, mix 3 minutes.
  8. Refrigerate until able to be rolled out and cut into desired shapes. (if you're using the dairy free version i told above,  I'd refrigerate it AT LEAST 24 hrs before rolling out to make sure it really sets up.) Bake at 350 for 9-15 minutes depending on the size you cut them!) to run. The Hubs gets every other Friday off from work, so I don't want to spend too long on here!


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Thursday, January 27, 2011

What's for Dinner?! Shrimp and Grits...

I know you've all been waiting for this...and I'm sorry to make you wait ALL DAY long, but you weren't going to make it for dinner tonight anyways because you probably didn't already have all the ingredients. (And if you did, then you should know that I've just carved out a place for a shrine in your honor in my own well stocked pantry.)

So here it is....

No wait. First I have to tell you real quick that when I turned on the oven tonight to roast the broccoli, I'd forgotten to remove the awful oven liner that was destroyed from the potato fiasco just last weekend...and it stunk up my whole kitchen in the short time it took me to nurse the baby to sleep!  So, our lovely guests were welcomed with the scent of second-time-around burnt potato juice and olive oil mixed with a little Mulled Cider was can just imagine!

I have a bunch of pictures for you too tonight!  But you'll have to forgive me that the picture of the finished shrimp and grits was taken about an hour after it was freshly made, and it was in tupperware instead of all nice on the plate!  Cut me some slack though?  We had company and it'd have been weird to go whipping out the camera to take pictures of the know it would have been!

Ok, now this recipe is one of my all-time favorites for company because you can do really ALL of the prep work way ahead.  By the time your guests come you are really just tossing it all together, looking effortless as you do it, and then you serve them up a major flavor punch that's pretty to boot!

First...cut up your bacon and put it in a big ol' saute pan and make it perfectly crispy!  I did this part at 9:45 am today.  Wait...while we're here, I'll tell you that this pan below is the BEST pan I have EVER had...I use it for everything!  It's made by All-Clad and is probably 10" across with about a 2" side.  It cooks everything so well, but it ain't cheap.  And also, while you're looking below...the other kitchen tool I couldn't do without is that pair of kitchen shears.  Those are made by Cutco and they will cut through bone they are so good.  Again, these cost more than you think a pair of scissors should, but if you can outfit yourself with a small handful of bang-up kitchen tools, you'll be so glad you spent the money.  Plus, they last way longer that your Uggs will...and we know those were a splurge!

Ok, this other little picture to the right here is a little favor i do for myself with this dish as well.  While the bacon cooks, go ahead and measure out the garlic, lemon juice, and about a dozen or so drops of Tabasco and just put it in a tiny tupperware to add when you cook later.  Just saves time and makes it easier.  And YES...i cheat and use bottled lemon juice and pre-minced garlic!  After a year of smelling like garlic from when i cooked in a restaurant, i don't want to smell like it unless i am really counting on a fresh garlic flavor punch...i use the pre-minced stuff.  So sue me!

Next, make sure you slice your mushrooms with the same precision and perfection that i have shown below.
 Chop up your green onions/scallions while the bacon is cooking too.  I personally think that it's easier to cut when i leave the rubberband on the end for a little while.  It's also easier to cut with my right hand, but it was preoccupied in this picture with a camera...for your benefit.
I bet your bacon is done get it out and put it on a paper towel to get off some of the grease.  Pour out all but maybe a couple of Tbsp of grease from your pan... then shove your pan to cool at the back of the stove till dinner time.  See how i have my recipe stuff all ready for later now...bacon on a plate, onions in a bag, lemon juice mix in the tupperware, mushrooms perfectly sliced...and it's just 10:10am!
 Now that you've done that...measure out all your grits, cheese, and seasonings.  I put the grits and cheeses in zip-lock bags so i can just dump them in when it's time.  If you use tupperware, while it is more "green", it makes a bigger mess when you're cooking, and then you don't seem as impressive. I should also note in case this wastefulness makes any of my tree-hugger friends unhappy, I do in fact recycle the bags.

Peel your shrimp sometime during the day too...and put them in a tupperware so they're ready to just dump in.  I didn't figure you needed a picture of me peeling a, The Hubs would not be thrilled with me for holding a camera and peeling shrimp at the same time!  Shrimp juice....ewww...

So, you've prepped everything...put it all together in the fridge so you don't forget anything and then you can follow the directions below to impress your guests when you assemble it!

Now that dinner is pretty much done, you can go lie on the couch and eat bon bons...especially if you're a SAHM...because it's probably 11am by now and you have several hours of soap operas, bon bons, and nothingness to attend to until dinner comes around.

And for all my outside-the-home working friends, if you do all this prep before you head to work or the night before, then you can just toss it all together for a quick yummy meal!  I'm sorry though that you won't get to enjoy the soap operas and bon bons during the day... maybe your boss will let you have some during a break.

When i originally posted, i forgot to include pictures of the finished dish! they are!

So, without further it is...the actual recipe!

2 lbs peeled shrimp
10 oz bacon, chopped
4 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
3 cups sliced scallions (green onions)
2 garlic cloves minced
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Tabasco, Salt and pepper, and chopped fresh parsley to taste

Rinse and pat dry the shrimp.

Chop the bacon and cook til crisp. Remove to paper towel to drain and reserve drippings in the pan.

Add the shrimp to the skillet and saute til they start to turn pink. Then add the mushrooms, scallions, and garlic.

Saute til the shrimp are cooked and the mushrooms are tender. Season with Tabasco, Salt and pepper, and chopped fresh parsley to taste. Toss the bacon back in with the shrimp mix. Serve over cheesy grits

Cheesy Grits recipe
2 1/2 c. water
2 1/2 c. milk (i put about 1/2 skim milk and 1/2 of it half and half...because those are what i keep on hand)
1 c. grits (i like to mix part yellow and part white)
1 c. cheddar cheese
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese (the shreddy kind is best, but i forgot to get that at the store, so i resorted to the powdered stuff...I can actually tell a difference though)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp pepper

Bring the water and milk to boil in a pot and then add the grits. Stir them alot so they don't clump and when it thickens pretty well, then add in all the other stuff.


Serving up love and calories to you tonight,

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Secrets of a Great Illusionist....the junk drawer!

I am always flattered when someone asks how I "do it all."  If only they knew that...GASP...

I don't. 

Not even close!

Heaven knows I don't, and you should know too!  And when it seems like maybe I have, it's only that I haven't done it all at once.  I must be a good illusionist on occasion...just call me David Copperfield!

So, tonight we're having a really neat couple over for dinner...and I have some getting ready to do. Let me tell you what i haven't done yet and what i will do...between a fussy baby with an ear infection and a crafty 4 year-old who has already done play-doh and is now cutting tiny pieces of paper all over the kitchen table and subsequently the floor. 

I won't vacuum until the last possible minute...and then I'll send said 4-yr old to play in his room and I'll hold the baby while i vacuum it so he won't pull out more junk!

I'll clean off the island in my kitchen which is a repository for all things junky.  Like right now it has, my coffee cup, a bunch of rotten bananas (which in 5 minutes will go in the freezer to make banana bread another day), a candle, my cell phone, a stack of bills, my Bible study guide, my wallet, a card, another stack of papers and magazines, a Netflix movie, a stack of paper plates, a coaster (that my coffee cup is NOT sitting on), and this very computer. Wow!  That's a lot of stuff...and it's actually cleaner looking right now that most days!

I won't stress over the pile of junk in the upstairs hallways, because it's been sitting there for a month and out of the sight of others, means out of my least for a little while longer! And I really can't stand sorting through that's what's there...bins of kids clothing!

I will make most all of dinner ahead.  And later today I'll tell you how to do this very impressive recipe ahead too...Shrimp and Grits.

I will start my laundry and put away the stuff from yesterday (that i didn't get around to doing yesterday.)  Because THIS is what happens if i don't!

I will play with my kids.  And if it's nice outside, I will take a walk with them outside this afternoon...partly to keep me sane, and partly to keep the house clean (which I'll have to do most of during naptime.)  And think of it this way if the playing part is painful for you (which let's be honest, it is for everyone sometimes)...when you play say UNO for example with your kids,  only UNO is what gets pulled out.  Left to their own devices, kids pull out the FREE WORLD and only play with a small portion of it.  Voila...playing with your kids means...less to clean up later!

And anything else that i can't figure out where to the last minutes...well, it'll probably all go in here!

And there you have it...the secrets of a great illusionist!  Or at least one...

The junk drawer!

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ramblings of a Novice Blogger....

A friend called me today to encourage me about this blog.  I cannot tell you how glad I was to hear that.  How glad I've been each time any of you have told me the same thing!  I said from the start that I need encouragement and I really did mean it! So thank all of you!  And please, please comment from time to time!  Otherwise I have no idea if anyone is really even reading or if the number that's showing viewings on the stats is really just skewed from all the times I refresh my own screen in hopes that maybe this time there will be a comment! HA!  (I should note here that I feel so silly for just admitting that!)

Tonight I was nursing Little Bit at bedtime (don't worry, I won't be doing it til he's like 48 months or anything, but I'm just not done yet!) and when i finished praying for him, my mind started to wander onto all the fun things i want this blog to be.  And all the things i don't want it to be too.  (I'm thankful for good friends who will probably take me out if I inadvertently venture into being a blogging bummer...or worse, if you all become privy to what should really be a super personal journal with a lock on it! )

And if you'll let me be honest with you (which actually I'll always do anyways) I'll tell you why I've never done this whole blogging thing before.

I was scared.

When it comes to this sort of thing, when anyone can read what you write, I honestly think to myself "What on earth could I write that people would want to read...or much less follow?!"  And part of me is still a little uncomfortable with that whole notion, because honestly it feels to me somehow...

arrogant. (And isn't that a dirty little word that noone wants said about them?!)

But here's what I've been learning about myself and I think maybe about other people too.  People love when you pour yourself and your gifts into them.  And don't we always inadvertently get filled up some too when we can do that for others?!

That's what I want to do here.  And I hope...truly hope, that by trying to recognize areas that I may be good at something, or willing to try but fail at, or just by being authentically me...that you'll all feel poured into...somehow.  Because doesn't it feel good to walk around with your cup a little fuller?!  And if I can do something like encourage you to feel more confident in who you are... by making you feel more confident in the kitchen... just by sharing something like "How to cut an onion"....then count me in!  And I know, by sharing and loving on you all in ways that I actually do know how...I'll be somehow better for it too.

And I LOVE time with my friends...I mean, I LOVE IT!  So ,here we are...friends!

I have a favor to ask of you too.  Please comment and tell me things that you think would be fun to read about...your own ideas too!  If I know about it, I'll do my best to do your topic justice, and if not, then I'll do my best to find someone who can and have guest posts. ( Well, for that reason and because even I don't want to hear my own voice all the time!)

And just a taste of the list I've been keeping on my fridge (still too nervous after the dog bowl incident with my last phone to keep something important on it!)

Drum roll please.... Get out your dessert plates friends...the cart is wheeling by!!!!

*My favorite cookbooks...that I (and now you) shouldn't live without
*Some kids books that I really think deserve some public love
*Recipes galore...easy, fancy, easy and fancy, ones for company, ones for leftovers, ones for you to sneak down and eat a snibble of in the middle of the night (those are my personal favorites!)
*How things like...arrange flowers, time a meal, cook for food allergies, makeover a room for $200 or less
* Gifting...ideas (I LOVE to give gifts...and if i had enough money to do it all the time...i would.  You'd all open your mailbox tomorrow and find presents!  Even though I hate going to the post office with 2 small children...really, it's the worst place to go with kids i think...well, there or the OB.
*Parties - some I throw, and some I go to (because I have some pretty fun party throwing friends too!)
*Probably I'll drop some Food for Thought on you from time to time as well...because if I've paused to think about it, well sometimes it's just nice to have some company in your pause.

Hopefully we'll just keep on trucking with loads of fun new stuff too.  Sometime, when I think of something good, and I'm sure enough people are reading to make it fun, I think it'd be a blast to do a give-away.  I don't know what I'd give-away or what for yet (doesn't that sound wildly enticing?! LOL), but I read about it on someone else's blog one time and like I said before...who doesn't love getting presents in the mail?!

And I'm gonna tell you now, and I'll do my best to fix it, but I am horrible about these stupid capital "i's."  I must not hold down the shift key long enough or something, but they make me crazy...and apparently make my friend L crazy as well, because she told me there are too many lower cased i's in my posts! ( Love my friend know who you are...because really i have lots of friends who's names start with L!)  See there...just happened again! Dang it! So, I'm sorry...spell check misses them too! (the only reason there aren't too many in this post is because I manually have changed's taken forever...I probably won't do that much more!)

Ok friends! Thanks for letting me into your reading list!  Or your drab cubicle, or your cheery cubicle, or your kitchen table, or your favorite chair.  I hope this adventure is as much fun for you as it has been so far for me!


PS. Tomorrow I'm going to teach you how to make the MOST AMAZING shrimp and grits. (If you are from up north and can't get have to let us know...I'm sure with enough southern people on here, we can get you some grits!) i hear my first give-away?!

Why yes I do!  Hmmm....but what for? Ok, whoever has the post idea that makes me so excited that I have to do it immediately... wins!  Grits!  And i'll mail them to you! From the dreaded post office!


Food for Thought: Chains....

I just started a new Bible study last night with a group of women i don't really all in fact.  Well, i know 2 of them, but of those i only really know one.  Anyways, last night was our first meeting.  And it was GOOD!

It's been awhile since I've read or done anything that made me feel almost overwhelmed with information.  Like, last night, i had a physical tightness in my chest because there was so much to process...there IS so much to process.  And I'm not a natural processor, so anything that makes me want to process really HAS to be good.

And last night there was this one quote that really stuck to my bones.  I've been thinking about it over and over today...well, 2 quotes really, but they go together.

"I am a direct result of my belief system.  All i am comes from what i really believe when noone is looking."

and then the real kicker...

"We are holding our chains,

                                     Our chains are not holding us."  

As a believer in Christ (which I happen to be), I have been freed.

Acts 13:39 says "Through Him, everyone who believes is freed from all things."  Freed...that's a past tense have been freed, of ALL are not in process of being freed. And then i thought...If i am a direct result of my belief system, Do i really believe that?  And the short answer is "Yes. I believe it."  But, in the quiet of the night when noone is looking, do i allow myself to walk in freedom?

But then, I have to ask myself as I've been doing some thinking today....If I'm not walking in freedom, then what has me chained up unnecessarily?  What keeps me from walking in the freedom that Jesus PAID?  Paid...freed....done.

Is it fear?  Or uncertainty?

Is it unforgiveness or resent?

Is it pride?

Is it a past mistake I can't get over and think God can't either?

And once i figure that out...i guess the next question is...

If I've been freed, then why am I still holding onto chains?

And then I'd like to say, when i figure it out...I'll be opening my hand...and letting go of those chains....because these hands were not made for shackles. And neither were yours...

***Do you have chains you're holding on to?  If you've been freed, then what's stopping you from releasing your grip?  If you want to learn more about how to become free....shoot me a message...there's plenty of freedom to go around! 


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

There's just something about a sister!

I have to tell you...i just got off the phone with my sister.  Some days we don't like each other very much and some days, there's really noone else that i can laugh with so hard.  When we talk to one another, we talk too loud.  Her husband says it makes him so crazy that he wants to just stick his fingers in his ears.  Turns out, mine feels the same way!  And...truth is, i think they've both done it! HA!

She lives far away, my sister.  And even though we get on each other's nerves, and make each other crazy, i wish we lived in the same town.  She and Little Bit even have the same birthday!

Her Hubs is a man of quick decisions.  He works in Manhattan and so a lot of the things he does happen fast.  Today he informed her that they need to move out of the city...apparently they've gotten too many parking tickets! Ok, so that's not really the reason...they've been tossing the idea around for awhile.

She sent me a link to a really neat house up there that he found.  I still can't believe how much higher the cost of living is there, but it is.  Anyways, it's a neat house. They're going to look at it today.  I wish i could go with her.  We like doing things like that together.

We feed off of each other though.  For better or for worse!  If something is bad, you'd think it was catastrophic if we're together.  If something is good, you'd think it was the most amazing thing ever.  If something is funny, we've really both peed in our pants before!

I found a house today that i sent her.  I told her it was her dream house.  Then we both laughed so hard we cried when she looked at it.  And i just have to share.  Check this thing out.

My Sister's Dream House

And did you notice the realtor's name?  Or the hilarious face he's making in his profile shot?  Only added to our laughter. (I know i shouldn't tease about someone...but we all know we've had the awful name conversation before.  Why, just the other day i heard a few good ones: Eunice Enis, Shithead (pronounced Sha-theed), Patty Nipple, Harry Organ know you've had a laugh at the expense of a name before.)

Anyways, I'm pretty sure if you'd heard us on the phone today, you might have put your fingers in your ears too!

There's just something about a sister isn't there?!

**For those of you with a sister...what do you love most about yours?


Monday, January 24, 2011

What's for Dinner?! Brunswick Stew...and homemade chicken stock

As promised earlier...recipe for Brunswick Stew!  I really don't think that you can mess this up unless you burn it on the bottom of the pan, but I'll tell you what i do most of the time (because every time it's a tad different based upon what i have in the pantry!)

Make this in the morning because it MUST cook all day if you want it to be amazing...which I'm sure you do! And for you working gals out there...throw it all in the crockpot for the whole day and it ought to turn out wonderfully! I'm a stockpot kind of person ,when I can, because I like walking by and giving it a stir!

First I'm going to tell you how to make homemade chicken stock...the cheater's way!  Step 1. Go to Sams or Costco or the grocery store and get a rotisserie chicken. Step 2. Eat the chicken for lunch or dinner with simple sides. Step 3. SAVE every single piece of that carcass and the juice in the bottom of the pan. Step 4. Put all of that in a stockpot. Quarter an onion (use the method i showed you earlier today!) Cut some celery into about 3 inch lengths (I'd say maybe 3-4 stalks). Put some carrots in too...maybe a cup or so. These can be cut big as well, or really cheat and use baby carrots. Put a couple Tbsp minced garlic.  Fill the pot up with lots of water, and add salt, pepper, I put some Lawry's seasoned salt, maybe a tsp of thyme, and a Tbsp parsley flakes.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer a long time least 3 hours, and up to about 8 makes it really great!  The darker the color, the richer the broth.  When you're done, strain out all the bones and veggies and store the stock.  I normally just freeze mine in about 6 cup (that's 1 1/2 qts) containers, so I can use it whenever I want. Also if you've made it really concentrated, then when you make soup or something with it, you can usually add as much water as you have stock to make more.  So if you have 4c. stock, then add 4 c. water and your broth will still taste super rich.  Also, make sure that you say things like "oui, oui" and "bon appetit" when you make this, you'll be very European now making your own stock and all.

Ok. Now for the Brunswick Stew.
cooked chicken (you can use a whole chicken, a rotisserie one, about 6 breasts. It doesn't matter...just cook it first and rough chop it. It'll get all shreddy in the soup)
2-ish qts chicken stock or canned broth (stock makes everything richer tasting...see above for how to make it.)
1 can rotele tomatoes
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
2 cans creamed corn (today I only had 1 can creamed corn, so I used one of regular corn too...)
1 bag frozen baby butter beans
4 potatoes diced (any kind is I had baking potatoes that were huge so I just used 3)
2 c. chopped carrots
2 med onions diced (again, I had giant onions today, so I just used 1)
about 3 Tbsp brown sugar
about 3-4 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 lb BBQ pulled pork (buy this already made somewhere. But, if you don't have it, or don't have time to get it like me today...omit it.  Just makes it better, but it's amazing even without the pork.)

Put all of this in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer...all day!  Your pot will reduce by at least 1/3 or more. Make sure you scrape the bottom well when you stir it so it doesn't burn on the bottom of the pot.

You will love this.  And, it makes a share it or freeze it, or eat it every day for lunch the rest of the week!  I'd love to know what you think of it when you try it, so be sure to leave a comment!

**After I initially wrote this post I did a step by step guide to making homemade chicken stock (complete with pictures and everything.)  I linked it up top, but if you missed it, you can click HERE to hop over and learn how!

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How to Properly Cut an Onion...aka. Your life just got better!

Several years back, the Hubs and I watched a whole season of The Amazing Race on TV.  One episode they were in Jamaica and the challenge they had to get through was to dice a 50lb bag of onions.  If we had been on the Amazing Race that day, we would have DOMINATED!  It was then and there i realized that the majority of the world must not know how to properly dice an onion.  So I am here today to change your life, one onion and recipe at a time.  Hold on people...we're about to get technical, photos and all!

First of all, get a good cutting board. (I highly recommend a pricey but well worth it brand called Epicurean. They're made of pressed paper i think and can be put in the dishwasher even.  They don't dull your knives and are just plain awesome. You can get the best deal on them at And get a big'll be glad.)

Next, don't even think about grabbing a pitifully small knife.  Go for the big one...the one you're too afraid to use normally.  Seriously...right now, put the paring knife down and get the 10" chef's knife. You'll be fine, I'm right here!

With your giant knife, cut off the end of the onion...JUST the end where the skin comes together in a point.  Leave the end with the stringy things attached. This is CRUCIAL!

 Next, cut the onion in half...straight through the stringy end. When you do this it'll hold the onion together, and it makes it easier to peel when it's cut in half.

 Ok, peel that bad boy!  I left the skin on one to show you that it's still attached form the stringy end. Just go ahead and pull the skin off though, this was just to show you.
 Look at how much i love you. I even drew directly on the onion to show you! (Don't worry, i threw that layer away. I don't want to ruin my stew with ink.) So, i usually make about 7 cuts in the thing. See how my knife is angled towards the center? Each cut should angle towards the the middle cut will be straight down. You following? Imagine the multi-colored sections of a's kinda like that.

 Then, from the end AWAY from the stringy end, start cutting straight down. See how the onion is just falling into small pieces?! You're using the layers of the onion to your advantage now!  Manipulate that thing baby!
 Ok, now after you've cut about halfway or so and you start feeling like you might be getting close to your fingers, flip that sucker straight up so the stringy part is facing upwards.  Then start cutting straight down again. When you get close to the stringy end, flip it back flat again and finish up.

 Look at you!  You culinary wizard you!  You just did it!  Now wasn't that so much easier than the crazy chop you've been doing?!  And look at how nice and even your pieces are!  If you want the pieces smaller, then just make more of your beachball cuts and when you make your straight cuts, then do them closer together.  Cut shallots this way too. Or garlic!  The possibilities are endless!

And later today i'm going to share with you an amazing recipe for Brunswick Stew...which is why i was cutting this onion in the first place! But for now, the baby's nap is over and i have some mommying to do!

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pride before the fall....knew it would come!

Well, I knew it would happen!  I knew that when i confessed my pride in the kitchen the other day that it'd come back to bite me!  But it wasn't the leftovers that was the dinner party we had for about 20 friends last night.  It had to be a big group...of course!

Stuffed potato potluck.  Good idea right?! Since the group was at our house, i thought I'd bake the potatoes.  First, let me confess that i do struggle with a little discontentment over my oven.  It's too small and doesn't bake evenly.  For someone who cooks alot and had a convection oven for years, this has been a really bad backwards step. (And one day I'm going to do a post on why convection cooking is FAR superior. If you have a convection oven but use the regular are sorely missing out and wasting the best feature of your oven....but that's another post for another day.)  Anyways, i had 24 potatoes to bake and i figured that since it literally used every inch of space on the baking racks I'd need to cook them longer than normal. And i sat them directly on the racks so that the air would circulate better.  BAD PLAN!  The potatoes started to drip potato juice and olive oil and it was burning on the heating coils and making an awful smoky mess all in my house!  I turned off the oven to take the potatoes out (so at least it wouldn't keep burning the stuff while the oven was open), put them onto baking sheets, and put them back in once the smoke cleared.  Then i had to run into the dining room and asked the Hubs to turn the oven on, to which he replied "ok."  Apparently he was ok'ing something else entirely b/c 15 minutes later when i walked by, the oven was OFF! Guests arrived and potatoes were rock hard...i cranked the oven up to 400 and thankfully they finished and the smoke was completely cleared in about 40 minutes!  Still though...guests arriving to a smoky stinky house with rock hard potatoes for a potato bar...not exactly how i like to throw a party!

And, if that wasn't enough, as i was cleaning up at the end with 2 couples still hanging around, i bent over to get the Clorox spray from under the sink and totally surprised myself and everyone else with an audible cloud of something a little less fresh!  I'm not kidding you...i laughed so hard and turned so red...and couldn't blame it...the source was obvious. So embarrassing! My friend W laughed so hard and said "now this is the kind of authenticity you want to see in a friendship"...although I'm pretty sure we'd all be ok if that particular authenticity went back into a closet for awhile!

Despite the pitfalls, it did actually turn out to be a successful gathering of a neat group of people!  The Hubs is in a men's intensive Bible study and has formed friendships with these 6 other guys and i tell you, i haven't seen a group of men so genuinely love each other maybe ever.  It's been neat to see him encouraged, and a delight to get to know their families better as well!  Next time we have them all over though i think maybe we'll make tacos and I'll take a Beano before everyone arrives!

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Food for Thought

I was just lying in bed unable to fall asleep and thinking of the silly things i was going to post on here next, but before i did it i thought I'd check my facebook page and make a quick run through the home page.  Suddenly, silly turned to serious, and again i felt my heart stirring for something i think the Lord continues to place in front of me.


In keeping with the food analogy that i injected into this blog name "Life for Dessert", i thought I'd have a section (a tab one day when i figure it out) that I'm going to call "Food for Thought."  I think when it comes to writing, I'm probably more of a "dot dot dot (...)", run-on-sentence, sometimes improperly punctuated, and likely not eloquent type of writer.  Not saying that makes me a failure or anything, but we all know the people who put spaces in between thoughts, highlight words to pierce them into your soul, write with an underlying poetry and truth that make you want to go out and affect the world for change.  My friend Laura is one of those people.

Laura is a childhood of those where your hearts are knit together, so near and dear, true and forever kind of friendship.  The kind where even if you didn't speak for ages, you'd pick right back up with the truth and intimacy that was there in past years.  She is genuine, kind, humble, and amazing.  She and her husband, Matt, have literally taken the road less travelled and moved along with their 3 gorgeous toe-headed children to Thailand.  Matt took a job as a director of an orphanage there called Breanna's House of Joy.  It was established to keep girls out of the sex slave industry and gives them education and hope for the future.

Anyways, that brief introduction is completely inadequate, but you get the drift.  I just read a post that Laura did today and my heart filled with heart ya'll...FULL. OF. TEARS!  If you'll allow me to, I'd love to point you to her page.  She's a lovely writer, but that's probably because she's one of the loveliest people I've ever known. EVER!  I'd encourage you to check out today's post she did called "Children with Roses."  She isn't always a heavy writer, so don't be scared off from her page because this one is in your face hard truth...but as silly gave way to serious tonight, i thought I'd be being insincere myself if i wrote about anything but this.

Thanks to all of you for reading, stopping by, taking the time to jump elsewhere and do some thinking.  Because if our whole life was just about enjoying our own sweet moments, i think we might be missing a bigger picture that some people's lives just aren't like dessert at all.

So check her out...HERE. Life Overseas - Children with Roses

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What's for dinner?! Savory Beef and Rice Casserole

Well, one thing i know for sure that i want to do on this thing is share recipes.  I've always loved cooking from the time i did it in a Suzy Bake Oven to when i cooked in a restaurant for about a year, all the way to now...i love to cook, and that's probably because i love to eat!  And due to the following confession, you can know that you will never find a recipe on here that is anything less than amazing.

I am too proud to suggest something that doesn't knock your socks off.  I know, I know...pride comes before a fall, and i promise I've had a fall or 2 in the kitchen, but it's been awhile.  And now that i just said that, I'm sure reheating leftovers tonight will somehow go horribly south!

And as soon as i get a better handle on how to handle this blogging format, I'm going to make a recipe's tab, but for now this will have to do.

Isn't there something about a cold chilly day that makes your mouth just beg you to make "Comfort Food?!"  I just made this recipe last week, so I'm not back around to it yet, but this is one of my all time favorites!  It's easy but does take a couple of hours cooking time, so keep that in mind. Usually i make it during afternoon naps and when it's done i just leave it in the oven on warm til supper time.  And let me tell you, unless your husband is a vegan, i haven't met a man yet who doesn't salivate at just the smell of this dish! It's a keeper for sure!  It is SO have to try it!!!

Savory Beef and Rice Casserole
3 lbs sirloin tips (i personally use whatever roast is on sale and have the butcher chop it into chunks)
12 slices bacon
2 lg onions sliced
1 c. raw rice (i prefer brown b/c it's tastier and better for you)
1 c. dry red wine
2 c. beef consomme (i usually do a little over 1 c rice and use 2 full cans consomme)
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp chopped parsley
bay leaf
15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 c. Parmesan cheese

Cook bacon in large pan, crumble and put in bottom of large casserole dish or dutch oven (i use a LeCrueset dutch oven and it's perfect.) Pour off about 1/2 of bacon drippings and then brown beef chunks. (i learned from the movie Julie and Julia that the beef browns better if you dry it off... it makes a huge difference!) Remove browned beef to casserole dish on top of bacon. In same pan (with beef juices and bacon grease) brown onions, then add rice til lightly browned as well. Add tomatoes at the end and set aside (removed from heat) for later use. To casserole dish add wine, consomme, garlic, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Cook covered 1 hour on 325. After that time is up, then add the rice mixture and cook another hour. Sprinkle with cheese the last 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy! This is truly a favorite and makes your whole house smell so savory and delicious!

Bon Apetit friends!

- Logan

PS. This recipe does make enough for company or leftovers...and if you don't like either of those (leftovers or company) , then freeze it...reheats well too!

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Load a Day keeps the crazies away!!!

I've been thinking about what I want this blog to be, and among all the ideas i have, i find myself drawn to what I think I might call "Tales of a Lesser Woman."  You know, the things that make you feel silly, idiotic, bad about yourself...the junk.  I'm not saying I'm gonna "air my dirty laundry" or anything, but you know, the human stuff that we all live with!  And this first one, well, see the picture's part of the Lesser Woman in me for sure!
I guess the bad part is that it took me a cup of coffee, piece of cake, and over an hour to wade through folding this mess while sitting in the middle of the laundry room floor.  The good part is that i can say with all honesty that this is the first time I've found myself literally up to my eyeballs in laundry in almost a year.  I think it was the week of snow and having my husband at home that threw off my groove, but whatever i want to blame doesn't really matter because it sure didn't help me dig out of this pile!

When i had Little Bit a year ago and my amazing mother was here helping out for a couple of weeks, she gave me a piece of advice that I'm not kidding you...CHANGED MY LIFE!  She said "do yourself a favor and think of one or 2 things you can do that will help you manage life a little try doing a load of laundry a day."  So i thought to myself, "I think i can, i think i can."  And for a year...that's just what I've done.  Wash, dry, fold, and put away. Every. Single. Day. And here are a few things it helped do:

1)  Each day even when i couldn't exactly figure out what i had done all day, but knew I'd been SO BUSY...i had at least 1 thing to show for it...clean, folded, put away clothes! What a confidence builder!

2)  It makes my marriage better.  Why, you might ask? Well...for one, my master bedroom isn't insanely overrun by clothes (both clean and dirty), thereby creating a stress-less place for my husband to come home to. I liked things tidy better too and it became easier to keep things that way. Plus, he felt loved by my efforts to do all of the above things, and the love cycle just keeps circulating!

3)  I realized we all have too many clothes.  When you wash often, you don't have a need for as much.  So i think somewhere in there HAS to be a stewardship principle! So, since we have more clean clothes more often, i don't feel the need to buy more, which saves $! (Or in my case if I'm being honest, frees it up for something else I'd rather do)

4)  Reduces my stress level. I have a tendency to get overwhelmed when i feel like i might never get something done, and by this small efficiency, i know i won't have a couple of miserable days hanging over my head just to do laundry!

Anyways...i can say with confidence that i will be picking back up where the snow got me off track in the laundry department, because while i did enjoy the coffee and cake this afternoon, I'd rather my company next time be a friend and not an endless mound of clothes!

- Logan

Question for you: What is one thing you do for yourself to help "keep the crazies away?"

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Lost phone or lost mind?!

I lost my phone.  It's a smart phone.  Unfortunately that doesn't mean you have to be smart to use it, or to keep up with it.
I really think I'm losing my mind now though!  I have checked random places like the fridge, freezer, washer, dryer, sofa cushions...everywhere i can think of! I even offered to pay Tid Bit $5 to find it!  Is that bad...bribery for a little concentrated help?  Kids are good though at finding things though. I think we'll just call it utilizing Tid Bit's giftedness!

I held out for a long time you know...on getting a smart phone.  My husband is a computer guy, so he thinks they're a necessity.  I didn't know why I'd need to check my email when i was in Walmart with 2 crazy kiddos, or type in a grocery list on the phone instead of with a  pen and a paper list on the fridge.  Well, now i know why it's handy, and now i feel like I've just lost a hand along with the the phone.  My right hand man.  My calender, my contacts, my grocery list for crying out loud!

When did technology become such a staple that we feel lost without it?  It happened slowly and over time for me.  It's going from regular cable to digital.  From standard radio to XM to Pandora.  From bag phone (oh yeah, some of you know what I'm talking about! The one your parents let you have in high school when you started driving...the one you had to use to call your dad when you were a freshman in college to tearfully confess your first speeding ticket!) to flip phone, to texter, to smart phone!  And here i am now...connected to my phone enough so that i feel lost without it.  And all in the same period of time that i realize I've gone from playing Wheel of Fortune and Oregon Trail on a first generation Apple computer (remember when they were called just Apple?!) all the way to blogging on a tiny laptop! Two days...blogger and phone!   This has clearly been a week of technological advances and pitfalls for me!  Hmmm....maybe I'll feel better if i just eat dessert first for lunch?!

So, what do you think that if you lost would leave you feeling like you're losing your mind?

** this originally was posted at 10:15 this morning and the phone was found 35 minutes later.  And i have to say, Tid Bit is a rock star phone hunter!  So now i'm out $5...for Tid Bit's skills.  And also out a horrifying amount of money to replace a barely used Droid 2...because Tid Bit found my phone in the dog's water bowl.  Some days i wish i was out the dog who put it there?!  (ok, so not really, but you know what i mean!)


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Little Bit is ONE! A Very Hungry Caterpillar indeed...

OK people, you are all going to have to bear with me as i figure out how to actually create a blog,  formatting and all.  I am not kidding when i say i have no idea how to do this! Mostly I'm pressing a button and if it works, then it works...if not, I'm pretty sure you'll all notice too!

So my Little Bit turned ONE yesterday!  I'll probably continue to write ONE in all caps because really i can't believe he is ONE!  Time has flown by and i hope that there's been a good amount of savoring this first year despite the fact that i cannot get enough of this cute little snack pictured below!
 Don't you just love that shirt?!  Thank you M for making it, and thank you to some chick on Etsy in Australia for selling the embroidery design!
 The table spread.  Our guests ate their way through the book pretty much with the exception of a few foods (pizza, ice cream, and cherry pie were left out because i didn't think we needed that much extra food for a bunch of toddlers... and besides, my Tid Bit is allergic to dairy.)
 I made signs for the foods...aren't they so cute?!

 My friend B made this cake.  She says she thinks i could do it, and perhaps so if i knew how to make or work with fondant...but i don't, so for the first time ever, i paid someone else to make a cake! I found several ideas online and combined my favorites to do this cake...but again, some chick in Australia did one very similarly.  What is it with Australia?! They must love them some Eric Carle!  I hope neither the chick in Australia or Eric Carle mind that i swiped a couple of ideas...i mean it is the finest form of flattery right?
 These little grape and cherry gems happened because I'm a dufus.  No really, I am.  I forgot that Monday was Martin Luther King day (and therefore a school holiday), so after i drove Tid Bit to school only to realize he didn't have it, we went to the grocery store, where i then brainstormed in the produce department. So, that's how these happened. Six inch skewers with grapes and cherries.  We made a few frozen shorties (with toothpicks) and floated them as ice cubes in the giant water container which i think i pictured somewhere below.
 the plates from Target that really inspired the whole thing

 I found a super cute caterpillar cookie cutter on and made these with Tid Bit on Monday as well. I'll post the recipe for the actual sugar cookie sometime too because it was REALLY good!  It was very similar to cookies I've had from Cookies By Design which are super tasty. I'm suddenly realizing i should perhaps note here that any endorsements i make are purely my opinion.  And you know about opinions...they're like belly buttons...everyone has one!
 the balloon caterpillar...Little Bit's favorite thing about the party (well aside from eating cake!)

 This was another produce dept inspiration, but on the morning of the party.  Ran in because my kitchen island needed a little spice and when i saw these lime green spider mums and red gerbers...this idea just hit me upside the head.  So i grabbed them right up!
 Our front door opens up into the stairs and i thought we really needed a greeter

 This is me...and Little Bit blowing out the candles. The caterpillars strung from the chandelier were a craft project last week with Tid Bit when we were stuck inside with a weeks worth of snow here in SC!
Happy Birthday Little Bit!  I hope every moment of your life is as tasty as that cake!

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Life for Dessert....i'll take the sample platter please?!

Ok, here i am. Blogging.  Cluelessly blogging.  If noone reads this i'm going to quit, just being honest.  Some of you asked for it, so i guess i'll figure out how to make it good.  I guess since i'm a mix of things, this blog will be too.  Bits of wife, bits of mommy, bits of friends, bits of cooking, bits of crafty, bits of parties, bits of Jesus.  Probably lots of bits, because let's be honest, I'd usually rather try lots of desserts rather than just settle on one.

And once i figure out how to post pictures, i think i'll try to post some of our most recent bit...we'll call him Little Bit and he jut turned one yesterday!  ONE!!! I can't believe it! We threw Little Bit a party because i love throwing parties and a first birthday is as good a reason as any to go all out!  We had a Very Hungry Caterpillar party and i'd say it was a smashing success.  Special thanks to my friend M who made a darling shirt for me, and to B who executed a really difficult cake that i pieced together from different ideas i found online.  The rest, i did...with some last minute execution help from my mom (who really taught me how to start doing some of the things i do now.)  She says i take it to another level than she does, but really i think she's just being modest.

Um, and i guess before i make my first official post be concluded, i should say a bit about me.  I'm 32 (although i legitimately forgot my age the other day and told someone i was 31), a wife to a very tall Texan who's just flat amazing...hmmm, what should i call him, the Hubs?!  He loves me and our boys well, and that's probably because he loves God well.  Oh yeah, i have 2 boys.  Tid Bit (haha...i hope i can keep these names straight) is 4 1/2 and ALL BOY, and like i said above, Little Bit just turned one yesterday.  I like random things...decorating, sewing, cooking, crafting, parenting, friending, playing.  And if you cross your fingers and comment from time to time, i imagine i might even come to like blogging!

Oh yeah, my name is Logan and i am going to call this blog "Life for Dessert" because i just heard a quote from a lady named Ann Voskamp that I loved that said "Life is our only dessert...too brief, too sweet, too delectable to hurry through."  And it got me to thinking...i like to eat dessert first because it's the best part of the meal, and i guess i'd like my life to reflect the same...i savor it because it's full of tasty moments!

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