Monday, September 9, 2013

Garden Fresh Chili

Happy Monday everyone! Hope you all enjoyed a fabulous weekend! We were able to spend the weekend as a family basically relaxing and celebrating the opening Viking season. Even though we didn't pull out a win, I was happy to be able to make my first fall meal! Nothing, to me, screams fall more than a steaming bowl of chili! I usually just throw a bunch of items in a pot and call it good, but yesterday's batch turned out too delicious not to share! Hope you enjoy and give it a try! The fresher the ingredients, the better the flavor. You'd be amazed at all you can add to this chili! My garden fresh veggies included: Squash, Zucchini, Heirloom Tomatoes, Roma Tomatoes, Green Pepper, Jalapeno Peppers, Chili Pepper, Onions, and Garlic...

Garden Fresh Chili

8 Medium Roma Tomatoes, chopped
1 Large or 2 Medium Tomatoes {I used Heirloom}, chopped
1 Large Green Pepper, chopped
1 Medium Red Onion, chopped
1 Medium Yellow Onion, chopped
1 small Zucchini or half a med./large, cubed
1 small Squash, cubed
2 small Jalapenos
1 small Chili Pepper
3 Garlic Cloves
1 lb. Ground Beef
2 Tlb. Olive Oil {I use extra virgin}
1-1lb 15 oz. Can Kidney Beans {light or dark, your preferance}drained and rinsed
15 oz. Black Beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz. Tomato Sauce
15 oz. Water
8 oz. Tomato Paste
S&P To Taste
2 tsp. Basil
2 tsp. Parsley
1 Tlbp. Chili Powder
2 tsp. Onion Powder
2 tsp. Garlic Powder
2 tsp. Paprika

1. Have a roasting pan pre-heated to 350 or a large pot ready on med. heat.
2. In a small saucepan Brown beef, drain grease and add to a roasting pan.
3. In same pan as beef, add 2 Tlbp. of extra virgin Olive Oil and sweat out onions. Add salt & pepper. After 3-5 min, transfer to roasting pan.
4. Roughly chop peppers and garlic, pulse in a mini food possessor and add according to desired heat, reserving so you can add more heat if needed.
5. Add canned goods to roasting pan, stir around, using the tomato sauce can, add a can of water to thin out the sauce {paste will make it too thick}.
6. Chop your larger veggies and then add them to the roasting pan.
7. Add your seasonings and spiced. These are just what I used and just a suggestion. Let simmer for roughly 2-3 hours. Tastes better and better the longer it cooks. Top with desired toppings. I LOVE cheese! LOL...

Hope you all enjoy this recipe and have a blessed day!


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Back to School

Hello everyone!

Ok, so first off, let me apologize. I'm a horrible blooger! Too many excuses to list, so I'll just leave it at that! For the 2 people that actually read this, I thank you for keep coming back to read my blog posts! :)

Anyways, Since I last posted, we finally got our spring, and summer and now here we are at the first day of School, which marks the start of fall for us! We didn't do much this summer, but we did enjoy each other's company and little things here and there. For me, my favorite days this summer were spent at a secluded beach with the boys. Love when I can get a beach all to ourselves because then it feels like I live on a lake without the added tax hike! LOL...

Last night, we got the kids ready for bed early for a 6:15am wake up call. We brushed our teeth, set out our outfits, climbed in to bed and read some new books. One was "The Night Before Preschool" by Natasha Wing and the other by the same author was "The Night Before First Grade". The boys really enjoyed these books because they were exactly what they were feeling and looking forward to for today. I got teary eyed just reading them. I knew it was going to be a hard day for me.

So then the alarm clock goes off at 6:00am and I set off to make breakfast. At about 6:30 I made enough noise to wake the boys up without jolting them awake. They joined me and daddy in the living room and we enjoyed back-to-school-breakfast waffles! I think the nerves set in because they really didn't eat much at all!

We headed out for the bus at 6:45, still not 100% light out and took some back to school pictures. I really love these moments because you can really capture the moments and look back on them through the years. For me, today, I didn't get all the pictures I wanted because though we waited and waited and waited for the bus to come, I called transportation at 7:15 and here the bus forgot to pick us up!!! So then I had to load all the kiddos and head to the transfer school so Lance could get on his 2nd bus of the morning and head out to his new school. We made the decision to switch to a science and magnet school for their one on one attention and focus on the outdoors/nature. I'm thinking this school will be right up our alley and that we will enjoy our time there! However, for today, I'm just hoping the return my kid! :)

I'm going to do a little photo bombing of our first day of school, but for your troubles of viewing them all, I'm also doing a freebie! Maybe you can use them still for this year or save them/pin them for next year!!!

So today, as we took or photos, tears were in my eyes because I'm just that way. I cried at orientation night too! LOL...Its hard to believe that we have a 1st grader in the house and a 1st year preschooler! I was most worried to send Adam off to preK than sending Lance on a bus that would bring him 20 min. away from us! Adam is on the shy/quiet side and I wasn't sure how he would do, but he went into his classroom without clinging and I was able to leave without any tears. Ah, sweet success! However, on the way out, I did have tears from Jack as he thought it was his turn to go to school! Uh-oh! When Adam arrived home, he was all smiles and talking about a new friend he had made in his class. I'm so thankful that Cooper is an outgoing child who can help Adam feel included! So anyways, here are the pictures from this morning with my boys...

I also went back and reminised a little over the past 3 years of 1st days of school with Lance! Oh how they grow!!!

Anyways, hope you all enjoy a wonderful day and many blessings to you and your family!


Sunday, February 10, 2013

German Chocolate...Cookies?

Hello everyone!

Well, today is Sunday, and I typically don't post on Sundays, but there isn't really much to do. I woke up early this morning with the intention of going to church, only to find out we have a blizzard and most church services were cancelled for today. I'm not sure if ours was, but I still opted to stay home. As I type this, I can't believe all I've done today and it is only 1 o'clock! What? Seems like time is standing still! 

This morning, the kids and I made Red Velvet Heart Pancakes, we watched Dispicable Me {Never gets old!}, had a pillow fight, played Super Nintendo {cause that's how we roll}...And then, noon hit and I was bored. I found myself going to the fridge, for no reason cause I know I wasn't hungry. And on the top shelf I found leftover German Chocolate Frosting and German Frosting from my VEGAN cupcakes...Hmmm...I was tempted to open up the containers, grab a spoon and start going to town. But...I was able to contain myself and decided a Cookie would be a better avenue for these leftovers. I don't know if it's been done before, but it's been done now! LOL...So then, German Chocolate Cookies were born. I have to admit, they aren't bad! LOL...Anyways, here's the recipes and I hope you enjoy!

Red Velvet Pancakes
Adapted from Recipe Girl's Recipe
1/4 c. Butter, at room temp
2 Tlb. Sugar
2  Eggs, at room temp
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 c. Whole Milk + 2 Tlb. Lemon Juice
1.5 c. Flour
2 Tlb. Cocoa Powder
1.5 tsp. Baking Powder
.5 tsp. Baking Soda
2 Tlb. White Vinegar
1 Tlb. Red Food Coloring
1. In a small bowl, whisk together milk and lemon juice, set aside for 5-10 min. Heat up griddle or pan. Get out heart shaped cookie cutters and cooking spray.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together dry ingredients, set aside.
3. In a stand mixer, cream together butter, sugar, eggs & vanilla until smooth.
4. Alternately add flour mixture and milk mixture to stand mixer. Whisk until combined.
5. Add white vinegar and red food coloring and mix until smooth.
6. Pour small amounts of batter into cookie cutters. Cook until bubbly, remove cookie cutters and then flip. Cook 1 more min. and remove from heat. Serve with choice of topping! {recipe girl served her's with a Cream Cheese Frosting...may have to test that one out next time!!!}

German Chocolate Cookies
2 c. Flour
.5 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1.5 sticks Butter, Softened
.5 c. Sugar
.5 c. Packed Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla extract.
3. Add baking soda and salt.
4. Add flour 1 cup at a time.
5. Mix in German Chocolate Frosting {found HERE} & German Frosting {found HERE} until just incorporated {Should look slightly marbled}.
6. Using a small icecream scoop, scoop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets. Bake 7 min.

7. Remove parchment paper from baking sheets, allow to cool. Drizzle German Chocolate Frosting over cookies. Sprinkle with hearts! {Can skip this step or decorate for other holidays}

Until Next time...


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Strawberry Cheesecake Icecream...

Yup...I just typed that.

Strawberry Cheesecake....ICECREAM!

I've been on an icecream kick latetly, so decided to test out a recipe I saw here...I changed things slightly, but it still turned out SUPER nummy! Let me know what you think!

Strawberry Cheesecake Icecream

14 oz. can Sweetened Condensed Milk
8 oz. Low Fat Cream Cheese, Softened
1 stick of Butter, Softened
8 oz. Whipped Cream
1 tsp. Lemon Juice
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 pack Graham Crackers
1/4 c. Butter, melted
14 oz. Strawberries, chopped
1. In a stand mixer using whisk attachment, combine sweetened condensed milk, cream cheese, butter, whipped cream, lemon juice & vanilla until smooth and creamy.
2. In a food processor, pulse crackers until crumbly. Add butter and pulse until incorporated.
3. Add cracker crumbs, don't mix yet. Add strawberries and using a spatula, fold in cracker crumbs and strawberries about 4 folds.

4. Pour into a loaf pan, cover and freeze overnight. Eat & Enjoy!


Photo Bomb Gone Wrong

When my friends go to the bathroom, they typically leave their cell phones either on the couch, table, or in their purses. Me being me, I think it's funny to play pranks with their phones. So I tend to "Photo Bomb" the heck out of their phones. I have given myself away from time to time, but there are other times I keep it a secret and let them discover the "bomb" all on their own. I never thought this would come back to haunt me...until now.

We had some friends over a while back. My friend got up to use the bathroom and left her phone on the couch. Yes, I photo bombed the heck out of it, to the tune of 58 pictures! It was hillarious. I wasn't looking my best because it was a friend and we were only watching a movie. But I still didn't think anything of it. I should have warned myself of the party to which I was "bombing" wasn't pretty. But the retaliation, was even less better looking! LOL...Total case of "Photo Bomb" gone wrong!!!

Fast forward to last night. I came home to this "lovely" piece of artwork on my fireplace mantle. It included 8-not-so-purdy-photo bombed photographs of me at my finest. I'm sure she meant it to be a horrific addition to my home, but little does she know, I LOVE it! I think it will be a focal point in our house for a while! 
Anyways, my lesson I learned was to know your target. Study their behaviors in their environment as well as others. Know their reactions and actions...and then target accordingly! LOL...Mission-so-not-accomplished, yet I'm still satisfied with the outcome!

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Heart Valentine's Banner

Hello everyone!

So I've been going around the house, and I realized something was missing. We have absolutely NO Valentine's decorations in our house. After much debate, I printed off our names, cut them out as hearts, added a border, poked holes and added ribbon to "tie" everything together and ta-da! LOL...The entire project took less than 20 minutes and only cost me what I had in my craft room as far as supplies! Not too shabby. Maybe I'm addicted enough to create some more LOVE art around the house!
Lance was so impressed with my banner when he got home, he came and gave me a great big hug and says "I absolutely LOVE your banner! It shows how much you love us!" I'm raising such sweet sweet boys, they really do spoil me, so I'm glad to return the favor and spoil them right back! Anyways, hope this banner gives you some ideas of your own! Happy crafting!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Potato Thins-Similar to Potato Skins

Hey everyone!

Hope you all enjoyed the super bowl! Wow, what a nail biter! I had the 49ers winning by 3, but instead, Ravens win by 3...oh well. I didn't really mind who won anyways. I was just in it for the food!!! We had a couple people join us at our house and we were having fun munching on the snacks, chatting, watching the commercials and of course, the lady of the hour, Beyonce!!! She is such a stunner! Can't believe she just had a baby!!!

Anyways, the day before the Super Bowl, I came up with this summer yummy side dish to go with a not-so-inspired main dish. These are super delish and would be super easy to take along to a pot-luck or party to share! Hope you enjoy!

Potato Thins Appetizer
Serves 4

4-6 Potatoes, thinly sliced
2 c. Shredded Cheddar Cheese
6 Strips of Bacon, diced
2 Tlb. Chopped Green Onions
2 Tlb. Olive Oil
S&P to Taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil, spray with cooking spray and set aside.
2. Boil sliced potatoes in water, once you reach a boiling point, cook 3 min. longer. Drain & pat dry.
3. Spread potato slices out on baking sheet. Sprinkle with Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper, Cheese, Bacon, and Green Onions. Bake for 15 minutes.
4. Cool slightly and serve! Pair it with sour cream, greek yogurt or salsa...absolutely delish!


Sunday, February 3, 2013

VEGAN German Chocolate Cupcakes!!!

WHAT? Did I just type that? VEGAN German Chocolate Cupcakes? Total craziness!

Not only is it crazy, it's blow your mind delish!!! So here's the story behind this post:

Katrina and Jolie, 'Sota is Sexy

My friend Katrina from Sotaissexy is a vegan. I am not. I actually wouldn't make a good Vegan what-so-ever! She came to my son's 6th Birthday party, and I said she could have a slice of icecream cake because that is Vegan right? WRONG! Turns out, icecream, it's made from milk {I actually knew this, but funny that I thought a vegan could have some!!!}! LOL...Totally don't grasp the whole concept I guess! So, I went on a quest to create a dessert she could eat...I researched vegan recipes. The nerd in me took over. Did you know there aren't any Vegan dessert recipes out there {at least non that I could find}? How is a Non-Vegan suppose to know how to bake/cook Vegan? So I researched alternatives to use in recipes instead: Milk, Eggs, Butter, Evaporated Milk, Cream Cheese, Sour Cream, etc. And I incorporated switches into a recipe and came up with a Vegan German Chocolate Cupcake. {Be still my heart!!!}

You may be rolling your eyes at this and asking why I chose to start out Vegan with such a difficult recipe. Well, there's a story behind that as well. My friends husband is a German Chocolate Cake fan. And well, I was using him, so I wanted to bribe him with these cupcakes. He is a Dermatologist in town and I needed a cream that cost way too much for me to buy myself, so was going without it {because I choose to spend my money on clothes, shoes, and girlie stuff instead of medicated lotions :) }. He said he could get me some samples. So in exchange for these samples, I'm bribing him with German Chocolate Cupcakes!!! MAYBE, just MAYBE, if I made a 9 foot tall German Chocolate Cupcake, had a super Model pop out of it, and let him rock climb to the top, he would hit me up with some Botox injections! Bwahahaha...hey, a girl can dream right?

Anyways, getting to the recipe. These are super moist and delish. I'm not a vegitarian or a vegan, but if I were, I think I would make these all the time!

So here's the recipe...pass on to your Vegan friends!!!

Vegan German Chocolate Cupcakes
makes 18 cupcakes
1 box Devils Food Cake
3/4 c. Apple Sauce
1/2 c. Vegetable Oil
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
3/4 c. Vanilla Soy Milk
3 Tlb. Avacado

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin. Set aside.
2. Gently cream apple sauce, vegetable oil and vanilla extract.
3. Mix together soy milk & lemon.
4. Alternately add cake mix and  soy milk mixture. Add avacado and mix until smooth and creamy. Scrap sides if you need to.
5. Fill liners 3/4 full with batter. Bake 18-22 min. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Vegan German Frosting
makes 3 cups
1 c. Vanilla Soy Milk
2 Tlb. Cornstarch
1 c. Sugar
2 Tlb. Apple Sauce
1/2 c. Shortening
1.5 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1-1/2 c. Chopped Pecans
1-1/2 c. Flaked Coconut {sweetened or unsweetened}

1. In a small saucepan, heat soy milk, cornstarch, sugar, apple sauce & shortening until thick {10-15 min}
2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract, pecans, and flaked coconut. Allow to cool completely before frosting. Refrigerate leftovers up to 2 weeks.

Vegan German Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
makes 3 cups
4 oz. Coconut Milk
dash Lemon Juice
1/2 c. Shortening
1/4 c. Cocoa Powder
4 c. Powdered Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 Tlb. Soy Milk {if needed}

1. In a stand mixer, cream coconut milk for 5 minutes. Add shortening, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar {1 c. at a time} and cream 3 minutes.
2. Add vanilla extract.
3. If too thick, add soy milk to thin out.
4. Frost away! I frost the edges of the cupcakes and then scoop the German Frosting in the centers...

I really hope you test out these cupcakes and see what you think!!! Happy Baking!!!


Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Benefit for Jack

Every day, I wake up, make breakfast, pack a lunch for Lance, go to the bus stop, go home, clean up, spend time with the kiddos and either 1) hop on the computer and work for a bit or 2) get the younger 2 kids ready for the day and off to the YMCA so I can workout. Come home, make lunch, get 1 kiddo off to bed and the other content. Then maybe more work or clean up, or something else. Every day is much of the same, barely variating in any which direction. Consisting of different degrees of family dedications and errands.

This past fall, my every day "normal" was severely shaken. As most of you know, we almost lost our youngest son Jack. You can read about his story HERE. This situation opened our eyes. Woke up our hearts and souls. Really shocked us to the core as a family. We realized that everything about our lives was being taken for granted. We are good people and try to live a good life for our Lord, Jesus Christ. But we realized that we are nothing without Him and His love for us. We were taking that for granted. We realized that we are surrounded by amazing friends, family and community members. We were taking them for granted. We are surrounded by our own precious children's Love and the Love we share for each other as a family. We were taking each other for granted. Just the fact that we were living each day in a rutt, never really too much going on around us, was a HUGE eye opener! And now we know, we were taking our Lives for granted...

After coming home at the end of November from the Hospital. We were asked by a patron of my work, if we would mind her hosting a benefit for Jack. I told her we would think about it. We had the mindset that there were so many more people out there more deserving, more in trouble. We found out there were several people that wanted to do this for us. We were shocked. We decided to go ahead and say yes to having a benefit for's the flyer that explained what it was all about...

This past weekend, the benefit for Jack took place. There was a poker tournament, silent auction, spaghetti feed, music and entertainment, and lots of family, friends, and community members present for the benefit. There were so many terrific donations for the silent auction from friends, family, and different businesses around town. Ranging from a diamond necklace, a shop radio, professional nature pictures, a beautiful purse, gorgeous hand embroidered dish clothes {the most beautifully crafted I have ever seen}, many gift certificates, beautiful quilt and many other items. I wanted to bid on several items myself because I love a silent auction, but knew that that wasn't what they were donated for, so I watched them go to new homes. I was excited because everyone was excited and happy bidding! I talked to several people that night, lots of people I didn't even know. My head was feeling dizzy. I couldn't wrap my head around the evening. I had even forgotten that the event was put together for Jack! I was just so happy to talk to so many friends and family and community members. I'm still in awe of all the support. We were all there to celebrate and honor Jack, his continuing health struggly, and his happy, carefree way about him...
But there is one special event of the evening that stole my heart. I am a person of many words. I talk all the time, non stop in fact. I hate silences, to me any silence is an awkward silence. But I literally became speechless at the end of the silent auction. At the start of the evening, a community member brought in a GORGEOUS quilt made by a group of gals that this is what they do. They make quilts to be donated. I was in love with this quilt at first sight, but knew I could not bid on this item. So I said my goodbyes and waited for it to find a new home. I was happy at the end of the silent auction to hear that my uncle Bob had won this gorgeous quilt because I knew it was going to a good home. He seemed pretty pleased to have "won" this beautiful quilt. So I took pictures of him and I with the quilt. He writes out the check, hands it to the person in charge, and then hands me the quilt. My jaw dropped. Did he know my inner desires? Did he know I "coveted" this quilt? I mean, he paid a LOT of money for this piece and I didn't think it was right that he paid so much for it and then gave it away...I couldn't talk. I just kept hugging him and asking if he was serious? He assured me that he wanted me to have the quilt. So I brought it home with me and every time I look at it, I am reminded of my uncle and the selfless act he made to purchase the quilt and then give it away. I am truly spoiled and blessed. I also think of all the special people who made the quilt, and all the countless of family, friends and community members that came out to support us. I don't think I could ever look at this quilt and NOT be reminded of all the memories associated with it...not to mention how GORGEOUS it is!!!
I'm thankful for Heather E. who put on the benefit for us and her helpers: Vance, Anthony, Kelly, Christiana, Ginger, Jim, Jack, Etc. These are some amazing peopl...I am in awe of Gods work in helping us to pay our medical bills from everything Jack has gone through over the past year. Words cannot express my gratitude. I just hope someday soon, I am able to pay it forward. For all that has been given to me and my family, I feel it is my duty to some day be able to give back as much as I have been given. I look forward to that day. I feel truly blessed and rewarded to be given this opportunity. There will be a HUGE burden lifted off of our shoulders when we sit down the next time we do our bills and write a check to pay off the majority of our medical bills. I know there have been many sleepless nights and many prayers said in regards to worrying about all the bills getting paid.

The prayer that has gotten me through everything comes from Jeremiah 29:11...The entire time we were in and out of the doctors offices trying to figure out what was going on with Jack, the 4.5 days Jack was in a coma,  the entire 2 weeks in the hospital, all the doctor visits since, and every day I constantly think of these words. I draw strength from their meaning and know that I can get through anything. So I will leave you with these parting words: "For I know the plans I have for you" Declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future".


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Strawberry Cobbler

Hey everyone!

Happy Tuesday! Today, with windchill, is -40 degrees outside. Yesterday there was no school, but I am convinced it would have been closed anyways. Today, school is 2 hours late. Just crazy cold out there the past few days! help warm up our bellies, I decided to make a warm desert. Turned out so super nummy that I thought I would share with you all!!! Hope you enjoy, and if you decide to adapt it to fit your own pallet, please share as I'm always interested in tasting new ventures!!! 
Strawberry Cobbler

1 stick of butter, melted
1 Egg
1 c. Sugar
1 c. Milk
1 c. Flour
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
3 lbs. Strawberries {Fresh or Frozen, tops off}

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Poor melted butter into 9x13" glass baking dish
3. In a stand mixer, lightly beat egg, add sugar, add flour, baking powder, salt, milk and vanilla. Beat until smooth {about 3 min}.
4. Poor into baking dish, do not stir!
5. Top with strawberries.
6. Bake for 45 min. Serve hot with icecream!!!