Thursday, October 29, 2015

So That's What Being Married Is....






The other day my husband walked to the end of our long driveway to get the mail. He saw our neighbor out and said hi to him. They chatted for quite a while. My hubby was ready to come back up to the house so he said to the neighbor, “I better get going or Crystal will put out a missing persons report”. He meant it humorously of course. The neighbor said to him, “So that is what being married is all about”. He is an older man.

At first I found the comment a little rude. Then I felt sorry for him. It is sad to think that he feels marriage is about someone else keeping tabs on you all the time. He has missed all the many beautiful things that make a marriage.



Dear Mr. Neighbor here are a few things that marriage is about...



Warm snuggles on the couch on a cool fall evening

A smile from across a room full of people

Dancing in the living room

A candlelight dinner at home

A hand to hold

Saying “I love you” hundreds of different ways in all the things you do for each other

Arms that wrap you in love when you need it the most

A kiss.. quick ones, long ones, passionate ones

A shower together

Someone to laugh with, someone who laughs at your dumb jokes, inside humor that only the two of you understand

Someone who 'gets' you

Living life with your best friend

Adventures together

Someone to share simple days with you

Someone who knows you, they know your morning breath and bed head.. and they still say, ”I love you”

Arguing about stupid things and then making up

Sacrifice and commitment

Flowers for no reason other than they thought of you that day

A text or an email because they were thinking of you

Comfort when you are sick

A listening ear when you just need to share what is on your mind

Someone who will pray for you, someone who will pray with you

A shoulder to cry on

Someone who loves all your physical imperfections because they know it's what makes you special to them

Someone who knows that what you need at this very moment is chocolate, or a glass of wine, or both ;)

Encouragement to do your best every day

Working together

Loving together

Walking through difficult times together

That warm body to sleep next to on a cold winters night

The person you can't wait to come home to

Someone that shows you every single day that love is an action

And yes Mr. Neighbor someone who cares enough about you to be concerned if you really are missing.

 


Marriage will have its ups and downs, no question. There will be difficult times, there will be struggles. Whenever you bring two imperfect people together there will be work necessary for living life together as one.

What seems to be missing for so many today is the understanding that marriage is a commitment of love and sacrifice and giving 100% for the betterment of the other. In that there is so much beauty, joy, companionship, devotion and love that grows more and more with each passing year. It is one of the best investments we can be blessed to make.


“I am my beloved and my beloved is mine.” -Song of Solomon 6:3

 





Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Creamy Chicken Veggie Soup


This turned out to be so good. What a delicious way to get a lot of vegetables into the diet. But be warned.. this makes a HUGE pot of soup. It ended up almost filling up my 8 quart stock pot. That is a lot of soup. The recipe can easily be cut in half (which is still a lot of soup) and it can be frozen as well. I still make big batches of food because I'm feeding guys, hungry guys that eat a lot! And I like to have my meals last for a couple of days and provide food for the working men in my home to take to work.

The soup is full of yummy veggies. Here are the veggies all cup and the chicken waiting to be cooked...




I did not use chicken stock in this recipe. I started by cooking my chicken meat in the water to give the soup flavor, and then removing the cooked chicken, adding the veggies and letting those cook for a bit. And of course adding salt to bring out the flavors. In the end the broth was perfect (and no MSG, which is a good thing because it bothers my husband). I really need to get some homemade chicken stock made. But when I don't have any on hand, this is a great way to flavor soups.







Creamy Chicken Veggie Soup

3 ½ #'s boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
16 cups water
3 teaspoons salt
3 stalks celery, sliced
2 cups sliced carrots
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut up into bite size pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 4oz can chopped green chilies
1 green or red pepper, chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms
3 large kale leaves, stem removed, chopped
1t poultry seasoning
a few dashes of hot sauce, optional, we like our soups to have a little bite to them
16 oz cream cheese, softened
2 to 3 cups grated cheddar cheese


In a large stock pot combine chicken and water and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until chicken meat is cooked, about 1 hour. Remove chicken to cool.

Add all vegetables and seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer until vegetables are cooked, about 30 to 45 minutes.

While veggies are cooking chop/shred cooked chicken meat. When veggies are cooked add chicken. Add cream cheese and cheddar cheese and stir to blend. Taste and add more salt if needed (to taste). Remove from heat and serve. Biscuits or french bread would go perfect with this soup.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Menu Monday!!


 


Last week the menu went pretty much as planned. On Wednesday pizza just sounded so good. So along with making my huge pot of creamy chicken veggie soup (will be sharing this one tomorrow) I made a couple homemade pizzas. Yum.. my family was happy and I had enough food to keep my family fed for a few days.



I'm making the hamburger rice casserole that I mentioned last week, tonight. I'll serve a nice salad along with this.

The rest of this weeks menu is pretty basic. No new recipes in the plans. Unless I see something and it peeks my interest enough to try. Or I crave something! :)


Spaghetti
An old stand by. Easy, cheap, filling and everyone likes it. French bread and a salad will be the sides.


Tacos
Right now I'm thinking tacos. It may end up being enchiladas. My husband and sons take a lunch to work everyday. If I have enchiladas it is easier to take that and reheat it at work than to mess with tacos. I'll serve chips and salsa with this.

Roasted Chicken Legs
During the hot summer I put my roaster oven out on my deck to cook with. It kept my house a lot cooler. One day I roasted up a large pan of chicken legs that I had seasoned very simply (salt, pepper, garlic, Italian seasonings, Braggs Aminos, dried onion). I let it cook for a while. The chicken was so amazing. It was fall off the bone tender and full of flavor. Now when I want to cook chicken legs I pull out my roaster oven and do it this way. I also have a large winter squash that my neighbor gave me (sweet meat I think he said) that I'll cook to go with this and pot of rice pilaf and of course a salad (gotta get the fresh veggies in there!)


That should cover it for the week!!

 


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Green Beans & Ham


A few weeks ago I cooked a bone-in ham for dinner. I froze the ham bone and juices to use another time. My thoughts had been to make navy bean & ham soup. But in the end I wanted to try something different. I used the ham bone to make a side dish with my home canned green beans. It was super good.

It was also easy to make! I put the ham bone in the crockpot on 'high'. My ham bone was frozen. I opened and drained 2 quarts of my home canned green beans. You could use store bought canned or frozen green beans for this. The amount you would use would be based on the size of the ham bone and how many people you were feeding. My ham bone was pretty large and I feed a few people. But this recipe is totally flexible and hard to give exact measurements.



I started it out on 'high' but after a couple hours I turned it to 'low' and let it cook a few more hours. Since everything is already cooked the main idea is to give the flavors plenty of time to mingle. When the little bits of meat fall easily off the bone, you are done.
 

I removed the bone and put it all in a serving dish...


Easy, simple, a change from bean & ham soup, and very good!!

 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Our Little Vacation


Last week hubs had a week off of work. We decided to take a little road trip to Sacramento California to visit our daughter Emily and her hubby, Brandon. It was a very fun trip. We rented a car because it just makes sense. Why put the wear and tear on our car? Not to mention that if there were any mechanical issues we would not have to be worried.

We left Washington in the early morning and drove to a friends house first. My friend Erica lives about 2 or 3 hours from my daughter. She has been a long time internet friend. I mentioned her last year in a blog post when she and her family stopped by to see us and spend the night. We've met in person a few times now and are good friends. We had dinner with her and her family and afterwards another lady, Omeara, who I met online 8 or so years ago stopped by so we could meet in person. That was a huge highlight. I've met a lot of ladies online over the years with my (past) message board. It's not often I have the blessing of meeting these ladies in person.

Below is a pic of Omeara, Erica and I...



The next day we left Erica's house around noon and headed down to Sacramento. We spent the next couple days with Emily & Brandon. They kept us busy while we were there. Brandon took us out for Pho for lunch (a Vietnamese dish), we saw the Sacramento River, walked around downtown and took a tour of the capitol.

A few pics of our trip...

The beautiful Mt. Shasta..

Lunch ..


Me and Hubs with the Sacramento River in the back...



Hubs, Emily and me...



Hubs, me, Emily, Brandon (at the capitol)...




A funny pic.. this big bear is in the capitol building... Hubs was giving him a big hug.. ha, ha..



We headed home early in the morning and made it back in 13 hours which included the time to return the rental car. It was a great little trip and we can't wait to go back for another visit sometime next year.


 


Monday, October 19, 2015

Face Book Page for this Blog..

I finally started a Face Book page for this blog. If you want to check it out.. please do.. and 'like' the page. I'll do my best to share fun things with you all. It can be a struggle for me if I have too many online things to keep up on. But, I'll do my best with this page.

 
Stop by, like, and say hi!! :)

Menu Monday! (the Tuesday edition :)


There has been a bit to do today, as typical, when I'm gone for a bit. I finally had time to sit down and work on the menu.

Last week I only made 1 meal of the 2 I had planned. Tonight we are having the Aidells sausages and cabbage, rice and green beans. This should last us 2 nights.

I mentioned these sausages last week and thought I'd share a pic of them if anyone was wondering. I buy them at Costco.




I have loved menu planning bigger meals and having leftovers to eat. I highly recommend it. It makes grocery shopping easier and I cook less often. It's a win-win situation.

Anywho.. here is what I planning for the rest of the week....


Creamy Chicken Veggie Soup
A great fall combination of chicken, veggies and sweet potatoes with a block of cream cheese added at the end. Yum!! (I'll share this recipe soon). I'll serve either some garlic bread, french bread, corn bread or biscuits on the side.


Hamburger Spinach Bake
Hamburger, frozen spinach, rice, cheese, bake it.. I'll see how it turns out, but it has ingredients we like and so I'm figuring it will be good. We will see! I'll serve this with a nice salad on the side.


Sweet & Sour Pork
Just sounds really yummy to me. I'm going to use my sweet & sour chicken recipe for the sauce (I'll double the recipe for a larger batch) and use pork instead of chicken. This is served over rice and I'll add a salad on the side, and maybe also egg rolls.


 

Menu Monday!



I've been out of town.. have not had time to think about this week's menu.. but I'm home now and working on it.. will be back tomorrow with the weeks menu!!


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fall Baking: Skillet Apple Fritter Cake


I made this cake last weekend. It was SOOOO good!! The recipe comes from my dear sweet friend Laurie Bostwick. She has a great blog, Successful Homemakers. Take a minute to check it out.

Laurie and I have been friends for 12 years now. We met online all those years ago on a Yahoo Group. We bonded instantly. Had so many things in common! Even our husbands had similar names. My husband's name is, Tobin. Her husband's name is Toby. We both homeschooled and had an interest in homesteading. We both loved being a mama and wife and were thankful to be homemakers. Today we still have a strong friendship and are planning a meet up one day soon so we can give each other a big ol hug in person.

This recipe came from her. She is an awesome cook and baker. When I saw this recipe I just knew I had to try it. And I was not disappointed.


It has a layer of apple filling, covered by cake and glazed at the end.


I dished it up with vanilla ice cream and my family was beyond happy!!
 

The only change I made was that I baked her cake in a 9x13 pan instead of a cast iron skillet.  I did not have one that was big enough for the cake. 


You can find Laurie's recipe here: http://successfulhomemakers.com/skillet-apple-fritter-cake/

But please take the time to enjoy all her blog has to offer.



 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Cheddar Bacon Chicken Bake


Easy, delicious and quick to make.... who could ask for more from a meal? I came up with this idea while surfing the web looking for something to do with my boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  My family really enjoyed it.

I must confess, I am not a huge fan of chicken breast meat. I find it dry and lacking somewhat in flavor. My preferred is boneless, skinless chicken thighs. They have a bit more fat in them, making them not as dry. The chicken breasts were the same price as the thighs the day I was shopping and I thought I'd give them another try. I will say this recipe was a good use for them.

I used about 3lbs of chicken breasts divided into 2 9x13 pans. This recipe could be cut in half very easily.

Cut up the chicken meat and divided between pans..



Drizzle ranch dressing over the chicken....



Top with cooked, crumbled bacon...



Top with cheese...



Bake covered with foil at 350 for about 30 minutes (or until chicken meat is cooked completely). Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes.



I served this chicken with tater tots. But it could be served with rice or mashed potatoes or pasta. Whatever suits your taste. I also served a salad with it...




Cheddar Bacon Chicken Bake

3lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (thighs would work as well)
1 cup ranch dressing, divided
1lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 cups grated cheddar cheese, approx


Cut up chicken into bite size pieces. Divide between 2 9x13 pans. Drizzle ½ cup ranch dressing over each pan of chicken. Divide cook and crumbled bacon and spread half of it over each pan of chicken. Top with cheese. The recipe gives and approximate amount of cheese. You can top it with more or less depending on your tastes.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes (or until chicken is cooked completely). Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes to brown cheese.




 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Menu Monday!





Last weeks menu went just as planned. The cheddar bacon chicken dish was delish. I'll share that one tomorrow.

This week will be a bit different. Hubs and I are taking a little trip at the end of the week for a few days. So I don't need to plan 3 meals, and because I have some details to take care of before we leave my meals will be on the super simple side.

I made the split pea soup, that was on my menu last week, yesterday. I made a big pot of it and we are having the leftovers tonight.


The rest of the meals will be.....


Fish Sticks
Fish sticks and mac & cheese is an easy favorite around here. As typical I'll also add a salad on the side.


Sausages & Cabbage
I buy a brand of chicken sausage (similar to kielbasa) from Costco. The brand is Aidells.. They are so good! They come in different versions. My favorite is the pineapple bacon. Last week when I was shopping I saw they had mango jalapeno. I snatched up a package. I'll be slicing those and sauteing them with sliced cabbage. I'll serve green beans along with this meal.


The rest of the week the boys will be on their own. They will be holding down the fort while we are gone.

 


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Chicken Soup from Scratch


There is a lot of information out there on the health benefits of bone broth. One thing is known for sure, many mothers and grandmothers for years and years have always made a big ol pot of chicken soup (from the whole chicken, with bones) at the first sign of a cold or sickness. While they may not (or maybe they did) know the science behind all the good immunity and health benefits of chicken soup, they did know... it worked.

Last week my son came home from work and said he had a cold. It is the season for it. Usually as soon as fall hits it's not long before someone in the house gets a cold. He won the prize.

I went to my freezer and pulled out a whole chicken. I'd been thinking about what I wanted to make with it but had not come up with a plan. It was perfect timing.

Making chicken soup from scratch is not hard. It does take a bit of time but not much labor. The longer your chicken bones cook in the stock the better. Much of the time requirements are just letting the chicken simmer on the back burner.

Here is how I make it...

I start with one chicken. When I buy a chicken I look for the biggest chicken I can find. The bigger the chicken, the more meat on it.

I put the chicken in my large stock pot and cover it with 1 ½ gallons of water. I add 1 tablespoon of salt and ¼ cup vinegar. Vinegar helps to pull out the minerals from the bones as it cooks.




I bring this mixture to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low. I let this simmer anywhere from 2 to 4 hours.

This is my first step. I'm going to cook the stock for longer but I now want to remove the chicken meat from the bones. I don't want my chicken meat over cooked and tasteless.

I use a hand held strainer or a small pan and scoop out the chicken. At this point the chicken has cooked enough that it is falling apart. I put the chicken into a large strainer basket that I set inside of a bowl to catch any broth.



Then I debone the chicken. I put the meat in one bowl and the bones in another as I work.


Next I set the meat aside and dump the bones and skin and everything leftover back into my stock pot.



I let this cook for another 6 to 12 hours. I want my stock to be as flavorful as possible but I also want to pull out the health benefits still in those bones. I cooked this stock for another 12 hours.

When the cooking time is done it is time to strain out the bones. I put a large pan in my sink and set my strainer basket inside of it. I then pour the pot of broth and bones into the strainer. The strainer catches all the bones and the stock goes into the bowl.



I pour the broth back into the stock pot and return it to the stove and begin making the soup. I cut up a few cloves of garlic (I used about 9 or 10 cloves for this batch) and a large onion.



I add those to the stock and turn up the heat so they can start to simmer. Next I get my chicken meat that I saved and I cut it up. Some people like to just shred the meat, and that works too. This is a personal preference for me. I like small chunks of chicken meat in my soup. I set this aside, I'll add it towards the end.




When the pot of soup has simmered for about 20 minutes or so I add the pasta. You could also add rice if you'd like. I like it both ways. For this pot I used pasta. Egg noodles are traditional. I did not have any egg noodles on hand so I used what I had, which was bow ties. I added about 10/12 oz of bow tie pasta.



I let this cook for the required amount of time for the pasta. For my pasta it was 15 minutes. When it was done cooking I added the chicken.


You could also add cut up carrots and/or celery if you'd like. If you add carrots or other veggies make sure to do this when you add the onions and garlic. Harder veggies, like carrots, need more time to cook. I added a jar (16oz) of canned corn to mine when I added the chicken as the corn did not need extra cooking time. The recipe is flexible.

After the chicken was added I tasted it. Mine needed more salt. I added salt to taste and I also added about 1 teaspoon black pepper and 1 teaspoon poultry seasonings.

The soup is ready to eat. This recipe does make a large pot of soup so you can freeze some of it for later use, which is always good to have on hand.



 



Monday, October 5, 2015

Menu Monday!





When life throws you a curve ball.. you just roll with it!! :) Last week we made an overnight trip to visit my in laws up north and my son came home later in the week with a cold. So the menu changed. The philly cheesesteak sandwiches did not get made and the planned ham and bean soup became a big pot of chicken soup to battle his cold and hopefully help prevent the rest of us from catching it. I made it from a whole chicken I had in the freezer. I'll be sharing how I did this in tomorrow's blog post.

So that brings me to this week. I'm going to put off making the ham and bean soup. My ham bone will wait just fine in the freezer until I'm ready, maybe next week, we will see.

Here is what I'm tentatively planning for the week..



I made the Korean Pork on Sunday and tonight we have leftovers, so Monday is all set and ready to go.


Cheddar Bacon Chicken
Sometimes I see recipes online that appeals to me. But then I see changes that I'd make for various reasons such as personal taste, I know what will appeal to my family and what won't, etc. This is one of those. I'm making it up as I go along :). I'll share it with you if I like the way it turns out. I'm going to serve it with potatoes of some sort (I'll figure that out the day I make it) and a salad.


Split Pea Soup
I love split pea soup. As fall time comes I start thinking soup more often. And this is a favorite around here. I'll add bacon or sausage to it and serve it with garlic bread and a salad.


Taco Pie
This is easy to make. Brown the hamburger, add salsa and salt & pepper. Put in a baking dish, top with tortilla chips and cheese and bake until it's hot and bubbly. I don't have this recipe written down yet. I'll share it soon!


That should take care of it for the week, providing the week goes according to plan.. but we shall see..

 


Friday, October 2, 2015

Pumpkin Pie Spice Substitute


This is a repost from last year. Fall baking time is here and I have a few things on my list to make. Pumpkin pie spice is common in so many recipes this time of year. I always buy my spices in bulk and so I have all the individual spices in my cupboard. When I'm ready to do some fall baking it is super easy to mix up a batch.



If you're wanting to make a fall/pumpkin recipe and realize it calls for pumpkin pie spice and you don't have any... never fear.. you can make it easily yourself...


Pumpkin Pie Spice Substitute

1T cinnamon
1t nutmeg
1t ginger
½ t ground cloves

Put all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir until combined...




Store in an air tight container and use in any recipe calling for “pumpkin pie spice”..