Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!


Happy 2010 Everyone!!


34 months paper pregnant

Christmas Day marked my 34th month of paper pregnancy (LID 2/25/2007). So, for a short while I'm 34 years old and 34 months pregnant! Never thought I'd see those numbers!

KISSES IN THE WIND

I hold you in my heart and touch you in my dreams.
You are here each day with me, at least that's how it seems.

I know you wonder where we are... what's taking us so long.
But remember child, I love you so and God will keep you strong.

Now go outside and feel the breeze and let it touch your skin...
Because tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.

May God hold you in His hand until I can be with you.
I promise you, my darling, I'm doing all that I can do.

Very soon, you'll have a family for real, not just pretend.
But for tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.

May God wrap you in His arms and hold you very tight.
And let the angels bring the kisses that I send to you each night.

--- Unknown

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day in Review


The family (minus Ambre who was the photographer for this pic) on Christmas Day, 2009


Mom bought the kiddos matching hot wheels for Christmas



They worked better on the kitchen floor!

Everytime family is together something happens to make us laugh so hard...

This year it was Judy's present for Grandma Sherrill...

It took forever for her to "hook it up" right and then we were worried she would trip or have to get out of it in a hurry...

She felt trapped! What's wrong with just a blanket or quilt???

Ambre and Eddie


Their family

Mom showing Eddie pictures of Christmases past

The kids favorite person...Mama Maze

Currently Madison and Eddie are fascinated with Aunt Judy...if you've met Aunt Judy you know why!!!

Lovin' on Grandma Sherrill

After Christmas at mom's I brought the kids to my house b/c Santa had left a bag of presents at my chimney just for them!

Looks interesting...lesson learned....take toys out of their packaging BEFORE the kids get to them!

Eddie LOVED the cowboy hat! Now, I have to get Maddie one b/c naturally she wanted one too. I bought them each a tea set...her a Cinderella one and him a circus one. They played with it for a long time.

Our family had a very nice Christmas day. Now, I'm looking forward to the week ahead, checking off items on my 'to do' list, and preparing for a New Years Eve party!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone!


My Christmas Wish

Dear Santa,
I've been a really good girl and have been cooking like crazy this week! My little hands are practically blue from chopping so many vegetables, nuts, and cookies. In years past, you've been really nice to me and I hope that your kindness continues. In all of my cooking adventures, I've discovered I could really use a Hamilton Beach Food Processor under my tree this year. It would really help a lot and I would even include you on future soups or candies that come from my kitchen. I know soup would be a delicious thing in the North Pole! But, I'd really need this in order to make the very best for you. After all, you are Santa and you deserve the best!

The Hamilton Beach Food Processor can prep 10 cups of food! It has 2 speeds and 4 different functions! Did I tell you how I had to chop my Vanilla Wafers for the Coconut Orange Balls? In a blender! It wasn't very easy. The Hamilton Beach Food Processor would have been so much easier and faster! Just so you know if you bring me one on Christmas you are guaranteed to have a plate of all the goodies I made this week by my fireplace. And, I always leave a treat for the reindeer as well. If you don't have any in your workshop, I understand...but I have found this great online shop you can order from. CSN stores has practically everything you would ever need in order to make lots of men and women happy this year! While you are there, you could also get me something from the Rachael Ray Cookware line or my favorite the Le Creuset line.... but I don't mean to be greedy!

I know you are very busy as you get ready to start your 'round the world' trip. Be safe, Santa! And thanks in advance for my special present!
Love, Amy

Christmas Candy

These are my all time favorite things to make for Christmas....

Chocolate Covered Pretzel Sticks....
These are so easy, if you've never made them just melt chocolate or white chocolate chips with a bit of vegetable oil over a double boiler. Dip your pretzel stick in the melted chocolate and sprinkle with your favorite sprinkles. Let cool on a wax paper covered tray and enjoy!
(I make these for every holiday...just change the color of your sprinkles and they are so cute!)

This is my all time favorite fudge recipe...I feel like if you don't have a pound of confectioner sugar in your fudge it's not real fudge! ha!
Southern Style Pecan Fudge
Ingredients:
1 pound Confectioners Sugar
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans
Directions:
In medium saucepan, heat sugar, butter, cocoa, milk, vanilla and salt over low heat, stirring until smooth. Stir in nuts. Spread mixture quickly in buttered 9x5-inch loaf pan. Cool; cut into squares.
Melting the sugar, butter, milk, and vanilla
Now the good stuff...cocoa
Cooling

These are Chinese Candy
Sooooo easy...just melt 1 bag of butterscotch chips and 1 bag of chocolate chips over a double boiler, add your chinese noodles and cool in little spoonfuls on a wax covered surface to let cool.

Everybody has had these Haystacks before...I LOVE them!
CHOCOLATE HAYSTACKS

1/2 c. milk
2 c. sugar
1 stick butter
3 tbsp. cocoa
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. oatmeal

Boil for 1 minute sugar, milk, butter and cocoa. Then add vanilla, peanut butter and mix thoroughly. Pour over oatmeal and add raisins if desired. Drop by spoonfuls on wax paper. Cool.

And finally, I really think these are my favorite of all...Coconut Orange Balls
COCONUT ORANGE BALLS

1 box vanilla wafers, crushed
1 stick butter, melted
1 (1 lb.) box powdered sugar
1 (6 oz.) can frozen orange juice
1 c. pecans, chopped
1 pkg. coconut

Mix all ingredients together and roll into bite size balls. No cooking. Refrigerate.



Before I even thought about it I had all of my goodies wrapped up and nicely displayed on a Christmas platter to take to mom's for Christmas. I didn't even take a picture of the final products, but you can bet they were beautiful and delicious!!

Ironically, I've been cooking for 3 days straight and have made 5 candies, 5 soups, and spaghetti sauce but I have nothing to eat right now for lunch!!! What is wrong with this? All the soups and sauces are in the freezer ready to be given away, and all the candy is at mom's house! I didn't even leave one little piece of fudge for myself to enjoy????? I guess I'll order pizza until tomorrow.

Christmas Gifts

I have posted before about my great 'soup freeze' and knew that I needed to make a lot more soup for my own stash, but also for some Christmas gifts this week. There are some people that I just don't know what to buy for, but I do know everyone has those nights when you come home from work and there is nothing to eat...never fear soup is here!

My sister in law, Ambre, has celiac. It's a terrible thing in my opinion because she has to be so conscientious about everything she eats. Dinner at her home can be difficult because of her diet, the two kids, and my brother who is not the worlds best eater. He just sticks to a very strict diet of lean meat (chicken), a carb (rice), and something green (green beans or broccoli) most every night of his life except the occasional treat on the weekend. That is why he is a healthy guy...but I digress....dinner time for them is sometimes three different things. So I made a whole lot o' gluten free soups just for her freezer this winter. The rest of the family can enjoy them too, but I was mainly thinking of her with this gift. So here is what I did...

I searched the blog and some of my favorite holiday magazines to find the recipes. In total, I made 4 pots of soup plus one batch of spaghetti sauce.

This is the beginning to the Tortilla Soup. I love this recipe, even though it's gluten free. It's so delicious! I found it here. These are corn tortillas...
Garlic
Cilantro...
Tomatoes...
Yummo!
Next up is Spaghetti Sauce...here is my recipe:

Spaghetti Sauce
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
Brown the beef in a large, heavy bottomed pot, then drain off the fat. Add the onion, green pepper, and garlic and sauté until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, seasonings, and water. Simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool. The sauce will keep for several days covered and refrigerated. Serve with spaghetti or your favorite pasta.


I had A Christmas Story playing in the background to give a bit of Christmas Cheer!


Note: Use a bigger pan next time!

This is the Turkey-Black Bean Chili that is in the January edition of Southern Living. In case you don't have the mag, here is the recipe...
Turkey-Black Bean Chili
3 (15 oz.) cans black beans
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 lb. ground turkey
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 14 oz. can chicken broth
1 14.5 oz. cans Rotel

Drain and rinse 2 cans black beans. Saute chopped onion and turkey in hot oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring often, 8 to 10 minutes or until turkey crumbles and is no longer pink. Stir in chili powder and next 3 ingredients, sauté 1 minute. Stir in drained and undrained beans, chicken broth, and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 10 minutes. Serve chili with desired toppings.

These are ingredients for the Philly Cheesesteak Soup...so delicious!

Philly Cheese Steak Soup
¼ cup olive oil
2 large yellow onions, sliced into ½ inch strips
4 large green bell peppers, sliced into ½ inch strips
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
3 pounds top round steak, sliced into 1 x ½ inch pieces
2 Quarts beef broth
1 (10.5 ounces) cans beef consommé
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Toasted French rounds
Shredded Provolone cheese

In large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions, bell peppers, and garlic. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add steak; cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until browned. Add beef broth, consommé, salt, and pepper, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium low, and simmer uncovered, for 2 hours, or until meat is tender, stirring occasionally. Add thyme; simmer for 5 minutes. Ladle soup into ovenproof bowls; top with toasted French rounds and shredded cheese. Broil 6 inches from heat for 3 minutes, or until cheese is browned and bubbly. Serve immediately. Makes 3 ½ quarts

Lots of chopping...
I had to put in another movie...this is my all time favorite!
Next up...Beef Stew
Beef Stew
2 lbs. boneless top sirloin steak, cut into cubes
Sea salt
Light olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup fresh pearl onions, trimmed, peeled
3 good sized hefty gold potatoes, peeled, cut up
3 good sized carrots, peeled, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 cup dry red table wine (Frey organic wine is egg-free)
4 cups organic beef broth (I used Organic Better Than Bouillon)
A dash of balsamic vinegar
1-2 teaspoons dried Italian or French herbs, to taste (thyme, sage, rosemary, basil, etc)
1 bay leaf
Ground pepper, to taste

First- salt the cubes of beef on all sides. Turn crock pot on high. Heat a dash of light olive oil in a deep heavy pot over medium-high heat. Brown the beef cubes on all sides to sear in the flavor, using long tongs to turn the pieces. This doesn't take but maybe five minutes, or so. Remove the beef and add it to the Crock Pot.

Add in the garlic, pearl onions, potatoes, carrots and celery. Pour in the wine and broth. Stir. Add the balsamic, herbs and ground pepper. Cover and let the magic happen. The stew is ready when the beef and vegetables are tender- about 4 to 5 hours if cooked on High.

This was really good...oh yeah...I sampled them all! It was my supper!

In case you missed the "how to freeze soup efficiently post" this is how I do it. Ladle the desired amount into a freezer safe baggie, seal tight pressing all the air out. Lay on a cookie sheet and freeze flat.
Here is my 'soup loaded' freezer! Ha!
The final product
Merry Christmas!
All of this cooking made two gift baskets of soup and spaghetti sauces for mom and Ambre, plus several extras for me!

Next up...my Christmas candy cook-off and what I'm making for Christmas dinner!
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