Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I need a good title for these posts.

I really need to empty my phone more often, if for no other reason than to document the pictures and videos on my blog, for my memory's sake. I'm thankful, so so thankful, for my phone. I know that all the technology/new websites/etc can definitely be a hinderance or distraction at times, but there are so many moments in our everyday lives that simply would not be recorded if I did not have my phone. Take, for instance, Sam's very first bout with hiccups, at 18 hours old. I was hooked up to an IV and a catheter at the moment so getting out my big camera or video camera was not an option. My husband was out of the hospital room so it was just me and my sweet baby boy. And I have it on video. I love that.
I read on a blog somewhere, a long time ago, (and I am sorry but I can't remember where I read this!) to not worry about blogging every major event, and to just simply blog MOMENTS. Because if you get caught up on events (say, a birthday party or a major holiday) and you haven't uploaded your pictures or just don't have time to write about it, you feel like you'll never, ever blog again because you haven't blogged that one event. But you know what? It's ok if you never blog that event! Moments are what matter most, and although these pictures don't have the best quality, there's a whole lot of quantity behind them, and I want to appreciate all the everyday moments that make up our everyday blessings around here.

I'm going to try to make it a habit to do an iPhone post every couple weeks so that I get all these things recorded! I need a title for these posts. Please help me come up with one! I'd greatly appreciate it. Here goes...

Just a typical day eating lunch. 
In her pajama top and some rain boots. 

We found this Kermit keyboard on our last junkin trip. My brother got this same toy from Santa when we were itty bitty and I swear this is the toy that helped me learn all the notes on the piano before I even began taking lessons. I loved it.
(Unfortunately we didn't buy it; nor did we buy anything that night because Mary Ella ended up throwing up all over the junkin floor. Yep, that's right.)

All I'm gonna say is, 
IS THIS NOT THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CHILD YOU HAVE EVER IN YOUR LIFE SEEN??? 
My friend Sara gave birth to this heavenly angel, and I can honestly say she's the prettiest.baby.ever.

This is an ornament on Chad's parents' tree. It is Chad with his older brother Jason.
I think it looks so much like Sam. Especially the long hair.


We made the infamous Pinterest green smoothie for breakfast one day last week.
Spinach, banana, frozen mango and orange juice. It was really good!
Even my picky, "I only need one meal a day and its fine if that meal is candy corn" toddler agreed.

Sam, at my parents' house for Thanksgiving.
I love him. And his teeth. And his hair.

Sam in the car, trying out the headphones for the first time.

Tried to take them off, only to realize he could not hear the movie anymore.

So he put them back on as best he could. Bless.

My brother in law, Jason, dressed to a T for the Iron Bowl. Love.

And Chad Van Dam, with his small mouth bass from last weekend.

Afternoon milk-n-movie time for the kiddos.

Which turned into 'dress up time' for Queen Mary Ella. This girl is a character, to say the least!
Never a dull moment. I mean, never.



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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Turnip Green Soup, Lemon Feta Chicken & Olive Garden Salad Dressing

This first recipe, the Turnip Green Soup is my grandmother's recipe. I'm not a big fan of greens (especially turnip greens, because they taste bitter to me normally), but this soup is absolutely delicious! Not only that, it's healthy and it doesn't sit heavy on your stomach. This will make enough for at least 6 people, so you can halve the recipe if you need to!


Combine the following in a crock pot, and cook on high for 4 hours...

1 bag frozen turnip greens
3 chopped potatoes*
1 chopped onion
1 chopped polish sausage
1 packet Knorr Vegetable Soup mix
3 cans white beans
3 cans chicken stock
1 T. tabasco sauce
1.5 T. sugar

*We actually left the potatoes out because Chad forgot to pick them up at the store, and it was still wonderful! Thanks, Grandmother!


And this Lemon Feta Chicken recipe is from People Magazine (not sure which issue; I clipped it a while back and it's been hanging on my fridge for weeks!)


You'll need:

4 chicken breasts
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 T. olive oil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup scallions

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper in small bowl. Salt & pepper your chicken breasts on both sides. Pour the marinade over chicken. Marinate at least 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350. Heat a skillet to medium high, cook chicken breasts 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to casserole pan; top with feta and scallions. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until cooked through!
We served this with crunchy green beans, basmati rice (Uncle Ben's 90-second rice, seasoned with lemon juice, salt, and a little oregano), a salad and french bread.


And while I'm on a roll here, may I suggest a salad dressing?
Did you know that you can make your own Olive Garden salad dressing by simply adding a few ingredients to Newman's Own Oil & Vinegar dressing? Oh yes you can.

Get an 8-oz bottle of Newman's Own Oil & Vinegar, and add the following:

1/2 tsp minced garlic (or 1 clove for those that use the fresh stuff)
1 T. sugar
1/2 T. dried basil
1/2 T. dried oregano

And wah-lah! Olive Garden dressing! It's delicious.
(And it's really great poured over this lemon feta chicken too!)

Happy cooking!

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thankful

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Our Thanksgiving week was a blessed one indeed.
We were able to spend lots of time with family enjoying good food and each other.

On Tuesday we attended the Thanksgiving Feast at Mary Ella's preschool. The children (K3 - K5) worked so hard this month to make this a special event for their families. They made all the decorations that lined the walls of the fellowship hall where we ate including the place mats and the place cards; Mary Ella's "I'm Thankful For" worksheet included her family, her doggie Lucy, her Dora movie, and her cookies. (Funny: On another sheet, she named Pepperonis, Ice cream scoops, Brooks and Case - her cousins). Sweet, funny girl. The kids also made their costumes for the program; the K3 kids were Indians and the older children were pilgrims. They sang songs of Thankfulness for all the parents and grandparents at the feast and they also sang "Hello Mr. Turkey" which is in the video below; Mary Ella was a bit more reserved than I thought she'd be; perhaps because there was a live audience? I don't know. But she did 'shake her tail feathers' towards the end. This was her first school program so I don't want to forget how special it was to her! She loved having her Dad there as well as MeMama and Ace. After the program we enjoyed a true Thanksgiving feast. The teachers, administrators and the pastor of her preschool's church served us our lunch, which I think was very special, even if the children didn't understand the meaning behind it. The food was excellent! Turkey and dressing, green beans, fresh rolls, corn and fruit.



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Love this sweet picture of the kids praying.
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After the program and feast we went home and napped. Then later that night we went to Grandaddy and MeMama's house to help decorate their tree. Mary Ella and Chad did most all of the work, with a little help from Sambo. Chad had lots of special ornaments and he enjoyed showing them all to Mary Ella and telling her the stories behind them. She helped him hang them on the tree and at the end we turned the lights on and ooooh'd and aaaaahhh'd at their handiwork! (And of course I forgot to take a picture of the finished product.)

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We also had fun playing dress-up with Sam, using some of Chad's baby clothes. They were a wee bit snug and but overall Sam was a good sport about it.

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My big boy needs a haircut, I know.
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On Wednesday evening we headed to Florence to my parents' house. I had a bit of a fever virus that day (thankfully just fever and chills, no other symptoms) so I rested while everyone watched the kids Wednesday night.
Thursday was Thanksgiving Day, of course, and we started the day by watching the Thanksgiving parade and eating breakfast quiche and pigs-in-a-blanket. The guys went fishing while Mom and I watched the kids. Then Thursday night my dad's parents, Lanie and Bubba, came over, along with my brother and sister and their families, to eat the Thanksgiving meal! My grandmother made the turkey and dressing, and my brother-in-law Chris smoked our turkey breast in his Green Egg. It was delicious! Mom made all the fixins, including sweet potato casserole, wild rice with pears and walnuts, broccoli salad, cranberry pecan jello, broccoli cheese casserole, her crunchy green beans, and a pumpkin cheesecake. Yum. Lanie also brought her pecan pies which are always a hit, and Dad made his famous 'boiled custard' which he ended up throwing away, saying it was "Diet Custard" and that his recipe was a flop because it didn't call for enough sugar. We all thought it was plenty sweet but we got a good laugh out of him.

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Mom's dining room was colorful and welcoming and we ate and ate until we couldn't eat any more.

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It was a blessing to get to spend time with my grandparents. I was especially thankful that Bubba was feeling well enough to come out to the house and eat with us. They have been through a lot in the past few months and Bubba is still battling stage 4 liver cancer, so please keep them in your prayers.

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Here they are with their 3 great-grandkids!

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We chose to steer clear of the Black Friday madness and instead stayed home. Although reading the Facebook news feed made me feel as if I were really there; I think I was claustrophobic and near an anxiety attack just from reading people's statuses. Props to those of you who find good enough deals to make shopping all night long worth it. And props to myself for not having to deal with all that and finishing my Christmas shopping weeks ago. Whew!

And to top off the week, we came home Saturday and enjoyed Thanksgiving lunch with Chad's side of the family. Grandaddy deep fried the turkey this year and used the Neely's recipe, and let me tell you - best turkey ever! I could've kept eating and eating! It was so flavorful and super moist. I think frying is the way to go. The weather allowed us to enjoy lunch on the back porch and it was perfect in every way. Afterwards we watched the Iron Bowl (Roll Tide!) and threw some football in the front yard. I took some photos for our Christmas card and the kids had fun playing with their cousins. All in all it was such a wonderful holiday! It'll be difficult to get back into our routine tomorrow, but such is life. Chad was sweet to get out in the rain today and get our grocery shopping done, so I'm set for this week's dinner plan, which is helping me to breathe a little easier knowing I won't have to get out in the FREEZING COLD weather that is apparently coming our way! I'll be sharing some recipes this week so check back soon! Hope everyone had a blessed holiday.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A couple of great recipes!

Photo and recipe courtesy of CleverlyInspired via Pinterest

I found this Angel Chicken recipe on Pinterest last week, and while it didn't necessarily look like the most appetizing thing, the recipe mentioned the slow cooker, and we all know I'm a sucker for the slow cooker. So I tried it out and WOW! This is soooo good. It will definitely go on our 'routine slow cooker meals' list. The real recipe calls for 2 different types of mushrooms, but I just used the baby bella and they were great. (And neither me nor my husband are a fan of mushrooms unless they are basically drenched in other tasty ingredients, and we actually wished we had MORE of the mushrooms when we ate this! They were delish.)

Angel Chicken:

Ingredients:
3-4 chicken breasts
2 small containers of baby bella mushrooms
1 can Campbell's Golden Mushroom soup
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup dry white wine (We keep the $2.97 WalMart white wine in our fridge for cooking; lasts forever.)
1 packet Italian dressing seasoning mix
1/2 of an 8oz container of cream cheese w/ chive and onion spread

First, you'll use a small saucepan on your stovetop to melt the butter. Once melted, add in your seasoning packet, then the wine, the soup and the cream cheese spread. Stir until everything melts together and looks like a sauce.
In your slow cooker, dump in one container of mushrooms, then place your chicken breasts on top, then another container of mushrooms. Pour your sauce over the top! Cook on low for 5 hours or if you're in a crunch, you can cook on high for a couple hours then turn to low for another hour. (Make sure your chicken is cooked through! All these crockpots are different!)
We served this over plain pasta shells but it would also be great over rice!

And next, remember those Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins I told you about? The 3-ingredient ones? Well, I found another recipe on Pinterest that added cream cheese filling to a pumpkin muffin recipe; it wasn't the 3-ingredient recipe but I tried doing this to the 3-ingredient pumpkin muffins, and let me tell you, they have officially been taken to the next level, folks.



The ingredients are as follows:
1 boxed yellow cake mix
1 can pumpkin
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup sugar

First, use a mixer to mix your cream cheese and sugar until well incorporated. Then, grab a sheet pan and cover with wax paper. (This next part will be messy.) Using your hands, grab some of the cream cheese icing and just plop it onto your wax paper and try to form long cream cheese "logs" the length of your sheet pan, and about 1 inch in diameter. This is not a very firm icing so just do the best your can. Pop your sheet pan in the freezer and let this chill until the cream cheese is pretty firm.
Next, mix your cake mix with your pumpkin. Pour just enough of the batter into your muffin cups to cover the bottom (and when I say "pour" I really mean "plop" because this batter is a little thicker than your everyday cake batter because of the lack of eggs, oil, water, etc.) Then, get your frozen cream cheese log out of the freezer. Cut into small 1/2 inch chunks. Put one chunk on top of each muffin cup, then add more batter on top! Bake these at 350 for about 30 minutes or until they look done! The cream cheese becomes a sweet melty filling that is absolutely wonderful!

Hope everyone has a blessed Thanksgiving.
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