Saturday, January 21, 2012

Paula Deen Challenge Meals

So all the hoopla with Paula Deen being diabetic and critics upset at her for teaching us to cook unhealthy foods has not stopped my Paula Deen challenge.  Her recipes are delicious so I will continue going through my cookbook.

The book is sectioned off into "Creamy", "Cheesy", "Chocolate" {can't wait to get to that section}, "Crunchy", and "Sweets".  I am making myself go in order page after page, because if I skip something I might be missing something really yummy.  So I'm in the "Creamy" section.

Recipe #1 was Mushroom Risotto.  I thought it was be yucky, but it was YUMMY!  I talked about this in a previous post, so I'll continue on.

Recipe #2 was Sausage and Pepperoni Baked Spaghetti.  Our's was actually baked Thomas the Train noodles instead of spaghetti noodles.  That's what was in my cupboard so that's what I used.  The rest of the ingredients were Italian sausage, onion, pepperoni slices, garlic, marina sauce, alfredo sauce, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, and mozzarella cheese.  It was good, but it didn't make me want more and more and more, which is how I am with plain ole' spaghetti.  And it made so much that I took some over to my grandma's house to share.

Recipe #3 was Buttermilk Biscuits and Homestyle Cream Gravy.  I used whole wheat flour so the biscuits turned out thick, but edible.  The gravy was edible too, but I don't plan on making it again any time soon.  I've never been able to make good cream gravy even out of a package.  But these biscuits and gravy were a good morning breakfast before we made deer sausage a few weekends ago, and Matt ate them for breakfast for about a week.

Recipe #4 was Chunky, Creamy Guacamole.  Now I'm not a fan of guacamole, but Matt and Brazos really enjoyed it.  I made it during our sausage making day and everyone liked it as a snack during lunch time.  I'll be making this again, maybe when I have to take a dip to a party.  It was simple to make - 2 avocados, 1/3 cup chopped red onion, 2 jalapenos, 2 tablespoons cilantro, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons lime juice.  Also, Paula said that placing an avocado seed in the guacamle can help maintain the bright green color.  My guacamole stayed bright green all day!

Recipe #5 was Loaded Baked Potato Soup.  All I can say is YUMMY!  {But next time I may not mash the potatoes so much and leave it a little chunky.}  Matt liked it, but he made the comment that he would like more meat with his meal.  Next time this will have to be served with something else, not alone as the main meal.

Recipe #6 was German Potato Salad.  The instructions said to cook the bacon and reserve 1 tablespoon of the drippings for the sauce mixture.  Well, I reserved the whole skillet of bacon grease, so my sauce mixture wasn't sticking together and had grease floating all over it.  I scooped off as much as I could and once I mixed everything together it turned out alright.  I'll try this recipe again one day.  I'll just need to make sure I follow directions more carefully.  We ate it hot, but I can also be chilled.  Also, we ate it with broccoli and deer steak....which I didn't realize until I took the picture that we ate the same thing with the mushroom risotto.  Oh well.  We have lots of deer steak so that'll be served with a lot of side dishes.

Recipe #7 was Chicken Alredo with Crispy Bacon.  I heard Matt telling someone, "It was as good as a restaurant meal and it even had bacon!"  It was delicious and the recipe made alot, so we ate it for three meals.  I thought about sharing it with my mom because she loves chicken alfredo from the Olive Garden.  But she is kind of picky and I could already picture and read her facial expression, "It's okay, but not as good as the Olive Garden."  So I kept the rest and had three meals.

So this brings me to last nights meal.  Recipe #8 was Creamy Tomato Soup.  I've tried tomato soup from a can and didn't like it, so I wasn't looking forward to this recipe.  My mother-in-law suggested serving sandwiches with it.  I ended up making grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and cabbage salad with the soup.  The soup wasn't that bad and had a zesty flavor.  We still have two bowl fulls in the fridge and I'm not sure if they will get eaten.  Tomato soup isn't something that you like so much that you eat all the leftovers, so we'll see if it disappaers or not.  Matt made the comment last night that he felt old eating soup and sandwiches for dinner.

I'm going to try to get better at taking pictures of the food, but right now I just take a close up because then you can't see the mess I made in the kitchen.  I would love for the photos to look like they do in the cookbook, but I don't have time to set a gorgeous table especially when a hungry husband is waiting for his food.  

Happy eating, YALL!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Annual Sausage Making Day

For the past two years my husband's family has enjoyed getting together to make sausage out of the deer meat from their hunting victories of the season.  It's always hard to find time to get everyone to come together, but this past Saturday they set the date and made some sausage. 

Here are some pictures of our second annual sausage making day:

Step 1:  Cutting the meat into large chunks.  {It's deer meat mixed with pork.}

Step 2:  Grinding the meat.

Step 3:  Soak the casings {pig intestines}, place the casings on the sausage maker thing, turn the handle and out comes the sausage.

Step 4:  Pinch off the desired length for one sausage link and tie it with string.

Step 5:  Hang the tied sausage links on a stick and place them in the smokehouse.  {My husband built the smokehouse last year just for this annual sausage making day.}

Step 6:  Light a few pieces of wood on fire, blow air on them to make them burn quicker, place the burnt smoking wood in the smokehouse.  Let the sausage "smoke" and dry for about two hours.

Step 7:  While waiting for the sausage to dry, let the kids play and sing "Happy Birthday" to Popo!

Brazos never liked being in a playpen until now. 
I guess he just needed a buddy.

I can see Baby #2's future activity already - being pushed around by Brazos!


He picked up some gloves because he saw his
daddy wearing gloves.  He was ready to help.
Happy Birthday, Popo!

Step 8:  After the sausage is smoked and dried, package the sausage.
Pair the links and wrap in seran wrap.

Wrapped in freezer paper, labeled, and ready for the freezer!

Wrapped pan sausage.

We'll be eating deer sausage, pan sausage, and deer steak for a long time!

Friday, January 6, 2012

The baby room is ready for a baby!

When we first found out we were expecting a second child, we had planned on the baby and Brazos sharing a room.  This was because our house only has two bedrooms.  Eventually we'll add on to the house and have enough rooms for everyone, but that won't be until next year or so. 
But after thinking about it some more, we decided to turn the old bathroom into the baby room since we don't use that bathroom to often.  Here was our bathroom:

The toilet used to be where Matt is kneeling.

My husband removed the toilet, sink, and shower.  Look at what we found under the shower!

That's no mouse.  That's a rat!

Next he removed some of the paneling and floor tiles that were warped and replaced it with new materials.  Here are the original walls of the house.

Part of the original floor and the old floor tiles.

The cutout is where the original medicine
cabinet was placed.

Where the shower used to be.

The next step was to paint the walls.  First we primed it and then we painted it with leftover paint from when we remodeled the other half of our house.  The color is called "Rope" from Sherwin Williams.  It's a light tan color.

Brazos helped wash the walls before priming.
Notice the sponge stuck to the wall.

Brazos and Matt priming the walls.
Boy, are they giving each other a look!

Matt also replaced the floor with new tiles.  Since we'll be remodeling in the future we went cheap and bought the stick-on tiles.  They are a wooden pattern.

The floor after old tiles are removed and
before new tiles are laid.

Where the shower used to be, we turned that into a closet by installing shutter doors.   It's ready for some clothes to be hung!  Will it be dresses or pants?

Inside the closet is a bar to hang clothes on and a dresser drawer that Matt's mom gave us.  It fit perfectly in the closet.  I bought the picnic basket at Higgin's Branch for $3.50 and painted it red.  It's ready to hold some diapers or toys or even hair bows.

Above the closet is a small shelf.  I plan on finding an old suitcase or cute storage box of some sort to keep the baby's sentimental items in, such as the baby book, cards from family and friends, photographs, etc.  I have a suitcase that I bought from a sweet elderly couple from my church furing a garage sale.  They said they took that suitcase to Branson every year, but they were too old to travel now and didn't need the suitcase.  The only problem is that the suitcase is green and that doesn't match the color scheme of the room.

The shelf above the closet.

During Brazos's nap times I made the wall decorations.  I know it doesn't look like much and shouldn't have taken me long, but only getting to work on it a few minutes of the day makes a small project take forever.  I made these "LOVE" pictures that hang above the crib.  I absolutely love them!  If this baby happens to be a boy and we get him more boyish things for his room when we remodel the house, then I'll just use these in my bedroom.  But every baby needs love whether it be a boy or a girl.

The background is burlap withe accents of lace, buttons, and mini doilies. 
The pictures are hung from glass drawer knobs I bought at Home Depot.

I also made this hanging wreath.  It serves as a mobile since the mobiles you buy at the store don't attach to our crib.  We were given one when Brazos used the crib, but the way the crib is made the mobile didn't fit onto it.  The wreath is just a grapevine wreath with fabric strips tied in knots around it.  It is hanging from the ceiling so the baby can watch it spin after mommy or daddy winds it up.  I found the little bird at World Market.  It was a Christmas ornament that I thought matched the room well.

The last few items that I put together are holding childhood photographs of the baby's parents and grandparents.  I hot glued ribbon to the back of the frame so I could pin pictures to the ribbon with mini clothes pins.  I painted the chalkboards with magnetic paint to hold magnets, and I also painted the edges red and sanded them to look rustic.  I had some quotes lying in my scrapbook materials that went along with my "love" theme, so I pinned them up as well.

Matt's mom and dad are the top photos. 
My parents are the bottom photos.  My dad is the little boy kissing his grandmother.
Matt and I are in the middle.
The quotes read, "My heart is ever at your service."
"Once in while, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale."
"Love cures people - both the ones who give it and the ones who recieve it."
"For every kiss that I laid upon you went a piece a piece of my heart."

The crib is the same crib that Brazos used and the sheets were his as well.  They are brown with white polka-dots.  I had bought fabric and planned on making new crib sheets and a bumper, but that didn't happen.  Maybe I'll still make them...maybe I won't.

As you can see our baby room is teeny tiny, but it's filled with lots of love and ready for little one!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Photographers Run in the Family

Brazos absolutely loves to take pictures.  This is one reason why I decided I needed a new camera for Christmas.  Every time I took my camera out to take a picture, he would throw a fit until the camera was in his hands.  So now mommy has her own camera and Brazos has one to carry, too.

Picture taking has been a part of our family for a long time.  My mom loves to take pictures and probably has over a million photographs floating around her home.  She passed the love of photography on to me and it looks like it is being passed on to Brazos.

A few weeks ago Brazos's Popo let me look through some of his old photographs.  We came across Great Grandpa Supak's Army scrapbook from the 1940s.  The scrapbook held photos of his family and the base where he was stationed in Alaska.  The awesome part is I believe that many, if not all, of the photos were taken by Great Grandpa Supak!  Another photographer in the family....

Maybe Brazos is destined to be a great photographer!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas Time!

I know Christmas has come and gone, but I'm slow at posting on this blog, mainly because my internet connection is SLOW!

Brazos and I had fun making gingerbread cookies for everyone.  He helped by shaking the sprinkles on the icing.  He had lots of fun and made a huge mess!

For gifts I found these cute little jars at World Market that I decorated and filled with Hershey kisses.  The gift tag said, "Kisses from Brazos."  I loved each jar and would have liked to keep each one, but now I just have an excuse to make more!  Here's a few of the jars...

Here's how we wrapped gifts this year.  Lately I've been copying old photos of family members and I had a few extras so I used them as gift tags.  Wasn't Brazos's Nana and Popo precious!

Our first Christmas celebration was at Matt's parent's home on Christmas Eve.  Brazos enjoyed coloring with his Nana while waiting for the rest of the family to arrive.

My nephew Cullen enjoyed his first Christmas.  He was really getting into his presents!  I made him three burp clothes with western themed fabric.

Christmas morning I was very excited for Brazos to run to the tree and see his gifts.  We had made the decision that our children would only get three gifts since the baby Jesus received three gifts from the wise men.  He got a toy tractor, some Hot Wheels, and a shopping cart.  He had a jar of candy holding his stocking up and that was the first thing he went to.  We had to take the candy away just so he would go see the rest of his presents.

Christmas morning we went to church to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  It was a beautiful service led by Allison Collins.  Christmas carols galore!

The rest of Christmas day was spent at my grandparent's home with all my aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I love it when we all get together!  Brazos had fun playing with his third cousins, Brodie and Braygen.

Well, I'm losing patience with this computer, so that's all folks!  I hope everyone had a joyous Christmas celebration!