Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Study in Miniature: Virtual Refrigerator

The Princess has been at it again.  She has quite a knack for miniature art and is great at upcylcing for art supplies.  She made this out of the empty box that held K Cups for the coffee machine.  Pretty neat, huh?  I am so thankful for her creative talents -- and for my real fireplace keeping me warm on this Thanksgiving Night.

Just needs stockings 

I'm blessed with creative kids.



I'm joining with the Virtual Refrigerator Blog Hop to showcase this fun miniature craft.  
Be sure to visit and check out some of the other neat projects by some pretty great kids.



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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Oh, The Places I've Been . . .

Several of my friends had a map posted on their Facebook walls last week of all the states they'd visited in the USA and I looked over each one with interest.  It's fun to see how far from home my friends travel.  I decided that I wanted to map out my out-of-state visits and check out the pattern of the places I've been.  Here's what my map looks like:

I've got quite a few states to visit if I want to meet my goal of checking out all of the beauty in America.  I sure do wish I could pack my bags and head out on the adventure with my family tomorrrow.  Oh, the places I would go . . .

You can Create Your Own "Visited States" Map and see where you've been, if you want.  If you do, let me know.  I'd love to see how far you've travelled.


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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup (another Crockpot Creation)

I enjoyed the deconstruct of the Tater Tot Casserole so much last night, I thought we'd try it again today with something I read about on a friend's Thankful blog post.  We were blessed with some beautiful bell peppers and it's freezing outside, so Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup sounds good to me.  My original stuffed bell pepper recipe is from my mom and was a staple at our dinner table growing up.  I've used mom's recipe and added a few personal touches to make this new soup recipe.  I'm looking forward to it becoming a staple around here.



Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup

1 pound hamburger meat
1 medium onion, chopped
1 or 2 bell peppers, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes
1 can (14.5 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can (14.5 ounces) beef broth
2 cups water
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon oregano 
1/2 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon parsley
crushed red pepper


Brown hamburger meat with sautéed onions, bell pepper, celery, and garlic.

My favorite beginning . . .

Drain meat mixture and transfer to your crockpot.  Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, and water.  Stir.

any brand will do

Add dark brown sugar, black pepper, oregano, basil, parsley, and a generous sprinkling of crushed red pepper.  

simmering spices

Mix together and cook on low until soup is bubbly good.  Serve with rice, mozzarella cheese, and fresh bread (sharing my my favorite bread machine recipe with you here).

Time to eat

This was a hit.  All family members agree that we'll have this one again.  It was warm and tasty on a cold, cold night.
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Monday, November 24, 2014

Southern-Style Hamburger Hashbrown Casserole (in the Crockpot)

One of our all-time favorite family meals is Tator Tot Casserole.  It's a simple, no-fuss recipe that doesn't take long to prepare and can be cooked using just one dish.  Because I knew our afternoon would be a bit crazy and I wouldn't have time to bake it between Girl Scout runs, I decided to see if I could deconstruct the flavors we love so much and make it suitable for slow cooking in the crockpot. The results are out of this world.  My family raved about this Southern-Style Hamburger Hashbrown Casserole and just about emptied the pot.  There were only enough leftovers for three of us to have lunch the next day.  That's a pretty big deal around here.

Southern-Style Hamburger Hashbrown Casserole

medium onion, chopped
celery, chopped
bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound hamburger meat
1 can cream corn (I used the fresh creamed corn we put up in the freezer.)
2 cups cheddar cheese (at least this much, but more is always good)
Velveeta cheese
1 bag (2 pounds) Southern Style Hashbrowns
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
Milk
Salt & Pepper, to taste

It's a little hard for me to give exact quantities for some things because it's really a matter of taste.  I keep chopped celery and bell pepper in my freezer, so I just pull out what looks good to me for each recipe.  Referred to as the Cajun holy trinity of cuisine, onion, celery, and bell pepper is typically used in equal parts.  

Saute chopped onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic in olive oil.

The cajun holy trinity of cuisine
Add hamburger meat, salt and pepper, and cook until no longer pink.  Drain
melding the tastes together
Spray crockpot with non-stick spray.  This will make your clean up so much easier -- ask me how I know.  Layer meat mixture in bottom of crockpot.  Pour creamed corn over top.

Sprinkle 1/2 of cheese over top of meat and corn.

Top cheese with bag of hashbrowns.  I had let mine sit on the counter top while I cooked the meat, so they weren't frozen rock solid.  Add Salt and Pepper, to taste.

Top with remaining cheese.  I added a few hunks of Velveeta cheese to this layer because it wasn't near about fattening enough.  You can see them peeking out through the grated cheese.  I like the little extra creaminess those hunks provided.
cheese and more cheese
Combine soups and a can of milk.  I used one Cream of Celery and one Cream of Chicken, but you could easily use whichever cream ofs you have on hand.  You can even use two of the same cream ofs.  I like the extra zip that a can of cream of celery offers.  Evenly pour soup/milk combo over cheese.


spreading the love

Place lid on crockpot and cook on high for 6 hours or so until everything is heated through and all bubbly from the melted cheese.  Stir and serve.  Total yumness here.



Excuse the picture, please.  It was the second helping before I remembered to snap it.

I served this with hot cornbread (totally gone in the picture above) and dressed-up green beans.  Oh, my stars was it good.  I added a little garlic powder, a lot of brown sugar, and some sliced almonds to the green beans and wowed the family.  I used fresh canned beans, but you can use store bought as well.  And add bacon.  Next time, I'm definitely adding bacon to my green beans.  I'll share that recipe another day -- because you're simply going to want to try it for yourself.

This was good stuff.  And I hear in some parts of the country they call it a hotdish.  But down here in the South, it's a good ole casserole and would be fit for taking to a church potluck or a funeralizing.  

Let me know what your family thinks.  Yummy.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Brotherly Love -- Scripture & a Snapshot

I'm so happy they have each other.


and then this happened . . .



I love my kids.  They make me smile.



I'm joining with my friend Jennifer over at a glimpse of our life as we give glory to GOD through our photos.  
Scripture and Snapshot
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Friday, November 21, 2014

Random 5 on Friday


1.  It's almost Thanksgiving but I need to be more intentional about making every day a day of thanksgiving.

2.  Casting Crowns can bring me to my knees in PRAISE and to my toes with arms stretched high in WORSHIP all in the same song.  Last night's concert was FANTABULOUS.

With my MainMost

Sidewalk Prophets

Casting Crowns bringing the WORD


Mandisa OVERCOMES

Casting Crowns Unplugged -- Acoustic Set Praise


3.  Frozen pizza with friends is gourmet goodness.

Even a brief visit lifts the soul.  


4.  I'm not near as dumb as my children think I am.  I can't wait until they don't know everything.

5.  Protestors outside of a Christian concert don't make sense to me at all.  More emphasis on sharing the LOVE of JESUS would certainly be better for the KINGDOM than a verbal onslaught of condemnation.


Because this day has GREAT POTENTIAL,


I'm linking up with my friend Miranda over at The Pebble Pond.  Be sure to visit and be inspired by some other random thoughts today.
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Still-Life Charcoal: Virtual Refrigerator

She amazes me.  Each week, her artwork just gets better and better.  I was super-impressed when the Princess showed me this still life sketch in charcoal this week.  I couldn't wait to share it with you.

She makes me smile.



I love this girl and her creative spirit.






I'm joining with the Virtual Refrigerator Blog Hop to showcase this marvelous charcoal sketch.  Be sure to visit and check out some of the other neat projects by some pretty great kids.




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