Monday, November 24, 2008

Cold Nights, Warm Dinners

Cool nights lately have had me in the mood to cook warm, satisfying, comfort foods. So far, they have all be hits with us. Just in case you find yourself on a cool night wondering what to cook for dinner, I've decided to share a couple of the newest recipes with you.

Savory Venison Stew
In the current issue of "Homegrown: Good Sense Organic Living for Texas" I found this scrumptious recipe from the Broken Arrow Ranch in Ingram, Texas. (My changes/suggestions are in italics.)

1 lb. Broken Arrow Ranch Venison Stew chunks, cut into bite-size pieces (I used ground venison as that was what I had handy.)
1 bay leaf
1 tblsp pickling spice (wrapped in cheesecloth)
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1/8 tsp garlic powder (I used fresh garlic..several cloves worth cause, well... we like garlic)
¼ tsp ground black pepper
2 carrots, 2 celery stalks, and 2 red potatoes, cut into ½ “ pieces (I didn't have red taters around so used russets)
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 cups water
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 8oz can tomato sauce

Spray a nonstick skillet with vegetable cooking spray and quickly brown the chunks on all sides. Wrap the pickling spice in cheesecloth and tie with a string. Slowly simmer all ingredients for 1 ½ hours or until venison is tender and vegetables are cooked. Remove cheesecloth wrapped spices before serving. We served it with cornbread, of course. A wonderful blend of some of my favorites, it was a mix between pot roast, stew and sauerbrauten.

Lentil Chili
Recently, a co-worker passed on this recipe. Upon first glance I was thinking, uhhhhh... I don't know about this. Went ahead and tried it and by-golly, she was right... it is delicious!

2 t. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T chili powder
1 T ground cumin
1 t dried oregano leaves
1/8 t cayenne pepper
4 Cups water
1 cup lentils (the dry beans), rinsed
1/2 cup tomato puree (I used diced tomatoes from the can)
1/3 cup plus 2 T chopped green onions
Polish Sausage (or similar), chopped up

Heat oil in heavy, large saucepan (like a 3 qt.). Add onion and saute 2 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add chili powder, ground cumin, oregano leaves, and cayenne pepper - stir 30 seconds. Add 4 cups water, lentils and tomato puree. Increase heat and bring to a boil, skimming off any foam from surface (I didn't see any foam when I made it). Reduce heat to medium and simmer until lentils are tender, adding more water by 1/4 cupfuls as needed if dry, about 30 minutes. Add sausage. Stir in 1/3 cup green onions. Season chili to taste with salt and pepper. Divide chili among 4 bowls. Sprinkle with remaining green onions and shredded/grated cheese and serve.

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mini Me

The other day, someone commented on the pix of my DD in "The Next Top Chef" post, noting that it was a pix of me as a little girl. First of all, she's a lot cuter than I but she does resemble her mama a lot. Unfortunately, she's inherited some of my stubbornness (which I rightfully inherited from my Dad and Papa. LOL) as well. Still though, she never ceases to crack me up...EVEN when she's being mean to her little brother.

While I will say that my brother used to be mean to me more than I him, I do acknowledge the fact that I did my share of abuse towards him. I can also say, however, that I NEVER did to him what my DD did to my DS last night... although I'm a little disappointed that I never thought of such an idea.

The kids are SUPPOSEDLY in bed going to sleep. DH and I are trying to watch a movie when we hear horrible cries from our DS. I rush into the kids' room to find my DD sitting on top of the toy box, all proud of herself. DS is nowhere to be seen. It is then I realize that he's IN the toy box. Upon opening the box, we find our DS CRAMMED in the toy box, with all the toys in there as well (so he's in like a sardine), with a blanket on him. He's NOT having fun and was scared in the dark (and I'm thinking pretty darned uncomfortable as well). As I lift him out and try to comfort him I ask why he got in the box in the first place. "Hadley told me to. She said it was a surprise." It sure was!

In the meantime, my DH is asking our DD, "Did you NOT hear your brother crying to get out?" Her response..."NOoooooo." Good grief. When he asked why she did it, she responded that she "can't like little brothers anymore". Oh sweetie, you are in trouble cause you're stuck with him for a very long time.

Five minutes later they were best of friends again. It was a very funny and sad sight though. DS may never want a surprise again. Oh, what am I saying... they have already both forgotten about the whole incident already...but I won't.

I Cast All My Cares

One of my favorite songs, especially when I'm troubled, is "I Cast All My Cares Upon You".

A few weeks ago our pastor was speaking to this subject and noted that oftentimes, there are those of us who are, like, "Okay, God. I am faithful that you will take care of and provide for us. I cast all my cares upon you and trust that you will watch over us...BUT if you need any help..." I laughed when he said that because I, unfortunately, am one of those people. As much as I say I'm handing things over to God, I constantly find myself questioning things and trying to stick my fingers in his business of taking care of me.

My prayer right now is that I will let him do his work...without my "help".

Those of you that know me and my family know that things have been difficult, as it is for many right now. We are blessed to be all healthy and together but we are praying that God will lead us through this difficult time and help us see what doors he opens. I told my brother earlier that I need prayers in seeing what God wants for us cause if he's not slapping me in the face with it, I'm kind-of stubborn.

No real reason for this post other than to request prayers that we'll allow God to do with us as he will and for me to see/listen to him and keep my meddling hands to myself.

To everyone who currently has us in your prayers, we can't thank you enough!

Monday, November 17, 2008

How to Make a Muddy Mud Ball

Just in case you were wondering how one makes a "muddy mud ball", I thought I would share the instructions I just heard my DD giving my DS.

"First you get a lot of dirt in your hand. Then you go and put your hands in the dog water. Then you throw the water and dirt between your hands and that's how you make a muddy mud ball!"

Now, I'll admit that my DD had a lovely, perfectly round ball of mud. My DS, however...not so much. Rather than having a little "muddy mud ball", as my daughter calls it, he himself is a muddy mud ball of sorts. The whole "throw the water and dirt between your hands" was apparently a little vague in its instructional detail. He's covered in mud and very upset that he doesn't have a muddy mud ball like his sister. As I type this, he is out chasing his sister around the yard in an attempt to get her muddy mud ball.

I'll deal with them in a little bit... first, however, I have to give the dogs some fresh water.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Next Top Chef

Despite my loathing reality shows, I do find myself watching one... Bravo's "Top Chef". Tonight was the new season's premier episode and, as always, I enjoyed watching what dishes these chefs were able to pull out of thin air. Little do the show's competitors know, however, that the James' household actually had THE "top chef" working in OUR kitchen tonight.

Our DD wanted to help with dinner so I put on one of my Granny's old smocks, that I remember wearing when I was a little girl visiting her and Papa, to protect her pretty white dress (that she's refused to take off for two days - even sleeps in it...very soon it will walk itself to the laundry) and gave her a spoon. She very carefully stirred our homemade pasta sauce for tonight's spaghetti meal.

She loves to help in the kitchen and is on her way to being a wonderful cook!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sleepless in Seattle

Actually, I'm sleepless in Texas. It is 3:50 am and I've been up for about 30+ minutes. Same thing the last night and a few other nights recently. What's worse, is I should be out cold as I had to take some mega painkillers earlier for cramps from you-know-where and they always send me to la-la land, but here I am... awake. I'm TIRED. I'm yawning as I type this. I tried to knit for a bit but I'm too tired to do that (mainly cause I don't want to completely screw up my lace pattern I'm currently knitting due to an inability to accurately count in the wee hours of the morning)...and yet I'm awake. URG.

I'll hopefully doze back off in a little while..probably JUST before my alarm goes off. I can tell already, I'm gonna need a nap today.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Time DOES Fly

With the hustle and bustle of the kid's first Halloween where they went trick-or-treating, the football party we had on Saturday where we had to watch UT's devastating loss to Tech, and my being in the middle of a new product offering launch with my work...well, it almost passed us by. We DID remember but with everything else going on, it didn't get the attention we'd initially talked about.

Doesn't matter though.. I'm still very thankful, and lucky, to have been married to my wonderful husband for the past 5 YEARS. Together 8, married 5, 2 wonderful kids and a blessed life...

My, my, my....Time does fly.

Belated "BOO"

If you recall in a previous post, our DD was going to be a ghost for Halloween and my DS was set on being a "boy". Well, while our DS remained steadfast in his desire to be "just a boy!" our DD changed her mind on being a ghost. Instead, she wanted to be a fairy princess and she was the most beautiful fairy princess in all the land.

This was the first year that the kids did any trick-or-treating and the first house was PRICELESS! The kids knocked on the door and as SOON as the handle began to turn to open the door they were already hollering their "trick or treat"s. However, the homeowner had plans of their own and not realizing they had two toddlers on their first trick-or-treat outing, at their first door ever, opened the door wearing the blood dripping costume from the movie Scream. Scared the living daylights out of the kids! They jumped behind me and it wasn't until the home owner took off their mask and apologized tremendously that the kids reappeared to get their treats.

What were their father and I doing during all of this? Well, besides my acting as a hiding place, we were ROLLING with laughter. Okay, it was sad. They did get mighty scared but THAT was funny.... I don't care WHO you are.

They were unharmed and enjoyed hitting a few more homes before we had to get to the Halloween Party at Alan and Nickie's.

Of course, it took a little while to help them to understand that pretty much everything was "just a costume" at the party, including the eyeball that was dangling out of its socket. My poor baby girl...she was SOOO worried for that man who "hurt his eye" and "needed [me] to drive him to the doctor so they could glue [the eye] back so the man would be able to sleep." That was just one of her solutions for that particular Halloween prop-lem.

All in all it was a good night and the kiddos provided some fun entertainment for the adults, including when my DD announced that they (the little kids who were dancing around in the back yard without music...and on sugar highs) didn't need songs to dance to cause they were "dancing to the music in [their] hearts". We didn't know whether to crack up laughing, cause she said it in all seriousness, or gush with the "oh how swweeet" comments. I think there was a little of both.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a safe and BOO-tiful Halloween.