Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Weekend

Happy Halloween! It has been a fun and very busy Halloween weekend around here. Thursday Nana arrived and we got to play with new toys and carve pumpkins!

She even brought me my favorite hometown treat- Del's Caramel Corn. So good. I totally hid it from my kids so I would not have to share!

We kicked off Friday with a school assembly and our Church Fall Festival. Both were fantastic as usual...
Zander got High Honors and a straight A report card along with perfect attendance (which has to be the dumbest award around if you ask me, but that is a whole other post:)) We are really proud of him!

Church Fall Festival is a very special event to me and it went so smoothly again this year thanks to all the wonderful volunteers who show up and do their part. My Sunday School class in particular makes the least glamorous jobs fun- stuffing 600 treat sacks and cleaning up a floor covered in popcorn? They do it with no complaints! Wonderful! Here are the kids with their buddies from church...

Last night was Trick or Treat night here in OKC, so my mom was nice enough to sit on the porch and give out candy so both Lance and I could head out with the kids. We met up with our friends the Gardners and had a blast. There are some people that go seriously crazy in our neighborhood and a lot of kids drive down here to trick or treat. It is a serious spectacle. Here are some sights from the night...

I really did not even get pics of the coolest houses because it was so crazy I was too busy keeping track of the kids. Anyway, what a fun, busy weekend. We finished it off eating on the back porch tonight. I made the roasted butternut squash with a grilled pork tenderloin, apples, and cheesy rice. Yummo!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fall Recipes Part 2

It is another wonderfully cool morning here. I am having more and more trouble getting out of bed in the morning, and my notoriously early rising kids are as well. I have had to wake both kids up after 7:00 am the last few mornings so we are not late to school. If you had told me this would happen even six months ago I would have laughed in your face. It is a wonderful new problem to have!

Besides happiness about the extra sleep, I am super excited because my mom arrives tonight! She is coming to stay for almost two weeks and I can't wait to hang out with her. The kids are going to love having her here for Halloween. This is her first year of retirement, so she has never gotten to do this particular holiday with us. It is going to be fun.

What? You came for the recipes and are tired of my rambling? Ok...

Bacon Dip: I doubled this recipe for Lance's birthday and served it with sliced bread. It is warm, yummy, and made with bacon. What is not to love???

1 package cream cheese (8oz.)
1 1/2 c. sour cream
3/4 lb. bacon or sausage (brown it first, of course!)
2 c. cheddar cheese
2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. green onions

Combine all ingredients and put in a serving dish @ 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or bread bowl at 325 degrees for an hour.

Butternut Squash Bisque: Remember how I said yesterday that I like simple recipes? Well, this one is a little more work, but so worth it. It is creamy, spicy, and served with a smoked gouda and bacon garnish. Seriously? What could be better? This recipe came from the Better Homes and Gardens magazine, so I am linking to their page to give proper credit. Also because it is a really long recipe! HERE is the link.

As a bonus end to the recipe fest, I would like to add this tasty tip... Sunday night I took some butternut squash left over from making the huge vat of soup and roasted it. I diced it, drizzled on some olive oil, sprinkled on some kosher salt and pepper, and roasted it in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. It was incredible!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall Favorite Recipes Part 1

I love a good tried and true recipe. I keep a white binder full of pages pulled from the nine hundred magazines I get subscriptions to, and over the years the list of favorites has started to add up. For me a good recipe is both simple and tasty. Occasionally there are some dishes worth slaving over, but for the most part simple is better for me. Today I am posting a Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe from the Fix it and Forget it crock pot cookbook (fantastic cookbook) and a recipe from my mom for Pumpkin Crunch.

Chicken Tortilla Soup:
This gets made so often I know it by heart. It is a crock pot workhorse that you can not mess up. I love to make this as a meal to take to someone because it is simple, hearty, and freezes well.

3-4 Frozen Chicken Breasts
2 Cans Black Beans
2 Cans Rotel (whatever spice you like- I buy the original)
1 14oz can tomato sauce
1 4oz can green chilies
1 cup salsa (any kind is fine, again choose your spice level here)
Put all this in the crock pot on low for 6-8 hours. I have done it longer and you can't go wrong. About 30 min before you serve it shred the chicken with two forks. It will pull apart and be delish.
Garnish with tortilla chips, cheese, and sour cream. I think this is hearty enough to be a meal, but making up some quesadillas to go with it is yummy too.

Pumpkin Crunch:
This has a pumpkin pie vibe to it but is a little different and a huge hit at parties.
1 29oz can Pumpkin (the big one)
1 cup sugar
1 tall can Evaporated Milk (the 10 or 12 oz one- I forget)
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
Mix these ingredients and pour into a 9x13 pan.
Sprinkle 2/3 of a Spice cake mix and 1 cup pecans on top. Drizzle with 1 stick of melted butter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Serve with whipped cream or cool whip.

Yummy stuff! This is making me hungry. Tomorrow I will post Butternut Squash Bisque and Bacon Dip.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lance is 35!

My wonderful Husband turned 35 on Thursday and we decided to celebrate with a party. It was so fun to have family and lots of friends over to celebrate with food, drinks, and good conversation. Here are some pictures from the celebration...

The Birthday boy with his little boy:)

I had some requests for recipes from the party, promise to post them later today or tomorrow.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It must be Fall Break!

We kicked off Fall Break with a sleepover for Zander and his buddy Cooper last night. Big fun! I made up a big batch of pancakes this morning and we hit the pumpkin patch for our yearly visit. We have gone to TG Farms each year since Zander was just 10 months old. Here he is then:

And then this year:

Really????!!! Man has time flown by. Zella was not super cooperative this time around but here is her then and now...


It was a gorgeous sunny warm day and a lot of fun to carry on this fall tradition!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Girls Night IN

Tonight Lance and Zander got a chance to join some friends at the Thunder pre-season game. They are also headed to the OU game on Saturday. With all this guy time going on I have to step up my game and find some fun things to do with sweet Zella Grace. She is such a fun, happy, good-hearted little girl. It is a pleasure just to be around her, but I hate for her to feel like she is being left out of fun. So, when the boys headed out for some guy time we decided to have a girls night in.

First, we put on our pajamas. Zella's current favorite are a hand me down pair of Hannah Montana jammies from her friend Katherine. Cool on two levels... awesome because they are Hannah Montana AND because our much older fun friend gave them to us!

Although she has seen the show just a handful of times Zella has started singing bits and pieces of the theme song for the Hannah Montana show. So, I downloaded the song from Itunes and she spent the rest of the evening hitting repeat and listening to it over and over while dancing, singing, and having a blast.

Just to top things off we decided to do toenails. For the Halloween effect we went dark with some fun designs.

That is supposed to be a happy ghost on the big toe...
Such a fun night in with my cutie. Now I have to plan for Saturday night... would love some low cost, low key ideas for another fun girls night in! Come on readers... I know you have some...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chili and Beer Bread

I tried out my new beer bread recipe last week and it was a big hit served with some crock pot roast carrots and potatoes. Today I decided to see if a wheat flour version would be as good. I really liked it, although it does change the flavor a bit. Tonight I made some chili and served it up with the bread. Yum! Here are some pictures and the basic recipe for the beer bread...

Beer Bread:
3 cups flour (white and whole wheat both work)
1/3 cup sugar
12 oz beer (whatever is your husband's least favorite in the fridge)
1 Tbs. baking powder

Mix it all up and put it in a greased loaf pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 53 minutes. Take it out and add a little butter to the top, put it back in for another 2 minutes and serve it up.

As a question to my readers... what do you put in your chili? I am planning a chili bar for an upcoming party and want some ideas! We serve it with rice, fritos,cheese, and sometimes a little onion. Any other ideas?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Kickin it in time for the Weekend

Tomorrow looks to be a fantastic and BUSY day. I am meeting some girlfriends to go to Mistletoe Market and then back to my neighborhood for some Big Truck Tacos and the Heritage Hills Home Tour. I work a house on the tour from 2:30-5:00, and then Lance and I are headed to a seventies themed party tomorrow night. Man, I got a little tired just typing that all out! I love packing in as much fun as possible.

Unfortunately I have been battling some sinus and upper respiratory junk all week and it is getting me down. So, I broke down and went to the doctor this morning. Sure enough, what I was playing off as allergies is really an infection. Why oh why will I take my kids to the doctor at the first sniffle but let myself get to a point of no return before I go? Well, I am sure glad I went. I got a shot of the good stuff to get me started and a couple scips that will hopefully have me right as rain to party all day tomorrow. Hope I can kick this in time to have a great time:)

By the way, in case the above fun Saturday options are not enough for you I have one more tip: Tomorrow from 12-6 is also the Mesta Festa at Mesta Park (18th and Shartel). They have music, food, microbrews and wine, kids crafts, and an awesome playground as well. I know my family will be headed over (without me) to check it out. You should too!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Secret Ingredients

Do you have little cooking shortcuts you use to kick things up a notch without expending much effort? I have a few, and I am always on the lookout for more. Recently I have fallen in love with Fire Roasted Tomatoes. I have seen these on the grocery store shelf for years and been intrigued. Unfortunately there is no generic equivalent and so I never tried them out. A few weeks ago I made an impulse buy and discovered a product that will be in my bag of tricks forever.

Pasta with Sweet Italian Sausage in Fire Roasted Tomato Sauce
1 lb. any kind of pasta you like
1/2 pack Johnsonville sweet italian sausage brats
2Tbs olive oil
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1-2 cans Fire Roasted Tomatoes
1 jar of plainish pasta sauce

Cook the Pasta. In a deep skillet saute onion and garlic in olive oil. Add sausage and brown, then cut into peices and cook through. Add the Fire Roasted Tomatoes and the jar of pasta sauce and let simmer. Serve it up with some yummy bread!

I love the simplicity and flavor of this dish. It gives pasta night a new twist with a very minimal effort.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins

I really love to bake, and it is finally cool enough here to turn the oven on and get after it. I made some Pumpkin Muffins last Friday night and some banana bread on Sunday night. Next up? Beer bread. I have a beef stew on the calendar for Wednesday and I think some beer bread will be just right with it. I had some of my Facebook friends ask for the Pumpkin Muffin recipe, so here it is along with some pictures of the goodness.

Pumpkin Muffins:
4 3/4 cups flour
4 cups sugar (I know... that is why they are so good:))
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp cloves (I was out so used pumpkin pie spice instead- still delicious)
6 eggs
1 29oz can of Pumpkin
1 cup unsweetened applesauce

Options: rasins and nuts are both good in these muffins. I made them plain this time.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, mix it all together, put the batter in muffin tins (greased) and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. This makes 36 regular size muffins.

Friday, October 1, 2010


It is finally October! I headed out yesterday to get everything to do my Fall outside display. Next weekend is my neighborhood home tour so it just feels like a great time to put everything out. Here it is:

I scored the hay bales for free- they were a little stinky and dirty but who cares?