Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Chili Recipe

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During the holiday season, we tend to have more visitors than usual. Although I like to feed my company well, I also like to enjoy THEM!

This homemade meal is sure to please all and can be made ahead and kept warm in a slow cooker. The ingredients can be played with a bit like my red sauce recipe.


Yes, GASP, I use a seasoning kit, but I’ve found that this particular one is cheaper and just as good as when I mix up the seasonings myself. Oh and it saves me time!!!

Sabby’s Chili

  • 2 lbs ground meat (beef, turkey, pork or combo)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomatoes with green chilies (like Rotel)
  • 2 cans tomato sauce
  • 1 Carroll Shelby’s Chili Kit
  • 2 cans Dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  1. Brown meat in stock pot and drain fat.
  2. Return meat to pot and add onion and green pepper. (see NOTE)
  3. Add garlic once onions start to become translucent. If added to early it can burn.
  4. Add all tomatoes, sauce, large spice packet and salt to taste from kit. Stir together and bring to a low boil.
  5. Reduce heat, cover and cook for at least 30 minutes. Add optional cayenne pepper from kit to taste.
  6. Stir in beans and cook for 5 more minutes or longer. I usually let this cook for as long as possible to let the flavors mix well.
  7. Top with your favorite fixins’ like Co Jack cheese, crackers and sour cream and enjoy!

NOTE: I usually don’t need to add any addition oil here because there should be enough fat on the meat to cook the pepper and onions


The kit also includes masa flour if you like your chili thicker. I usually don’t use this because I add cheese and crackers and that thickens it enough for me and the fam.

I hope you all have had a wonderful Christmas and here’s to a safe and Happy New Year!

I'm linking this up at Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

And also at Blessed with Grace!
Blessed with Grace
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Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Goodies To Share or Enjoy

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When I was little, I remember watching my mother create tasty Christmas goodies for hours upon hours. My church had a Christmas treat exchange after the annual Christmas program and we all enjoyed the fruits of our mothers’ labor. That holiday sharing is one of the reasons I try to carry on some of that tradition today.

I also do it because I ran across this little bit the other day….IMG_5932

My mom gave me her Good Housekeeping Cookbook this year. A right of passage I suppose. It has survived many great years of cooking and our 1987 house fire. Notice the charred binding.

A cute little inscription too…IMG_5935

So, because I’m sentimental. Because I love to add things to my ever growing to do list. Because the holidays just aren’t crazy enough. I make treats.

Just a few. Nothin’ fancy. This year I even cut out my beloved homemade caramels.

First up, Toffee Butter Crunch from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. It’s fabulous and as far as candy making goes, its pretty simple. Yes, you have to pull out that snazzy candy thermometer, but it IS Christmas after all.

Toffee Butter Crunch

  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds or pecans, toasted
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon light-colored corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds or pecans, toasted


1. Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Set pan aside.Melt butter in a 2-quart non-stick saucepan. Add sugar, water, and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils.

2. Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Reduce heat to medium; continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, stirring frequently, till thermometer registers 290 degreesWatch care-fully after 280 degree F to prevent scorching. Remove saucepan from heat; remove thermometer. Pour candy into the prepared pan.


3. Let candy stand about 5 minutes or till firm; sprinkle with chocolate. Let stand 1 to 2 minutes. IMG_5967

4. When chocolate has softened, spread over candy. IMG_5957

5. Sprinkle with the 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts. Chill until firm. When candy is firm, use foil to lift it out of pan; break into pieces. Store tightly covered. Makes about 1-1/2 pounds


Next, for my dad, is divinity. Now some of you might not even know about this little diddy. My dad’s fave. I think he’s the only one that still eats it actually.

This year I tried the recipe above from my mom’s old cookbook. Either way you hash it, divinity is NOT easy.



(adapted from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook-1980 edition)

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 egg whites, room temp
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Mix and heat sugar, syrup and water in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Let boil until sugar is dissolved. Attach candy thermometer to the side of the pan as mixture rises to 250 degrees.
  2. Place egg whites in mixing bowl and beat to stiff peaks.
  3. At a medium speed, add half of the boiling sugar mixture.
  4. Place other half of mixture back on heat and let rise to 272 degrees.
  5. Once it reaches the correct temperature, add remaining sugar mixture to mixing bowl. Add vanilla.
  6. Beat until mixture hold stiff, glossy peaks.
  7. Quickly drop heaping teaspoons of divinity onto wax paper. Cool complete before putting into sealed containers.

See…I told you it wasn’t easy! Just to please my Pops.

Finally, I finished my treat day off with making a simple faux fudge. I call it faux because you don’t have to use a candy thermometer and its super easy. I personally like the texture of this fudge better than the real deal. It’s so smooth.

Mom’s Easy Microwave Fudge

  • 3 cups milk chocolate chips
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Microwave mill and chips for 2-3 minutes until softened. Quickly stir in vanilla and add nuts if using. Pour into a buttered glass pan. Let cool completely before cutting.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my adventures in treat making. I hope it inspired at least one of you to make something new and share it with someone this holiday season.

In the spirit of Kimba’s recent ASTL post, I’m keepin’ it real with this last photo of my kitchen mid-treat making!


Happy cooking everyone and Merry Christmas!

I’m linking this little project up to Kimba’s DIY Day on A Soft Place to Land on Tuesday. Check her out!


Also, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays at Blessed with Grace and Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Laundry Room Redo – Part 3

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Planning and Patching

So here’s what happens when you decide to do a “little project”….

You take down your builders grade white wire shelving and get this…IMG_5231

And this… IMG_5235

Oh, forgot one. This lovely duo. Double the fun?? IMG_5232

So, as you can see, I had a MUCH bigger task on my hands than I had expected.

The shelving was NOT drilled into the studs, but they used TONS of dry wall brackets to hold it all up. I was left with about 40 holes to fill. Nasty and tattered holes too.

I wanted to cry. I called my dad (let’s call him my personal on-call carpenter). Then, I started sanding.

And after getting rid of all the loose paper, I began filling in the gaps with lightweight spackling.IMG_5915

The back of the spackle says, one coat, no sanding required. However, my “carpenter” said that since my holes were SO rough, I should build it up and then sand it smooth.

I filled the holes/built it up with two coats and let it dry overnight. A little sanding the next day and things are really shaping up!

Amongst all of the waiting and sanding, I did finally pick out a wall color. It is a blue green shade called from Behr called Aqua Smoke (470E-3). (By the way, if any of you know how to add a paint chip to a blog, do tell!!)

While the paint was drying, I did do a little shopping at Ikea. Boy, that place is a one stop shop for me sometimes. Besides grabbing the cabinets, I was able to get the following for my “dream” laundry room.

Cesium light – Provides much more light than my old single bulb builders grade brassy one ever dreamed of.

Cesium light

Molger bench – fits perfectly between my tall cabinet and the shoe storage I already had in the room. Luckily, I snagged the last one in the store because its being discontinued!!

molger bench

Tsusig rack – This should provide us with enough hooks for coats and bags.

Tjusig Rack with hooks

Bjarnum shoe rack – After eliminating all my wire shelving, I needed a little space to hang clothes. Much cooler than my old wire shelving.

Bjarnum shoe rack

Now, this stuff isn’t going to hang itself, is it? Bibbity bobbity boo?? Guess not….see you soon then!

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Our Christmas Home

Pin It Oh, I just LOVE Christmas!!!!

However, my Christmas decor isn’t fantastic or coordinated. There isn’t something Christmasy in every room either. Basically, it’s an eclectic bunch of things we’ve accumulated over the years. All smushed together and happy. For us, that works.

First up, our tree.


Our tree doesn’t have a theme. The ornaments don’t match and I’m sure it wouldn’t make the cover of any home decor magazine…..but that’s what we LOVE about it.

We finally decided to go with a fake tree last year. Lights included. Saves time and well….call me lazy but I loath putting lights on a tree.

The tree is a once a year representation of who we are, the changes we’ve gone through and the things we love. The story of us, holiday style.

Call me sentimental, but I just love a good story behind an ornament. Somehow those big boxes of matchy matchy sets don’t do it for me. But a corny ornament given by a family member or friend? Now that’s my kind of holiday decor. They just take me back every year.

Like this one.

IMG_5657 My mom gave me this funny little pregnant snowman (lady) when I was pregnant with my first son. She’s complete with her ice cream cone that’s topped with pickle. Made me laugh when I really needed it. Still does.

Or this one.

IMG_5586 One of our favorite holiday movies captured by Hallmark. It lights up and Linus tells us the Christmas story. Cheezy and I love it.

Another holiday classic.

IMG_5668Again cheesy cheese balls, but that’s what we’re all about. It lights up and talks too! Hey! Don’t judge.

I’m “FRA – Gee – Lay”!

Then there’s this one.

IMG_5654 A reminder of the year we became a family of four. Complete.

Among these special ornaments, we have your standard red and silver glass balls, red beads and other odds and ends. I may add some wide wired ribbon next year instead of the beads. They’re a little tired….yawn.

As for the rest of the house…

I dressed our console/family picture table that’s in our living room room a little this year. Those apothecary jars are such a great addition to any table. IMG_5708You can change them out for each season or holiday and I love that. For fall, I had it stuffed with acorns and gourds.

This year I made use of our Hydrangea blooms that dried in the fall. Check out my recent post for me more details.

Here’s the result. IMG_5606I also snagged some great after Christmas steals at Target last year like these mini-Spruce trees for around $1 each. IMG_5601

I added some glass ornaments that I also purchased after Christmas. (50 cents for a 20 pack - Woo hoo!)

And these stocking hangers for our mantle that spell out NOEL were quite the find for $6.IMG_5682

Our stockings are nothing to write home about, but somehow still hold little goodies for all on Christmas morning. I’m working on finding a hot deal online after Christmas this year.

We also have some fun holiday traditions that are just for the kids. Ok. Ok….we love them too.

Here’s our treat plate that we leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve. It was a really sweet gift from my mother-in-law a few years ago. And Santa (aka, my hubby) truly enjoys what’s left for him each year. IMG_5700

Also pictured, a few copies of The Night Before Christmas, that we read on Christmas Eve before putting the kids to bed.

Finally, we have the Elf on the Shelf tradition started by our Auntie Debbie last year. Oh what fun it is to keep the kiddos in line with a little stuffed elf watching over them. Ha! IMG_5677

Actually my husband has the most fun with this one. He hangs the elf from all kinds of places each morning and waits to see the kids’ reactions. We’re so mean!

Oh and we do have some great outdoor decorations too…but it was like 10 degrees here the day I was taking pictures and you’ll have to just believe that its great….fabulous….perfect. (NOT!)

Well, there you have it. My holiday home. Simple, quirky and never ever perfect. Just the way it should be!

Happy Holidays!

I’m linking this post to the wonderful Christmas Tour of Homes at The Nesting Place. Head on over and get some inspiration for the season!

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester

Also, check out the Tree Party at Thrifty Decor Chick!


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Dressing Up the Christmas Mantle

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Using What You Already Have


This fall, I decided to collect what was left of our Hydrangea blooms. They had dried so nicely in past years and I thought it was a shame to waste them in back yard over the winter months.IMG_4900

So I clipped them and tossed them in the garage. They stayed there for quite a while until my husband questioned me about them.

What to do…what to do???

Aha! Enter spray paint, stage left.

First I tried using up some old brushed nickel Rustoleum that I already had from another project. Good as a base coat, but a little too dull for Christmas. I ended having to buy a shiny metallic silver spray paint to get the look I wanted.

While the paint was still wet, I sprinkled each bloom with glitter. This glitter didn’t give me too much added sparkle, but it did add a snow-like texture. Good enough.IMG_5614

I already had a candle set on my mantle so I bought a rectangular piece of floral foam and placed it behind the candles. Then, I took the blooms and randomly inserted them into the foam to fill the gaps between the candles.

For an added splash of color, I used some inexpensive holiday picks that I bought at Michaels. IMG_5694

Total cost: around $5 for the foam, paint and picks. I used a 1/2 off coupon and they were having a great sale at Michaels on Christmas materials. Woo hoo!


Not too shabby for a little holiday mantle spruce up. Hope you enjoyed it! Happy Holidays!

I’m linking this little project up to Kimba’s DIY Day on A Soft Place to Land on Tuesday. Check her out!

Also, check out the Trash to Treasure party at Reinvented!

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