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Archive for December, 2011

Chunky Vegetable Soup

When I was little, you could not have paid me enough to eat a bunch of vegetables.  It is amazing what a little age will do for you.  Now, I actually crave a good hot vegetable soup and am always on the lookout for a new one to try.  I found this recipe on Pinterest and used it as my starting point.  The only reason I changed a few things was because I didn’t have the ingredients on hand, so I improvised and it turned out really good if I do say so myself.  I ended up making it twice in the same week that I tried it because I wanted to share it with both sides of our families.  Everyone seemed to really like it so it will definitely go in my cold weather rotation.

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1/4 tsp. minced garlic

2 stalks of celery, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

1 Bay leaf

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

2 x cans of chopped tomatoes (14oz)

1 1/2 litres vegetable broth

1 cup of pasta (your choice)

In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the oil, onion, carrots, celery, minced garlic, salt, and pepper.  Cook just until the vegetables are soft.  Add the tomatoes, broth and bay leaf. Simmer for 15 minutes then add the pasta.  Cook for another 8-10 minutes and enjoy!  This is great with cornbread, by the way.  Serves 4 to 6.

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Join me and other book-obsessed bloggers today at Book Beginnings hosted by A Few More Pages.  Here is the premise:  grab the book you are reading (or have read or want to read) and write down the first few lines.  Then describe how those lines make you feel…do you immediately want to read more or do they make you stop and think?

I am in the middle of reading the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling for the first time and even though they are "young adult" fiction, I have really enjoyed them so far.  These lines are from the third book "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban":

"Harry Potter was a highly unusual boy in many ways.  For one thing, he hated the summer holidays more than any other time of year.  For another, he really wanted to do his homework but was forced to do it in secret, in the dead of night.  And he also happened to be a wizard."

Ms. Rowling knows how to start a book.  Each one of the three that I have read so far grab the reader from the very beginning and it doesn’t let go until the end.  I think these lines make you wonder what kind of boy doesn’t like summer vacation and actually wants to do homework, certainly not a “normal” boy.

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One of my favorite holiday side dishes is dressing.  Now, I am not talking about stuffing because since I am incredibly allergic to poultry, I never touch a turkey and, really, there is just something about the thought of stuffing these ingredients inside the bird’s…well, you get the picture. It’s just not appetizing to me!  This is classic Southern style DRESSING which I found on the awesome website allrecipes.com.  I don’t know how many times I have been looking for a certain recipe and found it there.  It is a great resource.

1 batch of homemade cornbread, prepared and crumbled

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 small onion

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups beef stock

2 tablespoons dried sage

salt and pepper to taste

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one 9×13 inch baking dish. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the celery and onion until soft.

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In a large bowl, combine the celery, onions, 3 cups crumbled corn bread, eggs, chicken stock, sage and salt and pepper to taste; mix well.

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Place into prepared dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

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Here is a photo of the Thanksgiving table at my nanny’s house. Everything was so good!
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Please join me at Miz Helen’s Country Cottage for today’s edition of Full Plate Thursday.

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Let me start this rather personal post by saying that I am no Scrooge, but sometimes I get so overwhelmed this time of year by everything that is happening around me that I almost can’t stand it.  It hasn’t always been this way, but since my mom passed away a year and a half ago, the holidays just aren’t the same.

For those that don’t know, my mom was my closest female friend in the world, so not only did I lose my mom, I lost my best friend.  Mom and I loved Thanksgiving and Christmas and loved planning things together.  We would trade gift lists and go shopping at least once or twice.  She and I planned the menu and decorated together.  To say the least, there is now a big hole in my holiday cheer.

I have had to make myself get in the “spirit” both last year and this year and my husband has helped with that a lot.  If it weren’t for him, I would probably just hide in our house from the middle of November until the first of January to escape it all. 

Now, to look at me, you wouldn’t think this.  Our tree has been up since the last of November.  The gifts are wrapped and the Christmas cards have been mailed.  We have already had one big Christmas gathering and have a couple more to attend, but there are days that my heart just isn’t in it. 

Sorry for this downer post, but I just had to get it out.  I love and worship the “reason for the season”, but sometimes “The Holidays” are more than I can deal with.  Thankfully, the Son and the Father get me through this today and everyday.  Even when I am sad and missing my mom so much it hurts, I know she is in a better place and, one day, (hopefully many many many years from now) we will be together again!

Merry Christmas to all of my wonderful readers and blog friends!  I hope you and your family are blessed beyond measure!

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Slow Cooker Maple Ham

For the last couple of years, I have made the ham for C’s family’s big holiday meals.  I usually go with my citrus crock pot ham because it is quick and easy, but I tried something a little different this time and it was so good.  As usual here lately, I found this recipe on Pinterest and it was posted from the blog, Beyer Beware.  It, too, is a quick and easy recipe and the maple syrup gives it a little extra kick.  This is definitely a keeper.

1 spiral sliced ham (Mine was a little too big for my slow cooker so I had to slice it off the bone to fit.)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup real maple syrup

8oz can crushed pineapple

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Real maple syrup is usually expensive, but I have a supplier.  C’s cousin began making maple syrup last year on his farm here in good ol’ South Central Kentucky and it is so good!! I had just enough left over for this ham.

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Since I sliced the ham off the bone, I cooked this in layers.  Put half of the ham in the slow cooker then sprinkle with 1/2 of the brown sugar.  Pour half of the syrup and pineapple over that and repeat.  Cook on low for 4-6 hours or until heated through.

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Please join me at Miz Helen’s Country Cottage for Full Plate Thursday where there is sure to be some delicious food just for you!

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Book Beginnings

Welcome to this week’s post about one of my favorite topics…books!  Every other Friday, I link up to the blog A Few More Pages which hosts the link party called Book Beginnings.  There I, and many other blog writers, share the first line of a book we are reading and our thoughts about it.

This week, I am writing about the second Harry Potter book called “Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets”.  Here are the first two sentences:

“Not for the first time, an argument had broken out over breakfast at number four, Privet Drive.  Mr. Vernon Dursley had been woken in the early hours of the morning by a loud, hooting noise from his nephew Harry’s room.”

Poor Harry!  Forced to stay with his non-magical family members who don’t understand him, he has to defend himself and his owl to them time after time.  Don’t worry though, everything starts to work out for him in just a short time.  I know these books are for kids, but I am enjoying them very much. The writing is crisp and descriptive so the pages just seem to turn themselves.

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December in Kentucky…

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Monday Greetings

Good Monday morning!  I just wanted to let you know that I am taking a short break from menu posting, but I will be back with gusto after the holidays!

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Today I am joining up with other food bloggers to participate in the International Food Blogger Cookie Exchange hosted by Lori over Fake Food Free who happens to be a fellow Kentucky food blogger.  Everyone that is taking part had to email a favorite holiday cookie or candy recipe to another blogger.  Then that blogger has to make the treat and post about it on their site.  I received a recipe from Joanne at Eats Well With Others and this is the link for the original recipe.

Now, I am going to be totally honest with all of you…I am not a big pumpkin fan so when I received this recipe, I was a little hesitant.  I had no reason to be though.  These little cookies don’t scream “pumpkin” when you take a bite; they are just soft sweet little cookie pillows.  The texture was amazing and the brown sugar glaze finished them off perfectly.  Delicious!!!

Note: The only change that I made from the original was the kind of nuts I used.  Joanne used hazelnuts, but I didn’t have any so I used toasted pecans instead.  Other than that, I followed her original recipe.

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tbsp. milk

3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, cream butter and combine with sugar on high speed for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Add egg, pumpkins, and vanilla.  Beat well.

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Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Combine flour mixture with the butter/sugar/pumpkin mixture until just combined.  Stir in nuts. 

Drop batter in heaping tbsps. onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. (I used a small cookie scoop.) Bake for 10-15 minutes (mine took about 14) or until just starting to get a bit brown around the edges.

Before:

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After:

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Cool on a wire rack.  While the cookies are cooling, make the frosting.  In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, milk, and butter over low heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the brown sugar is dissolved.

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Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and confectioner’s sugar, whisking until no lumps are present.  Ice the cookies with the frosting.

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C & I built our house about 6 years ago and it has a basement and two floors.  We knew we weren’t going to finish the basement as we were building, but had (and still have) grand plans for it in the near future.  The first floor is finished, but I hesitate to say that because there are always little things that I would like to do to it, but this is the space we live in everyday.

The upstairs is in between these two levels.  It is “finished”, but not completely furnished and decorated yet.  That is slowly changing though.  Late last summer, I got a burst of creativity and decided it was time to paint.  Builder’s beige, be gone!  One bedroom is now Lettuce green, the other is Mythical purple (my fave), and the bathroom is Cucumber green all by Sherwin-Williams Duration Home.  We left the hall Aesthetic white which was the original color because is goes down into the foyer which is also that color.

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I got busy last fall and during the holiday season, so I didn’t get much done during that time.  Ok, I got nothing done during that time.  Winter was going to be my work time, but a little car accident got in the way of that, too.  Well, enough is enough.  It is time for this to be complete so we can start on the basement.  I had a look in my head that I wanted for the bedrooms, especially the purple one.  It all starts with a silver metal bed, but they are sooo expensive.  The good Lord was looking out for me because my wonderful MIL, J, said that I could have the metal bed she used as a child and paint it any color I wanted.  Oh. My. Goodness. 

So that’s where this how-to post begins.  Here is the bed before I did anything to it:

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I sanded it and then scrubbed it down with dishwashing liquid and warm water.  Next, I sprayed 2 coats of metal primer on it and let it dry thoroughly.  Then I got to the fun part: Krylon Brushed Metallic Satin Nickel spray paint.  It turned out just like I wanted it to!

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Next stop: more furniture!

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