My 100th Post and a Farewell to 2010

It seems fitting that my 100th post is closing the year of 2010.  This year was very interesting.
2010 showed me what panic is, what fear is, and what loss is.  It offered a new perspective for me concerning what I want from the relationships I have and made me face the harsh realities those conclusions brought.
But even with all of that, I still serve an amazing God.  There were days that I could not have gotten out of bed had it not been for His putting my feet on the floor.  He usually did this with a phone call from a sister or the sweet face of one of my children staring at me. 
I don't know that I have ever shed so many tears in one year or if I have ever known the fear that I tasted this past October and November and the panic I feel now whenever my child gets a headache or has eye pain.  Every feeling, but the love I have for my God, pales in comparison to it.
A couple of you know what it is to hear that your child is desperately ill, and they can't seem to figure out why.  You know what it is like to watch that child suffer in ways that most adults won't ever know.  You know how it is to see your child writhe in agony, and nothing you do can help them.  Then the doctors tell you he has one of three things, none of them good, two are life threatening, and the other could saddle him with a lifelong disability that could come with dangerous surgeries.
That was the end of 2010, but it took over the whole year. 
So, all I have to say to the year 2010 is this: You really, really sucked. I am glad you are over.
May the next year serve everyone a lot better.

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Chicken Chimichangas - A Deep Fried Piece of Heaven

Here is what I had for dinner this evening.  I am making no claims that these are healthy or fat free.  I am asserting that they are OH SO GOOD and will completely ruin a diet.  You could probably cut the cheese in half and bake them - but why would you when they are so good this way?

Chicken Chimichangas
2 pound of cooked chicken breasts, shredded or chopped
2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup of cilantro, chopped coarsely
10 ounces of frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
1 6 ounce can of tomato paste
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can of whole kernel corn, drained
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
2 jalepeno peppers, seeded and minced (optional)
1 1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of pepper
1 tablespoon of cumin
20 Fajita sized Flour Tortillas
Oil for Frying
1 egg

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Warm the tortillas, 5 at a time, in the microwave, until soft and pliable but not to hot to handle - about 20 seconds depending on your microwave.

Fill tortillas with a heaping spoonful of mix - somewhere around a third of a cup.  Roll up, folding the sides up a little around the filling, then the bottom part over the sides and tightly rolling until almost completely rolled up.  Brush the inside edge of the tortilla with the egg, and finish rolling up.  Place seam side down on a plate until you have rolled up all of your tortillas.  If you have extra filling, it will freeze beautifully! 

Pour enough oil into a large, heavy skillet so you have about an inch of oil in the pan.  Wait until the oil is hot.  When the oil is hot, and a piece of bread will sizzle in it, gently place the tortillas, started with the ones you wrapped first, into the hot oil.  Remember, the filling is cooked already so when the tortilla is browned to your liking, take it out of the oil and drain on a plate with paper towels.  Continue cooking until all of them are finished.

You can freeze these before or after they are cooked.  When reheating, do not thaw.  Just put them in the oven until done, you may have to flip them.

Avocado Ranch Dipping sauce
1/2 an avocado, chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
1 cup ranch Dressing
pinch of salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together.  Eat with your chimichangas.
It is so so good!

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Only for People Who Want to Die Happy

This is probably the most fattening but tastiest chicken soup in the world.  I have looked high and low so I could tell you where the basic recipe came from, but I could not find the source.  This is my own take on it anyway!
Don't eat this if you are on a diet, watching your cholesterol, or just don't want to die happy.

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

2 chicken breasts, boiled, deskined, deboned, and shredded.  Reserve broth.
4 to 6 cups of reserved chicken broth
1 can of condensed chicken noodle soup
1 box of long grain and wild rice with seasoning packet
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 pint of heavy cream
4 ounces of cream cheese

Bring 4 cups of broth, chicken and and chicken soup to a boil.  Add rice and seasoning packet.  Simmer until rice is mostly tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Add cream of chicken soup.  Stir until soup is mixed thoroughly.  Continue simmering until rice is fully cooked.  Add cream cheese, stir until it is mixed into the soup.  Add the heavy cream.  Bring back to a simmer.  If the soup is too thick, add more broth.

To freeze this soup, cook the chicken, chicken noodle soup, and rice together until the rice is about halfway done.  Freeze the soup base at this point.  Then to prepare, simply thaw and continue cooking per the regular instructions.

You can add shredded or diced carrots to this as well.  It is very, very tasty.
Serve with cresent rolls, yeast biscuits, or crackers.


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No Eating Out Month (January)!

Thirty one days of no eating out. No McDonalds, no Burger King, no Dominos, no Chilis, no food purchased in a restaraunt shall be paid for out of my wallet!
This is going to be very difficult for me.  Even when I have a freezer full of food and a well stocked pantry; after a day of four rambunctious kids, homeschooling, helping to run our HVAC business, and the dog; I am TIRED.  Oh and then there is the clean up afterwards.  Needless to say, cooking is not very high on the list of things I want to do at the end of the day.
Couple all of that with the fact that I generally plan and buy for some of the most ridiculously elaborate things, it is no wonder I can't put a hot dog on a paper plate when 5:30 rolls around.
But there is something magical about January.  You can finally close the door on the year and make all sorts of plans for the clean slate you now have called the new year.
So, for January, I will avoid all eateries like the plague.  I will, however, accept all dinner invitations! 
In order to make this work, I will need to publicly announce this.  I need the threat of suffering the humiliation of failure to make me behave.  I will also need my husband's full cooperation.  I am sure I can accomplish this by simply telling him that we can pay his van insurance for the year with the money we will save.  But, mostly I will need to plan. I need to plan for plan A and also have lots of plan B's!
I know for the children's lunches I will need quick and easy things.  It is difficult for me to feed four kids while simultaneously trying to stay sane!  For suppers, I need crock pot foods and things that don't require a lot of prep time.  Pork roast with red pepper aioli is really good, but is probably not the most practical thing for me to make, so I need to make sure that while I have this type of thing as an option should I feel like an adventurous night in the kitchen, I have some nice easy meal ideas as well.
Wish me luck!


PS.  In the interest of full disclosure, I do have a date night scheduled at OutBack. I got a $25 gift card in a rousing game of dirty Santa, so if I don't get to use that before the end of the year, we will be redeeming in January.  But that, short of an emergency, will be my only exception. 

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Biscuits with a Little Intervention....

I was in the kitchen the other day, trying to quickly throw something together for dinner.  Well, I decided that the good old "breakfast for supper" routine was going to be the best thing. 
I preheated the oven to 450, intending on baking some biscuits, which I had big plans on using for some good ole biscuits and sausage gravy.
The joke was on me however, when I got down the ice cream bucket that contains the flour.  There wasn't near enough to make the huge pan of biscuits it takes to feed my family of seven!  I put the flour I did have, about 2 and 1/2 cups, in the mixing bowl, hoping that it would be like when Elijah went to the widow's house in Zarephath and the barrel of meal always had some left.
My bucket emptied out verrryy quickly, and when it was gone, it was gone!
I put a couple of tablespoons of shortening in there and turned on the mixer.  Then I went hunting through the pantry for something that I could use to stretch that mix!  The answer came to me as soon as the cabinet door was opened.  Pancake mix.
I used about 1 1/2 cups of pancake mix, added a bit more shortening and then added the milk I needed to make a soft biscuit dough.  I did not add my usual bit of sugar, as I figured the pancake mix already had some in it.
It worked out supremely well!  I was really impressed.  If I had not added the pancake mix in there myself, I would have never have known it was there. 
They were especially good smothered in the white gravy I made!
Here is how I make yummy white sausage gravy!

Sausage Gravy

3 Tbsp of shortening or drippings from bacon or sausage
3 Tbsp of flour
3 to 4 Cups of Milk
Salt and pepper
1 pound of cooked crumbled sausage

Melt the shortening in a heavy skillet and add flour.  Stir it around for about a minute or so, until it is hot and bubbly.  It needs to be about the consistency of very thick cake batter, so adjust the shortening or flour as you need to. 
Slowly, while stirring constantly, add about a cup or so of the milk.  It should thicken up pretty quickly, as it starts to get thick, add another cup of the milk, again, while stirring constantly.  Continue until you have added at least 3 cups of milk.  When it is thick and bubbly, add salt and pepper.  Taste, if it is bland, add more salt and pepper.  It always takes more than I think it will!  Just taste it as you go along and stop when it is good!  If the gravy is too thick, add more milk.  If it is too thin, remember it will thicken as it stands.  If it is runny like water, you will need to simmer it while stirring almost constantly until it thickens up.  This could take a while.  Another option you have is too mix a tablespoon of water with a tablespoon of flour - in a separate container - until it is very smooth, and then adding that to your cooking gravy.  DO NOT add more flour into the gravy without mixing it with water or milk first, you are asking for lumpy gravy otherwise!

After you have the gravy perfect, add your cooked sausage. We like a lot in ours so we use a full pound.  Use what you have or what you like!

Merry Christmas and may all your biscuits turn out light and your gravies smooth!


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A Wonderful Recipe to Celebrate!

Ok, so my child has been remarkably symptom free for a little over a week now.  The lumbar puncture he had this past week showed good results.  The medication he is on is really working very well!  I am grateful for this, yet at the same time, grieving the fact he has to be on medication or he could get sick again.  I hope I can have my medication free child back someday! 

I figured all the good news deserved a GREAT recipe.  This is what I will be taking to my sister's christmas party this Saturday. This is seriously just as good, if not better, than what the restaraunts serve!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

10 to 12 ounces of spinach - if using frozen, thaw and drain well.
1 can of artichokes hearts, chopped
1 8 ounce package of cream cheese
1 jar of alfredo sauce
2 cups of mozzerella, divided
1 cup shredded parmesan, divided
1/2 tsp pepper (use more or less to suit you)

Preheat oven to 350.  Put spinach in microwave with a teaspoon of water until wilted, about a minute then drain off water.  Put in a bowl and add chopped artichokes hearts.  In a small bowl, heat cream cheese in microwave until soft and smooth, about 2 minutes, stirring halfway.  Put in bowl with spinach.  Pour in jar of alfredo sauce.  Mix in a cup of mozzerella cheese and 2/3 cup of parmesan.  Stir everything until mixed completely.
Pour into an 8x8 casserole or the large oval from pampered chef.  Top with remaining cheeses.
Bake until bubbly and cheese is just starting to have the little brown spots on top.  About 25 minutes. 

This is really good with chips or you can add cooked penne rigate or linguine for a nice meal!

Merry Christmas!


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