Apr 24, 2017

Rainy Day Sausage Cornbread Casserole

It rained, and rained, and rained, and rained yesterday. For the millionth day in a row.  My friend, Whitney said it was a weekend suited only for reading and roasting chickens.

I was thinking cornbread and collards, myself.  And finishing up S-Town.

I saw my friend Channa at the grocery store yesterday, and got the giggles when we both proudly grabbed ham hocks out of our buggies.  She was making Slow Slow Chicken and lady peas (Whitney wasn't the only one on the last chicken train).

Mine was for this big old pot of collards.  Excuse the blurry picture.  The steam fogged my camera right up.  I used Paula Deen's recipe this time (I switch up my collard technique depending on my mood). They were mighty tasty.



Especially when paired with Sausage Cornbread Casserole.  

This comes from a Southern Living Cookbook- Fix It & Freeze It/Heat It & Eat It.  

We'd rummaged in the fridge for lunch, so I wanted something a bit more substantial for dinner.  So I added an extra pound of bulk sausage. Oops.

This took it from a bread with sausage and black eyed peas in it to a sausage and black eyed pea casserole held together with cornbread.  Morgan compared it to eating a slice of sausage ball.  He was not wrong.  Nor is eating a big old piece of sausage ball.  It's a delicious way to balance out all those antioxidants and fiber from the collard greens.

Sausage and Cornbread Casserole

Ingredients:
2 lbs mild bulk sausage
1 medium onion
1 cup white cornmeal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 (15 oz) can black-eyed peas, drained
2 cups shredded cheddar (You can even use pre-shredded here)
3/4 cup cream-style corn
1( 4 oz can) chopped green chiles, drained

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Brown sausage and onion in large skillet over medium heat until sausage is no longer pink, stirring the sausage into crumbles.  Drain.

2.  Combine cornmeal, flour, salt and baking soda.  In a separate bowl, stir together eggs, buttermilk, and oil until combined.  Add to dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened (it will be lumpy).  Add sausage mixture, peas, and remaining ingredients to batter stirring well.

3.  Pour into a greased 13x9 baking dish.  OR 2 8x8's.  I like to stick one in the freezer after baking it.  Always good to have an extra supper on hand!

4.  Bake at 350 for about an hour (mine went over for about 10 minutes), until golden and set.

To cook from frozen- Bake at 350 for 1 hour, covered.  Uncover and cook and additional 10 minutes.

Now I'm going to have a leftover slice for breakfast, cuddle my fussing baby, and draft some contracts for work.  However, when I see you in the grocery store making a good blog recipe, and you ask for more, I can't help but squeeze in some room for blogging!


Mar 6, 2017

Cheer You Up Chicken

I have been meaning to share this delicious roast chicken with y'all for ages.  The night I made it was when Buddy ripped open his leg- in fact, I noticed he was MIA when I was putting away the chicken.  I was trying to save him from eating a bunch of chicken bones, and necessitating a trip to the Animal ER.  Didn't quite work out that way, but it wasn't the chicken's fault at least.

This recipe is from the always wonderful Melissa Clark.  It's a roasted chicken baked on slightly stale ciabatta bread slices.  Morgan and I stood over the pan like vultures eating the crispy slices of bread, laden with chicken pan drippings.  Nothing like some carbohydrates and a roast chicken to relive stress!


Garlic and Thyme-Roasted Chicken with Crispy Dripping Croutons.

Ingredients:
country bread or ciabatta, preferably stales, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 T. extra virgin olive oil, more if needed
2 t. kosher salt, more if needed
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper, more if needed
1 (4-5 lb) chicken, patted dry
1 garlic head, sliced in half through the cloves
1 bay leaf
1/2 lemon
1/2 bunch thyme sprigs

1.  Preheat oven to 425.  Lay the bread slices in the bottom of a heavy duty roasting pan in one layer.  Drizzle liberally with olive oil and salt

2. Rub 1 t. salt and 1/4 t. pepper inside the cavity of the chicken.  Stuff the cavity with garlic, bay leaf, lemon, and thyme.  Rub outside with a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper.  Place it, breast side up, on the bread.  Tuck the bread in and around the chicken as much as you  can to keep the bread from burning.

3.  Roast the chicken until its deeply browned and the thigh juices run clear with pricked with a knife, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Let it rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Serve the chicken with pieces of bread from the pan (or just eat them straight out of the pan!).

I roasted a pan of asparagus in the same oven for the last 25 minutes of the chicken's cook time to go alongside.

Perfect dinner that baked while I bathed the children.  Between this and Nathalie Dupree's Slow Slow Chicken, we might have a roasted chicken every day-wholesome comfort food at its best!






Feb 23, 2017

Thoughts For Thursday

Happiness is back.

How could it not be- look at this baby!  And his toes!!

 And a little swimmer sporting some goggles.


 Little girls who have excellent presidential aspirations.


Lenten Roses in Bloom

 Babies in cardigans.


Climbing trees on a sunny day.

Getting together with old friends, and getting all of your kids together.


But then getting to have adult lady time, as well.


 Taking your kids to a Wednesday afternoon movie (Lego Batman), and drinking a large Diet Coke and having popcorn, after the baby had a terrible night.

 Also, little kids in 3D glasses.
 Also, when we got back in the car, we got so tickled.  I went to put on my sunglasses, and all I had was my 3D glasses.  I recycled my sunglasses instead of the disposable 3D glasses!  Just when I think I have it all together, taking all three children to a movie solo.  That's why I only wear cheap sunglasses.  Know thyself!

Finally, Buddy is out of his cone!  I'm so glad we no longer have to snuggle like this!  And my poor legs are covered in bruises from being rammed with the cone.

Feb 14, 2017

The Mean Reds

I was feeling like this before Buddy's accident- a case of the Feburaries.  Then my puppy's injury added a whole new layer of stress and upset.

It's just the dumps. The doldrums.  Nothing major but, I feel like a hamster on my wheel- working and working but never getting done.  Before I can check something off my list, my phone rings, or my e-mail dings and something is added to the list.

Then my childcare for next year became all messed up.  Normally I love straddling the line between staying at home and working.  I make my life more difficult sometimes to accommodate both types of motherhood.  Most the time it works wonderfully, and I am so thankful.  When it doesn't?  We all know who gets the short-shrift.

Okay, the whining portion of this program is over (PRAISE THE LORD! I know!).  I washed my favorite set of sheets last night, and ironed my pillowcase.  I made my bed perfectly (at ten o'clock at night, mind you).  I cozied up to my book, cup of tea, and resolved to shake off this fugue.


And it helped!  I'm not back to normal levels of cheer, but I am roaring through my to-do list, answering e-mails, and getting it done.  One thing and one day at a time, right ladies?

So I'm turning the mean reds into lovey reds.

How can I not- just check out Deedsy Crockett, king of the wild driveway!

 Tommy wore church clothes to church for the first time.


 This book- it might be making me sad, actually.  I still can't believe he's gone.

We went to a fancy black-tie party Friday night.  Deeds said "Oh mama!  You soo sparkly!" And buried his face into my sequined dress.

I forgot to take any pictures at the actual dance, but at least these were taken at dinner beforehand.

 Dell Harper had her first dance Sunday night.  Look at this father daughter combo!  My heart is a big ole puddle right now.

 Also reducing me to a drippy mess?  This one!  I could just cuddle him all day long.  Probably why I can't get anything done!

So on this Valentine's Day, I will turn off the political news that makes my heart so unsettled.  I will work determinedly and persistently  through my tasks.  I will do my housework with a happy heart! Or at least a semi-happy heart.

Most of all I will be grateful for boys in coonskin caps.  For daughters thrilled to go to a dance with her daddy.  For baby smiles.

Even ones in the middle of the night ;)

Feb 8, 2017

Bud-date

An update on my furball!


He is doing well!  Not loving the cone, but that's normal.  He is now putting weight on his leg.  Honestly, I'm trying to keep him doped up on the pain meds, so he won't be attempting to run around.

He's in the cone for another week or so until his stitches are removed.  As long as we keep him calm and stitched up, I think the risk for amputation is low.

Thank you so much for all the kind words- we found the culprit.  A big ceramic planter near the back steps was knocked over last week.  I didn't realize it at the time, but a piece broke off, leaving a jagged edge.  Poor Buddy ripped up his leg on that, we think.

Feb 2, 2017

Prayers for Our Furry Friend

I'm scrapping my Five on Friday post, as my furry friend and devoted dog is in the hospital.

Yesterday early evening I noticed that Buddy must still be outside.  In the flurry of bathing kids and readying dinner, I realized he'd been out for about an hour, which isn't terribly unusual.  However, he can hear the oven open from a mile away, and he hadn't been barking at the door.

I called for him out front, then looked in the backyard.  I was beginning to worry, thinking he'd busted out of his invisible fence.   But no, he was just laying there in the back yard, a few front from the back porch.  I called to him again, and he just stared at me.  Then I really became concerned.


Running to his side, I saw a huge gash on his leg.  It was about two inches deep- muscle and bone were visible, and ran the length of his leg from below his knee to his haunch.  Luckily I had left the back door open, so Dell Harper heard me when I screamed for her.  I told her to go inside and grab my phone and bring it to me, as calmly yet urgently as I could.  She did as I bade, thankfully, and went back up to the house to occupy Deeds with a show, a keep an eye on Tommy in his bouncy chair.  My big girl was such a helper and big sister.  It about near sent me over the edge when she came back down to give Bud a picture she had drawn of then two of them to make him feel better.

I called our vet, who is also one of my best friends.  She got the details, and headed my way.  Morgan was my next call- luckily he was almost home from work.  As he readied the back of my car, Tinsley and I carried Buddy up to the garage.  Morgan took him straight to the animal ER.

I thought perhaps an animal had attacked him, but they were no puncture marks, and it was an incredibly clean, deep gash.  Tinsley and I did a cursory check of the porch and area around the playset but didn't see anything sharp or bloody.

As I type this (Thursday night), we are waiting on x-rays and Buddy to be stitched up.  Please keep him in your prayers.  I am just distraught, as well as baffled as to how this happened.  It's so strange.


So I'm chucking the book review and recipe I had planned, as all I can think of is my sweet boy.  Please pray for him, and give your own furry friends some extra love this morning.

Thoughts on Thursday


  • my to do list looks like a maze right now.  There's too many arrows, bullet points, and priorities.  It's frightening me.



  •  


Fun activity alert!  The kids had a great time making these Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cookies the other afternoon.  So easy and fun!

  • I lost it with my kids Tuesday afternoon.  I normally have a pretty unlimited supply of patience, but a combination of exhaustion (me) and non-stop whining and messing with each other (DH and Deeds) pushed me over the edge.   And the talking!  Nonstop!





  •  HA!!!  Eating out should not be as difficult as it is!



 Don't worry- this is not vague-blogging.  I don't feel broken right now, but I  love this for this low times.

On a postive note- the weather yesterday was beautiful!  We started out the morning with swimming at the indoor pool and swim lessons, then ended with playground time before jazz and church supper.



Hurrah for sunny days!!







Feb 1, 2017

Soup and Salad: Healthy Lunches for the Week

Happily,  I can eat pretty much the same thing for lunch every day of the week without complaint.  

Well, that is as long as that same thing is delicious and to my liking.

As I have stated several times, I am dreadful failure at dieting.  I see all these people doing Whole30, and I feel inspired, I truly do.  

Then I think about it for about 20 seconds and feel a terrible sadness washing over me.  A life without cheese and milk and cookies and my daily Diet Coke just sounds awful.  I will just keep these ten pounds of baby weight for now, thank you very much.

Anyway, super restrictive and effective diets/resets/detoxes aside, I do enjoy eating my "5-7 Diet".  I'm able to stay at my happy weight while eating what I want, as long as I get five to seven servings of fruit and vegetables a day.  

This lunch combo knocks out 3-4 just at lunch.  Both recipes are adapted from Ellie Kreiger's "The Food You Crave".  

I love a good veggie packed soup, and I upped the vegetable quantities in this one. 



Beef and Mushroom Barley Soup:

4 teaspoons olive oil
3/4 lbs beef stew meat cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly ground pepper
1 large yellow onion, diced
16 ounces button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
3 medium carrots, diced
head of celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
8 cups low sodium beef broth
1 14.5 ounce can of no salt added diced tomatoes with its juice
1/2 cup hulled or pearled barley
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

  • in a large soup pot, heat two teaspoons of oil over medium high heat.  Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper and add to the pot, growing on all sides (about 5 minutes total).  Transfer the meat to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
  • Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil to the pot. (I left the beef drippings in there for extra flavor)  Add the onion and mushrooms and cook over medium high heat, stirring until softened (about five minutes).
  • Add the carrots, celery and garlic and cook another five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the broth, tomatoes, browned meat, barley and thyme and bring to boil.
  • Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until meat is tender and barley is cooked- about an hour.
Season with salt and pepper.  I froze half of this, and ate lunches with the other half all week long.  It's a great mix of satisfying without being too heavy.  Its smells absolutely divine as well.


 Now for salad.  I generally don't like to eat salad made at home.  I don't know why, it just never speaks to me.  Plus I am not particularly wild about lettuce salads during the winter months, especially for lunch.

But a composed salad?  That I can always get behind.  This one is also a great way to use up leftover roast chicken.



Saffron Chicken, Lemon and Green Bean Salad

1 lemon (well scrubbed or unwaxed)
2 teaspoons of salt
pinch of saffron threads
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup good olive oil
3-4 cups cooked chicken cut up
1 lbs of fresh green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon honey


  • Prick the lemon in 3-4 places with a fork and place in a small saucepan with 1 teaspoon of the salt and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the lemon is very tender, about an hour.  Drain and set aside to cool.
  • Meanwhile mix saffron, mint, garlic, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of oil and a teaspoon of salt in a small bowl.  Pour into a large Ziploc and add your chicken.
  • Steam the green beans for 4 minutes.  After they cool, cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Slice the ends of the lemon and slice it in half again length-wise.  Scoop out the pulp and toss it.  Slice the peel thinly and then again into 1/4 inch pieces.
  • In a large bowl, combine the chicken, lemon, green beans and thyme. 
  •  In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons lemon juice and the honey, then whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper. 
  • pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
This is so fresh and tasty.  It make the most of ingredients that are readily available in the winter, and is far more filling than a plate of lettuce.

Now, I must admit- both of theses recipes take a bit longer than making a sandwich.  However, taking an hour of active prep Sunday night gives you delicious lunches all week (and some soup for your freezer).  Plus, they are so yummy that I'm not tempted to run out and pick up something.  And, I'm getting my veggie on- something I need to actively pursue these days.  For some reason when nursing an infant, I just want to get my sweet tooth on instead. . . 

Jan 27, 2017

FIVE on Friday!

DELL HARPER IS FIVE TODAY.



I can't believe it. I didn't think I would mind five.  I was wrong.

It started with getting our last Dolly Parton book earlier this month- "Ready for Kindergarten" and a goodbye letter from Dolly.

Then only one preschool registration form from her school.  Just Deeds'.

I always laughed at my friends who cried about 5 and kindergarten.
Karma is a bitch.


So- ONE.

 TWO.


 THREE.




FOUR.






AND FIVE!!!



How we love this wild, brave and kind little girl.  She wants to be a dog groomer, scientist, paleontologist, cook, and artist when she grows up.  She likes dinosaurs, not dolls (yet plays "family" with her dinos).  Her loyalty and love of family and friends knows no bounds.

I'm so proud to call her my daughter. She inspires me and exasperates me daily.  When I asked why she was being so rambunctious yesterday, she replied "God just made me this way, Mama. It's who I am!"  And I wouldn't have her any other way!