Friday, October 31

My Paper Pumpkin Project

I recently found canned pumpkin on sale and bought more than I should've (I can't resist an overflowing cart, parked strategically by the entrance, with a huge red clearance sign).

I quickly found myself asking, "How many different ways can you incorporate pumpkin in a recipe? Pinterest would know!"

In case you're wondering, I frequently have conversations with myself on an array of subjects. It turns out, I'm quite the conversationalist!

As I said, I was swimming in a sea of canned goodness and frantically searching for a recipe other than bread or cookies (I never thought I would say those words). As I was scrolling, I came across the most adorable paper pumpkin project ("squirrel"). This is how people can spend 15.2 hours on Pinterest and not be able to feel their legs.

With a thrift store knitting book, glue gun, and a few sticks later...what do you think?

My opinion...they're delightful! My fingertips will never be the same (I'm a dunce with a glue gun) but they're delightful.

I challenge you to make a few for your Thanksgiving festivities (you can find the step-by-step here). The original instructions call for the use of book pages but I wanted a little pop of color. Let me know how it goes and watch that glue..."hot" is an understatement!

I'm still surrounded by pretty, shiny cans of pumpkin...rescue me. Please?

Wednesday, October 29

BOO Humbug!

Boo humbug, Halloween just isn't my thing!

There, I said it. Please don't egg my house or smash my pumpkins.

In my adulthood, I've tried to embrace it and I give myself an "A" for effort (I like to think of myself as an "I'll try anything, within reason" kind of girl). However, the dread of seeing grown men and women in inappropriate costumes overpowers the few adorable tinkerbells and teddy bears skipping down the street (the kids, not the grownups).

Being a parent is hard (but that's a whole other post). We try not to project our feelings onto our children but my disdain for the goblin and ghoul day is hard to hide.

Side note, when did it become a "holiday" anyway? The post office is open, banks are open, the courthouse is officially, it shouldn't be considered so.

I digress.

Here's my rambling point. Little Man is old enough to recognize he's actually wearing a costume. Last year, we were more concerned about the edible parts of his costume. He now refuses to wear anything on his head, he won't sit still long enough to have his face painted (or leave it without smudging), and most things he agrees to carry inevitably end up in my purse. You can see my dilemma.

Besides all that, why would I expose him to a crowd full of people with scary masks and bloody limbs? Are you getting where I'm going with this?

I recognize, as a society, we are moving in a direction of "fall harvests" and "pumpkin parties" rather than door-to-door candy begging but am I forcing a tradition on him I myself don't support for the fear of being labeled "the mom who doesn't participate"? Am I making him wear a costume I constructed just so when he's thirty he doesn't ask me what he was for Halloween and I look like a deer in headlights? (Super Hunk reassured me that grown men don't care about those things anyway but do I dare chance it?)

Anywho, I guess I'm wondering..."what's your opinion"? Do I sit this one out until he's old enough to decide on his own? Or do I Pinterest for hours on end, trying to find a last minute costume just so he can join the community's local fright night and beg for candy I most likely won't let him consume anyway?

The pressure...

If you're a Halloween lover, have fun and be safe. I'm going to my happy place, to think happy thoughts...I may or may not come out in time for October 31st.

Monday, October 27

Wonderful White Chili

Remember last week when I posted my excitement about the arrival of cool, crisp weather?

Mother Nature is now mocking me. I failed to knock on something made of wood. I walked under the proverbial weather ladder. I'm staying away from mirrors and heavy machinery.

We are now forecasted for 90 degree weather with November right around the heard me! The weatherman announced this morning we are officially warmer than Phoenix, Arizona. Holy cactus, Batman!

I recently read a friend's Facebook post proclaiming she plans to force the arrival of Fall by cooking nothing but soup. "If you build it, they will come."

Sign me up! A cause I fully support...I refuse to buy ANOTHER bottle of sunless tanning lotion!

This is our all-time-lick-the-bowl-guard-the-pot family favorite. Try'll thank me.

1/2 white onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded
2 cans (15 1/2 oz) great northern beans
14 1/2 oz chicken broth
1 can (8 oz) chopped green chiles
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin (this is an essential ingredient)
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Dash of cayenne pepper (more, if you're up for it)
1 (8 oz) container sour cream
1/2 cup whipping cream

Heat oil in pot and sauté onion over medium heat. Add chicken broth, beans, and green chiles.

Add chopped chicken and stir. (I used a rotisserie because we had an incident with a cow and her MIA calf so dinner was a little later than planned. Life is harried...or in this case, harry...the calf, not the chicken! Ha!)

Stir in spices and bring to a boil for about a minute.

Reduce heat to low and add sour cream. Stir to combine.

When sour cream is completely, well...creamed, stir in whipping cream. Sour cream, whipping cream, ice cream...happy, creamy me!

Let simmer for 20-25 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally. Serve with a special cracker (only special crackers are invited to this creamy party) and enjoy!

Caution: There is NEVER leftovers so if you want Round 2 the next day, take my advice and double (or triple) the recipe.
(Click here for your handy dandy printable.)

The Great Sweet Potato Harvest

The time has come. Our little sweet potato plantlings have matured and they've been growing for such a time as this.

In case you missed my original post, here is how the beds looked prior to harvest.

With eager hoes (that sounds like the start to an entirely different story), we dig! Honestly, Super Hunk did all the work, I did the photographing (my clicker finger got quite a workout...I burned 6.2 calories).

We clipped all the beautiful greens for salads...months of salads!
Little Man was designated as Digging Assistant. His duties consisted of inserting hands in dirt, throwing dirt, and wiping dirty hands on pajamas.

Boys will be boys...filthy, dirty his mis-matched pajamas!

As Super Hunk diligently dug, our pile of potatoes grew...and grew.

We have six beds FULL of plants and this one bed yielded 5 large potatoes...

...18 medium potatoes, and a handful of small potatoettes. You do the math...yikes!

I see a bazillion Super Hunky Tacos in our future!

Now, I "mustache" you a question (while you stare at my handsome hubby's black socks that I've grown to adore)...When can I bring you a few (potatoes, not black socks)?

Monday, October 20

Sweet Potato Hash

I want chickens!

Last weekend, I needed chickens! Chickens with eggs!

You heard me correctly, I had an egg-free house. Do you know how hard it is to prepare breakfast for two hungry guys without eggs? French toast...NO! Pancakes...NO! Casserole...NO!  Quiche...NO!

Seriously, a breakfast predicament!

With sweet potatoes coming out of my ears (that's a weird...and potentially painful...visual), Plan B (sans eggs) was born.

After one bite, I forgot about my lack of eggs? When Super Hunk inquired about seconds, I secretly winced...wondering if I could steal thirds.

3 cups diced sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons salted butter
1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 cups cooked breakfast sausage
1 can diced green chiles
Fresh chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

In large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add diced sweet potatoes and stir to coat. Cook for 7-10 minutes until potatoes begin to brown.

So pretty and Fall festive!
Add onion and bell pepper to potatoes and stir. Let cook for 1-2 minutes.

To mixture, add cooked sausage, green chiles, and spices. Stir and remain cooking until potatoes are tender.

When thoroughly cooked, reduce heat to low and add fresh parsley.

Fresh parsley is one advantage to STILL having warm weather, my garden is loving life!

Excuse me, there's a little boy begging for a taste.

Saturday, October 18

#thankyouthursday Giveaway Winner

********** Winner ***********
Christy Bigler
Congrats! I'll get your cards in the mail ASAP!

Be sure to stop by Reeds & Ink Designs for more adorable card creations and stay tuned for more fun giveaways!

Three cheers for #thankyouthursday! Hip hip hooray!

I must admit, my thank you note list is the longest it's ever been, I am officially backlogged. I need one of those automated recordings stating "I am experiencing larger than normal kindness volume, your gesture will be thanked in the order in which it was received."

Do child labor laws apply to thank you note writing?

Sharing my love of #thankyouthursday, a giveaway seems like a no brainer. Don't you agree?

Reeds & Ink Designs is my new favorite spot for fabulous, handmade cards. In fact, the Owner/Designer is our very own S&S Guest Contributor, Lana Hamblin. Not only do I adore her but the cards display the same amount of sweet spunk their creator exudes!

This particular design is not only my favorite but I've been toying with making it the S&S signature card. Coincidentally, the S&S kitchen has its own red mixer (which I named Bueller for the famous red car in Ferris Bueller's Day Off). Seems appropriate, don't you think?

I want this set (four cards, blank inside, with craft envelopes) to be yours. To enter, comment below with your answer to the following question. "Who is at the top of your thank you note list today?" Spouse? Child? Plumber?

Winner will be selected randomly Saturday evening. Share with your fellow card lovers and be sure to stop by Reeds & Ink to check out her other designs. She also does limited custom projects if you're looking for something a little more personal.

Happy note writing, friends!

Tuesday, October 14

Hauling food & hugging caterers!

Super Hunk's business recently relocated to a new building. Confident I wouldn't be able to assist in the packing and unpacking (472 boxes of files all look the same to me), I volunteered to cook and eliminate the "calling for takeout" task.

Let me just say...I think I overestimated my skills...and my sanity!

While I've delivered single meals and numerous snacks to Super Hunk's crew in the past, never have I prepared a menu...cooked for 12...and delivered said menu items WHILE HOT...for three days...with a toddler in tow.

I also grossly overestimated my toddler's ability to entertain himself. Here, play with this whisk. Mommy is almost done!

In the end, the food was delicious...the people were happy...Little Man learned to be an excellent Sous Chef (with a bad habit of throwing food on the floor)...and I have a new appreciation for caterers.

I thought I'd share the meals with you (most are part of the S&S family), in case you need a quick "go-to" menu that travels well and makes bellies very happy.

1. Perfect Pork Tenderloin Sliders - Throw it all in the crockpot that morning and by lunch, tada! Pull the pork with a fork and make sliders on dinner rolls. Save juice for dipping. Serve with chips.

2. Flat Apple Pie - These were perfect because this particular pie doesn't require a fork, you can eat it pizza style. Go ahead, I give you permission to play with your food!

3. Barbecue Pork Pizza - A few pizzas make everything better (and once you've had homemade, it's almost physically impossible to dial Pizza Hut. I'm serious, your fingers go on strike)!

4. Homemade cinnamon rolls - Some people are very intimidated by "letting the yeast rise" and rolling out the dough but I use Pioneer Woman's recipe and it's perfect every time. Don't be afraid...if I can do it, you can do it!

5. Nutella Pumpkin Yummies - It's Fall...which means pumpkin...and chocolate...and tight pants...and haaapppyyyyy!

6. Spanish Roast - I haven't shared this recipe on S&S yet but stay tuned, it's a cold weather favorite at our house! I'd tell you the ingredients but I don't want to spoil the surprise (it's worth waiting for)!

7. Chocolate Strawberry Crescents - I left out the chocolate and only used strawberry preserves. Not everyone shares my love (need) of chocolate for breakfast. Sad, sad people!

Last but yummily not of yesterday, I was released from my meal commitment. However, they deserve to be weaned...not abandoned. So I dropped off a "good morning" goodie to keep their tummies in the lifestyle in which they've grown accustomed.

8. Nutella Swirl Bread - it makes every day better and seems like a pretty good grand finale!

I hope these have inspired you to cook and transport. There's nothing better than giving the gift of food!

And next time you use a caterer, hug them for me!

Saturday, October 11

No need to panic!

Let me start by saying, no buttons were harmed in the writing of this post. No need to panic, everything is fine!

Whoosh, such a relief.

Our Saturday started with a classic case of "I thought you were watching him" vs. "No, I thought you were watching him"! While Little Man rarely leaves our sides, his hands tend to do quite a bit of roaming. As was the case today.

After a short stop at a local business, we loaded in the car and began our departure from the parking lot. When, to our surprise, in flies a police car! The officer throws the car in park (while sliding in on two wheels) and runs inside at an alarming speed. 

Concerned, but in a hurry, I later asked Super Hunk if he knew the details. Yep, folks, you guessed it! My son pressed the silent panic button. I'm STILL mortified!

When? Where? How? I'm perplexed. These are the moments I wish he had a more extensive vocabulary so he could truly understand my embarrassment (and curiosity...I've always wondered where they keep those things). 

I know we can't watch our children ALL the time, but my son's hands won't leave my sight! Heck, toy manufacturers should think twice about making red buttons on toys. It seems like a contradiction, don't you think?

The overall lesson for Little Man, "Red buttons in kid world = buttons in adult world = bad!" The overall lesson for Mom, "A little button in a pretty color, when pushed, causes people to come running? Where can I get one of those buttons?"

Simple Sugar Snap Peas

As promised, here's my new favorite recipe. Run to your kitchen...right now...and whip it up. Three ingredients and two steps, what could be easier? Pop Tarts...they're easier...but not as good with pork tenderloin...unless you're Buddy the Elf!

My Mom recently visited and introduced me to the yumminess. Yes, it's delicious but I think it's the fact it was cooked FOR me instead of BY me that made it even more fabulous.

I could eat the whole bowl by delicious pea at a time...if Super Hunk doesn't beat me to it. Move over!

1 bag sugar snap peas, fresh
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced

A little bag of happy...

In a medium saucepan, heat oil and garlic over medium heat. Open bag, pour, stir to coat. Let cook for 5-8 minutes until peas start to slightly brown (you still want them crunchy). 

Pour in your favorite bowl, serve, and enjoy (excuse me while I do a little quality control)!

I know this isn't a groundbreaking recipe (again, I'm reluctant to even classify it as so), but it's the perfect side item for your Perfect Pork Tenderloin.

They're also a kid favorite...but not in the fine-dining-utensil-using kind of way. I can't help it, those chubby little fingers melt my heart!

Friday, October 10

The Perfect Pork Tenderloin

Prepare yourself for the most PERZfECT...unlike my typing...PERFECT pork tenderloin. I have reached the pinnacle...slayed the dragon...crossed the finish line! Where's my medal? Seriously, I want my podium!

I've prepared many, maybe hundreds, of pork tenderloins in my short cooking career. They're easy, cook perfectly in the crockpot, and versatile for numerous recipes (sliced, shredded, or "caveman style"...slab of meat on a tray).

The first time we experienced said perfection, Super Hunk labeled it the best tenderloin he's ever had. Coming from the Meat King, that's like kissing the Pope (only way less awkward).

I'm throwing one together for dinner later and thought I'd share with you, in case you have a busy weekend planned and need a fast...don't forget, PERFECT...recipe!

1 peppercorn flavored pork tenderloin
1 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons thyme
Salt & pepper to taste

The key to the flavor of this recipe is the peppercorn tenderloin. While the original makes a lovely version, it's not PERFECT! Life is better with spice, don't you agree?

In a small saucepan, combine water and brown sugar over medium to high heat. Stir constantly until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and continue stirring until liquid is reduced by half. Reduce heat to low and add soy sauce, vinegar, and mustard. Continue stirring until mustard is thoroughly mixed.

Until now, I hadn't noticed my poor choice of saucepan. Seriously, it looks like I dug it out of the camping box. I promise, I didn't...but it's going there after it makes this delicious sauce.

I now know how random, accidental art is created. Swiiiiiiiirrrrrrllllll....and STOP! (This pan is giving me a twitch...I'm looking away!)

Add butter and stir until melted. Remove from heat and let sit for liquid to cool slightly (if you pour it over the meat too soon, it will start the cooking process...see photo below...I'm impatient).

"The race is on and here comes butter in the back stretch, but-ter is going to the inside...", name that tune!

Generously top with salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook in crockpot on low for 3 1/2-4 hours. When you can pull it apart GENTLY with a fork, it should be done. I recommend letting it sit in the juice for up to an hour before serving.

It's very difficult to photograph a big hunk of meat and make it look attractive. Does it have a good side?

Warm, slice, and top with juice from crockpot.

Be sure to reserve a little for dipping. Oh, the joys of dipping (or, in my case, dunking...swirling...sloshing)!

As a side, I prepared one of my Mom's recipes that is my absolute new favorite, sautéed sugar snap peas. I'll post this little gem tomorrow so if you're going to the store, pick up a won't regret it!

Happy Friday, friends!