Thursday, December 18, 2014

Merry Christmas Friends!

As 2014 draws to a close,  I sit here reflecting on the many blessings and events that have occurred this past year.

Meagann graduated from WHS in May and is enrolled at Collin County Community College.  She is currently performing with an independent winter guard group based here in Frisco and last weekend signed a contract with the Blue Stars to perform in their Summer 2015 show.  She is also working with the Little Elm ISD color guard and returned to Cinemark for the holiday season.   One of the above pictures features Meagann at her 18th birthday party.   We had several dozen of her friends over for a surprise party and gave them all a can of shaving cream to empty on her.    It was quite the memory for all!

The hardest part for Greg & I this year was to watch Clay play his final baseball game as a Riverdog.  The team had been together since his 1st grade year.   What a run they had!!!  Clay left middle school and began his Freshman year at Wakeland.  This means I began my 8th year as a WHS band mom.  He played the mellophone in the fall marching show "Venomous"  and enjoyed a trip to Indianapolis for BOA Grand Nationals where they placed 15th out of 94 bands in the Nation.

The biggest news lies with Courtney.  She spent the summer in London working with OM. Immediately upon returning in August,  the decision was made that the wedding would be in December during winter break.  Her fiance, Rick, is currently working for the Collin County Police Department and plans to enroll in the police academy as soon as he accumulates enough college credit hours.  They recently adopted an 8 week old French Bulldog and named him "Winston."
She will be finishing up her pre-law degree this next year at UT Dallas.  Her plans include law school the following semester.

Tramp isn't too sure of Winston.  He prefers to be left alone but will tolerate the attention that Winston is eager to give.   He jumps to the top of the closest couch in fear for his life.   Nothing changes too much with Tramp.....his current hobbies still include squirrel watching, cuddling and napping.

In closing, I ask all of you to look around and count your blessings.   We all have a blessing or two that goes unnoticed and taken for granted.  Be thankful for all.......

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Using all that leftover turkey (or chicken) & creating happiness

Yea, you heard that right...............happiness.  It all comes together in the end of this one and world peace is created around a plate filled with "Chicken/Turkey pot pie."    This stuff is so easy.............It will simply make your whole world a better place.  Easy assembly.  Easy Peasy & Delicious!
Did I mention minimum dishes to clean up afterwards?  

Run/Drive to the grocery store & buy these 3 things.

*A jar of Alfredo sauce....any flavor.  I like the one with mushrooms!
* A half- bag of frozen mixed vegetables.
*A box of Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust.

Assuming that you have some leftover Thanksgiving turkey....chop up about 3 cups into small bite sized pieces.   If not, you need to purchase & debone a roasted chicken.

*A roteriserie chicken

Roll out the dough and put the first layer in the pie plate.
Mix up the half bag of vegetables, the poultry & the alfredo. Spoon it into the crust.
Take the remaining pie-crust and arrange it on top & crimp the edges with your fingers.

Brush the top with an egg wash.  Snip a hole or two in the top for steam to escape.  Shake some freshly ground pepper & sea salt on top.

Bake @ 375 for about 25-30 minutes or until golden.

Use those leftover veggies for a vegetable beef stew!!!!!  

Enjoy the holidays Friends! Take some time to relax and enjoy the moments!!!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The day before cooking.

Today,  I have burned as many calories as I have cooked and assembled the side dishes.

The list is very long on Thanksgiving must haves for dinner.

Sweet Potatoes
Hatch Green Chili Corn Casserole
Cranberry Crunch
Cranberry Jello (straight from the can)
Pink Fluffy Stuff
Green Bean Casserole
Williams Sonoma Gravy...this stuff is the bomb.
Dinner Rolls.......Aunt Laverne's secret recipe.

Pumpkin Cheesecake topped off with  chocolate ganache.
TUMS..... by the bucketload.

In order to have all that as a late lunch/ must have a fun breakfast.  Tomorrow's will be sausage balls & cinnamon rolls.

Am I a glutton for calories?  Not usually.  Tomorrow is the exception.  I like the side dishes.  Personally, I can live without the jello-like cranberries.  They just aren't special.  The turkey makes me the happiest as a leftover sandwich.  Oh dear.......  I forgot to purchase the sourdough bread for my special sandwiches...........

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Yummy Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

A friend. (L.F.)  called me several months ago asking about "monkey bread"  This is the recipe I gave her.   Totally easy-peasy.  Totally yummy and good for those breakfast gigs at church or elsewhere when you need some good sticky sugar-loaded carbs.    I have also done this one for a holiday morning breakfast. 

Cinnamon Pull-apart Bread

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 TBS cinnamon
2 Cans (7.5 oz each) buttermilk biscuits*
1/2 cup butter, melted & divided
cream cheese glaze

Preheat oven to 350*.  Cut the dough into quarters.
Mix Cinnamon & sugar together in a small bowl.
Roll the dough quarters around in the sugar stuff.
Place 1/2 of the dough in a greased bundt pan & drizzle with 1/2 of the butter.
Sprinkly a small amount of cinnamon on top.
Finish rolling the remaining biscuits & top with the melted butter.
Top the unbaked dough off with the remaining sugar stuff.

Bake 40-45 minutes and let it sir for 5 before inverting.


4 oz softened cream cheese & 1/2 cup powdered sugar.  Add 1 or 2 TBS of milk until it is your desired consistency.

* Substituting a can of cinnamon rolls here would be extra yummy.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Eight Years a Band Mom...3 to go.

This post is intentionally meant for my future use.   I wanted a place to keep all these youtube videos in chronological order for myself to go back and watch in the distant future when band isn't such a major part of my life.   This year begins my 8th year of being a band mom.   I have sat through numerous football games and marching contests during the months of September & October.  Someday I'll do the math there.   It is too overwhelming to think of at this time.  This is a complete you tube collection and fun pictures from all the shows my children have performed in to date.   Enjoy!!

  "The Fox Hunt 2007"   Courtney was playing in the pit during this one.

"The Butterfly Effect 2008"    This year she was on a drum.   I can't remember which one.


This was actually taken at the Lonestar Drumline Classic.

Her Junior year was my absolute favorite show year.  That year they performed "Check Mate" at the State Contest in San Antonio.  She was on the cymbal line.  This was the first year for cymbals at WHS.  She was their section captain!


This particular video is their drumline performance of Checkmate.  She was the White Queen.


The next year in 2010 gave us the privilege of seeing both our girls perform.   Courtney was on a drum again and Meag played clarinet in the show.   It was called "Practice Makes Perfect" and Miss M had the opportunity to be featured as the first performer to make a mistake!

The only picture taken where both girls were in the pic!


The Midas Touch in 2011 was a fun show to watch.  Meag began her band career on the guard her Sophomore year and never looked back!  Watch as King Midas turns the kids all to gold!!!

They were Division AA Champs at BOA this year!

"The Pied Piper 2012".  This show was a fun one to watch.   Near the end of the show many of the performers dive off the back side of the mountain!  She has a featured solo near the middle of the show.

Yes, she nailed that rifle toss!

During the summer of 2013, Meagann had the opportunity to join the Blue Stars for their summer DCI tour.  The show was called Voodoo and overall they had a 6th place finish when the summer ended in Indianapolis.  It was quite the summer for her.    Look up this show on you tube.  

This one is  M's final year at WHS.  She was the Colorguard Captain.  "Freeze Frame 2013" was a beautiful show.  This is the first year that WHS used swing flags with their show.  They were featured with the ballad.  Her friend,  Joye Dewey had the solo dance at the end of the show to "Ice Castles".

8th Grade Night Oct 2013

Winterguard is set to begin soon.  Meag will be performing with an independent guard this fall.  It is called CGT and many of her high school friends will be joining in on the fun.  Here are a couple of her high school shows.

The first one is called Song of the Sirens.  This was performed during the spring of 2010.   She begins the show on the far right side of the floor.


Her final performance with WHS Winterguard in the spring of 2011 featured a show titled "Two by Two.  It was based on the joy that the animals experienced as they emerged from the ark.  Miss M was a giraffe.  Imagine that!


This year is our son's first year at WHS.  He is playing a mellophone during their production of "Venemous".     The Show isn't finish yet and the current videos aren't released for public viewing yet.  Stay Tuned.

          This past weekend they were Division AAA Champs at our local BOA Competition!

(Note...not sure why those youtube links wouldn't post as a video.  There are probably copyrights on them for certain songs.  I just added the web address since I couldn't add the video.)

***So, the WHS ended their Venomous Show at the Semi-Finals round of BOA Nationals in Indianapolis, Indiana at Lucas Oil Stadium.  They placed 15th at the end.  They earned a 5th place in over-all visuals.  Did I mention that they won their division 3A in visuals?  I could't have been prouder.  There were 94 other bands performing from all across the United States.  This was the first time that WHS was able to perform at that show.  

You will have to google this show or look for it on vimeo.  The copyrights have it locked..but it is worth the time to find it!  

Summer 2015 Meagann performed again with the Blue Stars.  The show was entitled "Side Show".   She had an amazing time on Weapon line A.   They earned a performance in the finals but didn't place.  It was a fun one to watch.  

Fall 2015  Wakeland performs "Forever 2015".   We shall see how this one gets finalized.  So far, the props are amazing!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Gumbo is my superpower.

I have never claimed to be a chef or super hero in the kitchen.   When the words "invent-a-meal" are kids scatter like marbles across the floor.  They quickly find other  plans for the evening.   Yea, it quickly gives me much needed alone time.

However, when the word "GUMBO" is muttered....... magically they alter any plans for the evening and are available for family dinner and family lunch leftovers the next day.

Gumbo isn't as hard as one might think.  There are just a few rules.  First of all, an enameled cast iron stock pot is a must.  It needs to be able to withstand heat without burning for several hours.  My pot of choice is a Le Creuset stockpot.   I found it at Costco for a song a few years ago in an after Christmas sale.   But there are other less expensive brands.  Most likely, they all cook the same.

The second rule is you gotta stir......and often.   This is when I make kitchen rules about if you wanna eat...... you gotta stir.    The kids won't complain after they taste the awesomeness of this shrimp gumbo.  I promise.

Usually the evening before I will pre-chop my vegetables & sausage.  It just makes the afternoon easier.

Grab a stool...  you are going to be here a while.


The scariest part is making the roux.  It takes about 30 minutes of stirring and takes on the color of peanut butter at the end.   It even kinda smells nutty.   Just stir.  If by chance this is yucky.   Throw it away & start over.

After that, add those chopped veggies and sauté until they are clear and soft.

Pour in all that stock, juices & seasonings.

Keep stirring occasionally............  after about 2 hours or so you get this!!

Every bowl of gumbo needs some dirty rice served beside it.  This box is my favorite.  I like to make two boxes.  You gotta have rice for the leftovers!   It is Delish!

Shrimp Gumbo!!!

1 cup + 1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup flour

Melt the butter.  Add the flour and stir for what seems like forever and
the color is a rich peanut butter color.

1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup green bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 finely chopped jalapeño 
a  handful of chopped green onions if you have it.

Saute until all of the above veggies are clear-like and soft.

3 cups shrimp or chicken stock
2 cups clam juice
1 can petite diced tomatoes w/juice
3 bay leaves
1 TBS parsley
1 TBS cajun seasoning
1 tsp basil
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp pepper

Stir....  Stir...  Stir....
It now just needs to cook down and get thicker.

1 cup of diced okra ( I buy a bag of frozen)

Add an extra can of broth here if it looks too thick.
(I will use whatever kind of broth at hand I have at this point.)

Keep cooking & stirring occasionally......!

2 pounds shrimp - cooked
1 1/2 cups of smoked sausage (I like Hillshire Beef)

Have I mentioned stirring yet?  Well, stir some more.
I typically add the okra about an hour before it is done.  
The shrimp & sausage about 30 minutes later.
They pretty much just need to heat up.

You will know when it is done.  I say that because I am pretty sure that by now you have been doing some sampling...........

So tell me what's your superpower?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Really Really Good Muffins

Remember a few posts ago I wrote about carrot cake?   Did I mention that I shredded too many carrots?   This is what I do when that happens.   First of all I measure it out in 1/2 cup increments.  I either cook straight away into these lovelies, throw some of them into soup or smoothies, or just freeze.   Today, I made these delicious guys.

I have made them for years and they are worth the time to shred a couple of apples.  Some restaurants call them "Morning Glory" muffins or "Golden Harvest" muffins.   Call them whatever you want......just call them, maybe?

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups shredded & peeled apples
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup coconut flakes
3/4 cup oil
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional...nuts in baked goods, yuck!....NO THANK YOU!)

*Heat oven to 350*.  Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.

*Combine everything that is dry.
*Combine all the wet ingredients.
*Combine them all together.
*If by chance this looks a little dry...just crack another egg and stir it in.

*Bake for about 25 minutes.

*Serve Warm. Serve Cold.  Just Serve Them.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thrifty-ness, the lovely JG, & Vanilla-Bean-Oreo Ice-Cream.

As most of my friends know....  I like to save a buck or two.   My current job allows me to save even more than that.    I can't name location simply because there is a confidentiality clause  I am bound to.  I can, however, claim bragging rights.   Someone needs to do it.

Some recent  finds include........

Juicy Couture Charm Bracelet....  1.49   (EBAY is listing at $50.00)

Brighton Bangle........  1.49        (original price   25.00)

Brighton Votive Candle......  .99       ($24.00 in store)

Kate Spade Sunglasses...   .99     (original price...about 150.00)

Michael W Smith NEW CD......  .99     (original  price...  10.00)

Calphanon NEW non-stick omelet pan....  9.99 (originally $50?)

Super Cute Large Basket...  1.99

Cuisinart Ice-Cream Maker.........    about 1.99   (I had a $20 off coupon)   It was NEW and in the box.
(original price..  79.00 at Williams Sonoma)

Scentsy Christmas plug-in thing...   7.99       (EBAY lists it at $29.00)

Santa Claus  stand-up        3.99        (Kirklands @ $19.00)

Reebok's    12.99 .........  more that $50.
                                                    Cute CZ bangle bracelet.........  .75

                                                    Cute gold & blue long necklace........  1.50

Total Spent........   Less than $50.00

Total Saved.......       I could have spent about $400 on all this stuff.   I wouldn't have.

Now, about that Ice-Cream Maker.......   After using it several times this month, I believe that 
I would consider paying the full retail price.    It came with 2 freezer tubs......totally needed.    I just keep them in the freezer.   That way they are ready to go when the urge to make ice-cream hits. hits my dear husband weekly.     This is a fun kitchen toy.  And it isn't loud like the predecessors are.   NO CRANKING NEEDED!

I was bragging to JG this morning about my new gig.  She was immediately envious of the low stress filled environment and of the sweet things I can find.    We were talking what I have been making with my toy.    Apparently her dear husband, KG, loves cookies & cream ice cream.....  He needs this.

Vanilla-Bean Ice-Cream

2 cups sugar
3 cups half & half
1 vanilla bean scraped  (I have also used plain vanilla.)
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Heat the first 4 together.   Stir a lot.  Have  8  (mixed up) egg yolks handy & at room temp.
Slowly temper a ladle or two of milk stuff into the yolks.   Slowly add them to the milk stuff.

Continue heating until it is thickened.  I use a wooden spoon.  It seems to show the thickening better.
It has been taking about 6-8 minutes.  STIR CONSTANTLY!

Throw out the vanilla bean at this point & pour all that goodness through a fine wire mesh sieve.
Add  3 cups heavy whipping cream and stir gently.  Cool down for a few hours in the refrigerator.

(I thought the sieving was a little weird at first....  just do it.  TRUST ME)

After I ran it through the machine I crushed up a sleeve of Oreos and stirred it together before refreezing.   Wait a couple of hours before eating.  It needs to mesh together in the freezer.   Eat a spoonful..... just for tasting and research.  Hide it from the kids.  Hide it from your husband.  Good luck  JG!

My dear husband also likes it with 3 mushed up bananas stirred into it before refreezing.

***  A friend of mine, MB, found  these super cute quart-sized ice-cream containers at Marshalls & TJ MAXX.  They were 5.99 and made of a really good hard plastic with silicone lid.   ADORABLE!      They were seriously needed and if you are going to make fabulous gourmet ice-cream......  Shouldn't it be served in a fabulous container?   ABSOLUTELY!