Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tasty Tuesday - Betty W.'s Sausage & Corn Chowder

If you're looking for a quick, easy soup recipe to warm your family on these cold, winter nights, I have a great one for you!  It only takes a few ingredients, about 15 minutes to assemble, and 30 minutes later you'll have a chowder to die for....
2 rolls of your favorite sausage (I use Jimmy Dean "less fat" variety.)
2 cans of whole kernel corn (I use one can of each type of corn because my family prefers less corn, more potatoes.)
2 cans of cream style corn
4 cans cream of potato soup
1 quart of half & half cream ( I use the fat-free one.)

Step 1:  Brown the sausage in a skillet.  Drain and put the cooked sausage in a large soup pot or crockpot.

Step 2:  Add all of the other ingredients to the sausage.

Step 3:  Mix all ingredients and heat on low for 30 minutes on stove or if using a crockpot, until mixture is very hot.  Do not boil.  If heating on the stovetop, stir frequently.

Step 4:  Serve it up and sprinkle with a generous amount of black pepper. Compliment with a nice, warm wedge of buttered cornbread or some saltine crackers and you have a wonderful, easy dinner.

This recipe was given to me by Betty W., from Katy, TX, who happens to be having a birthday tomorrow.
Happy birthday, Betty, and thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Holiday Trip


   Since our family wasn't able to all be together this year for Christmas, we thought we might add a little excitement to the season by taking a short trip to San Antonio.

   We arrived late in the day on Monday and the first thing we did was drive by the house where we once lived.  It's been sixteen years since we owned this house, but it still looks pretty much the same.  It's nice to know someone is enjoying and caring for it.


   Next, we stopped for dinner at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. The Alamo Cafe makes some the best tortillas in San Antonio!

Of course, no trip to San Antonio is complete without a trip to the real Alamo....

I love the unusual way the limbs grow on these trees in the Alamo courtyard...

After a few pictures around the fountain...

We headed over to the Riverwalk Center to do a little shopping...

and people watching.  I love to watch the barges full of tourists float by...

We did a lot of walking up and down the riverwalk....

Then headed over to Houston Street to see the building where my husband used to work.

  After his company's move to San Antonio 18 years ago, bricks were purchased with their employees' names to help pave the walk during the downtown renovation.  So of course, we had to find my husband's to see if he was still making his mark on the city.

Yep!  There it was!  Right on Houston Street...

We also made the perfunctory trip down to El Mercado, the Mexican market.  I don't think we've ever purchased anything there, but it just wouldn't be a trip to San Antonio without dropping by.  Maybe we just enjoy the trolley ride!

And finally, we spent an evening having a steak dinner on the riverwalk.  It was so beautiful with all the Christmas lights!

I hope you enjoyed our little tour of San Antonio.  As George Strait would sing, "There may not be snow in San Antonio, but it's a Texas Christmas to me!"
Merry Christmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sewing Saturday - Adapting a Coat for a Special Needs Child

   Every little girl, whether she's standing or sitting in an adaptive stroller, needs a pretty church coat.  Up until now, my granddaughter Lilly, has been wearing a regular coat which we could put on her after picking her up out of her carseat and then, let her wear, while we carried her into the church building.

   But now, even though we are glad she's finally putting on some weight and growing, we've found it's difficult to take her out of the car, put her into her chair, and then put a coat on her. 

   I looked online for an adaptable coat for special needs children, only to find that most of them were made in other countries and consisted of a tent-like cape that would slip over the child's head and drape over the child and chair.  Not very attractive for a cute little three year old!

   I decided to try making one, so I purchased McCall's pattern #5968 and some black fleece and made the little coat I have pictured above.  I put velcro closures on the front, so that it's easily opened, if necessary.

   Then, when the coat was completely finished, I turned it over and cut it all the way open up the back. I then contoured the back so that it's more of a jacket length and there's no bulk that has to be tucked under Lilly. I edged the opening with a fleece, double-fold bias tape that I found at Joanns Fabrics. I put a velcro tab at the neckline and now we can sit Lilly in her chair, slide the coat on like a "snuggie" and velcro it at the neck.  From the front, it looks just like any other little girl's coat!  We can do the same thing once she's fastened in her carseat.

   Of course, when I took it to her, she was sound asleep and I didn't get to take a picture of her wearing it...

Merry Christmas, sweet Lilly Grace!

Friday, December 17, 2010

My Early Christmas Gift

   This year I got my Christmas present a little early and I'm so excited about it!
    Back in November, I decided to try having a fruit smoothie each morning as a healthy way to start my day.  Then I  read that adding a little raw spinach to a smoothie would make it even healthier, so I tried this in my blender and while I could drink it, it just never seemed to blend real well.
   So, I did a little online research and decided I would really, really like to have a Vitamix blender.  It's as close to a commercial blender as you can get for home use.  It will even make hot soup!
   Well, on one of my many regular trips to Costco they just happened to have a Vitamix demonstration going on and  since I knew they were going to be demonstrating for ten days, I went back three times and watched them before I actually bought one.  In the meantime, I had to convince my husband of the magical qualities of this product and how useful it would be. His first response was, "You want to pay $$$ for that?  It's just a blender!!"  But after promising that I would really use this amazing appliance, we decided to make the investment.
   And I can tell you, I love, love this machine!

This morning I made a smoothie for us using a cup of red grapes, some baby carrots, a whole tomato, a wedge of purple cabbage, an orange, a banana, a cup of frozen blueberries and a handful of raw baby spinach.  I added a few drops of stevia for a little sweetness and some ice cubes to make it nice and cold.

I blended this all for a few minutes, first on low and then on high and I got this wonderful, smoo-o-o-th drink!
I won't have to worry about getting our five servings of fruits and vegetables today!                                       

And you know it's really tasty when a certain little six-year-old, who's not real fond of vegetables, will drink it!                                                                                                                                                             

That's a real seal of approval!

   If you think you might enjoy owning the Vitamix blender, then hurry over to this site http://moneysavingmom.com/msm/2010/12/christmas-gift-guide-a-vita-mix-and-win-one-too/
where Crystal is giving one away next week!.......Good luck!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jan Hagels, One of Our Favorite Christmas Cookies

   Every Christmas my sister-in-law brings jan hagels to our family gathering.   They are a very rich, Dutch Christmas cookie. They are pronounced "yon hah-gles" but living in northeast Texas, we call them "yon hay-gles". :)  This year, I took them to a Christmas treat exchange and thought some of you might enjoy the recipe.
   You will need these ingredients:

1 cup of softened butter or margarine
1 cup of sugar
1 egg, separated
1 tsp. almond extract
2 cups of flour
1/2 cup toasted, sliced almonds
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Step 1: Beat butter and sugar until fluffy and light in a large bowl with electric mixer.  Add egg
yolk and almond extract, blending thoroughly.

Step 2:  Stir in flour, a little at a time.

Step 3:  Place the almonds on an ungreased cookie sheet and toast in a 350 degree for 10 minutes.  This brings out the flavor in the almonds.

Step 4:  While the almonds are toasting, turn the dough out onto an ungreased, 15 x 10 x 1 jelly roll pan and using your fingers, spread it evenly to the edges of pan.  Then use the spatula to smooth it out.

Step 5:  Beat egg white until foamy white and then spread evenly over the unbaked cookie dough.

Step 6:  Spread the nuts on top of the egg white, then combine the tablespoon of sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle over the nuts.

Step 7:  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven; let cool in pan for 10 minutes. 

Step 8:  Cut into 6 lengthwise strips, then into diagonal cuts to form diamond shapes.

Step 9:  Cool thoroughly in pan, then remove carefully with a metal spatula.  Store in an airtight container.

Yum-m-m!  Don't they look great?  Enjoy!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Fall Luncheon

   The week before Thanksgiving, a friend invited me to a luncheon at her home.  I was so excited because she really loves to decorate for the holidays!  I thought you might enjoy seeing some of her beautiful antique pieces all decorated for Fall.
   This is a picture of her entry way...

   These pieces were in her diningroom...

   We told her we felt like we were dining in a tea room!  The details on her table were so lovely...

We each brought a dish to share and everything tasted great...

...especially the desserts!

Thank you so much, Teresa, for a very special day!  I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving with family and friends!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Real Homeland Security

   A few weeks ago my husband, Mickey, and I visited some good friends in Oklahoma City.  While we were there, we spent a day in downtown OKC.  We got to go to the site of the 1995 bombing at the Murrah Building and visit the memorial.  It was very sobering to view the chairs that honor those who died there.

On the wall overlooking the reflection pool, is the exact time that the bombing occurred...

The brochure given to us when we entered the memorial, stated that at this moment, 9:01 a.m., our country was changed forever and our age of innocence ended. Of course, this bombing was then followed by the attack on our country on 9-11 and we've been on alert against the possibility of terrorist attacks on our own soil ever since.

  We also saw the wall in front of the museum where children from across the country sent hand-painted tiles to comfort the survivors and those affected by the bombing...

   The area right in front of the museum included a sidewalk where children can write with chalk and express their feelings of sorrow, fear and uncertainty that might occur after their visit.
   My thoughts while viewing all this were that we will never be able to reassure our children again that our nation is an entirely safe place to live, but, that most children aren't all that aware of the safety of our country anyway. They only care about their immediate security, their home...and we do have the power to do something about that.
   I looked at the couple we were visiting and thought about the life they have lived. They met and married while still young teenagers. Next spring, my friends will have been married forty years. They've raised four children, lived through prosperous times and lean ones, and cared for one child following a life-changing car accident. Through it all, they've remained faithful and loving to each other, creating a safe haven for their children.

Danny & Leslie Loftin
   Too often today, we see young couples give up after a few years of marriage and their children have the rug pulled out from under their security.  "New moms" and "new dads" move in and out, as children are shuffled from house to house, suitcase and stuffed animal in tow.
   Just as our nation's homeland security is worth fighting for, so is our family's.  God created marriage and the family for a reason.  Are you fighting for yours?



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