Saturday, October 22, 2016

BIG BATCH Beef and Bean Chili from South Your Mouth

Most of you know that I could for a large group every Tuesday night.  I'm always working hard on my spreadsheet of menus and I'm always continually learning how to quadruple recipes (not as easy as it sounds!).  I was so excited when I saw a recipe on South Your Mouth (love the name!).  The name of the recipe is BIG BATCH Beef & Bean Chili.

Our lovely daughter is home this weekend for the first time in a month or six weeks.  She brought two houseguests with her and has also invited several friends over to watch the Auburn game.  I offered to cook something so when I saw that this recipe would feed 18-20, I thought to myself "perfect"!!

As always, I started with the recipe as is but have changed it as I've gone along.  I think that the original eaters of the recipe must eat smaller portions because I don't think the original recipe is large enough.

Original Recipe courtesy of South Your Mouth
(my changes in red)

1 20 ounce bag Hurst's 15 Bean Soup dried bean mix (I purchased at Walmart)
6 cups water (I added more water after first two hours)
3 pounds ground beef (I used a little more simply because of size of packages - 3.25)
2 large onions diced (I cheated and bought pre-diced - two containers)
3 14-ounce cans of petite diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 - 16 ounce can tomato sauce (I used 2 cans)
2 packets chili seasoning
1 tablespoon garlic powder (I used 1 tsp garlic salt)
1 T cumin
2 teaspoons salt (I used one since I used garlic salt)
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 cans white kidney beans
3 cans pinto beans
1 can black beans
(if I had another can of tomatoes or tomato sauce, I would have added)

Combine dried beans with included seasoning packet and 6 cups water in a large pot or Dutch oven.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer two hours (I actually set the stove timer)
Around the 1 1/2 hour mark,  cook ground beef and onion in a large skillet until meat is cooked through and then add to beans (do not drain meat).
Add remaining ingredients, stir well, cover, then continue cooking on medium low for two hours or until beans are tender.  Add more salt or seasonings to taste if needed.

I added the other cans of beans in the "add remaining ingredients" time.  Please forgive the messy stove - remember we have houseguests and we cooked sausage links at breakfast.  I'll have to write another post about the knob and no numbers . . . it is totally annoying!!

This is the original cast of characters (plus meat)

These are the additional characters that I added!!

I've taste tested the broth and I think it is going to be good!!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Funny Faces

Last night, Mark and I went to visit baby girl and her daddy while her mommy was at a bridal shower.  Mark and I passed baby girl back and forth and thoroughly enjoyed being with her (and of course, our son!!).  I caught the funniest sequence of facial expressions that I wanted to share.  Baby girl has been making facial expressions since Day 1 of life outside the womb.  She can wrinkle up her forehead and cock her eyebrows like nobody's business!!

Baby girl was playing with her toy and having a good time while we served our dinner plates.

Then . . .Pops took away her toy.  Look at that expression on her face!!!!

See the smile?  Pops put the toy in his mouth (much like a dog) and was shaking it at her.  She was entertained.  Isn't it funny how we will do the craziest things to make a baby laugh?  Can you see that she is holding something in her other hand?  It is a straw that Pops twisted into itself to make a ring.  She loves a straw!!

Just FYI = We are smitten by this baby girl.  She is growing so fast.  I CANNOT believe that she is already 7 months old!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

making sense of a hodgepodge

It is Wednesday which means Joyce has new HodgePodge questions.  Join us!!

1. What would you say is your strongest sense?
My sense of smell is actually ridiculous.  I can smell a dirty diaper from the moment I enter a room.  I have horrible allergies so you would think that my sense of smell might be diminished but NO WAY! One of our pastors burned her lunch this week in our microwave and the smell has been killing all of us.  I could smell it before I even opened the door to the building on Monday!  Perfumes really KILL me.  I would love to live and work in a place with signs that read "please do not enter this office/home/etc. if you are wearing scented lotion or perfume."

2. Do you believe in the idea of a 'sixth sense'? Why or why not?
I'm not sure that I believe in a "sixth sense" per se,  BUT I do think the Holy Spirit nudges us sometimes (can be quite often!) and directs us.

3. When do you most feel like a slave to time? Explain.
Slave to time - hmmm - maybe on Sunday mornings?  We go to early worship (8:45) and then I teach adult Sunday School from 10:15-10:45 and then we go to Mark's mom's house for lunch at 12:30 . . and then we go home and I cook or buy groceries or clean house or do a million and one other things.

4. Have you ever worked in a restaurant? How would you rate the experience? If you could own a restaurant what kind would it be?
I have never worked in a restaurant HOWEVER . . . one time . . .a long time ago . . .our youth choir had a fundraiser at Applebee's restaurant.  I would not be a very good restaurant employee!  We did raise some money and we did have some fun but OH MY GOODNESS - what a day!  I'm not sure what kind of restaurant I would want to own.  Our friend, Jan, and Mark used to always kid around about owning a BBQ and Pie restaurant and naming it "Pig and Pie" - might be fun!

5. Ever traced your family tree? Share something interesting you learned there.
I've only done a little tracing.  I would like to do one of those DNA things where you find out about your ancestors.  I know that I have Cherokee Indian from my mom's side of the family and I have Irish from my dad's mom's side of the family.  The one time I delved into our family, I found out that my mother's father had killed my mother's little brother and then committed suicide.  It took my breath away reading the newspaper article from all those years ago.  My mother was not very old and I think she may have been there when it happened.  (my mom died when I was 15 so I was unable to ask her and my uncle didn't want to read the article . . .if I were he, I'm not sure I would have wanted to read it either.

6. What did your childhood bedroom look like?
When I was little bitty, I slept in a crib in my parent's room.  I moved into the room with my two sisters after that.  At some point in time, my daddy bought my sister and me this Chinese red furniture.  I actually saw a headboard like our beds in a junk shop not too long ago.  I wish I had taken a picture of it!! 

7. Anyone who knows me knows I love diet pepsis!!  I love my family and friends and I hope folks that know me know that I love God!!

8. Insert your own random thought here. 
It was 90 degrees here today.  Today is October 19 and this is the deep south and it was 90 degrees!  A cold spell is coming this weekend and we are supposed to have lows in the 40's and 50's and highs in the 70's.  This will be the first weekend I have been home in what seems like FOREVER!  Laura is coming home (haven't seen her in ages!!) and a friend of Laura's and her "daughter" are coming to stay also.  I've been getting out more Halloween decorations tonight because I thought the little girl might enjoy them.  I ordered that awesome inflatable mattress that has an actual base . . .but it hasn't come yet!  We may just have to use the regular kind of blow up mattress. (sorry - that is so normal for me -you asked for one thought and I gave you several!!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Baby Boy Shower Vroom Vroom

I love a party with a theme!  I might not be (I know I'm not!) a floral designer and I might not be a lot of things BUT if you give me a theme, I can RUN with it!

Our friend, Bonnie, was expecting (actually, her daughter Lauren was doing the expecting!!) her second grandchild - a boy!

Two other friends and I hosted a shower for baby Will back in September.  One friend had a little plastic car that she keeps at her house for her grandchildren.  She showed it to me and we ran with the theme of cars!!

The invitations (not pictured) were made using my silhouette cameo and computer.  They each had a little red car in the shape that is on the door below.  I need to do a separate post about making the door hanger.  Oh my goodness - I had planned to make three.  You see one!  It was more difficult that I imagined.  Of course, all of the blogs talked about how simple and easy . . .yada yada.  Maybe since I was starting from scratch and trying to enlarge a pattern.  Another story for another day!  People did comment that they knew exactly which house because the front door matched the invitation.

You can see our car theme if you look closely.  That is a runner made to look like it is made from racing flag material.  We had sandwiches cut into the shape of cars and we had car cookies.  We served a coffee punch that is to die for!  I'm not a coffee drinker but this is so yummy.  Anything that has both vanilla and chocolate ice cream in it has to be good, right?

Here are the cookies.  One of the hostesses did an AWESOME job decorating these cookies!  Not only did they look great but they were delicious!

We have a bakery in town (several, of course) but this baker is called Pastry Art and they make Baby Bites.  They are tiny little cakes that melt in your mouth.  Usually, the icing designates what kind of cake is inside - like strawberry, red velvet, turtle, vanilla, lime margarita - unbelievable.  Anyway, we asked for all white icing with blue swirls and they were happy to oblige!  See that little blue car in the background -- see how it "sort of" matches our other cars.

Phella was chatting with Lauren (mother to be) and Bonnie.

Here is a cookie up close - amazing!!

I started to ask if you could guess what these fruit kebobs represent . . .but I'll tell you!  Look closely - they are traffic lights - green for go, yellow for caution, red for stop!!  Told you - we had a theme going!!

Here is another one of the cars!!

I used wooden crates and clear acrylic stands.  I picked up wooden initials (WWR) and painted them blue to go with our color scheme.

We served something to drink in these beverage containers -- sweet tea and lemonade (I think!).

The banner on the fireplace was fun to make.

Just in case you are wondering - sweet baby Will arrived. . . and weighed in a 11 pounds 7 ounces!!  He is a big beautiful boy and this was a fun shower!!

Friday, October 14, 2016

One of My FAVORITE places

I love driving out to our farmer's market.  Some people worry about me when I go because it is in a different part of town.  I've never felt unsafe there.  As a matter of fact, for some weird reason, I feel totally at home there.  Maybe it is because my granddaddy and my daddy both always had a big garden.  I don't make it out there very often now that I work full time but I try to go every year for my pumpkins.  (I like the farmer's market so much that my very first blog post talks about going to the farmer's market - back in 2009!!)

A couple of weeks ago, I made a trek out to the market.  I was already closer to the side of town where the market is located than normal (my office is closer than my house to the market).  I still had a couple of hours of daylight left so I was golden.
I buy my pumpkins from the same booth every year - I make the check out to Nancy Smith (and that name is easy for me to remember because we had a cousin/close friend named Nancy Smith who died a couple of years ago . . .so I feel this weird connection there, too!!)

I like to kid myself that they remember me from year to year.  Probably not . . .but I can pretend, right?

So I loaded up my cart with pumpkins for the front porch and pumpkins for the dining room table.  I also purchased two giant mums to replace our ferns on the front porch.

Love this sign!  (yes, I know I have "loved" a lot of things in this post)

Here is the dining room table.  I try to do something a little different each year.  This one seems sort of standard.  I'm going to hang some paper bats from the chandelier, I think.  Not sure what else I will do.  Any suggestions?

This last picture is grainy because I took it at 10:00 last night and I just cropped it to get just the mums and pumpkins.  I have three pumpkins on either side of the door and we have a mum on the right and left of the top step.

So what in the heck does this post have to do with anything?  Not much - but it gave me pleasure to jot it down.  It made me stop and give thanks for the things in my life as simple as pumpkins and mums . . .and a home to decorate. . . and a trip to the farmer's market.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


It is only Thursday night and I'm answering the HodgePodge questions from yesterday - better than some weeks!!!
Join us over at From This Side of the Pond

1. What would you say is the best and worst thing about moving house?
We just moved into our house two years ago . . .after living in the same house for 22 years.  One of the best and worst things is one and the same - the cleaning out!  We needed to weed through our belongings and it was horrible.  We had so much junk!!  Weeding out was also good!!  Mark and I don't tend to "hang on" to many things BUT WE STILL took 12 pick up loads of stuff to the Salvation Army and we gave furniture and linens to the Community Furniture bank.

2. What's moved you recently?
I worked an Emmaus Walk this past weekend.  If you aren't familiar with Emmaus, it is a three day (72 hour) retreat away from phones and TV's and internet.  You spend time listening to talks about God and his grace and you fun songs and make new friends and odds are at some point, you will be MOVED.  I was moved multiple times.

3. Do you feel your life is moving forward, backward, or is on hold? How so?
I feel like time is moving forward at warp speed.  I feel like we just got back from Israel and celebrated Easter . . .and today, we were making plans for Advent and Christmas at work (I know I work in a church but it will be here before we can blink!!).  Now personally, I sure hope I'm growing and moving forward.  I've always heard that if you aren't growing . . .you are dying.  I want to grow and move forward!!

4. On the move, move mountains, get a move on, it's your move, or bust a move...which phrase best applies to some aspect of your life right now? Explain.
We are ON THE MOVE.  This weekend will be my third weekend out of the last four that I will be out of town - 1)beach vacation; 2) Emmaus Walk at Camp Sumatanga; 3)weekend "retreat" with our supper club at Red Briar Farm.  I know you didn't ask . . .but I plan to sit my big butt in a chair on the porch and read and laugh and talk.

5. What song makes you want to get up and move?
Don't make fun of me, ok?  The first two songs that came to my mind -- YMCA and Pharaoh Pharaoh (if you've never sung Pharaoh Pharaoh at camp or in Children's Sunday School - you have missed out - hand motions and all).  I'm laughing at myself.  I should never answer these questions after a long week . . .and after nine o'clock at night.

6. Your favorite snack to grab when you're 'on the move'?
We almost always keep Ritz Peanut Butter crackers (the six cracker packs) on hand in our pantry.  The crackers are portable; have a decent amount of protein; and are pretty filling.

7. What one accessory makes your house feel like home?
I love having a decoration on my front door and most of us in our neighborhood have a lamp on our porch(es).  There is something about lamplight after dark that is inviting.  I think having something on my front door is welcoming - "come on in".

yes - I just walked out onto the front porch and took these pictures!

8. Insert your own random thought here.
It is after 9:00 p.m.  I have no random thoughts!  Let's see . . .I've been trying to rest when I can this week.  For the last six weeks or so, I have pushed myself to the limit.  I realized over the weekend that it is ok if I don't say "yes" to everything.  I need to make sure that I have my priorities in the right order and spend time wisely.  I struggled as this last weekend approached because  . . .I was just struggling.  I needed this last weekend.  I was there to work and serve.  It never ceases to amaze me how God shows up in the most unusual ways!

When I drive through these signs at Camp Sumatanga, I always say outloud "hey God." LOVE this place.  Isn't the lake pretty?

9.  May I have one more random thought???  (of course I can, right?. . .I think about 3 people read my blog so when I'm 100 years old, Laura can read these things to me and I'll remember this!!)  My husband is so stinkin' creative.  He hung our skeletons on Monday night and we are the talk of the neighborhood!  Halloween is A BIG DEAL in our neighborhood.  I need to buy one more bag of 250 candy bars .. .for a total of 1000!!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

cooking on sunday afternoon

So I have a crazy week coming up!  Monday night is our Leadership dinner at church so we will all work a really long day tomorrow.  Tuesday I will work in the office until 2:00 and then cook and host the young adults on Tuesday afternoon/evening.  I leave on Thursday right after lunch to go to Camp Sumatanga (one of my favorite places!!) to work an Emmaus Walk and I will be gone until Sunday night. 

I've made my to do list and I'm checking it twice and I'm doing laundry and cooking and ironing on this Sunday afternoon.  We went to worship and Sunday School this morning and then we went out to lunch with the family at Mr. Chen's (I had beef with broccoli and it was delicious!).  We had to take Mark's momma's car to the car dealership and leave it for some repair work and when we got home, I sat outside in the sun for about ten minutes and then took a 30 minute nap.  I told Mark that I was giving myself a little bit of Sabbath!!
My fortune from lunch - it is a good one!!

I've learned a little secret since I've been cooking to feed about 20 every Tuesday night for 6 1/2 years.  When I first started making giant meals I would cook the chicken in my big stock pots if I was going to need shredded/chopped chicken for a recipe.  Now I fill up the crockpots with frozen chicken breasts and season them and let them cook while I'm at church or work or wherever.  I use the crockpot for a million other recipes so I don't know why I never thought to cook the chicken that way.
Some of our young adults!!

I'm making Butch's Chicken Noodle Soup for Tuesday night.  It is such a comforting recipe and I miss our friend, Butch, so very much!  I feel like she is with me when I make her soup - silly, I know!  I'm also going to make 30 grilled cheese sandwiches!! (I'll make those on Tuesday night).  Since I will be gone the entire weekend, I am going to make the mac and cheese for the next Tuesday night and freeze it.

I believe this is the most mundane post I've ever written!!