Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What's up Wednesday--pumpkin stew

Pumpkin stew is a Halloween tradition at our house.  I am making it tonight.  This is last year's picture of our pumpkin stew dinner.  I used to make the pumpkin stew on Halloween night, but then things just go to crazy, so I usually do it the Monday before Halloween or a day or two before.  This year it worked out to be today.  It is a fun tradition, and yummy too!  When you scoop it out you make sure you scrap out some of the cooked pumpkin with your stew, and it is extra yummy.  This does take over 4 hours cooking time plus prep, so plan ahead.  I got this recipe several years ago from my dear friend Robyn.

Pumpkin Stew
2 lbs stew mean, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 Tbls vegetable oil, divided
1 cup water
3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
1 large green pepper, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tes salt
1/2 tes pepper
1 (14.5 oz) can tomatoes, undrained and blended up
2 Tbl beef bouillon granules or about 5-6 cubes
1 (10-12 lbs) pumpkin

1.  Heat 2 Tbl of oil in large pot over med-hi heat.  Place beef in the pan and cook until evenly brown.  Mix in the water, potatoes, carrots, green pepper, garlic, onion, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 2 hours.

2.  Dissolve bouillon in beef mixture.  Stir in tomatoes

3.  Preheat over to 325 degrees

4.  Wash pumpkin and cut a 6-8 inch circle around top stem.  Remove seeds and pulp.  Place the pumpkin in a heavy baking pan.  Spoon stew into the pumpkin and replace top.  Brush outside of the pumpkin with remaining tablespoon of oil.

5.  Bake for 2 hours or until very tender.  Serve the stew from the pumpkin, scraping out some of the pumpkin meat with each serving. 

Happy pumpkin eating!

Monday, October 28, 2013

2013 Blue Jeans Week 43

Super fun week with a big birthday, a Broadway show, and fun Halloween activities.  Here is a look at our week. . .
Sunday dinner prep--Ben and the girls are making twice baked potatoes from The Pioneer Woman cookbook--so yum!

One thing my kids love to do?  Read cookbook and mark recipes to make.  Miss E and Mr J spent some time marking up a new cookbook today.

My Dad's birthday and Ben's birthdays are close, so we celebrate together.  My Dad gets a banana cream pie for his birthday cake, and Ben gets a coconut cream pie--both made from scratch from their cookie pie crusts, homemade pudding, to their real whipped cream--so yum!  I make them about 3 times a year--Father's Day, their birthdays, and on Thanksgiving.

Ben's official 40th birthday!!!  40 used to sound really old, but not so much anymore :)  What a goofy look Miss O has . . .but what lucky kids they are to have such an awesome dad!

Our fall house picture.  Love all the pumpkins and my mums by the front door.

Went to the big city with my mom, Miss E and Mr J to see the Broadway musical Wicked which I love!  Ben, Miss A, Miss O, and I had seen it a few years ago, and this time around it was these kids' turn.  I loved it just as much the 2nd time, and these three all loved it too!  So fun to get dressed up and go to a show!

Mr J was in charge of cleaning the upstairs bathroom.  Loved how he was cleaning the shower.  He did a good job!

Church Halloween party tonight--one of the games was "Donuts on a string" and you see who could eat the donut first without using their hands--Ben, Miss E, and Mr J had some fun doing that.  Ben won :)

Got pumpkins carved this weekend.  In order from left to right--Miss E's, Miss A's hunger games mockingjay, Mr J's, and Miss O's.  

Thanks for visiting!  Have a great week!

I am linking up with The Mom Creative.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Catching up--Cookies, Christmas, and birthdays

So I obviously didn't get a recipe posted Wednesday, but I meant to :)  Good intentions.  I made 2 different kinds of cookies that I wanted to share.  I made these vanilla pudding chocolate chip cookies over here, and they were really good.  They won't replace my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe here, but they are good, and it is always fun to do something different.  I would post a picture, but we ate them all.

I love pumpkin anything, and will make pumpkin pie all year.  Yum!  But I especially go into high pumpkin cooking mode in the fall.  Pumpkin bread, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin muffin--and the yummy list goes on.  I made chocolate chip pumpkin bread last week and had a little pumpkin left in the fridge that was just crying to be made into pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  I went to my usual source for recipes--Mel's Kitchen Cafe, but believe it or not, she did not have a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe, so I went to my 2nd source for great recipes  This is another great, great source for recipes, and I love how they are rated, and you can see how many reviews and how many stars people give the recipes.  So, I found a pumpkin chocolate chip recipe that had 947 reviews and 4 1/2 stars, so you know it is going to be good.  It was.  And again, I would post a picture, but we ate them all.  You will just have to take my word for it--they were good.

I am working on Christmas presents.  As I have mentioned before I love, love, love Organized Christmas and their countdown to Christmas.  If you want to join me, their 6 weeks to Christmas countdown starts this Sunday, Oct 27.  They just basically breakdown all the holidays tasks and give you lists and help you get ready for the season.  I have been doing it for over 8 years, and love it.  It is free which makes it even better. I normally don't make a lot of Christmas gifts, but this year I am making a few.  Above is a sneak peak because I know the recipient probably won't look at this blog :)  It is called Swedish weave and is fun and easy to do--a pretty throw blanket.  In the cool evenings it is fun to curl up and work on this while we watch TV or read in the evenings.

This week was also a very big birthday.  Ben turned 40.  Man, 40 used to sound ancient years ago, but it looks pretty young to me now.  Age is all relative.
My Dad and Ben have birthdays that are close, so we usually celebrate them together.  My Dad always gets a banana cream pie for his birthday cake, and Ben gets a coconut cream pie.  Yes, I make them from scratch--cookie pie crust, real whipped cream and all.  They are yummy!

On Ben's actual birthday he got to open his presents with a very attentive audience.

Always fun to see the cool things Dad gets!

And then my Dad made Ben this cool 40 candles birthday card.  The kids were being goofy. . .

Which is just how they are. . . most of the time

But that is okay, because it makes things more fun :)  Happy Birthday to the cutest and most amazing man, father, and husband I know--I sure love you Ben!

Monday, October 21, 2013

2013 Blue Jeans Week 42

Fall break week--always nice to have days off of school.  Had a dear friend visit, parent teacher conferences, league cross country meet, Ben's new work open house, and then topped the weekend off with another parade.  Man, we really love our band and parades!  Here is a look at our week. . .
Had a dear friend visit us today.  She had served in our area as a missionary for our church  last year and came back to visit.  Our family sure loves and misses her!

I volunteer in Mr J's class once a week.  I was lucky enough to be there when he got to present his log cabin.  He did an awesome job!

Parent teacher conferences this week.  Mr J has one teacher, but Miss E and Miss O have 7 each and Miss A has 8, so we visited with 23 amazing teachers at 3 different schools.  Thankfully we got great reports from all 23, but it was a very long night!  This was Mr J's cute folder he made for us to see his stuff in.  I love the "Escalator lover"  :)  Can you tell he is a small town/country kid? and he really is a "joyful and happy" kid which I am thankful for!

Tonight was a reception for Ben's new work building--it was a pretty fancy thing with engraved glasses that we all used for a toast.  His new place is so nice, and it will be wonderful when he gets to move in soon!

Miss A and her teammates before their League race.  Miss A didn't do as well as she wanted because she had a knee injury, but she still ended up getting 4th which I think is awesome!  Such cute, nice girls on her team!

Parade time again!  It was fun to be with my parents!  They helped Mr J get all the candy he wanted :)

And of course we loved the band at the parade.  Miss E is the 2nd trombone.  Miss O was in there too, but on the other side.  They sounded great!

Thanks for visiting and hope you have a great week!

I am linking up with The Mom Creative.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Everyone loves a parade

Everyone loves a parade, and we have had our fair share of them lately.  Seems like the fall is full of them.  Wanted to share some photos of some recent ones.
Expectantly waiting--"do you see it yet?  are they coming?"

"Yes!! Here they come!"

Marching bands are our favorite since we have 2 cute girls in them.  Miss O marching with her mellophone. 

Miss E with her trombone.

And here comes the band again at another parade.

They sounded awesome!

And the floats were pretty cool in this parade too.  It was a Christian/Bible themed parade.

This was our absolute favorite--Jonah in the whale.  Felt so sorry for the guy in there that had to wiggle his legs the whole 16 parade blocks!

They had some pretty impressive floats.  Just love a parade, and we have several more coming up to look forward to!  Lots of fun!  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What's up Wednesday--White chocolate and cinnamon chip cookies

Have you heard the buzz about these cinnamon chips?  I think they have been around a while, but lately they have become the "new thing."  I saw a recipe for them over here at Cutler's Cookies which is a site you should check out.  Yummy, yummy cookies and other treats they have there.  So I have made these about 3 times since I found the recipe.  They freeze really well.  The other day I was needing to make some cookies (yes needing), and I asked my 11-year-old Miss E what kind of cookies she wanted.  What were her favorite?  Her answer--these!  So they are a big hit at our house.  I have seen some comments that these cinnamon chips are hard to find, but I live in a very small town and have one grocery store, and my store had them.  I was very excited.  I stocked up especially since the Hershey's brand chips were on sale $1.98 a bag!  Can't beat that.  Hope you can find them where you are!  Enjoy!

White Chocolate and Cinnamon Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, soft
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 tes vanilla
2 eggs
1 tes salt
1/2 tes baking powder
1/2 tes baking soda
3 1/4 cups flour
1 cup cinnamon chips
1 cup white chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugars.  Add vanilla and eggs and mix well.  Add dry ingredients and mix well, then stir in chips.  Scoop onto cookie sheets and bake 350 for about 10 minutes.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 14, 2013

2013 Blue Jeans Week 41

 Fall is definitely in the air.  I am cooking with pumpkin any chance I can get.  Lots of football with great halftime band shows this week.  We started the week on a great note with our Church's General Conference, and the week went well from there--busy, but great.  Here is a look at our week. . .
Saturday and Sunday we had our Church's semi-annual General Conference.  It is so wonderful to hear from our Prophet and get instruction.  It was an extremely uplifting and inspiring weekend, and so nice to watch at home!
Football game halftime show #1 of the week.  The middle school band performed today.  They did awesome and were so loud!  Loud and good are a very good combination for a band.

Love the smile of Miss E as she is coming off the field after their awesome performance.  Man she works hard on that trombone!  

Having some fun after school with some friends.  Yes, this park is right next to a cemetery.  Good place for a park, huh?

Love it when Miss O plays her guitar.  She is very good.

Friday night lights and football game halftime show #2--over 100 band kids out there tonight--middle school and high school, and they were just awesome!  2 of them out there are mine I am very proud to say!

I coached our church's young women's basketball team today in a tournament which is kind of funny since I have never played basketball in my life--but we all survived and made it through and had fun.

Miss A's first car--yes, when we bought our new van she inherited our old green one, and she has no problem driving it to school and back.  When people ask her about it she says, 'hey it was free!" so she isn't complaining.  Good attitude!  And she isn't legal to drive anyone around in it except her siblings--yet, so I don't worry about it being the big friend party van--yet :)  But she is a very good driver and very responsible, and it is huge and heavy and I know it has air bags, so we are good.

Mr J (who was just trilled to get his picture taken) has a big 3rd grade project due this week--a log cabin.  They are reading the book The Sign of the Beaver and had to make a log cabin similar to the one the boy in the book builds.  It is/was quite a project!

Enjoying a beautiful fall weekend evening with a fire in the back yard fire pit and roasting marshmallows and making smores.  Yum!  A perfect evening!

Thanks for visiting!  Hope you have a great week!

I am linking up with The Mom Creative.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What's up Wednesday--mini banana chocolate chip muffins

I think one of my favorite cooking tools I have is my mini muffin pan.  I think I use it about 100 times more than my regular muffin pans.  We just love mini muffins, and when I use the mini muffin pan I have to use the mini chocolate chips, and what is not to love about those?  This recipe is my little boy's favorite!  Banana chocolate chip muffins are his love--along with trains and his mom :)  So this is one of our top banana recipes besides my great grandma's banana bread, baked banana oatmeal, and these to.die.for banana bars with browned butter frosting--oh my.  We love bananas here!  Enjoy!

Mini Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tes baking powder
1/4 tes salt
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas
1 large egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sour cream (light works fine)
2 tes vanilla
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350.  Spray mini muffin pan with cooking spray or use mini muffin liners.  In a mixing bowl combine the mashed banana, egg, melted butter, sour cream, vanilla, and milk.  Mix well.  Add in dry ingredients but do not over mix.  Stir in mini chocolate chips.  Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full.  Bake 12-15 minutes.  Enjoy!  If there are any left over, these freeze well.  I usually double the recipe so we have some left over for breakfast.  I have substituted 1/2 whole wheat flour and they turn out great.

Monday, October 7, 2013

2013 Blue Jeans Week 40

40 weeks?  How did we get 40 weeks into this year?  Once fall starts the year just seems to speed up--like you hit the top point in a roller coaster, and it is just way to fast down from there.  Organized Christmas starts their free 6 weeks countdown to Christmas on Oct 27.  I am a huge, huge fan of that and have been doing it for years.  Crazy!  Anyway, this week. . . homecoming week this week which is full of stuff--fun stuff, but lots of stuff!  Miss O finished her volleyball season.  Miss A had a great race.  Miss O and Miss E marched in 2 parades, and Miss O had an amazing halftime band show--they got a standing ovation and moved many people to tears.  Man, we love our band director!  So thankful for him and his hard work.  I am so grateful for good people who give so much to help my kids.  So, here is a look at our week. . .
Keepin' it real--Miss O and Miss E's room is always a mess--beds never made, clothes always on the floor.  That is normal life.

Miss O and her cute friends at her last volleyball game. 

Two of my girls and our cute sister missionaries from our church.  We love them and try to have them over once a week for dinner.  One of them was being moved to a new area, so we got a picture before she left.

Miss A did amazing in her high school varsity cross country race this week.  Here she is ready to cross the finish line in 2nd place with no one ever close behind her.  She is amazing!

Parade #1  Miss O and the high school band in the homecoming parade.  She was supposed to be all serious, but I was sitting with Mr J's class, and as she passed everyone in Mr J's class started yelling her name, and she just couldn't keep a straight face.  I am sure she felt like a rock star as every 3rd grader yelled her name.  

Miss A and her singers group sang The National Anthem at the football game Friday night.  They did a great job! 

Parade #2.  Miss E was awesome!  We are loving this marching band stuff!

Thanks for visiting! 

I am linking up with The Mom Creative