Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Easiest Crockpot Chicken Chili Ever

I think everybody needs a good "go-to" chili recipe and this is it!

It tastes just like my mommas...except for the fact that she does not have a recipe.  She just pours and adds and tastes and adds and somehow it always turns out tasting amazing.
So, when I tasted my friend Leslie's chili, I was sure to ask for the recipe.  It turns out that she had tweaked hers a bit from the original recipe, too, but after making it twice...I think I can safely say there is practically no way you can mess this up!  And if someone could mess it up or burn it, it would be me...thus the reason that I LOVE my crockpot!

This easy little "throw and go" is perfect for entertaining.

I served it at our family's Christmas Celebration along with baked potatoes which was perfect!  A green salad, a veggie platter and cookies were also on the menu.

Sooo, the next time you are needing a quick crockpot dinner, you may want to give this a try.

Easiest chicken chili ever:
{adapted from Leslie}

2 cans white beans and 2 cans pinto beans (two drained, two undrained)

2 cups salsa (I like the Organic Kirkland kind from Costco)

3 large chicken breasts

Mix beans and salsa together and place in the crockpot.

Place chicken on top.

Cook on high for 5 hours.

Remove chicken & shred, then add chicken back into the beans.

Cook one more hour on low.

Top with avocado, green onion, cilantro, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and green chiles.

Very filling and very yummy. 

Thank you, Leslie!

P.S.  I used my homemade crockpot pinto beans and it turned out so GOOD!

Now, go plan a little party and ENJOY!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas 2012

"Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting Light, the hopes and fears of all the years... are met in thee tonight."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Sandwiches

Here you go! Short and sweet.

Favorite brownie recipe or box mix.

Bake brownies according to directions.

I baked mine in star molds, but you could make a thin batch and use cookie cutters to cut them out...after they are cooled completely. Make sure your pan is well-greased so they don't stick!  I do NOT need hate mail. :)

Freeze cooled brownie "cookies".

You will need two stars for each sandwich.

Scoop a small scoop of peppermint ice cream onto first star. Top with a second
star. Sprinkle edges with a bit of crushed peppermint candy {optional}.  Purchased peppermint ice cream is also totally fine and yummy!!!

Place in freezer until ready to serve.

If you have waxed sandwich bags, you could store them in the bags and place them in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Too messy? Too time consuming? Just make your brownies and fill with buttercream frosting with a bit of peppermint flavoring and food coloring or buy your peppermint ice cream. Whatever you really need to make these.

You may also make brownies and use cookie cutters to cut out any template you like. I just love stars!

What is your favorite sweet treat for CHRISTMAS? Do you make it? Buy it? Enjoy it from someone else? Is it tradition? I would love to hear.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

LIGHT in a Dark World

In light of this past week...I have nothing that seems okay to post. I don't feel as though I am able to post about Christmas crafts, cookie baking days or about a stove that is constantly "on the fritz". It all seems quite insignificant, to say the least.


As Scott and I have talked about our week and those that are in so much pain around us, we ARE able to go before our Heavenly Father who knows these things.

We are able to cry out to Him and plead for strength and comfort.

 We are able to trust Him.

We are able to seek His face.

May all of this evil around us drive us to Him and not away from Him.


As a child, I was always fascinated by the flicker of a candle. I loved candle light so much that I remember announcing to my parents, "when I grow up, I am going to have candle light every night!"...and for the most part, I do light a candle almost every night.


What is it about the dark? What is it about a dancing flame of light transforming the dark.dark room into a cozy, warm refuge?


It was a very cold winter night.

Our family lived in a tiny, little German town of Schesslitz on the outskirts of Bamberg.

The village was quaint and everybody knew everybody.  There were old buildings to play in, small creeks for skipping rocks, paths to hike, a castle to climb to and our very own Table Land for early spring picnics and daisy chain wreaths…but best of all…the soccer field and small lakes that would turn into the most amazing ice skating rinks when the weather got cold enough for SNOW.

This night was quite different from most.

Our parents got us out of bed, bundled us up…and took us on our sleds down to the “ice skating” rink

Skating and twirling by star light was like a dream.

After we got our boots back on, and hot chocolate was had, we went home…but not back up the  hill by our school.


We went through town!  It was the looong way home.

As we wandered through the cobblestone streets covered with what could easily be mistaken for sparkling diamonds that I saw between the wooden slats of my old sled …there was a hint of light up ahead. It seemed so dark, yet, I remember thinking that it must be the light of the moon reflecting on the freshly fallen snow…but as we turned a corner, there it was.

It was the most beautiful Christmas tree that had been lit with what seemed like a million real candles.  The glow instantly cast out the dark shadows.  It is one of my favorite Christmas memories.  Never had it seemed so dark...and then suddenly, out of nowhere so bright!!
This afternoon, our home has been drastically quiet and a storm has been brewing outside.
It has been unusually slow and much quieter than I like...even for our Selah Sunday.

Today as I was reflecting on what feels like a deep.dark.night without any promise of light anytime soon, I was reminded of the fact that God is the LIGHT of the world.  It is He who calms the storms and heals the weak.  He is still worthy of our trust and it is He who can take our shattered lives and fix them piece by piece, fragment by fragment.


Like everybody else, we have been looking forward to snow-covered trees, Christmas concerts and carolers…and the JOY that comes along with celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus.

We anticipate students home from college, friends from out of town and the hustle and the bustle of Christmas.


But for now, there is what feels like a pause.


 It is quiet and still…very much like long ago…as our world prepares to celebrate our KING.  Jesus was God’s gift to the world.  His Promise.


Soooo, as we sit in what seems to be the dead of winter, let’s pray for those around us who are hurting.  Take time to thank God for His goodness in sending His son to us…and for providing us with His JOY…we must remember that perfect peace is ours.  “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”  Isaiah 26:3


Just like that tree so many years ago, we can be a simple warm beacon of light to those around us.


Thank you, Jesus for giving us peace and for sending us a LIGHT for this


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Caesar Salad in a Cup

Happy Tuesday!  Hope you are all having a good start to the new week.

Our week started off with a day/night with our nephew and nieces.  Our guest room was filled with three little girls and their favorite pillows, blankies and stuffed animals.  The boys were last to hit the hay...but I must say that I peeked in on all of them several times just to take it all in.  We enjoyed them so much!
You just forget how little ones are so excited about the simple things like waffles, favorite syrups and mounds of whipped cream for breakfast... tiny tea cups and lemonade mixed with orange juice, hanging Christmas bulbs and snow globe night lights and window seats!

Since we are all about simple I decided to post this again.

It is one of my favorite, quick go-to's when I have little time, but want to add a fun element to a meal.

Caesar Salad in a Cup

1.  Wash and dry Romaine leaves.

2.  Place several leaves in the bottom of a cup, standing straight up.  Kinda like a bouquet of  flowers. Be sure to have the bottom of the leaves at the bottom of the cup and the pretty, curly edges at the top.

3.  Sprinkle a few croutons around..

4.  Pour Caesar salad dressing into a condiment cup and sprinkle with fresh Parmesan cheese.

Variations:  These can also be served in clay pots, a bowl lined with colored parchment paper or wax paper, little pails tied with a bell, a juice glass etc.

The best part about this?  Your guests get to eat their salad with their hands!  This is one sure way to get your kiddies to eat their greens, too!


Monday, December 10, 2012

A Simple Christmas List

Christmas should be simple...but how many of us have wiped our brow and moaned a "whew" on December 26th...knowing full well New Years is still to be had?
We become irritable and overwhelmed with finding new spots for newly acquired gifts, and our children can be equally as cranky feeling frustrated with being asked to pick up their things when clearly there is no room for more stuff.
When our children were still very small, we had decided {Yes, we were the parents and we took full advantage of this privilege} that Christmas was going to be kept as simple as possible.  We wanted to do special things together as a family, with friends and for others.
What we decided to do was simple, do-able, and fun...and it allowed us to keep our focus on the birth of baby Jesus which is why we were celebrating in the first place.
We have followed this every.single.year and it works.  The nice thing about the "GIFT LIST" is that it works with any budget.  Just be sure to have your kiddies include several ideas within each category so that they have no idea of what they are getting.

Simple Christmas Gift List:

1.  Something to read...I Spy was on THE LIST a couple of years in a row!

2.  Something to play with...sometimes the kiddies would coordinate with Build-a Bear toys...

3.  Something to wear...this was a favorite during high school years!

4. Something they wanted...dolls, guns, beads, beanie babies, pocket knives etc.

5.  Something they new jammies and socks

This made it easy for our children and even easier for us!

Our Holiday breakfast...Friday morning after Thanksgiving...was the first gift of the season which was a special ornament depicting something of importance from the last year.  This was always my favorite thing to shop for as it was a real challenge to be super creative in finding the perfect ornament!

We would also buy a family was usually a new card game, a bowling trip for the family, a night out to our favorite restaurant, maybe a new Veggie Tales movie, sleds etc.  There was no rhyme or reason to this...just something that we knew we would all love to do together!

I LOVED keeping Christmas as simple as possible and loved that our children knew what Christmas was all about.

Tucking our children in at night, with their rooms glowing from their own little trees is a memory I will forever cherish...but hearing them sing "Happy Birthday, Jesus" with their little voices was to me...a small glimpse of heaven  on this earth.  That song still makes me cry! It makes me long for simplicity and the the reminder of why we should keep things focused on the precious son of God who we are celebrating.

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

These stockings are special because the same lady that made my hubby his stocking when he was little made the exact same ones for our littles!  Stockings with a story...

A very favorite Christmas book!

Look at our beautiful babes!!!

A cake plate, fresh cedar branches, 4 glass votive holders and one white pillar candle=a simple ADVENT centerpiece!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Potato Soup

Warm, cozy nights are my favorite.  Nothing like a warm home and hot soup to soothe the soul.
Whether it is just YOU and maybe a little pet or a home full of family and friends, one thing is simply can not go wrong with a soup dinner...and maybe holiday cookies for members of the "clean plate club".  Who am I kidding?  Cookies for all...after all it is Christmas time!!

Potato Soup

1 cup butter

1 cup flour

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 clove of garlic, pressed or minced {optional} or 1/2 teaspoon dry granulated garlic

4 cups milk

4 cups half and half

4 cups baby red potatoes, cut  into bite-sized cubes

½ cup white wine {we use Charles Shaw}

2 ½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon paprika


*Cook potatoes in salted water until fork-tender…about 10 minutes.  Drain potatoes and let sit until you are ready to add them into the soup.

*In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and sautee onions until tender and add the garlic.

*Add the flour and stir away while cooking.  DO NOT let this burn.  Only cook for about a minute.

*Add in half and half and milk and whisk.  Let the soup start to bubble and add in potatoes, wine and spices.

*Let soup cook on super low so that it does not stick to the bottom and burn.

My favorite way to serve this is at a dinner party is to go ahead and ladle it into soup bowls, top it with chopped green onions and shredded cheddar cheese, place them on a baking sheet and bake at 350* until bubbly.  Your guests will love this!

Serve with a sparkling apple juice, fresh crusty bread, a green salad, and don’t forget the toppings!

Just pretend it is a baked potato and top it like you like!  Maybe sour cream, green onions, bacon {YUCK!}, and shredded cheddar cheese!


Shared with:  stone gable

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Iced Molasses Cookies

Here is another cookie recipe from the archives.

Sometimes inviting company over for a meal can seem overwhelming...what about inviting a few friends for tea and cookies and maybe a few cheese and crackers?  You will be glad you did!!!

I hope that this Christmas season will be a time of JOY as you reflect on the birth of Jesus. It is this baby that changed the course of History in offering us hope for eternal life!


Cream Together:

¾ cup butter, softened

1 cup organic sugar


¼ cup Brer Rabbit Molasses {unsulphured, mild flavor}

1 egg

Stir together and add to molasses mix:

3 cups flour{or 2 cups flour + 1 cup bread flour}

2 tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. sea salt salt

1 tsp. each of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves

*Mix well

*Roll dough into balls...about the size of a golf ball

*Roll balls in organic sugar

*Place sugared dough balls on SILPAT or onto parchment lined baking sheets

*Bake for 10 minutes @ 375* or until cookies start to "crack". Let sit for a few minutes.  These are best under baked a bit so they stay soft and chewy!

Makes about 16 cookies.

Once cookies are cooled, melt white chocolate or candy discs and drizzle over cookies and sprinkle with coarse sanding sugar.


Usually organic sugar is optional, but in this recipe it makes them!

"Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting Light, the hopes and fears of all the years, are met in Thee tonight."

Shared with:  Titus2sday

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Scott's Firehouse Peppermint Ice Cream

From the ARCHIVES...

I am the luckiest ducky in the world because my hubby is one fantastic cook and he teaches me things all of the time. I am his "official taste tester" and he is mine! {Amongst other friends and neighbors}.

Last night, he finally perfected his Homemade Peppermint Ice Cream. TO.DIE.FOR. and the best part about it is that he is sharing it with all of you. Now, we are all lucky little duckies {even though I don't believe in LUCK!}

Thank you, Honey, for workin' on it until you got it "right"! Such the sweetie you are!!!

Here is a fun idea for Christmas gifts or for entertaining during the Holidays. This is great because it can all be made up ahead of time. When dessert time rolls around, all you need to do is to pull out your tray of Homemade Peppermint Ice Cream containers. You may want to make two different sizes. The good news is there is no mess {YAY!} and no clean-up...EVEN BETTER!  If they are too full, they can take it home!

Your guests will feel completely pampered and pleasantly full!

Scott's Firehouse Peppermint Ice Cream

Scott Pearson


2-1/2 cups milk

2-1/2 cups sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

2-1/2 cups half & half

1-1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract


5 cups whipping cream

2 cups crushed peppermint candies


• Heat milk until bubbles form around pan.

• Remove milk from heat

• Add sugar and salt, stir until dissolved.

• Stir in remaining ingredients.

• Place into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s directions.{BUNNY FOO FOO!}

****This recipe makes 5 quarts of ice cream******

This is such a versatile recipe! Eventually you will come up with your own variations.

Another yummy option: Skip the peppermint candies and fold in two rows of Trader Joe's Candy Candy Joe Joe's, chopped...or if you really want to have a sugar coma, go ahead and roughly chop the whole entire box of chocolate cookies. Just FOLD in the cookies after the ice cream has already been made! This is hubby's secret!

Packaging Ideas:

As soon as the ice cream is made. Pour into whatever containers you plan on gifting and place in freezer until needed.

Simply place four embellished containers in a Take-Out drink carrier {My friends and family collect these for me year-round! THANK YOU!}

Placed cedar clippings around the containers and attached a sweet little label with the family's initial to a branch. That is it!

What are some ideas you have for Christmas this year?


Shared with:  Stone Gable

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Snow Globes

After seeing snow globes at Anthropologie last year and again on my friend Diana's blog, I decided to make a few...using Dollar Store supplies and leftover canning jars from the wedding this last summer.
My one little problem was that the globes needed a bit of light in, I bought flameless candles and it was perfect!

They are super easy and take minutes to make!

Here is a "how to" for YOU!

Aside from the canning jars, which our Dollar Store also carries, everything was purchased there.  However you may  have the other supplies at home already.

Supplies you will need:

One 3- pack Dollar Store flameless candles

One 2- pack of Dollar Store bottle brush trees

1 Dollar Store spray bottle of snow in a can

1 Dollar Store small box of Epsom salt

Two canning jars OR two cheese shakers 

Ribbon, twine, string or jute

glue gun and glue sticks


1. Take your cheese shaker or canning jar and HOT GLUE your little bottle brush tree into the bottom of the jar.  DO NOT spray the snow first as it is super greasy and your glue will do the slip-n-slide and will not stick to the bottom.  Trial and error.  :}

2.  Glue your flameless candle to the top of the shaker.  Make sure the on/off switch is under a hole so that you can turn it on or off with the help of a toothpick. :}

3.  Shake the can o' snow really good and then spray it just a bit with the nozzle pointed toward the bottom. You just want a tad bit so that you can still see your little flocked tree.

4.  Pour a bit of Epsom salt in the bottom.  I like the Epsom salt instead of fake snow...because it LOOKS like sugar and it actually glistens just like real snow when light reflects off of it.

5.  Take your ribbon, twine, string or jute and knot the ribbon evenly through a hole on both sides so that it is nice and sturdy and will hang straight.  This way it will not shatter into a million pieces once it is hung.

6.  Screw on the lid and hang with care!

If you are using a canning jar, punch a couple of holes in the lid and hot glue the flameless candle so that you can easily turn the light on and off with a toothpick or fork tine.

OOOPS...I totally forgot the ring on the jar.  You get the idea.

These are darling hanging from the ceiling, on the windowsill, perched on chunky candle holders, nestled in a basket with greens and winter berries.  The possibilities are endless!  I put one on a cake stand in the bathroom and it is adorable!  Lamp posts would also be fun if you aren't into bottle brush trees.
I know...blah blah blah, but one more thing.  I put them down our dining room table without our dining table light on and they are very classy looking.  Just right for a Christmas dinner party as they make your table glow.  They are not too fussy or too tall to distract from dinner conversation.  Okay.  I think I have exhausted this topic of conversation by now!!!
Have fun creating your very own!

When we have grandbabies, I think they will need these little Christmas globes for night lights...what do you think???

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Scott's Firehouse Crock Pot Steak Fajitas

Okay, girls...this is a winner!
If ever there was the perfect recipe for feeding a crowd on a budget and when you are short on TIME, almost an order too tall to fill...this is it!
It takes minutes to make and it is divine.
My hubby combined his original recipe with YVONNE from Stone Gable's recipe and it is to.die.for!  Coming from a "happy without meat vegetarian wanna-be"...this is my favorite way to eat red meat!!!

Steak Fajitas

1 cup MEDIUM prepared salsa

1/4 cup deli sliced jalapeno peppers

3 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed

juice of 1 lime

1 tablespoon molasses

1 tablespoon liquid smoke

1 squirt of ketchup

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 large yellow onions, peeled, cut into half and then sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 yellow pepper, sliced

1 orange pepper, sliced...any combo of peppers, really.  Whatever you do:  DO NOT USE GREEN PEPPERS.  Trust me.  {nastiness!!}

3 pounds Carne Asada


*Combine salsa, peppers, garlic, lime, molasses, liquid smoke, ketchup, salt and pepper together.

*Place Carne Asada in the bottom of your crock pot.

*Cover with sauce.

*Make sure meat is covered in sauce.  Make sure the sauce is on the the bottom, too.

*Place onion and pepper slices on top.

*Put the lid on and cook on high for 6 hours...or until meat is falling apart.

*Ladle into a warmed bowl and enjoy!

Don't forget the tortillas, beans, cheese, sour cream, and hot sauce.

I made a large pot of rice and skipped the fajitas and made a stacki upi.  This is perfect for those with food allergies as they are able to top it with what they may have or for those picky eaters that don't like certain things!  Not that we have any of those in our family.  :}

To make this even easier, I cut the peppers and onions up the night before while I was cutting veggies for a salad...and just put it in a large bag so that I could just toss it in the crock pot.

****BLOGGER is no longer letting me add pictures.  Sorry about that.  My hubby will need to help me figure this out.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cranberry Poppin' Jezebel Sauce

Happy Monday to you all!
Does it even seem possible that Thanksgiving is THIS week??
Among other Thanksgiving traditions, this cranberry sauce {with a bit of a not-so-nice name!} takes center stage every year.  It is used to top the turkey, but has a bunch of other uses during the holidays.  I think every holiday table looks more beautiful with a crimson cranberry sauce, don't you?
Thank you, Linda for sharing your recipe with our family so.many.years ago!
 {Cranberry Poppin'} Jezebel Sauce
Linda Shaw

1 cup water

½ cup sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 package {12 oz.} fresh cranberries 

Cook for 10 minutes on low boil.  You will see and hear the cranberries poppin'!  :}

Stir well...and smoosh the berries if you want!

Let cool.

Add 3 tablespoons horseradish sauce { I buy the Trader Joe’s brand without the sugar!}

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard

Makes 2 1/2 cups of sauce.

Store in glass jars.  I had enough for 5 mini canning jars.  This is one recipe you will want to double or triple!

These make the perfect little hostess gifts.  Just think:  one pot, a few measuring spoons, and a measuring cup to wash...a few minutes...and you have hostess gifts ready to give!

Even the pickiest of gourmet friends will be loving this!

Other ideas for your Jezebel Sauce:

*Spread onto a toasted bagel with cream cheese and turkey.

*Pour over cream cheese on a platter with crackers.

*Set brie on puff pastry.  Top with a bit of brown sugar and hazelnuts or pecans...and top with a bit of Jezebel sauce.  Bake according to directions for puff pastry.

The list goes on and on and on!

Shared with:  stone gable

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mini Pecan Pies {in mini clay saucers}

The only thing better than a mini pecan the BEST PECAN PIE recipe.  
It is one thing to have a cute little pie that is all your own, but it is an entirely different story when it tastes even better than it LOOKS!

My dear Southern Belle friend, Penny made these most.delicious pies several years ago and they were honestly the best pecan pies I had ever had...and that was without the rum sauce, ice cream and whipped cream!
I asked her for the recipe and it was the same one I had {on the back of the Karo syrup bottle}...but her secret was doubling the pecans!
No wonder it tasted!

Thank you, Penny for the sweet friendship and your secret to the yummiest pecan pies...EVER! You girls from the South do know a thing or two about baking!

Since I am slightly obsessed with mini clay saucers, I decided to make mini pies in them for this Thanksgiving.

All you need is 12 three-inch saucers that are not glazed.
Wash them up well and let them dry in a warm oven.

Mini Pecan Pies 
Karo Syrup and Penny Newton

1 cup Karo syrup
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla...I use vodka vanilla or vanilla bean paste
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3 cups pecans...I use 2 cups pieces and 1 cup whole 

1 store-bought pie will only need 1 of the 2 inside


Preheat oven to 350*.

Mix syrup, eggs, sugar, vanilla, butter and pecans together.  {YOU gotta love a one or two dirty dish dessert!}

Roll out pie dough.
Using a cookie cutter, use one that is a bit bigger than your saucers.
I got 12 cut outs from one dough.

Line each saucer and fill with about 1/4 cup of your pecan filling.

Place filled saucers onto a baking sheet and bake @ 350* for about 28 minutes.

...and when your little pies are baked and cool, you just may want to box them up so that they don't disappear before Thanksgiving!!

Happy Wednesday!!