Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Crock Pot Refried Beans

Now that I've made these several times the can beans just don't cut it on taco night at our house!  Tonight is chicken taco night and they are going to be so delicious topped with these easy to make refried beans.  I hope you enjoy them too!  

Ingredients Needed: 

1pk - Pinto Beans
2T (one cap full) - Garlic Garlic
2T (one cap full) - Onion Onion
1T (half cap full) - Seasoned Salt 
1 Med Onion

Place crock pot liner in crock pot (available at Wal-Mart) 

Wash beans until water is clear 

Place beans and spices in crock pot 

Add just enough water to cover 

Cook on high until boil starts 

After boil starts turn on low and simmer until tender about 6-8 hours 

Continue to add cold water as needed 

Let cool and store in the refrigerator overnight (you can skip this if you want to serve the same day) 

In the morning saute onion in a little butter until tender, add to beans 

Mash beans and let simmer until ready to serve - if needed season to taste

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Date At Night

He LOVES his Great Aunt Beverly
Several months ago our youngest who is now 11 said; "Mom, one day can we go on a date at night?"  Often I take the boys on a one on one "date".   We spend time laughing, talking and doing an activity they enjoy.  Its a time of bonding, a time to talk, a time to listen, a time to laugh and a time to build great memories.  A few months ago when my youngest and I were yet again coming home from a late night visit to the ER he said; "Mom, one day can we go on a date at night?"  I said; "Where would we go?"  He said; "How about we just get in the car, get dinner and drive to Columbia!"  Well, considering that is 100 miles away I chuckled and said something like, "Well, one day we will just have to go on a late night date!"  Well, as much as I hate to admit it, life got busy, and although I thought of it a few times, a late night date in the summer means 9pm or later and it seemed to be put to the back of my to do list.
He loves this little man William.  He rocked him
to sleep then did not want to put him down
so he just rested in Caleb's arms.  

About four years ago he had a life altering accident.  We had a new paved "black road" as the kids called it, it was a place where bikes, skateboards, roller blades, any toy with wheels were screaming in every kids garage "TAKE ME TO THE BLACK ROAD!"  Our oldest begged to walked to the "black road" to try out his new rip-stick.  While there our youngest, the dare devil, decided with the logic of a 7 year old that it would be fun to get on the rip-stick and hold on to a jacket of a boy riding a bike, in a moment, in the blink of any eye his life would be forever changed.   He was whipped and thrown from a rip-stick (two wheel skateboard) and hit his head on the curb (no, he did not have his helmet because he was just a tag along).  He blacked out, lost memory, did not know his name, and was taken to the hospital where we found out he had a skull fracture.  At that time we were told 6-8 week recovery and he'll be just fine.  If that were only the case.  Since, he has had a complete personality change (but still a sweetie pie), he went from loving extreme sports to being timid, he has memory loss, concentration problems, speech problems, he picks up strange "ticks" from time to time and so on.  Needless to say the 6-8 weeks of rest was not the answer.  Following up again we were told sometimes these affects can last 4-5 years.

I love that in the children's hospital ER
with all the cool stuff they offer kids, he
chooses to watches the weather channel!
Last week he was stretching his back and when he leaned backwards he felt a "pop" in his head.  He then felt a warming sensation followed by in his words "nails running down a chalk board".  He then became dizzy and stumbled a few times.  His brother felt his head and said; "Compared to the rest of his head, it was hot in the spot where he felt the pop."

There were no conclusion at the ER and we're following up with a pediatric neurologist to see what is going on.  This is not a medical post, as I'll leave that up to the professionals.  This is simply a post of a busy Mom who is thankful that for a date at night. 

It was around 4:00am when we were given the news; "We think (don't you love that word) for now he is not in critical care, so we're going to send you home, but we're putting in a referral for him to see the neurologist and if you don't hear from them by tomorrow call this number.  It would be a good idea to keep an eye on him through out the night until you get into see the neurologist."  Oh, so reassuring and comforting those words were to this Mom.

Having been through testing, poking and prodding for several hours he was hungry.  Trying to find a restaurant open at 4:00 am is no easy task but there is always good ole McDonald's!    As we pulled into McDonalds my heart was flooded with gratefulness that we were pulling into McDonalds, knowing the outcome could have been drastically different and not knowing what were were facing, I was flooded with memories of his birth, his 11 years of life, the day he accepted Christ into his heart, and the moments of joy and laughter he has brought to our family.

After getting breakfast we began our 20 minute trip home.  Tired from the night and ready for bed he was not!  As we pulled away he said:  "Mom, you ok?  You look funny!"  I smiled and said "I look like its 4am!"  We had a good laugh and he continued talking, "Well, Mom, we have food, its dark, we're on our night date!"  We laughed and I said with a heavy heart, "We sure are Buddy!"  Although it was 4am, and I was physically exhausted, I decided this was the perfect time for a "Date at Night!"

He loves our new "big bridge" as he calls it, and we don't go that direction much, instead of going straight, I took a sharp turn the the right and he said with excitement "Mom, where are you going?  This is not the way home!" I said; "Well, since were on our date, we're going the long way home!"  With the biggest burst of excitement, he sat up in his seat, looked at me and said "This is GREAT!"  We drove over the bridge and he looked at all the lights, talked about how different it looks at night, he looked straight up with amazement at the cables, laughed at stories of him and Dad walking across and fell in love with our city at night.

As we continued on our night date, he reached over, patted me on the arm and said; "You're the best Mom EVER!"  A date at night.  Very little money involved (well, lets not add in the hospital bill), just time.  This way home we go over several smaller bridges and have lots to see.  He talked the entire time and together we each etched a precious memory.

When we arrived home at 5:30 am he was content with our "Date at Night" he was tired complaining of being dizzy and he used up every last word.  After greeting the dog, he turned out the light, looked at me and whispered; "I'm glad I'm home Mom!"  I knew what he meant and as he hugged me goodnight, I could say nothing else but "I'm glad you're home too Buddy!"

Brothers and Best Friends
We don't know what the future holds but as I've been reminded so many times, I know who holds our future.  When each nurse, each PA, each doctor, each specialist heard his story of the "pop" they all had the same response; "Wow! ummm, wow!"  In my heart, I know God has worked a miracle in this little boys life.  He was a miracle conception, it was a miracle birth and from birth we prayed to Christ and said "You're will be done".  Today, that holds true, for we know there is no better place to be then in His will and we continue to trust Him each day and as I'm reminded to be thankful for each day, today I'm especially thankful for a date at night.  

Thursday, August 30, 2012

God's Love During The Hard Times

Donna Mae Shick
May 10, 1937 - August 10, 2012

As a little girl if you asked me where was my favorite place to visit, my top choices would be Aunt Donna's house!  Aunt Donna had an amazing two story home that was built by my Uncle George and cousin Scott.  My favorite was the downstairs, its an open floor plan has an additional kitchen and my favorite was a sunken living room.  I played house in there and loved exploring.  There were always treasures to be found.  The house sits on a hill which leads to a beautiful lake where I swam for hours and hours.  Where I spent hours tipping the canoe (yeah, could not keep it upright) and where I enjoyed being a little girl.  Aunt Donna loved what I loved; shopping, animals, family, laughter, life.  I love taking my boys back there to swim and build their own memories as well.  I love talking to her on the phone, she always had a way of making me laugh.  She loved getting letters in the mail and I loved getting them in return.  

When the news came of her death I was overwhelmed with grief.  Suffering a sudden loss fills you with the regret of I wish...I wish I would have called last week, I wish I would have mailed this card, I wish I would have had one more chance to say "I love you".  I was unprepared for the grief that flooded my soul.  Thanks to my precious family who rallied around I was able to go to the memorial service with my Mom (her sister), brother and youngest son.  
Welcome Home
 Walking into a home of a loved one who was there one moment and gone the next was again overwhelming.  Walking up to the door and seeing the welcome mat made my heart sink.  In the past that mat was always a welcome sight but this day it was a reminder of just how sweet Heaven is going to be.
Take off your shoes Rachel!
When I walked into the house the first thing I saw were her shoes by the front door.  Among the tears I had to have a good laugh because they were a reminder to me "Rachel, take off your shoes" which she always reminded me to do when I came into the house.  As I walked through the house I was reminded time and time again how she was simply living life and then was called home.  Her jewelry on the bathroom sink from her shower, a half emptied glass of water next to her medication, a bottle of hair spray on the counter, her Bible on the end table, magazines she enjoyed.  It was difficult to be in the house and not have her give me a big hug and although I knew she was gone I expected her to bust out in laughter making everyone in the room smile.  The quietness was hard.  

When I went to bed that night I could hear her laughing and saying funny things that always made me smile.  When I was in the bed I was thinking of all her favorite things, and in my mind I was planning on going to the store to make her a goodie basket to leave as a surprise when we left.  As I was dreaming I then had to come back to reality and realize there was no need to leave the basket, as we were there to say goodbye.  I felt a pain like I have never felt and as I lay in the room where I slept many times I began to cry and beg God for His comfort during this time. I asked Him to please show me that Aunt Donna was there with us and most of all I begged God to show me His love.  Little did I know just how much love he had in store for me....
Her love for antique cars and a favorite color
The next day Colleen (my cousin) and I went to take a table to the church for the flowers.  When we pulled up to the church I met a dear sweet lady named Martha who said "Oh, Rachel, I feel I already know you, your Aunt Donna loved you so much."  When we went to the car to get the table my cousin froze as she watched an antique car drive by at a very slow speed.  As her eyes welled up with tears she said; "Mom loved antique cars and that is her favorite color!"  Knowing my prayer the night before I felt a special hug and knew she was there with us, giving us her love as we carried her favorite table into the church.  
Her Love Sign Is A Dime

That afternoon my heart was filled with compassion for my brothers and sisters who could not join me.  I was texting them through out the day and I had them heavy on my heart, I knew they wanted to be there too.  As I was cleaning out a dresser in the guest room my heart was heavy for my sister who sacrificed so I could be there and yet I knew she longed to be there as well.  As I was cleaning out the drawer I found photos of my boys, cards and countless treasures she kept.  When I reached the bottom of the dresser there was yet another sign of God's love.  My sisters love sign is a dime and there in the bottom of the dresser drawer was a single dime.  God knew my heart was heavy for her and he left me that treasure so I could tell her; "God loves you too Sissy and you were a special part of Aunt Donna's heart as well."    
His Love Sign Is A Blue Bird
Later that night I was packing up some dishes she left for me and my youngest son was walking through the house.  I could see he was struggling and I asked; "You okay, Buddy?"  His eyes filled with tears and he started to cry.  He said "Mom, I just want to have her here one more time to see me swim.  I did not get to see her much but my heart hurts."  We both cried and I told him "Why don't you look around to see if you can find a small trinket to take with you as a reminder of her love?"  Aunt Donna loved elephants so he found a little elephant but it was just not the right thing.  We finished packing and when I walked back in the house I said; "Oh, Caleb, come look!!"  There sitting on the entrance table was his love sign from God, a small little blue bird.  He hugged me and I said "Caleb, God loves you so much.  Aunt Donna had no idea when she put this little bird here you would one day need it."  His heart was filled with joy and again I felt the mighty hand of God, pick me up and say "Rachel, I love you too."  

Black Squirrels Can Also Be a Love Sign

The cell service was not great at Aunt Donna's so I would go sit in the car where I could make a call every now and then and text.  I called my sister and as we were talking a little back squirrel kept running around the van.  I was laughing because it was just going nuts running around the van.  I told my sister about how funny it was acting.  My sister said; "What color is he?"  I said; "Strange enough black, I've never seen a black on before!"  She laughed and said; "Did you know Aunt Donna's love sign was a black squirrel!"  Oh, my heart jumped for joy over another treasure from Christ.  No one knew my prayer but God did and in His gracious way gave me joy unspeakable and full of Glory. 

Mom, God Loves You Too!
During the memorial service I was able to speak of the hugs I had been receiving from Christ over the past few days and how during the darkest of times Christ can fill your heart with such comfort and joy if you just ask him.  I pointed out how over the past few days God answered a prayer in a magnificent way and although my heart was filled with grief over the loss of Aunt Donna, Christ came, picked me up and carried me through.  After the service our youngest son was blessed by the stories of God's grace.  He felt bad that even though I saw many blessings I did not see one red bird (my love sign).  As we were traveling home we stopped at a gas station and he and his Uncle went "shopping".  He came out with a little bag and a HUGE smile.  As he got in the car he dropped his bag and when he opened it up his treasure was broken.  Tears began to puddle in his little eyes and I knew whatever it was in that little bag was an important treasure.  His Uncle jumped out of the van and said; "Lets go fix this problem!"  They went into the store and both came out with big smiles once again.  As we got ready to leave Caleb said "Mom, wait a minute!"  He handed me a little white shopping bag, crumbled up with little boy hands and said; "Mom, I wanted you to know that God loves you too!"  Yes, I had to fight back the tears as I saw what was inside.  A little red bird snow globe.  Oh, I'm telling you, if you don't have a love sign you're missing out on a true treasure trove of blessings.  God wants to share his love with you and what better way then a personal sign between you and Him.
Aunt Donna, you will be missed
As I came home and was reflecting on all the memories of Aunt Donna and how Christ was so present during out trip, I remembered I had snapped a photo of the beautiful flowers my cousin so carefully picked out.  When I posted the photo here I again began to cry as I notice the cross in the background.  I did not notice it when I took the photo and I'm not sure where the light is coming from (I'm sure a window) but as I saw its illumination it was just another reminder to me of Christ love.  I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to go to the funeral and find comfort through Christ.  Yes, it was terribly hard to say goodbye, but Gods grace is sufficient for me.  

Romans 8:38
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow--not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love.  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Apple Pie - Baked in an Apple

I love Pinterest!  Don't you?  When I saw this recipe for apple pie baked in an apple I was pinning for sure!  My Dad LOVES apple pie and my Mom is the queen apple pie maker in our family.  You know how it is trying to make it like Mom makes it, it never turns out as good as Mom makes it so I've given up on the apple pie making!  LOL!  When I saw this I thought, ahhh, my own apple pie!  When I read Sarah's post HERE I had a good laugh then thought, well if she can do it, I can do it!  She did a great job on the crust but me, naaa, to much to do today to take the time.  If I was doing it for a holiday sure!  Well, maybe!  :)  Visit Sarah's blog for her recipe, I changed mine up a bit.

 Baked Apple Pie In An Apple

  • 5 Granny Smith Apples - Make sure they can stand alone and not roll over
  • 2 Tsp Cinnamon - Lave the shaker out to sprinkle inside apples
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar ( + additional 2tbsp)
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar ( + additional 2tsp)
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla (optional)
  • Pie Crust (homemade or pre made - me...pre made)
  • 1 Egg (whisk in bowl for wash - optional)
  • Vanilla Ice Cream or Cool Whip - again optional but I mean come on its PIE!!
  • Any other seasonings you like in apple pie...throw them in!
Preheat Oven to 375

Prepare The Apple
  • Wash and remove stickers (yeah, forgot to do that...tee hee)
  • Cut off top of apple - not a lot, just a thin layer
  • Scoop out Insides or as my boys would say...guts - I used a melon ball scoop which worked great!  If you don't have one use a spoon but its best to get the melon ball scoop.  Don't scrape to close to the edge or the bottom because you'll punch a hole and all the yummy juice will drain out.
  • Sprinkle the inside of apple with cinnamon...do as much as you like.  I sprinkle about three shakes
  • Place apples in baking dish
  • Once you've scooped out the inside and thrown away the seeds and core mix apples a bowl with cinnamon, sugars and vanilla
  • Fill Apples with mixture

  • Since I used pre made crust I just unrolled it, cut it into 4 and draped over apple.  Not shown in photo but I also cut slits in top of crust
  • With whisked egg "paint" top of crust so it turns golden brown
  • Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon (I used 1 tbs Brown Sugar and 1 tsp Cinnamon)
  • Place apples in a baking dish
  • Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan - I wanted to flavor the water so I added more cinnamon and brown sugar to the water.  I added 1 tbsp Brown Sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon to the pan before adding water
  • Cover with foil and bake 30-35 minutes (you will bake less time if you have smaller apple slices but since I used the melon baller it needed more time)
  • Remove foil and bake and additional 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown

My family was so excited they ate them HOT! 
Hope you enjoy as much as we did!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lasagna Roll Ups

This week I decided to try something new! Lasagna Roll Ups! Isn't it funny, you get a new pan and you just want to cook something in it! My sister gave me a few pieces of Rachel Rays Bakeware for Christmas and I LOVE IT, so I thought a new dish in a new pan! We love lasagna and I've been hearing about Lasagna Rolls so my mind got to work and I came up with this dish that turned out to be SOOOO good! My Dad said; "Best lasagna I've ever had!" Got to love Dad's! :) I hope you enjoy it too!

Keep in mind I usually double my recipes so I can make a batch for the freezer or to give to a friend. If you don't want to make this much just cut it in half. This recipe will make about 20-22 rolls.

What You Need
3lb. ground beef
1 (32 oz.) Spaghetti Sauce (I use Prego Mushroom-the large bottle), divided
2 T Onion Onion (cap full)
1 tsp Garlic Garlic (half cap full)
3 tsp Sugar (optional)
2 Eggs slightly beaten
4 cups Mozzarella Cheese, divided
1 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
16 oz Cottage Cheese
20 lasagna noodles, cooked, drained

Parchment Paper

You could also add spinach to sneak a veggie in there!

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Brown meat in skillet on medium-high heat; drain.

MIX to meat, 3/4 Spaghetti Sauce, seasonings, sugar, beaten eggs, 3 cups Mozzarella Cheese, 1 Cup Parmesan Cheese and Cottage Cheese, set to the side.

NOODLES Its important when you cook the noodles you don't over cook them because they will fall apart. Bring water to a rolling boil, add noodles and cook about 7-10 minutes, just until they are pliable. Use a large pan to boil them but because they are long, don't worry about them sticking out, once they get hot they will fall into the water.

Once they have cooked, remove from water and lay them on parchment paper so you can roll them on the paper, then place in pan. Make sure to use tongs, they are HOT! The silicone tipped tongs are the best but if you don't have them just be careful not to rip them. But as you can see by the photo I ripped a few but still used them.

Cover the bottom of your pan with 1 cup spaghetti sauce. Just enough to cover the bottom of the pan.

Spread each noodle with 3 heaping tablespoonfuls of meat mixture, leaving about an inch from the end because when you roll the mixture will spread. Lay them in the pan with seam side down, top with remaining sauce and cheese. Bake 350 for 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

These are more of my new dishes! These cuties are going to my Mom so she can enjoy a hot meal two nights this week. I know they will make her super happy! Just wrap with foil, freeze and deliver.

Note about above photo, lay them down and cook with seam side down. I then covered with remaining sauce before topping with cheese. They cook better this way and the tips don't dry out.

These are for my family and my sister came over for dinner too. I thought I made enough for leftovers the next day but once they started eating them, they were gone! Glad I pulled Mom's out first!

Would love to hear how you make your roll ups...my mind is on a roll for different flavors, desserts...etc! ENJOY!