Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Italian Beeef Hoagies

As the weather continues to get colder, I keep going into "comfort food" mode. I recently bought one of the Goose Berry Patch cookbooks. This one is "Slow Cookers, Casseroles and Skillets"  Right up my alley because I do love the slow cooker, especially with this weather. There is just something about walking into the house and smelling something delicious cooking when it's cold and nasty outside.
This recipe was under the category "Just 5 Ingredients!"  Which is even more up my alley. The simpler, the better is my motto!

Here is the recipe:
Italian Beef Hoagies
3 to 4 lb beef chuck roast
2  .6 oz pkgs zesty Italian salad dressing mix
2 C water
24 oz jar pepperoncinis, drained and liquid reserved
15-18 hoagie rolls, toasted and split
Garnish: shredded provolone cheese
Slice roast across the grain into 4 pieces and trim any fat. Place in bottom of a slow cooker. Mix together dressing mix and water; pour over beef. Cover and cook on low setting for 8 to 10 hours, until tender; use forks to shred beef in slow cooker. Slice pepperoncinis into rings and add to slow cooker along with reserved liquid from jar. Cover and cook for a few more minutes, until heated through. Serve beef on toasted rolls, topped with cheese. Serves 15 to 18.
**notes**  I cut this recipe in half. I didn't need that many sandwiches. I used about a 1.5 lb roast and one pack of dressing with one cup of water. I used larger rolls to make a big momma sandwich! I also smeared garlic butter on the rolls before I toasted them and used sliced provolone cheese. I didn't add the peppers and juice to the meat, because of my picky eater. I added them just to mine and Nick's sandwiches.
Alex took one bite of his sandwich and said, "This is GOOD!"  Score!  This one is a homerun. I did some oven fries with them and called it a day.

As promised, more photos of my Christmas decor (including a photo of the finished tree)
Ok, I could do better with this photo.. I will take another one and try to include the WHOLE tree.

Fuzzy photo, sorry about that. This is the top of my china cabinet. I love Santas and have several!

I got these cute "skates" at The Christmas Tree Shop.  I love them! I wish I had gotten the mittens too. Live and learn. There is a Hawaiian Christmas Gecko next to them :)

Tonight is a playoff game for Alex's football team. Oy, as if the season wasn't long enough. Nick and I are working the concession stand. I figure it's warmer to be up moving around than sitting on concrete bleachers. If we win tonight there is one more game on Saturday, otherwise we're finished. I'm torn about how I want this to end!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Decking the Halls

As I promised yesterday, I'm writing about the Christmas decorating that went on here this weekend.
First, let me tell you that Alex had a BOATLOAD of homework. I don't know about you, but teachers giving assignments for projects that no kid can do on his own is getting old. It's real old and I'm so over it!  This last project was a "scavenger hunt"  This came with a paper of 14 clues. The clues led to historic places all over town. Photos needed to be taken and a slide show made. Oy, this was time consuming. I tried to make it fun and educational but in the end it was a battle to get done.
Anyway.. on to decorations.
This year was painful. I still wasn't feeling 100 percent and had NO help at all. Callie always helped me,  Alex.. not so much. Nick is useful in hauling stuff, but not actually doing any decorating. Maybe it's a good thing he steers clear?
We bought a tree since ours didn't make it from Hawaii. It was wearing out and we threw it away last year. I love the new tree. It's the most real looking one I've ever had.
I have a fairly traditional decor for Christmas. The colors are red and silver. Even my gift wrap is done in red and silver. Most of the ornaments are pretty traditional as well.
I start with some fabric ribbon as garland.

Then I add some red berry picks.

Then Poinsetta picks.

Then I add red and silver balls. No photos of that.. it's pretty basic. I starting putting in additional ornaments then. They vary from year to year because I just have so many. A lot of them are recent additions. It's just so much fun to let the tree tell your story!
Here is one I picked up at the Rockettes show week before last.  

This next one is hand blown from Hilo, Hawaii.

Of couse there are a few whimsical ornaments in the middle of the more traditional. The weiner dog, for example.

The pirate Santa my mom bought for me when we went to Boston together.

The sailboat I got here in Newport.

I love this one. It came from a great gift shop back in Hawaii. HoHoHo!
My star is not traditional at all. It's pretty funky actually when compared to the rest of the tree. I love it though.

Tomorrow I'll give more of a tour of the place. My stuff's not fancy or expensive, but it is me.
Do all of you have the halls decked out yet?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Long Weekend

My goodness, has it been crazy here!
Thursday, we had two other families over for Thanksgiving dinner. I regret that I got no photos of the wonderful food. We had TONS of food leftover, even with four teenagers eating (two of them boys)  I think the only thing we completely wiped out was the 40 rolls I made. Holy cow those kids love their bread.
Nick fried a turkey and it was delicious. The only pictures I got were of him dropping his bird in the oil.
Notice the concentration. He's serious about his work. (or not starting a fire)

It was a good time for male bonding too. The guys stood around the fryer. The view's not bad either.

Let me tell you, that turkey smelled SO GOOD as it was frying. What's not to love about deep frying something?

Friday we bought a new tree. It's artificial and it came from Home Depot. I love it, it's beautiful! This was at the beginning stage.

Here it is all complete. It took me forever to get my stuff done this year. I'm not sure why. I will write a whole post about my "Decking the Halls" experience tomorrow. Tonight, I have Beer Cheese Soup in the crockpot, little smokies awaiting being wrapped in dough to become pigs in blankets, and football on the TV. It's time to relax.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Today I'm thankful that even though most of my kids aren't with me, they are with people they love and they are all healthy and happy.
I'm thankful for an extended Army family that is spread all over the world. I am especially grateful for the two Army families that will be joining us for a fabulous meal today.
I'm most thankful that Nick is home this year and we can be together. The world is just a little brighter when he's home.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


As I posted the other day, I've not been feeling well. I tried to be a trooper, went to Providence with my besties to see the Rockettes, walked down the road to a football get together Saturday night, but honestly, by Sunday night I was starting to lose it. Sunday night was not a good one at all. I was up half the night, coughing, trouble breathing, you know the drill... So, yesterday morning as soon as the appointment lines opened, I was on the phone to the clinic. I know these symptoms. They are a sinus infection. It may not be full blown now, but it's coming!  Most doctors will tell me, "Oh it's viral and you need a week for it to run its course"  Then a week later, I'm back in the clinic with a raging sinus infection. Why won't they listen? I know my own body.
Fortunately for me, I did convince my doc yesterday that I desperately needed antibiotics. I have Thanksgiving dinner to host at my house in two days!  I got a bag of meds, (antibiotics, decongestion medication, some other nose stuff and extra strong Tylenol) I started the antibiotics as soon as I got in the car.
I'm three doses down and am starting to feel like I might live. My head is still blasting with pressure, I have an annoying cough, but I'm seeing a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.
Nick has been so sweet, running to the store, taking care of things around here, etc. I'm so glad he has the next three days off. I'm going to need some help to pull this off. Thankfully, I'm not cooking the whole meal. My three girlfriends and their families are coming over and all bringing part of the meal. We split it pretty evenly so it should be great. I just need to get my house cleaned, the tables set up and, well you know the drill.
I finally had a shower and got dressed. I think I'll wander downstairs and put on some potato soup for dinner, clean my dining room and put the table cloth on. I had intended to wait until tomorrow to set the table, but I may need head starts on everything now.
I'm so thankful to have a wonderful husband who helps me. I'm thankful for my good friends I've made here, and that our families will be together. Even though my natural family is not here, I have a very strong  Army family and I'm so grateful for that.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Girlfriend Time

Friday, my two girlfriends, their daughters and I went to Providence to see the  Rockettes!  First, let me say what a beautiful theatre the Providence Performaning Arts Center is. I loved it!
My camera was having issues. Apparently, there was a sticky little finger print on my lense, (possibly from the three little girls who visited last weekend?) so I pulled these first two photos from the internet.
When we walked up, Christmas music was playing and there was a snow machine at the top of the marquis blowing snow out onto the sidewalk. Too much fun!

I couldn't take photos inside the theatre, so once again, I pulled this one from the internet. Isn't it beautiful?

This photo WAS taken with my camera.. thus the fuzzy part on Cindy's face. Sticky fingerprint.. I just found it and cleaned it off.
I'm so lucky to have found two great women to spend my time with here. We all have girls about the same age who love each other too. Deb and I have girls away at school that are so excited to come home for the holidays.
After the show we went over to Carrabba's Italian Grill and had a delicious dinner complete with dessert!
Yesterday, I stayed around the house still trying to get over the crud I have. Today, still cruddy, but I'm babying myself a little. Nice for me that Nick is here taking care of me as well. I have way too much to do this week to feel bad.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Today I...

...was supposed to go shopping with my girlfriends.
...woke up with a terrible sore throat and stuffy head so I cancelled my shopping trip.
...didn't get showered or dressed until 2:30
...only put on yoga pants and a sweatshirt when I did get dressed.
...gave myself a facial then didn't put on make up the whole day. (does putting a mask on your face qualify  as a facial?)
...did busy work like paying bills and making phone calls
...made a delicious chicken/corn/cheese chowder in the crockpot
...am thinking of going to bed already and it's not even 9:00
...am thinking I need to feel better because I'm going to see the Rockettes tomorrow!

Happy early weekend.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What Chef Are You?

I love to cook. I love to read about cooking and I love to read about others cooking. It should be no surprise that I love the Food Network. I usually have it on in the background as I'm working around the house. (when I'm not jamming out to my favorite new radio station here of Classic Rock) Anyway...The Food Network.
I have a few shows that I dearly love and hate to miss. I have some that I just don't like. Then there are the others that I don't really care about one way or the other.
So, I decided to figure which chef style I am. (as if I could claim to be a chef at all. My cooking skills are few but I do love it. I have never made up my own recipe but have tweaked a few...does that count for ANYTHING?)
First, I love Giada.

I love her style. I love her kitchen, her cookware, utensils and all that. I like how she has her little tools all prepared and has this big beautiful kitchen that always looks clean.

I love Ina.

I LOVE her house and her lifestyle.

I mean, seriously, who wouldn't? She has a great spread in the Hamptons, husband is gone during the week and she parties. Not only does she party, but she parties with the rich and famous. I love her kitchen, her tools, and her house.
Rachael..not so much.

Too perky for me. I tried one of her 30 minute meals one time and dirtied every pan in the house. I guess if you're slinging things around in 10 different pans, you can knock it out in 30 minutes. I do however, still watch her.
Paula Deen...now there's a woman I can relate to.

Former single mom, worked her way up to take care of her boys, married a fabulous man that should've been the one to begin with and is now living the dream. It doesn't hurt that we have the same first name and we kinda talk alike. I love that her boys are cooking with her a lot and that she has a precious grandbaby. All things I can get into.  I don't share her love for all things fat and buttery. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love it but just can't eat like that anymore.
I LOVE her kitchen. It's southern and homey. I can certainly get into that.

So, I guess my style is just my style. I beg, borrow and steal recipes. I buy way too many cookbooks and read lots of foodie blogs to get my inspiration.
I still strive to be more "cheffie" and will one day, hopefully, have a fabulous kitchen like these ladies. I wonder if I can have the staff to clean it?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Three Little Girls

What a weekend! We had family in to visit us this weekend. My husband's cousin, Shawn and his three little girls were here. They drove up from the D.C. area. Shawn and Nick grew up together and are truly more like brothers than cousins. Our kids call each other Uncle and Auntie and we have great times together. Shawn's wife couldn't join us this weekend because she is with her mother, back in Wisconsin, who has cancer and has just been put into hospice care. Shawn has been with his girls, alone now, for over two weeks and needed a break. God love him.
These girls are (almost) 7, 5, and 3. OH MY GOODNESS! These precious bundles have some energy.
They arrived as the football game was starting Friday night. Since the game wasn't here in our town, we met them at the stadium. They RAN around the stands the whole game. I figured they'd been in a car for close to 9 hours, they needed to burn some energy.
Saturday morning started very early. It was the middle girl's birthday (Lily) and she turned 5. Uncle Nick made her pancakes and took them to the playground here in the hood.

Lily helping make pancakes.

 Later we made cupcakes and the girls decorated them for Lily's birthday.

Decorating cupcakes.

Chicken wings!
 That precious child wanted chicken wings for her birthday dinner, so by George, that's what we had.
They left around 9:00 this morning and I was whipped. Nick said maybe I'm not ready to have grandbabies after all. I explained that with grandbabies, you get them as babies and can ease into it. You're not thrown into three at a time all under the age of 7.
I am sitting in my living room now after having done around 7 loads of laundry, cleaned my  house (which looked like tornadoes had gone through it) changed linens, scrubbed bathrooms, and went to the last JV football game of the year. My two boys are upstairs working on their studies and I'm enjoying just the sound of the dishwasher and dryer.
I haven't made a weekly menu, and I don't have a list for the commissary tomorrow. I need to get on it. How can three such small people wear me out like that?! I think I'm officially old.
Enjoy the photos of these beautiful girls and our adventures.

Big sister enjoying a cupcake.

No, she wasn't eating it, she was frosting it. She may have licked the spatula a few times.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veteran's Day

I appreciate so much the fact that some people are willing to serve our great country. I'm especially thankful that I married one of those people.
I'd like to think I honor our veterans every day, but today, I take a moment to think about those gone, and remember those who serve far from home. I thank my husband and all the others who give so much.

These photos were taken during homecoming ceremony from Iraq. That ceremony happened one year ago this week!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Photos of Fall

In case you don't know, I'm a southern girl. I don't do cold weather. The coldest weather I experienced in Texas is my new fall. Temperatures in the 40s with a bone-chilling, whipping wind, is not my idea of fall.
I have taken a few photos of our fall weather. It's hard to capture wind on a photo, but I gave it a shot. It just looks cold, doesn't it?

Beautiful photo. I love the colors. I love that there is a teenager raking those leaves and that I'm not doing it.

He looks cold, doesn't he? Notice a reflection in the photo? It's because I was on the INSIDE of the sliding glass door. I had hot apple cider as I watched him rake.

This was yesterday when we had over 20 MPH winds. BRRRR.

Look who is hanging in there through the cold. Beautiful roses.

My poor neighbors are packing out and moving in this rainy, windy weather. I felt for them as I had coffee from the warmth of my house.

Check out those whitecaps. Windy!

Oops, we might have had the boy rake too soon.

Yep, he definitely has job security here with these leaves. He's not going to like this.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Weekend Update and Weekly Menu

I can't believe it's Sunday evening already. Even with the extra hour today, it feels like time is flying.
Friday night was a home varsity football game. Since Nick and I have joined up with the Athletic Booster Club, we've been spending home football games working in the concession stand. Nick on the grill and me wrapping burgers and dogs to sell. It was cold but we had a great time.
Saturday morning, the JV team played so we drove about 45 minutes to watch our boy play. I thought it was cold on Friday night, but Saturday took the cake. It was really chilly. The downside was that our boy didn't even play most of the game. That made it feel even colder!
Saturday evening we had a fund raiser for the booster club. One of the members opened up their home and hosted a cocktail party. These people know how to raise money. The beer and wine was all donated by local businesses, and the appetizers donated by a local restaurant. I'm continually amazed at the generosity of the people around here. Even for the football games all the burgers are donated by a pub nearby. They are not wimpy burgers, but 1/2 pound patties! They are delicious!!
Today was church, lunch at a yummy diner where I had the best clam chowder in this area, a trip to the commissary and home to clean up some chores.
I have ham and potato soup on the stove, it's dark outside already at 5:00 PM and I'm feeling like hibernating.
This week's menu:
Sunday: Paula Deen's Ham and Potato Soup
Monday: Jennifer's Low 'N Slow, Slow Cooker San Francisco Pork Chops
Tuesday: Michelle's Ravioli Lasagna
Wednesday: Taco Salad
Thursday: Pioneer Woman's Rib Eye Steak and Whiskey Cream Sauce
Friday: Mindee's Spaghetti and Meatballs (we have family driving in, perfect Friday night dinner for little girls)

I'm thinking since we have family here, at some point this weekend we will have fresh lobster. That seems to be a theme when people visit us. Today, at Home Depot, we picked up a turkey fryer. I am going to have that bad boy do double duty as a lobster pot. We can put several at a time in, and the clean up will be SO MUCH EASIER! I'm glad cousin Shawn will be here to help Nick stuff lobsters in boiling water. I'm not at my best when I'm shoving them in and they are trying to crawl out :::shudder::::::
Anyone see a common theme with this week's menu? I have taken almost all my meals from fellow bloggers. I do love my cooking blogging friends. Thanks ladies for sharing your culinary skills!
Have a happy Monday everyone!

Friday, November 5, 2010

I'm a Winner!

I am so excited! Recently, Michelle over at Married/Single Parent, hosted a giveaway. Michelle has a fabulous blog that I have followed since the day I found it. She is always sharing some wonderful recipes and her weekly menu makes me drool. Michelle has shared several recipes from some of her favorite cookbooks, which happen to be Gooseberry Patch cookbooks. Because of her passion for these books, she decided to give one away on her blog. I entered, because that's what I do (even though I rarely win anything) and guess what? I WON! Michelle is sending me the cookbook of my choice within a $20.00 price range. After looking through the books, I realized I would have no problem staying within the $20.00 because they are so reasonable. I chose one of their new books, Homemade Christmas.
This book is screaming for me. I can't wait to get it!
I started following the Gooseberry Patch on Facebook to see what else is going on over there. Today I ordered another book and their 2011 calendar. I ordered the book Slow Cookers Casseroles and Skillets. Now that sounds like something I can get into.
Thanks Michelle, for hosting a fabulous giveaway. I truly can't wait to get started cooking from my new book. Maybe having a fun new Christmas cookbook will motivate me even more for the holidays!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Holidays are Coming

Halloween is past and November is here. It's officially time to start getting my act together for the holidays.
Last year at this time, my husband had just returned from Iraq. (a year ago this week) and the holidays were sparkling ahead of me. I couldn't wait to make him a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner and to have Christmas with all five of our kids.
This year, I have one child at home. No one is coming for Thanksgiving and I'm a little down about it. The child at home doesn't get excited about Thanksgiving (except for pie) and that doesn't help. The varsity football team plays at 10:30 AM on Thanksgiving day (who does that?)  which will throw off my cooking. Is it any wonder I'm not feeling it?
The last two years Callie and I were so excited about Thanksgiving. We spent days making our menu, shopping lists and plans. We made pies ahead of time and prepared right up to the day. On the glorious morning we got up early, turned on the parade on the kitchen TV and we both worked to make a fabulous meal. We had friends, single Soldiers and others over to join us that would otherwise be alone.
This year I will be at a football game, will not have help in the kitchen, and will be cooking for a kid who doesn't appreciate the work or the food.
Christmas will be different this year too. My oldest daughter, who just married her sweetheart, is on her way to Hawaii soon. He is a Soldier and is being stationed there. I just have a feeling that they will not be able to come home for the holiday because of the expense. I will ship their Christmas to them and miss them terribly.
The other kids are coming in and out at odd times.
Callie will arrive first on the 17th of December. JD and Meghan fly in on the 19th. Alex is here until the 21st and he'll fly to spend the week with his mother. JD and Meghan go back home on the 24th. Callie is here until the 28th. Alex returns on the 29th. The other Callie, Nick's daughter, hasn't told us one way or the other what she is doing.
I need to find a plan, make my lists and get on it! It will all be here before I know it and I do NOT want to be unprepared.
I just sent the first of many emails to my kids begging for their lists. It's the first step.
Maybe I should just go shopping. It makes me feel better and I can start the Christmas gifts/cards/treats. Yes.. it's a plan!

My Callie had her 20th birthday on the 31st. Yes, she's a Halloween baby. She has always called the day "Calloween" in her honor.
Happy Birthday to my beautiful daughter who has grown up so much the last few years and continues to make her parents proud.

Remember Callie? The one who gave me snarky looks all day we moved her into the dorm because I wouldn't put the camera away? Yep, that's her. My 20 year old. I sure miss that girl!