Monday, September 27, 2010

Lazy Enchiladas

This is one of our favorite family recipes. Followed like this, it fits in a 9X13 pan. It works better if you double it & use a lasagna pan. For our family of 7, I quadruple it and use TWO lasagna pans. For potlucks, I multiply by 6 and use 3 lasagna pans. (There are never leftovers).

This recipe came from Linda Bockholt - one of my husband's aunts. She passed it along to me before she passed away, and I always think of her when I make it. The finished product is as wonderful as she was.
Lazy Enchiladas

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 packet powdered enchilada sauce mix
1/2 cup water
1/2 can ro-tel
6 to 10 tortillas
2 1/2 cups grated cheese

Brown beef & onion in pan - drain fat.
Add soup, tomato sauce, enchilada mix,
water, and Ro-Tel
Simmer 15 to 20 minutes
Spray 9 X 13 pan with pam or like product
Tear tortillas in pieces, and layer in pan
(tortillas, meat sauce, cheese, more tortillas, meat sauce)
Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.
Sprinkle cheese on top & bake 5 more minutes.

Friday, September 24, 2010

It's a Friday! Another week has flown by...

It's Friday again... the end of another busy week... is it because I'm older that the weeks seem to fly past more quickly each year? I don't remember the days going by quite so fast when I was in elementary school. How odd...

For my friends who follow the Groupon coupon website, I've found another site that is up and coming, and slated to be just as fantabulous! (Yes - that's a word... now.) The new site is GetGrouby - you have GOT to check it out! The offer today looks positively SCRUMPTIOUS! Of course, I do like cupcakes... possibly a little too much... But here's a blurb from their website about the nifty cupcake truck that I had NO IDEA was in the Houston area!

"Not yet a year old, the mighty Mmm… Cupcake truck is the brainchild of an aspiring cake designer and a former restaurant owner-turned-engineer.  Every day, their mobile beacon of moist, frosted satisfaction sets out with a truckload of delicious, home-made cupcakes and sells them around town until they’re all gone.  From downtown to Rice Village to the Washington Strip, even rare excursions to Sugar Land and the Woodlands, Mmm… Cupcake keeps its location as fresh as its cupcakes!  You’ll have to follow the truck on Facebook orTwitter to see where it will be today."

Of course, I don't expect to see the truck sneaking out here to the dirt roads of the boonies where I reside, but I will absolutely have to check its whereabouts when I'm heading to's entirely possible that I might be able to cross paths with it. (I can certainly hope, can't I?)

Speaking of cupcakes...  which leads to cakes... which leads to cake balls... I was at this adorable bakery down in League City last week, thanks to a wonderful friend who lives down there. It was called Sweets Galore - and the two ladies in there are from New York, and just have the most fabulous cake balls, cheese cakes, cannolis, and other yummy foods... it was like heaven in a display case! There were soooo many flavors of cake balls to choose from, and they were happy to share some samples to help with the decision making process. I couldn't possibly choose a favorite... everything from key lime to red velvet to pumpkin or german chocolate... and just loads of flavors in between! They were almost the size of a homemade cupcake, and I absolutely advise getting one of every flavor and have a tasting party. It's the ONLY way to choose your own favorite without being an absolute glutton (which would be an incredibly yummy thing to do, too... but that's just my opinion! You're more than welcome to eat them yourself ). There's no truck to chase down, either... their shop is easy to find and won't move on you. You can even call in special requests... they are THAT awesome! Check them out!

Can you tell I'm in a baking mood? and have sweets on the brain? It must be the phase of the moon... that's the excuse I'm going with. I think tomorrow after I take Trae to the Renaissance Festival for his training session, and then finish updating Rebecca's website, I will absolutely have to hit the kitchen for some baking time. Brittani's been asking for chocolate chip cookies, although I suspect that she's hankering for the dough more than the cookies... and I could totally go for some pumpkin cookies and pumpkin cupcakes. I'm thinking about trying a cream cheese filling and frosting for the cupcakes this year. The cupcakes come out so incredibly moist, though... I did try a homemade vanilla cupcake recipe last week that was fairly good. Reminded me of a "decent" wedding cake. I'm still on a quest to find a "GREAT" cupcake recipe, although I might have to experiment and create it myself at the rate that the search is going. I did pick up plenty of marshmallows and powdered sugar to make my own fondant, though! How fun will that be? 

It's just after 9pm here, and I think it's time to start settling down for the evening. Andrew had a tooth pulled out today, and the beginning of an implant put it - I took pictures... I'm just creepy like that, I guess. That would be a fun scrapbook page, don't you think? LOL It would at least be a very unusual one... perhaps I should design some dental scrapbook paper... hmmm.... 

Well, y'all have a great night, and a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

One of those weeks...

It's been an eventful week around here. Andrew was officially notified that he's a victim of "restructuring" and "work force reduction" at Hewlett-Packard. That was Monday... lovely Monday, right? Then yesterday, Wednesday, the Toyota Camry died on the way home... we think it's the timing belt, but we're not positive yet. Hopefully we'll get it figured out this evening... or at least get one of the other vehicles running. If he gets the Samurai up and running, I'll have to run to Anderson and get Tags for it, and probably get it inspected - I'm sure that's expired, too.

In the meantime, Andrew's putting his resume out there in as many places as possible. I'm definitely hoping he can find something else internally with HP, otherwise we lose our health benefits, and he's stuck in a job where he's a "peon" (which is never fun. I've even been looking at job advertisements for myself... trying to get an idea of what's out there, and what it pays... I haven't worked in 16 years, so will have to figure out a wardrobe again. I'm not the size 10-12 that I was back then

Victoria applied for a job at Chick-Fil-A. She was called for a 1st and 2nd interview, but then never heard from them. She's totally bummed. She really wanted that job. Trae's been hired for the Renaissance Festival, so he has a job weekends during October/November. He'll be able to put some money away and get his drivers license and insurance, and then he'll be able to get a "real" job. Jessica's waiting to be 18 so that she can go sign on with one of the temp agencies... her typing skills are definitely good, as are her writing skills... but at the very least, she'd do well on a data entry job.

I'm running late on getting ready for Christmas, and that's definitely detrimental this year, because things will be very slim if Andrew's job situation doesn't get resolved soon. I only budget $100 per kid anyhow, but there are 5 of them, and then there are the extended family gifts... fortunately I've shopped for the neices/nephews... so those gifts are done. That's a happy thing. :-)

Well, the afternoon is slinking away from me, and I promised to do some baking... Andrew popped over to Lana's earlier to pick up some of the freshest eggs on the planet for me. You have GOT to love fresh eggs... They are soooo yummy! Pumpkin cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and we'll see what else ends up on the menu... Yummy!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

History Lessons...

Where did Piss Poor come from? 

Interesting History

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families
used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken &
Sold to the tannery.......if you had to do this to survive
you were "Piss Poor"

But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn't
even afford to buy a pot......they "didn't have a pot to
piss in" & were the lowest of the low

The next time you are washing your hands and complain
because the water temperature isn't just how you like it,
think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about
the 1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their
yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by
June.. However, since they were starting to smell . ..... .
Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.
Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man
of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then
all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the
children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so
dirty you could actually lose someone in it.. Hence the
saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water!"

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no
wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get
warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs)
lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and
sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof...
Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the
house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs
and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence,
a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top
afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other
than dirt. Hence the saying, "Dirt poor." The wealthy had
slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet,
so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their
footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until,
when you opened the door, it would all start slipping
outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way.
Hence: a thresh hold.

(Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big
kettle that always hung over the fire.. Every day they lit
the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly
vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the
stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold
overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew
had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence
the rhyme: Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas
porridge in the pot nine days old. Sometimes they could
obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When
visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show
off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, "bring home
the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests
and would all sit around and chew the fat.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high
acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food,
causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with
tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were
considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt
bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests
got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination
would Sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days.
Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and
prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen
table for a couple of days and the family would gather
around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake
up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running
out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins
and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the
grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins
were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they
realized they had been burying people alive... So they would
tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the
coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell.
Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night
(the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone
could be saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer.

And that's the truth....Now, whoever said History was boring!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mayberry... Simpler Times

I've been enjoying a series called "Simple is More Satisfying" at church over the last few weeks. They're utilizing the imaginary town of Mayberry as the common example of simplicity. The imagery invoked by the pastor's words and tales of relating life in Mayberry to certain aspects of our life here and now is pulling fun (and not so fun) memories and stories from my cobweb-filled data bank that I call a brain.

One of the stories from the Mayberry series was about the time a businessman ended up stranded in Mayberry on a Sunday with car trouble. The gentleman was incredibly frustrated that he was unable to have his car repaired due to it being a Sunday. "It's a day of rest and family," he was told. The gentleman was so angry that he refused to have dinner with the Taylor's, or to relax and just slow down... near the end of the episode, the sheriff had finally managed to get the man to sit down on the porch with Aunt B, Opie, and himself... actually relaxing and accepting his Sunday fate... when Goober pulled up unexpectedly with his car, explaining that it was simply a clogged fuel pump, and that there was no charge. The gentleman was quite shocked when he was told that Mayberry wasn't going to charge a guest in their town for something so trivial... I absolutely adore the idea and concept of actually taking a day off and spending it in a fully relaxing environment of family and friends, known or new... such a delightful idea, isn't it?

On the other hand, the tale reminded me of a summer several years ago when we, as a family, drove to Colorado. It wasn't a vacation or pleasure trip, it was to  pick up a vehicle we purchased on eBay. You could realistically conclude that it was the equivalent of a business trip. Drive up, pick car up, drive home. That was the list... 

Are you waiting for the wrench? You know there's one being thrown in the works, don't you? You're right... there's a wrench...

It was around 10pm on Saturday night... July 3rd... somewhere so deep in Colorado that there were no city lights to mar the beauty or brightness of the stars and the moon glowing in the sky. The glow was bright enough that I didn't immediately notice the dimming of the headlights. I thought it was just me, quite honestly. I checked the gauges on the dashboard, though, and found that that it was NOT just me (can you say a major "UHOH!"?).

The alternator was NOT functioning properly... we were in trouble. I found myself adding to my little prayer that I'd been sending up over the course of the trip. It expanded from "Please keep us safe and get us back to our home as uneventfully as possible"  - to - "and please don't leave us stranded out here in the middle of nowhere."

The new addition ran through my mind over and over as the lights of the suburban were fading... and the relief that I felt as we started seeing the glow of artificial lights over a hill ahead of us was absolutely huge... the prayer changed again, requesting His help in allowing us to MAKE IT to those lights, and please let there be help when we arrive... 

We did make it there... and in the dark, it was less of a town, and more of a freeway crossover which happened to contain a pair of gas stations. We saw a constable's car at one of the stations, so Andrew left me in the truck with the kids, and walked across the street to that station. The officer didn't have any answers, but the woman behind the counter volunteered to call the man who runs the Co-Op in town. (There really WAS a tiny bit of a town there...  Hooray!). The nice fella from the Co-Op left his wife and television to come and check on us. He had us follow him to the garage (2 blocks up, 1 block over), where he started checking out the suburban, and came to the same conclusion we'd already arrived at. The alternator was no longer among the functional. 

To our surprise, things really ARE done differently in small towns... the first thing he tried was to go rob the truck parked over at Larry's house... Larry has apparently been trying to sell it, but it's just sitting there, and it might be compatible, so he went to check it out. He came back and reported that it had apparently been robbed already, because there was no alternator in it anymore... Do you wonder if anyone has told Larry? I sure hope so.... He tried calling the fella who runs the junkyard, but it was a Saturday night, and his reputation speaking on his behalf, very likely far enough into a case of beer that his phone was probably not going to be answered. He tried calling the fella who was in charge of Auto Parts Co-Op, but didn't get an answer there, either. 

After trying all of those avenues, at that hour of the night, he pointed out the direction of the hotel, and even offered to let us come freshen up at his house if we wanted... we declined, and decided to sleep in the vehicles for the night. Realistically, we probably needed the sleep... not that we'd have admitted to that if we were still out on the road and driving . That nice man was back up at the Garage at 7am on Sunday morning... bearing in mind that it's now also July 4th. He was able to get the Auto-Part Co-Op manager to come and unlock his shop to get us a new alternator, which he proceeded to install for us, even as he issued an invitation to stay for breakfast and the parade. We politely declined the invitation so that we could get back out on the road, but it was totally sweet of him to offer! 

Of course, the pseudo-Mayberry that we were in did not offer to comp the repairs, but we were thrilled to have gotten the repairs and not been stranded until Monday, so we're okay with not keeping to the Mayberry story :-)  

We were back on the road and cruising along, somewhere in Oklahoma I think? When we spotted two ladies with a little girl trying to change the tire on their car. Andrew and I looked at each other, took the next freeway exit, took the u-turn and went back the other way... u-turned again so that we could come up and check on them again... there was no one there helping them, so we stopped. The Mayberry-ism was still with us, and we knew we needed to "pay it forward," so Andrew was able to change their tire, while I pulled out a bottle of water and some crackers for their hungry 2 year old little girl... the ladies were so completely thankful that we stopped, and we were fully aware of the time lost... but we knew that we couldn't just leave them there. We'd already had our own rescue the night before, so it was our turn to come to the rescue for someone else...

Anyhow... that feeling of accomplishment and sharing is something that we thrive on, and we always look for opportunities to help others. It's just part of who we are... with or without Mayberry. We try to pass on the concept of helping others, and hope that the lives we touch continue on in the endeavor to help more and more people. I know we can't truly change the world, but if we at least make a tiny difference to someone, and it passes on, then maybe it'll eventually become a big difference. You never know whose life you might change by doing something just for them, with no other goal or plan in mind...

I probably shouldn't write this late at night... hopefully this turned out better than what my brain is currently processing :-)   I'm heading to bed. Good night, all!