Monday, January 30, 2012

Forgotten Trip To The Grocery Store

I will preface this post by stating that I DO still make my kids' school lunches, because I'm momma and that's what I do.  The kids are all old enough and capable, but they do plenty around here for I just want to do special things for them while I still can.  And if they make their own lunches, then I can't slip my special daily notes in there for them!

I do have some mild OCD in certain areas, but leaving the dishes until the mornings is NOT one of those areas.  If I have cooked the night before, I'm usually too pooped to worry about cleaning up the kitchen before I go to bed.  The boys take their showers at night and because they're twins and they fight over everything, we literally have a chart posted on the hall closet door so the boys can mark who takes a shower first each night.  The one who doesn't have to shower first gets to pick which level of the dishes in the dishwasher they want to put up (top or bottom) from that morning when I did the dishes.  Of course this opens up the dishwasher for me when I'm cleaning the next morning and yes, they do pick the easiest one.

As I'm standing at the sink rinsing off dishes, I realize that I forgot to go to the store over the weekend.  Well, forgot is kind of stretching it.  I kept putting it off, putting it off, then I eventually forgot.  So as I stand there, I start trying to think of things I have around the house.  I could see that there wasn't enough bread for all 3 of them to have a sandwich, so I would have to figure out something else.  I look in the pantry and eyeball the Campbell's Chunky Soup in there and decide to do that for the boys.  Lindsay hates sandwiches, so when she finds out they get soup, she'll probably be ticked that she got stuck with the sandwich.

Then I head to fridge in the garage to get bottled water and open the door to find we are completely out of bottled water.  I see cream soda for the boys and Mountain Dew for Lindsay.  I don't think I've ever given them soda in their lunch, but remember I said earlier that I'm trying to be creative.  I stuck them in the freezer so hopefully they won't be room temperature by lunchtime.  Hope I don't forget them!!

I guess I need to make a grocery list and head out this morning.  We've been cleaning out the fridges, freezers, and pantry over the last several days.  I could not believe all the stuff we had around here to eat!  I guess everyone is ready for some home cooking around here this week.  I know I am!

Hope you have a super day!

Collette :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hopefully Helpful Household Hints #1

I know we cannot be the only household guilty of letting bread sit in the bread box too long, so I've had to get creative over the years to salvage pre-moldy, yet stale bread.  My kids take their lunch to school almost daily, so I buy at least 2 loaves of bread a week.  When we get to the end of the week, I have anywhere from 4 to 6 pieces of bread remaining in a loaf.  I don't refrigerate my bread or it would probably last longer.  I just prefer fresh bread for their sandwiches.

Anyway, those 4 to 6 pieces of bread sit in the bag in the bread box over the weekend (unless we've eaten sandwiches) and by Monday morning, they're no good for the new school lunch week.  So, I've come up with some ideas I thought might be worth sharing.  If you have other ideas, please comment!

  1. Toast (most obvious?)
  2. Freeze to add to your holiday stuffing or dressing
  3. Make peanut butter sandwiches as a special treat for your outside junkyard guard dog who never gets any attention unless you go out to feed him or get in the car (I's sad, but I do talk to him and  love on him when I'm out there...he would just prefer to be indoors with the others)
  4. Cheese toast - lay your bread on a baking sheet, top with Cheddar (or your favorite kind of melty cheese...Cheddar is my favorite); turn your oven on to broil then place the baking sheet in the oven until the cheese is melted and a tad bubbly; my mom likes to toast her bread in the toaster first, then lay it out on the baking sheet, add the cheese then place in the oven so both sides of the bread are toasty, but I prefer the soft side (your preference)
  5. Sugar Toast - now this is a poor man's meal, but yum so good!!!  butter one side of your bread slices, sprinkle with a generous amount of white or brown sugar, lay the bread pieces on a baking sheet, turn on your oven to broil, place the baking sheet in the oven, remove when the sugar starts to brown (if you leave in too long, the sugar will burn)
  6. Cinnamon/Sugar Toast - blend cinnamon with white or brown sugar to your taste then follow the directions for sugar toast above
  7. Freeze the bread until the ducks return to the ponds in your area then thaw and make a day of feeding the ducks with the kids (or a romantic date with hubby or wifey)
  8. Make homemade croutons using this recipe:,1743,151190-248199,00.html
  9. Homemade bread crumbs - let the bread dry out on a baking sheet for a day then throw in your food processor to make bread crumbs (add seasonings for seasoned bread crumbs)
  10. If you're a cook that likes to add a couple of slices of chopped bread to your meatloaf mixture, then use the stale stuff
  11. Make homemade french onion soup using this recipe:,1648,128179-249195,00.html
  12. Make bread pudding using this recipe:
  13. Grilled cheese sandwiches (I add ham or turkey lunchmeat to my grilled cheese sometimes); some people like to eat grilled cheese with tomato soup...I'm just not a big fan of tomato soup
  14. French Toast
  15. Make a yummy quiche using this recipe:
I hope you're able to try some of these ideas!  And don't be afraid to try something new...the dog will also eat your mess ups!!!

Collette :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

2012 Milestone #2...JBU!!

Lindsay, Hannah, Katie, Sheena @ JBU College Weekend November 2011

I'm attempting to track our family's milestones this year (along with recipes and other tidbits) through blogging.  Yesterday, Lindsay received a phone call from her admissions counselor at John Brown University (it's in Siloam Springs, AR if you're unfamiliar with the school) letting her know she was accepted!!  We are so excited!  It is her first college choice, but we are still waiting to hear back from the other colleges where she's applied.....Oklahoma Baptist University, Abilene Christian University and Houston Baptist University.

Lindsay first visited JBU in the winter of 2010 (her sophomore year) and returned for a second visit in November 2011.  I took her and 3 of her friends to visit the college during a college weekend.  I pulled a calf muscle prior to the visit, so I couldn't do much walking and was unable to do any of the parent activities, but I did get to see the college campus and it's beautiful.  I took some pictures, but they certainly don't do the campus justice.  And I love the Siloam Springs community.  It is definitely a college town and the people are very friendly.

Lindsay plans on getting her Bacherlor's Degree in Psychology and staying at JBU to get her Master's in Counseling.  JBU has their own student counseling center just off campus.

College Weekend JBU Trip....November 13-14, 2011

Choctaw Casino Durant, OK (phot op gambling!)

There's always a stunt when you have a group of cheerleaders

Ever heard of the Carrie Underwood song "I Ain't In Checotah Anymore"?  The first 2 lines of the lyrics are:
Where 69 meets 40
There's a single stop light town
Most of the route to Siloam Springs in on Highway 75 which eventually becomes Highway 69.  At the point that I realized we were going to be crossing over 40....ding ding ding....another photo opportunity!  So we landed the Caddy near the stop light where 69 meets 40, the girls jumped out and I snapped a bunch of photos.  And yes...the spirited child in the pictures is Lindsay.  :)

The next set of pictures were taken at JBU....

The girls unloading their stuff...they stayed in the Mayfield Residence Hall with their student ambassador

The girls and their student ambassador (I sat in the car and cried for about 10 minutes after dropping them off.  I was preparing myself for what it will be like when we actually take her to college  :(

Many of ay's classes will be in this building

Lindsay's so good at performing arts, I'm hoping she gets involved

I was driving around the campus and saw this bench....I pictured Lindsay sitting here studying one day

Sanctuary and performance center

Cathedral of the Ozarks

Cathedral of the Ozards (side view)

Admissions Building

Student Counseling Center

Mayfield Residence Hall (where ay is requesting to stay)

Mayfield Residence Hall

There is absolutely no significance to this picture related to JBU other than I was out driving the back roads of Siloam Springs and this steer was just staring at me, so I had to pull over and take a picture  :)

If you're interested in this history of JBU, you can visit

Congratulations, Lindsay!  We are so proud of you!!!!!!  We love you so much, sweetheart!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mouth-Watering Meatloaf

A few posts ago, I mentioned that I would eventually get around to posting my newest meatloaf recipe.  I realize meatloaf isn't the classiest cuisine, but don't groan until you've tried this one.  I actually NEVER order meatloaf from restaurants, but I will eat my homemade recipe.  I've changed it up 3 or 4 times in the last 15 years.  This newest recipe is my favorite so far.  If you try it, I hope you enjoy.  And it's kid-friendly!

Mouth-Watering Meatloaf

3 pounds ground beef (I use 73/27 blend and drain off the residual fat)
1 cup crushed french fried onions
1 cup crushed seasoned croutons
8 ounces tomato sauce
2 eggs
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons A-1 steak sauce (I like the thick and zesty blend for this recipe)
1 envelope onion soup mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Roll up your sleeves, remove your rings, watches, and bracelets, wash your hands and dig in! must mix the meatloaf mixture with your hands!  You can try a spoon, but it doesn't blend near as well.  I like to spread my meat mixture into a metal 13x9-inch baking pan, because it doesn't take as long to cook and I can fit it all into one pan.  If you do use this method, bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes.  If you use meatloaf pans, you'll probably want to separate the meat mixture into 2 pans.  I would leave it in a 350 degree oven for at least 30 minutes then check it.  It will probably take at least 45 minutes to cook thoroughly (depending on your oven).

Print Meatloaf Recipe

I mentioned that I use the 73/27 blend of ground beef then drain off the fat.  There are pans that have been manufactured that automatically drains off the fat for you and you're not having to try to prevent the hunk of meat from flying out of the pan while you're draining.  My next kitchen purchase is a Kitchen Aid stand mixer...after I recover financially from that purchase, I plan on buying the magic meatloaf pans.

If you're not scared of meatloaf, I hope you will give this recipe a try.  Enjoy!

Happy cooking!

Collette :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

2012 Milestone #1...Lindsay's 18th Birthday!!

As I mentioned in my post titled "An Exciting Year", our family has many milestones this year.  Today, we've hit our first one for the year....our daughter's 18th birthday (I'm starting this post on her birthday [Wednesday, January 11], but I'm sure I won't actually finish it and publish it for a couple of days).  I can't believe it's been 18 years since I gave birth to this beautiful young lady.  I was 21, unmarried, and very scared when I found out I was pregnant.  I remember praying that God would allow me to see my child accept him as his/her personal Savior (which was my prayer for all my children), and that he or she would grow up to be a godly young person and adult.  The Lord is so faithful and answered these prayers.

When Lindsay was about 7 years old, she came home from VBS one day thinking about where she would go when she dies.  She had heard others talk about remembering a time they asked Jesus into their hearts, but she couldn't put her finger on a specific time in her life.  As she was sitting in the easy chair in the living room that day she asked Jesus into her heart.  What a day!  Lindsay has definitely grown to be a godly young lady and is certainly wise beyond her years.  There are so many times I feel inadequate even trying to have a conversation with her.  She's extremely knowledgeable about the Bible and strives to apply it to her life. 

I love her sense of humor...there isn't a day that goes by that she doesn't make me laugh.  Most importantly, as busy as she is these days, she still makes time to sit down and talk to me and spend time with me.  She still loves to come home and tell me about her day, go to the grocery store with me and take me shopping with her (when I'm willing to go...I HATE shopping).  She even comes into the kitchen more often now to help me cook (probably because she realizes she needs to figure out how to cook some things to survive.)  :)  Oh!  And of all things, she's talked me into doing Just Dance with her on the Wii quite often.

So, what did we do to celebrate?  She asked me to serve her breakfast in bed, and I said that would be fine.  I honestly can't remember a time when I've done this for the kids.  She placed an order from McDonald's, so I had planned on getting up about 6:00 a.m. to get everything done.  Well, of course, I overslept so her breakfast in bed dream still hasn't come to fruition.

I made her some owl cupcakes to take to school and hand out during lunch.  Apparently they were a big hit!  Yay!  I got the idea from Pinterest (  It's a site to display your likes, dislikes, wants, needs, hopes, dreams, etc. via electronic billboards....if you haven't checked it out, I suggest you do.  Warning:  it's very addictive!  The green cookies are mint Oreos.  I wanted to find some Oreos with pink filling, but I couldn't find them.  Both stores I went to were sold out.  I think it's a berry-flavored filling.

Then, because I knew the kids at school would devour ALL of these cupcakes, I also wanted to make her something to have at the house as well.  My husband is strictly a white cake, vanilla frosting kinda guy, so I made him a batch of white cupcakes and frosted them with the colorful frosting I had remaining from the owl cupcakes.

I wanted to make Lindsay cupcakes that she really likes and one of her favorite flavor combinations is strawberry cake with chocolate frosting.  It didn't sound very good to me at first, either, but I finally tried them and they're pretty good.  She also likes strawberry ice cream with chocolate sauce poured over it.  I guess the concept is the same as a chocoloate-covered strawberry.  I also made chocolate-covered strawberries....milk chocolate drizzled in white just to eat and white chocolate drizzled in milk chocolate as toppers for the cupcakes.  I realize my strawberries aren't the most attractive, but they are delicious!

Okay, so that's that for the birthday sweets.  Now for dinner....I don't know how Lindsay came to love Red Lobster so much, but it has become an annual birthday tradition for her.  We had a large group for dinner this year.  Ed's Aunt Shari is in town right now and was visiting with us, so we invited her to come along as well as my mom, my adopted sister Sara and her daughter Emily.  Lindsay had a sign language program at church so she had to leave dinner a little early, but that gave me time to run home and bake her cupcakes, dip the strawberries and wrap her gifts!  Yes, my nick name is Last-Minute Lucy.

She specifically requested Just Dance 3 (Wii) and some CDs from Amazon for her birthday.  Ed forgot to stop and get her gift earlier today while he was out so we had to make a run to Best Buy on the way home from Red Lobster.  I guess I'm not the only Last-Minute Lucy in the family.  The CDs didn't arrive in time for her birthday, but we did have other gifts for her.  In addition to Just Dance 3, Ed also got Summer Party (also a Just Dance product).  I got her a lamp that she had picked out for her dorm room and some Starbucks drinks, microwave popcorn and a pack of gum.  I just made a cute little gift basket out of the last 3 items.

So I think she had a good birthday this year.  I'm still going to have a combined family party for her with Ed's family and mine (and maybe a few friends).  I guess I need to get busy planning that now!  Happy Birthday to my sweet baby girl!  I love you, Lindsay!

Happy party planning!

Collette :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fusion Food

Like sushi, fusion food has never sounded appealing to me, so I've never attempted to eat it or prepare it....until today.  I have been cooking quite a bit lately, so we have a variety of leftovers gathering in our fridge.  When I decided to fix myself something to eat, I certainly didn't plan on fusing anything just happened as I opened the fridge and started looking.

The first item I pulled out was some Mexican rice from the second batch of sour cream chicken enchiladas I made several days ago.  I made the first batch for company last Tuesday evening and had a lot of the filling left plus all the extras for the rest of the recipe, so I waited a couple of days and we had a repeat.  With the first set of enchiladas, I made my Spanish rice recipe, but I wanted to try something different, so when I made the second batch, I tried my mom's recipe.  I actually like hers better than mine!  I've posted both recipes below...they are very similar.

The second item I decided on was a partial piece of some oriental crockpot chicken I created one day last week.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE my husband's grilled chicken, so I had asked him to grill for dinner one night.  If he has mastered one item on the is chicken.  Man, it's good!  Anyway, I always butterfly the chicken breasts then marinate it in a Kroger brand sesame ginger 30-minute marinade.  Our plans changed and we weren't able to grill, but I already had the chicken marinating so I just popped it in the crockpot on low with the marinade and all and dish!

So today, I put some of the rice on a plate then shredded the piece of chicken and put it on top of the rice.  I drizzled the cooked marinade over the chicken and rice then microwaved it for a couple of minutes.  I was a little concerned about the taste, but to my surprise, it was delicious!!  I'm not sure if it would be called Mexican Asian fusion or Asian Mexican fusion.  I don't even really know all the proper terminology for fusion foods.  I should know more about it as much Food Network and Bravo as I watch!  Regardless of the name, it turned out yummy!

Tip:  leftovers really shouldn't be consumed by humans after more than 7 days in the fridge.  Anything older than 7 days (but not TOO old) I give to our junkyard guard dog in the backyard for his eating pleasure.  Yes, he still gets dog food everyday...I don't expect him to survive on old leftovers.

Collette's Spanish Rice

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon prepared minced garlic
1 small onion, finely chopped
1-1/2 cups white rice, uncooked
2-1/2 cups chicken broth
8 ounce can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried parsley

1.  In large skillet over medium heat, saute garlic and onion for 1 to 2 minutes or until onion starts to turn clear.
2.  Add the rice and stir for 5 minutes or until golden brown.
3.  Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, and parsley; stir together and bring to a boil.
4.  Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 20 minutes then fluff with a fork.

Print Collette's Spanish Rice Recipe

Collette's Mom's Spanish Rice

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon prepared minced garlic
1 small onion, finely chopped
1-1/2 cups white rice, uncooked
3 cups chicken broth
1 large tomato, chopped
3 small peppers (from a jar of pepper sauce), finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1. In large skillet over medium heat, sauté garlic and onion for 1 to 2 minutes or until onion starts to turn clear.
2. Add the rice and stir for 5 minutes or until golden brown.
3. Add chicken broth, tomato, peppers, and cilantro; stir together and bring to a boil.
4.  Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 20 minutes then fluff with a fork.

Print Collette's Mom's Spanish Rice Recipe

Happy Fusing!

Collette :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Borracho Beans

We had company over for dinner last night, so I decided to make some homemade Mexican food.  It has been a while since I've cooked a good hot meal so I really wanted to go all out (Collette style, anyway).  I fixed sour cream chicken enchiladas, Mexican rice, and borracho beans (I ususally fix Zatarain's Spanish rice and canned refried beans with our enchiladas so I was really steppin' it up).  I was the most excited about the borracho beans, because I created the recipe on the fly (based on what I've had at Mexican food restaurants in the past).

Since time wasn't my friend in trying to prepare these dishes, I didn't take any pictures, but if you've ever had these at a restaurant, then you should get the picture.  I actually tried to take a picture of the beans this morning, but I just couldn't get a pretty angle.

Mamacita's Borracho Beans
(I'm mamacita....I can't just give my recipes normal names)

3 cans pinto beans (I used Great Value brand)
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 tablespoon prepared minced garlic
14.5 ounce can diced stewed tomatoes
6 slices microwaveable bacon, chopped
1/8 - 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Dash cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan until well blended.  Cover and simmer on low for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. 

I started the beans before everything else and just let them go, stirring them every so often.  They don't need to boil since the beans are already prepared....they should simmer for at least an hour to blend the flavors.  Next time I make these, I will also add in the juice of a fresh lime.

Print Borracho Beans Recipe

Feliz Comiendo!

Collette :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

An Exciting Year

I don't typically look ahead at the beginning of a new year to see what's going on throughout the year.  I like to take it one day at a time.  But as I sat here thinking about what to write, I realized this is a year of huge milestones for our family.  Lindsay turns 18 in 8 days.  My dad will be 65 in February.  Lindsay will be going back to the Dominican Republic for a mission trip then to Italy the following month for her senior class trip.  Then my baby girl graduates in May.  I can't even type the words without my eyes welling with tears.  In the fall she will go to college.  I thought she had pretty much decided on John Brown University in Arkansas, but now she doesn't seem to be as sure, so she's working on her applications to several other colleges.  In the meantime, I'm filling out FAFSA information online so we can see how much financial aid she can get. 

My father-in-law (a widower) is getting married in May to a precious lady.  She and her daughter have become a very special part of our family.  My step-son, Max, turns 21 in July.  And last, but not certainly not least, the boys will be turning 12 on 12/12/12.  We have waited for this birthday since they were little bitty.  This will be their first birthday party they've ever had and we're going to try to make it huge.  They were almost born on December 13, but, due to an ice storm in Dallas that night, my doctor changed his mind at the last minute and decided to go ahead and take them on December 12. 

I'm sure there are other milestones I've overlooked, but those are the ones that immediately come to mind.  I always tell myself that I'm not going to make any New Year's Resolutions, but I secretly make at least one to myself then set myself up for failure by actually saying the words out loud.  I'm really not going to make any this year, but without making it an official "resolution", I'm going to try to my darndest to keep a better family meal journal.  I love food.  I love talking about it, writing about it, cooking it, eating it, etc.  So my goal is to keep a more detailed food journal this year so I can keep track of what I'm cooking, how we're eating, how much we're eating at home vs. eating out, etc. 

Speaking of food, I'm craving a fried egg right about now.  I've been meaning to try the Pioneer Woman's Egg In A Hole, but I just haven't.  No time like the present!  And speaking of the Pioneer Woman, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law got me the PW Cookbook for Christmas!  So I have no excuses!

I hope you're having a wonderful year so far!

Happy Living!
Collette :)