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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pumpkins...


I bought two "pie pumpkins" (at least, that's what they were labeled) at the grocery store Tuesday. I got home, cut them up, scraped the seeds out and roasted the pumpkins in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes until they looked like this....


YUMMM!! I let them cool and the outside layer of the pumpkin peeled off very easily.

Next, I mashed up the pumpkin pulp with my potato masher and then used my hand blender to really make the pumpkin puree nice and smooth. (Hint: a food processor would be MUCH easier, so if you have one, PLEASE use it!!)

Some of the fresh pumpkin puree went into the freezer and a little bit of it went into Pumpkin Butter.



Pumpkin Butter
(HT Pioneer Woman)

1/2 cup pumpkin puree*
1/2 cup PLAIN yogurt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
pumpkin pie spice, to taste

Mix it all up together and enjoy!!

This is DELICIOUS on a hot-out-of-the-oven biscuit!!!

*You do NOT have to use fresh pumpkin puree for this. You can used the canned pumpkin puree. Just make sure that the only ingredient is "pumpkin".

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mrs. U + Blogger = confusion!!!

HAHA! How's that for a blog title? :)

Anyway, just a quick apology for the rather LARGE photo in the earlier post. I have NO idea how to correct it! I did everything just like normal, but for some reason, the photo is extra wide!!!

Anyone have a clue? HELP!!

UPDATE: It's finally corrected! I have no idea why, but I had to go into photobucket.com and manually resize the photo. Looks like I'll be doing that from now on. If anyone else is having this issue with photobucket.com and blogger, PLEASE let me know!!

Cordon bleu casserole



This week, Mr. U told me that he would really love a casserole (the man LOVES casseroles!) and Joshua told me that he really wanted pasta. So, here's the perfect combination and it is QUITE tasy, too!!!

Cordon bleu casserole
(adapted from Karin Calloway's recipe)

16 ounces fettuccine noodles
1 tablespoon butter
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cups cooked, diced chicken
1 1/2 cups diced smoked ham
1 can cream of celery soup*
1 can cream of chicken soup*
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese, divided


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook fettuccine as directed. Do not overcook. Drain and return to pot.

While pasta cooks, heat butter in a medium saute pan. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes (and if you just can't resist the urge, go ahead and salt these, too! Mmm!!). Set aside.

Combine chicken, ham, soups and milk in a large bowl. Add mushrooms and half of the shredded Swiss. Toss the soup mixture with the cooked fettuccine. Spray a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray and pour in the fettuccine mixture. Top with remaining Swiss cheese. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until heated through and bubbly. Toss lightly before serving to distribute the sauce.

I served this with a big salad of romaine lettue and roma tomatoes with Thousand Island Dressing. Yum!!

*Find Cream Soup Alternatives here.
Makes 8 servings.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

And the winner is....


Congratulations to Smart But Not Wise!!! You are the winner of the wonderful starter tea set from Adagio Teas!!!

Please email me at the ups 1 at gmail dot com and let me know your mailing information!!!

I know you will love the flavored teas that you chose!!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's GIVEAWAY TIME! And this time it's TEA!!

**This post will stay at the top until Friday, October 24th**

I am VERY excited to announce a wonderful GIVEAWAY!!


As many of y'all know, I am in LOVE with Adagio Tea! I've talked about their starter set, the fact that their tea has been my new love since I stopped drinking Diet Coke, AND they recently acknowledged my, ahem, apparent addiction love of their incredible teas.

Not only is their tea TO DIE FOR, but they have this wonderful teapot called ingenuiTea that I have decided I cannot live without. It allows the tea leaves to move around in the hot water and gives you a much more flavorful tea. Mmmmm.

Anyway, I, along with Adagio Tea, would like to give away one of the starter sets!!!! And I am SO very excited about it!


What do you need to do to enter?

1) Go to Adagio Tea's website and look at their starter set. They offer starter sets in black, green, flavored or herbal tea.

2) Leave a commment here stating which of the starter sets you would like to win (black tea, green tea, flavored tea or herbal tea) and you will be entered ONE time in the drawing. (You do NOT have to have a blog to enter nor do you have to live in the United States)

3) Blog about this giveaway on your blog and I will enter your name TWO MORE TIMES (for a total of 3 possible entries).


The deadline for entering the giveaway will be Friday, October 24th at 8:00 EST. I will announce the winner on Saturday, October 25th.

Good luck everyone!!

Time for a wedding...



I had the chance to take photos of my dear friend, Melissa, yesterday. These weren't just any photos, though. These were bridal photographs! She's getting married next Saturday!

This photo was one I took yesterday- a cute outhouse on the property where we shot. But you KNOW I can't show you her picture yet! Her fiance just may look at my blog! We can't have him seeing her before the wedding, now can we?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Challenge- Clean your shower!!



Okay, y'all. Let's get honest here. When was the last time you cleaned your shower??

It has come to my attention lately, that showers are quite often neglected in house cleaning. Why is that? Is it because people think that no one will go in your bathroom and see the mess? Is it because people think that you can just pull the shower curtain closed and you can forget what lurks behind it? Is it because it's so far gone, that you feel like there's no help for your poor shower?

While I know that most of us have not allowed our showers to get to the point of the one in the photo, some of us aren't faithful about cleaning the shower every week. Hey, cleaning them every MONTH would be better than cleaning it once or twice a year!!!

So the challenge for this weekend is to CLEAN YOUR SHOWER!!! Clean the walls, clean the tub, clean the floor of the shower! MAKE IT SHINE!!! YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

If it's been a while since you've cleaned your shower, it might take a good bit of elbow grease to get it clean. It might take a bit of time, too. But it is WORTH it!! Just think how happy your family will be when a sparkling shower greets them in the morning!!!

And the best part? Once you scrub and get it super clean, all it takes is weekly (yes, monthly would work, too) cleaning to keep it in tip top shape. For my weekly shower cleaning, I use an old washcloth and cheap shampoo. Yes, you heard me right- cheap shampoo. I just keep a bottle in the shower and then, when it's time to clean, I'll put shampoo on the washcloth and start cleaning the walls (and yes, I rinse the bubbles off the wall after I've given them a good scrub). Because I do it weekly, it is not hard AT ALL to clean the walls nor does it take long. The soap scum that you will encounter if you are just cleaning the shower for the first time in a while, will NOT build up if you clean your shower walls weekly.

I also clean the bathtub part of the shower twice a week. I use baking soda for that because I don't want Elizabeth bathing in harsh chemicals!!!

So don't just sit there thinking about it! Get up and get moving!! Clean your shower this weekend!! Your family will thank you!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Me and my tea...


I just placed an order for more of my beloved Adagio Tea. When you order from them, you acquire points and you can get a gift certificate with those points to use toward your next purchase. Here's the sweet note that Adagio sent with my gift certificate...

Dear Mrs. U,

The good news is: You now have a $12 gift certificate.

The bad news is: You're officially addicted to our teas :)

- Adagio Teas





HOW DID THEY KNOW????????????????????

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Quilt giveaway!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Oh y'all!! Head on over to Pigtails and Snails! She is giving away this GORGEOUS quilt!! The deadline to enter is 7pm MST on Friday Oct 17th.

Mickey Mouse's Sugar Cookies...



Scrunchie99 left a comment on my post about my Mickey Mouse Cookbook. She said,
"I loved this cookbook as a child, and I was searching for the Sugar Cookie recipe in it when I found your blog. I have been looking for that recipe for years. If you ever read this message and care to share it with me, I would be most appreciative!!!"

Well, Scrunchie99, here's the recipe for you! Let me know how they turn out!!!



Mickey Mouse's Sugar Cookies

What you need:
1 egg
1/2 cup shortening, melted
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

What you do with it:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Break the egg into a large mixing bowl. Add the shortening, sugar, cinnamon, milk and lemon juice. Beat with an egg beater until creamy.

3. Sift the flour and baking powder together into another bowl. Add this to the mixture in the first bowl and mix well with a spoon.

4. Drop the dough by the teaspoonful onto 2 cookie sheets (you don't have to grease them). Leave at least 1 inch of space between the cookies.

5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown. Immediately remove the cookies from the cookie sheets with a spatula. Place them on wire racks to cool.

Makes about 36 cookies.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook- October 13, 2008




FOR TODAY... Monday, October 13, 2008

Outside My Window... There is a slight breeze and blue skies. I can hear the rustle of the leaves as the wind blows.

I am thinking... We have a ladies fellowship tonight at church and I need to prepare the sausage balls I am taking to share.

I am thankful for... My family. I am so blessed!

From the kitchen... a tea kettle is full of hot water for my tea! Yum!

I am wearing... a short sleeved pink plaid shirt with a long black skirt.

I am creating... cloth napkins for my family! Yes, I am going to sew them tonight!

I am going... to church tonight. We live right next door. Quick trip. :)

I am reading... about my camera!! I want to learn to take better photographs.

I am hoping... that my daughter takes a long, restful nap today. She wears herself out when she plays!

I am hearing... the gentle hum of the dryer.

Around the house... it is becoming FALL! Leaves on the ground outside, soup on the menu inside!!

One of my favorite things... learning. I love to learn. This week? Sewing napkins!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: finish the cloth napkins and apply what I've learned about photography!! And have tea, of course. :)

Here is picture thought I am sharing...




... a carefully chosen fall pumpkin.

Please visit The Simple Woman to visit more daybooks!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Rice Krispy Treats...



Oh yum!! These are all wrapped up and ready to go to Elizabeth's friend's house tonight!! These remind me so much of childhood and, boy, are they still tasty after all these years!!

Rice Krispy Treats (well, my version of it, anyway)

5 T butter
16 ounces marshmallows
8 cups Rice Krispies

Prepare your 9x13 pan by rubbing 1 T butter all over the sides bottom of your pan. I do this by wrapping my hand with a papertowel and rubbing the butter around the pan with my papertoweled hand. Set aside.

Melt remaining 4 T butter on medium heat in a large pot (I use my 8 quart stock pot). When butter is melted, stir in marshmallows and keep stirring until they are completely melted. (At this point, do NOT lick the spoon because it is VERY hot.) Take the pot off the burner and stir in the Rice Krispies and make sure they are all coated in melted marshmallow mixture.

Carefully pour mixture into your buttered pan. Once it is all out of your pot and into your buttered pan, smear butter all over the palms of your hands and gently press the mixture into the pan. (The butter is the BEST thing I have found to prevent the mixture from sticking to my hands!)

Let cool and then cut into bars! Yum!!

Book giveaway...

Happy Friday, y'all!!!

I have three books that I would love to give to whomever would like them. Pick one, two, or three. Whoever claims them first, I will happily mail these to you at no charge!!


Treasury of Cooking Healthy NOTE: This book is now taken. Thank you.



The Open Adoption Book NOTE: This book is now taken. Thank you.



Cake Expressions NOTE: This book is now taken. Thank you.



Please help me find new homes for these books!! :)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Middle Eastern Chicken Pot and Butter Nut Couscous



I am sorry to say that I do not have a photo of this delicious dish!! It was very tasty and reminded me of Indian food. YUM!!! This photo is of a few of the ingredients- carrot, smoked paprika, onion, garlic, dried apricots, raisins, lemon, olives... those are just SOME of the ingredients of this recipe! I LOVED it! If y'all have a taste for middle eastern food, definitely give this a try!!



Middle Eastern Chicken Pot and Butter-Nut Couscous
(Recipe from Rachael Ray)


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, grated or chopped
1 cup shredded carrots
1 fresh bay leaf
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
Pinch ground cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup chopped dried fruits - pick 1 or combine: figs, pitted dates, apricots, sultanas
1 lemon, zested and juiced
3/4 cup pitted mixed olives, chopped
4 cups chicken stock, divided
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups couscous
Handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped


Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil ripples add the chicken and brown 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Add the onions, garlic, carrots, bay leaf and season with spices, salt and pepper, cook 5 to 6 minutes. Stir the fruits into the chicken and vegetables, add the zest of the lemon, olives and 2 1/2 cups of stock. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes more. Sprinkle with lemon juice and turn off heat. Remove bay leaf.
While chicken simmers, melt butter in a sauce pot over medium heat. Add nuts and lightly toast for a couple of minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups stock and bring up to a boil then stir in couscous. Cover and let stand 5 minutes.

Serve chicken over couscous, or vice versa, and garnish with parsley.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Garden of Eden...



I enjoy reading Mrs. Schlueter's blog, The Hope Blog. The way she writes seems to just pull me in. Her recent post about her love for her husband is no exception. I'm not going to spoil this sweet story for you, so be sure to vist her blog and read it for yourself.

I share this photo because it is the same one that she shared on this particular post. I have fallen in love with this piece of art! I've never been one to be able to choose one certain painting that I really enjoyed because there are SO many wonderful works of art. However, after reading what Mrs. Schlueter wrote about Hugh Riviere's, The Garden of Eden, I knew that I had found the one work of art I could finally claim as my favorite.

Here's what she says...
The photo above is a print of Hugh Riviere’s painting, The Garden of Eden, and a copy hangs in a prominent place in our home. The focal point in the painting is the woman’s face as she looks at her shabby, but beloved man as they walk in the dreary rain. Her face glows because she is with the person she loves above all else. That love transforms the sodden, gray park into her Garden of Eden. That’s what love does. The difficult and dreary things in life aren’t nearly so bad when real love is there.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Country Cornbread Muffins and Texas Chili



Thank you, Kelli and Mrs. H, for two wonderful recipes!!!!



Country Cornbread Muffins
12 servings

1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup milk

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda and salt. Whisk together the egg, sour cream, oil and milk. Stir into the dry ingredients just until combined. Spoon into greased muffin tin. Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve warm with butter and enjoy!


Texas Chili
6 servings

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can (15 ounces) mild chili beans
1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
grated sharp cheddar cheese
sour cream

In a large saucepan, cook the beef and onion over medium heat; drain. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, and beans. Add the seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Serve steaming hot with cheese and sour cream. Enjoy!

Note: This is not the exact chili recipe from Kelli and Mrs. H. I had to adjust the heat level for Elizabeth. :)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Staying Home is Not a Waste of Time if You Don't Waste It


I am a big fan of Lady Lydia's blog, Home Living. This article is just one of many that I appreciate, but I wanted to share it because it was encouraging and challenging to me.


Staying Home is Not a Waste of Time if You Don't Waste It

I am sure that some women feel that staying home is taking the "easy" way in life, but like any job, it has its joyful times and its grunge times. When most women were homemakers, they learned what to do with the time they had. I can tell you just a few things that are important.

1. Meals and clean dishes are a priority.
2. Clean clothes are next, and in most cases, outer clothing can be worn more than once before washing, so that the laundry pile is limited and does not get really overwhelming.
3. A clean floor and a sanitary bathroom is necessary.

Things that are not necessary:

1. Gourmet meals are not important. Families can be happy with very simple food.
2. Entertainment is not a priority. A lot of time is wasting watching television.
3. Impressing other people is not something a homemaker needs to do.

There are no set ways to keep house, because every family has a slightly different way of life. As long as it suits you and your family's schedule and style of living, that is what is important.

As for what you should be doing to fill up the time, women usually had needlework and interesting hobbies like knitting or sewing, painting, writing, etc. that they did when they are not doing the main things of the home, such as meals and getting people ready for the next day. If you will visit antique stores, you will see that a lot of this crochet and embroidery is now surfacing from estate sales.

These are works of art that were most often done in the home, during a lull in family activity, while waiting for something, or inbetween jobs of the house. Most women liked to keep busy, and doing things with their hands created some results like doilies and runners and table cloths, curtains, and various items of clothing. You can still see some of these things in the antique stores. They are highly treasured by collectors and by people like me, who know they represent the time and patience of women who loved their homes and wanted to make them beautiful.

I find it fascinating that even though our mothers at home were very busy, they still did something like this. Some of these women still talk about the "slower life" when they made their own soap or baked a pie, and yet still managed to knit a hat or a pair of socks for every member of the family in winter. They were not in their cars all the time, and the family car was reserved for the breadwinner, so they learned to stock up on things they needed, in order to spend a lot of time at the home place. Catologs contained handicraft kits you could order, which would also include books that helped you learn to knit or crochet or some other thing.

Being at home did not mean complete confinement. There was plenty to do, and if women wanted to, they could always read a good book. Some of our mothers spent a lot of time reading. In those days, people would go through their books and magazines and load them up into a big box, and give them to someone else. After they finished reading them, they would pass them on to another family. Not all the books were good, but it was easy to find some valuable reading material that would absorb a woman at home.

The important thing about being home and having the responsibility of the family and the house, is not that others think it is okay, or that anyone approves, but that it is something that God gave us permission to do. By being able to be home, women are freed from the repetitive work and endless travelling to and fro, to get a paycheck. At home, they have the liberty to use their creativity to guard their husband's money and help him make a profit. They are home to guard the family posessions and see that everything is cared for.

Over the years, there has been an attitude that it doesn't matter how we treat our clothes, our sheets and blankets, our furniture, or our dishes, but if they are treated gently and cleaned properly, repaired, and stored adequately, they will last much longer and not require replacement, which will mean there will be less money going out. The purpose of women at home go far deeper than just being in the house. She is on guard. She is looking for ways to be effiencient with time and money. She is learning to be resourceful by using things she already has. She also preserves her marriage, because her time and her emotions are not divided between the outside world and home. She has more time to think about her husband and more time to take care of him. She will be better-rested and have more patience to listen to his troubles.

There have always been women who will waste their time at home, complaining of boredom. That does not mean it is a standard or a truth. It just means they haven't learned how to deal with the responsibilities of the home. The Bible says that they should keep house, lest the word of God be blasphemed. It is like saying that Christians are supposed to be "good," but if a woman has let her house go to ruin and decay, it is a shame, because it doesn't glorify God.

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