Monday, January 31, 2011

A Beautiful Blog and A Great Product Review

This winter season has been harsh in the Malone house this month. Our family, sans hubby, has been assaulted by evil viruses. The boys had some sort of foreign throat infection which caused them to run high fevers for about 6 days. I was lucky fortuitous to get the old fashioned flu. Nightmare. Still recovering from it. So, in hind sight, this explains why I have been incognito for the last couple of weeks. I am happy to say that I am feeling a world's better and ready to get back to what I love doing: cooking, decorating and writing. I have spent the last few weeks surfing the net and all those blog sights I so deeply love to read. I have come across one sight, which I wish I would have discovered months ago! If you love the Lord and are looking for an inspirational sight to read, then I HIGHLY encourage you to visit A Holy Experience. Ann Voskamp is the author and her writing is so beautiful! Words leap off the pages at you and are engraved into your mind. Her perspective on life is so pure and encouraging in our world today. As a follower of Christ, we are often the outcasts in today's society. I like being a reject. For each time I am judged for my belief, it makes me want to shout it even louder! I am reminded of Christ's rejection and how He kept going, spreading the word of our awesome God! As I stand to be a guidance for my children, I struggle on a daily basis with the moral challenges of our world. I am on a daily crusade to stand against the powers of satan and raise my sword and shield so my children will know that we must continue to fight for our beliefs, no matter who says they are wrong. I encourage you to put on your "Armour of God" and fight the holy fight.

On a very different note, after having the flu and feeling like I have contaminated every part of the house with sick germs, I have been scouring this abode bringing it back to a sanitary status. I have, for months now, been searching in earnest for a reliable steam mop. I have tried a many steam mops, and have turned up either dissapointed or frustrated that it did not seem to "get the job done". Most of them left streaks the width of the mop or were unable to get all the gunk off the floor. Well, I am happy to say that I have discovered a wonderful steam mop and it has a bonus, it is also a vac! I usually do not recommend a product to anyone unless I am 100 percent satisfied and pleased with the product. This one I am and more than happy to pass it along to you. It is the Vac-n-Steam Mop by Shark. You can check out the product and watch a how-to-video. It is so great that even my boys beg to clean the floors!
Here is a pic of our youngest happily disinfecting the floor!


This handy contraption first vaccuums your floor, really good I might add, and then you place on the magnetic plate and microfiber cloth and mop! That simple! No streaks and stubborn spots came up fairly easily. It costs $149.99. I don't mind I paid that now that I know how well it works. Definately worth it in my opinion.

May you all have a blessed day and I hope to have some recipes coming soon!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Southern Style Baked Spaghetti


Southern and Spaghetti..... those two words really don't seem to belong in the same sentence do they? I couldn't help pondering this as I was making dinner tonight, which this is what I cooked. I am always attempting to find new and creative ways to mix up classic dishes. I love spaghetti, but quite frankly, get tired of the same old same old. I like classic Italian marinara sauces, but don't have the whole day to devote to making it. Even though my cousin and I (we were roomates in college), had this uber-goodlooking Italian neighbor who could make a really wicked marinara sauce, and he even once verbally shared it with us. I happened to remember EVERYTHING he said. I think that is because I used to absorb his every word! Ah...please pause a moment so I can sigh and pay my respect to youthfulness........ Thank you. It is a great sauce, but takes way too long. So my apologies to my old neighbor, but I had to come up with something that wasn't from a store bought jar AND could be made in a reasonable amount of time. Not too mention, isn't your same old boring spaghetti!
The recipe may seem like a lot of steps, but each individual "set" can be multitasked. If you are a woman, this should be easy for you...multitasking.


Southern Style Baked Spaghetti

For the Sauce:

2 cans whole tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. herbs de provence ( oregano, rosemary, tyme, savory and marjoram)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
1 can tomato paste
1 tsp. sugar

*In a food processor, blend tomatoes and next five ingredients. Transfer mixture to a saucepan and add bay leaf, tomato paste and sugar. Cook over med-low heat, reducing heat to low once it starts to boil. Cover and allow to simmer while you prepare meat and noodles.

For the Beef:
2 lbs. lean ground beef
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. vanilla protein powder (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

* Heat skillet of med-high heat and brown meat, adding basil, protein powder, salt and pepper (to season meat). Drain. Return skillet to stovetop and saute onions and bell pepper sans meat. Add meat to veggie mixture. Set aside.

For the noodles:

1 pkg. angel hair pasta noodles OR Spaghetti noodles

* Do I really need to tell you how to prepare this? I shall not insult your intelligence! Cook them, al dente!

1 cup olives, black or green, diced (optional)
4 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

For the Whole Shabang:

*Put cream cheese into sauce and mix until melted; add meat and olives. Add noodles to meat and sauce mixture. Pour into a casserole dish, 9x13, that has been sprayed with cooking spray or olive oil spray.Make sure to remove bay leaf! Add shredded cheese to top. Bake at 350 degrees for 15- 20 minutes.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie


Yesterday morning I woke with two sick little boys. It always makes me sad for my babies when they are not feeling their usual sprite selves. They have a nasty cold and are plagued with a lingering fever. My boys are troopers, though. They certainly do not want to admit they are sick, but whenever they curl onto the couch and cover up, I know they are feeling their worst.
I remember as a child, my mother would dote over me when I was under the weather. She would rent several movies, make a "bed" on the couch with lots of comfy and warm blankets and curl up with me. We would watch those movies all day long. She would even make me a special meal when I was able to eat. I try to carry that tradition over with my boys. This time, both came down with the crude at the same time. I would rather tackle their bug together anyday! After a day of care giving and running an infirmary at our house, I need a massage!
Tonight, I made the boys some homemade chicken pot pie. It was sprinkled with love to help them feel better soon! Do you have a favorite "feel better" meal that your parent or loved one makes for you when you are sick? Even if you feel miserable, that meal can lift your spirits brighter. I hope you all are staying well this winter. Here is a recipe for my oldest's favorite feel good meal, Chicken Pot Pie.


Chicken Pot Pie

2 chicken breasts, cooked ( I bake mine, but you can cook however you prefer)
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 cup frozen or canned kernal corn (drain if canned)
1/2 cup frozen sweet peas
2 1/2 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp. italian seasonings
1 tsp. garlic
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 puff pastry

*While the chicken is baking, saute in a saucepan or dutch oven, carrots, onions and celery in olive oil over medium-high heat. When veggies start to get tender, add seasonings and bay leaves. Continue to cook about 2 more minutes, stirring throughout. Add 2 cups of broth to veggies, reduce heat to med-low. Add cornstarch to remaining half cup of broth, stir until mixed. Add cornstarch mixture to veggies and broth. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes. Shred the chicken. Add to veggie mixture. Pour the chicken and veggie mixture into a deep dish pie pan. Place puff pastry over chicken mixture. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and the pastry is golden brown.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Shepard's Pie with Port Wine

Helloooooo friends! How's the new year working out for you? How about those resolutions? Me, I did not make any resolutions this year. Why, you might ask? Well, honestly, I never see them through! I wish I could say to you that I am a disciplined person, one who is capable of trudging through any adversity, but that would be a lie. I have difficulty just fulfilling my daily plans and intentions! So, this year I have taken a different perspective on this glorious new year. I start each day by asking God to reveal to me His plans for my day, and to please keep myself from getting in His way so that I may carry out those plans. I then empower myself with the scripture of Psalm 139:23-24, which I want to share with you. It says, " Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the everlasting." (NIV)

What a prayer! I can tell you, it is not easy to give your life totally over to the lord, though it should be. We Christians tend to "cut off our nose in spite of our face!" It is our sinful nature to want to be in complete control of EVERYTHING! At least it is mine. Ok, where am I going with this?! My point is, if you are a failure at New Year's resolutions, IT IS OK! Let me repeat that, IT IS OK! Set realistic goals and pray for guidance and determination in meeting them. Realize that there will be many failures no matter what you do, but if you keep on trying and learn fromthose failures the end rewards will be phanomenal!

So without me rambling on any further, here is a GREAT recipe the whole family is sure to love. And if they don't, you might want to have their tastebuds checked out! J/K! It is Shepard's Pie. I'm sure many of you have heard of it! I got to wondering though, what the history of this all-in-one dish is and where it generated from. So, because I want my reader's to have the culinary knowledge of a scholar, here is what I learned. The first mention of Shepard's pie is in 1885, but it is believed to have existed LONG before then. It is popular in the UK and mainly made with sheep or mutton, hence the name "Shepard's". We make it here in the states mostly with beef' which actually is referred to as "Cottage Pie" in the UK. My version is different from the traditional recipes, but hey, I'm like that. If you like satisfying meal, my version of Shepard's Pie is sure to placate your appetite!

Shepards pie 002.JPG

Shepard's Pie with Port Wine
For the Beef Mixture
5 lbs. chuck roast, fat trimmed and cut into 1 in. cubes
5 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 med. sweet onion, diced
1 cup diced carrots
1 pkg. sliced baby bello mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp. flour
2 cups beef stock (or broth)
1/2 cup tawny port wine (you can find at your local wine store)
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. herbs de provence (which are made of thyme, rosemary, oregano, savory and basil) Yes, you can make your own at home.
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 cup sweet peas

* In a large stockpot or dutch oven, pour olive oil into pot over med-high heat. Place beef into pot and brown on all sides. Add onions, carrots and mushrooms.Cook until slightly tender. Add flour, stir. Add chopped garlic. Cook one minute longer, stirring constantly. Add beef stock (or broth), port wine and water. Next add salt, pepper, herbs and garlic powder. Reduce heat to low cover and simmer about 1 and 1/2 hours to 2 hours. Meat should be nice and tender. (You can add more port if you like, depending on your taste, this is some pretty stout stuff!)

For the Potatoes

4 medium baking potatoes, peeled
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sour cream (light)
2 tbsp. milk or half-n-half

*Boil potatoes until tender. In a mixing bowl, blend potatoes, butter,salt, sour cream and milk until creamy.

In a deep dish pie plate or baking dish ,(sprayed with cooking spray or buttered), place in beef mixture, cover with peas and mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese. I even spread shredded cheddar over the peas and then again sparingly over the potatoes.

Bake in a 350 degree oven til potatoes are brown around the edges and cheese has melted. Serve in individual bowls. Enjoy your hearty meal!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Hello Blogger world! I've missed you! I do hope all of your holiday's was as peaceful and blessed as mine. We stayed fairly busy and on the go the later part of our vacation. But I'm back! I have been cooking up a storm and reserving several recipes to share with you.

Unfortunatley the weather down here in the deep South has not been amenable. One day it is warm, almost Spring like, the next rainy and dreary and the following cold, windy and bitter. This has been a pattern though; so since today it is rainy, I can suffice to say tomorrow will be bitterly cold and windy?. Does this set the tone for this coming year? Unpredictable? I'd like to rely on the old adage, "God is in control." And He is! So in the spirit of uncertainty, but faithful, let's focus on the fact that it is Winter and I will share with you a light and satisfying soup. Chicken Tortilla Soup. This is loaded with protein and fiber. All those good things you want to put into your body at the start of each new year! Or, if you are not as concerned about your waistline, make sure to top the soup off with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese, YUM! This recipe feeds about 4-6 people, depending on the hunger level of the individuals!


Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 box 34 oz. Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 cups water
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes, do not drain
1 large chicken breast, cooked (I baked mine)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp. half-n-half
1 1/2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. white pepper (regular will work just as well)
2 tbsp. Chipotle Tabasco sauce
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can whole kernal corn
Fresh Cilantro, for garnish and added flavor
Tortilla strips, for garnish

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, combine ALL ingredients, minus black beans and cilantro. Bring to a boil and reduce to low heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add beans the last 10 minutes. Scoop into individual bowls and garnish with cilantro and tortilla strips. Remember: sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese is great on top, too!