Cooking and Food Family

New Year’s Eve: Beef Enchiladas and Movie Recommendations

Not sure if it was my Texas upbringing that grew me into a Mexican food lover, but this enchilada recipe definitely sprouted from my Austin roots. Every New Year’s Eve our church would have a potluck and pray in the New Year together…and every year we all looked forward to Hugh’s Enchiladas…I’ve still never tasted better, and am so glad he shared the recipe with the church family…

It’s one of those recipes that is just as easy to double (or triple for large groups), it freezes well, and I just finished stashing two 9×13″ panfuls in my refrigerator for tomorrow night! Y’all be sure to try it sometime!

Hugh’s New Year’s Eve Enchiladas

Meat filling:

  • 1 lb ground chuck
  • 1 tsp cumin, ground
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt, if desired
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small tomato, chopped fine
  • 2 TB water (to keep meat moist)
  • 10 oz grated cheddar cheese

Put the meat, garlic and onion in a skillet with no oil. Cook over high heat till meat loses color…do not brown…Turn heat to low, drain grease. Add remaining seasonings, and tomato and 2 TB water. Cook covered, over very low heat 20 minutes. Be sure meat stays moist. Add more water if needed.


  • 4 TB flour
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 2 TB chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/4 cups hot water plus one 8 oz can of tomato sauce

Place the flour in a cake pan and brown in a 350*F oven, shaking occasionally, till golden brown.

In large pan, put oil, flour, chili powder, cumin, garlic and salt. Blend well.

On low heat gradually add water and tomato sauce. Stir constantly so it won’t lump. If lumps appear, remove from heat and stir until lumps are gone. Keep stirring. Simmer about an hour.

In a skillet in a tiny amount of oil, heat, one at a time, 10 flour tortillas. Turn and remove and keep warm in a pan. (I skip the “keep warm in a pan” part and work quickly, throwing one tortilla in the pan to heat as I take another and add filling ingredients, roll and place in baking dish)

In each tortilla put: 2 TB meat filling mixture and 2 TB cheese (or just enough to cover the meat, no need to be precise!). Roll and put in baking dish, seam side down. Pour any leftover meat mixture on top along with sauce. Top with more cheese.

Bake at 350*F for 15-20 minutes. Done when sauce starts bubbling all around. Be sure they don’t dry out as they bake. (Generally, if all the tortillas are covered in sauce prior to baking, they don’t dry out.)

Besides enchiladas, we’re sure to have a slew of snack foods handy for the evening’s duration…stuff like puppy chow, poppyseed bread, chips-veggies-dips, jerky etc…

Movie Recommendations

We always spend NYE at my b&sil’s house playing games and watching movies. This year I have three top-notch family movies to recommend…

  1. Facing the Giants~This tops the list!  What I took away from this movie is that when our hurts and hardships overwhelm us, if we open our hearts to God, He is free to work amazingly in our lives and in the lives of those around us. We laughed and cried and LOVED this movie–all of us, even 3 year old! It’s been out a long time, and after asking around, we discovered that none of dh’s extended family had even heard of the movie! So don’t be shy about recommending it to people, or loaning out your copy. It’s hugely inspiring!
  2. Amazing Grace~The true story of “anti-slavery pioneer” Wilber Wilberforce, the man who took on slavery in England’s House of Commons more than a hundred years before we Americans abolished it on our soil. He was inspired by his contemporary, John Newton (writer of Amazing Grace)…this is a must-see movie, but we chose to watch it without our children, as some of the slavery parts are a bit hard to take. (FYI, we are way more careful than most parents–and I think my 10 yo could have handled it all right, but definitely not my tender-hearted 7 yo)
  3. The Christmas Card~I recently watched this Hallmark movie with one of my sisters, and promptly fell in love with the captivating cast, the storyline–and the military theme left me patriotically inspired from beginning to end. A great movie, despite all the kissing! My favorite Hallmark movie ever! (Don’t let the “kissing” comment automatically rate this as a chick flick, I think even my dh might like this one!)
  4. The ’07 Cutting Horse Futurity~my dh stopped by as I was writing this and suggested I add it to the “must-see” family-approved list…I’m telling you, if we had cable and the RFD channel, he’d never leave the house! His dad taped this event for him this year and sent it over…we have definitely NOT been TV or movie free this past week!

What NYE traditions do you embrace? Got any movies to recommend? Don’t forget, wherever you are, to pray the New Year in, something we all should do as we reflect on the blessings of the past year, and open our hearts to God’s will for us in 2008.



Make a Snow Globe!

globes2.jpgWant a FUN project to do with the kiddos? You’ve come to the right place~ 😉

Thanks to Martha Stewart’s basic instructions, we tackled about 12 snow globes the Friday before Christmas…and learned a LOT in the process. Like there really is a reason to use epoxy glue…and oil-based enamel paint…hee. But overall, we’re extremely happy with how our domes of snow turned out!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Jars and lids in varying sizes. You can use baby food jars but our faves were pimiento jars and diced garlic jars. They’re rounder as you can seesnowglobes.jpg in the picture at right. Martha Stewart also recommended those tall skinny olive jars, but we went with what we had on hand!
  • Oil-based enamel paint (for the lids). We used sage green (it looks minty in the pictures, but it’s really sage. Really.).
  • Sand paper–to roughen inside of lid before gluing ornaments
  • Clear-drying epoxy glue (we cheated and used hot glue guns. By day 4 more than “flakes” were floating around in our globes!) Use epoxy glue!!!
  • Plastic or ceramic figurines (not metal–too prone to rust). I raided the Christmas supplies in our attic, specifically a box of miniature resin Christmas ornaments! We also used a couple of synthetic evergreen tips for mini-Christmas trees, available at floral supply shops (or robbed from other Christmas decor around your house).
  • Distilled water, glitter (again, we went with what we had on hand–red and silver), and liquid Glycerin (available at pharmacies/drug stores).

Sand the insides of your lids, paint the outsides, and while the paint is drying, gather all your ornaments. My girls also made a globe with a plastic toy horse as the showpiece. So think outside the box. I had a miniature collection of resin nativity ornaments, and we even used some small wooden ones (I sprayed them with acrylic sealant) that never make it on the tree.

My oldest came up with the idea of gluing a “platform” to the lids and then gluing the ornaments to the platform…so that the globes.jpg“pretty” is up past the neck of the jar, and more visible. For platforms we used dice, vitamin bottle lids, water bottle lids…etc. It worked great, and you can’t even see them as they are beneath the ornament.

Once you have everything glued and ready to go, fill the jar almost to the top with water, shake a few drops of Glycerin in and add glitter. The Glycerin, according to Ms. Stewart, keeps the glitter from falling too quickly. Don’t put too much, she warns, or the glitter will stick to the ornaments and the bottom of the jar. (Mm-hm. It will.) Then screw on your lid and shake ferociously. Ooh, it’s sooooo pretty!!!

Cooking and Food

Potato Cheese Soup

Well, really, its earned a new name at our house: Snowstorm Soup! For the story and the recipe, follow this link over to Writer…Interrupted and my post today!

I’d love to hear what your favorite soups are!

Cooking and Food Desserts

Blueberry Buckle Ring Tradition

We wish you all a very blessed New Year’s! May God and His gifts be at the center of all your celebrations, even if it’s only in your own heart. This year, why not make a special gift of your own to God? Something personal, requiring sacrifice. Something to bring Him glory in the last days of 2007 and the coming year. Not a “new year’s resolution” but kind of, with a spiritual emphasis!

My traditional Blueberry Buckle Ring is as ready as it can be to slip in the oven for a special breakfast, hearts are ready for a year of being a blessing, a sweet smell wafting up to our Lord…hope yours are too!

I leave you with a picture of the very large snowman my husband and the kids tackled yesterday…after which we all tried to biggest-snowman2.jpgbuild a snow fort, but ran out of steam! And by the way, the pup at my oldest’s feet was sold today …last one in the litter! (click picture to enlarge)



Christmas Doings

Survived yesterday’s “blizzarding”…just barely! Final snow totals were around 12 inches, with the high winds leaving drifts that were “rib” high on us people and white stuff to the truck beds and fencetops! We were at my sister-in-lasnowdriftplay.jpgw’s for Christmas celebrations when it hit, and had to blaze our own trail home on the buried country roads. Where’s a sleigh when ya need one?

This morning we girls played till our fingers and cheeks hurt…sadly, the snow isn’t wet enough yet to make snow balls-forts-people etc. But we still had a blast! So did the pups!

My parents stayed with us from Monday to Thursday, and got in on an all day Wednesday Christmas party here at our house with my friend Deborah and her children. Thankfully all our friends and family now have their power up and buzzing. We thank you for all your prayers!

Here are a few pictures for you of what we’ve been busily doing since Friday…

helping2.jpg My lil helper, pounding away at graham cracker crumbs for cheesecake #5! We took several lahelping3.jpgundry breaks, during which I almost lost her in the dryer…

Then we made and decorated 7 dozen Christmas cookies to take to neighbors and family gatherings…more peanut brittle and 12 or so homemade snow globes!

christmasprojects.jpg Today, besides freezing our hinies off outside, we’ve played Clue five times (a Christmas gift oldest received yesterday at sister-in-law’s), made “snowstorm soup” and are about to head over to grandma’s to drop the chillens off so daddy and I can go finish up our Christmas shopping!

And to those of you who sent cards and packages…you filled my heart up to overflowing, honestly! To have friends like you, means so so much–thank you all!

What will you remember the most about this year’s Christmas doings?

(Soon I’ll post my “snowstorm soup” recipe and also a tutorial on home-made snow globes!)

Farm Life

Our Icy Wonderland

Here are some pictures I took yesterday of our glittering ice encased yard…horsebarn.jpg

This first one is out the back porch door, looking up toward our horse barn…horses.jpg

This one is also taken from near my back porch door, with me standing behind our Suburban…beyond the hay bale you’ll see our horses.

Down oudriveway.jpgr driveway, which by the way, is awesome for sledding when icy…frontyard.jpg

Out across our front yard, note the hydrant icicle…


And last, a picture taken out behind our property…can’t believe that ice!

So many families in our community are without power that a temporary shelter has been made available for their use. Just the other night my husband and I took our generator out to my older sister’s. Otherwise, they’d be without power till at least December 22! And when you’re reliant on well water, that means no water either!

Counting our blessings!

Cooking and Food

Homemade Buttermilk and Sour Cream

Gleaned these two great tips from Laine at Laine’s Letters in her recipe box section:

“Buttermilk and sour cream are expensive, but oh, so easy to make.

Buttermilk: I take 1/4 cup of buttermilk aOld Mason Jarsnd add four cups of milk to a mason jar.

Cover and shake a little, then put on the counter.

In about 24 hours, I have buttermilk. I just have to remember to save a little buttermilk from each batch for the next batch.

Sour cream:
Same as above recipe, only you use heavy cream in place of the milk.”

Wonderful to know, right? By the way, I’ve subscribed to Laine’s Letters for years now. She is a dear woman, soKittens in Paradise encouraging to stay at home moms and homemakers everywhere. It would be worth your time to follow the link and check out a few of her letters!


Giving Up Shampoo?

I’m on day two of a “no shampoo” experiment…Long Hair

Upon browsing Mrs. Brigham’s wonderful site, I came across a link to an article on going “Shampoo Free”. Intrigued, I went and read the whole thing. Kind of raised my eyebrows a bit, but gradually I warmed to the idea. Especially since I’ve been reading warnings about toxic chemicals such as propylene glycol and sodium lauryl sulfate for a few months now, and it’s in everything–shampoo included.

So yesterday morning I gave this “no-poo” idea a whirl. You definitely should read the article for the whys and wherefores, but basically, you wash your hair in a solution of baking soda and warm water (1 TB baking soda to 1 cup warm water) and then rinse it a couple of times a week with apple cider vinegar in cool water (1-2 TB ACV to 1 cup water). And just so you know, I have to wash my hair every day. Have to, can’t stand the teensiest bit of oiliness.

Initial reaction…

I missed the suds. I missed the fresh smell. I’m an Infusium 23 gal, and still have a half full bottle on the ledge of our bathtub. I thought, there is no way my long hair isn’t going to be a tangled mess after this… And I made a mental note to be extremely careful if I put my daughters through this latest whim of mine. Baking soda in the mouth is nasty-blech, and apple cider vinegar…well, it tends to burn one’s eyes!

Good points…

I have long hair, and lose a lot of it each time I shampoo. This time I hardly lost any…and wonder of wonders, combing my wet hair couldn’t have been easier. It’s not a stretch to say that it combed through even better than when I do my normal shampoo/conditioner routine. I did comb it out carefully before washing, because with hair past my shoulder blades I need all the help I can get!

I was also worried about the smell…but there is no lingering vinegar scent…believe me, I asked my girls to sniff me several times!

And finally, my scalp has been dry and itchy lately…not to the point of flaking and dandruff, but annoyingly so. With the baking soda/vinegar method, the itching decreased significantly. Now I’m wondering if the condition was caused by the detergents and toxins in my shampoo!


I’ve done the baking soda/vinegar wash twice now. My hair is just as clean as it was with the store bought shampoo and conditioner. It even feels as though its had a deep conditioning treatment, very soft and moisturized. I’ll continue this for a while to see if the benefits continue or increase. Here’s hoping!Apple Cider

Now to figure out a good container in which to store the baking soda and apple cider vinegar! Any ideas?

I’d love hearing from you guys on this…have you done it or a similar alternative? Please share in comments!

Farm Life

Preparing for Power Outages

With the Oklahoma/Missouri ice storm heading North, I’d say the rest of us in the mid-western USA should probably be thinking about the potential for electrical outages. When I think of the last damage we had from ice storms, I shiver! We have half the insurance coverage that we had then…so here’s hoping our barns don’t fall in!

I’m not really as prepared as I’d like. Ideally, a trip to the grocery store would have helped things…stocking up on some non-perishable foods, etc, but I’m counting on my cast-iron dutch oven and my fireplace if worse turns into worst! I’ve already made a double batch of chili and cornbread, and plan on baking breads (muffins/whole wheat bread) tomorrow morning.

Our back porch has a sizable stack of firewood and kindling, I’m caught up on laundry, and have water put aside (several gallons for drinking and washing), flashlights and candles at the ready…what am I forgetting?

Anyway, in the midst of all this, I thought I’d blog while I could, and ask you guys to pray for all those without power right now. Several of my friends and family live in Oklahoma where the damage was severe…they’re saying it may be ten days before the power is restored across the grid.

Hopefully I’ll still be around, keeping an eye on things in blogland, but if things stagnate here a bit, think of me in my snug little igloo and say a prayer!

Thanks, friends!

Cooking and Food

Homemade Crackers

I think one of my favorite things about winter is that we can never go overboard on soups! And to think my dh, prior to being married, thought soups were for sick people! NotMany Fresh Soft Golden Baked Biscuits in a Pile hearty beef stews, chicken and dumplings, or chili with cornmeal dumplings! And what is soup without crackers?

This is a fun project for the daughters, and a great way to showcase their efforts at mealtime! And credit for these, as well as a great homemade tomato soup recipe, goes to Mrs. Lydia at the Home Living blog. Be sure to visit her sometime, she’s a wealth of encouragement to stay at home wives and mothers.

Homemade Soda Crackers

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • salt to taste
  1. Mix flour, baking powder and shortening–add milk and blend well.
  2. Form a ball of dough and cut into four pieces.
  3. Roll dough out very thin.
  4. Cut with a cookie cutter or the top of a glass (wet the glass first).
  5. Place on cookie sheet. Prick with a fork 4-5 times and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 375 degrees 8 to 10 minutes or until golden (watch crackers carefully so they don’t burn).

Mmm! Perfect alongside your soups this winter!