Sunday, January 31, 2010

Island Chicken - YUM!

Yum...we just had the most delicious meal today. I didn't think to get a picture until it was all gone. It's called Island Chicken and I got the recipe from a girl we knew in Japan. I adapted it a little; she used drumsticks, but I had some breasts in the freezer.

Island Chicken

1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp ginger, ground
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 c. soy sauce
1 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 green pepper, sliced
1 large can pineapple chunks, drained
1 onion, sliced thinly
3lbs chicken (I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts)

Start the chicken in the crock-pot, add in the onion, peppers, and pineapple. Mix up the first 7 ingredients and pour over chicken, peppers, onions, and pineapple. After the chicken was done, I took out a breast at a time and shredded it up with a couple of forks on a plate. (It was hot, I had to work with what I had :) ). I put the chicken back in the crock-pot and cooked it a while longer; about a couple of hours. Then I served it over brown rice. It's our new favorite chicken dish!

I hope you try this and enjoy!

Just so you know, to feed our family, I doubled EVERYTHING! I had a package of chicken that was about 6 lbs and just doubled the rest to match.

Until next time...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Chocolate Friday - Chocolate, the Cure-All

By the late 1500s, the Spaniards had abandoned the Azetc name cacahuatl - "bitter water" - and coined a new work, chocolatl, possibly a combination of the Maya word for "hot," chocol, and adding it to the Aztec word for "water," atl.

Why would they do this? Their chocolate was sweetened, not bitter and they drank it hot like the Mayans did. But some historians speculate that there may have been another reason: just as the Spaniards were initially disgusted by the bitter taste and frothy brown appearance of cacahuatl, they may have also been disgusted by its name.

In many Romance languages, including 16th century Spanish, the caca has scatological connotations. "It is hard to believe that the Spaniards were not thoroughly uncomfortable with a noun beginning with caca to describe a thick, dark-brown drink which they had begun to appreciate," anthropologists Sophie and Michael Coe write in The True History of Chocolate. The Spaniards "desperately needed some other word. and we would not be at all suprised if it was the learned friars who came up with chocolatl and chocolate."

No one knows for sure when chocolate first arrived in Europe. Cortes may have brought some back to Spain with him on his trips in 1519 or 1528. The first recorded appearance of chocolate in Europe was in 1544, when some Dominican friars took a delegation of Mayans to visit prince Philip of Spain. Nobody knows if the prince tried the chocolate, and if so, what he thought of it. In any event, it took a few years for the new taste to catch on in Spain.

By the time the first commercial shipments of cacao beans began arriving in Spain from plantations in Central and South America in 1585, the exotic beverage was appreciated mostly for its "medicinal" value. "This drink is the healthiest thing, and the greatest sustenance of anything you could drink in the world," one chocolate advocate wrote in the 1550s, "because he who drinks a cup of this liquid, no matter how far he walks, can go a whole day without eating anything else." (Ha, I knew it! All you need in life is chocolate!)

In 1655 England seized the Caribbean island of Jamaica from Spain, including a number of thriving cacao plantations. Up to that point chocolate was practically unheard of outside of Spain. Then, in 1657, London's first chocolate cafe opened, advertising "an excellent West India drink, called Chocolat." Similar cafes soon opened up in the Netherlands, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. Hot chocolate quickly established itself as the drink of choice of the European aristocracy (no one else could afford it); by 1690 chocolate was so popular in England that the British Parliament passed a law forbidding the selling of it without a license, giving King William and Queen Mary fa financial stake in the booming trade.

In the late 1600s, chocolate began appearing as a flavoring in food. In France you could buy chocolate biscuits and pastilles; in Spain, chocolate rolls and cakes. In Italy, you cold order chocolate soup, chocolate liver, and chocolate pasta - including chocolate lasagna. And in 1727, and Englishman named Nicholas Sanders became the first person, as far as historians can tell, to make a hot chocolate drink using milk instead of water.

But you still couldn't find a chocolate bar - not in Europe, not anywhere in the world. Nobody knew how to make chocolate in solid form in the 17th century - chocolate preparation had hardly advanced at all since the time of Cortes. The beans were ground, usually by hand, and then shaped into wafers or cakes that were dissolved in hot water to make drinking chocolate, which if you wanted you could pour into your food. That was about it.

~ taken from Uncle John's Supremely Satisfying Bathroom Reader.

And now for a recipe. (With chocolate of course).

Ultimate Double Chocolate Brownies

3/4 cup Baking Cocoa

1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

2/3 C. Butter or Margarine, melted, divided (I use the Butter)

1/2 C. Boiling Water

2 C. Sugar

2 Eggs

1-1/3 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp. Vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. Salt

1/2 C. chopped Pecans

2 C. (12 oz.) Semisweet Chocolate Chips

In a large bowl, combine cocoa & baking soda; Blend in 1/3 C. Melted Butter. Add Boiling Water; Stir till well blended. Stir in Sugar, Eggs, and remaining melted Butter. Add Flour, Vanilla, & Salt. Stir in Pecans & Chocolate Chips. Pour into a greased 9x13x2" baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or till brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool.

To feed more of your chocolate addiction, head over to Lisa's (@ Stop and Smell the Chocolates). She always has some great recipe and links to more.


Until next time...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

just life

(Disclaimer: This picture has no bearing on this post. It's just a sample of how crazy we get around here).

Okay, I know, I've been really lax in the blogging department.

But the truth is...I'm dry.

I have no funny stories, no great giveaways, no exciting adventures to relate.

Just boring old life.

Laundry. School. Dishes. Scrapbook for a grandparent. (Almost finished - I've been working on this thing for 6 months!)

Laundry. School. Dishes. Sewing.

Laundry. School while running errands. (Gives all new meaning to the term "school bus"). Dishes. Diapers. Um...trying to make the switch to cloth. Hope to have a post on that soon.


You get the idea.

Oh well, there was this one thing. We went to the dentist a couple of weeks ago and one of the ladies asked me to make a couple of dresses for her granddaughters. I'm not the best seamstress, but I manage to make some simple jumpers for my girls to wear.

She liked, she asked, I said yes.

So, I've got a couple of little dresses to make. I found some really cute material at JoAnn, yesterday.

But so is normal...laundry...

(Disclaimer: Another totally random picture. Yes, the goat was in the house...momentarily).

Until next time...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

great giveaway site - Sugar Pop Ribbons

Sugar Pop Ribbons Giveaway Logo

I've found a wonderful site that has lots of great giveaways: Sugar Pop Ribbons. I'm pretty sure that you'll find something you'd like to enter on her HUGE list on the right side of her blog. Go check it out!!

If you nurse your babies, or know someone who does, the giveaway she's having right now is the one for you. It's a nursing cover!. I'm hoping to win this one, but I'll share it with you so you'll have a chance, too. ;)

Just go over to Sugar Pop Ribbons and follow the directions for entering. It's that easy!

Until next time...

the suspense has ended (winner of giveaway)

And the winner is...

Commenter number 3!

"I am blessed! said...

I've got your button!"

Congratulations! Just send me your information and I'll get that out to you asap!

Until next time...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Chocolate Friday - Origins

The cacao plant is native to Central America. There is evidence that the Maya established cacao plantations as early as 600 A.D., after harvesting and trading the wild cacao beans for hundreds of years. They used cacao beans to make chocol haa, or "hot water," a frothy chocolate beverage flavored with vanilla, hot chili powder, and other spices, including achiotl, a spice similar to allspice that left the drinker's mouth, lips, and facial hair bright red, "as if they had been drinking blood." But only Maya royalty were allowed to drink chocol haa; everyone else had to settle for balche, a fermented beverage made from honey and bark. Cacao beans were so valuable that by 1000 A.D. they were being used as currency, which is why Columbus's captives treated them with such reverence.

The Aztecs acquired a taste for cacao from their contact with the Maya, and by 1200 A.D. they were collecting tributes of cacao from the tribes they dominated, including the Maya The Aztecs believed that cacao was a gift of the feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl, who repeatedly brought a cacao tree to Earth on a ray of sunlight and taught early people how to make cacahuatl, or "bitter water," the chocolate beverage that they believed gave them universal wisdom and knowledge. (Of course it does! lol)

The Aztecs made cacahuatl in much the same way the Maya made chocol haa: they ground coacao beans into powder, stirred it into water, and then gave it a froth by lifting the beverage high in the air and pouring it into a second container on the ground. But unlike the Maya, the Aztecs preferred their cacahuatl cold; this was the beverage that the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes was served by the Aztec emperor Montezuma in an elaborate ceremony in 1519, when he became one of the first Europeans, if not the very first, to taste chocolate.

There was certainly nothing like cacahuatl in the Old World, and it took a while for Europeans arriving in the New World to acquire a taste for it. " a crazy thing valued in that country [Mexico]," Jesuit missionary and historian Jose de Acosta wrote in 1590. "It disgusts those who are not used to it, for it has a foam on top, or a scumlike bubbling."

"It seemed ore a drink for pigs, than a drink for humanity," agreed the Italian historian Girolamo Benzoni, one of the first people to describe the experience to readers in Europe:

I was in [Mexico] for more than a year, and never wanted to taste it, and whenever I passed a settlement, some Indian would offer me a drink of it, and would be amazed when I would not accept. But then, as there was a shortage of wine, so as not to be always drinking water, I did like the others. The tasted is somewhat bitter, it satisfies and refreshes the body, but does not inebriate, and it is the best and most expensive merchandise, according to the Indians of that country.

With times the Spaniards developed a taste for cacahuatl which, like the Maya, they preferred hot, flavored with cinnamon and vanilla and sweetened with cane sugar, which was unknown to the Aztecs. And rather than froth their cacahuatl by pouring it from a high container into a low one as the Aztecs had, the Spaniards used a wooden swizzle stick or beater called a molinillo. Frothing it with a beater became the standard means of preparing chocolate for the next 200 years.

~ taken from Uncle John's Supremely Satisfying Bathroom Reader

Stay tuned...more on chocolate next week... :)

Last week I gave you a hot chocolate recipe. I think I've mentioned this before, but one way I drink my hot chocolate is to add the creamers (intended for coffee) from International Delight.

My favorites are Southern Butter Pecan and English Almond Toffee. I keep looking for the Belgian White Chocolate Macadamia, but can't find it in any stores around here. Hopefully they'll start carrying it soon.

If you've never tried a creamer in your hot chocolate, I encourage you to try it. It's really yummy!

And now for more recipes and information about chocolate, go visit Lisa at Stop and Smell the Chocolates. I swear, sometimes the pictures she puts on there has me drooling! So, go see what she has this week - you'll be drooling, too!

Until next time...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

40 of 52 photos of me

Forever In Blue Jeans

Sorry it's so small. I copied from my mom's Facebook page. She took it at her house this last Sunday.

To see more pictures of moms who have taken Carin up on her challenge, visit Carin's blog; Forever in Blue Jeans.

Until next time...

giveaway extended

Is the suspense killing you? Just joking.

We had computer problems yesterday and I couldn't announce a winner. So I decided instead to extend this giveaway until Friday at midnight.

And to sweeten the deal; leave a comment on this post, too and get yet another entry!

Happy commenting!

Until next time...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Suspense giveaway

This week's first giveaway is for a more mysterious kind of book. Two suspense books from Steeple Hill.

Guarded Secrests by Leann Harris

Clandestine Cover-up by Pamela Tracy

First - just leave a comment.

For additional entries:

1 - follow this blog.

2 - grab my button!

3 - blog about this giveaway and come back to tell me you did (with the link)

4 - answer this question: Did you read Nancy Drew or Trixie Belden growing up?

For a grand total of 5 entries! Please comment for each entry, as I use to draw the winner. Giveaway will be open until Wednesday noon EST at which time I will draw the winner and announce it; plus email them. That means if your profile doesn't give me an email address, please leave one in the comment.

Happy commenting!

Until next time...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

want a good laugh?

Want a good laugh?

Head over to my aunt's blog, Just Kiddin' Around. She writes about her life with her goats. She's absolutely hilarious. To get the full treat, start with her older posts and read in order. She doesn't have many so it won't take you long. But it's well worth it. :)

Until next time...

Winner of historical books

And the winner is...

...A Joyful Chaos!

Yay! An email has been sent to get your information. Congratulations and I hope ya'll continue to watch for more giveaways.

Until next time...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Chocolate Friday - Valuable "almonds"

On May 9, 1502, Christopher Columbus set sail on his fourth-and what turned out to be his last-trip from Spain to the New World. He was searching for a direct water route to Asia, plus whatever riches he could find along the way.

In August 1502, he landed a Guanaja Island, 30 miles off the coast of modern-day Honduras. He spied an enormous dugout canoe in the waters nearby and ordered his men to seize it.

The vessel turned out to be a Mayan trading canoe, probably from somewhere on the Yucantan Peninsula, and it was loaded with a full cargo of trading goods - colorful clothing, wooden swords, flint knives, copper hatchets, small copper bells, and other items. As Columbus's son Ferdinand recounted years later, the Mayans who had been in the canoe were also carrying a cargo of "almonds." Very valuable almonds, it turned out. Ferdinand wrote:

The natives seemed to hold these almonds at a great price, for when they were brought on board ship together with their goods, I observed that when any of these almonds fell, they all stooped to pick it up, as if an eye had fallen from their head.

But Columbus wasn't interested in almonds - he was looking for gold and other riches. "As there was nothing of importance in those Guanaja Islands," Ferdinand Columbus later wrote, "he did not tarry there."

Columbus and his men traveled as far south as modern-day Panama before returning home to Spain, where he died in 1506. He never did find his passage to Asia, and although he was the first European to come in contact with the cacao beans he mistook for almonds, he died without ever tasting chocolate.

(Taken from Uncle John's Supremely Satisfying Bathroom Reader).

Tune in next week to hear the rest of the story. :)

A simple recipe: Chocolate en Leche (Hot Chocolate with Milk)

To serve 4

~ 4 to 6 ounces Mexican chocolate (you can actually find this at Wal-Mart - it's called Abuelita and is made by Nestle - go figure)

~ 4 cups milk

In a heavy 2 to 3 quart saucepan, combine the chocolate and milk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate has melted completely and the mixture is well blended and hot. Do not let the mixture come to a boil. With a molinillo (Mexican wooden beater) or a rotary beater, beat the chocolate vigorously until it is foamy. Pour in into individual cups and serve at once.

Enjoy on these cold winter evenings.

Meanwhile, head over to Lisa's for more Chocolate Recipes.

Until next time...

little milestones

Isn't it funny how little things make you realize your baby is growing up?

A.Z. dipping his chicken in BBQ sauce. Dipping! and not just smearing it everywhere. Well, he did that too, but he's eating like a big kid now!

More BBQ sauce, please?

Yea, Mama's getting a picture of you.

Until next time...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

39 of 52 photos of me

Forever In Blue Jeans

Another photo to keep up the challenge from Carin.

This was after the cookie discovery.

Until next time...

winner and next giveaway - two historical books

The winner of the Debra Clopton books is...

...Comment # 13...

Okay. I know who this is. lol I was completely surprised and I swear I didn't cheat. It was generated totally by I tried to copy the little box, but couldn't figure out how. Anyway, I said all that because the winner is my mom! lol

She's been trying to comment on my blog for ages now and finally figured out how.

So, congratulations, Mama! (No need to send me your address, I'll get them to you ;) ).


And now the next giveaway is for two historical books.

The Christmas Journey by Winnie Griggs

Her Patchwork Family by Lyn Cote

Here's how to win:

First - just leave a comment.

For additional entries:

1 - follow this blog.

2 - grab my button!

3 - blog about this giveaway and come back to tell me you did (with the link)

4 - answer this question: Do you do a traditional Christmas or more modern?

For a grand total of 5 entries! Please comment for each entry, as I just count the comments and use to draw the winner. Giveaway will be open until Saturday noon EST at which time I will draw the winner and announce it; plus email them. That means if your profile doesn't give me an email address or you comment anonymously, please leave your email in the comment.Bold

Until next time...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

cookies in the cookie jar?!

The Lemon Snap Cookies recipe Kat at Art's Chili posted a while back on her blog lasted quite a while. I made them about 2 months ago. My husband said he took them to work with him. I guess he forgot he also hid about half of them. In the cookie jar.

Now to understand why they stayed hidden in the cookie jar, you have to know that we don't use it! It's really too much trouble to use it for 10 seconds. That's about the amount of time any cookies would stay in there.

So today for some odd reason M.E. looks in the cookie jar.

"Hey, there's cookies in here." he declares. I said there wasn't, and he kept insisting that there were. So, I sent someone else to determine who was correct.

There were indeed cookies in the cookie jar.

And they were still good! I'm not sure what that means. Either they were well preserved.

Or it's really cold in our house.

But now, they are really and truly gone.

In about 10 seconds.

Until next time...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Giveaway - 2 books by Debra Clopton

Enjoying the cold weather? Want a good book to curl up with? Then how about another giveaway?

Up for grabs today is two books by Debra Clopton: His Cowgirl Bride and Her Forever Cowboy

They are the two latest in her line of books about a small town in Texas; Mule Hollow. I've read all of these books and I love them. Her series revolves around three matchmakers marrying off the lonesome cowboys in their area. And they succeed, too! The stories are heartwarming and humorous. I know you'll enjoy them.

So - come on and comment to win!

First - just leave a comment.

For additional entries:

1 - follow this blog.

2 - grab my button!

3 - blog about this giveaway and come back to tell me you did (with the link)

4 - answer this question: Do you own a horse, have owned a horse in the past, or have ever just ridden a horse?

Now that's a total of 5 possible entries. Giveaway is open until Wednesday midnight EST (since I posted this late). Winner will be announced Thursday. I'll use the to draw a number and will email the winner.

Then the next giveaway will be announced. Have fun!

Until next time...

I guest posted

I was asked to write a post about my childbirth experiences by Green Mama over at Happy Green Babies. I never actually realized, until she wrote it, that I have experienced every avenue in the birthing adventure. Wow. Makes me tired thinking about it. :)

If you'd like to read it go here.

Until next time...

I have a button!

I had a friend make me a button for this blog. It's cute, if I do say so myself. (And I do. :)) She also made me one for my Bible study blog. Very nice.

So, to answer one commenter - it's new. I've only had it a few days.

I'm generous - grab my button! lol

Until next time...

Sugar Pop Ribbons Giveaways

If you want to enter so awesome giveaways, just go check out Sugar Pop Ribbons Review and Giveaway blog.

Sugar Pop Ribbons Giveaway Logo

I just won one of her giveways and I'm waiting for it to get to me. I can't wait to see it and try it out. I'll let you know when I get it. Wondering what "it" is? Well, I'll tell you when it gets here. :)

Until next time...