The Ghosts of Halloweens Past

This is the third Halloween for our little Tater Tot, and this year he will be Thomas the Tank Engine. He is ALL kinds of crazy about Thomas and the other little train friends, so to dress up as the main one delights him to no end.  You know me.  I’ll have pictures up sometime this weekend.

I thought I’d share pictures from the last two Halloweens.  The first year, when Tater Tot was only 3 months old, we paraded him around in this little cow costume.  It’s still my favorite.  Of course, it’s hard to take pictures that really show off the costume when your little spook is this age.

And then last year, at the last minute, I decided that our little one would make the perfect puppy. (Because, you know, we don’t have enough real ones in our house…)  After Tater Tot and I made the rounds at Tater Daddy’s office — his whole department goes all out and hosts trick-or-treating for the families — the little pup and I got in the car and headed to my parents’ house.  Since it’s an hour away and we’d had a full afternoon anyway, they didn’t think we were coming to see them.  Silly grandparents….  But I let them think it.  Why spoil a perfectly good surprise?  I talked to my Mama for most of the drive there and hung up as I pulled into the driveway.  Then we scooted around to the back door and knocked.  It was one of the few times that I’ve been able to truly surprise them.  

This is a picture of my Daddy, whom Tater Tot called Papa, handing him a balloon.  (Sorry you can’t see the balloon, but would you really pay that much attention to it if you could?!)  It was this day last year when my parents met with the folks from hospice care for the first time, and the nurse brought the balloon.  It had been a hard day, so being surprised with a visit from their only grandson was a real treat.

Once we’d worn out the grandparents and chased that balloon all over the place, Tater Tot and I headed home, where he continued to pose for the camera.

Come to think of it, I probably should have dressed him as a ham…..

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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Soup’s On, Y’all!

Mmmmmm…….yummy!

Souptacular08

Boo Mama is hosting a Souptacular/Crockpotalooza, and seeing as how I LURVE THE SOUPS AND CROCK POT FIXINS, don't-ya-know, I can't wait to fatten up my recipe book! I just hope the Taters don't fatten up too much in the coming weeks as a result.

I certainly don't want to be known as a taker only, so I have a two or three recipes that I'll be sharing:

Chunky-Cheesy-Creamy Baked Potato Soup with Bacon

Corn Chowder With a Southwestern Zing

Crock Pot Chicken with Mushroom Sauce

 

(Okay, does anyone know why my font went all typewriter-style boring on this one? Anyone?  Anyone?  All I did, y’all, was figure out — in my own weird way — how to add Boo Mama’s cute little button up there.  And my font went carnival-freakshow-crazy on me!  Yes, I am Tater Mama…taking one step forward and nine steps back.)

Crock Pot Chicken with Mushroom Sauce

I’ve made this recipe so many times that the page in the cookbook is splattered with, you know, all the splat that comes with being kind of clumsy.

See?

INGREDIENTS:

1 fryer chicken, cut into pieces OR 4 chicken breasts  (I use the breasts.  Haha!  That sounds kind of funny!)

Salt and pepper to taste

2 TBSP butter, melted

2 TBSP dry Italian salad dressing mix

1 (10.5 oz.) can condensed mushroom soup, undiluted

2 (3-oz.) packages cream cheese, cubed (DO NOT substitute with fat-free)

1/2 cup sherry (optional — but it’s better with it than without it)

1 TBSP chopped onion

Rice or pasta

DIRECTIONS:

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and brush with butter.  Place in a crock pot.

Sprinkle with dry salad dressing mix.

Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.

About 45 minutes before serving, heat the canned soup, cream cheese, sherry and onion in a small saucepan over medium heat until smooth, stirring occasionally.  Pour sauce over chicken.  Continue to cook, covered, for 30 more minutes.

Serve over rice or pasta.

(Note:  If you’re going to be gone for more than 5-6 hours, I would add a little more butter or a little chicken broth or water to the crock pot.)

Corn Chowder with a Southwestern Zing

This is another recipe that my friend, Amy, shared with me.  Like her baked potato soup, this one does not disappoint.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup butter

2 small onions, chopped

1 cup diced red bell pepper

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. ground red pepper

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups milk

1 (16-oz.) cans whole kernel corn, with liquid reserved

DIRECTIONS:

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; add onion and next 3 items and saute until vegetables are tender.

Add flour to mixture, stirring well.  Gradually add broth, milk, and reserved corn liquid, stirring well.

Bring mixture to a boil, whisking until smooth.  Add corn, stirring well.

Note:  I usually make this soup early in the day according to the directions above.  Then I transfer it to the crockpot  (low heat) and let it simmer throughout the day.  It really soaks up the flavor.

Chunky-Cheesy-Creamy Baked Potato Soup with Bacon

Doesn’t the title of this recipe just make you want to jump up and slap the next person you see out of sheer delight?  

My good friend, Amy, shared this recipe (and the Corn Chowder recipe) with me, and I make it several times during the winter.  Each pot makes about 10 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

5 cups milk

1 1/4 cups chicken broth

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese

4 large baking potatoes:  baked, peeled, and cut into large chunks

12 bacon slices

1 cup sour cream

Toppings:  chopped green onions, shredded cheddar cheese, crumbled cooked bacon

DIRECTIONS:

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat; add onion and celery and saute until tender.

Add flour to mixture and cook, whisking constantly for 3 minutes.  Gradually add milk and broth, stirring until thickened.  Stir in salt and pepper.

Add cheese to mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until melted.  Stir in potato and bacon.

Add sour cream and cook until thoroughly heated.

Add your favorite toppings.

It’s Worth Buying, But You Can Win It

There’s someone I’ve been the dearest of friends with for a long time now.  We pledged the same sorority at Mississippi State 20 years ago and became fast friends.  We roomed together for a semester when my roommate was selected to be an officer and moved into the sorority house.  When her then-boyfriend and now-husband was ready to propose, I got to be in on setting it up.  We were in each other’s weddings.  We have laughed until we’ve cried and cried until we’ve laughed.  You might even say that, “Laughter through tears is our favorite emotion….”  (We’ve watched Steel Magnolias enough times that we can practically have a conversation using nothing but quotes from the movie.  You might think that one is a little odd, but for my friend and me, that’s just the way it is.)

I could not be more delighted with and proud of my friend simply for being the person she is.  Life has thrown her more than a fair share of curve balls, yet she manages to knock each one out of the park.  Every time.

Several years ago, it just so happened that we were both struggling with the heartaches that come with infertility.  Our struggles and outcomes, though, were vastly different.

She’s written about her experience in her first book, To Walk on Fertile Ground.   

If you’ve struggled at all with infertility, you’ll relate to much of what she’s been through.  If you’ve ever lost a child during pregnancy, you’ll relate to what she’s suffered through.  If you’ve ever been told that you have cancer, you’ll relate to even more of what she’s lived through.

Even if you haven’t known any of the same struggles, you’ve surely struggled with something.  Every one of us faces obstacles in our life, and sometimes we face several all at once.  Would any of us choose these obstacles?  These heartaches?  Of course not.  

When I read my friend’s book, I realized that her message applies to everyone.  Not just to people who have walked or are walking the same road she’s traveled.  Her message speaks to everyone.   With honesty and eloquence, she helps us see that it’s okay — no, it’s good and right — to accept the path that our Father has set before us.  Even when it’s hard.  Even when it’s not at all the path we would have chosen for ourselves.

We can wallow in our self-pity and let it ruin and run our lives.  Or we can “put our hand in the hand of the man who stills the water,” as the old song goes.  We can say, “Okay, Lord.  I thought I’d be living my life a lot differently than it’s turning out, but you must want to show me something else.  I’m in.  I’m yours.  I will walk with faith, Lord.  I will walk on the fertile ground that you’ve set before me, and I will take part fully in this life you’ve given me.”

Please stop by my friend’s blog, To Walk on Fertile Ground, and leave her a comment.  You might win a copy of her book, as she’s giving away three autographed copies in her very first giveaway.  You’ll certainly get to know her a little bit.  I bet you’ll come to love her!

You might even love her more than your luggage…….

In Which I Just Can’t Stay Awake

The sweet-precious-honey-angel-gawr-gawr-gawr  is down the hall sleeping soundly.  

For the moment.  Cross your fingers, cross your fingers, cross your fingers!

I’d like to think he’ll make it the whole night without waking up, but just between you and me, I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen.  He’s two, and he’s going through some little phase where he thinks he can’t get back to sleep unless I’m in the room.  Last night, he woke up three times crying the most pitiful little, “Mama….?” you’ve ever heard.

Each time I went to check on him, all he wanted was for me to sit in the chair beside his crib.  Within a few minutes he was fast asleep and I was staggering back to my warm bed.  That’s a big improvement from a couple of months ago when he would beg and plead to be taken to “Mama’s bed,” so I’m not complaining at all.  I’ll take it!

But when you link several such nights in a row, the Mama tends to get a little googly-eyed, and not a lot of what comes out of her mouth makes sense, so trying to write a blog post would really just be, um, toothpicks-under-your-fingernails torture for us all.

So if it’s all the same with you, I’m going to post another picture of the sweet little Tater Tot and cross my fingers that you think he’s worth looking at.  Heaven knows I never get tired of doing it, but I might be a little biased.  Just a smidge.

With any luck, I’ll be asleep before midnight and can catch a few winks before I’m needed elsewhere.

Happy Wednesday, friends!

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