Tuesday, January 26, 2016

quickest draw in the south ~ lazy daisy nachos

Snow, beautiful snow... It came in early Friday morning, and it fell and fell and fell.  It was gorgeous. It was peaceful.  It caused the city to stop, for just a moment, and breathe.  What a blessing it was, and as a dear friend said, a wonderful reminder that God is in control.

When both parents and their children work and/or attend the same school, snow days are the best. For four days, we have all been together in our home.  We played a LOT, and we ate even more! With a heads up that this weather was heading in, John called me at work the night before it hit to tell me he and the boys had made a grocery store run.  In his words, we were "locked and loaded."  And we were.  Our junk food cabinet was full, but he also grabbed a few things he knew I would want and need to make big breakfasts and real dinners.  You know... the ones that take a little longer than usual. It was wonderful while it lasted, but reality hits tonight, and I thought I'd share my answer for said reality.

This meal is probably all of my "boys'" favorite.  It's one of my favorites, too, because:

A) I know they love it,
B) it takes NO time to prep, and
C) it requires very, very little cleanup.

It's the card I pull every time I'm in a bind, and I'm serious when I say the family erupts with applause when I announce it's what's for dinner.

I really never thought about posting it until it came up in a conversation with a friend.  When I told her what I do, she enthusiastically responded with a, "Wow.  I never thought to do that.  I'm doing it tonight!"  So, I thought, "Wow.  Maybe I should put this on the blog."  So, here it is.

As a tip, I might encourage you to keep freezer bags of seasoned meat, in one-pound servings, on hand for these kinds of nights.  Sometimes I'll cook in peppers and onions with it before freezing.  I am here to say, it doesn't get any easier!  When the meal has finished cooking (about 10 minutes), put the pan in the middle of the table and serve straight from it.  Such a fun and fast way to enjoy dinner with your family!

Lazy Daisy Nachos

1.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.

2.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

3.  Spread nacho chips (these are our favorite) on pan evenly.

4.  Distribute one pound of seasoned meat - chicken or ground beef is our usual - over chips.  You may want to use my favorite taco seasoning.

5.  Layer any items you prefer cooked on top... corn, beans, etc.  If you prefer nothing else, go ahead and spread shredded cheese of choice.  We typically use a fiesta blend.

6.  Watch carefully for cheese to melt and remove from oven, about ten minutes.

7.  Top with what your family loves.  We enjoy sour cream, salsa, jarred jalapenos, cilantro, and chopped avocado, if we have some.

8.  If you have a picky one like I do, adjust nachos as needed.  I always keep a corner free of meat and use just cheese.  One pan.  Suits everyone.  Wad up the mess, and kitchen is cleaned.

Recipe from The Lazy Daisy Kitchen.

Friday, January 22, 2016

SOUP-er Saturday (a day early) ~ Layered Herby Stew

I know it's only Friday, but here in Nashville there's a good chance of snow that might very well hang around for a while.  I wanted to make sure anyone in the area, or those elsewhere with a similar forecast, could make it to the store for this SOUP-er Saturday recipe's ingredients before it's too late.

I don't know that there's a more perfect pot of stew for the coming weather than this one.  I remember when I first made it, early in our marriage, I had very, very little cooking experience.  I, for the life of me, had no idea why in the world it would call for tapioca.  Up until that point in my life, tapioca was what I loved to get on the salad bar at Bonanza when I was six years old.  What would it be doing in beef stew!?!?  Actually, now that I think about it, that may have been the only reason I tried this recipe; it made for a great experiment!  But I promise you, for those of you who don't cook a lot, you will not end up with pudding.  The tapioca just gives it a little body, and all of the herbs drown it in whole lot of flavor!

I'm telling you... this couldn't be any easier!  Just layer all the ingredients in the crock, turn it on, and a few hours later you'll have a really healthy and satisfying meal.  I've tried a ton of beef stew recipes, this has been my go-to for years.

It is definitely cold outside, but this SOUP-er Saturday Friday meal will warm it up perfectly.  You have my word.

Layered Herby Stew

makes 6-8 large servings

  • 2 1/2 lbs lean beef chuck, cubed
  • 1 medium to large onion, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 8-12 small red potatoes, halved 
  • 4-6 carrots, cut in 1-inch pieces or one small bag of baby carrots
  • 2 large celery ribs, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp Worcesterchire sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine, or water
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 tbsp minute tapioca (only 5 if using water instead of red wine)
  • 28-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1. Layer all the ingredients in the crock pot in the order they are given.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

2. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

SOUP-er Saturdays - lazy daisy's sausage, bean and green soup

With the temperatures dropping, and an extra day over the weekend, I thought it would be perfect timing for SOUP-er Saturday!  These are some of my favorite times of the year... overcast skies, a chance of snow, and a crock full of something good just hanging out on the stove.

I came up with this a couple of weeks ago when we decided (at the last minute) to ask some friends over for supper and games.  It was the end of the second week of Christmas break, and just a couple of days after an all-night lock-in we had with our youth group, followed by New Year's Eve!  Needless to say, John and I were exhausted.  But we are both really good at trying to eek out every last minute of time off, got a bit of a "second wind," if you will, and John thought it would be grand to have company.  Company we'd have, but I was deteremined to not have to go to the store.

Sooo, I did a little digging in the pantry, fridge and freezer, and wallah!  Lazy Daisy's Sausage, Bean and Green Soup.

For those of you who know our names, pretty fitting, eh?  

Serve this with corn cakes, finish off the meal with apple dumplin's and vanilla bean ice cream, and you're set.  Enjoy!

Lazy Daisy's Sausage, Bean and Green Soup

  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 14 oz package, polish sausage, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup diced carrots
  • 3/4 cup sliced celery
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 2 cans white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and rough-chopped (or you could sub baby spinach, if preferred)
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • fresh cracked ground pepper
1. In a dutch over or medium soup pot, saute sausage in 1 tbsp olive oil until slightly browned.  Remove and set aside

2. Add remaining oil, let heat, and then add onion, carrots and celery, stirring until softened. Add in garlic and stir until fragrant.

3. Pour in beef broth and bring to boil, and turn down to simmer.

4. Place one cup of rinsed beans and a little water in blender and puree.

5. Add pureed beans and stir.  Add in remaining whole beans.

6. Add kale and let simmer a couple of minutes.

7. Add salt and finish off with vinegar and pepper, stirring until combined.

Recipe from The Lazy Daisy Kitchen

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


For the most part, I really believe there is very little new under the sun.  Most things have been done, and most of us have heard about them all.  But when it comes to this idea, I'm not sure why I've not heard of if before.  Is it brand new, or have I just been hiding under a rock all my cooking life??

Either way, finding out this trick for cooking hard-boiled eggs nearly had me dancing in the living room when I caught it on Food Network's, The Kitchen, over Christmas break.  I ran across a new egg salad recipe a while back, so I have been craving hard-boiled eggs lately.  But John has a nose like no other, and although he would never tell me not to do something I really want to do, I know he can't stand the smell of boiled eggs cooking, so I very rarely do them.  It's a preserving-the-marriage thing.

That has all changed, my friends.

I call these the "Oh My Stars and Garters!" hard-boiled eggs, or OMSAG Eggs.  The OMSAG part is what I said out loud when I saw it for the first time on television.

Thirty minutes and one muffin tin pan.  No accidental, premature cracked eggs.  No waiting for water to boil.  No wondering if the eggs are finished.  Thirty minutes, and perfect, tender-yolked egg.  It's the hard-boiled eggs without the boil.


printable recipe

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  

2. Place one large egg in each muffin cup and cook 30 minutes.

3. Carefully place eggs in ice water bath for 5 minutes.

4. Peel and enjoy!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

dark chocolate chocolate cake

He's my roller coaster partner, my Max Lucado reading partner, my I-can't-watch-What-About-Bob-too-many-times partner, and my lover-of-all-things-chocolate partner… And he happens to be my dad.  He has taught me so very many things over the years, especially, by example.  One of them, thankfully, is to eat anything and everything chocolate - dark chocolate at that.  I love that guy.

I've told you before that our tradition is for me to bake a different chocolate cake every year for his birthday.  It falls during the week of Christmas, and we usually celebrate the first night we get into town for the holiday.  I always look so forward to it!

This year, it was particularly special, because Dad turned 60.  So, I searched and searched for a perfect confection to bake and also bought him a Wii and Wii Sports, so he could exercise it off.

I know.  It's just the way we roll.

As soon as I saw the name of this cake, I knew it was the one.  It wasn't just, Chocolate Cake.  Not even Dark Chocolate Cake.  It was, Dark Chocolate Chocolate Cake.  I mean, come on.  Anything with two chocolates in the title has to be right up Dad's alley.

And it was.

Rich, deep, chocolate buttercream that covers and fills even richer, incredibly moist chocolate cake layers.

I thought it really turned out pretty, and it tasted as good as I had hoped. Dad said it was the best one yet, which was all that mattered.

I am not a cake decorator, as you can well see, although I would LOVE to take a class!  But if you're interested in doing something similar, you can find the Wilton Edge Decorating Triangle here. Make sure to apply plenty of icing on the side, so the edger has enough to glide through but leaves enough to eat.

For the icing "kisses" along the top and bottom of the cake, I used a #1A decorator tip, like this one. Just fill the icing bag, twist close, and squeeze to form the size you want, pulling back and releasing the squeeze at the same time.  This icing is really easy to work with, so you won't have any trouble.

If you have a chocolate lover in your family, you will win their entire heart with this one.  I hope you'll let me know if you try it and how it worked.  Happy Baking!

Oh… silly me.

And eating!

Dark Chocolate Chocolate Cake

For the Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened, dark cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sour cream
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted

For the Buttercream

8 oz bittersweet chocolate
8 oz heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
3 1/3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened, dark cocoa powder
2 tbsp meringue powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla

For the Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray the bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans, or three 8-inch round cake pans, with cooking spray.

2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the dry ingredients.  Add the remaining wet ingredients and beat on medium speed for two minutes.  Divide the batter evenly between pans.

3. Bake for 27-30 minutes, until the center springs back when pressed and toothpick comes out clean. Set the pans on wire racks, cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and cool completely.

For the Buttercream
1, Finely chop the bittersweet chocolate in a bowl.  Warm the cream over medium-low heat, just until it simmers.  Pour the warm cream over the bowl and let stand for 3 minutes.  Stir until smooth.  Cover and let cool at room temperature for at least 2 hours, but preferably 4-5 hours.

2.  Scrape the ganache into the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment and beat with the butter for several minutes until smooth.  With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar, cocoa, meringue powder and salt, mixing until combined.  Add the vanilla and whip on high until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen.


Monday, January 4, 2016

the first of my 2016 kitchen resolutions

The start of a new year can be many things... maybe exhilarating... maybe a bit daunting.  But I always, always think it's refreshing.  It's a chance to push "reset" and take on new challenges.

I have several intentions for 2016 rolling around in my head for different areas of my life, but, truth be told, that constant "rolling around" has been going on since my boys were, oh, about two and four.  I remember, about that time, I started to consider all of the things I'd like to do in the future from increasing the quality of my health to organizing my wardrobe to going to grad school.  I did go to grad school, by the way, but the other two???  Well... let's just say they're still on the list.

At any rate, I don't ever feel like my brain is "at rest," because I'm constantly thinking about what I could do next. That's why, for a couple of areas in my life, I am setting small, achievable goals, so that I can feel and see my accomplishments as I meet them, the most important being the one I shared with you yesterday.

You see the above picture?  That is pure joy, my friends.  Pure joy.  It is no secret that my favorite room to be in is the kitchen.  It's where I spend the most (awake) time, without a doubt.  But just because it's my favorite doesn't mean that I wouldn't mind reducing some of the wasted time I spend in it.  So, beginning today, I'm sharing the first of 2016's achievable goals that have to do with just that... getting back a little of my hard-to-come-by time, particularly, in the kitchen.


Gather all ingredients and utensils BEFORE cooking

Earth-shattering, I know.  But please keep reading.

For those of you who - like me - are less than organized in the kitchen, this simple move can give you back a little of your time and quite a bit of your sanity during meal-prep, or baking, or whatever it is you're taking on in the kitchen.  Trust me on this.  

One might think with the amount of time I do spend in the kitchen, I could sail through the cooking process fairly seamlessly.  But I am FAR from world's best at smoothly pulling recipes together.  Too many times, our evenings go something like this:

1. Fly in the door and unload everything at the first stop - our kitchen table or counter.  (Someone please tell me why we keep doing this!)

2. Feverishly try to overcome Major Mom Failure by getting some kind of semi-healthy meal on the table BEFORE the boys have to be in bed (because it would be terrible to send them there with no supper, right?).

3. Just a few minutes into the whole ordeal, walk around the kitchen in circles, attempting to open up a draw or cabinet, WITH MY ELBOWS, mind you, to get an ingredient or can opener, or some other item that's not where it should be, all while trying to keep the raw chicken juice from dripping down my forearms.

4. Yell at Make a request for anyone who will listen to do SOMETHING to help.

Need I go on?

I know it seems as though pulling together the recipe ingredients and necessary tools before you start takes too much time, but I have tested it over the last three days, and I am here to say - dear, dear readers - It's. Worth. Every. Second.  It has honestly brought back more joy as I cook.  With very little effort, I know where everything is, and the time I usually spend mindlessly looking around for necessary items (or spreading salmonella), is significantly reduced.  Seriously.  Give this a week.  I promise you'll be hooked!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

before my feet hit the floor - a personal campaign

I will be the first to say that I firmly believe God is not in the business of beating people up.  I mean, we are His creation, made in His image, for Heaven's sake.  But, I can also strongly say I fail miserably at even meeting Him half-way more times than I care to count.  And then I wonder why I'm on top of the world one moment and down in the valley the next, which is nearly always based on circumstance. In other words, when I might be tempted to look "up" and ask Him where He is, or why He's causing my emotional shift, if I were honest with myself, I'd realize it's me.  Just me.

I started doing Beth Moore studies years ago, and I remember writing down a most profound quote of hers in the front of my Bible... Do you walk with God for His results or for His company?  I must tell you, my toes hurt for days and days after that one.  What is my true motivation for living in God?  And does that motivation warrant the very best of me?

I have been blessed to be a part of a Christian family for my entire life.  Church, and everything that goes with it, is what we did.  It was most certainly my lifestyle, because it was my family's lifestyle first.  As I continue to get older, it becomes abundantly more clear to me how that lifestyle must be a daily choice.  There are no parents in my house to motivate me.  I'm the parent, now.  It's not a Sunday and mid-week check-in.  It is a 24/7/365 choice.  If I desire to claim the power of God's son to be a light in the world, Monday through Saturday, then I must claim Him everyday, on purpose, without fail.  And that is why I've begun taking on this personal campaign. It's not so overwhelming that I feel like a failure before I begin.  It's just the right size that I can feel the difference.  And the difference it has the potential to make in my life is huge.

John was talking with a colleague a while back, and they were on the topic of social media and children.  He mentioned to John that every night, when his children go to bed, he puts their Bibles on top of their phones.  Not to be the mean parent, but to make a statement about priorities.

I was thinking about that the other morning before I got out of bed, rolling over to stop my morning alarm on my phone.  If I'm picking up my phone anyway, why don't I take one extra step, before I do anything else, and read the Word of God?  Just a verse.  A daily verse to pray, for meditation, a verse to comfort when life is hard, or to guide when my human self doesn't want to yield to the Spirit Who lives within me.

I'm calling it my "Before My Feet Hit the Floor" campaign.  I have committed to not stepping foot outside of my bed before I've called on my God.  And I have chosen to ask Him to speak to me through the verse before I even read it. There have been moments over the last week or so I've done this, that I could see a direct connection immediately between His words and a life situation. There have been other times I've seen it later in the day.  I just use the daily verses provided through my Bible Gateway app. Nothing fancy.

So, that's it.  Many of you may already do this, or you may do more.  Speaking for myself, I'm excited to continue to see the results God has in store.  But I'm even more excited to walk with Him for His company.  I would love for you to join us.

Happy New Year and may God bless you in 2016!