Friday, October 22, 2010

Kristin's Chili Corn Bake

This is a great fall meal! It's warm, hearty, and who doesn't love corn bread! It's also on the healthier side of things and if you substitute the ground beef for ground turkey it would be even healthier. If your pantry is well stocked this is also a CHEAP dinner! Woo hoo! If you don't use corn meal very often then just buy a package of JIFFY mix. One should be enough.

Here is what you need:
1 lb lean ground beef or turkey
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups frozen corn
1 regular can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon low sodium Worcestershire sauce
Cheyenne pepper and crushed red pepper to taste (Start with 1/2 teaspoon of each, then add more as needed)
Cornbread toping (if not using a mix)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 generous tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup skim of low fat milk
1 TB of oil of choice (I like to use corn oil for corn bread)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and grease an 11x7 baking dish

2. In a large skillet, cook meat and onion over medium heat. Rub a couple of paper towels in the pan with spatula to pick up extra fat. Add beans, tomatoes, spices and Worcestershire sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer, uncovered for 5 min. Add corn and simmer about 3 to 4 min longer.

3. Transfer to the greased baking dish. For the topping, combine your dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately then add the wet to the dry ones. Stir just until combined, don't over mix. Spoon over the meat mixture.

4. Bake, uncovered for 14-18 min or until the filling is bubbly and a knife inserted into topping comes out clean. Let stand 5 min. before cutting.

Enjoy!!! Make some this week!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cleaning a Non Self Cleaning Oven

Alright, now I'm gonna warn you about this post. It's sort of gross. It shows the more unglamorous side of mastering the kitchen. In fact- much of that is unglamorous. Anyways... I'm getting real with you.

When we first moved into our apartments I was a bit disgusted from the oven. I tried wiping it with Windex which did nothing... so I became comfortable with it. However, after a couple of spilled over pies and other dishes it was getting harder and harder to deal with. I tried baking soda which did nothing. Time went on. Smoke was coming up from the oven too often! On Sunday I made a chicken pot pie which spilled A LOT. I knew I wouldn't be able to use my oven again until I cleaned it. See take a look....

Take a look at the whole oven actually. It's all disgusting. I don't think it's ever been cleaned.
Take a better look at the pot pie spot. GROSS!

Now that your grossed out let me change the subject to food. Haha. On Monday I made some beef stew and thought, "mmm biscuits". So I whipped some up and had them rolled out and on the pan ready to go. Then I noticed smoke coming from my pre-heating oven. Lots of it. If our smoke alarm hadn't been ripped down from the last time I set it off it would have been beeping. So I had to trash my biscuits :-(

So I texted my mother in law and asked her how to clean an oven because I remembered her talking about it before. She told me about cleaning her oven when she first got married- said she used Easy-Off oven cleaner and a rough cleaning pad and scrubbed a lot.

So that's what I did. I woke up this morning and went to exercise then I headed to the grocery store. Came home and got to work.

Here is what I used:

Note: You have to use the rough stuff. I tried a regular sponge before... did nothing. I used all 3 of these today.

And of course some gloves... I love these things:

I sprayed it in the oven

Then closed the door let it work it's magic and ate breakfast (because I'm not quite as disgusted by these things anymore).

Then I put my gloves back on and got to work:

Over 2 hours later:

I know there are still some spots and it's not perfect but I worked HARD!
And then there was STILL cleaning to do... like all around the oven. And the floor because grease had gone everywhere. But I finally did it. I was very proud of myself.

I changed clothes and folded the clothes in the dryer. Put lots of lotion on my hands and made lunch for me and Blake. Then I went to class! Very productive morning!

Then I enjoyed using my clean oven tonight to make toast for our stew leftovers.
The joys :)
You know I'm loving every bit!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cranberry Sauce

With fall in the air I think of one thing- food. OK I think about other things but food is a huge thought. Cooking is a huge thought. Cranberry sauce is one of my favorite holiday sides. I haven't always liked it... but once I tasted it I was hooked. This year I decided to make it all though fall... why just save it for holidays! I decided to share my recipe. So here it is:

12 oz fresh cranberries
1.5 cups packed brown sugar
3/4 cup of water
.5 cup seedless raspberry jam

1. Mix cranberries, brown sugar, and water. Bring to boil on high heat, then reduce to medium high. Cook 8-10 min until mixture is thick and all of the cranberries have popped. Cool about 10 min.

2. Strain cranberry mixture, pressing berries to extract juice, toss the skins or leave some in. This whole step is completely optional. Stir jam into the juice. Let cool at least 30 min.

My favorite part is watching the cranberries pop!

And of course watching it thicken is fun too.

And when it's finished.... taking a bite. Just to taste.

And who says you have to serve it with turkey? Top chicken with it!

I hope you'll make your own cranberry sauce this season! It's so easy and so worth it!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


My ideal dream home is one that has a porch. Maybe even a wrap around porch. It's got a white swing and whicker chairs for lots of conversation as the sun sets. There are bushes of blue french hydrangeas lining the the porch. There is a cobble stone path to the mail box. You can see this better in the spring, but right now it's late fall or early winter.

There are trees... lots of trees. Old oak trees maybe? With a tire swing on one of them.

When you walk inside you hear laughter. Your instantly filled with the aroma of something sweet and the spice of cinnamon. There is warm apple pie on the counter and you help yourself. There is freshly brewed coffee next to it.

You take a seat at an old oak table with barley twisted legs. You look around and old old mason jars are all around the kitchen. Some might even have candles in them.

You walk into the living room and take a seat on a comfortable couch, pull up a knit throw, because this house lives where it's cold. You can hear the crackle from the fire place. I'll bring you some hot wassle if you want. There is some old big band music playing on a record player. The TV is hidden away in a solid oak entertainment center.... only used for foot ball games, movie nights, and the morning news.

When you look out the window (which is a straight shot from the couch) you might mountains that are covered in snow. You'll at least see snow covered trees.

The Sun is almost set.

You'll stay up into the evening playing cards and just talking. Talking about anything. You'll drink more wassle.

Everyone will finally decide to retire to bed.

You'll arise to the smell of fresh coffee and the smell of breakfast. Maybe it's jelly rolls made from scratch, or bacon and eggs. But there will be breakfast. Everyone will squeeze around the old oak table in the kitchen and say grace.

We'll go outside until our toes turn blue and we have to come inside. We'll unbundle and warm up by the fireside. Play an old record maybe? Have some soup?
We'll be out again later.

This house is away from the city. It's away from everything and everyone too busy to stop and enjoy life. It's less complicated of a place. It's beautiful.

Sure it's a little too much of a dream, but what's wrong with being a dreamer?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Pot

I enjoyed a fabulous weekend in Houston. Lots of cooking, laughing, and enjoying each other. Blake wasn't able to come with me though and was doomed to a weekend of bachelorhood... which I think he somewhat enjoyed. What guy wouldn't love keeping the TV on ESPN all weekend long and eating velveta dip.

That's right... velveta dip. Call it what you want... Blake calls it Rotel dip. But no matter what you call it the velveta is what distinguishes it from all other. It is also what makes the mess to clean up. Blake made a pot of the stuff and reheated it on the stove all weekend long. Ignoring that the pot would eventually have to be cleaned.

The sticky mess was glued to the bottom of the pot. On Monday afternoon I filled the pot with water and did all the other dishes.... assuming and slightly hoping Blake would wash it.

Well that didn't happen. I looked in the sink today and the pot was in the sink... however Blake had taken the water out and refilled it again.

I contemplated on what to do. Should I wash it? Should I leave it for him?

I used the situation as an opportunity to make our marriage holy. Part of having a holy marriage is doing things for each other that we might not want to do all of the time. (Or so I've been taught) I didn't want to wash that pot... but then again Blake didn't want to leave for work this morning. Blake doesn't like having to eat hot dogs and sandwiches the last week of the month because I spent all the food money buying more natural foods. He wishes I'm sure that I was working and making more money to put in the pot. So because he allows me to stay home and be just a wife and student... letting me do all the cooking and crafty things I want to do.... I decided to wash his pot. I did it to help our marriage be a holy one.
I say all of this not to boast and say, "look at me". I say this to share a lesson I learned and put into practice. And one of my main points for this blog is for me to record my experiences as a newly wed. And that's exactly what I did!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Correction from last blog!

OK so I messed up in the last blog. Instead of a link to a song it was a link to a picture of my dream house. I was trying to add that but couldn't get it to work.

So needless to say please ignore my awful computer skills!

Here is a link to the song. I'm sorry you have to copy/paste it, I don't know how to turn it into a click link either!

Sunday, October 3, 2010


I've got another song to share with y'all. I'll apologize ahead of time because it's a country song and I know not everyone enjoys that as much as me. (-:

I guess I was driving home from class on Friday when I heard this song. I immediately turned up the radio, turned off the AC and rolled my windows down. This song came out when I was maybe a freshman in high school... or maybe 8th grade I'm not sure but I've always loved this song.

It talks about such a simple time.... which none of the guys who sing it ever lived during so I don't know why they sing about it like they do. Never the less it makes me happy.

I joke and say we live in the country because I drive down a small street with lots of grass and trees. And once their was a dead deer on the road. So this song made me happy as I was driving to our "country apartment".

Sometimes it feels like this world
Is spinning faster
Than it did in the old days
So naturally, we have more
Natural disasters
From the strain of a fast pace
Sunday was a day of rest
Now it's one more day for progress
And we can't slow down 'cause
More is best
It's all an endless process

(Well) I miss Mayberry
Sitting on the porch drinking
Ice cold Cherry Coke
Where everything is black and white
Picking on a six string
Where people pass by and you call
Them by their first name
Watching the clouds roll by
Bye, bye

Sometimes I can hear this old
Earth shouting
Through the trees as the wind blows
That's when I climb up here on
This mountain
To look through God's window
Now I can't fly but I got two feet
That get me high up here
Above the noise and city streets
My worries disappear

(Well) I miss Mayberry
Sitting on the porch drinking
Ice cold Cherry Coke
Where everything is black and white
Picking on a six string
Where people pass by and you call
Them by their first name
Watching the clouds roll by
Bye, bye

Sometimes I dream I'm driving
Down an old dirt road
Not even listed on a map
I pass a dad and son carrying a
Fishing pole
But I always wake up every time I try
To turn back

(Well) I miss Mayberry
Sitting on the porch drinking
Ice cold Cherry Coke
Where everything is black and white
Picking on a six string
Where people pass by and you call
Them by their first name
Watching the clouds roll by
Bye, bye

Bye, bye
(I miss Mayberry, I miss Mayberry)

As always here is a link if you want to listen to it:

Till next time!