Monday, January 28, 2008

Who doesn't like a good contest?!?

Well, how about over 200 of them? I have been semi-regularly visiting Bloggy Giveaways by Rocks in my Dryer and entering a contest when I see something I really like. It's fun to try to win and it's a great way to see some of the companies that are out there. (Which are also great for inspiration!) They preview a different company every day.

Anyway, last night, when I got home, I checked my e-mail and one of the first things I saw was that I won a gift certificate for a company called JC Naturals. It's a company started by a woman who's son has a sensitivity to household chemicals and pretty much anything that is artificial. So she makes soaps and lotions and all kinds of goodies. I placed my order last night and I'll let you know what I think of the stuff after I use it.

Back to the 200 contests, Rocks in my Dryer is hosting a Bloggy Carnival at Bloggy Giveaways. There are over 200 bloggers out there who are holding a contest and all the links are together in one convenient list. It's going for a week and the list is sure to grow and change throughout the week so check it more than once! It's fun to see all the stuff being given away. There's everything from digital cameras to books to handmade things. Just enter the ones you like. (I've enjoyed just looking at all the different templates people use for their blogs!)

If you get a free moment anytime this week, go enter a contest!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Pioneer Woman hack!

First of all, you know how I love the Pioneer Woman. I hate that she's gotten so popular over the past year, but how can you help from being successful when you have a great sense of humor, awesome recipes, a very interesting life that you document with beautiful pictures, and great contests?

This is my nod to the Pioneer Woman. I am not trying to be the Pioneer Woman. I am not going to start taking pictures of my cat and her daily activities or my husband breaking up the ice in the bird bath or my children running around without their clothes on...again. But I do love to cook and I do have a recipe that I've darn near perfected this past month that I'd like to share. I just happen to be sharing it with you Pioneer Woman style. I love the idea of taking pictures of every step of a recipe. It's foolproof!

Now, to the recipe. I have made this dish for 3, count em, 3 funerals in the last 30 days. In fact, it's becoming my signature funeral dish. It's officially called Jessica's Favorite Green Chile Hominy, but I've shortened it to Green Chile Hominy because I got tired of being asked who Jessica is. It comes from my Perini Ranch cookbook, Texas Cowboy Cooking, and it is GOOD! It's really comforting and fatty and cheesy. Just the thing you want to eat when you have to deal with a death and a funeral and all that emotional stuff. Believe me, when you're going through something like that, your body does not want to eat salad!

At this point I'd like to interject a little comment abour Perini's. If you ever find yourself within 50 miles of Buffalo Gap, Texas, you'd better stop in at the Perini Ranch. Tom's food is out of this world! He's a cowboy cook who travels all over the place with his authentic chuckwagon showing people how cooking used to be done on the prairie. His restaurant is very rustic. My favorite time to go is on Sunday afternoons in the summertime when they have a buffet outside and everything is still in huge cast iron skillets on the grill. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Let's get on with it, shall we?

Here's the star-studded line up:

In the leading role, hominy. Then there's onion, pickled jalapenos, cheddar cheese, bacon, and in a supporting role, green chiles.

Let's start by getting our bacon going because it takes the longest to do. Thanks to a little tip from my good friend Chef Joel Trueblood who gave it to my best friend and breakfast burrito maker extraordinaire, Francesca, there'll be no more spattering grease or melting plates in the microwave (I guess that's just my microwave.) Just lay 10 slices of bacon on a cookie sheet like so...

I know, I know. All you C personalities out there have counted the bacon slices and found that there's not 10, but 11 pieces. Let's just call that a little bacon tax and you can go ahead and call me the IRS. There's more on that subject here.

Pop those puppies in a 350 degree oven. When the edges start to get a little curly, flip 'em over and keep those suckers in there until your whole house smells like bacon and you can't stand it anymore. But you can cook your bacon any way you please. Just cook it till it's crispy.

Now take a good-sized onion and cut it in half. Take one of the halves and wrap it in plastic wrap because your husband is always asking if there's any onion in the fridge for his sandwich. Then take the other half and chop it up. I don't like close-up shots of my hands so here's the onion before it was chopped...

And here's the onion after it was chopped. Questions? And by the way, if you're wondering why I'm cutting directly on my concrete countertop when I said I'd never do that because it would dull my knives, I didn't. I just scraped everything off of the cutting board and onto the countertop because it makes for a better picture. And you know, it's all about the pictures.

Just set the onions to the side and open up your hominy. You'll need 4 regular sized cans or 2 jumbo cans. IGA has this brand of hominy in the large size on their dollar aisle. Don't say anything about it or they'll move them and jack up the price! Your'e going to be draining the hominy but saving 1/2 cup of the liquid for later.

Let's go ahead and grate our cheddar cheese. Notice the microscopic grater I used. I couldn't find my big one. My advice, use a bigger one if you have it. This recipe doesn't call for knuckle shavings.

Our bacon is starting to get crispy! There's enough grease now for me to start my onions.

Just get a little of the grease...

and splash it into a skillet. Actually splash is never a word you want to use with the words "hot grease." Splash is more of a perfume word. I guess I was thinking about perfume and bacon and how great it would be to smell like bacon all the time.

Now heat up the grease and throw in the onions you just chopped.

Saute your onions until they're soft and translucent.

Now that's what I'm talkin bout.

Ding! Bacon's done! Just set it on some paper towels and set it off to the side. Preferably somewhere where it's not staring at you because this recipe won't work with just three pieces of bacon.

Now let's dump all our hominy into a big pot or skillet or whatever you have and turn up the heat baby! Wait, what's this I see?

Hey, look! It's a lonely piece of yellow hominy. I wonder how it got lost and separated from it's yellow family. It's okay little yellow hominy, we don't mind that you're yellow. We can all live together in this pot in peace and hominy! (Thank you very much, I'll be here all week!)

When it gets heated through, we're going to add our reserved hominy liquid...

and a tablespoon of liquid from our jar of pickled jalapenos.

Now bring that back up to hot and add 3/4 of your grated cheese.

Let me just interject something here. Your kids are more important than posting step-by-step photographic recipes on your blog. Do not, I repeat, do not neglect your children to do something like this. I had to leave and come back several times and this recipe didn't suffer for it. So just go with the flow, people.

Now let's take about 1/4 cup sliced pickled jalapenos. The recipe calls for 1-2 pickled jalapenos, but because these are sliced, I didn't know how much to use. 1/4 cup seemed right.

Chop up your jalapenos...

and then open up two small cans of green chiles. You should have about a cup.

Now add both of those ingredients to your hominy mixture. And just so you know, you can add as much of the hot stuff as you want. For instance, if you're going to a funeral for your great aunt Nellie, whom you saw only once at Christmas in 1978, and you're sure she was a very nice woman, but you just can't seem to muster up the tears that seem to flow so easily from everyone else's eyes, well, just double the amount of peppers in this recipe and you'll fit right in.

Next, take your bacon and chop it up. What's that you say? You're only counting 9 strips of bacon? That blankety-blank IRS. They just never get enough!

Now take your bacon and chop it up in little pieces before you eat it all, sheesh.

Then dump half of it in with everything else.

Now add your onions on top of everything else and

stir it all together, like so.

Go ahead, give it a real good stir. Nice action shot, huh?

Now it's time to dump it all into a casserole dish and spread it around until it's nice and level.

Sprinkle the rest of the bacon on top and then...

sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top of that.

Now doesn't that look nice. Oh wait, first we need to cook it.

Just put it into a 325 degree oven and keep it in there for about 15 minutes.

There. That's much better.

Doesn't that look just scrumptious?!?

Here's a closer look at all that hominy goodness.

There's only one thing left to do...enjoy! Oh, and don't forget to turn the oven off. And clean up that mess you just made for pete's sake!

Update: For those of you who like to cut and paste, here's the recipe without the pictures and senseless wit:

1 cup chopped onion, sauteed
4 15 oz cans white hominy [drain and reserve]
1/2 cup hominy liquid
1 tbl juice from pickled jalapenos
1/2 lb cheddar cheese, grated
10 slices bacon, fried crisp and chopped [reserve drippings]
1 cup chopped green chiles
1-2 pickled jalapenos, seeded and chopped

Saute onions in some of the bacon drippings and put aside. Heat hominy in a separate saute pan, stirring often. When heated thoroughly, add the hominy liuquid and jalapeno juice, bring back to high temperature and add 3/4 of the cheese. When the cheese melts, add half the peppers and bacon and all the onion. Pour into a 9x13-inch baking pan and sprinkle with the remaining cheese, bacon and peppers. At this point it can be refrigerated or even frozen, if you want to make it in advance. Bake at 325 until cheese on top melts, about 15 minutes or 40 minutes, if refrigerated. Serves 10 to 12

Sunday, January 13, 2008

For your Sunday afternoon laughing pleasure...

Apparently, this guy is my long lost twin. Either that, or my soul mate.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I'm addicted!

I've never been that great at geography. I know a little about the areas surrounding the places I've been, and I remember things about places that are of interest to me, but other than that, there are some places on this globe we're on that I know nothing about. That is, until my brother-in-law, Eric, introduced me to TravelPod's geography quiz. It's so addicting. I think if they had had this when I was in high school, I would know my way around a little better. The map is kind of small, which in my case is a good thing because if you know the vicinity of a country, you can do pretty well. Speed counts so don't dawdle on this one. You'll figure out how to work it after you've played it a couple of times. When you feel good and stupid after taking the world geography quiz, click on the link under the map that says "USA Challenge." That's the one I can't get enough of. It's way fun. In a nerdy, geographical way. Oh, and good luck!

The Traveler IQ Challenge

Let me know if you'd be a good partner for The Amazing Race! Post your best score and which challenge it was.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Lost in Translation

My ultra middle child, Autie, has been a little emotional lately. Since school has started back up, she feels kind of left out being at home with the "baby" while the big kids are at school. Last night she was crying about some pillow my mom gave her and saying she just had to go and give it back to her. I figured she just needed to spend some quality time with Nana and then she'd be alright. So, this morning, I called my mom and asked her what her schedule looked like. We nailed down a time and then I handed the phone to Autie so Nana could tell her when she would be coming.

When Autie handed the phone back to me, I said, "What did Nana say?" She started rattling off all this stuff about a ball and blocks and a big castle. I told her to hold on while I finished talking to Nana. I said, "Mom, what in the world did you tell her?" She said that she simply told Autie that she had bowling this week so she would have to come next week. Autie asked her what bowling was and my mom told her that bowling is where you take a big ball and roll it down a long hallway and hit blocks and knock them down. Well, Autie stopped listening after she heard the words "big ball!" I'm sure she pictured a big beautiful ball with all the most popular princesses and their handsome princes dancing in the ballroom of a big beautiful castle.

I told my mom, "I can't imagine what she thinks your life is like, what with all the balls and castles and all. No wonder she wants to come stay with you. I hope she's not too disappointed."

I think they should name her generation the "princess generation" because sometimes I think that's all they think about!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Food Stuff

I just got done grocery shopping at HEB and I thought I'd do a product review. Brandi has her book review and I have my food review.

This is one of the things I bought today because I love the brand Kashi and the pizza just looked really good. Let me tell you, it was good, but the picture was a little deceiving. See all those yummy bell peppers and that good-looking grilled chicken? Well, take four of those bell pepper slivers and about six pieces of grilled chicken and put them on a pizza and that's really what it looks like. I'll be letting the folks at Kashi know how I feel about their veggie and chicken rationing as soon as I'm done here.

I also thought I'd share a little tip that probably one or two of you, at the most, will be interested in. My kids love yogurt. In the past, my mother-in-law has sent home those little individual cups of fruit-flavored yogurt with brightly colored cartoons on the label and more ingredients than I can read in one sitting. I let the kids eat them once, but threw the rest away and told her she didn't need to buy yogurt because I always have it on hand. Here's what I have started making for the kids that they really love. It doesn't have a catchy name, it's still just yogurt, but the kids make it different every time. I start with this from HEB.

Then I add preserves and whatever we have that the kids request. Sometimes it's strawberry preserves and coconut. Sometimes blackberry preserves and walnuts. Elliott and I like ours with the works. Preserves, coconut, walnuts or pecans, dark chocolate chips and granola. It has great flavor and the only preservatives in it are the ones, if any, in your preserves or toppings. You can also buy plain yogurt but it takes a little more of the preserves to flavor it.

I think I'll have some right now!