Sunday, September 28, 2014

Family Favorite Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti has become one of our family's favorites...especially one of this working mom's favorite weekday meal because of the ease of the recipe.

1 box penne or ziti pasta (prepared el dente as directed)
1 to 1 1/2 lb of ground meat (sausage, beef, chicken or turkey or combination)
1 jar of prepared spaghetti sauce (we prefer garden style)
1 lb shredded cheese (sharp cheddar is my choice)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 cup ricotta (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

MIX spaghetti sauce, seasonings, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, ricotta cheese and reserved 1/2 cup pasta cooking water in large bowl. Add pasta and half of the cheeses; mix lightly. Spoon into 13 x 9 inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; sprinkle with remaining cheese and the Parmesan cheese.

BAKE 30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is golden and bubbly.

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The Frugal Gormet's Cincinnati Chili

Back in the nineties (yes, the 1990s) there was a show on PBS (there weren't any cooking channels back then, unimaginable) called The Frugal Gourmet with Jeff Smith.  I loved his shows and I bought each and every one of his cookbooks.  This was one of my favorite recipes of his... Cincinnati Chili. Enjoy!  (Photos will be coming... feel free to comment your photos below)

Cincinnati Chili

2 tbsps. vegetable oil
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. ground beef
4 onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. whole cumin seeds
4 -6 tbsps. hot chili powder
3 whole bay leaves
2 tsps. cinnamon
2 tsps. allspice
2 tsps. Tabasco
4 tbsps. cocoa powder
2 tbsps. Worcestershire sauce
4 tbsps. white vinegar
1 28-oz. can pureed tomatoes
2 tbsps. tomato paste
1 tbsp. oregano
2 lbs. kidney beans, soaked and cooked
salt to taste

Heat a large heavy stockpot and add the oil.  Saute the meats, onion, garlic, cumin seeds, chili powder and bay leaves until the meat is browned.  Drain the fat and discard.  Add the remaining ingredients, including the beans and bring to a simmer.

Cook, covered for 1-1/2 hours.  Keep making sure there is enough water in the pot.

To serve, pile spaghetti noodles on a plate, top with the meat sauce, then the beans, sharp cheddar cheese and some chopped raw onions, if desired.

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Yummo Ground Beef Casserole

I have a friend needing some kid-friendly recipes so I will be pulling out some of my favorite recipes throughout the years and post them here.  As a mom of six all my recipes are mostly kid friendly and all these recipes I will be posting have worked very well for our family.  Most are easy to fix without a lot of prep time or ingredients.  As I re-make these I will post photos.  If anyone ventures to try one of these recipes please feel free to post a photo, review or suggestion....Enjoy!

Yummo Ground Beef Casserole
1 1/2 lb ground beef  (or ground chicken/turkey/pork) 
1 (15 ounce) can tomatoes (optional)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 (8 ounce) can mushrooms
2 tablespoons brown sugar or sweet pickle juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup (I always make my own)
1/4 lb sharp cheddar cheese
1 (6 ounce) package angel hair pasta, cooked (or spaghetti noodles)
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
salt and pepper

Brown meat in large skillet or Dutch oven. Add onions, pepper and celery and simmer for 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce, mushrooms, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook in skillet for 1 hour. Place cooked pasta in bottom of large casserole dish. Spoon mushroom soup over pasta. Pour sauce over the soup and top with cheese. Bake in 350°F oven for 30-45 minutes.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

City of Bones: A Review


City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)City of Bones

by Cassandra Clare

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I ventured away from my comfort zone with City of Bones. Though I do not care for the vampire and werewolf thing, I did enjoy this title. I have purchased the second "City of Ashes" to continue in the series. I prefer stand alone titles that have an actual ending as to the trilogy or series sets but this title left off at a decent place that didn't leave the reader completely hanging, waiting for the next in the series... thankfully.

I loved the humor of the character Jace. Only good authors can successfully give their characters distinct personalities and Cassandra Clare definitely pulled it off. Well done. I look forward to City of Bones.

View all my reviews

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Waters Fall: A Book Review

Waters FallWaters Fall 

by Becky Doughty

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book immensely. It really spoke to me.  Wow, this book truly hit very close to home.  No marriage is perfect. All marriages are work. Waters Fall is based on a family dealing with real life issues, the rise and fall of the waters through life. I highly recommend this title. Well done Ms. Doughty.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley for my honest review.  I would gladly have purchased this title.  This is a great book.
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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Trigger: Better ansers to Better Questions Lead to Intentional Results: A Review

TRIGGER: Better Answers to Better Questions Lead to Intentional Results



My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"...this is not a book that gives you any answers. It's one that forces you to ask challenging questions that trigger discussions which lead to the best answers for your organization."

This was a very accurate statement. Though there were no new concepts in this management book, it was very good information delivered in an organized in a clean, concise manner.

I would recommend this title to anyone wishing to brush up on his management skills, thinking and processes. It was a quick read and I ended it with many highlights.

I recommend it for any potential or current manager.

View all my reviews

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Friday, June 27, 2014

The One, The Selection Trilogy: A Review

The One (The Selection, #3)The One, The Selection Trilogy

by Kiera Cass

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, actually the entire series. This book was the best in my opinion. I read the entire series, straight through in two days. In my opinion it was better than the Hunger Games or Divergent trilogies. A great read. Thoroughly. I actually PURCHASED all three of these books. I usually get free copies from the publishers to review. Well worth the cost.



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Praying the Prayers of the Bible: A Review

Praying the Prayers of the BiblePraying the Prayers of the Bible 
by James Banks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My Thoughts:  Prayer can be intimidating. Learning to pray is vital to growing as a Christian. Becoming confident in your own ability to pray is most definitely a requirement in growing your faith. This book helps grow your confidence. As you recite these prayer you will awaken the prayers in your own heart. I highly recommend this for new/young Christians wanting a more confident prayer life.

Chapters Include: Prayers to Praise and Honor God, Prayers to say Thank You, Prayers to Strengthen Faith and Give Ourselves to God, Prayers About Everyday Needs, Prayers to Confess Sin and Humble Ourselves, Prayers for Guidance and Direction, Prayers for Help and Protection, Wrestling Prayers, Blessing Prayers


I was given a free digital copy of this title in exchange for my fair and honest opinion.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Two Towers: Lord of the Rings: A Review


The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2) 


The Two Towers

by J.R.R. Tolkien

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great Book Series. A terrific story to read nightly to the older kids. Something to get into and even discuss. I remember my babysitter reading some of this book series to us many, many, many years ago.

J.R.R. Tolkien always comes through for us, the readers.

View all my reviews

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The Lord of the Rings: A Review


The Lord of the Rings (The Lord of the Rings, #1-3) 

The Lord of the Rings

by J.R.R. Tolkien

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great Book Series. A terrific story to read nightly to the older kids. Something to get into and even discuss. I remember my babysitter reading some of this book series to us many, many, many years ago.

J.R.R. Tolkien always comes through for us, the readers.

View all my reviews


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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: A Review

A Tree Grows in BrooklynA Tree Grows in Brooklyn 

by Betty Smith

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I purchased this book. I never finished it. It seemed to seriously lack any sort of rhythm. I kept hoping a plot would come about but... I guess I eventually gave up on it. I never did finish reading it.

View all my reviews


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The Stand: A Book Review

The StandThe Stand
By Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed The Stand. It is the only Stephen King novel I have been able to get through.... I am a complete wuss. I did enjoy it immensely and have recommended it to other readers.

View all my reviews

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Mrs. Geraldine's Ground Beef Casserole

I LOVED this recipe YEARS ago before we moved but could never find it.  I finally found it for a friend and am going to post it here so I never, ever lose it again!!! Ahmmazing.

Mrs. Geraldine's Ground Beef Casserole

Ingredients

    • 1 lb ground beef
    • 1 (15 ounce) cans tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup chopped onion
    • 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
    • 1/4 cup chopped celery
    • 1 (8 ounce) cans mushrooms
    • 2 tablespoons brown sugar or 2 tablespoons sweet pickle juice
    • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 (10 3/4 ounce) cans cream of mushroom soup
    • 1/4 lb sharp cheddar cheese
    • 1 (6 ounce) packages angel hair pasta, cooked, this is an estimated size bag- the original recipe called for 1 small bag
    • 1 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
    • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Brown meat in large skillet or Dutch oven.
  2. Add onions, pepper and celery and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce, mushrooms, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Cook in skillet for 1 hour.
From Food.com:

About This Recipe

"This recipe came from a local church fund raising cook book. Mrs. Geraldine is a good friend of the family. She reminds me so much of Mrs. Clause, that I can't help but smile every time I think of her. This recipe freezes well. Do not bake before freezing. Just put it together, freeze it, thaw it and cook."

I found it here:  Mrs. Geraldine's Ground Beef Casserole

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Rekindled: A Silver Creek Novella: A Review



Rekindled: A Silver Creek Novella: A Review

By Maisey Yates

Publisher: Penguin Group

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed this title.  A newly divorced trophy wife has lost everything in order to find herself and now she is applying as a housekeeper for a man she tormented in high school.

I read this romance straight through. I even tore up my room to kind my Kindle charger when I was on the second to last chapter and my Kindle was fixing to power off!  Real life issues but nothing to weigh you down in reading, I really like that.

It was a bit more graphic than I care for but still tasteful and a very delightful read.  I love books that have an actual ending.  I will definitely put the other titles in this series on my reading list.

I gave this book a four star out of five rating on Amazon.

I receive a free digital copy of this title from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Beautiful Pebble Art

Art can be found in everything.  My definition of art is simply imagination in life form.

Below are some of my favorite Pebble Art projects:




  
Source - John Botica



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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Strawberry Gutters Forever.... just kidding but how awesome!

These Strawberry Gutters are so clever. Great space saving and water saving trick as well.  I seriously doubt this is the original source.  But it is indeed a terrific idea!


I may just have to try this.

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Allegiant (Divergent Series): A Review

Allegiant (Divergent Series)

By Veronica Roth

My Thoughts:  This was my favorite book in the series.  It was a bit different than the other two titles.  There was less violence and the characters were already fully developed so it was like I already knew them.  I read this through in one sitting.

No spoilers here!! I wrote next sequel in my mind immediately after finishing this volume. Too bad it will never come to happen. I know in my mind the my version of the fourth book is correct and it completes the set (in my mindset, at least).

Perhaps I should write a separate blog post with my ending?

This is a good series.  It isn't perfect, but extremely entertaining.

My son checked out this book from the school library for me to read.  Thanks Nathan!

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Saturday, June 7, 2014

INSURGENT (Divergent Series, Book 2): A Review

INSURGENT (Divergent Series, Book #2)

By Veronica Roth

My Thoughts: Captivating, active, quick paced read.  You love and hate all the characters.  This title was my least favorite of the three, but still a very active, gripping, good read. An emotional story, bring tissues.

Go ahead and get Allegiant before you begin...trust me, do it.

I won't summarize. I hate reviews that merely summarize.  I thoroughly enjoyed Insurgent but this one was a little too...violent for me of the three.  I still highly, recommend it!


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Divergent (Divergent Series, Book 1): My Review

 Divergent
DIVERGENT (Divergent Series, Book 1)


By Veronica Roth

My Thoughts:  Different, A little Hunger Gamesy... but quite addictive.  My fourteen year old son urged me to read this YA book series.  I was glad I did. I fell in love with Tris.  A character that begins as a young, scared girl and turns into this one of a kind heroine that you love and get irritated with over and over again.  I can't believe I liked it, but I did. Yep. I did.  I still think about it.

I won't summarize the story because most everyone has already heard about it. I thoroughly enjoyed getting caught up in it and read all three books straight through one after another, yes, the lose your sleep kinda books.

Every single book has flaws but this story shines through. A definite, to read series... so go ahead, get yourself a Young Adult book series... A fast action paced, compelling, thought provoking series.

I bought this book.  Hard earned money. No disclosure needed.

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Down By The River: Book Review


DOWN BY THE RIVER
By Lin Stepp

Published by Kensington Books

My Thoughts:  This is a lovely, inspirational, feel-good, Christian novel. Down By the River is a light-hearted, non-sappy, just enough real life family drama and light romance. The story line is about a second chance at a new life and love for a widow as she steps out of her comfort zone, stands up to her self consumed grown children, moves away and reopens a Bed and Breakfast in a small community in the Smoky Mountains and rediscovers herself, her talent, her strength, her ability, her dependence and love.  I enjoyed this book, no illicit sex, blood and violence. There are no scripture quotes throughout the book, just a story about life and the characters allowing themselves to listen to the voice and direction of God.  A good light read. 

Publisher's Synopsis:  Set against the backdrop of Tennessee’s breathtaking Smoky Mountains, Lin Stepp’s Down By the River is a warmhearted novel that proves it’s never too late—or too early—for a fresh start…


While on a visit to the Smokies, Grace Conley makes a stunning decision: she’s going to walk away from her busy life in Nashville to move to tiny Townsend and open a bed-and-breakfast. There’s a beautiful old inn for sale along the Little River that will do perfectly. Of course, Grace’s family is scandalized. After all, she’s a middle-aged widow! And as a career homemaker, she’s always been available for babysitting, chauffeuring, and generally being the peacemaker among her grown children. Has Grace lost her mind? She begins to wonder the same thing once she finds herself attracted to the local ladies’ man. But the surprises don’t stop there…
To further complicate her move, Grace’s daughter, Margaret, has grudgingly come to live with her. Having just graduated from college, remote Townsend is not where she envisions her future. Yet the handsome young minister next door is convinced he and Margaret are meant for each other. As life choices abound, soon both women will discover that the biggest decisions require confidence, a sense of humor—and a deep, abiding faith.
A special thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley, for an advanced reading copy, 
in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. 
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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Losin' - Tenth Avenue North (With Lyrics)





"Losing"


I can't believe what she said
I can't believe what he did
Oh, don't they know it's wrong, yeah?
Don't they know it's wrong, yeah?
Maybe there's something I missed
But how could they treat me like this?
It's wearing out my heart
The way they disregard

This is love, this is hate...
We all have a choice to make

Oh, Father won't You forgive them?
They don't know what they've been doin' (oh no)
Oh, Father, give me grace to forgive them
'Cause I feel like the one losin'

Well it's only the dead that can live
But still I wrestle with this
To lose the pain that's mine
Seventy times seven times
'Cause Lord it doesn't feel right
For me to turn a blind eye
Though I guess it's not that much
When I think of what You've done.

This is love, this is hate...
We've got a choice to make

Oh, Father won't You forgive them?
They don't know what they've been doin' (oh no)
Oh, Father, give me grace to forgive them
'Cause I feel like the one losin'

Oh, no!

Why do we think that hate's gonna change their heart?
We're up in arms over wars that don't need to be fought
But pride won't let us lay our weapons on the ground
We build our bridges up but just to burn them down
We think pain is owed apologies and then it'll stop
But truth be told it doesn't matter if they're sorry or not
Freedom comes when we surrender to the sound
Of mercy and Your grace, Father, send Your angels down

[x2]
Oh, Father won't you forgive them?
They don't know what they've been doin' (oh no)
Oh, Father, give me grace to forgive them
'Cause I feel like the one losin'
Yeah, I feel like I've been losing

Oh, Father, give me grace to forgive them
'Cause I feel like the one losin'
I feel like I've been losin'

Oh, Father, give me grace to forgive them
'Cause I feel like the one losin'

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Worn by Tenth Avenue North





"Worn"


I’m Tired I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world

And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

I know I need to lift my eyes up
But I'm too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

My prayers are wearing thin
Yeah, I’m worn
Even before the day begins
Yeah, I’m worn
I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn
So, heaven come and flood my eyes

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause all that’s dead inside will be reborn

Though I’m worn
Yeah I’m worn

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Sanctus Real - Lead Me (Official Music Video)







"Lead Me"


I look around and see my wonderful life
Almost perfect from the outside
In picture frames I see my beautiful wife
Always smiling
But on the inside, I can hear her saying...

"Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can't
Don't leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, what about us?

Show me you're willing to fight
That I'm still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone"

I see their faces, look in their innocent eyes
They're just children from the outside
I'm working hard, I tell myself they'll be fine
They're in independent
But on the inside, I can hear them saying...

"Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can't
Don't leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, but what about us?

Show me you're willing to fight
That I'm still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone"

So Father, give me the strength
To be everything I'm called to be
Oh, Father, show me the way
To lead them
Won't You lead me?

To lead them with strong hands
To stand up when they can't
Don't want to leave them hungry for love,
Chasing things that I could give up

I'll show them I'm willing to fight
And give them the best of my life
So we can call this our home
Lead me, 'cause I can't do this alone

Father, lead me, 'cause I can't do this alone.

Amazing Song.

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Redeeming Love: A Novel - A Review



Redeeming Love: A Novel

By Francine Rivers


Publisher's Synopsis: A Story of Love That Won't Let Go - No Matter What!

California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep.  

Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside.  

Then she meets Michael Hosea, a man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything. Michael obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation, until despite her resistance, her frozen heart begins to thaw.  

But with her unexpected softening comes overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she no longer can deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael does…the One who will never let her go.  

A powerful retelling of the story of Gomer and Hosea, Redeeming Love is a life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love.


My Thoughts:  I somewhat enjoyed this book. It was a quick read.  I prefer not read about depressing situations, life is full of enough on its own.  However, the title of this book clearly states, Redeeming Love.  Ms. Rivers brought scriptures and example to life in this title. I did enjoy it.  I also was very glad that there was an end to the story. No guessing, everything wrapped up and all questions answered.

No spoilers here but here are a couple of my favorite quotes:

"Every blessing comes down from the Father, not in payment for good done, but as a gift."

"This is my God box," she said "When problems prey on my mind, I write them down, fold them up, and put them through the slot. Once they're inside this box, they're God's problems and not mine." I am so going to do this!!!

I actually purchased this book...no disclaimer needed this time!


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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Creative Handprint Art Ideas

Hand print art is a wonderful way to bond with the kids. I still remember placing my hand in plaster when I was about seven years old.

These are some creative ways to make a lasting memory with Handprints.

Daisy flowers for each member of the family:


Red Robin:


A terrific way to reinforce a child book:


Negative space in fall colors:


These are all great ideas.  If you have any more please link them here.




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