Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole - A Crock Pot Recipe

My very first blog post was a double recipe post that included a recipe for hash brown casserole.  It has been a while since I made that recipe..well, to be exact it was December 24, 2012.  I remember the date because it was an awful day in my life to be a casserole.  

The three of us went to the Kennedy's for Christmas Eve dinner.  Kyle's Aunt told me to make any side I wanted, so I asked him what he would like me to make, and I rolled with it.  It just so happened that his cousin's wife, Na'Kita, also made hash brown casserole.  Don't you hate it when that happens?  Apparently, communication is not my strongest suit because this happens with my family all the time. At dinner I got a spoonful of Na'Kita's casserole as well as mine.  Hers was sooo dee-licious, and mine was terrible.  I'm talking..nothing good about it.  It sucked.  I rarely, if ever, make food that sucks, so I worried about this for weeks...months even..ok, obviously years, since I'm talking about it now, and I confess that sometimes it crosses my mind when I lay in bed at night. The struggle is real, people.  It was so embarrassing..I mean, I wasn't necessarily embarrassed that I goofed on the recipe, just mostly that his family must think that I'm the worst cook ever, especially since this is something I'm actually good at, and I failed.  For the longest time I couldn't figure out what in world went wrong..Then one day it hit me that I had forgotten to add the cheese.  Like the main ingredient..of all things..the glue that holds it all together..and I forgot it.

I banned that mean ol' hash brown recipe from my book. Clearly, it was the casseroles fault, so I had to find a new one.  My Mother and Lynn both make this recipe often, and there are never any leftovers. The recipe is originally from Six Sisters Stuff, with minimal modifications, and if you follow them then you know they only share the goodness.

Crock Pot Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole


 1 32 oz package frozen hash browns
2 cups shredded cheddar
16 oz sour cream
1 10.75oz can cream of chicken soup
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper

Yields 8-10 servings


Spray crock pot with nonstick spray.  In a large bowl combine all ingredients until evenly coated.  Pour the mixture into your crock pot and cook on low for 5-6 hours, or until the onions are soft.

The end...

Easy cheesy, right!?

This is seriously so creamy and delicious!  It's perfect for Thanksgiving, a holiday brunch, or just to warm your soul with some southern comfort food on these cold nights!

Just don't forget the cheese!!


Friday, October 31, 2014

It's the Great Pumpkin - Tutorial

Naturally, when I think of Halloween I think of all the little ghosts and goblins excited to dress up to go to peoples houses for treats.  Staring out the window and anxiously asking their parents every two minutes if it's time to go yet, even before the sun goes down.  When I was a kid in the late 70's early 80's we didn't have neighbors, so we would load up in my aunts car with our homemade costumes, and go to a nearby neighborhood for our treats.  Now-a-days I do live in a neighborhood.. My neighbors and I gather around the fire pit as the kids swarm in by the truckloads to fill up their buckets or pillowcases with treats. When your kids get to be too old to trick or treat it takes a little bit of the excitement out of it, so I love being able to see all the little ones stop by and say "trick or treat" and I always try to be a house that has good treats, as long as I can keep Kyle and Trey out of the candy bowl!

My favorite little pumpkin and I many Halloweens ago...

 I'm not a huge fan of decorating for Halloween.  Now, don't get me wrong I love looking at the far out cool flashing zombie bride a few houses over, and I just about plow a row of mailboxes down every time I pass this one house trying scope out the eerie display covering the entire yard.  That one is creee-py, especially in the dark..Early one morning when Catharina and I were passing by there...I was trying not to look because it was dark..and my imagination scares me more than anything..then a black cat appeared out of no where. We both screamed and grabbed onto each other the way we do when we think we see a snake in the road.. We just about jumped out of our running shoes, and then couldn't stop laughing at ourselves!  I love scary and all, but I think I'll stick to my scary staying inside my tv, or on the big screen.  

 I guess I just don't have the creative gene for creepy, because this is about as creepy as I get...Boo!!

I'll take pretty over creepy any day of the week.  I absolutely love Fall decor..and that, I can do!!  Next to Christmas it is definitely my fave to decorate for.  Trey and I ventured across the state line this week to visit the Mennonite farm where I buy my garden supplies.  They were practically giving their pumpkins away this late in the season, and I may have gone a little overboard.  Trey likes to pick out one pumpkin for carving, and the rest I had a hard time deciding, so I may have picked out a few too many... They were all entirely too pretty and sooo inexpensive that it was hard to resist..between my back seat and my trunk, it totally looked like we had just robbed a pumpkin wagon.  After we loaded up our pumpkins, we headed to Lowe's to pick out some beautiful Fall plants.

I love decorating with pumpkins, and any excuse to play in the dirt is a great day to I decided I would turn a few of these babes into flower pots. By the end of this'll know exactly how to do it yourself!  It's not hard by any means, in fact, it's so simple that if you have never done if before now, you'll wonder why not!

I chose these two pumpkins to begin with. You can use any style pumpkin, no matter the size. 

You want to cut out the top just like you would for carving a jack-o-lantern, except make it a little farther out, closer to the edge.

This style of pumpkin is a lot thicker than a regular pumpkin, so it takes a little more effort to get the top off...Once you get the top off it should look similar to this..

Next, get all of the guts out, and scrape the opening to make it a little wider..

Now the real fun begins..
Fill your pumpkin with potting soil, and then start planting!!  You will slowly begin to see your masterpiece coming together...

I had to have a helper for my other pumpkins...I ended up breaking all but one of my carving knives..Teenagers can be very handy!!

As you are working on them don't be afraid to fill it up as much as you can...plants are no exception to the more the merrier rule!!  By now you have a pretty good idea as to what look you are going for and you can get creative!

One thing I love is bringing them inside to decorate....

They make fabulous centerpieces for your Thanksgiving table, or even a great hostess gift if you are going somewhere else for Thanksgiving, or to a Fall party..Imagine several of the mini pumpkins filled with beautiful greenery and flowers, all bunched together on a pretty tray in the middle of your table to make one centerpiece..Just beautiful!

Whatever the reason you have them, they are beautiful, and if you live in a climate that actually has Fall-like weather, they should last you the entire month of November..

Just don't forget to water them!!

Here are a few from years past that were my favorite..

If you really want your porch to pop, then this if for you!!

So, after today don't toss your Halloween pumpkins just yet because now you have a great idea for another use for them!! If you want more, ask the pumpkin farmers..I promise you they don't want to throw them away!

Thanks for stopping by, and happy Fall ya'll!!


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Riding in Cars with Teenagers...

Finally the market has come to an end. For months my life seemed to revolve around the market, and it was a bittersweet ending..  I will certainly miss visiting with my and old,  and spending my Saturday's with Lynn, but I am ready to move on to my next project, to sleep past 4:50 a.m and to not bake one single loaf of bread again.  Ever...well, at least until Thanksgiving.

My harvest season ended along with the market season.  With my last harvest I had one lonely, late blooming watermelon, and a basket full of beautiful peppers.  I'm thankful that it was plentiful and that I will get many cans of pickled peppers from this bunch.

One of my next projects is my holiday wreaths.  In a week or so Kayla and I will begin taking orders for these beautiful natural wreaths that will be ready for delivery or pick up the week after Thanksgiving.  We have been gathering supplies and making bows for the last few weeks, and are so ready to dive right into it.  This is my most favorite decoration to enjoy during the Christmas season.

My other project is sort of a pretty big project.  This has probably been this most difficult year I've had in my adult life, to say the least..At one point it felt like a woe is me sort of time, which is totally unlike me and I couldn't stand it to be honest.  As I was sobbing a few months ago during a vent session with my "tell you what you don't want to hear, but what you need to hear, Dad" he basically told me that I need to stop feeling sorry for myself, and make some changes in my life that will make me happy..then he asked.  "what is one thing that will make you happy..?"  and without any hesitation I said I want to go back to school.  So, he was like there ya go.. and that very same day I applied, and that week I received my acceptance letter.'s official, and that burden of knowing what I want, but being afraid to go for it feels wonderful to no longer be weighing heavily on my shoulders!!  I'm loving it and actually enjoying spending my nights and weekends reading and doing assignments.  I don't know how long that love will last, but so far it's great..and it makes me happy!

Brodie likes to sit in the chair next to me while I'm working on my school stuff.  I think he likes to think he is going to college too..  He's probably the cutest study partner I've ever had.

and this guy wishes he could sit in the chair next to me..Knowing him he probably wishes he could sit in my lap instead of beside me..he is unbelievably jelly and crawls under the table to lay right under my feet.  I guess he's a pretty cute study partner too, I'm just a little biased to my Westie boys.

Last weekend we spent our Saturday night at the farm.  My cousin's wife has been wanting to have a party and burn this ever growing wood pile for several years now.. It was most definitely the largest bonfire I've ever been to for sure..I have to say that my family knows how to throw a good party, and I'm glad they are planning to make it an annual thing. 

It was also the weekend we kicked off celebrations for Trey's 15th birthday...He's a hot mess most of the time, but he's also one of my most favorite people in the world and I love celebrating him!!

Scuba was my little helper that supervised while I wrapped his birthday gifts..

Trey came home from school with a bouquet of balloons filling the foyer..we invited my Mom over had his favorite dinner with cake and ice cream.  My favorite dinner would have been cake and ice cream, but it wasn't my birthday...

How did my little infant baby child turn into this big, handsome young man so fast??  

Friday night I took Trey and his friends to dinner at an old diner for cheeseburgers and fries, then dropped them off at the football game.  It was the perfect ending to his Birthday week! 

Next up...the driving test.  It's funny how living through our children's teen years so vividly reminds us of our own teen years..I remember the day that I got my permit my Mom was like "here's the keys, you're driving home.."  "Whaaat??  Driving on the rooaaad??!! But..but.. there's people!!"  I was terrified.  I'm pretty sure my Mom was too because she kept kindly, yet nervously leaning towards me and asking me to please stop hugging the shoulder of the road.

Ummm... I'm not sure I'm ready for all that!!

I have a feeling there will be some very animated blog posting in my future...The blogging of riding in cars with teenagers..on the rooaaad..with people!


Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Boy and his Sheep..

Since Lynn and I decided at the last minute yesterday to take the day off from the market, I was so excited to sleep late today. I was exhausted. In my mind I was going to sleep sooo late..I couldn't wait to sleep until about 9:00 this morning.  On market days my first alarm goes off at's just a - be're going to have to wake up 5:00 another alarm goes off - it's the get out of bed with one eye open, and turn on your curling iron..then crawl back into bed.  Finally, the 5:15 alarm means you have to get up..and open both eyes.  

So, today when I didn't set an alarm, my husbands alarm went off.  With both eyes closed..I said through my teeth - "why is your alarm going off?"  I can only assume his eyes were closed too. I couldn't see through mine.  He said "I don't know"...then like 5 minutes later I felt him jump up, and in a hurry he said "because I have to work today.."  Ohhh, yeah...  I thought it was Sunday.. You know..the one and only day I don't set an alarm.  So, of course I couldn't go back to sleep, but technically I did get to sleep in, and I'm ok with that!  

I loved getting up to a quiet house..the dogs were sound asleep..I tiptoed through the house hoping not to wake the sleeping teenager.  I turned the air off and opened the windows..I put some beans in a pot to rinse for supper, did laundry to hang on the line, had breakfast, and decided it would be a fantastic morning to write.  I miss doing a weekly blog...I have still been writing, but sadly don't have very many finished writings..just a folder full of drafts.. In just two weeks, when market comes to an end, it's highly possible that I may get a little carried away and binge blog.  Today's post is something that happened, ehh..last season...aka Summer..which technically was just last week, but this little gem has been sitting in drafts since the beginning of August...

Remember that one blog where I mentioned that we bought a sheep?

I sure love that girl!!
Elizabeth Taylor was my Trey's very first sheep, and we will be soul sisters forever.  We bonded.

Then came the time when we had to get her prepared for the sheep show at the 4H arena..
Trey learned how to shear a sheep.  Elizabeth Taylor was so well behaved.  She stood still while he worked his magic on her..and gave her a b-ewe-tiful makeover.

I stood nearby, with my buddy watch..

So, early one morning it was finally sheep show day. 
We three Moms, and a baby.. were ready to oversee that it went off without a hitch!

The only thing I did to help Trey that day was give Elizabeth Taylor a bath..He did give her one, and then I gave her another one.  If you have teenage boys, then you know that they tend to miss spots...a lot of them!  Couldn't have my Trey's girl go into the show ring with dirty splotches on her..

Just an FYI..sheep wool reallly soaks up soap (duh), so a little goes a long way, and a lot is just makes for a long rinse cycle...She didn't care..for all she knew she was at the spa getting a, she was shiny as new with not one single dirty spot!

Trey was a little emotional that day.  He knew he was going to have to say goodbye to his little sheep sister.  It really made me wish we lived on a farm, because if we had our own barn we definitely would have loved to keep her.  Before the show he spent a lot of time in the pen with her.  Talking to her while he combed her hair..and giving her lots of love...

Then it was show time!    

He and Elizabeth Taylor both looked great in the ring!  

For his very first sheep show Trey did a wonderful job!  Most importantly he had fun doing it, and it was great practice for future shows!

Essentially, this project was Trey's responsibility, and he made the decision to sell Elizabeth Taylor.  She was sold to a farm where she will be used for breeding to make some b-ewe-tiful babies, which he was very happy about.

I was so proud of Trey and Elizabeth Taylor...Together they made a great team!



Friday, September 19, 2014

High Five for Friday..

I have a sick little puppy dog on my hands.  After a few sleepless nights, I finally realized that it wasn't just an upset tummy, so I took Brodie to the vet.  They said he has hemorrhagic colitis..which I decided is a fancy term for hand over all of your money.  Because after tests, smears, two oral medications, a shot, and a weeks worth of "prescription" gastrointestinal dog food..that's pretty much what it felt like...I handed over all my money.  I sure could use your puppy power thoughts and prayers for my little guy to feel better soon..after 24 hours of medication in his system he seems to be feeling a little better.

Nothing says "Fall" in Tennessee quite like tobacco being fired in a barn..

The way the smoke billows over the hills at dusk is beautiful, and must be witnessed with the windows rolled down so you can inhale the scent that tells all of your senses that Fall is right around the corner.  

We are so excited to share our Fall goodies with all of you at the market..We have a few varieties of vegetables left, pumpkins coming in, homemade caramels, pumpkin bread, banana bread... and a few jars left of blackberry jelly.  We will even personalize your pumpkins - whether you buy our pumpkins, or bring us your own..tell us what you want and we can do it!

The caramels were a hit!

My pepper plants are massive and still producing like crazy...

Between my jalapenos....

my bells and sweet banana peppers, I fill up my basket once a week.

and anything that does not sell at market I bring home to can.

I thought my beans were finished..they were dried up and crunchy, for the most part.  This week I watched as new flowers appeared, and just this morning I noticed beans sprouting..

I'm super excited about new bean growth because I've had so much fun canning them...not to mention they taste wonderful!

The last few years I have enjoyed doing something for others in celebration of my day of birth.  Since tomorrow is my birthday, and I'll be at the market most of the day..I mentioned to Lynn that we should think of something to give away at our know.. as a birthday present from me.  So, I am going to make a few batches of homemade pumpkin, peanut butter doggy treats, and if you bring your dog to see me on my birthday, your dog will get a treat.  :-)   After I came up with this master plan I found out that tomorrow is "dog day" at the market..I know this means that there will be dogs galore prancing up and down the market aisles, and I can't wait!  On a normal market day I LoVe seeing the dogs, so this will be straight up like a doggy-palooza.!  The Humane Society will have a booth..they'll have homemade treats, and other pet related items to can meet some HS fosters that are available for adoption...  There will be volunteers doing paw you bring your dog to the painting booth, and your dog can "paw" paint a masterpiece for you to take home!  There will be several dog related will be FUN, and the weather will be perfect!  So, please, please...bring your babies to see me for some lovin' and a special birthday treat!!  

I'm hoping for lots of puppy dog wags and kisses'll make it the best birthday ever!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend..