Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chili Mania

To kick off my blog-a-thon recipes, I am including a somewhat surprising entry. Below is a chili recipe from my dear friend Jacob. Chili is a great dish for those perfect, nippy fall football days. In fact, we'll be having chili prior to MSU vs. Georgia Tech at my house this weekend. (But most likely my own recipe...)

Anywho....thanks to Jacob for submitting a recipe for the blog-a-thon. If others want to submit something, just send me an email.

Jacob's Deer Chili

1 pound ground deer meat
1 pound regular ground beef
1 can HOT rotel
2 fresh tomatoes, diced
1 jalepeno
3 habenero peppers
1 packet of East Texas Chili seasoning
Optional-1 or 2 cans of kidney beans

Directions: rown the ground beef first, draining all the fat and juices. Then brown the deer meat and mix the meats together. Add the diced tomatoes, Rotel, beans and chili seasoning in a large pot on the stove. Have it on a low setting. Cut the jalepeno and habenero peppers and add the seeds (be careful while cutting habeneros). Stir together and simmer on the stove or fire for a good 30 minutes. Add anything else for personal taste.

Suggested sides: Fritos, cheese, crakers, corn bread, sour cream or tortilla chips.

Disclaimer - I have never attempted this recipe or tried it when Jacob has made it. I hear its good, but its hot if made with all those peppers. And, this recipe is coming from a dude that eats frozen dinners and boils hot dogs when his new wife isn't cooking for him. (At least...when I lived near him that's what he would eat. Heart you JWL!)

Wendy's Chili (from my sister-in-law)

2lb ground beef
29 oz tomato sauce
29 oz tomatoes (diced and stewed)
1 can pinto beans
1 can kidney beans
1 med onion (chopped)
1/4c chopped celery
1 bell pepper chopped
3 T chili powder
3 t cumin
1 1/2 t pepper
salt to taste
1 can water

Brown beef. Saute veggies. Add water and tomatoes. Cook down until soft add tomato sauce and beans and spices.Stir. Add meat. The longer you cook the better!!!!!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009


For those that don't know, I have a cooking blog. (See list to right.) Most of you who know me know that I have a cooking blog though. Anyway...I have several friends coming in for homecoming in two weeks, and we need your ideas for the best tailgating recipes. I'll be posting some of mine, but would LOVE to hear yours!

So...visit the blog, and email me your recipes!

Happy cooking!

Fall Blog-a-thon: Tailgating Favorites

It's been a long time since I've done a blog-a-thon, so let's recap what this is all about. Blog-a-thons are where I put out a request for a certain type of food. Friends and family submit their favorite recipes, and then I post them online to share with the world.

This month's blog-a-thon is all about tailgating, a time honored tradition at many colleges and universities. In two weeks, my alma mater/employer will be celebrating homecoming. To commemorate the annual event, several of my friends will be coming to town to enjoy a weekend of football, fun, and, of course, food.

In order to plan for our event, I would love to hear from YOU some favorite tailgating treats. Email your recipes to me, and I will post them online for others to see. You may also submit recipes on Facebook.

I hope you guys will participate!!! Here's to football, here's to friends, and here's to food!

Happy cooking!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Chicken Spaghetti (Bok, bok, bee-gok)

Random facts:

1. Whenever my family eats chicken, whether at home or out somewhere, my father believes it is necessary to make “chicken noises.” It is kinda funny as a child, very embarrassing as a teen, and “just dad” as an adult. My father is now on a quest to teach my nephew the art of chicken noises.

2. I’m quite a fan of chicken. In fact, I eat very, very, very little red meat, and stick mostly to chicken, turkey and fish. Chicken is very much a staple in my diet.

3. The person who made the below recipe famous is my maternal great-grandmother. (Mother of my mom’s mom.) I have several friends who barely knew their grandparents, much less a great-grandparent. But I had the fortunate opportunity to be very close to my great-grandmother, Grandmother Chandler. She kept us at home as babies while my mom taught, lived with us, and was around quite a bit during my childhood. I best remember her for lunchtime tuna salad and Nutty Bars. But apparently Grandmother Chandler’s famous recipe was her chicken spaghetti.

I haven't made this recipe before or even tried it…I don’t think. But I have heard several people in my family talk about this particular dish. And since I had a request from a former teacher of mine, I thought I would go ahead and post the recipe. Guess I’ll have to make it now sometime!!!

1 whole chicken
1 large bell pepper
1 large onion
1 bottle ketchup
1 can English peas 1 chicken
1 pkg. spaghetti
1 can mushroom soup
Optional: Chicken stock

Directions: Boil chicken in large stock pot for about 45 minutes. Bone, chop, and set aside. Sauté chopped large bell pepper and large onion in butter in large skillet. Add 1 bottle of ketchup, 1 can of English peas, and chicken. Simmer 45 minutes. Stir in 1 pkg. of cooked spaghetti and 1 can of mushroom soup. Simmer 15 minutes before ready to serve. You may need to add chicken stock to keep moist. Not good too dry.

Grandmother Chandler’s Suggested sides - Serve with tossed salad, spiced picked peaches and garlic bread.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Alone in my principals...

Though this song is really about a break up, it helps set a humorous stage for my post...

There’s no real hiding or denying that I’m an older, single lady. I guess in the grand scheme of life I’m not really “older.” I’m only 29, but for the culture and context in which I currently live, being single past 24 is older.

The other night I had a few girlfriends (and fellow singletons) over to cookout and watch a football game. Our conversation covered everything from religion, to football, to politics, and, of course, being the singletons that we are, dating and men. I always find it interesting to hear other Christian’s perspectives on the do’s and don’ts of courtship. I realize I tend to be on the conservative, almost uptight, end of dating “world-views,” and differences in opinions/customs/choices is always refreshing, challenging and reassuring to me.

So, we get to chatting about boys. (Yes, we are all in our late 20’s, but can still refer to them as boys.) There were several questions raised during the topic of conversation that dealt with who, how, and what goes on with dating. A few of the questions covered dating divorced men, what’s too old or too young, being set up verses an online dating service verses letting things happen naturally, and much more.

One of the more intriguing conversations, though, dealt with sex/sleeping together/the appearance of evil/etc. This is something I have discussed with several Christian friends before, and where I get the label “uptight” when it comes to my views on dating. So, what’s acceptable and what’s not for Christians who date? I’m going to list a few of the opinions that are held by many Christians I know (but not necessarily the ladies I chatted with), and then list my opinion on the topic.

Disclaimer – I know that I’m completely opinionated and I don’t try to hide my feelings. But this is my post and my blog. If you reading, just know you are getting my sole views based on personal conviction, and I do not expect or anticipate everyone or even anyone to feel the way I do. On with it…

1. It’s okay to sleep together in a bed, as long as you aren’t having sex. Therefore, napping, spending the night or any general sleeping side by side is okay.

Sheri: Well, no, that’s not okay. One reason is because I know how humans are, and I imagine it to be extremely difficult to lay and/or sleep in a bed with a man you are extremely attracted to with no hint of “hanky panky” there. Doesn’t it say that even just looking at someone and lusting is as bad as doing it? (Matt. 5:28) I can imagine being in bed with someone and the thought crossing my mind…so…its best to avoid any mattresses.

2. Since we are women of a certain age (and yes, I’m making myself sound older than I actually am), maybe its okay for us to “sin a little” before marriage (i.e. do the hanky panky…not to be confused with the hokey pokey) in order for us to keep the boys interested.

Sheri: Okay, that one doesn’t fly with me either. Yes, I understand that men are driven by sexual desire, but so are girls. It’s part of our created nature. But God has called the unmarried to be celibate. Now Paul does say in 1 Corinthians that if you burn with passion, then you should probably get married. But if you can handle it, remain a virgin. It does say, though, that passion is for married peeps...And when I say passion...I mean the hanky panky.

3. PG-13 topic - As long as you are not having intercourse, then it’s not really sex, and its okay to conduct the act with your boyfriend/girlfriend.

Sheri: If the word sex is in it, its sex. Don’t be fooled by the “everything but” argument. That’s a load of crap.

4. Its okay to hanky panky with someone you are engaged to. After all, don’t you want to find out if you have sexual chemistry before you legally commit to this person for a lifetime?

Sheri: Not gonna fly with me either! I understand that hanky panky is an important part of marriage, but physical connections are NOT what make marriage work, and they are NOT what you should base your life on. Intimacy is much more than just sex. It’s about sharing your life with someone. If you have nothing to base a relationship on besides the physical stuff, then it’s going to be a long rest of your life trying to find something else to build upon.

So, I’m conservative. Big deal. I don’t think that you should have sex, sleep with, or be physically intimate with someone before you get married. That’s just my opinion. I know my limitations, and I believe my personal convictions are based on how I feel I should live my life. I do understand that most other people don’t agree with me. And that’s okay…convictions wouldn’t be called “personal” if that weren’t for a person.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on the topic. I didn’t base this post on scripture, but on where I feel God has led me in my spiritual walk. If you want, I can dig up some versions to support my claim, but really, my thoughts/opinions/convictions were based on my relationship with the Holy Spirit.

Coming up next….my thoughts on falling in love and how to find “the one.”

Pick-A-Fruit, Any Fruit, Cobbler

I come from a Southern family. Now, neither of my parents were born in the true South, but they were both raised here, and have family from here. With most true Southern families, one of the traditions that is passed down is cooking, baking, or anything to do with food.

My family is no different. I come from a long line of fantastically wonderful cooks. Cooks that not only created some of our favorite family dishes, but cooks that left their recipes behind! And last fall my mom let me sit down with those recipes and copy them for my cookbook. Yippee!

Tonight's post is courtesy of my late, Aunt Becky of Texas. She had a famous fruit cobbler recipe that is really easy and flexible. Easy, because it takes just a few items that can almost always be found around the house. Flexible because you can change the fruit based on season, availability, and taste.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups self rising flour
1 cup milk
4 tbsp. butter
3 apples, peaches, pears or about 3-4 cups of your favorite fruit

Step 1: Slice fruit and heat on medium in saucepan with 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup flour. Stir constantly and heat until thickened.
Step 2: Mix batter - 1 cup sugar; 1 cup flour; 1 cup milk.
Step 3: Melt 4 tbsp. butter in baking dish. (I used a 9 inch pie pan.) Pour batter in pan and pour in hot fruit. Bake until brown at 425 degrees for about 25-30 minutes.

I have made this with fresh peaches before, and it was pretty good. But tonight's creation with Fuji apples was OFF THE CHARTS! I'm not the biggest cobbler fan ever, but I could have eaten this whole thing in one sitting. (I didn't though...I had a normal size portion.)

Here are some pictures of my process (along with some of my tips for those less skilled in the kitchen...and who say my recipes are "too hard.")...

Tip 1 - Slicing and peeling apples - Never my favorite job, but made much easier with a few handy gadgets. I peel my apples with a swivel potato peeler. Fast and easy. Then I slice the apples with this handy, dandy apple slicer below. It not only cuts the apples in pieces, it also cores it. Now, I will say that you have to sometimes cut a bit of extra core out, and I cut the slices in half after using the gadget, but...its MUCH faster than doing it all by hand.

Tip 2 - When cooking apples, put them in before the flour and sugar. Let some of the juices heat up and seep out of the slices. Then add the sugar and flour and heat on medium. Be sure to stir constantly so the flour and sugar don't burn. The flour and sugar will coat the fruit and become thick.

Tip 3 - When adding the fruit on top of the batter mixture, poke down with a spoon or spatula to help it settle. The batter will rise, but it helps to mix the fruit in a bit.

Final product is beautiful and yummy! Tip - Just eat and enjoy!!! Wow all your friends or a loved one by serving this simple, fast, and easy dish!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Family. Fun. Football

This weekend we celebrated my mom's birthday and opening weekend of college football. Since I've returned to our little college town, my family decided to get season tickets they did when Joey and I were in college. And since the opening weekend happened to fall during my mom's birthday, the whole clan (including my dog-niece) came up for the event. (Mabel may look like a cocker spaniel, but she's really a Bulldog!)

Another milestone besides opening day and the birthday took place this weekend. We took Will to his first MSU event. I've been developing a scheme to brainwash him since birth, and it helps that Nana, two aunts and an uncle are all Bulldog alum. (His mom and dad went to MC.)

Everyone made it in time for lunch on Saturday, and about an hour prior to kickoff we headed out. Will was running around like a wild man, but since we were leaving during his normal naptime, we weren't sure how long he would last at the game. About 30 minutes into our 7 mile drive (lots of traffic), the sky started to turn black. Not a good sign.

We finally made it to our parking spot about 10 minutes before the scheduled kick-off. Not 5 minutes later the bottom dropped out of the sky. There was no hiding from it till we made it to the stadium, and we all ended up soaked to the bone. Kick-off was delayed about 30 minutes, and the storm ended up passing. We were able to make it the rest of the day with just a few light sprinkles, so it wasn't a complete disaster.

Like we assumed, Will fell asleep shortly after kick-off. Poor kid. I have no idea how he slept with all the shouting, cowbells, band music and general football noise. But he did, but was up in time to watch the end of the 2nd and the half-time shows.

When he finally woke up, he didn't know what to think. He was watching the biggest tv he had ever seen in his live, and with over 54,000 people in attendance, he had never seen anything like this before. It was a bit much for a 2-year-old to take in. However, by the time the Sonic Boom of the South took the field for their half-time performance, he was really getting into the football groove!

We went on to win the game 45-7 against fellow Mississippi school, Jackson State. It was the great start to our season, and to our new head coaches tenure as a Bulldog. I have to say that I, like Will, was almost too distracted to watch the game. There was so much excitement and energy in the air that I couldn't quite focus on the field. Its much easier for me to pay attention to a game on tv than live and in person. But, to me, going to a game is less about watching it, and more about the experience and social atmosphere.

After the game we returned home wet, tired, and ready for some dinner. My sister stayed at home with the baby and helped prepare some of the dishes while we were gone. You can read a full account of the menu on my cooking blog, and try out some of our yummy family recipes.

Needless to say, with my parents, both of my siblings, their spouses, and the niece and nephew, we had a pretty full house. The kids had to take the floor, and I slept on the pull-out sofa, but we made it work for my little 3-bed, 2 bath house. I wouldn't recommend them all visiting for a week, but a short weekend was a lot of fun. This weekend has been a great start to what I hope will be a great fall full of visits with my family, and new Bulldog memories made.


Several weeks ago I took a little vacation to visit my good friends from seminary who live in northern Idaho. I have been there before, but haven't visited since they bought their new house and had their first child. It was very exciting to one, get away, but also to finally meet little L for the first time!

I arrived in Idaho late one Friday afternoon. As soon as I set foot outside of the airport I thought I was in heaven. It was overcast, and the temperature was in the 50's. A nice break from the 90+ I am used to living in the South. This was the great start to what I knew would be a great weekend.

That evening I went to dinner with my Idahoan friends (who are actually both Mississippians, but I met them in Texas), and got to meet L. She's hilarious! At first she didn't want anything to do with me, but we soon became good friends.

Saturday morning Jana and I got up and decided to go to a local farmer's market. While there we were inspired to purchase a few items and make a delicious pasta dish and a local favorite dessert. Jana and I had a great time tag-teaming in the kitchen for these two Sunday treats.

After the farmer's market we went to town and took a stroll on the world's longest floating boardwalk. Little L met a local duck and had a up-close-and-personal visit. We thought about taking a hike that afternoon, but ended up meeting the husband and some of his co-workers for lunch in a nearby park. After lunch we met a gentleman who asked us for about $0.87 (it was a very specific and low amount) to buy some gasoline. As he was walking off, he yelled to his friends "Let's do this," which we thought was funny and it then became the theme for the week.

Later that afternoon Jana and I went for a very short hike by ourselves and sat on the lake's edge and chatted for about an hour. It was so good to just sit there and catch up on life. She's one of my dearest friends, and it had been nearly two years since we'd had the chance to hang out.

Sunday morning we woke up and went to church where my friends have been serving for the last 3-4 years. (I forget how long...) Then Jana and I came home to make our yummy creations. After lunch we decided to go on that hike. Jana convinced her husband to go with us, so we packed up in the car and drove to Farragut State Park for a hike around Lake Pond Oreille. Now, for those who know me well, you know I'm not very "outdoorsy." However, I give it my best go when I visit Idaho, and I really, really enjoyed the beautiful scenery and outdoor recreation this part of the country has to offer.

Monday was a stretch for me. Jana had this great idea of going tubing down a river that's located about an hour from her house. I have been tubing and rafting before, but now I'm old and set in my ways...and the thought of doing something adventurous just kinda scares me. I'm not a risk taker, and try to avoid anything that might resemble "going out on a limb," physically. (Tennis is an exception for me. I try to go full-out on the court, but its not like I take dives or anything.)

So, Jana and I packed up the car and headed to the river with one of her friends. Now, let me get back to my first Idaho reaction. The weather had been quite mild for mid-August. In fact, one morning I woke up and it was 46 degrees outside. Needless to say, we knew the river was going to be cold. It doesn't help that the morning of our adventure I made Jana turn on the gas logs in the fireplace so I could sit in front of it and drink coffee...with a blanket around me. I was freezing!

We get to the river, and its a gorgeous day. We stick our feet in the water, and yes, its quite cold. However, we decide to go for it. After a short picnic we buck up and get ready to jump in. The tubing novices that we were, none of us were quite sure of how to climb in the tubes and get going. After a bit of fumbling, though, we were in, wet, cold, but having a blast.
I have to give props to Jana for being so adventurous. She's pregnant, but that doesn't slow her down a bit! The river ended up being pretty slow, and despite a few close calls with "too much booty on the rocks," it was an easy, and relaxing trip down the river. We had a GREAT time, and I'm glad they convinced me to go.

My extended weekend in Idaho ended too quickly. Unfortunately, we all have to go home and go back to work eventually. But, it was one of the most relaxing and rejuvenating vacations I have ever taken. So, despite the shortness, it did its job. Now, just have to wait until November before I get to see my beloved friends again. This time, they get to see me in my new town and new home, and I can't wait to show them around!

Side Note: One of my biggest hesitations about participating in woodsy, outdoor activities is the presence of snakes. I am terribly, terribly afraid. However, several locals convinced me there were no poisonous snakes in that part of the country, so I felt better about going off into the woods and floating down a river. Don't think you'll catch me doing that in Mississippi though. Too many horror stories about encounters with these killing machines.

Football Food Frenzy

This weekend we celebrated two exciting events in my family -
1. My mom's birthday (Friday)
2. Opening day of MSU football

Since it was a weekend full of celebratory happenings, my entire family came to visit. Saturday morning I welcomed 6 adults, a two year old, a 3 month old, and a dog. Needless to say, it was a FULL house!

The game you can read about on my other blog later ( But here, you can read about the menu for our big birthday/football/Labor Day cookout.

On the menu:
Appetizers - Cowboy Caviar with Chips & homemade Chex Mix
Hamburgers with pepperjack cheese
Mixed Vegetable Salad (Recipe in a previous entry.)
Baked Beans (canned)
Mom's Potato Salad (Prepared by my sister)
German Chocolate Cake (Box mix) with MSU Cookies and Cream Ice Cream (YUMMMMM!)


We always have to have at least one, and normally two, appetizers to snack on while cooking the main meal. This week my sister-in-law and I split snack duty and each provided a homemade treat.

Homemade Chex Mix (which I am munching on while writing this blog)

3 cups Corn Chex cereal
3 cups Rice Chex cereal
3 cups Wheat Chex cereal
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup Cheez-its
1 cup bite-size pretzels
1 stick margarine
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons hot sauce (Tabasco)
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder

Directions: Heat oven to 250°F. In large roasting pan, mix cereals, nuts, pretzels and cheez-its; set aside. Melt butter in microwave. Stir in seasonings. Gradually pour over cereal mixture and toss until evenly coated. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Store in airtight container.

Also see previous entry on Sweet & Spicy Chex Mix.

Cowboy Caviar
1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 can whole kernel corn (drained)
2 tomatoes (seeded and diced)
2 avocados (diced)
3 green onions (diced)
1/2 cup. salsa
freshly chopped cilantro (to taste)
salt & pepper to taste

Directions: Mix all ingredients together in a large box. Chill for 1 hour and serve with corn or tortilla chips. (Tostitos or Fritos scoops work best!)

Main Course

Hamburgers - There's nothing really special about the way I fix my hamburger patties. Typically I mix Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, Tony Chateries Cajun seasoning, Dale's, salt & pepper, or really whatever is I feel like adding. However, this time I added a bit of cheese to the mix. I formed the patties it balls, and them made an indention in the center and placed two cubes of pepperjack cheese. Then I reformed the balls, and flattened into patties. When you bite into the burger, you get a surprise burst of cheese in the center. It was actually really good, and I would recommend trying with different types of cheese.

Mom's Potato Salad

My mother has perfected her potato salad recipe. Through the years, she has taught my sister and I how to imitate her creation.

**This is for about 8-10 servings of potato salad. If you increase the ingredients in increments, you can make much larger portions. We make four large roasting pans each Christmas for my dad's company party. Tastes just as good if you get the proportions right!

3 Yukon Gold potatoes
2 eggs
3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
salt & pepper

Directions: Peel & chop potatoes in cubes. Add to pot and boil for about 10-15 minutes. Drop eggs in potatoes to boil at the same time. Potatoes will be done when they are tender and can be pierced with a fork. Be careful not to cook too long because they will mash when mixing. Drain completely, remove eggs to cool, and pour potatoes in a large bowl. Mix in relish, about 4-6 tablespoons of mayonnaise, and 1 tablespoon of mustard. The mayonnaise mixture needs to be eyeballed. Start with 4 tablespoons of mayo, and keep adding until you get desired consistency. Chopped boiled eggs and add to mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle finished mixture with paprika for a little color.

Our first little football cookout of the season was a great success. We ate way too much food and had a lot of fun while doing it! All in all, good times with the fam!