Friday, January 20, 2017

Brisket Chili Crock Pot - Firstborn's Birthday Meal

If you are fortunate enough to have leftover brisket to make chili out of, like they do at Pok-E-Jo's, you can make some darn good chili. (If not, just go buy a brisket at HEB like I did - it's not cheap, but it made a wonderful birthday dinner for Firstborn!) Carol and I had it at Sidecar when we went to a wine pick-up party.  It's one of my favorite things and I knew I had to make it for him. 
 This is the brisket I used - it made enough chili to feed 12 people!

Brisket Chili
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2T chili powder
1 t. cumin
1 t. oregano
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 28 oz can kidney beans, drained
1 15 oz can pinto beans, drained
1 8 oz can tomato sauce (not pictured)
3 c. beef brisket, chopped up
Cook onion, jalapeno, and garlic in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Add the spices in and saute until they are fragrant - about 2 minutes.  Add to the crock pot with all else.  (Add a little water if you like your chili to be more like soup)  Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours.
 Steaming chili in the soft glow of the kitchen - a very comforting meal on a cold day.
I served it with jalapeno spoonbread - it's similar to a Jiffy corn casserole, but I used a Mexican cornbread mix, half the sour cream, sauteed a minced jalapeno in the butter.  We put a big spoonful of it into our chili bowls - YUM.
I used the Pioneer Woman's recipe for berry cobbler, but used 4 cups of raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries and served it with ice cream.  It was buttery and warm and a perfect end to our meal.  And I guess Firstborn enjoyed it all, too - he told me he would be back the next day to have leftovers chili for lunch!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wednesday Menus #3 and flexibility is key

A lot of times I will make out the menu with my planner smack dab in front of me, to make sure I know if there is an activity that would impact us at dinnertime.  But that doesn't necessarily help when hubby decides a day or two before that he's going out of town for business.  On those days I just have to adjust the menus a bit so that we don't end up with a fridge full of leftovers at week's end.
Firstborn was certainly flexible!  Lots of times he would come home with scraps and bruises from skateboarding, but he never complained about it and he never stopped loving being a daredevil!

Wednesday - Slow Cooker Brisket Chili, grated cheddar and sour cream, jalapeno spoonbread, Mixed Berry Cobbler with ice cream for Firstborn's Birthday 
Thursday - Tilapia with onions and peppers, seasoned rice
Friday - Leftover Chinese takeout from Sunday (freezer meal)
Saturday - YOYO! Mom and Dad out {We are going to a supper club event here}
Sunday -Hubby doesn't want o grill, so we are having a Velveeta Skillet and some corn
Monday - Slow Cooker Green Beans, Potatoes, and Kielbasa, rolls
Tuesday - Raspberry Chicken, Loaded Mashed Potatoes (freezer), peas
Eventually it will be just hubby and I, plus the occasional hungry person who lives or works nearby, such as Firstborn.  I don't mind as I love seeing that guy.
Happy Birthday to a young man who was never boring!  Here's to your best year yet, full of opportunity and success - jump to it!

Monday, January 16, 2017

January - kitchen decluttering

As part of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge I am following, the first place to tackle was arguably the most important room in our house:  the kitchen.  We are halfway through January, but I have made made big progress.  Lucky for me I like to clean and purge and declutter!  The first two weeks were all about the kitchen counters, sink area, the island, kitchen table, utensils, knives and measuring cups, linens, silverware, junk drawer, wrap and plastic, food storage, and under the sink.
The sink area - shiny and spiffed, and I even bought myself some nice hand cream to use after doing dishes.  The green mat is mostly for Scout to use after he cleans his French press, but the bowls of fruit are always there, too.
I cleared Christmas off the counters and put the owls back!  Plus, I scrubbed the cooktop which was just plain awful after the holidays.
 Cute measuring spoons from a friend will live right here next to my recipes.
I try to keep the kitchen table and window seat uncluttered most of the time.  There is a tray in the middle of the table with napkins, S&P, and a candle.  Because what is better than breakfast by candlelight, I ask you?
 The window seat stays clear, but I would love to add a couple more potted plants and some pillows.
Under the island top:  Linens - again, I purged things that were stained or torn.  Hubby and I both have an apron in here, and its where I store the cork hotpads.
Next to linens is the silverware - guess I need to get us some more teaspoons!  I keep plastic utensils in there in a basket, too.
 Under the island on one side is crock pots and other smallish appliances.
The island opens up on both sides which is super handy.  Those small white baskets have food processor blades, a fat separator, handles for Tervis tumblers...stuff we don't absolutely have to have, but we have a spot for them, so I kept them.  Across from  the island is the knife drawer: 
 I have purged it to where it is just the basics now.  I really disliked having a knife block on the counter, so if we have too many knives for this drawer, some have to go.  This is known as The Rule.
 The junk drawer is pretty much always under control as I COULD NOT STAND IT if it weren't.  And I use it often, so it has to stay that way!
 And to it's left is are the wraps and clips, including some leftover shelf liner.
Above those two drawers - junk and wraps - I keep cookbooks and etc.  Plenty of open space for when I need it!  My purse lands here a lot.  This counter makes me very happy!  The opposite side of the kitchen:
Just the basics.  I have purged this a couple of times.  I use pretty much everything in here.
 Plastic lids - just easier to have them up here.
 And Just below are the containers, pretty much stacked. I got rid of every container I could not find a lid for and vice versa.  Next to it:
This super skinny drawer has wine corks, a foil cutter, straws... pretty much that's all these skinny drawers are good for!
The last place I worked on was the under the sink area and it was a MESS.  The faucet had leaked last month and I had not known there was all kinds of mold under there.  UGH.  I cleaned with bleach spray and replaced the shelf liner.  Then I organized from left to right: cleaning cloths, floor cloths, sponges and dishwasher pods, general cleaning supplies.  I felt super virtuous after that!  And tired.  So hopefully, the rest of the January declutter challenge won't involve a lot of cleaning labor!
What about you - done any January decluttering?

Friday, January 13, 2017

5 thing Friday - decluttering, wine, jewelry chest, runner, garlic toast

I've been on a mission to declutter and clean after the holidays - it's my favorite part of January!  I am following along with the Declutter 365 challenge from Home Storage Solutions 101.  This month is all about decluttering the kitchen.  When I finish up the month I will post pics!
I think I do a good job of it, in general, but it's fun to read along and tackle each small area.  For now, please enjoy a clean little counter that  is home to the cookbooks - it makes me smile every time I walk past.  The chippy turquoise frame was a Christmas gift from a co-worker - it was the perfect home for my little cross stitch owl.
A new wine to love.  This one is a red blend, around $7 at Trader Joe's.  Perfect for happy hours while I prep dinner and enjoy my Christmas candles that are still hanging on.  Hubby and I agreed that we cannot enjoy the $20 bottles on a regular basis.  
Must. Be. Responsible.
I bought Hubby a jewelry chest last year, since he had several small ones he was using.  He has quite an impressive collection of cuff links and watches, mostly from his father.  I found the chest in the bottom of his night stand and decided to pull it out. I think the crochet thing shall go, but I like the chest up here.  Hubby enjoys him some bling and it will be easier for him to get to his things.
I bought a new BH&G table runner at Wally World that I had admired for some time.  I like that it is colorful and has a global vibe.  For now, the candle stays, though I may have to put some baby pinecones in the bottom of it.  This table doesn't get as much action when the holidays end - that's a shame since it's a nice room to have dinner in.  But maybe we will change that and start eating in here more often.
I've been reverting back to some of my more frugal homemaking ways, including making my own garlic toast.  I hate hate hate having to throw out food, such as stale bread.  Even with only 4 people living here we seem to spend a lot at the grocery store.  Its nice to save money where I can, and the easiest place to do that is in the grocery budget. Hmmm...decluttering and being frugal seem to be January themes!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wednesday Menus #2 on the right foot

I spent some much needed time last week taking down all of the Christmas and cleaning everything half to death.  I left out a lot of winter decor - pine cones and such.  But all of the red went AWAY, back into storage bins that I purged while I was at it.  So now, it is all happily back in neat bins at the top of my closet.  Hooray!
While I was in Wally World buying groceries, I spied some faux mistletoe, which I knew would be great for these little mini vases in the bedroom. They have a tiny bit of sparkle on them, and with a little moss in the vases, they add a pretty touch to the shelves. Twenty-four cents each - SOLD.

Wednesday - Slow cooker chicken tacos, rice, charro beans
Thursday - Brown Sugar Italian Chops , sweet potatoes, salad*
Friday - Scalloped Potatoes with Ham, kale
Saturday - Dad grills
Sunday - Mom figures it out
Monday - Amish Country Casserole, salad*
Tuesday - Party Roast Beef Sandwiches, fries*
Dessert this week is some kind of vanilla cake with fudge frosting a la BJ at Sweet Nothings
*I get a lot of good dinner ideas from Stephanie at Plain Chicken!
The den was the room I spent the most time on, but pretty much everything in the front half of the house got a thorough cleaning.  The floors, the cushions - all surfaces.  The house smelled fresh and clean and by the end of the day there was a nice dinner going. That's what I love about January - it gets us on the right foot for the new year!

Monday, January 9, 2017

What the week holds and IKEA feelings...

I have a love/hate relationship with IKEA.
About every 6 months I will decide I have to go there and waste about 2 hours.  Usually, I plan for it early in the morning so I can enjoy breakfast there - $2.17 for eggs, Swedish pancakes with jam, potatoes, turkey sausage, and coffee.  I mean really...I can't even make all that at home for $2.  However, its a double-edged sword, considering all of the real estate you must cover, the non-existent helpful staff, and the check-out process.
On this particular trip I purchased the Billy bookcase for Firstborn, his request.
I'm not exaggerating when I say it took a half hour going through check-out.  It didn't even seem that busy in there, but then it never does.  The place is a rat maze where most of the other customers you don't even notice until you get to the checkouts.  And the girl that checked me out managed to ding a large hole in the box then roll her eyes while I made sure it hadn't damaged the bookcase.  That thing weighs a ton and I did not want to get it all the way home and discover it was damaged.  So, I pretty much ignored her roly poly eyes and made sure it was ok. I bought it in a black/brown color to match his nightstand since he will use the top to place his TV on in his room.
But, for now it lives, inconspicuously in the garage.  When he comes back to get the rest of his stuff he can just load it into the van.  A little anticlimactic for a birthday gift, but I'm sure he will get a few other goodies as well, and maybe even a BBQ dinner.  This week I fairly giggled with glee when I opened my planner and saw how empty it was!  Since I have already gotten The Lounge squared away I can plan some FUN days sewing and maybe watching some Netflix.  Scout is in Chicago visiting his girlfriend, Bubbie is hard at work on the final semester of senior year and getting himself to school each day, and Hubby and I are back in our regular work grind.  All is right with the world!  What does your week look like?

Friday, January 6, 2017

Jeans and tennies winery

My phone takes decent pics, when I pay attention to the settings and such.  Most times I just whip it out to document some thing or some place.  You won't find quality photos here, but I mainly just document our comings and goings, anyway.
That being said, here are some pics of a fun winery we visited last week - Thirsty Mule.
It was about 20 minutes or so from the property in Burnet - Highlands. We bought two $5 tastings and got a free glass of wine each for signing up for the wine club.
The winemaker's blend and the tempranillo were our favorites, and it didn't take much arm twisting from the friendly man in the tasting room to convince us to join the wine club.  So...that's five wine clubs we are members of now and we promised we would only join 3 at a time!
 All this time we've been into wine, I never realized I was storing it wrong - the cork needs to stay wet inside of the bottle so it won't shrink, allowing air to get in and ruin the wine. 
They had a cute selection of wine-related gifts - we didn't buy anything but it was fun to look.  Way back there behind Hubby is a shape of the state of Texas made of corks...hmmm...I can make one of those!  It was a fun way to spend an hour or so just after leaving Highlands.  Next time I'm going to ask my sister and brother-in-law if they would like to meet us there.
It seems like more and more we are gravitating towards these small wineries that are low key.  The big estates that have beautiful architecture, events, and scenery are fun, but these laid-back ones are great for an afternoon spent in jeans and tennies.


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