Monday, November 1, 2010

Paula's Chocolate Pecan Pie

Paula's Chocolate Pecan Pie

Chocolate Pecan Pie


1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell
2 cup pecan halves
3 large eggs, beaten
3 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoon good-quality bourbon
3 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cover bottom of pie crust with pecans.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and melted butter. Add the corn syrup, sugar, bourbon and the chopped chocolate. Stir until all ingredients are combined. Pour mixture into the pie shell over the pecans and place on a heavy-duty cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to bake for an additional 25 minutes or until pie is set. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Guilt-Free Baked Ziti


16 oz. box uncooked whole-wheat or high-fiber ziti or penne pasta
1 large thinly sliced onion
3 tbsp. chopped garlic
6 cups fresh spinach, or 1 box of frozen spinach, thawed & drained
2 and 1/4 cups low-fat/light ricotta cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, or 2 tbsp. of dried basil
1 32oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 & 1/2 cup plus 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 cup reduced-fat Parmesan-style grated topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain well, place in a large bowl, and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring an extra-large skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium heat on the stove. Add onion and, stirring occasionally, cook until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, and raise temperature to medium high. Continue to cook, stirring often, about 3 minutes.

Add spinach to the skillet and, stirring often, cook until spinach has wilted and excess moisture has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in ricotta cheese and basil.

Transfer contents of the skillet to the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add tomatoes and 1 & 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Toss gently to mix.

Spray an 16x9" baking pan with nonstick spray, and carefully fill with contents of the bowl. Evenly top with Parm-style topping and remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.

Bake in the oven until entire dish is hot and cheese on top has melted, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, and then serve and enjoy! Makes 12 servings!!!! (bigger portion sizes are not guilt-free! )

Approximate Nutrition Stats:
Calories: 286
Fat: 7g
Sodium: 455mg
Carbs: 41g
Fiber: 5g
Sugars: 7g
Protein: 16.5g

POINTS® value 6*

Thursday, October 14, 2010

CHEAP vs. FRUGAL (borrowed from another blogger)

  • If you stuff your purse with sugar packets when you go out to eat, you’re cheap, not frugal.

  • If you go to a fancy restaurant, order only a drink, and then eat only the yummy baked bread, you’re cheap, not frugal.

  • If you buy bakery, produce and meat when it’s marked down at the store, you’re frugal, not cheap.

  • If you save your extra napkins from the drive through and stick them in your glove compartment for later use, you’re frugal, not cheap.

  • If you sneak a cheap McDonald’s hamburger into Fuddruckkers so that you can use all their yummy toppings for your burger, but don’t buy one, you’re cheap, not frugal.

  • If you’ve ever eaten out and left a Bible tract saying, “Here’s your tip for the day,” with the ways I can get to know Christ , but then you barely leave a tip, you’re cheap.

  • If you use “Buy one, get one free” meal coupons, you’re frugal, not cheap.

  • If you use “Buy one, get one free” meal coupons, but then don’t tip on the price of the full meals, you’re cheap, not frugal and shouldn’t be eating out.

  • If you grab tons of plastic straws from the fast food restaurant, you’re cheap, but if you then use them and reuse them by washing them in the dishwasher, you’re really cheap. (Seriously, you can buy about 1,000 at the Dollar Store.)

  • If you buy an outfit at the store with the intent of only wearing it once for your fancy occasion, and then taking it back, you’re cheap, not frugal.

  • If you purposely use up 90% of an item from a grocery store only to then take something back with a complaint for a full refund and free item, you are taking advantage of their wonderful return policy.

  • If you are always the one mooching off other people or always grabbing for the left over food to take home from functions, just don’t.

  • If you photocopy internet coupons, you are neither frugal nor cheap. You are a crook because that is illegal, and I know you don’t want to ruin it for the rest of us couponers.

  • If you break the coffee container that holds your precious Starbucks coffee beans, you sweep the top beans up off the ground, and you still grind them you’re…desperate. ;)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Surprise! Birthday Bed and Breakfast weekend

"Honey, we're going to your parents house for your birthday. You need to pack." Ok, admittedly this sounded fairly normal and so without much thought I threw some t-shirts and capris plus a dress for church into a small overnight bag and was ready to go. In fact, I spent more time and thought packing for the kids than myself. "Is that ALL you are bringing?" Why yes, it is. What's the big deal, I pack light!

2 and a half hours later, and we are at my dad's house. Tired and hungry I grab some food, visit with the fam for a bit, and head for bed. The next morning my normally sleep-in-if-at-all-possible husband literally leaps from the bed at 8am. "I need you to drive me into town to Walgreens. I need to get a prescription refilled that I left at home." OK, so I stumble out of bed and throw on a t-shirt and denim capris, run my fingers through my hair, and say Let's go. "You aren't going to take a shower?" Um, no I am not here to impress anyone at the Oxford Walgreen's. I grab a cup of coffee and wait for him to leave. We finally make our way to Walgreens to get the Rx. As we are leaving he says, "I know the way back so I'll drive." Fine with me, so I fall into the passenger seat realizing that I am officially hungry. Shane turns out of Walgreens and in the opposite direction of the way back to dad's. "I thought we would get Bojangles." Great! But after driving for 30 minutes, still no biscuit. I question where we are and why? "Oh I just thought we'd drive around and enjoy the morning a bit longer." Um, ok but we are now approaching Raleigh and a good hour away from the kids and my dad's house. "Really, this road goes to Raleigh?" Yes, yes it does and did I mention that I am HUNGRY? Road signs say Youngsville, then Rolesville, then Bunn, and next thing I know we are on 64/70 East. WHERE ARE WE GOING? "To Bojangles."
You are lying, where are we going? "You'll see..." When the signs turn to Smithfield, and then Kinston I understand that we are not going home today. Do the kids know you have kidnapped me? "They do now." Are you going to tell me where we are going now? "Nope."
Well might as well enjoy the ride...and a biscuit finally at 11am!

Soon roads look familiar as we enter Beaufort, NC. We ride down a few side streets of historic homes and turn into a driveway. "Surprise, we are here!"

Welcome to the Pecan Tree Inn of Beaufort! This is my first time at a BnB and I am so very excited. Here's our room:

I LOVE LOVE LOVE historical houses. I love the porches. I love the high ceilings. I love the glass knobs on the heavy wood doors. I love their charm.

The innkeeper shows us around, and then we settle into our room. After dropping our things off, we head for the waterfront for some shopping and to breathe in the warm, salty air. Holding hands we stroll in and out of shops and boutiques, antique stores and cafes- already thinking ahead to dinner later. Then we make our way back to the BnB because we were offered the use of two bicycles. As sunset approaches, we bike along the water and then around the historical homes area, even stopping to enjoy an ice cream cone along the way.

We finally return to our BnB and shower and change for dinner. The night is a perfect 70 degrees and the sky is full of stars, so we opt for outdoor seating at a waterfront restaurant. The food is WONDERFUL! After dinner we go to a nearby outdoor bar to listen to live music and enjoy more of this delightfully pleasant night. As the hour approaches midnight, and I threaten to turn into a pumpkin, we decide it's time to enjoy the bed aspect of our BnB.

Sunday morning, and the smell of coffee and fresh scones pull me from my bed and to the downstairs of the inn. We eat on the porch (love!) and read the paper over coffee. We take one last stroll along the waterfront, and then head to 30 minutes south of our little BnB to one of our favorite little beach dives for lunch.

If you ever find yourself near Salter Path, NC, you MUST go to the Big Oak Drive-In and order a shrimp burger. It is LEGENDARY!
Don't know what a shrimp burger is? Well here is a picture.

I like them "all the way." That means with slaw, ketchup, tartar sauce, and hot sauce. Shane likes them with just hot sauce. There's no wrong way to eat 'em, just eat!

After this little diversion we park the car for one last hand-holding-stroll, this time down the beach itself.

Totally relaxed and perfectly content, we finally say goodbye to the Crystal Coast and our first (but not last!) stay at a bed and breakfast.

In fact, I think it would be good to conclude this blog entry with the announcement that in approximately 15 years, when we are "empty nesters," I plan to own a BnB myself. I think we will call it "The Buttered Biscuit Inn." Maybe. :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Low-fat Chili

We love chili at our house! I found this low-fat version that is a high on flavor but low on guilt

1 lb. raw lean ground turkey
One 29-oz. can tomato sauce
One 14.5-oz. can "mexican" diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
One 15-oz. can chili beans (pinto beans in chili sauce), undrained
One 15-oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup canned sweet corn, drained
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin

Bring a large pan sprayed with nonstick spray to medium heat on the stove. Add turkey and spread it around in the pan to break it up a bit. Cook and crumble until meat is brown and cooked through, about 6 minutes. Drain any fat or liquid, and then transfer turkey to the crock pot.

Add all other ingredients to the crock pot.
Mix well to combine.

Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, and then reduce heat to low and cook for an additional 3 hours. (OR cover and cook on low for 6 - 7 hours straight.)

Add salt to taste. If you like, top each serving with a little nonfat sour cream.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

And so a new chapter.....

It's late on a Sunday evening, and the house is quiet. I should be cleaning the bathroom, in preparation for company tomorrow but, procrastination has settled in so instead I thought I would blog a bit on the new chapter starting in my life.

It's been over 8 years since I have been a part of "corporate America." And while I initially reveled in the joys of leaving the hustle and bustle of the ol' 8-5 behind me, in recent months my mind has begun to wander towards the "What ifs?" What if I went back to work? What if I found something just part-time? What would that mean for my kids? And so on...

Now don't get me wrong; I have enjoyed my career with Premier Designs and it has blessed me in so many ways over the past 9 years. In fact, if it were not for Premier, I would have never been able to justify being a stay at home mom at all. Not to mention that I have built relationships with women that I can honestly say that I love and care about through Premier. Which is why I could never turn my back on Premier and quit (in case anyone had jumped to that conclusion.)

That being said, this "new chapter" of my life is unfolding in what will be a new adventure rejoining "corporate America," but only this time it will be on MY TIME, and on my terms. I plan on working 20 hours a week, and those hours will be while the kids are in school.

Now I know, some of you are saying, "But I thought you were homeschooling Sydney?" Well, this is true. However, I do plan to enroll her in a half-day Kindergarten. I still believe that she is not ready for "real Kindergarten," but at this point in our family life, it would be more beneficial for us financially if I am working again than for me to be at home full-time with her... plus it is only 4 hours a day away from her, which means plenty of mommy-and-me-time in the afternoon still.

At this point, you are wondering "Well???? What's the job?" OK, I will tell you. I am going to be working for the "Duck." You know, the one that says, "AFLAC!"

So as this new chapter unfolds, I pray that it will be a blessing to our family and that I will be able to maintain all of my other responsibilities as well without being overwhelmed. Here we go......

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Less is more

So we have been a quite the tight budget this month, with the two little monkeys' birthdays and all. Being said, I am once again learning the valuable lesson of "less is more," especially in the kitchen.

For example, instead of going to the Olive Garden for dinner, I can boil pasta and toss it with fresh basil and tomatoes from my garden, add a little garlic and parm and voila! A tasty dinner that is way cheaper than a trip to the OG. Oh and believe you me, Coldstone's got nothing on my baby's ice cream creations made at home! And really, does anything say summer like a supper made exclusively of vegetables from your own garden?

Sometimes it really is good to rediscover what magic can happen with just a few pennies in the kitchen! :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

2 words...

I woke up this morning with 2 words repeating in my mind. Follow and Serve. I feel like God is speaking to me, just not quite sure what He is wanting me to hear, yet. Praying for some discernment....~CTH

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hello there

Well, it has been some time since I have posted anything of personal relevance to the blog, mainly because I am not sure that anyone reads it but some aspects the blog serves somewhat as a journal I guess. So here's some updates for posterity:
We are over half way through the summer. So far we have been to Myrtle Beach to visit mom, and the kids stayed an extra 7 days for a total of 10 altogether. Tyler and Sydney have also participated in a VBS at our former church, and this week are doing another much larger VBS at the church we have been attending regularly. Tyler has also been playing baseball all summer as a St Stephens All Star. The team is, well to put it bluntly, not good. But he is having fun, and I am proud to say that their losing record has yet to dampen his spirits- he's just happy to play the game. Tyler also completed a week of golf camp, which he loved too. Sydney is a great swimmer this summer, her strokes are smooth and I think she would do well on swim team, something we may look into later. As for me and Shane, well I had my annual trip to Texas for a Premier Designs conference; had a fantastic time & returned with a renewed vision for my business....Shane has been sweating it out in this miserable heat with his landscaping company, and as of this week will be taking a well deserved break for a few days of golf in the mountains with his college buddies. OH, and we celebrated 11 years of marriage in June with a night away from the kids in Raleigh.
So now, it is the last week of July...coming up quick are the kids birthdays and school. We need prayer about school, as we have yet to decide what that will look like for both of them (can you say procrastination?) It's a big decision that needs to be made and we have been dreading it, but the time has come to make up our minds: private school, public school, or homeschool. I pray God grants us the wisdom to choose well and to hear His will on the situation.
Ok, well I think this has been a good little synopsis...until next time. ~CTH

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Summer Fun Recipe- Ice Cream in a bag!

This is a fun idea that we have tried before, with the kids of course but grown-ups are encouraged to try this as well...great for cook-outs and other summer gatherings!

Ice Cream in a bag

You'll need two tablespoons of sugar, one cup of half and half, a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, a 1/2 cup of kosher salt, ice cubes , small and large zip lock bags with an easy zipper, and yours or your child's favorite ice cream toppings. First, combine the sugar, half and half, and vanilla extract in your small zip lock bag. Seal it and set it aside. Next, add enough ice to fill the large bag halfway. (Optional step: You can double bag it to make it extra secure.) Next, add your salt to the ice bag (not the cream bag!) It's best to use a large granule salt like kosher or rock salt which is sold at most grocery stores. Finally, add the sealed smaller bag to the ice bag and seal the ice bag tight. Now, shake the bags until the ice cream hardens. It takes about five minutes, so which makes this a great activity for the kiddos. Once it becomes a consistency of frozen yogurt you're done, it's that simple. Just add toppings and the kids can enjoy ice cream right out of the bag.

Happy Summer!!!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Runner girl

It wasn't so long ago that I would say to people that "the only reason a girl like myself should ever have to run is if someone is chasing me." I would scoff at these joggers and runners as they wrecked their joints and embraced their shin-splints with pride. That was never going to be me.

Never say never.

Fast forward to present day. I am almost half way through training for a half-marathon. That's right, a half-marathon. 13 point 1 miles to be exact. Have I gone crazy? Maybe. Actually, I have this amazing friend who convinced me that it would be "fun."

So I have faithfully been going to the YMCA and climbing onto the treadmill 3 to 4 days each week since January. Each week my runs get longer, 3 short runs and 1 long run. This week my long run was 6 miles. Which I counted as half of my half-marathon. So I'm feeling pretty proud.

OK, so to be honest I do have an ulterior motive to all this running. I really want to fit into my "skinny jeans." They are 2 sizes smaller than me right now, but I am seeing progress. :)

Well, there is one other thing. I want the digits. 13.1 on the back window of my car.

"The half" is the last weekend of March. Maybe I will be in those jeans by then. But you can be certain, as soon as I cross that finish line, the digits are going on the car!!!

Run girl run.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow Days, Heart Attacks, and a Heart Tree, oh my!

So, the day started off with my #1son and #1daughter bouncing into the room in a dozen and one choruses of "Mommy!!!!" At 7:30am. On a Saturday. Don't these kids know after 7 and 4 years respectively that Mommy needs her sleep on weekends? But of course the early bird chorus was justified in the fact that there was (near as I can tell) 12 inches of snow on the ground.

Side note, you gotta love this global warming problem we're having here. :)

So, it's off to the races. Snow pants, snow suits, gloves, socks, snow boots, hats, coats. Bundle, bundle, and off they go! Normally I would bundle myself and join in the frosty merriment, but moments later I receive a call from my stepmother.

It appears that my #1Dad, age 57, has been taken by ambulance (on this newly fallen 12 inches of uncleared-from-the-road snow, mind you) to the hospital for a heart attack. Or at least that is what is suspected at the moment. Fear of loss grips me, as I reel at the thought of my #1Dad, my daddy, possibly leaving this world for a better one. I surpress the tears as the details are given, which are few at this moment in time.

I wave my #1Husband inside from snow shoveling and, moments after hanging up, I collapse into him in a sea of tears. He reassures me as best he can, and after a minute or so, I collect myself and pocket my feelings for the time being.

Now my #1daughter has decided that she has had enough of loose socks in oversized snow boots, not to mention being cold, and retires to her room for some demolition also known as playing with her toys.

Luckily, #1son has found his 'hoodlums, also known as "the boys" next door ages 2, 4, 9, and 4. So, he goes off to sled with them, leaving me with just one to worry with at home. About 2 hours pass, in which time I busy myself with laundry and periodical calls and texts from friends who have heard "the news." The phone rings again, and without looking I answer it.

The voice on the other end took me off guard- it was my dad. As soon as he says hello I break down into tears. He is confused as to why I am crying, and I inform him that it's because he is AT THE HOSPITAL for a possible HEART ATTACK. He explains that he is fine, and that I should not be so worried. They will keep him overnight for observation, and although they have not confirmed that he has had a heart attack, they have not ruled it out either.

So, I am somewhat comforted. It was good to hear his voice, and he sounded quite normal. Later in the day when #1son returns from his hoodlum-isms, I have he and #1 daughter to call the hospital room where #1dad is to stay the night and talk to him. This no doubt "did his heart good."

So now, as the sun is gone from the sky, #1son has returned to the frozen hood with "the boys" for some night sledding. I can only hope it does not end with a trip to the ER for us, as hoodlum-ing can do sometimes.

To conclude, I will end on a light note. I am somewhat ashamed to say that one prelit Christmas tree remains in our house. It stands in the dining room, and the reason it has not been packed away is because the box was destroyed. I have been meaning to get a new box from a "big box store," but just haven't gotten around to it. So I thought it would be fun to hang some Valentines on the tree and make it a "Heart Tree." So last night we took a stack of red-paper lace doilies (of old-fashioned Valentine repute,) and hung them all over the tree, along with 2 strands of "Valentine garland." Voila- a festive Valentine "Heart" tree.

P.S. Who knew the Valentine "Heart" tree would become symbolic of my #1dad's current condition. As I type this, confirmation has just arrived that he indeed did have a heart attack. Each time I look at our "Heart Tree" I will think of my #1dad, and pray for his health and healing. Your prayers are also encouraged and appreciated.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Going vegan....

So I began 2010 by going on a 21 day fast, similar to last year's Daniel Fast but without the exclusion of caffeine (hey I'm a mom, I need my Coke Zero and coffee!) Anyway, the fast ended on Thursday, and I must say that I honestly enjoyed everything I ate (lots of veggies, fruits, and whole bread, meats, dairy, eggs.) However, trying to integrate what was once "normal foods" has proven to be somewhat difficult. The mind is willing, the body is putting up a fight. It started when I tried to have a yogurt with some granola for lunch on Friday. Harmless enough right? Not a Big Mac or a steak, just a low-cal yogurt. But boy, was I queasy. Later that evening I tried to eat some chicken tortilla soup. YUCK. Tasted terrible. Saturday I had cereal, something I had not had in 3 weeks. Here comes the queasy again. Lunch was chicken noodle soup, which was okay...hey maybe I'm turning the corner. Dinner was calabash seafood. Shane is surprised as I hungrily eat my flounder and oysters. The rest of the evening is uneventful, and I think we are finally in the clear. But alas, today's eggs, grits, and latte are sitting in my belly and talking to me in a not-so-nice way.
I never intended this fast to become a lifestyle, and I don't want to be "that girl" at dinner parties and in restaurants who can't eat anything because she's VEGAN, but I really need to listen to my body right now. And it's NOT WORTH IT feeling like I'm going to puke just for the sake of eating "normal food." I am at a crossroads, to be or not to be...Vegan.

About Me

My photo
This is our official family homepage. I hope to share pictures, thoughts, prayers, hopes, dreams, and maybe a few recipes too. I am married to my soulmate Shane, who is so good to me. We have two gorgeous, rambunctious, sweet, funny kiddos. Tyler is 8, and Sydney is 5. They keep us on our toes, and we are better in every way because of them! Life can be stressful and hectic at times, but we know that God has us exactly where He wants us to be- we are so blessed!