Sunday, January 30, 2011

Stuffed Mushrooms

I am not exactly sure when I started liking mushrooms, but I know it was some time after Joshua and I started dating….the second time through.

This weekend, because my husband loves mushrooms, because he spent the better part of Saturday putting in a new hot water heater for us with my dad, and because I love him, I decided to make stuffed mushrooms.

I found this recipe a while back when looking through the archived recipes on the Pioneer Woman’s website. http://thepioneerwoman.com/



To start off, rinse the mushrooms and pat dry. Then pull off all the stems. Put all the mushrooms on a rimmed baking sheet and then chop up the stems. The chopping up of the stems was my least favorite part of this recipe. If I think too much about mushrooms, sometimes they start to freak me out a little. I start to think of something my father-in-law once told me about mushrooms and then the freaking out begins. It is a shame that someone can almost ruin your life with one sentence. But, I got them all chopped and was able to move on.



Next up, chop up half an onion. Now, I honestly was not going to put in the onion since Joshua hates them. But, when it came time to chop up the onion, I noticed that Joshua was snoozing away on the couch. {grin} I decided that since I was making these for him and all, I would just chop up the onion extra thin, cook them a little longer, and hope he did not notice! Yes, that is the great wife I am. I make a dish just for the husband and then lace it with things he hates!



Then toss the sausage in a pan and cook.



Sausage also weirds me out if I think about it too much. So, I tend to neglect sausage while I cook it. I only return from time to time to ensure it is not sticking to the pan. After you have browned it, remove to a plate to cool.



Yes, this plate has fish on it. I bought some on sale at Kroger for Luke. I only cook with the finer dishes and plates. And in case you really want to know, the bowls pictured above were four for a dollar at walmart. Yep, I am just plain Fancy. Fancy with a capital F.



Alright, you do not want to wash out the pan you cooked the sausage in. Instead, just throw in the onion and garlic and cook. Now, as luck would have it, when it was time to toss the onion in to cook, Luke came into the living room and put in a movie. And since the movie was blaring loud, Josh woke up. I then became a little concerned he would smell the onion. I quickly tossed it in the pan and then added the garlic, hoping the smell of the garlic would cover up the onion! Thank you Luke for waking up Daddy at this precise moment.

Now you want to add the white wine. After you add the wine, if you are like me, you will take a look and decide that in fact, a third a cup is not enough and you will add more. DO NOT DO THIS! Turns out, the Pioneer Woman knows what she is doing and a third of a cup is sufficient. I do not think the extra wine ruined the taste or anything, but adding more really was not necessary.



Toss in the chopped up mushrooms to the skillet with the onion and garlic, and then cook it all until the wine is reduced a bit.



Meanwhile, while the above is cooking, get a mixing bowl and put in the cream cheese. Separate an egg (separating eggs makes me think of my mother…. I will explain this another time.) Put the yoke in with the cream cheese and mix up.



Add the parmesan cheese and mix some more.

Once the mushroom/onion/garlic mixture is done, add it to the mixing bowl, and then add in the sausage. Mix it all up and then put it in the fridge for a little while to firm it a little.

Sprinkle a little salt on the mushrooms and then fill ‘em up!



This picture is not my hand. It is not my food and was not taken in my kitchen! It is the Pioneer Woman’s hand, food, and kitchen. The picture is not really all that spectacular, but what she wrote made me laugh. “I would like to announce to the world that I took this photo with one hand, balancing the spoon on the side of the bowl so I could hold the mushroom cap with my other hand. It’s called food photography gymnastics. I’m getting better every day”. HA!



Once they are all filled, cook at 350 for 20-25 minutes.





Now, I think these would make a great appetizer for a little party. But, I was not throwing a party. And even if I was to throw a party, many of our friends would not eat these because they do not like mushrooms. They are weird…..and odd. But, I like them anyway. And besides, I was just making these to say thanks to the husband. Thanks for putting in the water heater. Thanks for putting up with me. Thanks for taking me back when I broke your heart when we were young! Thanks for not noticing the onions.

Since these were dinner, I just made a salad and some bread to go along with them. And let me tell you, these little things were not good. Not good at all, but HEAVENLY. Melt in your mouth wonderfully fantastic!



If you like mushrooms, you will love these little gems!

After dinner, I just walked away from the mess in the kitchen. I felt certain the maid would clean it all up. The next morning I realized that I am Amanda Stewart writing for Simply Stewarts, not Martha Stewart writing for Everyday Food. I remembered that despite the fact that I am Fancy, with a capital F and have fish plates and walmart bowls, we do not have a maid….other than myself. So, I washed all these dishes. Ugh. I wonder, does the Pioneer Woman do her own dishes?



Ingredients


• 24 ounces, weight White Button Mushrooms

• ⅓ pounds Hot Pork Sausage

• ½ whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced

• 4 cloves Garlic, Finely Minced

• ⅓ cups Dry White Wine

• 8 ounces, weight Cream Cheese

• 1 whole Egg Yolk

• ¾ cups Parmesan Cheese, Grated

• Salt And Pepper, to taste


Preparation Instructions


Wash mushrooms in cold water. Pop out stems, reserving both parts.


Chop mushroom stems finely and set aside.


Brown and crumble sausage. Set aside on a plate to cool.


Add onions and garlic to the same skillet; cook for 2 minutes over medium low heat.


Pour in wine to deglaze pan, allow liquid to evaporate.


Add in chopped mushroom stems, stir to cook for 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set mixture aside on a plate to cool.


In a bowl, combine cream cheese and egg yolk. Stir together with Parmesan cheese.


Add cooled sausage and cooled mushroom stems. Stir mixture together and refrigerate for a short time to firm up.


Smear mixture into the cavity of each mushroom, creating a sizable mound over the top.


Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.


Allow to cool at least ten minutes before serving.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

100 Homework

I have often times heard parents complaining about their child’s homework. I am not sure if it is just because Luke is in kindergarten or what, but I really do not mind helping him with his homework and he loves doing it! He gets a monthly package of homework that we work on, and then from time to time, he will have larger projects to complete.

Since they are approaching the 100th day of school, Luke’s current homework project was to be creative and bring a collection of 100 of his things to school. When we first talked about this, Luke was convinced he did not have 100 of anything. I told him that I know for sure that he had 100 of one kind of toy. He thought and thought and then realized he had WAY over 100 cars.



As we continued talking about this assignment Luke realized that it would be somewhat difficult to take 100 cars to school. So he came up with the idea of taking pictures of the cars. Luke then decided to make groups of the cars by color. I asked him how many groups he would need and he said ten groups of ten, and that would make 100! I could not have been more proud.

One day after school he began going through all his cars.






He grouped them by colors.  


And then HE took pictures of the cars.












Luke originally wanted to put the pictures on a poster board, but then decided he would like to make a book. So, today we went to the store and printed off the pictures he took, as well as bought some construction paper and the materials to make a book.

He glued each picture on a piece of construction paper and labeled the color. He then assembled all the pictures into his folder and titled the book, Luke’s 100 Collection.

















I think the book turned out great! I am so proud of him for coming up with the idea on his own and putting it all together with minimal assistance.


Great Job Luke!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Josh, Luke, and Josh

I have my first guest blogger -- My Joshua!  Hope you enjoy his story.  I sure loved hearing about it!



There is an annual tradition that my buddy Jerel and I have had for several years…Rangers Fan Fest. This event is geared towards the biggest Rangers fans. It gives us the opportunity to meet many Rangers players, former and current, as well as enjoy many activities and games. Being the crazed Rangers fans that we are, we look forward to this event with great anticipation every year.

This year, however, brought more joy to me than any other Fan Fest I’ve ever attended.

Fan Fest is typically a one day event that starts early on a Saturday morning sometime in January and lasts all day. Jerel and I usually meet at Chick-Fil-A, grab a quick bite and are on our way. We generally arrive about 2 and ½ to 3 hours before the gates open and wait in the freezing temperatures for the opportunity to get a ticket to talk to and obtain the autographs of the best players.

The only exception this year is that we had 2 days to perform these ridiculous acts. Fan Fest 2011 was a 2 day event! There was only one problem…I could not get there early on Sunday because I teach a class at church (not that this is really a “problem”). Anyway, we had to make arrangements. Jerel was planning to still get there early on Sunday and offered just to let me skip in line when I could get there. I’m sure you are wondering why we would go to such absurd lengths. Well, I will tell you…we love the RANGERS! We are what you could call fanatics.

Since I was not going to get there so early on Sunday and did not have to brave the cold weather for so long, I decided to ask Jerel if he minded me bringing Luke, my six year old, with me. He didn’t mind at all. So I decided to bring him along.

You may think I deserve to lose my parental rights for subjecting my son to such outrageous conditions, but I have my reasons. You see, Luke has developed a love for the Rangers, especially for their center fielder…2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton, who was scheduled to sign autographs on Sunday. I brought Luke on the outside chance we would actually score a ticket to get to see Hambone. The only problem is they only had 250 tickets for Hamilton. Seeing as how there were probably more than 5000 people there on Sunday, our chances didn’t look too good. But I was determined to get Luke a chance to meet Josh.



While we waited to find out if we were lucky enough to get a Josh Hamilton ticket, i took Luke around to enjoy some of the activities. He hit home runs and caught fly balls.








The time came to find out if you were the lucky winner of one of the 250 Hamilton autograph tickets and, as I was afraid of, none of our tickets matched the winning numbers. I was deflated.

Since we were not going to get to go through Josh’s line, I at least wanted to take Luke to where he would walk from the private area to his signing table. So we waited for Josh to walk through and at least speak to him. While we were waiting, they announced over the P.A. that there were 10 tickets left to see Josh Hamilton. They were going to ask Rangers trivia questions to decide who got the last 10 spots! If there is anyone who can answer pretty much any question about the Rangers, it’s…well, Jerel. So off we went to try and score some tickets. Now, once again, the odds were not in our favor. There were probably 300 people vying for 10 spots.

3 of the tickets had been given away when Jerel answered a question and won a ticket. 6 left. The questions kept coming and the tickets kept going. 5 left…4…3…2…the last question had been asked. I knew the answer! Call on me! Call on me! Call on me!

The final ticket had been won…not by me. I knew exactly how Charlie felt when they announced the final golden ticket was gone. Except I wasn’t going to let that be it. I had already made a deal with Jerel that if I didn’t win, he would take Luke through the line with him. But I didn’t want Jerel to take Luke with him…I wanted to take Luke to meet Josh.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I found the lady with the 10 extra tickets and told her that I knew the answer and, well, I begged her for a ticket. She said she was all out. That was it. Just like that I had to rely on someone else to introduce Luke to his favorite baseball player.

Enter Chuck Morgan.

Chuck Morgan is the vice president of In-Park Entertainment and the longtime voice of the Rangers as the public address announcer. As he walks by, the lady says to him that I had answered a question, but she didn’t have any tickets left. This was not exactly true, but hey, who am I to argue? Chuck reaches into his pocket and pulls out an autograph ticket for Josh Hamilton, smiles at me and Luke, winks and hands me the ticket.

It took a moment for it to register. Once I had gathered my thoughts I knelt down and showed it to Luke and said we needed to get in line. To enter the line, you had to redeem your ticket for a wrist band. You only got one wrist band per ticket, so when the guy told me to hold out my arm, I said “Nope. Put it on this guy”, and pointed to Luke.

As we neared the table, I explained to Luke that I would help him up so he could see Josh. I handed him the item to get autographed, an issue of Sports Illustrated with Hambone on the cover. I helped him up to the table and as he handed the magazine to Josh, I stepped back to observe what I can only describe as surreal.



I have the utmost respect for Josh Hamilton because of the mountain he has climbed and the adversities he has overcome to become, not only a tremendous athlete, but an inspiring role model by the way he lives his life. But while I watched him lean over the table and engage in conversation with a 6 year old boy, that respect multiplied by leaps and bounds. He talked with Luke for a few minutes and I told him thanks and wished him good luck on the upcoming season.


Fan Fest 2011 ended up just like I had hoped…we just had to go through a strange detour to get there, but it was worth it! Hamilton even threw up the claw for us on the way out!








Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Blue Eyes



Look at those pretty blue eyes!  I love those eyes, but today, they caused me some major heartache and pain.

Early this morning I received a phone call from Luke’s school nurse. She informed me that she felt certain Luke had pinkeye and I needed to come and get him. My heart sank. Not just that he was “sick”, but pinkeye. I am the wrong person to handle this sort of thing as I do not handle matters of the eye well.

I picked him up hoping and praying that the nurse was wrong. However, I took one look at him and thought she was probably right.

After the doctor confirmed it was pinkeye I started to think, “Why me? Why must I deal with this boy who has pinkeye? Why not his Dad?” I normally have no problems dealing with a sick child, but here is the deal, I HATE eyedrops. In fact, I refuse to use them. I am SCARED of them. I also do not like dealing with the eye. I am of NO assistance if someone has something in their eye and needs help getting it out.

The last time I recall needing them was when Luke was two. And my dear husband had me pinned down to the bed trying to get them in my eye. The entire episode did not go well and I’ve had nothing to do with eye drops since!

Until today.

Ugh.

We went to the pharmacy and picked them up and I just could not figure out how we were going to do this. How was I, a woman who is afraid of drops, going to convince my six year old son that these drops were his friend?

I had him lay on his bed and then the nightmare began. He started to scream. Yes, scream. And I had not even gotten the bottle near his eye. I started to tell him that it was not a big deal. They would not hurt, but would help. I obviously was not selling this story well as his mass hysteria only escalated. Tears galore from this kiddo. His face turned bright red and his eye was getting more and more agitated.

Then, what I can only call a miracle from God happened. My BF called. She was quick to assess from the tone of my voice that all was not well within the Stewart home. I explained the problem and she gave me advice on putting in the drops. Have him close his eye, put the drops in the corner and then get him to blink. Sounds good to me….sort of. I mean, good for Luke. I however do not plan on doing this to myself, but I would try it out on him.

And because the apple does not fall far from the tree, Luke was not taking kindly to this method. The waterworks continued. I have pinned this child down to get medicine down his throat. I have held him down to get ear drops in his ears. But, if a person does not want eye drops, I am thinking you cannot make them go in. The power of crying huge crocodile tears will prevent you from getting drops in the eye!

I was almost in tears. Over an HOUR later, I squirted some drops on his eye and prayed that some went in through the tears. Needless to say, my child was not happy with me. In fact, he was downright upset. Angry. Mad. And to tell you the truth, I did not really blame him. I was over it too.

So, for the next two hours we discussed how round two of eye drops would be different. I said all the right things to him, but I knew in my heart of hearts that I hate eye drops and I would be acting just like him if it was me with the nasty eye. The irony of this entire thing was almost just too much for me.

However, UNLIKE his mother, my Luke got a hold of his fear. Faced it head on and laid on that bed like a champ for round two of drops. He closed his eyes and said, “tell me when to open momma!” I put the drops in the corner of his eye, prayed, and told him to open. And he did, like a pro. He blinked several times and the drops went right in. Hallelujah!!

And he did just as perfect a few hours later when we did them again.

I am so proud of him!

One day, when my Luke is much older, maybe I will tell him of this ridiculous and crazy day of when his mother, who is afraid of everything related to the eye, had to get drops in his eyes. How inside, I was just crumbling, but trying to look brave for him on the outside. Maybe we will have a laugh out of it.

On the up side, my dear sweet husband came home with the Jason Aldean cd for me.  That has nothing to do with this post....but, was a good end to the drama of the day.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

George

Due to some scheduling conflicts, we were not able to take a weeklong trip for our tenth anniversary has we had hoped. Instead of postponing a weeklong trip, we decided to do a weekend thing.

And to celebrate our big tenth year anniversary we went to…..



Yep, Oklahoma City! Why did we go to Oklahoma City you ask? Well, this gal was there.


But really, I went to see this Cowboy.


Ahhh. Yes, George.

We decided to drive up to see the concert and stay the night for our short get away. Luke stayed with Daddy and was happy to do so, but he did ask why he could not go with us. I told him it was music for grownups. Of course, nothing with this boy is simple so he followed up with, “What kind of music is it that it’s inappropriate for children?” Ugh. “It’s not inappropriate Luke,” I told him. “We just do not want to spend the money on a ticket for you.” Yes, sometimes the truth hurts, but he did not really seem to care. After all, a sleepover with Grandpa is always fun.

For dinner we tried out Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill. 


I hopped out of the car to put our names on the list while Josh parked the car.  The line just to get your name on the list was so long that Josh was beside me before I could even get to the hostess.  Once we finally got up there, we were told there was no telling how long it would be until we had a table, but we were more than welcome to try and get a bartop seat.  We could see the first bar and it was packed and so was the second.  As we went back towards the third, we spotted an empty table…so we sat ourselves, not sure if this would work or not. But in no time, we had our menus and drinks ordered. We could not believe our great luck!  The food was great and our waiter could not have been any better.


We decided that since we had a decent parking space at the restaurant we would just walk the couple of blocks to the arena for the concert and this proved to have been a great idea by Joshua!

Now…back to Reba. She was awesome. Loved watching her sing the old songs, as well as the new ones. The highlight of her for me was watching her sing Fancy. I have seen her singing it live on TV before, but that was certainly not the same as in person. She is awesome.


But, the real reason for the trip….King George. He was great and I loved every second of it. Much thanks to the camera man who zoomed in on George’s hind end to confirm for us ladies that, yes, he was wearing Wranglers.  And a huge thank you to George for singing my all time favorite song......Run. 



The icing on the cake of our trip for me happened on the way home. Nothing like hearing my husband belt out You Can’t Make A Heart Love Somebody. He makes me laugh. And smile.


Happy (early) Tenth Anniversary dear. And thank you for taking me to see George to celebrate!

I know the pictures are not the best...our camera was not cooperating.  We are thinking of banishing it from the family....One should not fail at a time like this!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Timer

When I was a kid I looked forward to the Saturdays when I was able to go with my Dad out to my Grandparents' farm.  I loved spending the day with my Nana. No matter what we did, spending time with her was simply wonderful. She had a way with making you feel so special just by being with her. I would help her out with the house work, we would cross stitch, paint nails, go into town, or just sit and talk. Often times, I would sit up on one of the bar stools my grandfather had made and talk to her while she cooked in the kitchen.

My Nana had this timer that stayed on the refrigerator door. As a child, I thought it was so much fun to time my Nana in everything she would do. I would see how long it would take her to do each task. However, sometimes I would set the timer and tell her she had a certain about of time to get something done! Sometimes she would make it in time, and then others she would not. We would both start laughing like crazy when the timer went off.

Today, that timer is on my refrigerator door. I always think of my Nana when I set it while cooking. For the most part, this timer stays in the kitchen, but from time to time, it finds its way down the hall to the shelf outside of Luke’s bathroom. We use it to help him know how long he needs to brush his teeth or to let him know when he needs to get out of the shower.

Last night I was cooking dinner and Luke wanted me to come and play a game with him. I told him I would come and play once I had our dinner in the oven.

A few minutes later, from down the hall I heard:

“Momma, I have set the timer! You need to be in here playing with me when it goes off.”

Tears welled up in my eyes as I honestly could hear my Nana laughing.

My sweet Nana never had the chance to meet Luke, but oh how she would have loved him. She would love his smarts, his charm, his whit, the big blue eyes, and curly hair.

However, last night, I knew that she would love how the tables had turned and now, it was me who needed to move quickly before the timer went off.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

I cleaned out our pantry the other day, but this was not due to any new year’s resolution. This was just because the pantry needed cleaning out and I happened to have time to do it shortly after the new year.

In cleaning it out, I discovered that I have three bottles of white vinegar. Clearly, I do not look in my pantry before shopping. I am not even sure what I am using the vinegar for, but I certainly have no clue as to why I seem to be buying it all the time. New Year’s Resolution #1: not to buy white vinegar in 2011. Seems easy, but I am not so confident that I can pull it off.

The next thing I discovered is that I have a ridiculous amount of paper cupcake holders. I received some for Christmas, but not even taking those into account, I just have a crazy number of these things. One would think I would resolve not to buy anymore, but that is not realistic and I do not want to set myself up for failure. New Year’s Resolution #2: to make more cupcakes and muffins in 2011. Do not be surprised if you receive cupcake gifts throughout the year from the Stewarts!

Next up, are Ziploc bags. I seem to have a crazy number of these things as well….like three or four hundred!! Now, if I was a Sam’s Club card holder, this would not be too shocking, but I am not. Like the vinegar, I seem to just randomly decide to buy Ziploc sandwich bags. And why am I buying these things?? Luke does not even use them for school! I guess I will be delivering the cupcakes individually wrapped in a Ziploc bag. New Year’s Resolution #3: find other clever ways to use Ziploc sandwich bags in 2011.

Lastly, as I do not want to bog myself down in resolutions, I discovered that I had about 15 boxes of expired jell-o mix. (I will not be offended in any way if you pass judgment on me for this one as it is justified) I was unaware that the stuff actually expired! I am not even a fan of making jell-o. Why did I purchase so much of this stuff and then not even make it? Was I supposed to make it for Luke? I have no idea!! Obviously, I compulsively buy stupid things at the store. New Year’s Resolution #3: no more jell-o mix boxes in 2011.

I will reevaluate my life in a year and see how I held up. What about you; any New Year Resolutions??

Monday, January 3, 2011

Stewart Baseball

Santa brought a finger baseball game to the Stewart house for Christmas. The game was under the tree in Joshua’s section of goodies, but I think Santa had a sneaky suspicion that Josh would play the game with Luke.

Over the weekend my boys finally had the chance to get the game out and play. I was not paying much attention to them at first, but once the whooping and hollering started, I could not help but go over and watch. The both of them were having the greatest time….Luke more so since at the time he was winning!! Actually, I think he ended up winning the entire game. Whoo Hoo!




(Please pay no attention to the clothing these boys are wearing. They had no idea they were going to be photographed and better yet that the photos would hit the internet. Yes, Luke does own clothes that fit; he just chooses not to wear them. Yes, my husband is wearing my Senior Class t-shirt from…well, from a while back.)




It is really a neat game. I have it on good authority that Santa obtained the game, not from the North Pole, but here http://www.zelosport.com/

Not only does the company have a baseball game, but they also have football, soccer, and golf. Santa knew that the boys in this house are crazy baseball fans and are still basking in the glory of the Ranger’s great season, so I guess that is why they received the baseball game.