Monday, January 31, 2011

Do you like surprises?

You know how some people like surprises and some people just hate them, or ruin the surprise because they can't wait. Well, I am not one of those people I LOVE surprises. My husband on the other hand is terrified of surprises and almost always ruins them except when it really counted. For my 21st birthday some friends got together and threw me a fantastic party while Matt was out of town at a conference. We went on a scavenger hunt that they had put together for the party, but unto my knowledge my car was the only one actually on the hunt. Everyone else circled there cars back around to the house. So as we went on somewhat of a goose chase all over Bowling Green places like Steak n' Shake and ending at my church there was quite a big surprise waiting for me inside. Another clue and a bunch of happy daisies lying on the ground were beckoning me at the front entrance. The scavenger hunt continued inside the church leading me to the kitchen where Matt & I met for the first time and made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches together. The next clue directed me down the hall towards the sanctuary where four tables were set up decorated with memories from different stages of our relationship, from beginning to end. The last table had a birthday present. I opened it like Simms opened gifts this past Christmas and inside there was an adorable sweatshirt jacket with "Soon to Be Mrs. McDougal" embroidered on the back. My heart pounded, only the inevitable was about to happen, I caught my breath and opened the doors. There was my soon-to-be husband standing in a suite, looking quite handsome (I might add), with a dozen roses and yes a little black box! The stage was covered in candles and one of our favorite hymns was playing throughout the room. He gets on one knee and I barely let him pop the question before I say "Yes!". We head back together to the home of my birthday party, which has now been transformed into an engagement party with a massive ring shaped cake by my friend Rebecca. Then they shower me in wedding magazines and planners! Unforgetable! Now we have this amazing life with our son, who was also a surprise! So just as I said before I absolutely LOVE surprises.
The meal I made Chicken Surprise with chicken, cream, and salsa was yet another surprise that turned out as if I planned it and I assure you I did not! Just like this wonderful life I live God has given us many glorious surprises that He has planned, and we certainly have not. Thankfully we have a God who is never surprised and He always helps us along with those surprises that we jumped at in the dark.
Try this and surprise yourself by the simplicity and knock out flavor!

Chicken Surprise!*

2-4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1 cup of heavy cream
1 jar of roasted tomatilla salsa
1 cup of rice cooked

Set your slow-cooker to Low heat. Place chicken breasts in the slow-cooker. Cover with cream and salsa. Cover and cook for 7-8 hours. Add rice in the last 10 minutes stir and let the chicken naturally come a part. Mix well. So easy and so good!

*Surprises can end up being a great blessing in your favor if you simply let them.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Surprise! Surprise! Chicken Surprise!

I looked in the freezer and saw two chicken breasts just beggin' to be used. Then I remembered I had some heaving whipping cream that would maybe make a yummy creamy sauce to spoon over the chicken which I will serve with rice. I didn't really know where I would go from here; then I searched the pantry and found some salsa that hadn't been open-Roasted Tomatilla. So tonight's menu is Slow-Cooker Chicken Surprise with a Creamy Tomatilla Sauce served over Rice. It's a surprise because it will be a surprise how it turns out! How do you think that sounds? I haven't it going to be a disgusting array of ingredients or will it fill the house with spiciness that only my favorite Mexican food can create. We'll find out in 7 hours..... Here's to surprises and my slow-cooker!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fingers-Crossed Again

I love a dilemma that turns in to a meal, and you can't spell dilemma without meal (insert obnoxious drum beat with a symbol ting here). But I absolutely love a dilemma that turns into a meal that turns into another meal. And that is what has happened here, the only real dilemma is the intimidating corn grits that you have to stir for what seems like a century, but it's worth it I promise! Unless, that is, you are able to find the pre-cooked polenta then there is virtually nothing to do, but mix and pour into a casserole dish. So here is to dilemmas and meals and hoping you find the pre-cooked polenta!


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 ears corn, kernels cut off
  • salt
  • 6 scallions, chopped
  • 3 to 4 cups leftover chili
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack or monterey jack cheese (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 18-ounce tube precooked polenta, cut into 12 rounds OR corn grits cooked according to package instructions (I used Bob's Red Mill corn grits)


(Use leftover Slow-Cooker Texas Chili.)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the scallions and cook until soft, about 1 minute.

Spread the chili in an 8-inch-square baking dish. Top with half of the cheese followed by half of the corn mixture. Lay the polenta rounds on top, then sprinkle with the remaining corn and cheese.

Bake until the casserole is heated through and the top is golden, about 20 minutes. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

My arms got a serious work out from this!

Let it sit in a bowl for a few minutes and then flip it on a plate.


Serve, top with sour cream, and eat till your belly is warm and satisfied! It may take a second bowl to get there.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Southern Hero and Her Homemade Recipe

Christy Jordan of is my hero! She started as a stay-at-home southern momma writing a food blog and now she has or own cook book and has been featured in Southern Living, The Today Show, and 700 Club.
I watched her segment on The Today Show and she makes me want to be her, without such a thick accent. I mean she get's to travel, write, cook, and eat! My dream, daily! I want to do what she does SO bad! There is no recipe for becoming something like that, but if you know of a cook book with that recipe will you share it with me? How does it happen for some and others just continue to write on their blog in their pink, plaid pajamas at home (no I am not sitting in my pink, plaid pajamas at home right now. What made you think that?!?!)? Do some people just have it, and others don't? Or do some people just do that little something extra that others just don't?
I mean Christy did something right or has something that others don't. Her first year writing her blog in 2008 brought in 18 million page views; next year an overwhelming 43 million. Now it's 13 million page views a month! She also writes in various on-line publications, magazines, and newspaper columns....another dream of mine (especially since I have a BA in Journalism from a top Journalism school). Guess what her degree is in? Home-Ec!
You wanna be jealous of her, but you just can't once you hear and see her. She is so stinkin' cute and likable! Check her Today Show segment. Tell me what you think her recipe is. Seriously leave me a comment and lemme know how you think she got to where she is today.
And seriously thanks for reading!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Teenage Dream

Ok so I know I'm not alone in wanting to make my house look like a magazine, preferably Southern Living if I had my choice, and loads of indispensable income. I have much bigger dreams then this of course that doesn't require loads of money (some have come true), but this is one dream I have and I will keep on dreaming it. I love creating and letting that creation come alive in the place we call home. It's always a beautiful dream; that sometimes I have a hard time waking up from, but it's always just a dream and when you dream you always wake up unless you're involved in something insanely confusing like I saw on Inception.
You see I work at home and stare at it all day. Most of my time is spent in the living room because, hence the name we actually do live it, and of course the kitchen. One area that has been giving me a panic attack is my pantry. So I decided instead of just dreaming about it; I would try, take this first step, and make it look like one of those unrealistic organized gems you see in the magazines.
Now with the first step complete, as I open the door to my pantry Katy Perry's Teenage Dream bursts out in glorious waves of melodic genius (I know weird but it has a great dance beat, now that I think about it it's the same beat I hear when Matt walks through the door too; this just took a turn I wasn't planning on going, anyways.....), it's there, I really do hear it and can't help but bust out some moves. Maybe that's the sound I'll hear when I open every door in my house, but for now I'll be content hearing Journey's Don't Stop Believing; no seriously I really do hear it, it's my 3-year-old's favorite songs that, Happy Day and Jesus Loves Me. Honestly, I need to hear those songs way more, and those are songs that I will always hear because if I'm really listening I realize I'm living my own adult dream, not Katy's teeny-bopper dream.

Do you hear it? You know it makes you wanna bust a move!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Another day and another dilemma for the "pennyless" who also happened to be carless for the day; so a trip to the grocery was out of the question. I looked in my pantry and the dilemma was still a dilemma. Nothing was catching my eye or my stomach. In fact it was growling with fury as I scanned furiously about and down searching for ingredients to throw together. Maybe my freezer would speak to me. There are those frozen beef tips that have been sitting there for however long..... Are they still safe to consume? Nervously I quickly grab the meat to investigate any sign of freezer burn. "Pretend like you don't see any!" I tell myself. I don't usually talk to myself like some crazy person, but I was desperate! This was my only option! What can I make with these? That’s why they’ve been sitting in my freezer for so long; come on get the creative juices flowing. Here it goes, fingers crossed, and thanks to my slow-cooker I will just sit back and pray…..



  • 2 1/2 pounds beff tips
  • 2 tablspoons light brown sugar
  • 1 cup cooked rice


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

5 cloves garlic, smashed

2 4.5-ounce cans chopped green chiles, drained

1 tablespoon ground cumin

3/4 cup chili powder

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 to 2 tbsp hot sauce

Sliced scallions, fresh cilantro and/or sour cream, for topping

Tortilla chips, for serving (optional)


Toss the beef with 1 tablespoon each brown sugar and salt in a large bowl. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the beef in batches until browned on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes (do not crowd the pan). Transfer to a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker.Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion to the skillet and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chiles, cumin and chili powder and cook 3 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups water and the tomatoes and simmer, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker, cover and cook on low, 7 hours. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar and the hot sauce to the chili. Serve over rice with scallions, cilantro and/or sour cream with chips, if desired.

Not only did this dish turn out dilicious (my husband said I need to just throw it together it again, as if it's as easy as that!), but it gave me directions to make a 2nd meal out of it. Stay tuned.

*modified from