Christmas!

Christmas this year was pretty fantastic! Even though it was rough getting into the Christmas spirit for me, I still enjoyed the holiday and loved getting be with my family.

I worked until 3ish on Christmas Eve (something I am still extremely bitter about). After that I came home and showered and laid in bed with my fiance and watched TV for a while. Then my uncle came over for dinner and we had a yummy feast (mac&cheese, ham, corn, and biscuits)! After dinner we all played Yahtzee and listened to Christmas music. I went to bed pretty early because I’ve been having problems with my back and have been on medication that makes me super groggy.

0 here’s a picture of us playing Yahtzee!

I woke up early on Christmas morning and had breakfast with my parents (yummy cinnamon rolls!) and then we opened our presents to each other. I got some really nice gifts and I feel so blessed. After that we all got ready and then Tony came over and we opened our presents to each other and from my parents. Then we went and had lunch with my family!

After my grandmother passed away in 2009 we started a new Christmas Day tradition of going to a local Chinese restaurant to eat lunch/dinner! It has probably been the best idea my family has ever had! It’s so much fun and we eat so much yummy food! This year we had pretty much the same group of people, although my mom’s best-friend and her husband did join us (altogether it was: me and Tony, mom and dad, my uncle Nick, Alfred and Robin (who are practically my aunt and uncle), Ricki and Wayne (my mom’s best-friend and her husband), and my cousin Wade and his girlfriend Bonnie). It was so much fun and I’m so glad we started the tradition. After we ate lunch Tony and I came home with my parents and dad and Tony played games on the Atari Flashback 4 that I bought my dad! After Tony went home I spent the rest of the day being lazy and hanging out with my mom.

Here’s some pictures from the day! I hope everyone had a good Christmas and is ready for a new year! (I know we’re not prepared at all)!

1 our yummy cinnamon roll breakfast (accompanied by hot chocolate of course!)
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the beautiful Christmas tree in the living room
3 my mama’s beautiful Christmas village!
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Farmer Jim’s gifts from Santa

6 my gifts from Santa!
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mama’s gifts from Santa!
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I got a bottle of Rum! (to replace the three bottles my dad has drunk and then replaced)
12 8 I got the cutest cupcake clock! I cannot wait to have a place of our own so that I can hang it in our kitchen!
9 mama’s awesome new bird feeder!
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dad was really excited for his pistachios!
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  the bud-bud playing in the paper
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14 I was sooooo excited to get this book! I’m such a psychology nerd and I absolutely love Oliver Sacks and his books!
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dad got a Red Baron plane!
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my new cupcake platter!
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dad got a new shirt! I promise he was more excited than it seems!
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mama got a new M&M charm bracelet from daddy!
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I got a gift certificate for a massage from Farmer Jim! I’m so excited!
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yes we did get Farmer Jim Wink! for Christmas!
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mama got me a subscription to Food Network Magazine! I absolutely love everything Food Network, like I have a serious problem
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and I got a mini cupcake maker! so exciting!
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my gifts after opening!
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mama’s gifts after opening!
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Farmer Jim’s gifts after opening!
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all of my gifts from my students!
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Farmer Jim’s tractor!
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a beautiful birdhouse from my cousin and his girlfriend and an adorable snowman plate from my aunt Helen
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the Stinky looking possessed amongst the wrapping paper
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gift cards from my students
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dad’s new Atari Flashback 4! which he loooves!
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33 I am in love with Ree Drummond and her cooking! I love her show and her cookbooks and I am so excited that I got two of them for Christmas! I cannot wait to start making these recipes.

34 mama and daddy with their little black babies (Ziva and Abby)
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mama and daddy with Ziva and M&M
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M&M and Abby (the best of friends)
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me with my new laminator thanks to my awesome fiance!38 I have had my eyes on this cookie jar since Hobby Lobby put their Christmas stuff out back in September. I was so surprised that I got it and I cannot wait to use it! thanks babe!39 my new cupcake carousel!
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my future mother-in-law has the best taste in clothing! she got me this cute pink sweater and this adorable earmuff headband! I love them both!

My Favorite Foods

Now as you guys can guess, I love to cook! I love to eat even more though! Some of my favorite foods are simple things to cook too, so last weekend I took it upon myself to make my favorite things!

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Paula Deen’s Mac&Cheese
This is by far the best mac&cheese recipe ever! I honestly cannot get enough of it! It’s a hit with my entire family! (My uncle eats it by the bowl full). It’s super easy as well and doesn’t take any time at all to prepare.

New Potatoes and Green Beans

This recipe rocks! We’ve made it at least 4 times since discovering it last Fall. We even made it for a family reunion where it got rave reviews! The recipe calls for ham, but we’ve also made it using bacon. (I think it tastes better with bacon).

Helen’s Hot Dogs – this is my aunt’s recipe and it’s amazing!
Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg. hot dogs (use the good kind! like Ballpark, otherwise they will be rubbery and will not taste very good)
  • 1/2 c. red currant jam
  • 1/2 c. brown mustard

Directions:

  1. Cut up hot dogs into bit-size pieces.
  2. Mix together jam and mustard.
  3. Add hot dogs.
  4. Microwave until jam and mustard have melted into a sauce.
  5. Stir well before serving

Meatballs

These meatballs are the easiest things to make! You can make them on either the stove-top or in the crock-pot. All you need is a package of frozen meatballs and a bottle of Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce (I normally use original sauce, but last time I ran out so I added some of the Sweet Baby Rays Hickory BBQ to it and it was wonderful!) Just mix the meatballs and the sauce together and let them cook! It took about 20 minutes for them to cook on the stove at medium-high heat, but we’ve put them in the crock-pot before to keep them warm (for parties and stuff) and it takes about 2 hours for them to be ready.

Copycat Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl

So, I loooove Chipotle! Like, love it. It’s an addiction that an old high school teacher of mine, the wonderful Molly Stillman, got my hooked on during my senior year of high school. Now normally I order the same thing when I go there: Chicken Soft Tacos, and I love them, but I may have to start branching out to the burrito bowl after trying this recipe at home! This was probably one of the most amazing things I’ve ever had and I couldn’t get enough. We had it set up as a make-your-own-bowl type thing and everyone but my mom put everything together and devoured it! It was just that good! The original recipe can be found here. It called for a can of diced tomatoes, but we found that fresh tomatoes worked just fine (especially since we grow our own tomatoes and have them coming out of our ears). It also called for things like guacamole and seasonings, but we didn’t use any of that.

Copycat Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowls
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Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts, shredded
  • 1 (14 oz.) can black beans
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 (14 1/2 oz.) can corn
  • 1 pkg. taco seasoning
  • 1 (8 oz.) Taco rice
  • shredded lettuce
  • 1-2 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
  • sour cream
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

Directions:

  1. Shred the chicken, add taco seasoning, set aside.
  2. Cook the rice according to the directions on the box.
  3. Heat on medium-high heat a large frying pan; add 2 tbsp. olive oil.
  4. Add chicken and cook together.
  5. Open the cans of black beans and corn and put in small bowls (I recommend heating them up).
  6. Once chicken and rice are done, you can start plating.
  7. In a bowl or on a plate (a bowl works better), place lettuce, rice, chicken, and then add toppings of your choice.

Homemade Hush Puppies

To go with our seafood dinner on Sunday, I made homemade hush puppies (per my father’s request). I didn’t eat any, but I got rave reviews on them! They were super easy and I recommend them for sure! However, they aren’t very sweet, so if you want sweet hush-puppies you might want to add some sugar to the mix. It’s also a major plus that this recipe doesn’t require you to fry/deep-fry them! (you bake them in the oven!)

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Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

Tonight we made Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings and it was amazing! My only pointer is to use lots of chicken! we only used 3 chicken breasts and one (7.5 oz.) can of biscuits and there wasn’t nearly enough chicken! this recipe is perfect and it tastes just like Cracker Barrel’s chicken and dumplings! I definitely recommend this to anyone who loves chicken and dumplings like we do!


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Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake!

Last night I made this delicious Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake! Now the recipe calls for you to make your own cookie crust and then to bake the cheesecake in a spring-form pan, well I didn’t have a spring-form pan, nor did I have any desire to make my own crust, so instead I put it in a pre-made cookie pie crust. This was an absolutely wonderful way to do it (more like a pie than an actual cheesecake), but I then had enough cheesecake mix left over that I got 6 regular cupcake size cheesecakes out of it! Next time I’ll try it in the spring-form pan like it says, but for doing it the wrong way, it turned out pretty well! And then we topped it with whipped cream, because nothing in this family is complete without whipped cream.

Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 18 OREO Cookies, finely crushed (about 1-1/2 cups crumbs)
  • 2 Tbsp.  butter or margarine, melted
  • 3 pkg.  (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 can  (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tsp.  vanilla
  • 1 pkg.  (12 oz.) BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks, melted, slightly cooled
  • 4 eggs

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 300°F.
  2. Mix cookie crumbs and butter; press onto bottom of 9-inch spring-form pan.
  3. Beat cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Add chocolate; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust.
  4. Bake 1 hour 5 min. to 1 hour 10 min. or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours.

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Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes!

Today, I made Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes! and let me tell you, they are the most divine things ever! I got the recipe out of my new Better Homes and Garden cookbook, but you can find it here! The recipe calls for you to add frosting to them, but we opted out of frosting because they were wonderful by themselves. I do however, think that they would taste wonderful with a glaze over them, but I didn’t try it this time. The recipe also called for nuts, but we omitted those  too (because I have a nut allergy and my mom doesn’t like them in food). These are so yummy and are definitely better if eaten warm! Even Farmer Jim enjoyed one!

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Coleslaw

yesterday we had a cookout and made homemade coleslaw for the first time! it turned out wonderfully!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 bag coleslaw mix (cabbage and carrots)
  • 1/4 c. vinegar
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • chopped onions

Directions:

  1. Poor coleslaw mix into large bowl.
  2. Mix vinegar, oil, and sugar together and pour over slaw mixture. Stir together.
  3. Add onions and mix a little more.
  4. Let chill for at least 2 hours.