Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

For those of you who don't know, this is our families favorite holiday! DJ and I got to know each other while building a haunted house in the community we use to live in. The place was a seriously sweet and one major labor of love. It was an old fire house with a circle staircase up to a creepy 3 room 1 bath sleeping quarter. 8 of us spent over 6 weeks working on the conversion and then Halloween night we all dressed up and maned our stations for over 4 hours of tours and frights. I was a fortune teller who had a glowing crystal ball and a good scream at the right time. DJ was a vampire who had a tendency to pop up in unsettling places. We had a blast and ever since then Halloween has been our special night together. We carve several pumpkins, roast the seeds, watch scary movies like including What Lies Beneath and Scream, then enjoy a little home cooking an pumpkin pie. Well tonight DJ had to work so we carved out pumpkins last night and I'm home handing out candy, scaring myself with movies and cooking up a storm for when my hunny gets home. So I thought I'd share some of the sights here at our little haunted house.
And just for fun, a little Halloween superstition trivia from the History Channel.

When it's the time for Halloween celebration, it is then that the people tend to become more superstitious. There are many superstitions and myths about Halloween and most of the people have a strong belief in them. In the reservoir of common Halloween superstitions, there are distinctive kinds of superstitions: animal superstitions, witch superstitions, bats in house superstitions and many more.

• It is believed that if an unmarried girl keeps a rosemary herb and a silver sixpence under her pillow on Halloween night, it is quite likely that on that very night, she would dream of her future husband.

• It is said that if you hear someone's footsteps behind you on the Halloween night, you should not turn back because it may be a dead following you. And if you commit the mistake of looking back, it is likely that you might join the dead very soon.

• People believe that if on the Halloween night, a girl carrying a lamp in her hand goes to a spring of water, she will see the reflection of her life partner in water.

• People have a superstition that if an unmarried girl carries a broken egg in a glass and takes it to a spring of water, she will be able to catch the glimpse of not just her future husband, by mixing some spring water in the glass, but also she can see the reflection of her future kids.

• There is the old saying that "black cats are bad luck". It was once believed that black cats were the devil, or consumed by evil spirits.

• If you put your clothes on inside out as well as outside walk backwards on Halloween night. At midnight you will see a witch in the sky. People used to believe witches were the devil, or that they were consumed by evil.

• If you ring a bell on Halloween it will frighten evil spirits away.

• Many people used to consider that owls would dive down to eat the souls of the dying on Halloween. They used to think if you pulled your pockets out, and left them hanging, they'd be safe.

• It has been said if a bat flies into your house on Halloween, it is a sign that ghosts or spirits are very nearer, and maybe they are in your home and let the bat in.

• People used to believe that if bats are out early on Halloween, and they fly around playfully, then good weather is to come.

• If a bat flies around your house three times on Halloween, death is very soon to come

• To ward off evil spirits on Halloween, you can bury all the animal bones in your front yard, or even put a picture of an animal very close to your doorway.

• People used to believe you could walk around your house three times backwards before sunset on Halloween, and that would take care of all evil.

• It could be the spirit of a dead loved one watching you if you watch a spider on Halloween.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Had to do it.

Saw this on Amie's blog and had to jump in and see who I was.

You're Bella Swan - You are intelligent and kind but not quite sure what you want out of life yet. You have a feeling there's something more out there for you. You're attracted to those who are real and avoid the fake. Sometimes you're a bit accident prone, but your true friends will always be loyal to you and come to your aid when you need it.

Monday, October 29, 2007

For my girl Amie and her little man Sean

OK, break out your favorite choppin knife, do some quick hand stretches and a couple deep knee bends. We’re going to delve into the world of Cajun cuisine with one of my favorite meals ever, Jambalaya. Amie’s son Sean asked the other day about marvelous dish and she knew just who to call, and then I knew just who to call and bribe to get all the ingredients so that I could do the step by step for this happy little blog, “oh mom…….. how bout I treat you to a meal you don’t have to cook?” To which she squealed with glee and ran to the store for all the fixings. So join me in this most loverly of comfort foods and then treat your family with a culinary trip to the deep south of New Orleans.

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

2 T. butter
1 tsp. oil (corn or canola works best)
3 lbs chicken breasts
1 kielbasa sausage
1 pound fully cooked hot links
1 yellow onion
3 scallions (green onions)
2 green bell peppers
1 red bell pepper
3 stalks of celery
2 T. fresh parsley
3 cups white rice
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt
½ - ¾ tsp black pepper
¼ - ½ tsp chili powder
2 bay leaves
½ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 28oz can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 cup tomato puree
3 ¾ cup water
3 T. chicken bouillon granules

First we need to do a bit of prep work by slicing, dicing, and chopping.

We need to cube up the chicken into bite sized pieces and then transfer them into a bowl and move to the fridge until we are ready to cook it off. Remember that all raw meets need to stay refrigerated until they are ready to be cooked in order to avoid nasty bacteria’s from invading and making us sick. You should also use one cutting board for meats that is non-porous and another for vegetables to avoid any cross contamination.

Next we are going to cut up both the sausage and the hot links. Cut them into about ½ inch thick slices. It’s important to get hot links that are fully cooked so that they are able to hold their shape while cooking. You can move these to the same bowl since they will be added to the dish at the same time.

Next we are going to chop up the onion. I always use a yellow onion but you can use a Spanish white if you like a little more onion flavor. We need about ½ to 1 cup of chopped onion for the dish so you may only need ½ of the onion.

We are also going to use some scallions in this dish to add a second level of onion flavor. These onions lack a fully developed bulb and tend to have a mild flavor and have the added bonus of adding color to the dish. Slice these fairly thin from the tip to roughly ¾ of the way up the green stem.

Now we are going to move on to the bell peppers. Bell peppers contain a recessive gene that prevents capsaicin, the oils that create the heat commonly associated with peppers, from being produced, so they lack the spiciness that many other varieties of peppers have. Therefore you will often heard of these peppers referred to as sweet peppers. They do contain seeds the need to be cleaned out before you chop em up. The easiest way to achieve this is to slice them in half using your hand just pull out the seed pod and stem all at once, or you can just cut the top off and pull out the pod. These need to be chopped into chunks, not diced to fine.

On to the celery (we’re almost done with the manual labor, stay with me the end result is so worth it all). This is a nice easy slice about ¼ inch big.

Ok last chopping part, everyone together woohoo! Take a small handful of the parsley leaves off the top making sure to not have any of the stems included. Chop this really finely and then do a happy dance as we get ready to move on to the main event!

Combine the two tablespoons of butter and the oil into a large stock pot. On med-high heat melt them together stirring to combine.

Add the chicken into the hot oil and brown on all sides. When the chicken is no longer pink remove the pieces and set them aside. If there is any liquid remaining from the chicken discard.

Add a bit more oil if needed to the hot pan and stir in the onions, peppers and celery.

Stirring regularly cook vegetables until they begin to soften and the onions turn translucent. This step may take up to 15 minutes, and must not be rushed or the flavors will not develop fully.

While the vegetables are doing their thing mix all the spices together into a small bowl. Doing this will ensure the spices will be evenly distributed when they are added to the pot. This mixture will included the garlic powder, salt, black pepper, chili powder, bay leaves, thyme and nutmeg. Once the veggies are ready add in the mixture of spices and stir to combine.

Here’s where it gets fast. Add the sausage and hot links.

Next goes in the rice. Stir really quick.

Now the can of crushed tomatoes with their juices.

And then the tomato puree.

In goes the water.

And the bouillon.

Finally add the chicken back into the pot.

Stir really well to get all the spices and rice combined into the liquid. Bring the pot to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes stirring ever 10 minutes to prevent sticking.

You may need to add some water towards the last bit of the thirty minutes if rice is still crunchy. After the 30 minutes has elapsed uncover and cook for 15 more minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in the chopped parsley.

Serve in a bowl with a little hot sauce if desired and cuddle into your favorite spot with the family. Yummmmerssssss!
On a side note you can add/or substitute (for the chicken or sausages) shrimp and/or ham.
Also if you don’t want to watch the pot on the stove for 45 minutes you can turn the jambalaya into a deep casserole dish, cover and bake at 350 for 1 hour.

I hope you take the time this fall/winter to make this absolutely lovely, yummy, down right comforting meal. And if you love it hug Amie and Sean, it was their request. Is there something you’d like to learn how to make? Let me know and we’ll get it done!

Ghosties, Goblins & Birthdays oh my

We had a fun filled weekend for sure. Friday night was the ward trunk or treat and being that DJ and I both serve on the committee it was a busy little night. I had purchased all the goodies to set up a little photo corner for some fun family photo's. However, when I got all my equipment together I found out that my professional flash was not reading through the sync cord, rats! I hemmed and hawed, shed some tears (I had had a seriously horrible week that involved many tears, two minor breakdowns, one major breakdown and the first temptation to seriously just run away from it all in a couple of years) put my face into a pillow and screamed then got in the car for the fun filled night. We set everything up and I just made due with a low light lens and my on board flash. We had quite the stream of little ones, scary ones, goofy ones and even some famous ones come through that night. Here are a few of the ones I caught on film:

And this is how I know my hubby lurves me. He let me dress him up as Edward, blond hair, sparkles and all. I had such a fun time putting together all the little parts of the costume. I got the shirt online, found the stuffed dog on sale, read on the first day of Edward takes Bella to school he wears a nice grey sweater and DJ even drove the Stang (1964 blue hunk of Ford Mustang), since according to him a Saturn Ion would never have worked for the Cullen kid. We look nothing like them but it was really fun. And DJ was much more agreeable to this get up (don't let him fool you he loves the books and is on New Moon now) then my other suggestion - Peter Pan and Wendy. I really wanted to do that one, I was even gonna bring the dog with a bonnet on. Oh well there is always next year right?

Saturday I got up early (like 6am early) and went to my photo shoot. Raced home from that good time to get ready for the Snow girls birthday party. I went over to help Christy and then take photos of all the kids for the picture frames they were going to make. 17 kids in one house! Oy! We had a great time though and all the kids loved getting to take a picture. Cracked me up, every girl asked to see theirs and the boys were outta there faster then I could even check to make sure their eyes were open. Christy had found this super cool business, VanGo Pottery, that comes out to your event with tons of ceramic goods and a plethora of paint. She set everything up, let the kids pick from over 20 different types of ceramics and then lets them all go to town painting away. After everyone is all done she collects the goods and takes then back to her shop where they get fired off in the oven and cured. Then in a week the kids get them back. All that for only 15$ a head! The kids had such a great time and it was so much fun to watch them get so creative with it all.

Saturday night I went over to my mom's house and made a step by step guide for Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya, which will be posted tomorrow. Yummer - good eats!
Sunday we went from an awesome Sacrament meeting to a great Sunday School lesson to an emotional Relief Society Lesson. Then DJ ran off to choir, I ran off to the Pressley's and the Haught's joined in about the time DJ came over. We got to share the meal with Elder Holley and his current companion, always fun to feed missionaries, oh the stories they share. Then the boys all ran off to the Priesthood meeting and Jamie, Summer and I got to hang around and have a little girl time. Then on my way home I got a call from an old friend I haven't spoke to since June. She is in love and told me all about him. Looks like I'm going to Utah to take some wedding photos here soon. Yipie I just love new love :-) It was a great night. I sure needed it after that crazy week. So I am all relaxed feeling like I can take on the week ahead (puts out her hand and beckons said week to bring it) when I show up to work and find out that I may be able to apply a job with a city here in AZ - whhhaaat?????? Almost get into a major car accident on the way home and at 7pm my garbage disposal freaks out and stops working. Oh golly it's gotta be a Monday!