Saturday, October 29, 2011

Super East Crock Pot Lasagna

I love lasagna, but let's face it -- it can be time consuming to make. That is what I love love love love love...did you get that? I *LOVE* this recipe. It is made in the crockpot and is the best homemade lasagna I have ever had. Maybe my grandma's is better...yeah...hers is better, but this is the runner up. Just please make sure you get some crockpot liners. Otherwise the crockpot is a pain to clean. I hate cleaning the crockpot, don't you?  For the complete recipe you will need to visit my website at: Select the "In the Kitchen Tab.

First you are going to brown your meat.

Drain the fat and add the pasta sauce.

In a bowl combine the cheeses, egg, and parsley.

Take about a cup of your meaty sauce and cover the bottom of your crockpot. I am using a liner in my crockpot. That is why it looks like a bag ;-)

Take your non boiled noodles (still hard and from the box) and layer them. Just use regular lasagna noodles -- no need for the no boil kind. These cook up really well in the crock pot.

Make sure you get an good coverage. Don't worry if it overlaps and is not "pretty".

Now spread your cheese mixture over your noddles. Repeat with sauce. Then do one more layer of noodles.

Top it off with some Parmesan cheese.

Put the lid on and cook on low for 4 hours.

I like to serve it with Cesar salad and a fresh from the oven roll.
Remember to get the complete recipe on my website at: I took the recipe directly out of my cookbook that is coming out in a few weeks. If you are interested leave me your address in my comment section.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

As Big as Texas

I was totally not planning on doing a blog entry today. In fact, today I have very little time to myself. It is parent teacher conferences at school and the kids get out at 10. I was planning on using my precious two hours to edit my cookbook (I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel!), but I ran out of my "Wen" two days ago. What I am about to tell you may seem gross and I am sorry, but it is the truth. I had not washed my hair in two days. I was hoping that my next shipment of "Wen" would be here by now. I know, you are asking "what is Wen?" It is the hair care system that I use. See, I am naturally a fairly dark brunette and I have my stylist make me blond. You can only imagine the amount of abuse my hair undergoes in the name of vanity. About two months ago my hairdryer was on it's last leg and ended up scorching a section of my hair. Did I mention that I am trying to grow it out to? Anyways, I needed something that was moisturizing. I fell victim to the info commercial and placed my order for "Wen". I love it. My hair looks great. That is why I had not washed my hair in two days -- I did not want to dry it out using my old products waiting on my "Wen". Regardless, I could not take it any longer so I washed my hair last night with the other stuff. I soon discovered that I was out of my "Wen" styling balm too. I then pulled out what I use on my daughter because I have nothing else to use. 
 What is it that I use on my daughter? Well Victoria Secrets "So Sexy". She has really fine hair and not a lot of it. So, whenever we have a big event to go to I make sure I use the "volume" products in this line. Why this line? Well, it smells delicious for starters. Secondly, it is a lot cheaper than "Big Sexy Hair". I know, you are amazed that anything in Victoria Secret can be considered a good deal right? FYI, when you catch their sales you can make out really well! It is actually my very favorite store ever! Anyways, I buy their style aides for 3 for $24 and they last for about three months (for my daughter). So, today I used the two products on the left. I did not think it would be as dramatic on me as it was because I have a ton of hair and do not have any problems with volume, so I thought it would just hold my style in place. Boy, was I wrong! First, I wet my hair down -- more like got it damp (I took a shower last night and was short on time. I am that Mom who would never drop my kids off at school in PJ's or without my hair and make up done.). Then I took my medium round brush and spent about 5 minutes blow drying it. I did blow dry the roots upside down and just curled the edges with the brush. I was amazed at the finished style.

Holy Cow! Can we say "Hair as Big as Texas"?!?!?! So, moral of the story is: if you need big hair go to Victoria Secret and let them hook you up with their Volume line. First I smeared the mouse through my hair and then I added the root lifter to the crown of my head and hair line and this is the end result.

 <---------------------------------------------Other side.

I would also like to take this moment and say that I am in my Pj's still -- hence why I am "droopy" if you know what I mean. I always do my hair and make up before I put my clothes on. Partially because I love this set of jammies. They are so soft and comfy.
Last, but certainly not least, check out my daughter's hair in this photo. I used the same products on her as I did on me and her hair was super full too! The cool thing with her hair is that since it is a bit finer and not as much hairspray holds her style all day long, whereas with someone who has lots of hair and body hair spray does not always follow through. Isn't she pretty? The dog is pretty cute too;-) Speaking of dogs, we are gearing up to do our next litter. I can't wait! It is so much fun and such a privilege to have a ton of babies at our house -- even if they are covered in fur. We are so looking forward to going through the infant puppy stage again and meeting some more great families through the process.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Heart for Missions.... what I have and that is why this choice is very hard for me to make. I have always wanted to go to China. Ever since I lived in Germany back in 1993 I had a longing to go to China. Why China?

Was it so that I could visit and see the beautiful sights?


Was it so that I could immerse myself in the culture?


Was it to learn another language?

See, the reason I wanted to go to China was for no other purpose than to do mission work. I wanted to work with the Underground Church and go over there for a year on a Visa that stated I was there as an educator. I was going to use the Bible as my source of text to teach English.

I had it all planned out. First get the degree. Next get the certification. Finally, head on over there and change the world.


I got married and all of my dreams of working with the Underground Church came to a screeching halt. Not only was my hubby not down for that, he really did not have a traveling free spirit like I did. So, I buried my hopes and desires of heading over there. Although I did still dream about it.

This past Sunday in church an opportunity presented itself to finally get to live out this 18 year dream I have had of going to China. I presented it to the hubby and ironically he told me to investigate it more. I was honestly expecting him to smash the idea. However, that is not what he did. He actually encouraged me to do it. He told me that it is something I have wanted to do for the majority of my life and I should try to do it if God was leading me in that direction.



So with excitement and a little bit of fear (I mean after all it is a Communist country and not a fan of Christianity) I did dig. I even came to the conclusion that I was going to do it.

So, I prayed. You know I had to convince God that I should do this for Him. Don't we do that all the time? Tell God what we are going to do for Him then ask him to get on board and bless it.

 Then I started to doubt my motives and question God....was I doing this to see the world thus helping me get one step closer to crossing off my bucket list visiting all the continents on Earth? Was I trying to do this so I could live out some silly childish fantasy? God was silent.

I am not a fan of silence from the Almighty. It drives me crazy.

This conversation I have been having with God has been going on for a couple of days now and finally today on my morning walk I had my answer.

Did I want to go to China so that I could prove to myself that God was really there?

Was I doubting my choice to go to China because I was a big fat clucking chicken? (FYI I asked my husband this question and he did not even have to think about it. He said that I was by far the least cowardly person he has even known and usually he is having to slow me down when I make up my mind...not speed me up.)

Do I have some hero complex that I want to feed?

Did I want God to prove to me that he still cared about me through China?

Silence...sigh....I just wish God would scream from the heavens at this point. It would it make it easier.

Did I want to go to China to prove to God that I was willing to die for him, sit in prison, or be persecuted in his name?

Then He spoke to my heart "I don't want you to die for me. I want you to live for me. You don't need China to do that."

So, there you go. I am not going to China. I need to stay on US soil and take care of my home front and teach my children how to live.

Speaking of home front (oooo I am so going to make a plug for my new website and did not even plan too!), I have a website now. Check it out:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Down on the Farm

One of my favorite things about Fall is going to the farm and picking out a pumpkin. Usually I nab two of three baking pumpkins for pumpkin pies, but this trip we just wanted three to carve for Halloween.

However, before we picked a pumpkin (or 2 or 3) we had to walk through the farm. First up were the cute little chicks :-)

 Next up was the "Rubber Duck" race. Annie had fun watching it get pushed down stream by the water that she pumped out.
 Logan took it very seriously....
 Of course they had to go on a farm train ride. Mental note: Logan is too old for this now. He was a good sport about it, but I think he was a little embarrassed.
Time for the goats. How did they get up there? I don't even know if I could climb up there.....

 "Mom can we PLEEEEEEEEZZZZZE do the corn maze?" Have I mentioned that I am not a fan of corn mazes? It was like 100 degrees outside and they wanted to walk in circles for up to three hours in which we most likely would have to call the farm hands to come and rescue us because we can not find our way out of a bag.
 Guess what is in corn mazes? Corn!
 Look up and what do we see? Corn and sky....
 30 minutes later we still see sky and corn.
 Then heaven departed and an angel heard my children sobs of boredom and my aching feet and lead us to the entrance (no.....we did not even get to the exit. We had to come out with our heads hung low in an humiliated state coming back through the exit. Did I mention that it took us 45 minutes just to get back to the entrance? Yeah, for "normal" people it is suppose to take an hour to get through. For the "Weird stupid" people it can take up to three. It would have taken us 5 least....)Parker said he would rather play in the hay....
 Then we had to see a pony...
 and a cute little pig :-)

Then we saw a turkey. As I took this picture I tried to not picture it on my Thanksgiving table. Is it wrong that it made me hungry?

Next up cute little baby goats.
 Finally, a cool old school tunnel slide.
 Of course after all the kids went down the slide (Parker being the first) I discovered that Parker had goat poop on his butt.....ewe....
 Time for some go karts. I see Quads in our future.

 Then more animals....

 Finally some good old fashion rope swinging.
 Last, but certainly not least (I mean it was the main reason we went to the farm), pumpkin picking!
Overall it was a fun time. I am so happy that we have a local farm to be able to go to and play. Do you know what else is neat? Between the months of Decmeber and September I can go out there and pick my own prooduce. Hee-haw!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pumpkin Pie

Are you ready to make some pie?

First things first....please take off your rings. You will thank me later! Ever worked with a bunch of flour with your diamond ring on your finger and did not get it off until a few hours later? If not, just take my word for it, you don't want to make that mistake because it is a pain to get clean. I like to take a cup of water and put some dishwahing detergent in the water and drop my ring in it. That way as I cook my ring gets clean. If you happen to leave your ring on and get it caked with gunk just soak it for a few hours in warm soapy water.

The first thing we need to make is the crust. If you are not going to make the crust then just skip on down to the recipe. Personally speaking, I make my crust all the time. I do not care for the premade taste like...well.....canned crust. The trick to the perfect crust is ice cold water. So, take some ice and pour some water over it and let it sit out on the counter as you start the process. FYI this is the longest process of the entire pie making process -- the crust.

For a single pie crust you are going to combine 1.5 C of flour, 1/2 C of Crisco (I keep mine in the refrigerator which I think helps make the crust flaky and yummy) and a pinch of salt.

Use two knives to cut shortening into the flour.

Add a little water...not much...just a splash. You want the crust to barely hold together. It is going to look like lots of little pieces of dough.

Cut some more....

Almost, but not quite right yet. Add a little teny tiny bit more water.

Now it is ready. It is just able to hold together.

Shape it into a ball.

Flour your surface that you are going to roll the dough out on.

Flatten the dough out with your hands. Kind of pull it as much as you can making sure you shape it in a circle. We don't want to overwork it to much because then it gets tough.

Now roll it out.

Now we need to transfer the dough to the pie pan. The easiest way to do this is fold it into fourths. First fold it like so.

Fold it again in half.

Transfer to pie plate (mine is a deep dish) and start to unfold making sure it is centered.

Unfold and cut away excess dough along the edges. Take a knife or fork and poke it a few times as well. We do not want bubbles as we cook.

I like to take the excess dough and roll into a big snake and place that over the edge of the crust.

Now, make a shell.

Flute the edges or take a fork to it and press in. You can also simply take two fingers and press dough down to make an edge as well. I like to kind of pinch my pointer finger between my thumb and pointer finger on my opposite hand to make this kind of edge. I also set some dough aside and used a cute little cutter to make pumpkins.

Now it is time for the easy part -- making the pie guts! You are going to need the following for two regular size pies or 1 deep dish pie. 2 cans Pumpkin, 2 Cups heavy cream, 1 cup whole milk, 4 large eggs, 1.5 packed brown sugar, 2 Tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend, and 1/2 Tsp. salt.

Add the pumpkin and cream...



Brown sugar...I would like to just say that I used Organic brown sugar from Trader Joe's and it is by far the most beautiful sugar I have ever seen. I did not know brown sugar could be beautiful, but this stuff was!

Pumpkin Pie Spice and salt

Now give it a good mixing.

Move your prepared pie crust close to the oven because the guts are gonna be runny and you do not want it spilling out of your pie. Pour the pie filling into the pie shell and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about an hour. start to check it about every 5 minutes or so after 45 minutes. You want the pie to be set, but a little wiggly. It sets as it cools ;-)

Tada! Yummy pie! I did not add the cute little pumpkins until the last 20 minutes or so because they would have just sunk to the bottom of the pie. I did forget to put my crust shield on the pie and am not happy with the edges :-( Oh family will still eat it and won't even know the difference.

One can not have pumpkin pie without whipped cream, right? Let's make some! Take 16 ounces of heavy whipping cream and pour into a bowl.

Add about 1/2 Cup of sugar (you will add more later if you want...I always add another 1/4 Cup)

Now whip it....whip it good!

All done!

Wait for pie to cool and serve with a nice dollop of whipped cream.

I hope you were able to gain some insight into pie making from this post. If nothing else the crust is the best crust recipe I have ever used. I got it from my sister in my early 20's and have used it ever since then. My mom has a good one to that is as follows: 2 C flour, 1 C Shortening, 1/2 C water and 1/8 C salt. I must state that my mom makes it well, but my sister and I can not quite get it down. It ends up to salty and tough for me :-(

I do have another recipe for pumpkin pie that is made with real pumpkin, but that one is my cookbook that is coming out in a few weeks. However, I use organic canned pumpkin when I use this recipe because it taste more authentic....if that makes sense. Anyways, if you are interested in my cookbook, drop me a line at:
Thanks for visiting and stay tuned for some upcoming changes here on "The Home Front"