Archives for February 2009

Linky Interwebby Awesomeness 02.28.09

– Fish Mama has written two great ebooks: one on cooking with kids and another one on making creative birthday cakes. The birthday cake ebook actually made me want to do something crafty, and people, THAT IS SAYING SOMETHING. Anyway, today you can buy both books for two dollars (TWO DOLLARS!), and I thought y’all might be interested. Because that’s a whole bunch of ideas for cheap dollars and thrifty cents.

– I’m so grateful to Bev (and others of you who commented) for unraveling the tater tot casserole’s browning sauce mystery. I now feel a sense of culinary completeness.

– LifeWay Women is giving away ten (TEN!) free tickets to Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live for Minister’s Wives in Nashville on March 13-14. If you’re a minister’s wife – or if you’d like to bless someone you know whose husband serves in ministry – you can enter the giveaway and find out all the details over at the AllAccess blog.

Linky Interwebby Awesomeness 02.26.09

– Apparently CCM Magazine has some Readers’ Choice Awards thingies. And you can imagine my delight and happiness when I was clicking around their site the other day and saw that Travis Cottrell is nominated as Best Worship Artist.

SO LET’S ALL VOTE FOR HIM.

(Travis is going to kill me for sharing this information, by the way.)

(But I don’t even care.)

(BECAUSE MY WORD. I HAD TO TELL YOU.)

– A couple of days ago my husband started talking about a website called mint.com. And before I realized that he was talking about “mint” as in “money,” I was wondering why in the world he was so fired up about a website devoted to an herb.

Anyway, today he was talking about mint.com again, so I decided to check it out – and he’s right. It’s way cool. It’s a free resource to help you budget and manage your money, and it looks like something the internets might enjoy. So I thought I’d share.

American Idol – Top 36, Round 2

I’m going to attempt to watch tonight’s American Idol, but I’ll warn you in advance that it may be difficult for me to hear the contestants over the INCESSANT BARKING of the elderly labrador retriever who lives with us. I mean, I don’t know if there’s a pack of squirrels that are invisible to the human eye running circles around her right now or what, but trust me: she wouldn’t be this alarmed if she were suddenly confronted by a band of thieves at three in the morning.

In fact, if she were suddenly confronted by a band of thieves at three in the morning, she would probably just lick them and then go back to sleep.

But the invisible squirrels?

RAWR RAWR RAWR RAWR RAWR.

RAWR.

WHOO WHOO RAWR.

Here we go.

Jasmine Murray – “Love Song” – Maybe it’s appropriate that the dog won’t stop barking since Jasmine hails from Bulldog Country. I like this song a lot, and I also like the fact that it gave her the chance to show a little attitude and confidence on stage. It was weird at the beginning, but there was a fun little section about midway through that enabled her to show off some sassiness. So while I probably wouldn’t have picked this song for her, I thought it was a not-bad performance.

Matt Giraud – “Viva La Vida” – He’s my favorite contestant hands-down. And my word, he’s a brave one for taking on some Coldplay, but I think maybe it wasn’t such a great idea. There was a pretty rough patch about three quarters of the way through, and more than anything else it’s just difficult for an audience to get on board with that type of song unless Chris Martin is the one who’s singing it. I wish he’d picked an old Doobie Brothers song, some Stevie Wonder – something that was more soulful and played to his strengths.

Jeanine Vailes – “This Love” – This performance immediately felt like karaoke to me. I think Adam Levine’s voice is so distinctive that it felt strange to hear someone doing essentially the same arrangement he sings but with a vastly different voice. It was the wrong song for her, and I have no idea who she is as an artist after hearing her sing it.

Nick Mitchell – “And I Am Telling You” – No. Just no. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Allison Iraheta – “Alone” – SOMEBODY PLEASE TELL THE “IDOL” PEOPLE TO RETIRE THIS SONG. I CANNOT TAKE IT ANYMORE. That being said, she has a big voice, even if I felt like she was screaming at me a little bit. Still, it was the best performance so far tonight.

Kris Allen – “Man In The Mirror” – When they ban the Heart songs, could they ban the Michael Jackson songs, too? I actually really liked the arrangement of this song – just a hit-o-funky – and he did a decent job with it. I was actually surprised by him and felt proud of him for overcoming that rough beginning. Yay Kris Allen.

Megan Joy Corkrey – “Put Your Records On” – First, we need to address the hip-shaking behind the microphone. It was odd. I think she has an interesting voice, and she was fun to listen to during the verses, but the chorus was a little bit of a train wreck both times. She’s cute and talented, though – I’d like to see more of her.

Matt Breitzke – “If You Could Only See” – This song is over ten years old, I still love it a bunch. As far as this performance, it wasn’t bad if I closed my eyes, but he seemed a little awkward on stage, like he wasn’t quite sure what to do with the microphone and his hands and, well, himself. There just wasn’t a whole lot of energy on the stage, and for that reason the performance wasn’t terribly memorable.

Jesse Langseth – “Bette Davis Eyes” – I’m going to try to be unaffected by the fact that I despise this song. Didn’t even like it back in the day when I’d watch the Kim Carnes video on Night Tracks. That being said, this was a pretty interesting arrangement and performance, mainly because I felt like for the first time tonight someone put an original spin on a song. But I don’t understand why in the world someone would pick that song. I’d much rather hear her sing something bluesy and / or jazzy. Just my opinion.

Kai Kalama – “What Becomes Of A Broken Heart” – I need to get this out of the way: I adore his hair. There. I said it. As far as his performance, I thought it was pretty good, though he smoldered at the camera a lot. It was pretty karaoke-ish; tonight I’ve noticed that people have seemed perfectly content to sing these songs the way people have always sung them. And I think they need to take some chances. SURPRISE US PLEASE, THIS IS GETTING MONOTONOUS. Bottom line: this performance didn’t give me any sense of who Kai Kalama is as a singer. And I was a little bored.

Mishavonna Henson – “Drops of Jupiter” – Love this song a million times. And I liked this performance because I felt like she put her own little spin on an already-great song. What I didn’t think she did was captivate the audience – she wasn’t terribly engaging or dynamic on the stage. I’m sure that could develop over time (see: Carrie Underwood).

Adam Lambert – “Satisfaction” -Well at least it wasn’t theatrical. (Ahem.) I mean, don’t get me wrong: he can sing. But that was Sam Harris meets the Rolling Stones. And for that reason alone, it was a little weird for me. Again, he can definitely sing. Loudly. And good for him for having some charisma. But it was a little much for me.

All righty, people – feel free to chime in on the Linky. And please (PLEASE) leave the link to your post’s permalink and not the general URL. If you didn’t blog about Idol, then chime in via the comments – I’m curious to see if y’all were as ambivalent about tonight’s show as I was.

It’s Not Purty But It’s Good

When I was a little girl we spent many Wednesday nights at Family Night Supper. It was almost always a potluck affair, and while Poplar Springs Methodist wasn’t the largest congregation in my hometown, I PROMISE that we had the best cooks. I’d put them up against any other church in Mississippi – even the Baptist ones.

I mean, y’all know the Baptists can throw down with some potluck. It’s their collective spiritual gift.

It’s funny when I look back on that time and realize that I always knew whose dishes to look for as we walked through the potluck line. Miss Kitty made a chicken pie that I loved. Mrs. Julia made scalloped potatoes, and anything Miss Ruth made was delicious. Ditto for Martha and my mama, who never showed up for Family Night Supper without a freshly baked cake or pie, with the exception of that one time Martha took an Edward’s Key Lime Pie because “you just can’t make them any better than they do! You can’t! They’re just so light and creamy and tart but not tarty tart, not so tart that your lips pucker but tart so that it’s just so refreshing, you know it’s refreshing! It’s a refreshing tart!”

So all that to say: I have a thing for food that reminds me of Family Night Supper. I don’t make a lot of casseroles these days because we sort of burned out on them last year, but every once in awhile I’ll run across a casserole recipe that I can’t wait to try. And that happened to me this past weekend in Memphis when I was looking through one of Janie’s Paula Deen magazines – because as soon as I saw the picture that accompanied the recipe, I knew it was some Serious Family Night Fare.

Why? BECAUSE THERE WERE TATER TOTS ON TOP.

I had most of the ingredients in my pantry, and since the recipe makes 8-10 servings, I knew the three of us could eat the casserole for several meals. And while I was expecting to be underwhelmed, the dish did not disappoint. It’s simple, hearty, tasty and 100% comfort food. Provided that you have happy Family Night memories, of course.

(Thanks, Poplar Springs, for the happy family night memories!)

Paula’s Tater Tot Shepherd’s Pie

1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (10.75-ounce) can cream of celery soup
1 (10.75-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (15-ounce) can niblet corn, drained
1 (15-ounce) can English peas, drained
3 tablespoons browning sauce (I didn’t know what this was so I left it out)
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (I used hot sauce)
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon poultry seasoning (left it out because it seemed weird)
1/8 teaspoon sage (left out the sage, too)
(I also added about 1/4 cup sour cream because I just felt like it)
1 (32-ounce) package frozen tater tots

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 13×9-inch baking dish.

In a large skillet, combine ground chuck, onion, and garlic; cook over medium-high heat until meat is browned and crumbles. Drain well.

In a large bowl, combine meat mixture, soups, corn, peas, browning sauce, garlic salt, red pepper, paprika, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, and sage. Spoon into prepared baking dish. Top evenly with tater tots.

Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until browned and bubbly.

Makes 8 – 10 servings.

When I took it out of the oven I had such a Family Night Supper Flashback that I had to take a picture. It looks like a big dish of gray and beige – which, come to think of it, I guess it was – but oh, did we ever enjoy it.

It doesn’t even have cheese or bacon (I KNOW!), and still, it was delicious.

Do any of you have Family Night Supper favorites? If so, share the recipe or a link to the recipe in the comments – I have a feeling that Campbell’s Soups are about to be well-represented.

Bon tater tot, y’all.

Linky Interwebby Awesomeness 02.24.09

– Chris Harrison has some thoughts about all the Bachelor rumors. And his thoughts, they made me laugh.

– The Praise Baby folks are giving away ten “Sleepytime Lullabies” CDs. Rumor has it you’ll even get a free bib with your CD if you win. OH YES MA’AM, it’s fancy.

Blood:Water Mission – 40 Days of Water (via Anne)

There Is Nothing I Could Possibly Add, Except For Perhaps A Lesson On Nominative Pronoun Usage

It was an amazing season.

And there were amazing girls.

And there were amazing connections.

It was all so incredibly amazing.

So. Now that we have “The Women Tell All” out of the way, it’s time to make some amazing Bachelor-related predictions.

(And yes, I’ve read all the rumors.)

(I just don’t know that I believe any of them, though I can’t figure out why we need a second “After The Final Rose” next Tuesday night, so I figure something VERY DRAMATIC AND AMAZING is going to happen.)

What do you think, internets?

Melissa or Molly?