Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Christmas!

Well, another Christmas come and gone. I can't believe it. Even though it flew by, I'll count it as a success.

It all started off with Christmas Eve with my parents. My mom had the greatest idea to go out to dinner instead of trying to cook a big mess of stuff for just 5 people. We went to the local Japanese steakhouse and it was oh so yummy. It was wonderful having a change when turkey and ham is king this time of year. We went back to their house after dinner and drank coffee while we opened presents.

We had such a great night and Jackson was so excited about his presents! Momma and Daddy got him a train table and he just loved it, of course! Then we went home and got the little man in bed and started furiously cleaning and cooking for the next morning. I got all of the presents set out and got Jackson's stocking ready for Santa Claus to fill it! Then after all the had to stuff was done, Kyle and I snuggled in on the couch to watch a movie. It was so nice to just sit there and be still before the busyness that would ensue the next morning.Christmas morning rolled around and we were hosting Christmas breakfast at our house! It was so much fun getting everything together and I was so happy to have both of our sweet families over to our house for some yummy food. Kyle and I got up about 6 am and finished up all of the preparations. We had Paula Deen's baked french toast, Breakfast Cassarole, Marybeth Whalen's sausage balls, fruit salad, and Marybeth Whalen's wassail. Jackson finally woke up about 7:30 and we watched him open his presents.

Shortly after he opened everything, our family started arriving. Sorry I don't have any pictures from our breakfast, I guess I was too occupied with everything else to take pictures. After everyone left around 11:00 we cleaned up a bit and had family nap time! (Well, Jackson and I took a nap. Kyle worked on downloading new music to his Ipod, thanks to Itunes cards that he received.) That afternoon we went to visit Brian at the fire station and then headed over to the Van Nus Christmas dinner. It was delicious as usual and we had such a great time watching the kids run around and play while we all caught up.

I tell you what, our God is good. It has been a very rough past couple of weeks here in our house. Kyle lost his largest account because they could just simply not afford him anymore. I never thought that this horrible housing market would hurt Kyle's business, but it seems to be slowly trickling down to him. The account he lost was for a subdivision and they have a ton of houses up for sale, which means there are fewer people paying their dues, and they just didn't have the money any more to keep Kyle on. So, needless to say, finding this out just a week or so before Christmas hurt. Winter is always tight for a landscaper, but this has made it unbelievably tight. Of course all of this means that I need to go back to work full time. And with my job, that is not too secure either, since I work for a company that is totally in the throws of this lousy housing market. But, our God has been completely faithful to us and has shown us that He is in control of this situation. We have laid it at His feet and are trusting solely in Him to pull us through and to show us what to do. All in all, He has brought Kyle and I so close through this situation. I am so thankful for all of our blessings that God has poured out on our lives and I know He will get us through this situation. God has shown me this Christmas even more than ever that it isn't about a tree that is completely surrounded by presents, and a home that is beautifully decorated, and a kitchen that is bursting with Martha Stewart like goodies. It is about a baby that was born in a manger that should have been born in a palace. It is about that baby, who came to this world for me.

God bless you all,
Please God, please have someone stop me from eating all of the apple dip. You would think with it being a dip for apples that you would want something healthy, to go along with the... well, you know, healthiness of the apples. Not here in the Van Nus household. Oh no. A dip for apples should completely make the healthiness of the apples null and void. Here's the reciepe:

8 oz. cream cheese- room temperature
1/3 cup of firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup of white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring
6 oz. Brickle chips (like what is in a heath bar. You can find it in the grocery store close to the chocolate chips)

Mix the first 2 ingredients and let sit for 15 minutes. Mix in remaining ingredients and refrigerate. Serve with your favorite apples.

This is really one of my favorite holiday snacks. It is so good. My brother in law said that it was life changing! I would post a picture of it, but Kyle's uncle said it looked like it had been digested and then regurgitated. The Van Nus' are really known for their tact, you know? But who cares what it looks like. It is amazing.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Soups on!!!

It's A Soup-Tacular!
One of my very favorite blogs is having a soup fest today. And well, I just couldn't resist. One of the only things that I love about winter is soup. (This is probably the one thing my husband hates the most about winter. Sucks for him, because after all, I am the one who cooks.)

So here are 2 of my favorite soup recipes. I'll do my best to include everything, but I'm sure y'all understand that recipes tend to change a little bit every time you make them.

Broccoli Cheese Soup:
1 Tbsp of Butter
cup chopped onion
garlic cloves, minced
cups chicken broth
(16-ounce) package broccoli florets
2 1/2
cups 2% reduced-fat milk
cup all-purpose flour
teaspoon black pepper
ounces light processed cheese, cubed (2% Velveeta works splendidly)

Heat large pot over medium heat and melt butter. Add onion and garlic, and saute until tender.
Add broth and broccoli. Bring mixture to boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook about 10 minutes. (You want the broccoli way more tender than you would have it if you were just steaming it.)

Combine milk and flour, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add milk/ flour to broccoli. Cook 5 minutes so it can get thick, stir constantly. Stir in pepper. Turn heat to low and add cheese, stirring until cheese is melted.

Place one-third of the soup in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Return pureed soup mixture to pan.

Trust me... you'll love this one!

And finally... my Mama's Soup Beans (This is really just kind of a put in the pot whatever sounds good kind of recipe):

1 lb. Bag of Pinto Beans
Ham Bone w/ some ham left on it (if you don't have a leftover ham bone you can use any type of ham product that you have on hand. It is for flavoring mostly, but chunks of ham is really delicious in it.)

Ok, y'all. This one is so easy. You rinse your pinto beans in water removing any bad beans. Place beans in a large pot and fill up with water. I put a big tablespoon of salt in the pot as well then put on a lid. Cook on high heat until the water is boiling. Let boil for about 10-15 minutes. Drain water off of beans and fill the pot back up with water, just covering the beans with one or two inches. Place the ham in the water with the beans. Take your onion and cut off the top and peel. Drop the entire onion in the pot. (Again, this is just for flavoring.) Add a little bit more salt. (Depends upon your taste.) Let simmer over medium low heat for a couple of hours, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, but not mushy. Take out the ham bone. Serve with cornbread. If you like raw onion, it is delicious with this.

Hope you guys enjoy!!!