Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ma's Buttermilk Pie

Edie at Life in Grace hosted a lovely linky party this week with all kinds of recipes for goodies.  You must, must, MUST check it out.  But only after you put your fat pants on first.  I intended to join in, but the week got away from me.  Sooo...I'm linking up now!  Better fashionably late than never, right?  ;)

Without further ado, I give you {drum roll please....}

Ma's Buttermilk Pie

This is a family recipe if ever there was one, and it is my Christmas gift to you my friends.  Ma is my Great-Grandmother on my Daddy's Daddy's Mother's Mother.  I never had the pleasure of meeting Ma, but her legacy of good home cooking has been passed down to me and I am eternally grateful.  Here is her recipe, as was handed down to me, for the pie which must be present at all our family functions from Thanksgiving to New Year's. 


3 eggs {just stir up}
2 cups sugar
2 heaping tablespoons flour {table spoon off the table, heaping with as much as spoon will hold} 
1 stick margarine melted {don't tell Ma, but I use unsalted butter instead!}
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt {I use's easier to pinch ;) }

Mix ingredients in order given.  Pour into one 10" unbaked pie shell {or double recipe and use three 8" or 9" shells}.  Bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees or until done. 

It's best if you let it cool to room temperature before cutting into it.  But...who am I kidding?  We always make 2...just because we can't let it cool and end up "tasting" half the pie every. single. year.

Now get your fat pants out and enjoy!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Kiddo!

My life has been forever changed because of you.

Every night when I rock you to sleep I think the same thing: "If I were blessed to have a million years with you it wouldn't be enough". 

May you have many more years of sweet laughter and smiles.  :)

Love, Mommy

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Happy Bloggy-versary!

A year ago I thought it'd be fun to blog.  I was super pregnant, on bed rest, and I looked like this...

Nope...not a watermelon in there.  Just a humongous child taking his sweet time.  :)

I'll never forget the night I started my blog.  Because it's also the night my water broke.  And, uh yeah, you don't forget that.  Needless to say, the blog immediately went on the back burner.  I've picked it up and set it down throughout the year, but I'm so thankful for this outlet.  I just read through some of my old posts and I'm amazed at some of the little things I've already forgotten.

If you're new here, I'm sure you've noticed my blog is a little all over the place.  Hence the name "Tids & Bits".  I like a little of everything and I've struggled to focus on just one topic, but in looking back I see that just about everything revolves around the home. Thoughts on decorating, crafting, gardening {who am I kidding, Hubster has the green thumb!}, cooking, life with a baby...the list goes on. 

I hope to have many more years together, you and me and this little blog.  So raise a glass with me {I've got coffee, of course} as we celebrate one year of Tids & Bits.  {You know I love any reason to celebrate.}  :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Planning for the Holidays

This is my favorite time of year, hands down.

I don't know about you but I love the relief of cooler weather after a scorching, hot summer.  That, coupled with celebrations spaced out every 3 weeks or so, makes for a very fun time of year.

This is also the time of year when I feel most pressured to make everything perfect.  The Type-A Monster in me comes out to rear her ugly head.  I must cook Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner e.x.a.c.t.l.y. as my Granny did all her years.  My New Year's luncheon must look just like my Mema's, because it won't be New Year's without the right foods.  I must bake and take cookies to all my neighbors, and send Christmas cards to everyone in my address book because that's what my mother has done all her years.  It goes on and on and on.

In addition, I have a new friend...the Must Be A Perfect Mommy Monster, who is challenging me to make my son's 1st birthday picture perfect.  Of course, if I fail he will find some way to blame his angst-filled teenage years on the time when I didn't throw him the perfect 1st birthday party.  {I'm kidding here, y'all know that right?}

It should come as no surprise that I have decided I don't want to entertain these Monsters this holiday season.  In an effort to keep type-A thoughts at bay, I am doing the following:

Splitting Thanksgiving dinner with my mom and aunt.  Many hands make light work.  This is a lesson I learned last year, when the Kiddo and I were past our due date, and I physically could not cook Thanksgiving dinner.  Instead, they brought Thanksgiving to me.  It is so freeing to choose not to care about the food being perfect, and instead, to care infinitely more about who is at my table, and enjoying my time spent with loved ones.  Granny would so approve.

Keeping Kiddo's birthday party realistic.  Food?  Check.  Keeping it simple with burgers.  Cake?  Check.  Friends and Relations?  Check.  Throw in some streamers and maybe a crafty pennant banner and some grocery store balloons and we're good.  I did not spend hours searching for the perfect invitations.  I designed them myself {BTW, easy to do even if all you have is Word}, saved the file as a .JPG, and had them printed at Walgreens for about $5.  I even used envelopes I already had.  Done.

I am not putting up my tree on Black Friday.  This is huge for me...I am the one who hates to see decorations before Thanksgiving, but the minute Thanksgiving has passed, I am out at the tree lot looking for a good one.  I am trying something new this year...delayed gratification.  I want to savor Thanksgiving and the Kiddo's birthday before decking my halls this year.  {However, I must admit that I have already introduced Christmas carols to the Kiddo's bedtime routine.  I can't help myself on that one.  ;) }
I am shopping/shipping gifts early this year.  And I'm having the mailman deliver my boxes and pick them up, too.  No waiting in line with a toddler on my hip to send something at the last minute.

 Last year's advent wreath.

I will focus on new and old traditions and making memories.  I will still bake, and craft, and make things merry, but this year we are celebrating Advent by doing a Jesse Tree.  I want to teach my son about why we celebrate Christmas...and I know that I need to be reminded daily, too.  Will the Kiddo remember this Christmas?  No.  But I will.  :)

I'm curious now - what are you doing to celebrate this year...and what have you decided is okay to let go of this year?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hooty-licious Makeover

I love owls.  I try really hard not to go owl crazy since they are so popular at the moment, but I really do love cute little hooty owls.  So I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to bring home Mr. Owl when I stumbled across him on one of my thrifting adventures in W-Town.

Apparently, I am also not to be trusted with a can of spray paint.  I'm not gonna argue...I have been known to be a streaky-sprayer.  Hubster maintains that it's all in the wrist, and that if I would move the can around a bit more and do several light layers I wouldn't get unsightly drips.

I won't argue.  He's quite the perfectionist and look at how lovely Mr. Owl turned out!

Quite the handsome fellow.  And he looks especially dapper next to my yellow rose painting, wouldn't you agree?  ;)

What about you?  Come across any treasure while thrifting lately?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Recovering...On So Many Levels.

I was going to leave a tiny note to say that I'm still here and that I have had a lovely, little respite from the chaotic frenzy of 31 Days.

I've been party planning for this handsome fellow and have been up to my elbows in loot from various thrifting adventures while we were visiting family in Waco.  My to-do list seems a teensy bit overwhelming at the moment...Thanksgiving in 2 weeks, then the Kiddo's birthday the next weekend, then 3 weeks to Christmas.  It is totally going to blow by SO fast.  And to be honest, I've been playing Scarlett O'Hara and telling myself "I'll think about it tomorrow" with a "fiddle-dee-dee" thrown in for good measure.

BUT I have been dying to share this lovely lady with you!  So without further ado...

I rescued her from a garage sale down the street awhile back.  She was a much loved chair who needed a new home.  And I was quite happy to oblige.  I really was drawn to her coral upholstery.  You might be thinking 60's day-glo orange...but I saw vintage coral, reminiscent of Pillow Talk with Doris Day.

I loved her just the way she was.  But a closer inspection showed her seat to be worn and threadbare.

She really deserved to be properly reupholstered, but that wasn't in my budget.  I loved the Nester's furry new friend, so I decided to try my hand with fur {faux, of course}.

I gave her legs a quick paint job.  Usually I'm one of those who loves wood grain and thinks it's a sin to cover good, solid wood with paint...but I have to say I love how the crisp white paint draws attention to the detail of the chair legs.

Then on to the fur.  Let me just say fur is not for the faint of heart.

It sheds.  Everywhere.  

But I played with draping the fabric and just started hacking away at all that fur.  Instead of using hot glue like the Nester, the staple gun was my weapon of choice.  No burned fingers for me!  When I got done, my lovely lady looked like this...

To be honest, I wasn't super thrilled.  

The seams were kind of bulky with all those staples.  It held up okay at first...but I started noticing the occasional staple sticking out {which is definitely not child proof}.  Then one day my Fabulous Aunt M came to visit, and thinking the chair was slipcovered, she pulled up the "skirt" to see what the original fabric looked like.  Oops!  Staples went flying and I was secretly happy to have an excuse to do this one over.

This time I didn't mess around.  After removing elventy-hundred staples, I decided to sew the fur on the sewing machine as if I were slipcovering the chair.  Then I used staples at the bottom and hammered them in with gusto to make sure the fur won't budge.

It's the best of both worlds - because I can guarantee you I will never try to wash this beast in my washing machine.  But the seams from sewing a "slip" look so much nicer and less bulky than the stapled seams.

Anywhere there I found a line of demarcation from a sewn seam, I used a fine tooth comb to fluff out the fur.  Never in my wildest dreams would I imagine I'd be grooming a chair.

She is pretty, though, and a household favorite.

Someday I will have her reupholstered in the most. beautiful. fabric. ever.  But until then, I think she's enjoying playing the lady in fur.  ;)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 31 | Todiefor Gingersnaps and Halloween {cue the finale music}

Happy Halloween friends!

It's the Great Pumpkin!

We made it to Day 31!  Can you believe it?!

In honor of the wonderful Fall festivities which are upon us, I give you Todiefor Gingersnap Cookies.  This recipe was given to me by Dr. Julie Sweet, my Colonial American History professor my last semester at Baylor.  Dr. Sweet was passionate about the subject she taught and worked hard to make Colonial America come alive - including baking for these fabulous cookies for her students.  I have never forgotten her or her class, and I take a small trip down memory lane every year when I bake her gingersnaps.  Enjoy!

Dr. Sweet's Todiefor Gingersnap Cookies {I added the "todiefor" ;) }

2 1/4 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup margarine, softened {I use unsalted butter}
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves

In mixing bowl, combine half the flour and all other ingredients.  Beat until combined.  Add in remaining flour and beat well.  Shape dough into one inch balls.  Roll in sugar.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.  Cool cookies on wire rack.

And because everyone loves babies...I give you our official candy distributor. ;)  He loved Halloween and cried huge crocodile tears when we took him out of his pumpkin costume for bath time. 

I was Lucy and Hubster was Charlie Brown. :)

Hope y'all are having a wonderful evening!

Check out all the other 31 Dayers here.

Day 30 | For When Inspiration Fails You

I hate it when the Hubster asks the inevitable "so, what's for dinner?" and I have nothing.  Nada.  Zlich.  Can't seem to make my brain function and I couldn't even start to think of what I'd like to eat.

Sometimes I get my inspiration from a meal we both loved at a restaurant.  Sometimes it's just the usual comfort foods {pizza, burgers, or spaghetti for us}.  But when I feel like I'm in a rut and I just want something new and different I search the web for inspiration.  Here are some goodies:


Southern Living

Food & Wine

The Girls' Guide to Guns and Butter {the name makes me smile every time}

The Everyday Kitchen {one of my new favorite blogs}

Simple Bites {not just for moms!}

Petit Appetit {for when you're cooking for little ones}

Mennonite Girls Can Cook

Life in Grace {I love Edie's blog and her fearless use of butter and bacon fat.}

The Happy Home {my sister-in-law-to-be bakes some todiefor goodies}

So what about you?  Any good sites for inspiration when your mind draws a blank?

Check out the other 31 Dayers here.

Day 29 | Pasta with Lentils, Kale, and Spinach {YUM!}

I must have been hiding under a rock all my life, because until this fall I had never {ever} had kale.  Or lentils.  And now I love both.  I just about died when I came across this recipe on Epicurious.

I only made a couple of changes to the recipe - adding spinach and parmesean.  This recipe is definitely going into rotation at my house.  This serves 4 and it didn't even last 5 hours in my house.  Hubster had 2 servings at dinner and I couldn't resist making a midnight snack of the remaining serving.  ;)

Pasta with Lentils, Kale, and Spinach {based off of this recipe}

1/2 cup lentils, cooked and ready to go
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/4 lb kale
1/4 lb baby spinach
1/4 cup shredded parmesean
3/4 lb short dried pasta
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, then add onions, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper.  Saute for about a minute over medium high, then reduce heat and continue to cook for about 20 minutes or until golden.

While your onions are cooking, remove the center stems from the kale and cut kale into bite sized pieces.  Boil kale in a 6-8 quart pot of salted water for 5-8 minutes, or until cooked through. 

 Remove the kale with tongs and strain in a colander.  Add your dried pasta to the already boiling pot of water and cook until al dente.  Add lentils, kale, and baby spinach to the skillet with the onions and simmer for about a minute.  Check for seasoning and add salt/pepper as needed.

Once pasta is al dente, add pasta to skillet, plus about 1/3 cup of pasta water.  Toss to coat and simmer for another minute or so. 

Transfer to serving dish and add parmesean and a drizzle of olive oil.  Toss one last time and serve immediately.

Seriously, this is my new fav.  :)

Check out the other 31 Dayers here.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day 28 | Grits Are Good!

I hope you all will forgive my lazy blogging these last couple of days.  The Hubster is on vacation and I have been enjoying time spent with my little family.  :)

Texas is an interesting state.  My old History of Texas professor used to say that Texas was really like two states in one; the Eastern half {east of Austin onward} was part of the American South, and the Western half {Austin and westward} was part of the American Southwest.

As a child I never understood the term "The South".  I didn't understand how those "Northern" states like North Carolina could be considered the South.  I mean, you can't get further South than Texas without going to Mexico.  As far as I was concerned, Texas was the end-all-be-all Southern state.

So imagine my surprise when I learned of a "traditionally Southern" food that I'd never had: grits.

I guess I grew up in the part of the state that's a little more Southwestern than Southern.  My only experience with grits was limited to a very paste-like version which was dumped on our cafeteria trays at summer church camp.  They looked like paste and tasted like paste.  I couldn't believe people actually liked them.

Enter the April 2011 edition of Southern Living and it's drool-enducing Spring Brunch...including cheese grits made with Gouda.  They looked todiefor.  I had to try them.  And once I did, I was hooked.

 My very battered and splattered copy of April 2011 Southern Living.

I don't keep Gouda on hand, so I have tried these grits with every kind of broth/cheese combination I can think of {including American cheese} and I LOVE them nomatterwhat.  If you have never tried grits, or think you hate grits, you must, must, MUST try these.

Here is the variation I made a couple of nights ago {there were absolutely no leftovers even though this was supposed to serve 4}.

Cheese Grits {based on Southern Living's Gouda Grits}

2 cups chicken broth {or whatever you have on hand...even boullion works}
1/2 cup of half and half
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup of stone ground yellow cornmeal {or quick cooking grits, whatever you have}
1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup skim milk
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp Frank's Hot Sauce {plus an extra shake or two}

Bring the first 3 ingredients plus 2 cups of water to a boil in a dutch oven or large pot.  Once boiling add grits/cornmeal slowly while wisking to prevent lumps. 

Reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer until cooked, stirring occasionally.  When grits are cooked through {should be thick like cream of wheat or mashed potatoes} remove from heat and stir in cheese and remaining ingredients.  Serve immediately and don't blame me if you become a grits addict.  ;)

Cheesy, creamy goodness.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day 27 | Fall Breakfast. Fast.

I love oatmeal.  I eat it year round.  But there is something about waking up to the first cold Texas morning that makes you want a really good bowl of oatmeal.  Nothing instant and powdered, but it still needs to be quick.  Because we've got places to go and people to see on this beautiful Fall morning.

There is nothing like oatmeal made on the stove top.  But that is a rare occurrence in my house.  The general rule of thumb with oatmeal is the same as with rice.  1 part oats to 2 parts liquid.  I use thick organic oats, so they aren't "super" quick cooking, but they're still pretty dang quick.

My Favorite Fall Oatmeal

1/4 cup organic oatmeal
1/2 cup organic apple juice
generous helping of ground cinnamon
handful of organic rasins

Add everything to a microwave safe bowl.  Heat on high for about 2 minutes {more or less, depending on your microwave}.  Let cool for 1 minutes before diving in and devouring.

Warm Fall goodness.  :)

You might like milk or water instead of apple juice in your oatmeal.  Apple juice is naturally sweet so I don't add any extra sugar, but if I use milk or water I often add some brown or turbinado sugar, or a drizzle of real maple syrup.  You can add dried cranberries, nuts, a dash of wheat germ, flax seed {whole or ground}...your only limit with oatmeal is your creativity.  It takes all of 30 seconds to toss everything in a bowl and 3 minutes to heat and cool, so oatmeal is my go-to healthy, warm breakfast for a busy, cold morning.


Check out all the other 31 Dayers here!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 26 | Grandpa's Salmon Dip

Our leftover wild Alaskan salmon turned into the most lovely dip!

Grandpa's Salmon Dip

1 salmon fillet, seasoned, cooked and shredded
3 heaping table spoons {from off the table, not measuring} of mayo
Juice from 1/2 a lemon

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Enjoy with your choice of chips or veggies {we loved Fritos with this dip}. :)

Post edit:  So sorry for the wonkiness of this post!  We were traveling and I was using the Blogger App on my phone.  :/

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 25 | Dinner with Extended Family

We are visiting Grandma and Grandpa this week! So I'm not technically cooking at home, but we aren't eating out either. It's lovely when someone else takes the reins and cooks for you. :)

The Hubster and Grandpa did the grilling. Alaskan Salmon from Grandpa's fishing trip and beef steaks, mixed veggies, and sweet potato fries. They kept it simple and it was so good!

Post edit:  So sorry for the wonkiness of this post!  We were traveling and I was using the Blogger App on my phone.  :/

Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 24 | Kale. Marinated.

I took off Day 23.  It was random and not planned, but I needed a Sabbath and I had one! 

Last week our little family decided to check out a new vegetarian restaurant that just opened by our house.  We were not disappointed.  Everything off the menu was todiefor, right down to the vegan cupcakes.  What I loved about this place was that it was comfort food, vegetarian style.  You just can't beat comfort food.

I had a portobello "steak" with sweet potato mash and marinated kale.  It was hearty and delicious.  I love me some kale, so I was super excited to try to make my own version last night.

Marinated Kale

1 bunch of kale, washed and dried
2 tbsp soy sauce {I used low sodium}
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large ziploc bag

Add the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and olive oil to the ziploc bag.  Seal the bag and shake to blend.  Trim the stalks from your kale and tear kale into bite size pieces. 

Add kale to your ziploc bag, seal shut, and shake to coat.  Remove the air from the bag and reseal.

Spread the kale out so that it is in one layer inside the bag and has as much surface area touching the marinade as possible. 

Let sit for 1 hour or overnight.  The longer it sits, the more the kale softens and absorbs the flavors from the marinade.

We had ours with roasted organic chicken and mashed potatoes made from half white and half sweet potatoes. 


Check out all the other 31 Dayers here.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Day 22 | Yummy Beef Stew and a Confession

Okay, confession first.

I am so tired of 31 days of blogging about cooking.

I love cooking.  It's something I enjoy in my daily life and I love making good food for my family.  But that is just one part of me.  And I am dyyyyying to tell y'all about my fuzzy chair makeover, the cute jacket I actually sewed for the Kiddo, pumpkin shopping, Fall decorating and 1st birthday party planning...the list goes on.

I know I'm not the first 31 Dayer to feel the blogging burn.  And if I chose to, I wouldn't be the first to drop out.  But I'm committed and I'm going to finish this.  Mostly because I said I was committed to running a 1/2 marathon in November and I'm not, so I have to finish something!

On to the stew!  The Hubster has been begging me to make meatloaf for about a month now.  His goal for today was to do all the yard work {we have a huge front yard...and a huge back yard!} and I thought it would be super nice to make him meatloaf and potatoes for lunch.

Alas, we are out of ground beef!  I'm not sure when we'll be getting the new cow for next year, but I hope it's soon!  So, on to plan B.

Yummy Beef Stew

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs beef stew meat
1 16 oz package frozen stew veggies {new potatoes, onions, carrots, and celery}
1 16 oz package frozen mixed veggies {green beans, peas, corn, carrots}
1 small zucchini {or 1/2 large}, sliced
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 3 oz can tomato paste
1/2 cup merlot {optional, but it gives it oompf!}
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp raw honey
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp dried oregano, crushed
1 bay leaf
3 cups veggie broth, plus more as needed

Note: If you don't have the veggies listed above, check your fridge and freezer.  Do you have something similar that you could use instead?  The lovely thing about soups and stews is they are forgiving and are wonderful ways to clean out produce that's about to go bad!

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat.  Add stew meat, season with salt and pepper, and cook until nice and brown.  Add 1/4 cup of the merlot and allow to reduce.

Add diced tomatoes and tomato paste and stir until well blended.

Add the frozen stew veggies, the frozen mixed veggies, the zucchini, and 1 cup of the veggie broth.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and add honey, worcestershire sauce, oregano, bay leaf, and remaining 2 cups of veggie broth.  Allow to simmer covered for 30-40 minutes.

Taste your broth {careful not to burn yourself!} and add remaining 1/4 cup of merlot along with any needed salt/pepper to taste.  Allow to simmer covered for an additional 45-60 minutes.  {The longer the better, my friend.}

Serve immediately.


Check out the other 31 Dayers here.