Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Overnight Crockpot Grits AND What to Do With Leftovers

Grits are pretty much a staple in my house. We LOVE a big, steamy bowl of cheesy, buttery grits at least once a week. And since I love to make my life easier, I found a recipe for Crockpot Grits on my favorite crockpot website, A Year of Slow Cooking. I have made slight adjustments since I make it so much and see what's missing or what's needed. It's super easy and super yummy.

Overnight Crockpot Grits

  • 1 cup stone ground grits. {Do NOT get the quick grits...invest in the real stuff. You won't regret it}
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 Tbsp kosher or sea salt [you could do a little more if you want, but it's always best to taste and then add at the end]
  • 1/2 cup parmesean cheese [or some other hard cheese]
  • OPTIONAL: cheddar cheese, bacon
  1. Spray your crockpot with cooking spray. DO THIS, unless you really want to be scrubbing for hours the next day. 
  2. Add the grits, milk, water, butter, salt, and parmesean cheese. Stir. 
  3. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. {I normally put this on around 10 or 11 the night before so it's ready when we are getting up at 6 the next morning} 
  4. When you get up, the grits will be done, and the edges will be slightly crispy. Stir the pot, taste to see if it needs more salt, and then add the cheddar and bacon if you desire. 
So this makes a LOT of grits. It tends to feed my family of five and then I have some left over. I have found a few GREAT ways to use the leftover grits [besides letting your kids use it to mold]. 

Option 1: 

Fried Grits
  1. Spread leftover grits onto a cookie sheet. Place in the freezer for 3-5 hours. 
  2. Cut into squares and store into a freezer safe ziplock bag. 
  3. When you are ready for a great side dish for dinner, pull out the amount of "grit squares" that you want. 
  4. Pour about 2 Tbsp of Olive Oil into a skillet and place the grit square on it. Cook on each side until slightly brown. 
Fried Grits served with grilled shrimp and turnip greens 

Option 2: 

Muffin Pan Grits
  1. Take the leftover grits and fill up a muffin tin. I had enough grits leftover to fill 6 cups in a muffin tin. 
  2. Freeze for 3-5 hours. 
  3. After frozen, gently warm the bottom of the muffin tin to loosen the grits muffins, and then place them in a freezer safe ziplock bag.
  4. When you are ready to use, pull out what you want, pop it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. 
They were eaten faster than I had a chance to take a picture of them. I snagged this cheese-filled "grits muffin" in time to take a pic. This went well with some mixed fruit a piece of bacon. 

So, don't waste those grits. Not only are they GREAT the first time, but you can always freeze and have smaller servings for another time, either as a great side dish or as a quick breakfast on those busy mornings. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Devotion: The Character of God

"No one can see God, but Jesus Christ is exactly like Him." Colossians 1: 15

Photo Credit 

I had an entirely different devotion I was going to share this morning, but when I did my Bible study in Colossians, through Good Morning Girls, I was hit with God's word so hard, there was nothing else I could think of but to reflect on God's Character through Jesus Christ.

Today's Bible study was focusing on Colossians 1:15-16, and it mostly touched on Jesus. I love, love, love how Paul is reminding us that Jesus wasn't just a man; Jesus was also God. He says, "All things were made through Christ and for Christ. Yup. That means His power is what created you, me, and has authority over it all. It also means everything was made for Him. A good reminder that we are all made for a purpose, and that there were no accidents.

What's really cool, though, is although none of us can see God the Father, we most certainly can see God's character through God the Son. They are the one and the same. One of my favorite illustrations of God [and highlighted in today's Bible Study] is comparing God to the forms of water. Water comes in three forms: solid [ice], liquid, and gas [steam or vapors]. Although it's different forms, and each form has a different purpose, all are still water. Jesus is FULLY MAN and FULLY GOD. When you see Jesus, you are also seeing God.

What are some examples of the Character of God shown through Jesus?

  • He found joy in fellowship [John 2: 1-11]
  • He had compassion for the rejected [Matthew 8: 1-4]
  • He offered grace to the sinful [John 8: 1-11]
  • He was angry at those who defiled God's church [Matthew 21:12]
  • He cried at the death of others [John 11]
  • He had patience with those who were beating him [Mark 15: 16-20]
  • He loves us [Luke 23:26-29]
And so many other ways we can see God's character through Jesus. 

Let me take this one step further. The definition of "Christian" is "Follower of Christ". If we are to be called after His name, to be a follower, we must also reflect those characteristics. Not only did Jesus come to save the world through His death and resurrection, but He also came teach us how to treat each other. If we are to reflect Jesus, we must also have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, or The Fruits of the Spirit. Because I follow Jesus and am constantly studying His character through Bible study, worship, and prayer, then I should be also be reflecting His character. John MacArthur says, "There has never been a person like Jesus Christ...never. For God only invaded the human stream once." I will never fully be like God, as Jesus was, because I am only human,  but it is my responsibility and my desire to mold my character into His image. Not so others see me, but so that others may see CHRIST in me. And if they see Jesus, they are seeing God. 

What an incredible gift God has given us in showing us who He really is through His Son, Jesus. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Food: Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup

You are in for a 2.5-er today! I am going to post one MAIN recipe, but in doing that, I'm going to have to give you a few more. So bonus for you!

My oldest son had been begging for chicken noodle soup for weeks. Not only did the weather not necessarily call for soup, but I hadn't roasted a chicken yet to make the soup. So when it started getting cooler, I decided it was time for some soup. 

First thing's first, I needed to roast a chicken. Nothing is better than getting a whole chicken from the store and making a few meals out of it. And that's exactly what I did. Here's my recipe for....

Crockpot Chicken Roast

  • Small whole chicken, washed, insides removed, and patted dry
  • Chicken Roast Rub {scroll to the bottom of my Chicken Pot Pie recipe for the rub ingredients}
  • 2 Tbsp of butter 
  • Water
  • Optional: 2-3 carrots, diced; 2 celery stalks, chopped; 1 medium onion, chopped
  1. Spray your crockpot with cooking spray. 
  2. Soften the butter, but do not melt. Mix in about a Tbsp or so of the Chicken Roast Rub. 
  3. With your hands, rub down the chicken with the herbed butter mixture, making sure you get between the skin and the meat and the inside of the chicken. 
  4. At this point, you can stuff the inside of the chicken with the carrots, celery, and onion, if you would like, and if you want to add more of the Chicken Roast Rub, it's up to you. I normally do, but we really like an "herby" chicken in my house. 
  5. NOW, there are two methods you can use in the crockpot: 
    1. Ball up foil into 2 or 3 inch balls and place on the bottom of the crockpot. Place the chicken on top, cover, and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 4-6, or until the chicken is done. {This method makes the chicken more of a "rotisserie" chicken}...OR...
    2. Place chicken on the bottom of the crockpot, cover, and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 4-6, or until the chicken is done. 
    3. WITH BOTH, you can {again, this is optional} take the lid off at the end of your cooking time, and place the chicken, still in the crock, under a broiler until the skin begins to get crispy. 
    4. DO NOT THROW OUT THE CHICKEN JUICES COLLECTED AT THE BOTTOM OF THE CROCKPOT. This makes incredible chicken broth, and you will need it for soups. 
So... you eat a delicious meal, but you have quite a bit of chicken leftover? Pull it all from the bones and set aside for later. BUT put those bones back in the crockpot, cover with water, and let cook ON LOW for 8-12 hours {generally overnight}. You are going to have a TON of broth. Freeze for later, or you can use it to make Chicken Noodle Soup. 

Here it is, the recipe of the hour....

Chicken Noodle Soup
  • At least 2 cups of chicken meat
  • 4-5 medium carrots, sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Chicken Roast Rub
  • 1 Tbsp Salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • Chicken broth, enough to fill the crock {use the broth you made, either with the roast or with the leftover bones...or BOTH}
  • 1/2 pound of noodles {I wouldn't recommend wheat noodles. Everytime I tried it, they turned out mushy}
  1. Put all ingredients, except the noodles, in the crockpot. Make sure the broth goes pretty much to the top of the crockpot. 
  2. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 4-6 hours.
  3. About an hour before you are ready, taste the soup. Add more salt or pepper, if needed. 
  4. About 30 before serving, add the noodles. This may take the broth to the TOP of the crockpot, but the noodles will absorb some of the liquid. 
  5. ....meanwhile, make some Made from "Scratch" Corn Bread Muffins and brew some fresh sweet tea. 
  6. The soup is done when the noodles are ready. 
And that's it! It's amazing what you can do with one small, whole chicken, but making soup is definitely top of my list when the weather is cooler. I hope you try this and enjoy! :o} 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Food: 1 Hour Bread Recipe in 4 Ways

One of my friends who knows I make a lot of bread sent me a link about a year ago about a loaf of bread you can make in 1 hour. So the other day I was looking for that recipe and couldn't find it, so on to Pinterest I went. I thought for sure I saved it to one of my boards, but, alas, I couldn't find it. But what I did find, though, was another recipe for 1 hour bread that makes TWO LARGE loaves in an hour and requires only a few ingredients. Not only did I love, love, love this new recipe, but I tried a few variations of it, and they all turned out great. It's all I can do to keep this bread in my house. Lucky for me, and now for you, these recipes are available for you, and you can have fresh bread ready before dinner is finished tonight.

Here's the basic recipe that I found on La Fuji Mama [link for original recipe here]. I adjusted it slightly only because she called for specific stuff, and even gives reasons why you should use those ingredients, but I found that my variations were just fine.

1 Hour Bread...or as we call it in our house Jed Bread [since he helps me make it]
5 1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 Tbsp Turbinado [or white, if you want] sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp yeast [I use the rapid rising yeast that comes in a jar]
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups hot water


  1. Mix together the dry ingredients. Slowly add the oil and water until well combined. 
  2. Spray the counter with cooking spray and knead the bread until smooth. 
  3. Split the dough in half and form into loaves. 
  4. Place on a baking sheet or stone, cover with a clean, dry towel, and let rise for 25 minutes. 
  5. While the bread is rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  6. After 25 minutes, put the bread in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. 
  7. When it comes out, I always take about a Tbsp of melted butter and brush the top. Let cool before slicing. 
Oh yeah. We are some bread loving fools here. 
NOTE: I generally do steps 1 and 2 in the mixer. Using a dough hook, I mix the ingredients on low speed. Once they are all combined, I turn it up to about medium speed for about 3 minutes until smooth. I kind of test it by how "clean" my bowl looks. All the dough should form a ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl. 

So it's THAT EASY. I did those four loaves in the above picture in a TOTAL of an hour and a half. I gave one to the new neighbors, we ate one for dinner and breakfast, I served one at home group, and the other was put into the freezer for another day. Not bad for under two hours of work. 

Then I thought, "I wonder if it would still work and taste good if I changed the ingredients." And they do. I tried changing it up 3 different ways. 

Variation 1: Honey Wheat Bread
3 cups wheat flour
2.5 cups all purpose flour
4 Tbsp local, raw honey 
1.5 tsp salt
1.5 Tbsp yeast 
1.5 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups HOT water

Directions: [pretty much the same as above]
  1. Mix the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix together the wet ingredients [I like how this helps melt the honey and spread out the honey]
  2. Continue the rest of the directions as in the original. 
  3. To add a little extra honey taste, when I melt the butter to brush on top, I add about a Tbsp of honey to the melted butter and brush on top. 
Variation 2: Braided Loaf

So, I'm not going to give the ingredients because it's all the same [of either variation above]. 

As for directions, before letting the bread sit to rise, separate each loaf into 3 parts. Roll into long ropes. Pinch the ends of the ropes and then braid. Then pinch the other end of the ropes. Tuck both ends under, cover, and let rise. 
This bread would be super pretty for the holidays or for a shower. 

Variation 3: Cinnamon Roll Bread [both my husband and my oldest son...and most honest critic...said it tastes just like the kind you get at the restaurants...so it is most definitely a hit in my house, and they never last more than a day]

Same 6 ingredients in the original recipe, plus....
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon 

  1. Follow original steps 1-3. 
  2. On a clean surface, lightly sprayed with cooking oil, roll out one of the loaves into a 12 x 15 inch rectangle. 
  3. In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. It should be kind of a paste. If it's not, you can add more brown sugar or more cinnamon. I tend to add more cinnamon because the sugar will melt, and we REALLY like cinnamon. 
  4. Spread the cinnamon/sugar mixture over the entire rolled out dough, leaving about a 1/8 inch on all the edges. 
  5. Tightly roll the dough into a tube. Pinch all the edges closed. The first time I made this, I didn't do this, and the melted butter came out in every opening, making a mess of my oven. 
  6. Set on a baking sheet or stone, cover, let rise, and then follow the rest of the directions. 
This is something GOOD. The only thing I would say is that it doesn't rise as much as the other bread and is a little more delicate. It's still so stinkin' good, though. 

See all that goop coming out? That was because I didn't seal the edges. 

If you are interested in some more breads I have done, check out these links below: 
I have created a "Bread" label as well that includes many of the other breads I have made and shared. 

Happy Baking, everyone. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Devotion: Not Everybody Can be a Reuben, OR a Joseph

"So he said to [Joseph], 'Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock, and bring me word...'" Genesis 37:14

My middle son helping my husband put up a gate around my garden. 

"Hey, mom. What can I help you with?" I looked up from my garden, and with my arm, brushed my hair off my sweaty, dirt covered face. My middle child was eager, ready to get his hands dirty. I gave him a hoe and asked him to dig a trench on the other side of the garden. I had already started the trench, so all he needed to do was make it a little deeper. He got right to work, making himself also sweaty and dirty. I looked around the rest of the yard. My husband was cutting back some overgrown bushes, my daughter was dragging the cut branches to the burn pile, and my oldest son was sitting on the patio, in front of the fan, with a book. I called for him to come help me and his brother in the garden. He begrudgingly put down his novel and walked slowly over to me. After assigning different jobs to him, I finally decided maybe he should just go back to his book.I was getting frustrated that he wasn't getting knee deep in the yardwork with the rest of the family.

Lately, as I have been doing yardwork, I have been reciting the Fruit of the Spirit, praying for individual things that I need to love, be joyful about, have peace for, be patient with, be kind to, recognize the good in, be gentle with, be faithful in, and have self-control of. As I was reciting these prayers, I prayed especially to have patience with my oldest child as he decided to not join the rest of the family in yardwork. God opened my mind to the Story of Joseph in Genesis 37. I was reminded of Joseph's character. Out of all the boys in that family, Joseph was more of the manager while the rest of his brothers were the ones who did all the grunt work. Their anger at Joseph not helping in the fields and jealously of Joseph's position with their father lead them to plot against him. They were upset that he was different from them. As a result,...

God was gently reminding me that not all of us
 are created the same. 

My oldest son is my bookworm. He LOVES to learn things, to read, and to join in on intelligent conversations. He is my Joseph [literally and figuratively]. My middle child was the physical one. He loved working on the car with my husband. He gets right in the middle of the yardwork with me and helps, doing some pretty tough stuff. He is my Reuben, the oldest brother of Joseph, and the one with the soft heart. As I started thinking of my children in that way, instead of being upset with my oldest son for not helping out, I have to remember that not everyone is cut out for yardwork. Does he work hard at other things? Absolutely. He does his chores exceptionally well. His grades are always commendable. I can always count on him to join in on a conversation and actually contribute well. 

And thank the Lord we are all different. What a boring world this would be if we were all the same. It is my job, not only as a mom, but as a believer, to recognize those differences in those around me and to celebrate in how he has made each of us special. Recognize the manager-book reading Josephs in your life as well physical, hard-working Reubens. They each have a part and a purpose. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

10 Years...and We Couldn't Be Happier

On this day 10 years ago, I got up early for a 6 pm event that would change the rest of my life....

I sipped some mimosas with some of my closest girl friends 

I watched all my girl pull charms out of a Victorian Charm Cake 

 I watched a little football while all my girls went to a beauty salon to get their hair done. 

Then I did my own hair...I'm a simple girl

I got some help putting on my "something borrowed"....a pair of striped socks 
Got hitched to my best friend with my closest friends standing by. 

Got caught taking a rest while the photographer kicked out the wedding party so we could do our couple pictures. 

And started off on a journey that has been the wildest ride of my life. 

I am so blessed to be married to such a wonderful man all these years. I am looking forward to see what God has in store for us for the next 80. ;o}