Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Frozen Dinner Swap: Creamy White Chicken Chili


Most people have a strong opinion when it comes to chili. We can all be divided into two categories: beans or no beans. I'm a right-wing, no-beans-in-my-chili nutso living in a left-winged, bean-filled chili world where people believe everyone deserves beans in their chili. What if not everyone wants beans in their chili? Am I going to be forced to eat around the beans in my chili forever?

And yes, I'm still talking about chili.

I got into a heated debate with a co-worker the other day regarding beans and chili. He didn't know what he was unleashing when he brought it up. We haven't spoken since.

So, the other night as Ty and I were cleaning the house to prepare for Friendsgiving, I needed something quick and easy to make for dinner. I said a quick prayer, giving the good Lord thanks for the Frozen Dinner Swap several weeks before, and pulled out my tupperware container of Kristen Deere's Creamy White Chicken Chili. And since I'm down to one dish left in my freezer, I also prayed that the good Lord replenish my Frozen Dinner Swap supply like he did the loaves and fishes that one time. It would be a modern day miracle much like Cheesus.

The Creamy White Chicken Chili sounded delicious to me. I've been suggesting to Ty that we warm it up for weeks, which only ignited the whole soup for dinner debate. Finally, I just went for it. I thawed the edges of the chili and dropped it into the LeCreuset and then gasped in shock. There were beans ... there were beans everywhere. This goes against everything I stand against in beef chili, but it was chicken chili and I've never had that before and maybe you really need beans in this one particular chili dish.

It ended up being yummy, although more like bean soup in consistency than chili-esque. And despite all my anti-bean hate speak, I really like bean soup ... and refried beans while vacationing in Cabo.

If you like bean soup, try this out. I don't actually have Kristen's recipe, but this one sounds about right. And it won second place at the Virginia State Fair, and you just don't question a State Fair recipe.

Creamy White Chicken Chili

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and cubed
1 medium onion
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder (or fresh garlic is even better)
1 tbls. vegetable oil
2 15 oz. cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 14 1/2 oz. can chicken broth
2 4 oz. can chopped green chilies (usually found in Mexican food section of the grocery store)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whipping cream

In a large saucepan, saute chicken, onion and garlic powder in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Add beans, broth, chilies and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream and whipping cream. Serve immediately.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Stuffed Like a Turkey

Somehow, I managed to put down the fork and return to work today. I enjoyed the long break. To the contrary, my hips did not. We're eating carrot sticks and an apple for lunch today. My guilty conscience and expanding hips are making me. The lower half of my body hates me. The upper half is in denial.

We kicked off the long weekend by hosting the 2nd Annual Friendsgiving. For the past two years, this has been a potluck tradition that our friends have all truly enjoyed ... and the guest list continues to expand. This year's feast included, fried turkey, Duvalls green bean casserole, Jenkins corn casserole, Brewers potato casserole, Pipkins spinach salad, Smiths sweet potato casserole, Taylors green bean bundles, Nethertons cream cheese dip, Guletts school cafeteria lady rolls, Johnsons pumpkin pie, Jordans mushrooms and mac n cheese. I've included everyone's name in this post so I can remember what everyone brought and politely suggest they bring it again next year.


The Brewers also brought this delicious creation - a chocolate topiary. I need someone to come and steal this from my house or else I'm going to have to post it on CraigsList. Just let me know and I'll leave the backdoor unlocked for you. My hips say thanks.

The next day, Ty and I enjoyed our first official Thanksgiving. We woke up Thursday and made blueberry muffins and watched "The Addams Family" movie before eating lunch with his family and dinner with mine.

Other things that happened:
  • We spent time with our precious, sweet niece Ruby Belle. In about a month, they'll call Shreveport home, and we can't wait!
  • We spent two nights sitting around the fire pit at the Taylors. I love fire pit weather. And how wonderful smores and beer taste together.
  • There were two pregnancy announcements made by friends, and we realized that this time next year there will be EIGHT more children in our midst! FYI, none of them with the last name Jordan.
  • We did a little house hunting with Mandy and Justin (Ty's sister and her husband). The house they love the most happens to be three houses down from ours. Mandy was apprehensive to tell us this, but Ty and I were both very excited and promised if we saw anyone look at it we would come out in the front yard with shotguns and pretend to be the world's worst neighbors to run them off.  
  • And finally, I refinished my second piece for the house. During my college years in Ruston, I found this frame in an old house I lived in. I painted it white and never did anything with it. So, I was inspired to paint it lime green and distress it. I think it turned out great and hopefully it will be hanging in our entryway soon.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Santa, Could You Spare a Few Elves?


I've been feeling a little boxed in at work lately. I can't exactly pinpoint why. It's just a feeling I'm getting.

Welcome to holiday season in the world of marketing. A gift will be placed in each of these 2,250 boxes and delivered to our customers. I enjoyed the creative process of selecting the gift and watching it come together. Last week, I was interviewed by Inc.com about our gift. The story features companies who are giving out unique holiday gifts this season to employees and customers. I think I sounded like a goob during the interview, but it was rewarding and felt like the months of hard work had payed off.


But the distribution process has been a different story.

There have been endless address lists to mull over, and this week, we've had a team of people assembling these boxes. Next week, we'll have to fill them with tissue, the gift, a sticker on top, tape and label the boxes and mail them out.

I realize there are fulfillment houses to do these sort of projects, but I like to be thrifty with the company's money. In previous years, our company would charter a plane and spend a week hand delivering gifts to customers across the country. When I think of that distribution process, I realize I probably could have used a fulfillment house.

These pictures are slightly blurred. After all that folding, I think I had the shakes.
When I leave the office today, I will definitely have something to be thankful for: I will never, ever have to fold 2,250 boxes again!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mmmm ... Cake

I'm not much of a cake person. When I go to weddings, I'm not one of those people hovering around the cakes until the bride and groom cut into them. Cake is something I can live without.

Pie? Did someone say pie? Where? I can't resist a pie of any sort.

But when it's your wedding cake, you really want to eat a big fat slice of it and then move on to having a big fat slice of the groom's cake, too. You'll never plan so much over a cake in your life and actually eat so little. How unfortunate that you only get one small wedge of each. But, it's really all for the best. It would have been an evening of very shallow breathing. There just wasn't room for me and cake underneath all that lace.

The wedding cake was very traditional.


But then there was the groom's cake.


Holy crapamoly! This cake was divine ... and a gift from a friend of Ty's parents, Marie. She had never made a groom's cake before, so she researched and made us a sample cake to make sure we liked it. Ummm .... yeah, this cake changes everything I ever believed about cake. I never knew you could do THAT with cake.

Marie even surprised us with another gift at our rehearsal dinner - a strawberry cake for dessert! It was the best cake I've ever tasted, a little slice of strawberry heaven.

Yesterday morning, I was taking some chicken spaghetti out of the deep freezer and spotted a storage ziplock with the words "Strawberry Cake" written in black marker. Could it be? How had I over looked this for all this time?

I put it in the fridge to thaw, and after dinner last night, without mentioning a word to Ty, I pulled it out of the fridge and unwrapped it. He was so excited to walk into the kitchen and see two slices of Marie's cake. There was naturally some discourse regarding who's piece was bigger. And then we agreed to disagree and silently enjoyed our strawberry cake with two glasses of milk.

Best. Cake. Ever.

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Husband the Socialite

My husband and I are not exactly keyed into the society scene in our local community. When we had to go to the 40 Under 40 event last year, I believe it physically pained him to attend. There's a lot of mixing and mingling, small talking, and business card trading. Neither of us are good small talkers. But he suited up and went to it for me, and I love him for that.

So, yesterday when Ty's mom called to say his picture was in the "On the Scene" section of the latest edition of The Forum, we were both very confused. Where could he have been hanging out that would be classified as "the scene?"

The Delta Waterfowl Banquet. Strange, but true.


Can you find him? He's the most tan and the most handsome on this page (Sorry Matt, Kenny and Lane, but it's true. And sorry to readers for being mildly mushy). However, one thing alarms me about this picture.


It seems that every time Ty's picture ends up in one of these publications, he's not wearing an undershirt. I'm a big fan of undershirts, too. Gah lee.

I explained several months ago to my friend Jenny that when Ty's not wearing an undershirt, you better watch out. No undershirt = bad day. Undershirt = good day. Now, when Jenny sees Ty and he's not wearing an undershirt, she knows to say, "Ty, are you having a bad day?"

It's a theory that has proven true until I saw this picture. No undershirt and he's smiling? What does this mean?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

S#@! Kickers

About a year ago, I left the world of print journalism to pursue a marketing career with a regional construction/ concrete/ manufacturing company.

The transition was a slight resurrection of my childhood. In my formative years, my family owned a construction company, which meant that Chris and I spent a lot of time at construction sites surrounded by dozers and dirt and wearing s#@! kickers (example below). I still have the t-shirt I'm wearing in this picture. And no, that doesn't make me a hoarder.


If I learned anything early on in life, it was that you can't go to a construction site without a pair of s#@! kickers on your feet. No one will take you seriously.

So, shortly after we returned from our honeymoon, I was scheduled to go to Southmayd, Texas, to coordinate a catered dinner for some potential clients. This would also require me to enter the construction site, and to me that meant one thing, I needed some s#@! kickers immediately.

Ty was thrilled that I wanted some boots and drove me to Cavender's Western Wear that next weekend, and we bought these.



I'd never been to Cavender's before and was shocked to see they had such stylish footwear and Seven Jeans. In light of these new discoveries, I considered becoming a card-carrying cowgirl.

But, I realize that I never could be a true cowgirl. After all, I went shopping for an outfit to wear to a construction site. But what choice did I have? Ballet flats? The construction group would have laughed me off site while simultaneously telling me I'm breaking safety regulation. I tried to act natural in my new s#@! kickers. I tried to act like I'd had them forever, but I think everyone knew they were brand new.

My excuse: I never needed s#@! kickers to meet a story deadline.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Frozen Dinner Swap: Chicken Divan

One of my best friends hates cheese. I'm not going to reveal her name because I'm pretty sure this news would cause the townspeople to descend upon her house with pitchforks and torches like in "Beauty and the Beast." I don't want to cause her any harm, but it's been a challenge to accept someone into my inner circle who doesn't like cheese. I choose to look at the positives, and with her around that means more cheese for me.

Needless to say, when I pulled this dish out of the freezer, I didn't extend a dinner invitation to my cheese-hating friend.


Look at that molten layer of cheese! If it wasn't bubbling and fresh from the oven and if my husband wasn't watching, I would have face planted into this dish. No matter how delicious it looks, you really can't face plant as a newlywed. I'm trying to keep the romance alive.

The cheddar cheese is the star of this dish. It's sharp flavor mixes well with the creaminess of the casserole. I've eaten the leftovers for the past two days as my lunch. Chicken Divan is a fairly common chicken dish, but I've never tried it. I have to thank the divine Ginny Dean for introducing me to Chicken Divan. I will be making this.

Here's the recipe:

Chicken Divan

2 1/2 cups cooked chopped broccoli
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken meat
2 4.5 oz cans mushrooms, drained
1 8 oz can water chestnuts, drained (optional)
2 10.75 oz cans condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Arrange cooked broccoli in a lightly greased 3 quart casserole dish. Arrange chicken over broccoli. Add mushrooms and water chestnuts.
  • In a medium bowl combine the soup, mayonnaise, lemon juice, curry powder and butter/margarine. Mix together and pour mixture over chicken and vegetables. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes.
  • Serve hot with rice, fresh fruit or salad. Enjoy!

This final photo makes me think two things:

1. I'm ready for my new dinnerware to be in.
2. Chicken casseroles never plate or photograph as well/good as they taste. I'm sorry Chicken Divan, I know some people will judge you before ever getting to know you. It's an injustice!

And as my parting words, let's play a game called "Guess That Frozen Dinner Role." If I know you, the grand prize will be me bringing you a bag of them the next time I see you. If I don't know you, the grand prize will be the satisfaction of knowing these rolls exist.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ding, Dong the Witch is Dead

When I think of a crape myrtle, my mind visualizes something like this:


Small. Pretty. Manageable. Contained.

But at our house, we have a crape myrtle that's been on the Juice. I'm thinking about calling a Senate hearing on the topic. Look at this monster:


And a view from the street:


I hate it with every morsel of my being. Spring through summer it blooms, late summer through fall its buds fall, fall through winter it loses its leaves and year-round I'm losing my mind. If there were ever two entities that should not co-exist in a backyard, it's a swimming pool and a gigantor crape myrtle. We have pool parties just so other people will skim the pool. And nothing ruins a delicious glass of sangria like a light breeze and a million buds falling in your drink. Enough is enough.

Now, if you're a nature lover and think trees and pools and people can all share the planet, then please stop reading here.

This weekend, I left the house to run a few errands and when I came back about two hours later, the crape myrtle was chopped up into little pieces on the front curb. Fortunately, Ty chronicled the entire process.

I have no idea how any of this works, but I'm glad I wasn't home because this makes me very nervous. Jerry, who works for Ty, cut down trees for 20-plus years in his previous job.


This was about the point where Ty started contemplating keeping the tree. Then he thought about all the hours we've spent skimming only to find buds in our sangria, and he quickly snapped out of it. We want our lives back!


I'm not sure what happens when you get to the top.


And what happens at this point? How do you get down?


I don't have a final picture, but all that's left is a stump. The tree is gone and our pool is clean! And hopefully by next summer, we'll have a beautiful pergola built, with tons of room for entertaining. Doesn't that sound more fun than skimming?

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Time We Went Snorkeling, Part II


After an hour-long boat ride, we finally arrived at the Santa Maria Cove where we would snorkel. The location was gorgeous, but as we strapped on our flippers and pulled on our masks, I began to grow very nervous. Clearly there were going to be a lot of fish in the water, which is something you're supposed to want on a guided snorkeling tour. But the idea of fish being all around me wasn't a relaxing and serene thought in my mind. I wanted to see them, but I wanted them to not invade my personal space. To the contrary, Ty was not nervous in the least considering he's practically a merman.

As our boat pulled into the cove, I looked down into the water and saw a large, dark object moving near the boat, which kicked my freak out up a notch. I didn't know there were going to be sting rays in the water I was about to voluntarily jump into. The entire life of the Crocodile Hunter flashed before my eyes, and I knew I didn't want to go down like that.

What I didn't know at this moment was that the large, dark object near the boat was actually a rock, and it wasn't moving ... the boat was. Thinking it was a sting ray, I still agreed to get in the water if Ty jumped in first and we didn't go near the other side of the boat where I had spotted the ray.

Ty jumped in and I apprehensively followed. Less than a minute later, Ty tells me his flipper has broken and he has to go back to the boat. I felt like he was leaving me for dead, but I took deep breaths and watched him climb up the boat's ladder to get a new flipper.

This was taking longer than I thought and my breathing began to grow more and more shallow. Then, at the moment when I realized I couldn't take it much longer, one of the guides swims next to me and squirts a liquid in the water that creates a tropical fish feeding frenzy all around me.

This was it. I was going to die in a freak honeymoon snorkeling incident.

I managed to get Ty's attention on the boat and mouth to him, "Hurry up, I'm freaking out!" To a merman, this is ridiculous. But to a husband who can only imagine the life or death scenario his wife is creating in her head, he knows he must quickly get back in the water.

For the rest of our snorkeling adventure, Ty held my hand and kept the guy squirting the fish crack cocaine away from me. He's a mighty good merman!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Time We Went Snorkeling

While Ty and I were in Cabo, we decided we would spend half a day engaging in some form of adventure. We weren't interested in devoting an entire day to adventure. That would cut into our drinking and eating by the pool time. We could spare only half a day away from our magical resort.

We looked into playing golf and then realized three things:

  • We can play golf at home, and we don't.
  • It's freakin hot in Cabo.
  • Golf doesn't classify as adventure when you consider all the naps I've taken on my grandparents' couch during most Sunday CBS golf coverage. Those announcers have the most soothing voices.
So, Ty suggested snorkeling, and I agreed.

We had several options to choose from and we picked the one that included transportation. However, we did not know it also included a guided tour of Cabo San Lucas where the guide mostly speaks Spanish and occasionally throws out a tequila joke to the two gringos on the bus (that would be me and Ty).

First stop that we didn't know about: The glass blowing "factory." Ty got to try his hand at blowing glass.


Initially, I thought he exhibited a strong ability to make a living as a glass blower in Mexico and afford to keep me at the magical resort forever. But then his glass exploded and hit a few people, and I knew he was too much of a liability in this line of work.

Next, we stopped at a tacky jewelry store in Cabo where they fed us tequila shots and tried to get us to buy items such as a turquoise and silver dolphin necklace with matching earrings. We immediately exited the store to explore other shops, but it seems the only shops in Cabo are tacky jewelry stores. So, we just sat on the curb until it was time to leave.

Finally, we arrived at the dock and loaded onto our boat. My red coverup is not flattering.  


At this point, I'm already starving and wondering where's my carne asada that they said they would be serving. I also didn't know it would be roughly two hours before I would see that carne asada or I would have jumped ship.

Eventually, our boat left the dock and we went out to sea. A short ride later, we cruised by The Arch.


I wonder how that hole got there. I may never understand it, but it's one of the most remarkable things I've ever seen.


There were sea lions chillaxing on the rocks.

Then we really set out to sea. I don't know why I didn't realize I would be on a boat in the open ocean, but when I did realize it I was about half a minute from dry heaving. This must be why they hold out on the carne asada. With ease, Ty sipped on his beer (poured over ice, eew) and reminded me to watch the horizon.

I was so busy watching the horizon that I almost missed Sammy Hagar's house when they pointed it out. I knew they were talking about Sammy Hagar because his name was included in some of the few words I understood that day. Sammy Hagar and carne asada. And in Cabo, you don't really need to know much more.

to be continued ...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Frozen Dinner Swap: Chicken-Andouille Gumbo


Soup as a meal is not a concept that is well received by my husband. Judging by his reaction when I mention this, you'd think I'd said, "Hey, how about we not eat anything tonight?" Cereal as a meal is perfectly fine, but soup is not. Chili is a meal if served with Fritos, and gumbo is an altogether different story. In my house, gumbo is the only liquid that passes as a meal. Are you as confused as I am by all these qualifications?

Men.  

Saturday night, I prepared the container of Chicken-Andouille Gumbo that I received at our Frozen Dinner Swap the week before. Being from Louisiana inherently makes you a gumbo snob, and Ty and I both loved this recipe!

I've never made gumbo myself. The word "roux" makes me shudder in fear. But if you are brave and need to feed the masses for an LSU party at your house, this recipe will be a hit. Thanks to Catherine Long for passing along this recipe at our swap!

Chicken-Andouille Gumbo

1 large stewing chicken
1 lb andouille, sliced in 1/4-inch slices
6 large white or yellow onions, chopped
1 small bunch of green onions, cut fine
1 small bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped celery
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, chopped
salt, black pepper and red cayenne pepper
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (for roux)
1 cup cooking oil
6 cups hot water
  • Cut up chicken, wash and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 cup oil in heavy skillet and fry chicken until brown. Remove chicken and put aside. Pour remaining oil into large heavy pot for making roux
  • After roux is made, lower heat and add all chipped ingredients, except green onions, garlic and parsley. Cover and simmer until onions are clear, stirring occasionally.
  • Add sliced andouille and chicken to roux mixture, cover and let simmer for about 1/2 hour. Stir often during this process. Keep heat low through this point.
  • Add water, garlic, parsley and green onions. You may increase heat until mixture begins to boil. Now, lower heat to simmer, cover and cook 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until chicken is tender.
  • This has a lot of liquid and is served over rice, over which 1/4 teaspoon filĂ© has been sprinkled. It's even better the next day.
Variations: This same recipe may be used for duck, rabbit, squirrel. In making seafood gumbo, such as shrimp, crab or oysters, the only exception, of course, is that there will be no frying of the particular seafood being used.

My personal thoughts: Between step one and step two, this recipe skips the steps involved in making the roux. As a Louisiana native, I guess I'm already supposed to know how to do this. At least we have Google!

- Recipe from The Justin Wilson Cook Book

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Guy with the Ironman Tattoo

This past weekend, while Ty and I were eating Tacomania, shopping, cleaning out the Envoy and pretty much being lazy, our friend Marcus (LJ's husband) was in Panama City, Fla., exercising for 14 hours straight in an Ironman Triathlon. The Ironman consists of a 2.4 mile ocean swim, a 112 mile bike and a marathon (26.2 miles).

To me, this sounds like torture. But then again, my idea of exercise these days is walking for about an hour to justify the glass of red wine I'm going to have when I finish. Marcus and LJ are a different kind of people. The kind of people who enjoy exercise, marathons and triathlons and the challenges they present. I can raise a glass of red wine to that.

So, in honor of Marcus' newly claimed status of Ironman, we went with him last night to get his Ironman tattoo. This is a right of passage for people who complete an Ironman. And in future races, it will say to Marcus' fellow competitors, "Hey, I'm pretty much a badass."

This was also my first time to visit a tattoo parlor. Thankfully, the atmosphere is pretty mild on a Monday night. I was intrigued by the environment. Marcus and Melanie (the tattoo artist) sketched out the design, put a stencil on Marcus' leg and then she started the tattooing. I asked Marcus if he was nervous or if it hurt. His answer was "no" but I figured he would never tell us if it did hurt. After all, he's an Ironman. You can't get an Ironman tattoo and then complain about it hurting.


 The entire process took about an hour and a half, which I thought went by pretty quickly. Here's Marcus with Melanie and the finished product on his leg.  


Here's a closeup. I think that must have hurt, but I'll never really know.


In my spare time at the tattoo parlor, LJ, Ty and I explored some of the other art available. There was an entire wall tapestry of Chinese symbols, which are relatively popular. And then I saw this one symbol in particular and wondered if anyone had ever really asked for that?


LJ found this Jesus, and we all agreed that he was by far, the happiest Jesus we had ever seen. I don't remember "Jesus laughed" ever appearing in the New Testament.


And then I saw this and decided if I ever got a tattoo, I would want this one. I think this guy is drunk, but of sober mind, I still hypothetically want this tattoo.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Out With the Old, In With the New


This weekend, Ty and I put the Envoy on the market. This meant a lot of elbow grease on our part, and it resulted in several interesting finds:
  • Five cocktail straws.
  • A collapsible lunch cooler filled with range (golf) balls. 
  • My softball glove, which hasn't been used since my senior year of college. I guess at one point in my life I never knew when an impromptu slow pitch softball game would arise.
  • A package of resume paper. I used to really hate my previous job.
  • The third copy of "New Moon" that I have either borrowed or purchased in the past year.
But, after much lovin' and scrubbin', the Shaunvoy (as "he" was affectionately named) is ready for sale. If you want to buy him, here's the link:

http://shreveport.craigslist.org/cto/2049214193.html

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Our Wedding Reception/Ty's First Official Concert

WARNING: I'm about to inundate you with a series of wedding reception photos, so if you're not into that sort of thing you may want to check back in tomorrow.

When Ty and I started thinking about our wedding day, our primary concern was that we wanted our guests to have a good time. Of course, I wanted the cake to be good and the flowers to be pretty, but our guests were more important than all of that. We wanted everyone to party down and celebrate!

The cake ended up being heavenly, and the food was delicious. The flowers were beautiful, and the setting was relaxed.

But the party was superb, and you can't really plan for that to happen. It all started pretty normal. Ty and I entered and enjoyed our first dance, followed by a father/daughter dance and a mom/son dance. Then my husband did something so romantic that my heart skipped a beat.


He sang a song for me. I'd noticed for months before, he'd been practicing more often than usual. It was all for me. He's dreamy like that.


Then things started to liven up a bit. It's a tradition that Ty's fraternity brothers welcome wives into the group by singing to them on bended knee at the wedding reception. They always sing their fraternity song, and if you look closely Ty and Steven (far right) are laughing because Steven was the president of the frat and can't remember the lyrics. A sign that we're all getting older.

Here's the group and some of their wives. It's always a treat to see everyone since its something that usually only happens at a wedding or the annual LSU/Arkansas game.


Then the guys engage in another Sigma tradition. They pass around a bottle of Four Roses, each taking a pull, until the bottle is empty. I don't think it goes down quite as smoothly as it used to. Ty now refuses to participate. Yet, another sign we're getting older.


After all that singing and whiskey drinking, things really started to liven up. We can thank that mostly to our amazing band, The Gnarly Brothers Band. Jen and Sonny (pictured) are married, and Jen's even played the Grand Ole Opry stage. I bet she didn't rock out quite like this when she played there, though.


Then my bangs started to separate, my hands started to raise and we all started to get down.


And sing our hearts out.


And cut off our dresses. LJ offered to cut mine off, too. I said no thanks.


And then my brother sparked up his Bic and hands started waving in the air. You may be wondering what encouraged such behavior?


This guy. I'm not sure who he is, but I'm pretty sure I married him a few hours earlier. Just didn't recognize him with those sunglasses and popped collar.


Then an all out dance party erupted. Don't the Tuckfields look like they're having fun?


More people put their sunglasses on, put their hands in the air and thoroughly enjoyed Ty's three song set. One of our friends said when she and her husband got home and in bed, she heard what sounded like "Mary Jane's Last Dance" playing and rolled over to see her husband watching a video from the reception on his iPhone. I'm telling you, the people couldn't get enough.


And eventually, LJ came and got me and told me I had to leave. I told her I didn't want to, but she told me the band and photographer had already gone over 30 minutes, and I really didn't have a choice. Go out on a high note, right?

In this picture, it looks like Jenny's husband (and one of the funniest people I know) was trying to catch my dress on fire with that sparkler. It makes for good pictures as long as no one catches on fire.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Frozen Dinner Swap

Monday night, I got together at my sister-in-law's house for a Frozen Dinner Swap. There were 10 girls, mostly old high school friends from Airline ... and me, the solo Byrd grad. But I felt right at home with these ladies since I knew about half of the group already. And my brother was there, but he didn't really count since he was mostly trying to hide out and shield his ears from the girl talk. Poor Chris.

Anyway, each girl brought five four-person servings of their dish. Then we each took turns drawing five numbers and selecting our frozen meals. Then we all got really confused and pretty much ended up taking whatever meals we wanted. I think this was an injustice to the system since I really like to follow the rules.

Here's an inventory of what everyone brought:

Chicken and Dumplings
Shrimp & Corn Chowder
Crock pot Beef Tips
Chicken Andouille Gumbo
Taco Soup
Broccoli & Cheese Soup
Spaghetti Pie
Chicken Divan
Chicken Noodle Casserole
Creamy Chicken Chili

I walked away with the gumbo, taco soup, broccoli cheese soup, chicken chili and chicken divan.

During the exchange, I could see my brother was in the kitchen negotiating on behalf of my dish, the chicken noodle casserole. "You know, that's my grandmother's recipe. That stuff is awesome." Isn't he sweet?

Chris and I have always loved Nana's Chicken Noodle Casserole. It's nothing complicated or fancy. For all we know, she could have gotten the recipe off the side of a Campbell's can or a box of Velveeta. But it's still a favorite and does require some elbow grease if you boil your own chicken, which is a must. In my opinion, using canned chicken is a cardinal sin. Although, when I breached my third hour of boiling and deboning, it sounded like a tempting offer.

In the following weeks, I'll post each of the recipes as I sample my dishes and prepare the dishes I didn't take home. For now, I'll start this series with my Nana's recipe. Enjoy!

Chicken Noodle Casserole

4 lbs. chicken, boiled and deboned
2 1/2 cups of chicken broth
1 12oz. package of egg noodles
1 can cream of celery soup
1 lb of Velveeta cheese, plus a little extra for the top
celery salt, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
bread crumbs

Combine first seven ingredients.
Top with additional Velveeta and bread crumbs.
Cover and bake at 375 until bubbly, about 30 minutes.

** For added flavor, I boil my egg noodles in the remaining chicken broth. It gives them a richer flavor.