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The Pioneer Woman

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Many of you know I'm a big fan of The Pioneeer Woman.  This week on Pioneer Woman Photography she is hosting a contest for photos of "Sisters."  Now as she mentions, and we all know, there are many women in your life that can qualify as sisters who may not actually be your blood sisters.  I grew up without sisters, although I love my brothers, I always missed out on having a sister.

So it got me thinking about all the ladies in my life who have meant so much to me.  I've always gotten along with boys a little bit better because I'm a bit of a Tom Boy, but there are some woman that I just couldn't live without.

The more I researched on my computer though, the more I realized I don't have pictures of myself with these women, or even pictures of them at all!  Many of these pictures are buried somewhere in our house and not digital.  Many of them I'm the one holding the camera, or, embarrassingly enough, I just didn't take a picture!!  While researching this I realized that I don't even have pictures of just me with my sister in laws.  Now maybe this is a sneaky conspiracy on their part to avoid my camera (I'm catching on Pockets and Olie).  But this is just sad folks.  Why did I not take the time at a photoshoot, wedding, or get together to turn the camera around and document a time with these ladies I love?  Things are gonna start to change, and I'm warning all you ladies out prepared.

SO here are a few of the ones I could find on my laptop.  NOTE: If you are not in this selection it does NOT mean I don't love you or consider you my sister.  It means I either didn't take a picture with you recently, or it's buried in my basement.  Perhaps I will do a little digging and scanning and find a few of these blasts from the past.  There may be an update to this post comin' your way shortly.  Until then, enjoy these.

If you have a lovely lady that has meant a lot to you in your life, feel free do a shout out in the comments.  I'd love to hear your stories and adventures.

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Dish-o-the-Week: Chili Potatoes

What to do with the leftovers?  That's always the question.  Lately Speed Racer and I have been trying to get better about freezing dishes that we don't want to eat every day for a month, so that we might enjoy them later.  So say that you made some PW Chili, and say that you didn't freeze quite enough for two people...what should you do???  Add potatoes. This is a great recipe to get rid of some leftovers and enjoy on a cold day.  It's the prefect fall dinner, and very filling at that.

So start off with  your potatoes.  Speed Racer and I really could have shared one, we had MORE leftovers.  So you may want to do a half potato per person.  Prick your potato with a fork all over, then rub olive oil on the skin.  Next sprinkle some sea salt over the skin.  Preheat your oven to 450, and bake your potatoes for about an hour.  Note!!  This time can change depending on size of the potatoes, so you will definitely want to keep an eye on them to make sure they are not burning or getting underdone.

While the potatoes are taking forever to bake, especially since SOMEBODY didn't know to put them on a higher heat and had them at 350 instead...take a kitty break.

Maybe even sing the jeapordy song a little bit... doo doo doo doo...doo doo doo doo...DOO duh  doot doot doot doot.

Don't look at me that way.

Ding!  Potatoes are done.  Heat up your left over chili that you hopefully got out of the freezer to defrost already.

Put your chili on top of your lovely hot potatoes,and top with fixin's.

Finally be sure to unbutton your top pants button to make room for this warm, cozy, FILLING, fall dish.

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Dish-o-the-Week: Homemade Mac N' Cheese

I know, your mouth is watering already right?  Who doesn't love Mac N' Cheese?  Crazy people that's who!  I'm pretty serious about my mac n' cheese if you can't tell.  Actually, Speed Racer has had to cut me off from Easy Mac...I wish I was joking.  I had a little bit of an Easy Mac problem there for awhile. My sister in law Olie saw this recipe in the Pioneer Woman cookbook and highly suggested I make it.  I think she was implying that I make it when she was around so she could partake in it, but alas, she lives too far away.  Sorry Olie!  But I'll make more mac n' cheese next time I see you, I'm just making sure I get the recipe perfect first.

So here's what you need.  Pretty basic really.

First you want to cook and drain your macaroni noodles.  You want them a little hard since you'll be baking them in the oven later.

Now we're going to start making the delicious cheesy sauce.  On low heat, we're gonna mix the butter and flour.

Then I added the milk and spices.

You want to keep stirring the sauce until it gets like milkshake thick, then switch it to low heat.  Next I whisked the egg and then tempered it with some of the sauce to keep it from cooking when I poured it into the sauce.

Then more spices. And cheese.

Delicious!  Mix it all together, until it's gooey and wonderful.  Then put into a baking dish and top with.....more cheese!  Because honestly, most things cannot have enough cheese.

And then...enjoy.  It really is a great comfort food, and it's fat free!  Just kidding.  I wish it was, but you can always pretend.



Dish-o-the-Week: Cowboy Calzone's

That's right the dish-o-the-week is indeed another PW recipe.  The calzone's were absolutely scrumptious, and filling.  We'll be eating on them for awhile, but I did have some issues with making them.  Mostly the issues arose from my own inexperience, but some of them were due to unclear directions in the recipe.  I know what you're thinking, I just said I had issues with the Pioneer Woman.  It's just a minor detail, don't worry ladies and gents, my love for the P-Dub is still true, although as Speed Racer said, "The honeymoon may be over..." So the first part of making a calzone is making the dough for the yummy yummy outside.  Usually this is made of pizza dough, and the same is true for the Pioneer Woman recipe.  She uses a pizza dough recipe from her book.  So first things first:

Get your yeast ready!  I had surprisingly, never made a dough with yeast before.  So this was a new experience.

Next up, some flour and salt, with a little olive oil...

So then you mix it all together.  This is where I started to run into some problems.  Problem numero uno: I do not have a stand mixer so this all had to be done by hand.  Nothing wrong with that, sometimes it's fun doing it the old fashion way.  Problem numero dos: in the recipe it says "You can also mix by hand until the dough comes together."  I've never made pizza dough before, so I feel like most of this is my lack of knowledge.  But what is together enough?  Just till it's gooey? More than gooey? Do I need more flour?  I should have went with my gut and added more flour but I didn't.  So, as I read another recipe later, after this was all said and done, I saw an entry that said you should knead the dough for 10-15 minutes.  So..yeah.

Here is my un-kneaded dough, tossed in olive oil.

After that I put a moist towel over it, and put it in a warm place where it would not be disturbed, ie my ginormous microwave.

Two hours later, after my dough had risen, it had risen indeed! I began on the filling.

Added some tomatoes and chilies...

And they're done!  Not.  Yeah so this is my next picture.  Why? Because chaos ensued in my kitchen, and my hands were covered in flour and dough.  So basically what happened, was that I started mixing the cheese and egg together, then added the meat.  But it also looked completely different from the pictures in the cookbook.  I still haven't figured that one out.  Perhaps I didn't let my meat cool long enough, or maybe I should have drained the tomatoes first.  I also ended up with ALOT of filling.  But the primary issue was that since I had not thoroughly kneaded my dough, it was sticky and super hard to handle.  So my first calzone turned out looking like this:

Kinda came apart...just a bit.  But the rest were more or less okay.  And they were good but they needed something a little extra to me.  That I still can't put my finger on.  I think this is just one of those things that will get better the more I make it, and tweak it a little.

I served it with delicious mashed potatoes.  Of my own recipe!  I mean, you really can't get enough starches.

Mmmm creamy.

And the end, the ugly truth is that my kitchen looked like this....

Did I mention that we don't have one of those new fangled dish washing machines?  Just me and my handy scrub brush.  So in conclusion folks, it's all part of the cooking learning curve.  I will make better dough next time, figure out why I had a plethora of filling, and eat a delicious calzone for lunch.  No worries fans, me and P-dubs are still BFFs.  If only in my mind.


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Dish-o-the-week: PW's Chili!

That's right, I gave in...again.  I made a Pioneer Woman recipe for the dish-o-the week.  I have a problem, I'll admit it.  I'm going to Pioneer Woman cooking rehab soon, not to worry.  But in the mean time, you can check out this awesome looking chili.  I had never made chili before.  And I'll go ahead and put this out there since I say something to that affect on every cooking post...until now...whew, deep breath...I haven't really cooked.  Don't judge me.  I'm a newly wed and I'm learning, but I truly am enjoying learning too.  Anywho, bring on the chili pics!

Key fixin's.

Ms. Brisco and Speed Racer were getting impatient.  The smell was driving them wild!  So they just sat there...lingering over the chili.

The great thing about this recipe is that is leaves room to add or not add what you feel like.  She gives a list of "optional" ingredients.  I am not a huge bean fan, I will eat them in chili but that is about it.  Speed Racer thinks I must have had some sort of head trauma as a child for something to be so wrong with me that I would not like beans.  So I added pinto beans, kidney beans, diced tomatoes with chili's, one jalapeno, one finger hot pepper, onion, garlic, chili powder, paprika, oregano, and salt.  But you can mix and match as you like.

Oh he's getting really impatient now, he's got that crazed look in his eye.  You can tell he's about to steal a nibble.  Not to worry though, we ate shortly after that.  There are no pictures because we were both too busy gobbling it down.

Now who is going to do the dishes I wonder?  Lucky for me, in our house it's whoever doesn't cook has to do the dishes.

Later that night...

I had to add this in the post because it's too adorable for words.

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Dish-o-the-week: Lasagna!

I realized after I started taking pictures while I was baking the lasagna last night, that really I've been posting a food a week.  And yes, they have all been from the Pioneer Woman Cookbook.  Before you start having visions of Julie and Julia, I just want to put out there that this is not my fault.  I like to use new cookbooks I have (if I can, sometimes the ingredients are ridiculous and expensive) and this one is really fun, easy to do, and lets just say it, darn delicious.  I am also not the cook in this household, Speed Racer is.  I can bake all day long and turn out delicious fatty things, but cooking, I get a little flustered with.  With that in mind, I'm looking at this as practice I don't live on Mac and Cheese when Speed Racer is gone, even though I would love to.  So we're just gonna go with it for now, maybe there will be a recipe next week from a different cookbook, who knows.  And as always, you can check out her full, mouth water recipes at  To the Lasagna!! I didn't realize that I have never cooked lasagna before.  Everyone's made lasagna right? No, not me.  So I did not realize how long it would take.   Really long, that's the answer, really long.  I also didn't realize how hard it would be to take pictures without Speed Racer around, it was tricky.

Rule numero uno, don't be afraid of meat.  Is that ok to say on the interweb?

Or the garlic...delicious delicious garlic.

Definitely a good idea to put your noodles on the aluminum foil.  I tried some that way and some without, and the without ones were really sticky and hard to manage.

I'm getting hungry again.  You let the tomato's and meat simmer for 45 minutes, which is just pure torture.

I am not a cottage cheese fan, but I do love it in lasagna.

Mmmm, cheesy.

Let the layering begin.

This was my attempt at an action shot, with the not kind of lens for that sort of thing, on.

At this point I was starving, 35 minutes in the oven and I was famished.  So what did I do?  I dug in as soon as it was out of the oven and burned my mouth.  Start this lasagna early, or have a snack ready while you wait.

The kitties concur.

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What's Cookin'?

Last night Speed Racer and I decided to try another recipe out of The Pioneer Woman's Cookbook, so we tried Chicken Pot Pie.  Now before you think I'm a crazy person for constantly talking about The Pioneer Woman (see Meatloaf Mania, and PW Journey), what else are you suppose to do with a new cookbook other than try it out? That would be a waste.  So, it's legit.  That's what I'm telling myself.  I don't have a problem.  Really. Moving on....

Although this recipe was not as knock your socks off as the Meatloaf (how could it be, there is no bacon in it...duh) it was still fantastic, and Speed Racer and I oohh and ahhhed over the entire meal.

There are no prep photos because my hands were covered, absolutely covered in dough from making the crust.  I didn't want to dirty my poor camera that I already abuse.

The 30 minutes that it takes to cook is pure torture.  Speed Racer stared longingly at the oven the whole time, while heavenly aromas wafted out.


Speed Racer was in charge of putting slits into the crust to vent the heat.  He put our initials, how sweet.  Come on I know you want to say it, give me a big "awwww."

Speed Racer is also a dough FIEND.  I cannot keep him out of the kitchen when there is dough around, he just lingers, waiting to snag a piece.  You can just see him in this picture, "Oh, hmmm, whatcha got there?  Looks like this little piece over here might be falling off...."

"Let me just pop it in my mouth really fast before you can catch me, and then move around so you can't take my picture in our dark dark kitchen..."

"Whew, that's hot."

Yeah, I know his game.

These pictures were actually taken by Speed Racer, he wanted to make sure we let the people know about the flakiness of this homemade crust.  He was very excited about it, and the piece that he stole.

That's it folks.  I rate this one, a success.



PW Journey

Although this journey was recorded on my friend Renee’s Blog already, I thought I would finally add my version of the journey to the web.  Many of you know from my "Meatloaf Mania" post that I admire, revere, and embarrassingly enough want to be best friends with The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.  However, I was contently keeping my hero worship locked in a tiny little box that no one knew about, until Renee called me up proposing a trip to see Ree at her book signing in D.C.  I had recently quit my corporate job and decided it was a perfect opportunity to enjoy my freedom and take some pictures along the way. My part of the journey started with a short day trip to our families cabin, with my parents.  My Grandfather built this cabin over several summers with the help of his three daughters.  Ever since it has been a retreat and place of solace for my family.

Sweet Lucy is a mountain woman, she loves being outdoors.  She looks positively beautiful in her element, I love this picture of her.

One of these pictures is in “Some Characters to know...” but my mother wasn't too happy about the picture I chose :ahem:, so the above photos are part of the series, which I think is very cute since it tells the story a little bit better.

The next morning after going to the cabin, I picked up Renee bright and early and we started out on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

It was pretty early, we don’t do gorgeous early, but we were up and going and that was the important part.

She’s sassy, that’s why we get along oh-so-well.

Renee use to be a dancer, and from time to time she still does stances with her feet...she just didn't know I was paying attention.  I think it's beautiful.

Hello, Vacation.

There was lots of this.  Luckily Renee didn't get annoyed with me pulling off about every 5 seconds.

Did I mention that we were on top of the world?  I may have forgotten, but yes...there was nothing but us and sky.

I love this picture.  There's something about the emptiness in it that I just love.  To me it's something that's just about to start, somethings changing, and it's just you and whatever you're about to jump into.

I took about a million photos of this tree.  It was just magical.

After an 8 hour journey (Google said it would only take 5 but they weren’t counting all the stops for glorious pictures.  They really need a photo option when you do directions…or at least a scenic option) we arrived at Border’s in D.C.  We were hot, we were smelly, we were not pretty.  So faster than you could say superman, we used Chipotle’s bathroom (thank you Chipotle) and came out looking more beautiful than ever.  However, we did make two rookie mistakes.  Number one being that although we got there 2 hours prior to the reading, we were way back in line….waaaay back.  Number two mistake was that since we were in the back of the line, we panicked and didn’t eat anything.  BIG MISTAKE, my friend.

But luckily we didn't have to wait too long before she came up and gave us a little intro.  Everyone was so excited, and I have to hand it to all the pregnant ladies in the crowd.  They were champs, they didn't even break a sweat standing in line, unlike me who was whining and being a big baby.

After a couple hours in line, we finally made it to our destination.

She was super nice, and I’m sure already tired by the time we made it to her, but you couldn’t tell.  Both Renee and I had a little shyness going on, and tried to be sociable, even though we were about to faint from hunger and it suddenly came off as creepy that I had driven all the way from TN to see this woman.  And to be honest, that was not the best part of the trip for me.  The best part was the girl talk with Renee, companionship, being out in the wilds of VA, and just having time to take some photographs without any kind of pressure.  It was a much needed trip and a great start to my life as a photographer.


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Meatloaf Mania

For those of you who talk to me frequently (sorry about the daily calls!) you know that I have been raving about this meatloaf that Speed Racer and I made.  And by that I mean Speed Racer made and I, well, took pictures.  But I did make the buttermilk biscuits!  And that is why there are no pictures of them.  So there.  But the meatloaf that we made was from my newest cookbook "The Pioneer Woman Cooks, " by Ree Drummond.  Ree is a blogger extraordinaire, and mother of 4.  She blogs about her antics of adjusting to  life on a ranch, photography, cooking, and homeschooling her kids.  If you haven't checked her blog out you need to, it's a great time, and she makes me laugh.  My friend Renee (also a blogger check out her site too!)  and I recently went on a Pilgrimage to D.C. (a post to come in the following days) to Ree's book signing, which is where I picked up the cookbook.

Now back to the meatloaf: I love this meatloaf, I openly drooled over this meatloaf, I would have babies with this heard me, meatloaf babies.  Speed Racer thinks this meatloaf and cookbook have saved him...I have no idea what he means by that.

Bacon does, in fact, make everything more delicious.  I will vouch for that.

Happy little loaf...

Wrapped in a warm blanket of bacon.

There you have it, what I've been raving about all week.  Once you've tried it you won't be able to stop either...I promise.  The Pioneer Woman features several recipes from the cookbook in the cooking and tasty kitchen sections of her blog.  I obviously, highly recommend checking it out!

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