Tuesday, March 22, 2016

My Famous Brisket

Ok, it's not famous, but is delicious.  Besides the grilling, I'm the one that handles the large pieces of meat in our house.  (Go ahead, laugh.  I went there.)  Recently, I've had several people ask about it.  I almost feel guilty, because it's not some super secret recipe.  It's my grandma's recipe, and it's fantastic, and it's easy.  

Are you ready?

 My secret ingredient is this:

photo credit: claudessauces.com

That's right.  I only use this marinade.  It's heaven.  I pick it up at the grocery store, it's not even something you have to search out. They carry it at our grocery store.  (If you don't live in Texas, or they don't carry it where you are, order it HERE.)

So here's what I do:

For a small brisket (i.e., 3-5 lbs to only feed your small family):
1. Rinse brisket and pat dry.
 2. Throw it in the crockpot.
 3. Dump entire bottle of marinade on top.
 4.  Cook on low for 8 hours.
 5. Let it rest for 10 minutes, slice or chop it up, and eat!

For a large brisket (anything over 5 lbs, usually for me it's a 13ish pounder for my friends):
1. Rinse that giant thing and pat dry.
 2. THE NIGHT BEFORE - place in a throw away foil container large enough to fit your hunk of beef.  Google how long and what temp your meat needs to cook based on your poundage.
 3. Cover with marinade.  (You may need 2 bottles.). Let sit overnight.
4. Cook times and temp will vary depending on your meat size.  (See number 2.)  Put it in oven.
5.  Let it rest for 10 minutes, slice or chop it up, and eat!  

This recipe works for the meat to be a main dish along with your favorite potato and veggies, or it can work to be chopped up for tacos.  When I use it with tacos, I serve it on tortillas with avocado, cheese, cilantro, and THIS DRESSING.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 18, 2016


I was talking with a dear friend that is also expecting another baby this year, and while we normally make our resolutions, this year we found ourselves lacking in a clear path.  We realized while talking that we both had a major change coming to our lives and families this year, and maybe that was enough. 

When William was born, I had 3 1/2 weeks to adjust to being a mom before I was back to school.  Kyle was home with us for two of those weeks.  We lived in a rent house, so I prepped the house the best I could, but could only do so much.  The week after I went back to work, Kyle's mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.  We spent the next several months working on very little sleep, traveling to Waco on the weekends with a newborn to help the best we could, and somehow trying to adjust to being a new family. 

Honestly?  It kinda sucked. 

I am determined for us to have a different experience this time, as this will be our last child (at least, as far as my plan goes), and that's why I picked the word adapt.  I want this year to be about us preparing and adjusting to be a new family of four.  So why will this take a year?

The House
We bought a house when WP was 7 months old, and we looked for a few specifics with this house.  The main one was "no unused space."  This will be a blog post all on its own, but in short, it means getting a nursery together, changing my office to an office/guest room, and an overhaul to how our house functions. 

Me at Work
I may work only 30 or so hours most weeks with several days off during the year, but all of that is spent running by own business.  I want to work this year to continue striving for balance between work and home, and adding a second kiddo into that mix.

Me Personally
Mom of two.  Some days I can barely handle mom of one.  I'm going to give myself time to adapt to this new role.  I'm shooting to take 2 months off this summer to get to know our baby girl, spend time with my sweet boy, and figuring out how to take a shower and work and recover.

Us as a Family
Kyle gets to take an entire month off to be home with us this time around, and we'll need to figure out man on man defense.  William will need time to adjust to being a big brother and we need time with him to let him know how very important he is to us. 

I look at this list, and it's a lot, and it's enough.  This doesn't mean I won't have other goals for myself along the way of this year, but my main goal will be adapting to this new and wonderful time in our lives.  I can't wait.

Monday, January 11, 2016


I started writing this long blog post about all that was worthwhile in 2015, but honestly, I was bored writing it.  (Worthwhile was my 2015 word.)  If I'm bored writing it, you'll be even more bored, and I just couldn't do that to you.

Instead, you get the highlights from 2015, my deep thoughts, and my word for 2016.

The highlights (in no particular order):

July 2015
We went on our very first family vacation to San Antonio.  It was a blast!  We stayed on the Riverwalk, we ate, we walked, we road the boats and visited the DoSeum.  WP was fantastic in the car, and we had a blast!

May 2015
I got a new car!  I've been waiting for this baby for awhile, as I needed the space, and I drive a lot.  It came in handy when later in May I was caught in a flash flood and almost had to escape said car.  I'm not sure if my old car would have had the clearance to make it through.  I am thankful!

October 2015
We found out we are expecting our second baby, and on New Year's Eve, we found out that sweet baby will be a girl!  We couldn't be more thrilled.  You can look forward to many more posts about our girl!

Here's what I learned in 2015:  While I might want to be home with my kids most of the time, me working allows us to achieve our family goals.  My job allows me summers, Christmas break, and flexibility with my kids.  It allows us to put our son in preschool and have Baylor season tickets.  It allows us to take family vacations and put money towards our future.  And don't get me wrong, I love my job, but who doesn't have the mom guilt now and then?  So - all those late night concerts, the Saturday contests, and the extra time I spend with children that are not my own is SO worthwhile when it allows us to live how we would like to live. 

For 2016?  My big word is adapt.  More on that to come. 

Do you have a word for this year or a resolution?  Please share! 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Crockpot Lasagna Soup

I got this recipe from Baked by Rachel, and it did NOT disappoint!  It was chock full of veggies, too, so you'll feel nice and full.  WP actually ate some of it, too, which these days is a small miracle.

 Yep, you got a picture halfway through dinner again.  There's no waiting around here.

I'm going to repost her recipe, but with a few changes I would have made.

1 lb ground beef 
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup tomato paste (I would have used a little more.)
1 tsp dried basil (I would up it to two.) 
1 tsp dried oregano (double this as well)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
(1/4 tsp red pepper flakes - I left this out.)
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
4-5 oz malfadine pasta noodles (I used farfalle noodles.)   
Shredded whole milk mozzerella, for topping

Add veggies, tomato paste, spices, chicken broth, and ground beef.  She calls for the meat to be browned ahead of time, but honestly, you don't need to.  Use a low fat meat, 93% or so, and there will be so little fat it won't matter.  Cover, and set on high for 4 hours, or low for 8.

When time is up, stir in heavy cream, Parmesan, and pasta.  Cook on high for 30 more minutes, ladle it up and top it with mozzerella cheese.     


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Roast Beef Sandwiches

I have an odd work schedule, which is sometimes great and sometimes not.  It goes through spurts of being really really busy to having leisurely days sitting on the couch.  October is fall concert season, so there's a span of two weeks when I'm usually not home a bunch.  I dropped one of the choirs I was in this year because it was getting to be too much, but somehow I ended up coming back to play for them anyway, thus adding two concerts back on the books. 

In October, my concert schedule looked like this:
Oct. 9th - judge mock region tryouts
Oct. 12th - Schola Cantorum concert (Ft. Worth)
Oct. 13th - Schola Cantorum concert (Grapevine)
Oct. 15th - concert in Arlington
Oct. 20th - concert in Roanoke
Oct. 22nd - concert in Justin
Oct. 27th - concert in Trophy Club
Oct. 30th - concert in Haslet

That's 8 concerts in addition to all the other things I usually do.  I know, I'm tired just by looking at it, too. 

When I have these kinds of weeks, a lot of time my family is left to fend for themselves, but honestly, I get tired of eating fast food, too.  This year I decided to whip up as much as I could in the crockpot so we could all eat, even if it was different times. 

On Monday I made some delicious roast beef sandwiches.  I started with the french dip sandwich recipe from here, thanks to Buns in My Oven, but I made a few adjustments. 

Here's what I did:

3 to 4 lb chuck roast
1 can beef consume  (who even knew this existed?)
1 can french onion soup (she calls for two, but I didn't read that part, and had to improvise, hence the next two ingredients)
1/2 a box of beef broth
1 packet of french onion dip mix

Dump all of these ingredients in the crock pot, and set it on LOW for 8 hours.  Do not try and cheat it and put it on high for 4 hours!  Trust me on this!!  Chuck roast is a very thick cut of meat and really needs to cook low and slow.

Shred the meat, slap it on the bread of your choice (I used Hawaiian Sweet Rolls hamburger buns), with provolone cheese.    I'm sure it would be delicious to let it heat in the oven, but I just didn't have time for that. 

That isn't a glamorous picture, and I don't know why it's upside down, but whatever.  Kyle has the flu, and we are running on fumes here, people.  

Toddler approved!


Tuesday, October 13, 2015


I know (hope) I have some new readers, so I'd like to tell you a few things that you might or might not know.

About Me

1. I have an adorable husband and an even more adorable two year old boy.  Our house is loud and full of cars and dinosaurs.  Sometimes it drives me nuts, but most of the time I like it.

2. I am a full time musician.  Not one of those that shoves amps and guitars into my hatchback, but one that actually works.  I teach voice, piano, and I'm an accompanist for several choirs and our church.

 What?  Sometimes I practice the organ in leggings.  Don't judge.

3.  I love Dr. Pepper and naps.  These two things make me able to survive.

4. I need a little bit of time on my own most days.  Even 20 minutes makes a huge difference in my personality.

5. I love clothes and shoes and make up, but I change into my pjs and throw my hair up as soon as I'm done for the day.

What's coming up on the blog?

1. More clothes!  I have a lot of fun picking out my outfits for school every day, and I thrive on finding fun things on a budget.

2. Crockpot meals!  I'm going to start cooking way more in this thing.  I'm far too tired at the end of the day to cook an awesome meal, so I'll share my findings with you.

3. October's Deal!  Last month was my little "Out of Treats" sign, and this month will be another fun thing you're sure to need.

Is there anything you want to know?  Ask away, and I'll answer on the next post.

Monday, September 21, 2015

"Out of Treats" Halloween sign

Today is the first day of fall!  (***Edit***Apparently, fall this year starts on September 23rd, not today!  In my heart, though, it's already fall.)

  Fall is my absolute most favorite time of the year, and if I hadn't been sick all weekend (thanks for coming to school sick, kids!), then my pumpkins would be out.  I love the colors, the crispness in the air, Baylor football, boots, cardigans, etc.  It's a magical time of year!

On a related note (and it is related, I promise!), I've noticed that many times, people want my crafty goodies for themselves, so I've decided to offer them on here!  I've been following this cool blog, Living in Yellow, and she does the coolest thing.  She picks one clothing item or accessory and features it on her blog and in her etsy store for the first ten days of the month, then they are all shipped out.  I love this!  I'm going to be doing the same thing, except with crafty goodies instead.

So back to how this is related to fall.  Every year I get asked to make this fun sign, so I've decided to make it the first item featured on my blog.

 Usually I have to put this sign up because I've eaten all of the candy.  You might just want to put your kids to bed or have time to yourself.  Want it for yourself?  It's available here!  This is only available until September 30th, and all signs will be shipped out by October 10th.

Have you started decorating for fall yet?  What's your favorite part of this wonderful season?