Archive for August, 2012

I tend to eat a lot more soup in the summer than in the winter which I know is opposite than the traditional “warm, comforting food for the winter” but soups are often lighter in nature than other foods and I like to feel lighter in the hot heavy summer.  This recipe is good, can be done spicy or not, and I was surprised to discover that it was a hit with my kids.
Start with 1 lb ground Italian sausage in a mixing bowl.  For some odd reason the store I usually attend for my regular torture (I say torture because I HATE grocery shopping.  No matter how many times I go, I can’t seem to find the things I need easily and I wander around the isles like a lost puppy and talking to myself, or grumbling to myself, about what I can’t find).  Oh, my point.  The store I usually attend does not always have bulk sausage available so I sometimes have to buy Italian SausageS.  For the purpose of showing the extra steps, I used those today.  Here we go!

Cut the sausages down the side with a knife, like so:

Purchasing sausages rather than bulk sausage can also make it easier to get a variety of different kinds for slightly different taste results. I like spicy but I had to get the kids to eat it to so I compromised and used half a pound of regular Italian sausage and half a pound of spicy Italian sausage.

Next, scrape the sausage out of the casing as best you can.  Sometimes there is a little residual you can’t get.  Don’t worry, if you work too hard at it to make it perfect and scrape every little bit off, it will drive you crazy and make the recipe too hard.

So you will have a pile of sausage like this:

Next add: 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs, 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup milk, 1 egg, 1/2 tsp dried basil, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1/4 tsp garlic powder.

Now it is time to get a little dirty.  Get your hands in there and mix it all up, well.  Squish, Kneed.  Sorry there is not a picture of the end result, my hands were messy, I forgot.

In a pot, start 7 cups of chicken broth or 7 cups of water and 7 cubes of bouillon.  Add 1 and 1/2 T tomato paste, 1 clove minced garlic, and if you want a little bit of heat add 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes.  I think the “spicy” sausage will definitely add more heat than the flakes do though.
Get that broth hot but not necessarily simmering or boiling.

Meanwhile, roll the meatball mixture into marble size balls.  They are small and will take a little while to do it all.  Trust me, this is the hardest part and it is not hard.

Add these little balls, carefully, to the broth.

Cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add 1/2 cup ditalini or other small pasta, or a tinsy bit more depending on how much noodles you want compared to broth, and let cook.  Once those are cooked through which should not take much longer than 15 minutes or so if you keep it at a simmer or low boil, add about 8 oz fresh spinach.

You may have to add the spinach in two batches but as it cooks it shrinks tremendously.

Serve with a small sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. 

This could easily be made in a crockpot and just add the noodles and spinach a bit before you serve.  Enjoy!

Erin, The Suburbs


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First of all, I need to mention my excuse for not blogging in about a week.  I moved!  I am finally and officially a homeowner.  Things are going well, we are completely moved here however, I am still swimming in piles and boxes of things to get put away.  Next comes the remodeling.  The home is not old but was not well taken care of.  In a few months when the moving process has completely left my system, I will start that process and work little by little.

Okay, now for the post.  I know Chicken and Dumplings is typically a baked dish with chicken, veggies, and of course…dumplings.  I have appreciation for traditional chicken and dumplings but if I must be honest, I don’t love it.  I do however LOVE this version which excludes the veggies and is more a soup dish.  Husband and the kiddies like it too.
First, get 5 cups of water in a pot (sort of a large one) and add 6 chicken bouillion cubes to it.  Start it on medium heat.   Next, take two boneless, skinless chicken breasts.


Cut the chicken into bite size pieces.

The pieces do not need to be perfect or all the exact same size.


Take all your chicken pieces and add them, carefully, to the pot.  At this point, turn up the heat to medium high.


Time for biscuits.  I purchase mine for a couple of reasons.  Number one, it is easier.  Number two, better flavor than making them myself.

I use buttermilk biscuits. You do not have to, it will turn it basically the same or similar, I have used a few different types and they work. I use buttermilk for the extra flavor.


Now, tear the biscuits into bite size pieces.  With jumbo size biscuits this is usually tearing them into four pieces, the smaller biscuits are usually 3 pieces but either way; tear them and then sort of roll or crunch them into balls rather than just ripped pieces.


In your pot, add 1/4 tsp of chili powder and 1/4 tsp of garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste.  Once the pot reaches a strong simmer, carefully drop the dumplings in around the pot.  Don’t drop them all on top of each other or it ends up sort of a mess.


It is okay if they touch each other, it is just easier if they are not all piled on top of each other.


As the dumplings cook they will get fragile and then when they are done or close to done they become tough again.  Turn the heat down to keep the pot at a simmer not a high boil and gently stir the dumplings.  I do this by taking a large spoon and going from the outside edge and working in toward the middle, I just pull the spoon inward and drag the dumplings around a little.  Stirring too hard will break them.

Cook for about 10 minutes and it should be done.


Now, the finished product will look something like this.

Sometimes the broth part comes out a little different consistency, sometimes thicker, sometimes thinner.  It will still taste fine.  Make sure to dish it with the chicken too, it tends to stay at the bottom while the dumplings stay at the top.  I find that everyone seems to like either the chicken or the dumplings more and often ask if I can have more of one than the other.  But since everyone disagrees on which part to have more of, I keep it just like this!  Enjoy!
Erin, The Suburbs

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I have to watch my money just like so many of us do,  however I feel that I really have to have a good stockpile because well I live in a town with no grocery store. We have a small convenience store that has some goods basically a one wall grocery aisle that has odds and ends if you need them but I try to have a good stockpile. The nearest grocer is on the other side of the nearest town it is about  12 miles from here I also believe this store to be the biggest rip off in the state. The prices are ridiculous while it is nice to have it when I don’t have time to make the over 30 mile drive to my nearest smiths or wal mart I refuse to shop there unless I have to. This week I had to. I just needed a loaf of bread and I couldn’t drive to wal mart for a loaf of bread that is just stupid. So I went to the Market bought a loaf of bread that was on sale for 2.50 mind you for crappy white bread and then when I got home and checked the date I realized that it would expire in 3 days. This is really typical for this store. I also browsed a bit and picked up a package of fresh basil because I wanted to make a pesto. Well That is not going to happen I inspected the package the herb was wilted and had mold growing why the hell is this on the shelf. So I handed it to the guy stocking lettuce and paid for my bread and walked out of the store.

Anyway I am getting off track while explaining my utter disgust with our grocer. So I try to stock up once I had to buy some cold medicine there and paid 16 Dollars for Tylenol cold medicine. Normally I wont pay more than 2 dollars for triaminic that is because with coupons and price matching I can get it that cheap so when I have 4 coupons for something and it is on sale for a great price I buy 4 of them. Make sense? I am not an extreme couponer extreme coupoining disgusts me. There is no need for 150 mustards just because they are free. I do however like to stock up on the things we use.

The other day Smiths was having a good sale on some products so when you see what I bought you may be a bit confused but keep in mind I only buy what is on sale and then I combine it with coupons to get the lowest price possible. So Here is what I Bought.

I have here….

12 rolls of cottonelle TP

4 Bags of Arm and Hammer Laundry single load packs

1 Box of Finish Dish Detergent

6 Boxes of Cake Mix

1 Bag of Goldfish Grahams

8 Bags of Nabisco snack Saks

2 Bags of Doritos

4 boxes of Hefty Freezer Bags

3 boxes of Kleenex Tissues

3 Boxes of Bayer Aspirin

These were on sale at my wal mart for 2.99 I had a coupon for 3.00 I got these for free!

Let me just mention here that my savings on this trip was 72%

My total before coupons and fresh values savings would have been 101.12. I paid 29.26. This is why I coupon every week.


Now I obviously couldn’t feed my family with what I bought this day but I have a stock pile that I created by doing this I have plenty of treats for school lunches and snacks for my toddler. I have a couple of months worth of laundry detergent here and freezer bags for all those freezer meals not to mention some of the other goodies.

Clip away save money just try it even if you take a few coupons you are saving money but once you learn to do it right it doesn’t take much time and it will become a way of life for you.

Happy Clipping


The Sticks



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I had to follow up on my Flies post from the other day.  I am refinishing my kitchen table (a post will come on that when it is done) and after staining it today, I went into the bathroom to take a shower and got stung by a bee!  On my neck!  Let me first start by saying that I had forgotten what a bee sting feels like since I don’t think I have been stung by a bee since I was….8.  So I had a small spasm like freak out when I felt the sting because I was not immediately aware of what caused it.  I yelled for Husband to please inspect my shirt for a bee because I well, I just did not want to and he was willing to.  I left the bathroom and he found it.  So how does this all relate back to my Flies post from the other day.  I have a new found respect for the obsessive and obnoxious fly electrocuting because today Husband went to bat for me 🙂  I sat in the hall listening to him REPEATEDLY zap the little bugger with his electrocuting swatter, smiling to myself that he was on the defense for me.
Erin (The Suburbs)

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I love love love Chili, It is one of my go to dishes. I look forward to the fall and winter months so that I can eat chili and get the warm fuzzy feeling in my belly that lets me know all is right with the world.

Today I made some Chili I made a huge pot of chili to be exact, and luckily enough I took my camera into the kitchen with me so I can share it with everyone.

Smorgasbord of Chili stuff

Here I have a few Ingredients just a few …. okay more than a few but chili is a very simple recipe I’ll show you.

1 1/2 lbs ground elk (you can use sausage or beef whatever you like we prefer elk meat)

various peppers and chili’s I have red chili peppers Anaheim  chili’s three varieties of bell peppers and jalapeno peppers here.



Canned Tomatoes , Diced and sauce



Garlic Salt

Chili Powder




Seasoning salt

Onion Powder


I also have to have beans I use whatever variety I have in my pantry. But I always, always use Chili beans.

Red Beans

Dark Red Beans

Black Beans

Chili Beans

Pork and Beans

What is Chili without Beans?

First things First you need to cut up your veggies.

Slice up your onions I like mine in bigger chunks

Dice up Anaheim peppers


My plate full of Spicy and sweet goodness.

I don’t like to seed my peppers when doing Chili I think it adds a little kick and a little kick is nice.

I brown my meat in a large pot the largest one I have because by the time I am done the whole thing is full to the brim I have had to do it in two pots before.

Start Browning your meat.

I don’t wait until it is all browned because I like to soften my veggies right away once you have given it a few good stirs then I add my peppers and onions.

Because I am using elk I will add a splash of EVOO you don’t need to do this with any other  meat because of that fat content but elk is on of the leanest red meats you could ever ask for there is no fat to drain when  I brown it which also makes this dish a very lean dish. I also like to add a generous amount of salt to this to help break down the veggies.

use your incredibly old-looking hand for adding the salt

This is where I add a few of my seasonings as well as the salt I like to put in season salt and a bit of pepper

This would be where you would drain your meat if you have excess fat drain it now. Meanwhile drain your beans I am draining the black beans and the red beans and giving them a good rinse.

Add the Beans to the pot and give them a good stir

Then add your chili beans and pork and beans do not drain or rinse these it is important to the flavor and reduces the amount of seasonings you add because there is already so much it also helps ad the he liquid content

At this point I add two cans of diced tomatoes and give it a good stir

I ad one small can of tomato sauce after the tomatoes

Notice that the liquid content is now starting to fill the pan, I like my Chili Chunky if you like more sauce ad another can.

Now I go all crazy and add seasonings.

Garlic Salt, Pepper, Chili powder, Cumin, Paprika, Cayenne pepper a pinch of cinnamon and whatever else looks good. More salt if needed as well.

Add all your spices be generous with them this is a large pot. I make sure to use about 3 table spoons of Chili powder though and about a tsp of everything else.

There are no exact measurements for me sometimes I use more sometimes I use less it all depends on how it tastes to me. Chili is different every time. I just season to taste.

Then I add a very important part of this don’t skip it if you do it will be all wrong, wrong you hear me wrong! About a quarter cup of Brown sugar. Brown sugar don’t use white use white it must be brown because brown sugar is  a substance that cures all evils.

Brown sugar I used more than a 1/4 cup but I am obsessed and my chili is very spicy I add a lot of jalapeno

Now stir and stir some more give it a taste. How is it? Does it need something else?If you think it does add something. Turn the heat down and let it is simmer for about 30 min. And you are finished.

Pot of Chili

I will start eating this like a crazed person once it is ready. Today I have divided it into two gallon sized bags and laid them flat  in the freezer. Chili is great to freeze and reheat in a pot on the stove for later. Chili is a versatile dish in my house we use it for many things. I would serve this with cornbread, put it on top of nacho’s or make chili cheese dogs on maple bars. I know it sounds weird don’t knock it till you try it you will never eat it on hot dog buns again.


(the sticks)

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It is five a.m. I am up blogging for no good reason other than I was woken up by the Mountain Man calling me from a strange number because his phone would not work. Thats right folks he wants me to fix it from 200 some odd miles away. Let me just explain a little Mountain Man and I don’t live together I live in our permanent home in a small town on a corner lot next to the highway and facing east so I can watch the sunrise. Currently he lives in a fifth wheel trailer in Thompson Springs in a trailer court he faces west, he can watch sun set I guess from his front porch, if he was ever around to do so. He works out-of-town so his location changes from time to time. Thompson springs is the utmost scariest town he has stayed in not because of the “neighborhood” or because it is basically a ghost town. I believe last time I looked it up the population was 34. That is not a typo.

This is right next to my husband I actually think this is a beautiful Home it would have been at least if someone had kept it up.

This is about 500 feet away from his trailer

This is the School if you can believe that it is no longer in use but this is it.

this is up the canyon a little bit

(DISCLAIMER: these pictures are not my own I have my own but I can’t find my SD card, if these pictures are yours please let me know and I will give you credit for you work.)

So anyway on with my story, Mountain man has no sense of technology he is a hunter gatherer type he does not know how to print a document. If he needs something printed he literally asks me to do it for him. No matter how many times I show him he refuses to learn I say this because it can’t be possible for me to tell you how to print a document 30 times and still no know how right.? So at 5 am this morning I get a phone call and this is about how it goes.

“Hello” I say this very muffled and confused

” Babe my phone wont work”


” My phone it just has a black screen”

” Is it off?”

” No there is a little green light flashing at the top so it is still on”

“Whose phone are you on?”

“( for the sake of privacy we will call him Hayseed…it is possible to be more hillbilly than me and mountain man and this guy is definitely true.) Hayseed”

” Hold on…..”

( at this point I drag my tired and confused ass out of bed and head over to the computer.)

” …… I am not finding anything about this issue on here babe.”

“Well, what do I do then?” He is irritated because his tech support, me, is not on top of it at five am

” I don’t know are you sure it wont work at all? Nothing happens? You can’t just shut it down?”

At this point he realizes that I am talking to him like a small child and he gets all defensive

“NO, Nothing I have nothing just a black screen”


“Are you there Kim?”

“Yes I just don’t know what to tell you I am not finding anything”

Then comes the pouting.

” Alright I guess I will just talk to you when I come home next week sometime”

I now behave like a small child because my lack of better judgment is all compromised because well it is five am and I don’t have to be up yet.

” Oh MY GOD,  I will just come down there and fix your phone”

” No you wont its fine, bye” and he hangs up

Ugh my hell he is such a toddler. So I get up off my computer walk into the kitchen and heat up some coffee. Alright let’s try this again. I sit down on my computer. Read a few Forums on the phone unfortunately these phones are completely enclosed there is no battery to take out I am not even sure how they got the Sim card in there. I am no Expert in technology either. Just ask Erin and Husband they had to walk me through wireless just a week ago. I finally find out how to restart the phone without taking out the battery I also found out how to do a hard reset with just the buttons if you have no screen. But this of course is a last resort. So I text Hayseed ….. tell Mountain Man to call me when he gets a second.

Ring Ring,

“Hey I found a few things but I want you to try something first”


” Hold down the power button for like 10 seconds”

I hear him snort

“well, is anything happening?”


“Okay what?”

” It’s giving me options like soft reset, restart, (he starts to ramble off a few others but I quit listening)”

” Restart press restart.”

“Okay it is starting up ”

( I roll my eyes which is something Erin and Husband do with me quite often)

“Alright are you good now?”

” Yes thanks”

Now that I have spent the last 30 min walking him through this I basically have to be upset with myself because well I let the man get these stupid phones and I know full well this will happen when ever we get anything that has an on button. Dont get me wrong he is not stupid in an apocalypse he is the man I want on my side but when it comes to setting the coffee pot timer I better just do it myself.


(the sticks)

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Husband and I have frequent arguments over flies in our house.  These are not fighting arguments but disagreements non the less.  I do not like the flies in the house but find his manner of fly hunting to be….intense.  With a normal run of the mill fly swatter it seems like he hits them so hard that there will be nothing left but a smear to wipe off which grosses me out and makes me jump every time he actually connects with one.  With one of those hand held fly zappers which looks like a racquet that electrocutes the little bugs, he swings the thing around to hit them in mid air and has even broken a coffee carafe in the act.  On top of all that, I have on occasion found dead flies left on the floor or counter which he says he could not find to throw away.  Let me give him some credit though, he is not in the habit of killing them and leaving them where they are but because of the few that I have found, I constantly remind him not to leave the fly carcasses all over the house (which I am sure drives him crazy as it interrupts the “hunting” zen that he tends to find in all this).  Now that I have not made a long story short, the point of this blog.  Today I went into the bathroom and found this lovely little sentiment from Husband.

At least he finds humor in my neuroses about the fly carcasses.
Erin (The Suburbs)

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