Monday Recipe: Reunion Casserole

Yesterday was the first Gooding reunion I have attended.  Are you wondering who the Gooding clan is and how I am related?  Well that is a good question.  Bill's Dad's family is part of the clan and so since we have moved back South Carolina, it was time for us to put in an appearance at the reunion.  Commanded by Bill's great aunt, of course. 

And so the following casserole was born from Bill's and my brains as well as a pantry and fridge raid!

Mediterranean Venison Casserole


·         2 lbs ground venison (other ground meat will work)
·         1 large onion diced
·         1 red bell pepper diced
·         1 pkg frozen mixed vegetables
·         1 cup frozen broccoli chopped
·         1 large can mushrooms chopped finely
·         2 cups Israeli pearl couscous
·         2 cups water
·         ¾ cup plain sour cream
·         ½ cup garlic and herb sour cream (we used Breakstone’s brand)
·         2 cups Italian Cheese blend shredded cheese
·         ½ tsp cayenne pepper
·         1 tsp Thyme
·         Salt and black pepper to taste


1.       Cook couscous in the water with salt according to the package directions.
2.       When couscous is almost done, add frozen vegetables to the pot until they are warmed through, set aside
3.       Brown the ground venison with onion and bell pepper.  Add the cayenne, thyme, salt and pepper.  Drain well.
4.       Add mushrooms and sour cream.  Heat through
5.       In a large bowl pour the couscous mixture and meat mixture together.  Stir to coat vegetables and couscous
6.       Pour into a greased 9x13 casserole dish.
7.       Top with shredded cheese.  Bake in 350 degree oven until the cheese browns a bit on the edges and melts.

Hope you enjoy this one as much as the family did!


Monday Recipe: Thrown Together Side Dish

Tonight was one of those nights.  We had plenty of leftver venison loin from the birthday party.  However,  I had no idea what to make to accompany it.  We were already about an hour later than we normally eat therefore, it had to be quick. So off to the fridge and the pantry.     

Thrown Together Side Dish  was born!

  • Approx 2 cups of uncooked pasta
  • 1 can of mushrooms chopped
  • 1 can of peas (we love Leseur)
  • 1/2 cup of garlic & herb sour cream (you could make your own too but in this case it was store bought)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste 
  • Cook pasta according to the directions.  Drain
  • Add peas, mushrooms, sour cream.  Mix well until sour cream is melted and all the pasta is coated. 
  • The pasta will warm the canned veggies just fine.  You can use frozen but will need to be thawed first or cook them with the pasta.
  • TASTE and then determine how much salt and pepper to add.
Everyone was very pleased.  Bill and dad even got seconds.  I have just enough left over for tomorrow's lunch.  I will probably add a bit of cheese to give it some more protien.

Weekly Wrap up: Field Trip

This week we have my best friend here from Michigan.  Thank you to her hubby for letting her come down for a whole week! 

Thursday night it was a Low Country Crab Boil in Aunt Kristi's honor!  It was YUMMY but we could have done without all the gnats.

Not much schooling has been done this week, however, we had a field trip to Charleston on Saturday.  Little one took her aunt to The Battery, over the Ravenel Bridge to Patriot's Point, through Bill's Alma mater, The Citadel, and out to one of our favorite restaurants, The Grill on the Edge

This was the first time little one and I have been able to walk around Battery Park!   Did you know that while it is commonly known as Battery Park, White Point Gardens is the actual park part? In the past, it has always been raining when we have been to tour around Charleston.   Of course admittedly until this time, it has always been in November when we have gone.

In preparation for the trip, we did a bit of research on the bridge and how it was made.  I love bridges and so this was fun research for me.  Other than little one getting to learn how to use a search engine on the computer, I think the whole exercise was kind of wasted on her.  But I learned a lot!  For instance, there are 128 individual cables between the support piers and each of those cables can hold over 1 million pounds!    Here is a link to some great photos of it since it is quite hard to take one while riding in the van.


On Sunday, we celebrated little one's 4th birthday with friends and family.  One of the highlights of the afternoon was little one and her friends ATTEMPTING to break the pinata bought by Aunt Kristi!   Well, let me tell you, this pinata could have been the poster child for a Volkswagen.  One of the cousins finally had to bust it open with a two-handed swing.   Little one was very happy with her presents and will enjoy them for the next ...... oh month or so!

So what did we learn this week?
  • We aren't quite ready for history beyond climbing on cannonballs & cannons.  Okay, we loved the sailboats!
  • Bridge construction at this point is not an option for a career path.  Little one was not as impressed as I was.  Boat captain might be.
  • Aunt Kristi loves to spoil me
  • Preparation of crabs is hard work, messy and WET. Note to Momma... let me wear my bathing suit next time and you won't have to make me change 3 times before company shows up.
  • Birthdays should be everyday.


What a difference cabinets make!

On Tuesday, we were at a point that I felt like we may never get done.  Things were starting to come together
  • All painting but the study was done
  • Hardwood floors stained and 2 coats of poly with the 3rd to be done after everything else is done
  • All new doors in and painted
  • Electricians working on the final lighting
But the kitchen was bare.  No calls from the cabinet maker that he was done and I was getting worried.  Yesterday, I never went into the house. I was in my office heads down.

I walked into the house this morning and.............................................. WOW see what has been accomplished:
Looking over the bar/island cooktop into the kitchen.

Front of cooktop island

Another look at the kitchen
And just heard from our contractor that the countertop guy is headed here to make the template for the counters!   I can see progress and I have a kitchen.  Okay I can't cook in it yet but I have one!


Wordless Wednesday: Mass Chaos

If you read yesterday's post, then you know we played Mass Chaos (yeah for cool whip, chocolate syrup & water hoses) at church last week.  Here are few more pictures of the event:


Weekly Wrap Up

 I am going to try to post a weekly wrap up each week on Saturday for the previous week but I reserve the right to be late and it may always end up on Tuesdays!

We have a name for our preschool............... Anderson Academy .... LOL I know not the most original but hey we like it.  While we will not formally start doing desk work in the study room in the house until October, it doesn't mean learning isn't happening.  I guess most would call this k-4 curriculum "unschooling" but it works for us.  Dad is the primary teacher as we start this adventure.

Last week we got the cabinet setup in the RV for our school.     

In the RV, we are limited on space, so we have a few workbooks for writing and shapes, for reading we have the Usborne First Reading Set and other items include two games, one a busy bug set (colors and sets, early math) and a phonics card set.

Here is we are playing with the bug set. She is making bug soup, hence the bowl. YUMMMMMMMM my favorite is purple and blue bugs!   Little one also likes having her dad or me make the soup while she calls out the recipe:     
  • 2 blue bugs
  • Stir gently
  • All of the beetles
  • ETC!

On Wednesday night, it was the start of FUNdamentals at church.  Playing mass chaos, I was really impressed with her following directions and getting to play with the big kids.  Basically Mass Chaos is a dirty, messy and hilarious time for kids of all ages.

So what did we learn? 

Play = school!
Cleaning up allows us to know where to find things the next day
Getting messy can be a learning experience (gotta remember that Mom!)

Monday Recipe: Lentils and Sausage

One of my favorite go to meals.  Lentils are a great source of protien and fiber while sausage just makes the dish pop.  This dish is inspired by Cabela's Sausage and Lentil soup.  It is a great, relatively fast (or all day in the crockpot) recipe. 

Feel free to substitute your choice of sausage.  Most anytime I cook with red meat, it is venison!  Bill and family believe that the family that hunts together stays together.  Our freezer is full each year!   Did you know South Carolina has the longest deer season in the nation?  It runs from August 15th to January 1 each year.  

Today's Recipe: Lentils and Sausage

  • 2 cups dry lentils
  • 1 lb of ground sausage, as stated above I use bulk venison sausage, relatively mild but if you like it hot, feel free
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 cups of chicken broth or water
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, do not drain
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1/2 cup of diced carrots
  • 1/2 bell pepper diced
  • 2 tbs italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp fennel seed crushed
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Brown the sausage and drain excess fat.
  • Saute the onion, garlic, bell pepper and carrots for about 4 minutes or until the onion is translucent
  • Add the meat back into the pan along with the salt, pepper, cayenne, italian seasoning and fennel seed.  Saute an additional minute or two, stirring to mix the ingredients.
  • Add the 6 cups of broth, diced tomatoes and the lentils.
  • Bring to a boil
  • Taste the broth and adjust seasonings as needed.
  • Reduce heat and simmer on low for 30-45 minutes or until lentils are tender.  

  • Follow Directions for first three bullets
  • Then add meat mixture to the crockpot
  • Add broth, lentils and tomotoes.  Stir.
  • Cook on low for 5-6 hours; high for 3-5 hours or until the lentils are tender.

I usually serve with cooked brown rice, fresh bread and a nice salad.  Crackers work well too!  This recipe will easily serve 6-8 people. Freeze the leftovers for another quick meal.


Coupon Savings this week

This post is happening late Sunday (okay early Monday Morning) night.  As I haven't gone to bed yet, it is still Sunday night to me. 

Anyway, I have finally finished going through my two papers and clipping coupons I wanted and saving those I don't for my coupon exchange club.   This is also the time that I try to re-organize my coupon binder.  And I found out I need more baseball card sheet protectors!!!  I thought I did last week but now I am officially out of room in those that I have!  So I guess my shopping list this week just got a bit bigger. 
After completing the clipping and the organizing, it is time to sit down and tally up how I did this last week in my savings calculator.   And tonight, I have decided to share with you how I did and how I arrive at that number:

Week ending Saturday 9/10/2011

Store Names Total Cost, if no Coupons Coupons Actual Spent Percentage Saved
Bi-Lo $131.91 $30.76 $101.15 23.32%
CVS $30.86 $11.73 $19.13 38.01%
Walgreen's $61.59 $2.51 $59.08 4.08%
Other (this week: Wal-Mart & Petco) $175.17 $20.57 $154.60 11.74%
TOTALS $399.53 $65.67 $333.96 16.41%

Overall, I give myself a C this week.  Although I was under my goal of 25% saved this week, I did score some big wins.
  • New exercise outfit for $12 at Wal-Mart which if I had bought it at the beginning of Summer would have cost me $25+.
  • $.50 off per gallon at the pump.  Thank you Bi-Lo !!!!  That made our price per gallon $2.99. 
  • B1G1 1/2 off Walgreen's brand scored us two cans of nuts for $5.00 and I put money on my Walgreen's prescription card for the next trip.
  • Party favors and wrapping paper paid for by my coupon savings at Wal-Mart for Jea's Birthday next Sunday!
So how did you do this week at the store?  Tell us about your big wins.


Wordless Wednesday: Two weeks, really??

This week's wordless Wednesday comes from our cat, Brat, and her observations of progress on the renovation.

One of my favorite seats in the RV, now if I could figure out how
to get rid of that upstart Chase.
Anyone wanna cook?
Deck from office door end
Hmm lighting leaves a bit to be desired
Where are the steps and railing, that is an awful big step for a little thing like me

Storage? Bathroom?


Monday Recipe: Griled Pork Loin

In honor of the traditional cookout for Labor Day, my recipe today is Grilled Pork Loin.  Bill and I very rarely do "traditional" hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill anymore.   Here is our favorite marinade and timing on the grill! 

Take time today to fire up the grill and have a great Labor Day feast. 

  • 2-3 lb Pork Loin
  • Nature's Seasoning
  • Marinade
    • Bottle of Greek Dressing
    • 4-5 cloves of garlic, sliced
    • 1 small onion chopped (or if you want to grill the onion as well, just slice in rings)
    • 1 tbs Worcestershire Sauce
    • Juice of one lemon
    • A bottle of your favorite beer (Bill likes dark beer so that is usually what we use or whatever we have on hand)
  • Rinse the pork lion and pat dry
  • Sprinkle Nature's seasoning over the entire loin.  Set aside.
  • Add all of the ingredients of the marinade into a gallon Ziploc bag.  Close and shake to mix well.
  • Add the pork loin into the bag.  Remove as much air as possible from the bag and close.
  • Make sure the loin is well coated and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes up to 4 hours
  • Grill on indirect heat for approximately 15 minute per side. 
  • Reserve the marinade to baste the pork loin each time you turn it.  We prefer medium rare to medium meat or internal temp around 140 degrees.
  • Remove from heat and let rest under aluminum foil for about 15 minutes before slicing thin

Grilled Onions/Vegetable Skewers:
  • Remove onions from the marinade and let drain a few minutes in a colander.
  • Place rings directly on the grill for about 2-3 minutes per side
  • Vegetable Skewers
    • Soak wooden skewers for at least 10 minutes prior to grilling.
    • Add tomato, bell pepper, yellow squash or your favorite veggies along with the marinated onion. \
    • Be sure to salt and pepper to taste 
    • Baste the skewers with the reserve marinade
    • Grill for about 3 minutes per side.
Other sides I like with the grilled loin include wild rice mix or orzo pasta.  A nice salad and fresh baked bread or a warmed up French loaf from the bakery section round out the meal nicely.

Have a great Labor Day !


Do you use coupons?

I think I ask most of my friends and acquaintances this question.  I am always looking for someone to take the coupons that I can't or won't use.

I have been couponing it seems forever.  But in reality I have only been seriously paying attention to my savings in the last year.  My mom and grandmother taught me to coupon when I was a little girl and I have never forgotten.  Though I rarely used their advice until after I got married and had a child.  

In today's economy it is even more important to save where I can.   Thus my journey to serious couponing over the last year.   Unlike the show "Extreme Couponing" or many of the websites I use each week, I do not stockpile more than I will use or buy things I do not need/like.  My goal each week is to save an average of 25% off of my bill at stores I regularly purchase from. This does not mean I will not purchase items at full price.  But it does mean that if I don't need it immediately, I will wait until it is on sale or I have a coupon or best of both worlds -- I have a coupon and item is on sale! 

Couponing works! 

In the last three months, I have saved approximately $1700.  Unfortunately or fortunately, our renovation project has eaten that money and none has been saved.  Hm mm, I think I have my next project in regards to couponing -- Open a savings account and put the amount saved each week from my budget into it.   I can use my savings for Christmas shopping or on my vacation to Orlando in January!   Stay tuned to see how it goes.

So do you coupon? 


5 Years and Counting

Happy Anniversary were the first words I heard this morning.  "I Love you" coming right after.   I can hardly believe that five years ago, I was saying "I do" to my best friend and love.

I remember moments in time of our wedding day.  
  • I was the driver of the boat (Lincoln Continental) to the hairdresser's and to brunch.  hey it was huge compared to my Kia Sorrento!
  • Standing at the top of the stairs waiting on my dad with my bridesmaids telling jokes so I wouldn't cry
  • Seeing Bill's Dad with a grin that about split his face open -- he is the one on the scooter in the background behind Bill.
  • Standing over the a/c vent while pictures where taken and breathing a sigh of relief  --- wedding coordinator forgot to turn on the a/c 2-3 hours before we got there.  Mind you the temperature outside was about 102.  That was down from the week prior when we were stuck in the 110's!
  • Two of my dearest friends picking up my Mom's wheelchair and carrying her up the stairs so she could sit with friends and family in one of the reception rooms!   That made me cry when I saw them.
  • Lots of beer and wine flowing freely at the post-reception get together back at our house.
  • Trying to find a restaurant on a Sat Evening which could hold 20 people easily when June, mother-in-law who was soused but good, announced it was time to feed the crowd.  And no, buckets of fried chicken were not to be served!
  • Revenge on my matron of honor later that night.  Who else but me would decide to go toilet paper a house on their wedding night? 
  • Watching our wedding video and laughing my butt off at the antics of my father and my father-in-law lighting the Unity Candles!   Bill was not so amused as me when it was happening LIVE!
Looking back, I can see I should have had a clue it was going to be an adventure.  Over the last five years we have had a few surprises, wonderful days and a few tragedies.  Through it all, Bill has been by my side and I by his.  I thank God every day for the wonderful man I married.