Hey ya’ll! We’ve had such a great and busy weekend of family time here at the Hall household! First things first, Bella’s birthday was Friday! That’s right, my little puppy turned one! And me, being the crazy dog lady that I am, made sure to make her homemade puppy treats! I also bought her one of those crazy, expensive, Kong toys too. But, it was worth it because I’ve been so busy lately I haven’t been able to spend enough time with her… this means she’s tearing EVERYTHING up… we have to send her to some more puppy training!! But, with this Kong toy she’s chewing it instead of the furniture!
Anyway, on Saturday the Mississippi Wildlife Extravaganza is where it was AT! My mom, dad, sister, two nephews, and myself, along with about 300 other people went to the Mississippi Wildlife Extravaganza to see Eva Shockey and to check out all the booths… We had such a blast! The boys were so excited to see Eva Shockey. For those of ya’ll who don’t know, Eva Shockey is Jim Shockey’s daughter. Jim and Eva are stars of the show Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventure’s on the Outdoor Channel. What many of you may not know is that I love to hunt and so does most of my family… my mom and one of my sister’s don’t like it at all. Yes, I am an animal lover. But I also feel that wildlife management and conservation through hunting is essential. Plus, the adrenaline rush after a successful hunt is one of the best feelings in the world! And spending so much time, one on one with nature and the beauty of what God has given us, is right up there with it! Any who… we saw Eva Shockey and the boys couldn’t have been more excited to take a picture and get an autograph from such an awesome person and such a “hot chick” as they say!
Now today dawned bright and early, we had a day full of activity and errands. We had my other sister Shay, her husband, their two kids, Melissa, her two kids, my mom, my dad, and me for supper tonight. My dad’s been working out of town all summer. He’s only been home for a few short visits since the beginning of May and this time we got him for a whole week before he has to go back. He’s leaving tomorrow for Texas, his home away from home, and his one request before he left was a big pot of red beans and rice. Red beans and rice is my daddy’s favorite meal! And my mom has been cooking this version of it for years! Not only is it delicious, it’s easy, and fairly cheap! Now, it’s been a long time since I made red beans and rice because I got sick a few months back when I ate a bunch of it at a restaurant that I won’t name. Everyone that was with me ate some too so I’m not sure that that is what made me sick, but it sure was all I could think of when I was rolling around in bed! So tonight is the first time since then, that I have eaten it, much less made it! And boy was it good! There are a million ways to cook it though. Tonight, I made the quick version, with canned beans. We really like it better with dried beans though. I’ll put instructions for that below the recipe for tonight’s version.
What you really have to know for this version of red beans and rice is that it makes a ton. But if you’ve ever seen the movie Steel Magnolias (a Hall girl favorite) you know that it “freeze’s beautifully.” You also really need to know something that I’ve already told you at least once before… we’re meat eaters. We love it meaty, so we put a lot of different meats in it. You can cut back on anything you want. We also put a lot of beans in it. Especially this quick version. This is fairly simple to make and fairly cheap depending on the meat that you use. This is how we like it:
Red Beans and Rice, Hall style:
2 lbs. ground chuck or ground round,
2 pkgs. smoked sausage, (I like Country Pleasin’ original),
1 pkg. ground sausage,
3 cans dark red kidney beans,
1 can light red kidney beans,
1 can black beans,
1 can Ranch style beans,
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes,
1 medium onion,
3 cloves garlic,
Garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste.
More onions and Hot Sauce used as garnish.
Brown the hamburger meat and drain. Brown the ground sausage and drain. Brown the smoked sausage and drain. You can do this separately, in the same skillet or in different skillets at the same time if you want, but I hate washing dishes and it doesn’t take a whole lot of extra time doing it separately in the same skillet. Plus, whatever extra time it takes to cook, you get back on the cleaning end from only having to wash one skillet! You don’t have to drain the meat if you don’t mind it being greasy; but, I highly recommend draining it for a couple reasons. One, you want the red beans to be less watery and more creamy. Second, the more grease you put in, the more grease you’re going to taste. While all that meat is browning though, you can chop up the onion and garlic. I slice the sausage while the hamburger meat is cooking and the onions while the ground sausage is cooking, then open the cans while the smoked sausage is cooking. Aren’t I such a multi-tasker?!? It’s such a special talent! 😉 Once all the cans are open, it’s time for me to bring out my trusty Dutch Oven again! You can use any kind of boiler that you want, you can also do this in the morning and leave it in the crockpot to cook all day. Now, I put all the contents of all the cans in the Dutch Oven, or boiler as it may be, and then put all the meat, onions, and garlic in there. Now add all the seasoning in there and allow it to simmer on the stove for about 30 minutes.
The picture on the left is before I cooked it and the picture on the right is about halfway through. I should have waited a little longer to take my picture; at the end of the post you’ll see a picture of all the food, and you’ll notice the red beans look much creamier and darker in color. That’s how it should look. You can eat it this way… everything is cooked so it won’t hurt. It just tastes better the longer it cooks! Once the red beans are done, make the rice according to the directions on the box. Serve the red beans over a bed of rice and humbly turn down all marriage proposals that come along with the deliciousness!
I mentioned earlier that there is another version of it that we like. That version is using dried beans. You can buy two bags of dry red beans on the pasta aisle. Put them in the crockpot, cover them in water, cut up an onion, and sprinkle in salt and garlic salt and turn them on low for about 8 hours. Check on the beans throughout the day if you can, the water needs to be covering them at all times or they will be too dry. If the water is low, add HOT water. DO NOT add cold water, the crock will be hot and the cold water will make it crack. Then add the meat and tomatoes and let it simmer for another 30 to 45 minutes. You don’t want to put the meat in uncooked. I mean, you can, but it makes the sausage a really weird texture and I just don’t like it. You only want the meat to be in there the last hour or so. You can add a beef bouillon cube to the beans if you want a little more flavor though. My mom adds a couple of bay leaves as well. This is the cheapest version! The bags of beans are cheaper than the cans. You can also try to half this recipe but I’ve never halved it so I don’t know if it will turn out right. We hardly had any left over; but, we had ten people! And I don’t know what cookbook she was reading, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, you can almost always trust the lessons they taught you in Steel Magnolias. After all, all gay men love track lighting and all gay men are named Mark, Rick, or Steve. 😉
While all this was cooking, I made a delicious dip and an amazing dessert. The dip was super simple. But before I start I want to state for the record, I don’t get any kind of money for promoting anything on here, unfortunately… any brand of product I tell ya’ll about is a brand that I use on a regular basis or that I’ve just discovered and that I love. That being said, ya’ll should start paying me for promoting your products! 😉 Haha, I’m just kidding! But seriously, you should know about All Of Us- Old Plantation Soups and Dips. I bought some at the Extravaganza yesterday, made one of them at 5:30 and was washing the empty bowl out around 5:45. You can buy them at allofussoupdip.com The one I made tonight was Jalapeno Ranch Dip. But there are several that are delicious. All you have to do is buy a package of the mix, measure out a cup of sour cream, a cup of mayonnaise, and mix it all together. I thought it might be good to cream in a little softened cream cheese too, but I didn’t do it this time. Maybe next time. I served it with On the Border, Lightly Seasoned Cantina Tortilla Chips and Fritos. It would be good with Pretzels or crackers as well. It doesn’t look like it makes much in this picture, but that’s just because the bowl I used was so big.
But the dessert? Oh, the desert… I made Ooey, Gooey, Butter Cake Bars… They were so yummy and so easy. It’s kind of like a mix between sugar cookies and chess squares. And, it’s only 6 ingredients!
Ooey, Gooey, Butter Cake Bars:
1 box yellow cake mix, (I use Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker),
1 stick butter,
1 8oz pkg. cream cheese, softened,
1 lb. confectioner’s sugar,
1 cup brown sugar,
1 tsp vanilla extract.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the cake mix in a mixing bowl, melt the butter and pour it over the cake mix, add in one egg and mix it until it’s doughy. Line a deep cookie sheet with either wax paper or aluminum foil. Press the dough into each corner of the pan.
Now mix the rest of the eggs, cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla together until smooth.
Pour over the dough and put into the oven for between 35 and 45 minutes. Lift the edges of the tin foil or wax paper from the cookie sheet, place on a flat surface, and let the bars cool. Once they’re cooled, cut them into squares and serve.
These were delicious and are now all gone! So, for Bella’s birthday I made homemade dog treats. They were a big hit with the puppies! Bella even licked the spoon! They’re very easy to make and only take about 20 minutes from start to finish. This is all you’ll need.
Homemade Peanut Butter Puppy Treats:
1 cup peanut butter,
1 cup water,
2 tbsp. honey,
1 cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats,
2 cups All Purpose flour.
Put the water, peanut butter, honey, and egg in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Allow the ingredients to mix well, don’t allow the egg to cook! It’s probably better to mix the water, egg, and honey together first, then add the peanut butter.
The peanut butter is hard to get fully incorporated, but that’s okay, just stir until all the lumps are gone. It’s going to look like tan water. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, remove from heat, add the oats and flour. Once it’s thick, place on a greased cookie sheet. I didn’t have one small enough, so I formed it into the length and thickness that I wanted it to be.
Then I put it in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Once they cool, cut them into small pieces. You can use a cookie cutter to make them look like bones or a cup to cut them into rounds. I just cut them into small squares.
Then as I was cleaning up, I let Ms. Bella have a little taste before they were all done! Her likes to lick spoons!
When the treats had cooled, I stuffed a treat into each end of the Kong bone, and let her go to town! This can easily be adjusted for a people recipe as well. You can add brown sugar and granulated sugar, a little more flour, and have yourself some cookies! Or you can leave it like it is… It’s just not very sweet! 🙂 You can also add mashed up banana, pumpkin pie filling, mashed sweet potatoes, or even bacon to this for your pups! Pumpkin is supposed to be very good for dogs. I’ll have to add that next time!
Well, that’s it for tonight folks! Hope ya’ll enjoyed it! I know we sure did! This week is the week! I’m planning it and promising it to ya’ll now. I’m making my own SPAGHETTI SAUCE!! I’m also going to try to talk my mom into helping me make some pickles and jam. I hope I can fit it all in! I’m also going to try to fit in a viewing of Steel Magnolias and all of you should too. If you haven’t seen it, you don’t know what you’re missing. And if you have, you know why I can quote it in it’s entirety! But you have to watch the 1989 version and not the 2012 version. No offense to Queen Latifa but nobody can beat Julia Roberts, Dolly Parton, and Sally Field! Ya’ll have a great week and let me know how your meal turns out!