I’m baaaaackkk… I know I’ve been gone for such a long time! I’m so sorry! I know it’s a sorry excuse but I been busy folks! As the holidays get closer and the weather gets colder, I’ve been busier! We had a real estate convention, several birthdays, the Parade of Homes, all sorts of people looking for new family homes just coming out of the woodworks, and Halloween! Not only that but there’s been FOOTBALL! Oh the football! For any college football fans out there y’all know this has been a season of upsets and at the very top of those upsets, my Bulldogs are sitting pretty at #1! And I’m not going to lie… I loved every minute of it… Now, I’m writing this as I’m riding down the Interstate on the way to Nebraska with my dad. We’re going huntin y’all! I’m so excited… This is my favorite time of year for so many reasons and I’m in hog heaven for now! After a busy week, making sure my clients are happy, my dogs are taken care of, my clothes are warm enough and clean enough to go on this trip, we’re on our way!

My moms birthday is Saturday and last night I made her favorite meal! Chicken tortellini with garlic bread and her favorite strawberry cake! So I’ll be giving y’all that recipe. I’ll also be giving y’all the recipe for some awesome Baked Ziti and a homemade Chicken Pot Pie that was DE-LISH! These are pretty easy recipes and I took some shortcuts on them that you don’t have to take. I’ll explain later! For right now, I’ll tell you about my mama. My best friend and my biggest supporter! Last week my brother called me, worried, from Disneyland with his family. He told me that he and my dad had this trip planned to Nebraska and now he didn’t think he should go. He said that with the trip to Disneyland and work being so busy for him, that he should stay at home to take care of business. My immediate response was “It’s Mamas birthday… I shouldn’t go” the next was “Dang it! Every time y’all plan these trips I can’t go!” I was upset but I didn’t want to leave mama on her birthday. I knew it would upset her if I wasn’t there and she was already upset my dad wouldn’t be there. A couple days later she brought it up and I told her the same thing. And she of course said that it was fine and I could go… She said that she didn’t want me to miss out and I resisted… at first. Finally though I decided that if she was okay with it I may as well go. Right? Why let a trip go to waste and I mean I may not ever get the opportunity to go again and I’ve always wanted to go! So after a long conversation and a lot of consideration I decided to come! I immediately went online and ordered a new coat, gloves, and socks… It’s gonna be SNOWING here people!!! I’m so pumped! And since I was missing such a big day for my mom I decided we should celebrate her birthday early… Hence last night’s dinner. My moms birthday falls at the worse time of the year… I feel awful for her, really I do… Rifle season is always starting up and there’s always a hunting trip. In some families and for some people, maybe even some of you, this is no excuse… In my family it’s kind of the norm. My dad some how is always gone on a hunting trip on her birthday… A couple years ago it was Canada, another year it was Texas, another it was Nebraska again, one year it was Africa… I’m gonna have to have a talk with that man! Hopefully next year he’ll be at home! It’s also a terrible time of year because my mom loves fresh fruits and veggies and her FAVORITE cake is a strawberry cake that I make with fresh strawberries. Ironically, the best cake I’ve ever made, is from a box! You don’t have to use a box, if you have a different recipe you can use that. But, you have to add a couple of essentials! Since it is winter, I bought strawberries from the Kroger produce section; however, you can use frozen if you want. This is what you’ll need.

Strawberry Cake:

1 box Duncan Hines Strawberry Cake mix,

3 eggs,

1/3 cup of oil,

1 cup water,

4 oz. strawberry cream cheese,

1 cup sliced strawberries,

1/2 pkg. strawberry jello mix.

Mix the ingredients according to the directions on the package. Add the cream cheese & strawberries. You may need to add a little extra water if the batter looks too thick. I normally would have baked this in two round cake pans; but, since those somehow disappeared from my kitchen, I had to use a bundt pan. Butter the pan really well and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. I know that seems like a long time, keep an eye on it, it may vary depending on your oven or the type of pan you’re using.

strawberry cake

Strawberry Icing:

2 pkg. cream cheese,

2 cups confectioners sugar,

1/2 cup granulated sugar,

1 tsp. vanilla,

1 cup strawberries, sliced,

1/2 pkg. strawberry jello mix.

Allow the cream cheese to come to room temperature. Place the sliced strawberries in a bowl and sprinkle the 1/2 cup of sugar over the top of them. Cover and let them sit for about 30 minutes to an hour. Once the cream cheese is softened, add it to a mixer with the vanilla, jello, and confectioners sugar. It’s not going to seem like there is enough water in it to make the icing; once you add the strawberries this will not be a problem. You see, as those strawberries sit in the sugar, the moisture is pulled off of them and this delicious juice is created. That juice is the reason that this icing is runny. But, it’s so delicious that I can’t change the recipe. So, after you get all the other ingredients well incorporated, add those strawberries, with the juice, a little at a time. I always save a little bit to put on top of the cake.

strawberries w sugar strawberry icing

Once everything is nice and creamy and icing-y, pour the icing on the cake or spread it on there if it’s thick enough.

strawberry caked iced

It’s not perfect and could be done much prettier but my mama liked it! I hope ya’ll do to! 🙂

So, it’s getting cold again and what is better after a long, cold day than a nice hot chicken pot pie fresh from the oven? It’s just comfort food at it’s finest! I make mine several different ways and on the day I made this, I was in a hurry and very short on time. So, I did the unthinkable… I used a STORE BOUGHT CRUST!! Ugh! The horror! Haha… I bought a Pillsbury Crescent roll seamless crust and it was easy, delicious, and I don’t even feel guilty about it so NAH! 🙂 There are a million ways to make pot pie. You can even use a rotisserie chicken. Or biscuit dough. But, this is how I do it!

Chicken Pot Pie:

3 chicken breasts, (your choice),

1 can chicken broth,

1 can cream of chicken soup,

5 carrots,

1 bag frozen peas,

2 medium red potatoes,

1 medium onion,

2 Pillsbury dough sheets,

3 tbsp. flour,

Garlic salt, Tony Chachere’s, Ground Black Pepper.

Boil the chicken. Chop and dice the carrots, potatoes, and onion. Add the chicken broth, cream of chicken soup, carrots, potatoes, onion, and peas into a boiler and bring to a boil. Add your seasonings and the flour. You want those vegetables to cook a little. Once it’s nice and thick, add the chicken. Grease a casserole dish well and lay out one of the dough sheets. Top with the chicken mixture and add the other dough sheet.

chicken pot pie 2 chicken pot pie 3

Bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes. Until the dough is nice and crumbly. You can also brush some melted butter on the outside of the dough about 10 minutes before you pull it out of the oven.

chicken pot pie 4

You can see where someone had to take a little taste before I took my picture… It may or may not have been someone who is writing this post… Don’t judge me 🙂 This is so delicious and its a great comfort food and it seriously takes no time at all to make! I usually serve this with salad or some crescent rolls and creamed corn. Yum!

The other day, I was watching the Pioneer Woman and she had this amazing recipe for Baked Ziti and salad. I couldn’t get it out of my mind so after I got done with my weekend work, I rushed to the grocery and got to work. I didn’t have her recipe so I just did it from what I could remember and it turned out pretty good! I also couldn’t find Ziti noodles so I used Penne. You can pretty much use any kind of noodles for this. Even lasagna. After all, Baked Ziti is a lot like lasagna. You could even buy the cheese stuffed tortellini and ravioli from the cold section and use that. So this is my Baked Penne….

Baked Ziti/Penne:

1 jar spaghetti sauce,

12 oz. tomato paste,

1 medium onion,

1 green bell pepper,

3 garlic cloves,

1 lb. hamburger meat,

1 lb. Italian sausage,

15 oz. ricotta cheese,

2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded,

1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded,

1 pkg. ziti or penne noodles,

Garlic salt, oregano, basil, red pepper, parsley.

Chop the onion, bell pepper, and garlic cloves. Place the spaghetti sauce and tomato paste in a boiler, add the onion, bell pepper, garlic cloves, and seasoniongs to the sauce. Allow it to simmer while you brown the hamburger meat and Italian sausage. Boil the noodles and drain. Now, combine the meat, sauce, noodles, and ricotta cheese. Pour into a baking dish and top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Again, I serve this with salad and garlic bread. Soooo delicious and much faster than lasagna!

Man! All this travel and all this talk about food…. I’m STARVING! We’re almost to the lodge and I’m ready for a snack! Hope to see ya’ll soon! I’m sure I will considering the Holidays are coming up and I have a TON of holiday recipes to share with ya’ll! I know I know… ya’ll miss me and need me to be more present in your life…. I shall try! Wish me luck! I see a big whitetail in my future! Or El Jeffe Grande as my dad says!! Brrrr…. I hope my stand has a heater!