Monday, November 12, 2018

How to Have an EASY Thanksgiving With 7 Easy-to-Make Side Dishes





Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday (political things put aside) to celebrate each year with your family and friends. When I was younger, we would all go over to my Grandma's and we'd eat until we were too stuffed to move.

Now, as an adult with my own home and dining room, I like to host my own Thanksgiving dinner. The very first year we were in our home, we invited my husband's and my side of the family to come celebrate with us. I don't remember the number for sure, but I think we had 18 people to feed. We had our long dining room table and added a long folding table at the end and we fit snuggly, but we still fit!

We haven't had as many people come since that first one, but we still have a pretty big turn out and with that comes a lot of food and each person has that one special thing that they like to eat for Thanksgiving.

As a parent with young kids, hosting Thanksgiving can be a bit chaotic, but bringing your kids to another person's house can give you more anxiety than hosting Thanksgiving dinner, so I just choose to host it.

So how do you make it work for you? If you are hosting a multi-family Thanksgiving, cooking can be expensive and overwhelming. This is what we do in our family.

POTLUCK Style!!!

Usually, my mother-in-law will make the turkey, and I will make a ham. From there, we make a list of the dishes that we would like to have and we divide the list in half- or if there are more people joining us, we ask them the chip in by bringing a dish or two to pass.

If this appeals to you or if you are just looking for dishes to make even though you are cooking for your family by yourself, here's a list of our easy-to-make dishes that never seem to fail us.

You're going to notice a trend and that trend is, if it isn't easy to make, it's not making this list. 

Breakfast Pizza- What some people forget when it comes to big holidays is that we still need to eat earlier on in the day unless you're going to eat everything around noon, but we usually do our Thanksgiving dinner around 4 or 5 in the afternoon because some of our loved ones still work that day. An easy way to feed everyone is to make this Breakfast Pizza. It's super delicious and very easy to make. 
Click Breakfast Pizza for recipe. 

Green Stuff- Ok, the name sounds really weird and it's not very descriptive, but growing up, my grandma made this Jello salad (made with cottage cheese and Jello) that was absolutely delicious. It's not quite a dessert so we sometimes ate it with the food or we sometimes saved it for dessert time. This is a dish that you can and SHOULD make the night before so it has time to set. 

Click Green Stuff for recipe. 

It's super easy to make and you can make it several ways. For instance, in the pictures, I made it with strawberry jello instead of lime. 


Strawberry Jello Graham Cracker Surprise-  Since we just introduced a dish that should be made the night before, here is another one. 

This dish was a complete accident when I came up with it, but the accident turned into a marvelous creation. If you like Jello Pretzel dessert, you'll probably like this too. With everything blended together, it gives a rich, smooth taste with your favorite jello taste and the fruits added make it somewhat healthyish, right?

It's not a pie or a sea foam salad, but it's still absolutely delicious and easy to pass around your table.

Click Strawberry Jello Graham Cracker Surprise for the recipe

Corn Bread Casserole- With very few ingredients and even fewer instructions, this is the perfect side dish to add to your Thanksgiving meal. Cornbread is such a great comfort food and having it mixed with these other ingredients, your taste buds will be sure to love you. 


Click Cornbread Casserole for recipe. 

Green Bean Casserole-  This dish is probably my favorite in the side dish category. The dessert category is a whole 'nother thing. Before I moved on my own, my mom always made this casserole and I always thought that it must have been really difficult to make since it tasted so good. I was completely wrong. I kind of feel like maybe my mom had this smart idea to make cooking seem hard so that we felt thankful for her and to show our gratitude, we did the dishes. Who am I kidding, the dish washer did that for us. 
Click Green Bean Casserole for recipe

Candied Sweet Potatoes-  As long as I can remember, I have always loved sweet potatoes. My mom, who didn't cook often, would make this dish every Thanksgiving meal and if it didn't get made, I protested. 

Sweet potatoes, which are already sweet, hence the name, become even sweeter with this recipe. The ooey, gooey marshmallows add a great flavor and texture and the pecans can be optional- When I make it, I add them to one side so those who don't like the nutty flavor and texture can enjoy the potatoes without them. 

Click Candied Sweet Potatoes for the recipe.
Garlic Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes-  When I asked my brothers-in-law what side dish they wanted and had to have for Thanksgiving, mashed potatoes was the number one answer. Although I leave my mother-in-law in charge of potatoes and she makes hers a little differently, you still can't go wrong with this recipe. 
Click Garlic Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes for recipe. 
Conclusion

There are SOOOO many more dishes that you can make for Thanksgiving, but this is the easy list. Everything else that gets made for our family goes up in difficulty and I leave those dishes to my mother-in-law because she has the recipe and if it isn't easy, I don't want to make it. 

Thanksgiving is a time to feel thankful and I know that for me, it's hard to get into that mindset when I spend the whole day in the kitchen while the rest of the family is somewhere else in the house. 

You can prepare many of these dishes the night before and warm them up in the oven usually about a 30-45 minutes before the meal is to start. 

Just remember, that when making these dishes, make sure that you have time to prepare them and also have fun with your family.

Because these are so easy, don't stress out and enjoy the day.

If you want desserts, order a pie or something else that is already pre-made and only needs to sit on the counter to thaw.

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful and to be with family. If you're too stressed out, you're doing it wrong, so do it right. Enlist some help! Have your kids set the table. Include them so that the feel responsible and like they had a part in making this celebration. 

Most importantly, Have FUN!!!!!

Also, because I'm so grateful for every single one of you, I've made this FREE Thanksgiving checklist just for you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Garlic Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes




Mashed potatoes is definitely one of those dishes that is considered a comfort food. You can't even go to KFC or Popeye's without being asked if you'd like some mashed potatoes with that and that's fine with me.

I love mashed potatoes, but unfortunately for me, my husband and kids don't like them, so Thanksgiving is the only time I get to really have them unless we've gone out to a restaurant and I can get my own single serve side of them. It's really a sad thing, but it makes Thanksgiving that much better.

Related- Things I had to Give Up When I Became a Family

If you really want to go easy, I suggest you find yourself a good, flavorful box of instant mashed potatoes, but if you want the real deal, here's a recipe just for you!

Ingredients

More pictures to come


  • 3 pounds of brown potatoes- peeled
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 2 tbs of garlic salt

Instructions


  • Grab a big large pot of water and boil it.
  • Peel and dice potatoes- it's easier to cook all the way if cut into smaller pieces.
  • Carefully add potatoes to the large pot of water and boil for 15 minutes or until potato is tender. 
  • Once tender, drain potatoes and place back into the pan.
  • Mash potatoes with a masher or a hand mixer. 
  • Melt butter and add to the potatoes with remaining ingredients. 
  • Blend well, transfer to a nicer dish, and serve
If potatoes are clumpy and dry, add a little more milk until smooth and creamy. Not too much or the potatoes will be runny.

What's your favorite side dish?



Candied Sweet Potatoes




I said before that green bean casserole was my favorite Thanksgiving dish, but that has to be a lie because I absolutely love Candied Sweet Potatoes. Perhaps they can tie, although, I really do love me some regular mashed potatoes.

Since sweet potatoes are already sweet, there really isn't a need to doctor them up, but when you make it this way, it just really enhances the flavor. It takes a regular side dish and makes it into a dessert and really, who doesn't love dessert. (Keep your hands down you naysayer!)

My motto for Thanksgiving is "If it isn't easy, I'm not making it" and this is certainly, a very easy dish to make.

Ingredients


  • 4 16oz cans of sweet potatoes (drained)
  • 1 1/2 cups margarine or 2 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 cups of marshmallow


Better pictures to come
Instructions

  • In microwave safe bowl, melt butter then mix with brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add 2 cups marshmallows, stir. 
  • Pour mixture over the sweet potatoes. If you wish for smaller bites, you can mash them, but I usually don't and bake for 20 minutes. 
  • Carefully pull sweet potatoes out of the oven and sprinkle remaining marshmallows over it and put back in the oven for an additional 5-7 minutes or until marshmallows begin to turn golden. 
Pull out and wait a few minutes before serving. It's super easy and delicious!

Have you tried your sweet potatoes, this way? Did you love it or was it just not for you?

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Breakfast Pizza








I grew up in the Northwest part of Illinois where I was lucky enough to learn of this magnificent thing called a breakfast pizza. Since moving to the Eastern part of Illinois, there aren't really any Casey's (the gas station who introduced me to it) around here, I've missed out on ordering something truly magnificent.

I've had to learn to make some of my favorite dishes since moving here four years ago, and breakfast pizza was one of those things that I had to try for myself.

Since I already make my own homemade pizza (thanks pa-in-law for teaching me!), I started out with making my own dough. Since I've had kids, it isn't always practical doing that, so I've had to improvise from time to time if I want to make something really quick instead of waiting for the pizza crust to rise only to beat it and wait for it to rise again and a great alternative is actually the frozen/refrigerated dough in the biscuit aisle at the nearest store.

Ingredients


  • 1 refrigerated pizza crust
  • Jimmy Dean Sausage
  • Green Pepper
  • Mushrooms
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tsp milk
  • 1-2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese. 

Instructions


  • Preheat oven to 425
  • Spray a pizza pan with cooking spray
  • Unroll pizza crust onto pan. Stretch it as much as you can over the pan without ripping it. Fold over edges to create a crust barrier.
  • Place small sausage dobs strategically on pizza. If you're going to use green pepper, cut into small slices and place as much as you want throughout. Do the same for mushrooms. If you wish to add bacon, I cooked mine and then crumbled it over the pizza.
  • Crack the 2 eggs into a small container, add the milk and beat them until they are pretty well mixed. Pour egg concoction over the pizza.
  • Add the amount of cheese that makes you feel happy.
  • Place in oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese begins to brown. It always takes less time in my oven, so you may want to check it around 10 minutes. 
  • Enjoy!

This pizza is really great for those nights when you kind of want pizza, but also kind of want breakfast. It's also great for the holidays when you're looking for something easy to make for breakfast, but don't want to fill up too much before you have your big feast. 

So whether you have left over ingredients from an omelet that you don't want to spend the time carefully making or if you are just looking for something different than cereal or pancakes, try breakfast pizza!

Strawberry Jello Graham Cracker Surprise



This recipe was an accident that turned into something quite amazing. Has that every happened to you? I actually haven't thought of a clever name for it yet, so I'm totally up for suggestions.

Have you ever had that Jello Pretzel dessert that's pretty common at potlucks? The reason why it's so popular is because it's AMAZING and super easy to make.

This is how this Jello surprise came about. I wanted to make the Jello Pretzel dessert as a side dish for Thanksgiving two years ago, but I forgot to buy pretzels and didn't want to go out late at night to buy just one thing. Instead, I decided that I could make a graham cracker crust and it would be just as tasty, right?

Well, it was very tasty, but also very different! When I poured the Jello onto my crust, I forgot to have the jello set a little and the crust and the Jello mixed together. It was different from what I expected and I was upset, but it ended up becoming a great hit.

So they next year, I decided to try it again to see if it was a fluke. I mixed all of the ingredients together and cooled it off and the texture was pretty darn good and it has actually ended up being one of my husband's favorite dishes. If you've ever had a sea foam salad, the texture is a little similar, but the taste is amazing!

Ingredients


  • 2 packages of crushed graham crackers. (I always crush my own from a box with rolling pin)
  • 2 3oz packages strawberry jello.
  • 1 8oz cream cheese
  • 1 8oz tub of cool whip
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups frozen strawberries


Instructions

  • In a mixer, mix together cream cheese, cool whip and sugar. Set aside. 
  • Crush graham crackers. 
  • Boil 2 cups of water and then mix in Jello. Once Jello is mixed, add a cup of cool water and stir. 
  • Carefully mix all ingredients except strawberries together with a mixing spoon until smooth. Fold in strawberries. 
  • Refrigerate until jello has set. Make this the night before in order to ensure this has time to set.
This is a very versatile dish. I've made it with cherry jello and cherries, but my husband's favorite is the strawberry. 

What do you think? Is this something that you think you'd make? Do you have any interesting names to give this?


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Green Bean Casserole


Green Bean Casserole is probably the most known Thanksgiving dish. I remember when I had cable (probably when I still lived with my parents) seeing the Campbell's commercials with the winter scene and this family has made the green bean casserole that is perfectly paired with French's french onion chips. I want to say there is a little snowman outside looking in and when he comes in, he eats a bite and turns into a little boy- ok, I actually think that's for an actual soup commercial.

What I'm trying to say is that green bean casserole is a great comfort food and would be an obvious choice to make along side a turkey or ham for Thanksgiving and Christmas- even Easter!

The best part about it is that it's so easy!

I made some, last night, and paired it with a Tuscan pasta and garlic bread. I made a smaller batch than I do with the holidays and since I was short on time, I put it into the microwave to save time. Surprisingly, it came out alright. I did bake it in the oven for 7 minutes to make the french onion chips crispy, but if you're short on time, you could do the same.

Ingredients


3 14.5 oz cans of cut green beans, drained
1 10.5 can of cream of mushroom condensed soup
3/4 cup milk
1.5 cups of french fried onion chips.

Just double for large groups


Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Combine all of the ingredients except the french onion chips. Place in a medium casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes. If you have a smaller dish that it fits in the microwave and you're short on time, you can place it in there and sensor reheat.
3. Remove from oven and carefully stir.
4. Sprinkle french onion chips on top of the casserole so it evenly covers the mixture and bake for 5 extra minutes.

Voila! You will have a delicious dish in a short amount of time! The hardest part about this dish is making sure it makes it all around the table. It's great to reheat too, IF you have extra's the next day.



Friday, November 2, 2018

The Day My Faith Was Questioned

A few days ago, I felt like my faith in God was being tested, but I realized that it wasn't being tested so much as others were questioning it.

Christianity is a touchy subject. Although there are rights and wrongs regarding it, there are many who believe that the rules all changed when Jesus died for us on the cross, while others still hold firm to the Old Testament.

There are those who believe that once Jesus died on the cross, all of the old rules in the Old Testament got thrown out the window because Jesus said that he was the new Covenant.

   Jeremeiah 31:31-34 "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the one that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD.  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more. 

The Bible goes on and speaks of the new covenant in both the Old and New Testament.

Matthew 26:26-28 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." 

I'm not a theologian and I'm not going to tell you what you should believe.  This all happened after I saw a friend say on Facebook how he was keeping his kids home from school and going to a different place because he didn't want his kids to celebrate in the Halloween festivities.

That's ok, no problem. He's their dad and he has every right to do that. I know of other families who do the same thing. He believes that celebrating Halloween is asking for trouble and acknowledging that it's ok to sin. I understand that and I see why he believes that way.

As you've seen from my post the other day, I think it's fine to go trick-or-treating and many of my other Christian friends do the same. Some of them are even pastors. I won't speak for them, but to me, trick-or-treating is just a fun little thing to do. We don't place any emphasis on it as a holiday to bring back the dead or to worship the devil. In fact, that's the furthest thing in my mind.

My kids aren't allowed to dress demonically and be scary. If we are to be a vampire or a witch, we're just goofy. My kids don't even know that there is negative connotation to those things. Yes, we've watch Hocus Pocus, but they aren't rooting for the witches, they're rooting for the family. To us, it's just innocent play.

My friend didn't stop at saying that he was taking his kids to do something else. He went on to say (and I'm paraphrasing) "I don't know how Christian schools can be ok with celebrating Halloween. By doing anything with Halloween, you are participating and accepting the whole holiday."

My family and I had already went trick-or-treating days before and it felt like this was a personal attack. It felt like he was attacking the church who does trunk-or-treating.

We had some discussion and I thought that we were ok in the end. We agreed to disagree on some matters. Then something happened. Another person joined in on this conversation and shamed me and all of those others who partook in the conversation. That person said that we had little faith and that we needed to pray that it was strong like theirs.

That made my stomach lurch and my heart pound enough to make me sick to my stomach and angry! I wanted to say something right then and there, but decided it wasn't the time to say anything.

For once in my life, I practiced patience and not speaking with a loose tongue.

This is what I have to say about it, today:

John 14:5 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  
About a woman caught in adultery, John 8: 6-7 This they said, tempting him that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her."
Luke 18:10-14 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people-- robbers, evildoers, adulterers-- or even this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'"
13. "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'"
14. "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."

Jesus was questioned and hated by the Pharisees because he did not look or behave like one. Instead, Jesus hung out with the sinners in order to show God's love and Mercy. We are called to be Christlike and Christ did extraordinary things. He dined with tax collectors and prostitutes.

  Mark 2:17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Luke 23:34 Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" and they divided up his clothes by casting lots.  

Many of what I written is up for interpretation and some of it can be used as arguments for other things, but this is what I believe: Christ died for my sins and he called me to go out and make disciples in his image. That image was love. He says to love thy neighbor and not hate thy enemy.

Trunk-or-treating is a way for the Church to evangelize to those who wouldn't partake in church otherwise. It's a chance to do what Jesus did and mingle with the sinners so that they may be saved.

Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoptions as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"
Romans 8: 38-39 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all of creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

It's not up to someone else to tell me how big my faith is. The only person who will hold me accountable is God. Matthew 7:1 Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

As Christians, perhaps our resources would be better spent going out and making disciples instead of telling each other what we are doing wrong.

I'm not angry anymore about what was said to me and the others. I don't believe it was done with malice and truly, I think their heart was in the right place, but better words could have been used. I forgive them and I hope that they can forgive me as well because I realize that I was still questioning what they believe when really, our end goal is to get into heaven and help save those who don't even know they need saving.

 I can let everything that was said really bum me out and feel bad about myself and my faith. I can hide under a rock and never speak about my faith again or do things because they may not be acceptable, but I realized something; No matter what someone says, my faith in God isn't small. My discipline may need some help, but my faith doesn't and shouldn't be questioned. I know who my Lord and Savior is and when it comes time to be judged, I hope that God will say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things: I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your master's happiness." Then on that day, I will hear, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Halloween Traditions- A Shot of Rum for the Parents?

   

 The town that I live in does trick-or-treating for the kids the Sunday before or of Halloween, each year. Part of the reason is for safety since it's been getting darker, sooner and the other reason is so it's scheduled the same time every year.

      Unfortunately, that means that if the day of Halloween is in the middle or end of the week, it seems we are way ahead of all of the other families that I know and it's also kind of a let down for the rest of the month and it might as well just be November.

   




Halloween is my holiday. I don't go out and worship the devil or anything like that, but I LOVE to dress up. Growing up, I always wanted to be an actress and even acted a little in college for a drama group called Omega, so I really like to dress up and get into character. This year I was a vampire, the year before that, I was a granny.


      So, I love to go trick-or-treating with my kids and they enjoy having a crazy mommy taking them next door... soon, that will change. They'll be too embarrassed and ask me to stop, but until that time, I'm gonna dress up. 

      This year, we experienced something that never happened before. We had gone to a few houses on blocks that we hadn't been to before and it was really quite a let down. Houses had porch lights on, but they weren't opening their doors for us.  (For us, or at least when I was younger and growing up in a different town, a light on meant you had candy. It seems like if you have candy here, you're going to leave your door open or hang around outside.)

      After deciding to head back onto the road that we know does hand out some treats, my kids did their normal thing: "Trick-or-treat! Thank you!" but then we heard a twist. "Hey mom and grandma! They have a treat for you too!"

     I was like, "Oh really? Well thank you!" I headed up the stairs expecting a Snickers or something, but the guy gestures to some drinks with little shot glasses. He was offering us some pumpkin spice rum and vodka or something like that. I was so surprised. I thanked him and turned him down politely because, well, who hands our alcohol to parents?

     Apparently, this is something that people in Arizona do for parents and its not just a random person, it's like almost all of the houses. My bro-in-law who lives there was telling us all about it. 

     So this is an entirely new concept, something I had never heard of, but it makes sense that different places do different things for holidays. 

What traditions do you do? Are there a little rituals that you do differently? My husband's grandpa told me about what Halloween was like for him as a kid. Back then, they trick-or-treated the whole week of Halloween and if they didn't get treats, they really did do tricks. Apparently, the people of Arizona hand out alcohol. If someone could hand out cheesecakes and puppies, I might just move there.


Monday, October 29, 2018

Corn Bread Casserole


The holidays are near and even if they aren't at this time, people still enjoy comfort food that's easy to make. Corn Bread Casserole can really be made any time of the year whether you're eating chili, sausage and potatoes, or you just feel like eating something with corn bread.

Since it's so easy to make and you can make it with ingredients that you most likely already have, this is the perfect dish to take to a potluck or to eat at Thanksgiving time.




Everything pictured are just the ingredients I already had on hand. I am
not making any money by promoting, I probably just got them on a good sale.
Ingredients

1 Box of Corn Bread mix- I used Jiffy
1 cup sour cream
1 can of creamed corn
1 can of regular canned corn (drained)
1 stick of butter or a half cup

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350.
Melt the butter in microwave.
In an oven safe casserole dish, mix all ingredients together. Stir well.
Pop into the oven for 40 minutes or until top is starting to brown.

For, what I hope are obvious reasons, don't eat until the casserole has cooled down and isn't mouth blistering hot. A nice warm will do fine.


Easy Peasy! It's ridiculous how easy it is to make this dish and it's sure to be a hit!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Green Stuff-Jello Salad


Several months ago, I was trying out the macro diet, which was something I had only just learned about the week I started doing it. Long story short, the macro diet consists of trying to reach your daily fat, fiber, carb and protein intake. I was easily getting in my carbs and fats, but was having a difficult time reaching my protein goals.

One day I looked up foods with high protein and found out that cottage cheese was one of them. I like cottage cheese alright, but I was having a difficult time eating it plain. I was glad when I remembered something that my grandma always makes for Thanksgiving that I absolutely loved. Green stuff!

What exactly is Green Stuff, you ask? I'm not really sure what the official name of it is, we've just always called it Green Stuff, but it's kind of like a Sea Foam salad, but much easier to make. For this recipe, we usually use lime Jello and add canned pears or pineapple, but today, I've changed the recipe up a bit in the pictures. 



Ingredients:

1 24 oz container of cottage cheese
1 8 oz container of whipped topping (It has to be from a tub or it won't set right.)
1 3oz packet of lime flavored gelatin
1 can crushed pineapples or pears (drained)(optional)
1/2 cup of crushed pecans or walnuts (optional)

Instructions:

Mix container of cottage cheese with flavored geletin until.
Once mixed, fold in whipped topping.
Mix in fruit and nuts.

You can either eat it as is or put it into the fridge for it to solidify and then serve that way.

This recipe is so versatile, too. For the pictures, I used strawberry jello, pecans, and sliced strawberries. You can make your jello salad with any flavor and still find a good combination.




So what do you think? Is this something that you think you'd want to try? I know that it seems weird, especially since it's a sweet dessert with cottage cheese, but many good desserts and salads are made with cream cheese and really, the only difference is that the cottage cheese is in curds instead of blended smoothly.

A Visit to the Pumpkin Farm


Going to the pumpkin patch is different than it had ever been when I was a kid. For starters, there seems to be more to do than just search through pumpkins and go through the tiny haunted house. 

In order for a pumpkin patch or farm to be successful, visitors demanded that there be more to do. In a sense it is practical and also a shame. The extra things bring more people in, but it has also raised the prices of things that were fun to just do. (However, people have to make a living and a pumpkin farm is only open during this season.)

Last weekend, my family and I went to Jerry Smith's Pumpkin farm in Kenosha, WI. As a tradition, we met up with some family friends and we all had a great time exploring the different things that the farm had to offer. 








We took some pictures while waiting for our friends to meet us. My phone storage wasn't so happy with me because there were plenty of photo opportunities.



Finally! A picture where the wind hadn't completely blown the hair in my daughter's face.




You even get to see some very interesting things when you do some local activities... This guy came riding in on a motorcycle and had on a double raccoon hat. I wish I would have had the courage to ask him if I could get a close up. I was very amused by the two tails.


Once our friends arrived, we were able to go into the pumpkin farm area. This part of the farm is no charge, and it's probably our favorite part. You'll see why.



Free Attractions




The farm takes the time to create little scenes from different movies! They find pumpkins and gourds and paint faces on them. 



The sun was too bright to get a good picture. ☹️


 
This child thinks he's funny.... Just like his mama!


This goes on for rows and rows. This year, however, my kids finally got to know why I appreciate this next showcase so much because they finally got to watch the movie for themselves.




After you see the pictures up front, there is a tunnel you get to go through. Normally the outside of the tunnel spins around like you're going through the "twister", but it wasn't working that day. My kids always thought it was cool, but now they understand why it's there and appreciate it so much more.  Ignore my voice, I'm aware of how annoying I sound, now. 
When you exit out of the tunnel, you land on the "Yellow Brick Road."












After this, we looked at the remaining showcases and enjoyed it when we saw that some characters just did not belong in that one. One of our friends suggested that perhaps there was a seek and find.

I said, "I may be wrong about this, but were there bunnies in Mickey Mouse?" There was a Scrat (the squirrel) from Ice Age in another scene and he didn't belong there either. 

There was a Maui, last year, but I think they had to fix him. Imagine how big his pumpkin would need to be if they scaled it to size. 



Any pumpkin that you saw was up for sale.... except those on the showcases. 


Money Attractions

After all of this, which there was a lot to look at, we now had to pay to get in to see the rest. Before, it had been you paid as you wanted to do it, but now, they have sectioned it off so all you would have to do is buy a wristband. During the week, the wristbands were $5 per person and then $10 per person on the weekend. Guess which day we visited.

Our friend snuck away and bought us wristbands when we thought he was off to the bathroom. Thank you!!! So we made it inside.

This doesn't look like much in the picture, but this was a big sand hill. I was glad that the sand was damp that day because it usually isn't and that means that one or all of my children run to me complaining about the sand that landed in their eye. I was so glad that it did not do that, especially on this very windy day. 



The sand moved throughout the play area. It was fun watching the kids move the dump trucks.



Typically, the things above, used to be a part of the free things. The pictures below are things that we used to have to pay several tickets to do, but were free with the wristbands so the kids could play with them with unlimited turns.


We still had to pay to ride the ponies and even the camel (not pictured) but that's ok. The kids weren't interested anyway.

 These were the hale bales of death. If you didn't watch where you were going, you were going to be jumped on by another kid. I tried to trail my four year old while my husband trailed our six year old daughter. She's more timid and that could get her run over. We would generally have to pay to go in here too, but this was free.



Our friend's wedding ring fell off in this maze. It was literally like looking for a needle in a hay stack. Luckily, she knew the general area it fell off and we found it without too much fuss. It was still a scary thing, but we were able to get the kids from jumping across in that area and some other moms came to help her look for it. It was found within minutes. 





Who needs a swing when you have a random long  tube? There were kids actually crawling inside; mine included.


Attractions Not Pictured

The farm offered many more things, but at this point, my phone had died and I couldn't take anymore pictures. This is also what they offered.

Petting zoo- We didn't go in because we had been there for two hours already and my kids were getting grumpy and cold. The petting zoo offers the normal animals that you would see as well as some exotic birds (I think. They used to, but I don't know if they did this time.) This was another thing that used to cost money, but was free with a wristband. 
Corn Maze- Usually, the farm offers this, but I didn't see it this time around, but I also wasn't looking for it either. There was a big line off to the side, I bet that was it.

Hay Rack Ride

Band Stand- There was a tent area set up for some music and even children's sing-a-longs. 

A Jump Pad- This is like a giant trampoline. I really don't know if there is a limit to how many kids go on this thing, but it's like a long, flat, trampoline with a yoga ball feel. Very weird.

Haunted House- The haunted house is a smaller size one, but it's still pretty good. There is an age limit to who can go in, so that's good. It must be a little bit scary for that to happen.

FOOD- One of the best things about going to a pumpkin farm is the food. This is the time of year where apple cider donuts and pumpkin bars are a staple snack item. This farm has several places to buy these different types of foods including fudge, cookies, apple cider, churros, apple butters, jams, and much more!!!!

Conclusion

There are so many different things that you can do at a pumpkin farm. Jerry Smith's offers this and so much more. If you get the chance to visit one, it doesn't have to be this one because I know you all don't live here, go!

While the wristbands seemed expensive to pay at the time, when we thought about it, we would have paid that, plus more for our kids to do some of the things they did, so it made it worth it in the end.

You get the chance to get some fresh air, exercise, and you get the joy of your kids getting worn out and sleeping nice, that night.

It's not too late to go. Halloween has yet to come and if you're looking for a good, family fun, fall activity, head to your nearest pumpkin farm or apple orchard!





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