Posted by: Brooke Hukill | December 6, 2008

This years Holiday Story

With the holidays being on my list of things I don’t like anymore we are changing it up a bit this year.  I would love to take all the credit for how this year will hopefully plan out but I believe it was a provoking of the Holy Spirit and the path he laid in front of us this year.  Somewhere between the economy scares, my hubby being a Realtor and the fact that I am a stay at home mom who sells Pampered Chef on the side to make ends meet we just can’t afford the typical Christmas this year.   With 4 kids and everyone else we usually buy for in our extended families its just not worth putting ourselves in debt over what we have made Christmas.  So… this year will be different.

We will not be buying gifts.  Nope, not even for our kids.  We will however in the spirit of giving be making gifts.  I am hosting a baking show for my friends and clients tomorrow in my home to teach some of these yummy and cute treats that I will be giving as our family gifts this year.  Knowing that many are in the same situation as us, trying to cut back on the spending.  To keep it cute and affordable I went to the dollar store and bought some very cute and affordable Christmas tins to deliver the gifts in and will include a note from the kiddos about their thoughts on the true meaning of Christmas.

Now, since we are not getting our children any gifts at all and with all the talk of the world going back into a depression I want my kids to be mindful that although times are tough right now it could be so much worse and we still have a lot to be thankful for.  I don’t want them to think the world around them is caving in, it’s just changing, and honestly for the better.  There are people that are still less fortunate than us and we are going to do what we can to help them.  In the past we have made monetary donations for these things but this year we are giving something that in this house is even more precious and all we have to give this year…our time.  We will be serving together as a family at a local rescue/mission center.

I pray that this is a life changing year for my family.  They truly have all that they need so I am hoping that in this year of changes they see the difference between needs and wants.  And that somehow we will find the true meaning of Christmas for our family, remembering and celebrating the life of our Savior…Jesus.  Knowing that He will always provide our needs will once and for all calm our sense of worry during the talks of our new economy.

Do Not Worry

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Luke 12:22-25

Posted by: Brooke Hukill | December 4, 2008

My Holiday Story

The presents, the running from this house to the next because you have to see everyone, the fights over who spent the most time with which side of the families.  Not to mention just working out the logistics, especially if you have the divorced families to deal with.  We have several divorced situations, so sad the way that works out and all the fuss it creates around the holidays.  I have yet to figure out why people can’t put aside their differences and be civil for the sake of their children.  I do it with my ex, but out of 5 divorced situations in my family we are the only ones who deal with this issue on a civil basis.  We don’t necessarily like each other but we work through things in a civil way and we keep our focus on our child.  My parents were divorced and never did this for me and my sister.  Instead it was a fight, one that my mom one every year except for one.  I hate that so much now that my father is gone and I only spent one childhood Christmas with him and only one adult Christmas with him.  My husband also has to deal with this with his ex and oh my Lord talk about a serious production!  That one is always heartbreaking and the kids always get stuck in the middle.  So many men just bow out of their kids life after a divorce, at least for the most part.  They become part-time weekend dads.  That’s just not enough for my wonderful hubby.  He fought for his kids and has them, but again the holidays and time still has to be shared and its never an easy battle.  We finally decided to alternate Thanksgiving each year and what a blessing that has been!  The year that the older 3 kids are at their “part-time” parents is a little hard, but so worth it the next year when I have all 4 of my babies all to myself!  We have even started leaving town for the holidays, just going to the lake house, but it is so relaxing staying in one place with all our kids for the entire day.  It doesn’t exactly set well with my parents yet but they will adjust.  I have to do what I think is best for my kids and this is a calm tradition I will stick to.  We live close to both our parents so its not like the holidays are the only time to see us.

As a child we ran between 5 to 6 houses in a 24 hour span and one of those places was an hour away.  It never seemed weird to me, it’s just what the holidays were and all I ever knew.  Now that I have a family of my own I don’t want my children to be rushed and not get to enjoy their families or their presents.  Doesn’t it seem a little cruel to give kids toys and then 10 minutes later you rip them away and say “sorry, off to the next stop!”?  And why is it that we are expected to pack up our family of 6 and all the things they need to travel on Christmas day?  Wouldn’t it be easier if everyone came to our house?  All of the rest of our extended families only consist of two or three people each.  Okay, so now that I have complained about everything…I just want Christmas to have its meaning back.  People seem to say this every year but when are we going to stand up and say enough is enough?  Well this will be our year!  Maybe not so much out of choice but a push from God I guess.  I will explain that in my next blog…

Posted by: Brooke Hukill | December 3, 2008

Christmas Coffee!

Monkeys' Christmas Coffee

So last night we decided to break out the Christmas Tree and decorations and while the boys were busy pulling down the totes from the attic, my daughter and I made them some yummy Brownies and Hot Chocolate.  This was Monkeys’ first go at Hot Chocolate (a.k.a Christmas Coffee) and despite the ruined shirt it was totally worth it!    The tree is now up and the ornaments are hung but the day after my formal living room is still covered in a mess of totes and Christmas decor.  Hopefully I will get it all done by tomorrow!  Check out this yummy recipe for Brownies…

Warm Nutty Caramel Brownies (courtesy of my Pampered Chef Seasons Best Cookbook)

Ingredients:

1 pkg (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate morsels, divided

1 pkg (18-21 oz) Brownie mix (plus ingredients to make cake-like brownies)

3/4 cup packed brown sugar, divided

1 cup salted mixed nuts, divided

5 rolls (1.7oz each) milk chocolate-covered chewy caramels (aka Rolos), unwrapped, divided (40 pieces total)

Step 1; Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly brush Large Bar Pan with vegetable oil using Chef’s Silicone Basting Brush.  Chop 1 1/2 cups of the chocolate morsels using Food Chopper.  In Classic Batter Bowl, combine brownie mix, water, oil, eggs and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar; mix well.  Fold in chopped chocolate; pour batter into bar pan, spreading evenly using Small Mix ‘N Scraper.

Step 2; Chop nuts using Food Chopper.  Combine half of the nuts and remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar; sprinkle evenly over brownie batter.  Bake 20-22 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Step 3; Using Utility Knife, cut 16 caramels into quarters.  Place remaining 1/2 cup chocolate morsels in Prep Bowl; microwave on HIGH 1 minute or until melted, stirring after each 20 -second interval.  Spoon melted chocolate into resealable plastic bag; set aside.

Step 4; Remove bar pan from oven to Stackable Cooling Rack.  Immediately press remaining 24 caramels evenly into brownie in four rows of six caramels each.  Sprinkle quartered caramels and remaining nuts over brownies.  Trim corner of chocolate; drizzle chocolate evenly over brownies.  Cut into squares; serve warm using Mini-serving Spatula.

You can use any candy bar for this recipe, so just get your favorite!  And you can always serve it with Ice Cream…yumm!  If you need any of the Pampered Chef Items used in this recipe just go to my website and I will ship it directly to you.  But as always, you can use whatever kitchen tools you have to make this recipe work.  Pampered Chef products just make it more fun, quicker and easier!  😉

Posted by: Brooke Hukill | November 9, 2008

I miss my little footsteps in the house…

I had some major dental work done earlier this week.  And to help me recover we sent all 4 kiddos away for the end of the week and weekend.  It is normal to have the older 3 gone for a few days at their “part time parents”.  And we have kid around for the last 21 months that “monkey” needs a part time parent so we can have a little time to ourselves.  But after all of them being gone for a few days we are going crazy!  Literally.  I am sure the pain meds have a little to do with it but last night as I was trying to fall asleep, I swear I could hear “monkeys” little foot prints running in our bedroom with a noisy toy.  I sat up looking for him to realize ‘wait he’s at Nana’s’ ???  Hubby was watching TV and kept turning it down, worried he would wake “monkey”, you know the “monkey” that wasn’t there!  So as much as we think we want a break from them…we really adore every moment with them and are truly lost without them.  I haven’t decided if this is a good thing or a bad thing.  I love being a mom, but I don’t want to be that mom that is only defined by her children.  But I am feeling blessed that I have such a wonderful family that I miss them terribly when they are not around.  Which reminds me that our oldest will be leaving for college next year…and here come the tears again!

Posted by: Brooke Hukill | October 21, 2008

Changing it up…

Well I tried it.  My hubby so sweetly suggested that I use a blog to “up my business”.  However, I just couldn’t get into it that way.  But in the past months there have been several mommy moments that when I speak of them he says…”you should blog about that!”  I know he is right…. but shhhh…don’t tell him I said that!  Hopefully I can add these moments as they happen with the goal of them helping another mom. 

As a mom of 4 kids in a very wide range of ages there is never a shortage of things going on in our house, and I seem to be trying new things and changing my way of parenting with every year and every child.  I am always learning and hope that by sharing my victories and laughing at my failed attempts I will shed light for other mothers.  So here goes something…

Posted by: Brooke Hukill | March 18, 2008

Corn Casserole

My hubby recently lost his grandmother and the greatest friends in the world took such great care of our family with TONS of food.  I have had so many people asking for the recipe to one certain dish that one of my girlfriends brought so here it is…This is a great add to any meal!

4 eggs beaten

3/4 cup olive oil or veg. oil

1 can whole kernel corn, drained

1 can cream style corn

1 cup chopped green chilies

1 box Jiffy corn meal mix

1 cup grated cheese

Stir all ingredients, except the eggs together.  Stir in eggs last.  Then bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.  And my favorite part, ENJOY!

Thank you so much to all of our dear friends that were so kind to us during this time!  We love you all so much and would have been lost without you!

Posted by: Brooke Hukill | February 25, 2008

Let’s get organized!

I want to share with all of you a great little secret of mine.  Shortly after I started staying at home full time my dear husband “found” this great website and sent me a link in an email.  I was offended at first, because it is a website of how to’s on running a smooth and organized house.  (At least at first glance.)  And like all mom’s I feel I do the best I can to keep a clean and organized home, and thought I was doing fairly decent at it, but apparently not.

I have since learned this website is so much more!  It’s about loving yourself and blessing your home and your family.  This is a great website to check out; with all sorts of tips to getting organized, decluttering, cleaning, and learning to FinallyLovingYourself.  Please check it out, this website changed my life and finally got me headed in the right direction.  So go…………….. NOW……….to www.flylady.net.  And become a flybaby like me!

Posted by: Brooke Hukill | February 12, 2008

Beat the Clock…

We all know how precious time is and we never have enough of it.  I am all about quick and easy ideas no matter what area of my life they effect.  I just received a new recipe book that is definitely full of quick and easy recipes, that are really tasty!  We tried one last night…..Aaaamaaaaazing!  Even better, it took 25 minutes to make and was a minimal cost at the grocery store.  If I take more than 30 minutes in the Kitchen all heck breaks loose in this house.  My husband gets cranky, my one year old comes crawling in the kitchen crying and pulling on my pant legs and the other three older kids start repeating, “When’s dinner gonna be ready???”, in there sweet but oh so whiney voices.

In the back of this cook book there are some great tips I wanted to share with you about saving time in your kitchen.  By stocking and organizing your pantry, refrigerator and freezer, you will find yourself in control of the clock.

In the pantry:  A well stocked pantry contains the building blocks for all your recipes.

  • Stock up on pantry items that you can keep on hand.

In the refrigerator:  Some up-front work with groceries will save you crucial time when ready to cook.

  • Wash and cut veggies when you get home from the store.  They can be added to recipes throughout the week and also make for a healthy quick snack.
  • Double your recipe.  You can either double the entire meal and freeze.  Or you can double a certain part (i.e. – meat, cut veggies, shredded cheeses, etc.) for another meal later in the week or also to freeze.

In the freezer:  The freezer is a great place to start when you want to get ahead.

  • Have some meal-starters on hand.  Such as cooked ground beef, diced chicken and cooked rice.  These are easily thawed and can be ready in minutes.

Food Safety and Storage:  When stored properly, foods stay fresher for longer periods of time, and they are ready when you are.

  • Refrigerate or freeze prepared foods within 2 hours.
  • Refrigerate uncooked ground meat and poultry for only 1 or 2 days, or freeze for 3 to 4 months.
  • Refrigerate cooked ground meat and poultry for 3 to 4 days, or freeze for 2 to 3 months.

Check out more on this great cookbook, 29 Minutes to Dinner.  And look for some great recipes to come…

Posted by: Brooke Hukill | February 5, 2008

Quick and Easy family recipe for Chili

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Okay, first I pray that my mother-in-law won’t be too mad at me for sharing her wonderful quick and easy secret recipe.  But this is all about sharing, kinda like family right?  Now onto this fantastic recipe and all it’s little tricks that make it a perfect last minute warm meal.

Ingredients:

1 can kidney beans

1 can chili beans

1 can Rotel diced tomatos and green chilis (or I recently tried the Rotel chili fixins, that was good too!)

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce                                                                      

1 pound lean ground beef                                                                            

1/2 small or medium onion, chopped     

Other optional ingredients you may want to try, Corn (you’ll want to drain this but it adds a great texture and pop of color), Black beans, diced tomatos, or my favorite….tabasco!                                                 

You’ll want to start off by chopping your onions.  I personally will only chop onions with my Pampered Chef Food Chopper.  I hate the smell of onions and cry enough just watching my babies grow up, I don’t need any help crying from any stinky onions!  My mother gave me a food chopper that was probably from a kitchen outlet store a few years ago and the first time I used the Pampered Chef version, I threw out the one my mom gave me.  It really is amazing and can be used for so many things, besides that I like to bang on it as stress relief at the end of the day!  It has been a best seller with Pampered Chef for many years.  Okay, back to the recipe…

Next you need to season and brown your ground beef and onions.  The best tool for this is the Pampered Chef Mix ‘n Chop.  It is a great tool for those recipes that you want your ground beef chopped fine.  It eliminates those big chunks in your spaggetti or chili and almost doubles the portion.  I even used it on chicken for quesadillas last week and it worked great on that too.

Drain the grease off of your meat and then add the canned ingredients.  No need to drain any of the canned items, just open and dump it all in!  Then simmer on the stove until warm or put in the crockpot on low all day, or high for an hour or two.  This is a great recipe to freeze, so you may want to double or triple your ingredients and freeze a couple of meals for another time!  This is a great trick for those last minute decisions on what to have or when your running late to a baseball game like us!!!   

Posted by: Brooke Hukill | January 31, 2008

Hello world!

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I feel like I am back in college and I have an assignment I’ve been dreading for some time now.  I don’t know what I am doing here.  I hardly know or understand what a blog even is.  But my computer-savy, businessman of a husband tells me I need to do this.  I am not sure when he thinks I am going to find time for this with 4 children, his real estate business that I assist with when I can and just keeping up with the cleaning and cooking.  But…here I go.  Get ready to laugh, cause I am pretty sure I will make a fool of myself sooner or later.  (Probably the sooner, rather than the later!)  Here’s what I’m thinking I’ll do, I will let you (whoever you might be???) know what’s going on in the kitchen.  Sometimes at home cooking for my family and sometimes at a recent cooking show.  I will share the disasters and successes.  And hopefully some tips I come up with along the way.  I guess my goal is to help other moms like me rediscover the kitchen and cooking a home cooked meal for their families, but in a reasonable amount of time.  I don’t have time, I have 4 children, but it is important to me to have a meal with my family every night.  So I am learning and researching new ways and recipes to achieve this in as little time as possible.  That is what I hope to share with you.  I can’t begin to tell you the blessings I reap every night at the dinner table.  Our 16 year old son actually comes out of his “I’m too cool” shell and seems to remind of us of that sweet young boy he was and give us a peek into what a great young man he will be.  I get to see my one and only daughter be so maternal and loving with her younger brothers as she helps me get everyone ready.  I am reminded of how quickly time goes by as I watch our 6 year old son learn to cut his own meat.  And I see what a miracle life is as I watch our 1 year old son, who almost didn’t make it into this world, learn about new foods each day.  I only wish every woman could feel the kind of love I feel everyday from my husband.  I enjoy how he praises my new efforts in the kitchen and with my new business.  Even though he didn’t eat much of my over-salted homemade sloppy joes the other night.  I do still love him!  So here we go…I sure hope I’m ready for this, and I pray I can laugh at myself and my mistakes too!  (I have a tendency to take things too seriously sometimes.)

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