Thursday, September 21, 2017

Awesome Life Friday #130

Welcome to Awesome Life Friday!

We're so looking forward to seeing what you've been cooking, creating, growing, decorating, reviewing, giving away, and thinking about this week!

While you're here, leave your posts at the other link up we co-host here - Party in Your PJs!  It starts on Tuesday evenings, and runs through Sunday.  I hope you'll join us there as well!

Here's what we've been up to this past week:

So, now our favorite part - the FEATURES !  If you're one of our featured posts, we'd love it if you'd grab a button, and thanks to all of you who shared with us last week!

Three Tier Stand For Fall Decor // The Country Chic Cottage
"I am adding a few touches of autumn to a few rooms and couldn’t wait to add a centerpiece to my table.  I ordered this three tier stand and it was the perfect rustic farmhouse style accent."

10 Ways to Save Money Without Really Trying // Pretty Extraordinary
"Does the phrase “saving money” make you cringe? I promise that doesn’t need to be the case. There are tons of ways you can save some money without a lot of effort."

How I Recovered the Seat on My Lane Cedar Chest // Petticoat Junktion
"Today I’m sharing how to recover a Lane cedar chest…and the cedar chest is mine. It was a birthday gift from the hubby and kids a long time ago." 

12 Recipe Ideas for Oktoberfest (Sauerbraten) // The Bearded Hiker
"I made sauerbraten – sour roast.... Basically, it’s a German pot roast.  But it sits for four days in a lovely marinade of wine, vinegar, and earthy things like juniper berries and clove.  The end result is amazing!" 

Dos and Don'ts of Donating After Disasters // Of the Hearth
"Aftermaths like this are faced each year in various locations around the world after earthquakes, wildfires, floods, tornadoes, and other disasters. Many of us want to give to the relief and rebuilding efforts after these disasters. What things should we keep in mind when doing this?"

Gluten-Free Maple Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal // Strength & Sunshine
"Bake up this quick & cozy Gluten-Free Maple Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal recipe for a delicious autumn breakfast! Vegan, top-8 allergy-free, & baked right in a cast iron skillet with a crisp maple sugar top!"

If you are one of our FEATURED bloggers, this button is for you!

Thank you all so much for sharing your awesomeness!

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Here we go!

Southern Chili Spaghetti #foodbloggers4fl


As I am sure everyone is aware, the Caribbean islands and our Southern states have been rattled by not just 1 but 2 very powerful hurricanes (and now a third)! This is looking to be a very active hurricane season and it's not even close to over.

Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma made their way through the South with no holding back.

There was so much devastating destruction caused by these two storms that we all need to be thinking of our neighbors to the South until they can get back to rebuilding and back to normal again.

95% of the Miami area sustained building damage with the winds and flooding. It is so scary to think of what those people had to go through and are still dealing with.

So little time to get the things that matter most to you and get out of there before they were trapped. I know a few people who live in Florida and made it through unharmed but what a scary thing to have to endure.

Irma made its way to affecting 5 states. One of the states affected was Georgia, where I have an extensive group of family located. They were without power for days with no end in sight.

The rain and storms pounded them for days and schools were closed.

I lived in Georgia for 2 years and while we had a few scares when it came to tornadoes, the storms out there are no joke. I was raised in California where you are lucky to get a little rain throughout the year. Meanwhile, the southern states spend a majority of their time wet and under a cover of clouds.

As intense as it was for them, the islands to the south of the continental US and Florida itself are experiencing real devastation - so just as we did last week for Hurricane Harvey and Texas, today we are collaborating with several bloggers to highlight a few ways to help out.  The following are a list of places to donate:

We also want to share a really good article on what sort of help to offer and when:  So You Want to Go Help After a Major Disaster.  It goes a long way to making the really overwhelming question of how to help a bit more manageable.

One thing I learned from living in Georgia was that they have an amazing knack for comfort food and family. This is something that our southern neighbors need right now - comfort and family.

When you think Southern cooking, what do you think of? Fried Chicken, collard greens, Mac and Cheese? Yum, I am making myself hungry now!!

Like all the regions in the South, they have so many  unique foods out there in Georgia. Everywhere I went, they had offerings of corn bread, biscuits, banana cream pie pudding, and so much more.

One thing stuck out to me more than anything because it was so unexpected: Chili Spaghetti! Excuse me, what?! Chili Spaghetti, what the heck is that?

Well it is exactly just that... Chili poured on top of spaghetti noodles. It was everywhere that they sold burgers. One place that I tried it was Steak and Shake. It was delicious.

I understand that this is also what "Cincinnati Chili" is - but from what I can tell, that is layered rather than combined and their chili is sweeter.

But chili spaghetti? That's a Georgia specialty! After we moved, I had to learn to make it for myself with my own twists.

So, I have a prize winning Chili recipe. I earned a prize for this at an American Legion Chili Cookoff!

But first, the eternal fight with chili is - Beans or No Beans? Well, Georgia uses Beans! We use beans and love it! So with this recipe, I suggest you follow true to it and embrace the beans or it just will not taste as good as it should!

Georgia Chili Spaghetti
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6-8 hours

1 pound ground sirloin, uncooked
1 can dark red Kidney Beans, not drained
1 can diced tomatoes (Italian style), not drained
1/2 a can of Tomato Paste
1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce (yes, 1/4 cup - don't skip this!)
1 tablespoon of ketchup
A dash of Salt and Pepper
1 tbsp of Red Chili Flakes
1 box Spaghetti Noodles, cooked to your liking

Add everything to  a crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. The longer you let it cook, the thicker it will get.

You want it to be semi-thin when you pour it on top of the noodles so if it gets too thick, add a bit of water when you start cooking your noodles, and stir.

Once it is all cooked up and  smelling amazing, you want to cook up your noodles. Once those are done and strained, put them on your plate and pour the chili right on top as you would a marinara sauce!

I dice up some green onions and put on top. You can also sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on there if you like. Mix it all in and take a bite!


A couple of comments - you may use any sort of hamburger, but it won't have the same taste as the sirloin does.

I add this into my crock pot frozen.

You can cook first if it feels better to you. But, I find that when I add it in uncooked, it breaks up to the really small consistency that you get with a good chili.

If you do it like I do, make sure that half way through your cook time you break up the hamburger, as it should be cooked by then. It may stay a patty at the bottom if you don't.

Also, I add in my beans and tomatoes without draining. The juice from the kidney beans acts as a thickening agent!

This is my comfort food and I cannot wait to dig in every time I make it!!

I hope you'll take some time to check out what other bloggers are doing  for this collaboration:

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Honey Harvest Popcorn Clusters


This month's Fantastical Foodfight celebrates National Honey Month!  With so many wonderful foods coming to harvest at this time of year, doesn't it make good sense to feast a bit on the delightful honey produced by the lovely little pollinators that make everything else possible?

Of course it does!  So this month, I made an indulgent little snack full of autumn flavors that showcases the delicious taste of honey - choose local if you can and support our beekeepers.

As you'll see in the recipe, this includes a little maple syrup along with the honey - this was a matter of necessity being the mother of invention, because I didn't have quite enough honey left for the recipe. I'm leaving it in the instructions, though, because the maple syrup added a nice rich bit of depth to these clusters that really played well with the ingredients.

The trail mix I used was a store brand blend that consisted of cranberries and dried cherries along with pumpkin seeds, pecans, cashews and pistachios.  You can select your own favorite trail mix blend, but do avoid those that have chocolate bits or other meltable additions - they'll just melt all over the place when you bake it and burn.

Honey Harvest Popcorn Clusters
Makes about 10 cups (accounting for the bits you'll nibble while you make this)

10 cups popped popcorn
12 oz. trail mix
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine popcorn and trail mix in a large bowl (you'll want enough room to toss honey coating in with the popcorn).  Set aside.

Prepare a large sheetpan by covering with a layer of parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 325F.

In a saucepan, combine butter, honey, syrup and salt.  Cook on medium low until butter has melted, stirring constantly.  Then raise heat and boil for one minute, stirring.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Pour honey mixture over the popcorn blend, and toss to combine. All popcorn should be coated and there shouldn't be any unincorporated honey in the bowl.

Turn popcorn onto parchment papered sheet pan and spread out.

Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and toasty.  Every 10 minutes, stir and turn over so that it browns evenly and doesn't burn.

Remove from oven.  Prepare a 2nd pan with parchment paper and divide popcorn clusters between the two pans so that they can cool and dry out without sticking together too much.

Once completely cooled and set, store in an airtight dry  container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Riiiiight - this is no way going to last two weeks.

Take a peek at what other honey-based recipes bloggers are sharing! Sweet!