potted pork chops (and modified cookies)

I ran across a sale at the grocery store a while back for pork chops. I forget how much they were, but it was something ridiculous, so I loaded up. We had a freezer full of pork chops. I did everything I could think of with them. I baked them with 2881 different seasonings and fried them up for breakfast, and then I ran out of ideas, and still had half a freezer full of pork chops.

So I went to one of my favoritestest sites for recipes, Pioneer Woman’s Tasty Kitchen. If you’ve never been, go now! You won’t be disappointed.

Anyway, while browsing recipes and drooling on my keyboard, I found a recipe for potted pork chops. It looked like a big girl recipe (aka, it had peppers and onions), but I was feeling kinda rebellious, so I tried her out.

And I wasn’t disappointed! Of course, I picked out the peppers and onions because I’m a wussie, but the porkchops were muy tasty and incredibly juicy. This one has been a keeper in my kitchen for a while now. It’s easy to make, and the ingredients are simple, a necessity for me! Plus, it makes it look like you worked way harder than you actually did, so you can fix it when company comes to make yourself feel cool.

Or at least that’s what I do.
Here’s the recipe from Pam (I’ve modified it just a tad):

Pork Chops ( I usually use 5 or 6)
1 yellow onion
1 red bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper (optional)
1 can beef broth
1 clove garlic
salt, pepper, olive oil

Preheatcha oven to 350 degrees. Begin by seasoning the chops with salt and pepper and browning each side in a dutch oven with olive oil (if you’ve got a dutch oven, or a skillet if you don’t). I use a skillet to brown the pork chops and covered baking dish to bake them.

Remove the pork chops when both sides are browned. In the same skillet, add the diced onion, pepper, and garlic and saute them a bit. I usually add a little more olive oil.

Remove the peppers, onions, and garlic from the skillet.  Now, in the empty skillet, add a can of beef broth and simmer it. Use a whisk to scrape all the yummy flavor from around the skillet. Let the broth simmer for 2-3 minutes. Then, place your pork chops and onion/pepper mixture in a baking dish. Pour the beef broth over top of your chops.

Pop this baby into the oven for 20-30 minutes or so, and you’re done! No after picture, though. Cooking times and temps could vary, so make sure you check your chops to see if they’re done before you eat them.

Also, in other food-related happenings, Monday night I made my granny’s holiday party cookies (aka chocolate chip cookies).

Ben and I ate 7 1/2 cookies in about 5 minutes. I’m not even kidding you. I don’t know what happened, but these were, by far, the best cookies I’ve ever made. I’ve been seeing cookie recipes using instant jello pudding all over pinterest, so I decided to add a little to my granny’s recipe. Friends, magical things happened. We ate on these things all week. The flavor was out of this world, and these babies stayed so soft and chewy.

So here is my slightly modified holiday party cookie recipe, again:

1 cup shortening (Crisco)
2 eggs
2-3 tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup white sugar
1cup brown sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 packet of instant vanilla Jello pudding (oowder)
chocolate chips (the more the merrier)

Preheatcha oven to 350 degrees. Combine shortening, eggs, vanilla, and sugars in a bowl. Mix well. Slowly add flour and instant pudding, mixing as you go. Add in your chocolate chips. Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough onto a greased cookie sheet or baking stone and bake them until they’re light golden brown, maybe 10-15 minutes or so? I always just keep an eye on them.

They’re good, y’all.

Have a blessed and ‘fallish’ weekend!


thankful thursday: work and family

It has been a week.

PB has been cutting more teeth which means he feels bad, doesn’t sleep well, and is generally more fussy.

Ben has a man cold. Not just a regular cold, but a man cold. Has your husband or significant other ever dealt with a man cold? In case you’re not familiar with it, a man cold is about 157x worse than a woman cold or a child cold or any cold for that matter. It’s a debilitating illness, really. The slightest sneeze, cough, or body ache will send the man to the couch for an untold number of days. He will complain more than anybody you’ve ever heard, and he will require more attention than a newborn baby. So, yea, Ben’s got one of those.

And, on top of that, my pets’ heads are falling off! (Not really, but name that movie!)

I feel stretched very thin, to say the least.

I struggle during weeks like these. Growing up, I always wanted to be a career woman. I knew I wanted to have kids, but I never even thought about the implications of having a career and having kids. I would simply send my kids to daycare and wouldn’t think twice about it. Or so I thought.

And then I actually had a baby. And now, I do think twice about it. I think about it every day. I wonder what he’s doing at daycare. Is he having fun? Does he wonder where I am? Does he miss me? And then I think about all that I’m missing out on while he’s there. I’ll run an errand during lunch and I’ll see a young mom out and about with her young babies, and I want to cry. I feel like I’m robbing my son of precious time with me. That mom is spending time with her babies, and I’m spending time at work. It breaks my heart.

I never, in a million years, would have imagined just how much I am struggling with sending my baby to daycare. And its weeks like these that make my struggle even harder. I come home and get to spend about 4 hours with him in the evenings. I walk through the door, and I’m off. I rush around trying to make sure I play with him as much as I can, while trying to put food on the table, and get us all ready for bed (and take care of the puny) only to wake up and do it all over again. I find myself yearning for the weekends so I can have time with my family.

This has been one of the hardest, biggest adjustments for me as a new mom. I spent so much time and effort to get my career. I do enjoy working and helping provide for my family. But, I miss my son. I miss the time that I’m missing out on. Don’t get me wrong, we have him in a terrific daycare. I am so very pleased with them and I know, as he’s a little older and can actually play with other kids, it will be wonderful for him. I’m just sad to leave him there now. For pete’s sake, WHERE IS THE BALANCE, MAN?

I know that, if this is the only thing I’ve got to complain about, then I am blessed beyond belief. I really do realize that. The fact that I’m complaining about finding a balance between work and family means that I’m blessed to have both.  But I guess I’m just struggling with trying to find that balance. I thought for sure I would have found it by now. And I thought for sure that it would get easier every day. And some days, it is easy. But other days, when I break down in Target after seeing a mom and her baby boy together while I’m on a lunch break, and I want to lay down in the aisle and throw a kicking, screaming fit, it’s hard. I’m mature like that. How do you working moms do it? How do you stay-at-home-moms do it? Can’t we all just go back to Mayberry for crying out loud!?!?!

So today is Thursday, and I am thankful. I’m thankful for an incredible job. And I’m even more thankful for a super duper awesomely incredible family. And, I’m praying to find a balance for both.

No matter what, though, I rest in the fact that God does always provide.

working hard to fix the weedeater. i love that kiddo.

What a beautiful fall day today! It’s a great day to be alive 🙂

Have a blessed Thursday!


Today marks 100 posts on my blog! That’s kinda crazy. You mean I’ve actually written 100 semi-lengthy posts about random nothingness on the internet? Wow. I should get a life.

I hear its a customary blog thing to write 100 things about yourself on your 100th blog post. Well, I’m not going to do that. I don’t even think I know 100 things about myself. So would you settle for 25? It’s the number of the year, you know.

1. My favorite tv show of all time is The Golden Girls. Hands down. I have the entire DVD collection, except for Season 7 (hint, hint, mom). I told you I was a granny at heart.
2. I have a bachelor’s degree in Administration of Justice, a master’s degree in Communications/PR, and now, I’m finishing a K-6 teaching certificate. Perhaps someone is a little indecisive, no?
3. I played basketball, volleyball, softball, and ran track in high school. I could eat a whole large pizza by myself back then. Today, I have to unbutton my pants after 3 slices.
4. My favorite movies are Conair, Inside Man, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I hate sad movies and usually refuse to watch them.
5. If I had money, I’d buy all my clothes from J. Crew. I don’t, so I’m a Target kinda-gal.
6. I’ve had the same best friends since kindergarden. We grew up together, went to college together, and were in each others’ weddings. 20 years later, they’re still my favorite people.
7. I smell clothes before I buy them. I know, that’s really weird.
8. I have a brother. He’s 22. He’s a terd.
9. I don’t watch any modern tv shows, except for Criminal Minds and The Bachelor. Other than that, I’m a TV Land chick.
10. My nose holes wiggle when I laugh.
11. I’m petrified of needles.
12. I’m a freckle face.
13. I still count with my fingers.
14. I’m a hermit. I like to be at home in my ‘play’ clothes.
15. I write with my right hand, and do everything else with my left hand.
16. I’m already running out of things I know about myself.
17. I listen to old-school rap, country, and Christian music. What does that say about me?! I’m a ‘gangsta’, hillbilly, Jesus-lover? The many hats I wear……
18. I wore a size 8-8 1/2 shoe when I was in high school. Now, I can wear a 7. What can I say? If the shoe’s on sale, wear it!
19. I love to fish. Give me a late summer evening, a creek bank, a fishing pole, and a pack of Big League Chew, and I’m in heaven.
20. I’m seriously running out of things I know about myself. Wow, I’m boring!
21. My all-time favorite game is hide and seek. Is it inappropriate for adults to play this? Monopoly is a close second.
22. I don’t hold still for very long. I’m always either tapping my foot, biting my nails, or I’m up walking around. I get this from my dad. He doesn’t sit still. Ever.
23. I’m a small-town girl. Like seriously small-town. And I love it. My graduating senior class in high school had around 60 kids.
24. I love plastic food. You know the stuff you play with when you’re 25 little? Man I used to love to play restuarant with my Little Tykes kitchen.
25. I’ve been called alot of things in my life, but so far, ‘mamamamamamama’ is my favorite.

So, there’s a little about the gal behind the blog. I want to thank each and every one of you who stop by and take the time to read this little ole’ thing. Your kind words, advice, and encouragement mean so much to me.


 Here’s to 100 more 🙂

Have a blessed Wednesday!

i heart technology

This was my dear, sweet cell phone for the past couple of years:

She’s been with me since before I was married. I’ve carried her many places, and proudly whipped her out in front of people with fancy iphones, droids, and blackberries.

See the broken screen? The chipped paint? In her last few days, she would sporadically turn off and on. And then she would make funny hissing noises. I didn’t care. I saw past her outward beauty and malfunctions. We had a special bond, that ole’ flip phone and me.

I’m sad to say that she croaked a few days ago. She now rests in my diaper bag. PB uses her to make very important phone calls to his lady friends.

A couple of days ago, I had to make the dreaded trip to the Verizon store. I walked in and went up to the counter. I told the salesman I was looking for a new cell phone.

“Great, come around here and let me show you what we’ve got on display. We’ve got some really nice touch screen……………”

“Sir, what I’m looking for will not be on your display. It’s most likely in your storage room, collecting cobwebs and dust. You may not even have them in stock. You better hope they are. If they’re not, I will melt into a puddle of tears right here in the floor and throw a kicking-screaming fit.”

Or something like that.

An eternity later, I walked out with this tough guy:

I feel like such a bad-butt carrying this thing. Sometimes, when I’m in public and I answer my phone, I could almost promise you that I hear ‘Bad to the Bone’ playing in the background and I suddenly feel the need to wear a leather jacket and drive a Trans-Am.

She reminds me of another phone I used to know:

Ah, the Zack Morris phone. If only they still made these.

I’m working on some technical things with my blog this week. It’s almost as easy to figure out as my new, rockin’ phone………

(Make sure to read that last sentence with a wee bit of sarcasm).

Have a blessed Tuesday!

granny’s recipes (and 3 weeeeiners)

My (great) granny was a dear, sweet lady. She passed away when I was 5, but I’m lucky enough to still have a few vivid memories of her. One of the most clear memories I have of her was cooking with her in her kitchen (which is now my kitchen). I would walk out to her house and she would let me ‘cook’. I would mix up a bunch of flour, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, eggs-whatever I could find-and then she’d let me bake it in her oven. When it was ‘finished’ I would try to feed my creation to my dog, to which she would take a sniff and walk away. Talk about a confidence booster!

My granny was an exceptional cook. I can remember eating some wonderful things from her kitchen, and now her talent lives on through her recipes. My mom has been making many of my granny’s recipes for years and they’re just doggone good. Broccoli casserole, granny’s rolls, holiday party cookies, that’s the stuff dreams are made of right there.

So you can imagine my sheer excitement when I stumbled on this:

That’s my sweet granny’s recipe box. I love how worn and stained it is. Oh, talk about finding a gold mine. I stole borrowed this from my mom this past weekend and had a field day looking through that old box. I started digging around in it and found some real gems.

Sybil’s buttermilk rolls, coconut creme pie, 6 loaf bread, woop, woop! I love the simplicity of all of her recipes. No fancy ingredients. No recipes printed from a computer. No colorful, pretty pictures. Just simple, handwritten recipes on plain index cards, weathered from time, and stains from use in her kitchen. I was born in the wrong generation. I’m a granny at heart.

This one is for Mexican relish or, as I thought, Mexican ‘rubbish’. Handwriting analysis is not my strong suit.

I love to imagine how she got these recipes. Like this one:

This one is for Dill Okra. It is written on the back of an envelope, addressed to my great granddad and postmarked 1975. Did a friend share this with her? Did she whip up some Dill Okra and grab the first piece of paper she saw and record as she went? I just love her old handwriting.

And check out this one:

This is for her Italian Cream Cheese Cake. This here is a special cake. I’ve yet to make it, but my mom whips this baby up for special occasions. It’s the ‘special occasion cake’ around our parts. Look at the first ingredient. Oleo!

These sweet recipes are priceless to me. Is there anything better than good ole’ fashioned food, made from old, weathered recipes? I think not.

In an effort to preserve these old, weathered recipes, I’ve started rewriting them. Most of the handwriting is faded, and in some parts, barely legible. It’s my plan to cook some of them along the way and share them on the ole’ bloggarooksy. There may or may not be some buttery, sugary goodness in the near future 😉

In other notes, I’m going to be making some changes to the blog in the next couple of days, so please excuse my mess. I am beyond technologically challenged, and its very frustrating for me to try and make changes because I have no clue what I’m doing. So, you can expect a very slow process of change. Wamp, wamp.

And FINALLY, the weiners of the Randi Jasmine Photography giveaway!

I used www.randomizer.org to choose the winners:

1st place, receiving 10 edited photos of their choice: (comment # 9) TamsynRiley
2nd place, receiving 5 edited photos of their choice: (comment # 22) Jen B
3rd place, receiving 1 edited photo of their choice: (comment # 15) Adcole

Congrats, y’all! Please contact me at therookieyears{at}gmail{dot}com to claim your prizes! Thanks to all that entered! Be sure to check out Jasmine’s blog. She offers an awesome photo-editing service at a great price!

Have a blessed Monday!


I always found it quite ironic that Google would place ads in the header of my inbox that were eerily related to me or my interests. When I was pregnant, there were all sorts of ads about pregnancy. Post-baby, there were ads about losing baby weight. Now, there are ads about food. And baby toys. And food.

“Free cookbook. Offer ends today”!

“50% off toys sale today!”

“Discount on bakeware for your cakes!”

Google, are you watching me?

Whatever, I thought. Though I rarely clicked on the ads, they could be helpful. They showed me ads for things I would find appealing and things that coincided with my interests or my place in life. Google shared sales and discounts with me and showed me new, marvelous things that I needed for my life. We were friends!

And then this showed up in the ad placement of my inbox header:

“Rider’s by Lee. Relaxed fit jean.”

Hmm. What is that?

This is Rider’s by Lee relaxed fit jean in medium stone, my friends:

image via ridersbylee.com

Now I know I’m not a stylish gal.  And I know I’m always a day late and a dollar short when it comes to fashion trends. I also know I’m a mom now, and that I turned a quarter of a century old a couple of days ago.

But, really?


Google, do you really think I’m ready and worthy of Rider’s by Lee relaxed fit casual jean in medium stone?

SNL’s “MOM JEANS”. Image via google.

This is my life now, folks.


Have a blessed and mom-jean-free weekend!

hamburger steaks and gravy

I’ve got a special treat today! Man, I’m excited. Brandie, from The Country Cook, is here. As in she is actually writing on my blog today. I feel like I should go vacuum. Or make sure the commode is flushed. I discovered Brandie a while back on Tasty Kitchen. I bookmarked her Butter Crumble Apple Pie and it is my #1 go-to apple pie recipe. I love it. It’s so simple to make and is just so stinkin’ good. Brandie is taking over the reigns today and sharing a delicious recipe with y’all: hamburger steaks and gravy. Nothing screams comfort food like this dish. It’s an easy, wallet-friendly dish to make that’s filled with simple ingredients and packed full of flavor. In case you haven’t noticed, these are the ‘prerequisites’, if you will, for food in my house. As a working wife and momma, I want my food easy, simple, tasty, and budget-friendly. It’s my hope that the recipes you find here fit that bill 🙂 Take it away, Brandie!

Hello everyone! First let me start off by saying a big THANK YOU to Brittany for letting me have some fun on her blog today. It is such a special treat to be here and to have a chance to share a recipe I hope y’all will really enjoy. 

Let me introduce myself…

My name is Brandie, the cook over at The Country Cook.  I live in beautiful Southwest Virginia near the Appalachian mountains. I’m a jack-of-all-trades, like most women. I’m a momma and a wife. I also work outside the home. I love to make comfort food and I like to eat it (who doesn’t?). I do my best to get supper on the table every night – which can be a challenge some nights. My food may not be considered gourmet or fancy but it feeds my family and it gathers us around the table each day. I cook a lot of the same foods my own Mom made and if my husband and son are real quiet while they eat– then I know I did good. And those are the recipes I share with everyone.

So, let’s get to the food, shall we? 

I’m sharing one of my favorite comfort meals.  I’m pretty sure half the meals on my blog have the words “..and gravy” attached to them. I can’t help myself. I’m a gravy loving girl. This next recipe is not only super tasty but affordable as well and should only take about 30 minutes to get on the table. I’m gonna get on with the recipe or I’ll start sounding like Rachel Ray here in a minute.

Hamburger Steaks and Gravy

For the patties:
1 pound ground beef
1/3 cup crushed crackers (or bread crumbs)
1 egg
½ green pepper, diced
½ small yellow onion, diced
1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
For the gravy:
1 package Brown Gravy
1 can French Onion Soup (low sodium)
1 can Cream of Chicken soup (low sodium)
¼ cup water
In a bowl, combine ingredients for patties. It’s best to just get in there with your hands to make sure it is combined together well.  Heat sauté pan (or cast iron skillet) on medium-high heat.
Begin forming hamburger steaks into an oval shape (this recipe makes 4).  If you aren’t using a nonstick skillet, you may want to spray pan with nonstick spray. Place patties onto preheated pan.  Brown both sides. You aren’t going to cook them all the way through. Cook about 3-4 minutes on each side.
Take browned patties out of pan and set aside.  Add all the gravy ingredients to the pan and whisk together well to remove most of the lumps.  It will take a minute or two of whisking.  Add patties back to pan. Cover and turn heat down to a lower setting. Let cook for another 10 minutes or so until no longer pink in the middle.

I’m also on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/thecountrycook
And twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Country_Cook

Thank you so much, Brandie! I’m going to plop this baby in my recipe binder tonight. Make sure you check out Brandie’s blog. She has an awesome collection of good ole’ country recipes on her blog. And nothing beats good ole’ country recipes to me! 

Make sure you enter the giveaway for edited personal photos by Randi Jasmine. Deadline to enter is Saturday at 11:59 p.m. By this time, I will have been in bed for approximately 5.73 hours. I’m hip like that.