Thursday, August 9, 2018 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

We are Girlfriends! The no excuse of taking time.

 It is rather funny when the generation gap is totally broke, not with the lines cut with a sharp blade of a pizza cutter, but with the teeth of a little bitty girl who ate the center of her cheese pizza totally avoiding the outside edges of the crust. When I looked around the table at her great-grandmother's individual cheese pizza and this, great aunt's pepperoni pizza, I couldn't help but laugh in my typical "y'all, Rita is in the building" laugh! All three of us had at the center out of our pizzas, but this little girl was the only one that put it back in the box in such an organized fashion. Too cute!

 We were out for a girlfriend day and it was five hours of fabulousness at Target. We were shopping for clothes, backpack, lunchbox, books and, of course, snacks. Mamaw Hutty wanted to spend time with her great-granddaughter so we picked her up for lunch and enjoyed the afternoon shopping. Mamaw had so much fun especially with the clothes. I was thrilled when the three of us were shocked that I could wear the extra large little girl clothes, trying on a denim jacket! Oh My!

The gifts we share weren't all just from the center cut of the pizza, we all love to talk, like the color red, putting our phones down (she didn't once ask or pick up her devices...I was impressed beyond belief even though her family sent one with her), chocolate, and...I was out of the loop, but they both love shopping, I am converting which my best friends is excited to see that happen I am sure. I loved shopping for the cute little clothing. Why do they not make cute clothes for us to wear like we found for her? We got two other moms and their little girls in on the fun, trying on clothes and modeling hats...only to find out from a "teacher" hats aren't allowed in school! What? Anne of Green Gables, please...seriously, cute straw hats have to be in the manual people...

 So, we shopped and shopped. I must admit, I had to get online once to find Translucent Backpacks, but then she spotted the Barbie Doll Backpack. Thank, God, seriously! I was back in my childhood. This helped in heading to the lunchbox section, even though we had to settle for a cute fluffy kitty lunch box and thermos, we did coordinate in the book and toy section with Barbie when we found Ms Barbie Backpack a friend...oh dear, just wait...

 When did we get to reality and Barbie puppy could have puppies? Is this a good thing for a child to have? This is when the great-grandmother and the great-aunt cough up to the shrug of shoulders to pretend to know nothing and buy it anyway! It is the cutest thing and think the baby puppies will either get lost or stuck inside the mommy dog's tummy and never be born. Oh dear, I am in so much trouble with the mother ship I just know it. ((Update: I wasn't!) We gave her a price range on shopping for the toy section but know a couple of things she might want for Christmas. This was a good thing for sure.

The best part of all is that Mamaw Hutty got the best day of all spending quality time with her great-granddaughter, making a memory that will last and last for both of them. I think we created more than that and it wasn't bought with money either, we created the opportunity of time. When Ms M was picked up, her mom said something that I think we all need to remember, she was talking about another child who didn't get to spend time with family, I can't remember why, but spending time shouldn't be judged by quality or quantity, but in just doing it. There just needs to be no excuses. Kids don't understand. They will never understand. Just give them time with no end. We had no agenda, just a starting time beginning with lunch. As a popular ad says, just do it. The no excuse of taking time. 

Hugs, Rita  
Tuesday, August 7, 2018 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Vegetable Rice Dip made with (You Guessed it!) Leftovers!

The late evenings isn't a time we usually eat calorie items or make dishes consisting of calories, but we do have a protein before bed and probably hot tea or sugar free apple cider. However, this particular night, we all wanted something sassy, cheesy and a bit of salt. So, I saved the salt for corn tortilla chips and made a hot dip baked in the oven.

 This dip had vegetables from a neighbor's garden and leftovers from the fridge. I took leftover refried beans and spread it evenly in a 8" baking dish. Then I sprinkled Parmesan cheese on top of the beans. Laying over ripped tomatoes on top of the beans and cheese. Next I took leftover brown rice, mixed vegetables, and chopped peppers and spread over the top of the tomatoes. Finally, I baked the whole thing at 350 degrees until it was warm through the dish, topped it with shredded cheese and backed until cheese was melted and bubbly. Served warm with corn tortilla chips. Amazing!

Evenings at home are the best for us. We come together, regardless where we have been in our day, and knowing that we can relax, live in such remarkable peace that is only found in the love, hope and serenity God has to offer.  Although food isn't to fill any emptiness or void, nor are we to let it be the comfort we seek, it can give us the substance Seeking to eat healthy can lead to healthy snacks. Seeking to be grateful can lead to a peace and happy life. What will you make tonight to create a relaxed happy home to begin your family's journey to sleep and dreams.

Hugs, Rita
Thursday, August 2, 2018 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

This Leftover Chicken Pot Pie Warmed our Wednesday

 When you want something to sooth the soul, warm the heart and heal from the mid-week slid from Sunday, you want the comfort from a soup, salad or something like a chicken pot pie, or a chicken salad, which we are having tomorrow night. My traditional chicken pot pie recipe, I have made for years and years; however, tonight's version was one that I threw leftovers in and added a surprise in the bottom. It takes maybe twenty-minutes to pull things from the fridge and pop this baby together, then bake for one-hour. In that wait time, you can make the next day's lunches, put the coffee on or water for bedtime relaxing tea.

For this Leftover Chicken Pot Pie Recipe, I took 2 cans, 16oz each, of mixed vegetables, rinsed, 2 cans of gluten free cream of chicken soup, chopped up leftovers of baked chicken breast plus the vegetables of steamed squash, onion, broccoli, cauliflower and added them all together. Then 1 teaspoon of cilantro, Italian seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 cup of finely shredded Parmasan cheese.

Spread the crust in a 9" pie plate, sprinkle the bottom of crust...then, ready for it? I took leftover fried okra, which was the bottom of the bowl (somebody in our family leaves a cup maybe of crumbs which is perfect for this) and laid a single layer of fried green tomatoes before pouring the mixture in the crust. I added the top crust, trimming the edge, then baked at 400 degrees for one hour. Simple. You can also add a bit of butter slivers to the mixture if you are too concerned for drying out.

The blessings of friends and neighbors this summer has been so tremendous. One of our newest friends at Starbucks has kept us in unique fun vegetables like lemon cucumbers to homemade vegetable soup. Our neighbors have left on the front porch okra, tomatoes, and corn. A class member has given us homemade bread, watermelon, peppers and cucumbers as well. I have been so thankful because, as you know, every bit of us cultivating and helping each others makes grateful hearts, helping hands and loving others. I for one am so very thankful because after putting things together, we had an amazing pot pie.

My challenge to you is to open your refrigerator and pantry, see what you already have that you can create something fun and nourishing for your family. Instead of making supper a dread and the midweek hard, take a deep breath and take three items from your fridge and see what you can create from those main ingredients. I bet the main seasoning will be love. Stir, y'all, stir!

Hugs from the #KitchenWithAHouseAttached! Rita
Tuesday, July 31, 2018 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

A Southern Sunday Supper unfolds...

 A typical Sunday for our family begins with worship, lunch at Target and then home. The evening depends on what our church hosts, but during the summer, we usually are home and that means I have the opportunity to cook a few things in the "kitchen with a house attached" to get us through the mid week hump that keeps us pretty busy with Special Olympic activities and fitness coaching. Today, I had a bit of fun making a large batch of bbq chicken, brown rice and vegetables, but not just anything typical about these as just another typical Sunday might bring...

 A neighbor had brought us some fresh okra, so I added the cornmeal, egg, black pepper but then popped in some Parmesan cheese along with fresh rosemary to the mix. Spraying the iron skillet with cooking spray, I brown the okra and fry it up. Delicious, golden brown and low fat.

 Of all the vegetables in the backyard, I had one, only one, green tomato! I made another egg and batch of cornmeal with cilantro, black pepper and a bit of tarragon then with cooking spray, fried that baby up to a golden brown. Low fat, something to add to a sandwich and top the brown rice I was making to go with the Sunday supper...

 I should have told you about the chicken breast first, but the brown rice is mouthwatering because it is actually made from the beer soaked mushrooms finely chopped, mixed with bbq sauce and cooked all day over the chicken breast in the iron kettle at 250 degrees in the over. Then I remove the chicken, add equal parts of liquid drippings from the chicken and brown rice with crushed pineapple and cook for thirty-minutes at 350 degrees or until the rice is tender. You may want to eat the rice all by itself.

Cooked in beer, the chicken is so tender you can cut it with a fork. It is easier for my family to handle and it is so delicious. I serve the chicken as is on top of the rice with a bit of cheese sometimes, but with the leftover chicken and a bit of rice, I will make a chicken pot pie on Wednesday. Sometimes, there is no chicken leftover so we will have vegetable potpie, because I also made green beans, broccoli, cauliflower and homemade biscuits to go with the supper.

A meal like this doesn't take an hour to prep and cook. The time sitting down together over a meal is worth ever how long it takes to eat. I love spending time with my family and listening to them talk about anything and everything. We look out the window by the dining room table, watching the wildlife that we see right in our own backyard. I love our life and the peace we share over such a simple meal. Food can be healthy in nutrition and in mind of soul.

Hugs, Rita
Thursday, July 26, 2018 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Ten Things I learned from Being Unplugged for One-Week!


Making the decision to go unplugged isn't something that is hard for me as it seemed for one in a recent conversation. It was rather funny when the look on my friend's face, who had just said, "It was all over social media...I mean, I'm not on social media, but I know you are (referring to me)." I replied, "I have been unplugged for the past week, besides anyone that knows I post from one and it goes viral to the others." She was still not convinced. What I realized was that with so many people on their phones at every turn, me rarely communicating, but instead taking photos, it is hard to believe that someone could unplug for 7 minutes, 7 hours, much less 7 days. However, I can do it. Being unplugged, even for short scheduled times, cultivates time and moments you might otherwise miss.

If you review my posts especially on my personal Facebook, I took a period of time in 2015 completely off social media. It was very end of that year and the first of 2016 that I focused my posts on photography and words of empowerment. During this time of being unplugged, I needed to refresh, renew and regroup due to a life-experience called divorce. It was worth taking a break for everything electronic except text message and email, primarily to key people in my life during that time, to come to Christ, know God's Word, learn to lead my family and know who I was as a person. It was a time of no excuse self-discovery as well as learning. It was a personal choice, not a recommendation, although, I do suggest unplugging for a time during a life-experience to breath. Being unplugged cultivates the opportunity to grow, learn and know that your are strong, courageous and find the peace within your being.

My reasoning for unplugging this time was a bit different. Garrett was off to his third special session camp of the summer. It has been such a change having him gone because he has gone through separation anxiety and other emotions as well as a health crisis that left him unsure of being away from me or home. Through one camp, he has grown tremendously and I felt comfortable to have an adventure myself. So, when the things fell in place, from subs at work to someone to stay at my house and care for my mother, I was ready to go visit my best friend in Florida. However, finances hit the fan when Garrett had to have a physical, mid-year of his annual, for this last camp and insurance didn't pay for it. Also, I had other expenses surrounding him going this trip. Being unplugged cultivates decision, focus and to realize maybe you have choices other than the ones you thought.


Two days before I was to take Garrett to camp, I got a text message from a friend who was asking for another friends phone number. I asked if she might keep an eye out for my mother, maybe come by and check on her. I explained briefly why and that Garrett was going to camp and I was getting a tent and going to the woods somewhere. She replied back if I had no where really to go, just come hang out at their lake house. Really?! I refused. Then it happened, I went. I was humbled and in awe that someone would open this home to me for a whole week, but she did more than that. She opened her family, fridge and we have become strong friends. The first morning, I made coffee and found this mug that read, "It's All Good" and went about doing what I do, tiding an already organized place, but I had to find myself and what I was to do. I then found the pool. Being unplugged cultivated breath, sounds of nature, thoughts of how I was blessed and how I can be more thankful. 

Having been in the mood for Christmas in July, the week progressed to my going shopping for a couple of Christmas presents, wedding gifts and enjoying pizza with pesto. I took time to read a book on creating and another on the mustard seed as it related to scripture from the New Testament. My personal Bible Study was revealing even after I returned home that I see I need, as we all do, to be more compassionate, loving and understanding. Who doesn't. Then I learned some characteristics of a godly woman from my friend who opened this home to me, we shared dinner one night and I learned that I want to be more, "It's all good," in my response, to think more loving to respond in prayer rather than defending my actions or words. Asking, will what I am saying stand in court here on earth or more so before the Higher Court of the Father. Bro. Doug, our pastor, says, "Love God, Love others, Serve both." We all fall and fumble, but being unplugged cultivates a community of service, putting others first before ourselves, giving us the power to be unique individuals that He made.

By the last day of my adventure, I was ready to pick my boy up from camp. I had met my other bestie on the day I dropped Garrett off at camp and throughout the week, we had emailed back and forth. She was great in giving me advice on places to run/walk and then we talked about where God had brought us from to where we are today. She was about to take a job helping individuals with life-experiences I had come out of. It was amazing to talk about this with someone when you are on the other side of the experience and the joys that God has brought. I unplugged from everything, but email and text messages. I did take a couple of phone calls during the week, but I unplugged from television, internet, all social medias, and I have a few, plus manage several pages. So, when I took to the road for that Saturday run, I was renewed and refreshed. I took photos more than worked out. Being unplugged gave me a fresh look through not only the lens of my camera, but the lens of my life.

I loved the next two photos because these describe me as a running. First, slow! There are two of these on the road, one at the beginning and one at the end. There is really no other way to go on this road, but slow. Going up the road, the transmission on the Dodge Caravan of 324,000 miles stayed in high gear. I was concerned that with no cell connection if it quit, I was in big trouble, so running the road, I drove up to the end so I was already there lol and took to footing it. Being unplugged brings a slower pace, alters the run and creates a balance in our lives we need to live longer, be more productive and to make healthy choices. 

Here's your sign! Love the mileage limit sign! It was too funny because as a running I am very slow! My time is a little better than this sign, but still...I laughed to the point that I almost couldn't run. I couldn't drive this fast because the "horseshoe bends" were too close together on the road. I was pleased that the length of the run here was six-miles when put with the adjoining roads. Being unplugged got me out of my comfort zone and the courage to try something new.

Self-discovery is something significant that happened this week. I sent in my business plan to a mentor I had talked with a couple of months ago. Then I evaluated areas I needed to say "no" to and that was confirmed once I arrived home. Amazing how God works in you allowing things to menifest the seeds He has already planted, just a shame sometimes they have to be "Peter" or "Mark" kind a moments for us, thankfully there is grace and forgiveness. Regardless, being unplugged helps us mature, grow and in that we learn where we can be of service for Him, others and ourselves.

However, one thing I noticed is how the guilt and related emotions can take a hold on us when we take time for ourselves. Taking captive our thoughts is vital in everything we do. If we are thinking something negative or that is wrong, it is our responsibility to take the thought captive and be obedient in doing so to the Word of God, claiming the power we were endowed with when we became children of the High Most King. Being obedient to God blesses Him which blesses us. Learning to take captive those thoughts helped me be a better mom, daughter, employee and student of the Word this week. I think I turned out to be a better friend to the friend who owns the lake house too. She certainly will never know who much she has blessed my life and my world. I am grateful. Being unplugged creates rest and renewal, hope in things bigger than ourselves. 

Now, I issue a challenge...take on the armor of God, take captive your thoughts, go unplugged...Breath in your nose out your mouth counting to five in and out. Do this seven times. Counting relieves anxiety and stress as well. Count from one-hundred backwards helps tremendously too. See for yourself how blessed your life will be for being unplugged. 

Hugs and happy trials to you...
Rita


Tuesday, July 24, 2018 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

The Comfort we find in Foods...like eggs...

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Comfort foods can be created by lists, googled or defined by thousands of thesis papers, research queries, or statistic results, but the truth of comfort foods is this: they are individual. A comfort food is individualized. I may say mine is chocolate, but it is a specific, detailed flavor hard core chocolate regardless if it has readily available, calorie content, or good for me. Another person it may be a chip, pasta dinner or a beverage. Eggs is a common comfort food, but think of the many ways they are made. I love eggs regardless how they are made. I do have a funny story about how I found out I liked them raw...Yup, no idea...

I was at the gym one day, a regular and I were talking about how I was having a smoothie ever so often for the protein. I had found a gluten-free protein mix and was giving it a try. He said, "Have you tried a raw egg in your smoothie?" I replied that I hadn't. He then said, "Well, you get more protein from the egg than then the powder and it is all natural." That got my attention. So, I skipped the protein powder and added the egg. I was amazed by the creaminess the egg added and how much better it actually tasted. So, the following week, I saw him and told him about my experience to which he said, "Oh that's great! I will have to give it a try." WHAT? He had never had a raw egg. That was so funny! I don't have smoothies often, but when I do, I add an egg, but I also add greens, it is a great way to get them.

Now, back to comfort foods. What happens when we experience comfort foods, isn't when we go workout or exercise to have them, sometimes we do, but not normally. We go for comfort food when we have had a dramatic experience or when we are trying to make a decision that isn't easy. Too often we hold these situations in, a hurt or something we don't want to talk to someone about, then we head to the thing that will give us comfort. However, the result of indulging in one wrong is that we feel guilty and head to yet another wrong.  For example, if we head to a sweet snack and eat the whole package, then after we feel guilty because we gained two-pounds and have set depression in full mode. It happens with mind altering choices, we wake up with decisions unknown or made that later we regret in some form. Finding support and accountability is the only healing that can come from these.

I have had an awakening over the past year on my walk to healing, food can't be your comfort! The gift of choice is that we can go for a walk, find a new creative outlet, write a blog lol, teach someone a second language or learn one ourselves, learn to cook or go to the gym. Write a comforting note of encouragement to someone in which will also help you. There has to be another way than to reward ourselves with food or to seek ill comfort in food as well. Finding that one thing that will create healing for you, will work time and time again, just have a plan for each time a craving or desire comes to run to the kitchen for food to comfort. This is the first step in making choosing a new direction that will help you and those around you.

Egg. Hundreds of ways to enjoy this fabulous protein. I would be vegan if it weren't for eggs. I love them with dill, rosemary and black pepper, all three fresh as possible. However, I want to save them for the most important meal in the day, my breakfast, and find something more durable than walking on egg shells of guilt later when I eat things I have no business eating! 

So, first, have a plan for when those cravings set in during a tough decision or crises. Second, have snacks pre-made when nothing will do but eat. Third, go do something active to bring oxygen to the brain and move away from the kitchen. Three things that are simple and easy to create a safer place away from comforting ourselves with food. 

Hugs, Rita

Friday, July 13, 2018 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Exercise! What is stopping you?


Exercise is something I would rather have defined as putting the fork to my mouth, walking around the grocery store because I had to do it each week, going from my vehicle to the local coffee shop, but certainly not going to the gym or to the track and field to run! Me? Not ten-years-ago! Y'all, I weighed 450 pounds, I wasn't going to do any kind of exercise and the one time I tried, I felt so out of place, remembering thinking I was having an allergic reaction to something that my face was red as the Alabama football team's legendary crimson colors. Then I had a wake up call and started my journey of living healthy. Getting active was the next step to eating healthy.

 Running was the first choice that presented itself as an activity to get moving. I thought I was dying! With time and telling myself, I could do it, I progressed over the years from running a 5k to finishing two marathons. I am slowly working toward my first triathlon as I build my experience with the bike and swimming. This is my next goal.

 After running and reaching the initial race goals, I wanted to join a gym. Finding out that one locally was hiring, I could get paid to be there and go for free, I applied. I started at the bottom, learned all there was to know about how to use the equipment to management and today, I focus on leading fitness classes. When I joined the gym, I was a complete greenhorn, y'all. I didn't know anything about the equipment or how to use it. However, I became passionate about being there and working out. The people were there for a common goal and non-judgmental. I wasn't pretty doing classes, but nobody cared. The experience was the next step for me.

Two-years into my gym experience, I headed for training to lead the Silver Sneakers program. There I ran my first marathon, thus, reaching yet two more goals I had on my list. Today, I teach Silver Sneakers Classic and Yoga five days a week, two of which have multiple classes at one location. Tuesday nights, I volunteer, leading Special Olympic fitness.

My future in running, cycling and swimming is pure enjoyment and doing so because I love the race of my heart beat, the feel of my feet and arms moving, but the gym is something that is a bit different. Exercise creates that rise in heart rate and oxygen to the brain that the other elements of my activities do, but there is a mindset within the gym created by a group of people reaching different goals all to reach one. Fitness of body. Through fitness of body, we make our minds, souls and bodies together fit, then we meet other like minded people doing the same. Together we cultivate a community of believers that fitness not only makes us healthier, but builds relationships.

I love that through leading fitness classes, I am cultivating community, building relationships to live healthy each and every day physically, emotionally, spiritually and doing so together. What about where you are? What do you do for fitness in your area? Fitness classes? Walking? Running? Fork to Mouth lol? Y'all inspire me...

** Coming Soon! Salads....
Can't wait to share the new series!!! 
Thursday, April 26, 2018 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Loving your neighbor...

You are a good neighbor! How can you be a better neighbor? Be a grateful neighbor? Show gratitude to your neighbor, which I may need help with? Loving no your neighbor is something I posted and want to share with you here...

I have to share! I can't hold it in!
We have new neighbors and got to meet the sweet family of four today. Our hearts are both rejoicing for their new adventure but missing the former. We knew long ago this day would come for their growing dreams needed more room. They are still part of our lives and that just makes this story better.

When I got my house two-yrs-ago, I did so, then took time moving my family. I was meeting a couple across the street one afternoon, when I glanced across the street at my house and noticed this young man edging his drive, came down the street curb and kept going up my drive. It was then I realized he had mowed my grass too! I had not yet made it to my house in this meet and greet. I ran over, met him and was overjoyed, offering to pay him as, in my head, sorting through my single mom budget. I was new to doing all this on my own too. For two-yrs since, he has refused to take money. So I tried to bake for them or something but I never was able to repay this deed he did for me and the times he came to my aid for other things I couldn't possibly list esp that first year.

They bought and moved into their new home last week, returning Monday to not only mow the lawn of his former residence, but...mine too! I asked him in a text, to recommend someone because I trusted him. I knew he was busy so I thought I would get back with him later.

Today, when we got home from golf practice with Special Olympics, dirty and sweaty, I saw different cars at the house and went to say hi, welcome them and give them our phone number, etc. The dad was immediate saying, "Oh, hi, Ms Rita...btw don't worry about the yard, I will take care of it!"

I teared up! Seriously, in awe of not only being cherished and loved by the former neighbors but the extent of them selling their home and telling them, guess what goes with the house? Lol maybe not quit that way, but them already knowing about Garrett, which they did, and then me, goes beyond the "Love thy neighbor" even as thyself and the least of these.

I came home and took my little family knees bent in prayer, thanking God for what we have in family designed by Him. My heart is so full of gratitude and thankfulness for how He has poured out His love within His grace and mercy outside of myself, our four walls and into our community.

May I be an example of gratitude. Thank you to my neighbors, all of them, my family. I am thankful and we are all blessed. God is always good and we are always loved. To Him be all the glory and praise!
Saturday, April 21, 2018 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Expressions to Impressions

Each week, the coffee shop is a buzz with people coming and going ordering, picking up and enjoying their favorite coffee, tea, food and my son sits with some of them sharing news, sports, weather or common group topics while I focus on Bible study or reading a book. There are police officers, preachers and those that serve our military that come in and Garrett is in tune if they need a coffee "on him." One gentleman in particular, comes in almost every time Garrett is there on his regular day, wearing jeans and casual wear. However, yesterday, I was in just to pick up coffee when he came in wearing a suit. Now, guys, everyone stops and takes a second glance if you wear a suit, tux or a uniform, especially tailored! Hello!

I wish I was better with words so that you could feel, see and know the impact of what I'm about to share. Last night, a notice came to me sharing some urgent news of a ruling coming down regarding a case that was in our courts of a series of crimes committed one night randomly by individuals. My heart hurt for the depth of reality these young men were living now, coming the rest of their lives, the victims of that night, families of all of these involved on both sides: the mother's, the fathers, and all. 

The ripple of the pebble dropped in the water went beyond these people to four hours away that very night three-years-ago. I won't forget the night. Our bus pulled into the arena of Troy University loaded with repesentatives of Decatur Parks and Morgan County and  we unloaded. Carrying a banner, excitement radiating the smiles of every participant as they went past each and all the law enforcement officers lining the entrance. The many Special Olympic teams were introduced and found their place to sit for opening ceremonies for the 2015 State Games.  The Morgan County Sheriffs and Decatur Police Departments cheered, yelled, high fived their team as they entered. When it came time for the torch to come in and be lit, one of our own team members was escorted. The law enforcement went into formation, led by one of finest Decatur Police. It was then I took it all of n, but didn't realize until after the program, all of our local law enforcement were armed, badged and ready. As I sat there praying for these, I remembered the strain in their faces as we met and greeted prior to our entrance and how they held tight while being ever present for the least of these. 

While a crew of law enforcement were at home working to protect our community, another was supporting a group of kids and their families. Separating themselves which is impossible to do, but ready to leave and speed back home. When this came across my notifications last night, not knowing if this suit clad officer was testifying in that case or not, I thought of these people's work and how their expressions to impressions are guarded to influence to protect but to still live those the serve. 

We are called to do the same. The situations or circumstances in our lives bea may be measured minor to severe, but that isn't for me to judge, I've lived a life if experienced, we all have. However, you call someone a name, hurt someone in someway, steal their idea at work, don't share the spotlight at church, posts a thing directed toward someone that's hurtful or shared rumors or a piece of gossip, the ripple affect is there. The love isn't expressed and the impression is of you not them. The ripple affect of a post goes beyond your page to your family, children, coworkers, neighbors, church, believers and those you may want to win to Christ. The ripple even lasts for years and generations. Expressions to impressions begins with s choice. These young men were so young, committed a long series of crimes in a matter of hours, and will spend a long time away.

 A choice. A word. A post. A changed life. You can be toxic or you can be the balm that heals. 

 Expressions to Impressions.

 Love and Hugs, Rita
Thursday, September 14, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Easy Peazy Potato Salad Recipe


Potatoes. They are a staple in a lot of homes. When I was growing up, fried potatoes was on our supper table almost every night. It use to frustrate my mother that she could cook or bake almost anything better than anyone else, in my opinion, but fried potatoes. My grandmother made the best fried potatoes ever. I don't know what she did different, but when she saw us coming, I got two things, her fried potatoes and a huge vase of flowers. I loved her so much and sitting on their porch swing with her, talking about everything was always the best. 

When I make anything that requires boiled diced potatoes, I boil my potatoes whole, skin and all. The pealing slides right off easily once the potatoes cool. Then I can cut them any way I want. This is a great way to make twice baked potatoes too. Once you have boiled the potatoes and peeled them then you can make the potato salad...told you that this would be easy!

Easy Peazy Potato Salad

4 cups of boiled potatoes, diced
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup celery, chopped finely
1/4 cup dill pickle relish
1 tablespoon mustard (I like the honey flavored)
1 container of fat-free sour cream
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch Mix
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all the ingredients together and serve cold. My son, Garrett, likes to warm the potato salad. It is an individual preference I suppose. Regardless, it is "supper" easy to make. If you have extra potatoes, they freeze easily. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Turkey Burger Sliders with wine sauce recipe


I stand constantly amazed at today's technology. Where once, Granddaddy, watched the football game on local network television and listened to it on a local radio station, now, you can watch it through cable or via your phone. There are multiple apps that you can use to get scores, watch the actual games, several at a time matter of fact or get the highlights. It is interesting how things change. One thing that hasn't changed is food. With football games, I associate hot chocolate, blankets and pom poms. That is what we always carried to local games, but then there was food afterwards. Now, for as long as I can remember, college football has brought the halftime party. Here once again, we added Turkey Burger Sliders to the weekend's menu. Mini burgers that we put inside of gluten free biscuits! I know, can't image, but it was the perfect size and my family loved them more than the tiny rolls I could have bought. Added the  homemade slaw and fixing to the burger and it was a hit!


Turkey Burger Sliders 
with Wine Sauce Recipe

3 lbs of ground turkey
1 large bell pepper, chopped finely
1 large onion, chopped finely
1 egg. beaten slightly
1/2 cup of Italian bread crumbs (gluten free)
1/2 teaspoon each: cilantro, black pepper, garlic

Wine Sauce
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons of bbq sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Mix the meat well and make into small mini burger. Grill or place on a broiler pan and bake at 375 degrees until well done. Remove and place in a baking dish. Whisk together the sauce ingredients well and pour over each burger. Put in the over for ten-minutes. Serve hot.

This makes a great meatloaf too, but I do make more of the sauce to cover the meatloaf really well. Thinking I will try this in a shepherds pie as well. There are so many ideas going through my mind as I share recipes with you. I love cooking now that I have a full kitchen. Living with a two-eye burner, microwave, and a toaster oven for five-years really has made me appreciate this gift that God has blessed me with. There are many reasons we eat at home, it's healthier, saves money, but the main reason is because I am loving having a kitchen. I look where God has brought Garrett and I from and my son and I are so blessed and thankful. I think of that song that has a phrase, "If you could see where He brought me from to where I am today, then you would know..." God is always enough regardless where you are at and He will see you through even when you are afraid He isn't working, He is.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Pulled BBQ Roast with Pineaople Coconut Rice Recipe


I hate to shop! Yup, starting off with a negative. Regardless, if you saw my filing system, you would totally believe me. I go to one department store once a week taking my mother to do her usual shopping and then I take Garrett to his favorite places. I don't go to the mall or the favorite places my girlfriends like to shop. Once, my BFF/daughter called me and asked where I was. When I told her I was shopping she got really excited until I told her I was at a sporting good store. Then she said, "I hope you are shopping for clothes." I replied that I wasn't, I was getting golf gloves for Garrett and looking at guns. She about screamed at me. It was too funny! 

When I do shop, especially for groceries, I look for the best prices and I prep the food when I get home. The meat gets tenderized and seasoned before going into the freezer. That is what I did with this beef roast. I took it out of the packing, pierced it with a fork all over, added meat tenderizer, placed it in a ziplock bag, poured a bottle of bbq sauce over it and one bottle of beer. Then when I was ready to use it, I took it out of the freezer the night before and let it thaw overnight.

The following morning, I placed the whole thing in a crockpot sprayed with cooking spray and let the roast cook for six-hours on medium. When I was ready for it, I sauteed a large chopped onion, pulled the roast and added it to the onion, then added 1/2 teaspoon each of paprika, sea salt, garlic, cilantro, cinnamon and rosemary. I allowed that to heat for 1 minute before adding 1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce, stirring thoroughly. Sitting that aside. I got the pineapple and drained the liquid into a 4-cup measuring cup and poured the pineapple into the still hot skillet of meat and stirred so the pineapple will warm but not cook. For the rice, I took the 4-cup measuring cup with a bit of pineapple juice and finished filling it up with coconut water and prepared my rice for the dish. 

It was amazing! The pineapple juice and coconut water gave the meat a complimentary flavor since the soy sauce was used on the meat. I am curious now if this would make a good Asian soup for the winter. I may have to try it. Next time I will add egg rolls to the menu. 

As you have seen in my chicken recipes made using the crockpot, a bottle of beer poured over the meat makes a big difference in tenderizing. However, if you are having guest over, it would be a great compliment to them to make sure nobody is struggling with this beverage. A friend of mine said that she can taste it when she goes out to eat and sometimes it will trigger her past. I simple ask, "I will be making my chicken salad and this is how I usually make my chicken...is there anything in my prep that you are allergic too?" I am allergic to gluten so if you use whiskey in your sauce for your steaks...I will need my epipen! Just saying... It is always good to check for nut allergies too... Yup, I'm allergic to these too! It happens, but it is still worth opening your kitchen to others. You don't want to miss the fun and fellowship.


Monday, September 11, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Sweet Coleslaw Dressing Recipe


Football season is here and that means that the halftime party brings food. Each week, I look for fun filled ideas to make the games fun for my son, Garrett. He loves Alabama football and the Atlanta Falcons, so needless to say, the weekends are packed with fun, food and football! Welcome fall!

This past weekend, it was meat and potatoes, a manly kind of snack buffet turned into a supper since the game was mid-afternoon. As a side and to top the turkey burger sliders, we had homemade slaw. It would have been easier to just buy and container of slaw, but, one, it is cheaper to make your own, and two, it make a whole lot more when you do. 

You will need at least 4 cups of shredded cabbage, carrots, onion and whatever more you want in your slaw. I know that you can also purchase pre-shredded slaw mix at some produce sections of grocers too. This dressing is really good and could be used on salads as well. It will keep in the fridge for about a week if you want it for another meal.

Sweet Coleslaw Dressing Recipe

1 cup of vegan or fat-free mayonnaise
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1 tablespoons of sugar or sugar substitute
1 1/2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon of lemon (more if you family likes lemon)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon of sea salt
1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch mix (one of my favorite)

Mix thoroughly together and pour over cabbage. 
Stir the cabbage making sure it is coated completely with the dressing. 
Enjoy...

My mother use to make a mayo dressing slaw, but then we would get a vinegar based slaw at one of our favorite BBQ restaurants. It is interesting the different ways you can have something so simple as slaw. I loved it on hot dogs as a kid too.  Sneaking cabbage into salads and soups is a great way to get my family to eat it and experience the freshness of that vegetable. It is crunchy and vibrant without all the sweetness of a dressing...however, it is nice to have the option once in a while of something a bit different and a bit fun. Enjoy...

Sunday, September 10, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Left-over BBQ Chicken and Dressing Recipe with a bit of Cheese


Once again, finding yourself standing at the fridge thinking, "What am I going to feed them tonight?" I can't tell you the last time I had this happen. Due to whatever circumstance or situation I was living in, I had to adapt to that and the menus and supplies had to be on hand to prepare the food for every meal. Now, I plan, but it may be three to four days in advance with tons of flexibility. Then, like last Saturday, I made food for the football half-time and didn't have to cook until Wednesday! It was fabulous! I made bread...that was it!

So, when I had left over BBQ chicken, I made a couple of casseroles. This was one of them, a dressing that was creamy as well as hosting a crisp topping. I even had cranberries on hand to have with it. Using left-overs is a great opportunity to make casseroles, soups, stews, and even dips. Did you know you can make your own bread crumbs from day old bread? What about chips? You can use them too in your bread crumbs or you can make your own chips! I love making our tortilla chips. I can't say that Kale Chips are my favorite, I would rather have kale in my salads or with my greens.

So, let's make a dressing...

Left-over BBQ Chicken and Dressing
with a bit of Cheese

2 cups of BBQ Chicken, cooked, chopped or pulled
1 large onion, chopped finely
1 green bell pepper, chopped finely
2 large eggs, beaten slightly
5 cups vegetarian broth
1/2 a pan prepared cornbread, crumbled 
(I make a large iron skillet size)
1 cup of shredded cheese (fat-free)
1/2 teaspoon each parsley, black pepper 
(Garrett loves it, use less if desired), cilantro, Italian seasoning
1/8 teaspoon garlic
* sage, optional...I don't use sage because it has been known to enhance seizures.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix the ingredients together, yup, with your hands! Get messy!
The mixture should be slightly moist. If not, add a bit of broth or milk.
Pour into a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake for 35 minutes or until top is slightly brown.
Serve hot.

This is great served with sour cream, cranberries, mashed cauliflower (love them), greens or a large salad. If you freeze this dressing, bake 3/4 the way done, then when you are ready to enjoy, thaw and finish baking the remaining time. 



Saturday, September 9, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Left-over BBQ Chicken and Cheesy Rice Casseroe

What can I say? I am a truly blessed momma! Two days a week, Garrett has my lunch ready for me so that we can leave for his Special Olympic activities. I may get a soy butter and dill pickle sandwich (lol actually happened once) to a turkey and cheese lettuce wrap. However, when I have been really blessed, I get something like this: a banana and supper warm chicken rice casserole from supper the night before! I love this boy to pieces! I get napkins, a real fork, and then a cup for my coffee! He is the Hallmark Movie wrapped up in a son.

Using left-overs is something I have done ever since I learned to cook. Taking vegetables to make soup, meat to create a chili, bananas to make desserts, even pineapple juice to use in cakes instead of water. There are lots of ways to use various things. Chicken can be used in so many ways, more so than probably hamburger. This past week, I had chicken left from making chicken salad for the football game so I thought of making a couple of casseroles for the freezer and one for supper. So, here is the BBQ chicken I combined with rice adding some cheese to make a creamy casserole that is great for a quick supper any night and for the freezer. If you make it for the freezer, as any casserole, bake 3/4 done and then cook the remaining time when you are ready to eat it. Make a salad during the cooking time and you will be ready for a great supper.

Left-over BBQ Chicken and
 Cheesy Rice Casserole

2 cups of prepared white rice
2 cups of prepared brown rice
1 large onion, chopped finely
5 cups of bbq chicken, cooked, chopped well or pulled
2 cans gluten-free cream of mushroom soup
1 container fat-free sour cream
1 package Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix
1/2 teaspoon cilantro
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon garlic
salt and peppr
4 cups of shredded cheese (fat-free Kraft melts) with 1/4 cup reserved
1 cup of gluten-free Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup of butter (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix together all the ingredients, except 1/4 cup shredded cheese.
Pour into a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.
Top with reserved shredded cheese. 
Thinly slice the butter and scatter across the top of the casserole (optional).
I also added about 2 tablespoons of the bread crumbs sprinkled over the top.
Bake until golden brown. Serve hot.

This will be a great Thanksgiving and Christmas recipe to use left-overs with. I usually make a soup with some of the left-overs so, add the soup to this recipe and you will have a great Sunday after the holidays meal. 

#KitchenWithAHouseAttached

Friday, September 8, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Swedish Meatball Recipe with a bit of help...

Football season brings food, fun and...well, Garrett, and his love for Alabama Football Games!
Halftime is probably my favorite part because I love to cook.
About three-years ago, I made a first game feast for my son and from that day forward,
it became a Saturday tradition...

It has become comical how during the football week, various people have made
suggestions as to what to make "Garrett" for Football Saturday!
For the second game, Diane suggested Swedish Meatballs, something I had never made.
Diane and her husband Don, who is one of the "let's talk sports" regular coffee buddies 
to Garrett's tea at Starbucks...are fabulous friends.

A sampling of the second game halftime buffet...recipes have been posted throughout the week...
Sweet Macaroni Salad and Andrea's Fat-Free Tex Mex Dip, another friend recipe with a twist...

Now, Diane's suggestion...

Swedish Meatball Recipe
(my sauce came out thick this time, so I will change it a bit next time!)

2 lbs of ground turkey
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup fat-free milk
1 cup Italian bread crumbs (gluten free if desired)
1/2 cup onion, chopped finely
(I saute mine so the family don't know they are there)
black pepper and kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cilantro

Sauce

1/2 cup 1-for-1 gluten free flour
3 cups of vegetable broth
1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Preheat oven at 375 degrees.
Form meatballs into desired sizes, I make them about 2" round.
Place individually into a baking pain or broiler pan so any grease will drain off.
(Have used a muffin pan.)
Bake 30 minutes or until done.
Place in a baking dish and pour sauce over meatballs.

While meatballs are baking:
Spray skillet with cooking spray.
Pour flour into skillet and brown slightly.
Slowly add broth whisk while doing so until it thickens.
Add heavy cream and continue whisk until sauce thickens but is still creamy.
It will be a gravy consistency.

I hope you have a great fall season
and that your team spirit will flow.
Do remember that regardless that in Christ,
we are united regardless of sports, seasons or peoples...
our ultimate attitude is a witness to all every moment of everyday.
May He find us faithful, true and pleasing always.


Monday, September 4, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Andrea's Fat-Free Tex Mex Dip Recipe


Do you have those friends in your life that prove themselves the definition of a friend? I realized the definition of friend in reality when it was shared through a scripture perspective during a study of 2 Corinthians in the Bible. Paul is writing a letter to the church at Corinth telling them about unity, forgiveness and so forth. However, through references elsewhere, the passages ties together the depth of what a person is to do...listen, encourage, support, no gossip, be unified, grounded in what is righteous and godly, balancing all on what God says...what God says in His Word. I experienced that, but it was after my life-experience when I realized there were four people, all women, in my life that did just those things. They stood strong with me the last two-years of my marriage, knowing all that I was going through. I removed the veil of reality I was living in and followed their advice even when my marriage ended with my husband walking away. After that these same women were there and have been. It was said in just a few words, "A friend stands closer than a brother," but that friend needs to be standing firm on the Word of God and, to be honest, if they are, they won't be any room for the enemy to take advantage of the situation because these same friends will call account again based on the Word of God. 

So, now, this one of the four ladies, is Andrea. She is fantastic! Although we are on different sides of the fence when it comes to football teams, she Auburn and Mr. Garrett's house, Alabama, as Garrett says, "We have to love them anyway," lol. I was having coffee with Andrea, making my grocery list for the week, when she suggested this Tex Mex Dip to go with Tortilla Chips. She texted me the recipe and I had to make it. I sent her the photo of the results and have no idea if that was what it was suppose to look like, but it certainly is delicious. I have some other ideas for this dip so keep watching! So, get some tortilla chips warmed and let's dip!

Andrea's Fat Free Tex Mex Dip Recipe
(The original recipe wasn't fat-free, so I adapted)

2 cans fat-free refried beans
1 cup fat-free mayo
1 cup fat-free sour cream
1 package gluten free taco seasoning
1 small can chopped black olives (only fat, so optional)
1/2 cup onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup tomatoes, diced super small
2 cups fat-free cheddar cheese

Directions:
Using a 9x13 glass dish, spread refried beans evenly in the bottom. 
Mix mayo, sour cream, and taco seasoning together well, then spread on top of refried beans.
Top the taco mix spread with half of the olives, onions, and tomatoes.
Add the cheese on top of the pretty veggies.
Place the remaining veggies on top of the cheese.
Serve at room temperature with warmed tortilla chips. 

I am thinking this will be great on top of bake potatoes too! Maybe I am leaving the fat-free zone lol. How about on top of steamed cauliflower? I am thinking pasta too! Maybe I am just ready for more dip...loving the fall and football season.

Sunday, September 3, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Rita's Sweet Macaroni Salad with Sour Cream Recipe


This time of year brings outings, family gatherings and, of course, football. As I was planning what we would have during the halftime portion of the first Alabama football game, my son, Garrett, asked for Macaroni Salad. I could have bought a box of it, but why when I could make a larger bowl of it for the price of two cups plus a bit healthier. This was a twist when I added a bit of sweetness to it using brown sugar instead of regular sugar and then adding balsamic vinegar. It was super delicious. Cutting the calories allows for a bit of indulgence elsewhere so why add them into hidden places of elbow pasta...let's create a rockin' awesome salad:

Rita's Sweet Macaroni Salad with Sour Cream Recipe

1 16 ounce box gluten-free box macaroni elbow pasta
1 cup vegan mayo (love the taste if I have to use mayo)
1 cup fat-free sour cream (can use 2 cups if no mayo)
1 table spoon balsamic vinegar 
2 tablespoons brown sugar substitute 
1 cup celery, chopped finely
1/2 cup onion, chopped finely

Mix all together well. Put in the fridge for one hour and serve cold. 

Happy Football Season!
Go Teams!
#RTR


Saturday, September 2, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

The first Alabama Football Halftime Buffet is planned!


This week, I heard one of my lovely ladies from one of my group fitness classes ask another lady regarding Alabama football, “You have never heard of people devoted to football like us?? Where are you from?” The conversation went on, but it was all in good nature humor and we were seriously laughing, but it was the truth. In Hartselle, Alabama, I will be bold enough to write it, come Friday night, it is where everyone is at…the Hartselle Football stadium! If the hometown high school is playing locally, then that is where the people go. Most have seasonal tickets and will be standing in line when the booth opens pre-season as early as six in the morning to get theirs. We love to support our team and we go crazy about it more than any other sport at times.

Then there’s college football, pardon the pun, but that is a whole nother game! Alabama and Auburn! Not from here? Indeed, that is something that should be at the top of your check-list in moving to Alabama…pick a team before heading this way. When a high school student picks a college, they will stay true to their family’s devotion regardless if one or the other offers the better school for the degree they need. See, each college in the state offers a focal point for education regardless if they say they do or not. For example, here is a simple list: UAH offers Engineering while UAB is medical, UA at Tuscaloosa is Athletic and Law, Athens State is Education, Auburn is Agriculture, Music, Pharmaceutical and one of our local community colleges is Nursing while one in South Alabama is well known for offering scholarships for track and golf. It is like this in other states I am sure, but I haven’t heard where most things shut down for college football like the state of Alabama.

Which brings me to, Garrett Cobbs! My fabulous and wonderful rockin’ awesome number one Alabama fan! You may love football, consider yourself devoted to football, but, I am sorry, this guy is sold out to the team, every coach they have had in his lifetime, and ready for every sport Alabama has to offer. He once asked a guy, “Are you an Alabama fan?” The guy swore he was, until Garrett found out that he only watched Alabama football. Garrett quickly told him that he was just an Alabama football fan and since he didn’t watch all their sports he wasn’t a true Alabama fan. Bless him!
Each Alabama football game, however, I make Garrett a half-time buffet. The great part is the food lasts through Monday. I have my motives. Sometimes, friends come over and join us for the game and spend time with us. With today being the first game, here is the menu thanks to the suggestions of some amazing friends:

Swedish Meatballs (the sauce came out a bit thick, but delicious)

Sweet Macaroni Salad with Sour Cream

Andrea’s Fat Free Tex Mex Dip


Also, planning to make chicken salad and banana pudding which I have made several times, but the pudding will be fat free, but added the not-so-fat-free recipe link. I am excited about the dip. Andrea is an amazing friend and entertained often. She has so many great ideas and recipes!

Hope you have a fabulous football season filled with hot chocolate, warm blankets, total wins (for Alabama lol cause I have to live with Garrett for the next year!) and great memories!  I will post the recipes for the three other dishes this week! Enjoy the game!