The Liebster Blog Award

Food Gurly has nominated me for the Liebster blog award. Many thanks, Joanna!

A little background info on this award:

The word “Liebster” originates from the German word “liebste” which means “dearest”. The origin of this award is unknown, although several posts have suggested a German blog. The rules of this award had changed over the years although theunderlying goal remains the same: to bring attention to blogs that have not been discovered yet. In 2010, the rule was to pick 3-5 blogs that have less than 3,000 readers but recently, you list 10 blogs with less than 200 subscribers. It is quite a dramatic difference, but for the better. Wouldn’t a blog of 3,000 readers be established (or discovered) by then?

The basic idea behind this award is for existing bloggers to recognize new bloggers and help promote them! You will also benefit by because your nominee’s will link back to you, driving traffic to your blog…and frankly, a good blog is all about the traffic peeps!  ;)

And now for the ‘rules’…

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.
2. Show off your award on your blog (in a post, widget, etc. like I did).
3. Answer 10 questions given to you by the nominee before you.
4. Create 10 questions of your own. (Don’t worry, you can use mine if you want).
5. Nominate 5-10 of your favorite blogs with fewer than 200 followers and notify them of their nomination.
6. And of course, tell them about it and provide a link back to your website so that they can know more about the award!

To answer the questions Joanna had for me:

1. What was the driving force that led you to start your blog?
My boys and our budget. For years, we struggled to feed all of us and find fun things to do on less than $50/week. My husband never complained about how tight money was and worked hard so that I could stay home with our boys. At the time he did commercial flooring, which was literally back-breaking work on his hands and knees everyday. I began to search and scour food blogs and magazines looking for affordable recipes, but were the kind of quality I wanted to provide for them every day and that I felt they deserved. I discovered tons of fun food ideas and crafts or activities to do with my older boys for free or virtually nothing. I began to get asked repeatedly by friends and family to share the recipes and ideas I’d found. I loved being able to share with everyone and helping others who were struggling to get in the groove of their own budget. I started the blog as an outlet for others looking for the same things I was, and still continue to hunt down. Our home operates under several very basic tenets: family, fun, and food. The 4 Sons blog embraces that and shares posts and anecdotes with others who wish to find the same.
2. Chicken or Fish?
Definitely chicken. Not sure exactly why, but I’ve never been a big ‘fish’ person. I think it’s the smell. To this day the only cuts I can even think about eating are Tilapia or Salmon.
3. If you could meet any famous person, recent or past, who would you want to meet?
Mary Magdalene. So much is either assumed or hypothesized about her, with little actual facts known about her life, or just how dramatic her impact was on Christ. I have a huge obsession with biblical myths and would love to know her life, her story in her words.
4. If you could know the exact moment you were going to die, would you want to? Why or Why not?
No. I can’t imagine actually trying to live with the weight of that impending moment on my shoulders. My life would be more like a countdown to DDay instead of about embracing the moment and making memories today. I don’t t hink I could even handle living, let alone being happy, with the constant fear of that moment looming in the background.
5. What is your favorite thing to blog about?
Food. Ever since I first got started in the kitchen, I’ve never been able to stop talking about it. I have this compulsive need to share my culinary experiences, including opinions. Even when I think I don’t feel like talking anymore,  I will end up continuing to word vomit my perspective all over a friend because I seem to have some sort of disease that won’t let me keep my over-boiling thoughts to myself.
6. Sweet or Savory?
Savory. My husband has the biggest sweet-tooth I’ve ever seen. All 4 sons inherited it. I love them, but watching 5 guys turn into one big and 4 little Tasmanian devils whenever the spot a sugar granule has turned me off the ‘sweet’ stuff. That and, if it’s savory, they might actually save me a bite!
7. If you had to choose one meal to eat, everyday for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I just can’t. There’s too many things that I love. I’ve never been good at making these kinds of decisions.
8. Chocolate or Vanilla?
Vanilla, for as long as I’ve been able to taste. I know, my mom thought I was a weird kid, and son # 4 still can’t handle the fact that Mama doesn’t like ‘chokkit’.
9. Tell me 5 random things about yourself.
1. My husband and I met on a random blind date, set up on a whim at the last minute by my co-worker, now FIL, 10 minutes before closing, and were engaged 3 months later. 2. I’ve passed out once in my life. I was 10 and my grandmother was jabbing trying to put my super sharp piercing earing back in my ear after a basketball game. I remember cringing at the pain, and that was all she wrote. Out. Cold. 3. I read A LOT. It’s like an obsession or something. An addiction maybe? And I like most characters better than the people I meet in real life. 4. I grew up Southern Baptist. My husband… a devout Catholic. They said it couldn’t be done, but we make it work. 5. I keep a leather-bound journal on my desk. The sons are aware of it, it’s no secret. It’s called ‘Sh*t My Kids Say’, where I record all the ridiculous things they say when they’re not looking. We always get a good laugh when one of them pulls it out and reads some of their infamous quotes.
10. Cake or Pie?
Neither, I don’t do dessert. Sugar isn’t really my friend, but starch and I are bff’s.

Great questions, and now for my own…

1. What prompted you to start your blog?
2. What is your favorite line from a movie and why?
3. If you were guaranteed to be returned unharmed, what risky thrill would you try? (i.e. swimming with sharks, bungee jumping, sky diving,etc)
4. How many other people’s blog post do you read on average, per day?
5. What’s your star sign? Are you familiar with the typical characteristics associated with it? If so, which ones apply to you?
6. Do you remember your first blog post? What was it about?
7. If you had a limit of 24 words to say to someone, what would you say? And to whom?
8. If you were given an opportunity to go anywhere on the planet, all expenses paid, where would you go?
9. What’s the best childhood memory that you have?
10. Name one song that will always be close to your heart and state why.

And now for my own nominees for the Liebster:

If You Give A Blonde A Kitchen  *  Kiss My Ingredients  *  Cooking With A Wallflower  *  Sinfully Tempting  *  Budget Loving Military Wife  *  Drake Farm Dream

These are my winners. You have all won the Liebster award!!! Congratulations!! Thank you for bringing quality writing and content to the blogosphere!!!

Ground Beef Stroganoff with Thyme and Red Wine

I’ve always loved a good beef stroganoff. Typically, I use stew beef, but a few months back we tried it using plain old ground beef (since it thaws and generally cooks quicker) and it was just as big a hit as the original. We’re no stranger to using wine, even beer, in our cooking. Here the red wine adds the ‘oomph’ that puts this beef stroganoff ahead of the rest. This recipe offers gourmet flavor on a budget.

Ground Beef Stroganoff with Thyme and Red Wine

4 Sons 'R' Us: Ground Beef Stroganoff with Thyme & Red Wine

recipe originally from Manilla Spoon

2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef
4 tsp minced garlic
1 medium onion, diced
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup chopped Bella mushrooms
2 tsp dried thyme
3/4 cup beef broth
1/2 cup sour cream
16 oz pasta (like penne) or wide egg noodles

4 Sons 'R' Us: Ground Beef with Thyme & Red Wine 2

Directions

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. While the water is boiling heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions and garlic for a minute. Crumble the beef and cook until it’s fully browned. Season with salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and Worcestershire. Stir occasionally.
2. Pour in the red wine. Let boil until it has evaporated.
3. Add in the dried thyme and mushrooms and let cook until the juices/liquid of the mushroom have been released. Pour in the beef broth and stir in the sour cream. Simmer until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, about 5-7 minutes.
4. Either mix the ‘sauce’ with the pasta or serve on top of your pasta of choice. A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top is the perfect piece de resistance.

Prayer Pail: Our Way of Branching Out Prayer with a Toddler

Every night before bed we say our prayers. We’ve watched our prayers with our sons evolve from a simple, ‘Now I lay me down to sleep…’ to specific prayers for people they know, things that worry them, and words of thanks and gratitude for the things in their lives. As I’ve had more children, I’ve realized the earlier I can get them acclimated to the idea as normal and second nature, the easier it becomes to connect to God and to really have a conversation with Him about the things that matter to you, and not always having the thing that matters to them most be themselves. When my youngest was 1, he’s almost 4 now, I decided to create a prayer pail. Each night before bed I let him pick out a stick, or two or three, if he feels so inclined and we say a prayer for whoever or whatever is listed on the stick. He has come to look forward to the surprise of who or what he will be praying for and excited about including others in our nightly prayers. Originally, we just did sticks for our immediate family. Now, we have sticks for everyone: extended family, the ‘lost’, and even our church. We also have a ‘thankful’ stick, so he can tell God what he is thankful for too. For us, this has been the perfect tool to teach our son a loose form for prayer in a way that even a toddler can understand.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Prayer Sticks

To make the prayer sticks I just wrote on Popsicle sticks with different color sharpies. I punched holes in them using my crop-a-dile and then threaded different ribbon into the holes and tied to give them a bit of pizzazz. Our ‘pail’ is a metal Batman pail from Target’s $ bins.