Friday, October 23, 2009

Happily Ever After

Around this time of year, I tend to get a little sappy. For starters, this is my absolute favorite time of year. I love everything about it...the weather, the leaves, pumpkins, apple cider, halloween...it just really doesn't get better than that. So when it came time to pick a wedding date, it was really a no brainer. On October 27th, my husband and I will celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary. This has been a tough year for us, for a bunch of random reasons, but over the last month or so, it seems like the stars have aligned, our prayers have been answered, and things FINALLY feel GOOD again. I'm looking forward to our anniversary this year, because, even though I should do this often, I can take a moment to spend quietly with my husband, and tell him just how much he means to me, and just how lucky I feel that he is in my life. There are so many reasons that I love my husband, and I'm not going to get into that, but the main reason is that he GETS me. I can be so completely random and ridiculous sometimes, and he just goes with it. It has been such an awesome 2 years, and I feel lucky to be his wife. I am taking a week of vacation next week, and I can't wait to relax and spend some down time with my hubby!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Home




After all of my talk about painting and moving , I've been meaning to post some pictures of our house, but I kept forgetting. It is still a work in progress, but we finally feel settled, and it is starting to feel like home. I really love this house. It is so cozy!! These aren't the greatest pictures in the world, but you will get the idea...




the living room...






another angle...





the kitchen...




another angle...







our bedroom...





front of the house...



another angle...





Taco Soup

I have been making this taco soup for a few years now. I'm not exactly sure where the recipe came from, I think it is more of a combination of recipes that I saw and liked. I always make a huge batch of this, then freeze it, so it makes several meals for us. If you just want a normal size batch of soup, make sure to halve this recipe.

Taco Soup
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cans kidney beans
2 cans corn
2 cans Rotel
2 cans tomato sauce
2 packets taco seasoning
2 packets Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix

Brown ground beef and onion, and drain. Add to pot. Add rest of ingredients (including liquid from all cans). Stir well. This can either be cooked on the stovetop on medium-low for 30-45 minutes, or in the crockpot on low for 3-4 hours. Top with cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Crockpot chicken & dressing

This is by far one of my husbands favorite meals. I like making it because it is super simple and fairly inexpensive.

4 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 boxes jiffy cornbread mix, prepared using pkg directions (I make them in 2 8x8 round cake pans
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cans chicken broth
2 eggs, hardboiled
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stick butter, melted
2 hotdog buns, or 2 slices white bread
2 tsp sage

Boil chicken breasts and let cool. Once cool, shred and set aside. Cook cornbread using pkg directions. Let cool. Add cornbread, hotdog buns, onion, sage, chicken broth, 1 can cream of chicken soup, egg and butter to a large bowl. Mix well. Spread half of one can of cream of chicken soup in the bottom of a crockpot. Next, spread 1/3 of stuffing mixture, followed by 1/2 the shredded chicken. Repeat layers. Top with rest of cream of chicken soup. Cook on low for 4-5 hrs.

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

I have had this recipe on my list of things to make for quite a while now. It has made it's rounds on the cooking board that I frequent, and I've heard nothing buy great things about it. I was super excited to make it, but was a little disappointed. It was pretty good, but I guess it just didn't live up to all the hype. I served it over rice, topped with cheese, but the next day, I had it in a tortilla, and I liked it better that way.

Ingredients:
4 boneless chicken breast
1 cup of salsa, any brand
1 package of taco seasoning
1 can of condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup of sour cream

Directions:
Add chicken to the slow cooker.
Sprinkle taco seasoning over chicken.
Mix salsa and chicken soup in another bowl. Add to crock pot.
Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Add sour cream during the last 30 minutes.
Shred chicken with forks and serve!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Giveaway Winner!!!

I am super excited to announce the winner of my very first giveaway!! For some reason, I can't copy a picture of the random generator on random.org, so you guys are just going to have to take my word for it that I did use it!! Anyway, the winner is Jen!!

Jen said...
FOOTBALL!
September 23, 2009 8:15 AM

Congratulations, Jen!! Please email me at jennharton@paducah.com to claim your prize!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Chicken Club Ring

Our dinner last night was pretty good. I look forward to trying different variations of this in the future. I think this was originally a Pampered Chef recipe, but I found it here. I have put that recipe below, and noted my changes.

Chicken Club RingRecipe
2 (8 oz) tubes refrigerator crescent rolls
3 cup coarsely chopped cooked chicken ( I just boiled my chicken, then when it was almost done, I chopped it up and put it in the skillet with a small amount of the bacon drippings, some garlic salt and onion salt.
4 slices bacon, crisply cooked, drained and chopped
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese, divided
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley (I omitted)
1 garlic clove, pressed (I used garlic salt instead)
2 plum tomatoes, sliced (I diced up a regular tomato)
2 chopped green onions
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In bowl, combine chicken, bacon, 3/4 cup of cheese, mayo, mustard, parsley and garlic; mix well.Scoop filling evenly over desired shape**; top with tomato slices. ( I mixed the tomato and green onion in with the rest of the mixture.) Finish shape as directed. Brush with egg white. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.** Shape refers to the various shapes you can make with crescent rolls and some creative folding - wreath, ring or braid. Basically, you lay them out in a circle, overlapping, to look like a sun. spread filling out over the inside edge, and one-by-one, fold the points over into the middle.

Happy Fall...and a Giveaway!!!

I LOVE fall. It is, by far, my favorite season. I'm not the most outdoorsy person, but fall is the one time a year that my husband can get me out to hike our local trails, or go exploring in some out of the way place that he has randomly come across. I love the cool air, and the colorful leaves, and the smell in the air that you only get in the fall. It.is.awesome.


As luck would have it, I received my very first package from myblogspark yesterday, so I am having a "Beginning of Fall" giveaway!! Yay!! If you haven't checked out myblogspark, you really should. It is a pretty neat concept. Anyway, on to my giveaway. The prize is a Nature Valley Granola Nut Clusters "Snack Pack" prize pack that includes all four (4) varieties of the Granola Nut Clusters along with a sling backpack, stainless steel water bottle, flashlight and binoculars! I have already tried some of the granola nut clusters that I received, and they are AWESOME!


To enter the contest, I want to know your favorite thing about fall. The contest will end at 10pm on Thursday, and the winner will be announced on Friday morning. Good luck!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Enchiladas"

Thankfully, we finally got unpacked enough that I could cook dinner last night in our new house! I was so excited, because I haven't been able to cook at all in so long, and that is how I relax. I was really excited about this particular dinner, because I LOVE anything mexican, and my husband does not. However, he actually requested this, so it was at the top of my menu for the week. A couple of months ago, I tried a recipe that everyone was raving about on the nest. Annie's "Benchilada's" were SO good. My husband loved them, but he asked if I would make them again using shredded beef. I was a little skeptical about mixing shredded beef, sour cream and ranch dressing, but the outcome was GREAT!! I still absolutely love the chicken version, so I will probably rotate between the two, but this is definitely going into our normal rotation!

My take on "Benchilada's"!

Ingredients:
1 chuck roast (any roast that shreds easily will work)
2 cans of beef broth
1 onion, sliced
taco seasoning
8 oz. reduced fat sour cream
8 oz. Ranch salad dressing
flour tortillas (you can use small or large. I used the burrito size, and it made 5)
jar of salsa
shredded mexican cheese (I usually use close to 4 cups, I love cheese!)

Directions:
I put my roast in the crockpot in the morning before work. I added 2 cans of beef broth, 1 medium onion and a little bit of taco seasoning. I cooked it on low for 10 hrs. It was perfect by the time I got home from work. When I got home, I took the meat and onions out of the crockpot and placed it into a colander in the sink so all of the juice could drain.

While the beef is cooling, mix up the sauce. In a large mixing bowl, combine half of the sour cream and half of the Ranch dressing. In another, combine the rest of the sour cream and Ranch dressing. Stir both until well combined. Shred the beef and add to the large mixing bowl. Mix well with sauce.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Grease a 9 x 13″ pan . Take one tortilla and top with about 1 tbsp. of the sauce from the small bowl. Spread over the tortilla in an even layer. Add some of the chicken mixture to the center of the tortilla. Top with salsa to taste. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, to taste. Roll up tortilla and place, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining ingredients .
Bake in preheated oven about 30 minutes or so. Allow to cool a few minutes before serving.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Last night, I cooked dinner for my dad. I loved every minute of it, because I haven't had a kitchen in weeks. We wanted something quick and easy, so I decided on Tuna Noodle Casserole. This is an old stand-by for me. It is my moms recipe, and I'm pretty sure it came from the Betty Crocker, or Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I've adapted it a little over the years, but it is basically the same, and it never disappoints!!

Tuna Noodle Casserole
3-4 cups of egg noodles (I use more than the recipe calls for, because we love leftovers!)
9 oz canned tuna
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup mayo
1 can cream of celery soup
1/2 cup milk
2 cups cheddar cheese
salt & pepper

Cook egg noodles using package directions. Chop onion & green pepper and place in a large bowl. Add tuna and mayo to the bowl. Heat soup and milk in a saucepan until heated through. Add 1/2 cup cheese to soup mixture, and stir until melted. Drain noodles and add to bowl. Pour soup over noodles. Stir contents of bowl until mixed well. Add 1/2 cup cheese to mixture and stir well. Pour into 9x13 baking dish. Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 420 degrees for 20 minutes.

We move into our house in 4 days, so I plan to have LOTS of updates soon!! Stay tuned!

Monday, September 14, 2009

I.Am.Exhausted.

This has officially been the longest month of my life!! On August 18, we decided to move from our apartment, and I have not had one moment of down time since then. My mom & I have painted at the new house almost every day, and we are completely worn out. The good news is, we found out today that we will be moving in on Saturday!! YAY!! That means I get to be under the same roof as all of my belongings, my husband and my cats!! I could not be happier!! I haven't had time to get real excited about this move, but now that it is getting close, I am SUPER excited!! Our house has turned out SO cute!! I can't wait to be moved in and unpacked, and able to spend some much needed quiet time with my hubby!! :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I am NOT amused!

Well, this move is definitely not going like I'd hoped. We moved out of our apartment 9 days ago, and as of today, our house is not much closer to being ready to move into. When they told us it might take " a few days" longer, I was cool with it. I thought, we can find a place to stay for a few days. No big deal. But this is starting to get ridiculous. We stayed in a hotel until today. However, that was getting crazy expensive, so we are now going to be staying with our respective parents. Why, you ask?! Well, with Matt working nights, he didn't want to come in around 4 in the morning at my parents and wake everyone up (and there is really no way around it), and there is only room for one of us at his moms, so there you have it. It is a little bit like we are dating again! I am really trying to make the best of it, but it is starting to wear me down. I hate being so "unsettled". I just want to be in our house, with my husband and our cats! So say a little prayer that this contractor gets on the ball before I beat him with my paint roller!!! :)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Here's to new beginnings!

Well, the last week has been quite a whirlwind of activity, and until now, I haven't had a lot of time to sit back and think about what is really happening. Don't get me wrong, I am SUPER happy that we are moving into a house. It is what we have been wanting, and I definitely think it is the right move for us. But I'm also a little sad about leaving our apartment. I do love this apt. It holds a lot of great memories for us. This was my first "big girl" apt!! :) The first time I ever paid bills completely one my own, without help from my parents was in this apt. Matt & I got engaged at this apt. Our "babies" were born in this apartment. (anyone that knows me knows that by "babies", I mean "cats"!!) This was our first home as husband & wife. The last 4 1/2 years were spent making memories in this apartment. So it is definitely going to be sad to leave. The emptier I see it getting, the more I realize that we are really leaving. But I'm excited about new beginnings. I can't wait to see what memories we can make in our new home.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I knew this was too easy!

Well, our move isn't looking like it is going to go as smoothly as I'd hoped. The remodel is taking longer than they anticipated, so there is a chance that we won't be able to move in for almost 2 weeks. The problem with that is that we are moving out of our apt THIS weekend, no matter what. So instead of moving once, we may have to move twice. If they don't get finished, we are going to have to move our stuff into my parents garage, and stay with them for a week. Not the perfect solution, but I guess it will do

My mom and I spent the whole weekend at the new house painting, then I went home every night and packed. I am completely exhausted, and still have so much to do. In the long run, I know I'm going to be happy about the move, but right now, I am completely stressed and overwhelmed!

Friday, August 21, 2009

We're Moving!!!!

This has, by far, been one of the craziest weeks of my life!! A week ago, the idea of finding a house to rent and moving out of our apt was just that...and idea. We had been tossing the thought around, but we weren't aggressively searching for anything. On Tuesday, we found out that our rent would be going up considerably on our apt, and that was just the kick in the pants that I needed. On Wednesday, I started feverishly searching for rental houses. By late in the day, I had just about given up my search, because I wasn't finding anything. I was frustrated and stressed. I was alone at work that day, so I went into the sanctuary of the church and talked to God for a while. I told him that I was going to need a miracle if I was going to pull this off, but that I felt like it was the right time for us to make this move. After spending a few minutes in there, alone with God and my thoughts, I came back to my office feeling a little bit better. Thats when I remembered one source that I hadn't checked out that someone had mentioned to me. I logged into this website, and found a listing that was close to a month old, but was exactly what I was looking for. I figured it was a long shot, but I called anyway. I spoke with the landlord, and it turns out that he had stopped trying to rent it for a few weeks because he decided to remodel the kitchen & bathroom. The house was still available, and he planned to have it ready by the end of the month. He told me that another lady was very interested in it, but for me to go by and look at the outside, and if I was still interested, to call him and he would meet with me to see the house. The house happens to be in the exact neighborhood that we have been wanting to move to, and when I saw the outside, I was super excited. It is a cute little house, with a huge yard. I called that night and made an appt to meet him on Thursday to see the house. When I walked through the house, I realized that it is smaller than our apartment, and not nearly as "spread out", but it is still cute. He told me that if I liked it, it was ours, because he really like me and would like to rent to me. I called my husband, and he told me that he trusts my instincts, and if I think this is the right thing, then he is completely on board. The best part about this whole thing is that the rent is $100/mo less than what we pay now for our apt (before the rent increase). So I told the landlord that we would take it, and we move in ONE WEEK!!! I can hardly believe that this is happening, but I am SO EXCITED!! I am really looking forward to this next chapter of our lives!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Menu Planning

Several months ago, in an effort to cut our grocery budget, I began meal planning. I have always been terrible about ending up with a lot of main dishes and no sides, or vice versa. Since I've started planning out our menus, I feel like I have some order to my life!! I go shopping every two weeks, so it took me a while to learn to meal plan that far in advance. It also took me a while to realize that I didn't have to make a 4 course meal every night. I think that I have found a nice balance now. Here is my meal plan for the next few weeks. (with my husband working nights, the order of these could change at any given moment, but overall, this is what it will be.)

Monday - Smothered pork chops, mashed potatoes, green beans
Tuesday - Pigs in a blanket, mac & cheese
Wednesday - Chicken nuggets (homemade), spicy corn, some other veggie
Thursday - setting up for yard sale -probably just a sandwhich
Friday - yard sale day - out or sandwhich
Saturday - " "
Sunday - Taco Salad

Monday - Smoked sausages, baked beans, veggie
Tuesday - BLT's, chips
Wednesday - blueberry pancakes and bacon
Thursday - I have an extra package of ground beef, so I will probably do something with that.
Friday - Grocery shopping day

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Progress

I have to say that I am pretty proud of myself. I started a project, and I am actually following through with it!! (Follow through has never been my strong point!) I have gotten rid of an enormous amount of junk, and have a pretty big pile going for my yard sale. I said I was going to become crafty enough to decorate my house, but at this point, I am just "supervising" the crafty!! I came up with an idea for my bathroom, and my mom took my vision and actually made it happen. I need to take some pictures, but I still need to pick up a few things to complete the bathroom. It feels good to actually be making some progress!!

As for cooking, I haven't been doing much. My husband has been working nights, so our schedules are completely messed up, and I end up just making something simple. But I'm trying to get back into some sort of routine. I've started meal planning for the next 2 weeks, and I plan on actually going through with it!! One thing that I have made recently was White Castle cheeseburgers. My mom's friend made them for bunco one night, and she got the recipe for me.

White Castle Cheeseburgers
2 lbs ground beef (my pkg was about 2.25 lbs, which worked fine)
Onion flakes (enough to cover the bottom of a 9X13 baking dish)
worchestershire sauce
6-8 slices american cheese
dinner rolls (I used Hawaiian Rolls)
salt & pepper

In a 9X13 baking dish, cover the bottom with dried onion flakes. In a bowl, mix ground beef, worchestershire sauce and salt & pepper. Flatten ground beef out on top of onion flakes. (I had to do it in sections, then smash it all together) Cook in 400 degree oven for 25 minutes or so. Remove from oven and drain out any grease. (I poured out the grease, then soaked up the excess with a paper towel. ) Top with cheese slices, and return to oven for 2-3 minutes, until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes. Cut into squares, and place on hawaiian rolls. (I cut mine into 12 squares, which made burgers that were a little larger than the buns. You could cut them smaller and get more out of it.)

These were really good! My husband wasn't a fan of the hawaiian rolls, because he said it made his burger too sweet, but other than that, they were great!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Making Changes

About a month ago, I decided that I no longer like anything about my apartment. That may seem drastic, but it is completely true. I am so tired of looking at the stuff that I have, and I am ready for changes. Not only that, but I'm tired of being unorganized. So I have begun a pretty big project. I am cleaning out and getting rid of anything that I don't want. I have taken things down off of my walls, off of tables & out of closets, and I am having a yard sale at the end of the month. I am organizing all of the junk that I have left, and trying to make it look a little bit better. I'm bargain shopping for new decorations, and I'm trying to become crafty enough to decorate my house. Its coming along, slowly but surely. I'm pretty sure that my husband thinks I've lost my mind. Every time he walks into a room, he finds something else missing!! But it has been a lot of fun so far, and very theraputic!! I should have done this a long time ago!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Excuses, excuses. (and a recipe!)

I really haven't been blogging much lately. In fact, I haven't been doing much of anything lately. I am not a huge fan of summer. It makes me lazy. I haven't cooked much, or done much organizing. LAZY, I tell you!! But last week, I was on vacation, so one night I decided to make a nice dinner. I can't remember where this recipe came from...I copied it down from somewhere YEARS ago, and I don't make it very often. It is a variation of a roast, but it is a lot different than the normal potroast that I usually make.

Italian Roast

1 (3-4 lb) chuck roast
2 cans beef broth
1 cup red cooking wine
mushrooms (the recipe calls for shitake mushrooms, but I use button mushrooms)
1 onion, cut in strips
1 green pepper (I think I added this ingredient somewhere along the way!)
salt & pepper
olive oil

In a dutch oven, heat olive oil. Add chuck roast and sear on each side. Remove meat, and add more olive oil. Add onions, mushrooms and green pepper. Cook until tender. Add beef broth and red wine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Add meat to pan, cover, and place in 400 degree oven for approx. 4 hrs. Keep an eye on it, and if the liquid starts to cook down too much you can add more beef broth. After 4 hrs, remove meat to a plate to rest. Pour the rest of the contents of the pan into a blender with 2 tablespoons of flour. Blend until it makes all the same consistency. Serve over meat and mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Slowing Down

I've noticed lately that whenever someone asks me how I've been or what I've been up to, I always say that I've been busy. But when I step back and look at things, I'm not real sure what I've been so busy doing. I mean, I know that we all have our responsibilities, but compared to some people, I don't have much going on. So why am I always so "busy"?! I heard recently about a man in our town that passed away while playing golf. He was married with 4 kids, and HE WAS 30 YEARS OLD! I just can't wrap my brain around it. It has caused me to take a look at my life and what is truly important, because tomorrow isn't promised to us. I know that I have things to do around the house when I'm at home, but is there anything so important or so pressing that I can't stop and sit on the deck with my husband for a while when he asks me to? Not really. So I'm trying to teach myself to stop taking things for granted, and enjoy EVERY day. I also want to take steps to better every relationship in my life. I am so blessed with a wonderful group of family and friends, but is there more that I could be doing in those relationships? Probably so. Several months ago, I blogged about The Love Dare, a 40 day devotional that my husband and I were starting. We did really well with it for a while, but then we let life get in the way, and we never finished it. I've been thinking for several weeks that we should start back up, but we never find the time. I just finished my daily devotional book that I've been doing, so I've decided to start The Love Dare on my own. In the movie Fireproof, the husband does the book on his own, without even telling his wife that he's doing it. That is kind of the approach that I want to take on it. I haven't told my husband that I am starting it, because I feel like it will be more effective if he isn't expecting it. If he notices that I'm doing it, thats fine, but I'm not going to volunteer that information. Don't get me wrong, I don't feel like we have any major problems in our marriage, but I think we could all stand to be a little better, or try a little harder. So that is what I plan to do. My "dare" for today is to not say anything negative to my husband. So far, so good! :) I'm not going to post about this every day, but I will up date once a week or so on how its going. And if you haven't checked out "The Love Dare", you definitely should.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Finding Roots

I cannot even count the number of times I have heard someone from my town say "I can't wait to get out of this town!" Mostly growing up, but sometimes even now, I hear that same sentiment. So I started wondering...is it odd that I LOVE the town I live in?! I am so happy that I still live in the same town that I was born and raised in. I love that it only takes 5 minutes to get from my house to my moms. I love passing by the high school I graduated from. I love running into a childhood friend at wal-mart. I love going to football games when my old highschool is having an undefeated season. I love knowing that I graduated from the same high school that my dad did. I love the idea of my children growing up in the same surroundings that I did. I know that living here isn't for everyone, but I for one have loved every minute of it. I'm so glad that I have "roots" here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Carrot Cake Cookies

A while back, I found a recipe for Carrot Cake Cookies that I knew my dad would love. He always has carrot cake for his birthday, so I knew these would be right up his alley. So I was looking for an occasion to make them, and I figured Easter was the perfect time. I'm not very good at baking, so I was a little nervous, but they turned out really well. They were a huge hit at Easter!! I found this recipe here, and only modified it slightly.

1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup coarsely grated carrots (2 medium)
1/3 cup raisins

FILLING1 cup cream cheese
1 tbsp honey

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 180°C. Butter 2 baking sheets.Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.Beat together butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla in another bowl until pale and fluffy. Mix in carrots, and raisins; then add flour mixture to this and beat until just combined.Drop 1 1/2 tablespoons batter per cookie 2 inches apart on baking sheets and bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are lightly browned and springy to the touch, 12 to 16 minutes total.Cool cookies on sheets for 1 minute, then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.While cookies are baking, blend cream cheese and honey in a food processor until smooth.Sandwich flat sides of cookies together with a generous tablespoon of cream cheese filling in between.

If you like carrot cake, you will love these!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Whole Lot of Nothing!

That is what has been going on in my life lately!! I realized that I hadn't blogged in almost a month, so I started thinking of what I needed to catch everyone up on, and thats when I realized it. We haven't done much of anything lately!! I haven't been cooking as much lately, however I have managed to have a few flops!! We've just been having a lot of simple dinners, and trying to get our house organized. My husband has really been stepping up and helping around the house lately, which is awesome!!

I need to blog soon about my latest obsession...COUPONS!! Until recently, I was never big on coupons, but I have totally become obsessed. If you use coupons a lot, let me know what works for you. I'm still trying to figure it all out, but I'm getting there.

Well, I guess thats it. I just wanted to make a quick appearance!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What am I grateful for?

Over the last few months, I've been in a funk. There is no other way to describe it. It seems like we have had a run of "bad luck", for lack of a better word. I've noticed that I've been spending a lot of time focusing on what has been going wrong, which is probably what is contributing to my funk, and not enough time focusing on what is really important. So in an attempt to get myself out of this funk, I've decided to make a list of what I am grateful for. So here goes...I feel incredibly blessed to have:

- God. My relationship has come to a new place lately, and I really needed that.
-An incredible husband. He is my very best friend, and life is never boring with him
around.
- My cats. I know that makes me sound like a crazy cat lady, but they really do make
my day. Until we have children, they are my kids, and thats pretty much how I treat
them!
- My parents. I have such great relationships with both of them, and I am so thankful
for that. Its comforting to know that they are always there, no matter what.
- My sister. She is one of my best friends, and I am so lucky to have that. A
relationship between sisters cannot be matched.
- My job. In a time where a lot of people are struggling to find and keep work, I know
how lucky I am for my job. The people are wonderful, and the environment is almost
always positive.
- My extended family & friends. Some of those are one in the same. I have such an
incredible group of people that I get to call family. Growing up, I thought everyone's
family was as close as ours, but as I've gotten older, I realize that isn't true, so I know
how lucky I am to have that.

Well, I'm sure there is a lot more, but that is a start. My life is really pretty fantastic!! :)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Ugh.

This past weekend was not the greatest. We received a nice note from our apt manager that they have been made aware that we have cats in our apt, and that we have to find them a new home. Well, anyone that knows me knows that I am not going to be parting with my cats. They are like children to me. After a discussion with my landlord today, there is a small possibility that we may be able to keep them, but we won't know til Friday, when the main manager gets back. Anyway, we have been wanting to find a house to rent for a while now, until Dave Ramsey tells us that we are ready to buy a house, at least! We have just completely outgrown our apartment, and are ready for more space and privacy that the apt provides. So today, I started the rental house search, and I am quickly finding out that I don't enjoy it AT ALL!! There doesn't seem to be a lot out there. I have found 1 that I think I may fall in love with, but it is about $100 more than we want to spend in rent, and about 10 miles farther out than we want to live. So who knows. I just hope that it all works out.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Blog Awards!!

I received the "Lemonade Stand" and the "Your Blog is Fabulous" awards from Melissa at Mrs. Sac's Purple Kitchen! Thanks so much Melissa!! I didn't even realize anyone ever read my blog! Make sure to check out Melissa's blog for lots of yummy recipes, and check out the blogs I nominated below!





Erin ~ Erin's Food Files

Lindsay ~ Love Deliciousness

Molly ~ My Happy Meals

Mandy ~ Home with Mandy

Monday, March 2, 2009

Mini twice baked potatoes

I love potatoes. I don't care how you fix them, they are one of my all time favorite foods. I usually use whatever I have on hand to make twice baked potatoes. I've seen on several different blogs where people have used red potatoes, so I decided to create my own version of those this time. They turned out great!

Mini Twice Baked Potatoes
10-12 small red potatoes
2 tblsp sour cream
4 tblsp butter
a couple splashes of milk
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 green onions, chopped

Poke holes in potatoes with a fork and bake them in the oven at 4oo degrees for 45 min - 1 hour (or until soft). Let cool 10-15 minutes. Cut in half and scoop out center. Mix potato, sour cream, butter, milk, cheese bacon and onions until well mixed. Scoop filling back into potato shells. Bake at 400 for approximately 15 -20 min. These were great at room temp as well.

Green Bean Bundles

These are SO easy, and really great for bbq's. (they can be eaten with your hands!)

Green Bean Bundles
2 cans whole green beans
6 pieces of bacon, halved
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter, melted
1 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp soy sauce

Take 1/2 strip of bacon, lay 8-10 green beans across bacon, and wrap around. Secure with toothpick. Repeat until green beans are gone (this usually makes about 12 bundles). Melt butter, add in brown sugar, garlic salt and soy sauce. Mix together and pour over bundles in a 9x13 baking dish. Bake in the oven at 375 for 20 minutes. Switch to broil and broil for 5 minutes to crisp up top of bacon. Serve warm or at room temp.

BLT Pasta Salad

This is my husbands favorite food in the world. I got this recipe several years ago from a WW blog, and have adapted it and made it my own over the years. My measurments make a huge bowl, enough for cookouts for 10 - 12 people. And I eyeball a lot, so you may have to play around a little to create your perfect version.

BLT Pasta Salad
3/4 box medium shell pasta, cooked
1 lb bacon, cooked and chopped
4-5 tomatoes, chopped
1 head of lettuce, shredded
1 cup mayo
1 cup sour cream
2 -3 tablespoons sugar
2-3 tablespoons cider vinegar
(The sugar & vinegar usually vary from time to time for me. I have to taste it after adding each one to make sure it is right. It is really just based on your liking, but you want it to be a "salad dressing" consistency.)

Cook pasta by the box directions. Meanwhile, cook bacon, drain and chop. Chop tomatoes and shred lettuce. Add first 4 ingredients to a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix the next 4 ingredients, and wisk until smooth. Pour over pasta mixture, and mix well. Refridgerate 2-3 hours before serving.

Get Together update/Jalapeno Popper Dip

This past weekend, my husband & I had a few friends over. I LOVE hostessing, so I was pretty excited. I was thinking of something along the lines of a quaint dinner party, but because my husband thinks that if it doesn't come off the grill, it isn't food, my dreams of pretty food were squashed! He wanted to smoke a pork shoulder, so that is what he did. In the snow, wearing 2 hooded sweatshirts, he smoked a pork shoulder. My next few BU's will be the sides that I fixed to go with it.

I'll start with the appetizer. I made Jalapeno Popper Dip, and this was the best thing I've ever had, hands down. If you've never made this, you MUST try it now!!

Jalapeno Popper Dip
2- 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temp
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1- 4 ounce can chopped green chilies
1- 4 ounce can sliced jalapeƱos
2 fresh jalapenos, diced

1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 stick butter, melted

Mix first 7 ingredients until smooth. Spread the dip into a greased 2 quart casserole. In a bowl mix bread crumbs and the other 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Pour melted butter over top crumb mixture and mix well. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over the dip and bake in a 375° oven for about 20 minutes. You want the top to get browned and the dip to be heated through and bubble gently on the edges. Serve with tortilla chips or butter crackers.


You will be SO happy that you made this dip!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What I accomplished last night...and a not-so-good recipe

To sum it up, I basically accomplished nothing last night!! When we got home DH sat in the living room for a while and talked to me, which is unusual because normally he heads up to our bedroom to watch the news, and I get started on dinner, or whatever else I have to do. But it was nice, so I wasn't in a rush. So anyway, I got a late start on dinner, which was my own concoction, and it wasn't as good as I'd hoped it would be. Here is my "recipe" -

Burrito Casserole

1 lb ground beef (I think my package was a little more than that)
taco seasoning (I have a giant container, so I'm not sure how much I used, but it is easy to eyeball and taste the right amount)
1 can refried beans
flour tortillas
white cheese sauce (I used Gordo's jalapeno cheese sauce from walmart)

Brown ground beef, then drain grease. Add taco seasoning, and simmer. While there is still quite a bit of liquid left, add refried beans and stir until it is mixed well. Turn heat down and let mixture heat through.

Spray baking dish with cooking spray to avoid sticking, and start filling flour tortillas with the beef mixture. Roll up burrito style and line the dish. Pour cheese sauce over burritos, and bake in the oven on 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or so. Top with tomatoes, lettuce, green onions and sour cream.

This was ok, but it wasn't what I was looking for, I guess. I am a mexican food fanatic, and it just didn't feed my craving. Oh well, better luck next time.

As for the other things on my list, I just simply didn't feel like doing them last night! It was one of those days, and I just wanted to be lazy. I went to bed at 9:00!! So tonight, we are having leftovers, and I am doing the things on my list from last night, as well as cleaning out my fridge and cabinets and planning my menu/shopping list. Hopefully I wil be more successful tonight!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesday night Goals

Well, I haven't been doing a lot lately as a result of recovering from the storm. But I NEED structure in my life, so I want to get back on track tonight. I watch more tv tonight than any other night of the week, so I'm not going to do too much, but I'll post my list anyway:

- cook dinner (either baked spaghetti or burrito casserole)

- Dust living room

- Vaccum living room, including stairs

- Start planning menu for next week


Hopefully I can get those few things done. My house doesn't look too bad right now, but I like the structure!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Whoa!

Ok, so the last 7 days have been C.R.A.Z.Y. around here!! Last Monday night, we had some sleet/freezing rain. It covered the roads, but it wasn't too bad. I woke up Tuesday morning, and came to work (well, my husband drove me to work!), and I carried on like normal for the most part. My parents power went out around 6:30 that morning, but I still didn't give it much thought. The news kept talking about the "winter storm 2009" that was heading our way, but they are seldomly on target with their forecast, so I didn't think much of it. I left work about 3:30 Tuesday afternoon, and when we got home, our power was out. It made several attempts to come back on over the next few hours, and around 8:30, it came back on. Yay!! But not for long! It stayed on til about 10:30, and then went off again, and this time it wasn't playing around!! It was so quiet in our house, and all you could hear were the ice covered branches cracking and hitting the ground. They would hit our roof with so much force that I was sure they were coming through. We got up the next morning and not much had changed, except for the number of trees in our yard. We went the whole day without power, which sucked, and then, around 10 pm, our power came back on!!! It turns out that, because we are so close to Walmart and the mall area, we are on what is considered an "emergency circuit". We are in the first group that they try to fix, because people need to get to emergency supplies, etc. I have never been so happy to live so close to walmart in all my life!! Well, here we are a week later, and there is so much devastation in our town. People are still without power (including my parents), and some without water. I have never seen anything like it. Our town literally looks like a war zone. Trees are down EVERYWHERE. People were fighting at gas stations, and waiting in lines for up to 3 hours just to get gas at one of the few stations open for several days. It was madness. I am so impressed with our emergency service workers. They have been on top of the situation from day 1, and although there is often not much they can do, they try there best to keep people updated on the things. I found out yesterday that between the fire department, police department and national guard, they will be knocking on EVERY door in our town to make sure everyone inside is ok. They are passing out meals and water to people. I can't imagine being in there position, but I think they are all awesome.

Well, on a different note, I have officially lost 10 lbs since January 5th. Woo-hoo!! (the "power -outage diet" helped a little!!) I'm pretty proud of myself that I have stuck with it. I'm not exactly known for my will power or follow-through!! I'm glad to be getting back to normal. I'm going grocery shopping tonight, so hopefully tomorrow I will be posting my menu.

Please keep our town in your prayers...there is still so many people that are in pretty bad shape. Tonight is supposed to be the coldest night so far, with windchills below 0. Some of the people who have been ok so far are going to be finding it harder to stay warm tonight.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday night goals/WW update

I just have to start by saying that I am pretty stinkin' proud of myself for all of the things that I have been accomplishing lately. As long as I am able to keep it up, I'll be great!! So, I've made a list of all the projects that I want to accomplish around my house, such as cleaning out closets, cleaning and organizing kitchen cabinets, replacing all blinds, etc. This weekend, I wasn't feeling so great, but I still got started by cleaning out our upstairs bedroom closet. We use it for storage only (our clothes are all downstairs), and I managed to downsize by 2 large boxes!! Woo-hoo. I'm just tired of all the worthless crap we have around our house. I was hoping to tackle the downstairs bedroom closet this weekend, too, but that didn't happen. As for my weekly cleaning schedule, my house is in fairly good shape, so I should be able to stay on track this week. For tonight, here are my goals:

- Cook dinner (open faced onion & mushroom topped burgers, a potato for me, and
pasta salad for dh)

- Clean dinner mess in kitchen

- Thoroughly clean bathroom, including sweeping and mopping

- Wash towels (1-2 loads)

- Read a chapter in The Love Dare (we started this before the holidays, but it got put
aside, but we want to get back on track.

- Put together tomorrow nights dinner in crockpot so I can just start it in the -
morning.

- Fix lunch for tomorrow.

It shouldn't be too hard for me to do all of this tonight, and still have some downtime. As for Weight Watchers, I have now lost 7 lbs!! Not as much as I would like, but I've been able to maintain that and still cheat a couple of times. I am really hoping to lose 3 lbs this week, so that I will have lost a total of 10 lbs for the month. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Update from last night.

Well, I didn't accomplish everything that I set out to do, but I still did a lot. Here is how my night went-

- I cooked dinner. Meatballs & peppers with brown rice was NOT a big hit at my house!
In fact, it was kind of gross!! Oh well, we live and learn!!

- I cleaned the kitchen, and got things put away. I need to sweep and mop the floor
again, but I will probably wait til tomorrow to do that.

- I didn't clean the bathroom, but it is still pretty clean from last week, so I really just
need to spot clean it.

- I didn't get ALL of the laundry done, because I washed our sheets on our bed, which I
hadn't planned to do, but I still did 3 loads of laundry.

- I didn't get to Dave Ramsey.

Tonight is my tv night, so I try to have a lighter cleaning night. Here is what I have planned for tonight:

- Cook dinner (Chicken & Rice casserole)

- clean up kitchen after cooking dinner

- do the last of the laundry (2 loads, i think)

- dust living room/dining room, and vaccum

Hopefully I can get all of this done before my shows start, or during commercials. We'll see how it goes!

Monday, January 19, 2009

My Goals for tonight

I found last week that I do much better when I post my goals. Not that many people read my blog, but it still helps me to feel accountable. So here is what I have planned for tonight:

- Cook dinner (meatballs & peppers with brown rice)

- clean the kitchen after dinner, and put away all dishes. Also, find places for some of
my groceries that have been on the counter since i brought them home Friday night!

- tonight is my weekly "bathroom cleaning night", so I need to deep clean my
bathroom and make it "guest friendly" since I am hosting bunco this month.

- do the rest of the laundry that I didn't get to yesterday (2-3 loads)

- Read Chapter 2 in our Dave Ramsey book/workbook

That should be enough for tonight. I am having 12 people over to my house on Thursday night, so I HAVE to stick to my goals this week. Wish me luck!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

So Proud!!

I have to brag on myself for a minute, so please bear with me. To give you a little background on me, as a general rule, I do not do well on diets. I have tried all the popular ones, and usually, after a few days, I have fallen off the wagon. I have no will power. And don't even get me started on excercise. But then I realized that I have gained 40 POUNDS in 4 years, and it was time to do something. So on January 5th, I started doing Weight Watchers. I'm doing it on my own for now, because none of the meetings work into my schedule, but if I get to a point that i feel like I need the meetings, I will make them fit in. Anyway, I've noticed that something about this time is different. I'm excited about eating healthier, and I'm excited about excercising. I am actually enjoying it all. And it is paying off. As of today, I have lost 5 lbs. I am so proud of myself!! Lets just hope that I keep this enthusiasm!!

As for my list of things to do last night, I didn't do what I had planned, but I still got a lot done. I didn't finish the laundry, but my husband and I cleaned our bedroom, which was no small task. So I am pleased. Now this weekend I won't have quite as much to do. Yay!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Update of my night

Well, I am pretty proud of myself. I set my goals for last night, and I accomplished pretty much all of them. I cleaned the kitchen, and mopped the floor. I cleaned the living/dining room, and I vaccumed the stairs. I do still need to move the couch out and vaccum behind it, but thats no big deal. I read the first chapter in our Dave Ramsey book & workbook. And I did 3 loads of laundry. I worked on our menu and grocery list, but when I got done, I realized that I was going to end up spending WAY too much, so I'm going to have to make some changes. All in all, I had a very successful night.

On a different note, I have lost 4 lbs on Weight Watchers in the last week and 1/2, and I am SO excited!!

Here are my goals for tonight:

- Finish laundry (assuming that i have enough laundry detergent!)

- work on menu/grocery list, and organize coupons for grocery trip

I have to go over to my moms tonight, so I won't get as much done, but I will be happy if I complete these 2 things.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Making myself accountable

Lately, I have been trying to have more of a routine in my life. (And by "routine", I do not mean coming home, eating dinner, and watching tv every night!) Since I started my diet and excercising last week, I've had more energy, and I am taking full advantage of that. I'm trying to get back on my weekly cleaning schedule, and got off to a good start on Monday, but last night I got home, and it was so cold, and I did NOTHING. But I am determined to get back on track tonight. Here is what I plan to accomplish:

- Clean living/dining room, vaccuum behind couch and vaccuum stairs.

- Clean kitchen, put all dishes away, and sweep and mop floor.

- Do AT LEAST 2 loads of laundry

- plan menu and make grocery list for next 2 weeks

- Read Chapter 1 in Dave Ramsey book/workbook

I'll report back in the morning on what I got done. Keep your fingers crossed for me that I get most of it done!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I am SO behind!!

Ok, I realize that I haven't posted in quite a while, but to be honest, I haven't done much cooking. I did some baking around Christmas, but we were so busy that I didn't cook much. Then, on December 19th, my husband came down with pnuemonia and between that and tonsilitis, he was sick for 22 days. So I was on my own most nights for dinner. I started doing Weight Watchers a week ago, and I am really excited about it. I've lost 2 lbs already, and I feel very motivated. I will be going grocery shopping later this week, and I have lots of exciting recipes coming up. I have several from Cooking Light that I can't wait to make, as well as some WW recipes. So hopefully, I will have some updates very soon!