Friday, September 24, 2010

Peaches N Cream Breakfast (or Dessert)

The other morning I was wanting something tasty for breakfast, but didn't want one of my 'regular' breakfasts. (i.e. scrambled egg whites + spinach + laughing cow, greek yogurt + honey + cereal, green monster, steel cut oats, etc.). I wanted something different...

So I opened my fridge and peered in and what did I see? 3 peaches that needed to be eaten in the next 3 days and left over cream cheese from making something a couple of weeks ago. I turned to the counter and saw the whole wheat english muffins I had purchased and knew I had some cinnamon sugar mixture in the pantry.

And an idea was born. And that idea yielded something tasty and made me happy all the way around, so I thought I'd share. It's simple and barely qualifies as a 'recipe' but at least it counts for another blog post! Ha ha...

I took an english muffin and lightly toasted it in my new Toaster Oven. (I just got this at Kohl's which has become my absolute FAVORITE store - I love the deals I get there... Sale + XX% off + Kohl's Cash make me very happy! I ended up getting this $100 toaster oven for ~$35.00 (it was on sale for $59.99 and I had a 30% off coupon plus store credit for something I returned... yes please!)

Once the english muffin is slightly toasted, spread liberally with cream cheese (I used reduced fat because I had it on hand from baking - I think this would work great with fat free as well though!) Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mix (you can make your own, but the mix uses super fine sugar that melts more quickly, so I prefer it). Slice 1/2 a peach into 6 slices. Layer on english muffin. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture lightly. Place back in toaster oven on 'light toast' setting and wait for the 'DING!'

Then sit down with a cup of coffee (or iced coffee if where you're living hasn't gotten the memo that it's now officially FALL!! Hi Houston!) and sink your teeth into a breakfast that could honestly be a dessert. A little creamy, a little fruity and lot yummy!


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday Toodles - September Stamp Camp

A new post - two days in a row! Stop the presses!

We had stamp camp this weekend and I had a great time... thought I would share some of the projects!

First of all, I won one of the door prizes (actually two, but the other one is a stamp, not a project). Anyways - this pumpkin is made by punching 6 1" circles and then folding them in half, gluing them to each other and then to the project. How cute is that?!?! The curls are made of paper too and are simply VERY thin strips of paper that were curled around a pencil to give them their shape. Super easy, super impressive = my kind of project! Love it! (It's filled with a bunch of scallopped shapes that I can use in other projects - good scraps to have on hand!)

And now for the Thanksgiving cards:

This one is pretty simple - just stamping, layering and ribbon placement to cover up where they meet. Easy enough!

This one is my favorite one of the day - I love all of the colors together. When I was stamping it, I was a little leary, but when I saw it start to come together, I loved it! I think I lost a button from the upper right side of the tree - I need to look in my bag to see if it fell off...

This one is kinda funny - the flower is actually made from pages of a Twilight book - let's just say it was salvaged from the trash can for good reason! ha ha! I actually did this type of flower for a baby shower invite and then for a general card this summer - I'll post pics of those soon, but it's a simple set of die cut flowers that you layer and then 'fluff' to get the flower effect.

I like this one a lot too - we used the masking technique and then watercolor painted the pumpkins and leaves. Also neat was that the words came from a wheel that my SU Demo cut off of the wheel and then in half to be able to use it in more ways than just in 'wheel form'. Not all wheels lend themselves to this, but this one was perfect for it! Love the versatility! I also love this stamp set (Autumn Blessings?), but I know I won't use it enough to purchase it. I have a hard enough time making Christmas cards, no way I can make Thanksgiving cards too!

This one was just an easy card that took less than 5 minutes to make. Gold embossing, a little bit of punching and then putting it together... Easy enough!

My SU Demo and another friend of mine that's also a SU Demo both have websites I thought I'd share - feel free to click on over for ideas, etc.

Dorothy - just getting started... mainly info for now, but will have ideas, etc posted shortly! And if you want to come to stamp camp with me (in NW Houston), let me know - we'd love to have you!

Kaitlin - lots of ideas lately, including a REALLY cute way to make a pumpkin without stamps!

And that's it for this time... I'm going back through my picture files to see what I missed over the past few months and I'll get some more posts up...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Munchies - Meredith's Shower

Now that my friend Meredith's little girl Morgan is almost 6 months old, I figured it was time to post some of the goodies from her shower. They're LONG overdue, but alas, here they are... (que sounds of Holly and Meredith rejoicing! Ha ha!)

For the shower I decided to just keep it simple and do desserts - we were on a sugar overload at the end of it, but it sure was tasty!

The menu included:

Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

(Somehow I didn't get a pic of this cake, but was as tasty as always - my go-to strawberry cake for sure!)

Mini Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Ball

(I'm sorry the picture is so bad - I didn't realize it was that dark until it was too late for a re-do. But regardless of what it looks like, it tastes AWESOME and that's what really matters!)

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in confectioner’s sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Shape chilled cream cheese mixture into a ball. Wrap with plastic, and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour or overnight.

Roll the cheese ball in finely chopped pecans before serving. Serve with graham crackers.

Peanut Butter Bars

(Somehow this is another picture that eluded me, but boy howdy these were so 's-o g-double o-d' good (name that jingle). If you have a peanut butter lover in your life, do not pass go, do not collect $200 - make these now and secure their love FOREVER!) The recipe can be found HERE.

Brownie Pops

These were pretty basic - I mixed baked brownies with some chocolate ganache I had left over from another project. Shaped them into balls, stuck a stick in them and put them in the freezer while I melted the chocolate coating. Dipped them when it was ready and added sprinkles. These were a chocolate lovers delight!

Dipped Pretzels

It's as easy as it looks - used the rest of the melted chocolate from the Brownie Pops and added sprinkles when they were done. Voila!

Decorated Sugar Cookies

A simple cookie with Morgan's initial were the party favors...

Another successful shower! Complete!

Hope y'all enjoy. Hopefully I'll be back sooner vs later!

Thursday, May 20, 2010


It's been 2 months. I'm not so good at this.

I'll be posting at least one recipe soon though - per Mere's request. Let me see if I can find the picture and I'll get on it sooner vs later...

I should probably pick this back up. But it will definitely take a healthier turn as I'm starting a challenge to become a healthier me starting on Monday. I'm excited!

This weekend will entail a trip to see my parents and sister, a MLB game worth watching (Rangers vs Cubs) (unfortunately my Astros aren't having the greatest year...) topped of with some Wade Bowen after the game. Doesn't get much better than that!

Then when I get home I have a grad party to stop by for one of my YL girls and then it's planning for the week ahead. All activities, meals, workouts, etc. And I plan on creating my vision board for motivation each morning.

Here we go...

Be back soon!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday Munchies - Sugar Cookies

I've seen that people make these cookies, but I never thought I'd be one of those people. And while mine aren't perfect, they're getting better and better. Not to mention these taste pretty good as well! So much better than store bought, or even restaurant bought. You can see the rest of them I made on the post for the Strawberry Cake!

I must say that Bridget at Bake at 350 has been a GREAT help when it comes to decorated sugar cookies! An invaluable resource (not to mention her cookies are AMAZING!!!). I'm posting the recipe for both the cookies and the royal icing here. Moving forward, I'll likely post all of the designs on Tuesdays, because once again, I've found a recipe that works - unless there is some great compelling reason to find another, I'm sticking with it!

Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookies
Source: Bake at 350

3 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 c sugar (I use sugar that I've stored vanilla beans in)
2 sticks butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.

Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Royal Icing
(This will cover 2-3 dozen 3.5 inch cookies in 2 colors; I usually double this recipe.)

4 TBSP meringue powder
scant 1/2 c. water
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp light corn syrup (optional)
few drops clear extract (optional)

Monday Munchies - Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

Some people enjoy making multiple variations of the same recipe even if they've found one that they absolutely love. I'm not one of those people. When I find a winner, I stick with it. I have a winner for my carrot cake and now I have a winner for a strawberry cake! It's PHENOMENAL. Of course most stuff from Paula Deen usually is! I made this cake for both Courtney's shower and Meredith's shower - they're both having little girls, so it's PERFECT!

Simply Delicious Strawberry Cake
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

Prep Time:15 min
Inactive Prep Time:10 min
Cook Time:20 min
8 servings.

•1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix
•1 (3-ounce) box strawberry-flavored instant gelatin
•1 (15-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed (I used frozen strawberries for smoothies, etc. rather than in syrup - the extra sweetness is not necessary)
•4 large eggs
•1/2 cup vegetable oil
•1/4 cup water

•Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing
•1/4 cup butter, softened
•1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
•1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed (once again I don't use the strawberries in syrup)
•1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract
•7 cups confectioners' sugar
•Freshly sliced strawberries, for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin. Add pureed strawberries, eggs, oil, and water; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour into prepared pans, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

For the icing:
In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in 1/4 cup of the strawberry puree and the vanilla extract. (The rest of the puree is leftover but can be used in smoothies or on ice cream for a delicious treat.) Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating until smooth.

Spread icing in between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish with sliced fresh strawberries, if desired.

These cakes were decorated with sugar cookies that I made. See other post for details!

Monday Munchies - Corn Dip

Last year I went to a party and my best friend Joanne brought this dip. Then on New Years Eve, I asked her to make it again. Then for this party, I decided I should just get the recipe and make it myself. And now so can all of you...

(This is another one that doesn't photograph well, but is really tasty!)

Corn Dip

2 cans MexiCorn or Fiesta Corn, drained
1 cup mayonnaise
16 oz sour cream
½ bunch of cilantro chopped
3-4 green onions, chopped
2 cups grated cheese
1 t cayenne
1 t cumin
1/4t lime juice

Mix and serve with Fritos (or celery). Best when made a day in advance and refrigerated. Serve cold.

Monday Munchies - Caprese Picks

SO EASY. SO IMPRESSIVE. SO GOOD. I had seen a friend of mine make a caprese pick at another shower, and they were great, but then I had the idea to add a tortellini at the end. I LOVED these things!

Caprese Picks

1 bunch of fresh basil
1 small package of cheese tortellini
1 bunch of small pearl fresh mozzerella
2 packages of grape tomatoes
Olive Oil
Large Grain Salt (Sea Salt from a grinder or Kosher Salt)

Cook tortellini according to package directions and let cool. On a toothpick, layer one grape tomato, one side of a basil leaf, mozzerella ball, other side of basil leaf and top off with a tortellini. I alternated them on the plate for presentation purposes and then drizzled them with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt - that's it! So easy and somewhat healthy for you too!

Monday Munchies - Baked Caramelized Onion Dip

This is a dish that I somewhat made up on my own... I wanted a hot dip, and I wanted caramelized onions. Most of the recipes I found were for cold dips, or the onions weren't caramelized, so I threw in a little of this, and a little of that. While it doesn't look too good, it tasted awesome!

Baked Caramelized Onion Dip

2 Yellow Onions
1 TBSP olive oil
2 pkg softened cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat)
1 cup mayo
Sprinkle of cayenne (adjusted for your heat preference)
1 cup monterrey jack cheese, shredded (shred your own if possible - it melts better!)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Chop onions into small pieces (but not minced, that's too small) and heat olive oil in a skillet. Cook onions over LOW heat for about 20 minutes until they are caramelized. While the onions are cooking down, mix the crean cheese, mayo and cayene with a mixer until smooth. Fold in cheeses gently. Once the onions are done cooking, let them cool for a bit and then fold them into the cheese mixture as well.

Bake at 350* for 30 minutes. Serve warm with crackers or pita chips.

Monday Munchies - Chicken Salad

Another great recipe... Chicken + grapes + celery = sweet and crunchy! YUM! One of the ladies at the shower couldn't get enough of this dish - I think she asked me for the recipe about 5 times - and here it is... (sorry it took so long!)

Chicken Salad
Source: The Pioneer Woman

Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 6

1 whole Cut Up Fryer Chicken (I just used split chicken breasts)
2 stalks (to 3 Stalks) Celery, Chopped
3 whole Green Onions, Chopped
2 cups (to 3 Cups) Grapes, Halved
A Small Handful Of Fresh Dill, Minced
½ cups Mayonnaise
½ cups Plain Yogurt Or Sour Cream
1 Tablespoon (to 2 Tablespoons) Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon (to 2 Tablespoons) Lemon Juice
Kosher Salt To Taste
Fresh Ground Black Pepper To Taste

Preparation Instructions

Rinse chicken thoroughly and place in a large pot of water. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is done (about 45 minutes to an hour). When you are ready, remove the chicken from the pot and place on a plate. With your fingers or a fork, pull all of the meat off the bones, chop into bite-sized chunks and set aside.

Chop all of your fruits and veggies and place them in a bowl with the chicken.
In another bowl mix mayonnaise, yogurt (or sour cream), lemon juice, brown sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Add fresh herbs (dill, oregano, cilantro…whatever makes your skirt fly up) and if you’re feeling a bit brazen throw in a dash of cayenne pepper!

When the dressing tastes just right (you must taste test for appropriate saltiness especially), pour it over the chicken/veggie/fruit mixture and stir gently until everything is thoroughly mixed. If you are feeling naughty add a sprinkling of bacon bits.

Allow the salad to chill for several hours (or even overnight). Serve on a bed of lettuce or in a sandwich or heck, eat it straight out of the bowl with a serving spoon.

Monday Munchies - Marinated Cheese

Simply put - this cheese is awesome and flavorful - I've made it many times and people tend to go back again and again. Who needs a basic cheese tray when you can make this so easily?!?!

Marinated Cheese
Source: Allrecipes

READY IN 8 Hrs 20 Min
Original recipe yield: 16 servings

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 (2 ounce) bottle diced pimento, drained
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons minced green onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (8 ounce) package Cheddar cheese
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, cold

In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine the olive oil, wine vinegar, pimento, parsley, green onion, garlic, sugar, basil, salt and pepper. Shake vigorously to blend. Set aside.
Cut the block of Cheddar cheese in half lengthwise. Cut crosswise into 1/4 inch slices to form squares. Repeat with cream cheese. Arrange cheese squares alternately in a shallow baking dish with slices standing on edge. You can arrange in a single long row, or 2 parallel rows depending on the size of your dish. Pour the marinade from the jar over the cheese slices, cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
To serve, remove slices to a serving platter so they are still arranged in an alternating pattern. Spoon some of the extra marinade over the cheese, and serve with crackers.

Courtney's Baby Shower Menu

This past weekend I was one of the hosts at the baby shower for one of my best friends, Courtney. Isn't she too cute!?!?

I am so happy and excited for her and can't WAIT to meet Zoe!! This shower was a big 'un... lots of people there to love on Courtney and share in the excitement of what's to come. And lots of people = lots of food! This is the spread we had:

The things I made were:

Marinated Cheese (served with crackers)
Chicken Salad
Caprese Picks
Caramelized Onion Dip (served with crackers)
Corn Dip (served with Fritos)
Strawberry Cakes
Sugar Cookies
Spa Water

(Each of the above are linked to their specific posts, which include the recipes...)

In addition to all of that, we also had:

Dinner Rolls
Cream Cheese with Peppered Jelly (served with crackers)
Hummus and Pita Chips
Veggie Tray
Fruit Tray

There was definitely a lot of food, but a lot was eaten at the end of the day as well, which is always a good sign! Hope you enjoy the recipes...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Howdy strangers...

Ok - I know I've neglected the blog. As usual, I have good intentions, but life just doesn't allow me to do it all. And I'm ok with that.

I have SO many recipes to post. And they will ALL be posted TOMORROW. I want to clear out the back log. Plus, I've modified my nutrition plan and am on a pretty 'clean' eating program. A lot of this revolves around my goal for 2010 which was to live a life of ACTION and actually take the steps to fulfill the things I've been talking about for YEARS. So after Monday, many of the recipes posted here will have a healthy slant - I can't wait to share one morning breakfast with you - I love it! That might come next week... If anyone is interested in knowing the 'plan' or guidelines I'm following, they are from The Body Fat Solution by Tom Venuto

Other than that, it's March, which means it's Rodeo season, which means I am NEVER at home. Once again I'm on the Corral Club Committee (Club West) and I'm working at my friend's booth in Reliant Center, The Crystal Ranch. I'm up there at least 6 days a week - and the only day I'm not up there means I'm either at Young Life or Bible Study.

Ok - I'm signing off... I'll post the recipes tomorrow and then post when I have anything I deem 'important' to share...

Have a great week!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monday Munchies - Spa Water

Water. Yes, I have a 'recipe' for water. Hee hee...

But it's SPECIAL water. It's AWESOME water.

I have issues with drinking enough water. It's not that I drink cokes instead, I just don't drink anything. I'm not in general a thirsty person. But I know I should... especially considering I'm trying to be healthier! So I made a batch of this over the weekend. And I drank a 2-quart pitcher pretty quickly (at least by my standards!)

I'll be making this for a few baby showers coming up as well - it's so refreshing!

1/2 cucumber
1 orange
1 lemon

Slice all of the above as thinly as you can. Put them in a pitcher and cover with water. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving. It's best on the first day, ok on the second day and then it needs to be thrown out.

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday Toodles - Birthday Cross

Some of you might wonder where I get my 'crafty gene' from, but those of you that have met my mom know that the apple didn't fall far from the tree... For my birthday this year my mom MADE me this cross. Yes, she made it. And I love it! I have it above my TV with the other crosses I've collected over the years... Just thought I'd share her handy work because I was amazed by it!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Top Cooking/Baking Blogs

Well, I've been baking and cooking, but I've been REALLY lazy when it comes to taking pictures. I'll try to remedy that in the near future...

One of the most asked questions I get is where I find all of the recipes I make. I literally follow hundreds of blogs, and I also subscribe to a number of email blasts from companues like Kraft, Allrecipes, My Recipes, Taste of Home, Pillsbury, Nestle, etc. etc. etc. In all honesty, I don't read all of the emails. And there are probably about 200 still sitting in my inbox unopened. If the subject seems like it might have something I'd like, I open it, otherwise it goes to the trash.

As far as managing the hundreds of blogs I follow, I use Google Reader, and I couldn't recommend anything more highly than that. It makes blog management a breeze! I have it categorized into 'Friends', 'Cooking/Baking', 'Inspirational' and 'Healthy Living', and then there are some that don't fit into any category...

Anyways - I thought I'd share my Top 10 Favorite cooking and baking blogs with y'all in case you're just getting started on the Google Reader thing, or if you already utilize it, but are looking for some new blogs to follow.

1. Pioneer Woman Cooks - It's REE, which I've mentioned on here before - she's insanely funny and a crazy good cook. I follow all sections of her blog (even homeschooling, which I don't do, but is interesting!), but the cooking part is the one I put into action most often. I've made tons of her recipes and haven't had one fail me yet!

2. Annie Eats - When going through Google Reader, it allows you to 'star' posts that you want to recall quickly at a later time. I do this, and when I star them I put them into food categories (appetizers, desserts (multiple sub categories on this one), soups, chicken, beef, sides, veggies, etc.). I recently realized that everytime a recipe is posted by Annie Eats, I star it. Which means that I like what she does, or as some would say, I'm smellin' what she's steppin' in... Ha ha! That might have gone a little too far considering we're talking about food here. Ooops.

3. Bakerella - I don't follow her so much for the recipes she uses, but she has the CUTEST design ideas ever. Have you seen cake pops in the past couple of years? Totally her doing. And she has them for every season and occasion under the sun! Not to mention tons of other cute ideas - I envy her creativity and vision!

4. The Southern Plate - Ok guys - I JUST found this one last week. And I spent a *little* too much of my free time this weekend going through it, and going through it, and going through it some more - link after link after link kept taking me places. A great blog, and some GREAT recipes. Especially cakes and comfort food. GREAT for my healthy eating goals, right? ;o)

5. Sugar Plum - The author of this blog, Emily, is so cute and quirky! And she comes up with the most amazing creations in the kitchen. I am totally floored and amazed that she has the ideas to come up with what she does - it's baffling to me, the recipe follower (i.e. non-creator). She's like a recipe prodigy (she's young)!

6. My Baking Addiction - Somehow she taps into my cravings. I bookmark a TON of her recipes and have made quite a few (you can find them linked in my posts). Great, approachable recipes with common ingredients - a win/win situation!

7. Bake or Break - Another dessert blog, and she has slowed down on her posting schedule, but when she does post, it promises to be a doozie! I've made multiple recipes from here as well, and recommend them ALL!

8. Picky Palate - This blog has a wide range of recipes - right now, she's on a healthy kick due to the start of the new year (which I very much appreciate!). In my mind, she's the queen of combination - she creates things with ingredients that are great on their own, but outstanding together! Another one that I 'star' a lot of recipes from...

9. My Kitchen Cafe - Another everyday, approachable blog. Great recipes, common ingredients.

10. Joy the Baker - Fun recipes - fun ideas. Just one that I simply enjoy reading...

Ok - so that's a small snapshot into the blogs that I love to read... I hope you find at least one that you didn't know about, but will enjoy! If you're looking for something specific, then let me know, I can likely point you in the right direction...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Weekly What's Up!

Ok - my attempt at returning to regular blogging...

So what's going on in my world this week?

Sunday: Church, lunch with Nicole, take the dogs to the park and catch up on some stuff around the house...

Monday: Spin Class, Work (Memorial Park at lunch), Cardio Kickboxing and YL Meeting

Tuesday: Power Pump, Work (lunch with Ali), Beth Moore Bible Study (she's re-recording the David study, A Heart Like His, if you'd like to join, I'd love to have you! Please just message me and I'll get you details...)

Wednesday: Spin Class, Work (Memorial Park at lunch), ZUMBA!

Thursday: Power Pump, Work (lunch with friend), Gym class - I was supposed to be leaving for Lubbock on Thursday, but due to other monetary obligations and a massive project at work, I had to cancel my trip :o(...

Friday: Full Body Workout, Work (Memorial Park at lunch), Wade Bowen at Big Texas South

Saturday: Housework, Girls Night Out

And that's my week... exciting stuff, huh? ;o) I hope each of you have a wonderful week as well!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tuesday Toodles - Jewelry Holder/Picture Frame

The other day I was watching something on television and saw these picture frames - they seemed simple yet clever. And it's something I could definitely utilize in my bathroom, so I set out to get the supplies. And within 15 minutes I had these made. All you do is pop out the glass from the front of a picture frame and stretch lace across the opening (I used hot glue to adhere the lace to the inside edges of the picture frames).

I might even start making these as gifts... hmmm

P.S. Hobby Lobby has their frames 1/2 off this week if anyone is interested...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cooking Challenges in 2010

As I look back at 2009, there were a lot of new things I tried in the kitchen and it got me excited about the things that have always seemed 'beyond me' when I'm going through blogs see what other people have made. So I created a list of 10 things I want to try sometime in 2010...

1. Decorated sugar cookies
2. Cinnamon Rolls
3. Indian Dinner including Naan and an authentic Indian dish
4. Challah bread
5. Kolaches
6. Puff Pastry
7. Brioche
8. Creme Bruleé
9. Soft Pretzels
10. Bagels

So be looking for these posts and more in the next few months!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday Munchies - Steamboat Recipes!

Well, I just got back from my annual skitrip in Steamboat Springs, CO - and it did not disappoint! I had a great time skiing and got to see some amazing performances, but I'll talk more about that on Thursday... for now, I'll focus on the food.

I did the majority of the cooking for the people in my condo this trip, not because I had to, but because it's something I love to do. In addition to our nightly meals, I also threw a dinner party for a couple of my favorite bands - and their wives, girlfriends, soon-to-be fiancés, sisters, etc, etc, etc. By the time all was said and done, I think there were ~22 people in a condo made for 6 people - we were cozy to say the least! Ha ha!

Anyways - I always tend to get asked for the recipes I use, so I thought I'd just share them all here. I don't have pictures - just links to the recipes I used. And as I've stated before, I'm not one to come up with new recipes in the kitchen, my forté is recognizing what will be good once it's all said and done, and then making it! So here are all of the recipes I used throughout the trip...

Day 1: Dinner party

Salad - no recipe - just make a salad people.

Garlic Cheese Bread - Oh me. Oh my. I could have eaten this for dinner and been 100% content. It was freaking good. And it was even good when we got home from going out that night and had what was left of it... YUM!

Pioneer Woman's Lasagna - Well, I think this was pretty good. And the reason I 'think' is because I didn't actually have any. I was a few servings short on this one dish, but everyone said it was awesome, so I guess I'll have to make it for myself again sometime! And I used all turkey meat in this version (2lbs of ground turkey and 1 pkg of turkey sausage links) - no one would ever know...

Tuscan Chicken Simmer - I made this in addition to the lasagna just to have some variety. I doubled the recipe and there was definitely enough to go around. And the leftovers were eaten up the next day, so obviously it was worth returning to! I'll definitely make it again - easy and good - I love me some pesto!! (I made it with farfalle pasta and it worked really well, I think better than it would work with spaghetti, and I sauteed bite-size pieces of chicken rather than whole chicken breasts so it would feed a crowd more easily).

Pioneer Woman's Apple Dumplings - Another shining spotlight - people were talking about these all week! SO SO GOOD! I would only allow myself one after seeing what all went into it, but it's worth the rare indulgence! And I used diet Mountain Dew and it was just fine... if you want to cut *some* calories along the way...

Day 2:

Enchilada Casserole - this is a recipe that my family has made for YEARS. I think we got it out of a Fredricksburg cookbook when we were on a family vacation. I can't even begin to count the number of times I have made this one, and it never fails...

1 lb ground beef (you can use turkey too, or even sauté cut up chicken breasts)
1 pkg taco seasoning
8 flour tortillas
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can milk (fill up the CoM soup can)
2 cups shredded cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350*
2. Mix the ground meat and taco seasoning to make taco meat.
3. Mix the Cream of Mushroom soup and 1 can of milk and heat through.
4. Cut the tortillas into bite size pieces (I use a pizza cutter for this)
5. Spray 9X13" pan and layer 1/2 of tortillas, then 1/2 of meat, then 1/2 of soup mixture, then 1/2 of cheese. Repeat layers.
6. Bake for 30 minutes.

That's it. For this trip I did 3 layers (additional ingredients, but not quite double everything either). I knew it needed to feed quite a few people, and would make a great late night snack when returning from the concerts/bars. I was right.

Creamy Jalapeno Dip - This Chuy's classic goes PERFECTLY with the Enchilada Casserole. I ended up making 2 batches throughout the week because I knew it would go fast. And it did. I also make the Spicy Crackers that can be found in the same recipe post from a couple years ago...

Day 3:

Pot Roast and Creamy Mashed Potatoes - Both of these recipes are also from Pioneer Woman's site - can y'all tell I like the way she cooks? I've only had pot roast with red wine one other time, and I turned up my nose. I think it was just because it wasn't what I was used to (roast + onion soup mix), so I decided I'd give it another shot. Everything else seemeed like it would work, and I haven't had one of PW's recipes fail me yet, so I went with it. Thank goodness it was a success and people enjoyed it. And these mashed potatoes... well, I think it's the only recipe I'll use going forward. I made them for this meal and I made them for Christmas dinner too - YUMMY!!!

Day 4:

Almond Chicken Casserole - This was just something easy that could be cooked and frozen quickly and would heat up well once we got there. And it did just that! I didn't have to worry about a thing...

Day 5:

Ranch Chicken Pot Pie - This recipe is from Picky Palate and it was really, really good. So good that I had seconds later on the same night! And a guy that was with us told me that he didn't even like chicken pot pie (as I was pulling it out of the oven!) even gave this one the thumbs up... it was EASY to make and super tasty! I'd make it again in a heart beat!


Michelle's Chili - I got this recipe from a friend of mine. She's made it numerous times and a lot of other people I know have made it well and it's always gotten good reviews. This was all gone at the end of the week - along with bags of fritos and lots of cheese - the ultimate way to consume chili IMO... Thanks for sharing Michelle!

2 pounds ground beef chuck
2 large white onions, chopped
2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with juice
2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (12 fluid ounce) can beer
2 (15 ounce) cans spicy chili beans
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons hot pepper sauce (e.g. Tabasco™), or to taste
1/3 cup chili powder
3 tbsp cumin
4 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped (I use 4 TBSP jarred jalapenos)

Cook beef, then let all simmer on stove for up to 2 hours.

And that is it my friends... if you see anything that's missing, please let me know!

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Yeah, I've been away from this blog for awhile... I got through *most* of November posting everyday, but fell off at the end. Once the holiday season got rolling, my free time went into the negative digits. Between lots of trips for work, working at Taste of Texas and trying to get the house ready to host the family Christmas celebration, I was a tad bit busy...

A few days ago, my friend Ryan posted his end of the year blog post and challenged people to sum up their year in one word. The word that continually comes back to me is 'wasted'. Now, that seems like an extremely negative word, and I don't think the year was a complete waste, I just feel like I wasted a lot of time pursuing things that just won't have a lasting impact. There were some great times, I have some great memories, but I didn't achieve some really big goals that I wish I had.

Which leads me to 2010...

Another person I work with told me that she labels her years, and after thinking about it, it seems like a really good idea. That way your year has an overarching seam that can push you to achieve your goals throughout the year. Therefore, for me, 2010 will be the Year of Action - in the sense that I'm going to be putting all of the promises that I've been giving a lot of lip service to into action so that I will ultimately SEE RESULTS.

Back in 2006 I really made some goals to get my life in order in 4 areas of my life - physical, emotional, financial and spiritual. After all that happened in March of that year, it was all I could do to simply get THROUGH the year and figure out life again. And those goals have been on the backburner in the time that's passed. But it's once again time to tackle them!

I still have some defining to do regarding each of the areas, but for now, I do have a few things to start with...

1. NEW DAILY SCHEDULE - There is a schedule that would work SO WELL if I would just follow the dang thing! Starting the day with a workout, getting to work early, therefore leaving earlier, avoiding most traffic and getting stuff DONE after work. This will begin directly after Steamboat.

2. No fried food. This includes chips, fries, etc, etc, etc. Fast food will be limited to grilled items and Subway type stuff.

3. No processed/store bought sweets. I'll eat some sweets that I bake or others make, but I'm giving up all of the other junk.

4. Create a budget and stick to it. This means doing less stuff. And THAT'S OK. I need to free up some time in my life anyways. These two go hand in hand...

5. Daily time in the word. There is a GREAT Iphone app that gives you a daily reading plan through the bible. So I can read through the bible in a year with the help of my phone. This is actually really exciting to me!

There are some other things coming up that I know will spur my spiritual life and affect some of my internal emotional battles including a weekend with Beth Moore in January (she had a blog challenge in 2009 to memorize 24 verses throughout the year - I participated in the challenge and therefore I get to attend this weekend!), Beth Moore's new book regarding insecurity in women and her spring bible study in which she's re-doing her study of David, A Heart Like His. I'm really looking forward to all of these - I admire Beth so much and enjoy her teaching of the word and life lessons.

Anyways - these are just a few things to get started... I'm sure I'll add on more later. But you've got to start somewhere, right?

I'm headed to Steamboat tomorrow... and I'm leaving my computer at home. Completely plugging onto nature, skiing, friends and music. Awesome way to start the year!

May you all be blessed and have a great year as well! 2010 has nothing but potential at this point! I'm hoping for great, great things!