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!