Thursday, February 24, 2011

sorry...studying :/

I'm sorry to all my followers and friends, but I have to put my blog on hold for a while again while I study. I really need to get a job so studying trumps blog. Plus studying has fried my brain and I can't hold a decent train of thought. That's not good for writing blog posts :) I'll still post on occasion if I come across a day when my brain doesn't feel fried. I seriously can't wait to finish studying and get a job!!! It'll be so nice to finally have a 2 income household. Then I can actually do all the crafting and building and decorating I want! :D

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Scrapbook Pages

Been cutting back on time spent on blogger in lieu of studying. But I barely studied! I always just go soooo bored and boredly browsed the internet. Shame on me :/ Maybe this next week I'll be better. I do have some food to share, but thought I'd shake it up with some scrapbook pages I finally got around to doing.

Color Theory Gold by Christina Renee
Holiday Sugar Cookie Blog Train

Background Paper and Cardboard - Adolescent Antics from Every Day Mom Ideas
Tape - Plentiful from Shabby Princess
black border - Happy Scrap Girl
Notebook Paper - Feelin Funk-ay from ?

Linking to:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Truth and Tell Thursday

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Here's my truth:

My single most favorite item from my last grocery trip is this almond milk. I had to buy two - one for me, one for Tony - so that he could actually have some this time around. I tend to drink it all while he's at work. As I'm writing this, I'm drinking the last of mine :( I'll probably end up sneaking some from his carton :)

What's your favorite item from your last grocery trip? Just Leave a comment!

Linking to:
Young and Crafty
A Little Knick Knack

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Taco Skillet

As I was taking the pics of the food, I couldn't figure out why I couldn't get a good picture. As I was taking pictures this morning, I saw that the lens was beyond dirty. Lesson learned.

This is an easy 4 stars. It's not a 5 because I probably wouldn't want this more than once a week (totally unlike the artichoke chicken or cilantro cream chicken), although I am looking forward to eating the leftovers for lunch. Beats eating a salad. I've had a hard time eating just a plain normal salad after having the Cobb Salad at BJ'S last week. I still can't get over how good it was. So on to the recipe:

2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped, 4 ounces
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons 
Seasoning for Tacos
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
16 ounces coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage(*I used a 16 oz bag of shredded iceberg lettuce*)
Salt, to taste
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
6 tablespoons sour cream, optional
Cilantro, optional

Brown the meat with the onion and garlic in a large skillet; drain the grease. Add the seasoning and tomatoes. Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Add the cabbage and cook, uncovered, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt to taste, if needed. Sprinkle the cheese over the top, cover and cook 2 minutes until the cheese melts. Stir in the cheese (*my husband requested I not stir it in, as you can see in the pic*). Top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream and a pinch of cilantro, if you like, but they are not included in the counts.

The recipe says it feeds 6, and it can, but I say it feeds 4 good sized adults. We don't skimp on our food around here, hence the need to be on a diet. I just realized I totally forgot to put sour cream on it! I love sour cream; I can't believe I forgot! Now I'm looking even more forward to lunch :)

So does anyone else have a problem with cleaning their kitchen every day just to have it end up looking like this?

Soooooo frustrating! Even now I'm putting off cleaning it. And once I clean it, It'll look like this again after dinner. I don't do any cleaning after dinner; that's when my husband and I RELAX. I used to do the dishes after dinner, but our dishwasher is so loud (like someone screaming) that I don't turn it on while we're trying to talk or watch shows. We have to yell over it just to hear each other. But, it's made us justify getting a really nice dishwasher when we eventually get a house.

Thanks for stopping by!

Linking To:
Somewhat Simple
Ekat's Kitchen
Katie's Cucina

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cilantro Cream Chicken


Not a cilantro fan? Well, I'm not but this is fantabulous! I figured that on our low-carb diet, we'd never get to have anything creamy. Not so, my friend! Just one thing to remember for this recipe: don't hold back on the cilantro. As you can see in the picture, i did hold back on the cilantro. Bad decision. Didn't turn out anywhere near as good as the first time I made this. The cilantro is the only thing really flavoring the sauce so go crazy! I also put double the lime juice in. This isn't the funnest thing to cook (I'm a total noob in the kitchen), but it's worth it when you take a bite.

4 boneless chicken breasts (*I used 10 chicken thighs*)
3 tablespoons butter
1-2 teaspoons McCormick Rotisserie Chicken seasoning (*I couldn't find this, so I didn't use*)
3 ounces cream cheese, cubed
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon lime juice, 1/2 of 1 small lime
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped, about 2 big handfuls

While heating the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, liberally season the chicken on both sides with the rotisserie chicken seasoning. Don't bother measuring the seasoning, just use as much as necessary. Brown the chicken on both sides in the hot butter. Remove the chicken from the pan. Add the cream cheese and cream to the drippings in the skillet. Over low heat, whisk to blend well as the cream cheese melts. Whisk in the lime juice and stir in the cilantro. Return the chicken to the pan; cover and simmer 15 minutes, turning after about 7 minutes. When chicken is cooked through, place on serving plates and pour about 1/4 cup of the sauce over each serving. The sauce doesn't reheat well.

I made twice the amount we needed so we could test the statement that the sauce doesn't reheat well, but I woke up frantic at 2 in the morning remembering that I didn't take care of the leftovers. They just sat on the stove all night :( I'll have to try the leftover thing next time.

Linking to:
House of Hepworths

Monday, February 14, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

For this week I have planned (in no particular order):

Cilantro Cream Chicken
Enchilada Bake
Queso Chicken
Garlic Chicken
Taco Skillet
Parmesan Baked Chicken

Hmmm, maybe a bit too much chicken. Oh well. Check back for the recipes and pictures. The only one I've made before is the Cilantro Cream Chicken and it is quite delish!

Linking to:

Who Knew It Was So Hard To Be Charitable?

My husband and I are on a low-carb diet, which meant no sweets for V-day. But I just HAD to make something! Who could I bake for? Our local hospital has a big children's center so I called them to ask if we could bring Valentine treats to the kids. They said no. So I then called the children's shelter and asked if we could bring THEM Valentine treats. They said no. SERIOUSLY!!?? My husband and I have always talked about getting DeVon into volunteering and community service, but there's nothing that'll let you volunteer before 8 years old. We thought something like this would be a good start. Now we're back to square one. Does anybody have any ideas for getting involved in the community with a 2 year old?

So in the end, I settled for making treats for my husband's team at work. I was going to go all out. Cake balls, cookies, fudge, smores. Whatever I could make, I was going to. That didn't happen. I needed something quick and simple since I have no extra time on the weekends. I settled on dipped pretzel sticks.

They turned out really good. Not pretty, but tasty! I know these don't require any kind of tutorial, but going in I had no strategy, so I'll share mine with you

First, the ingredients

Simple enough. I ended up only using the white chocolate chips. I used almost all the sprinkles though and not quite the whole bag of pretzels. So here's the strategy. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave at 50% power stirring every minute. This worked like a charm. I started out just dipping the pretzel into the bowl, but about halfway through, I found that scooping chocolate onto the spatula then rolling the pretzel on the spatula worked better. With chocolate chips (rather than dipping chocolate), after you dip the pretzel, you have to hold it a little bit to let it firm up. Toward the end I found that holding the pretzel horizontal and shaking/letting the extra chocolate fall off so there's not too much worked well.

I chose to roll mine in sprinkles rather than sprinkle them with sprinkles. To do this, pour the sprinkles on a plate and create a mound of sprinkles. When you're rolling the pretzels, make sure none of the white chocolate touches the plate. If the chocolate touches the plate, the sprinkles will stick to it and the chocolate will harden, causing you to have to move to a different spot on the plate and wasting a lot of sprinkles. So remember: MOUND of sprinkles, not a layer, on the plate. You can see here that at the beginning I just had a layer and after just the first pretzel I already had a mess.

I didn't have any wax paper so I settled on using my cutting boards. They worked perfectly. The pretzels didn't stick at all

They tasted amazing - like circus animal cookies but with salt. I'm a sucker for white chocolate pretzels. I'm not much of a plain pretzel person, but these Snyder pretzels were really good! What diet? Oh well :)

Linking to:
Today's Creative Blog
A Diamond in the Stuff

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cheesy Broccoli and Hamburger Casserole


This is seriously good. It would also be really easy to tweak to make it your own.

I know good blog posts are dependent on good pictures, so I'm sorry :/  I have a really old point and shoot, the pan is disgust (my good ones are at a friend's house), and I don't own any trivets so it had to stay on the stove... In due time, I guess. It'll just take some practice to get the prettiest shot possible. Oh, and did I mention I was STARVING. It was at least an hour past our normal eating time and I get quite cranky when I'm hungry. The picture was the last thing on my mind :) The only problem I have with this dish is what to make for a side dish! It already has the meat and vegetables in it. Maybe some squash or something? So without further ado:

1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup onion, chopped, 1 1/4 ounces
4 ounce can mushrooms, drained (*first time I used fresh, but it didn't seem to make a difference in taste*)
16 ounces frozen broccoli (*first time I used steamed, fresh broccoli and it was so much better than with the frozen broccoli*)
Salt and pepper, to taste

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Brown the ground beef, onion and mushrooms in a medium skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Drain the fat. Meanwhile, put the frozen broccoli in a 2 1/2-3 quart casserole with a lid. Add 2 tablespoons water, cover and microwave on HIGH about 6-8 minutes, stirring every couple minutes until tender crisp. Drain the broccoli; stir in ground beef mixture. In a 4-cup glass measure place all of the sauce ingredients, microwave on HIGH about 2 1/2 minutes, or until melted and smooth, stirring every minute. Add to the broccoli mixture and mix well; adjust the seasoning to taste. Bake at 350º 20 minutes until hot and bubbly.

It really is THAT easy. I do all the cheese shredding and vegetable chopping hours before i need to start dinner so that when the time comes, all I need to do is the actual cooking parts. Makes it so much faster, in my opinion. Thanks for stopping by!

Linking to:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Truth and Dare Thursday

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Since I don't have any followers yet, I made this an easy one.

Here's my TRUTH: my major guilty pleasures are Diet Dr Pepper and reading. I love a good book, and even more so, reading a good book in a nice long bath. The book in the picture is the one I'm reading right now (part of the Ender series). It sucks, but I have to finish it. My husband just downloaded Hunger Games for me on the kindle. I am a little too freakin excited to start reading it. And the Dr Pepper - I have 2 a day (shhhhh, don't tell my mom, she'd lecture me). 

Now for the DARE. I DARE you to reveal your most major guilty pleasures. I'm sure we'll all find someone we have something in common with. Just leave a comment!

Linking to:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Restaurant Quality, 5 Star Meal

Artichoke Chicken

In my opinion, this is actually 7 out of 5 stars. That's how good it is. The first time we had it, my husband said it was good enough to have come from a restaurant. Like how I tried getting all fancy with the asparagus? I have a feeling square plates work so much better for arranging food. If you ask my sisters what I wanted to be when I grew up, they'd know I wanted to be a food photographer. We'd be in the Sonic drive through and I would just sit there analyzing their food posters. I guess this new cooking spree of mine will help me get better! Ok, down to business. This is such an easy recipe.

4 boneless chicken breasts (*I used six boneless chicken thighs*)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup parmesan cheese, 4 ounces (*My cheaper hack: Italian Style Six Cheese Blend*)
1 clove garlic, minced
Pepper, to taste
14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

Pound the chicken breasts flat(*did not do this*) and place them on a rimmed foil-lined baking sheet. Mix the remaining ingredients and spread evenly over the chicken. Bake at 375º 15 minutes (*I cook mine for 35 minutes because I have no idea how long it takes chicken to cook and the thighs don't dry out if overcooked*). Keeping the chicken on the center oven rack, turn on the broiler and broil the chicken about 5-7 minutes until the topping has browned, watching it closely so that it doesn't burn (*I did not broil mine at all*).

Seriously, plan to make this meal. You won't be disappointed. I'm sure kids would love it as well (as long as you don't say artichoke).

Linking to:
Somewhat Simple
It's a Keeper
Food Trip Friday
Ekat's Kitchen


anne claire design sponge barnwood bookshelf

image via fiveoeight via designsponge

THIS is what I've been picturing in my mind for so long. I want to make these shelves! Now I have an image to give my husband an idea of what's in my head. Too bad I won't start decorating for at least a year while we focus on spending money on necessities only. Oh well, this way I can plan plan plan so everything is perfect. I love design inspiration. If you haven't checked out you should!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Valentine's Gift for Hubs

Message in a bottle. What better way to let your husband know how much you love him than writing a love letter? Hopefully he doesn't see this blog! A message in a bottle, stuck into his lunch on Valentine's Day. I can't wait to give it to him. And it was 100% cost free. The glass bottle I got from a friend, the cardboard tag was cut off of some packaging from a christmas toy I think, and the ribbon was from some dish towels I bought.

I hope everyone has a very happy valentine's day! Spread the love!!

Linking to:
Blue Cricket Designs
Sassy Sites

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Fish Dish!

Yes, to change up the flavor of chicken and ground beef, I actually cooked fish tonight. I'm not a huge fish fan (although I loooove sushi), so this was more for Tony; I could eat ground beef 2 meals a day, every day. I saw this recipe and was like Fish drenched in ranch dressing? Now that's how you eat fish. I was willing to give it a try. That's how you do it, right? Anything you don't like you just dip in ranch dressing? As a kid, that's how I ate green beans. We both gave it 3 stars because it was good, but we're not the hugest fish fans and therefore don't want to eat it very often, just as an occasional change-up. So here goes:

6 tilapia filets, thawed, about 1 1/2 pounds (*I was only able to fit 4 filets in my pan, but that's all we needed*)
1 cup prepared ranch dressing
2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated, about 3/4 cup (*I cheat by buying the 'italian six cheese blend' packages of cheese - so much cheaper*)

Spread half of the ranch dressing in the bottom of a greased 9x13" metal baking pan (*I covered the pan with foil and sprayed it with cooking spray*). Arrange the fish in a single layer over the dressing. Spread the remaining dressing evenly over the top of the fish. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. Bake at 425º 15-20 minutes or until the fish is done (*I did 20 min*). If the top needs browning put the baking pan under the broiler for a few minutes until nice and brown. (*I broiled mine for 1 minute*)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Low Carb Snacks

While all yall are watching the superbowl, here I am at home, watching Dora and blogging :) I'd actually rather be doing this than watching football so I'm happy. Tony is over at friends place watching game. I was thinking he would need snacks for the game, and since we're doing the low carb thing right now, I came up with 2 snacks for him. Sooo jealous that the snacks are over there and not here with me... oh well. Ham Rolls and Deviled Eggs. YUM!

First the Deviled Eggs. I used the tutorial over at to cook the eggs. I didn't prepare in advance so I didn't do everything she suggests, but i do suggest this tutorial - the eggs were cooked PERFECTLY. For the filling i just added mayo and prepared mustard. Super simple, nothing fancy. I put the prepared yolk filling in a ziploc freezer bag with a star piping tip thing to make it all fancy-likeish and sprinkled paprika. They turned out pretty darn good.

Now on to the Ham Rolls. My family makes these for New Years Eve snacks and they've always been one of my favorites. You need:

Packaged ham (rectangular shaped)
Flavored cream cheese - I used 'artichoke and spinach' and 'chive and onion'

growing up, chive and onion was always my fave but I think the artichoke and spinach is my new favorite. My family has done pineapple flavored, honey nut flavored, and I'm sure all the other flavors offered in the store.

First, dry the ham with paper towels

Then spread a layer of the cream cheese on the ham. Put as little or as much as you like.

Roll up the piece of ham. You can roll width-wise or length-wise, it doesn't matter.

And for the last thing: cut into yummy bite-size pieces!!

That's all there is to it! Fast, easy, and low carb! And oh-so-yummy. Mmmmm.

Linking to:
Today's Creative Blog
It's a Hodge Podge Life
Fingerprints On The Fridge
Young and Crafty

Friday, February 4, 2011

My latest scrapbook pages

I'm trying to get all of DeVon's 2008 pages done so for my birthday I can get them all printed out and into a book. Here's my latest ones:

Resolutions by Aprilisa
Resolutions by Mix Match Scrap
Resolutions by Pixelily Designs
straight stitch - Plentiful from Shabby Princess
zig zag stitch from The Scrapping Sisters
Photo Corner - Color Theory Gold by Christina Renee Designs

brown stitch - Plentiful from Shabby Princess
rounded page stitch - Mercy’s Farm by StashHappy Designs
papers = With Love by Valarie Ostrom Designs
stamp frame - Falling For You by Chrisscrap
picture frame - Ticket To Love by Nicole Young Designs
clip, ric rac - Smart Chic Sweet by Sweet Sophisticate Digital Couture
polka dot ribbon - The Hermitage Collection from Designs by Amanda Dykan
flower and flair button - Artemia Charity Kit
scallop border - Check Yes Or No by Designs by Josie

Frame and Ribbon - Daydream Believer from Little Dreamer Designs
paper - Life is a Bubble Bath by RebeccaB
thought bubble - dare 2 be u by Cinzia Designs

 paper - Fall Festival from Designs by Mel
date tag - Winter Dream by ScrapDesign Isyndra
flair button - My Favorite Guy by Armina Designs
glitter bracket - Summer Fling from Oscraps
brown bracket - Fall Spunk by Holliewood Studios
stitch - Shabby Stitchin by Christina Renee
flower - Baby Kit by Newlife Dreams Designs
wire heart - Artemia Charity kit
flower scatter - Summer Surprises by Donna Duncombe

Photo Mask #1 by Gunhild
metal alpha - Stop Drop and Roll from scrap orchard
black paper - working overtime by Pixelfairy-Design

Brown Background Paper - Free Spirit from Designs by Monalisasmiles
Frame - Summer Cottage from Shabby Princess
Date tab - Sweetest Days by Erica Zane
Papers - Artemia Charity Kit

 paper - Back to School by 4 Shades of Blue
frame and black paper - The Orient by 3.h.d.
circle edge - My Blue Period by Miss Kim Designs
label - P’tit Bonhomme by Chriscrap

stitched ribbon and paper - Summer Love by This Little Missy
clouds: Baby Kit from Newlife Dreams Design + felt action from Atomic Cupcake
stick frame - Dizzy by Andrea Dickinson

Baked Pecan Chicken - 3 stars

3 stars for 3 reasons:
     1. We've had chicken the past 3 nights or so
     2. We both loooove pecans, but there's such thing as too much of a good thing. The taste was boring and redundant with each additional bite
     3. If it had a sauce or glaze (which of course wouldn't go along with our low carb diet) it would have been a 4 star meal

Don't get me wrong - it's good. Here's how my stars rate
0 - GROSS, don't ever make that again!
1 - edible, but not my style/not very good
2 - it's ok. I'll eat it, but whatever. slightly better than a 1
3 - good. will eat it again, but only every so often
4 - WOW that was good!
5 - OMG!!! I love! Make this again soon!

I've made a couple meals that are an easy 5 stars. Can't wait to make them again so I can share them with yall.

Here's the recipe for the Pecan Chicken:

2 1/2 ounces pecan meal or very finely ground pecans, 3/4 cup
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg white
2 boneless chicken breasts

Mix the pecan meal and salt on a dinner plate. In a cereal bowl, beat the egg whites with a fork until foamy. Dip the chicken in the egg white on both sides then coat them with pecan meal. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 400º 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is done.

I used a bag of crushed pecans and attempted to beat them to a pulp. I didn't do as well as I thought I had but it worked. With that one bag of pecans, I was able to cover about 6 chicken thighs. OOOOH i just  thought of something. I wonder if brushing melted butter over the chicken and pecans before cooking it would make it better at all. Hmmm, something to try next time.

Happy eating!

Linking to:
Just A Girl

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Catalog Inspiration

Here's some inspiration I got from the Pottery Barn, Ballard Designs, and Restoration Hardware catalogs. This is by no means ALL i got from them. Some stuff was too much a style rather than a specific something, some was redundant, some wasn't worth scanning, and some was so genius I'm keeping it to myself :)
1: When I get a house, if it has a small closet, I would like to transform it into beautiful shelves like these!

2: LOVE! Could do this with signs or pictures. (minus the wreath - not much of a wreath person)

3: Describes my style perfectly - rustic warm woods with touches of metal. I love the metal basket maybe a little too much

4: Do you see those hinges? Probably will implement hinge hooks somewhere in my son's new room (coming no time soon, unfortunately)

5: More wire baskets! Industrial love <3

6: Love the color!

7: I guess it's obvious. Easy to duplicate, too.

8: Wanna do something like this in DeVon's room

9: Adding to my memo board inspiration. Easy to make, too!

10: Oversized letter? Yes please!

11: Copper? You know it!

12: Signs. Could make one for every vacation destination traveled to? And/or places lived.

13: Easy decor with frames and scrapbook paper.

You see the wire basket again? And that fabric art! Can't wait to make that one day!

If I had rooms with open doorways, I would like to do curtains like this to cozy it up

Wanna do this for toy storage/display in DeVon's room

Linking up to:

Mushroom Chicken and Sausage Casserole

Okay, so maybe I didn't honor my hiatus. So sue me! I tried to stay away from blogging and just couldn't! I got a new blog, so I'm starting all over! I've imported my old posts but have redesigned the blog. I'm still on track with my CCNA studying so don't worry :) What I really want to start blogging about is our low carb diet. I know it sounds boring, but the food we've been eating is SOOOO good! I couldn't be selfish and keep it to ourselves; I want to share it with everyone. Last night's dinner was "Mushroom Chicken and Sausage Casserole". Yummy! it got 4 out of 5 stars from the both of us. 

I forgot to take a picture of the prepared plates, so all you get is this half eaten pan... The recipe says it has 8-12 servings, but realistically, it would provide between 5 and 7 plates. When something's this good, who wants to eat only a tiny serving? I served steamed broccoli on the side. YUM!

3-4 cups diced cooked chicken *I used 10 small boneless skinless chicken thighs (two packets of the fridge to freezer packs from costco)*
1 pound pork sausage *I used Pork & Beef Kielbasa and sliced it*
1 stalk celery, chopped fine *I didn't use any celery*
1 tablespoon onion, chopped
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
8 ounces cream cheese, softened 

16 ounce bag frozen cauliflower, cooked well and drained
8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded *definitely going to add more next time*
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Paprika, optional *didn't use*

Brown the sausage with the celery, onion and mushrooms. Stir the softened cream cheese into the sausage mixture until well blended. Coarsely chop the cooked cauliflower. Mix all of the ingredients and spread in a greased 9x13" baking dish. If desired, dust the top with paprika. Bake, covered with foil, at 350º for about 30 minutes *I did 25 minutes*. Uncover and bake until hot and bubbly and the top is lightly browned, about 10-15 minutes *I did 10 minutes*.

This easily feeds a family and If you're not going low carb, I can see this mixed with a penne pasta to feed even more people. That sounds sooo good - wish I could eat pasta!

Linking to:
Katie's Cucina