Thursday, March 29, 2012

She Will Finally Get Things Done!

I actually  have been really busy with Pinterest projects and recipes this past week, but I can't find my camera cord!  It's always excuses with me!  The first project I completed was my Spring wreath.  I have been working on this for awhile and am not 100% satisfied with it, but at least it adds some color to our front door.  I may still play around with it or replace it entirely, but at least we have something up!
This was made for less than $10.  The styrofoam wreath was $5-$7, but I used my 40% off Michael's coupon.  The yarn was on hand from the Christmas yarn trees.  I had to purchase two packages of wooden letters in order to get two 'E's, but everything was 50% off at JoAnn Fabrics so not too big of a deal.  I probably bought 5 or 6 different fake flower bouquets before I finally figured out the color combination I liked.  I think these were three different bouquets for about $1 each.  The orange butterfly was in the Michael's dollar section as well.  It really needs to be bigger for our front door, but you can definitely see the bright colors from the street, which ultimately is the point!

Late last week we tried out the below recipe.  Not too difficult and definitely tasty!  Plus, I was able to use the leftover puff pastry to make yummy dessert napoleons with nutella!

Shrimp & Andouille Puffalettas
Degree of Difficulty: 6
Mess Factor: 8
Taste: 8
This wasn't too difficulty of a recipe, but it did require several different cooking/prep methods which is where it gets the high mess factor.  Matt prepared the red pepper sauce in the food processor, while I cooked up the shrimp & andouille sausage on the stove and baked the puff pastry in the oven.
Above is a pic of the shrimp, sausage, green peppers, and yummy liquid cooking up!  Once the "meat" of the dish was cooked, we split open the pastry, ladeled the "meat" mixture onto each half, then topped the dish with the red pepper sauce. 
The picture above is of the final product.  One day I will learn to take better pictures.  Unfortunately, for my few readers, that day is not anytime soon!  All in all, this was a pretty quick recipe that Matt and I both had fun putting together.  Also, this was perfect for lunch leftovers!

As soon as I find my camera cord, I will blog about the Crock Pot Pot Roast Sliders and the summer blanket I am making for the girls.  I am on a mission to find a good side dish for an Easter Egg Hunt lunch, so if you have any good suggestions be sure to send them my way! 


Monday, March 19, 2012

She Will Celebrate St. Patrick's Day Without Pinterest (Gasp)!

You read that correctly.  It's been another crazy week, with Morgan and I staying at my parent's house for most of the past week, and we really didn't use Pinterest at all this week.  As I mentioned in at least one previous post, I LOVE the holidays and St.Patrick's Day is one of my faves.  We invited some friends over for some Irish fare and I think it went really well.  While the corned beef and honey glazed carrots were pretty much straight from the package to the table, I did research and try out a new recipe for cabbage and potatoes.  Read on to hear all about it!

Cabbage and Potatoe Bake
Degree of Difficulty: 6
Mess Factor: 8
Taste: 7
I am not a big fan of cabbage, but my mom had told me about this Emeril recipe and I decided it was worth a try.  I will shamelessy toot my own horn and say that Matt and I did a fantastic job!  We chopped up one cabbage and 3-4 potatoes, placing them in a large roasting pan (future note: either use tin foil on the bottom or heavily spray with Pam as the potatoes do stick to the pan).  We fried up some bacon to crumble on top, then cooked up onions in the bacon grease.  The onions and bacon grease were poured on top of the cabbage and potatoes.  Finally, we added two cups of chicken stock, covered the roasting pan with aluminum foil and cooked in a 350 oven for 1 1/2 hours. 

All in all, this recipe wasn't too difficult but any time cooking bacon is involved it automatically increased my difficulty and mess factor.  I almost always delegate this duty to my husband because I am not a fan of the frying portion.  I much prefer to place the bacon on a roasting pan and stick it in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, but that would have taken too long. 

We also served some "gold" jello with dinner, which is now a new favorite for Morgan.  I'll have to post some pictures later this week of Morgan devouring our jello jigglers!  Our talented friends also shared with us a cheese ball and a grasshopper pie.  Both were delicious and all leftovers were gone by the end of Sunday! 

I made some trips to Joann (50% off entire store) and Michael's this weekend, so hopefully I have enough supplies to keep me busy for the next couple of weeks.  I am in the last month of pregnancy and my feet have ballooned to epic proportions.  I am trying to keep them up as much as possible while still getting things done.  Matt and I have a lot of work to do before the nursery is done, so we are really focusing on that this week.  I have a feeling cooking will be at an all time low, but hopefully sewing and craft projects will still get done!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

She'll Make the Food, but Forget the Pictures (again)!

I was going to try and offer excuses for my lack of pictures, but honestly, it's pure laziness.  I even had my camera on the counter yesterday and STILL did not take pictures!  I did take plenty of pictures of my sewing project, so at least one upcoming blog will have pictures.  Below are the four recipes I tried out this week.  We liked the spicy shrimp tacos, but all in all, not really wowed by any of the recipes.  Oh well, I guess every week can't be an AMAZING week.   

Brownie Batter Dip
Degree of Difficulty: 4
Mess Factor: 4
Taste: 7
I was originally going to make the Berry Pretzel Tart for dinner at a friend's house, but realized a little too late that this dessert requires a little too much prep time (4+ hours).  This meant I very quickly had to come up with a back-up plan.  Luckily, I found this easy and relatively few ingredient recipe on Pinterest.  Assembly isn't too bad as long as you don't mind using your mixer (I hate dragging out the mixer but have resigned myself to doing it only so I don't have to limit my baking options).  We served this with graham crackers and animal crackers, but I'm sure fruit would be a good choice as well. 

My daughter, Morgan, watched while I made the dip and of course, got the first taste.  She LOVED it and has been enjoying little spoonfuls after dinner the past couple of nights.  Since I have failed to bring you any pictures the past couple of posts, I decided to post this after shot of the Brownie Batter Dip!

Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Tomatilla Salsa
Degree of Difficulty: 5
Mess Factor: 6
Taste: 8
Believe it or not, this is NOT a Pinterest recipe.  I used to subscribe to Cooking Light and during one of our moves decided to purge all of my old magazines.  Prior to sending them all to the recycling bin, I went through and pulled out all of the recipes I either liked or still wanted to try.  I combined these into a binder that I keep with the rest of my cookbooks.  I pulled the binder out this past week and picked out this oldie, but goodie.  The preparation for the whole dish is no more than 30 minutes and probably closer to 20 minutes.  Shrimp takes almost no time at all to cook and almost always comes out tasty, especially in tacos! 

I have always wanted to make my own salsa verder and while this was not what I am used to, it was delicious.  It was a lot creamier than the salsa verde I would purchase in the store but that is due to the addition of greek yogurt (in place of the sour cream) and avocado.  Matt and I both agreed the salsa had a little too much cilantro, but this has definitely inspired me to try making salsa verde again in the future!

Southern Chicken and Corn Chowder
Degree of Difficulty: 5
Mess Factor: 5
Taste: 5
This recipe was fairly underwhelming.  While it did not taste bad, I'm not sure I would choose to make it again.  I could NOT find frozen creamed corn, so I ended up using canned cream corn.  Not sure if that really made a difference.  The last 20 minutes of simmering may not have been hot enough so that may have contributed to the lighter texture of the soup.  I really wanted or was expecting a creamy chowder with chunks of chicken and a slight kick at the end from the jalapenos.  The end result was more of a slightly thicker brother with chunks of chicken and corn, but no kick.  Matt added some chili powder to his serving, which helped but I don't think it was enough to save this recipe. 

If any of you try this one out at home and have better luck, please let me know!  Yesterday was a little bit of a downer, so it is possible that this dish just was not cooked with the love that it needed and deserved.

Two-Minute Mug Brownie
Degree of Difficulty: 2
Mess Factor: 3
Taste: 7
I have tried lots of different mug cakes and this has been my favorite so far.  It doesn't require an egg, so the assembly was incredibly easy and relatively mess-free.  The messiest part of this particular recipe is the actual mug clean-up, but I feel that is the case with most mug recipes. 

This recipe was a lot more moist than others I have tried, so for that reason alone I would make it again (not that it has stopped me with other mug recipes).  I'm almost always in the mood for chocolate and all of the ingredients were staples in our house, so if the chocolate itch hits you, I would recommend checking this one out!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

She Will Get Distracted by a Good Book

I LOVE to read and when I get in to a good book, I am completely consumed and will stay up late finishing it.  Most of my close family and friends know that I prefer to read trashy romance novels.  They don't have to be trashy, but I consider myself quite the expert on romance novels.  Tell me what kind of romance you want to read whether it is Christian, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, etc., and I can tell you either a good book or a good author. 

If I hadn't moved so much over the past 5 years, I could have personally started my own romance library with well over 100 titles.  As it is, I became VERY familiar with the romance section at the library in Maryland.  Right after we moved and I got a library card (it was one of the top priorities on the list) I headed to the romance section of the library, started with the A's and worked my way through the alphabet.  Did I read every book the library had to offer?  No, but I read a LOT of them.  I haven't visited the Mahomet library yet, but I have a feeling we will have a similar relationship once I finally get my Illinois driver's license!

One of my life goals has to either start a book club or join a book club.  When I moved to Mahomet, I was very lucky to have Mindy (my amazing cousin) introduce me around and invite me to join her book club.  I understand that romance novels are rarely a part of book clubs (there really isn't much to discuss), so I figured this would be my opportunity to go outside my reading comfort zone as well as an opportunity to meet other women!  During our last book club meeting, several women were talking about going to see the Hunger Games movie when it came out the weekend of March 23rd.  In addition to being excited about the movie, everyone talked about how much they enjoyed the book. 

The following night I downloaded the Hunger Games trilogy on my Kindle.  Over the past 5 days and nights, I have plowed through all three books in the Hunger Games trilogy.  I LOVED the 1st book.  It was riveting!  I can't even think of another word for it.  I enjoyed the 2nd and 3rd book, but not nearly as much as the first.  I have told Matt that he has been deemed worthy enough to borrow my Kindle so that he can read at least the 1st book (he takes a little longer to get through books, so this is quite the sacrifice on my part)!  I am hoping that if he finishes in time, we can make a date night and see the movie together. 

Now that I have finished these books, I am hoping that my life can return to normal and I can spend the evenings doing more than curling up on the couch or in my bed reading.  Matt has been working on painting the trim white and replacing the baseboards in Amelia's room.  I have been working on some art for her room as well, so we are hoping this room will be completely ready in the next two weeks.  Once that is done, I will put up a big reveal of, what will then be, the nicest and most put together room in our house!


Friday, March 2, 2012

She'll Make More Food

It's been a little crazy these past two weeks.  Work has been really busy and I've been feeling pretty tired (I only have 6.5 weeks left until this baby arrives)!  Oh well, life must go on (just a little slower)!  With that in mind, I only made two Pinterest recipes over the past two weeks and I didn't take any pictures.  I did make the chicken parmesan bake that I have posted about previously.  We eat that at least once a week as it is one of our favorite meals and the prep time is so quick!

Yummy Cheesy Chicken Roll-Ups
Degree of Difficulty: 4
Mess Factor: 4
Taste: 6
I would just like to say that this probably would have tasted a lot better if I had not forgotten the salt.  With that being said, my husband really liked this.  You pretty much mix together cooked chicken, steamed broccoli, cream cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, salt and pepper, then place it in a crescent roll and bake.  All in all, a pretty easy meal to put together and perfect for a night when Matt gets home late from work, but the salt is a MUST!

Pizza Casserole
Degree of Difficulty: 4
Mess Factor: 4
Taste: 7
I really should have taken a picture of this, but I honestly thought it would be such a bust I wasn't sure anyone would even want to see what it looked like.  After prepping my husband that the meal could end up being really nasty, we were both pleasantly surprised by how much we liked it.  I will definitely make this again since it was pretty easy prep, but there are several things we would do differently which will probably make this more of a pasta casserole than pizza casserole. 

The actual recipe tells you to layer pasta sauce, ground beef, egg noodles, and cheese with a layer of pepperonies topping the last layer of cheese.  I did not have enough sauce, used ground turkey, and have decided that this would be much better if everything was mixed together instead of layered as it ends up getting mixed anyway.  We also decided the pepperoni was pretty much unnecessary.  I'm sure they added a little kick of salt, but beyond that not much else (I could blame the fact that I used turkey pepperoni instead of regular, but I won't). 

This week I am hoping to try out the chicken and corn chowder I have had pinned for awhile, so wish me luck.  I'm also planning to make Cinnamon Bun pancakes tomorrow in honor of my brother visiting (not that he'll be up in time to enjoy them)!