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Happy Easter!

Let’s just pretend this isn’t almost a month late, okay?  Let’s rewind to before school got out, before my 5 finals, before my too-many-to-count projects and essays (are you visualizing this?), to that beautiful Sunday at the beginning of the month that was Easter.

Emily and Andrew came us in the morning, and then we came back to the house and got cookin’.

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Of course my mom had beautifully decorated the dining room table.

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Mom made the ham, baked beans, and potato salad.  Dad made the yellow squash casserole.  Andrew made the deviled eggs.

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We also had an amazing fruit salad.

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It was a great Easter feast!

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Easter picture time!

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I made these cupcakes, using a kit from World Market.  I thought they turned out really cute.  I also made some gluten free ones for Andrew (the ones at the bottom with no lady bug).  Those were… interesting.  The frosting was good, though!

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The Easter Bunny still comes to our house, even through my sister and I are out of our teens!

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He was very good to us this year.  My grandma’s Easter Bunny showed up late, so those things didn’t get in the picture, but he brought some yogurt and Clif bars!  Thanks, Easter Bunnies!!!

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I’m home from college now for a month.  I got my grades and was very happy to see my hard work paid off.  I guess staying away from the blog was a good decision, but I’m glad to be back!  I missed you all!

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Mom’s birthday was a few days ago, but we weren’t able to celebrate ‘till last night because of school and then snow.

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The snow is pretty, but I’m ready for SPRING!

Last night, Emily and Andrew brought the appetizers, including chips, salsa, and jalapeño poppers.

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My grandma made the salad.

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My job for last night was to make the enchiladas.

I used this recipe from Cooking Light for Chicken Enchiladas and used corn tortillas for Andrew.

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And La Tortilla Factory tortillas for the rest of us.

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This was my first try at making enchiladas, so I was glad when everyone said they loved them.

I also made the cake. I used a boxed yellow cake mix, but made the chocolate frosting from scratch, using this recipe from Hershey’s.

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I hope we made your birthday a fantastic one, Mom. Love you!

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Thanks for all your great advice about dealing with the stress of classes and everything. I’ve written down a schedule (actually, I tried writing it in class and then my professor did that thing teachers do where they’ll just stand behind you because they want you to stop doing something), so hopefully that will help me.

The Flying Biscuit

Let’s go back in time a little here. The other weekend, my mom, my sister, and I went out for a girls night at The Flying Biscuit Cafe.

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This was my first time here, though I’ve heard many people rave about it, so i was excited!

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It was really a cute place inside.

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It was a tough decision, but I finally ordered the Pasta, Sausage & Eggs: “free-range chicken sausage, pasta du jour, spinach, mushrooms, cheddar cheese, scrambled with three large eggs.”

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It also came with creamy dreamy grits and a whole wheat biscuit. This was truly scrumptious and I was definitely recommend you try it for yourself!

Accepting Broccoli

If you know me, you know I’ve never been a fan of broccoli. For the past few months (pretty much since the summer), I’ve been slowly starting to add more and more broccoli into my diet by chopping steamed broccoli and mixing it into things like mashed potatoes. Well…

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Look at that broccoli—not chopped or mixed in! Now I will admit broccoli is still not my favorite green veggie (right now, I’d say Brussels sprouts are my favorite), but I’m beginning to like it more! This is a HUGE deal for me!!

Chobani {Giveaway}

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And finally, what you’re all waiting for… in celebration of Chobani’s new flavors, they have generously offered to give away a case of yogurt to one lucky reader. Here’s the deal:

  1. Go Chobani’s website and browse their flavors. Come back here and either tell me in a comment which flavor you would most like to try, or which flavor is your favorite.
  2. Contest ends this Saturday, January 30 at 11:59 pm EST. I will randomly choose a winner shortly after.
  3. Contest is open to US residents only, please.

Good luck to you all, and I hope you have a great Tuesday!

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Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

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Maisy somehow found herself in a photo shoot.

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I made that banner; it says “MERRY CHRISTMAS.”

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Maisy loves to find herself a little nest.

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A Homemade Christmas

Since I’m a poor college student, I decided to make most of my presents this year.

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This is a wreath I made for my parents (tutorial here).

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I knit this for my little cousin (I actually also knit a smaller version for an even littler cousin).

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I knit this one for Morgan.

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These ornaments were for my Aunt Melissa (above) and Emily (below).

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christmas 2009 058 I also knit my grandparents a snowflake dishcloth, but forgot to take a picture.         

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And then I made these treats for different people. These are Bakerella’s red velvet cake bites.

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And these are chocolate cookies (recipe here). Some of them have buttercream frosting in the middle with crushed peppermint around the edge.

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Christmas Day

I don’t have many pictures of Christmas Day, because my camera decided to stop working until 11:00 at night. These are ones my mom took.

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My cute grandparents.

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Here’s Emily opening her foodie basket. I picked out most of it, so I hope she likes it!

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Our table was full of amazing food. Mom bought a standing rib roast to make for the first time ever and it turned out really delicious and flavorful!

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Everyone ready for dinner (and Mom behind the camera).

It was a really nice day full of family, food, and giving. I got lots of nice new clothes and a Garmin Forerunner, which is exciting! Does anyone know how accurate the “calories” feature is on the Garmin?

Did anyone get anything super exciting this year?

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This morning I was craving some sort of egg casserole. I had to get creative since we didn’t have much to go with it. The only meat we had was the Applegate Farms pepperoni, so I made it a pizza theme.

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Pizza Egg Bake

3 Applegate Farms pepperonis, chopped

2 wedges Laughing Cow cheese

1/2 c. egg beaters

1/3 c. Heart Smart Bisquick

Whisk all ingredients together and pour into small greased casserole dish. Bake on 375* F for 25 minutes or until cooked through.

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Yum yum yum!

For dinner, I wanted something quick and easy. I got an email from MyLifetime.com about the recipe section of their website called Cook Yourself Thin, and browsed through their recipes until I found something that I wouldn’t have to go to the grocery store for. I came up with tortilla soup.

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Tortilla Soup (with my modifications)

1 pound chicken tenders, cut into strips
1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 can chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup water (I used 1 1/2 c. water and added chicken bouillon)
1 teaspoon salt (I left this out)
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder, or your favorite chile powder

I sautéed the chicken breast in a pan, then added it to the pan with the rest of the ingredients and brought to a boil, then let it simmer for about 5 minutes before serving. I also sprinkled in some minced garlic (yes, I really love garlic!).

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I was a little worried the flavor wouldn’t be that great since it was such a simple recipe, but I really liked it. Since I added more liquid, it could have used some more tomatoes, but I don’t think we had any more.

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Kitten Love

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Prissy has this thing where she likes to have her paws on you when she sits next to you. I guess she likes to feel connected to you?

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She also likes attention. She was posing here for the picture

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I’ve been spending lots of time lately making Christmas presents. I’ll have to show you some of what I’ve done tomorrow night. Are any of you making Christmas presents this year? What are you making?

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Mom wanted us to decorate a gingerbread house together this year. I think it turned out pretty cute!

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Do you see that box in the top right corner?

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Those are Mary’s Gone Crackers. I can’t remember if I’ve written about them on the blog before or not. I got a few coupons for free boxes, and tried the Herb flavor first. To be honest, I’m not a fan of the flavor, but they are perfect for dipping into some Sabra hummus. I do love the texture and how crunchy they are, and am looking forward to trying the original flavor to see if I like them more.

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They fueled us through the difficult task of decorating

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Did you all snag a free product when Kath posted about her OpenSky deal a couple weeks ago? I was lucky enough to be able to order what I thought was just one jar of NuttZo butter, but I somehow ended up getting 4 shipped to me?! (Em, you’ll be getting one of these )

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It is very crunchy, nutty (imagine that!), and has sort of a rustic flavor. It’s not something I’d say I love right away, but I do like it.

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Saving the best for last, I really want to share this story with you. I’ve written about Stephanie Nielson on here before when she was on the Oprah Winfrey Show. A tear-jerking article was released this past Sunday about her story, and it is really so inspiring.

A little background on Stephanie—before her accident, she was a vegetarian (pretty sure she still is), yoga instructor (and she still practices), and just really focused on keeping her body healthy. I feel like the fact that she took such good care of her body is one reason she was able to survive a plane crash and having burns on over 80% of her body. She is such a testament to the old saying “take care of your body, and it will take care of you.”

The article is a little long, but it’s definitely worth the time it takes to read it. She’s such an inspiration to me that I couldn’t not share her story with others.

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Time to get ready for a Christmas party with Morgan’s church. It’s being catered by one of my favorite Italian restaurants. Yum!

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I’m going to be honest, these were not the easiest cookies I’ve ever made. There’s a lot of prep work: quartering the cherries, chopping the macadamia nuts and white chocolate. But if you’ve got the time and patience, this recipe turns out chewy and delicious. Plus, I got 6 1/2 dozen out of it, which was perfect for my cookie swap.

Paula Deen’s White Chocolate Cherry Chunkies

3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. butter (1 stick), softened
2 lg. eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. milk
8 oz. white chocolate chunks
1 c. roasted, salted macadamia nuts, chopped
1/2 c. candied cherries, quartered

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease large cookie sheet. On waxed paper, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.

2. In large bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat sugars and butter 3 minutes, or until well blended, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to low; beat in eggs and vanilla just until combined. Add milk, then beat in flour mixture just until blended. With spoon, stir in chocolate, nuts, and cherries.

3. Drop dough by heaping measuring tablespoons, 2 inches apart, onto cookie sheet. Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool, about 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough.

4. Store cookies in tightly sealed container at room temperature up to 1 week or in freezer up to 3 months.

Nutrition facts (each cookie): About 120 calories, 2 g protein, 17 g carbohydrate, 5 g total fat (2 g saturated), 0 g fiber, 14 mg cholesterol, 80 mg sodium.

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I came home with so many yummy-looking treats!

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I’ve only tasted the Buckeyes and Wedding Cookies so far—both were heavenly.

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And aren’t these little reindeer cookies so cute?!

I have plans to make Red Velvet Cake Bites sometime soon. Hopefully they will turn out well so I can give them away as little gifts.

Are any of you giving away baked goods as gifts this year?

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