"Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave?" - Kathleen Kelly (You've Got Mail)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Triple Layer Rice Krispie Treats

1 stick of butter, divided
1 16 oz. bag of large marshmallows, divided
1 9 oz. box of Rice Krispies Cereal, divided
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1/3 c. peanut butter

Cut the stick of butter into 4 equal pieces, each measuring 2 tablespoons. Measure the cereal out into 3 equal portions, each measuring about 3 cups. Divide the marshmallows into 3 equal portions, about 20 in each portion.

For the first layer: Melt 2 tbsp. of butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Once melted, add 20 marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and add vanilla, stir to combine. Add cereal and stir until well coated. Pour into a 13x9 pan. Using one section of the butter, smear some on your finger tips and press the first layer into the pan.

For the second layer: Follow the above instructions, but melt the chocolate chips before adding the cereal instead of the vanilla. Buttering your fingers again, press on top of the first layer.

For the third layer: Follow the above instructions, but stir the peanut butter in this time instead of adding the vanilla or chocolate chips. Buttering your fingers again, press on top of the second layer.

Allow to cool for at least 1 hour and then cut into squares and serve. Makes 24 medium treats.

Coconut Ice Cream with Almonds

2 1/2 c. half and half (I used fat free)
1 14 oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp. coconut extract
3/4 c. white sugar
1/4 c. sliced almonds
1/4 c. flaked coconut (optional)

Combine the half and half, coconut milk, coconut extract and sugar in a blender or large food processor and mix well. Pour into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. During the last couple minutes of freezing, add the sliced almonds and flaked coconut if using.

Notes: Two of my most favorite foods together! Coconut and ice cream! This recipe turned out absolutely amazing if I do say so myself :)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

4 c. half and half (I used fat free)
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 c. white sugar
dash of salt
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1/4 c. chocolate sprinkles (optional)

Whisk together the half and half, cocoa powder, sugar and salt in a large saucepan. Heat over med/high heat, stirring frequently until it comes to a rolling boil and begins to foam up. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until thoroughly blended. Chill mixture completely (overnight is best) and then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions, adding the sprinkles (if using) during the last couple of minutes. Makes 7 cups of ice cream.

Found and adapted from here

Notes: This was my first time making homemade ice cream and it turned out great! I was a little leery of using fat free half and half  but you would never tell the difference...it was super rich and creamy! The only thing I'll do differently next time is add less sugar. It was a little too sweet for my taste. I'll cut it down to 3/4 a cup or maybe even 1/2 a cup. Overall I was really happy with it. I absolutely love ice cream so I'm excited to try out lots of new recipes! Let me know if you have a favorite that you think I should try...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Spinach Salad with Feta and Strawberries

3-4 cups fresh spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
1 c. strawberries, trimmed and quartered
2 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1/4 c. balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Place the spinach leaves in a medium serving bowl, top with strawberries, feta and dressing. Makes 4 servings.

Notes: I know this doesn't seem like much of a recipe but this is Randy's and my very favorite salad. We eat it at least once a week, if not more!

Creamy Taco Mac

1 lb. ground turkey
8 oz. small shaped pasta
1 small onion, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 c. frozen yellow corn
4 tbsp. taco seasoning
4 oz. sour cream
1/2 c. sour cream
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c. water

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook the ground turkey over med/high heat until no longer pink. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook another few minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, black beans, corn and taco seasoning and heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the cooked pasta, cream cheese, cheddar cheese and water until cheeses are melted and the sauce is well blended. Makes 6-8 servings.

Adapted from here

Notes:  I saw this recipe in Annie's Eats about a month ago and I've been dying to try it! I made a few changes and we loved this stuff! It made a ton which is great for leftovers, Randy's lunches etc. I highly recommend this dish :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Doors and Knobs

Over the last couple week I started painting all the doors in our house white, replacing the knobs and spray painting the old hinges. Sounds like it wouldn't be a big deal but it makes a HUGE difference and I'm so glad I decided to do it.

The doors are beige and really dirty, the knobs are 20 year old tarnished brass and the hinges were brass as well...with paint gunked up on them from the last person who (sloppily) painted.

Each door has to be taken off the hinges, scrubbed down and given 3 coats of white semi-gloss paint. The hinges cleaned, sanded and spray painted with a brushed nickel spray paint made specifically for metal. Originally I was going to spray paint the old knobs as well, but I decided to go ahead and replace them with new brushed nickel ones...mostly to save on time and work. And knobs didn't turn out to be as expensive as I thought they would be. I think I paid just over $140 for the entire house, deadbolts and locks included. Oh and did I mention that I'm painting the trim around each door white, too??

This is going to be a long project, but so worth it in the end! Here are some before and after pictures of what I've done so far...

Before and after of the knobs

Before and afrer of the outside of the hinges

Before and after of the inside of the hinges

Door on the left isn't painted yet...you can see the difference it makes! You can see even more of a difference in person

Inside of the front door completely finished. I forgot to take a before shot

So there you have it! 3 down, 8 to go!

Front Door Makeover!

As I mentioned before, the entire exterior of our house (walls, trim, doors, everything!) was painted PEACH when we bought it! I posted when I painted the trim and garage door white but I still had to do something with the front door.

So here it was before, with the trim freshly painted white:

Here is it as of today:

What I did:
-Painted the door green. The color is "Gentle Pasture" by Valspar
-Repainted the inside of the door white (previously beige)
-Replaced the old brass knob and deadbolt with new brushed silver ones
-Got a "welcome" vinyl decal from Etsy in chocolate brown 
-Bought a new coordinating rug from Lowes
-Took down the black and green wall hanging

To do:
-Find a new coordinating wall hanging (maybe?)
-Replace the doorbell
-Paint the flower pots to match the rug and door

So I guess the makeover's not 100% finished but it's done enough to show you! I hope you like it!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lemony Couscous with Chicken

1/2 a rotisserie chicken
1 1/2 tbsp. butter
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 a large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 c. chicken broth
zest of 1 large lemon
1 c. frozen peas
1 c. frozen corn
1 c. couscous, uncooked
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Skin and debone half a rotisserie chicken. Shred and set aside. Reserve the drippings. Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet with a lid. Add diced onion and saute until transparent and tender. Add mined garlic and saute another minute or two. Add broth and drippings to the pan and bring to a boil. Stir in lemon peel, peas and corn and return to a boil. Stir in couscous, cover with lid and turn off heat. Let sit for 7 minutes. Stir in chicken, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Makes 4-6 servings.

Recipe adapted from here

Margot approves!

Notes: Man this stuff is good! I couldn't get myself to stop eating it. Anything with lemon tastes so yummy and refreshing. Skinning, deboning and shredding a chicken was not so refreshing though...lol! This would be great as a meal in itself or a side dish.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. peanut butter (I used extra crunchy)
1 c. white sugar
1 c. packed brown sugar
2 eggs
3 c. white all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Cream together butter, peanut butter, sugars and eggs. In a separate bowl sift together the remaining ingredients. Stir into the butter mixture until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. After chilling the dough, preheat the oven to 375. Place dough on cookie sheets by tablespoonfuls. Flatten with a fork (or in my case, I used a meat mallet, haha!) and bake in the preheat oven for 9-10 minutes. Do not over bake! Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Recipe adapted from here

Notes: This is the only peanut butter cookie recipe I'll use...I love it! I've already eaten 4 (oops!) since I started this blog update :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mini Cheesecakes

18 Nilla Wafers
2 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
2/3 c. white sugar
4 tbsp. sour cream
2 eggs
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. vanilla
Fresh fruit (optional) 

Preheat oven to 350 and line a regular sized muffin tin with paper liners and place a Nilla Wafer in the bottom of each one and set aside. Combine the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sour cream and eggs, mix well. Then add the lemon juice and vanilla. Make sure the mixture is really well combined! Fill each liner 3/4 of the way full. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until center is no longer liquidy. Remove from oven and cool completely. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Once chilled, top with fresh fruit if desired. Makes 18 mini cheesecakes.

Recipe adapted from here

Greek Pasta Salad

1 lb. small shaped pasta
3/4 c. creamy Greek salad dressing
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
4 oz. jar sliced olives
1 large cucumber, peeled and diced
3-4 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
salt and pepper to taste

Boil the pasta according the the package directions, drain, cool and place in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until pasta is chilled. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Serve cold.

Notes: I threw this pasta salad together for a BBQ and it was really yummy! Some of my very favorite ingredients together in one big bowl :) This makes quite a bit, so it's great for a crowd.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

4 Year Anniversary

It's hard to believe Randy and I have been married 4 years today...I'm so blessed to be with such a wonderful guy! God has been so good to us and I'm excited to see what else He has in store for our future!

Wedding Day - 5/20/06
Our wedding day was perfect! I wouldn't change a thing.
I only wish we could do it all over again!

1 Year - 5/20/07
We celebrated by hiring a photographer to do a photo shoot
of the 2 of us. We also got a hotel in ABQ for the night.

2 Years - 5/20/08
We took a weekend trip to Santa Fe & enjoyed
shopping and eating lots of yummy food!

3 Years - 5/20/09
I was 8 months pregnant and we spent the entire
day together and ate out for every single meal!

4 Years - 5/20/10
 We rode the train to Santa Fe and ate an
amazing dinner there at Tomasitas. Yum!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Poppy Seed Bread with Orange Glaze

3 c. flour (I used half all purpose and half whole wheat)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
1 c. applesauce
1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 c. white sugar
2 tbsp. poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 tsp. butter extract

Preheat oven to 350 and grease 2 loaf pans and set aside. In a large bowl combine all of the above ingredients just until moistened. Pour into the prepared loaf pans and bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven.

Glaze Ingredients:
1/4 c. orange juice
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 t. almond extract
1/2 t. butter extract

Glaze Directions:
Combine all the above ingredients in a small bowl. Using a fork, poke holes in the top of the loaves and spoon over the tops once they are finished baking and are still hot.

Notes: This is a recipe that my mom used to make when I was a little girl and I'd go nuts over it! My sister brought it up this week and I was so excited to make it myself! I made a few changes (less sugar, half whole wheat flour, almond extract instead of vanilla extract and applesauce in place of most of the oil) and I was really happy with it! Such good memories!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Flourless Chocolate Cake

1/2 c. water
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. white sugar
18 oz. semi sweet chocolate
1 c. unsalted butter
6 eggs, room temp.

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9-10 inch round cake pan and set aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat combine the water, salt and sugar. Stir until completely dissolved then turn off heat.

In a double boiler or the microwave melt the chocolate and pour into a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into tablespoon sized pieces and mix with an electric mixer into the melted chocolate one piece at a time. Mix until butter is melted and chocolate is smooth. Next, beat in the hot sugar water then slowly add eggs, one at a time. Meanwhile bring a small pot of water to boil. 

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Place the cake pan inside of a larger pan and fill the large pan half way up with boiling water. Bake the cake in the water bath in the preheated oven for exactly 45 minutes. The center will still look wet. Chill the cake in the refrigerator for at least 10 hours (or over night).

To unmold, set the bottom of the cake pan in hot water for about a minute, loosen sides with a butter knife and turn upside down onto a serving plate. Garish with cocoa powder or powdered sugar. Top with sliced almonds if desired. Serve in very small slivers as this cake is very rich. Makes 16-20 servings.

Notes: This is one of the most "gourmet" type of desserts I've ever made and I was pretty intimidated by it at first but it turned out wonderfully! I made this for my mom for Mothers Day and I'll definitely make it again. And I'm not kidding when I say it's RICH! You can get away with serving very small pieces. This would be really yummy with some homemade whipped cream on top.

Recipe adapted from here

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Margot the Swim Suit Model

This kid has way too many swim suits! I've been dying to try them all on her. Babies in swim suits pretty much cuter than anything I can think of. Here's Margot modeling some of her suits....

New Toys!

Don't you love tax return time?? I've never been the recipient of a tax return...until this year! Randy and I were very blessed by the amount we got back. We've had to pay quite a bit the past couple years so it was really nice to get some back this time. These are some of my new toys I got with a little of it....

Nikon d60 digital camera 

I have always wanted a really nice camera that would last my whole life and my friend Kama happened to be selling this right at the perfect time :) I absolutely LOVE it! It takes amazing pictures! It will be great for shooting pics of Margot and taking pics for my blog. I might even venture into a little photography...maybe?

Bissell Momentum Cyclonic bagless vacuum

We have desperately needed a new vacuum cleaner for years now. Ours sucked (not in a good way!). So I finally got a really nice new one! I read lots of reviews and this one was the best for what we needed it for...pet hair. I can't wait to use it! Is it silly that I'm excited about a vacuum??


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

1 c. chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)
1 tbsp. shortening
1/2 lb. strawberries, rinsed and dried well

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips and shortening until thin and completely smooth. Taking one strawberry at a time by the leaves, dip into the melted chocolate, shake off any excess and transfer onto a sheet to cool. You may want to cool them faster by placing them in the refrigerator.

Notes: I absolutely LOVE chocolate covered strawberries! They're so simple and delicious. Strawberries are my favorite fruit and with chocolate added...oh my gosh! Yum! I made these for some friends as a house warming gift...I packaged them in a nice little box and gave it to them with a card.This recipe could easily be doubled if you want to make a bigger batch.

 I don't have a double boiler so I simply placed a small sauce pan inside a medium one and it worked perfectly! The trick to getting chocolate to melt nice and thin is to not over-heat it.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Garlicky Green Beans

1 lb. green beans (I used frozen french style from Trader Joes)
1 tbsp. olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. red wine (I used cooking sherry)

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the green beans, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir to coat and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook an additional 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes until the wine has condensed and beans get a little color to them. If using fresh green beans, you'll need to steam them slightly before adding them to the pan. Makes about 4 servings.

Notes: I love buying the big bag of green beans from Trader Joes and this is by far my favorite way to prepare them. They come out so yummy and full of flavor!