Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tuesday Thoughts & Link Up


Today, I am going to just keep it real.  This week is one of those weeks that I am digging deep to find my joy.  My house is a disaster.  Everyone is exhausted (and cranky).  My to-do list is a mile long. My computer met a very untimely death.  And I can't seem to do much right (I know that's not true, but sometimes it just feels like that).  However, despite all my frustrations I am thankful for so many things!  So, maybe I don't have to dig that deep to find my joy. . . it just takes a little bit of effort some days.  I am reminded of the verse in James, where we are to consider it ALL joy! It's always easier to find my joy once I start listing things that I am grateful for (if you haven't read the book 1000 Gifts yet, I highly recommend it!). 

Here's my list from the last 24 hours: Sunshine and clear skies, blooming bottlebrush trees sprinkling color across my backyard, texts messages from a friend praying for me, a simple "I Love you" from my husband, beautiful community within my son's school, signs of creativity scattered all over my house reminding me how creative their little minds are (i.e. legos), late night talks with my 6 year old, and encouraging words to the Thessalonians (and to me!).

I could keep going.  Seriously, even as I type this I am feeling better.  You should try it. It is a great practice to do daily! 

So, that being said, here are some other things that have brought a smile to my face the past few days!

:: This video is AWESOME.  They had me at Zachary Levi. . . singing!  Now I think I will go have a Chuck marathon or find this movie somewhere.

:: I have some really fun memories watching The Princess Bride. . . It's a classic!  In fact, one of my favorite memories is a high school snow trip afterparty (things didn't go as planned due to a sudden snow storm) and watching it with some of my favorite high school friends.  This was just awesome!

:: I recently got a taste of this ice cream.  And now I am hooked!  Did I mention, it's dairy free and amazing flavors. 

:: I may be sleep deprived, but I LOVED this!  And even though we aren't in the newborn stage and my babies are really just kids, I think sleep deprivation is a normal part of motherhood. . .

It rained last week.  Seriously. . . we are in a drought!  But we saw a double rainbow!!!

I am loving last month's My paper pumpkin!  It even came with a diamond stamp. . . perfect for cards for a certain best friend! 

I want to make this for lunch tomorrow. . . I am a sucker for avacado and tomatoes!

And now my skillet is hot and ready to cook up some yummy dinner!  And the kids are starting to go bonkers.  Reality.


Thursday, April 09, 2015

What's for dinner? {March edition}

Spring Break is over!  Now to catch up!  We had so much fun exploring, sleeping in, crafting, baking, etc that this week has been quite the recovery week.  The house was a disaster (please tell me it's not just me!), and I am exhausted! 

I had all sorts of yummy pictures all ready to post for you, but then Easter came and my computer crashed, and everything. . . most likely gone!  My heart head kind of hurts just thinking about it.  So, it's a good thing that this post is coming up, because I don't need any of my pictures for it.

March was a yummy month!  I made some super yummy things via the wonderful world of Pinterest and some really great fellow bloggers!  What's cooking at your house?

Pesto Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes & Asparagus

This wasn't the first time I've made this one.  It's been made many times before, in fact, if you follow me of Facebook, I am sure you've seen me rant and rave about this one.  Seriously, it is so yummy and incredibly easy!  And right now, Asparagus is at it's peak. . . so you should make this now. . . Really!  It's quick, it's easy, and it's great for your meatless Monday line-up!

Lettuce Wraps
So, lettuce wraps are probably one of my most favorite foods.  I am known for just dropping by Dai Bai Dang and ordering some for take-out.  The combination of warm meat mixture with cold, crisp lettuce is like a party on your taste buds.  This recipe is super basic and simple, but super delicious!  It's a regular on our menu!

Thai Peanut Saute
(totally not the best picture!)

I absolutely love Noodles and Company and unfortunately we don't live super close to any.  The day they open one in town, I will celebrate!  When I was in San Francisco last November, I found that they stopped making my usual pasta combo, so I ordered their peanut saute.  It is so yummy!   I like to substitute shrimp instead of chicken. 

Spinach Salad
This spinach salad was so delicious and light!  It was a great hit.  But, my favorite thing about this recipe was the salad dressing. . . an orange poppy-seed vinaigrette. I really couldn't wait to eat the leftovers the next day! And as I am typing this I am wishing I had planned this for next week's menu.  

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Flashback Friday!

Last week, I suddenly became very social.  It was kind of awesome.  But, it resulted in a lot of Starbucks consumed.  So, I braved up. . . had the barista check the ingredients of the Tiramisu syrup and it was dairy free (there might have been a happy dance involved!).  It was pretty good.  I won't lie, I will probably order it again.  Cinnamon dolce is still my favorite, but the tiramisu might be a close runner up. 

A few years ago, I got brave in the kitchen and whipped up an authentic Tiramisu (long before my milk allergy kicked in full force!).  It was so yummy, so I thought I would use it as today's Flashback Friday! 

Click over here to the original post and try something new this weekend! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Because it was Pi Day. . .

Saturday marked a very important day in made-up holidays.  Some may argue that it doesn't really matter, but I think we all just need an excuse to celebrate something everyday.  Without that, life would be really mundane.  In this case, it is really nerdy holiday and because I married a full fledged math guy (he has his MA in the subject), he deserves to have pie on pi day.  But, making pie isn't always my favorite thing to do.  Especially last week.  Both kids had ear infections, Ethan was home sick for 3 days, and quite frankly by the time Saturday hit, I was pretty much done.  Done with whiny, sick, kids who didn't get the memo that you're supposed to sit and veg all day.  I still wanted to make a pie, but just not put the work into it. . . Yes, I was being lazy.
I searched Pinterest for different pie recipes and came across one by Trisha Yearwood.  Anytime, a dessert is made in a cast iron skillet, it gets my attention.  Because it is one my favorite and most used cooking tools!  It looked pretty easy, had minimal ingredients, and even found a fellow blogger who had blogged about the recipe with rave reviews.  I won't lie. . . I was still skeptical.  I mean, it had canned apple pie filling.

But,  I bought all the ingredients, even an extra can of pie filling (just in case).  It took a whopping 5 minutes to prep and only 30 minutes to bake!  It smelled amazing and tasted more than amazing!  This was definitely a winner!  I will note: Don't try to make this in a regular pie pan. . . the skillet makes it work.  If you don't have a cast iron skillet, I encourage you to buy one.  They aren't too pricey and seriously, they last forever and there's pretty much no way to ruin it!  Plus, they make your food taste even better, while adding a little bit of iron naturally into your food (a plus for people who have low iron, like me!). Unlike most pie recipes, this one has a brown sugar buttery mixture on the bottom of the pie, which is seriously what makes this pie.  The combo of the skillet and the oven give it a crunchy feel to it and it basically makes you want more and more. 

We shared some of this amazingness with my best friend and her husband and they agree, this pie rocks!  In fact, I think she is making it this week! 

Make this.  Invite someone over and eat over coffee (or a bowl of ice cream)! 

Skillet Apple Pie

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2 refrigerated pie crusts
2 - 21oz. cans apple pie filling*
cinnamon sugar mixture

Directions:
Heat your skillet on the stove until warm.  Start melting butter and let it hang out until completely melted.  Add brown sugar to butter.  Stir and let it cook for about 2 minutes.  Then, take out your refrigerated pie crust and roll it out just a little bit.  Lay it on top of the skillet and press it down, like a pie crust.  Pour both cans of pie filling into dough.  Sprinkle with some cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll out second crust a bit and place carefully on top of apples.  Bunch up the sides, like you would a normal pie.  It's in a cast iron skillet so aim for a rustic look.  Cut a few holes to let the steam vent.  Sprinkle more cinnamon sugar mixture over the top.  Bake in preheated oven at 400 for 30 minutes.  
Best when eaten hot!

* the original recipe called for only 1 can of pie filling.  I didn't think it was nearly enough and found the two cans to be perfect.  

If you are using a skillet that is larger than 9 inches, you may want to go for a third can of filling,  but do the same things, just roll out your crust to fit your pan. 


Friday, March 13, 2015

Panera Copycat Pumpkin Muffins (oddly posted in spring!)

There  are so many things about this post that seem wrong.  Today was a whopping 81 degrees (I apologize to all of my East coast friends are literally freezing the day away!).  It's a post that should have been done months ago, when the leaves were changing colors and not blooming beautiful flowers.  But, Ethan and the rest of his kindergarten friends have been talking about the seasons and yesterday he came home declaring his favorite season fall, because he likes the golden leaves.  At that point, I knew I had done my job as his mother. . . because really, fall is the best! And, because of all that talk about fall, I decided that pumpkin muffins should be made. . . and then I realized I hadn't blogged about this recipe yet (FAIL).  I obviously had to make these. . . it's a good thing I keep a stash of pumpkin year round!

These muffins quickly became my go-to recipe this past fall.  I made them for Jon's work peeps, for breakfast, for Bible study. . . for just about everything!  They are so good.  I think it's the snow powdered sugar.  Or maybe, it's just because they are a simple copycat of Panera's Pumpkin muffins.  I mean, who doesn't like Panera?  It's one of our favorite places! In fact, I just have to mention the word souffle and Ethan jumps in the car ready to go.  This recipe only makes about 12. . . which isn't really enough, by the time you test taste them, and then another for good measure, and then eat some more for dessert.  I mean, you just might have enough for breakfast the next morning if you ration them out.  In fact, you should probably just make a double batch to be on the safe side, because my single batch is barely going to be enough for tomorrow for breakfast. But, then again, that might not last all that long either!  My kids have been eating them any chance they get!

Panera Copycat Pumpkin Muffins
adapted from here.

Ingredients:
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt


Directions:
In your favorite mixing bowl, stir together pumpkin, oil, and eggs.   Stir in sugar and spices.   Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and gently stir in until well mixed.  DO NOT over mix your batter.  Line muffin tin with liners and fill 3/4 full to make a great muffin top.  Bake in a preheated 350 oven for about 25 minutes.  Cool on wire rack and sift powdered sugar over the tops (if you don't wait til cool, the sugar will absorb into the muffin instead of leaving a white topped muffin).

* my favorite muffin liner are these.

** I use a tool like this for my powdered sugar.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A gift for Karissa!



I have the coolest sister.  It's true.  She pretty much rocks!  She's my younger, bigger sister that pretty much inspires me.  She is so creative and can pretty much do anything.  She's also one of the bravest people I know, too (hopefully soon I will be able to share her newest project!).  We live 1200 miles apart, so when it comes to gift giving. . . well, I pretty much stink at it.  I buy or make (or both) her something and it literally gets to her 6 months to a year later!  No joke!  But, shipping is expensive and we saved our stuff to go with my parents when they joined her for Christmas.  It works.  I am pretty much sure that that I am not alone on this one (she does the same thing).  

This year, I saw this cute coffee mug on sale at Pottery Barn and thought it would be the cutest gift to send to my coffee drinking sister (she consumes WAY more coffee than I do!).  I thought it would be super cute to make her a mug rug with some bright fabrics from my stash.  I had never made one before, but I am loving how it came out!  It wasn't perfect, since it was my first one, but now I can't wait to make another one.  


She loved it.  Her boyfriend thought it was stupid. . . until he was caught using it when he was sick.  Then it suddenly became cool!  It's big enough to fit a good sized coffee cup and a small treat on it.  Plus, you can just throw it in the washing machine when you are done so and it washes!

Definitely going to go make me one.  But not today. . . a sick little boy needs some extra love.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

What's for Dinner {February edition}

Today at the grocery store, I was chatting with the lady next to me while we bagged our groceries.  I had remembered to bring my reusable bag and she was telling me about how she always forgets hers.  Then she mentioned, you can tell a lot about a person, by the food they buy.  Apparently, I bought interesting food and that I like to cook.  While my food didn't seem that interesting to me (some veggies, salad fixings, canned tomatoes, linguica, etc.), it was interesting to her.  It was a fun conversation, and  I really can't wait to get cooking in March.  Some new recipes are already tagged and planned for. . . so excited!

Something new I have been wanting to bring to my blog this year is a "What's for dinner" feature.  I am constantly trying new recipes, either from Pinterest (who am I kidding. . . a lot of them are from here), magazines, or cookbooks.  There are so many good recipes out there and there are some duds.  So, each month, I want to share some new recipes that we tried and loved in our kitchen.  Hopefully bringing inspiration to your kitchen because, I know how horrible it is to get in a rut and fix the same things over and over again.

Here are some recipes that we loved this past month.

Lemon Garlic Dump Chicken 

This one was super quick and easy.  I got home from the grocery store and put it together, threw it in the freezer for later that week!

Chicken, Bacon, and Corn Salad

This month was not the first time I've made this. . . It's a family favorite!  Plus, how can you go wrong with bacon?

Potato Soup (Dairy Free)
This was surprisingly really good.  I think it's the bacon.  We added dairy free cheese and it got 2 thumbs up from my husband who is generally kind of picky.  Ethan even "choked" down a bowl of it! 

Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings
This was a big hit.  Ethan absolutely loves chicken that is still on the bone.  And it was decided that this was better than the store bought kind.  It was also super low maintenance.  No marinating before hand. . .  just defrost chicken and bake and toss.  So easy!  This one will definitely be returning soon! 

Bang Bang Chicken
We loved this one!  I realized in the middle of prepping for this one, I was out of hot sauce (oops!).  So, I sprinkled some chili lime rub in to give it a bit of flavor.  They turned out like AMAZING chicken nuggets!  Another huge hit!  

Other menu items that we had were BLAT's (my absolute favorite), pancakes and waffles.  

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