Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Tamale Pie

I follow Living Locurto's Blog and she posted this tasty recipe called, "Tamale Pie." You can make this spicy, or add different toppings, and it takes less than an hour to prepare/cook. We love Mexican food and I try to make a Mexican dish at least once a week, and this recipe left lots of leftovers!

Tamale Pie

- 1 lb. ground beef/chicken/pork
- 1 can red enchilada sauce
- 1/2 can diced green chilies
- 1/4 of an onion, minced
- 2 boxes cornbread, made according to package
- 2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 tsp of each cumin, salt, pepper, garlic powder

- diced red onion
- diced avocado
- cour cream
- cheddar cheese
- fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a large skillet, brown your meat, and drain the grease.
3. Add cumin, salt, pepper, and garlic powder (or you can use a taco seasoning packet).
4. Add diced green chilies and allow to cook for 5 minutes.
5. Add enchilada sauce and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, while stirring often.
6. Grease a 9"x13" pan and add some of your cornbread mixture to cover the bottom.
7. Spoon your meat mixture on top, and then spread the rest of the cornbread mixture on top.
8. Bake for 30 minutes.
9. Serve with desired toppings!

 Tamale Pie Casserole

 Tamale Pie!


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Valentine's Peek-a-Boo Mason Jar

Ok, first Valentine's idea! All of the stores around here were filling their shelves with Valentine's Day stuff before we had even celebrated New Year's this year! Well Valentine's Day has since been in the back of my mind. We love those little 'conversation heart' candies, and I loved this idea I saw on Facebook. It is a Mason Jar painted with chalkboard paint and has a heart peek-a-booing out! I just used a piece of paper I cut a heart out of and used a lot of tape to stick it on the jar while I painted it. If you have a Silhouette cutter, you could make your own heart sticker to use (I'm sure that will make this project easier!). I painted my Mason Jar with three coats of chalkboard paint. I decorated my jar with some ribbon, a cupcake wrapper to cover the metal lid, and of course chalk!

My husband will not be here for Valentine's Day this year, as his grandmother is turning 90 and he will be at her big celebration. So... we are celebrating Valentine's Day next weekend! Stay tuned for a fun cake I will be making and I may have to whip up some chocolate fondue!

Chalkboard paint, paper heart, sponge brush, Mason Jar

Painted Mason Jar

Peek-a-Boo Conversation Hearts!


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Crockpot Bourbon Chicken

Another easy and yummy crockpot meal! This chicken came out so moist and delicious, I just added it to a bed of brown rice and served it with a side of steamed broccoli. I did use a garnish of green onions as well, I just forgot to get a picture of it!

We recently had our realtor (same lady who sold us our house) come over and discuss selling our house. We have about 45 days to get it ready to sell! Ahhhh! So, I have been frantically finishing the baseboards and only have the boys' rooms left to do (phew!) and we have been on "Operation De-clutter." Books we don't read, toys, and clothes we no longer need have been sorted through and donated. We actually need to do some maintenance on some windows and the deck stairs. Oh and get the upstairs carpet replaced within this time frame (hence me frantically finishing baseboards!). I am so excited we are getting new carpet and will actually get to enjoy it for a few months! Operation Sell Our House has officially begun! I do not, however, look forward to living in a Glass House while it is staged for potential buyers to look at our house. I'm glad we have some time. Hopefully the weather here will warm up so we can spend our time at the park during viewings... or you can find us roaming Target :)

Crockpot Bourbon Chicken

- 2-3 lbs. boneless chicken thighs
- 1/2 tsp. chili flakes
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. ginger
- 2 tbsp. honey
- 1/4 c. ketchup
- 1/4 c. soy sauce
- 1/4 c. brown sugar
- 3 tbsp. corn starch
- 2 tbsp. cider vinegar
- 1/3 c. apple juice
- 1/4 c. bourbon
- 1/4 c. water
- 3 green onions, diced for garnish

1. Place your chicken in your crockpot.
2. Mix everything but corn starch together and pour on top of your chicken.
3. Heat on low for 4-6 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.
4. Take your chicken out and shred it up and place it back in your crockpot. Mix 3 tbsp. of cornstarch and 3 tbsp. water together and pour over the chicken and mix together.
5. Allow to cook on low for another 30 minutes. Serve over brown rice.

 Raw chicken with sauce

Bourbon Chicken


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

DIY How to Paint Baseboards

So, we are preparing to sell our house. Now we still have a while until we move, but why not start now instead of rushing to finish projects at the end?! I have started the daunting task of painting all of our baseboards and door frames. This Spring I will paint the actual doors since it will be nice outside to have the doors/windows open for them to dry. So far I have completed the first floor, staircase, and almost done with our entire bedroom (I will finish it tonight - hubby has some heavy furniture to move for me!). I feel like this project is taking a while, but really it takes a while to actually set up the area to paint! If you have hardwood floors, you will need to apply painters tape to the floor and the wall, above and below the baseboard. If you have carpeted floors, you will need to apply painters tape to the wall and packing tape to your carpet.

*Packing Tape Tip: When using the packing tape to protect your carpets, also use a butter knife. Place the packing tape about 1/4" over the bottom of the baseboard and use the butter knife to wedge it under the baseboard, while keeping your carpet protected.

Make sure you wash your baseboards before you paint them, I have been going over mine with Lysol wipes. You can apply two coats of white paint if you like. I have only applied one coat, unless the area has some bad staining/old paint that has gotten on the baseboards. The house looks SO much better and I am so glad I am doing this!

*Paintbrush Tip: To ensure your paintbrush doesn't dry up with paint on it, (since this project takes so long) make sure to wrap up your paintbrush tightly with cling wrap. This will keep your brush moist and pliable.


- White paint, semi-gloss
- 1 1/2" paint brush
- Lysol wipes, or sponge with soapy water to clean baseboards

Lysol wipes, semi-gloss white paint, paintbrush with cling wrap

Painter's tape to paint baseboards and door frame

Painter's tape on wall and packing tape on carpet

Better view of packing tape

Top: Before
Bottom: After

*If you do get paint on your wood floors, just scrape it off with a razor blade.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Game Day Soft Pretzels

Hello football fans! The Super Bowl and playoffs are on their way - so why not enjoy some soft pretzels to eat! You can dip them in mustard, or make a cheesy beer dip to go with them. These pretzels smell delicious and taste as good as they look. I used sea salt to sprinkle on mine, but you could get creative and put some parmesan cheese or cinnamon and sugar or jalapeƱos on them. Go crazy with your pretzels!

All the teams our family roots for didn't do so well this year... but that doesn't mean we won't be tuning in to watch the commercials at least! Superbowl Sunday is also the day of my first 1/2 Marathon, so I know for a fact that my sore legs will be relaxing and enjoying the game after the race!

Soft Pretzels - makes 8 pretzels

- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cup water, warm
- 4 3/4 cup flour (4 1/2 cups not at altitude)
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- vegetable oil
- 10 cups water
- sea salt/pretzel salt
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp. water (egg wash)

1. Place your sugar, salt and warm water into the bowl of your Kitchenaid Mixer. Sprinkle your yeast on top and allow to foam for 5 minutes.
2. Add your flour and using your dough hook, mix your pretzel dough on low.
3. Allow dough to form and knead it a few times before placing in a large bowl greased with vegetable oil. Secure plastic wrap on the top and place bowl in a warm place to allow dough to rise for 1 hour.
4. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
5. Divide your dough into 8 pieces and knead/roll out a piece to be about 24 inches long. Make a "U" with it and criss-cross and press firmly to create a pretzel. Repeat for all pretzels.
6. Boil your water and baking soda in a large pot. Once you have a rolling boil, place your pretzels in for 30 seconds and place on a baking sheet.
7. Coat each pretzel with the egg wash and salt (or topping of your choice).
8. Bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes.

 Yeast foaming

 Pretzel Dough

 Pretzel dough rolled out to 24 inches and in 'pretzel' shape

 Pretzels x 8

 Pretzel in baking soda water

 Egg wash and salt


Soft Pretzels!


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

One Pot Roasted Red Pepper and Sausage Alfredo

Another hearty meal coming your way! This tastes so good with the goat cheese. Now I didn't realize I needed 8 oz of it... and had only bought 4 oz - but you could still taste the goat cheese and I just added some extra parmesan cheese. This meal did not take long to make and I love throwing everything into one pot. It really makes making dinner a little less messy and I just added a salad on the side! Plus my kids ate it right up!

One Pot Roasted Red Pepper and Sausage Alfredo

- 1 lb. Italian sausage, mine was "mild"
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cup extra for sauce
- 1 1 /2 cup chicken broth, 1/4 cup extra for sauce
- 1 x 16 oz. jar Roasted Red Peppers, drained and pureed in blender
- 8 oz. goat cheese (or 4 oz!)
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 3 handfuls fresh spinach
- 12 oz. pasta, your choice!

1. In a large pot, heat your olive oil and brown your sausage and garlic.
2. Stir in milk, chicken broth, salt and pepper, and pureed peppers to the sausage. Add your noodles, bring to a simmer, put the lid on your pot, and allow noodles to cook for 12 minutes.
3. If all liquid has been absorbed, add your additional milk and chicken broth.
4. Stir in one handful of spinach at a time until wilted.
5. Add your cheeses and stir until melted. Serve hot.

One Pot Roasted Red Pepper and Sausage Alfredo


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Tomato Pie

Today, I was running outside and it was 8 degrees! 8 degrees! It was so cold, it took me and my friend at least 3 miles to warm up on the trail. With the drastic change from 50s-60s degree weather to the teens here, I have been on the search for hearty (and healthy) meals. Over break we had a "Tomato Pie" casserole for lunch, so I thought I could find one similar and make it myself. Although this recipe is different, it has great flavor and is fresh. I served it with warmed naan, but you can also use French bread. It tastes like pizza!

Tomato Pie

- 5 tomatoes, sliced
- salt and pepper
- prebaked deep dish pie shell
- 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
- 10 fresh basil leaves, I used dried basil- about 1 tbsp.
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup cheddar cheese
- 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (or half Greek yogurt and half mayo)
- 2 tbsp. parmesan cheese

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place your sliced tomatoes in a colander and rinse, sprinkle with salt and allow to drain for 10 minutes.
3. Dry your tomatoes with paper towels and line the bottom of your pie shell with them.
4. Place your green onions and basil on top and season with salt and pepper.
5. In a separate bowl, mix your mozzarella and cheddar cheeses with the Green yogurt.
6. Spread yogurt mixture on top of your tomatoes. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.
7. Bake for 30 minutes and serve warm.

 Tomatoes in pie crust

 Green onions, basil, salt and pepper

 Cheese mixture and parmesan cheese on top

Tomato Pie!


Friday, January 2, 2015

Reading List from 2014

Last year one of my New Year's Resolutions was to take the time to read one book a month. Now to some of you this may seem like a meager amount of books or too many, depending on who you are. To me, this seems like a reasonable amount and an achievable goal for a stay at home mom! I used to be an avid reader, reading many more books than one a month and sometimes I would be reading more than one book at one time for leisure! Oh to have that sort of time... Well any way, I read 12 books I will share with you! My favorite was "Wild."

January - The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

Over last Christmas holiday, I ended up watching "The Aviator" with Leonardo DiCaprio on TV and was mesmerized by the movie. This book is about Charles Lindbergh's wife, Anne Morrow, and her life before, during, and after marrying Charles. What a great story about how educated she was and how she became an amazing pilot (just like her husband!) but becoming a mother and an unfortunate incident involving the death of their newborn son, destroyed their relationship. She of course prevails and finds peace with Charles, and finds her own happiness.

February - Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

This amazing woman finds herself on a three-month hike along the Pacific Crest Trail in search of herself. After losing her mother and hitting rock bottom, she uses the last of her money to buy equipment for this hike - without even ever had hiked before! It is inspiring, sad, riveting, and happy. I cannot wait to see the movie! 

March - Every Secret Thing by Laura Lippmann

This was not my favorite book to read, I thought the 'secret' would be more exciting/scandalous. This story is sad. A young girl and her friend are accused of murdering a baby as children and are released from prison many years later. They are trying to make it in the world and things turn for the worst for one of the girls who just can't shake her past.

April - Trash by Andy Mulligan

Trash is about a group of kids living in the slums of a Third World Country picking through trash to make a living. It is also a sad tale, but two of the boys find something mysterious and try to right a wrong and end up benefiting significantly from their findings! This book speaks of unfathomable poverty that was really hard for me to read, as it is described in such detail. 

May - Savannah Breeze by Mary Kay Andrews

My sister lives in Savannah, GA, and told my mom and I about these books (I have read a few!). They take place in Savannah and are super fun, short, reads that are filled with humor and hope. BeBe Loudermilk is a Southern Bell who ends up being swindled by a man who takes her entire fortune. She plays detective and tries to solve the mystery, in a hilarious manner!

June - The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I don't care who you are, this book is beautifully written and will make you cry. The movie is beautiful as well, and will make you cry. I really enjoyed getting to know Hazel and Augustus and learning about their young love for each other that turns out to be resilient in the face of cancer. 

July - Looking for Alaska by John Green

I couldn't get enough of John Green from the month before, so I had to read another of his books! Looking for Alaska is extremely witty and intelligent. I laughed out loud so much and was truly touched by the strong bonds Alaska's friends form in a quest to find out what happened to her. I loved this book.

August - Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed by Glennon Doyle Melton

I originally read this book two Summers ago and just needed to read it again. Glennon is quite the story teller and I love how much raw truth she gives her audience. I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more and more than once thought she was describing my life (Target tantrums)! I also felt encouraged that maybe I'm not so bad as a wife/mom/friend when she describes her faults. If you are feeling down, or in a bad place as a mom - read this book. It will just make you happy. 

September, October, November - Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant by Veronica Roth

First of all, I am not a huge sci-fi fan, but I watched "Divergent" and loved it! What an interesting story and it had action, and complex theories and organization of its people AND my husband enjoyed the movie! So, I had to start the books. I read non-stop for a week and a half and finished all three. So, I had to take a break from reading because, geez it's hard to read that much and raise a family! These books are intelligent and filled with love and adventure. I craved more. I really enjoyed this series!

December - The Red Tent by Anita Diamant 

This book originally came out when I was in high school, and I read it over 10 years ago! I saw they were making a mini-series out of it and could not wait to watch it. The mini-series was great, but so different from the book. I had to read the book again and I loved it just as much, if not more than when reading it as a young teenager. This book is a fictional Biblical story about the only daughter of Jacob and Leah and her life. Dinah had four mothers, and many brothers. She finds true love and out of her brothers' jealousy, loses her husband. She suffers the loss of her son to her Egyptian mother in law, but starts to find her place in the world. She becomes a gifted midwife and finds love again. Although fictional, this story is beautifully told and I think it really depicts what life was like so many years ago.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Bring It, 2015!

What a wonderful year we have had and what an exciting new adventure 2015 will bring our family! I'm sorry I have been MIA as we have been traveling for the holidays. We had such a great visit on the east coast with everyone and our kids were spoiled with love (and presents!). As per tradition (5 years now!), we had an obscenely early (5:30 pm) dinner reservation at the Mexican restaurant down the street where we celebrated New Year's Eve as a family with salsa, fajitas, margaritas, champagne, and a shot of tequila!

Tomorrow, I hope to share my reading list goal to read one book a month last year - which I did accomplish! (Go me!)

As for 2015, my husband will be transitioning out of the Army after ten years! He has been studying when he's not at work and was able to apply to 3 awesome grad schools to earn an MBA, and he got accepted to all 3 schools! Our family will be moving this Summer to the great state of Pennsylvania and Kyle will be attending Wharton in the Fall. I think this year will be moving fast, but I know we are a strong team and have some pretty resilient kiddos that will make this journey worth while. Here's to new beginnings! Happy New Year!