Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Puppy Paw-tay!

One of Avery's sweet friends, Baylee, had an adorable puppy themed birthday party that I wanted to share with you all. Baylee recently got a new puppy, so this party was a perfect choice for her. (And Avery is just a tad bit obsessed with dogs, so she was ecstatic to attend this party!)

It was seriously so cute. My friend, Angie, did such a great job putting it all together. Every detail was perfectly pink and girly and puppy! When the girls arrived, they each found a cute brown box with their very own stuffed animal puppy inside that Baylee had chosen specifically for each of her friends. Then, the girls made their puppies collars with beads. I loved the letter beads. They each got to put the first initial of their puppy on their collar... so cute! Angie got all her boxes and beads supplies at Hobby Lobby. The cute puppy stuffed animals are from Claire's. You can get them on sale, buy 3 get 3 free often there. I know they also sell them at Michael's as well as other stores, too.
Could a pink poodle be any more adorable?!
After the girls made their collars, they played some indoor games like pass the parcel, where they passed a wrapped gift to the song "Who Let The Dogs Out?". When the song stopped, the girl holding the gift, took one layer of wrapping paper off and found either a treat (small piece of candy) or trick they had to perform (like wag your tail or roll over). They had a blast! They also played a version of duck, duck, goose. But they patted each girl's head with a puppy toy and I think said, "puppy", "puppy", "dog" instead. (I can't remember if that's exactly what they said, but you get the gist.) The girls loved these games.
The girls ate after the games. How adorable is this table of puppy themed food?!
 This drawing was done by a friend of Angie's. It's a sketch of Baylee with her dog, Lexie. So, so sweet and the perfect personal touch to the table, I think. You can check out the artist on Instagram @madebykate_designs . Her email is madebykatelin@gmail.com
 Ang used confetti frosting for a dip for the Scooby doo graham cracker bones.
This pasta salad is really easy and delicious. The kids loved it (as did I)! Ang says you cook the pasta (she used little shells), then let the pasta cool. Mix the pasta with miracle whip and salt and pepper, and let the pasta cool for a few hours in the fridge. Then add in other ingredients like cheese cubed, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, and serve.
Another pic of the sketch of Baylee. Love it.
After the girls ate, they went outside for more games.
I didn't get any pics outside, but the girls did a relay game where they were in partners. One girl was the puppy and the other was the owner. They had to run together through an obstacle course. There was much giggling and laughter out there! They loved it. I think they also played freeze dance at some point. And then at the end, Baylee opened her presents.

I know Avery will remember this party for a long, long time. She enjoyed it so much.

Avery, loving.. er.. mauling Lexie. Have I mentioned her dog obsession?
Many thanks to my dear friend, Angie, for letting me share it here! It was an awesome paw-tay Ang! ;)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Valentine's Day decor is up.

 I love Valentine's Day.. I'm one of those girls.. maybe because my husband always spoils me, and maybe because I'm a chocoholic and love fresh flowers? Probably both. So, I found myself in the Target dollar spot last week (I love that I say that like it's a complete accident.. like someone drugged me and dropped me there without my permission. haha.. we all know I go there with full intent of splurging enough that it doesn't really matter that it's $3 or $5... it adds up, I know.) But, back to my story. I was there last week, and I kind of fell in love with a lot of things. But I was somewhat frugal (one of my New Year's resolutions, mind you), and I narrowed down my wants to two things: a tulle banner and a cute striped heart push pin board.
 If you look closely, you'll see that the gold push pins are actually little gold X's and O's. I mean, adorable right? I had a pic of my kids that came with my Christmas card order from Costco that I put up on the board. Perfect!
Here's the whole look... I put up on my letter board a shortened version of the Bible verses about love that are so beautiful.. that remind me of weddings I've been to.. and the rest of the décor is older stuff from years past. I'm loving it all. And I'm perfectly happy to stare at this stuff for a good month before Valentine's Day actually arrives! Here's to a month of love birds, hearts, X's and O's, and ranunculus.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Recipe Share: Ham and Potato Soup.

My twin sis told me about this recipe. A friend of hers had made it for her while she was sick and pregnant, and she said it made her whole week! I am not sick or pregnant, but this soup tastes good no matter what you are! It's satisfying and versatile and so great this time of year. You can add a number of things if you want to like cheddar cheese, turkey, bacon, or eat it without meat. It was really easy and fast to throw together as well. Winner, winner, ham and potato dinner!


Ingredients:

3 1/2 Cups peeled and diced potatoes (I like Yukon Gold potatoes best. I don't peel mine, because the skin is so thin it isn't bothersome to eat at all.)
1/3 Cup diced celery
1/3 Cup finely chopped onion
3/4 Cup cooked ham, diced (I used turkey kielbasa in my soup and added it at the end to warm. But I will try it with ham next time. I think I like turkey kielbasa cold better than warm.)
3 1/4 Cups water
2 Tbsp. chicken bouillon granules
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1 tsp. ground white or black pepper, or to taste
5 Tbsp. butter
5 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 Cups milk (I used whole)
chopped green onions for garnish (optional)
shredded cheddar cheese for garnish (optional)

Directions:
Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, ham and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt, and pepper. In a separate pan, melt butter over medium low heat. Whisk in flour, and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk so lumps don't form. Continue stirring over medium low heat until thick, about 4-5 minutes. (I warm my milk first in the microwave for a minute or two before pouring it into my butter/flour. This makes it thicken much quicker.) Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot with the water, ham, potatoes, and veggies, and cook soup until heated through. Garnish with chopped green onions, shredded cheddar cheese, etc. Serve immediately.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Recipe Share: Steak Kabobs

I've been craving steak folks. It's truly one of my favorite things to eat. This recipe from Joseph "Rev Run" Simmons, was one that definitely hit the spot. It cooked up fast, and the steak was tender and flavorful. The veggies and pineapple tasted great with it, too. (Next time I'll use fresh pineapple and grill that as well. This time I used canned pineapple and was afraid it would fall apart on the grill. It was still delicious though.)

Sauce:
1/4 cup your favorite BBQ sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
Fresh cracked black pepper

Kabobs:
2 pounds beef tenderloin, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (I used top sirloin)
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 pineapple, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 red onion, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
           

Directions:

For the sauce: In a bowl, combine the BBQ sauce, lime juice, Worcestershire, garlic powder, onion powder and some pepper. Mix well, and reserve.
For the kebabs: Prepare a grill for high-heat direct grilling. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes.Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper. Thread the beef, pineapple, red onion and bell peppers onto the skewers, alternating between ingredients. Set the kabobs on a baking sheet, drizzle with the canola oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (I've learned over the years that I prefer to thread all the same ingredients on my skewers. For example, I thread all my steak together on the same skewers, I thread all my peppers together, and all my onions together, etc. That way, if each ingredient takes different amounts of time to cook, I'm not trying to pull off my veggies from my skewers while leaving the steak on them. And I also don't like my raw meat touching my veggies, but that's a personal issue of mine. It's all up to you. Some must have better luck getting same grill times on their various foods than I do. And it really does look pretty to serve up skewers of colorful foods together. I just pull mine off the skewers to serve.)
Place the kabobs on the grill and brush with sauce. Cook for about 10 minutes, rotating the skewers halfway through, and brushing them with sauce. Remove from the grill and serve. (I served mine over steamed rice.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Recipe Share: Roasted Pork with Peach BBQ Sauce and Smashed Potatoes

Ladies and Gents, this recipe is seriously amazing. With each bite, I kept singing its praises... saying, "Oh my goodness.. wow, this is... wow, mmm..." I guarantee you, too will love it. It's from my girl Kelsey Nixon. (She's not technically my girl, or my girl friend even, but I like to think she and I would be great friends if we ever met. I love her cooking style, and her personality is adorable. And, she is always stylin'.) What made this recipe taste even better was that I made it with my twin sis, Jaime. She and I love to cook together, and we had a great time making this meal. 
So, here's the printable recipe.

Pork and Peach BBQ Sauce:
4 cups peaches, peeled and sliced (we used frozen peaches)
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce

2 Tbsp. garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. ginger, minced
2 1/2 pound boneless pork loin roast
kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1/4 cup low sodium chicken stock

Smashed Potatoes
1 1/2 lbs. small Yukon gold potatoes (I'm a total Yukon gold potato freak/fan. I have a really hard time using any other kind of potato these days. The Yukon gold is just so creamy and delicious. I feel like it has such a delightful flavor compared to any other potato. Try them if you haven't yet! You will see what I mean.)
kosher salt
1/2 cup half-and-half
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:
For the pork and peach bbq sauce: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Combine the peaches, brown sugar, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and ginger in a food processor or blender.

Pat the pork dry with paper towels and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Reserve half (about 2 cups) of the peach BBQ sauce and set aside. Transfer the pork, fat-side up, to a rack over a heavy-bottomed roasting pan and brush the rest of the sauce all over the pork. Add the stock to the bottom of the roasting pan.

Roast the pork until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 140 degrees F, about 1 hour.

For the smashed potatoes: Meanwhile, place the potatoes in large pot and cover with salted cold water. The potatoes will soak up that salt like pasta and it will make a big difference in flavor. Cover and bring to a boil and cook until fork-tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain the potatoes, and return them to the same pot, allowing them to dry. Heat the half-and-half and butter in a small sauce pot over low heat. Add the mixture to the potatoes along with the cream cheese and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Smash the potatoes with a potato masher and set aside, keeping warm until ready to serve.

For serving the pork: Transfer the pork to a baking sheet to rest for 10 minutes, and then thinly slice half of the loin. Store and reserve the other half for leftovers.

Remove the rack from the roasting pan and place on the stove over medium-high heat. Whisk in the reserved BBQ sauce and scrape the bottom of the pan to incorporate the browned sauce. Cook until slightly reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes.

Serve the sliced pork with the reduced peach BBQ sauce over the smashed potatoes. 

Delicious, I tell you!! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Recipe Share: Egg and Veggie Scramble with Toast

This is one of my favorite breakfasts. It's easy, healthy, and delicious. It is also very satisfying to know that you're eating veggies in your breakfast!!  And you'll find that you feel full for quite awhile after eating this!
Ingredients:
1/3 - 1/2 C. Chopped veggies (any kind you like - I used mushrooms, red, yellow, and orange peppers, and onions)
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. shredded cheese (any kind you like - I used Monterey Jack)
1 tsp. olive oil
fresh flat leaf parsley or cilantro, chopped for garnish
whole grain bread (I like to use Sara Lee's 45 Calories and Delightful bread)

Directions:
Heat your oil in your saute pan over medium heat. Saute all your vegetables until tender, 3-4 minutes. Mix your eggs together in a bowl with a fork or whisk. Add in your eggs and cheese to the pan with your veggies. Stir until firm, but not brown. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley or cilantro. Toast your bread, and enjoy together!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Recipe Share: Spicy Chicken, Eggplant, and Caramelized Onion Quesadillas

These Bobby Flay quesadillas are so delicious. The chicken is full of flavor from being marinated, and the veggies add so much flavor, too. Add some yummy guacamole and salsa, and you'll be one happy lady or man.
(I made mine with grilled mushrooms instead of eggplant, since I love mushrooms and had them on hand.)
 What the filling looks like if you make them open faced... so delicious!
Ingredients

Marinade:

1/4 cup olive oil
2 jalapenos, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Caramelized Onions:

2 large red onion, finely sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Grilled Eggplant:
1 Japanese eggplant, sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Package of sliced portabella mushrooms or white mushrooms (If you decide to use mushrooms in addition to or instead of eggplant)


Quesadilla:

9 (8-inch) flour tortillas
3/4 cup grated monterey jack
3/4 cup grated white cheddar 
Ancho chile powder
Mixed Tomato Salsa, recipe follows

Directions:

In a blender, combine the marinade ingredients and blend until smooth. Place the chicken in a medium bowl, pour the marinade over it, cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours.


Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and caramelized, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and cilantro and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.


Preheat grill pan. Brush eggplant with oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill for 2 minutes on each side. Remove and coarsely chop.

Or if you choose to do mushrooms like I did, simply saute them on medium heat in a pan with a little olive oil and butter. Don't crowd them, space them apart in the pan. Turn them over when browned on one side, and finish off other side. Lay them out on a paper towel when done, sprinkle with salt.


Preheat grill pan over high heat. Remove chicken from marinade and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes on each side until cooked through. Let rest for 5 minutes and slice thinly on the bias. Set aside.


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place 6 tortillas on a large un-greased baking sheet. Divide the cheese, chicken, onions, and eggplant among the 6 tortillas and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Top each quesadilla with another tortilla. Brush the tops with olive oil and sprinkle with ancho chile powder.

Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the quesadillas are slightly crisp and the cheese has melted. Cut into quarters and garnish with the Mixed Tomato Salsa.

You can also make these on the stove top in a sautee pan. Just compile your quesadilla in the pan and cook on medium high heat for a few minutes and then carefully flip over and cook on the other side until cheese is melted and tortillas are crisp.

Mixed Tomato Salsa:

8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
8 yellow cherry tomatoes, quartered
8 yellow pear tomatoes, halved
8 red pear tomatoes, halved
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Yield: 8 servings

My Guacamole:
3-4 ripe avocadoes, mashed
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1-2 tsp fresh lime juice
garlic salt to taste
2-3 Tbsp of salsa or pico de gallo
(Taste as you mix, and alter amounts as needed)