Archive for May, 2011

  • Menu Plan May 29-June 4

    Date: 2011.05.29 | Category: meal plan | Response: 0

    What are we having for dinner this week?

    Sunday- hamburger casserole

    Monday- bbq with friends

    Tuesday- pork and stuffing casserole

    Wednesday- leftovers (Chris has a work party and mama ain’t cookin!)

    Thursday- salmon

    Friday- Greek spaghetti

    Saturday- meatball subs

    Blah blah blah… some things got bumped to this week again!  I goofed and defrosted ground beef for the Greek spaghetti instead of chicken, so I made something else instead.  We ended up going out to dinner on Tuesday night with friends, and on Saturday night while we were running errands as a family- I got yummy Tostada Pizza from CPK.  So good!  We try not to eat out twice in one week, but that’s how it goes sometimes!

  • Apple Dumplings

    Date: 2011.05.26 | Category: recipes | Response: 0

    Thinking about my friend Deb (Hi again Deb!) made me remember this yummy recipe that she taught me and I just had to share it.

    Apple Dumplings

    2 Granny Smith apples- peeled, cored and sliced into 4 wedges each
    1 can crescent rolls- separated
    1 stick butter, melted
    1 cup orange juice
    1 cup sugar
    1 tsp cinnamon

    Preheat oven to 350°.  Wrap each apple wedge in one crescent roll and seal seems.  Place in an 8×8 baking dish.  Combine  melted butter, oj,  sugar and cinnamon.  Pour over dumplings.  Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.  Holy cow are these good!  And bad for you!  Now if you think a stick of butter and a cup of sugar are a bit much you can totally halve the butter, juice, sugar amounts.  These would still be yummy and slightly less damaging to your arteries.  I have another girlfriend who makes a similar dumpling with red hot candies.  Ya, those are pretty ridiculously yummy too.  Any of these versions are fantastic with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


  • Italian Wedding or Peasant Soup

    Date: 2011.05.26 | Category: recipes | Response: 2

    Back before I was married with children I used to make an annual pilgrimage to visit my friend Debra in Illinois.  One of our traditions was that I’d bring a favorite recipe and I’d make dinner one night while I was there.  We also enjoyed looking through recipe books and trying new things during my stay, it was a fun way to get out of our cooking ruts.  One night us girls had been out doing something fun all day and we came home to the yummiest smelling dinner simmering on the stove.  Her awesome husband Brian had made us Italian Wedding Soup.  It was so good that I asked for the recipe and it has been a favorite of mine ever since.  Although it’s a stovetop recipe, I’ve made it in the crock pot several times.  I just add the spinach right at the end before serving.

    Italian Peasant Soup

    1 pound sausage or meatballs
    2 medium onions, diced
    6 cloves garlic, diced
    1 pound chicken- cubed
    2 cans beans- drained
    2 cans chicken broth
    2 cans diced tomatoes
    1 tsp basil
    1 tsp oregano

    6 cups chopped fresh spinach

    shredded Parmesan cheese

    In a dutch oven cook sausage or meatballs over medium heat, drain.  Add onions and garlic, saute until tender.  Add chicken, cook and stir until no longer pink.  Stir in beans, broth, tomatoes, and herbs.  Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, add spinach and heat until just wilted.  Serve with Parmesan cheese as desired.

    Every time I make this I think of Deb and Brian.  Hi friends!  I miss you guys!


  • Turkey, Cranberry, Apple Sandwich

    Date: 2011.05.24 | Category: recipes | Response: 0

    10 years ago this month I happened to be in Arizona for a wedding.  (Happy anniversary Carl and Joy!)  At some point we popped into a Panera sandwich shop and I will never forget the most wonderful panini I had there.  It had turkey and apple and brie and it was warm and oozing cheesy goodness.  We didn’t have Panera near us back in CA, but I tucked it away in my memory.

    Then 7 years ago when Chris and I got together he worked for a school that provided hot lunch for all of the students and staff every day.  One day he brought me home a sandwich with turkey and brie and cranberry- toasted on the grill.  It immediately brought to mind that Panera sandwich and I loved it.

    When the time came that we had a Panera just down the street I was so excited and I knew exactly what to order.  You know what happens next, right?  Much to my dismay it’s no longer on the menu!

    It was time to take matters into my own hands.  I’ve come up with a recipe that is a combination of the other two, only I usually use sliced cheese instead of Brie.  My grocery store bakery makes an Italian Sweet Bread with craisins and raisins.  Every once in a while I’ll find a loaf in the day old section and pick one up- and then I get to make these sandwiches for lunch all week!  And you guessed it, this is one of those weeks!

    2 slices Italian Sweet Bread (or bread of your choosing)
    cream cheese
    3 thin apple slices
    1 slice cheese
    cranberry sauce (I prefer whole berry)
    2 thick slices turkey or chicken breast

    Assemble your sandwich, layering half of the ingredients on each slice of bread.  Keeping the halves apart, place in toaster oven with bread side down (obviously!).  Lightly toast.  If the apple is still cold or the cheese isn’t melted toss in microwave for 30 seconds or so (this helps prevent the bread from becoming too crunchy or burnt).  Stick your two sides together and enjoy!

  • the Master Bath

    Date: 2011.05.24 | Category: uncategorized | Response: 0

    When we moved in I knew that the master bath was going to be a gut job.  I also knew that since I was pregnant and Chris was a first year teacher we were going to contract the job out.

    Please notice with me-  3 Hollywood light bars?  Check.  Tarnished brass and faux crystal faucets?  Check.  Carpet?  Check.  Tiny stall shower?  Check.  Pink tile with floral accents?  Check.  Pink formica?  Check.  Soaking tub?  Check.  9 foot vanity with very little usable storage?  Check.  9 foot mirror?  Check.  One outlet for the entire bathroom?  Check.  Brass towel bars?  Check.

    I’m a big fan of graph paper.  It was easy to sketch out the dimensions of the room and pencil in my ideas.  I also took advantage of each of the contractors who came out to give us bids.  I asked them for ideas and was open to hearing their suggestions for layout and features.  I’m also a big fan of deals!  I found our two vanities at Costco one day months before we were ready to start construction.  I loved them and the price was right, so we stored them in the garage until we needed them.  My wish list for the new space?  A large shower with a built in bench, usable storage space in the vanities, no more carpet, and no brass.  That was the bulk of my requirements!  We did most of the leg work in finding our tile, light fixtures, tub and faucets- then we found a great contractor to put it all together.

    A peak into the W.C. and the (dusty!) cabinet we installed to hold toiletries.

    It’s hard to see from those photos but we extended the shower tile along the whole back wall- so our towel hooks are mounted on the tile rather than against sheet rock.  This picture from before the shower glass was installed gives you an idea of how the whole wall is tiled.  We love using hooks for our towels rather than towel bars- it’s easier to hang the towels and you can fit more in a small space.  You can see what we have if you look in the reflection in the mirror of the second picture!

    There is only one thing I would do different in this bathroom if I could.  I’m not happy with how the tub arrangement came out.  I was envisioning a double tub with plenty of space on the tub deck for setting candles and soaps.  When the tub we ordered came in it turns out that it’s really a 1.5 person tub!  And since neither of us is a half person we can’t really bathe together.  The wide tub deck in front of the tub makes climbing in and out challenging- especially with the placement of the faucets.  It’s one of those things that all seemed to work on paper, but in reality was not quite the way I would have liked it.  Fortunately for us, the shower turned out even better than we hoped.  It is huge, we have a rain head and a handheld, a shelf for shampoo and conditioner, and a large bench for soaps and shaving cream and my foot to rest on while I’m shaving.  I LOVE IT!  We opted for glue chip glass rather than clear like many high end showers have.  I didn’t want the task of using a squeegee after every shower and like the fact that if offers a little privacy- it was the right choice for me!

  • You win some… you lose some

    Date: 2011.05.23 | Category: recipes | Response: 2

    Today I was going to make my mom’s yummy baked sausage sandwiches for dinner (only I prefer bratwurst).  Then Chris asked if I’d make hamburgers too.  I figured, Sure!  Why not?  Burgers and brats totally go together.

    Now usually when I “make” burgers I take a preformed frozen patty and throw it on the grill.  But today I decided to get all fancy and actually make my burgers.  Touching raw meat is something that I rarely do, so this was a major change from the routine!  When I went to pull a package of brats from the freezer I noticed that we had a package of elk brats in there too.  (One of Chris’ sweet 8th graders actually took down her own elk this season and brought us some of the meat.  I’ve seen pictures of her next to the elk- it’s head is truly bigger than her body.  Cra-zy!)  Anyway, I thought I might as well make those.

    I threw the brats in some beer to boil and surfed online for a cheddar burger recipe.  I found one that looked totally yummy, added a handful of bacon bits and then tried to shape my patties.  Is there some magic secret to shaping burgers that I don’t know about?  Apparently, because these suckers would not stick together.  They fell apart on the grill and we lost a good portion of our meat to the dog.  And it was yummy meat too!  Bummer.  We ended up with some misshapen meat lumps that we stuck between two pieces of bun and called burgers.  But I wasn’t too worried about that because they were yummy, and anyway I still had a brat to look forward to.  Whole grain bun, dijionaise, cheese, kraut, dill relish and brat assembled and then baked in foil.  How could a person go wrong?  I’ve got two words for you.  Elk Brats.  I took one enthusiastic bite and then slowly lowered it to my plate and gave my hubby “the look”.  I think I said something like “It’s not very good”.  He decided to try a bite and exclaimed “It tastes like a Christmas tree! It’s like eating a very yucky horrible Christmas!”  At which point we burst out laughing.

    So, 4 brat sammies minus two bites went into the garbage.  No hesitation.  They were really that bad.

    Good thing I made a batch of cookies tonight!

    On an unrelated note, thank you for reading my blog.  I know that there are lots of ways to spend your time and I appreciate that you’ve spent a little with me today.

  • Chicken Pasta Salad

    Date: 2011.05.22 | Category: recipes | Response: 3

    Yesterday the weather was beautiful.  After a cold rainy week I just wanted to open all the windows and enjoy the fresh air.  When dinner time rolled around it felt silly to turn on the oven, so I decided to barbeque the chicken that I had defrosted.  I threw it on the grill with some bbq sauce and then decided to make a pasta salad as a side dish.  I accidentally burned one side of the chicken and even though it was fine once I cut off the char, it was looking pretty ugly, so I just kept on cutting and tossed it into the salad.  And that’s how I accidentally created a new favorite.  Hooray!

    3 chicken breasts
    BBQ sauce to marinade breasts

    1/2 box pasta (I used whole grain penne)
    1 can sliced olives
    2 TBS dill pickle relish (you could use diced pickles or sweet)
    1 cup frozen corn
    1/2 cup shredded cheese
    2 ounces diced pepperoni
    creamy Italian dressing – enough to coat

    Marinate the chicken breasts and grill until cooked through.  Dice cooked chicken.

    Meanwhile boil pasta.  Toss with all ingredients including chicken.  Serve warm or cold.


  • Diaper cake!

    Date: 2011.05.22 | Category: crafts | Response: 4

    One of my friends is preparing to have her 6th child and some girlfriends and I wanted to celebrate his or her impending arrival.  We didn’t want an elaborate ordeal, but did want to make sure the new mom knows how much we welcome and cherish each of her children.  We decided a small surprise baby shower would be just the thing.  Since we don’t know the gender of the new baby, I decided to be super practical.  (If I knew it was a girl she’d have gotten hair bows and frilly pink things!)  What does every mom need?  Diapers!  But a box of diapers isn’t terribly exciting to look at or to open.  Then I thought… diaper cake!

    I started looking online for tutorials, but found that most of them require rolling EVERY SINGLE DIAPER and securing each one with a rubber band.  Then you form a circle out of a bagillion of those and use another rubber band to hold them together.  This did not sound fun to make- or frankly all that kind to the new mom who just needs a diaper at 2 am.  I kept scrolling through the tutorials on google until I found this post with a system that made the process much simpler.

    I spent less than an hour (and that includes scrounging up coordinating ribbons and covering the Christmas platter (it’s all I had!) with wrapping paper.  Since I don’t own a set of different size cake pans I used my chip and dip bowl, a large cookie tin, a smaller cookie tin, and I hand rolled the top layer.  I just fanned out as many diapers as I could get to fit into each pan and then used a large rubber band to hold it together.  I spent a few moments evening out the spacing of the fanned diapers, but mostly was able to leave each layer as it was when I turned it from the pan.  I decided to keep my rubber bands in place under the ribbons to add security during transport- I didn’t want to lose a layer in the driveway!

    I’ve seen diapers cakes that have rattles and pacifiers and the like tucked around the sides, but I like the cleaner look of just the diapers and the ribbon.  Here’s how mine turned out… what do you think?

    Not as yummy as chocolate, but it’s easier on the hips!

  • Menu Plan May 22-29

    Date: 2011.05.21 | Category: meal plan | Response: 0

    What are we having for dinner this week?

    Sunday- we have a birthday party so no cooking!

    Monday- chicken divan

    Tuesday- bratwurst sandwiches

    Wednesday- Italian wedding soup

    Thursday- Greek spaghetti

    Friday- crescent roll quiche

    Saturday- pork and stuffing casserole

    Yes- again you see things that got bumped from last week.  My sis in law made chili for dinner on Thursday night and the weather was so beautiful I decided to grill the chicken instead of turning on the oven last Saturday.  It was so nice to have the windows open after a cold and rainy week!

  • Because I’m crafty like that…

    Date: 2011.05.20 | Category: crafts, parenting | Response: 0

    JT has a pair of Blue’s Clues slippers that he loves.  He got them in his Easter basket and even though they are several sizes too big he wears them almost every day.

    Unfortunately they’re not very grippy on the bottom, resulting in several slips and spills on the hardwood every day.  This morning I decided to take action.  I dug through my craft stash hoping I still had some puffy paint.  I had some shimmery white Christmas snow puffy paint (I think that it’s a good sign that I had cleaned the 20 year old puffy paint out of my supply box, I mean, really!).

    Then I asked JT what he’d like on the bottom of his slippers.  I am not an artist- I draw stick people and daisies and hearts, so simple was what I was going for.  I suggested a paw print and he agreed.  He suggested Blue’s house for the other slipper and I agreed.

    5 minutes later they were decorated and ready to dry.  Hopefully no more slipping!

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