Sunday, November 23, 2014

I love me some Thanksgiving Leftovers

I will admit - I LOVE Thanksgiving.  The food and the relaxed family time all make the holiday quite appealing to me.  Growing up, all of the holidays were very busy and spent traveling to family member's homes, except Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving was spent at my parent's home.  It was relaxed, it was fun and down-right cozy!  Being that we are now farther away from both sides of our family, we do not get to celebrate with them, but that doesn't mean that I have stopped loving this holiday.

This will be my second year hosting the holiday on the west coast and this year we have a 14 pound turkey waiting for us.  One of the extra bonus' of hosting Thanksgiving is having the leftovers at your home, just waiting for you.  And I am pretty excited about having these leftovers!

Turkey Pot Pie is one of my favorite "leftover" meals.  Last year, I froze a few of these pies, so we could eat them several months down the road.  Leftover turkey is the gift that keeps giving! :)

What you need:
1 package of pie crust (2 shells)
2 cups shredded turkey
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup of cheddar cheese
1 package of frozen mixed vegetables (thawed and drained)
1 teaspoon of salt & pepper

1. Line a pie pan with one of the pie crust shells
2. In a separate bowl, combine the turkey, cream of chicken soup, cheese, veggies, salt and pepper.
3. Pour the mixture into the pie shell and cover with the second shell.  Pinch the edges shut and cut slits into the top so that it can vent.

When you are ready to bake the Chicken Pot Pie, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and pop it in the oven for about 40 minutes.  By that time the crust should be a golden brown color.   It is a hardy, tasty meal - love those leftovers! :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Soup in the Making

Well, well - the weather has turned cold on me quite quickly!  Here in the Pacific Northwest, this last week the temperature has dropped quickly (hopefully it will warm up a bit).  On top of that, my husband had a minor surgery on his eyes (which he has quickly recovered).   What food is the best comfort food in cold weather?  SOUP, of course!! :)  

For these cold weather, recovery days, I adapted the recipe from Gimme Some Oven for some Zuppa Toscana soup.  Who doesn't love the comfort that a good, hot bowl of soup brings.  I made a lot of soup, so we were able to eat it for several days.  I do not consider myself a "fancy" chef, but I think that I did well with this one.  My husband at least thought so!  He couldn't stop eating it! :)  A wife win! :P

What you need:
1 lb. of ground Italian sausage (I used the hot kind)
1 small onion, diced
1/2 red pepper
4 cups of chicken stock
1 bunch of kale (I only used half of the bunch, but you can't buy a half bunch! :P)
1 lb. cheese tortellini
1/4 cup cream cheese
salt & pepper

What you do:
1. In a large stock pan, Add the sausage and onion.  Over medium-high heat, begin to brown the sausage.  When it is about half way browned, add the red pepper too.  While the sausage is cooking, break up the meat chunks.  Once done, try to drain the extra grease, if you are able.

2. Add the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a light boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low add the kale and tortellini.  Mix it all together.  Let the mixture cook, covered, for about 5 minutes (make sure that the tortellini is cooked).  Add the cream cheese and mix it in.  Season with salt and pepper.

Although it was a rather simple recipe, it had great results and tasted like it was a lot harder to make than it actually was!  I have already bought the ingredients to make this again! Husband will be happy. :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Readers Challenge

Recently, on Facebook, I was challenged to do a readers challenge of sorts.  Normally I do not participate in these little challenges/callouts, but being the book nerd that I am, I found this one a little too tempting.  I have always found solace in books - and when I find a good one, I have trouble putting it down.  So here it goes - My Top 10 Fictional Books (in no particular order).

1. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee) - I first read this book in high school.  Told through the eyes of a young girl, it touches on subjects of inequality of race and integrity.  Once it is read, it cannot help but to leave an impact.

2. Redeeming Love (Francine Rivers) - In this retelling of the Biblical story of Hosea, this book deals details the restoring love of God.  It is a beautiful description of endless love and compassion.

3. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell) - I will admit, I first read this book because of how long it was.  In my high school English class, we only had to write 1 book report a semester if the book we read was a certain length.  Gone with the Wind was in that category of only 1 book report.  However, I loved this book and have since read it several times!  A tale of the South during and after the Civil War, it is a story of survival.

4. The Traveler's Gift (Andy Andrews) - Told in a story format, this book gives strategies for personal success.  However, the story is so good that you don't realize that it is a self-help book but you do remember the principles.  Good stuff.

5. A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens) - How can you not like a book that starts with, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"? Set during the French Revolution, this is a story of sacrifice and social justice.  Plus there is a doppelganger - coolness! Given the age of this book, it can be downloaded digitally for free.

6. Mark of the Lion series (Francine Rivers) - I will admit, book 1 (A Voice in the Wind) & book 2 (An Echo in the Darkness) are my favorite.   However, book 3 (As Sure as the Dawn) is still decent, but kinda breaks off of the story line that the first two books follow.  If you do read the first book, make sure that you have the second handy because you will want to jump right into it!

7. Harry Potter series (J.K. Rowlings) - This 7 book series is the classic story of good verses evil.  I was actually a little late to jump on the Harry Potter train, reading them about 10 years after everyone else, but I am so glad that I did pick them up!

8. Emma (Jane Austin) - I enjoy pretty much any Jane Austin novel.  However, Emma has a special place in my heart - who doesn't love a mistaken matchmaker?  Emma is also available for a free digital download from Amazon.

9. Julie (Catherine Marshall) - This is much lesser know than Catherine Marshall's "Christy", but it is the coming of age story of a girl in a small town.  Since I have also grew up in a small town, I felt such a connection to Julie and loved this story.

10 The Giver (Lois Lowry) - A story about a unique boy who holds all the memories & feelings of a futuristic society.  This is a book that will make one think and question.

Well, that is it - my top ten favorite books of all time.  Of course, there are a few honorable mentions: Anne of Green Gables series, Nancy Drew books, Chronicle of Narnia, etc. that are up there on my list.  I am a true bookworm & thank you for indulging me; this little list was quite nostalgic for me! :P

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Just Crazy About Canning

I have a new hobby!  And a few weekends ago I spent a lot of time on my newest hobby - CANNING!  In truth, I have been very spoiled growing up, as my mother and grandmothers all canned and were willing to share their harvest with me, but I have never really participated in the act of canning, nor did I really want to.  This year, all that changed.  Since all my family is across the country, I am left to fend for myself in the canning arena.  I am excited about the outcome of my canning adventures, but I do have a new appreciation for all the hard work that my family did to share their canning with me.

I knew that I wanted to can this year, but our yard does not have the space nor the sun light to produce much of a garden.  In the little bit of yard that the sun actually hits, we have 2 zucchini plants and 1 cherry tomato plant, all which have taken over. :)  Growing up in a rural area, I am used to eating things "fresh from the farm", so not having access to a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables as soon as I step outside the door has been an adjustment to me.  To compensate, this year I had 20 lb. of green beans delivered from a local farm.  When I told people that I was doing this, they looked at me like I was crazy.  20 lb. of anything is a lot for only 2 people!  But I knew that I wanted to can them.  On top of that, my kind co-worker brought me back red pears and tomatoes from her recent trip to California.  With all these fresh fruits and veggies, I planned for a busy weekend.  Below is the end result of all that was canned: peaches, tomato sauce, salsa, applesauce, green beans and cinnamon-pear jam.

As I said, my co-worker brought me some beautiful red pears from California.  Yum!  I scoured the internet to find what I wanted to make with this beautiful gift and found a recipe for Cinnamon Pear Jam at Food in Jars. I will admit that I choose this one because you don't have to peal the pears - I am terribly slow at pealing fruit!

What you Need:
16 cups of pears (cubed)
8 cups of sugar
Juice from a medium sized lemon
2 Tbsp of Cinnamon
2 Tbsp of Pectin

Cook down the pears & sugar, on medium heat, in a stainless steel pot.  When the pears are soft, mash the fruit with a potato masher until the mixture is fairly smooth.  Add the lemon juice, cinnamon and pectin into the mixture.  Continue to cook until the jam starts to thicken.  For me it was about 15-20 minutes.

Once the concoction has thickened, fill the jars and place the lids, which were heated in boiling water while the pears were cooking, and screw on the rim of the jar.  Put the jars in a boiling water bath for about 10 minutes, start the timer once the water returns to a boil.  After the 10 minutes, remove the jars from the pot and let them cool on the counter for about 3 hours.  Hopefully the lids will seal during this time - all of mine did thankfully!

I will tell you, it is mighty tasty jam! :)  I am actually thinking about trying it as a marinade for a ham in the future, but I guess we will just have to wait and see. :)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Fall is Around the Corner!

Fall is my favorite season and it is just around the corner.  I LOVE it: the brisk air, the color of the leaves, the yummy foods.  I am getting giddy just thinking about it! :)  As Summer is drawing to an end and our visitors have come and gone (it really was a good Summer!), we are preparing to go back to Pennsylvania for a quick trip for my family reunion/party.  It will good to see everyone again, as I haven't seen several of these folks since our wedding, last Fall (another reason why Fall is my favorite season).

As an ode to everything Fall, I made some Pumpkin Bread to assist me to get into the mood of the upcoming season.  Yum, Yum, Yum.  I thoroughly enjoyed eating this treat during breakfast with my morning coffee.

I found the original recipe at A Subtle Revelry.   She also shares a really cool way to write on bread, so check it out.

1-2/3 cup flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp of each: nutmeg, ground cloves, pumpkin pie spice & cinnamon
2 beaten eggs
1 can of pumpkin
3/4 cup of vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a bread pan.

In one bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda and powder and all of the spices.
In another bowl, mix the eggs, pumpkin, vegetable oil, sugar and water.
Once each set is mixed separately, combine and mix to blend together.  Pour your batter into your baking pan.  Pop it in the oven for about 1 hour.  Do the toothpick test and if comes out clean, you are set.  Let it cool for about a half hour  before transferring to a cooling rack.

It is mighty tasty when it is slightly warm.  We finished this loaf in about 3 days (don't judge, it was just too good not to eat! :P) and it was just as moist on the third day - a sign of a good bread, I believe.  Enjoy & Welcome FALL! :)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Getting excited!

T-3 days until my Mom and Sister arrive on the west coast!!  Needless to say, I am VERY excited!  I have a lot planned for when they come, including a trip to Mount Rainier & tours around Seattle.  It has been about 5 months since I have seen my family, so it will be a great reunion!  These next 3 days need to go by really quickly.

In other news, my garden is starting produce some goodies.  I was worried that we might not get much from our garden this year.  It's been a learning experience learning to garden in the west coast.  The weather is very different from what I am used to on the east coast.  My cherry tomato plant has lots of little tomatoes on it and my zucchini plant is producing nicely.  I have gathered 3 zucchinis thus far!  Therefore, I am looking for zucchini recipes to use them on.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Celebrating the 4th of July!

I hope that you and yours had a lovely 4th of July!  Here is Washington, July 4th is celebrate here with a bang.  Literally!  Fireworks galore!  They were going on from about 12 noon until 3 AM, with the majority going off between 9 - 10 PM.  Thankfully our neighbors were the ones setting them off, so we were able to celebrate from our own home and we were able to watch the show from our own front porch!  Other than the fireworks, our holiday was fairly low-key; I LOVED it! :)  Although I fully recognize that I am about 10 years behind the times, over the weekend I actually finished reading the Harry Potter book series.  I will admit, I really enjoyed all of them!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Chicken and Green Beans

Happy July!  I am starting to look forward to the 4th of July.  On the east coast we usually celebrated the nations independence by having a cookout and a few fireworks, but I have come to learn that the west coast celebrates big time!  Last year fire works started around 12 noon and went until midnight.  It is quite a display & I really like fireworks!  The last few nights we have heard fireworks (well, at least I hope they were fireworks...) going off, in what I am guessing is preparation for the big day.

Continuing on the journey of freezer cooking, I prepared this casserole from Little House Living last month and froze it for a future, busy day.  Today was that day!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Beef Stroganoff

As I am writing this, I am lounging on the couch re-watching Veronica Mars (season 3) in preparation of watching the Veronica Mars Movie.  I just wanted to jog the good 'ole memory, as it has been years since I have watched it, but I am pretty pumped to watch the movie!  Good show if you are looking for something to watch.  I also went to a sewing seminar a few evenings ago where we talked about cool projects for kids of all ages.  Granted, I do not have kiddos yet, but I certainly have a lot of friends who are beginning families so I figured this class may be handy for baby showers - I am planning a few upcoming projects! :)

Back on the Freezer Cooking/Crockpot Cooking train.  Beef Stroganoff is one of my favorite non-crockpot meals, so when I found this crockpot version of the classic at Baked in the South, I was pretty pumped!  It is one of my husband's favorite too, so it was a win-win for us both!  I froze this meal a few weeks ago and prepared it a few nights ago.  Yum, Yum!

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Do's (& a few Don'ts) of Planning A Wedding

Well, maybe you have noticed that I have written strikingly little about our wedding which happened last October.  The reason that I did not write is not because I didn't love our wedding day or that anything happened that was too crazy to describe, but I have spent the last 8 months doing a lot of processing.  Now that our big day is said and done, I look back with fond memories of our wedding and a few regrets.  Maybe some of my processing can help someone else through the mania of planning a wedding.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A BIG, long weekend!

Phew!  I am tired!  I spend this last weekend having a mass cooking spree and end up preparing 16 future meals that are now safely frozen until their future use. :)  We now have crockpot meals and casseroles, healthy foods and some comfort foods, and ALL sorts of types of food - mexican, thai, italian, etc.    Some are new recipes and other are new "experiences".   I am pretty excited to try the new ones & I am sure that I will be documenting the good ones right here!    Check out one of the shelves in our freezer!

Full, huh?  I do not think I can fit another thing in our freezer; it is FULL and I love it! :)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Crockpot Chicken Fajitas

Summer is in full swing here on the west coast and I am loving our long summer days.  With that being said, with all my new-found success with freezer cooking, I am preparing for another BIG cooking day this weekend!  I am going to take one of the long summer days and cook - ALL day long, or at least as long as I can tolerate it! :)

I have to admit, I think that this has been my FAVORITE freezer to crockpot recipe yet!  And that is saying something if you have noticed the shear amount of of freezer cooking that I have been doing lately!   There is just something quite tasty about a Chicken Fajita and cooking it in the crockpot did not disappoint.  I found this recipe at Fun With Sharps.  Along with our dinner, it also served us leftovers for several lunches.  UmUmGood! 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Creamy Ranch Pork Chops (Crockpot)

This freezer cooking thing is very addicting!  I am afraid that I am hooked on it!  I have fallen into the trap and I do not want to get out of it!  I found the original recipe on Six Sister's website.  After preparing this meal in April, we tried it a few weeks ago and it was surely scrumptious! I was a little worried that the ranch might have been too overpowering, but it tasted just fine. :)

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Kitchen Desk Completed

Shame on me!  I just realized that I have neglected posting any pictures of what I did to the little nook in our kitchen that I am turning into my desk/office area.  It formally was the collector of "stuff" that I didn't know what else to do with in the kitchen.  After cleaning up my clutter, I set down to complete a few projects that would make this area look a little more friendly.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Crockpot BBQ Chicken

Continuing on my journey with freezer cooking, this crockpot meal was next in my experiment.  BBQ chicken is one of my favorite foods, so I was excited to try this one.  The original recipe was found at Little House Living.  Plus it is gluten free, so that is a bonus!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Crockpot Sausage & Peppers

Here is another freezer meal from my adventures with freezer cooking!  This Sausage and Peppers recipe originally came from Little House Living and turned out pretty great!  I modified it slightly from the original, but I can't wait to try it again.  I believe that it is gluten free, so it makes me feel healthy! :)  As before, I placed all the ingredients in a gallon sized ziplock bag, froze it and then thawed it in the fridge the night before I wanted to cook it.  

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Washington State: "Must Sees"

This upcoming Summer and Fall, we are so happy to be welcoming several friends and family coming to visit!  A majority of the folks making the trip out west, have never travelled to Washington before.  Their visit  has prompted me to start thinking of sites that are the "must sees" locally in Washington so that when our visitors come, they can get a full taste of Washington.  I will admit, I haven't done these all myself yet, but with all of our visitors, I am hoping to cross a few more off of my list!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken

I have made it my personal mission to taste test as many of these freezer meals/crock pot meals as earthly possible! A few weeks ago, when my husband was away for the weekend, I took the time to get started on this goal by preparing and freezing several meals so that all I had to do was thaw the night before and throw in the crockpot in the morning. I love coming home from work and NOT having to create a meal, but instead have it ready for me to dig in! I am planning to post the recipe AFTER we have tried them in efforts to give my honest opinion and to help me categorizes the ones that I want to try again and the ones that aren't "keepers" in my book. I prepared 15 freezer meals during that weekend, so prepare yourselves for an onslaught of food posts! :)

Here is one of the recipes that I tried. The original recipe is from but I did slightly modify it so that I didn't have to run to the grocery store!

Teriyaki Chicken

1/2 bag of baby carrots
1 Onion into Large Chunks
1 can of pineapple chunks (undrained)
4 Garlic Cloves
2 lbs. chicken
1 cup teriyaki sauce
Place everything in a gallon freezer bag, mix it up, seal, label and put in the freezer. 
I let this thaw in the refrigerator during the night before I used this one. Before leaving for work, I added an extra 1/4 cup of teriyaki sauce to the crockpot with the mixture. (I labeled this instruction on the bag so that I remembered.) Cook on low 8 hours, shred chicken and place back into mixture and serve over hot rice.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Spring Cheer

Well, a few weeks ago I finally got around to taking down the Winter wreath from our door.  I know, I know, it was well past the time to do so! :)  When I did remove the wreath, I felt like our door looked so empty and sad.  I guess it is kind of strange to call a door sad, but it was very clear that something was missing and  I just had to do something about that!  I scrolled through a few ideas on Pinterest until I had a general idea of what I wanted and headed to the local craft shop to gather the materials.  Here is the end result; what do you think?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Visit to Can-EH-da!

I just had a fantastic weekend!  Earlier this week, my husband told me he had a surprise.  Now, when he says this, it could be anything.  My mind went wild thinking that he would say, "Surprise!  Here is a candy bar!" or "Surprise! Let's go to dinner!" - what could this surprise be?!  I was just excited that he planned something, but what he planned was beyond my expectations!  Thursday evening, I was told to pack a bag with my bathing suit/warm weather clothes, hiking gear, warm clothes for cold and rain and dress clothes.  With clues as vague as that, my mind was left to wander, but I did as he said.  Friday after work, we hopped in the car and headed north.  That ruled out my thoughts of Portland, but still left several destinations that I had pondered.  When we crossed over the Canadian boarder, I was sure that we were going to Vancouver for the weekend.  My husband kept driving past the Vancouver city limits and my mind was racing.  Eventually we came to the Winter Resort in Whistler, Canada.  Now here is something that you may not know: I love the Olympics!  My time is occupied by watching every event that I can every 2 years when the Summer and Winter games are on. Whistler was the home of several events at the 2010 Vancouver games.

I am striking my best Olympic pose.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

DIY Weekly Calendar

Well, like I had mentioned before, there is a little nook in our kitchen that I really wanted to make more cozy.  The other week, I did my first project for it.  What office area is complete without a calendar?  I wanted to make a weekly calendar to help us keep our busy schedule straight.  It all started after browsing through various Pinterest posts, coupled by a trip to the local thrift store - consider me inspired! While rummaging through the goodies at the store, I found my treasure - a 7 picture wooden picture frame! Hooray!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Making of the Card Book

So here I am again!  The last few days I've spent at home sick - which is never any fun.  However, it is giving me some time to catch up on the blog.  So here I sit in my couch, with tissues, Oreos andTV remote close to hand, while writing this entry.
The last few weeks I have been busy finishing up several half-completed project.   I even found time to take a quilting class, which will be written about later.  One of the projects that I completed is a book of all of our bridal shower cards and wedding cards.  After all of our wedding festivities, we had so many cards full of well-wishes.  With such kind words written in each card, I knew they were something that I wanted to treasure forever.  I decided to make a book out of all the cards so that we would not miss a card by having them scattered everywhere.
Just a few of the many cards...

Friday, January 3, 2014

After Christmas Planning

So Christmas has come and now it has gone - time sure does fly!  This was my husband and my first Christmas away from our immediate families, so it was one of making new traditions!  We enjoyed a Christmas breakfast, followed by a day of playing games and watching as many Christmas movies as we could on Netflix.  We ended the day by eating a HUGE Christmas Ham.  I haven't quite mastered this "cooking for two" thing yet, as our ham was 11 pounds... you know what that means, LEFTOVERS!! Yum! :)

I will probably write more about the Christmas crafts that I did and the recipes that I attempted at a later date, but in the mean time I want everyone to see what area of this house I will be working on next.