Friday, December 30, 2011

Spicy Honey Chicken Fingers

I was in the mood to try something different.

This is based on Jessica's Crunchy Chicken Fingers. They're really good. I adjusted them some, can't leave well enough alone.

I wanted crunchy chicken fingers doused in heavy honey.

Then I took a walk on the wild side and threw some chili powder in.

Crazy talk!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Recap

I really wish I could share photos from the Christmas Eve service from church Saturday night. The girl and I watched Christmas Hallmark movies from our DVR all day. Then, we got all dolled up and headed to church!

It was one of those candlelight services, and they read Mary & Joseph's story, and we sang carols between the verses.

It was beautiful.

It was magical.

And everything Christmas was about.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Dinner

I hope everyone had a great Christmas! I sure had a nice time. I haven't uploaded all of my Christmas Day photos, but stay tuned for those. What I did take pictures of to share was our dinner.

We made Ree's Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Drizzle from The Pioneer Woman. I made the drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sugar, reducing it by a little more than half. It was pungent, tart and sweet. I tossed some dried cranberries in with it too. They were crunchy from roasting in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Homemade Toffee

Toffee Time!

I got this recipe from Heather Christo's Toffee recipe. It's a little different, but not much.

It was one of the fastest things I've made this holiday.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fantasy Fudge

Does anyone remember this recipe? It's seriously old. It's one of those great recipes that you just don't mess with. So, I'm posting it in it's unchanged glory.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Fireman's Gift & A Manly Stocking


Today's post is what the fireman did for Christmas for his guys at work. If you recall, he currently works at a 6 man house, which is doubly as large as most firehouses. And since he's one of the captains there, he needed a gift for 5 guys. The captain's always have a gift for their crew and he couldn't leave the other guys out.

Since he likes to cook/bake, as firemen often do, he thought of something along those lines. But he wanted to make it more manly, so.....beer bread!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cinnamon Tea Rings for Christmas


Can you believe it's only 5 days till Christmas?!

I can't. It's so close! I did the last of my wrapping last night with the fireman. We holed up in our room and wrapped and got all excited about everything.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Biscotti, Two Ways

This past weekend, I got tons of baking done. Tons and tons.

And.

I'm.

Done.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lessons in Shortbread

Ok, so not every recipe comes out as expected.

This was the first time I have tried a real shortbread. It has 3 easy ingredients. Took me about 10 minutes to mix up and 10 minutes to rollout, cut and bake.

Easy recipe, but I complicated things a bit.

I'm like that.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Decorating the Christmas Cookies


Decorating is always fun, it's also always messy.

I don't do a fancy, piped decorated cookie. I find these cookies are so good, they only need a light glazing of icing and a little colored sugar and sprinkles for decoration. Thick icing and piped in decorations would totally overwhelm these soft pillows of happiness.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Cut-Out Cookies


These cookies are THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE in my family. The golden goose of Christmas cookies. Every year, my mom made them. We would schedule it on the calendar. Cookie Day. We all knew what it meant. My dad would be off work and we would all take part of the cookie making process. My dad manned the ovens, making sure that the cookies didn't overbake.

My mom only brought out a small amount of dough at a time, because you have to cut them out while they are cold or they go all melty on you.

My sister and I stood around the workspace with aprons on, armed with floured cookie cutters. Flour was everywhere and when Mom said, "Go!" we furiously cut out cookies and got them on cookie trays before the dough got warm.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sugar Cookies

These are my absolutely favorite sugar cookie.

There are tons of sugar cookies. Some are soft, some are hard and crunchy, some have spices, some are chewy.

These cookies are chock full of vanilla flavor, they are rolled in sugar and are light and sweet on the tongue. They are have a crunchy tooth, but are tender, think of a crumbly cookie.  I think it's due to the oil/butter mixture of fats.

They are also

Monday, December 12, 2011

German Sugar Twists

Sugar cookies are so wonderful, but there are tons of kinds of sugar cookies. This week, I will have a recipe for a different sugar cookie each day. They will be each very different from each other, but the highlight of the recipe will all be sugar. And butter.

These cookies are a German recipe from my grandma. She made them for my dad when he was little. I'm sure there are many variations of this recipe, but this was hers.

There is yeast in this recipe. A cookie recipe. Weird.

Weird, but wonderful.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Snow


Last night we finally decorated the Christmas tree. It was an odd affair. The boys decorated part of it, then the girl and I decorated part of it when I got home.

We were tag-teaming it since our schedules have been topsy-turvy lately.

Although I will promise good Christmas music was on and candles were lit. It's the little things...

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Chicken Marsala

First off, I'd like to say that I wasn't happy with how these pictures came out. But the meal was just so darn good, so I decided to post it anyway. I've been sitting on it for the last couple of weeks trying to decide if I should use them or not.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Last Minute Pizza

Last night I was home and hungry for pizza. It was getting close to dinnertime and I didn't want to drive out for pizza (don't do that often anyway), and didn't have time for pizza crust to raise. I was wishing I had stopped by the grocery store to by a premade crust, like Boboli.

The girl and I have gone through the Hallmark channel and DVR'd a ton of Christmas movie's.  I'm really glad to have someone to watch them with!

The fireman will watch romance movie's on occasion, but I really like to dive headfirst into the sweet and sappy Christmas movies. Hallmark has that covered. Thankfully, the girl really gets into them, too.

So, I remembered that I had seen quick pizza crust recipe's online a few times and thought I'd try one.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Hot Cocoa on the Stove

Do you remember snowy days as a kid?

The first snow, it was absolutely necessary to run outside and play in the falling snow, even if it didn't stick. You bundle up, with scarf and hat and gloves. Then, running around outside, it's like you're in a magical land.

At least it was for me.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Giveaway Winner & Christmas Sparkle


Remember this? My Christmas Giveaway?
We have a winner!!!

Comment #2 is Jana! Yay!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Owls and Tiling

I've added an owl to my mural. I have this thing for owls. They're so retro and cute. Not like, actual owls. But the cute little ones in funky colors, with too big eyes or stitched with funky fabrics. Awesome.

I started with a chalk outline. Remember, the tree is whimsical. It's not supposed to be a realistic owl. I finger painted a dot onto the body to check the color.
I think he's fun!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Shipwreck, the recipe

Not to be confused with the destruction from a water-vessel upon the sea.

Growing up, my mom made this recipe with shaved potatoes and rich, heavy tomato sauce. The top pieces of potato were dried and crunchy. It made me swoon, I loved it. It was easily one of my favorite recipes.

Over the years, it has changed a lot. And somehow improved. She added her own homegrown and canned tomatoes and sweetened it a bit. Changed the potatoes to more of an au gratin slice. She added a layer of cheese on top. It was almost an au gratin potato with a hearty, sweetened chili underneath. Somewhat.

But definitely a recipe in progress, kind of thing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Cranberries and Pecans

Since we had our Thanksgiving on Friday (due to the fireman doing fireman duties on Thursday) I wasn't all that stressed about cooking the meal.
We have all day, I thought. The fireman's doing the ham, I thought. No biggy.

Cut to around 2:30pm, the fireman and I got home from doing a tiny bit of Black Friday shopping and starting bread for a 3:30pm meal.

We ate around 5pm. Oh, well.

We decided on a ham, because we knew that we'd have had turkey already at the station and the boys would have it at their mom's. But they had steak instead and somehow? All I want is turkey.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Tale of Four Pies

On Thanksgiving, the fireman had to work. So, while we planned our own Thanksgiving with all the kiddos on Friday, the girl and I also planned on going to the fire station on Thursday for Thanksgiving with our fireman and his crew. He happens to work at a 6 man house. Normally, there is just the captain, the engineer and the backend guy. But since his fire station has both an engine (water) and a truck (ladder and axes), his house is larger.

More guys = more trouble. Whenever you get a bunch of guys in one place with time on their hands, you have trouble. Now, they have reports and chores and are fairly busy with calls (depending on the district of the station), but in a 24 hour shift, they still have time for mayhem.

So, Thanksgiving at the fire station can be lots of fun. Besides, being cooked for, served and cleaned up by a bunch of guys. Total win.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Baking Giveaway!

It's here! It's Cyber Monday. I thought it would be fun to have a small giveaway for some fun Christmas baking.

I love Christmas. It's almost my favorite holiday of the year. Heck, I love all holidays. Any reason to do extra baking and get together with the family. Just another reason to have extra fun!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

I don't know if you've ever had Gooey Butter Cake. Paula Deen has a recipe for it, and it's good, but the recipe I use came from a friend of mine. It was written by her husband's very German Grandma. It's delicious. It's practically sinful. You eat a small portion and feel like you need to run to church and confess.

This recipe is a version of that, plus pumpkin. It is the end-all of pumpkin desserts. You can quote me on that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chili Cook-off and Best Banana Bread

I have been baking up a storm!

I am sharing two foods today because I have so many to share!

At work, our building maintenance guy, Tom, came to me and said that they want to have a chili cook-off. Awesome, right? He wanted to know if we could have a prize for the winner. So, I talked to the boss and was allowed to purchase a giftcard for the winner.

We planned it for Monday, the 21st, so everyone could cook over the weekend.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hot Cocoa Cupcakes and a Parade

*Hot Cocoa Cupcakes*

Saturday, our town had their annual Christmas parade. The youngest boy was in it with the high school band and the girl was in it with her girl scouts troup.

After that, the girl and I had signed up to do a She & Me event at a local church. It was a girl scout event, and a cupcake exchange! They were also having a cocoa tasting and some crafts.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Championship Chocolate Chip Bars

As a kid, my mom made us Magic Cookie Bars. They are the reason for my existence. I dream about them.

When I make them, I tend to eat half of the pan, then snack on it the next day until it's gone.

Obviously, I try not to make them often.

Magic cookie bars are like the layer bars with sweetened condensed milk and corn flakes. But I bastardize it by removing the pesky coconut and pecans, cause I never liked them as a kid.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ham & Pineapple

I know you guys know how to cook basic meals. Probably you've been doing it since you moved outa the house.

The thing is, sometimes we don't think about pairing food items up. Just like the Pork Chops with Apples & Onions. And half the time I struggle finding supper ideas.

So today's food posting isn't anything tough. It isn't anything difficult.

I kinda think that's great.

Don't we all need a few fast, easy meals that are super tasty?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Painting Leaves

First of all, I want to apologize for the quality of these photos. They are dark. It's already dark when I get home from work and it's hard to get a good photo of a dark wall. The wall doesn't show up this dark when you're there, but with lighting and all.... Difficult.

I have been working on the shading of the leaves on my mural. They needed to be fleshed out and shaded to give them depth.
It's hard to know when to stop working on them. When to say, this leaf? She is done!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Date Night Dessert

So, Friday night, the fireman and I decided we needed a date night.

We decided on Chili's. Seriously, one of my favorite places. I ate chips and salsa till I burst, then tried to eat my Honey Chipotle Chicken Crispers. I haven't had any fried food in ages, and just CRAVED something fried. I also ate fries and was in heaven.

I really need to try to replicate that honey chipotle sauce. Amazing. They had a great Blackberry Margarita as well. Yu-um.

I was too full for dessert, although I was dying for the Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie. A big slice of chocolate chip bar with ice cream and drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce. *sigh*

We couldn't decide on a movie to go see. Nothing looked that great. A few good things, but not 'theatre material'.
So, we ran by the video store and rented a few movies instead.

We ended up watching Love, Wedding, Marriage with Mandy Moore and Kellan Lutz. It was sweet and cute. I like Mandy Moore much better now that she is older. She's relateable and believable. And Kellan Lutz? Have you seen the guns on this guy? In a button down shirt, no less. Fuhgetabout it.

We also ran by the grocery store and I picked up some pre-made chocolate chip cookie dough.

Late night grocery store shopping is funny. It's funny when you're with the fireman. The store is mostly empty and he likes to ask questions of the fine folks working there.

Questions like, "does a candy bar count as dessert?" "What about chocolate oranges." Then he had to describe what a chocolate orange is. He meant the orange-shaped chocolate in a box.

Sometimes the grocery store ladies are funny and tease him right back and ask him funny questions.

Other times? They just look confused.

Anyway, I bought cookie dough. I know. I'm a sell out.

It is the only cookie dough that I can't find a good recipe for. I've tried it countless times, but nothing is as good. Must be the preservatives...

I did this thing with it. I know. It was baaad. But if this is bad? I don't wanna be good.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tiling Madness

The tiling has commenced!

I came home Friday to find this...

The fireman has starting the bathroom tiling! He hadn't pulled out the tile saw yet, but just placed some of the full tile pieces.

Friday, November 11, 2011

High Fiber Pasta Love

I just wanted to share with you a high fiber, lower net carb pasta that discovered, Ronzoni Smart Taste, Spaghetti.
I try to watch my carb intake, but loooooove carbs.

I could eat pasta plain.

Give me a bowl of any pasta with some butter with a little salt and I'm in heaven!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pork Chops with Apples and Onions

This must be a fall dish.
Because I've seen lots of variations of this recently.

The Pioneer Woman on Monday posted Pork Roast with Apples and Onions .

Her recipe looks delish.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Loaded Potato Soup

This past Sunday, the girl and I had the house to ourselves. We did chores, mopped, laundry. We also, stopped at Einstein's Bagel's for lunch breakfast bagels and coffee.

Can you still call it a breakfast bagel if you are eating it at lunch?

Then we had some light errands to do, library, the mall to walk around and shop.

The mall had the Largest Rocking Horse in the World out. It's out every year. It rocks!

But when you're deep in Christmas shopping weather, this outdoors mall is seriously chilly. We took the opportunity to enjoy the horse early.

I was in a serious mood to stop at Panera's for their loaded potato soup in sourdough bread bowls. I love their soup in bread bowls.

Seriously.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Zingats, otherwise known as KitKat stuffed Zingers

I'll admit it.

I'm a conformist.

I fall for peer pressure!

Almost everyone else is doing it, Mom!

All the popular blogs are blogging about recipes with leftover Halloween candy!

And I wanna!

Ok, so I didn't bake anything, I just stuffed something.

That counts, right?

Zingers, meet knife.... and KitKat's.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Pizza Paradise

Quick note of praise: Hubby made his weight goal. He officially lost like 43 pounds. No kidding. I am soo proud of him and he looks AMAZING. :)

So, for his first celebration meal, he asked for my homemade pizza, which is actually mostly my mom's homemade pizza. Isn't that sweet? Out of all the pizza's out there, he wants mine?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Halloween Wrap Up

My Halloween posting timeline has been a little behind, but I'm getting there.

Monday, my fireman worked and the boys were at their mom's, so it was just me and Da Girl. I left work early so that I could catch this.
Her 3rd grade Halloween party. Fun! They actually had pretty cool games.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Toffee Bars and Caramel Corn

Friday night, the girl and I went to a Halloween function at our community center. It was very cute!

On the way home, we stopped by the grocery store and made treats for our big Halloween party we went to Saturday. You know, the one we got all dressed up for?

I brought these.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Costume Fun

We really love Halloween at my house.

Costumes are thought out and planned. Halloween festivities and haunted houses are scheduled and marked on the calendar.

When we were invited to a Halloween party one of the other firemen put on, hubby knew he had to really go all out on his costume. One of the guys at the party dressed up as Jafar from Aladdin. You know, when he turned into a genie at the end, all red and scary?

Yes, super cool.

Anyway, the girl came with us as the boys had other parties they wanted to go to. She has a vampire costume and has worn it to two different Halloween events so far and decided to pull an old costume out to wear for our Saturday night party.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rice Pudding, Baked Potato Casserole, Chicken & Gravy

Last night, after we got home from a COLD soccer game (47 degrees). They tied 4 to 4.

And while the youngest boy was at band practice.

I made chicken in gravy! It's my mom's recipe and super yummy.

Mine's not as good as hers is, no matter how close I follow her directions.

It's a mom thing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Update with no updates

So, I haven't done any painting for the last couple of days, no updates.

I haven't even done much baking the last few days.

Sad, I know. I made a hamsteak and then browned pineapple in the pan from the juices.  Exciting stuff.

We had a few days of beautiful weather and I used the opportunity to take the bike for a ride a couple of times.

I met a Mary Kay lady to 'do my colors' Monday night. I took the bike.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Leaves, Cupcakes and Face Painting

No, I'm not posting more fall leaf pictures.

I'm talking about my mural. I did some more touch ups to the tree, and started my leaves!



Thursday, October 20, 2011

Halloween Plans and Mural Updates

It's been edging closer and closer to Winter. The winds blow all the beautiful, vibrant colored leaves off the trees, leaving behind the bare branches. I was happily surprised this morning to see the sun shining, lighting up all the green and it felt like we had yet a few weeks of Fall left, even though the temp was 40.

However, the girl's soccer game last night was cancelled due to the cold, the wind and the rain. It definitely felt like Winter was treading too close last night.

We are making last minute Halloween plans. This weekend, we're going to try to make it to a Haunted House. The girl is a little too nervous to go this year. She did go last year, and did fine, until the pitch black hallways, then she walked into a wall and her bravado was gone. We will go with the older kids Sunday.

I'll take her to another local Halloween festival, prob Sat night. They have a train ride that's geared towards the younger kids.

The next weekend our gym is have a Spooktacular and I'll probably take the girl to that as well. Just for one more festivity before Halloween. They're only young once and I don't want to lose any of it.

Besides, more chance to use that costume of hers. :)

I think the fireman and I are going to a Halloween party. Not sure what we'll dress up as, but if we're going to do it, we have to figure it out soon. But the other fireman that are throwing the party get really elaborate with costumes and we haven't a clue where to start.

The fireman suggested: Sonny & Cher. We have a 1 1/2 inch height difference and if I wear some high heels or platforms and get a wig, we'll be set. We'll see. If we do, I'll def post pictures. He thought he'd stop by Goodwill to see about a retro suit. He'd need a wig, too.

If we go, it'll be my first real Halloween party. I'm kinda psyched,

On other news, I've been working on the mural.

Again, I forgot my cord for the camera, so this is a phone shot. Difficult to see, but mostly done.

I hadn't yet wiped off the chalk marks, it looks better without it. I have to say that I really love how the Delta Ceramcoat is matte to the satin of the wall paint. Makes the branches stand out.

This was the second night of painting.


Again, the white on hte left is from the chalk. The white onthe right is highlighting that I painted on. Just a few spots to draw the attention. I really love how the black shadows on the left side came out.

I could really keep tweaking this continuously, but I'm going to move on.

The roots. If you remember how they were before, which I was happy with, they have much more depth now than before.


Before shot.

My next step is to chalk in the roots along the wall. I am going to have some exposed roots leading away from the tree. Just so that the bottom of the wall won't be entirely bare.

I plan to try to do that tonight, and maybe start on them, if it's not too busy. We do have parent/teacher meetings tonight. So, you never know...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Photo Montage

It's well and truly fall. Well, you already knew that. I've been posting blogs about our fall field trips to apple orchards and the trees and the colors.

It's no secret that in our household, fall is the favorite of seasons.

Fall rules!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Paint Class and My Mural

So, this last weekend, I had my Social Artworking class. This class takes their simple to use canvas painting instruction packets and allows the student to learn the methods with a teacher present. My class was at JoAnn's Fabrics.

If you haven't heard of JoAnn's classes, please look into it. They have sewing classes, polymer bead-making classes and even teen-sewing classes. Awesome!

Sweet Fluffy Omelet

This recipe was found in one of my mom's old cookbooks. When I found it, I was in the middle of the Dukan Diet and frustrated because I couldn't do much to 'treat' myself. I tried a lot of the Dukan 'desserts' with no success. A few of them actually went down the sink. I was allowed all the lean protein I wanted, so milk, low fat (no fat) cheeses and eggs (two yolks) were fine. Also, sweeteners are allowed, in moderation. I finally found stevia as being the only sweetener I could use that I could stand. I don't like the idea of the chemical sweeteners, but stevia is natural, from a plant. It does taste slightly different, but if you're not overloading the sweetness, you hardly notice. Especially if you haven't had anything sweet lately.

This recipe is as it was listed in the cookbook. It wasn't listed as a diet recipe. I believe it's French in origin and takes a few minutes to make, so I don't make it everyday, otherwise, I definitely would.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fall Fun

The weekend was perfect and wonderful.

I went to a Mary Kay party on Saturday, took the bike because the weather was perfect. When the hostess greeted me at the door she was laughing and said that one of the ladies inside was all, "Some lady just pulled in on a bike!" :)

We all had a fun time. They were all fireman wives. We had a lot to chat about, laugh about, grouse about.

Hubby and I went through the study together and made a pile for goodwill. I love consolidating. Lots of books we don't need/want. We were able to get rid of a curio cabinet in the living room that we didn't need. Means more space! I love empty space.

Sunday, we took the two youngest kids to the local apple orchard. Man, it was busy.
The girl with her best 'tough' face.

Friday, October 07, 2011

It's Friday and I'm Happy

It's Friday.

I slept in this morning because the girl had a late start at school. Didn't start until 10am. SCORE

I rode the bike in to work.

Work has been quiet and wonderful.

I have Elton John playing on my computer via my MP3 player. Tiny Dancer anyone? Philadelphia Freedom?

I have Chocolate Chip pie waiting for me at home.

Sunday we're taking the kids to the local apple farm just for fun. We're talking apple picking, kettle korn, apple cider, apple cider donuts, apple butter, pumpkins. We're talking corn maze.

Welcome fall, with your leaves and colors and weather!

And candy corn.

And I have this pic to make my smile.

Life. It is good, man.