Tuesday, February 19, 2013


 Hannah Banana played basketball for the first time this season for the NCCS Knights Middle School Girls team.  She really enjoyed it and I think with her height and her speed she just may have found the perfect sport for herself.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Two Ingredient Valentines Day Fudge

I stumbled upon this super easy recipe on Pinterest - (of course!) for making sweet treats for all the little and big people in your house.  Two ingredients - seriously! Super easy, fun, and very yummy. 

The two simple ingredients are strawberry frosting - I couldn't find any so I improvised with Frosting Creations, and a bag of white chocolate chips. Well, and sprinkles if you feel super festive, so technically three ingredients. 

Melt your chocolate chips, and stir into the frosting - thats IT!!
Spread into a lightly greased baking dish and add your sprinkles.  It starts to harden up pretty quickly, but we put ours in the fridge for about ten minutes to help it along. 

 Having a random zipper on the counter is optional (what, why?) You could be creative and use a little heart cookie cutter to cut them into fun little shapes, but after making just two (in the picture above - which we then promptly ate), I decided little fudge sized squares would be just fine, because that just wasn't worth the time and effort it was going to take! HA! 

And they look so pretty and Valentine-ish sitting on the counter! :) 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Now that I feel like life is slowing back down to a reasonable pace, I can start blogging about the things I love to do again! Cooking for my family is a recent love for me - I really, really used to dislike it.  I think God is blessing my desire and efforts to do my best to be the wife and mom he created me to be!  I tried out a completely new recipe on my peeps yesterday, knowing for sure they would most likely turn their noses up. They don't care at all for soups or stews, BUT they do love Mexican. One certain male member of our family I was positive would not even taste it - but his reaction - - "This is AWESOME!!!" and he ate two bowls.  I never ever thought I would hear those words come out of his mouth regarding something I made..... from scratch..... that included vegetables.  So I thought I would share it here with you....

Start with three - four cups of chicken broth. This size container was perfect.  Bring to a simmer on the stove and add chicken until cooked through.
 Gather these spices while chicken is cooking.
 As well as the rest of the main ingredients.  (I discovered that cilantro keeps fresh in the fridge twice as long if you wash it very well, trim off the bottom and place in a cup of water, and place a large quart size baggy loosely over the top).
 Chop one green bell pepper and one large onion.
 And yes, I cheat and use garlic in a jar.  This is one of my best cooking secrets - it makes my life so much easier.
 After the chicken is cooked through, remove it and add in all other ingredients (listed below) and bring to a boil until peppers and tomatoes are soft.
I shredded the chicken while the vegetables were simmering and then added everything into the crock pot to cook on high for about four hours. You could probably just throw everything in together also and cook on low for eight hours and skip the simmering steps.  I use my crock pot probably 75% of the time for weekday cooking - with running kids around to various sports and after school activities, it lends itself well to being able to prepare dinner right after lunch while I still have time and energy to do so.  Dinner is ready when we all arrive home tired and hungry.   Just before serving, I used my Magic Bullet  (which I use almost daily) to puree about 1/2 of the soup, and then stirred it all back together.  I also substituted the cojita cheese which the recipe called for, with mozzarella cheese, knowing my family would prefer it - stirring that in to melt just before serving.  We added a sprinkling of pepper jack cheese to the top with a sprig of cilantro.  
Every one in the family liked it which was SOOO surprising! I have a brood of picky-eaters, so this was a rare treat!

Chicken Enchilada Soup

3 cups chicken stock
2 skinless, chicken breasts
3 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp  chili powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
4-6 jalapeno peppers, minced (I omitted these)
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups frozen corn (I used canned)
1/2 cup tomato paste
8 oz cotija cheese, crumbled (subsituted mozzerella)
8 oz pepperjack cheese, divided
1 cup cilantro, chopped
Tortilla chips

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Finally! The Complete Kitchen Makeover

I have had so many people ask me lately for an update on the kitchen renovation.  It has been a long time coming.  :)  We did most of it over the course of about two years, as the budget (or lack thereof) allowed. I can finally say that everything is completely COMPLETE!  Appliances have slowly, over seven years, been replaced only as needed, so far the only original appliance still ticking in the kitchen is the microwave.  If that ever dies, it will be replaced with stainless.  We added in the long island, installed wood floors, put in new counter tops, painted the kitchen cabinets, installed a back splash and new lighting.  So here is what it looks like today!

Quite a contrast to what it looked like about five years ago. Awwww - look at my wittle bitty babies! They were two, seven and twelve in this picture.  Now the youngest is the same age as my middle in this picture.  You can see that we did not have an island originally.  It was an open concept kitchen that opened on to an eat-in dining room, which was also open to the family room - which meant we had almost zero counter space. 
 photo IMG_8495pb.jpg
Here you can see the backsplash we installed, this was one of my most difficult decisions, but I'm pretty pleased with the results. 

I wish I had NOT listened to the contractor who insisted that I needed decorative trim to go around the places where the tile ended - like here next to the window. Or maybe I just wish I had gone with something the same color as the tile. I chose the metallic brown to match the tiles over the stove. 
Our refrigerator finally died - well, after we pulled off the equivalent of two dogs worth of dog hair out from under the bottom while it was being relocated, it began working just fine.  Of course we discover that as the new one is being installed.  This is the old one - see how far it stuck out into the doorway? 

 So, the old big black beast made its way to the basement as an extra refrigerator (which I LOVE!) and now we have this lovely counter-depth new one.  What a difference it makes!  We also changed the wall color to Sherwin Williams Believable Buff   You can CLICK HERE for details on how I painted the kitchen cabinets,  including the paint color. You can also CLICK HERE for an update to that.  This was really no where near as intimidating as you might think.  It was a pretty simple thing to do.  It took four days to allow for dry time between coats, but only working about two hours each day. 
Here  you can see the inside of the door and the old wood stain color they used to be.  Also notice the inside hinges.  I think this is a HUGE time saver for painting cabinets.  If you have this style, then go for it.  If you can see your hinges on the outside of the cabinets, it will be more labor intensive.  I have helped two friends do theirs with outside hinges, and it wasn't too bad, but you DO have to remove the doors.  My suggestion is to put a piece of tape on the inside of each door and number them so you know EXACTLY where each door belongs when it's time to put them back.  Trust me, I speak from experience.  You will thank me later.  :) 
Since our kitchen is on the small side, this little side counter doubles as our coffee/drink station as well as that central "home office" kind of space. It's where today's mail usually lands, important papers, things to be signed and returned to school, and even our dinner menu.  This is also where our complaining pig lives.  His sign around his neck says "thou shalt not whine .25".  We are all trying to curb our tendency to complain lately, so having to insert a quarter every time you are caught complaining helps us to realize just how much we tend to complain.  That's been an eye opener, and the pig is getting quite heavy.  Now I just have to figure out what to do with all those complaining quarters, it doesn't seem quite right to treat ourselves to something, now does it?  We will probably put them in the offering at church.  By the way, that pig was handmade by my stepmother way back in the 1970's.  Somehow that pig has survived - even taking quite a fall from a top shelf in my room as a child when a certain sister threw a pillow at me, instead hitting the pig (which was up near the ceiling - nice aim sister), but made that pig come crashing down on top of my head. Ahhh, memories. 
Also home for the weekly menu - this is my lifesaver.  It's not fun to take a few hours or so each week and come up with the menu, and then make the grocery list, and then do the shopping, but it saves SOOO much time throughout the week.  Everything is there and ready to go, and I don't get asked ten thousand times a day "whats for dinner?" and often extra teenagers will show up for dinner as they also know what to expect - HA! I love it! 
See - not so sure about that tile trim.  I even tried painting it - don't do that.   That cute little white tin pot came from Ikea and actually holds all my doggy medications.  They have quite an array so keeping it handy is important, but in that cute little thing it's easier to have it out where we can remember to give it to them. 
And the very final step was changing out our lighting.  We had a horrid old fluorescent light over the kitchen, along with the old chandelier that hung over the kitchen table that has been long gone for years now.  Side note - one of the wonderful things about owning your own business is the chance you get to barter with others who have their own business or set of skills.  One of the sets of newborn twins I photographed have a daddy who is an electrician - BINGO!! I can finally get those lights installed without putting another dent in the budget.  I bought the lights - he installed them. Win-Win.  We put three pendant lights over the long part of the island, I have a "three" theme going on - three tiles over the stove, three trimmed squares along the front of the island, seating for three at the island, My Three Girls. :) You can see all the "three" things better in the very first picture of this post.  We also had recessed lighting installed throughout the kitchen and the family room.  Light makes me happy. Very happy.  It's the photographer in me. 
One final look at the completed project, with a cute little puppy to add a hint of charm. :)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

GO Ravens!

Life has  been CRAZY lately and I haven't had any time to blog.  But here's my latest little client six days new - he arrived just in time to cheer for the big Super Bowl game today - I still get a little taken back by the insane support of pro football in this area.  You don't hear a thing about college football like you do in the south - here, it's all about the NFL.  So, I'm supporting my city today - GO RAVENS!