Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Triple Threat

I checked my comments this morning and was pleased to find that I have been given not one, not even two, but three blog awards!  I was given the "One Lovely Blog" award and the "Sunshine" award by Tiffany@My Crowded Kitchen and (for the second time) I received the "Liebster" award from Bonnie@Simply This and That. Both lovely ladies have some truly lovely blogs, and you should definitely check them out. 

There are a few questions that accompany these awards and also a few guidelines for passing them on.  After answering the questions, nominate a few blogs you think are deserving or that you'd like to encourage!

Favorite Color - I like color combos rather than individual colors (yellow, grey, and navy; earth tones, etc)

Favorite Animal -  I love polar bears.  I imagine that they are not, in fact, scary killing machines, but instead they are cuddly... like the ones in the Coke commercials.

Favorite Number - I have always had 4 as my favorite number. I'm not really sure when that started or why. 

Favorite Drink - Dr. Pepper, raspberry lemonade, and what southern girl would be complete without Sweet Tea! 

Facebook or Twitter - Facebook.  I don't plan on ever having a twitter. 

My Passion - The arts.  Music, Art, Cuisine, Dance... anything

Giving or Getting Presents -  Giving.  I get more excited when I find something for someone that I know they will just love than I do about receiving any gift.

Favorite Day - Thursday. My small group meets that night ,and we cook dinner and have Bible Study.  It's a great encouragement to me.  It gets me through the week.

Favorite Flowers I have always loved gerber daisies! The big white ones with the yellow middles.
Now to pass this on to some amazing blogs!
Candy @ the Skeptical Sweeper
Beth @ A Slice of Southern
Carrie @ A-Hooah's-Housewife
Jessica @ Green PB&Js
Allison @ Feeding My Temple

Monday, May 28, 2012

Triple "S" Quesadilla

The Triple "S" in this quesadilla stands for Smoked ham, Swiss cheese, and Sliced apples.  I used four slices of swiss cheese to make it extra creamy.  The smoky flavor of the ham, combined with the flavor of the swiss, balanced really well with the sweet red apples, all wrapped together and grilled to a beautiful golden brown.  This is a healthier snack that I will be making again!

Bacon and Bleu Chicken Breasts

This recipe combines two of my husband's favorite things: bacon and bleu cheese.  To make them, I seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. I dipped the chicken breasts in some bleu cheese dressing, sprinkled them with bacon and bleu cheese crumbles, and topped them off with parmesan cheese.  I baked them at 350 degrees for 40 minutes (chicken must reach an internal temp of 165).   We ate them with dinner rolls and broccoli with melted cheese sauce.  It was a hit!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Apple Puffs

Attention everyone! Today, my husband and I got to sleep in! I feel like shouting it to the world =)  We have not been home on a weekend in a month, and this weekend we plan on really enjoying it. Between band spring concert, banquet, and finals, things at the school have been very hectic, but this coming Thursday is graduation, and then SUMMER VACATION!! I have not been this excited for summer since I was in school, myself. 

Today we got to sleep in, and we woke up feeling refreshed.  With no plans until the afternoon, I was able to take the time to actually make breakfast for my husband.  I did not tell him what I had in mind; I wanted to surprise him.

I decided to make apple puffs.
First I took a red apple, sliced it and chopped it into 1" pieces.

I used crescent rolls as my dough.  I unrolled them and layed them out flat.  I spread a little bit of butter on top of the dough.

Then, I filled the dough with a layer of apple pieces.

I sprinkled the apples with my cinnamon-sugar mixture (2 tbs sugar, 1 tbs cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp salt).

I topped it with another roll, pressed the sides together, and sprinkled more cinnamon-sugar mix on top.

I baked the puffs according to the directions on the dough package. Mine said 350 for 12 minutes.
(The puffs in the back I made without the cinnamon; I don't much care for it)

These were so good and not too sweet.  They were very filling without being too heavy.  I ate mine plain...

...while my husband topped his with icecream (for breakfast??... I don't judge)

These were so simple and quick to make, and we enjoyed being able to sit and enjoy breakfast together.  I'll definitely make these again!

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Big 1-0-0

Today my little blog has grown to over 100 followers! I am thrilled, especially because when I started this I didn't expect to have ANY! So here's to my little following family!! May you continue to grow =)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mini Dry Erase Board

I just had to share what one of my students brought me for an end-of-the-year gift!  She made me a Mini Dry Erase Board out of a 4x6 picture frame and a sheet of notebook paper.  It's perfect for taking quick notes... much better for me than post-its because I am notorious for losing them!  Sorry the picture is horrible =/  I took it with my phone and the camera quality is pretty bad! At least you can get the idea!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Quick Photo Editing

I love taking pictures! I took several classes in college, and I really fell in love with it.  I have always thought of pictures as the best way to remember a moment.  I look at a photograph, and I can remember how I felt when it was taken.  I enjoy being behind the camera just as much as I enjoy being in front of it! And I love to edit photos, as well.  I have photoshop, but not everyone does, plus sometimes it can feel overwhelming. I took a college course in design... the entire class was on how to use photoshop!  It was very informative, but very involved. 

A few weeks ago, my good friend Jen took some pictures of my husband and me.  I asked her to send me some of the unedited photos so that I could play with them.  I wanted to experiment with different photo-editing websites.  I used to use Picnik for online editing, but it is no longer up.  For this demo, I will be using
When you type in in your web browser, this is the first screen you will see.  Click the blue "Edit your photo" button.  You will be taken to a smaller window to select the photo you want to upload.

After you select your photo, you will be taken to this screen.  I wanted to take out the light fixture in the top left corner. To do this, I will use the "clone" tool.

To access the clone tool, click on the science-y looking, beaker-shaped button.  Scroll down to the bottom and select clone.  A drop down menu will... drop down. Click on the source you want to use to cover the unsightly object and then "paint" over it. Click "apply" (the green button).  Next I wanted to make my image black and white...

On the same tab as the clone tool, scroll up until you see the "Black and White" button.  Click it, then hit the green apply button.

Next I wanted to add text.  Click the "P" button, and it will take you to the text menu.

Here, you can select your font, font size, and color. When I add font, I add one word at a time, so I can move them around individually if I need to rather than having to move an entire phrase. I chose a quote from an Avett Bros. song, "There is nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name." When the words are arranged how you like, click save at the bottom left of the screen.

And here we have the finished product.  Picmonkey has tons of other features to play with that I didn't show here.  Best part is it's free, and in just a few clicks, you can have a beautiful, personalized, edited photo without having to pay the big bucks!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Live-Laugh-Love Painted Picture Frame

I just love this little picture frame I picked up in Walmart's craft section... on clearance! I painted it and filled it with pictures for my mom to give to her for Mother's Day along with the chalkboard planter I made earlier.

I put a picture of my mom and me, my brother and me, and my husband and me. I like how it turned out well enough.

3-Ingredient Strawberry Cobbler

I have never really been good at making desserts... something about having to measure just makes me uncomfortable.  When I cook, I like to throw a bunch of stuff together and see how it turns out.  When it comes to baking, you have to be so precise, and that is just not me.  That's why I was so excited when I succeeded at making a fruit cobbler!  It is probably the easiest dessert I've ever attempted, probably because there was NO MEASURING INVOLVED, and it only required 3 ingredients!

3-Ingredient Strawberry Cobbler
2 16 oz bags of frozen strawberries (or any other frozen fruit, or canned peaches without the juice)
1 box of white cake mix
1 can of lemon-lime soda

Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Dump both bags of fruit into the pan.  Pour the cake mix over the fruit, completely covering it.  Pour the soda all over the cake mix, but do not stir. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  Serve alone...

...or put it in a fancy milkshake glass and top it with ice cream =)


toastie studio

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful Moms!  I hope it was a good one!

This year, rather than go out to eat, I decided to cook dinner for my mother-in-law.  She and my father-in-law came over to our house for dinner and a movie.  I haven't had the chance to cook dinner in a while because our schedules have been so hectic, so I am so glad I was finally able to!

I wanted to try a new recipe idea: Chicken Cordon Bleu.   I have made it before, but a different way.  I much prefer this one!

Ingredients (serves 4)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
12 thinly sliced pieces of ham
4 slices of swiss cheese
salt and pepper
2 eggs
2 cups panko bread crumbs
chopped mushrooms (optional)

Pound the chicken breasts very thin (about 1/2 inch thick).
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Lay 3 slices of ham over the length of the chicken.  If you want mushrooms, put them on top of the ham.
Cut a slice of swiss cheese in half and lay it on top of the ham and mushrooms.
Roll the chicken up.
Dredge the chicken in the eggs and coat with panko bread crumbs.
Bake at 400 for 40 minutes.

It was so good, my father-in-law didn't even put ketchup on it! I call that a success!

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

DIY Wooden Handled Silverware

My brother has done it.  He has won best "Mother's Day Gift" for life.  He made the most beautiful set of silverware for our mom.  Yes, MADE!

 This is my brother and me at one of his baseball games his senior year of high school (last year).  I have to call him my younger brother because "little brother" doesn't really apply anymore!

My younger brother Jacob has always loved using a table grinder, and the designs he creates are awesome!  He usually makes canes or walking sticks, but he took it to the extreme this time and made silverware.  Probably the most beautiful silverware I've ever seen.

These are the pictures he sent me. Gorgeous!

He started by using his table grinder to carve a design all around what would become the "handle" of the silverware.  He drilled a small hole in the top of the handle for the utensil piece to fit into.  Using cheap silverware, he cut the ends off and made them into a point that fit into the hole in the wooden handle.  He filled in the hole using a substance called "Quiksteel Poxy" to keep the utensil secure in the handle.  He is going to use a sealant on the wood to make them usable and (hand)washable. Wow.  He has really impressed me!

He's making me a set next!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cream Cheese Lasagna in a Cup

I have just recently discovered my love for lasagna.  I have seriously been missing out.  White lasagna, meat lasagna, veggie lasagna... it's all good.  After three weekends of not being at home, I have missed my kitchen and cooking.  Finally, today my husband and I went grocery shopping.  We got plenty of food for two weeks worth of dinners.  Tonight's dinner needed to be something quick and easy, though, since we didn't get home until the evening.  I wanted to make lasagna.  I gathered my ingredients for my filling, but I had not noticed that my ricotta cheese had spoiled since I used it last, and I had to throw it out.  That ended up being the key to this filling.  In place of the ricotta cheese, I used cream cheese. It made the creamiest filling I have ever had in a lasagna.  I'll get to the recipe in a moment.

The second good choice I made tonight was to make lasagna "cups" rather than one large lasagna dish.  We have a really hard time remembering to eat leftovers, so I try very hard not to make much extra when I cook.  Rather than making a full-size dish, I placed the lasagna noodles in my muffin tin.  Not only did that make really cute individual servings, but it allowed me to customize them.  In mine, I added diced mushrooms, something I love, but my husband can't stand.

Now for the recipe:

Ingredients (for four servings)
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1/2 cup cream cheese (softened, also I used reduced fat)
1 tbs parmesan cheese
1 tsp (each) garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian seasoning
Bacon bits (just eyeball it, you can't have to much bacon bits... optional)
Minced mushrooms (optional)

Stir all ingredients together over medium heat until mixed and heated through.
In a muffin tin, layer cooked lasagna noodles and filling, ending with filling. Top with grated parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

The cream cheese made the sauce extra rich and creamy, while the bacon bits added a slightly smokey flavor that accompanied the other flavors perfectly.  My husband has already requested this dish again for another night this week!  I call that a success =)

Want to Know a Secret #4

Removing labels is such a pain.  Until Now!!

By pressing a label with a cloth soaked in hot water, the glue on the back becomes "un-sticky," and you can easily peel it off!

Soak a cloth with really hot water and press on the label, rubbing gently.

Begin to peel the label as far back as you can.

If it is still stuck, press more water onto the label and underneath it.

Continue peeling until it is all gone.

Ta-Da! A beautiful label-less bottle just ready for crafting!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Spicy Turkey Lasagna

Spicy Turkey Lasagna

Ingredients (serves 4)
1 lb ground turkey
taco seasoning packet
1/4 cup buffalo sauce
4 tbs cream cheese
9 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained (use this trick while boiling the noodles)

Cook the ground turkey in a hot skillet. Drain the fat.
Add the packet of taco seasoning and about an ounce of water.
Boil the water down in the skillet.
Add 4 tbs cream cheese (I used reduced fat) and mix thoroughly.
Add the buffalo sauce (more or less depending on taste).
Spray a casserole dish with Pam.
Layer noodles and turkey mixture, ending with the turkey mixture.
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

I topped mine with sour cream, and my husband topped his with bleu cheese. Both were fantastic.


Want to Know a Secret #3

When boiling noodles, especially lasagna noodles, I always add a tablespoon of olive oil.  This keeps the noodles from sticking together.  It also helps the salt that I add adhere to the noodles to give them a bit more flavor while they cook.