Saturday, March 28, 2009
First, the recipes:
T made the Creamy Basil Chicken on Tuesday. I got home from work to find my brother (K) had arrived for a visit - and a friend of ours had popped in for a visit. Good thing our dinner plans changed (I was originally supposed to make it on Monday) as we had plenty for everyone. It received raves all around.
The spinach/mushroom/Alfredo pizza was also unbelievably good. K loved it - and T made more than one comment about how much he enjoyed a white sauce pizza. I'm planning a seafood Alfredo version for the near future, now.
I goofed with planning on the Beef Carbonnade. This, too, is a slow cooker recipe. I did not realize this until I was checking the recipe in the afternoon to see what time I needed to plan on starting dinner. Oops. (We swapped pizza night because of it.) K and I both enjoyed it. Monkey did as well, though she didn't eat much. T had to work late so ate at work and has yet to try the leftovers.
Now, on to the chaos!
T found a Hire a Hubby (HAH) through a coworker. We've hired him to come finish our bathroom remodel that has been in progress/half done for (I'm ashamed to say this) 3 years. It was all kind of last minute and we've arranged for him to come while K is visiting so K can help with any heavy lifting I'm useless for right now. I found a new paint this week (Copper River by Behr - out of my comfort zone, but I think it will look nice when it's all done). HAH came yesterday to scope out our new vanity and install our new medicine cabinet/mirror. That gave me the opportunity to prep the walls for painting now that the old cabinet is gone - and I finally took the time to rip down the wallpaper border I've hated since we bought this place. He'll be coming back early in the coming week to install the tile flooring and swap out the vanity.
Our other bit of chaos is K has been helping me with paint projects. Our bedroom still needed the baseboard heat radiators and the closet doors to be painted. K moved heavy furniture out of my way so I could get to the radiators and has one of the closet doors downstairs set up on the saw horses. He (or T) will put it back in today and bring down the other one to get it's paint.
I've also had an idea on how to make our entryway more inviting (less hideous!). When you walk into our house, you are facing our basement stairway. There are shelves above the steps we've been using for extra kitchen storage that I've had hidden with a curtain up until this point. K demolished the shelving in my basement stairway and got the walls all ready for some new paint. He said he'll paint them today. I'm going to paint the shelves themselves. I'm cutting the active/useful storage from 2 shelves to 1 - the other will be used for display.
We'll need to find a couple projects to keep him busy in the basement because he'll do the stairs themselves after the walls are finished (probably tomorrow or Monday) and will have to hide in said basement until the stairs are dry and he's able to walk on them to come back up!
I've been to TJMaxx/Home Goods in search of decorating items to help finish the looks I'm going for, though I'm sure it will take some time for me to get everything the way I want it. Those are small, easy things I can do on my own. K & T are doing all the big stuff I can't or shouldn't be doing on my own.
I've been taking pictures of progress, but I haven't had a minute to upload them yet. I will share them this week at some point!
I hope you are all enjoying the great spring weather - and eachother!
Monday, March 23, 2009
The Lemon Teriyaki Chicken was easy and yummy.
T never gave me a difficulty level on the Smothered Pork Chops, but I can tell you they were really good. Just keep in mind if you are using a bigger chop than the recipe calls for to cook it longer than the 2 minutes per side they say.
Absolute raves with the Taco Macaroni. I didn't find a strong enough taco flavor so I'll probably try out two seasoning packets next time.
The Asopao de Pollo (One Dish Chicken and Rice) takes some time but is extremely easy to make. It was alright, but I didn't love it. And it makes a ton, so our fridge now has two large containers of leftovers. We'll hang on to this one, too.
I hope you're all enjoying your kitchens!
We also made Sour Cream Cheesecake for T's birthday. It wasn't difficult, but it was a little involved - and worth every minute it took to make. We ended up just putting plain berries on it because neither T or I have ever cooked up berries and rum before. I figured that if I was going to screw something up, I'd rather it not be for my in-laws. HA.
Our next sweet has been selected, but we need to have a small break before making another. T made maple syrup yesterday so we enjoyed fresh maple milkshakes for dessert last night. We're going to be on sugar overload if I'm not careful.
Until then, I'll dream of fresh syrup and cheesecake.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
He had printed out a Granola recipe from Alton Brown a couple of weeks ago. I figured today was the day to give it a go. Monkey and I just got it in the oven and already smells really yummy. It was also very easy to put together.
Now for the birthday cake. He requested a cheesecake and then found another Alton Brown recipe. Tomorrow, Monkey and I will be making Sour Cream Cheesecake. My imaginary internet friends helped me figure out what to top it with (aside from the candles I forgot to buy today). I'm going to thaw out some of our strawberries and Friday, before it's time to serve, I'll warm them in a saucepan with a little sugar and some rum. I figured I could try something different instead of just thawing out berries and dumping them on top since it is for his 30th birthday. I need to show a little extra love. :-)
That's it for this week!
Monday, March 16, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
I made the Inside-Out Pizza Roll with my own variation of the meat sauce. All I did was cook up some ground beef with chopped mushroom and green pepper. When it was cooked through, I added some of the tomato sauce I drowned in - I mean froze - last fall. The sauce was really good and I'm planning on using it again next time I want to make baked ziti. The pizza roll, however, was only OK. I didn't save the recipe. It was far too much work for the mediocre outcome.
I found out today T never got to try the French Onion and Wild Mushroom Soup. He worked late the night I made it and Monkey and I finished off the leftovers before he got to them. Oops. Monkey and I both did enjoy it very much. Though, I do need to eat crow and publicly apologize to T (since I gave him such a hard time over it publicly). He was right. We could have done without the wild mushrooms. Monkey spit them all out and I wasn't all that crazy over them, either. I will be making this again, without the mushrooms.
Last night's Kielbasa Bow Tie Skillet was also a rave. I could see using asparagus pieces instead of the peas, too. It is yet another keeper.
Another successful week in my kitchen! Now to plan for next week.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Yes, that is a Playboy and a can of beer you see on the little table. I'm obviously not allowed in on the boiling time.
You like our set up? It works well for us, that's for sure!
So, I'll slowly but surely get it fixed up. Please don't mind the mess until I do.
It was much easier and went a lot faster than I expected for fixing. I still want to tweak colors, but I can do that some other time. :-)
Anyways, Monkey's napping is besides the point. Once we decided to stay here for the weekend, I needed to come up with something to make for dinner tonight.
T printed out the recipe for Kielbasa Bow Tie Skillet last summer sometime. It was one of the recipes I just wrote on a card and never tried. I have everything on hand I need for it except the snow peas and I didn't feel like digging through the recipes anymore than I already had, so it won by default. I'll take a run to the smaller grocery store nearer me later today (and get anything I want from their sales for the week, too).
It looks pretty easy, too. And anything with pasta usually gets a gold star from us.
Friday, March 13, 2009
I've gotten a lot of great ideas (especially for my kitchen). Now, if only I had the time and money to do everything I want to to my house!
T is painting the walls in our bedroom tomorrow. It's taken me two weeks just to get the trim and doors done (and I still have the closet doors left to paint!), so he's giving me a hand before I start screaming in frustration. Or maybe throwing paint buckets and brushes out the windows.
I'm going to share what our bedroom looked like originally. Basically, it looked like the room of a college student. (Not a very good picture. It's all I could find.)
Don't you love the Walmart special bed in a bag comforter? Or, how about the freebie brass headboard (which we finally replaced last fall because the darn thing was broken and jangled if you just breathed on it - it was extremely annoying).
What you can't tell by the picture is that the walls are a very pale, minty green and the trim is all a nearly yellow off white color. You see, when we first bought the house, I had this idea in my head for a color scheme and even purchased the fabric to make new bedding! You also can't see my first ever attempt at curtains (they served their purpose but I'm not sad to see them go).
I got overwhelmed by the new spread and its massive size. It's still half finished, in need of a backing. And the skirting has been sitting in the sewing bin with the spread because, well, what's the point in putting on a new bed skirt without new bedding?
Alas, we finally bought a new comforter last fall from LL Bean. The blue/green in the unfinished project don't match the green in the new comforter, so they'll never be used (by me, anyways).
Once T gets the walls painted for me, I'll need to:
1) Make new curtains
2) Make new bed skirt
3) Change the handles on his dresser (I'll take before and after photos when the time comes so you see why)
4) Paint his nightstand
5) Bring up my new nightstand (and hopefully have a new base on it, courtesy of Dad?)
6) Artwork (this includes painting out the frames on two mirrors I already have that I want to put in there).
7) I still need a new dresser! I've been scouring craigslist for something local to no avail (not even necessarily a dresser - I saw a great antique secretary on Ebay with drawers that would have been perfect and I'll be kicking myself for a LONG time for not snatching it). I'm hitting up the Goodwill and Salvation Army stores next week. My problem is it will be on a narrow wall (28 1/4" wide), so I need a more narrow than normal piece. UGH.
8) Dress the bed - it needs some throw pillows and maybe a nice big blanket folded at the foot of it.
9) Table lamps. We need table lamps. The one you see in the picture above died and we haven't had even one in our room since then.
I would also like to put a plant (or two or three) in there, but I don't have a great green thumb and tend to kill house plants, so we'll see about those.
My lists never seem to shrink. And I wonder why I'm always discouraged over having "too much to do."
I'm very much looking forward to finishing it and finally having a peaceful and restful place for T and I to relax at the end of the day. I think this will be even more important to have our own oasis once New Bean arrives. Don't you?
Thursday, March 12, 2009
3) Still going strong on bread baking. I find it therapeutic. We've slowed down on how much bread we eat in the past few weeks (it happens from time to time) so I froze one of my fresh loaves this week. We'll see how we like it next week.
5) I've been having trouble getting to finish the bedroom painting! I did get to put a couple more coats on our bedroom door yesterday. T is going to paint the walls for me this weekend (I think he can tell I'm getting pretty discouraged with the amount of time it's taking).
6) I'm currently scoping out ideas online as to what to do with my kitchen. I'm not leaving the cabinets as is, but this project may be pushed off a while because I want a cheap fix that looks good. Also, I'm trying to convince my brother to come visit for a week (or two or three!) to help me work on a bunch of house projects I have. Painting the stairway is at the top of the list I'm working on for him.
7) See #6: The part about bribing my brother to come visit.
That's all for this week!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
T knew what was good for him and picked up the dried wild mushrooms yesterday (HA). Since the weather is icky today, I've decided to make the soup tonight. And we'll finish it with a side of warmed apple cake with a scoop of fat free vanilla yogurt. YUM!
I'm hoping to be friendly with my sewing machine today, but I've also got my painting clothes on just in case!
Elmo is just about finished so I need to get ready to give Monkey lunch. Here's hoping I can have a productive day!
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The Sunday grocery store vomit episode happened while Monkey & I were picking up a tube of refrigerated biscuits for Apple Pockets (Parents). It has high ratings on the website. It did not receive high ratings in my house. They were extremely simple to make (they are geared for children helping make them, though I ended up without Monkey's help by the time I made them Sunday afternoon). They were OK, but not something we would want to go out of our way for again. I tossed the recipe card.
I plan on trying another sweet treat tomorrow. This one came from my Grandmother D, but I'm not sure where she got it (so I'm sorry if I'm not giving credit where credit is due). It's an Apple Nut Cake. I can't find this recipe online and am not in the mood to sort through the thousands of apple nut cake recipes to find one close enough, so here it is:
Apple Nut Cake
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp baking soda
4 cups chopped apples (with peel)
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
Mix dry ingredients with nuts and apples.
Mix oil, eggs and vanilla into separate bowl.
Fold into dry ingredients until well mixed.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour 15 minutes in bundt or spring form pan OR 45 minutes in 9x13 cake pan.
I've got two this week, both courtesy of Rachael Ray, of course.
First up is an Inside-Out Pizza Roll. It calls for her Meat Sauce, but I'm going to concoct my own version using our tomato sauce from last fall (our freezer has quite a bit left in it) - and am thinking of adding some veggies for some extra healthy goodness.
The second recipe I picked for this week has caused a little discord in my household. T only worked a half day yesterday and with Monkey feeling as she was, I asked him to do our weekly grocery shopping on his way home (the vomit episode was a quick run for biscuits for a recipe I'll be sharing later). The French Onion and Wild Mushroom Soup just looks and sounds really good to me. And it's a 30-Minute Meal, so how could I pass it up? T, however, thought it was insane to pay $6 for an ounce of dried wild mushrooms and decided not to get any. He didn't realize I'd planned accordingly for the week to accommodate the pricier item in our budget. He'll be stopping at the store when he's in town today if he knows what's good for him. HA
We're having Shrimp Nests again on Friday. This will be the first time I re-make one of our new recipes!
Up next: random sweet treats.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Rachael Ray really knows how to please my families bellies. While it was easy to make, the Pan-Fried Spinach Ravioli was a bit time consuming for my taste (it took over an hour to prepare). I know I consider myself a stay at home mom, but I don't want to (or have the time to) spend hours in the kitchen every day. I added some ricotta cheese to it (I have some leftover from the Lasagna Stoup a few weeks ago so I need to use it!). We all did enjoy it and I will be making it again. I plan on using more ricotta and less cream cheese next time.
The Fisherman's Bake was also a huge hit. I considered adding scallops, but when the time came, didn't feel like spending the money on them, even if they were on sale. We may try this again and substitute haddock for the tilapia and/or add scallops or even perhaps clams. Either way, we're keeping the recipe. And it's one I can obviously play with.
I spent some time this morning looking through my recipe box. I do have quite a few recipes I had written down and put in there even though we've yet to try them. I pulled them all out and we'll slowly start working on trying those out along with the rip outs and print outs we've been collecting.
Who knew I could enjoy playing in the kitchen so much?
Saturday, March 7, 2009
And I'm offering no explanations.
Friday, March 6, 2009
First, I'd like you to enter the chaos and destruction we first lived with in that room. When we bought the house and it was just T & I, we used it as an office (and my makeshift crafting area). It's hard to see, but if you look closely above the desk, you can see a teeny print on the wall. The room had three layers of wallpaper (you can see it peeling to the left of the painting).
While I was pregnant for Monkey, T started working on it. He ripped down all three layers of wallpaper only to find multiple layers of paint underneath. You're thinking "Why is paint a big deal?" right? The paint had been peeled and was chipped and cracking in many places and it was a gigantic mess. T worked hard on those walls. We spent days scraping as much paint as we could. Then T had to mud everything and make it as smooth as possible (otherwise, it would have looked horrid to just paint over it). I really wish we'd thought to take a picture of the "during" stage. T was pretty discouraged for a while, too (it takes a lot to discourage my Mr. Optimism).
This is what we ended up with on the walls. It's a pale blue, but has some gray undertones to it.
We've been using this room as our guest room ever since (and for some reason, I never took pictures of it all done up - that's not like me!).
At the moment, this room still has a bed frame and box spring set up (we took the mattress for Monkey when we converted her bed), all sorts of extra bedding tossed on top, baby items I had hiding under Monkey's crib we'll need for New Bean and my dresser (which I still haven't found a suitable replacement for because this one will NOT fit in our master bedroom). In the coming months, we're leaving the box spring in there so we can put an air mattress or futon mattress on top so we have a "spare bed" for a little while longer.
I promised T we won't be doing a lot of work in here this time. I need him to put a better shelving system in the closet and he'll give the ceiling a fresh coat of paint. I've decided we're leaving the walls because I really do like the color. If it's a girl, I'll add punches of pinks and silvers. If it's a boy, I haven't decided on other colors, but with blue as a base, it won't be difficult to figure out.
I'm going with black furniture this time. The cheapest crib I've found so far is from Walmart. It's ok, but I'm not in love with it.
I haven't started looking for a dresser yet. I'm sure it won't be too difficult to find a nice black dresser, though.
I found some nursery inspiration on My Sweet Savannah (one of my new favorite blogs - her home truly inspires me and has given me a kick in the pants to get to work in my home). I love the shelf on the wall with the framed sheet music. I would probably find something other than sheet music to frame, though. We love music, but we aren't musically inclined.
I have a few ideas but I'll be doing the same as I did for Monkey. We'll have the basic furniture in place but won't do any actual decorating until we meet New Bean and find out if it's a he or a she! (Monkey slept in a Pack 'n Play in our room for four months, so it's not like we'll need to have the crib made right away, even. HA).
And a quick update on Monkey's room. Her bedding is all on. I made her bed skirt this week. I have three or four more projects planned and then I'll show you the finished product (it still might be a few weeks - I need man muscle for a project that I'm not telling T about because I know he won't agree to it and therefor won't help. I'm avoiding a fight by not even mentioning it to him. HA)!
I'm currently working on our bedroom still, as well. Baby steps and one little thing at a time.
I need more hours in a day. And another set of hands.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
I've been looking online at Target and Baby Depot (Babies R Us is just too far from us and we [I] refuse to pay shipping if we don't have to). If I'm buying new, I want a black crib this time. And the cheapest I've found is $150, has poor reviews online with Target and is still a convertible! The next cheapest is $220, has better reviews with Target customers, but, you guessed it, is also a convertible. And, honestly, that's not much cheaper than we paid for Monkey's crib/bed. There are only a total of 5 cribs on the Baby Depot website.
I've taken to scouring craigslist. I'm just not sure how comfortable I am buying a used crib from someone I don't know.
I do know I can research brands online to make sure I'm not about to buy a recalled crib. I'm still not sure how I feel about it, though.
3) I'm back on the ball with my bread. I got my two loaves made Monday morning. I need to get back into the Sunday morning baking routine, though (I usually run errands on Monday mornings but with the snow storms of the past few Monday's, Monkey & I have parked our bums at home!).
4) I've gained 12 pounds at 22 weeks of pregnancy. I'm more than half way there. And that's about half of what I gained for Monkey. I've been a bit of a food disposal this time (and I've had an insane sweet tooth), so I'm surprised the weight gain isn't more. I'm not complaining. Less to take off after New Bean arrives. HA
5) I took Friday off from painting in my bedroom. Saturday, I got 2 coats of paint on one side of our bedroom door. I took Sunday and Monday off from painting. I was in the office Tuesday. And Monkey didn't nap on Wednesday. Yep. I haven't gotten much more accomplished on my bedroom paint/remodel project. Hopefully she'll nap today and I can get a couple more coats of paint on the door (it needs at least 1 more coat where I've already painted). It is going to take me a year to get this one, itty bitty room done! ACH!
7) I can still see the top of my desk. I moved my sewing machine back into it's rightful spot on said desk. That's about it for the office/family room for this week. Hey. I did say I can still see the top of my desk, right? Because that in itself is a pretty big deal.
That's all I have to update on for today. Wish me luck being a little more productive this coming week!
Monday, March 2, 2009
Now that hockey season is over for us and we'll actually be home on Friday for dinner, I've put the Fisherman's Bake back on the menu for this week. I'm considering adding bay scallops to it because they're on sale at Hannaford again this week and I know Monkey enjoys them. We'll see how I feel when I'm at the grocery store.
May you be enjoying your kitchen as much as I have been enjoying mine.
My third recipe last week was Cheesy Hash Brown Chili (yet another Rachael Ray recipe). I only had half as much chili powder as I needed but decided to forge ahead. We did still need to eat, right? It was really good. I think it will be even better with the proper amount of seasonings. And, unlike her father, Monkey devoured the red beans.
Another successful week!