Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Current Favorite Cold Front Meal

We had a little cold front blow in yesterday and I'm currently cozied up in my jeans, tee, and blardigan.  I heard it was woven by angels and I had to splurge after my friend, Kara, showed me hers.  Oh my.  It's all it's cracked up to be and then some.  But I digress.  Our family up north thinks we're funny when we say it's cold here.  This cold front will bring us lows in the 70's and highs in the 80's and let me tell you...that's cold enough for me :)  My Texas blood goes into shock when the temps dip below 70.  

The best thing about these "cold fronts" are enjoying warm weather meals.  Meals that just don't bode well with the sweltering heat and 100 degree evenings.  Soups are one of my most favorite "cold weather" meals.  I like soups just as much as I love pasta, so when I found this recipe that combined the two I knew it had to make it's way into our dinner plans.  It seems like most of my recipes lately have been from Damn Delicious, but I can't help it.  Everything I've tried from her has been amazing!!!  And this one is a perfect cold front meal!  

SPINACH TOMATO TORTELLINI SOUP

1 TBSP. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
5 1/2 cups chicken broth {3 cans}
1 {14 oz.} can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 {14 oz.}can Italian style diced tomatoes {basil, oregano, garlic}
1 {20 oz.} pkg. cheese stuffed tortellini {refrigerated}
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1 pkg. baby spinach
kosher salt & pepper, to taste
shredded parmesan, to taste


This is one of the easiest meals to make.  If you're into fast, easy, and delicious...and who isn't?!?!?...then you seriously need to consider adding this to your menu!!

First up, grab a large stock pot or dutch oven.  Let's heat the olive oil over medium/high heat.  Add the garlic and onion and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until the onions are a little translucent.  

Now add the broth, diced tomatoes, spices, and bay leaves.  Whisk the mixture and then toss in the tortellini making sure to stir well to coat.  You can season with salt and pepper if you so desire.  

Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and continue to simmer until the tortellini is cooked through. Add the baby spinach and cook until it's wilted.

Ladle yourself a serving and top it all off with a little bit of freshly shredded parmesan.



As you can see, I modified the recipe just a bit so that we'd have enough for leftovers for the week and I really wanted to use up the last of the diced tomatoes I had on hand.  
Mr. Spouse gleefully exclaimed that this is his new favorite soup.  I would have to agree that this one is right up there for me, too.  Truly one of the most delicious "cold front" meals I've made in a long time!!!!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Halloween Porch

I finally got around to decorating the front porch.  I really wanted to last year, but all I could muster was a chalkboard and some pumpkins.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with that and our little porch rocked the minimal decor, but this year I wanted to do a little something different.  Trick-or-treating is a big deal in our neighborhood and I wanted something that would be fun for the kids.




This past weekend I headed out to a local trade days with my little family.  My mom came along and talked us into getting this cute little wheelbarrow.  I'm so glad she did!  I love it and it's a perfect fit for our porch.  I added a few bails of hay {Michaels}, some gourds {WalMart}, and a little piece of subway art I scored for $6 from Michaels!  Simple and fun.



The branches and crows are probably my favorite.  We found some great branches/sticks in our burn pile and they were all a little charred, so I love the touch that added.  I put them on either side of our columns and then placed the crows on the branches for a fun little detail.  I got the crows from the Dollar Tree.  I'm just praying they don't fly away when the weather gets crazy.



I found this fun little party kit at Michaels {Recollections brand}, tied ribbon around the wire, and then hung them underneath our porch.  This is my boys' favorite piece of decor.  I got a "SO COOL!!!" and "THIS IS AWESOME!!!" so I think it's a keeper.  And I'm praying these stay put, too!  HA!!!  Mr. Spouse is certain we'll be seeing these lanterns floating down the streets of our neighborhood in no time.  I got that darling wood banner from Marshall's about 2 months ago and it was only $7!!!  I'm so glad I didn't pass on it because I love the fun little flair it adds to the decor.  Now all I need is a festive doormat and maybe a new wreath.  That one has seen it's better days. 


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Winning Trifecta

Happy Tuesday!  I'm back after spending a few days on the road.  If y'all haven't figured it out by now, I LOVE living in Texas.  I love absolutely everything about it...hot weather and all :)  This past week I drove a couple of hours west and headed to Round Top to enjoy the last little bits of Texas antique week with the girls.  If you're not familiar with Round Top, let me just tell you that I think you'd LOVE it!  Miles...and miles...and miles...and miles of shopping....new stuff...old stuff...thrifted stuff...clothes...antiques...and cocktails :)


We spent the day shopping...our first stop was Junk Gypsy.  Big love.  We even stamped our very own leather bracelets and I apparently don't know how to do this the right way. #stampingfail  



Then we walked around...browsed the booths...shopped....posed for pics...and enjoyed a champagne popsicle at the Bubble Lounge while we were waiting out one of our lovely, albeit unexpected,  Texas storms.




After walking back to our campsite completely wet and muddy, we washed off {with baby wipes...#noshame} and got ready for Prom.  Such fun!!!  


We left the next morning after burritos for breakfast and then I came home and slept like crazy.  7 girls in a pop-up camper doesn't make for the best sleep :)  I was telling my mom I wanted to go back, so we decided to hop in the car the day after that and head back up to see what we could find.  After 6 non-stop hours of shopping {and eating!}, we drove back home with a trunk full of goodies.  I can't wait to go back in April!!!  

Speaking of eating, I could eat bowls and bowls of pasta.  A non-stop buffet of decliciousness.  This is, hands down, my favorite carb :)  I decided to take a few old family recipes and mix them together to create a new(ish)-to-me pasta dish.  I love lots of different variations on the tried and true bowl of spaghetti and this one did not disappoint.  The best part of this whole meal was the quick and easy prep.  Fast, easy, and flavorful...a mommy's dream trifecta :)

PENNE ITALIANO with BACON

1 lb. penne pasta
1 lb. chicken thighs, cut in small bite sized pieces
1 TBSP. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bag of frozen onion/celery/pepper blend {green/red peppers, onion, celery}
1 jar of Classico Tomato & Basil spaghetti sauce
1 {14 oz.} can of Italian style diced tomatoes
2/4 C. Zesty Italian dressing
Salt & Pepper, to taste
6-8 slices of bacon, cooked & crumbled
Shaved/shredded/grated parmesan {optional}

Let's go ahead and start cooking the pasta according to package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, cut your chicken into bite sized pieces.  I like to do this because I feel like the chicken cooks faster and nothing scares me more than uncooked chicken {{{shudder}}}.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the chicken once it's all warmed up.

Cook the chicken until it's no longer pink on the inside and then remove from the skillet and set aside.

In the same skillet, add the bag of onion/celery/peppers and garlic.  Cook for about 3-5 minutes or until the pepper blend is translucent.  

Now add the chicken, spaghetti sauce, diced tomatoes, and dressing to the skillet.  Mix until well combined and simmer for about 15 minutes.  You can add a little salt and pepper here if you want, too.

While your sauce is a simmerin', bake {or fry} your bacon.  I like to bake mine.  Frying and I don't mix.  I've got the burn scars and burnt bacon to prove it. So baking it is.  Remove the bacon from the bacon sheet and set aside to cool.  Once the bacon has cooled, crumble it into little pieces.  Or big. Whatever you prefer.  The bacon will be the proverbial cherry on top if you know what I mean :)

Drain pasta and return to the pot.  Now toss the chicken/sauce mixture over the pasta and mix to evenly coat.  Serve yourself a generous portion and top with the crumbled bacon bits.  Then garnish it with a little shaved/shredded/grated parmesan if your taste buds beckon.  

Like I said before...fast, easy, and flavorful.  A winning trifecta in my kitchen.


This is definitely a perfect little twist on the tried and true original.  And the addition of bacon was definitely an added bonus.  I loved that savory little crunch.  I wouldn't skip that part if I were you, but then again I really do love bacon, so maybe that's just my taste palate talking.  This dish is delicious with or without the pork, so do whatever your little heart desires.  Either way...just do it. Give this little number a whirl.  You'll be so happy you did!!!


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

'Tis The Season To Be Spooky!

This time of the year makes me feel like a giddy little school girl.  I absolutely LOVE all things October/November.  I know, I know...I sound like every other person when I say it, but it's true. I'm notsomuch a fan of the "all things pumpkin" movement...although I do love a good chocolate chip pumpkin muffin...but I love the feeling this time of the year evokes.

For me, this time of the year reminds me of my childhood.  It reminds me of my Mawmaw's homemade pasta...Thanksgiving dinners at Grandma & Grandpa's...my mom's homemade costumes {there were 4 of us to dress-up}...kicking my way through crunchy leaf piles at Grandma Gloria's...trick-or-treating with my cousins...Halloween carnivals & parties at school.  The list could go on.  

I anticipate Fall decorating as soon as school starts.  I'd decorate in August if I could.  Not because I want to rush through life and get on with the next thing, but because I love that feeling I get when this time of the year starts to settle.  I definitely decorate way too early...and I have no plans of changing that any time in the near future.  My boys love it...I love it...and {thankfully} we don't get tired of it...we just like to enjoy the heck out of it for as long as we can :)

This year I started my Halloween decorating the 2nd weekend of September. I love a little holiday creep ;)  I changed things up just a little from last year's display.  I added a few new things...tossed a few things out {those darn squirrels in the attic mangled a few of my things...thank you, country living}...and changed a few things around.  Overall, I'm lovin' it.  I think I like decorating for Halloween more so than Fall because it lends itself to being a little whimsical with the decor...and I really, really love the orange/black/white combo!  Plus, I have a plethora of random Halloween stuff and I sure don't want it to go to waste :)  

Here's this year's mantle...


When I buy seasonal decor, I most usually don't have any idea where I'm going to put it.  As I was unpacking all of my Halloween stuff, I realized I had quite a few 31's, so I figured I'd display those together.  I think there's definitely power in a collection...especially when that collection is displayed together.  

Those white shutters tend to be a permanent fixture on my mantle throughout the year because they give a little height to that space.  Our fireplace goes all the way to the ceiling and the shutters seem to do a pretty good job of centering everything.  I propped up an old window pane in front of the shutters and then draped cheesecloth over it.  I love the way it turned out.



I drew the 31 on the white chalkboard.  The circular 31 that's hanging was a fun find at Ross last year.  I got it for $3.99!!!  I saw the same one at Kirkland's last year...a little bigger maybe??...for a lot more!  I love getting a good steal!  I found the large black and white October 31 sign at Marshall's a couple of weeks ago {$12.99}.  They had it in orange and black, too! 

I made the standing 31 with paper mache numbers, scrapbook paper, mod podge, and a distressing ink pad.  SUPER simple.  I also made the glittery 31 that's adhered to the damask board.  I just took a plain wooden square {Michael's}, painted it black, then mod podged the top with the damask paper, distressed the edges with the distressing ink pad, and then hot glued the numbers to the top.  First, I painted the numbers orange and rolled them in fine orange glitter.



The banner was from Michaels {last year} as were the cheesecloth & glittered spiders.  The jack o'man, the pumpkin sitting on the candlestick, and the BOO sign are all from Hobby Lobby.  I don't like paying full price for anything and was so excited to find those after Halloween one year for 75% off!!   That sweet little pumpkin man on the pedestal next to the black & white 31 sign was from Marshall's this year...$6!!!!  I love him!!!


This little display is sitting on a tray on my coffee table.  Speaking of coffee tables, my brother is building me a new one and I can't wait!  We've had this one for the last 10 years and well...it's about time to retire this one to the game room.  The sweet little Jack with the witch hat was from Hobby Lobby.  It used to stand on a pedestal, but my boys were playing, knocked it down, and it broke.  I actually like it this way  little better!  The cloche is from Hobby Lobby and the pumpkins inside were a fun find at Marshall's.  I think I got a whole box of them for $6!!    The tall apothecary jar is filled with moss covered stones {Dollar Tree} and a little pumpkin that didn't have a home.


I have built-in's flanking both sides of my mantle and they're a beast to try and decorate.  I don't have near enough to fill the shelves with Halloween or Fall decor, so it's all spread out and not cohesive whatsoever.  I need to work on that.  However, I did take a few of my white pitchers from my ever growing collection and I grouped them together with this little Happy Halloween sign {Dillard's last year, I think} and displayed them above our TV.  It's not my favorite, but it's growing on me. It needs more color, for sure.


In the room right next to my living area I have these bookshelves on either side of our little couch.  I know these little jack o'lanterns are cheesy, but Lawd...I love 'em!!!  


This little arrangement is sitting on the coffee table in that same room.  Don't ask what the purpose of that room is.  Really...right now...it's just a sitting area.  The layout of this house still confuses me.


Right across from our sitting space is our "formal" dining area. We have a very open floor plan so you can see all the main rooms from...well...every room.  

These sweet little bats are from the Martha Stewart collection {Michaels}.  Those sticky dots they came with were a joke.  I put them up last year and they all fell down the next day.  This year I have them sticking up with painter's tape.  So far, so good.


I didn't change much about this set up from last year's.  However, I decided to forego the spanish moss this year because my boys enjoyed using it last year as toy.  I was finding random bits of spanish moss throughout the house for MONTHS!!!  Ha!!!  This year I just used a little cheesecloth which I probably could've omitted, too.  But I like it.



The table runner was a new find this year!  I LOVE Marshall's!!!  It was $12 and a great little addition to this little "tablescape".  Is that what you'd call this?!?!?!  Or centerpiece?!!?!  Whatever.  


Right next to the dining room table is this little corner table.  I recently painted it yellow and I'm a little obsessed.  I like having completely random pieces of furniture in the house.  Here's my theory on decorating...decorate with what YOU like.  It's too hard to keep up with the trends and I'm definitely not trendy enough to try.  If you like it, use it :)

I found the mercury glass poison bottle at Marshall's {$7} as well as the burlap covered trick or treat sign {$5}.  The black skull and crow are from the Dollar Tree.


I have this turquoise table set up on the wall right across from the yellow table.  Talk about color clash...but I love it.  All the colors tie in with my curtains, so that's how I justify the randomness :)
This little vignette is a hot mess and I'll probably be changing it up.  I got the sign and the cloche from Marshall's last year {shocker!}


This little table recently got a face lift.  It was brown and I painted it white...now I just need to go in and distress it.  All that aside, here's the random set up here, too.  I'm not a huge fan, but it's growing on me.  It's a space I never know how to decorate.  Grrrr.


The cute witch feet were from Kirkland's a few years ago.  I love them.  I found that Harvest subway art a few years ago at Marshall's for a whopping $3!  I was so excited!  I put my Queen of Halloween sign on top of an old distressed shutter I had lying around and now looking at it I can see that it's slightly askew.  Dangit.  How'd I not notice that?!?!  The big BOO was a fun find from Wal Mart just last week...$3!!!! 




Moving into the kitchen....
This is the only thing I've got set up.  Our kitchen is pretty open, so I don't need much in this area.  And now I'm realizing that my pumpkin blends in with the granite.  #decoratingfail


Mr. Spouse built these shelves for me and they're still a couple of my favorite pieces.  I never really know how to decorate these either, but here's how they look this year...


If you saw my Halloween post last year, you might remember my scary little Halloween boy.  Mr. Spouse says that this figurine gives him nightmares {{{shudder}}}.  I like to torture him with it.  Last year it was on the mantle and it watched him as he cozily sat on the couch watching TV.  He requested I not put it there again.  Now it sits in the kitchen watching him eat dinner instead :)  This little guy makes me laugh every time I look at him.  #winning


And here's my latest little chalkboard.  I'm kinda lovin' this one!!!  


Next week I'll be posting my Halloween porch decor :)  I'd do it today, but I haven't started on it yet...hahahaha.  I'm hoping I can cross that off my to-do list this weekend!!!  









Monday, September 29, 2014

Something to Snap You Out of Your Monday Blues

Happy Monday!  Is it?!?  Or do you have a case of the Monday blues?!  If you do, I think I have a little something that might get you out of your funk.

My dad and I share the same love of food.  He makes the absolute most AMAZING brisket your taste buds could ever enjoy.  But that's a whole other post in and of itself.  We love finding new recipes and sharing different ways we can trick ‘em up.  A while back my dad was telling me all about a recipe he found that he wanted to try.  We talked about how we could add a few things and make it even better than it sounded.  Well, I switched the original recipe up just a bit, and ohmiword. This was one of the tastiest things I've ever put in my mouth. I ate it for dessert one night and then had a few helpings for breakfast the next day.  And I might have polished off the entire plate and made a new one so that my family could actually enjoy the deliciousness, too.  Could.not.get.e.nough.

UPSIDE DOWN CINNAMON APPLE COFFEE CAKE
1 can apple pie filling
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tube Pillsbury Grand Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls {with regular or cream cheese frosting…I used regular}
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Let's not wait another second to get this flavor party started.

Preheat your oven to 350 and lightly grease a 9 in. pie pan.

Mix together apple pie filling and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.  Spread a thin layer of the filling onto the bottom of a well greased, 9-in. pie pan.  Combine the melted butter and brown sugar and set it & the remaining filling aside.


Now, separate the cinnamon roll dough into 8 rolls and cut each roll into 1/4ths.




Place the quartered rolls into a large bowl and add remaining apple pie filling.   Add the brown sugar/melted butter mixture and toss gently to combine with the apple pie filling.




Now spoon the cinnamon roll mixture over the layer of apples in the pie pan.




Bake at 350 for about 28-32 minutes or until a deep, golden brown.  Let it cool for about 10 minutes and invert onto a serving platter or large plate/dish.  This is what it'll look like...




Remove the lid from the frosting container and microwave for about 10-15 seconds or until it’s a drizzling consistency.  Then drizzle over the warm cinnamon apple coffee cake…


STOP.THE.WORLD.

I wish I could tell you that I was kidding about polishing off an entire plate.  This was a definite winner with Mr. Spouse and my youngest little man.  My oldest is that eater who doesn't like foods to touch...you know, like corn touching mashed potatoes.  He adores apples.  LOVES cinnamon rolls.  But he absolutely couldn't get over that they were mixed together.  He doesn't even know what he's missing!!!!  Most parents would be thrilled that their child doesn't  want to partake in stuffing themselves with a heaping serving of sugar...not me.  I just want him to TRY it....just try it!!  FOR THE LOVE!!!!  But again...that's a whole other post in and of itself.

This little number makes a great dessert and an even better breakfast.  We had the family in town last weekend and I served this as a dessert to follow our taco spaghetti.  There wasn't a bite left on the plate...darnit!!  I mean, GREAT!  But dangit...I was really wanting a few bites leftover for my midnight snack.  If this isn't something that makes your Monday a little brighter, I'm really not sure what will ;)


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

After School Special

So this little recipe is an oldie, but goodie.  I posted this one about 3 years ago, but we just had it again for dinner the other night and I figured it would be a good excuse to update those hideous, unappetizing pictures.  {I know these aren't much better, but trust me when I say they're not nearly as icky}.  Yuck.  Our little family loves this dish!  {By "our little family", I mean me & Mr. Spouse.  I long for the day that my boys will touch my dinners with a ten foot pole.}

********************************************
While my sweet friend, Courtney, & I wait for our walkers to go home after school, we talk about FOOD!  I think that’s our favorite  subject ;)  We like to exchange recipes & the other day she was tellin’ me about a recipe I just HAD to make!  Courtney likes this one because you can make it all in ONE pot!!  HA!!  I like the way she rolls :)  Adam liked it so much he had leftovers the next day and he very RARELY eats leftovers.  Thanks for the DELISH recipe Courtney!!!

 
SKILLET CHICKEN OLE!

2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2-3 chicken breasts, cubed {small bite-sized pieces}
1 pkg. frozen corn
1 can Rotel {original}
sliced black olives, to taste {optional}
Cooked Rice {I made 2 boil-in-a-bags :)}

Let's get this skillet party started.

Take 2-3 chicken breasts and cut them into bite-sized pieces and chop up your onion.


Add olive oil to your skillet and heat on medium high.  Add chicken, onion, & garlic.  Reduce heat to medium.  Stir often and simmer until chicken is cooked through.  Once the chicken is ready, drain the oil and return chicken/garlic/onion to pan.

Add Rotel & frozen corn.  Simmer on low heat for about 15-20 minutes, stirring often. As you can see, we didn’t add the olives.  Adam decided to veto that portion of the recipe because he’s not a fan.  Courtney said it’s REALLY good with the olives!!  I’ll have to try it when he’s not around :)



Turn off heat and add 1 – 1 1/2 cups of cheese....or more.  Whatever floats your boat.  We used Colby & Monterrey Jack :)  Stir until cheese is well blended & melted. 




Now, if you know how to make rice, kudos to you.  I DON’T.  SO…I made two bags of boil-in-a-bag rice.  Quick & easy.  Add the skillet chicken mix to the rice & stir.  OLE!   SO flippin’ yummy.  The corn adds a little sweetness that I wasn’t expecting…m-m-m-m-m.  This meal is definitely a keeper!!!!  And Courtney was SO right…I love it even more because I can make it all in one skillet!  Easy weeknight dinners requiring minimal dirty dishes are my absolute favorite :)  I think you might agree, too!



And I'm linking up with Andrea from Momfessionals today for her monthly Recipe Club.  There are some good ones over there, so y'all head over and check 'em out!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Roll It Up

I'm all about simple and easy breakfast ideas. I love waking up in the morning to cook for my boys and I REALLY love making them things that don't take me too long to prep.  I'm not really a morning person...by any stretch of the means...so I try to sleep as far past as my alarm rings as I possibly can without being late to school.  Those mornings that I sleep in a bit, I need those quick and easy recipes.  When I found this one, I knew it would fit the bill.  

I'm not much of a breakfast person.  I prefer a liquid diet in the morning.  Lots and lots of coffee, a splash of milk, and a sprinkle of Stevia.  It's taken me a LOOOOONG time to get off the flavored creamers.  Mr. Spouse keeps telling me I'm a step a way from drinking it black.  Uhhhh...I don't think so.  But I digress.  When I make these little cinnamon rolls...which is now at least twice a week...I have to have one.  I mean, I can't let them go to waste, right?!  I love anything made with a crescent and this little number is no exception.  And then with the addition of chocolate chips & cinnamon sugar?!  Fuggedaboudit.  

CHOCOLATE CHIP CINNAMON ROLLS
via A Night Owl

1 refrigerated can of Crescent Rolls
2 TBSP. butter, melted
1/4 C. sugar
1/2 TBSP. cinnamon
mini chocolate chips

VANILLA GLAZE {optional}
2 TBSP. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 C. powdered sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 and lightly grease a cake pan.   Now roll out the crescent roll dough and mix your cinnamon and sugar until combined.



Make sure to use the crescent ROUNDS and not the original crescents.  I tried that...and my house almost burnt down.  Waking the boys up to a kitchen filled with smoke is no way to start the day.  

Melt your butter and spread it along the inside of the dough and sprinkle it with your cinnamon sugar mix.  You can be as generous with your sprinkling as you want.  



Then go ahead and sprinkle with the mini chocolate chips.  Don't by shy with these either.



Now roll up your dough, pinch the seams to seal the rolls, and place it in your lightly greased pan.  Make sure not to place them too close together...about an inch or two apart.




Bake at 350 for about 15-17 minutes.  Mine baked perfectly closer to 13 minutes.  While your rolls are baking go ahead and prep your vanilla glaze.  I personally thought the rolls were great without the glaze, but whoa...that extra sweetness sure made them tastier :) For the glaze, just mix all of your ingredients together in a small pot on the stove top and cook on medium-high heat...just long enough for the ingredients to combine and all the lumps disappear.  

Remove your rolls from the oven and serve as is...




OR drizzle the warm glaze over the top and devour every.last.bite.



OH.MY.YUM.

My boys really do ask for these at least 2-3 times a week.  I don't always give in to their requests because I try to mix it up through the week, but dang...these really do hit the spot and it's hard not to want them every waking minute!!!