Thursday, March 26, 2015

Guilt Free Dessert

I'm far from a health nut.  Like on the oppostite side of the world kind of far.  I've definitely become more health conscious over the last few years and really try to steer away from processed foods when I'm cooking.  That's not to say I don't indulge in processed foods. I do.  A LOT more than I should.  It's a work in progress.  But if you know me, you know that one of my favorite mantras is "everything in moderation" :)  That's just what people like me say to justify their bad habits...hahaha!

Seriously though, I really do believe that! Sadly, I don't know how to indulge in moderation.  I have friends who are so good about their cravings.  They might be craving Oreos and instead of eating 5 and dipping each one into a glass of whole milk or crushing them and sprinkling them on top of their ice cream, they only have a couple.  They might be craving ranch dip and instead of pouring a huge vat over a steaming hot plate of fries topped with melted cheese, chives, & bacon, they use it sparingly as a veggie dip :)  Can you tell where I fall in those scenarios?!  #thestruggleisreal

When it comes to cravings and indulgences, moderation is not my strong suit.    I don't have a sweet tooth (but I do have MANY savory teeth ;)).  I prefer salt and carbs...chips, salsa, queso, bread & butter, fries, etc.  I mean, I do love a good dessert, but I could go days without sweets and be perfectly content.  However, a sweet craving will get to me after certain meals and I almost always want something in the form of chocolate.  Cookies, cake, ice cream....whatever it may be.  As you can imagine, one slice of cake turns into 3...1 cookie turns into 5...a scoop of ice cream turns into a bowl topped with whipped cream and sprinkles :)

I'm always on the hunt for creative, guilt-free recipes that taste good and help me satisfy those cravings.  When I found this one, I was crossing my fingers it would be a winner.  And for my taste palate, it was!!!  The bonus is that it's only 4 ingredients and ready in a minute :)


1 egg
2 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
1 TBSP honey or agave 
1/4 tsp. baking soda

In a small bowl, mix together all four of the ingredients.

Grease a large mug or small bowl with coconut oil or your preferred cooking fat and then pour in the mixed ingredients.  Microwave for 1 minute.  Remove and insert a toothpick in the center of the cupcake.  If it comes out clean, it's ready to eat!!!  If not, return to the microwave for an additional 5-10 seconds.

As for the sweetener, I didn't have any honey on hand so I used organic agave.  

I absolutely love the strawberry/chocolate combo, so I sliced a heaping portion and topped off the cupcake with that.   I think a squirt of Redi Whip would be fantastic, too!  Of course, buttercream icing would really take this to the next level, but in the interest of keeping this relatively guilt-free, I'll stick to the fruit :)

This is definitely NOT a "sweet" chocolate cupcake.  This doesn't taste like your typical cake-in-a-box.  While it's definitely fluffy, the taste is much more dense.  I absolutely LOVED it.  It really does satisfy my cravings and I don't feel guilty when I reach the bottom of the bowl.  
You can read what others had to say about on Ditch the Wheat.

If you're not accustomed to using honey or agave as a sweetener, you might not enjoy this as much as you hope!  However, you can always substitute the honey/agave with 2-3 TBSP of your preferred sweetener.  That might make a difference.

And if you have a gluten-free or low carb lifestyle, this little cup of indulgence would fit in nicely with your diet :)  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What the Teacher Wore Wednesday

So I figured  I'd throw in a little something new on the blog each Wednesday...maybe.  I've been a fan of The Pleated Poppy for years.  In fact, it was THIS POST that led me to her.  Landon was born a month earlier and I was up LATE feeding him and scrolling through different blogs.  A friend of mine linked to this project and being a teacher, I fell in love.  Perfect for a classroom!!  My interest was piqued and I've been faithfully following her ever since.  

Anyway, she always does these What I Wore Wednesday posts and I love them.  I like being able to peek in her closet :)  I like being able to peek into the closets of  the ladies who link up, too. I've never joined because, well, I have no style.  But I do occasionally get asked about different articles of clothing in some of my IG know, on the days when I actually try to look I figured it might be fun to participate.  Even if it's just for this week :)  This is definitely out of my comfort zone!!!  I sure hope that this post disspells the myth that all teachers wear teddy bear vests ;)  

Rang in the start of March Madness with an outfit representing the colors of my husband's alma mater.  GO BOILERS!!!!  Sadly, they couldn't pull off a win, but I refuse to believe it was because of my choice in clothing.

Born & Raised Tee:  Scored in November at Nutcracker Market
Shoes:  Dillard's, last season.  But it looks like you can find them HERE, too!
Sweater:  Mossimo- Target, last year)
Necklace & bracelet - both gifts :)

A super simple Friday called for a super simple outfit & my most FAVORITE pair of skinny jeans ever!!!!  Let me just throw out a quick PSA on skinnies.  I've always bought the Forever 21 $10 skinnies because I was just certain they were a fad that wouldn't stick.  My sister sold me on these Express jeans a year ago and I've been wearing them ever since.  I'm not picky about name brands...if it's cute and it fits right, I'm all over it.  And that's how I feel about these!!!  I have several pair, but I love these with the zipper up the side!  

Black top:  Lush, from Marshall's
Skinnies:  Express (the "legging" jeans...they're all buy 1, get 1 half off right now!)
Shoes:  Mossimo sandals, Target last summer
Necklace:  Forever 21(3 years ago)

Later that night I changed up the outfit just a bit for dinner.  I paired the same black top and my favorite skinnies with a leopard cardigan and my most favorite booties!!!  I wear them with everything!!

Leopard Print Cardigan:  Old Navy last season 
Shoes:  Anne Klein "Torny" Wedge Booties in taupe suede

It rained like crazy on Saturday, so that called for a messy top knot and workout attire.  The only thing I worked out was Netflix.  I finally finished Parenthood!!  WOO HOO!!  

Jacket:  Banana Republic Outlet (about 5 years ago)
tank:  Reebok (from Marshall's)
pants:  Reebok (from Marshall's)
shoes:  Reebok (from Marshall's) 
Do you see a trend here?!?!

Church on Sunday and then lunch at Carino's.  There aren't many restaurants to choose from out this way, but that happened to be one we've never tried.  Any Italian is good in my book and we loved it.
I scooped up this dress a couple of months ago and have been waiting to wear it ever since.  I found it for $15 at Forever 21!!  Whenever I find something there that I like, I get it because you know you'll probably never find it again.
Please excuse my pudgy, need-a-pedicure-desperately piggies.  

dress:  Nautical Striped Shift Dress - Forever 21
Necklace:  Kendra Scott
Shoes:  Calvin Klein Nikole Wedge in Camel, from DSW (looks like DSW is sold out, but I found them in black at 6pm)

Blah.  I need a tan.  A tan and a pedicure.  Laying off the carbs might help, too.  ALl that to be said, this dress is SO very comfy :)

Dress:  Old Navy (last year)
Earrings:  Sam Moon
Sandals:  Mia from 6pm  (not sure I like them, but they matched, I guess.  Got them for our trip to the Bahamas last summer and I think I've only worn them once)

Went on a field trip to the Wildlife Zoo with this cutie on Tuesday and didn't dress up.  Obviously.  But I did wear my most favorite sneakers.  My slip-on Chucks!!  GAH! I lovee these shoes!  I've had these for a few years and they are probably my most worn shoe.  I love the look of the slip-ons...I wear them with *almost* everything.  They do get a bit dirty, but they wash extremely well!

And then there's this.  I was telling y'all about my Express skinnies earlier.  These are another pair that make me swoon.  I love a good destroyed jean and these are my absolutely favorite.  My sister and I bought a matching pair while we were in San Antonio.  I would recommend finding them in the store as opposed to buying them online.  There were no two pair of destroyed jeans that were destroyed just the same.  They were all different.  I was a little particular about mine, so I'm glad I got to sift through them and pick mine out!

Earrings:  Francesca's (3 years ago)
Necklace:  Sam Moon
Sweater:  Ann Taylor Loft, last year

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Decor

I started putting out my Spring decor a few weeks ago and randomly uploaded a few pics to Instagram here and there.  I figured I'd hop over here and post them all in one little place :)  

This was my Easter mantle last year.  Simple.  And I loved it.  And it stayed just like that until August :)  My mom would come over and say, "don't you think it's time to change out the chalkboard?" every.single.time she stopped by.  I should also mention I had a St. Patrick's Day chalkboard displayed as well.  Hahaha.  I eventually got the hint and replaced it with another verse.

This year I decided to do something a little different.  Now that I have a new mirror on the mantle, I want it to stay there.  Plus, I repurposed two of the shutters and put them in the guest room as wall decor...and one of them broke  :( (womp, womp)  SO I really only have two I can use on the mantle now.

I feel like my mantle is always a work in progress.  Always.  But I do love it during the holidays.  
I keep a small basket on the hearth with a couple of blankets and a seasonal pillow.  I found that great galvanized tin can at Ross for about $6 and filled it with branches.  The lantern was a $20 steal from Kirkland's a few months ago and I'm not sure that's where it will stay.

I love decorating for Easter because you can do so much with so little.  The eggs in the apothecary jars were from Wal Mart.  WAL MART, people!!!  $3 per box!  I bought 2 boxes,  And guess what else is from Wally World?!  That wreath on the mirror!!!!!  GET.OUT!!!  $12!!!!!

The moss covered spring banner was a fun find from Marshall's ($9.99).  Any time I find a seasonal banner at Marshall's, I grab it.  They go fast!  They do around here anyway. The little white rabbit was also from Marshall's ($10) and Mr. Spouse is NOT a fan.  He says it reminds him of the rabbit from Monty Python. He made me watch the scene to which he was referring and now that's all I can think about when I see the dang thing!!! Hahahaha.  I wanted to add another natural element to the display, so I took two of my twig wreaths (Hobby Lobby) and gave them a home on the mantle.

The little pair of bunnies was a gift from my mother-in-law.  They are what kickstarted my little bunny collection.  Let me just say right now that I've never been a fan of rabbit decor.  Trust me when I say I'm not knockin' ya if that's what you like.  Not at all.  I've just never liked them.  And then my MIL brought me those black and white rabbits last year and I fell in love.  And now I find myself looking for them everywhere I go.

Right across from the mantle and behind our sofa is this little buffet/gallery wall.  I'm not 100% sure I like how I have it decorated, but that's all I got for this year's decor, so it stays.  

The white bowl (Marshall's, $6) is filled with robin eggs on a bed of moss.  The eggs are from Hobby Lobby and I've had them for a few years.  The eggs in the apothecary jar are from Hobby Lobby also.  The two little brown rabbits were from Marshall's, I think.   So is the white bird ($4) and the cloche with the nest ($15).  The only reason I remember half of these prices is because I never take the stickers off...unless they're visible :)  

 The lantern looking thing was a fun find at Tuesday Morning.  I found it several months ago and swooned over it for a second and decided I didn't need it.  It was only $17, but I couldn't figure out what to do with it, so I left it on the shelf with all the others.  I went back about a month or so later and there it was, but this time there was only 1 left.  And I was certain it wouldn't be there when I returned and then I'd never be able to find it again.  So I had to have it.  There's a little spot on the inside for a candle, but I wasn't feelin' it.  It sat in my decor closet forever until it was time to start decorating for Spring.  Then I added the nest and I think I love it.  I think.

 This is the display on the sofa table you see as you walk through my front door.  It's the bane of my existence, I swear.  But I have to say, I really like it this season! Mark that as a first!

It's a random hodgepodge of so much, but simple at the same time.  Or maybe that's just how I feel :)  You might be seeing something TOTALLY different :)  

I found this vintage scale on Ebay a few months ago and I LOVE it.  Just love it.  I was originally planning on adding it to my kitchen decor, but wasn't diggin' it so I've been putting it in different places all over the house.  Right now it's home for that little bird's nest and I think it works perfectly!  I also topped one of my little white vases (Ross, $4) with a bird's nest.  I found those nests at Marshall's YEARS ago after season and they were a whopping $3 a piece!  Of course, I bought them all :)  Really, there were only 3 left, so I snatched 'em up.  The little berry ball is part of a set of 3 that I scored at Tuesday Morning.  

I was OBSESSED with this sweet little white rabbit when I saw him on the shelf at Marshall's.  He was wearing a lime green gingham scarf, but I didn't like that at all, so I cut it off.  I couldn't pass him up for $7!  The moss covered rabbit was from Kirkland's and I think he's precious.  I found that pot of lavender (fake, of course) at Ross for $6.  It's been sitting in a closet for a while and I figured it was the perfect time of the year to bring it out.  I placed the plant inside of a galvanized tin can I found at Ross for $4!!!  It's a smaller version of the one on my hearth.  The frame with the nest of eggs was from Marshall's and that's probably going to stay out after the season and end up in another part of the house.  I love it so.  The moss balls and polyresin stands are from Hobby Lobby (50% off, of course ;))

I have a buffet in my dining room that I recently scored at a local trade days and this is the only seasonal decor that adorns it.  Just the right amount of spring for that room :)  That little rabbit is from Wal Mart...I think he was $4?!!?  And I found that great little bunny sugar bowl at Home Goods and it was $5.

This is the only spring/Easter decor in my kitchen and it's just the right amount.  I really try hard not to clutter my countertops because I swear that's my worst household habit.  Okay, well that and leaving a trail of clothes and work all over the floors.  Oh...and leaving piles of laundry on the couch for days at a time.  And...well...AHEM.

Moving on...

I knew I didn't have the wall space for this print when I found it, but it was the only one.  And just like everything else at Home Goods, when you find something you really like, and it's the last one left, just get it.  I figured I could always give it away as a gift if I couldn't find a home for it.  Plus, it was only $12.  (Bare with me as I try to justify this purchase to myself.)  Naturally, I brought it home and tried it everywhere.  It blended in on the mantle.  There was no room for it on the buffet.  I didn't like the way it looked on the sofa table.  Grrrr.  So off to the kitchen it went.  And I love the way it fits in this little space.  And that little urn full of eggs?!?!  Another great Wal Mart find!!!!  I think it was $5!!!  

And that's that.  I'll probably have all this stuff out until August...or until my mom comes over and tells me to change it all out!  HA!!!  (Love you, mom!!!!!)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Not Your Momma's Meatloaf

What a weekend it was in my little neck of the woods.  Slow, relaxing, and rainy as all get out.  I mean, it rained ALL.DAY Saturday.  We get lots of flooding down here when it rains.  Lots.  I looked out my front door and noticed that my across-the-street neighbors were on their own little island.  Water was surrounding their sweet little house!!!  My husband was anxiously pacing around the house because our pool was thisclose to overflowing.  #scary

There was a river running through our yard and our neighbor's yard.  My boys LOVE it when that happens!  They love to take balls and leaves and anything else they think will float and then watch them rapidly swim down the ditch.  They were sick of being cooped up watching Mommy dominate our family brackets (WOO HOO!!!), so they requested some playtime the rain.  There was no lightning, so we obliged their innocent request.
What a sight!  These two crazies in oversized tees, Christmas attire, bare feet, and smiles for miles :)  These are the moments I live for.  

The sun is shining and the weather is beautiful today.  I have my doors open, my classic rock blaring, and I'm sipping on a new coffee.  Today's flavor - Guy Fieri's Hazelnut Cinnamon Bun.  YUM!!!  THank you SO MUCH for all your k-cup suggestions!!!  I wrote them all down and I'm ordering some and heading out to the store to buy a few more.  I also feel like I need a Starbuck's Verismo now (thanks Kara ;))

Now let's move on to FOOD.  My favorite subject :)  

I really need to start eating a bit lighter.  I do.  My pants aren't exactly fitting me like they should.  I love to "fluff" during the cold winter months.  There's just something about cozying up with comfort food when it's cold outside.  Now that the weather is warming up, it's time to shed some of that winter fluff.  But before I do that, I had to indulge in this.  Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf.  That Pioneer Woman sure knows what she's doing in the kitchen :)

My mom used to make us meatloaf when we were growing up.  It was one of the staple meals she cooked on a weekly basis.  I loathed it almost as much as the salmon patties and enchiladas we had to eat.  My sweet mom is an amazing cook, but I didn't appreciate her culinary prowess as a bratty kid.  My tune has changed over the years and I now feel like I need to have her over and whip up one of these to pay homage to those meals she lovingly cooked for us as kids.  

This is definitely not my momma's meatloaf.  While I love my momma's cookin', I need to tell you this meatloaf might be a *smidge* better.  Just a smidge, momma.  I mean, BACON.  Hello.  When bacon is involved, it always wins. #oinkoink


1 Cup of milk
6 slices of bread (I used Texas Toast)
2 lbs. ground beef
1 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 tsp. salt
black pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp seasoned salt (I used Lawry's)
1/3 Cup parsley, chopped
4 eggs, beaten
10 slices of bacon, thin cut

1/2 Cup ketchup
1/3 Cup brown sugar
1 tsp. ground mustard
Tobasco sauce, to taste

Here's what you'll need to start...

First things first.  Preheat your oven to 350.  While you're oven is getting nice and toasty, take a small bowl, toss in the bread slices, and cover them with the milk.  The bread will need a little time to soak up all that dairy, so let it sit in the bowl for a few minutes while you gather the rest of your ingredients.

In a large bowl, toss in the ground beef, milky bread, parmesan cheese, seasoned salt, salt & pepper (to taste), and the parsley.  In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and then pour them on top of the ingredients in the large bowl.

Now it's time for some fun, but first take off your rings.  But don't lose them (speaking from experience).  Mix the contents of the large bowl with your bare hands and keep on mixing until it's all combined like this...

If you have a broiler pan, take that out and place the meatloaf mixture on top.  If you don't have one, no worries.  The broiler pan just allows for the fat to drain.  If you're partial to fat, then place it on a regular baking sheet :)  Just make sure to line it with foil for easy clean up!  Now form that mixture into the shape of a meatloaf.  I did my best, y'all.  I'm not meatloaf artist for sure, but this does bare a striking resemblance to mom's favorite cuisine.  

Once you have your meatloaf shaped the way you want it, start draping it with bacon.  Mmmmmm....BACON.  Just place the bacon on top of the meatloaf and then tuck the ends underneath either side of the loaf.  Now place the meatloaf in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.

While the meatloaf is baking, whip up the sauce.  Add the ketchup, brown sugar, dry mustard, and tobasco together in a small bowl.  Mix together until well combined and set aside.

After the meatloaf has baked for 45 minutes, remove it from the oven and pour about 1/3 of the sauce on top to give it a nice little glaze.  Then pop it back in the oven for another 15ish minutes.

After 15 minutes, remove the meatloaf from the oven and dig right on in!!!!!

I served this new take on an old recipe with my favorite tried & true carb...mashed potatoes :)  Just like momma made 'em.   I served each portion of meatloaf with an additional helping of the sauce.  YUM!

This is such a fun take on an old classic.  My husband has always loved meatloaf and I've always approached it with a bit of trepidation.  No more my friends.  No more.  I'm so happy I have this recipe now (sorry mom!!  But, I do love you!!)  If you're a fan of meatloaf, or notsomuch but are willing to give it another go, try on this recipe for size.  It really was easy to prep and well...BACON.  'Nuff said ;)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

But First, Coffee.

Confession time.  I have OCD. 
 Obsessive Coffee Disorder.  
I can't start my day without a steaming hot cup....or two.  

Okay, so I must have Jesus first and then all the coffee.  And just in case my love for coffee wasn't apparent enough, I had to make sure all my guests were aware of that fact, too...


Besides white pitchers, coffee mugs are my favorite thing to collect.  

Albeit busy and cluttered, I love our little coffee bar.

When I first started teaching 13 years ago, I made it my personal mission to love coffee.  Before my first day teaching, I had never had a cup.  I'd also never woken up before 11, but that's a whole different story.  Waking up before the sun rose was a struggle.  I remember my 35 minute commute like it was yesterday.  From my tiny little apartment in the heart of Dallas to a little school in the suburbs just north of the city.  I would stop at Whataburger...because it was right down the street...and grab a small coffee...along with 9 creamers and about 6 packets of sugar. #thestrugglewasreal

A year or so later, I was introduced to Starbuck's.  It didn't take long for me to find my favorite flavor.  I started out with a grande caramel machhiato.  Then I fell in love with white chocolate mocha.  Now, this was all before kids, so the fat conent in the white chocolate mocha didn't reside on my thighs and hips like it does now.  After kids, I switched over to the skinny vanilla latte because it made me feel **thismuch** better.  And in all honesty, I preferred the taste.  That's not to say I didn't love my occasional caramel frapuccino (extra caramel, please!!!) or my iced white mocha, but the taste of the skinny vanilla latte was my morning cup of happy.  

Adam eventually bought a Keurig so that we could brew our own little cups of happiness from the comfort of our own home, but I didn't get on board right away.  I went to the gym before going to school, so taking a cup of coffee with me wasn't an option.  Plus, there was a Starbuck's in the gym parking lot, so I'd stop there every morning after working out and grab a tall skinny vanilla latte and a cup of oatmeal.  YUM.

Upon moving to our little town just east of Houston, I was BUMMED to find out that the nearest Starbuck's was a 20 minute drive away.  Okay, so depressed would more accurately describe my feelings.  Where would I get my morning cup of overpriced coffee now?!?!?!   There was no way I was willing to drive 20 miles in the opposite direction before school every morning.  It was hard enough for me to get myself ready, but adding 2 kids to the mix would make the feat nearly impossible.

So I gave into the Keurig craze.  Donut Shop Coffee K-Cups were always in full supply and with a little...ahem, A LOT....of my favorite hazelnut creamer, I was sure I found a winner.  I've become a lot more health conscious these last few years and about a year ago I ditched the creamer and went straight to milk and Stevia as my preferred sweeteners.  It was a gradual process, of course.  I missed my frou-frou coffee.  A lot.  My husband kept telling me how much I'd love plain, black coffee if I'd just give it a try.  Well...I did.  And I spit it back out.  

I wanted to like black coffee SO badly!!!  So I gradually weaned myself off the milk and sweetener.  And now I can excitedly say that I LOVE black coffee and don't want it ANY other way!!!!  That's not to say I don't enjoy the occasional frou-frou serving of sweetness, but black is definitely the way to go. 

My favorite plain, black coffee is from none other than Sonic.  Their Red Button Roast is hands-down the best coffee EVER.  I keep hoping to see it on the shelves at my local grocery store, but I'm sure that's just all wishful thinking.  For $1.50 a cup, I'll gladly stop by our small town Sonic for a cup every morning.  I just can't get enough!!!  

Of course, my husband would prefer I just brew it here at the house, but now that I've been drinking it black, I have yet to find a flavor I really enjoy. I ditched the Donut Shop K-cups because I felt like it had a sour flavor.  Some of the others I've tried are a little too bitter.  Adam ordered a bevvy of k-cups for me to try because he's determined to find me the perfect flavor.  Bless him.

So now the question begs to be asked.

What's your favorite?!  Is there something I'm missing??  I've tried the Folger's medium and dark roast...not my favorite.  I've also tried the French Roast (which is just a touch too strong).  If you have a favorite K-cup, I need to know what it is so I can try it, too!!!  

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cozy Comfort Food

The weather around these parts has been warming up, thankfully, but the rain is sticking around.  We've had a couple of days full of clear skies, but there's a 65% chance of rain today and at this very moment, it's coming down pretty hard.  Here's my current view...

Now I'm realizing you can't even see the drops!!  HA!!!  But it's definitely coming down pretty steady.

 I don't know about y'all, but my favorite kind of rainy day meals typically involve comfort foods and soups.  Cozy food, if you will.  There's just something about snuggling up on the couch with a big ol' blanket, Parenthood on the TV, and a bowl of soup in hand.

This is one of those "cozy" meals.  And super easy to boot!  Definitely my kind of cooking!!!


1 TBSP olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1 lb. ground turkey
6 cups chicken broth (or a 32 oz. box)
1 (15 oz.) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (28 oz.) can of petite diced tomatoes
1 TBSP. tomato paste
1 tsp. oregano
20 oz. refrigerated cheese tortellini (we used the Bertolli brand 3 cheese tortellini and added just a little less than the entire package)
Sea salt & pepper to taste

First up, dice and saute the onions in the oil.  Let 'em saute for about 5 (ish) minutes and then toss in the garlic, chili powder, paprika, & cumin.  Mix the spices with the onion and let this simmer for about 1-2 minutes...just long enough to make this little concoction nice and fragrant.

Now add the ground turkey to the onion and spices and cook until browned.  

While the turkey is cooking, let's prep the rest of the goods.  In a large stockpot, add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, black beans, tomato paste, and oregano.  Cook at medium-high heat and once it starts to boil, add the tortellini.  By the time you add the tortellini, the turkey will be ready.  I went ahead and let my tortellini finish cooking before adding in the turkey/onion/spice mixture.  

Once all of the ingredients are combined, turn down the stove to low heat and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes to give all the flavors a chance to blend.  

Before serving, season your chili with a dash of sea salt and pepper (if you so desire).  Regular salt will work just fine, too.  I only had sea salt on hand and I sorta prefer it anyway.  Kevin at Closet Cooking topped his off with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of cheese, and some green onions.  YUM!!!  I wish I would've had it all on hand because I certainly would've dressed it up that way, too.

This recipe made a pretty good sized batch.  We have leftovers which I fully intend to eat as the rain falls today.  And you can bet I'll be eating it while I'm sitting on the couch and making my way through season 5 of Parenthood.  (how I managed to get this far in two weeks is beyond me...and really, really frightning.  #netflixaddiction)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

It's Been A Long Time, Been A Long Time, Been A Long Lonely, Lonely, Lonely, Lonely, Lonely Time

Yes it has. 
(^^^^see what I did there?!?!^^^^)

Just paying a little homage to one of my favorites.  Led Zepplin always makes me happy.  While it's definitely been a LONG time since my last post, it's been anything but lonely.  Full of family.  Full of friends.  And full of everything in between.  #thankyoujesus

I spent the better part of January & February working and traveling.  As much as I love what I do, I love to be home even more.  I'm thrilled to be home until June when I'll start traveling again.  And my plan is to update this little neglected blog a LOT more now that I'm here for a while!

When I wasn't traveling,  I watched my youngest perform in his first play (absolutely precious, by the way).  Stood in my younger brother's wedding and gained a sister.  Visited with my best friend.  Cleaned up a little vomit.  Celebrated a few birthdays.  Redecorated the house.  Volunteered a bit. Visited The Ron Clark Academy (totally life changing).  Celebrated my oldest's first lost tooth.  And started Parenthood.  And y'all...Parenthood has consumed my every waking moment. #iwanttobeabraverman

I didn't spend much of that time in the kitchen, truth be told.  We were living on quick meals (aka: cereal and pizza), eating out, and lots and lots of cheese boards!!! #manchegoismyfavorite.  I lose at multitasking.  And I'm totally okay with that!  

If you're still around and kind enough to keep reading, thank you :)  

Today is one of my most favorite days of the year.  I love the silliness of it all.  Even moreso now that I have kids who love it just as much!!!  I mean, they were THRILLED to wake up and throw on their $4, oversized Target specials!!!
On a sidenote, I used to swear up and down I would never buy character clothing and if I did we would only wear it to bed.  That plan worked out great, can't you tell?! 
 #eatingmywords  #myboysloveit

I mentioned earlier that I had the opportunity to visit the Ron Clark Academy.  If you ever get a chance to go, take a cue from Nike and JUST DO IT.  It will change your life.  After leaving the academy I read all 3 of Ron's books.  My favorite is The End of Molasses Classes. (And no, this isn't just for teachers!!!! Parents can DEFINITELY benefit from this, too!  Or if you're just in need of some inspiration, add this to your "must read" list!!!)
  One of his chapters is titled Realize the Power of Gratitude and Appreciation.  To quote Mr. Clark, "When people feel appreciated and that their efforts are noticed, they work harder and do a better job."  Let me just say that the teachers and staff at our school work plenty hard and they all do such an amazing job, but I think it's important to let them KNOW how much they are appreciated and how grateful we are for all that they do...not just for our kiddo, but for ALL the kids and families there. 

For St. Patty's Day this year, I decided it was the perfect time to let our teachers and staff know how much we appreciate what they do for our babies.  We don't have a PTA, so the staff doesn't always get fun treats.  I stayed up late last night making lots of goodies...and eating a lot in the process, too :)

As you can see, SUPER easy to put together and it really didn't take too much time on my end.  I mean, a few hours of baking is nothing compared to what our teachers and staff do
Today they were surprised with....

Pinch Proof Punch  (lime sherbet and ginger ale)
Leprechaun Kiss Cookies (rolled in green sugar sprinkles)
March 17th Munch (Puppy Chow with green mint M&M's)
Taste the Rainbow Fruit Salad (fruit salad with strawberries, oranges, pineapple, blueberries, green grapes, and coconut flakes)
4-Leaf Clover Krispies (Rice Krispie Treats topped with green sprinkles)
Celtic Cupcakes (chocolate cake-from-a-box topped with this buttercream icing)

and lastly, 

Shamrock Shake Trifle

This is my most FAVORITE trifle.  Technically it's not called the  "Shamrock Shake Trifle".  And I can't even begin to tell you where I originally found the recipe.  I've been making this for what seems like forever!  I love making this for parties and family functions because it's quick and easy and ALWAYS a hit!  Never any left!!!  And that's just how it was today, too!

1 box of chocolate cake mix (I use Pillsbury Devil's Food)
1 (3.9 oz) box instant chocolate pudding
1/2 cup water
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tubs of Cool Whip
Green food coloring 
Sprinkles (optional)

Bake the cake according to package directions.  I used two cake rounds for this recipe.  
While your cake is baking, mix together the chocolate pudding, water, and sweetened condensed milk.  When the mixture is nice and combined, fold in 1 tub of Cool Whip until the mixture is smooth and set aside.  Now take the other tub of Cool Whip and mix in the food coloring (if you're so inclined).  After the cake has baked, remove from the oven and set out to cool.  Once it's cooled, cut the cake into small pieces and add a layer of the cake to the bottom of the trifle bowl.  Since I used two cake rounds, I just tore off pieces from one round and layered it on the bottom of the bowl.  Then top with a layer of the chocolate pudding mix and then a layer of the Cool Whip.  Now repeat.  Take the other cake round, tear it apart, and then layer it on top of the Cool Whip.  Top the cake with the remaining chocolate pudding mix and then the rest of the Cool Whip.  I had some chocolate sprinkles in the pantry, so I topped off the trifle with that.  It would've been pretty amazing with some crushed mint Oreo's, but our grocery store was out (womp, womp).

When I'm making this for parties and family functions, I don't tint the whipped cream with food coloring.  I just leave it as is.  And I will usually add a layer of crushed Oreo's or toffee bits to the top to finish it all off.  I'm tellin' ya, never a bite left in the bowl!!  DANGIT!!