Monday, July 25, 2011

French Fry Failure.

I was making my own french fries for the first time tonight.... It didn't go so well. I went to chase baby girl from crawling down the hallway and getting into the bathroom, I came back and my fires had burnt a bit. They were still delicious but they were seriously not picture worthy. I'll make them some time in the near future, I'm sure... Hubby loves him some french fries. We bake them instead of frying, it makes it a little bit healthier so we don't feel horrible about eating them sort of often.

In the mean time, I have a few other dinners up my sleeve for this week. While you're waiting for those you should go like my Facebook page.

I'll be here drinking my sweet tea, fueling my Pinterest addiction. lol

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pizza Pinwheels, Cleaning Clothes and Mobile Muchkins

Pizza Pinwheels, Cleaning Clothes and Mobile Muchkins!

The three have absolutely NOTHING in common...unless your life is similar to mine!

My baby girl is TOTALLY mobile now. She's a pro at it. It's so much fun to play with her and let her discover things.  The new challenges that come up for us in our day to day routine are very welcomed, it's definitely an adventure. We live in a pretty small house, which worked for the hubby & I while it was just the two of us. Making it work as a space for our daughter is a big thing that we work on constantly. When we found out that we were expecting the big thing was to convert the 'man cave' into a baby's bedroom & getting rid of a lot of the things that we really didn't need but for some reason still had. When she was born the big thing was making sure there was enough room for all of the things that you don't think about before you have kids & getting through all of those sleepless nights when she would scream and scream for reasons which we couldn't figure out (we eventually did). Now it's just the regular evolution of creating a safe space for her to explore and have fun in while we're home. So far we've adapted really well I'd say. As I'm typing this she's emptying out her basket of toys that we have stationed in the living room, it fits perfectly under the entertainment station when she's not playing with it. Sometimes I wonder how much of us this house can take, but I guess we'll get that answer eventually too.

This weekend I was reorganizing all of her clothes and her room. Saturday night she was my big helper with the clothes. I was sorting it all out into the different sizes so I could put it into labeled space bags, and let me just say, there's not much that's more frustrating than folding all of those clothes perfectly, (and thanks to the generosity of a few amazing people there's A LOT of clothes. lol) getting it all neatly into the space bag, you go to vacuum the air out of the bag and you find out that there are holes in 3 of the 4 bags that you've pulled out.... oy. I still need to go dig out the rest of the space bags and hope for the best.

But anyways, baby girl decided to be my big helper with the sorting part. Mainly she helped by trying on her newborn clothes...she's 10 months old now, for obvious reasons it TOTALLY didn't work! She got so mad at it, it was pretty funny. She'd take whatever shirt or onsie she was mad at, crawl over to the gate that keeps her out of the kitchen, stand up and proceed to throw said article of clothing into the middle of the kitchen floor. Epicly funny if you ask me.

While I was going through all of those clothes I came across a trash bag full of her 0-3 month clothes that had just been tossed to the side and forgot about along the way. When I opened it I found a really mysterious stain on a majority of the clothes. It really hurt my feelings because so much of it was a gift from one person or another. And if you've been around me long enough you know that something like that is just as horrible as if they were to stop making was TERRIBLE! I started freaking out. I called a few people to ask if they knew how to get tough stains out of clothes. A lot of the ideas that people gave me sounded really good, but I'd heard horror stories about some of the ingredients in these miracle solutions on clothes, so naturally I was still worried.

Then I called one of the few people that I hadn't thought of nana. What an amazing person that woman is. So she told me a simple fix to the problem, and I even had everything at the house to start fixing it right away. All I needed was laundry detergent and oxy clean...why didn't I think of this?! (She said to use tide but I just used the laundry soap that I make myself.). Fill a bucket halfway with really hot water, a scoop or two of powder oxy clean, and some laundry detergent. Make sure its all mixed together really well and soak your clothes in it for an hour or so, (I did it for two just for good measure.) After the time is up wring your clothes and take a look at them to see if the stain is gone, if it's not totally gone take a toothbrush, dip it in the water your clothes were soaking in & scrub. When I pulled the clothes out it was like magic I tell you! I only had to scrub 2 or 3 outfits, there was easily 25-30 outfits I was cleaning! I rinsed the clothes, wrung them out again and tossed them in the dryer. It was supposed to rain over night so hanging them out on the clothes line didn't make much sense to me.  Simple and effective...I LOVE IT!

And now it's on to the creations in my kitchen! (Oh don't be surprised, you totally knew I was going there.)

A few weeks ago I made Pizza Pinwheels. They're really easy to make & it doesn't take long either. So it was like a double bonus for me!

What you'll need:

1 Pillsbury pizza crust (Thin Crust is what I used)
1 (14 oz) jar pizza sauce (I stirred in more seasoning for added flavor. Onion powder, garlic powder, parsley & basil)
1 bag shredded mozzarella cheese
pepperonis, cut in half

What To Do:

The Pinwheels:

Preheat the oven to 400.

Get a cookie sheet, spray it with pam.

Lay out your pizza crust on the sheet

Bake for 5 minutes.

Remove it from the oven & cut it up into strips. About 1 1/4 inches give or take. (It's never an exact science in my kitchen, I know.) I used a pizza cutter to cut the strips, made it really easy.

Spoon on a thin layer of pizza sauce to the length of the strip.

Add a thin layer of cheese

Add the pepperoni, you can over lap the slices to get more on the strip if you'd like.

Then add another layer of cheese, this layer can have more cheese than the first, it's going to help hold the whole thing together.

Roll the strip & cut it in half.

Place the pinwheels flat on the cookie sheet (cut side down) & bake for 7-10 minutes. Or until the pinwheels start turning golden brown. (For a crispier crust cook 10-12 minutes.)

The Dipping Sauce:

Mix whatever you have left of the pizza sauce left and half a jar of marinara sauce. & BAM! Instant yum!

And that's it! Dinners done! =)


Thursday, July 7, 2011

How was your fourth of July weekend??? I would love to know! Mine was AWESOME!

My uncle and cousin came to town. For the first time in a long time I got to spend the weekend in the pool.

We played pool-ball. My brother and I made it up a while back. It's a ball hitting game. We have something like 25 beach balls of different sizes and an Underwater Skateboard that we used as a bat. I'm sure you could use a mini skim board, basically anything that you can hold and swing easily and that won't break. There was 5 of us in the pool. 1 batter, 1 pitcher and 3 "fielders".

Set an agreed upon foul line that the balls have to land past to get a point. (since we were in an enclosed area we set a point of the ladder in the deep end & the balls had to land outside of the pool on the deck to be counted as a run. We also had a big ring float that we set up as a grand slam - hit the ball thru the float and get 4 runs. And obviously when someone catches the ball its an out. You can play two separate ways, you can do a repetitive cycle of hitters or you can play like we did this weekend; whoever catches the third out gets to go up to bat.

The entire point of the game is to get the most amount of runs. It was a lot of fun! It got a bit competitive though, so it's best not to have the little little ones in the pool.

The hubby and myself made sure before everyone started playing pool-ball we all had fun with the baby in the big pool, and in her little kiddie pool too. It tuckered her out and she went down for a nap just in time for me to be able to join the game with the guys.

I love how much fun baby girl has in the water. It's always so much fun.

I love her so much!

Bot other than that it was a pretty low-key weekend.

Family game night. A birthday cake for my uncle. Saturday we had bbq ribs and potato salad. Sunday we had bbq chicken with a tossed salad. And Sunday we had steak and baked potatoes. It was delicious! My mom makes her own apricot bbq sauce, it's AMAZING.

Baby girl ate a diced up banana for the first time. (She's only ever had the Gerber bananas)  She LOVED them. She makes the funniest faces when she tries something new. She scrunches up her nose and looks at you with one of those "What the HECK momma!?!?!" looks. I have to tell her its yummy and then she decides that she likes it. lol

I found an amazing recipe over the weekend that I'm going to try out so I can share with you! And I also made pizza pinwheels. That's for a later date though. For now I'm gonna go cuddle up on my couch and watch a movie. Baby's fast asleep. Hubby's fast asleep. I can't sleep for the life of me. Maid In Manhattan anyone?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

"Keep Calm & Om Nom"

When I started this blog post four days ago I had every intention of sitting down and writing the entire thing out in one sitting. Seriously, no big deal, tell you about how things have been going, maybe share a delicious recipe with you, ramble on about something for a while. Well, lesson learned, if you have plans to write up a post - plug your husbands laptop into a surge protector, not that convenient wall plug that's right there to accommodate your laziness. The power flickered & the computer kinda sorta got fried... epic fail for wifey...I'm attempting to keep calm and figure out how to fix it.

At the same time when things like that happen it can serve as a blessing in disguise. It just so happened that my little munchkin decided that a half hour nap would be just fine and that it was time to play again. So we danced and sang a long to Sesame Street. (She's totally hooked on clips of the shows first 20 seasons. It's totally funny. Her favorite clip is of Smokey Robinson singing about the letter U.) She got into everything she could and totally wore herself out again some hours later. It's nice for me to have those kind of moments that sort of give me a good look and a quick reminder of exactly why we chose to live the way that we do. I know its not the choice that everyone would make, and I totally respect that. But for me, it allows me to watch my baby girl grow up every single day. That to me is the biggest blessing I could ever be given.

I ran across this picture on the interwebz that totally entertained me with its relevance.

Other than that not too much has been going on. My uncle and cousin are coming in to town from Texas with his son for the holiday weekend. So hubby and I are really excited for that, and we're gearing up for the events of the weekend. Should be tons of fun. What are you doing for the holiday? I'd love to know!

While I wait for you to let me in on our celebrations I'll let you in on the miracles of satisfying my hubbys cravings!!

Do you ever plan your meals for the week, only to not cook one or two of those meals during the week because you were too tired or just down right too lazy to do so? Plus there was something totally easier to make anyways. My dinner the other night almost fell victim to this, as many of my dinners regrettably have in the past. But this particular dinner didn't! And thank goodness for that!

For the past few weeks my beloved hubby has been asking random questions about my Jambalaya. How much it costs to make, how many servings it would make, how long has it been since he had it last, et cetra, et cetra.

So naturally, I made it! And I just could not wait to share it with you! I even managed to take the pictures this time! w00t! Now I do have a bit of side notes on this recipe (fair warning). There are a couple of optional things that you can add, there are some ways to cut corners and save a little bit of money, which I am all for! Also, in my opinion this is one of those recipes that you're going to want to prepare and measure whatever you can to make the actual cooking process easier. So here we go!

This is the recipe for red Jambalaya. But I'll let you know later on what to do for making other forms of Jambalaya and an alternate way to make it a red, as well.
Also, this makes about 12 -15 servings! So it's great for get-togethers!

What you'll need:

1/4 - 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into about 1/2 inch pieces
1 - 1 1/2 lbs sausage (any kind you like), cut into 1/4 inch slices and then cut in half
2 cups diced ham - **optional**
4 slices bacon, crisped or 1/2 lb pork sides, crisped - **optional**
garlic powder
onion powder
4 cups onion, chopped (this is about two large onions)
2 cups celery, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 cups green bell pepper, chopped (this is about two medium/large peppers)
5 cups chicken stock or water flavored with chicken bouillon (if your using cans of chicken stock you can use three cans)
4 cups long grain rice
kitchen bouquet (if you don't have this I will show you how to make it in your kitchen)
2 tbsp seasoning salt
2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp oregano (Just a good shake)
1/4 cup paprika
2 cups green onions, chopped
parsley, to taste

Don't mind everything in the background, I didn't plan this in advance... I like taking these pictures of everything together before I start cooking because it entertains me. Its like taking a kitchen class photo!!

I'm easily entertained, I know. But I kind of messed up on this picture, its missing the oil, parsley and the paprika. I'm sure it's not gonna kill anyone, but I admit my faults...sometimes. lol


Making your own Kitchen Bouquet:
What you need:

1/4 cup water, microwave to a boil

Add 1 heaping tablespoon of dark brown sugar


BAM! You just made your own Kitchen bouquet! You even just saved a few dollars!!! Do feel the rush of the penny pinching?! I totally just did!!! Oh, my drug!

Getting Everything Else Ready:

Chop the celery.


Chop the onions.


Chop the green peppers.


Put the celery, onions, peppers and minced garlic into a bowl and set aside.


Cut up the chicken and sausage up.


Steps for optional ingredients:

If your adding bacon, crisp it. 
If your adding pork sides until almost charred. 
If your adding ham, cook (if not already cooked) and dice. 

Making the Magic Happen!:
You've done all of the preparation, now lets get to the fun stuff!!

Put the oil in pot & let warm on a medium-high setting for about 4 minutes.

Add chicken to pot. 

Season with salt, pepper, onion powder & garlic powder. 

Cook until chicken is about 3/4 of the way done.

Add sausage to pot. Cook 5-7 more minutes. 

(Make sure to stir it all around to ensure all meat is evenly cooked.)

Remove chicken and sausage from pot, set aside. (I spooned it out so the oil & drippings stayed in the pot.)

Add onions, celery, peppers and minced garlic to pot. 

Cook for 7-10 minutes or until vegetables begin to wilt.

Pour in chicken stock.

Add reserved chicken & sausage, seasoning salt, kitchen bouquet, Old Bay seasoning and oregano.


Bring to a boil.

Add rice (DO NOT STIR) and return to a boil.

Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes. 

Remove cover and turn rice from top to bottom, making sure it all gets completely stirred in.

Replace cover and cook about 15-20 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. 

Add 1/4 cup of paprika.
Add green onions and parsley. 

Stir until paprika covers everything. 
(Everything in the pot! Don't call me to help cleanup because you got into a paprika fight in your kitchen! I'm not helpin! lol)

That's it! Serve it up and listen to the clinking of forks & cured cravings! I hope you love it!! 

Additional Info:

Another way to make the red jambalaya (instead of using the paprika):
- Instead of just chicken stock you can use 1/2 stock & 1/2 tomato juice (or V-8).

To make brown jambalaya:
-Add 1 heaping tbsp of brown sugar to hot oil & caramelize.
-OR make a roux
-OR use Kitchen Bouquet. 

To make seafood jambalaya:
-Add any desired (cooked) seafood when rice is cooked. 

 That's all I've got. I'm busy celebrating the fact that I've finally finished this!!! Enjoy!

Don't forget the dishes! ;-)