Friday, October 23, 2009

Free Download

Just in time for Halloween. I found these free, printable Halloween tags. Download them here. If you use them, let me know what you did!

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Pumpkin Butter! Nuff said.

It's time for Pie!

Remember the Mini Pies I made? I think about them all the time, and if they weren't so time consuming I would make them all the time. I wonder if these mini pie molds from Williams Sonoma would make them go any faster? I know they would make them prettier.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Halloween Fun

I love giving my neighbors Halloween treats, especially if they are homemade and packaged pretty. Since I figure it's not appropriate to hand them out to them while they are trick-or-treating, I try to get them out earlier. I frequently get asked for my pumpkin chocolate chip bread recipe, so I figured I'd share it with everyone and hopefully make some for my neighbors this year.

pumpkin chocolate chip bread
5 eggs, well beaten
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
2 cups oil
4 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
4 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons cloves
1 teaspoon gound ginger
1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips

Cream eggs and sugar. Add pumpkin and oil. Add dry ingredients slowly and combine thoroughly. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into 4 greased and floured 9"x5" pans. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

I like to be generous with the spices.

Just wrap up the bread in plastic wrap, tie a pretty bow on it and use cute tags like the ones I found on etsy.

Image via flicker

Monday, October 12, 2009

"The Menu" Part 3

This is the final round of my Menu Challenge. I found this recipe on a whim while researching healthy recipes and thought I'd give it a try. It was so easy and quick. It was also nice to watch the video, otherwise I probably wouldn't have chosen this recipe. To watch the video for Balsamic Chicken with Baby Spinach, Over Couscous click here. The only thing I changed was I seasoned the chicken with lemon pepper and salt. It not only gave the chicken some much needed flavor, but color as well. I also cut the breasts so they were much thinner so they would cook faster. When I make this meal again I will probably change out the couscous for some flavored rice.

Remember the mere $20 I spent for all the items I didn't have to complete the menu? Well, I knew that if I made enough meals I would have plenty of left overs for lunches. So not only did we have great dinners, but lunches as well!

"The Menu" Part 2

I really wanted to integrate some new and different dinners for my Menu challenge, so I decided to try curry for a change. I was pleasantly surprised. Husband and I even ate the leftovers within 2 days. This is one of the meals that I made ahead on Sunday and just re-heated and prepared the rice the day of.

For the Curried Coconut Chicken recipe, click here. The only thing I changed was I substitued jasmine rice for brown rice. Other than that I wouldn't change a thing!

Warning: you're place may or may not smell like curry for a couple of days!

Putting "The Menu" to the Test

So my Menu Challenge last week went way better than expected. Believe it or not, I actually made 5 out of the 6 meals! The funny thing is that I had a crazy busy week, but still managed to make all these meals partly because they were easy and because I had all of the ingredients since I had planned ahead. I still think the biggest reason was that I knew if I made them I would be eating a lot healthier than grabbing something that you heat up in the microwave.

In my menu planning I had 2 goals; eat healthy, and make the most of what I already had. So the first thing I did was to assess what I already had in my fridge and pantry. Then I browsed through some new and old recipes to come up with a menu. I made a trip to the grocery store on Saturday and bought the few ingredients I needed, which mostly consisted of fresh items that you don't always keep around. In fact, I think I only spent about $20 for those few items I didn't have. On Sunday I made a couple of meals ahead of time that I knew I wouldn't have the time for, which was a total life saver.

Most of the meals were a big success, but throughout this week I'll share only the best of the best.

My top favorite was the tri-tip steak and fries. It's so simple, it doesn't require a recipe. Simply marinate the steak in soy sauce, at a minimum of 30 minutes. Throw them on the grill for maybe about 7 minutes per side for medium-well. What really compliments this meal is the sweet potato fries. Just cut up, drizzle with olive oil and some salt and put in the oven at 425 degrees for about 35 minutes. Time varies on size and amount. Trust me, you'll like this one.

Healthy tip: remember that your meat portion size should be the size of your palm.

Friday, October 9, 2009

In Preparation

Two years ago Husband and I went to Cincinnati to visit my twin brother and his cute wife for Thanksgiving. I was so excited because we were going to make our very own turkey dinner all by ourselves. It was then that I learned how to roast a turkey. With the advice of my mother I lathered the turkey with mayonnaise, and I’ve had delicious moist turkeys ever since.
Every year I like to have my own Thanksgiving dinner at my own home, right before the actual holiday. I know we haven’t even had Halloween yet, but I’m already getting excited for it, but I can’t help but wonder if anyone has any advice to kick things up a notch? Any tips? Secrets? Do share.
Next up, I’m determined to master stuffing. I’ve tried so many recipes, but I just can’t seem to get quite what I’m hoping for.
Image via
Me, my sister, & my sis-in-law
Cincinnati 2007

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Halloween Party

Have you ever had your calendar fill up before the month even starts? That's my October. It leaves me wondering if this is any indication of what the up coming holidays are going to be like? Since I really don't have time to plan a Halloween party, I figured I could at least put together what I would do if I had the time.

For invites I would do something similar to these from Martha You can find the boxes and some moss for cheap at the craft store. Years ago I made fingers that look similar to this out of sugar cookies and almonds dyed red for the fingernails. Super cheap, super easy, super crafty!

I would definitely serve some homemade doughnuts. A couple of options are to follow the recipe I found on Better Homes and Garden for Pumpkin Doughnuts. You can also check their site for 28 Yummy Pumpkin Recipes! I've also been dying to try the easy version of homemade doughnuts by buying pillsbury biscuit dough, make a hole in the middle, fry them in vegetable oil, and make a glaze of powdered sugar and juice from an orange.

For decor I would find some jars to fill up with classic Halloween candy and top with a pumpkin, like I found on Martha The great thing about this is that they make for great decor and party favors. My version would probably be similar to this, but I would use some canning jars I have sitting around to fill with candy to give to all my guests.

Have a Happy Halloween everybody! By the way, you can use all of my ideas if you invite me to the party!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cupcake Phenomenon

I get asked all the time about the cupcake stand I used at Husbands Birthday Party. I actually found it at TJ Maxx (love that store!), but with the cupcake phenomenon we are experiencing, I see them popping up everywhere. My favorite is at Crate and Barrel. In fact, I like this one better than mine! Go check it out, buy it, and you'll see how you will find ways to use it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Menu

I have a new goal. I will admit that I've made numerous previous attempts at this goal, just to be defeated. But seriously, I mean it this time! It's grocery shopping with a purpose. I honestly think I spend more time and money at the grocery store than I do on my bad shopping habit. So not only am I on a self-imposed spending haitus, but I am going to start being a smart grocery shopper. I figure if I can actually plan a menu for the week, make a list, and stick with it, I will not only spend less money and time at the grocery store, but I will have better, healthier meals throughout the week. So here it goes.

The Menu:

Curried Cocunut Chicken

Tri-tip steak, marinated in soy sauce, with baked sweet potato fries

Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Rosemary, Apples, and Onions

Taco Soup with Homemade Breadsticks

Some of these are new, never tested recipes, and some are old favorites. I'll let you know how my challenge goes and share any recipes that prove to be fabulous!
Image via here

Friday, October 2, 2009

Chocolate Fix

This is my go to recipe when I want chocolate fast! I've been trying to perfect this recipe for forever, when I learned that it was really the entire recipe that was all wrong. Nikki finally gave me her recipe and it's perfect. My mom always made these growing up, so you know that means they must be easy because she doesn't cook!

No Bake Cookies

3 Cups of Quick Oats
1 Cup Coconut
1 Cup Peanut Butter

Put in a large bowl.
In a saucepan bring the following ingredients to a boil for 1 minute:

2 Cups Sugar
1/2 Cup Milk
6 Tsp. Cocoa
1/2 Cup Water

After this boils for 1 minute, turn stove off and add:

1 Tsp. Vanilla

Pour over dry ingredients and mix all together. Spoon balls onto greased cookie sheet and enjoy! I like them best when they are still warm.