This that and the other

While it is extremely difficult for me to narrow down to saying one thing is my absolute favorite in the whole wide world, there is a long list of things I really like.  Here is just one of the items on my list.  I like to call these my Brown Paper Packages!

 Since becoming a mom there are a few things that have made life a little easier.  I’m definitely not going to call these necessities because it is not necessary to have painted nails.  But they have made things easier, cleaner, a little more organized, more comfortable, and definitely more fun.  Plus, I’m throwing in my favorite recipe for the week.

Easier:  Intuition razor

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This razor has the shaving cream built in and makes the showering process much quicker.  When there is one (or two) little ones peeking through the shower doors, you do whatever you can to make it quick.

Cleaner: Stick Vacuum

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I seriously may start giving this as a baby shower gift.   I thought I ran it a lot with one little person but with two I won’t be surprised if I burn up the thing.  The one I have is a Bissell Lift Off Floors and More and it has a built in dust buster that pops in and out (an extra bonus).  I would highly recommend it.

A little more organized: Notepad/calendar close by at all times (May Designs)

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There is absolutely no guessing when I’m going to think of something I need to write down; an item on my to do list, a grocery we ran out of, a date we don’t need to forget.  So, having a calendar and notepad close by at all times has become critical!  I bought a couple of the May Designs notebooks when they ran a 50 percent off special and so wish I would have bought more.  I currently use a May Design calendar and notepad.  They live on my kitchen counter but they are small enough to toss in my purse when I’m on the go.  Each one is customizable which endless options!  Sidenote:  They make great gifts!

More comfortable:  Matilda Jane pants

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I am a jeans girl.  However, when sticking around the house I like my comfy pants.  Since I’m at home most every day now I’ve found adding a ruffle to my comfy pants makes me feel like I’m getting ready for the day but staying comfy and cozy.

More fun: Sally Hansen nail effects

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I really like to paint my nails.  Typically it’s a pretty neutral, boring color but I still like for them to be painted.  Once I became a mom I found there’s not a whole lot of time to let the polish dry.  These nail effects require no drying.  They’re a bit more daring for my taste but I’m giving them a go.  The ones I have on now have been on for a week with no peeling.  (The pharmacy had a better selection than Wal-mart.)

Breakfast-in-a-Muffin (original recipe from taste of home)

1/3 lb sausage
3 eggs
1/8 tsp seasoned salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 pkg. corn bread/muffin mix (jiffy works good)
¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided.

  • Preheat oven to 400⁰.  Cook sausage and make sure while cooking to break into crumbles.
  • Whisk eggs with salt and pepper.  Cook until eggs are thickened and no liquid remains.
  • Prepare muffin mix according to package.  Fold in sausage, eggs, and ½ cup of cheese.  Fill paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full.
  • Bake 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese; bake 5 minutes longer or until done.
  • Note:  I made these with crumbled bacon also and actually liked it even better.  They are perfect warmed up for breakfast or even snack time.

Click here to learn more about Brown Paper Packages.

My “perfect” recipe

While it is extremely difficult for me to narrow down to saying one thing is my absolute favorite in the whole wide world, there is a long list of things I really like.  Here is just one of the items on my list.  I like to call these my Brown Paper Packages!

 

Do you know Pioneer Woman?  I mean don’t really know her, but have you heard of her?  Well, she has this way of labeling her favorite recipes by inserting the word “perfect” before the name of them.  For example, Perfect Pie Crust, Perfect French Fries, Perfect Iced Coffee, etc.  And let me say her “perfect” recipes that I’ve tried are pretty darn good, especially the iced coffee.  Anyway, I’m kind of borrowing her idea and naming the recipe I’m sharing with you, Perfect Tuna Salad.  That’s not what you were expecting, is it?  Tuna salad is just tuna salad.  But oh no, I’ve found the Perfect Tuna Salad.  I make it at least every two weeks and we eat on it for lunch or snacks or maybe even dinner (if I didn’t have time to cook).

P.S. Please excuse my pitiful food photography . . . and my messy kitchen.

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The recipe is below.   I’m not very particular about measuring things exactly (unless I’m baking) so you may want to alter the amounts depending on your preferences.  It makes a pretty large batch if you want to half it.

So, there’s not much more to say.  We love it!  It’s hearty, pretty healthy, and super easy to mix up.  Enjoy!

1 small red onion, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped
4-5 carrots, chopped
5-6 baby dill pickles, chopped
2 cans of white albacore tuna in water (I haven’t tried it but you could probably sub in chicken.)
1 bag of real bacon bits
1 cup of mayo
1 packet of ranch powder mix
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups (at least) of cooked egg noodles (THE SECRET INGREDIENT)

Cook egg noodles and let them come to room temperature. While they are cooking and cooling, cut the first four ingredients up and put in a mixing bowl with the tuna.  Mix mayo and ranch powder together and add to the mixing bowl.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  After egg noodles are cooled mix them in as well.  Serve with chips, crackers, or our favorite on a bed of romaine lettuce.  Let me know what you think!

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Click here to learn more about Brown Paper Packages.

Pick a Recipe, Any Recipe

I feel as if I’m so far behind on all the things I want to share with you!  So I’m going to combine a few recipes here that I’ve tried in the past month or so. 
Let’s start with breakfast. 
Besides just getting B a gift on Valentine’s Day I wanted to show him in other ways how special he is to me.  So for breakfast I made homemade donuts.  Typically I try and stay away from using yeast because it just makes me nervous.  The water temperature has to be just right and I’m always afraid I’m going to mess it up and all my work will be in vain.  But sometimes I have to just swallow my fear. 

The recipe I used for the the donuts can be found here.  Make sure you flour the surface really well.  Notice that my donuts aren’t perfect and at first that frustrated me but it did not affect the taste.  Just go with it.  Since it was Valentine’s Day I decided not to ice them with chocolate but to make a pink glaze instead.  I just mixed water and powdered sugar until it was the consistency I liked and dipped the doughnuts (once they were fully cooled).  My glaze was not very thick because I wanted the glaze to drip down over the entire doughnut (or at least a lot of it).  As you can see the glaze didn’t show up as pink liked I had hoped but there was a pink tint.  I also followed the recipe for the doughnut holes and they were equally delicious.  If you’re nervous about the water being the right temperature for the yeast just use a thermometer.  I know, I know experienced bakers don’t have to do this but whatever, I’m not an experienced baker I just want my food to taste good.

Don’t you think that one looks like a heart?  Maybe it’s just me.

Next, stuffed zucchini.

I’m always looking for unique ways to include fresh fruits and veggies in our meals.  This was a super tasty option for zucchini.  Plus the “stuffing” could be altered about a million different ways to satisfy all taste buds.  The recipe can be found here.  I did alter a few things on this recipe.  During the sauteing of onions and peppers I also added mushrooms.  When I was mixing everything together I added about a cup (maybe a bit more) of cooked ground beef and a cup of cheese.  Oh, I didn’t have tomatoes so I didn’t add those in either.  Really I kind of just mixed up whatever I wanted or had in my fridge and pantry.  They turned out delicious and will definitely be made again at 8050 place.    

Finally, what is a meal without dessert?!  

Part of B’s Valentine’s gift was a matching mug set (see below) so what better way to give them to him than filled with cake!  You can find the recipe here.  The only ingredient that is kind of funky is whole wheat pastry flour but if you notice you can substitute it for all purpose flour.  Also, I did not double the recipe because our mugs were kind of small but I should have.  It truly is a small amount so if you have two mugs double it!  

Take the time to try a new recipe, maybe even a challenging one.  ENJOY!

(P.S. Let me know if you try one of these by commenting on the blog.)

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Sweetheart Cocoa

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, do you need a quick, sweet treat for your valentine?  I have just the recipe for you, Sweetheart Cocoa!  (original recipe can be found here)
Trust me, this is an easy recipe and it only took me about 10-15 minutes.  You only need a few ingredients and most of them can probably be found in your pantry right now.  

Dump 1/2 cup of sugar and 4 tablespoons of butter in a medium size pan.  Turn the stove on medium high heat.  Add 1 pint (2 cups) of strawberry ice cream in with the butter and sugar.  (I also added a handful of milk chocolate chips.)  Whisk until melted.

While you’re waiting on this to melt, grab 1 cup of chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate) and melt.  The original recipe says to melt this on the stove top but I opted for the microwave.  I just turned the power down to 50% and cooked for a minute at a time stirring after each minute until the chips are melted.  Once, they’re melted take your mug and dip in the chocolate so that it covers the rim.  

Okay, so back to the mixture that should be melted on the stove by now.  Whisk in one cup of hot water at a time, whisking between until you have added 3 cups of water.  You can add less or more water depending on how rich you want the cocoa.  I suggest tasting between adding each cup of water as well.  After the desired amount of water is added heat until steaming.  B likes his coffee and tea hot so I made sure it was extra steamy.  
This treat isn’t completely finished without a topping of whipped cream and sprinkles.  This could be Redi-Whip, Cool Whip, or if you don’t have either you can improvise, like I did.  I typically keep heavy cream in the fridge so I mixed about 1 cup of heavy cream with 1/4 cup of sugar (these are estimated measurements) on high in my mixer until it was fluffy.  
Ladle the cocoa in to the chocolate rimmed mug, add a dallop of whipped cream and sprinkles, and ENJOY!
What a great Valentine morning surprise or dessert after a romantic meal together.  Whenever or however you decide to share this with your Valentine make sure you let me them know that you love them!

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The DIY Dreamer

Love List

While Monday’s cool weather may not be the official end to summer, in my mind fall is here!  And it happens to be my very favorite time of year. 
But . . . if you need one last taste of summer here’s your chance,
NO MACHINE REQUIRED ICE CREAM. 
 
Yes you read that right, no machine required.  How you ask?  Read on.
I once bought an ice cream machine for $5 at a yard sale and for some reason I thought it was a good deal.  While a lot of the things I buy at yard sales are good deals this one was not.  I was still in a very early stage of understanding how to make good, quality homemade ice cream.  Since then I have learned that the machine is the key ingredient.  And that key ingredient can cost around $100.  Much less than the best won’t turn out good, quality ice cream.  Needless to say my $5 ice cream machine is in some landfill and my homemade ice cream skills aren’t much better.  So when I discovered this recipe on Kevin & Amanda (a website I like to follow) I didn’t believe it myself. However, after testing a few combinations I must add this to my . . .
So, feeling pretty confident in my new discovery and my newly developed homemade ice cream skills I decided to share this with my bible study group (aka women in my sunday school class).  Brooke fixed cookies and cute bottles of milk for everyone while we worked. 
There are two necessary ingredients.  Yes,only two.  Can you believe that? 
1 – 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
2 cups of heavy cream
So all you do is put the 2 cups of heavy cream in a mixer and whip until the cream forms stiff peaks.
Pour the sweetened condensed milk in a separate bowl.  You can add in a variety of other ingredients to “flavor” your ice cream.  Mix the other ingredients (chocolate chips, berries, crushed oreos, cookie dough, etc.) with the sweetened condensed milk.  Click here to see Amanda’s combinations. We made two combinations; Smores and Cinnamon Bun.   (See recipes at the end of this post.)
Once the cream has formed stiff peaks fold it into the sweetened condensed milk mixture.  Fold doesn’t mean stir it.  You want the cream to stay fluffy. 
Pour into a 2 quart container and freeze.  That’s it!  The recipe says it needs to freeze for around 6 hours but just until firm is sufficient. 
(one of my combos)
ENJOY! 
Thanks girls for a fun night!
Smores
2 cups heavy cream
1 (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
½ cup mini chocolate chips
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup marshmallow cream
Cinnamon Bun
2 cups heavy cream
1 (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
3 tbsp melted butter
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla
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