Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year, A New Me

Has 2011 been a less-than-fun year for you? It's amazing how many people have told me that 2011 just wasn't a great year for them. Well, I must say it wasn't a fantastic year for me either. My husband of just 14 months and I got a divorce this year.
While I know that I am far from perfect and that it takes more than one person to end a marriage, if it were up to me we would still be married today. Did I do everything right? Definitely not. If I could go back, are there things I'd do differently? Absolutely. Would the marriage have lasted forever? Looking back, I don't think it would have. But if I'd been able to have my way, we would at least be TRYING to make it work.
Unfortunately, marriage just wasn't what my ex-husband expected it to be, and he had no desire to try and work anything out. While this still makes me angry pretty much every time I think about it, my New Year's resolution will be to just NOT think about it anymore. What's the point, right? Being mad or sad or 'what-ifing' everything is no way to live. But it doesn't help that my ex has quickly moved on to someone else...nice & classy, huh?
Anyway, my divorce was what really brought me into the world of blogging. I needed something to do during the hours I was alone and home at night. Blogging is a fantastic distraction. There's no pressure to do anything, but there's always something to do if you're looking to keep yourself busy. As I stated a few weeks ago, I also have a teaching blog that I enjoy updating a *little* more frequently than I update this one. I'm also a MAJOR Pinterest freak...it's pretty amazing.
So, my dear little blog, thanks so much for being a nice distraction :) To all who are reading this, thanks so much for following the {infrequent} updates about my life and my food. I hope that 2012 is a MUCH better year than 2011 for you, me, and everyone else!

Happy New Year {and enjoy my fun, holiday blogimations}!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Recipe: Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese

Hello! I hope you had a lovely Christmas and are looking forward to the new year! I know I certainly am. 2012 will definitely be better than 2011 (look for a New Year's Day post to find out why). I found this little recipe over on a new favorite blog, Closet Cooking. Man oh man, was it ever delicious! Unfortunately, my grocery store was out of jalapeno peppers (SERIOUSLY???), so I had to improvise a little bit! Head over to his original post to see the original version of this recipe. Kevin is obsessed with grilled cheese sandwiches and is always inventing a new one. I think he and I would get along just fine! He has a million delicious recipes on his blog, so PLEASE go check it out ASAP.

Pre-grilling

Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Modified
Original recipe by Kevin at Closet Cooking can be found right HERE

1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chilies
4 Tbsp. cream cheese, softened
1 c. shredded Co-Jack cheese
4 Tbsp. crumbled tortilla chips
8 pieces good quality white bread
Butter, softened

Spread one side of each piece of bread with butter. Be liberal with your butter, I probably used almost 1 Tbsp. per side -- my cholesterol didn't thank me, but my taste buds did! Divide cream cheese, green chilies, shredded cheese, and chips evenly among 4 of the slices of bread, layering in that order. Top each with another slice of bread, butter side up. Grill on medium heat until golden brown on each side. Serve immediately with chips and sing a Hallelujah chorus ;)

One side of the finished product. My terrible iPhone picture does NOT do it justice :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Recipe: Peanut Butter Fudge

I am so sorry that I've neglected my blog for so long! The holidays have been CrAzY busy lately! Anyway, I'm back with a new recipe for you that I have linked up to one of my favorite teacher blogs, TBA. This isn't an original, but it is a favorite!

Peanut Butter Fudge
(a Jif recipe)

  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 2/3 cup PET® Evaporated Milk
  • 1 2/3 cups Jif® Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 


  • Line a 9x9 pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. In a large sauce pan, combine butter, sugar, and milk. Cook over medium heat until boiling, stirring constantly, then continue to boil 5 minutes while still stirring. Add the peanut butter and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture into a heat-proof bowl and beat in the vanilla and marshmallow creme. Pour fudge into prepared pan and allow to cool. Store in a covered container.

    This may not be an "original family recipe", but it sure is good! If you're a teacher blogger, head on over to TBA's Recipe Swap and link up your favorites!



     Recipe Swap

    Sunday, November 20, 2011

    Recipe: Mason-Dixon Dip

    I'm about to share with you a recipe that is pure magic. You probably already know about it, but it is SO easy and SO delicious, that I'm sharing it on the off chance that you've ever had it. It's name around these parts is Mason-Dixon Dip, but I've also just heard it called Chili Dip. This picture doesn't do it justice, but please promise me you'll try it for your next party. 


    Mason-Dixon Dip

    1 can chili sauce for hot dogs (I used chili without beans, but you can use either kind)
    8 oz. cream cheese, softened
    1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese

    Spread the cream cheese into the bottom of an 8 or 9 inch pie pan. Pour the chili sauce on top of the cream cheese, then follow with the shredded cheddar cheese. Bake 20 or 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until bubbly. Serve with Fritos Scoops and watch it disappear!

    This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for a large crowd. It is my go-to dip when I take an appetizer to our church youth group's "Games and Grazing" night and the kids always devour it quickly. Hope you enjoy it!

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Recipe: Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac-n-Cheese

    OMG, I think I may have found a new favorite recipe!!! Only one picture this time (the finished product) but my, oh my was it fantastic. This one is definitely going in the recipe box. Thank you, darling Pinterest for introducing me to a MILLION new recipes I never would have known about, including this one.



    Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac-n-Cheese
    (recipe adapted from Cooking Light magazine and also found at First Look, Then Cook)

    8 oz. elbow macaroni, cooked
    3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
    8 oz. boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and chopped
    1 T. butter
    1 T. flour
    1 1/2 c. skim milk
    1/2 c. cream of mushroom soup
    1 1/2 c. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
    1/2 t. onion powder
    1/2 t. garlic powder
    1/2 t. dried dill weed
    1/2 t. salt

    Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Combine milk and soup; whisk together. Slowly add milk mixture to roux, whisking constantly. Allow mixture to boil and continue cooking 2 minutes or until mixture thickens. Remove from heat, let stand 3 minutes until slightly cooled. Add 1 cup of cheese and the seasonings, whisking to combine. Stir in cooked chicken and pasta and toss to combine. Pour mixture into an 8 inch square baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray and top with remaining cheese and crumbled bacon. Broil for 3-5 minutes, or until cheese has melted.

    Now, if you're like me you will make the whole thing in your GORGEOUS Caribbean-colored Le Creuset braising pan which can conveniently go from stove to oven, so there's no additional dish involved! This was truly DELICIOUS, especially if you like the taste of dill and ranch dressing as much as I do. Please try this tonight! Thanks Cooking Light and First Look, Then Cook for introducing me to a new favorite :)

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Back in my humble abode :)

    I'm finally back in my wonderful little apartment, and I am seriously thankful for my quiet single life. No managing kids schedules, no worrying about what pills to give what animals, no regimented bulldog/fat cat feeding schedules. I sure do love my family at 424, but I'm glad to only be taking care of Gus-Gus and me :)
    In other news, I've decided I HAVE to start eating better and eating at home more. I'll be making a trip to the grocery this week to stock up on good-for-you foods and all the staples I'm out of. It is really bare around here right now! One website I love for good-for-you recipes is Gina's Skinnytaste. Check out some of the fantastic recipes she shares on her blog.




    Can you say YUM?! I really want to try those fries, but all these recipes look fantastic. I've liked everything I tried from her so far. Anyone else have any good recipes sites out there?
    Have a great week!

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    My parents are in Florida this week, so I'm hanging with The Boys. The Boys are my 17 year old brother Rob, 21 year old brother Bruce, and these boys (who are currently surrounding me).



    These boys are Woogie (26.4 pound kitty cat), Gus (a stinky, stinky poodle), and Woodrow (a very goofy bulldog). I'm surrounded by LOTS of good boys here at 424 <3

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Just because :)

    For the record, I'm a purist when it comes to icing, frosting, glaze and ganache. I believe it should be homemade and that store bought frosting just isn't the same. I almost always make my own frosting, even if I'm making a cake from a box. There's just something about the butter/powdered sugar/milk/vanilla/whatever else combination that is unlike anything you can find anywhere else. But today, I did something I haven't done in EVER!
    I bought this:


    Which I then used to frost these little darlings, made entirely from a box:

    In all honesty, I was being lazy. I mean, no matter what kind of baked good is brought to school for a birthday it is always gobbled up completely (even if it is clearance cake from Walmart -- true story) and I wasn't feeling the greatest today. But I found out that for some reason, these chemical filled quick fixes totally hit the spot. OMG, the one that I accidentally ruined by dumping the batter everywhere was SO darn tasty when I ate it (I couldn't include it, it was really ugly ;) )!


    I guess occasionally there is something to be said for those Rainbow Chip cupcakes. I know these will be a hit tomorrow! I'll be back later this week with the full rundown of our fun fall break :)

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Fall break quickie!

    My family (and friends) and I are in the mountains of North Carolina for a much needed break, and all we can say is WOW! While the drive up to our house was a little daunting, once we arrived the view was amazing.


    The picture SO doesn't do the colors of the trees justice! As soon as my brother discovered the hot tub (or "cuzzi" as he calls it), it was on. We've been loving the view and the relaxation ever since.


    Man, we've got a hard life ;) Hope you are having a good week or good fall break!

    Sunday, October 9, 2011

    Start Spreadin' the News...

    It's fall break!!! I had great intentions for today (like cleaning, packing, bathing my dog) but ended up spending over half of the day watching The Outhouse Blowout down in Forkland ;) Then I needed a nap because, well, that wore me out. After that I headed on over to the Village Inn Restaurant in little ole Burgin (an even tinier town adjacent to mine) for a fried dinner that was DEE-licious! Oh, and listen to this: I got a salad, chicken fingers, fries, mac-n-cheese, and Texas toast all for.....$4.95!!!
    Anyway, I'm leaving today for a mini-vaca in North Carolina! I am so ready for a change of scenery. I'll take pictures and let you know how our trip goes, but it should definitely be fun. I'll post a new entry when I get back, but in the meantime please gaze upon the face of my family's hilarious bulldog puppy, Woodrow.


    Picture courtesy of Robin Moler

    Woodrow is at doggie boot camp this week while we go on vacation. He'll be "reminded" of what the command "COME!" means as he seems to have forgotten ;) Anytime you are having a bad day this week, just gaze on this face and be thankful you don't have his jaw. Hope you have a wonderful week!

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    Recipe: Jalapeno Cornbread

    I had this the same night I decided to make Onion Dip. My parents were having some family out to their lake house, and I was doing part of the cooking! Mom made Taco Soup (which I LOVE, by the way) and I made the appetizer and the cornbread. Now, if you are having a Mexican soup then you also need a funky kind of bread. Mexican Cornbread seemed to fit the bill. By the way, this recipe was submitted to our school system's cookbook by my all time favorite history teacher, Ms. Newman! Fun fact :)

    Ms. Newman's Mexican Cornbread
    **NOTE: I doubled this recipe, which is reflected in the pictures.**
    1 1/2 c. self-rising corn meal
    1 c. cream-style corn
    1 c. sour cream
    1/2 c. oil
    2 eggs
    2 jalapeno peppers, sliced
    4 oz. chopped green chilies
    1 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese

    Mix all ingredients but jalapeno and cheese. Pour 1/2 of mixture into a greased 13x9 pan, and add half of the cheese. Pour in the rest of the cornbread mixture and top with remaining cheese. Garnish with slices of jalapeno and bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

    Here are the ingredients you'll need (I kind of feel sacreligious using Ree's "Cast of Characters" line). Notice you see onion in it, but not in the recipe. I added onion because I like it and I had about half an onion left over from another "project". I liked it in the dish, but feel free to leave it out.


    The lovely batter all mixed together.


    After I poured half the batter in (actually I'd say that is more than half), I layered it with half the cheese.


    Next, I poured in the rest of the batter, rest of the cheese, and topped with some pickled jalapeno slices I like to keep in my fridge. I didn't get a picture of the full dish after it was baked, so this is as close as it gets :)


    This was what was left of the bread! Next time, I will put all of the cheese into the batter instead of layering it. I'd also add another can of green chilies for some extra pizzaz, and maybe some cumin, too!


    This dish was definitely good, but I do love to add and subtract when it comes to cooking :) I'll jazz it up a little more next time I make it, but it is definitely good as-is. Hope you're having a great week so far!

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    First Recipe: Onion Dip :)

    I am SO excited to post my first recipe! I am going to work on improving my pictures, but this is a start. I am a huge HUGE HUGE fan of the blogger Ree Drummond, otherwise known as The Pioneer Woman, and this is my attempt to be Ree-like :)


    As Ree would say, the "Cast of Characters" AKA the ingredients.


    Judy's Onion Dip

    3 bags of frozen chopped onions
    3 8 oz. blocks of cream cheese, softened
    3/4 c. mayonnaise
    1 c. parmesean cheese, divided
    1 c. panko breadcrumbs (I used Italian flavor)

    Combine onions, cream cheese, mayonnaise, and 1/2 cup of parmesean in a large bowl. Pour into a greased 13x9 dish and spread evenly. Pour on the remaining 1/2 cup of parmeasean, followed by the panko. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
    I think some fabulous additions would be: bacon, garlic, different kinds of cheese, green chilies, or jalapenos.


    This was all that was left! I promise I'll add more pictures to the next recipe...I'm new at this!

    I liked this recipe, but I'd definitely add something else to it next time. My guests gobbled it up though, so it is definitely a crowd pleaser. Hey, anything that has a mayo and cream cheese base is A-OK in my book!

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Fall is here!

    Fall is here! That means I've been stalking Pinterest and looking at cute fall decorating ideas. I'm totally NOT crafty at all, but I am trying to be better. I have to say, Pinterest is totally helping! I've decided to take one cabinet and deck it out with holiday fun, so here is Halloween/fall, round 1!

    Here's the close up. I found the FALL banner examples on Pinterest and thought surely I could make something like them! I think mine is OK for a first try :)


    Dug this cute spider web and Halloween tree out of my parent's attic! Mom isn't putting out any decorations this year because she is afraid the bulldog will chew them up :) I'm taking up the slack!


    Here's the whole picture, far away shot.



    Two picture frames, each with a Halloween themed fun saying. 


    Finally, here are the pumpkins! Found out how to make the polka dotted one on Pinterest and added my own cute bow :) The mum isn't dead, it just hasn't bloomed yet.



    Even someone lacking creativity like me can do this stuff. I plan on making a Halloween wreath next, so stay tuned for pics of that and a few recipes coming soon. Hope you had a good weekend!


    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    CSAF Recap!

    I've definitely neglected this blog this week...sorry! :( I've been keeping up with my teaching blog, Special Speckled Eggs, but I've been slacking over here. I wanted to give you a recap of the festival I talked about last weekend because, well, I told you I would! Here are some (poor) pictures from the festival. I now know that I really need a real digital camera OR a new iPhone, cause pics that are this low in quality just aren't going to cut it!


    People and random booths. There were way more, but I felt like I was creeping out the vendors trying to take their pictures with my iPhone :)

    Basically I was trying to get a picture of the Constitution Square sign in this picture, but clearly that didn't work out for me. How did I not see all these trashcans?! I guess I was blinded by the sun or something.

    And then there is this booth. This booth is called "Stuff on a Stick" and all it was was TONS of fried food, all of which came on a stick. Seriously, I don't think I could make this up! I wasn't crazy about the fried Oreos, but I heard the fried cheesecake was to die for!

    As I think I said last time, the Constitution Square Festival has lots of different crafty vendors and LOTS of fried food :) Can you beat that?! It is also the place to go if you want to see everyone you've ever met in a 20 mile radius. Ahh, the joy of small town living.
    Hope you've had a great weekend! I really want to post pics of a recipe (like my idol, The Pioneer Woman) sometime in the coming week, so we shall see how that goes. Have a marvelous Monday tomorrow!

    Sunday, September 11, 2011

    DIY Project: Bowl Fillers!

    So I was on Pinterest the other day, and I saw the cutest DIY project by Landee See, Landee Do. It was these awesome bowl fillers! I thought they were so neat, I just had to do them myself. I've got a great navy blue bowl on my kitchen table that is just begging to be filled, and these were the ideal solution.

    Here's what you need (well, what I needed):
    6 4 inch styrofoam balls
    1 yard (approximately) of fabric total -- I would get at least 2 colors/patterns
    1 18 foot spool of ribbon (about 1/2-5/8 inch width)
    1 box of stick pins
    scissors

    First, cut the fabric into 1/2 inch wide strips that are long enough to fit around the styrofoam ball. Then, cut the ribbon to the same length.


    Now you're ready to rap! Start with one strip of fabric or ribbon. Wrap it completely around the ball and secure with one your stick pins. Now, wrap the next piece around the ball kind of forming an X (I wish I'd taken pictures so the directions would be clearer). Maybe this picture will help that make more sense.



    
    Keep on wrapping and sticking until you have this:



    Actually, I'm sure yours will be much cuter than mine! BUT I still loved mine anyway :) So much in fact that I made 5 more and put them all in the blue bowl on my kitchen table. Once I clean the table off :-P, it will be PERFECT!


    Thanks so much, Landee, for the inspiration! Check out Landee's original post right HERE. While you're there, check out the ones she made with thumbtacks, too! Have a blessed Sunday, and don't forget to think of all those who lost loved ones 10 years ago today.