Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Laughing Jar

This is my "Laughing Jar." Just a simple mason jar. Throughout the year I write down things that have made me laugh, like funny things the girls have said, or funny things that have happened. I usually write it on a post-it but any little piece of paper will work. Fold it up and put it in the jar. At the end of the year I take the papers out, we read them and laugh and laugh! At the end of the year when we are ready to start over, I also take all the funny things about the girls, type them up on a sheet of paper and stick them in the girl's file. I'll probably put them in a scrapbook at some point.

Another idea we plan on doing, starting January is the "Thankful Jar." Over the year you write down things you are thankful for and read them at Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chocolate chip peppermint cookies

Here is another peppermint and chocolate recipe. I just can't get enough of these Andes peppermine crunch baking pieces. Sooo good! I'm going to have to buy a few more bags before Christmas time is over, because they are only sold this time of year.

2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
1 bag milk chocolate chips (I used about 3/4 bag)
1 bag Andes peppermint crunch chips (also used 3/4 bag)

1. Mix flour, soda and salt. Set aside.

2. With a mixer, beat together sugars, vanilla, and butter until smooth. Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition. Gradually add flour followed by chocolate and peppermint chips.

3. Spread flour on a surface and divide batter into fourths. Roll into a log and wrap in plastic wrap. Refridgerate until firm.
4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350. Slice logs into discs and place on baking sheet. Bake 5 min, rotate baking sheet and bake 5 min more. Let cool 10 minutes before transfering to cooling rack.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I made this delicious pound cake for our Thanksgiving dessert. You can eat it as is or dress it up a bit by adding a drizzle of chocolate or serving with strawberries and whip cream.

1 1/2 cups of butter, softened
1 8oz. package of cream cheese, softened
3 cups of sugar
6 eggs
3 cups all pupose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Beat butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add in sugar, beating well.

2. Add in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. Sift 3 cups of flour in a seperate bowl. Add in salt. Add flour into butter mixture a half cup at a time, beating on low. Add vanilla.

Should look similar to this, at this point.
4. Pour batter into a greased and floured bundt pan. To grease and flour a pan, I've found the easiest way is to rub a stick of butter all over the inside. Then sprinkle a small handful of flour around the inside turning to coat. Turn upside down and tap on the counter or sink to remove excess.

5. Smooth out the batter so it is even. Bake at 300 for 1 hour 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool 10-15 min in the pan then transfer to wire cooling rack and cool completely.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Savory Split Pea Soup

Split pea soup is either something you really love or really hate. I happen to really love it, and its cheap to make so I double love it! I have to admit its not the prettiest meal I've ever seen, but it sure is yummy.

Bag of dried split peas
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
8 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 carrots
Ham hock or Bacon (I used a handful of bacon ends and pieces from a $7 pack I had. Buying the ends and pieces is cheaper than buying the regular packs of bacon and lasts forever.)
salt and pepper to taste
1. Rinse and drain peas and add to crockpot. Heat olive oil in a pan and sautee the onion and garlic. Add to crockpot.
2. Add in the broth, meat, carrots and salt and pepper, stir well.
 3. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-6 hours. Stir before serving.
Ok definitely not the prettiest but its delicious!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Balsamic Chicken Pasta with Roasted Asparagus

Mmm this recipe was delicious! I made a whole chicken in the crockpot and used half of it for this recipe. The rest I saved for chicken and dumplings tomorrow. The whole chicken was only $4 and I was able to stretch it into two meals. Thats some smart saving right there! Here is the link to my recipe for a whole chicken in the crockpot.

Balsamic Pasta
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons balsamic vinager
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/3 stick of butter
1 lb penne or rotini pasta
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1. Boil noodles in a big pot and add a pinch of salt and a dash of olive oil. When noodles are tender desired tenderness, drain and transfer to bowl. Add butter.
2. While noodles are boiling, simmer the balsamic vinager in a small saucepan until 3 tablespoons remain. Simmering the vinager mellows and thickens it. Add to pasta and stir well.
3. Add in chicken and parmesan cheese, stir. Serve with Roasted Asparagus (see below).
Roasted Asparagus
1. Preheat oven to 375. Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil for easy cleanup. Cut the tough ends off the asparagus.
Spread on cookie sheet, drizzle in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. I like to add thin slices of Roasted Garlic. Bake until tops are crispy and the stalks are soft (about 10-15 min)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Big News for the Brownings!

You may have noticed I haven't been posting too much lately. The hubs got orders to California so we will be moving very soon! It's a bit stressful trying to get all our stuff organized and everything lined up for when we get to Cali. We have quite a bit of stuff left over from when we did storage auctions. Its the stuff thats hard to sell like decor, clothes, books and mismatched furniture. We have had several yardsales and donated a bunch to needy families but there is still so much stuff left over. I'll probably just end up taking the rest to Goodwill. Anyway, I probably won't be posting too much until we get on the road to Cali. And then you will get to read about all our adventures traveling across country :) I'm pretty excited about that part.

On another note, I've been watching this show on National Geographic, called Doomsday Preppers. It is pretty interesting! Some of these people are a bit over the top, but I certainly think it doesn't hurt to be prepared. I could definitely see an anarchy following an economic collapse. But even preparing for a natural disaster is good. I've got to do a better job of that, so in the near future we plan on stocking up on food and water, weapons and survival gear.

So what do YOU think about "Prepping?"

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Marine Corps Ball 2012

This past weekend the hubby and I attended the Ball celebrating the 237th anniversary of the Marine Corp. We had a fantastic time!
All dressed up! I got this dress on ebay from a store called Patty's Boutique. It's a store based in China and while I try to buy American as much as I can, I just couldn't pass up the price for this one. $30! Insane. I was suprised at the quality, it was really decent for the price I paid. Really love this dress! I wore it last year as well, but I doubt anyone noticed lol.

The back of the dress. I did my hair myself. It was very simple, just curled it and then pulled the top section back into a little clip.
My shoes I also got off Ebay. The brand is Pleaser. I love Pleaser they make some killer heels and have great prices. I've had these for several years now, so I'm not sure exactly what I paid for them.

My bracelet I also got off Ebay for $2. It was a new without tags item so not sure on the brand. Can you tell I love Ebay?
I spent hours on my nails...haha just kidding! I used an awesome product I was testing out.
They are actually stickers. You put them on the nail and simply cut off the excess. Here is a Link for more info on them.
Finally got Steven to smile..well sort of. So proud of my handsome Marine!
We drove down to the Hyatt in Savannah where the ball was being held. I love Savannah but absolutely hate driving downtown. There is always construction, too much traffic and weird one-way roads. We got to the Hyatt and hung out with some friends for a bit in thier room.

Then we hit Cocktail hour and mingled and chatted a while before finding our table.

Our meal started off with a light salad and ranch dressing.
Next we had a chicken dish with roast beef, asparagus and risotto topped with roasted red pepper and caramelized onions. The roast beef was delicious and so tender.

Dessert was cheesecake with some giant blackberries. It was delicious and creamy!

After dinner there was dancing, dancing and more dancing! My feet still hurt! I kinda wish they would have some ballroom dancing like a waltz or something. Even though I don't know how, it would be fun to learn. Its so elegant. Overall we had a fabulous time!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Black Bean and Sour Cream Enchiladas

This is another cheap yummy meal thats a favorite at our house.

1 package small corn tortillas
2 cans black beans well drained
2 cloves garlic well minced
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 small onion
1 small can green chilis
1 can green enchilada sauce
1/2 cup sour cream or lowfat yogurt if you are cutting calories
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 lime
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. chili powder

1. Preheat oven to 350. Combine black beans, half the onion and garlic and a handful of cilantro. Save the remaining cilantro for a garnish. Mix, then add the seasonings, sour cream and 1 cup of cheese. Add in the green chilis. I had to take take a portion out before I added the chilis since the girls and Bryan don't like them. Squeeze the half a lime on top and mix well.

(I didn't have cilantro, but it should look something like this)

2. Take a spoonful of enchilada sauce and spread it around the baking dish you will be using.

3. Spoon mixture into a tortilla, roll up and place seam side down in pan. It's hard but try to roll them as tight as possible.

4. Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the tortillas. Top with cheese and the rest of the onions. If you are really into spicy food, some jalapeno slices would taste amazing on top!
Cook for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and tortilla edges are crispy and brown.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Peppermint Mocha Trifle

Around this time of year I tend to be peppermint obsessed. Peppermint hot chocolate, peppermint coffee, even peppermint candles will suddenly appear at my house. I love it! I saw some peppermint bark baking chips at the grocery store last week and just had to get them. I didn't have a plan for them but I knew I could come up with something. Yes it was an impulse buy I'm ashamed to say! I came up with this Peppermint Mocha Trifle and it was delish! Normally we eat very healthy, but sometimes the fat kid in me takes over haha!

1 box cake mix (or you can make a cake from scratch to be a bit healthier)
1 pack instant chocolat pudding
1 container cool whip
1 bag peppermint crunch baking chips
1 cup strong brewed coffee

1. Bake cake according to instructions. Set aside to cool. Mix up pudding according to package and put in fridge.

2. Cut cake into cubes and layer in trifle dish or a deep dish.

3. Drizzle about 1/2 cup of the coffee over the cubes.
4. Next spread about 1/3 of the pudding mixture over the cubes.

5. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of peppermint chips over mixture.

 6. Next top with 1/3 container of cool whip. If you wait for the cool whip to soften it will spread better. (Which I didn't do because I was in a hurry lol)

7. Repeat the layers, then chill in fridge until ready to serve.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sensory Play with Dry Beans

This is a fun activity for toddlers/preschoolers that promotes eye-hand coordination, counting and number skills. I lay a sheet down (for easier clean up) but you can also use a big plastic tub.

 I lay out some spoons and containers so the girls can practice scooping the beans.

We also use old egg cartons to practice counting. I will put 1 bean in the first cup, 2 in the second ect. on the first row. Then on the second row they have to match the amount on the first row.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Date Night to Outback

We were given a giftcard to Outback, so the hubs and I got to go on a date night. It has been quite a while since we have been able to get away, just the two of us, so this was very special. We started off with an appetizer. I had the Seared Ahi Tuna. It was absolutely delicious! It came with two dipping sauces: wasabi vinagrette and a creamy ginger soy sauce. I went back and forth with dipping, I couldn't decide which one I liked best!

Steven had the coconut shrimp. He was too scared to try my raw tuna hehe!

Next we ordered our meal. I had the blue cheese chopped salad. I absolutely adore the candied pecans and the blue cheese. Its kind of a sweet and sour mix. Yum Yum!

Steven had the ribeye with a loaded baked potatoe. I did get a few weird looks for taking pics of my food haha!
We were way to full to have dessert, but we had an absolutely marvelous time. It was so nice to just sit and talk and eat without any interruptions!
All dressed up for date night!
Necklace-Claires (clearance rack)
2 fer Shirt-Rue 21
Jeans-Wet Seal via Goodwill
Brown Boots-Gianni Bini via Ebay
I did this pic in black and white so you can see the detail in this shirt. Its super pretty!