Saturday, June 30, 2012

{recetas} Mac & Cheese

I love mac 'n' cheese. Once upon a time, though, I didn't. I didn't think it was as awesome as everyone made it out to be. That was before. This is now.

I love mac 'n' cheese. The stuff from the box is pretty good. The homemade stuff? Even better.

I nanny for a family and the two girls love macaroni and cheese more than I do. The first summer I was a nanny for them, they wanted the boxed pasta every day. I probably made it twice a week. On the first day of my second summer, I went to the pantry to fetch a box of macaroni and cheese. I saw nothing. Not one box of cheesy goodness. I saw 3 or 4 boxes of noodles.

The girls informed me that they used the "box of cheese all sliced up" and the colorful noodles to make mac and cheese. I quickly figured out how to make super simple mac 'n' cheese, but wasn't extremely satisfied. I searched the ol' web and found this post from the Picky Palate. Home made mac and cheese in 5 minutes!? It took me longer, though, because I didn't have any leftover pasta in the fridge.

Here are the changes I made the second time I made this recipe:

Colby/jack cheese instead of cheddar (I'm not really a fan of  cheddar cheese...).
Skim milk instead of whole.
Half the salt, half the pepper.
Added a half cup for peas, for a little veggie goodness.


Friday, June 29, 2012

My $3 Centerpiece

Yesterday I was given a 100 dollar bill to "play" with. I was overjoyed, in fact, I think I smiled for an hour. What a wonderful gift!

So far, I have spent $3. It was awesome, but it was also a little bit sad to break the Benjamin so easily and so quickly. I spent it at the dollar store, so it wasn't that bad. And, I was able to make a wonderfully patriotic centerpiece for the 4th of July (even though we won't be here!).

I saw this balloon weight right away and thought it looked pretty neat.

My original thought was to put it in a tall vase with some "pebbles" I already had at home. After a few more minutes of wandering the aisle of the dollar store, I found this glass...I don't know, is it considered a bowl? dish? I also saw that they had some of the pebbles I had at home, but in blue. How fantastic!

Assembling the center piece was easy-peasy. I found the clear tea light holders in my bin of supplies that I had purchased for figuring out wedding centerpieces. The red ones were part of a housewarming gift from my godmother. They usually spend their time lined up on top of the toilet tank, but I think I like this look better:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Adios, amigo.

It's time for me to say goodbye to one of my favorite places. I have looked over the bank statements from the last few months (well, I looked at the account information online) and realized that my husband and I were spending WAY too much money at Target.

I love the place. I really do. It has everything. Target is where I do almost all of my shopping. Groceries. Clothing. It's my pharmacy. And, (I sort of hate to admit this) it's a place I like to go when my mind won't stop racing. I wander the aisles of Target in search of nothing, but manage to leave having spent $20 (on a good day).

But, the amount of money spent at that one establishment is crazy. I usually go to Target with lists, and I buy everything on the list. And then some. There's always something else I want (not need, just want). Like new nail polish. Or a new kitchen gadget (I love kitchen gadgets, by the way).

I usually only stop at Target when I am in need of some groceries. So, I'm changing. I'm saying adios to Target groceries. I have the totally awesome Target debit card, so I have always done my shopping there to save 5%. After wandering the aisle of my local Rainbow Foods in search of Mexican pop, I realized that the prices on some of the things at Rainbow were a lot cheaper. Cucumbers, for example, are 10 cents cheaper at Rainbow. And milk? Fifty cents cheaper!

But what about the 5% off at Target for using their card?

Well. 5% really isn't that much. The cucumbers are still less expensive at Rainbow. My plan for the day (since I only have a tutoring gig today at noon) is to write up my weekly grocery list and head to both Target and Rainbow. I will not buy anything at either store today. My only job is to write down the prices of my most frequently purchased items. I'll factor in the 5% discount at Target and decide from there.

Well, now that I've created a challenge for myself, I guess I can't really say goodbye to Target quite yet... I guess we'll have to see what happens...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Date Night

I was given a $40 gift card to Houlihan's by a few coworkers a few months ago, so that my husband and I could enjoy a night out (thanks coworkers!).

I got home last night from my summer job and realized that the hubs did not take the chicken out of the freezer that morning. This was totally fine by me, I didn't want to cook anyway.

To Houlihan's we went. We got a Pepsi and strawberry lemonade (delish!). The towels they served us at the end of the meal were warmer than our food. And the food itself was mediocre at best. But I'm not writing this post because I am upset about the less-than-perfect service we had at the restaurant. Or the cold and bland fajitas.

I'm writing this post because of this post over at "The Good." It helped me to realize how lovely our date night was.

We talked the night away. We talked about Finn, about my summer job, his summer job. We talked about the dreams for our house, about having kids. We looked into each other's eyes (corny, I know). We enjoyed each other's company.

And when we got home? We took Finn for a nice long walk around the park. It was a wonderful end to a beautiful evening. Thanks to Sara from The Good for helping me to realize it!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

{recetas} Cucumber Hummus Cups

We had a fabulous father's day today, even though the tornado sirens have gone off and we have decided to spend the night in the basement. We were lucky enough to go over to my husband's aunt and uncle's house for a lakeside BBQ this afternoon (for the 4 hours it didn't rain today).

I was in charge of bringing an appetizer for the gathering and I decided upon Hummus Cucumber Cups. I wasn't sure on the name since I didn't have a recipe. There was only a little inspiration from my first year as a teacher. A parent brought these yummy snacks for one of the class parties during the year. The five- and six-year-olds didn't really care for them, but I adored them little snacks (and don't know why it has taken me three years to make them for myself!).

And. They're super easy!

  • cucumbers (no bigger than medium sized, otherwise they're hard to eat!)
  • hummus (super easy to make from scratch, but I only had 10 minutes before we were to leave)
  • any type of seasoning you'd like to put on top (I used Tajin!)

The Steps:

First, cut off the ends and slice the cucumbers to about the thickness of 1 inch.

Next, use an appropriately sized measuring spoon to scoop out the middles of each slice, making a cup.

 Use a spoon or two to scoop some hummus into each cucumber cup. Sprinkle the top with your seasoning of choice (or leave them plain!).

Sorry for the blur! Oh, the phone camera...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

{recetas} Taco Casserole

I found this recipe on All Recipes and modified it just a little bit. I made it awhile ago exactly how the recipe states, but I like to modify recipes a bit. I do it, mostly, to see if I can. Someday, someday, someday, I would like to be able to cook without a recipe. Practice makes perfect, right?

Here are the ingredients I used the second time I made this recipe:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 can sliced olives
  • 1 package frozen corn
  • 1/2 can tomato soup
  • 1 can southwestern style diced tomatoes (they're Target's brand and have diced tomatoes, chiles, garlic and jalapenos...I think)
  • 1/2 box of elbow noodles
  • enough shredded cheese (colby/jack) to cover the top (didn't measure!)
  • enough tortilla chips to crush over the top
  • a few sprinkles of garlic salt (to taste)
  • a couple shakes of Tajin (to taste) -- found at a Mexican market
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
The steps:

  1. Cook the noodles to "al dente" status. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. While the noodles cook, brown the ground beef and add the taco seasoning according to the package directions.
  3. Add the olives, tomato soup, diced tomatoes and frozen corn to the skillet with the beef. Sprinkle on some garlic salt and the tajin (if you want to/have it).
  4. Drain the noodles and pour those in the skillet as well. Mix it all together, then pour it into a 9x13" casserole dish. Cover the top with shredded cheese and bake until the cheese melts (or for 30 to 35 minutes if your dish sat in the fridge because you had to go to class and you made it for your husband to heat up later. Just sayin').
  5. Serve it in a shallow bowl (or on a plate, whatever works!) and crush a few tortilla chips over the top. My husband likes to add a spoonful of sour cream and bit of salsa to the top of his. Me? I like it just as it is.
I think it is really tasty and think you should try it!
Yesterday was full of laundry. And taking care of a puppy (a LOT of work!). Needless to say, there wasn't much time for anything else. I just happened upon this post about laundry, over at You Know It Happens At Your House Too and had to smile. The last photo? Of her laundry room? That's what mine looked like yesterday and part of today.  That's right. I didn't get all of my laundry done yesterday. Had to do some today.

All in all, I finished TEN loads of laundry. I'm sure many of you are thinking, "Ten loads? Well, that's not so bad." But, I am currently childless. It's just me and my husband creating all of those ten loads of laundry. Oh, the socks we now have! The undershirts! My husband swore the dog had eaten or somehow destroyed all of his undershirts.

Alas, the truth is told. We are both terrible at laundry. Neither of us like it. But, it has to be done. And someone has to do it. If only my dad still did my laundry (is that bad to say?).

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My Other Least Favorite Chore

Vacuuming isn't my only hated house related chore. If you know me, that probably isn't surprising. I promise, though, that I do enjoy some chores. Like cleaning the mirrors. Or steam mopping the kitchen. I also enjoy .. Hmm. I'll get back to you on that one.

So, my other least favorite chore? Laundry. It's time consuming. It's tedious. I'm just not a fan. In fact, my husband and I haven't done a load of laundry in three weeks. I am out of socks (and underwear). My favorite skirts are all dirty. Our hamper is full. In fact, it spilled onto the floor a week ago.

Maybe I would like doing the laundry if my laundry room looked like this. Pretty, right? Mine doesn't have drywall. It has pretty pink insulation covered by plastic. It is bea-u-tiful. Can you sense my sarcasm?

Honestly, I don't think that will make my love of laundry grow (or my hate of laundry disappear).

So, tomorrow, I will be enjoying my first day of summer by doing the laundry. All of it.

I'll let you know how many loads I end up doing...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Check. It. Out.

Do you see what I see?

That's right. A camera battery that is being charged! I found one of two missing battery chargers. This one was at my place of employment, hiding under a stack of papers that was covering a stack of books. Whoops.

I'm SO relieved that I found it for two reasons.

1. iPhone pictures are only so good.

2. My best buddy is getting married in a couple of weeks, and her bachelorette party is tonight.

Can we say "perfect timing?"

Friday, June 8, 2012

Project: Organize #?

I haven't organized anything in a really long time, which is a bummer. I get such a sense of accomplishment after organizing a part of my life.

I do, however, have an idea for what I would like my next Project: Organize project to be. Project: Organize #1 was a huge success. I truly enjoy the new look of my pantry. It has made cooking that much more enjoyable. Project: Organize #2 was also pretty awesome, but not as fun to complete.

For Project: Organize #3, I would like to complete the office. The one that is filled with all of our "stuff." The one that has an almost empty closet, but a door that doesn't open all the way. To fix this, we really do just need to organize.

Good thing it is my last day of work for the summer and my projects can begin!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Not Everyone Likes a Milkbone

I can't tell you why, but Finn does not like Milkbones. At all. In fact, we tried to use Milkbones as a way to get him into his kennel at night, and every morning we have seen them hidden away in his crate. Wouldn't he eat one or two if he liked them? He doesn't like treats!? What? That's ludicrous. Being that he is a puppy, treats are kind of a "big" part of training. Well, not super big, but big enough.

Since he is as cute as he is, I decided to make some treats for him... and it was very easy. I only needed a few ingredients (5!) and a super cute cookie cutter to make these treats. I can't tell you where the recipe was found, I found it in an old recipe box that was given to me (which was pretty neat, by the by).

Here is everything you need:

I forgot to take a picture of the milk!

2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon honey

First, mix the flour and baking powder. In a separate bowl, mix the milk, peanut butter and honey until it is well combined. Once that is well mixed, add the dry ingredients. Mix this, too, until it forms a nice dough. Roll it out on a floured surface to the thickness of about a quarter inch. Use a cookie cutter to make fun shapes for the biscuits (I used an old aluminum pan to make a bone shaped cookie cutter).

Needless to say, Finn loves these treats! I even gave some to my K-9 sister (Mad) and my puppy nephews (Duke and Louie). They liked them, too!