Friday, December 21, 2012

Spinach ricotta cups

I missed you yesterday. Really...I did. I missed everything to do with civilization actually. We got hit with Winter Storm Draco, just as the weather people predicted, and he didn't take it easy on us because we are out of practice, that's for sure. Sidenote: when did we start naming blizzards? Anyway, I was stranded at home alone since Main Man and his guys plow quite a few businesses around town (for 27 hours straight yesterday and he left at 10 pm so didn't get sleep for 42 bueno). I am used to be alone during snowstorms, so that wasn't an issue. The issue was the fact that I didn't have power for 13 hours during said snowstorm. The heat was off, I couldn't watch tv, blog, do a p90x workout, cook my holiday food...nothin. I tell you what, the house is spic and span though! My kindle was dead so the only distraction I had was my cell phone, which got old after a bit, so cleaning things was my only means of keeping busy and warm. The power did get restored right at dark, when I was just starting to get worried about not having real candles in the house (I'm a Scentsy addict but those require electricity), and the heat not coming on again all night.
Main Man tried to get home to nap a couple times but he was actually snowed out while I was snowed in...even with his big old truck with a plow on it. He walked home from down the road around midnight last night and was asleep before he hit the bed. So glad he got some rest finally...I know people get anxious and annoyed at the street cleaning crews and the power companies when they're stranded but those people who worked with no sleep in the freezing cold the last couple days to restore my power and clear the roads for me to get out today are saints in my book! I sure wouldn't want that job!
After the week we've had, I'm ready for the long Christmas weekend, followed by the long New Years weekend, followed very closely by our honeymoon cruise in January...besides being petrified of flying even though I've done it a million times, I am over the moon excited to be looking at a full week of relaxation! It's been a busy month, with preparations for the holidays, and other the WIDZ party I made these spinach ricotta cups for a couple weeks ago. I have to admit that I never actually got a chance to try one of them because they disappeared so quickly, but that's a good thing, right?! I received a lot of compliments on these, which is nice because they really didn't take much effort...see for yourself:
2 packages phyllo cups (you can get the phyllo dough and make cups yourself if you like, but this is way easier)
5-8 oz fresh spinach
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T butter
1 16 oz container low fat ricotta cheese
4 oz goat cheese
cracked pepper to taste
thyme to taste (sprinkled on top)
I had originally thought of just filling these with the cheeses, but decided to add a little to the pot for flava's sake. I performed my normal routine of wilting the fresh spinach with the butter and minced garlic in the microwave. Heat for 30 seconds, stir, heat for 30 seconds, stir...done. Add that to a mixing bowl with the ricotta and goat cheese. Add cracked pepper and thyme and mix all that shizz to perfection.
I decided to put the mixture into a plastic baggie and cut a corner off in order to squirt it into the cups without getting them all messy using a spoon. It's a shortcut I think you'll come to appreciate if you're anything like me...and by anything like me, I mean sloppy. Things tend to come out perdier this way. Anywho...squirt the filling into the cups, sprinkle with thyme for a garnish and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Yum-diddly-umptious.  

Well, looks as though this is the last you'll hear from me until after the I hope you all have wonderful celebrations with fantabulous food and unforgettable family time! I will be back late next week to hit you with some of the holiday treats I've made for the the batch of Leslie's homemade caramels that are now going to be a yearly tradition. No one is counting how many of those I took down yesterday while being snowed in with the whole pan...

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

BLT pasta

MEEEEEEEEEEP!!! MEEEEEEEEEEP!!! Blizzard warning in your county!! MEEEEEEEP!!! MEEEEEEEEEP!!!
That's what I woke up to at 4 am this morning blaring from my phone while it vibrated so hard it almost bounced off the nightstand. Main Man's phone didn't have sound but it was jumping around vibrating as well. Jeez Louise, Verizon...I could see if it's a tornado coming our way where we need to take action immediately, but what exactly is the advice for a blizzard? Stay inside? Got that covered at 4 am...thanks. Besides the fact that this warning was a good 12 hours before the snow was even supposed to think about starting to fall on us. Better to be safe than sorry, I suppose. I am, by nature, bad at waking up anyway. I have a very serene, gradual volume increasing, spa-like alarm for my normal wake ups, so when this thing hit, I thought the Mayans were right about the end of the world (give or take a couple days in calculations). I've never sat up so fast...
Now that my heart is beating at its normal pace again (it took a while to revert back to normal palpitations), I am eagerly awaiting this blizzard because it means we get a white Christmas! Yes, I'm one of those annoying people wishing for snow. Don't worry, I only wish for it the first snow of the year and then it loses it's luster when it gets all dirty and ugly and you actually have to drive in it and continue on with life. But the first snow is always magical, and it just makes it feel more Christmas-y to have a white backdrop when peering out the windows.
Anyway, I'm being warned by Main Man that I may not be able to get out of the house tomorrow since our county road drifts so badly and the winds are expected to be very high tonight after the snow piles on us. This meal was a throw-together with ingredients I had laying around one night that I didn't feel like going to the store. Instead of heading to the store to stock up on food for the impending storm, I plan on making this pasta again with the staples I keep in the house. I always have these ingredients in my fridge, they're my favorites because you can throw them into so many different things. This time they turned into a pasta but they could've been a beefed up fresh spinach salad by subtracting the pasta, a quinoa casserole by subbing quinoa for pasta, a breakfast burrito filling or just an omelet by adding eggs, the list goes on and on...
Here's what you need:
1 box short pasta (I used these mini shells that are just adorbs, don't barf on me for saying adorbs please)
1 container cherubs or cherry tomatoes
1 bag fresh spinach
6 slices bacon, cooked and cut into bite sized pieces (you probably don't need that much but I have a bacon thief around the house so I always cook an extra slice or two to avoid being short on my recipe)
8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
2 T olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced (you can do less, but I love me some garlic, I never have to worry about vamps)
cracked pepper to taste
crushed red pepper to taste (I like to taste a lot)
Boil the noodles as you normally would, drain and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat, and add your minced garlic to it, stirring continuously for 1-2 minutes until aromatic. Add your tomatoes or cherubs and spinach, saute until wilted. Add noodles, bacon, and pasta and stir to combine. Add the mozzarella cheese and mix while melting. Add cracked pepper and red pepper to taste, and serve that stuff up with some garlic bread to your snowed in peeps....that's it!
I plan to add a cup of greek yogurt mixed in with the shredded mozzarella, just to give it a little more creaminess, but other than that, this meal was a score for just being made with ingredients I have on hand at all times. Can't beat that with a stick. Or a blizzard. Happy snowstorm, Iowans!

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bloggers day of silence for Sandy Hook

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Monday, December 17, 2012


Just a little heads up...from me to you. I am a coupon freak. I mean, I'm not one of those crazy couponers who have a binder of 30 cents off clippings who take an hour to check out of the grocery store and stockpile food and toiletries in their homes...but I do love me a good deal just as much as the next girl. Main Man used to be a little embarrassed about using Groupons to go out to eat, or printouts from, or whatever my latest deal is. But if I can save a $20 bill going out to eat, I'm gonna do it!

My friend (and maid of honor), Cynthia is the queen of deals, reading fine print, and all things to do with savings...and is very good at passing along deals to me when she thinks I may be interested. She recently took a couponing course which gave tips for savings in different shopping scenarios, and she passed this one along to me knowing that I do ALL my shopping online...literally, all of it. I hate stores, people! I get all sweaty and anxious even thinking about going to a mall this time of year...ew. Anyway, the website she directed me to is Ebates, where you make an account and then proceed to your favorite stores websites (there's tons of them, I haven't looked for one that they don't have yet) and shop like you normally would. Ebates generates a ticket when you click to your store's normal website and tracks if you place an order with them or not. If you do place an order, each store offers a different moneyback percentage. My favorite store lately is JCrew and they offer 6% cashback on any purchases. So I just shop for what I want, click through my purchasing, and I get 6% cashback on things I was going to purchase anyway!! Ebates saves your money up from the various websites you shop at after the purchases are confirmed, and loads cash onto your account to send you out a check when it reaches a certain limit. Right now I have $20 waiting for me as well as a $10 Target gift card for making my first purchase after signing up for Ebates. I mean, you're not gonna get rich doing it, but why wouldn't I take a little extra cash back on purchases I was going to make anyway??

Soooooo, in case any of you are interested...go ahead and click HERE to get signed up and registered to shop like you normally would! Just make sure you go to Ebates first, and then continue onto your normal websites you shop at....AND today they are offering free shipping on most of the stores as well! Ebates does not effect any sales or promotions the stores are putting on themselves if you have any Christmas shopping to get done before you can't get things shipped anymore, go ahead and set yourself up to get a little check with extra cash back in January...I know I'm excited to get mine! Happy holidays, everyone!

*I am in no way affiliated with Ebates, this message contains my own words and opinions.

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Marinated pork loin

Main Man actually executed this meal so I will give him full credit, and credit is needed to be given to someone for this masterpiece!  I have started buying small pork loins to marinate and throw on the grill since they are fairly cheap and very easy to throw together for dinner. Plus, Main Man gets all excited when he knows we're having a big hung of meat for dinner...must be a guy thing. This one was a throw together marinade of things I had in the house...I've gotten pretty good at discovering what will penetrate the meat well after all my marinations this summer, if I do say so myself, (and I do). No messing around Monday....let's get to it!
white balsamic vinegar (sweeter and less bitter than normal balsamic)
soy sauce
olive oil
lime juice
garlic powder
cracked pepper
cayenne pepper (optional, but we like a little kick in the panties)
I didn't really measure the ingredients, just threw them together and put a finger in there to taste after I mixed it up...that's the best way to cook, in my opinion! :) I put the loin in a large plastic baggie and dumped the mixture onto it to marinate overnight. When I got home from visiting the hospital the next night, Main Man had dinner on the table ready to be served. He actually took our meat syringe and injected the loin with the excess marinade before grilling, which I think was an excellant idea that really enhanced the flavor of the meat.
ALWAYS, always, always let your meat rest before slicing into it after grilling or you will lost all your juice, and that's no way to ruin a hunk of beatiful meat! This was a perfect Friday night in meal for the hubs and I...those pork loins in our freezer better be worried about their fate :)
Last long week before the holiday, I hope everyone has their shopping done, their menus planned, and Im (not so secretly) hoping for some snow to grace our presence for a traditional white just doesn't feel right this year with the warm weather we've had!  Happy Monday, all!

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Linguine in clam sauce

Here it is, folks! There's been a little controversy around the Casa Del Stensland about what is the best meal we've had lately. Main Man's vote was this Brussel sprouts and crab mac and cheese, but my vote counts more (the lady of the house's always does) and I double vote for this linguine in clam sauce from Iowa Girl Eats. We don't have to go over my obsession with her again...we all know it's a little ridonkulous...but man this girl makes my mouth water on a daily basis!  I used to think my favorite recipe from her blog was the caprese lasagna, with the skinny meatball subs coming in at a close second. But ah do ba-leev I have found zee best recipe on her blog eva!
I've never actually had linguine in clam sauce so I have no comparison to give you, not sure if this is a traditional recipe or a little different from the standard you would get in a restaurant...I can tell you I will be trying this sometime if I ever see it on the menu at an Italian place. I really don't quite get how you can get such flavor with so few ingredients, and I predicted it was going to be pretty dry (I'm a saucy girl) but it really wasn't at all! I devoured my whole plate...if there had been leftovers I would have had more. Probably a good thing there weren't any. I did go buy the ingredients to have on hand to make this two more times...I liked it so much I wanted to be able to make it anytime the craving hit me. The best part is, the ingredients can be kept on hand and pulled out at any time to make a phenomenal dinner at the drop of a hat. I can't wait to impress someone with this meal...."Oh yeah, I suppose I could throw something together for dinner tonight if you want to come over"...and then BOOM, you get hit in the face with this stuff! I'm super excited just thinking about it :)
8 oz dried linguine
1 T olive oil
1 large shallot (I subbed 3 green onions, didn't have shallots on hand)
3-6.5 ounce cans clams, drained, with 3/4 cup juice reserved
juice of 1 lemon (I used 1 T of lemon juice I had in the fridge)
1 t red pepper flakes (or to taste, you know I like my red pepper so I used more)
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced (I added this...can't have Italian without garlic)
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the garlic and shallot (or green onion) and saute until very soft and tender, about 5 minutes. Add clams and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add reserved clam jice, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes.

Toss pasta in the skillet with the sauce. adjusting red pepper flakes to taste. The recipe says to divide among 4 plates and serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese on top. I divided it into two servings and wouldn't have wanted any less of a portion. This was the perfect amount for two people...and that's seriously hard to do, people. I'm always trying to make dinners that won't result in tons of leftovers and it rarely works that was a cherry on top (except I could've nibbled on that stuff all night after dinner, it was so good).

I served with garlic bread and cleaned my plate...might've licked it clean...can't remember, don't care. That's not what's important. What's important is that you get yourself these ingredients and throw a restaurant quality dinner together for yourself lickity split (Main man even commented "It's done already" when I started plating). I'll admit that it doesn't look like much, so don't be taken aback at the flavor punch that is going to hit your tongue when you devour this...I warned you. Fair and square.

I'm glad this meal turned out so well as it was prepared in celebration of our one month anniversary of being married. Don't worry, we're not going to be one of those ridiculous couples who celebrate each and every month, but I saved the cakeballs from the top of the wedding cake and froze them for us to have a special night with each other after all the hubbub from the wedding was over. Dessert is served! Red wine for her, milk for him :) 

Have a great Friday, all! It's all downhill to the weekend...

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Green bean casserole

Aunt Chris always makes the green bean casserole....ALWAYS. Which means although it is a standard dish at holiday gatherings, I have never once had to learn how to make it or what all goes in it. Well, this year Aunt Chris couldn't make it to Thanksgiving, and we all know you can't do Thanksgiving without green bean I wung it. Winged it? Wang it? You know what I mean...
I didn't want to make another store run so I tried to work with what I had at home. I really had basically everything I needed to make a small batch already on hand, I was relieved to discover. I still have a freezer full of garden green beans from this summer, and instead of French's onion pieces that everyone always uses, I used dehydrated onions Mama K gave me a bag of to use for cooking a while back. I was a little nervous at how this was all going to turn out, but what's the worst that could happen? I knew I wouldn't give anybody food poisoning, so if worse came to worse, the dish would just be thrown away (or given to our resident garbage disposal, Sammy).
Wellllll, I'm not sure if people were nervous because they didn't know what it was or if their plates were already full since this was positioned at the end of the line, but we had quite a bit of this left. I did try it though, and I thought it was mighty good, especially for a throw-together.  I sure wouldn't replace the standard Aunt Chris green bean casserole with this but I did find some modifications that I would make to the tried and true recipe. I loved the addition of cheese to the dish, and really liked the fresh green beans so they weren't so mushy...obviously I love the mushier style too but it was nice to feel like I was eating real veggies with some consistency.
Here goes:
3 cups fresh green beans
1 cup shredded cheese
1 cup skim milk
1 can 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup
2 t worcestershire sauce
1.5 cups dehydrated onions
cracked pepper to taste
I just added everything to a big mixing bowl, stirred it up, and poured it into a baking dish to be cooked at 400 degrees for an hour, while covered. I had a nifty glass lid for my new baking dish that has its own cork bottom to keep warmth in after cooking...loving all my new dishes from the wedding!

I sprinkled some extra dehydrated onions on top, but I would skip that step next time because the good onions were the ones that were rehydrated by the liquid in the mixture, the ones on top seemed to burn. All in all, the flavor was good though, and that's what's really important though....right? Main Man couldn't stop making fun of me that no one seemed to want my green bean casserole and even told me he heard people talking about it saying it was horrible, but I found out later he was just messing with me. We're nice to each other like that...

Point never know until you try. I am glad to have experimented with the normal recipe and found some great modifications to add to the mix to put my own little tweak on green bean casserole. Next time you're in a pinch...throw something together. You may discover the best recipe you've ever stumbled accident!

Happy almost Friday, people! Be sure to check in tomorrow....we are officially DONE with Thanksgiving recipes and moving on to my absolute favorite recipe we've tried recently! It's in the rotation'll love it!

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mozzarella and potato pie

The 3rd edition of what we ate for Thanksgiving highlights mozzpot pie. I made that up, can you tell? For some reason when you say mozzarella and potato pie it doesn't sound too appetizing...but when you say mozzpot pie, it sounds interesting and worth a try. No? Too bad, that's what we're calling it.
I brought this to the Jamison side Thanksgiving as my contribution, and I thought the flavor was great, but if not piping hot when consumed, the cheese get's perdy stringy and hard to cut through. Moral of the story? Don't bring this to a potluck, but do make this at home for your family to eat the second it comes out of the oven. I may have a problem with fresh mozzarella cheese where I like to curl it around a fork like pasta...but doesn't everyone? Add the seasoned to perfection creaminess of the potatoes to fill in the gaps and the tomato juice leaked into everything and these flavors are up there for me...way up there. But you can decide for yourself...if you're not a cheese person (first of all, we can't be friends) this may not be for you.
2 lb potatoes
1/2 lb fresh mozzarella (they call for balls, I used slices, but balls might work best to prevent the hunks of melted cheese)
1/2 cup fresh parmesan, grated
3 tomatoes
1 oz butter
1/4 cup milk
1 t oregano
1 t basil
salt and pepper to taste
Peel and boil the potatoes in calted water for 25 minutes, until completely tender. I never peel my mashed potatoes as I like the little pieces of skin mixed in there...but you do as you wish.
Add the butter and milk and mash them. Season them with salt and pepper and then spread them into the bottom of your 9x13 baking dish.
Thinly slice the mozzarella and tomatoes and layer all of them on top of the potatoes. Sprinkle the basil and oregano over the top and throw it in the oven (covered) for 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees. Uncover and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Serve steaming hot!

I didn't get a picture of the dish after it was baked because we were in the midst of the assembly line of yummy food that Thanksgiving is all about...just imagine that cheese all melty and that should do it. Now...for my tongue to get that picture out of it's brain so it will stop leaking drool all over my mouth...

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Caesar chopped salad

We're just gonna truck right on through the Thanksgiving food, alrighty? It feels like Thanksgiving was an eternity ago, we've had so much going on and Christmas is right around the corner. 'Tis the season, ya know?! Pretty soon it's going to be January, which usually displeases me, but this year my January is rocking so I'm not even dreading it like normal. How can you dread a 7 day honeymoon cruise, along with a weekend in KC with my lady friends (with nobody pregnant for once!) and other various social events that I plan on attending in the chilly month that I usually want to pop in the face (if it had a face)...
Enough rambling...let's cut to the chase, and by chase, I mean salad. Caesar salad to be exact. Mi favorito (my espanol is rusty). When I first discovered salads when I was younger, Caesar was my one and only, I never strayed from ordering a nice creamy Caesar dinner salad. Until someone told me about the calories in that stuff. A lot of Caesar salads are as calorie laden as a cheeseburger, so you may as well indulge in the greasy burger and fries if you're drowning in fat...nobody wants a fat kid salad, I'm telling you.
So I rarely get them in restaurants anymore, because I cringe when I think of the yummy dressings they use and how many calories can actually be in that stuff. Ohhhhhh, it's SO good! Alas, I have found a few skinnier versions of Caesar dressing that I actually really like and don't feel like slitting my wrists from the guilt after consuming. So I go with the reduced fat/calorie brands when I make it at home and have gotten used to them throughout the years. You can't switch back and forth though, me on this. If you want to like the light versions, you can't be having the full fat versions for treats or you'll never be ok with the light stuff. Same with sour cream, soda pop, and ranch dressing. It just doesn't work...
Anyway...I had a craving for some Caesar for Thanksgiving. I thought I would add some pasta to it to make it a little more hearty. Most people don't want salads for Turkey day. And this really worked as a stand alone meal too. Very filling! So here's what I did:
1 package organic romaine hearts
1/2 package boiled and chilled cavatappi noodles (these are my fave right now)
fresh shaved parmesan cheese
package roasted chicken breast, diced up
roma tomatoes, diced up
fresh cracked pepper
caesar dressing of your choice
croutons if desired
I had all ingredients except the dressing and the croutons mixed up and in the fridge the day before to prevent extra work the day of Thanksgiving.

When it's party time, throw in the dressing and croutons and serve! I ate these leftovers at work for lunch that following week and it was delicioso. See how I've spoken like 3 languages in this post? Multi-cultural, that's me. I know one word of a lot of languages...too bad that doesn't count for much in real life. In my imaginary world, it makes me extremely cool though :)

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Herb roasted turkey

Turkeys are scary, man. I'm all good with chickens, done them a million times. So muss, no fuss, always amazing. For some reason, turkeys give me anxiety. You never know if they're done, or how long they're going to take (done too early they're dry by serving time, done too late and you're having a turkeyless turkey day) and they can be reaaaaally good or reaaaaaally bad. We've gotten in the tradition of making two turkeys for Thanksgiving so we have two choices of flavor...we fried one and smoked one last year and this year we fried one and roasted one. Thank goodness we had two...because our roasted one (of course the one I was in charge of) wasn't done in time....WHOOPSIES! We had just enough turkey to feed our brood and then had a whole 'nother one done an hour and half after we ate!  Lots of turkey pot pies, turkey casserole, and turkey noodle soup in our future :)
Anyway...even though it wasn't done in time, it did turn out well. So I figured I would share what I did with you, in case you are the type of family who does a turkey for Christmas as well? I know some people do that but I enjoy a good ham for Christmas...mmmmm, love me some spiral cut ham! OK, first thing is first...I put in a call to my friend Chrissy who is the turkey guru in my world. He recommended using a bag, which cuts down on the baking time significantly. You can do a 20 lb turkey in 3 hours! My issue with estimating cook time was that I used a roaster and when everyone and their brother comes by and opens it to check on the bird, it lets out alllllll the heat. If we had done this in the oven, the outcome would've been different, me thinks. Oh, well...
The secret to a not-dry bird (avoiding that m-word is hard...not many synonyms sound appetizing...damp and wet don't seem to work) is to stuff that sucker! I used onion, apple, and celery since those tend to work the best (or so I'm told).

Fill your cavity with as much as you can fit!


Throw your bird in your bag (in the plastic baggie aisle at your grocery store) and season it with your rub a dub before securing the bag shut. I then slit a couple holes in the bag to allow steam to escape.

I got this concoction from a McCormich spice ad I saw in a magazine, and then added some smoky applewood rub I received as a gift for a little extra taste.

rubbed sage
lawry's seasoned salt
garlic powder
ground black pepper
ground nutmeg

I didn't measure, rather just sprinkled the bird generously with that list. The skin turned out perfect with the dry rub, and the bird was perfect once it was done. Too bad we didn't have the option of eating it for the big dinner, but the fried bird that Main Man does each year is always a crowd pleaser. I also melted some butter with garlic powder in it and injected the turkey with as much as it would hold before roasting. You won't get a dry turkey if you inject it enough and don't overcook it!

Now that we're back in the swing of things and my deathly disease (I think I had the flu last week after talking to a few people about the symptoms), get ready for some awesome recipes this week that I've got stockpiled for you. I am ready to be a good blogger and give you the regular posts you deserve up until my next hiatus when Christmas hits! Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season as much as I am...we got a dusting of snow this weekend but nothing that stuck. As long as we get a white Christmas, I'll be a happy girl and Mother Nature can keep the white stuff to herself. Happy Monday, all!

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sick as a dog

Well, I've been out of work this week for 2.5 days...and I could have laid on the couch for longer, no joke. I finished The Help (awesome book, and an easy read), sat around with tissues stuffed in my nose (extremely attractive to a newlywed hubby, I promise), napped...and that's really about the extent of my last 3 days. You know I'm not up to snuff when I'm home all day and still don't feel like whipping something up for dinner. I didn't really care to eat much at all, actually. But you're supposed to feed a cold and starve a flu, right? Well, I think this is just a super beefed up this cold has seriously been hitting the gym all year waiting for it's debut. So I tried to force myself to eat even when I wasn't feeling it (or tasting it from being so plugged up).

Main man brought me Subway for lunch one day since we didn't even have power to heat anything up...but yesterday I broke into my soup stash and thawed a personal serving of chicken noodle soup (see beef noodle soup but sub chicken breast for beef roast and chicken broth for beef broth). Tell me homemade chicken noodle soup isn't just the ticket when you're laying around feeling sorry for yourself with one eye watering enough to fill the Grand Canyon and one nostril plugged while the other is a guyser...this soup kept me sane yesterday, guys.

And theeeeeeeeen, my favorite thing when I'm sick happened (like there's really that much that is good when you're sick)....Main Man came home with all the fixins to make me my favorite comfort food sick meal that he has made me each time I'm dying since we've been together. Mama Stensland's sausage stroganoff!!! When I'm sick, and Main Man takes the wheel for dinner, it's usually stroganoff or goulash for dinner and both his specialties give me the warm fuzziness of being taken care of while I'm down and out...and that's a feeling that's worth getting even if it has to have a nasty cold attached to it.
Hope everyone is having a great week, or at least a better one than me! I do have a lot of great recipes saved up for you all from the don't give up on me just yet. I hope to feel good as new and spew recipe upon recipe at you next week! Happy Thursday, all! :)
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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sausage balls

We're getting off to sort of a rough start in December, aren't we?! I hope this doesn't effect our friendship. I've been sick this week, working from home a little bit, laying on the couch dying a little bit, and wishing this germiness away a lotta bit. The only thing I've gotten really accomplished is reading The Help because my power was out yesterday and besides sleeping on and off, and facebooking some on my phone, reading my kindle was the only non-electricity powered activity I could fathom. You would think being home would give me this glimpse into a real bloggers life...someone that does this for a living, you know? I've always thought it would be so fun and leisurely. Well it's not. At least, being a sick blogger is not fun or leisurely. It's boring, and tiresome, and it makes me one likes a whiner. So how about a subject change!?
Alas, the memory of these sausage balls were dancing through my head over on said couch, and I just HAD to share them with Now. Before I go crazy from no social interation.
This was a special treat made just for Main Man and his meat loving food chewer (that's his mouth, if you aren't familiar). I knew from the minute that my friend Laura sent this recipe to me alllllllll the way from Colorado last year, that these would happen in our house. Unfortunately I think I got the message late in the holiday season when we were all partied/appetizered out and they sort of feel like a holiday food, not a summer app. So it's been a year...but all good things are worth the wait, right?? Right.
Cream Cheese Sausage Balls (as written by Mrs. Laura Holker)

1 lb hot (spicy) sausage, uncooked
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups Bisquick
4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400F.

Mix all ingredients until well combined. (I use my KitchenAid mixer with the dough hook attachment) Roll into 1-inch balls. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until brown.

Sausage balls may be frozen uncooked. If baking frozen, add a few minutes to the baking time.
I found that about 18 minutes cooked mine in my oven so just watch them closely. YUM!

Look at those little balls of meat! Heaven, they are heaven on Earth, I tell you! Funny part about it is...Main Man wasn't as impressed with them as I was. He surprises me like that. I didn't think these stood a chance against my carnivore, but he was plowing on Aunt Vicki's deviled eggs and Cynthia's boursin stuffed mushrooms, the non-meat items, while I took care of these little at. a. time. What has this world come to?

Anyway, if you're looking for a super simple, super quick, carnivore pleasing appetizer....look no further. Word of advice: don't leave these outside to keep cool after you're done serving and saving for later if you have a dog. We didn't have room in the fridge and left some leftovers outside (covered in tin foil, of course, to stay chilled until we served dinner that night for everyone once their tummies recovered from the feast that was lunch. Sam the man was thankful for human stupidity this Thanksgiving, while picking the sausage balls out of his teeth later that afternoon...dummies.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

5 cheese brussel sprouts and crab mac and cheese

Is that not the longest name of a recipe that you've ever put your peepers on? I bet so. Anyway, happy Monday! You don't have to say the tongue twisting name out loud, just wrap your brain around the goodness of each ingredient and give an audible "mmmmmm" when you realize the flavor that is this pasta.
Can I ask you a question (besides the one about your peepers)? Would you eat seafood purchased out of a truck? Parked at a gas station? Be honest...

Because I did. And it was phenom. In Iowa, you don't get much fresh seafood, being all landlocked and such. We get the best beef and pork you can get your mitts on, but fresh seafood is hard to come by in these parts. So when you see a fridge truck that says it has fresh crab, shrimp, scallops, and all that jazz in get all sorts of excited! So we jumped into that freezer truck and drug ourselves out some humongo shrimpies, and a couple pounds of lump meat crab, for no particular reason. I've never bought or cooked with lump meat crab, it just seemed like the thing to do. And we did it.
I had stumbled across the idea of a brussel sprouts mac and cheese on Pinterest at Yummy Mummy a while back and the idea never really left my noggin since then. I figured sweet crab meat would go great with bitter roasted brussel sprouts, and my freaky cheese drawer was full of wonderment as I had stocked up on all my fave meltys recently, so this recipe was just sort of modified in my noodle while I drove home the day we saw the truck. It's like a life event...the day we saw the truck. It will forever be burned in our minds. I've been looking for the truck ever since and have had no luck on restocking our freezer. Sadface. I shall not give up though...
Anywho...let's get started. Here is your team of players.

1 lb lumpmeat crab
3 cups brussel sprouts, quartered
2 T olive oil
3/4 lb favorite short pasta (cavatappi is my shizz lately, I'm always on a noodle kick, and right now cavatappi is the fad)
2 T butter, divided
5 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz Greek yogurt
1 cup skim milk
8 oz fresh shredded Mozzarella
2 cups shredded Greyere
2 cups shredded Fontina
4 oz shredded goat cheese

Preaheat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss brussel sprouts with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste (I think I sprinkled some Thyme in there as well, per usual when roasting my sprouts). Roast until tender, about 30-40 minutes. Remove and set aside, trying not to pop all of them in your mouth before it mixes with the heavenly mac and cheese you're about to bestow upon the world.

Meanwhile, boil your pasta until al dente and drain those noods. Use the same pot you boiled the noods in, and add 1 T of butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute one minute or until aromatic. Add the yogurt, milk, shredded cheese, cooked pasta, crabmeat, and roasted brussel sprouts. Once mixed evenly, put into a 13x9 baking dish and throw it in the oven for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.
Pull it out of the oven and look at that...just look. This is adult mac and cheese right here. Hold you applause...I've got to explain to you how good this actually is in real life.

Main Man actually deemed this pasta the BEST THING I'VE EVER MADE. Do you know what kind of a feat that is? I mean, I'm not saying everything I make is worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize, but I make a lot of we don't repeat meals except for the tried and trues around our house. This one has made hero status in our home...I'm talking saving lives type taste here. You will be a different person after one bite.

Not trying to toot my own horn here...but Main Main is laying on that horn like a beast! He wants to tape the horn down so it stays on all day. The only thing I will mention about this meal is that it's not the cheapest thing in the world to make. Although it will feed 6-8 hungry adults, the whole pan probably cost around $40 to make...freaky cheese and lumpmeat crab are not cheap. But this is a perfect meal to serve to any dinner guests you are trying to impress with your culinary prowess, and/or if you have a special occasion dinner with your significant other, like an anniversary. Cheaper than going out, restaurant quality taste, and you even get leftovers. Winner, winner, crabmeat from a freezer truck dinner!


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Friday, November 30, 2012

Aiden Gregory Loeffelholz

Are you mad at me? I bet so. I know I lied...I told you I would be back after the holiday...and then I stayed cocooned in my day to day hustle and bustle getting caught up with everything after the four (yeah, that's right....four!) Thanksgiving meals we had last week.

If it makes you feel any better....I sawee. I know, baby talk makes me want to break someone's thumbs, I won't do it again. But I really am sorry! I shall be back full force next week with some seriously amazing recipes (spoiler: one of the pasta meals was deemed THE best thing I've ever made by Main Man!!) and some great pics of Thanksgiving as well as my ah-mazing birthday cake that was provided by my new was superb!

BUT I have some splendiferous, awesomesauce, fabtown news to share with you....and that is this. Do you remember the Loeffelholz baby shower my girlies and I threw for my bridesmaid Amanda a couple months ago? Here is the little mama to be dancing on my bachelorette party bus in case you need a reminder of how fun she is:

Well.....Mrs. Loeffelholz had her baaaaaaaaaby! And he is a boy (I knew it)!!!  His name is Aiden Gregory and he was born at 7:50 pm last night (November 29th) weighing 6 lbs 9 oz and measuring 19.5 inches! The little bugger wasn't due until December 3rd but they induced her a little early...and we have another November baby to celebrate in the years to come!!

It was sort of like torture yesterday waiting to hear news from the hospital, although I'm sure it was even tougher on mommy and daddy. See, Amanda and Greg are another set of the cool parents that have the patience to wait and see what the sex of their baby is when they being the unpatient person I am, I was chomping at the bit to find out the gender and name of their new little person for most of this year!

Amanda and Greg sort of have the perfect love story and are absolutely the cutest couple ever...I know they will make terrific parents to lucky little Aiden and I can't wait to watch him grow into the little man he will be! Without further adieu, Mr. Aiden Gregory Loeffelholz....get ready for some lovin' tonight when I get off work, buddy!

Happy Friday, all! Pinky swear you'll hear from me on baby talk apologies will be necessary! :)

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

30 years of Thankful

For those of you that don't know me in real life, you wouldn't know that my birthday tends to fall on Thanksgiving every few years. It used to pain me when I was younger, but now I appreciate the fact that I get to spend my birthday with loved ones and family near and dear to me. Plus, you can't really complain when your birthday meal is Thanksgiving dinner! I turn 30 years old this year on Thanksgiving day, and find myself being more and more thankful each year for all the things I enjoy about life. It's easy to get caught up in the humdrum of life and focus on the day to day drag of it all, but if I really think about it, the small things are just as important as the big things so it's nice to remind myself of all I'm gifted with in my 30 years of age. So here's my version of the Facebook Month of Gratitude everyone seems to be doing. I read through last year's post, 29 years of thankful, and it made me feel happy and content with my life and the last year of growth, so it's only fitting to do one for this year's milestone birthday. Here goes...

1. I'm thankful for love notes in my purse from my husband. They aren't elaborate poems, and they don't need to be. Finding a random note for no reason does exactly what this Thanksgiving holiday does for me each year...makes me realize how lucky I am to have the love in my life that I do. His notes can literally make my day and turn my attitude around in an instant. I love him for knowing when they are needed the most...

2. I'm thankful to be another year older, as the alternative doesn't sound too inviting! I'm not real stuck on numbers, so turning 30 isn't really bothering me. Why would it? This has been the best, most exciting year of my life, and we have so much more to come! If each year of my life keeps getting better than the last like it has, I don't know how I'll contain myself in the years to come! 30 is going to be great, bring on 31!

3. While I'm at it, I am particularly thankful for the year 2012. I never could've imagined being this happy a few years ago. I've been through other relationships, and Main Man and I have been through a lot ourselves, so being in this place in our lives is such an amazing gift that I don't even have words to describe it. This year has really made me feel the love from all my girlfriends, and family with the showers and special events people planned for us. It makes me feel so special to have so many people that care about me, it warms my heart just thinking about it. So besides getting married to my best friend this year, and celebrating our love together, this year has shown me the people around me in such a beautiful light, that it makes me love them even more (if that's possible). Love, love, love...there's love flying around everywhere!!

4. Wedding planning is over. Life is normal. This should probably be moved up on the list. This has been making me very thankful lately!

5. Thankful we are taking our honeymoon in January. Having a 7 day cruise to look forward to in the heart of the Winter months is something I am really grateful for right now. I'm glad we waiting to honeymoon until life calmed down a little instead of whisking away right after the wedding. It's fun to still have something in the coming months to look forward to...maybe that's why I'm not having the wedding hangover like some brides get after the nuptuals?

7. Surprise birthday parties! My ladies and my man threw me a surprise dinner the other night, that I was not expecting at all (kinda the point of a surprise, I know). It was a great night spend with all my favorite people, and I couldn't have planned it better had I done it myself...

8. I'm always extremely thankful for my parents, but it's been more evident this year after experiencing our wedding day. There will never be a comparison to seeing my dad cry when he saw me in my wedding dress for the first time. He's not an emotional man (at least on the outside), so having the feelings he felt at that moment bellow out of him uncontrollably was an awesome sight and made me realize how deeply our love for each other runs.  Listening to his speech and hearing him talk about my childhood and all they tried to teach me, and giving Main Man and I advice on marriage was something I cannot begin to explain how much it meant to me. I will forever be grateful to have had parents like I do in my life.

9. I am thankful for my job, but I am equally as thankful for my boss. My boss was actually an usher in our wedding and is one of my best guy friends. It's nice to know he's in my corner, and I know he knows I'm in his. It makes the business run smoothly to know we both have each other's best interest involved in decisions as well. I am thankful he values my opinion of how things should run, and is very generous with the flexibility of time off or other obligations besides work. I am extremely lucky to have a friendship with my boss on top of our work relationship.

10. I am thankful for soldiers, their families, and war widows. Let me articulate...I am not thankful that there are war widows, I am thankful for them and their strength. One in particular has a piece of my mind quite often, Amanda and Caydence Justice are the family of SSGT James Justice who was KIA in Afghanistan in April of 2011. I went to college with James, and he was best friends with an ex-boyfriend so I spent a good amount of time with him. He finished school, continued with the Guard, had a beautiful daughter, married a crazy strong wife, and lived literally 5 minutes from Main Man and I. I will never forget the day I got the message that he had been killed...and am forever grateful for his and other people's sacrifices for our freedoms.

11. I am thankful for the nice weather this Thanksgiving week...60 degrees in November? I'll take it!

12. I am thankful for burpees. I'm actually cringing while I type that, but I really am grateful to have the health and physical ability to be able to do 47 burpees on top of our Kosama workout last night. There are a lot of people who are not able to be as physically active as I am for various reasons, and although I may disagree with this statement when I'm dripping sweat and trying to catch my breath, I appreciate the fact that I am able to feel so alive and accomplish the physical things that I do.

13. I am thankful that Main Man's business is seriously flourishing this year. It's the best year he's had since he started 10 years ago, hands down, and it's only looking like it's going to continue. He works so very hard day in and day out, I see his drive and dedication to his success each and every evening when he falls into bed. It's one of the things I have been most attracted to in him as we started to get to know each other, and I'm so happy and proud that his determination is paying off.

14. I am thankful Brother Ben is back from overseas, and was able to be at our wedding, and will be able to be here for the holiday season (Thanksgiving AND Christmas) this year, as it's been quite a few years since he's had the opportunity to celebrate with us. I know it means a lot to me, but it means even more to my mother to be able to have both her children happy, healthy, and in one room to bring in the holidays!

15. I am thankful for my grandparents and all their years of marriage. My grandfather wore a suit for the "first and only" time at our wedding, and it makes my heart smile that he made the effort for his youngest granddaughter. My grandmother has been sick this week, so she is on my mind a lot at the moment. We will miss seeing them at Thanksgiving for the first time in alot of years...but they will be with us in spirit, and resting to be ready for lots of family time at Christmas!

16. I am thankful for Pinterest. Seems kind of lame but besides sucking a lot of my time, it has given me great craft ideas, awesome recipe ideas for this blog, and pretty much planned my wedding. I'm so glad Pinterest was around when I went through the wedding planning stages...TONS of great ideas!

17. I am thankful for my Mama K. My best friend, my favorite person to vent to, and the person who brought me into this world (with the help of Big Dan, of course, but she did all the heavy lifting). I'm not sure where I would be in this world if it weren't for her and her love. She continually gives me different views on life, and I'm lucky to have a little of her mixed in with a little of Dad to make me who I am!

18. I am thankful that I get to send out Christmas cards this year! Add another fun holiday tradition to the list! I didn't have time to make them super cool like I imagined, what with thank you notes, preparing for Thanksgiving and all that jazz, but don't you year they will be primo!

19. I am thankful for my lady friends and their healthy pregnancies. More and more of my friends are becoming mothers, and watching them go through the process of having children and entering motherhood has been such a learning experience for me. Not sure if you all know, but childbirth is one of my biggest fears in seeing all of these girls go through this process and explaining the do's/don'ts/trials/tribulations/pros/cons of everything before we take the plunge is absolutely the best thing in the world for me!

20. I am thankful for photography. I can't get over how awesome it is to document our lives and be able to look back at moments that can bring such emotion just by seeing an image. I looked through the photos of our engagement from last Thanksgiving and it just gave me goosebumps to remember the whole day by seeing the step by step of the photos. Then to look at our engagement photos, and now our wedding photos, is just beyond crazy the feelings that can be brought to the surface on any crappy day by seeing yourself in one of the best moments of your life. Awesome.

21. I'm thankful for short weeks. Seriously. I need this.

22. I'm thankful for the holiday season. I know everyone should feel the love and warmth throughout the whole year, count your blessings daily rather than yearly, do nice things for others out of the spirit of kindness and not just the holiday spirit....but there's something about this time of year that makes me warm and fuzzy inside. It's hard to have a bad day when you're in the middle of the season of love and thanks. I know I'm a huge creep, and some people get very annoyed with the holidays, but I really enjoy the festive, loving, mushtastic season!

23. I am thankful for red wine. I needed a drink last night....bad. Just one of those days, and having a glass of wine while finishing up thank you notes, was just what the Dr ordered. Sometimes, it's the little things...

24. I am thankful I learned to cook. I wasn't always able to throw dinner together by looking at ingredients and seeing what would go well together, and sometimes things still don't come out the best. But I am very thankful that I've kept trying to master the art of cooking, rather than continuing down the path of my 5 specialties in rotation with Lean Cuisines thrown in there for variety. It's a great feeling to put dinner on the table and have Main Man compliment me on it...I realize how domesticated that sounds, but I kinda like that too!

25. I am thankful for my health. I had a little scare at the Dr a couple months ago, nothing serious after a couple small procedures, and is actually very common after doing more research on it, but it made me very aware that things may not always be that way. There is a chance I develop some kind of health problem at some point, especially as we all age, so I'm very thankful to have my health right now, and will continue to try to keep it as long as I possibly can.

26. Speaking of health issues, I am thankful for Main Man and his support through the whole process of something that was very scary to me, even though it is very common. He sat with me in the Dr's office and held my hand through scary procedures even though it makes him weak in the knees to walk into hospitals. He's all the support I need in life, if he's by my side, I can handle anything.

27. I'm thankful for Facebook, and the ability it gives me to keep in touch with friends, new and old. It is an amazing time we live in where people from across the country can keep up with your goings on just as if you were next door neighbors. I cherish the ability to know what is important to them, keep up with their lives, and share my own life with such ease.

28. I am thankful to live in a place where I can see the shift from Spring to Summer to Fall to Winter each year...although I enjoy certain seasons more than others, enduring the not so fun ones make me appreciate the great ones even more. There are bonuses to each season...even though I hate the cold of Winter, the beauty of the first snow and the warmth of the holiday season make up for the nip in the air. Even though the heat of the Summer gets old after a while, the longer days and more sunlight can really up a girls mood throughout that season. Even though Fall is right before the dreaded Winter, it also means gorgeous colors in the trees and football season. And even though Spring....wait, there's nothing wrong with Spring at all. It's the beginning of the best time of year, we've gotten through the cold Winter and are looking down the road to another great year.

29. I am thankful to have the resources to enjoy a full spread of a meal for Thanksgiving with all my family each year. Some people don't have the luxury of being able to provide such a meal for their families, and its something we sometimes take for granted. Breaking bread with loved ones will always be one of my favorite ways to show love...probably why I love the holiday season so much.

30. I'm thankful for YOU! Those of you that come back each and every day, and read about my life with Main Man, our escapades in the kitchen, and all things in between. I never would have imagined having this many followers that I've never met (I really thought only family would follow me), having almost 2 million views from around the world, and having so many strangers with supportive comments that enjoy what I do here. Sometimes blogging can be a lot of work...when life gets busy, it's the first thing I think about dropping. But there's something that always brings me back...and I hope that something never goes away.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and a great rest of the week. I will not be around the blogosphere until next week when I have a bunch of holiday recipes to share with you...I will be enjoying good food, great company, and a perfect birthday and Thanksgiving celebration! See you all then....

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