Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mickey Mouse Birthday Party

My kiddo turned two this weekend and if there's one thing we know she likes, it's Mickey Mouse. We decided (okay, I decided as The Husband didn't really care one way or another) to have a Mickey Mouse themed party for the birthday girl. We had a lot of Sickness in the house this week so things were a bit more "semi-homemade" than I had originally intended, but still things turned out pretty delicious with my Baked Ziti as the main dish (one with Hot and one Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage instead of ground beef...which may be my new favorite way to prepare this stand-by!). We had lots of Mickey Mouse treats though such as:

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes
(just add 1 cup of crushed Oreos to a white cake batter and otherwise prepare as instructed) with Oreo halves for "ears".

Mickey Oreo Pops

Sure my two-year-old didn't give two-hoots about these treats...

But her Mama felt pretty darn good about them...also about the Mickey Mouse Veggie Tray ;-)

Monday, February 20, 2012

30 by 30 Update

Well seeing as my 29th birthday has just happened, the clock is ticking on this 30 by 30 list I figured it was time for an update on my list:
  1. Bake a cheesecake in my spring-form pan, not from a box mix.
  2. Create a Beef Stew recipe that Hubby will eat.
  3. Scour the Internet for a Chicken with Black Bean Sauce recipe reminiscent of the dish at PF Changs. (Hubby's request)
  4. DONE! Perfect Snickerdoodles (since they have eluded me thus far!) - Abandoned for delicious Snickerdoodle Blondies,
  5. Bake bread made with yeast.
  6. Attempt one Julia Child recipe.
  7. Bake a Martha Stewart cupcake successfully.
  8. In Process! Reorganize/redesign pantry storage situation (okay, so this will mostly be Hubby, but I can help!) - working with what I have, but moving things around seems to be helping...we'll see if we go for a more long-term solution or not...right now life is good in the pantry.
  9. DONE! Discover a delicious beef brisket recipe...smoker or no smoker I need to figure out how to get some tasty brisket into my belly! - This was delicious and most definitely something that has happened more than once!
  10. DONE! Get a decent understanding of the book of Revelation. - Last spring I participated in a Beth Moore study on Revelation through our women's ministry at church and it was amazing!
  11. In Process! Scripture Memory - complete at least one year of the Living Proof Ministries (Beth Moore's) Scripture Memory Challenge. - I did really well at the beginning of the last year, so this goal may have to be modified to a specific number of verses rather than a full year of completing the challenge and it only runs every so often and not every year...I'll keep working on the goal, not sure of the number just yet!
  12. See Beth Moore live, or attend another women's conference.
  13. In Process! Reacquaint ourselves with a young couples' ministry. - We gave the new group at church a shot, but it didn't work out for us...still trying to see how things can be a thing in our early parenting years since most of the small groups in our neighborhood are not kid-friendly.
  14. In Process! Read through the Bible chronologically.
  15. Watch the Godfather Movies.
  16. In Process! Do one of the Oscar days at the movie theater where you watch all the best picture nominations in one day/weekend. - I have a buddy lined up and we're doing this next year...totally happening, even if it has to be my birthday present and just squeak in before the deadline ;-)
  17. DONE! Read more...a lot more. Granted this isn't measurable, so let's say (realistically) 15 books. I got a Nook last year for my birthday and read 27 books! Not only that, but now I get to guest blog over at Hooked to Books whenever I feel like it =P
  18. DONE! Get a library card to assist in accomplishing #17.
  19. DONE! Be better about having Date Nights and actually taking advantage of babysitting offers. - We're definitely less shy than we used to be about asking for help which is a win =)
  20. Become a KCBS Certified BBQ Judge, just like Hubby.
  21. Complete wedding scrapbook.
  22. Dine at one of the Top Chef contestants' restaurants...or more ;-)
  23. Attempt a Top Chef contestant recipe.
  24. In Process! Attain a reasonable/healthy weight and maintain so I can go through my closet and actually get rid of some clothes that are never going to happen again. - I'm almost halfway there with the hopes of achieving the goal weight in April 2012...just a few months away and totally do-able!
  25. Figure out a plan for the master bath (our master suite is structurally confusing and slowly we're working on it.)
  26. In Process! Take a vacation... preferably one that does not require me to cook or clean house although a rental situation requiring such things would be an acceptable second vacation ;-) - We've got a small trip in the works for just the Hubby and I and a few other trips in the works for this summer including DISNEYWORLD!
  27. In Process! WVU Girls Weekend =) Maybe two of them ;-) Or three 0=) - We're working on this one dates are being discussed and something WILL happen this year.
  28. Swimming lessons, namely for LJ, but it couldn't hurt me either to become more comfortable in the water.
  29. Go to the eye doctor, probably should happen since it's been since my 2002 Lasik surgery.
  30. Figure out what I want to be when I'm not a stay-at-home-mom anymore =P
Well this isn't awesome, but it's not too terrible...almost half of the things in my list have at least been touched on in the last 8 months since I came up with the actual list. I can do this, it'll be a good time and I know when a couple more of these will be taking place so that's a start!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bacon Hearts

Happy Valentines' Day!

For our Valentines' Day dinner date night at home we had one of my husband's favorites, BBQ Chicken (completely drawing a blank as to whether or not I've posted this's super easy and delicious) with some roasted broccoli and cauliflower and Old Bay roasted potatoes. To make it a little more special I decided to try out a pin I'd fallen in love with from The Paper Mama.


The hearts were better raw (better looking, I do not eat raw bacon, I'm not a weirdo) than cooked, but it's the thought that counts, right? Just 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven and they are ready to go.

Strange looking yet delicious!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Tuna Noodle Casserole

I love me some down-home casserole action. I had never had tuna noodle casserole until I was in high school (early in their marriage my mother apparently made a disastrous tuna noodle casserole for my father and he asked her to never make it again...she didn't...ever) and had it over at my boyfriend's house for dinner and it was amazing. I have that recipe, but decided to try out this lighter version for dinner. It was definitely a keeper and felt indulgent without being terrible for the waist-line. Not sad about leftovers to be had later in the week, nope, not sad about that at all!

Tuna Noodle Casserole
Serves 6
Estimated Point Value: 6pts

6 oz egg noodles (well, no yolk, or whole grain ones)
1 Tbsp margarine
1 onion, chopped
3 Tbsp flour
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
1 cup skim milk
1 oz Marsala
10 oz sliced mushrooms
1 cup frozen peas
2 (5 oz) cans tuna in water, drained
Garlic salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper, to taste
4 oz shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp seasoned breadcrumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 375 and prepare a large casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Prepare noodles according to the package instructions, drain, and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, saute onion in butter.
  4. Sprinkle in flour and allow to cook out a bit, then whisk in chicken stoke and milk until smooth.
  5. Once boiling add in Marsala, peas, and mushrooms and cook for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add in drained tune, garlic salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper (if you like a little heat) to taste.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese.
  8. Combine noodles with the sauce mixture and pour into casserole dish.
  9. Top the casserole with the Parmesan and the breadcrumbs.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Broccoli Cheese Soup

So I have made another attempt at Broccoli Cheese soup from my first. This was supposed to be a "skinny" version and while the flavor was pretty good I just couldn't get behind the consistency. I got an immersion blender as a birthday gift from my Hubby and wanted to try it out...I may have over blended the soup? Perhaps if I hadn't blended it quite so much it would have stayed more liquid-y and less "mashed potato" consistency? For the points it's definitely worth a second look in the future sometime!

Broccoli Cheese Soup
Serves 6
Estimated Point Value: 3.5pts

1 onion, diced
1 handful of baby carrots, diced
1 rib of celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp margarine
2 Tbsp flour
3 1/2 cups chicken stock*
1 cup skim milk
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups (~10 oz) broccoli florets
6 oz reduced fat cheddar cheese
2 slices 2% pepperjack cheese
1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pinch of nutmeg
  1. In a large soup pot melt butter and saute onion, carrots, celery, and garlic until translucent.
  2. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until smooth then whisk in the chicken stock and milk.
  3. Bring to a boil and add potatoes then cook, covered, for about 15 minutes (or until potatoes are tender).
  4. Add in the broccoli and Parmesan cheese and cook uncovered for about 5 minutes or until the broccoli is tender.
  5. Add the remaining cheeses and stir until melted.
  6. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it reaches your desired consistency.
  7. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and then serve!
*I had to add an extra cup of chicken stock from the original recipe to get a more smooth consistency. I did this during the blending step, but I think it would be more useful earlier on and would help you decide what thickness you want to blend the soup when it comes time for that...

Friday, February 3, 2012

Mac & Cheese Soup

This soup* was sort of amazing...and I can't wait to make it again. I made it for lunch with my gals and we had some cheese bread from Whole Foods that was sort of amazing along side. Granted, me and my gals rarely make poor food decisions ;-)

Mac & Cheese Soup
Serves 5
Estimated Point Value: 6 pts.

4 oz Barilla Plus elbow macaroni
1 1/2 cups onion, chopped
Small handful of baby carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp light butter
2 tbsp flour
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup skim milk
pinch nutmeg
1/2 tsp dry mustard
salt and fresh pepper to taste
10 oz broccoli florets, chopped into small pieces
6 oz 2% shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
  1. Cook macaroni to al dente using the package instructions, drain and set aside.
  2. In a large soup pot, melt butter and saute onion, carrot, celery, and garlic until softened.
  3. Whisk in flour, dry mustard, salt and pepper and allow to cook out for a few minutes before pouring in milk and stock while constantly stirring/whisking.
  4. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, cover, and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Add in the broccoli and allow to cook for about 5 minutes (or more if you want softer broccoli).
  6. Add in both types of cheese, stirring til smooth, and adjust salt and pepper, to taste.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in the macaroni right before serving (so they don't get too mushy).

*Yes, I realize I'm posting a lot of soup recipes...I love soup and I sort of missed out on National Soup Month and have been making it up to myself lately. I also realize that I've been neglecting to take photos of my recipes which was a goal for the year....sometimes a girl just wants to eat all the things...