Friday, May 25, 2012

2 for 1

Well, sadly, I don't have any pictures of the recipes I tried this week.  So in place of pictures, you are getting 2 recipes!  I hope that will make up for it. :]  Both of them are crock-pot recipes and super delish!!


Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (frozen is fine)
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 can of condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 6 tortillas
Place the chicken in the bottom of the crock pot.  Sprinkle the taco seasoning over the chicken.  In a bowl, combine soup and salsa.  Pour it over the chicken.  Cover. Cook on high for 4 hours.  Shred the chicken with 2 forks and stir in the sour cream.  Serve on tortillas.

**We ate this served over chips and added a little cheese on top.  It was SOOOOO good!!

Chicken in Honey Sauce:
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups honey
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Sesame seeds
Place chicken in the bottom of the crock pot.  Season with salt and pepper.  Combine honey, soy sauce, ketchup, oil, and garlic in a medium bowl.  Pour over chicken.  Cover.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.  Garnish with sesame seeds before serving.  Serve extra sauce on the side, if desired.

**I have an intolerance to soy sauce.  Instead of using soy sauce, I came up with a mixture of 8 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, and 2 tablespoons water.  This subbed for 1 cup.

**We also ate this over rice, and it was so good!  The rice soaked up the sauce and gave it a delicious flavor! 

Happy cooking!!!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Coupon Trouble

Well, I have a some-what funny,  but more ridiculous-than-anything story for you today.  Tyler and I finally bought bar stools!



We had gift cards and store credit at Bed, Bath, and Beyond left from the wedding.  I know, right?  I'm so surprised they survived the move.  Anyway, on Sunday night we decided it was time to buy some stools. (I had also gotten a "Welcome to the Neighborhood" coupon for 20% off in the mail that I wanted to use.)  


So we went and picked out the stools we wanted.  We got to the check-out and I paid with the gift cards.  Then we went on our merry way over to Best Buy.  We wandered around the store for a while and decided to leave.  By the time I got in the car and we were driving out of the parking lot, I remembered that I had forgotten to use my 20% off coupon!  I couldn't believe it.  It was buried in my purse, so that's why I didn't remember I had it.


Tyler and I formulated a plan, and on Monday morning, I returned to the store to return the stools.  I got store credit in return, which was great.  On Tuesday morning, I went back once again, and bought the stools.  This time using my coupon.  It saved us $22 in which we still have in store credit!  I feel so much better about life now. :]  


Moral of the story: always use your coupons!!  Especially when it saves you more than $20. :] Haha!  Hope that one gave you a good laugh. :]

Monday, May 21, 2012

I've Never Been More Homesick Than Now

We've officially been in St. Louis for eight weeks and two days.  It doesn't seem like it's been that long in some ways and in other ways it feels like forever.  It's been almost 7 weeks since I've been home and have seen my family and to be honest, I'm homesick.  I think the longest I've gone without going home is 6 weeks and that was when I went off to college.  I said, "Bye Mom and Dad.  See you in 6 weeks."  And I didn't go home for that long.  However, the distance from Springfield to home and St. Louis to home is a bit different.


I talk to my momma almost daily.  And when I say I talk to her, we're usually on the phone for an hour. :]  I also try to keep up with my best friend who's clear across the country, and Tyler and I spend some time with our cousins that are here in the area.  However, it's a bit different than Springfield.  


Tyler and I found a church that we love (Risa, if you're reading this, yes.  It's Harvester).  In fact, yesterday was our third Sunday there, and Tyler was playing drums in the worship team already!  He applied to be in their worship team last Sunday.  Got a call the next day to try out on Wednesday night.  Then, they asked him to play on Saturday and Sunday, so he stayed for practice!  I think that was a total God-thing.  I'm so proud of him!!  He has an amazing talent, and I'm glad that he wants to serve God in this way.  He did an incredible job this past weekend, and I'm sure he was nervous!!  (I would have been!!)  


This church is really big!!  I think they average just over 2,000 people with 4 services on Saturday and Sunday.  I thought Northside in Springfield was big, and they averaged 1,000 on a Sunday between 2 services.  Crazy!  


We are hoping to get involved in a small group, which is especially needed in a church this size.  I don't want to be a number.  I want to be "Beth."  And I will be.  I'm just certain of it.  In fact, just last week, Tyler and I saw 2 people that we knew from Springfield there...it felt good to see a familiar face.  I know that once we start getting involved, things will be so much better!! :]


I'm still looking for a job, and it's been a tough journey.  I did have one job offer, but turned it down because it was the wrong job, wrong hours, and wrong pay.  I'm praying that God will bring along the right job...and I know He will.  In His time.


Tyler and I are headed to my home this weekend!  I simply cannot wait!  I am so excited to spend some time with my family and not worry about anything.  I've been homesick for a couple of weeks, but have just held out for this weekend.  I am so excited to meet my new little cousin, Titus.  I'm excited to see all my cousins and my aunts and uncles!!! I'm soooo incredibly blessed to have a BIG family in which we are all close!  I wouldn't trade them for anything in this world!


So while I've been job searching and living life, I've been trying to make this place our home.  I know that my home will always be where Tyler is.  He's what makes this city "home."  And I'm thankful to have him by my side.


Anyway, I know a long time ago, I promised that I would post pictures of our new home.  Finally, that time has come.  :]  Aren't you just so excited?!?!


Yes, I'm posting my "Before" pictures first....and there's a lot of them!!


So we packed everything into our van and trailer:








We have too much crap!!!  That's what we learned...and some stuff has been given away since then.  :]


Here's our pictures as of now:


Living Room, complete with our new couch and coffee table.  We are just waiting to find the right rug to put under it.  The mantle holds my Willow Tree Nativity...that was one of the most exciting things about the place!  I love having a fireplace!!





The Kitchen!  I love having all the counter space!  There's even room for bar stools!






This is the "sunroom" which we have turned into the dining room and my craft room.  I really love the windows in this room.









Here's the bathroom:


Here's the master bedroom.  I love the bay windows!  I'm still working on finding places for things as well as decorating the room.



This is our office/den.  It's pretty much a mess.  I'm hoping to get some organization going on in here soon! :]




And our tiny, and I mean tiny laundry room.  There's enough room to stand between the washer and dryer, but honestly, I can't stand there because that's where the laundry baskets are sitting.  It's crazy small.



It is feeling a lot like home, and I'm excited to be settled.  So there it is!!  Home Sweet Home. :]

Friday, May 18, 2012

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Lemon-Garlic Green Beans

This week has gone by so fast that I almost forgot it was Friday!! Almost!  I'm wrapped up in an Etsy order, so I've been working on it today until I realized that I needed to post my new recipe!


I made this on Tuesday night and posted a picture of in to my facebook.  Several wanted to know what it was or if they could have the recipe, so I thought I would share with everyone!


Ingredients:

  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lemons: 1 thinly sliced, 1 juiced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (I used regular salt)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 3/4 lb trimmed green beans
  • 8 small red potatoes, quartered (I bought 8, but only used 5)
  • 4 chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on  (I used boneless, skinless breasts)
Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Trim green beans, slice the lemon, and quarter the potatoes.  (I trimmed and sliced on a newspaper so I could wrap it all up and throw it away when I was finished...so much easier!)



Coat a large baking dish or cast-iron skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Arrange the lemon slices in a single layer in the bottom of the dish.


In a large bowl, combine the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper.


I learned (from watching Rachael Ray for the past 4.5 months) that if you squeeze the lemon, cut side up, the seeds won't spill into the dish!  Brilliant!

Add the green beans and toss to coat.


Remove them and arrange them on top of the lemon slices in the baking dish.  The add the potatoes to the same olive oil mixture and toss to coat.

Place the potatoes around the edge of the baking dish and on top of the green beans.


Place the chicken in the same bowl, in the same olive oil mixture and toss to coat.  


Place the chicken, skin side up, in the dish or skillet (I just placed them in the dish). Pour any remaining olive oil mixture over the chicken.


Roast for 50 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the dish or skillet.  Place the beans and potatoes back in the oven for 10 more minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.



Serve warm!  I liked this dish because it's a "one pot meal," meaning that the veggies are cooking with the meat.  It's relatively simple and delicious!  I had never cooked with red potatoes before, so I was excited to get to experiment a little bit.


Happy cooking!! :]


P.S.  You will want to use large chicken breasts because they shrink when they've been cooked!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Budget Update

So it's been about 2 weeks since I posted about our budget.  It really hasn't been too bad...or as bad as I thought it would could be.


We have really stuck to it, and I'm so proud of us!  Since we're on a cash budget, I decided I needed some organization to help us out a bit.  I made some envelopes to hang up so we could have a place to put receipts.  It's nothing fancy, because it's made out of things I already had around the house. :]




At the end of the month, I'll take them out and add everything up.  Then I'll compare what we really spent to what our estimated budget was.  




This is my budget planner.  I got it from Target and it is AWESOME!  They have so many cool things like this!  I've written down our budget in all the categories and this is where I will compare the estimated to the actual.


It's so much easier to stay on a budget when all you have is cash to spend.  When I'm at the grocery store, I have to stick to my list.  I can't put other things in the cart, because I only have a certain amount of money I can spend.  However, this does take lots of planning.


Sometimes being on a budget is stressful.  We were going to have company one weekend and at first there were only going to be a few of us.  No problem.  I figured the menu out, wrote the list to go shopping, and bought the food I needed for the week.  Later that week, we were notified that a couple more people were coming.  Well, I knew that what I had planned on making for lunch wasn't going to cut it for all of us.  After trying to debate whether I could just go buy more ingredients to double the recipe (and going over budget), I made a 9-1-1 call to my mother.  She is SO smart.  I knew she would have advice for me.


So together, we figured out that I had enough ingredients in my pantry to make a casserole (which as I later looked back to my menu planner, I was going to make a couple days later).  I just had to switch some things around and it ended up being perfect (and we ended up having less people than we thought!).  Being on a budget still allows for flexibility. Sometimes you just have to be creative about it. :]


There are sometimes where being on a budget, just plain sucks.  There are things you can't do (unless you plan for it).  Tyler and I are pretty flexible people and like to fly by the seat of our pants most of the time.  We can't just go out to see a movie, or go out to eat, or do something fun our friends are doing.  It has to be planned for so that we don't exceed the budget.  It's been a challenge at times, but we've made it work.  


It's been really good for us.  We definitely are watching what we spend and where our money goes.  We've cut spending just by not using plastic, which is great!  I'm excited to see how our results will total up at the end of the month.  I'll let ya know!


Oh, by the way, I've sold 2 Etsy orders since we've been on this budget! How cool!! And for those of you who didn't know I had an etsy, check it out here!  It's been so cool to be able to help two different brides out! :]

Friday, May 4, 2012

Spaghetti Squash

This week, I tried several new recipes.  One I'm most excited about is the Spaghetti Squash.  I had never had it before, and I honestly didn't know what a spaghetti squash looked like.  I love squash, and I know that it's healthy.  So, I wanted to try it!  I found the recipe on Skinny Taste, so I knew that it was going to be both healthy and tasty!

Ingredients:
  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
For the Meat Sauce:
  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey 
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
Well, I didn't have an onion, so I substituted minced onion.  I also didn't put celery in the sauce, and I used chicken broth instead of white wine.  I didn't have whole bay leaves, so I substituted 1/4 tsp crushed bay leaves (it's mainly for flavor) and it worked quite well!

Oh, and once I started looking around the produce section of Wal-Mart, I found a spaghetti squash!  I was so excited!

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  
  • Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds (much like a pumpkin).  Season with salt and pepper and bake in the oven (cut side up) for 1 hour.




  • Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, melt butter and add oil.  Add onions, celery, and carrots and saute them on medium-low for 2-3 minutes, until soft.
  • Add meat and season with salt.  Brown the meat and break down into smaller pieces with your spoon.
  • When the meat is cooked through, add tomatoes and adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add wine (or chicken broth) and cook until it reduces a little bit, then add the bay leaf and cover.
  • Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about an hour.  Stir occasionally.
  • When the spaghetti squash is cooked, let it cool for about 10 minutes.   

(Here's what mine looked like when it came out.)
  • When cool (I still used a pot holder to hold the squash), use a fort to remove the flesh, which will come out in long spaghetti-like strands.


  • I dumped the squash into a bowl and kept it warm until the sauce was finished.



From there, make your spaghetti!  I paired the spaghetti with homemade whole-wheat bread sticks, and a salad with homemade Italian dressing!  I was very pleased with how it turned out, and I think I will keep it in our meal rotation!


Happy cooking!! :]