Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Favorites: October

So technically there are still two hours before it's October but close enough! I love October! October this year is going to be crazy busy but with some of my favorite things! The number one favorite thing in October is Missions Conference! It's only two weekends away now!

And this is my favorite little boy's new thing. I think he just discovered that everything sounds different with his ears covered up!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pie Crust Cookies

Remember when we made pie and I told you not to throw away that extra pie crust? Here's a great use for some of it!

Thawed pie dough
1 egg yolk, beaten and mixed with 1 tbsp water
2 tsp. sugar

Thaw that extra dough and roll it out very thinly.

Cut out shapes. I used this fancy cookie cutter because I had it.

Lay shapes on ungreased cookie sheet. Mix together one egg yolk and 1 tbsp. cold water. Brush lightly over cookies. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake at 400 degrees until puffy and brown, around 10 minutes.

Remove from oven. Cool for five minutes on cookie sheet.

Pretty!! These would be fantastic with fruit spreads, ice cream, or fresh fruit! I love pie dough so I just ate mine plain.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Do I Work?

Yesterday someone asked me who kept Micah during the day. I told him that I stayed home with him and his response was "Way to go! Get out of working for a while!" I wanted to laugh but, because I have manners, I didn't. :) I just smiled and went on my way.

Today Justin stayed home with Micah (and me) because I was sick. Sick enough that I slept almost the entire day. And he told me tonight that he would be happy to go hide out at work tomorrow like normal.

My husband is a hard-working man and in no way do I want to downplay how much he does for our family. But to all those people who think stay-at-home moms "get out of work" please, come swap jobs with me for a week. But don't just watch Micah. Keep the laundry washed, dried, ironed, folded, and put away. Cook all the meals, plan the menus, and go grocery shopping. Run the errands, pay the bills, update the budget. Clean the house, wash the dishes, pick up toys. Go to Toddler Time, play outside, change diapers, read books, and hold a 30 pound toddler on your hip for half the day! Work out, get dressed and looking nice every day, practice piano, go to church, and spend time with the hubby.

Then repeat every day because the work is constantly being undone. The food is eaten and has to be cooked again. The clean dishes are dirtied. The laundry is worn. Mud is tracked onto the floor. If, after that, you still want to tell me that I'm "getting out of work" go ahead! This is not a complaint. I love staying at home with my boy. I love taking care of my husband and the resources that he provides for our family. But it is work. I just happen to love it!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Crock-Pot Chicken

Remember that bone-in chicken breast I bought on sale? I roasted some of it but that's not always convenient. Last night I realized that we were going to be gone this morning and I needed to put food in the Crock-Pot around lunchtime. And I needed cooked chicken. So I thawed some chicken and put my Crock-Pot to good use!

3 chicken breasts (or however many you need)
seasonings- use whatever will suit the dish you're making: I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, thyme, basil, and oregano. If you are making chicken tacos use Mexican seasonings. You get the idea.
1/2 cup chicken broth

Place chicken in Crock-Pot and cover with seasonings and chicken broth. Cook on low for 8-9 hours. The chicken will fall off the bone when it's time to use it. Simple, right?

I realize I'm a day late posting but my parents surprised me yesterday and came up for a visit! It was so fun. Then Justin's office had a potluck. We ate a lot of good food there! I took twice-baked potatoes. Yum!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Favorites: 17 months

So our cute little guy is now 17 months old! I can hardly believe it!

Isn't he the cutest little boy you've ever seen???

He picks up his toys.
He picks out books and holds them at face level and brings them to us to read. He grins hilariously the whole time!
He loves to adjust the bathwater. He'll feel the water and then adjust the hot water and then feel the water and adjust again.
He wants to be chased down the hall. He'll stare at you until you come after him and then he giggles and squeals through the house!

We found some new food for him today. I always get really excited about that and he always gets really excited about food!

Every day when he wakes up and I see his little face I'm so thankful that we have him!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chicken Tortellini

This is one of those quick and easy dinners that I love! You only need a handful of ingredients and it's delicious!

2 chicken breasts, cubed
salt and pepper
1 tsp. each garlic powder and onion powder
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (leave this out or substitute another vinegar if you don't have this one)
1 package tortellini, frozen or fresh
1 can spaghetti sauce
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese

Saute chicken with seasonings. Cook pasta according to package directions.

Drain tortellini and add to pan with chicken. Stir so that your pasta picks up those bits of goodness off the bottom of the pan.

Add spaghetti sauce, continue cooking until warmed through. Stir in cheese until melted.

Serve! Bread and a salad turns this into a complete meal!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Seasons of Waiting

This year has been a waiting year for us. We've been waiting for reasons that we can't control and I don't know how long we'll have to wait. I don't have any tips to make waiting easier. Who likes to wait? But I can tell you what I determined while I have been waiting.

1. I will remain settled. I am going to keep doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing regardless of what happens. I'm not going to stop serving God and pout. I'm not going to stop growing in an area and say "Oh, I'll pick it back up when ..... happens."

2. I will keep growing. I'm going to keep working toward my goals. A change in circumstances will not change my character or my habits. Hard work done now will change those. I don't want to put myself on hold and waste time that I will never recover.

3. I will put my mental effort into "now." Instead of thinking about how I will do things "when," I strive to tweak or modify how I do things now to make them/me more effective. If my methods won't work in five years (or five months), that's fine as long as they are working for me now. I can adjust later as life changes.

4. I will be thankful. God has blessed me with so much and I deserve none of it! My attitude will honor Him when I am thankful for what I have instead of complaining about what I want and don't have.

More than likely the things we are waiting on now will happen. Probably sooner rather than later at this point. But you know what? We'll probably be waiting on something else then! I don't want to get to the end of my life and realize that I was discontent and always wanting something else. I choose to enjoy now.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Roasted Chicken

Sometimes Kroger has chicken breast on sale for 99 cents a pound! That's amazing! I always stock up when they do this :) The only "downside" is that it's bone-in and skin-on. It's not really a downside; it just involves more work.

Here's one of the quickest and tastiest ways to get chicken ready for any dish that calls for cooked chicken breast! Roast it in the oven. Low-maintenance cooking that gives you moist and delicious chicken!

6 chicken breasts
salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.

Peel back the top layer of skin carefully, leaving it connected on one side. Sprinkle liberally with seasonings.

Place skin back over chicken breast.

Roast in a preheated 425 degree oven for 45-60 minutes. Be sure chicken is cooked thoroughly! (I've got to get a meat thermometer. That would be so much easier!) Let chicken cool and cut off the bone. Cube, shred, or freeze chicken. And you can even keep the bones and skin and make chicken broth!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Favorites: Volleyball and Friendship

Last year my friend Lesley and I went to a UT volleyball and had a blast! We went again tonight (we think this should be a yearly tradition!) and had so much fun!

Check out that hit!

Lesley and I

The bloomin' onion at Outback

Filet Focaccia- an amazing sandwich at Outback!

Justin tried to jump into the picture and hit his hand on the ceiling and I was cracking up!

I'm thankful for good friends and fun times! And to my husband for staying home with Micah!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Italian Chicken Sandwich

I love a quick sandwich for lunch! This sandwich can be finished in under 20 minutes. And you'll even have time to cook a veggie for a side.

3 chicken breasts, pounded thin (Do this in advance; it does not fit in your 20 minute window. And just cover the chicken with plastic wrap and pound with a rolling pin if you don't have a meat mallet.)
1/4 cup Italian salad dressing
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. each garlic powder and onion powder
6 slices sturdy bread- I used sourdough bread
1/2 cup spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup cheese- I used shredded Italian cheese but slices of provolone would be amazing!

Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Saute chicken in a little bit of oil and the Italian dressing. Cook 5-7 minutes per side or to your desired doneness. At the same time toast bread on both sides. (Don't forget that it's in the oven and burn it! Oops!)

Divide spaghetti sauce between three slices of bread. Top with chicken and divide the cheese among the three sandwiches.

Put back under broiler until the cheese melts and starts to brown.

Slap that other slice of bread on that melted cheese so your sandwich stays together.

Eat and then go wash your dishes! Really. Don't you feel better with a clean kitchen?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Slow and Steady

Slow and steady sounds really exciting, doesn't it? It doesn't to you? Well, me neither! It might not be flashy but it gets the job done. Lord willing, I have a long life ahead of me and there are things that I can accomplish if I am willing to work at them steadily. Consistent work over long periods of time will show results!

1. Training toddlers. This is not something I can do in one day. Or two days. Or two months. It's going to take time. As soon as Micah started walking we started learning to pick up our toys. Before naptime and before bedtime I would walk over with him and help him pick up his toys and put them away. It might have taken three or four months but he is really good about picking up his toys now! I could have said that it was too much effort and he would still not be able to pick up his toys.

2. Piano. I wish I had a recording of when I first picked up playing again a couple of years ago. Then again, maybe I don't! But while I'm not at all satisfied with how I play now, it is better than what it was two years ago. And I know that if I keep it up, it will be much better in another two, five, or ten years down the road. That end result is great motivation from me. That ten years will speed by and I'll either be able to say that I'm glad I kept practicing or I'll wish that I had because imagine how good I could have been! :)

3. Bible reading. Just think of how many times I will have read my Bible and how much I will have learned in ten years! I might not notice it today but God's Word is changing me.

The best motivation I have for steady work when the progress seems slow is knowing my goal or my desired end result. What am I working toward? I want Micah to be able to pick up after himself and work when he is 5, 15, or 35. So I can afford four months of effort for something that will change his entire life. God is preparing me now for life later; just like all the years before He was preparing me for life now. Little things can make a big difference.


Monday, September 12, 2011


So in real life I just call these "calzones." They really aren't though because calzones have ricotta cheese in them. And no matter how hard you look at these pictures you won't find any ricotta cheese. Regardless of what I call them my husband loves them! And they're pretty.

Makes 4 stomboli

You need:
Pizza Dough
8 slices provolone cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella or Italian cheese mixture, plus a little extra
pizza toppings- black olives, mushrooms, pepperoni, onions, peppers, etc.
1 egg yolk, beaten and mixed with 1 tbsp. cold water

Prep your veggies. Sometimes I divide them into even portions for each stromboli. Also preheat your oven to 400 degrees. If you are using a pizza stone, put it in the oven now so that it heats preheats as well! That will give you the best results. Trust me. I've tried it other ways.

Divide your dough in half. Then divide in half again. This should give you four pieces of approximately equal size.

Roll dough out into a circle roughly 8 inches in diameter. (I don't actually measure it.)

Place two slices of cheese in center of dough. Layer pepperoni and veggies on top of the cheese.

View from the top

Cover with 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.

Carefully fold the dough over forming a pocket.

Press the dough together and then fold up the outer edge (see picture) to seal the stromboli.

You need places for the steam to escape so I get creative. Justin's has different fillings so I carve a "J" into his so that we can tell them apart.

Brush with the beaten egg yolk. Don't use too much. You don't want scrambled egg on your stromboli. Or maybe you do. But I don't.

Sprinkle with a little bit of shredded cheese. Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown. Serve with marinara sauce.

I told you they were pretty! These reheat fantastically in the microwave. They might actually be better that way because they aren't so hot you can't eat them!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Favorites: Family Memories

We went to Old Fashioned Days in town tonight. We went last year too and I wore the same exact outfit. Maybe I should go shopping? haha But we had a great time! The little boy was much smaller last year and it made me a little sad when I looked at the pictures! So we took more tonight so I can look at them next year and be a little sad! You have to plan ahead for events like that.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fried Rice

There's a fantastic Japanese restaurant in Kingsport that I love! "Moto's is always on my mind..." Anyway, I love their food! They serve this great hot broth/soup stuff when you get there. Amazing! And the food is out of this world. You can get this meal with almost any kind of meat that you want but my favorites are the chicken and the 'yaki (beef terriyaki). Since Kingsport is not within driving distance just to go out to eat (sorry, parents!), we recreate this meal at home sometimes!

2 chicken breasts, cubed
salt and pepper
1 tsp. each garlic powder and onion powder
1/2 package mushrooms, sliced
2 cups cooked rice
2-4 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup each frozen corn and frozen peas
1 beaten egg

I always get the meal with carrots as a side. Some people choose zucchini and onions.
So slice your carrots on the diagonal. Now at the restaurant they have a cutter that leaves a design in the carrots. I'm not that cool.

Slice 3-4 carrots and boil in water until tender. Drain. Serve on the side. Simple and delicious with this meal!

Instant rice cooks beautifully but it's also more expensive. I don't buy it anymore. However, I have a problem with my rice clumping together when I buy other kinds. And that's gross. Stacy Makes Cents taught me a trick to fix that! Boil your rice like you would pasta until it's tender. Drain and use like normal. Hurray for good rice! The texture is amazing, just be sure you use plenty of water!

Saute your chicken in pan over medium heat with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. When chicken is almost finished cooking, add mushrooms. Cook for 3-4 minutes until mushrooms are soft.

Turn heat down to medium low and add rice. Immediately start stirring and your rice will pick up all the wonderful chicken flavors off the bottom of the pan. While stirring, add your soy sauce to desired taste and cook until warm. Add beaten egg and stir quickly. You don't want your egg to scramble. Stir until egg is cooked and add frozen veggies. Cook five minutes or until the food is warm all the way through.

Serve with carrots on the side! Next time try it with beef, shrimp, or pork!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Matter of Choice

Being female is a matter of birth,
being a woman is a matter of age,
but being a lady is a matter of choice.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day

My parents, brother, and in-laws all came up to our house today! We had so much fun and they, of course, really enjoyed playing with Micah!

That's a lot of food! Did I mention there were only 7 adults? We have leftovers for the whole week!

Starting to eat! Apparently they were hungry!

Micah realized I was taking pictures and started cheesing! haha

My parents bought me Micah "Mary Poppins." Pretty sure it's the best movie ever! I always wanted to be Mary Poppins when I was younger.

We had a great day even though it rained the whole time! We just grilled under the carport and went right on having fun! Now to eat those leftovers...

Berry Pie

Pies always seem so intimidating, but aren't they amazing? And homemade is always better than store-bought! Just remember you need to practice; they get better because you learn to work faster. Your dough does best when you handle it least. So don't give up!

Pie Crust: this will make a top and bottom layer, plus a little extra
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 sticks butter, chilled and cubed (terrible, but it makes it delicious!)
6 tablespoons cold water

3-4 cups frozen berries, thawed
1 1/2-2 tablespoons cornstarch
2-3 tablespoons sugar (sugar to taste)
1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
(You can get by with a 3 cup bag of frozen berries, but if you have more, excellent! And you can use fresh berries but you need to increase the amount of cornstarch you use. )

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cube your butter and place in bowl in the freezer while you measure and mix your dry ingredients. You want the butter as cold as possible.

Combine the first three ingredients in a food processor and pulse once. Remove butter from freezer and and mix into flour mixture until just combined. Do not overmix. You should have very small lumps of butter in the flour. Measure the water by tablespoonfuls into the processor while it is on.

Dough will not completely combine. Place on floured surface and knead quickly until dough pulls together. This should take about a minute.

Shape dough into a flattered disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for an hour. This will allow the butter to get very cold again. Very cold butter is the key to a flaky pie crust.

When the hour is up, combine thawed berries with cornstarch and sugar. Set aside.

Roll 2/3's of the dough to 1/4 in. thickness. Cut the dough one inch around the pie pan. (See above picture.)

Gently fit dough into the bottom pie pan.

Fill bottom crust with berries.

Roll remaining dough into a circle. Place on top of berries and pinch off overhanging dough. Shape crust with fingers.

Don't throw away these dough scraps!! Gather them into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze!

I'm getting a collection of dough scraps. When you end up with a little fruit, make a filling and place in ramekins. Thaw and roll out dough to cover ramekins. Brush with egg and bake! Yummy. And so easy!

Brush dough with egg and water. Only a very thin layer, you don't want scrambled egg on your pie. Cut slits in pie crust with sharp knife. Bake pie until the pinched crust around the edges starts to brown.

Now I had a problem. Obviously I had to cover the edges with foil but have you ever tried to do that?? I was very frustrated so I called my husband over. (I should point out that my husband is the genius in our relationship. Really.)

So cover the whole thing in foil, covering the bottom so that it doesn't shift. (This will not affect the way your bottom crust bakes.) Then using a sharp knife, cut the foil right inside the pinched edges of the crust and remove circle of foil.

See? I told you he was a genius! Place back in oven and bake until the remainder of the pie crust is browned.

It should look something like this!

Now go eat your pie! Just not too much or you'll need to go run to continue fitting in your clothes.