Thursday, September 17, 2009

Evening of Elegance

Each year, our church has a dinner called "An Evening of Elegance" put on for women by your women's ministry and about 45 ladies host tables. Usually it falls between Thanksgiving and Christmas so most of the tables are decorated in a Christmas theme or possibly a Thanksgiving theme. This year, they had it early so that people could branch out a little on their decor. Well, I'm not sure what possessed me to do this, but I decided to host a table. It was my first time to do anything like that (even our table at home just has a table cloth on it! Nothing else!), but I came up with an idea I liked and went for it. If I could do it over, I would change a few things, but I told Tim I probably wouldn't host again, just because I'm not talented in that way so I spent the whole week leading up to it stressing and I didn't even get to enjoy the dinner because I was so worried about the table. I'm pretty sure that is not what they want in a table hostess!!

Here is a picture of my table:

Here is the table one of my friends, Karen, hosted. I thought hers was so gorgeous and elegant.

It was a fun evening spent with the ladies from the church, specifically my Sunday school girls. It didn't click with me until later that night that I won't be here next year for the dinner. I'm definitely going to miss our church and all the couples in our Sunday School class. We really enjoy spending time with them!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Biggest Loser

I think this is one of the best, if not THE best, show on television. Last night was the premiere and I cried almost the entire time. I hurt so badly for these people but I love to see their determination and drive to make their lives better. It's really not about the money they could win at the finale, it's about changing their lives. This season is all about second chances. Several of their stories will bring you to tears.

Like Abby. Her entire family was killed in a car accident 2 years ago. She mentioned at the weigh in that death doesn't scare her. Death would actually be much easier than what she is doing now, but she still gets out of bed every morning and pushes on. I want to see her go far!

Also, Shay. Not only is she the biggest women in Biggest Loser history, but the biggest person EVER on the show. She weighed in at 460+ pounds. She has a sad childhood history and she almost quit the show last night, but she came back and decided to finish what she started.

I think the reason I love this show is because it truly is "reality". So many reality shows are quite staged and include drama for the sake of having drama. This show contains real people who are fighting for their lives. And, unfortunately, that is the reality of our nation right now. I can't wait to see them each week and see the progress they've made!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Taco Soup

This soup is the way to Tim's heart! I got this recipe from my aunt after she made it for us one Sunday after church while we were in college and Tim loved it! It is definitely a staple in our winter menu!
-1 lb ground beef (I use the leanest possible)
-1 package taco seasoning
-1 15 oz can tomato sauce
-1 15 oz can stewed tomatoes
-1 can corn
-1 can hominy
-1 can ranch style beans
-1 can kidney beans (light or dark, doesn't matter)

Brown beef in large soup pot/stock pot on medium/high heat.
Add taco seasoning and mix. Add tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes and mix.
Mix in corn, hominy, and beans. Add 1 can of water (maybe two if you think it needs to be thinned out a bit more).
Let simmer on low for 2 hours. If you mix everything together the night before or earlier in the day and it sits in the refrigerator for a little while, you only need to simmer about 45 minutes since the flavors are all blended already.
Sprinkle a little shredded cheese and serve with tortilla chips.

Why I cook the way I cook

You might have noticed that the recipes I post are one dish recipes that bake for 30-45 minutes. The reason I do that is I HAVE to have a clean kitchen and empty sink while I eat or I cannot enjoy my meal, not one bit! So, by making something that is in the oven for a while, it gives me time to clean up the kitchen and load the dishwasher and be able to sit down and enjoy the meal I just made. The nice thing about it just being the two of us, I can make a pan of baked ziti or chicken enchiladas and it will last us all week! We don't necessarily eat it every night but usually every other night. It helps to save money!

I don't only make one dish meals, we make grilled/panned chicken with sides of vegetables quite regularly, but usually Tim is the one to cook the chicken and I do the sides. Those recipes usually aren't worthy of a blog post because they are just a mixture of seasonings and a chicken breast. However, Tim makes an AMAZING bread crumb crusted chicken that I'm going to have to have him post for y'all. I love it!

We are coming up on fall/winter. My favorite dishes to make at this time of year are soups. I will be sure to post these recipes. They are always very very easy because I don't make my own mixture of seasonings, I just use the pre-packaged seasonings that have it all put together for me, then mix with canned beans and veggies. They are great if you work and can put it together on your lunch break, then put it on the stove top as soon as you get home and let it simmer for an hour or so. Virtually no effort at all! It's great!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

We gave Leo a bath...

Nothing else needs to be said!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It's official!

Well, it's been official for a couple of weeks now, I just forgot to post about it! We have made the decision for Tim to go into the Navy. He will be a Navy Pharmacist and will be commissioned as a Lieutenant, probably on the weekend of his graduation from pharmacy school since all of our families will be here and can witness the event. We are really excited about this adventure!

We get to request where our first tour will be, and from what Tim has learned from others who have done this, they really try to honor your first choice. We are going to put in to be in San Diego as our first choice and Norfolk as our second choice. Both of those places have different things that really appeal to us. We should know around May where we will be stationed and Tim will have 5 week officer training in July. After that we will move to where ever we will be and start out 3 year commitment.

We aren't sure if we are going to make this a career move or simply short term. If Tim really loves it, then we will stay in a little longer, but if he wants to move on to something else, then we will do that. I've always told him that as long as he loves what he does, I'll be happy!

We are ready for this next step we will be taking in about 8 months!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie

This is a recipe that for some reason always scared me. I always thought a chicken pot pie would be really complicated and take forever to make. But, this has turned out to be one of my favorites to make! I use a few shortcuts to make it pretty quick to make. First, I use the rolled pie crusts and I also use frozen veggies. I also used canned potatoes instead of pealing and cubing fresh potatoes. This always turns out good, even when I decide to change a few things up.
-1/2 cup butter
-1/2 cup flour
-salt and pepper to taste
-2 tablespoons minced onion (I use the dried kind you find in the seasonings section so that I don't have to chop an onion each time I want to make something with onions in it)
-dash of garlic powder
-2 cups chicken broth
-2 cups cubed, cooked chicken
-2 cups frozen veggies
-equivalent of 2 medium potatoes cubed, this would be one can of potatoes if you do it that way
-2 pie crusts (I promise I know how to make non-pre-made pie crusts! It's just significantly quicker to use the pre-done ones!)

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low-medium heat. Now, the next part is not the proper way to make a roux. If my father-in-law is reading this, he is going to shake his head in disappointment (So, Bill, please skip down to the pretty pictures below!!). Add a little bit of the flour and use a whisk to blend it together. It will get thick very quickly and if you have the heat up too high, it will become just a ball of flour-y butter. Go ahead and add about a half cup chicken broth and use the whisk to work it all together. Continue adding the flour and the broth until it has all been added. Add onion, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Heat over medium heat, stirring with whisk continually until it is thick. It will probably take about 10 minutes or so.

Line pie pan with first pie crust. In a bowl, mix chicken, veggies, and potatoes together. Pour into pie pan.

Pour gravy mixture on top and be sure it covers everything completely.

Put other pie crust on top and pinch edges together to seal the top and bottom crusts.

If you wish to egg wash the top (totally not necessary, but fun to do!), use one egg yolk and a little salt. Whisk together then use a basting brush to wash the top crust. Cut a few slits in the top for the steam to vent.

Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.


Pretend like this post happened last Monday...

Guess who is considered fully recovered?!
That's right! Our sweet girl is ok to run and jump and be her original self. Unfortunately, I don't think she will ever be her old self completely again. Thankfully, her hair is growing back well. It seems like practically overnight it grew significantly. For a while it was just a bunch of little short hairs and now it's all growing and blending back together really well. I'm so excited! We did buy her the steps to help her out a bit. It took her several days before she was ok with climbing up them. We are going to restrict her from jumping off the back stoop and jumping up trees and fences, but other than that, we are letting her run and play with Leo like normal again!