Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Baked Oatmeal


"It's the most wonderful time of the year!"  I LOVE Christmas!  There is so much joy, happiness, and excitement in the air.  I love knowing I will get to see all my family, especially those I don't see enough throughout the year.  

The other fun part of this time of year is everyone announcing they are having babies...including US!  Alex and I are expecting our first child around June 28, 2012!  We are beyond excited.  We feel so blessed that things happened so quickly for us after the miscarriage.  

With the celebration of babies coming we have also been celebrating those who have recently been born.  I recently had the pleasure of visiting Andrew Thompson Heller and his mommy, Holly.  

Precious quilt that Molly made for Mr. Andrew!

I wanted to bring something healthy and different from all the dinner casseroles most bring.  I found this great breakfast recipe that can be eaten any time of day.  Holly is health conscious anyways, but even more so after the baby so this was perfect for her and her new family!  I hope you enjoy!

Caledon Baked Oatmeal
Source:  The Eat Clean Diet Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of old fashioned oats
  • 2 cups low fat or skim milk or soy milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or other dried fruit of your choice
  • 1 large unpeeled Macintosh apple, grated
  • 4 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • cooking spray
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • a pinch of nutmeg
Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Coat a 3 quart casserole dish or baking pan with cooking spray.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  If you are preparing this the night before don't add the liquid ingredients such as milk or grated apple until morning.

Place mixture in a casserole dish.  Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.  (My oven cooks quick so this was too long, just keep an eye on it!)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Layered Taco Dip


I love furniture!  My favorite thing is to go to antique stores and consignment stores to find old furniture that has character.  Preferably the cheap kind!  I see the value in old expensive furniture, but our budget just doesn't quite match up.  I had been looking for a corner cabinet to go in our dinning room.  My mother in law found this one which was perfect!  It just needed a little touching up to update it.

Before:  ugly wood and silver hardware.

Close up of silver hardware.

I painted the inside with the same color as our dinning room walls and spray painted the hardware with oil rubbed bronze (my new favorite can of spray paint)!

The finished product before it was staged.

Spay painted with ORB

Close up

This is a typical layered dip.  It fulfills my Mexican cravings quite well.  Just try it for yourself and make it your own!

Layered Taco Dip

Ingredients:
  • 1 can of Frito's bean dip
  • Guacamole
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • Shredded cheese (I prefer white cheddar)
  • Salsa
  • Pickled Jalapenos
  • Optional layers:  diced tomatoes, black olives, green onions
  • Serve with tortilla chips
Layer dip in ~8X8 dish.  Layer bean dip, guac, mix together next three ingredients in a separate bowl (mayo, sour cream, and taco seasoning) and add on top of guac, shredded cheese, salsa, and pickled jalapenos.  Enjoy!


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Polenta Stack with Black Bean and Chickpea Salad


A few months back, we had the pleasure of adopting a sweet goldendoodle named Hank.  He was previously a clients dog and due to unfortunately circumstances he needed a new home.  I fell in love immediately!  How could you not love that face!  


Hank & Alex


Hank is an amazing dog.  He looks awesome, everyone loves him, and he has the best personality.  

Love him!


Alex loves using him at his shows because there is no need to worry about him biting anyone. He loves adults and kids!  





I had to babysit Hank in the van at one event after we discovered that he DOES NOT like gunfire!  The police did a demonstration with police dogs that involved gunfire and he freaked out.  It might be his ONLY flaw.



Most of all, Hank is making a difference in the lives of others.  Alex brings him up to my work frequently to do therapy with my patients.  Those who are in the memory care clinic especially love him.  I think even when the rest of the world can't understand you, there is an unspoken bond between a person and a dog.  It makes my heart smile to see him light up their faces.  Even though they forget who he is with each visit, they are just as happy to be re-introduced the next session.  It is such a blessing to have this sweet dog in our lives.  Now he is living with my in-laws due to the lack of space for another dog at our house. We make frequent stops to see him throughout the week and take him with us whenever time permits.  He is just a love!

I know grilling season is coming to an end, but we have still had some great warm evenings.  I found this recipe on my friend Tracy's blog.  It was my first time cooking polenta and I loved it.  It comes in a tube and is the consistency of grits.  This is a great vegetarian dish that is still a well balanced meal.  Enjoy!

Polenta Stack with Black Bean and Chickpea Salad

Ingredients:
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup basil, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1 tube prepared polenta, cut into slices
  • 1 zucchini, cut into slices
  • 1/2 bottle roasted red peppers, drained (I omitted this since I don't like peppers)
Directions:

Heat grill. Coat the inside of four 18" pieces of tin foil with cooking spray. Combine the beans, tomatoes, basil, and half of the feta in a bowl. Place 1/4 of the bean mixture in each piece of foil. Add the sliced zucchini, then polenta, then roasted red peppers, and finally the remaining feta cheese. Grill on a slow cooker grill for about 30 minutes, or on a gas grill for 10-15. Serve and enjoy!




Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Roasted Garlic Hummus

Sadly, I took horrible pictures of this hummus dip.  So you will just have to use your imagination and know that it was awesome if you are a garlic lover, which I am!

I feel like I have been struggling with my food photography lately.  I think I am either in a hurry or super hungry.  I just assume one will turn out good, and lately they have not.

Enough complaining!

Our small group had an outing at the shooting range the other week.  Yes, I actually enjoy to shoot my husbands guns.  He has always loved this hobby. I have always been terrified by guns!  I hate that they are all over our house. I feel like they are an accident waiting to happen...until recently.  I finally went with him one afternoon to the range.  After getting acquainted with the gun and over my fear, I loved it!  My husband was so excited that we could finally go shooting together and have a really good time.

Trying my best to not look afraid.

Old pro right here

He looks good in action!

SMALL GROUP PICTURES

Beth shooting Alex's AR15

Jordan with his new gun.  I love that I caught the "fire" in this shot.

Mark and Mary showing off the cool gear we got to wear.  Safety first:)

My hot husband showing off again.

Lauren patiently taking instructions from Jon

And she is off!

Roasted Garlic Hummus
Source:  Annie's Eats

Ingredients:
  • 2 heads of garlic, intact
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 6 tbsp. tahini
  • 14 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Remove the papery outer skins of the garlic heads, leaving them otherwise intact.  Chop off the top quarter of the head so that all of the cloves are exposed.  Wrap the garlic in foil and bake until very tender, about 1 hour.  Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the sliced garlic cloves and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the garlic to a paper towel-lined plate, reserving the cooking oil.  Set aside.  Once the roasted garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves from their skins (you should have about ¼ cup).
In a small prep bowl, combine the lemon juice and water.  In another bowl, whisk together the reserved garlic cooking oil and the tahini.  In the bowl of a food processor, process the chickpeas, the roasted garlic puree, the remaining clove of garlic, salt and cayenne until the mixture is finely ground, about 20 seconds.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  With the machine running, add the lemon juice-water mixture through the feed tube in a steady stream.  Scrape down the bowl and process for an additional minute.  With the machine running, add the oil-tahini mixture through the feed tube in a steady stream.  Scrape down the bowl and continue to process until the hummus is smooth and creamy.  Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil, top with toasted garlic slices and minced fresh parsley, if desired.




Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thai Chili Sauce

This is not my finest photography!  I promise it taste good!

I know I talk about my small group A LOT, but they are just such an awesome group of people!  We never get tired of hanging out with these smiling faces.  

In the beginning of August, Mark and Mary rented a lake house on Lake Burton for all of us to enjoy for a long weekend.  We had so much fun!  You can't beat being on the water for a whole weekend.  We cooked at home, ate some great meals at resturants on the lake (taking the boat to dinner might be the coolest part), playing games (this got a little interesting:)), riding in the boat, skiing and wake boarding, and just floating in the lake with good friends.  Can we go back, please?!

The view from the upper deck

My handsome hubby about to wake board 

He's up

Showing off his skills

Skills that I do not have!

All the girls in the boat ready for dinner

I could go to dinner like this each night

Hostess with the mostest, Mark and Mary

Jordan and Tara

My favorite person in the world, my husband!

Jon and Lauren

Speaking of Mrs. Lauren...definitely check out her blog.  She is doing an awesome blog link up with photos each week.  

Happily Mother After

I couldn't resist this one of my sweet dog, Jackson.


I hosted a little get together last month.  The menu consisted of a Mexican dip (it wasn't exactly healthy so I haven't posted it yet:)), roasted garlic hummus (recipe coming soon), sweet thai chili sauce over baked chicken, and a few other things that I have already forgotten.  This sauce was easy to make and gave a great kick to the baked chicken.

Enjoy!

Sweet Thai Chili Sauce
Source:  She Simmers

Ingredients
  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 red jalapeno or serrano peppers (I deseeded mine and they still had a lot of heat, but the more seeds you leave the hotter it gets)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch or potato starch
  • 2 tbsp. water
Directions:

Puree all the ingredients, except the last two, in a blender.  

Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Lower to medium and simmer until sauce thickens, ~3 minutes.

Combine last two ingredients.  Whisk in the cornstarch mixture until well blended and simmer for 1 minute.

Remove from heat and place into glass container.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.  


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Vanilla Pudding


Last month we went to a wedding reception for my sweet friend Beth.  She and I met in Physical Therapy school.  It was so fun to see these girls!  It has been way too long!  We missed you, Ashley Peevy and Lindsey!

Nicole, Lauren, Beth, Me, Ashley, and Blythe

I love vanilla pudding!  It is easy to make and is the perfect little treat after dinner!  I doubled this recipe for our small group and still had left overs.  Hope you enjoy!

Classic Vanilla Pudding with Vanilla Honey Whipped Cream
Source:  Food Everyday Magazine

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tbps. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Optional:  Vanilla Honey Whipped Cream and fresh fruit (I highly recommend both!)
Directions:

Place a fine-mesh sieve (fine strainer) over a medium heatproof bowl and set aside.  In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, cream and egg yolks; add to saucepan.

Whisking constantly, cook over medium-high until mixture thickens and is bubbling, 8-12 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, whisking, 1 minute.

Remove pan from heat and pour mixture through sieve into bowl.  Stir in butter and vanilla until combined.

Press plastic wrap directly against surface of pudding to prevent skin from forming and refrigerate 3 hours ( or up to 3 days).  To serve, whisk until smooth and divide among four small bowls.  Top with fresh fruit and whipped cream!


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Spinach Lasagna


Last month we had a lot of things to cook for.  Our sweet friends, Scott and Katie, had their little boy Mason, a dear friend lost his mom, and I was going out of town and the hubby needed to be fed.  So I figured I would go ahead and pre-make three spinach lasagnas.  It was super easy to throw them together and pop them in the freezer until I was ready to cook them.  

Overall this is a great time saver.  If you are making a dish for a friend, go ahead and cook one for yourself too!

Little Mason is so sweet and precious.  I was grateful for all the time we got to spend with him and his wonderful family!

My hubby looks like a natural

Big yawn!

Mason says, "Oh dear, another admirer."

"I'm tired."

Proud dad, Scott!

This recipe is from my wonderful mother-in-law.  I tried one batch with gluten free noodles.  Not good!  Maybe I will try a different brand next time.  My picky husband was a trooper and ate maybe two servings of it, but decided he really didn't like the gluten free noodles either.  The regular noodles got great reviews by everyone who tried it!

Spinach Lasagna
Source:  My mother-in law 

Ingredients:
  • 1 box of oven ready lasagna noodles
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 15 oz. container of Ricotta cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 boxes frozen cream spinach (cooked to package instructions-I did it in the microwave)
Directions:

In a 9x13 pan layer with sauce on the bottom, noodles, ricotta cheese, spinach, mozzarella cheese, and continue with the layers until you run out of ingredients or fill up your pan.  Top with Parmesan cheese.  Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake for 15 minutes.  Let sit 10-15 minutes.  


Friday, September 30, 2011

Chicken Salad



I had the pleasure of going to the beach with my mom, Aunt Georgiana, and her two kids, Grayson and Mackenzie, over Labor Day weekend.

Georgiana, Grayson, Mackenzie, Me, Mom

 It was nice to catch up with family members that you don't get to see as often as you like.  I learned that my little cousins have some awesome dance moves, not something that runs in our side of the family!

Kenzie and Grayson about to show off their dance skills on the beach at night

Love these two!

Brother & sister love :)


We were down there for a total of 6 days and 5 nights.  We had three great days of sun and then a tropical storm started to make things rainy and cloudy.  We weren't able to get into the ocean because of the double red flags.


These guys decided to stop for a drink of water

My awesome Mom!

We were all on a budget so we made some yummy chicken salad to take down to the pool/beach each day.  It was easy to throw on some bread or crackers.  I found this from Paula Deen, but I have to say it is very basic.  I followed the recipe, but next time will probably add in a few more things for a kick, like grapes.  Make it your own or if you like it plain then this will be perfect as is.

By the way, head over to, my dear friend, Lauren's blog for an awesome giveaway that ends today!

Almond Chicken Salad
Source:  Paula Deen

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 1/2 cups of diced cooked chicken (make it as chunky as you like)
  • 1 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/3 slivered almonds
Mix together and serve with bread, crackers, or on lettuce.  Enjoy!