Sunday, January 25, 2009

Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup

I also got blueberries for $1/pint which is awesome. I'm not a huge fan of plain blueberries, but love them in pancakes, muffins, fruit salads, etc. I was planning on making blueberry pancakes yesterday morning, but remembered having blueberry syrup as a child and thought I'd try make some from scratch. It was super easy and turned out great!

Ingredients for Blueberry Syrup:
1 pint blueberries
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Ingredients for Pancakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons melted butter

Directions For Blueberry Syrup:
1. Wash and pat dry (with a paper towel) the pint of blueberries and then put them in a saucepan on the stovetop.
2. Add 1/4 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar.

3. Bring to a boil and then reduce and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occassionally.

4. Let cool for a few minutes and then put in food processor until you reach the consistancy desired.
5. Add 1 tbsp of lemon juice.

Directions For Pancakes:
1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
2. Pour in the milk, egg and melted butter.
3. Mix until smooth.
4. Ladle about 1/4 cup onto a hot griddle. (You can also use a frying pan or whatever on the stovetop if you don't have a griddle.)

The easy way to tell when to flip pancakes is when they start to bubble and pull up on the sides. This is what they'll look like:

I absolutely loved yesterday's breakfast!! I actually double the pancake recipe and froze them between pieces of wax paper to have handy for quick breakfasts during the week. The blueberry syrup also freezes well.

Chicken Alfredo with Peppers and Mushrooms

Last Friday I got a whole bunch of produce on sale. This included multi-colored peppers, which I love! (But rarely buy because they are more expensive.) So I made a huge batch of Chicken Alfredo with Peppers and Mushrooms. We had some for dinner, lunch and even froze some. It was quite easy since I used jarred Classico 4 Cheese Alfredo Sauce.

Cut up mushrooms like so:

Slide mushrooms like so:

Grill chicken with basil, oregano, and garlic powder. Add mushrooms.

Add multi-colored peppers and two jars of alfredo sauce:

Enjoy! This is such a yummy meal :)

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Fun and the Not So Fun...

Well it finally happened.  Penn Hills got a decent amount of snow this past weekend and that of course meant the hubby and I bundled up for some snowy fun.  After our recent let down when Andrew was here (was supposed to snow 8 inches-actually snowed 2), we returned the sleds we had bought so sledding wasn't an option.  Snow angels and a snow ball fight were though!  

Here we are all bundled for our snowy fun.

If you look carefully, you can see our fallen fence in this picture.  We were always thinking of removing it so this pretty much seals the deal.  We'll just have to wait til everything melts to get rid of it.

We were going to build a snowman, but when Peter was attempting it, we realized the snow was too fluffy.  Oh well!

This is how much snow we had when we got home from church on Sunday.  After we came inside, it snowed a few more inches.

Here's my snow angel:

And Peter's.  He didn't really make big enough wings haha.  I think he got snow up the back of his shirt so he didn't want to move and get more snow on his skin.  I'll have to help him layer next time :P

Our little bench all covered in snow...

And our wheelbarrow full of snow:

This is what the yard looked like when we were done.  We had a great time of throwing snowballs and running around like kids.  :)

And here's us right before we came in.  A little covered with snow and laughing lots :)

And Peter got me these beautiful flowers.  Aren't they so pretty?  I love the shades of purple.  And daisies, especially gerber daisies, are my fave!

...And the not so fun...
Thursday night our hot water pipes in the kitchen froze.  We did still have hot water in the bathroom though so that was good!  We put a space heater in the garage to warm up where the pipes are and on Sunday morning when we woke up, they were unfrozen!  And no harm done to the pipes.

So we ran the dishwasher.  We have an older house and our dishwasher is portable.  So we hooked it up to the sink and when we came back later to unhook everything, our sink was centimeters from overflowing.  

Apparently our drain pipe was frozen too.  Not quite.  More like clogged.  How it got clogged when it wasn't used for 3 days is beyond me.  Maybe it had something to do with the frozen pipes.  After trying baking soda and vinegar, drain-o, a plunger, and everything else we could think of, we gave in and called a plumber.

Not gonna lie...the plumbers ripped us off.  Long story short, they charged us for 2 plumbers per hour instead of the one we were told and the second plumber didn't do anything and was on the phone with a friend the entire time.  So we paid an extra $62.50 for a total of $160.  It was worth it since other places we called said about the same amount and our sink was unclogged, but seriously.  They were shiesty.  No repeat business from us!  

Remember the near fire Peter started with burning chips?  Apparently I wanted to give him some competition.  Last night when I was making homemade applesauce, I was so excited because I love the smell that fills my kitchen when the apples are cooking.  

But then...I completely forgot about the apples cooking on the stove.  

That is until I see smoke coming from the kitchen.  Oops.  All of the water and juice cooked up so the apples were burning like crazy in the pot.  Thank goodness for T-fal!  The wooden spoon scraped the burnt apple pieces right out.  I dump them into the sink and the entire kitchen, dining room, and living room were filled with smoke.  

Again, Peter and I laughed.  But I was also ticked because I was really looking forward to eating homemade applesauce.  After opening windows, turning on the fan in the kitchen, and pouring water over the burnt apple mess to cool it off, I put the burnt mess in the trash and we called it a night.  

We stopped at Wal-Mart on the way home tonight and tons of their produce was on sale so I snatched up a bunch.  I bought apples for less than $1/pound (to make the applesauce I never got), green peppers for 68 cents each, red/orange/yellow peppers for $1 each, and other yummy cheap produce!  Looks like I'll be spending lots of time in the kitchen this weekend.  I've missed cooking and baking with the pipes being frozen and then the drain being clogged so I'll be happy to be back :)

But for now, it's time to catch some sleep!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A little update.

When the new year hit, we received emails, texts, calls, etc wishing us a "Happy and Healthy New Year."  We've got the happy part down, but are seriously struggling with being healthy.  I've been sick since Dec 28th.  That's 21 days today.  21 days.  This is nuts!  Granted, it has gotten much better, but still 3 weeks.  I haven't had a healthy day in 2009 yet haha.  For nearly two weeks I could barely speak.  It was so rough and scratchy.  I'm almost better, but still have this incessant cough/clearing of my throat that seems to not want to go away.  My energy is finally almost back to normal.  

I'm proud to say that even being very sick at one point, I didn't miss a day of work.  The weekends seemed to hit just when I felt like I needed more rest.  Sure, working meant cleaning, etc took a backseat, but sometimes that happens.  I still made dinner most nights, but my days have mostly consisted of working and resting.  

When Andrew visited, we recruited him to help take the tree outside.  I took down all of the ornaments and the boys took off the lights and took the tree out for garbage.  This was only last week.  If you were to visit, we still have all of our other Christmas decorations up.  I haven't had the energy to take them down.  Last Friday I finally got around to cleaning the whole house and that wiped me out.  With the snow that arrived this week, the Christmas decorations seemed more fitting, haha.  Since we have a 3 day weekend, I'm planning on getting them put away this weekend.  We'll see if that actually happens.  :P

It's been so cold here.  Like freezing.  Actually yesterday it was 30 degrees below freezing.  With the addition of wind chills, it felt like it was in the negative 20's.  BRR!

Cadi is probably thanking her lucky stars that she's strictly an indoor cat, haha!  She's often found sleeping on this blanket, curled up under a blanket in our bed, or hangin' out in front of the heater vent in the living room.

Here are (sadly) the only photos we have from Andrew's visit.  We had lots of fun hanging out, exploring a weird mini golf place, and the boys played video games like it was their job!

Thursday we got a few more inches of snow.  I was so excited!  I kept looking out the windows watching the big fluffy flakes fall.  It's so peaceful when no one is outside and you can just watch the snow fall and fall.  I love it!  I love the calm, quiet nights when snow is falling.  It's one of my favorite times to be outside.  Peter watched as I kept going and standing by the windows and suggested we take a little walk.  It was after 10 and we were getting read for bed, but decided to go.  So we bundled up in our boots, coats, multilayers and hats and went out.  It was bitter cold out though, so we didn't stay out long.  It was so much fun.  I'm so glad he suggested it!  

Not a fabulous picture of either of us, but a great memory that I wanted to capture!

We realized how cute our block is at night.  Most folks have lights of some sort in windows or solar lights or porch lights and it just sets such a nice little scene.  

Here's my adorable hubby enjoying the snow:

Our snow boots have finally been seeing some action!

I love this picture.  Kind of like Footprints in the Sand.

I'm so glad that we're both feeling better (yes I even got Peter sick).  And we have a nice long 3 day weekend ahead!  Peter's at a consulting job right now, but will be home shortly after lunch.  I feel bad that he has to work on a Saturday, but it's separate from his regular full-time job, so he has to work around that.  Plus he took yesterday off to rest up since he was sick and working so hard too.  So he says it's not too bad :)

And I just realized that I had started several blog posts during my low energy times and never got around to finishing them and posting them.  So I just did that too.  So you might see a few other new posts too, haha.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Things like this only happen to us!

Well, we had quite an interesting night here at home.  It started off normal with getting home and relaxing.  I decided to make a quick, simple dinner of homemade pizza.  Looks delicious, huh?  It was!

Shortly before 9 PM, I put some water in the kettle to make hot chocolate since it's so cold here.  I was planning on settling in with some hot chocolate while watching "The Office".  The beginning of the show started when the kettle started whistling and Peter jumped up to move the kettle and I'd get my hot chocolate on a commercial.  We heard a rustling sound when he sat back down on the couch and didn't know what it was so Peter went back to the kitchen to investigate.  

Apparently the bag of BBQ chips we had bought on our grocery trip last night fell out of the open cupboard (I left the door open to get the hot chocolate from).

Where did it land?

On the hot burner of course!

The bag melted the chips were burning.  We couldn't help but laugh.  I grabbed oven mits and removed the burner.  We put it in the sink and cleaned up the chips, but there was plastic melted on the burner.  I was afraid the burner would be unusable, but as it cooled, most of the plastic came off.  I'm hoping we'll still be able to use it, haha!

The bag burned and so we decided to throw the whole bag out because we weren't sure if there were plastic pieces in the bag or anything.  Better safe than sorry!  :)
It was fun to tease Peter as we were cleaning up.  I kept bursting out with laughs because it was so funny.  He laughed too :)  

In the end I didn't make hot chocolate or watch "The Office".  I'll try again tomorrow haha.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Peanut Butter Cookies with Hershey Kiss Chunks

I found this great recipe online through the recipe swap at Grocery Cart Challenge.  It was originally posted here.

Ingredients:• 1 cup butter or margarine
• 1 cup peanut butter
• 1 cup white sugar
• 1 cup packed brown sugar
• 2 eggs
• 2 1/2 cups flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
• 25 Hershey Kisses, quartered into chunks (I used more like 30 kisses for a little extra chocolate :) )

1.  Cut Hershey Kisses into chunks.

2.  Mix together butter or margarine, peanut butter, white sugar and brown sugar until creamy.
3.  Add eggs and mix until combined.

4.  In a separate bowl-whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
5.  Stir into peanut butter mixture.

6.  Fold in Hershey Kiss chunks.
7.  Drop by teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet.

8.  Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned.

I got 6 dozen cookies out of this batch and they were DELICIOUS!  When Andrew was here, the 3 of us enjoyed devouring a dozen or two.  I also gave some to Jerry to take home when he came over for dinner.  And then I even had some left to bring to work so I wasn't left eating the rest!

I love finding great, easy and YUMMY cookie recipes. It's a great alternative to just placing the Hershey Kiss in the center. I had a couple bags of Hershey Kisses left from Christmas cookie baking since they were on sale and then I picked up 3 more bags this week at Giant Eagle because they were $1/bag! I'll definitely be making these cookies again soon!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Chicken Marsala

This is another great recipe that I've recently been using.  I love Chicken Marsala and was really in the mood to make it a few nights I did!

Ingredients:1/4 cup all-purpose flour for coating
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into chunks
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cups sliced mushrooms (I love to use Portobello for this recipe-yum!)
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1/4 cup cooking sherry

1.  Cut chicken into bite sized chunks.  (You can also leave chicken whole and serve as a piece of chicken.  I often make "army style" because it's easier to pack the leftovers away for lunches and storage in the fridge/freezer.)
2.  In a shallow bowl-mix together the flour, salt, pepper and oregano. 
3.  Coat chicken pieces in flour mixture.
4.  In a large skillet, melt butter in oil over medium heat. 
5.  Place chicken in the pan, and cook until golden brown.  
6.  Turn over chicken pieces, and add mushrooms. 
7.  Pour in wine and sherry. 
8.  Cover skillet; simmer for 10-15 minutes.

I like to serve mine with pasta (bow tie, mini shells, etc) and to add a little grated Parmesan cheese to the top.  Sooo good!!

Orange Chicken with Veggies and Rice

I loooove vegetables.  I really, really do.  I like mixing tons of random veggies into meals.  I previously tried this with a store bought marinade and it was good, but then I got a home made orange sauce and it was so much better.  Plus there weren't all kinds of preservatives which is always a plus.  

I just cut up some chicken and cooked it in a saucepan and then added veggies like carrots, water chestnuts, bamboo chutes, broccoli, and mushrooms.  Then I made this awesome sauce and poured a bit on top.  I don't like my food to be drenched in any kind of sauce, so you may use more if you like.  It was delicious and I've been eating it for days!

Orange Sauce
3 tablespoons flour (to thicken the sauce-may need more if you want the sauce to be thicker)
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup sherry
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

All I can say is it's yummy, yummy, yummy!  A new favorite for me :)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Recipe Swap

I'm always creating new recipes or looking for new recipes and I recently stumbled upon this blog.  Every Friday she does a recipe swap so I decided to join in this week.  I linked back to my Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe from November just to try it out.  I think it's something I'll join in more often :)

If you're looking for recipes or how to feed 6 people on $60 per week then check out The Grocery Cart Challenge.

Unpacking Christmas

We finally started the task of unpacking from our Christmas travels.  Since we both have colds, we've just been resting and putting it off.  We realized we had better do some laundry, since it's been over 2 weeks since we've done any.  But before we could do that, we had to unpack!  I was able to unpack my suitcase and put those items away.  Peter's going to unpack his in a few minutes.  I also unpacked all of our presents from their boxes, bags, etc.  Christmas week went by so quickly that neither of us really got to appreciate all of the fabulous gifts we received.  

I originally began setting all of our presents on the bed so that Peter and I could look at them together and put away accordingly, but it looked so nice that I snapped a few pictures.  

This isn't even everything!  Not pictured are Peter's new boots from me, my new winter coat from Peter, and a dress and shirt I picked out and Peter got me for Christmas. 

Here are two closer pictures to give you more of an idea of what we received:

Curious what everything is?  Here's a list of our gifts and who we received them from:

Jeff/Steph: Max Lucado CD/workbook "Building a Godly Home".

Peter: winter coat, dress, shirt, tights, blender with food processor (not pictured either), memory box, chocolate covered pretzels and dark chocolate pieces from Gardner's, 2 in 1 Karen Kingsbury books (all for Mal).

Mal: winter boots, day-by-day The Office calendar, 3 James Bond movies, brown dress socks, shirt, snowman ornament, matching cufflinks and tie clip (all for Peter).

Mom/Dad Bevan: Lots of clothes!  Including pjs, sweaters, a skirt, and camisoles for Mal and sweaters and shirts for Peter.

Ashley/Drew: Jingle bell wreath and door hanger, 2 harvest leaf candles and a TinTin comic book.

Mark: Navy blue flannel sheets.

Randy/Theresa: Christmas basket with a huge bag of M&Ms, a giant bottle of wine, a Yankee candle, and chocolate peanut butter pretzels.

Rod/Posey: Lavender diffuser.

Mima: colander, model car, Italian cookbook, 2.5 quart pot with lid, flower plaque.

Aunt Grace/Uncle Michael/Laura/John-Paul: 2 Lenox ornaments, 2 Willow Tree figures, Cranberry spice set for Mal, mini colognes/perfumes/lotions, candle, ties, Chicken recipes cookbook.

Tim/Vasti: Necklace and perfume for Mal, Pink Floyd music video "Dark Side of the Moon".  

Matt/Ruthann: Necklace for Mal, earmuffs for Peter.

Aunt Marian: Mutual Funds for Dummies and Financial workbook.

Nana: Generous check.

Mom/Dad Formica: bud vase, bear keychain and mini soap.

We also go various gifts from coworkers/bosses: pjs, restaurant gift card, M&Ms, slipper socks, silicon hot pad, light up snowman, cash bonus and a Kohl's gift card.  None of these are pictured either because we had put them away before Christmas.

We think that's everything!  If you read this and notice a mistake or something we missed, please know it wasn't intentional and if you let us know we'll make the correction!

We are really blessed to have family/friends that care about us so much.  We have an overload of wonderful presents this year.  Many items are things we specifically mentioned we could use (colander, pot, sheets, etc) and it was so great to receive those items.  All of our presents are things we like and will use so we are really grateful for each gift.