Sunday, October 31, 2010

Spicy Cheeseburger Soup

Well I had planned to make Spicy Cheeseburger Soup this weekend. Unfortunately I was very stressed out about my take home midterm and have spent most of my time working on that. Luckily, Nathan volunteered to run to the store and make the soup anyway... I'm so glad he did! It's delicious. Hope you enjoy!

Spicy Cheeseburger Soup


1 1/2 cups water
2 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
2 carrots, grated
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cubes beef bouillon, crumbled
1 pound ground beef
2 1/2 cups milk, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 pound Velveeta, cubed
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine water, potatoes, carrots, onion, bell pepper, jalapeno and garlic. Sprinkle salt and bouillon over the mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook beef until brown; drain.
3. Stir cooked beef and 2 cups milk into the soup and heat through. Combine remaining 1/2 cup milk with flour, stirring until smooth; stir into soup. Bring to a low boil and cook, stirring, until thickened, 3 minutes.
4. Reduce heat to low and stir in cheese until melted. Season with cayenne.

It had just the right amount of "fire" to it and I was so happy to have a hot meal to de-stress with. Thanks hubby :)


Friday, October 22, 2010

Almond Joy Bars

I ran across this recipe and modified it a little, but I have to say, these bars might be some of my favorite that I have ever made.

The mixture of the coconut, chocolate, and almonds really make me feel like I am eating a version of the Almond Joy candy bar. YUM!

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees for glass dish). Coat 13x9-inch baking pan with no-stick cooking spray.
2. Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press into bottom of prepared pan. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture.
3. Layer evenly with chocolate chips, coconut and almonds.
4. Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool before cutting.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Essentials for Battling the Common Cold

Well, I already caught it. I suppose it was only a matter of time until the common cold found me this year. Everyone around me seemed to battling some sort of cold; the coughing and sneezing was around every corner I turned. Suffice to say this is what I looked like about a week ago.

So what do you do when you're trying to keep up with life and a schedule that doesn't allow for sick time? I turn to my trusty cold remedies and hope that they will help me make it through the aches, fever, congestion and overall yuckiness.

1. Gotta have DayQuil & NyQuil
Sure this stuff tastes like death warmed over but I find that if I take it as needed my fever seems to lessen and my head seems a bit clearer. Unfortunately after four hours I can feel it start to wear off. Either way I keep it on hand for the common cold makes its appearance.

2. Vicks VapoRub
Some people hate Vicks but my mom had us use this growing up and I still reach for it when I'm extremely congested or have a stuffy nose.

3. Halls Fruit Breezers ("Cool Berry" flavor)
After trying these in high school I have never gone back to regular, disgusting cough drops. They are for "everyday throat irritations" but I have used them to soothe even my worst sore throats. Once you pop one in your mouth the cooling effect takes over and they taste just like candy! I don't know about you but I hate the way most cough drops taste so the invention of Halls Breezers was a life saver.

4. Strong, Non-Scratchy Tissues
Whatever tissues you decide to use I always recommend grabbing a kind with lotion. Nobody likes a sore nose :( I am particularly impressed with the Puffs plus lotion with the "essence of Vicks." Considering my loyalty to Vicks VapoRub you're probably not surprised. I believe when you're sick any extra little thing to make you feel a little better helps... and that includes these tissues!

As bad as I am about drinking water I have to say that drinking as much water as possible when you're sick is a good idea. It's easy to become dehydrated when sickness strikes so keep a water bottle near and drink as much as you can.

6. Tea
Whenever I'm looking for some comfort when I'm under the weather I turn to tea. Throat Soothers tea is perfect for a sore throat while Peppermint tea really helps refresh a congested chest/sinuses. When I have a regular cold Lemon tea is my tried and true favorite.

7. Chicken Noodle Soup
It's nearly impossible to compile a list of cold remedies without listing chicken noodle soup. Now this soup, particularly Campbell's, isn't full of of robust flavor - but that's the point. When I'm sick I need something that will calm my stomach and go down easy. For this reason, Campbell's holds the crown for chicken noodle soup. If you're feeling particularly sluggish you could always grab the convenient Campbell's to go cup, pop it in the microwave, and sip away in your icky cold misery.

So what are your cold remedies? Anything I missed on this list that you just couldn't survive without? Any tips would be greatly appreciated (particularly for the next time I'm feeling under the weather!).


Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip

This classic dip is a delicious crowd favorite.
We're enjoying it while watching the Vikings today... SKOL VIKINGS!

Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip

2 cups of artichoke hearts
1 cup of frozen, chopped spinach
8 0z of cream cheese
1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp of red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of garlic pepper

Cook artichoke hearts and spinach until tender; drain. Microwave cream cheese for one minute. Stir together cream cheese, veggies, and Parmesan cheese. Stir in red pepper flakes, salt, and garlic pepper. Spread mixture into baking dish or Pyrex bowl (you choose the size). Bake at 350 until steaming.

This recipe makes 4 cups worth.


Hospital Pack List

A couple of days ago I began writing a blog about what I was going to pack in the hospital bag. I found out on Friday that our baby will be coming a little sooner then we thought, 3 weeks sooner! They are actually going to induce me in a week!

I feel like our blog has been overran with baby things, and I apologize for that, but I thought it would be nice to have a list of what I would plan to take to the hospital and see if anyone has any more suggestions. Here is what I have come up with so far:

Eye Care- If you are like me and wear contacts, don't forget an extra pair, solution, and your glasses.

Personal Items- Toothbrush, toothpaste, hair brushes, lip gloss, deodorant, makeup, and anything else you might need to make yourself somewhat presentable in those pre/post delivery photos.

I have heard that it is nice to wear the hospital's gowns pre-baby, to prevent your nice ones from getting dirty. Post baby though, it has been suggested to bring your own so you can be a little more comfortable. I purchased this nightgown called La Leche Wendy Nursing Pajamas from It had really good reviews and people said they would just wear it around the hospital/house and didn't feel like it showed too much and was very functional for breast feeding.

These slippers are by far my most favorite shoes of all time! I purchase them from Target and I have gone through several pairs of them over the years. I am just hoping that the swelling in my feet will have gone down enough that I can fit in them.

MP3 Player- I will have my player loaded up with some of my most favorite tunes. I haven't quite decided if I am going to go for the hard rock or the folk music. I know, two TOTALLY different genres of music, but it's what I like to listen to depending on my mood.

Books/Magazines- I am going to pack my copy of What to Expect the First Year for some quick and easy reading and maybe a couple of magazines.

Camera- For all of those lovely pre-labor pics and post-labor pics. You don't want to miss all of those moments for the camera!

Snacks- This is not for me, but for my husband. I have read that many doctors won't let you eat much during the whole birthing process. I haven't actually decided what snacks to pack but I think anything is a good alternative to vending machine food.

Cell Phone/Charger- Obviously to deliver the good news!

Don't forget your purse/wallet. They will need to see your ID after all :)

Nursing Bra with some nursing pads

Undies- Can't for get the necessities and I am sure that it will be a good idea to have a few of these on hand. I have heard to go with a little larger pair for comfort reasons.

Pen & Paper- What could this be for? Well in the many of hours in the room, you and your hubby might decide you should make a list of things to do after the baby is home. Also, I was thinking it might be a nice idea to write the little person a letter to let them read when they are older.

Going home outfit for you- I figure some comfy pants, a cami, and a zip down sweatshirt should do the trick!

Going home outfit for the baby- Depending on the season, you might have to pack the whole shebang...clothes, coats, hats, socks, blankets. Pick out something cute because I have heard they take some pictures in the outfit.

Car Seat- I guess they won't let you leave the hospital without a car seat installed in the car. I am not sure if that is true, but it is probably a good idea to have it all set up and ready to go.

And for the husbands-(hint, hint!)- Don't forget the birthing gift! I am hoping for something in the color of diamonds :) You know diamonds are a girl's best friend and after the labor I will be going through, I am sure I will deserve some!

Any feedback you can give me on what else to add to my packed bag please let me know. I would love to hear any suggestions you might have!


Friday, October 15, 2010

Apple Crisp

The fall is best time to go out with family and/or friends to pick apples. I don't know if many of you have been apple picking, but for me it just seems to mark the true beginning of fall.

With the bags of apples you will end up with, the best way to use them is to make some apple crisp! This recipe is quick to assemble and pretty easy to make. I hope you all enjoy it!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 cups brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup butter, melted
8-10 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples (I use Granny Smith)
1 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Put apples in a large bowl. Sprinkly with a little lemon juice if they start turning brown.
3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon until mixed together.
4. Slowly pour in some of the melted butter and mix with a fork. Keep adding in the butter until the mixture is crumbly.
5. In a medium saucepan, combine white sugar, cornstarch, water, vanilla and remaining 2 teaspoons of cinnamon . 6. Cook, stirring until thick and clear, about 10 minutes.
7. Pour over apples in the bowl and mix together.
8. Lighly spray oil or grease a 9"x13" pan. Pour apple mixture into the pan.
9. Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the top of the apples.
10. Bake in preheated oven 45 minutes, until bubbly and golden.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Remodeling the Upstairs Bathroom

We have started another project again! I know, I said in my Stressful Nesting blog that I was done after the rocking chair till the baby, but this one came about a little unexpected.

We have this bathroom in the upstairs of our house that might have the ugliest wallpaper ever! I know I say this about all of the rooms, but this one is a pink, purple, yellow, and lime green plaid. My husband asked me the other day "What company would even print such an ugly wallpaper?" My thoughts exactly...I mean it looks like Easter year round on the walls. To make matters worse, the bathroom has vaulted ceilings so it's as far as the eye can see.

I decided to contact a professional on redoing this bathroom. I just don't see myself hanging from a ladder trying to joint compound the walls. (As a refresher, the wallpaper is applied to the drywall so it is quite the headache to remove!) I had someone come out and give me a quote and I thought it sounded very reasonably priced. The only catch was, I needed to remove the wallpaper first and he would do a skim coat (to even out the tears in the drywall), prime, and paint the room for me.

One day, after hours of sanding on the rocking chair from hell (which I am still not finished with), I decided to just start a little of the wallpaper removal in the bathroom. I mixed up a solution of vinegar and really hot water and sprayed it on the walls. To my surprise, the wallpaper came off really easy! I think because of the years of steam in the bathroom, it was loose enough to remove with only a little tearing of the drywall. I worked on it for an hour that day and then an hour the next day and it was all done! Really, not very much work compared to other rooms I have removed wallpaper in. Now all I had to do was call the contractor to skim coat and paint the room.

Here are some pictures of the bathroom: ugly!

The darker brown areas are where I ripped the drywall :(
You should have seen me rip the towel rack off the wall. I felt so powerful!

And the vaulted ceilings!
More ripped drywall below:

I came home two days ago, prepared to call the contractor to set up a time for him to come out, only to find my husband skim coating the wall. My exact words were "I am not helping with this room, I did my part." But somehow through his charismatic ways, I found myself helping patch the holes in the drywall that evening. Yesterday, I came home to find the room completely skim coated and ready for primer and paint. Well, what can I do now...I mean painting is the easy part, it's the skim coating that is the hard part. I guess we will end up doing this room ourselves. The bathroom is pretty small, so the painting would probably take only two hours here and there for a few days so it's really not too bad of a project. I can tell you this though, he will be the one hanging from the ladder painting the peaks of the vaulted ceiling. I just don't think it would be too safe for a 9 month pregnant woman. :)


Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Nursery Remodel Completed!

I have finally finished with the remodeling of the nursery! I am just so excited to be finished and for our little one to arrive! I have a couple decorating items that I would like to add to the room, but those can always be a "work in progress". Here are some pictures of the journey of the remodel:

Before: Ugly wallpaper, lots of plants, and some pretty outdated furnature that I have picked up at garage sales. (Someday I am hoping to fix it all up, yet more projects I hope to accomplish!)

After: Removed the wallpaper, painted the wall, resurfaced the woodwork, made a new valance (which I will post directions for), and added the new baby furnature.

Before: Here is the bed that was in the room before:

After: And now it is a crib and toddler bed. Also, not to mention my awesome vinyl cut alphabet on the wall. Our kiddo will be saying his ABC's in no time!

A view from the other side of the room

I just love the turquiose color! Also, I kept the one plant in the room because this plant has grown the best in the light in this room!
Well, that's all the before and after pics I have right now. On the other side of the room is the dresser/changing table, but because there is really nothing on the wall I decided not to take any pictures of it. I plan on making a collage of photos on the wall, but I need our little man to get here so I can include him in the collage.

Now that the room is finished, I guess I just play the waiting game. I am a very impatient person and the waiting drives me crazy, but it is all I can do until my little guy arrives.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Porcupine Meatballs

As I prepare for the arrival of our new baby I am trying to find recipes that are good make ahead meals. This is one that my husband and I really like and you can either make it now or freeze it to make for later.

1 lb ground turkey or 1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup brown rice, uncooked
1 tablespoon onion, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 (10 1/2 ounce) can tomato soup
10 ounces water (one soup can)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1. Combine meat, rice, onion and salt.
2. Form into 1-2 inch meatballs.
3. Place in a single layer in a deep baking dish.
4. Combine soup, water, and Worcestershire sauce.
5. Pour over meatballs (meatballs should be mostly covered).
6. Bake covered for 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees, or until rice is tender. (Takes about an hour if using white long grain rice, takes up to 2 hours if using brown rice).

You can also freeze for cooking later. For freezing, place raw meatballs in a ziploc bag when frozen. Freeze soup mixture separately in another ziploc bag. When ready to cook, thaw both meat and soup (will need to re-stir soup because it separates), then combine into baking pan to bake.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Kitchen Remodel Completed!

Earlier this year my husband and I took on the large task to remodel our kitchen. I am very happy to announce that the kitchen is completely finished, with exception of window treatments.
Here is the list of all that we accomplished in the kitchen:
  1. Removed cupboards over island (to open the space up)
  2. Removed wheat back splash
  3. Painted over wallpaper (including back hallway)
  4. Installed new lighting above cupboards, below cupboards, above island, above sink and kitchen table chandelier
  5. Installed new counter-tops, kitchen sink, kitchen faucet, back splash, cook-top and refrigerator
  6. Refinished wood floors
  7. Added new organization items to the cupboards
We just love the result of all of our hard work!

Here are some of our before and after pictures:

It was a long remodel project, but I am happy to say that we made it through the project with lots of our dust and most of our sanity. As for projects we want to accomplish in this house I believe this was the largest of them all. It is so nice now to finally have it finished and we are so happy to be able cook in a nice kitchen!


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