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Archive for March, 2013

Please join me and many other menu-planners over at I’m An Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.  You will always find great ideas for new dishes in the lists provided. 

We are finally seeing some warmer weather and a little sunshine around here, thankfully.  I spent several hours Saturday cleaning an area in our garage and ended up with 8 garbage bags of stuff to dispose of.  Whew!  I am a little ashamed to admit that some of the boxes had been there since we moved seven years ago (YIKES!), but that was the last area that I really needed to clean out.  Now I can go back and re-organize the other areas and have a pretty nice garage finally. 

This week’s menu is a little short since we have a couple of nights out planned.  I’ll will have lots of photos about our adventure very soon.  I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Bubble up pizza

Cheesy steak sandwiches with oven fries (2 nights)

Pizza night

Sloppy Joes with curly fries

Cookie dough fudge (time permitting-new)

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February was soup month for me, specifically hamburger soups.  I have been eyeing this recipe for a while and finally had a chance to try it out.  I found it on Pinterest (of course) and it was pinned from Easy Natural Food.  The name of the site says it all…this recipe was simple and natural and yummy.  I didn’t have any hot sauce to perk up my mild salsa so next time, I will get a spicier salsa.  I also added just a little salt and black pepper for a flavor boost as well.

MexicanHamburgerSoup

2 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup diced onion

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 lb. ground beef

2-3 ribs celery, chopped

1 medium/large carrot, sliced

1 cup corn (I used canned.)

16 oz. jar salsa

3 cups beef or vegetable stock

2 tbsp. tomato paste

Salt & pepper to taste

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Over medium heat in a large pot, heat the oil and then add the onion and garlic.  Cook until the onion is soft, but not browned. Add the ground beef and cook until it is no longer pink.  Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

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MexicanHamburgerSoup

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In slowly finishing the upstairs, we have painted the walls and hung hardware in the bathroom.  I have even refinished an antique metal bed to use in one of the bedrooms.  The next thing on the list was a couple pieces of furniture to be used in that same room.  I really wanted something that at least looked antique to match the bed, but did not want to pay antique prices.  Enter more family furniture like the bed. 

In my great-grandparents’ old house were some pieces that no one had room or use for so my Nanny offered them to me.  I jumped at the chance, not only because they have family history, but also because they are two beautifully detailed pieces of furniture that were begging for a make-over.  I made sure that it was okay with Nanny to completely re-do them before I started and she was excited that I was so excited about them.  Here they are in their pre-redo glory:

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I just love that scalloped edge on the dresser and both pieces are in excellent shape.  I do need to put new drawer runners on them, but they are okay for now.  Refinishing furniture was a new endeavor for me so online I went to search for a few ideas.  Here are some links that I highly recommend for product ideas and how-tos:

Before Meets After, Censational Girl, and Just A Girl. I am sure there are many more than that, but these three really helped me a lot.  One thing that was consistent with all of theses were their use of Zinsser primer.  I know why now…it is tintable so it is easy to use with dark paint and it hides a multitude of sins.  Along with this primer, most also use Elmer’s Wood Filler to hide pesky holes and dents in the wood.  Sherwin Williams is my paint of choice so that is what I used here.  It is oil based enamel in black satin.

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First I cleaned the pieces with warm soapy water and dried them thoroughly.  Next I light sanded to remove any chipping paint and smooth out the worst dings.  I didn’t sand these completely smooth because I wanted some of that old distressed look.

I filled in the worse of the dents with the wood filler and also filled in the knob holes in the dresser drawers because I wanted to use different pulls.  Let the filler set up and sand until smooth.  Cover all of the surfaces completely with primer.  I used 2 coats for a nice base for the paint.

Paint the pieces any color you want.  In my case, I wanted black to go in the purple bedroom with the silver bed frame.  I think I put 3 coats of paint on the pieces to get the desired look I wanted.  On the dresser, I then measured each drawer front to find the center and drilled new holes for the pretty glass knobs I found at Hobby Lobby and attached them.

For the chiffarobe, I wanted to add a little extra pizzazz so I stenciled a floral design on the door in silver and highlighted the pretty trim in silver as well.  I was thrilled with how they turned out and can’t wait to start my next project!

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Speaking of my next projects, here is a sneak peek:
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Welcome to the start of another week and another menu plan!  We got to turn the calendar another page to March this week even though our weather here sure didn’t seem too spring-like.  I really hope the old saying of “in like a lion, out like a lamb” applies this year because I think we have had more snow in the last week than we have had all winter.  I am ready for some sunshine and warmer temps!

This past Tuesday, I experienced another first for me.  Two of my co-workers and I have joined a local homemakers club and Tuesday night was our first meeting/demonstration.  The subject was all things vanilla and our president actually made homemade vanilla extract for us and then she and a few others used this in recipes for us to try.  Here is a couple of photos from that night:

homemade vanilla extract

vanilla hot chocolate

Next month is all about healthy/alternative diets and I am presenting a short demo about lactose free ice creams.  Wish me luck!  I am usually not comfortable in front of crowds but I hope to pull it off without too much drama.  LOL!

I have a few new recipes this week along with some old faithfuls.  The peanut butter pudding cake didn’t get made last week because I needed to work on a recipe for the upcoming edition of the Lady Behind The Curtain’s Dessert Challenge so the PB cake is back on the list this week.  Have a great and blessed week!

Beef stew with noodles (new)

Grilled pork chops with oven fries (didn’t get made last week)

Chili with grilled cheese

Easy pasta soup (new)

Easy apple cinnamon pancakes with bacon

Pizza night

A-1 Swiss steak

Peanut butter pudding cake (new)

Please join me at I’m An Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

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If you are a chocoholic like I am, I have the perfect cookie for you!  I found this delectable little treat over at Tracy’s Culinary Adventures and it is a winner.  With this much chocolate and butter, you just can’t go wrong.  One little word of warning…this recipe makes a LOT of cookies so you may want to find some people to share these with.  Trust me.

choctrufflecookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
20 oz. (567 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups mini chocolate chips

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare two cookie sheets.  Sift the first 4 ingredients together and set aside.  Melt the semi-sweet chips in the microwave at 50% percent power for 45 second increments until the chips are soft enough to melt when stirred.

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Look at that beautiful chocolate goodness.  Mmmm.

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Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until well combined, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate before adding the next. Increase the mixer to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla and beat just until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and the mini chocolate chips. 

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Using a small cookie scoop, portion out the dough on the cookie sheets.  I put about 14 cookies on each sheet.  Cook one at a time for 12-14 minutes. I let the first sheet cool for a few minutes while the second sheet cooks.  Then just reload and put the sheet back in the oven.

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Hello to everyone reading this!  It’s Friday so it is time for another edition of Book Beginnings hosted by Rose City Reader so grab a book, write down the first line or two and give us your opinion.  My book for today is the latest by one of my absolute favorite authors, Joshilyn Jackson, who just happens to be a fellow Southerner.  If you haven’t read any of her books, please please try them.  They all have this air of mystery and intrigue along with family drama that just makes the pages turn themselves.  They are great!

Joshilyn Jackson "A Grown-up Kind of Pretty"

"My daughter, Liza, put her heart in a silver box and buried it under the willow tree in our backyard."

Isn’t that interesting?  We all know that she can’t literally bury her heart in a box, so what does that little box contain?  You will just have to read this book to find out.

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