Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Turkey Day!!!

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     I am so very blessed to have such a supportive, fun, enjoyable, healthy family to spend the holidays with. There is no better way to spend a day than to chow down on grandma's homemade cooking and play cards with the people that I love and adore! My family, fiancee and friends are the things that I am most thankful for this year! - Of course Kona, my pup, is part of that "family" category... just FYI. :)

     I apparently did a poor job of getting photos of my family on Thanksgiving because it seems like my camera went MIA at some point and I missed getting photos of my dad and cousins.... but obviously I am very thankful for them as well!! Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving!!

Christmas Tree from Scrapbook Paper

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     Here is a very fun project to do on your own or with some kiddos around Christmas time! I made this tree while watching some football and it took about 30 minutes, maybe less. All you need is:

* A styrofoam cone (I found a green one which makes any gaps less apparent).
* Several sheets of scrapbook paper
* Straight pins
* Ribbon or some type of chipboard star (just some thing to place atop the tree). 


1. Select several sheets of 12 x 12 scrapbook paper in coordinating colors. Cut the paper one inch wide and three inches long. Each 12 x 12 paper will yield 48 pieces.

2. Fold the paper strip so the ends meet but do not crease the paper.

3. Poke a straight pin through the center of the paper (I used a thimble on my thumb so that the pin was easier to push through the thick scrapbook paper). It helps to put the pin at a downward angle through the paper. Beginning at the bottom of the cone, push the pins into the styrofoam cone. Start high enough so that the cone is sitting flat and the paper is not raising the cone off the table. Overlap the second row to cover any gaps and continue working in rounds until the tree is covered to the top of the cone.

4. Make a bow out of ribbon or some type of tree topper and use another push pin or hot glue to secure it to the top of your beautiful paper tree! :) 

Apple Crisp

     This year I was so blessed on Thanksgiving to get to spend a lot of quality time with many of the people that I love and am very grateful for. Adam joined me this year to go "house hopping," as Landon and I call it, which is how Landon and I spend most of our holidays. We tend to jump back and forth between mom and dad's houses to make sure that we don't miss seeing our whole family, anything exciting or any big meals.
     The grand finale of our Thanksgiving day was dessert at dad's house with my lovely cousins, cousin-in-law, aunt and uncle, and our best friends/neighbors. Since everyone makes pumpkin pie on Turkey Day, I decided to try something a little different and opt to make Apple Crisp. Adam helped me to peel and core the apples and get the topping all mixed up and we had the crisp in the oven in about 20 minutes flat. This recipe was very easy and turned out delicious. We added about an extra 1/2 to the recipe since we were feeding more people and we had the perfect amount.


Serves 8
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
  • 3 pounds apples, such as Empire, Gala, or Braeburn, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, salt, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Cut butter into flour, using a pastry blender or two knives, until mixture is the texture of coarse meal. Add oats, and use your hands to toss and squeeze mixture until large, moist clumps form. Transfer to freezer to chill while you prepare apples.
  2. In another large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice, cinnamon, and remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Transfer to a shallow 2-quart baking dish, and sprinkle with topping mixture. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until golden and bubbling, 55 to 65 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Here is the finished product! Very delicious! I would highly recommend serving apple crisp nice and hot and with a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper and Potato Soup

     This week my brother, Landon, came home for Turkey Day from Boise State University and just for him, Seattle decided to turn into a bit of a winter wonderland. While icy roads always make me feel like I have a bit of cabin fever coming on, it was sort of nice to be snowed-in with my family and get to spend time with them while forced to take a break from work, school and random business. Adam came over in his big Jeep and took Landon and I to the Do-It store - if you live in Maple Valley you know that this is the local hardware store- to pick up some craft supplies and some towing gear for Adam's Jeep (so he can pull stuck cars out of the snow). Adam also took us to the grocery store so that we could find something delicious to make, and pick up some movies. 

     After a chilly but very fun day of playing in the snow with my dad, Landon, Adam and, of course, Kona, I thought that roasted red pepper and potato soup with some toasted sour dough bread on the side sounded like just the meal to warm our bones. I hadn't made this before on my own but Carol, my best friend Jenni's mom, used to always make this for us on snow days and I always crave it when the weather turns icy. Not only was this soup delish, but it was not at all hard to make. 

Roasted Red Pepper Potato Soup Recipe


  • 4 large red bell peppers
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and diced (about 1 1/2 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic (fresh garlic adds the best flavor if you have it).
  • 1 quart chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian option)
  • 1/4 cup cream or milk (I used Fat Free milk and about 1/2 cup instead).
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • Cayenne, salt and pepper to taste (I also added Cumin and it made a world of difference).


1 Roast the red bell peppers by placing them over or under an open flame until they blacken on all sides. (You can use a grill, cooktop gas burner, or oven broiler.) Place the blackened peppers in a bag, close the bag and let the peppers steam for 10-15 minutes, or until the skins feel like they can easily be slipped off. Remove the peppers from the bag, peel off the blackened skins, remove the seeds. Chop the peppers roughly. (I actually do not put them in a bag. If you just put the peppers in a baking dish and fill it with about an inch of water and then stick them in an oven with the broiler on high and rotate them as they char on each side, you will be able to easily slip the skin off with a fork once each side is done).
2 Heat the butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes and cook another 1-2 minutes, then add the garlic and roasted peppers. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes.
3 Add the stock, stir well and bring to a simmer. Cook over medium heat until potatoes are soft.
4 Purée the soup in a blender or food processor until very smooth. Fill the blender about halfway with the soup. Start the blender on low and keep your hand on the top, in case the lid wants to pop off from the rising steam. Once everything is well chopped, turn the blender to its highest setting and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. You might need to do this in batches (I couldn't find our food processor but used our blender and it worked wonderfully. Do this in about 2 batches if you do it in a blender because if the blender is all the way full  the soup can not fluff or thicken as it acquires air).
5 Return to a clean pot set over low heat. Add the cream (I just added Fat Free milk... and actually used about 1/2 cup instead of 1/4 cup), stir well and taste. Add some cayenne, salt and pepper to taste.
Serves 4-6.

And Voila!!! YUMMM!

Enjoy! If you would like left overs for the week just double the recipe! :) 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Soul Food ... Minus the Heart Attack!

     Well who doesn't love a good beef stroganoff dinner? Granted, I don't love beef and I don't love sauces with a cream base because, let's face it, they have more than a month's calorie intake in a single serving. So, since Adam and my dad love some red meat once in a while - I think it's a man thing - I set out to attempt a healthier version of beef stroganoff. I didn't have a recipe, do not usually cook red meat, and have never made beef stroganoff before but it turned out surprisingly well (aside from possibly over cooking the meat a bit since I was nervous about not cooking it enough). 

Yum, yum! 

Ingredients (give or take because I winged it... just taste as you go and add ingredients according to your liking): 

1 bag of No Yolk egg noodles (99% fat free and a good source of protein)
2 cans of 98% fat free cream of mushroom Campbell's soup
4 dashes of worcester sauce
2 dashes of soy sauce
1 teaspoon paprika 
1/4 cup fat free milk
1 table spoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion - diced and sauteed 
2 table spoons of skim milk mozzarella cheese to top (if you would like)
pinch of pepper to taste


This tastes much better than it looks haha.

These are the egg white (No Yolk) noodles. They are delish and great in soups and casseroles too.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Paint Project

     Well, here are the beginnings of my shabby chic paint project! :) After a couple glasses of wine with the girls our craft night became a painting in the garage night. What amazing best friends I am blessed to have that will sit on the steps of my freezing cold garage, wrapped in blankets, sipping wine, with an electric heater pointed at them - probably not safe with paint? haha - to give me moral support as I paint; and to take turns painting when my fingers get too tired of holding down the spray can nozzle!!! 

I forgot to take a picture of the "before" but this is close to what the table looked like pre-paint job. Same ugly old wood color.

This is the table mid-paint session... getting there! :)

This is the mostly finished product. I may sand some of the edges to antique it a bit.... but either way, much better than it was to begin with!

* Christmas Crafts *

     This is the product of a lot of wine and a crafty night with the girls. These letter blocks were easy to make and turned out really cute. I want to make some of these letter blocks for Valentines Day and Easter this year too. 

     I went to JoAnn's (as usual) and purchased some of these unfinished wooden plaques and Christmas scrapbook paper. 

     Next I spray painted the plaques with quick drying American Accents (my paint brand of choice) paint in Espresso -

     After the paint dried, I picked five different pages of Christmas scrapbook paper and cut a rectangle - sized to fit the wooden plaques - out of each page. I then hot glued the rectangles of paper to the painted wooden plaques. Once they were all dry and secure, I used large, foam stamp letters to press a letter onto each block.

   Ta-Da! You're done! How easy is that? I would maybe recommend maybe finishing your blocks off with a clear seal coat though if you would like them to last a few years. 

     I think I may make a few of these for mine and Adam's wedding as well.... possibly for the cake table or to use a table numbers :) Enjoy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

One of the Finer Things in Life....

It's amazing how this little cup can just make my morning and put me in such a wonderful mood... even if, as you can tell, I am sitting in traffic.

Java! Java! makes THE BEST coffee! Be sure to try it! The Java stand it pretty much the highlight of Maple Valley.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Do You Know the Muffin Man?!




* 1 cup unsweetened blueberries (fresh or frozen - I use frozen and more than 1 cup)
* 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I use the "unbleached" kind)
* 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/3 cup Splenda granular
* 1/4 cup Egg Beaters egg substitute (equals 1 egg)
* 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
* 1/2 cup nonfat milk (skim)
* 1 tablespoon Splenda granular (to top muffins... if you want. I don't usually do this though).

I go crazy with the blueberries... you do not have to use so many :)


  1. 1Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. 2Lightly spray muffin tin with non-stick spray (I've found that paper muffin holders do not peel away from these muffins easily).
  3. 3Wash and drain blueberries. Set aside. 
  4. 4In large bowl, sift flour. Add baking powder and the 1/3 cup Splenda. Mix together.
  5. 5In another bowl, mix the Egg Beater egg substitute, apple sauce and milk.
  6. 6Combine the wet mixture into the flour mixture. Stir just enough to blend (electric mixers aren't really necessary). Gently fold in the blueberries.
  7. 7Pour batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each cup about 2/3 full. Use the last tablespoon of Splenda to sprinkle on top of each muffin (this adds zero calories and has zero fat) and bake for 17 minutes, or until tops are light brown.
  8. 8After baking, allow muffins to cool before removing them from the tin. Please note: 1 serving = 1 muffin. Enjoy!