Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bon Appetit: Quinoa Chili Over Spaghetti Squash

One of my friends/coworkers brought to lunch one day a wonderful dish one day.  Everyone in the office had a little bite and we all LOVED it.  She was sweet enough to share the recipe and on Tuesday night, after Stephen had had one of those kind-of days, I made it for the first time.  Let me tell you, it was DELICIOUS and easy...a little time consuming (involves a lot of chopping up veggies), but totally worth it!

Cast of Characters:
*1 tbsp olive oil
*small white/yellow onion, diced
*2-3 stalks of celery, chopped (Stephen loves celery - I used 5)
*2 cloves garlic
*green pepper, diced
*red pepper, diced
*hot cherry peppers, chopped with juice (we don't do "hot" - I omitted these)
*can of red kidney beans
*can of chicken or vegetable broth
*can of tomato sauce
*can of diced tomatoes with juice
*1 cup of quinoa (red or white)
*1 medium spaghetti squash
 *Mexican shredded cheese (Mozzarella was all I had, so that's what I used)
Chili Powder

What next?

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Pierce the spaghetti squash with a metal skewer or knife; you want to get all the way through the skin to the center of the squash so that it does not explode.  Cook the squash for at least 60 minutes turning every 15 to 30 minutes.


2. Heat olive oil in a deep pot and add onion, celery and garlic and cook on low heat until transparent without burning.  

3. Add the peppers (*I had hot cherry peppers in the fridge, but you can use any hot pepper to add spice, or omit them if you don't like your chili spicy), and cook for a few minutes.  

4. Add broth, sauce, diced tomatoes, spices, salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil, then add quinoa.  Cook for about 30 minutes or until the outer layer of the seeds have separated from the body of the seeds.  

5. Remove squash from oven and let cool (at least 10 minutes).  Cut it in half and scrape out the "noodles" with a fork. 

6. Distribute evenly and top with the chili.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Garnish with avocado, green onion or cilantro (optional).  Enjoy with cornbread!
(With the entire chili having been made of vegetables, I'm guessing that there's no more than 4 WW points for a bowl of this Quinoa Chili)

Let me know what you think!

I can't even handle it!

Meet my pretend dog, Nutmeg (or 'Meggy/'Meg for short):
She's dang cute isn't she???  Too bad she's not really mine (or really a she either - her tag says, "Angus").  

I've loved dogs since the day I took my first breath (I know, I'm being really dramatic here).  I grew up with all different kinds of dogs.  Thankfully, so did Stephen.  We both have a strong love for them and we can't wait for the day (someday soon!) when we get to satisfy that desire by going and getting a love child (also known as a puppy) of our very own.  We have both always been on the same page by wanting to go to the Humane Society and rescue a lab-mutt of some sorts.  While I still want to do that, I really want to get 'Meg first.  It all started in February when our neighbor was outside walking their pet Vizsla named Kiwi.  It was instant love at first sight!  This dog was beautiful, so well behaved and SO sweet!  My heart melted into a tiny puddle around my feet and then instantly froze as it was right after the Blizzard.  

Some positives about Vizslas:
1. They don't get very big (45-65 lbs full grown)
2. They're known to not shed a lot
3. They respond well to training
4. They a incredibly friendly dogs (different opinions on the internet tell me that, not just my encounter with Kiwi).
5. They thrive on human companionship
6. They do well with lots of exercise (Stephen loves to run.....)

The only negative I can figure out:
1. They cost more than a pet at the Humane Society

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Be still my heart...maybe one day!  What about you?  Do you have puppy love for a certain breed/type of dog?  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Travel Adventures

On Friday, Stephen and I woke up at the butt-crack of dawn and headed to Salt Lake City, Utah.  We have wanted to go out there for sometime now to visit some of Stephen's friends that he used to work with, as well as to get a little out west skiing in.  Let me tell you, we had a wonderful time!  We were having so much fun that I completely forgot to take ANY pictures...none, nada, zip, zilch, zero.  How does that happen?  As a result, I'll show you pictures that I snagged off the internet to help share with you all the fun that we had.

We arrived in Salt Lake after flying all the way to LAX (it was $180 cheaper per ticket) and being somewhat sad to leave sunny Los Angeles only to be greeted by snowy Salt Lake.  Oh well, we knew what we were getting ourselves into!  It was noon by the time we got there and so Stephen and I headed to a yummy burger and fries lunch at Squatters located in downtown Salt Lake.  Squatters is a pub (I believe the first brewery) in Salt Lake City and their food is yummmmmmmeeee!  Stephen and I were exhausted from a full morning of traveling and so we took a nap while we waited for our friends Ben and Richelle to get home from work.  There's something you must know about them - they are dog lovers just as we are - in fact, they have a Boxer named Rosie and a Frenchie named Betty.  Stephen and I absolutely LOVED playing with these two gals all weekend long!  So Ben got off work and the three of us (five if you include Rosie and Betty) headed to Creek City to go for a little hike.

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Right before you enter Creek City, you walk through Memorial Park, which is a beautiful area full of war monuments.  As you continue on there are creeks and trails where dogs are allowed off leashes...Betty and Rosie were having a blast!

After our hike, we headed back home to drop off the girls and to pick up Richelle.  Off to dinner at Iggy's downtown where I enjoyed a scrumptious Mango Lemonade and Wildcat VICTORY over the Buckeyes!  (Side note: I bleed blue.  My mom bleeds blue, my sisters bleed blue, my dad sometimes bleeds blue, I was born with blue blood running through my veins {yeah, yeah, yeah, everyone technically has that} and now Stephen bleeds blue.  UK is my alma mater and I will forever cheer on my Kentucky Wildcats!)  That in itself made Friday night AmAzInG!

On Saturday morning we woke up and headed to Brighton, Utah where we went skiing (I think we really went snowboarding because I was the only one who skied) for the day.  It was WONDERFUL!  I love to ski and have never had the opportunity to ski it up out west.  It was truly amazing and I can't wait to do it again!
After skiing for the day, we had a snack (we spent a lot of time outdoors and eating on this trip) and then headed back home to pick up the girls.  Once we were all five together again, off to Millcreek Canyon we went.  The coolest thing about being in Salt Lake (or any mountain town I assume) is that if it's raining in the valley, it's snowing in the mountains.  Once we got to Millcreek it was a winter wonderland - something out of a movie - so beautiful!

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We ended the night at P.F. Changs as we all have a love for that restaurant :).  On Sunday, we headed to church and then off to brunch at Dodos.  We then watched the Cats pull another victory over UNC (WOO-HOO!) and then spent the afternoon walking around downtown Salt Lake and enjoying a little shopping at The Gateway.  We headed back to Creek City and then off to dinner at the Red Iguana for some amazing Mexican cuisine...seriously, SO good!

Ben and Richelle had to work on Monday so we said our goodbyes on Monday morning and Stephen and I enjoyed one of his favorite restaurants for breakfast, Ruth's Diner, the 2nd oldest restaurant in Utah.  Ruth's is known for their "Mile High Biscuits" that everyone receives when they sit down.  They are amazingly good - they need no butter or jam, they're just so good by themselves!
Before we knew it, it was time to head to the airport for our ridiculously long travel home (we went to Oakland first and then back to Chicago).  We were so sad that our fun trip was over!  A trip to Salt Lake City is a great way to be reminded of how amazing our God is and how beautiful His creation is!  We can't wait to head back there again in the future!  Have you ever been to Salt Lake?  Any recommendations for us when we head out there again?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

When your sister is preggers, a baby shower is in order...

My oldest sister holds the honor of bringing my mother her first grandchild...oh, if only you could see the excitement that IS my mom these days :).  My older sister and I have the honor of throwing Melissa her family and family friends baby shower.  I couldn't be happier!  I love throwing a good party!  I figured I'd share with you the invitations that I made after seeing them in cyber world and instantly thinking, "Those scream Melissa!"
(I took off some intrusive information from the invite so the holes that you see are where that information once lived)
So here's the skinny: they're not finding out the sex of the baby so a unisex theme was in order (hence no blue or pink).  I came across this invitation on a website and I was lucky enough to be able to save the picture to my computer (normally, that doesn't happen for this very reason).  I then went into Picasa, cropped the "Here Comes Trouble" part and used it for my invite.  After I had finished the design, I took the invites to Kinkos and had them printed off.  Lastly, I ordered red envelopes from Amazon to match.  All in all, I love the outcome and the price tag was MUCH friendlier to me than it could have been!

I think I annoyed my sister by repeatedly asking her if I could include this in with her invitation.  I'm a teacher who is getting her certification to be a reading specialist...I love children's books (and really so does my sister)!  I also included this because it's something that I hope happens when I have a little bun in my own oven ;).

I'll keep you posted on all the details as they come unraveled.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Magnificent Mondays: Magnificent Blogs 53

If you haven't found yourself hanging out with Kristine at The Painted Hive, you must get your bloggin' booty to that site!  She has great ideas and inspirations for you to spice up your digs and make it feel more like a decorator's haven.

How cool is this tea cart that she refabbed?  So pretty!

I'm LOVING this amazing this cabinet makeover!  Check out the detail on the knobs!

I've seen these chairs on craiglist so many times, but after seeing these great chair makeovers, I want one sooooo badly!

Do you want to learn how to detail your own knobs?  Check out this tutorial.

And lastly, Kristine shares my love for maps!  Check out this amazing tutorial that you're sure to find in my house someday soon!

Go check out the amazingness that IS The Painted Hive and let me know what you think about it!
Happy Blogging!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Fun-Filled Weekend!

Stephen and I had a wonderful weekend full of pups, food and friends!  Our good friends, Mike and Amanda were headed out of town on Thursday morning and they needed someone to take care of their pups.  Stephen and I were giddy little kids at the thought of being able to have dogs for a few nights/days, so when they asked us, of course we said "YES!!!"!
Here are the cuties we got to love on: Mr. Bennett the Miniature Schnauzer and Princeton the German Shorthaired Pointer.

As a new pseudo-mom and pseudo-dad of cute little pooches, we began our weekend with a huge smile on our face!  On Friday night, Stephen and I enjoyed a yummy dinner at a fun little Italian restaurant down on Wabash with Stephen's teammate/coworker and her husband.  It was fun to sit and catch up with them as we don't get together as often as we'd like.  We then hurried home to take care of the boys and to get things in order for our big day on Saturday....

Stephen and I are both in our own single-sexed small groups on Sunday nights.  He has eleven guys in his group (including himself).  Every Sunday night, I head over to my small group of six at my friend, Laura's apartment while Stephen is meeting with his at our apartment.  I really love that we have this time to fellowship, have accountability and spend time growing in our relationship with Christ with our friends.  This small group has really enabled me to develop deeper friendships with other ladies who are trying to live their lives for the Lord.  Stephen and I decided a couple of weeks ago that we were going to have a pancake breakfast one Saturday morning and unite both of our small groups and their significant others.  This past Saturday was the day for that!  We had seventeen good friends over and we whooped it up with some good pancakes and waffles (a special shout-out goes to my friend, Amanda for coming over and helping me make the waffles)!  It was SO much fun!  The morning got started as people began to arrive at 10:30ish. We ate breakfast and played games.  Our morning turned into a whole day event as some people stuck around to play Taboo and then Settlers of Catan.  We ended the day-o-fun by enjoying a yummy Chipotle treat over some good conversations.  What a wonderful way to spend our Saturday!  We had an amazing time hanging out, laughing, eating and spending time in fellowship with our friends!

Here is the recipe for the Belgian Waffles that were made for this memorable day.  These waffles are absolutely scrumptious (I even enjoy eating them without any syrup) and could definitely be made as a dessert treat!

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and baking powder.
2. In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
3. In yet another bowl, lightly beat egg yolks and then add milk, butter, and vanilla, mixing well. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold egg whites into batter.
4. Bake in a pre-heated waffle iron according to manufacturer's instructions, until golden brown (I have found that with my round Cuisinart waffle press, if I put in a little bit less than 2/3rds a cup of batter, it's the perfect amount and won't end up all over my counter).
This recipe came from Tammy's Recipes and you can find them here.
These waffles are goooooooooood!

What about you?  What'd you do this weekend?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Team Libby

Hello to all my fantastic blogging friends!  I hope you're having a wonderful Monday!  I apologize for my lack of Magnificent Monday posts (for those of you who are avid fans - I know that's all of you) ;), I haven't been on my A-game and this week I have something better for you!

If you've been around awhile, you might remember a post that I shared at the end of July regarding my friend, Libby.  If you don't remember it, or you weren't around then, I highly encourage you to go check out her blog and see how she is inspirationally living her life for Christ - through the good and the bad.  And when I mean bad, I mean like cancer bad.  Libby was diagnosed with cancer (lymphoma to be exact) in July of last year.  She started her blog (Don't Waste Your Cancer) and journaled her thoughts, fears, hopes, prayers, dreams, feelings, etc. throughout the whole thing.  Miraculously, God healed Libby of her cancer a few short weeks ago - but she will forever be changed!

With cancer, came incredibly high medical bills that Libby and her husband, Justin were left to pay off.  My sweet, sweet friend, Angie, conjured up a wonderful idea to help raise money for them to take care of their looming medical expenses.  Angie came up with "Team Libby" - a group of people committed to running and raising support to go directly to knocking down the medical debt.

To find out more about Team Libby, watch this video:

What does this have to do with you?  Well, dear friends, if you are moved by this at all, would like to help out our dear friends in a time of need, there are 2 different options for you.  The first and most important way you can help out is to pray.  Lift Justin and Libby (and their sweet daughter, Ava) up to the Lord and ask for His hand to guide and protect them during this financially hard time.  The second way you can help out is to support Libby and Justin financially either through direct support or through buying a t-shirt.  Some of my friends are selling Team Libby t-shirts to help raise money.  These shirts will be worn by the runners, and hopefully you too.  Each shirt will have light orange and aqua blue writing.  They are being sold in the colors Silver and Safety Green.

and here is a picture of the "Safety Green" color:

The deadline to order shirts is March 21 so you'll have to do it before you lose out on sporting this awesome shirt! (I'll be sporting it in the silver) :)


Happy Monday!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Reusable Grocery Bag

Sew4Home is a website that I check every day.  Literally, I check it every day.  It takes me all of 2 minutes to click to the site and see if there is anything that strikes my fancy.  I get sad on the weekends when I go to it and realize that it's the weekend and they've posted nothing.  But then I get happy because it's the weekend and...okay, enough already!  A month ago I checked it and was immediately interested in creating the tutorial that they had featured.  It was a reusable grocery bag.  I also knew who was going to be the lucky (I'm assuming she likes it) recipient of my try at this tutorial - my friend Amy (her birthday was last week).  I went to Joann's when they had their big Presidents Day sale and picked out some fabric that I felt said, "AMY" and then I went to town!


top (I added some "groceries" from my pantry)

And then I decided to take it one step further...I executed the good ol' wax paper method and cut out Amy's initials to add to the side of the bag.  Amy's a southern woman and kindred spirit who appreciates anything with her monogram on it!
What do you think?  Let me tell you, I made a mistake here and there, but it's my first try.  This seriously was not a difficult tutorial to follow and I suggest that everyone get out there and make them self (or someone they know) a reusable grocery bag!

I've linked this project to these parties:

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Life of a Chair

Once Upon a Time...

There was a piece of furniture named Charles the Chair, his friends called him Charlie.  One day, Charlie was sweating outside in the heat of a hot Chicago August hanging out with some family and friends when 2 crazy women in a Hyundai drove up and starting shoving him (his brother and cousin) into every nook and cranny of the Sonata.

Charlie the Chair lived a good, air conditioned new life.  He spent countless hours of the night wondering whatever happened to his brother and cousin, but when the sun rose and he was able to bask in it, he quickly forgot his old life.  After six long months of living in his new home, his crazy new owner got the burst of energy needed to start tackling a chair renovation...that's when things turned ugly.

After being pushed around, bruised, beaten and stripped of all the thousands of staples that he had in him, Charlie found himself feeling alone and cold.  It's a good thing he lives indoors during this blustery Chicago winter!

As soon as he didn't think it could get any worse, his owner got out some Citristrip and immediately began to slop it on his appendages.  At first it tickled and he didn't mind it...but then, after an hour of sitting on his body, he started to feel sick of the smell and he didn't like the burning sensation he now felt.

After an hour of a Citristrip bath, he watched (in horror) as his owner came at him with a metal paint scrapper.  As if he hadn't been poked and prodded enough!  He began to feel violated.

Naked, and left for dead Charlie the Chair waited to be rescued.

Out of the darkness, an Angel of Wood Stain suddenly appeared before him and offered Charlie the Chair new hope, and a new life.  It was finally beginning to feel as if things were taking a turn for the better.

Will Charlie the Chair survive this mistreatment?
Will the Angel of Wood Stain really fulfill its promise of new life?
Or will Charlie simply become tomorrow's firewood?  
Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bon Appetit: Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding lovers, UNITE!  Let start this post off by saying a couple of things.  1) I am by no means thinking that discovered this recipe and you've never heard of it (I'm sure many of you have) 2) I've been making this recipe for years and it gets me every time (if I were left alone in a room with this, I would for sure eat the whole 13x9 pan up) and 3) I have a food crush on Paula Deen.  Okay, moving on.  If you've never made this recipe and you like Banana Pudding, you MUST (I repeat: MUST) make this recipe today!
Here's what you need:

  • 2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
  • 6 to 8 bananas, sliced
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 (5-ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream
***I'll be the first to tell you that Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies are more expensive than Vanilla Wafers.  I'll also be the first to tell you that these cookies really make this recipe amazing.  Don't get stingy on Paula - just buy the cookies!

Here's what you do:

Line the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.
(I was making this for mine and Stephen's small group so I improvised and used 2 9" pie pans instead of 1 13x9 and it worked wonderfully!)

In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Don't mind that butter sitting there - that was for something else :)

Here's a side view of the goodness that is Paula Deen's Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding
And here's a photo from the Food Network's Site:

Let me tell you, this stuff is goooooooood!  
This recipe was hijacked from here :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Following YHL...a Little Design Quiz

If you follow Young House Love, then you probably already saw that they shared this wonderful way to be visually inspired and also "quiz" yourself on what kind of style you are.  You can take the Stylish Home Style Maker quiz yourself and see what kind of design personality you are.  I found it to be a great use of my night class time ;).  Below are my results:

Happy Birthday Dad C!

Last year, Stephen's dad turned the big 6-0 and we headed down to the good 'ol KY to be a part of a wonderful surprise celebration in honor of him.  It was a good time!  This year, we played things a little low key and we had a simple family meal at Stephen's parents house.  I've known what I wanted to give Dad C. for his birthday since Christmas time.  It all started when I was flipping through my Pottery Barn catalog and I stumbled upon this:

Remember how Stephen loves the Steelers? (I know, shut-up already) Well, he was born into a family proclaiming Steeler Nation.  I knew that Stephen's dad - a lover of the Steelers and of good ales, would love a gift like this!  So I promptly got online and found some beer glasses and a beer pitcher from Amazon, as well as a glass bowl from Target to finish things off.  

I quickly got to work warming up my Silhouette and searching online for the perfect Steeler logo.  After finding the perfect logo, I followed this tutorial to use the .jpeg and turn it into a vinyl cut-out of the logo.    I adhered the logos to the bowl, 4 glasses and the pitcher and layered on tons of etching cream.  I waited in anticipation, hoping for a Pottery Barn-esque masterpiece and here's what I got:

Ta-da!  Needless to say, Stephen wanted them :)
Any new projects your working on?  Do share, I love me some inspiration!

I've linked up to these parties: