Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful

I love the holiday season... it makes me happy - Oh so happy! I am reminded that I am ever so thankful for so many things...
For my Heavenly Father. Without Him I would have no hope. For dying on the cross for someone like me who most certainly didn't deserve it!


For my husband... over 8 years ago I had to travel to Ireland to find you, and I'm so glad I did. I love you more today than I did yesterday, and will love you more tomorrow than I did today. I married my best friend and he is my biggest fan!


For my mom and dad... they made me who I am, and I love them more than I can say. They are my role models, my parents, my friends :-)


For my "other" mom and dad and brother--Richie's parents and brother--I'm so thankful for you I can barely stand it!


For my grandparents for being who they are and making my life better! For sending me to Crestridge - a place that formed my life and friendships!
For my dog and cat - because they make me smile more than they aggravate the snot out of me!

For family... brother and sister, their spouses and precious children... like these 2... And the other 3 who are taller than me :-)

For friends like these (and the ones who aren't pictured too!)- who even if I don't see that often, I know we can pick up right where we left off - because that's what real friends do. Just like family, these people have formed my life and make me better!
Kristi is my quiet strength... she keeps me sane and knows everything about me... and still loves me!!!
Laura... we were law school wives together... long lost friends and Jayhawk fans!!
Heather is so dear to my heart. Her family is so special to us and I love her like a sister :-)
Erica, Courtney, Dominic... Some of my longest friends... I love you!
Steph and Cayce - the friends who have known me the longest... elementary school is where it started and it's been tons of fun ever since!

For our neighborhood--the Bunco group and the Bible Study and the friendships we have made.


I hope during this season you are able to remember what you are thankful for, and I hope you remember to tell everyone you love that you love them!
HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Budgeting and Coupons...

My husband and I are serious budgeters! This may shock a few of you who have known me all my life, because I am a spender! Not a budgeter. But we've decided to live like no one else now so we can live like no one else later :-) We started the Dave Ramsey "envelope" plan over a year ago in order to help get our spending under control and also to pay off our debt. It's been trying, and sometimes we don't do so well, but we have no credit card debt, and we've paid off a HUGE chunk of change of Student Loans. It feels good to get this under control.

Lately, I've become obsessed with couponing... It's hard sometimes when you're trying to eat healthy because most of the coupons come for things that aren't so healthy. What I didn't realize though is that
a) there are coupons for healthy items
b) there are coupons for other things that are useful and fun like free songs on Amazon.com as well as free Christmas picture cards.
c) every little bit helps!!!!

So, here are a few of the sites that I have come to check out often (or I subscribe to). Maybe they will help you too! Recently, with the help of one of these sites, I was able to get our Christmas Picture Cards for $3.19 in shipping only... yes, I got 50 cards for $3.19... and they look great!!!



Coupons.com

Faithful Provisions
Target and other coupons
The Holt House (This is a friend of mine, and she's a master budgeter)
The Good Deal Gal (Another place I find good deals)

Green Bean Side Dish

This was our dinner tonight... the yummy Chili that I just posted about and then this next recipe... YUM!

I like green beans, and I like shallots... I also like mushrooms, so this seemed like it might be right up my ally!


I like Ellie Krieger a lot. I have her cookbook, and my Curried Butternut Squash Soup recipe that I love comes from her.

We decided to make this as a side dish for dinner this week...


Green Beans with Mushrooms and Shallots


Ingredients
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces (We used frozen because the fresh ones didn't look so fresh!)
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup sliced shallots (about 2 medium)
3/4 pound assorted fresh mushrooms, (ie: button, baby bella, shiitake, oyster, chanterelle), sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Put green beans in a microwave-safe bowl with the water. Cover tightly and microwave on high for 4 minutes. Carefully remove the cover, drain in a colander, shaking off any excess water, and set aside.

While the beans are cooking, heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until softened slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the water they release has evaporated and they begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the green beans and stir to combine and rewarm. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


Per Serving: Calories 80; Total Fat 5g (Sat Fat 0.5g, Mono Fat 3.5g, Poly Fat 1g); Protein 4g; Carb 11.5g; Fiber 3g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 7mg
Saute the shallots in olive oil
Add the mushrooms and cook 10 mins until brown
Add the green beans that were heated in the microwave (that process wasn't an exciting picture)
And this is what you get...

Chili


It's a tad bit warm out today... 75... but we are making chili. It's going to be dinner for the week (At least 4 meals)... It's smelling really good already, and I've decided to get a head start on the post about it so that I won't get behind. I'll report back on the taste as well.


We modified the original recipe slightly... I'll post the original recipe at the bottom in case you'd rather use that. We also doubled most things to make extra.


Ranch Chili with Cheese (Inspired by the book Protein Power)
Ingredients
3 TBL Canola Oil
2 lbs ground sirloin - 93/7
2 cups chopped onion
4 garlic cloves
4 TBL chili powder
1 tsp crushed dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup tomato puree
1 cup strong leftover black coffee (we had to make extra... coffee NEVER goes to waste in this house)
Cheese for topping
Heat the oil in a large skillet... I used my Le Creuset pan so it didn't have to get too hot - only medium. Add the beef and brown it. Then add the onion, garlic, and all the spices. Stir and cook until mixed through and onions start to get translucent or limp. Add the tomato puree and coffee. Cover and simmer the chili for an hour... checking often to make sure it doesn't go dry. If it does, add some water. At the Serve in bowls and sprinkle with cheese.

Brown the Beef


Combine the spice mixture together

Add the spices, onions, and garlic

Add the coffee



Add the tomato pureeBring all that together


Cover and wait....


This is what you get :-)




The original recipe
Ranch Chili with Cheese from Protein Power by Michael and Mary Dan Eades
Ingredients:
3 tablespoons Peanut oil
1 lb ground chuck
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbl chili powder
1/2 tsp crushed dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup tomato puree
1/2 cup strong black coffee or canned beef broth
1 Tbl masa harina/cornmeal, optional
3 Tbl grated cheddar cheese
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the beef and brown it, then add the onion, garlic, and seasonings. Stir and cook until well mixed and the onions are limp. Transfer to a covered saucepan and add the tomato puree and coffee. Cover and simmer the chili for an hour, adding a little water if it becomes dry. The chili should be thick and soupy. Add the masa and simmer for 10 more minutes. Serve in bowls, sprinkled with cheddar.

Options: You can add chopped bell peppers -- one medium pepper when you add the onions.

Chicken Parmigiana ala PW Style!



Recently I've become slightly obsessed with the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. I love her confessions, her photography, her homeschooling site(I'm determined to win a Smarty Pants quiz one day!)... and I thoroughly enjoy her cooking site. I hadn't made anything from her site. Partly because of the aforementioned ankle issue, and partly because I didn't want to mess it up.

But, she has a cookbook out now and is on her book tour. She comes to Nashville in December, and I couldn't, in my right mind, be the proper stalker--I mean fan--if I hadn't cooked something.

So, to make us feel better--we've been stuck with a slight cold this week at the Gaddis house--and just to give us an excuse to cook something super yummy, I made her Chicken Parmigiana.

It was yummy... My pictures aren't quite as good as hers, but I gave it the old A for effort try :-)

Chicken Parmigiana

Ingredients --- this is the full recipe, I used about half because I was making it for only 2...
4 whole (up To 6) Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Trimmed And Pounded Flat (we used 2, and they were entirely too huge so we shared with a friend!)
½ cups All-purpose Flour
Salt And Pepper (to Taste)
½ cups Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 whole Medium Onion, Chopped
4 cloves Garlic, Minced
¾ cups Wine (white Or Red Is Fine)
3 cans (14.5 Oz.) Crushed Tomatoes (I used diced... it was what I had)
2 Tablespoons Sugar
¼ cubes Chopped Fresh Parsley
1 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 pound Thin Linguine
Preparation Instructions

Mix flour, salt, and pepper together on a large plate.Dredge flattened chicken breasts in flour mixture. Set aside.

At this time, you can start a pot of water for your pasta. Cook linguine until al dente.
Heat olive oil and butter together in a large skillet over medium heat. When butter is melted and oil/butter mixture is hot, fry chicken breasts until nice and golden brown on each side, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.Remove chicken breasts from the skillet and keep warm.
Without cleaning skillet, add onions and garlic and gently stir for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape the bottom of the pan, getting all the flavorful bits off the bottom. Allow wine to cook down until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.Pour in crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Add sugar and more salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cook for 30 minutes. Toward the end of cooking time, add chopped parsley and give sauce a final stir.
Carefully lay chicken breasts on top of the sauce and completely cover them in grated Parmesan. Place lid on skillet and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer until cheese is melted and chicken is thoroughly heated. Add more cheese to taste.
Place cooked noodles on a plate and cover with sauce. Place chicken breast on top and sprinkle with more parsley. Serve immediately.







We used this wine... Pioneer Woman said red or white, we like reds... and we visited this winery in Paso Robles a few weekends ago so we bought it... and, yes, I'll have a glass or two with dinner thank you very much :-)






We were so hungry by the time it was finished that I forgot to take a picture on the plate... forgive me!!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Winner Winner --- I'm a Winner

I don't win much... my mom thinks I'm the luckiest person in the world, but I promise, I don't win things often!!!!

Yesterday I tried to enter some contest about Denver Trivia on Pioneer Woman's site, and was so late to the line that it wasn't even funny...

So, imagine my surprise when I get an email from Jenny A--The Reckless Chef--that I had won something from a contest she ran.

The Reckless Chef is a great site, and has some wonderful recipes, pictures, and stories. I'm so excited to have won her contest. Feel free to read about it here and read my entry... and then remember, I'm a mess! :-)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Christmas Gift?

Someone should definitely get this for me for Christmas, don't you think... I think it's absolutely precious... and I would look so good cooking in it :-) And if you are going to get it for me and I can be picky, can I have it in the color Symphony in Hue? Thanks Santa! I ♥ Vera Bradley!!!!

Vera Bradley Apron Gift-Set

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Neighbors

We are truly blessed to live in a neighborhood where people talk with each other, get to know each other, and really care about each other. I'm involved in a Bunco group, a Bible study, and always see people walking by the house and they stop to chat. I'm in love with our neighborhood and the friends it has afforded us!!! (I even got a "Amish Friendship Bread" deal this weekend from Kaleigh who lives a few doors down... More to follow on that later)

Unfortunately, no neighborhood is too far from the possibility of grief, and our neighborhood found out that we had had our share last week.

A family that just moved into the neighborhood less than a month before was vacationing, while the beautiful momma came down with swine flu. She died last week from complications of the disease. She leaves behind a husband and a 9 month old little boy. We are still trying to piece together what we can do for this family -- we are going to do meals as a neighborhood, and possibly even a formula or diaper party if they need assistance that way. Because, that's what neighbors do. They come together as support when needed.

I never met this lovely momma, but you can tell from her pictures that she must have had a beautiful heart!

Here is their blog:
http://thelovelessfamily.weebly.com/

And here is the article from the Tennessean:
http://www.tennessean.com/article/20091030/NEWS07/910300375/Young+mom+s+death+exposes+H1N1+dangers

If you haven't (And I haven't yet unfortunately), please get a shot for H1N1 virus. And don't forget to hug your family and tell them you love them... you just never know!

Quick and Easy Dinner

Mom and Dad Cowart came over for the weekend to see my brother and sister-in-law and my niece and nephew for Halloween. They stayed with us, and after a crazy Sunday which included a speaking engagement at the local Kappa Chapter, we didn't quite know what we were going to do for dinner... So, being the crazy person I am, and wanting to be a good hostess...

I went to Publix... :-) I grabbed a rotisserie Chicken for $7.39 plus tax, and a 16 oz package of mushrooms... I had some red potatoes and onions at home, and this is what I did...

Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions:
Crispy-ish Red Potatoes:
And then the meal itself... a little bit of the sides and some chicken... quick and easy!



To make the mushrooms and onions I did the following:
- used 2 thinly sliced onions
- 16 oz of sliced mushrooms
- 1 clove of garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp of olive oil

Let the olive oil heat up, add the mushrooms, onions, and garlic... let them saute down and hopefully get a little carmelization going :-) Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve!

For the crispy-ish potatoes:
- 8 small red potatoes, diced (I'm sure you could use frozen diced potatoes)
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- a little bit of water...

Let the olive oil heat up. Add the diced potatoes, garlic, salt and pepper. Let them brown... tossing frequently to avoid burning them on the bottom of the pan (I forgot to do this and had potatoes stuck... oh well)... once they are slightly browned on the outside, add a little bit of water to create steam and cover them for a few minutes... they should be crispy on the outside and nice and fluffy on the outside!!!!

For the chicken:
- Richie took it out of the bag
- Richie carved it
- Richie put it on plates :-) Thanks hubby!!!!
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