February 28, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award

I was very surprised that to find out tonight that I was given the Versatile Blogger Award!

The Rules for The Versatile Blogger Award
1. Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass this award along to 15 recently discovered blogs you enjoy reading.
4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

I would love to Thank Lauren from A Matched Pair  for passing the award along to me. 
Seven Things You May Not Know About Me:

  1. I am the only child in my family
  2. My maiden name meant: little shoe maker in Polish
  3. Jane: My middle name is after my grandmother
  4. Before meeting my hubby I was not a dog person (Thanks honey for changing that! I love our boys!)
  5. I have worked for the same company since I was 17
  6. Named our beagles after county singers 
  7. My two front teeth are fake

I'd like to pass the award along to:

Jeanne Szewczyk
Sweet Violet Photography
Deb Duty Photography
Sometimes Sweet
Pastor's Girl's Ponderings
A Beautiful Mess
Simple As That
The Vegan Stoner
Little Baby Garvin
Homemade Ginger

My First...

Sunday was my first for going pheasant hunting. Jon had gone last year with his Uncle while I stayed home. At that time I had not completed my Hunter Safety Course so I was not able to hunt. I was OK with that but last year I finally took the class so that Jon and I could go hunting in Arkansas in November. I had been going rabbit hunting with Jon and his uncle for about 6+  years bringing my camera to take shots of the nature around us. So this was my year to actually get out in the field and be one of the boys. 

We left the house around 6am to drive an hour south of where Jon and I live to a little town called Odell. It was all farm land. I LOVE driving through farm land. It reminds me of how it use to be back in the day before all the residential and commercial areas took over. Since this was my first hunting trip for birds and with other people I was quite nervous. Pheasant hunting is completely different than going deer or rabbit hunting. Those trips have been normally quiet and there is not much noise in the field but with pheasant hunting you have the dogs running back and forth while the owner makes sure that they are not going into other fields by blowing a whistle. I could not believe it. So after we were in the field for no more than 10 minutes I was up. Big D (the pointer above) pointed. I had no clue what to do. I had to walk up to D and look where he was pointing since that is where the bird was hiding. I was literally on top of D licking the brush below me. Then a pheasant came flying up and scared me half to death. I did not know it was such a close sport. I did not even get my gun up since it all happened so fast.  Later I was more comfortable with what I was supposed to be doing. 

It took me an hour or two but I finally got my first pheasant. I was pleased with myself. I thought that I was not going to be able to get any since they are so fast and that this was my first time out. Jon was proud of me. Jon as well got a pheasant. We headed home with a successful trip together. By the time we got home Jon and I were so tired and pooped. I wanted to relax but I could not. I had a ton of things to do around the house. I think that night we went to bed around 8pm.

Once again this week I was just not wanting to cook and photograph our meals. Not sure what is with me but I hope that I have not burnt myself out for food photography. So I plan to try and get back into it again but don’t hold me to it. I need to get back into a routine. I have so many things that I want to do and try that I am overwhelmed. I started last week doing chores around the house during the week to free up my Saturdays. We will see how that works out but I am positive and think I will get it done. I have been busy using my sewing machine again. I ended up making a duvet cover and a infinity scarf. More photos to follow once I am finished. Till next week!

February 26, 2012

Chewy Brownies

Chewy Brownies
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 T water 
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • chopped nuts or chocolate chips, optional

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix the sugar with the slightly warm, melted butter. Add the eggs one at a time while mixing. Then add the vanilla extract and water. In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients: cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Add nuts or chocolate chips if desired, and mix.
Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with non-stick spray. Then line the pan with parchment paper so that it covers the bottom and the longer sides of the pan: the non-stick spray helps keep the parchment in place and the parchment paper will make it easier to lift the cooled brownies out of the baking pan later on.
Spread the brownie batter into the prepared baking pan. The batter will be quite thick; you might need to use your hands to help spread it. Bake the brownies for 18 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out slightly sticky. I usually cook mine for about 30-35 minutes. Jon likes the edges to be crispy... Let the brownies cool all the way in the pan. Once cool, lift the brownies along with the parchment out of the pan, cut as desired, and serve.
Makes 24 brownies.


February 25, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. KRAFT Zesty Italian Dressing
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, green beans, peas)
  • 1 can (10-3/4 oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1/4 lb. (4 oz.) VELVEETA®, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (1/2 of 17.3-oz. pkg.), thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten

HEAT oven to 400ºF.
COOK and stir chicken in dressing in large skillet on medium heat 5 min. or until chicken is done. Stir in vegetables and soup. Spoon into 9-inch square baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; top with VELVEETA.
UNFOLD pastry sheet; place over chicken mixture. Fold under edges of pastry; press onto top of baking dish to seal. Brush with egg. Cut several slits in pastry to permit steam to escape. Place dish on baking sheet.
BAKE 30 min. or until crust is deep golden brown. Let stand 5 min. before serving.

February 24, 2012

Cheesy Chicken Fajitas

Cheesy Chicken Fajitas

  • 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 green pepper, cut into strips
  • 1/2 cup sliced onions
  • 1-1/2 cups KRAFT Mexican Style Finely Shredded Four Cheese
  • 6 flour tortillas (6 inch), warmed

COOK chicken and garlic in large skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium-high heat 5 min., stirring frequently.
ADD peppers and onions; cook and stir 4 to 5 min. or until chicken is done and vegetables are crisp-tender.
SPOON 1/4 cup each chicken mixture and cheese down center of each tortilla; fold in sides to enclose filling.

February 23, 2012

Beef Stroganoff with Pasta

Beef Stroganoff with Pasta

  • 3 cups dried wide noodles 
  • 3 cups broccoli spears (12 ounces) 
  • 1/2 cup light dairy sour cream 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish 
  • 1/2 teaspoon snipped fresh dill 
  • 1 pound beef ribeye steak 
  • 1 small onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices 
  • 1/2 teaspoon bottled minced garlic 
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil 
  • 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 
  • 1 14 ounce can beef broth 
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste 
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 
Cook noodles according to package directions, adding broccoli the last 5 minutes of cooking. Drain; return noodles and broccoli to pan.
Meanwhile, stir together the sour cream, horseradish, and dill in a small serving bowl; cover and chill until serving time.
Trim fat from beef. Cut beef into bite-size strips. Cook half of the beef, all of the onion, and garlic in hot oil in a large skillet until onion is tender and beef is of desired doneness. Remove from skillet. Add remaining beef; cook and stir until beef is of desired doneness. Return all meat to skillet; sprinkle flour and black pepper over meat. Stir to coat.
Stir in broth, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook and stir until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Divide noodle-broccoli mixture among four bowls. Spoon beef mixture on top of noodle mixture. Top with one or two spoonfuls or two of the sour cream mixture. Makes 4 servings.


February 22, 2012

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Annie's Eats
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°.
In a large bowl beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs and vanilla with a hand held mixer until well blended. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture, stirring until just combined.
Fold in rolled oats, raisin and walnuts (if desired). Drop dough by rounded teaspoons about 2 inches apart onto a cookie sheet.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 2 minutes and remove to wire rack to cool completely.

February 21, 2012

A Lazy Week

This week I was pretty lazy. I did not cook every night like I usually do. Not sure what was with me but I just did not feel like cooking. I think that I needed a break or I was just not too excited of what I had planned for the week.  I was pretty much was only thinking about working out. I got into a funk and wanted to try out yoga and pilates. I really enjoyed the pilates, the yoga on the other hand was pretty hard. I had a video that I got from work for yoga and the instructor was super hard. I think that I will have to take it 20 minutes at a time with the video and work myself up to finish the whole video. 

Over the weekend Jon's brother and girlfriend came down to work on the bike. His girlfriend and I ran around doing errands and checking out GoodWill. We found some neat things there. She is also starting to collect some props like I for her photography. I cannot wait to see what she does with her new finds. We also made a test run of a t-shirt for the boys of their company. We had been looking for prices all around town for silk-screening. We found out for all the colors that we wanted to use (not shown in photo) that it would cost about $50 per screen also not counting what the shirts would cost. So we wanted to actually see what it would look like on a t-shirt so we made one. I think they turned out pretty nice. This was the back side of one of the designs that we were thinking. We still have to find some other places to make some shirts for us at a cheap price. 

Well time to watch Alaska State Troopers. Jon's choice not mine. Hope everyone had a great weekend. I cannot wait to tell you about my adventure that Jon and I had on Sunday. Till next week...

February 18, 2012

Cheesy Enchilada Casserole

Cheesy Enchilada Casserole
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (I ended up using shredded chicken)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (16 oz.) jar salsa
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/4 cups frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 (8 inch) flour tortillas
  • 3 cups Mexican cheese blend
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Sour cream, for topping
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large skillet, brown ground beef, onion and garlic until meat is no longer pink.  Stir in salsa, beans, corn, Italian dressing, sour cream, taco seasoning, chili powder and cumin.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Lightly grease a 2 quart baking dish (or 9x9 pan).  Spoon a generous layer of mixture into the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle with grated cheese.  Place a tortilla on top of the meat and cheese layer.  Repeat twice more, then top the last tortilla with remaining meat mixture and remaining cheese.  Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  Let stand for 5 minutes, then top with tomato, cilantro and sour cream, to serve.


February 17, 2012

Friday Fill-In's

And...here we go!

1. Finally, I tried yoga for the first time.
2. Drinking 8 cups of water sure takes some getting used to!
3. Dad says: Would you like a slice of pumpkin pie?
4. Ooooh is my favorite nick name for Shooter.
5. It took a long time, but I started to exercise again.
6. Life has its ups and downs though I wouldn't have it any other way.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to having Jon's brother over, tomorrow my plans include walking the pups and Sunday, I want to just relax!

You can join in here.

February 16, 2012

Cheesy Meatball Subs

Cheesy Meatball Subs
By: Kraft
  • 1 cup spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3/4lb. (3/4 of 1-lb. pkg.) frozen fully-cooked meatballs (1-1/2 inch)
  • 4 crusty sandwich rolls, split
  • 3/4 cup KRAFT Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

COMBINE first 4 ingredients in large skillet. Bring to boil on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
SIMMER on medium heat 8 min. or until meatballs are heated through, stirring occasionally.
SPOON into rolls; top with mozzarella.


February 15, 2012

Chili Dip with Homemade Chips

Chili Dip with Homemade Chips

For the Dip:
  • 2 packages of cream cheese 
  • 2 cans of Hormel chili with no beans 
  • 1 bag of shredded cheddar cheese
  • Lettuce, chopped
  • Tomato, chopped

Coat the bottom of a glass dish with cream cheese.
Top cream cheese with Hormel chili; spread with spatula.
Top chili with mozzarella cheese.
Bake on 350 until cheese browns and bubbles slightly.

For the Chips:
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • Peanut oil

Cut corn tortillas into triangles.
Heat up peanut oil to 350 degrees
Once heated place a couple of corn tortillas into oil until slightly brown.
Place on paper towels and salt chips.


February 14, 2012

Mini Pretzel Dogs

Mini Pretzel Dogs
  • 1 ½ cups warm water (between 110 and 115 degrees F)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 22 ounces all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • about 14 cups of water
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg, beaten, with a splash of water
  • salt and pepper for topping
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine warm water and sugar.  Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and set aside for 5 minutes.  The mixture will begin to foam and froth.  If it doesn’t, throw the mixture away and start again with new yeast.
Once the yeast and water is frothy, add the flour, salt, and melted butter.  Using the dough hook, mix on low speed until well combined.  Increase the speed to medium and knead the dough until it is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, creating a ball of dough around the dough hook.  Beat on medium speed for approximately 4 minutes.
Remove the dough from the bowl.  The dough will be soft, pliable, and just a bit sticky.  That’s perfect.  Scrape any residue out of the bowl and coat the bowl with a bit of vegetable oil.  Place the dough back in the bowl, sprinkle with flour, cover with plastic wrap, and store in a warm place to rise.  Allow dough to rise, until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Place baking racks in the center and upper third of the oven.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and lightly brush the paper with oil.  It’s important to brush the parchment paper or the pretzels will stick!
Combine water and baking soda in a large pan (8 quart is fine) saucepan and bring to a boil.
While the water comes to a boil, turn the dough out onto a clean, slightly oiled work surface.  Divide dough into 8 or 16 pieces, depending on how large you’d like your pretzel dogs.  8 pieces of dough for whole hot dogs.  16 pieces of dough if you’re doing to slice the hot dogs in half.
Start with the fingers of both hands in the center of the dough, and roll, moving your hands outward as you roll.  Roll the dough along the oiled surface until you have about a 24-inch or 12-inch piece of rope (depending on how large your piece of dough was… the more dough the longer the rope).
Wrap pretzel around a hot dog, making sure to seal the ends.
When water has come to a boil, gently lower a few pretzel dogs into the boiling water.  Boil for 30 seconds.  Remove carefully, using a flat, slotted spatula.  Place on prepared baking sheet.  Brush boiled pretzels with beaten egg, and add coarse sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
Bake until deeply golden brown, about 12 to 14 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack for a few minutes before serving warm.
Soft pretzels are best enjoyed the day they are made.
If you’re not going to enjoy all your pretzel dogs, double wrap them in plastic wrap and store in the freezer.  When ready to serve, transfer out of plastic and into a piece of foil.  Wrap well and bake in a 350 degree oven for 12 minutes, or until heated through.


February 13, 2012

Baked Mozzarella Sticks

Baked Mozzarella Sticks
By: Skinny Taste
  • 12 sticks part-skim, reduced sodium mozzarella string cheese (Sargento)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 5 tbsp Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 5 tbsp panko crumbs
  • 2 tsp parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • olive oil cooking spray (I used my misto)

Cut cheese in half to give you 24 pieces. Place cheese in the freezer until cheese is frozen.

In small bowl, whisk the egg. Place the flour on another small dish. In separate bowl, combine bread crumbs, panko, parmesan cheese and dried parsley.

Dip the frozen sticks in flour, shaking off excess, then into the egg, then coat with the crumbs.

Repeat this process with the remaining cheese placing them on a tray with wax paper. Place cheese back into the freezer until ready to bake (this is a must or they will melt before the crumbs get golden).

When ready to bake preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with oil.

Place frozen cheese sticks on baking sheet. Spray the tops of the mozzarella sticks with a little more oil and bake in the bottom third of your oven until crisp, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and bake an additional 4 - 5 minutes watching them closely so they don't melt.


February 12, 2012

Great Finds

Hey there! It's been a crazy busy week. It was nice to just relax last weekend. Well I did Jon was busy in the garage and practicing in the back yard with his bow. I was a busy busy chef in the kitchen. Jon and I snacked all day on appetizers. We watched the Superbowl as well. I was so busy in the kitchen making a taco dip that I missed all the commercials. Well everyone up until half-time. Oh well at least there is the internet to watch them if needed. 

Over this weekend I headed over to Goodwill and Pier 1 Imports. I needed to find some other bowls, dishes, any utensils that I could use for my food photography. I think this week I hit the jackpot! I cannot wait to start using them in some of my photos this week. I can finally say that I have one photo in foodgawker! Check out my entry here... No-Bake Chocolate Chip Granola Bars. Yeah for me!!!! I did enter a couple more that I had from last week but they got turned done. Well I really need to re-crop them and I believe those too will make it in there. In about one day I had over 2,000 hits on my blog. I could not believe it. I guess this is a perfect place for me to get my food photography out there. 

I am really enjoying scheduling my posts for each day. It takes a ton off my shoulders during the week. I can also get some house chores done during the week instead of doing them all on Saturday. I cannot wait until Sunday to watch the new season of Worst Cook's in America. Last year it was my favorite show well anything that has to do with cooking is my favorite show. What plans do you have this weekend? Anything good? Well time to get up and do something now till next week....