Thursday, July 28, 2011


Sorry for the blog hiatus.

This weekend is the big yard sale at my parents' house. Going up there and working on things has taken a lot of time and honestly I haven't felt like blogging. Once the project at their house is done, I will be posting more.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Shots not forgotten..

While going through the photos from my wedding, I came across some photos that I really seem to like. They were not forgotten, by any means, but they are not in our actual wedding album, either. I really like these shots, each for their own reasons. And, a lot of these shots were taken by some of our guests. I love them!

Guests arriving.


I like how both of my sisters are looking back at me at the top of the stairs, just making a final check.


My dad walking me down the aisle. This is before I cried and smeared all my makeup off my face.


This photo really speaks for itself..but I love the look on Daniel's face. I was walking down the aisle at this time. So glad someone took this shot! Thanks Aunt Sandy!!


The lighting in this is great. I think I remember the ballroom lighting being just like this, like it is in this photo. It's so neat seeing our friends and family all mixed together during the ceremony. We didn't have a designated side for the bride/groom (except for the parents). So everyone just sat anywhere.


This is right when we came out for the reception to start, everyone was clapping and cheering:


Guests mingling and jingling during our reception:


Guests watching some of the dancing going on during our reception:


Dancing with Daniel..I love this photo!


And this one too.


People dancing at our reception:


Dancing with my nephew Joseph:


I think it's a staple at wedding receptions that kids dance with the bride. For some reason during our reception, tons of kids wanted to dance with me. They were all so cute!

You can see they are sort of lining up waiting for their turn:


Me dancing with Krystal. She is so cute!


With some of my girls from work. I love how my dad is accidentally in this photo.


Hard to believe that this time 5 years ago we were engaged and planning our wedding. And that this November 15th will be our 3rd wedding anniversary. Sweet.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Chicken-Pepper Lasagna Cups

Yesterday for dinner, I made something I like to call Chicken-Pepper Lasagna Cups.

You will need a pacakge of won ton wrappers, like these:


Take a cupcake pan and spray it with non-stick cooking spray. Place one won ton wrapper in each cupcake section, like this:


Cook up some meat. I used ground chicken. I also sauteed some green bell pepper and a small white onion, and when the chicken was cooked I drained it and added the pepper and onion to it.


I also added some salt, pepper, and oregano. After that was well blended, I added some fresh garlic and mixed that in. Then, I added some crushed tomatoes (and a little tomato sauce to give it more ooomph).


Then, I took a bowl and mixed ricotta cheese with some dried basil and more oregano.


I spooned a little bit of the ricotta mixture onto each won ton cupcake section.


Then I added a little of the chicken pepper mixture.


Topped it off with a little blend of Italian cheeses.


Put another won ton wrapper on each section, with some more ricotta cheese mixture.


And more chicken pepper filling and Italian cheeses on top.


Baked this in a 375degree oven for about 10 minutes or so.


And when they were finished baking, I scooped them right out and served them. The rest were put on a serving platter.


They are the perfect size and they weren't messy at all. They were delicious! These could easily be prepared and then individually frozen, before baking. Once they freeze you could put them in freezer bags and then just take out what you need and bake for 10-20 minutes or so.

I also had leftover filling and cheese mixture, so I just froze the extra filling (flat in a freezer bag for better storing in the freezer), and put the extra cheese in the fridge. I could make a small regular lasagna with it, or I could make more cups. We'll see!

I was inspired by Andie Mitchell's blog Can You Stay For Dinner? and her recipe for Petite Lasagnas. Thanks Andie!!

Freezer Meals

To make sure we don't eat at restaurants, I have found it's really helpful to prepare meals and freeze them. It's rewarding, too!

A few weeks back on a Sunday afternoon, after I went to the store, I made a bunch of different meals and ingredients and froze them. Since then I have been making other things and freezing them. It's so easy to just spend a couple hours one day making a bunch of stuff. It saves so much time during the work week!

Currently, in the freezer:

Spaghetti sauce with meat
A whole chicken, deboned and shredded
A pack of boneless skinless chicken breasts, shredded
Veggie lasagna filler (leftover filling from when I made some veggie lasagna roll-ups)
White chicken chili (this was made before the project and the rest was frozen)
Vegetarian soup (gluten free; this was made before the project and the rest was frozen)
Chicken-pepper lasagna filler (leftover filling from some chicken-pepper lasagna cups I made)
Blueberries (individually frozen and then bagged, will use for pancakes or parfaits)

I know I am forgetting some other meals I prepared ahead of time and froze..but I think this is what's in the freezer right now. I did make some french bread pizzas. I bought some french bread that was on sale for .79 cents, because the sell by date was the next day (I already had sauce, cheese, and toppings at home). The bread was perfectly fine, and I sliced it up and made french bread pizza out of it, and then froze it before baking. They came out perfectly when I baked them for about 20 minutes (from the frozen state). I also made half of a dozen of pantry burritos, and some fresh gazpacho, and froze those, too.

Anyway, it's very handy having stuff made ahead of time and frozen. Just the morning of or night before, place the frozen meal in the fridge and it's ready to be heated up in time for dinner. The burritos were really convenient. I only made a half dozen of them, but next time I will double the batch and make more to freeze. You can just heat them up in the microwave straight out of the freezer, no thawing needed. They are the perfect portion to take to lunch at work.

After doing this, I realized these items are staples for us:

green bell peppers
brown rice
canned tomatoes (any kind-crushed, whole, diced, sauce)

It's helpful to know this now, too. Now when the stores have these items on sale, I can get more of them at once, instead of getting just one of whatever the item is at regular price. Also, I have been scoping out the butcher area to see what's on sale or marked down. Same with the bread section.

My inspiration comes from these blogs:
Joelen's blog has a ton of great recipes for freezer meals.

Natalie's blog here is very helpful and she gives lots of tips and ideas for freezer meals.
This link on The Kitchn is also about freezer meals, with more recipes/tips.

Anne's Eats blog has a good post about freezer meals. I love her pizza dough idea. We buy pizza dough from Fresh Market and make our own, but with Anne's recipe/instructions, we could totally make it at home and freeze a few balls of dough to have on the ready when we want to make our own pizza.

I have a great recipe from Sunday Baker for chicken pot pies. I could make individually sized pies and freeze those, too. And our favorite chicken enchiladas, made by The Pioneer Woman! The possibilities are endless.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


This December 5th, Tori Amos will be performing in DC. Of course, we're going.

Her new album, Night of Hunters, comes out in September. This will be our 8th time seeing Tori live..and we're looking forward to it!

December is only less than 5 months away.

The new album is going to be released through classical label Deutsche Grammophon. Tori said this about the new album:

"It's a 21st century song cycle inspired by classical music themes spanning over 400 years. I have used the structure of a song cycle to tell an ongoing, modern story. The protagonist is a woman who finds herself in the dying embers of a relationship. In the course of one night she goes through an initiation of sorts that leads her to reinvent herself allowing the listener to follow her on a journey to explore complex musical and emotional subject matter. One of the main themes explored on this album is the hunter and the hunted and how both exist within us.”

I love how each of her albums is always a project, and not just an album for more songs. The songs all go together some how with each new's always neat when she announces a new album/project. It'll be interesting to see how this one ends up.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Homemade Gazpacho

I love gazpacho.

Gazpacho is a cold soup, with a tomato base and raw veggies.

I made some this past week with my trusty food chopper and my trusty blender. I used fresh veggies in mine, except I did use a can of whole tomatoes. I omitted the breadcrumbs/croutons.

I blended whole tomatoes, cumin, EVOO, white onion, green pepper, cucumber, salt & pepper, and white vinegar..



Until I had this:


Then I added some fresh cilantro for taste.


Blended that in and poured it into a big container.


I also poured some in small freezer bags and froze those flat. It was delicious! I think next time I will double the batch so I can freeze more. When I do that, I will freeze individual size bags flat and just keep in the fridge the day before I plan on serving. Gazpacho is perfect for the summer time!

Camping Trip

This past weekend I went camping with my nephew Joseph at Westmoreland State Park. We joined my mother-in-law Fayth, her husband Tom, and her sister Frances. We got there on Friday and left on Sunday.

On Friday we set up the rest of the camp site (F & T had been there since Thursday).


We checked out the amphitheater where they had furs of animals that live in the area, and they also had a big fire going and s'mores.



We also checked out the other side of the park and saw a mother osprey with her nest.


For dinner, Tom and Fayth cooked an awesome meal (steaks, rice, veggies), and then we just hung out at the camp site.

On Saturday morning, we took Joseph to meet his boyscout troop leader, so he could participate in a 4th of July parade that was going on to benefit the Oak Grove fire department. The parade ended at Ebb Tide Beach.



After the parade, we made our way to visit the birthplace of George Washington-a great way to celebrate our country. We toured the grounds and got to peek inside some of the buildings there.








And visited the burial grounds of George Washington's ancestors.



After the walk back from the burial grounds, we decided it was time to head back to camp and have lunch & then go swimming at the park.

Joseph enjoyed the slide & the pool.



And the river.


Fayth and Tom came up on their kayak, and then Tom and Joseph paddled down the water.



Later that night, back at camp, we had another great camp dinner and enjoyed s'mores later.


It rained Saturday night, so on Sunday morning everyone packed everything up. Joseph and I headed to Fossil Beach to look for shark teeth around low tide.



We only found a few teeth but it was worth it.


It was a great camping trip, and we can't wait to go again.