Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Basement Progress

Our basement is now now mudded and tapped. Next step.. lots of primer and paint. 

To be followed by doors, tile, carpet, trim, cabinetry, furniture and on and on... We are so excited for the end result and the added 1,100 sq feet of living space!

And just in case anyone is wondering.. yes we are going to box in the red support poles. That will happen when we get to the trim and detail.
When I need reminding how far we have already come, I look at the BEFORE pics...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Indian Naan- a keeper recipe!

If you have never tried Indian Naan (pronounced 'non') you are missing out! Make it and try it today.

I am most often a fan of any bread that is fresh and warm and naan is just that. It's a type of flatbread, which is usually cooked on a grill or oven baked but I cooked mine right on a skillet and it was wonderful! I've made two batches of it already, it's been approved by every member of our household. Even with just four of us, that is a rare accomplishment.

So here is the recipe which I think is even better than the Indian restaurant I frequent. 

1 pouch of active dry yeast (.25 ounce)
1 cup warm water, not too warm, don't want to kill the yeast
1/4 cup white sugar
3 T of milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tsp salt
4+ cups of bread flour
2 cloves worth of minced garlic (optional)
1/4 cup butter, melted

2 tsps olive oil, if you are cooking on a skillet like I did.

Directions: In a large bowl dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt and majority of flour. Knead for 6-8 minutes on a slightly floured surface, just until smooth. Place the dough in a slightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth and set aside to rise. Let it rise for 1 hour until the dough is larger in volume. 

Punch down the dough and knead in the garlic. Pinch off small handfuls of dough, about the size of an egg. Roll into balls and place on a tray. Cover with a towel and allow to rise for about 30 minutes.

Prepare your skillet with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat.  Next to your skillet roll out one ball of dough into a thin circle. Place dough in skillet, cook for 2-3 minutes or until puffy and lightly browned (think of a pancake). Brush the uncooked side with the melted butter and flip over. Brush the cooked side with butter and cook until browned, another 2-3 minutes. Remove from the skillet and continue the process until all the naan is prepared. Keep what you have cooked somewhere warm (I stick on a plate in microwave and add to the plate as I go.) Serve warm!!

Monday Meal Planning

Last week's meals were yummy.. and it's Monday Meal planning time again. Can I just repeat last week's menu?
We had this yummy Chinese Salad..
Delicious Ham fried rice..

A few very sweet desserts.
I made a trip to the Indian grocery store and attempted to make butter chicken. I say attempted because although it was Indian butter chicken that is served at some restaurants, it was NOT the butter chicken I love at my favorite local restaurant. I am in search for a better recipe.

However, I will say the Naan that I made for the first time turned out awesome! I would be happy to share that recipe it anyone is interested. It's an Indian bread that you eat while warm.
Okay, here goes... This weeks menu:
Monday- Steamed crab legs served with potatoes.
Tuesday- Homemade Mac and Cheese (we had the best mac and cheese at a reception over the weekend and I'm going to try to recreate it).
Wednesday- Chicken Fried Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Corn
Thursday- Leftovers
Friday- Date night (aka eating out)
Saturday- BBQ Ribs (since we didn't get to it today)
Sunday- Homemade Pizzas

Linking to Menu Plan Monday

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gap Creek by Robert Morgan

I started a new book this week, so far it's good and I'm hooked. Has anyone read it, Gap Creek by Robert Morgan?

Does anyone else out there in blogland have reading habits like me?
When I go to bed I don't just take one book I take at least 3. I guess I just can't make my mind up on what I want to read or maybe I just want to read it all! What I do is flip through a few gardening books, a magazine or something, read a few pages of a novel or Simple Abundance and get too tired to keep my eyes open.

And next to my bed is my end table which often gets stacked with books that over flow to a stack on the floor. I think a need to stop reading in bed and designate a reading chair so I can actually stay awake and get some reading done for a change.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Meal Planning Monday- Again, trying out some new recipes

Monday- Basil Cream Spaghetti and meatballs. This is very easy, it just consists of cooking your spaghetti sauce with a 1/2 of block of cream cheese and some fresh basil. Serve over cooked spaghetti noodles and meatballs.
       Meat Balls (tried and true): Ingredients- 1 lb lean ground beef, 1 egg, 1/2 cup crumbled bread
       (I use whatever  bread I have on hand), 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp black pepper,   1/2 tsp garlic salt
       Preheat over to 350, combine all, except meat in large bowl. Add meat and mush with your fingers to combine. Form into 1" meatballs, place on a broiler pan (so oil drips away from balls) in oven. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes until meat is no longer pink in middle. Cool and freeze if you want to save for another day, or serve.

Tuesday- Chinese Cabbage Salad and Chicken Fried Rice.
Someone brought this salad to work last week and it was so good, I decided I will make some for the family.
         Chinese Cabbage Salad: Ingredients- 5 green onions, chopped*; 1/4 cup margarine*, 1/2 cup sunflower seeds*, 1 small bag of sliced almonds*, 2 pkgs crushed ramen noodles*. (*you will saute these first ingredients until light brown). Then you will mix 1 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup white wine vinegar, 1 cup sugar, 2 tsp soy sauce. (Shake these last 4 ingredients before serving). Serve both the first ingredients and the dressing over 1 Full Head of Chinese cabbage, chopped.

Wednesday- I will be out of the house this evening and also fasting for appointment the following morning so the hubby will probably make his specialty, omelets for him and the boys.

Thursday- I will be attempting to make for the first time every my favorite dish, Indian Butter Chicken. YUM, YUM, YUM. I sure hope it turns out! I will be serving it over rice along with homemade Naan which I am also attempting to make for the first time.

Friday- Hamburger and Bratwurst on the grill served with a Strawberry Spinach Salad.

Saturday- Leftovers for lunch and we have a wedding reception to attend in the evening.

Sunday- Hubby's melt in your mouth smoked BBQ ribs, weather permitting!

I also have a few desserts on my wish list to make this week, my Aunt Mary's Kolache Cookies, Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, and Strawberry Cream Pie. I prefer baking over cooking any day of the week, if only we could live on sugar and flour (I know, I know, that's a horrible idea)..

Oh and P.S. I started drinking coke again. :(  Do you see how sneaky I was getting that out there! It is just so addictive!

Check out Menu Plan Monday at Organized Junkie for a BUNCH of menu plans!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

New Inexpensive Perennial Garden

My new perennial garden (photo taken in harsh sun, but I was excited to show you)..

If you keep your eyes open a lot of stores are starting to close out their flowers and not just annuals, perennials too. The perennials they are closing out really need to get in the ground and may not have the best show this year.. but next year.. and the year after... and years to come, they will be beautiful!

A friend of mine ran across a huge variety marked down to $1 each! I'm not sure if she was just thinking about me or overwhelmed by the 40+ plants that she had in her garage that needed to get in the ground, but she shared! ;)

I had a corner of my backyard that was boring and needing some attention. Okay, yes most of my backyard is boring, but we've gone over that before. We bought the house 1 year ago and we can't do EVERYTHING at once.

So after shopping in my friends garage, (which I have done many times) I ended up with a great variety of perennials. Tickseed, catmint, speedwell, cooky, jacobs ladder, salvia, columbine, etc

I thought I better add a shrub in the mix so I picked up a beautiful hibiscus (our Home Depot has all shrubs 50% off), for $7.50.

It turned out very nice, but I want to fast forward to next year and see them all in bloom.

I moved my angel from my wild flower garden because those flowers grew so tall they were hiding it.

Happy Gardening!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mexican Meat Loaf- I suggest you try it!

We tried a new recipe this weekend, orginally cut out of a magazine (I think the March issue of BH&G). It turned out very good, so good that I didn't get a chance to take photos. I changed a few things to cater to our family, so if you want the original recipe which included onions check out the magazine.

3 eggs
1 can (12 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 cup crushed tortilla chips
3 cloves of garlic
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
dash of salt and black pepper
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In large bowl combine lightly beaten eggs, crushed tomatoes, and tortilla chips.
Stir in garlic, cumin, chili powder and dash of salt and dash of pepper. Add beef, pork and corn; mix well. Shape into a loaf and bake at 350 degrees F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Sprinkle with cheese and let melt in over before removing.  I served it with tortilla chips, sliced alvocado and salsa.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pizza on a Stick

I just adore Christy over at From Glitter to Gumdrops, when I need something fun to make I head straight to her blog. I saw her Pizza on a Stick a while back and I knew I'd give them a try when the right time arose. Well, I finally have a good occasion to share them so tonight I tried them out.

Check out her recipe and DON'T cook them on foil like I did. Foil and cheese are like glue and paper.

They make for a pretty good snack food. And they are very unique! Thanks for sharing Christy!

My newest find- $15 at an estate sale

I meant to share this with you last week. I picked this baby up at an estate sale for $15. Isn't he cute?? He is going to be getting a makeover soon. Stay tuned.

Linking to Thrifty Thursday.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Sneak Preview- Our messiest home improvement project yet!

We are in the process of finishing our basement where we will have 1,100 new square feet of living space. The space is to include: full bathroom, full kitchen/ bar, media/theater room, gym, a second pantry and some storage space.

We never expected to go from this..

To this (what a mess)...

But eventually we got to this...

We all know, not all things go as planned. We learned when you buy a house with a basement plumbed for a bathroom, you should ask some questions about what exactly that means.

My favorite part so far has been when my hubby took down the wall along the stairs and made a new landing to open it all up. Unfortunately, I have a tacky before photo because that is where I stacked up some of the stuff we were storing in the basement when we started the project. However, here is before...

And after...

As you can see we are currently in the drywall phase and have a ways to go to completion.

We have also made a lot of progress from where we began.

Below may not look like much to you but it is where our future downstairs kitchen will be.

I hope to have some finished photos to share with you soon, stay tuned! If you have a finished basement and have suggestions, please comment! Or comment if you just want to say hello.

Linking to Strut your Stuff ThursdayTransformation ThursdayShow off your Stuff PartyHome and Family Friday.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Antique dresser refinshed!

Do you remember back in January when I told you that we were gifted a dresser that once belonged to my husband's great grandmother? The one that looked like this BEFORE I began to work on it...

I am happy to report, after stripping it, sanding, sanding, sanding it, staining it, not liking it, staining it, still not liking it, priming it and painting, painting, painting it... It's finally done!
Benjamin Moore black paint in eggshell finish is my new best friend.

Linking to Metamorphosis Monday
and DIY Project Parade

Monday, July 5, 2010

Meal Planning Monday- Some New Recipes

This is my first week joining Organizing Junkie for her Meal Planning Monday. 

Here is my meal plan for the week..
Monday- Tacos
Tuesday- Bierocks
Wednesday- Sloppy Joes
Thursday- Leftovers
Friday- friend's wedding rehearsal dinner
Saturday -friend's wedding
Sunday- Shrimp Alfredo

Is it obvious hamburger meat is on sale in our area?

And now for some keeper new recipes I've recently tried.
Mango Pico de Gallo

3 cups small mango cubes
2 large jalapeno peppers, chopped (seeds removed)
1/2-3/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 med size red onion, chopped
juice of 2 limes

Just mix the ingredients and store in the fridge in a jar overnight before serving with tortilla chips. My hubby hates onions and somehow really likes this recipe a lot.

Corned Beef Cream Cheese Spread

2 - 8 oz. softened cream cheese
1 1/2 package- Buddig Corned Beef, chopped
1 tsp onion powder (recipe called for 1/2 of a onion chopped, by the hubby hates onions)
1/2 cup chopped green olives (more or less depending on the taste you want)
2 Tbsp Miracle Whip or Mayo

Mix it all together and refrigerate before serving. This is a recipe from a lady at my work and I think it is just delicious! Great served with Ritz Crackers or bread.

Moink Balls

I found this recipe in my local newspaper, it's a keeper. It said it is from "BBQ Makes Everything Better". I tripled the recipe when I made it and cooked half in the oven and half on the grill (grill was better!)

12 precooked italian-style meatballs (I made mine from scratch, I'll share that recipe on another day)
6 strips bacon, cut in half
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup grape jelly

Wrap each meatball with a half strip of bacon and secure it with a toothpick. Combine the brown sugar and cayenne pepper and sprinkle over the bacon-wrapped meatballs. Smoke over indirect heat at 250 degrees for about 1 hour until the bacon is done to your liking (you can also use direct heat on a grill for 10-15 minutes but this method requires close attention (this is what I did with half, the other half I cooked in the oven at 350 until the bacon was crispy.) Bacon grease is highly flammable, so you will need to rotate the meatballs constantly to prevent scorching. While the Moink balls are cooking, combine the barbecue sauce and the grape jelly in a saucepan and heat until blended. (opps I missed that heat stage, I just whisked them together.) Five minutes before removing the balls from the smoker, baste them with the glaze. Serve immediately. (or eat them later straight from the fridge, that is how my mom liked them best!)

Watermelon Sugar cookies
I can't remember where I found this recipe originally (one of the blogs I follow but for the life of me I couldn't figure out which). So... I had to google for it and found a the recipe here.

The sugar cookie ingredients from this link made a pretty good dough, I'm going to use it again for just plain iced sugar cookies. I've been hunting for a fluffy sugar cookie recipe for years. 3/4 cups all purpose flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 cup butter or margarine, softened, 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla extract. Refriderate dough for 2 hours before rolling.

My 5 nieces ages 9 and under really enjoyed these watermelon cookies and they were very fitting for the 4th of July. For some reason my mom didn't believe me when I told her I made them (really not sure why.. she knows I love baking!)

Chocolate Chip Icing (sorry no picture)
I always hate when I am out of a tub of chocolate icing and can't make a chocolate cake or cupcakes because of it. I finally found a good alternative since I do usually have chocolate chips on hand.
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
(about a half of bag)

Combine all ingredients except chocolate in saucepan over medium high heat. Stir constantly until melted. Bring to a boil for 1 minute, still stirring. Remove from heat. Add in chips and stir until completely melted. Spread on cooled cake.

Happy cooking/baking!