Friday, October 31, 2008

Foodie Friday: Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Its no secret that I love Mexican food. If I had to choose one type of food to eat for the rest of my life, hands down it would be Mexican. I love eating at Mexican restaurants. (Especially for the chips and salsa. M always has to tell me to stop eating them so I still have room for the main course.) I also love cooking up some Mexican dishes at home. The red sauce on enchiladas is one of my favorite sauces in the world. Sometimes I will just go out and buy a can to make enchiladas at home. At other times I will make up a batch on my own. It really isn't that difficult and the homemade sauce can provide a better flavor verses the canned.

**Note: This picture does not do the meal justice. It was very delicious. I may have to work on my presentation skills.**

Here is the recipe I used: (from Brown Eyed Baker)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons flour

1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce

1.5 cups chicken broth1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion salt

Salt to taste
1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in flour, reduce heat to medium, and cook until lightly brown, stirring constantly to prevent burning flour.
2. Gradually stir in tomato sauce, chicken broth, garlic powder, and onion salt into the flour until smooth, and continue cooking over medium heat approximately 10 minutes or until lightly thickened. Season with salt to taste.

Before filling the tortillas with a chicken, onion and pepper mixture, I spread some black refried beans in the bottom of each. After spreading some of the sauce in the bottom of my 9x13 glass baking dish, I rolled the tortillas and put them in. I topped the enchiladas with the remaining sauce and some shredded cheese.

Bake covered for 30 minutes at 350. (Remove cover for last 5 minutes.)

I also made some Spanish rice as a side dish. I used my handy dandy
rice cooker to prepare some brown rice and added in some stewed tomatoes with chilies and other assorted seasoning.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Special Visitors

We can officially say that our new house is "kid tested." We had some very special visitors this week. M's sister-in-law Jenny and her three kiddos were here to see us. We all had a wonderful time. The only problem was it was too short.
(Disclaimer: For those of you who don't know, Jenny was one of my best friends in college. Throughout college, Jenny dated her now husband who just happens to be M's brother. That is how I met M and so when I married M, I also entered Jenny's extended family. All in all, not a bad deal.)

While Jenny and I caught up, the kids enjoyed the few toys that M and I own. Their favorite by far were the plastic parachuting men that they could drop from the upstairs living room all the way to the lower level. This was followed a close second by the Bob Cat that was being used at the new house next door. (If you looked at it with binoculars it was like, "Wow!")
I had to work Wednesday morning, but the great thing about being a preschool teacher is I could just take them all along with me. Maybe now I will be known as the coolest aunt for having the best toy collection. ;o)

The only pictures I nabbed were at bedtime while M was reading to the kids. The boys love all of their uncles and can't ever get enough quality time with them.

A novel way to read a book. (Pun intended.) Also, if you look closely, you can see the Nerf darts stuck to the clock on the background.

They all wondered why we have four bedrooms. (They were counting the downstairs living room because that is where some of them slept.) I told them it was so they could come and visit anytime they wanted. (And who wouldn't want house guests as cute as this?)
Jenny informed me there were tears as they pulled out of the driveway because they all wanted one more night at our house. I guess we will just have to plan to do it again. After all, M said the house was too quiet last night with them gone.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Just Over the Bridge

Unfortunately this summer, a bridge near our home was hit by a garbage truck and caused some damage. At the time, the bridge was closed until it could be inspected and once deemed safe, opened again. They are now working on fixing the damage. In the beginning they were doing their work at night and it didn't effect us at all. The other day, however, that all changed. I had a meeting at work at 6 p.m. It usually take 15 minutes commute time for me. I left at 5:30 and planned on getting some work done before the meeting. As it turned out, I used all of my extra time sitting on the road in stopped traffic. I don't do well in stop and go traffic and quickly grew impatient. I figured out an alternate route and made it just in time for the meeting. I am just hoping that they finish the bridge soon and my commute isn't doubled for long.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

ID Please

So, remember that M and I had to get new driver's licenses? After our second trip to the DMV we both passed the written exam. (I scored higher than M. :o) And applied for our licenses. Unfortunately, our state is one of the few that still take 4 - 6 weeks to make your hard copy and mail it to you. A few weeks ago, we received our awaited mail from the DMV. At first glance I thought all was good. On closer inspection, however, I realized that mine had my maiden name. I checked out the copy of the paper work that I had and to my relief, found that the mistake wasn't mine. I called the 800 number on the paper work and after getting a busy signal for 15 minutes, and being put on hold when I finally got through, I spoke with a representative. She had to pull up my records which took another chunk of time. Once back on, she admit that it was their fault and she apologized for the mistake. Now I am waiting another 4 - 6 weeks for my driver's license with my married name. I am just hoping that this doesn't pose any problems when I go to vote next Tuesday.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Harvest Party

Our church held their annual Harvest Party this weekend. I added to the fun with carmel popcorn bags for the kids, guacamole dip, and a chocolate cake. Unfortunately I was running late and wasn't able to snap any pictures of my own. Lucky for me, I know where to find pictures of the same things online. This way I can just pretend that mine turned out as well as the original post online.
For the carmel corn, I made use of the recipe I posted in my previous Foodie Friday post. I just made two batches and put them into individual treat bags. I had intended on tying ribbon around the tops, but the whole running late thing also but the kabash on that.
I turned to my bloggie friend, Emily at Imperfect for the guacamole dip. (Thanks Emily!) I was whipping it up as I headed out the door to help set up, so I didn't taste it ahead of time. (That is the nice thing about a pot-luck. If it didn't turn out, I could have pretended that it wasn't mine.) When I had some with my supper, it was so good. I proudly claimed it as my own.
I found the cake through another blog, The Hyper Homemaker. The original recipe however was from the Country Living website. This also turned out really well. I looked at a few stores to see if I could find a plastic spider to perch on top, but didn't have any luck. It still turned out and I can't wait to have one of the left-over pieces this afternoon.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Old Man Winter

Check out what surprise we had on our front porch this morning.

And in our back yard.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Foodie Friday: Microwave Carmel Corn

This is an oldie, but a goodie. This is the way I remember making carmel corn as a kid. Now, it might be because I was raised on it, but I think that it is nearly as good as the oven baked variety. I made this batch last week, but will be making more today or tomorrow to give out as prizes at our church's Harvest Party on Saturday.

I started out by popping a batch of air popped corn. The recipe called for 4 quarts and I batch (1/2 cup unpopped) didn't quite make it to 4. So I made another small one to finish it off.
While that was popping, I put 1 c. brown sugar, 1/2 c. butter, 1/4 c. corn syrup, 1/2 t. salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a microwave safe bowl. I nuked it for three minutes and then took it out to stir. I then microwaved it for another 1 1/2 minutes. When you remove it from the microwave, you are going to stir in 1/2 t. baking soda. (This makes a cool reaction in your bowl.)

I put my popcorn in a brown paper grocery bag and poured the carmel mixture over it. Then shake it, shake it, shake it. Fold and roll down the top of the bag a few times so that it is sealed. Put the bag in the microwave for 1 min. and 1o sec. Take it and shake it. Turn the bag over and microwave again for 1 min. 10 sec. And shake.
Then you dump it onto wax paper and let it cool. Once you have eaten enough to burst, store the rest in an airtight container.

A New Friend

Allow me to introduce you to a new found friend. We have not been acquainted too long, but I already see this relationship going places. We have been spending some good quality time together as of late and frankly, it warms my heart. Even M is a fan, always a good thing to have the husband on board.

And here she is, Nestle French Vanilla Hot Cocoa Mix. So, so good on the cool fall evenings that we have been having. (And almost 100% caffeine free.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Foodie Friday: Autumnal Sausage Casserole

Update: My mom took my advice and cooked this up with stuffing mix instead of the rice. She said she browned the sausage, onion, and apple and then put it and a box of stuffing mix into the Crock Pot with the amount of water that the stuffing box called for. She said it cooked fast and she had to turn it down after a few hours. And my cooking intuition came through. She said it was delicious.
After reading about the CrockPot Lady making this for her family, I decided that I must try myself. Seeing as I have not made a pledge to use my CrockPot everyday this year, I decided to make it according to the Taste of Home website instead. (With a few tweaks, of course.)

I started by chopping the 1/2 cup of celery, 1 medium green apple, and 1 small yellow onion. I had a smoked sausage link that I substituted for the bulk sausage. I cooked these ingredients through on the stove top in 2 T. of butter.

While I was chopping, I started up the trusty old rice cooker and got 1 1/2 c. uncooked rice going. Once the rice was cooked, I added it to the other ingredients on the stove top.

I then seasoned the mix with cinnamon, all spice, salt and pepper. And put it all in a greased large rectangular glass baking dish. I let it bake for about 20 minutes at 350. (This is really just to make sure that the ingredients are heated through. I would think that you could skip this step if you are in a hurry as they just all came off the stove.)

M and I enjoyed this dish. It is very different for a casserole. M said it reminded him of rice pudding. The original recipe called for raisins and that grossed me out a bit. M thought that they would have been a good addition. You'll have to decided for yourself once you have explored your feelings on raisins in a casserole.

I was thinking that you could also skip the rice and add more of a stuffing mix instead.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

First Hair Cut

Our lawn got its first hair cut this weekend. I meant to take a picture while M was mowing, but that didn't happen. So, here is an after picture for you all to enjoy. We have been getting a ton of rain this month, so it is still looking good. (And we haven't been having to water it on our own. Bonus!) M bought a mower from a co-worker who was looking to buy a new one. This one doesn't seem very old at all and worked well the first time out. He is not sure whether I will like mowing with it as you have to squeeze the handle harder when you want it to be propelled faster. Maybe I will just leave all things yard to him. (I'll tend to the carpet. That seems fair. :o)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Wonderfully Lazy Saturdays

Despite good intentions of having a productive weekend at home, we ended up having a lazy Saturday. It was cold and rainy and that was enough of an excuse to stay home and enjoy doing nothing. M had just gotten a new Popular Machanics in the mail and happily spent the morning reading it cover to cover. I had just purchased a new book last weekend and decided to finish it off.
You know what? The soapscum, dust, and dirt are still there to take care of. They didn't go anywhere without me. :o) Maybe I should make it a productive Tuesday afternoon. Or maybe not . . .

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Foodie Friday: Individual Apple Cobblers

Sorry this is a day late. I hope that it isn't a dollar short. I have been wanting to make something with apples for a while now. It is the whole fall feeling. I even went as far as buying some green Granny Smiths a week ago. There they sat on the counter, getting sad because no one was eating them. I contemplated making Pinwheel Apple Cobbler I also thought about these Apple Dumplings on Pioneer Woman's blog, but in the end I settled for plane old apple cobbler. This time, however, I decided to make it in individual servings just for something fun.

I cut up three green Granny Smiths and added 1/3 cup of sugar and 1 T. of cinnamon. After greasing four ramekins, I filled each with the apple mixture. Using a pastry blender, I blended 3 T. of butter into 1/2 cup of flour, 1/4 cup of oatmeal, 1/8 cup of white sugar, 1/8 cup of brown sugar, and 1 T. cinnamon. I topped each ramekin with the butter/flour crumbs and baked for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

We tried to whip up our own cream, but unfortunately half and half doesn't whip well. We had it in the house and I thought that it was worth a try, oh well. After they cooled, we each enjoyed our own mini-cobbler and now have two more waiting in the fridge. (Okay, they are really calling my name right now, but I will try to wait until afternoon to gobble my cobbler.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

House Tour Part Six

The door to our master bedroom is located just off of the dinning area. M would prefer that it weren't and we wouldn't have to keep our bed made and room picked up. The paint is Valspar Terra Cotta Trail.

Nothing too exciting here, yet. (Can you see a theme?) I made curtains, but we didn't like how the rods we bought were hanging. So, we are looking for a different rod now. I would also like to paint the dresser that is in there. (You can't see it in the picture, but I painted it as a high schooler. It is primary colors in funky patterns right now. I would like to paint it a dark brown and maybe add a few green accents.) The quilt was a gift from my parents for our wedding. My mom is a super seamstress and quilter and made it herself. Hopefully I will get to my projects here and post more pictures later.

Here is the master/upstairs bathroom. M and my dad made the towel and robe hooks. I am thinking that we need some sort of art for the walls. I am not sure if it will be framed or painted directly on the walls.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

House Tour Part Five

Lets journey into the kitchen, shall we? The kitchen is located just a hop, skip, and jump from the dinning room.

In the foreground you will see our nibbler bar, aka peninsula. The stools (lovingly hand-painted by me when I first got my own apartment) will be replaced someday with four backed stools. For now, I can't get over how expensive stools are.
Another cupboard unit is planned for over the nibbler bar. We are thinking something a little more open there.
Otherwise, I am always losing my battle at keeping the counters free of clutter. Maybe I should just admit defeat.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

House Tour Part Four

Time to journey into the dinning area. Unless we have company we really don't make use of this area. But it sure is nice to have! We don't have a deck out the doors yet. We are planning on building that next summer. The dinning room is painted in Brush Meadow by Valspar.

Picture #1) The table is also a hand-me-down from my parents. We picked up the chairs at World Market this summer.

Picture #2) Ah, the appliance shelf. We originally bought this for our apartment. We had a small kitchen there and we have many appliances. I was really hoping to not use this in the house, but it wasn't working. The open floor plan took away some cupboards and we were short. (That is also why we ended up with the hutch.) Maybe someday we will put a built-in here.

Picture #3) Some fall decor on top of the shelf.

Monday, October 6, 2008

House Tour Part Three

Okay, now you can come up the stairs to our living room. It is an open floor plan, so you can also see the kitchen and dinning room in the distance. We'll cover those another day. The living room is painted in Homestead Resort Pumpkin from Valspar.

Picture #1) To your right you will see our little corner area. This is where we currently have the baker's rack. We would like to see some sort of large shelving unit in here eventually. We saw one made of squares that we really liked at the furniture store. Maybe M can recreate it for us someday. There is also a closet that we really use as a pantry. You can access our upstairs bath through the open door as well. This corner also houses our hutch. This hutch is a hand-me-down from my parents. It is the hutch I remember having from little on. We are working at replacing the hardware, but I think that is all that we will do. I was surprised at how good the wood matches our trim.

Picture #2) To your left is the living area. You will recognize Carmen from her previous post.

Picture #3) Our current entertainment center. M would like to get a flat screen someday. I would also like M to build some sort of narrow shelved that we could put on either side. Until then, I may just repaint the dresser and call it good.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

House Tour Part Two

Now that you have seen the front door, come on in! Welcome to the entryway. From this point you can either go up or down. (A classic split level.) But for today, you will just have to stay put.

Picture #1) This way up/This way down

Picture #2) Looking in from the garage.

Picture #3) A close up of our mirror unit. (This is where my Willow Tree Angel collection currently resides.)

Picture #4) Looking down from up above.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

House Tour

Here is the moment you've been waiting for--updated house pictures. (Okay, maybe it isn't that exciting, but I have had a few of you ask for them.)

I will be out of town for a few days, and thought that it would be the perfect time to give you a tour of our home. Also, I just got the fall decorations out last weekend and I am loving how it all looks. So, throughout the next few days, you are invited into our home. Please remember that it is a work in progress. I am having some problems putting things up on the walls. (They are new, I don't want to put holes in them. Also, I am not sure how I want everything to look since we are waiting on key pieces yet.) I am not worried, though. It feels like home to us.

Also, I have not included any downstairs pictures. We don't have that at all set up yet. You will have to stay tuned for those.

Without further ado, welcome to our home!

Picture #1) This is our front porch. It is one of my favorite features of our home. We are thinking that we might change the pillar at some time to a craftsman style. We would also like to put some window boxes in under the windows. I am thinking red.

Picture #2) A close-up of the metal basket hanging on our front door.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Foodie Friday: Blueberry Scones

Its no secret that I have a weakness for good coffee. And nothing goes better with coffee than a delicious bakery product. In my dream world I could swing by Starbucks every morning on my way to work and order a tall coffee and a scone. In the real world, that would cost over $100 a month. Hmm, not going to happen. So, once in a while I dabble in the bakery business. This last Friday I baked up a batch of some good old blueberry scones. They were not quite Starbucks quality, but they are gone. Must count for something.

I found a new recipe to try on the Food Network website. I followed the recipe for the most part. (Shocking, I know.) I did use frozen blueberries which made the dough a bit too sticky. I probably added another half cup of flour when I was kneading the dough. I also used the leftover egg white and brushed the scones before baking.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hablo Espanol?

Today was "Read for the Record 2008." This is a program sponsored by Jumpstart promoting literacy and reading to children. The goal is to have as many people as possible read the same book to children across the nation on the same day. This year the book was "Corduroy." I signed my class up to participate. Then I was off to check if we had the book in our preschool collection. (Thanks to my handy-dandy spreadsheet that I made this summer of all of the preschool's books, it was a snap. See, spreadsheets pay!) Sure enough, we had "Corduroy." I dug it out of the hundreds of books in our preschool reading area and set it on the pile to read this week.

I decided to go ahead and read it yesterday as a teaser to the read-a-thon today. I did my best to make the preschoolers excited about reading the same book as thousands of other kids in our country. Then I opened the book and stared in disbelief as the edition we had was in Spanish! I explained the problem to the kids and while many said they could count in Spanish, thanks to Dora, they agreed that they wouldn't be able to understand the entire story in Spanish. Nor would they be able to sit for an entire story that they didn't understand one single word. Nor would their teacher's 10 year old rusty Spanish be able to do it justice.

There was no backing off of the read-a-thon at this point as I had already published it in our class' weekly newsletter. So, it was off to the book store for me. Good thing I decided to introduce the idea yesterday so that I could save face and still join in the read-a-thon today.

And so, today we joined with thousands of children across the nation and read "Corduroy"--in English.