46 / 52 : “Balloons”

What is it about those colorful, drifting ovals? Light as air, tied to a string, static electricity, happy decor, joyful atmosphere – it just isn’t a birthday around here without a flock of floating fun. This year my little boy is a big man…sigh… We celebrated with just the four of us and went out to dinner, per the birthday boy’s request, to Chick-fil-A. I made him a chocolate chip cookie cake. YUM. It was nice.

46 / 52 : “Balloons”

Balloons

I love a birthday. I love planning them, I love photographing, participating, celebrating, eating, gift-giving…it is a beautiful thing. Last night I decorated the house a bit so the birthday kid would wake up to find streamers, balloons, signs, etc… It was precious to hear little feet trot down the hall, then little voices say, “Mommy! There is a birthday out there!” Makes staying up late WORTH. IT.

Birthday boy

Here is the most handsome child I have ever seen with his cookie cake. I found the recipe here, via Pinterest, then embellished it with a little icing and sprinkles. It is reaaaaaally good. I had always wanted to make a giant chocolate chip cookie!

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27 / 52 : “TomatO-K”

So the only thing our little garden is producing is some pretty tomatoes. Everything else….its just sad. It is our fault, our inexperience. We are just going to move on and possibly try a little fall planting. I am researching and learning…we will see.

27 / 52 : “TomatO-K”

There really is nothing like a YUMMY, garden fresh tomato. Nor anything as gratifying as eating from your own garden. I believe everyone should try it.

Beyond Excited

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To my surprise, after searching all over the many, many flowers on my pretty plant I found this gem. I squealed with delight…it made my night! It is funny the things that make me happy nowadays. Hopefully there is more to come! Just thought I’d share… ūüôā

Spider’s Web

I was out in my garden and noticed a little glimmer on my tomato plant. I moved closer and the sunlight caught this work of art aglow. Spider webs are intricate and delicate, truly amazing. I may not be a fan of the artist, but I do love the masterpicece.

My pretty cucumber….now if it would only produce a cucumber…

My tomatoes are doing well…at least that’s something!

Garden Additions

This week we added a couple new containers to our garden. The kids and I picked up two new plants I had been looking for from our local Farmer’s Market last weekend. I am very excited about these two. I think next year we will do all our plant choosing from the Farmer’s Market in Colonial – organic and beautiful!

Zucchini – one of my absolute favorites

Bush Cucumber – interested to see how this grows

Garden Update

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I am pretty excited to say that there are already some blooming tomato plants in our little garden! I am so happy with the progress and growth of our veggie plants…there is hope yet for this thumb to turn green.

17 / 52 : “Green Thumb”

This portrait is a part of me that I hope will flourish this year. I do not know much about plants or gardening…but here’s to this year’s harvest! My husband built us these fantastic planter boxes for our little patio and did the heavy lifting and planting for this year’s attempt at vegetables. Last year did not go so well, but this time we are much better prepared and I think our little garden looks pretty!

17 / 52 : “Green Thumb”

We have yellow squash, tomatoes, and a few varieties of peppers. Last year was a  sad time in the garden with almost no veggies to harvest. This year, so far, the plants look pretty happy. They have only been planted about 5 days and are already growing. If I can grow something then anyone can! Seriously.

I am already stockpiling my recipes in hopes for some yummy fresh vegetables from our garden to fill them. Last year the only plants that gave us a few chances to make some recipes were our banana peppers. There were some yummy times; hoping for more chances and variety this year.

We had such a fun family time outside gardening. The kids loved helping with the dirt and plants…maybe their special touch will help our garden grow!

For Dinner

Thought I would share a bit of yummy. A sort of unspoken “new year’s resolution” of mine was to be more creative in the kitchen. I didn’t really plan on it, but it has happened and I am having a lot of fun drowning in all kinds of recipes. I find them in magazines, pinterest, email, blogs, websites, word of mouth, etc… love all kinds of recipes! Usually, I make at least one or two new meals a week. It has made dinners fun, well, maybe not for my picky children…haha…

My favorite type of recipe is one that does not have a lot of rare/uncommon ingredients, simple directions, fresh ingredients and one that offers substitutions and options. I found my dinner recipe off of the¬†Kraft Foods¬†website. Their recipes rarely fail me and they usually uphold all of my qualifications for a “good recipe.”

I provided the link to the recipe above, but I tweaked it a tiny bit, so here is what I made for dinner tonight:

Broccoli & Cheddar Quiche

  • 1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped vidalia onion
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 frozen deep-dish pie crust (9-in)

Heat oven to 375.

Cook vegetables in skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium heat for 5 minutes or until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Beat eggs, mayonnaise, and milk in a medium bowl with a whisk until well blended. Stir in vegetable mixture and cheese; pour into pie crust. Place on a baking sheet.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until center of quiche is set and top is golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing to serve.

Hello YUM! I was so excited because it actually cooked properly and tasted fantastic! Things I make for the first time don’t always come out cooked the way they should…but this did! I love finding and making really good meatless meals. This is only a semi-healthy meal, but it was tasty! Try and enjoy if you’d like ūüôā

 

Crock Pot Recipe

Here is the recipe I tried out last night, if anyone is interested. I originally found it on Pinterest through another blogger (www.skinnytaste.com). Now, I don’t know if I have some sort of super crock pot, but most recipes I try out in it usually take about half the time they are supposed to. So for me, the recipe took about 3 1/2 hours, but I was able to use the “keep warm” function to not let it overcook until dinner time. I served it over brown rice and it was really good!

Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken

  • 24 oz (1 1/2) lbs chicken breast
  • 14.4 oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
  • 15 oz can black beans
  • 8 oz frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 14.4 oz can fat free chicken broth
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • salt to taste

Combine tomatoes, beans, corn, cilantro, chicken broth, scallions, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt in the crock pot.
Season chicken breast with salt and lay on top.
Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred.
Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in.
Adjust
 salt and seasoning.
Serve over rice.

Follow-up: Recipes Tried

In case you are hungry for a very Mexican dish or a vegetarian pasta dish, the two I tried last week were a pretty good success!

First: Chicken Tortilla Bake


1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-in cubes
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil, divided
1 can (16 oz) refried beans
1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes with mild green chilies, drained
8 flour tortillas (8 in), cut into 1-in strips
1 can (11 oz) Mexicorn, drained
2 cups (8 oz) shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, saute the chicken, cumin and salt in 1 tbsp oil until chicken is no longer pink.

Combine the refried beans and tomatoes; spread 1 cup into a greased 11-in x 7-in baking dish. Top with 24 tortilla strips; layer with half of the corn, bean mixture, chicken and cheese. Repeat layers.

Using remaining tortilla strips make a lattice crust over filling; brush with remaining oil. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Yield: 6 servings.

When I made it, my casserole dish was more of a 9-in square and I forgot to drain the tomatoes…but that didn’t seem to make a difference. It was interesting as I fudged around with making a lattice with cut up tortillas; it came out decent. All in all, it was basically a Mexcian¬†lasagna and it was pretty tasty!

 

Second: Cheesy Broccoli Rigatoni

12 oz uncooked rigatoni or large tube pasta
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
2-1/2 cups fat free milk
5 cups fresh broccoli florets
2 cups (8 oz) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, saute garlic in butter over medium heat for 1 minute. Stir in flour and salt until blended. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; set aside. Drain pasta and toss with oil; set aside.

In a large saucepan, bring 1 inch of water and broccoli to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5-8 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse with cold water.

In a 13-in x 9-in baking dish coated with cooking spray, layer 1 cup white sauce, half of the pasta and broccoli and 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat layers. Top with remaining sauce and cheese.

Cover and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 10 servings.

With this recipe everything went great until I forgot the cooking spray (it didn’t seem to matter), then I realized that the broccoli needed to have already been cooked or done at the same time as the sauce. The recipe didn’t make that very clear…to me anyway. The sauce sat too long and thickened too much waiting for the broccoli to cook, so the dish was a little sticky in my opinion. Still tasted great though, the fresh broccoli made is soooo great!! The other thing was that the foil cover needed to come off for the last 5-10 minutes of cooking to really heat the dish through.

Neither recipe was hard to do as it is clear I am no chef. Try if you may and I’m sure you will enjoy!