September 26, 2014

Cooking Up Memories: Pumpkin Bread

It's the first week of Fall and we are in our new house!  I was so excited when we found this house in August and I knew I'd get to decorate it for Fall!  So in honor of that, my first recipe to cook in the new kitchen is Pumpkin Bread.

I was first introduced to Pumpkin Bread by Nicki during our years at Baylor.  She would make it every Fall and share it with me :)  A few years ago I found a recipe for Pumpkin Muffins that I really like so I usually make those each year.  But I got a recipe for Pumpkin Bread from a co-worker in my wedding gifts, so I decided to try this one out.  I just pulled the loaves out of the oven, so I tried one fresh-from-the-oven slice and it was yummy! Can't wait to enjoy more of it

Pumpkin Bread
*3 cups Flour *2 teaspoons baking soda *1 teaspoon salt *1 teaspoon cinnamon *3 heaping teaspoons pumpkin pie spice *3 cups Sugar
-Sift all these dry ingredients together
Add: *1 cup oil *4 eggs *2/3 cup Water *1 15ounce can Pumpkin Puree 
Mix well and separate into 2 greased bread pans.  
Bake at 350 for 60 minutes {mine needed 65 minuted to cook completely}

And a quick sneak peak of our kitchen!
 Love my island and the built-ins right by the kitchen to add space.  I'm using that area for all of my baking stuff!

A view from the entry
I loved this free print that I found on Pinterest, so I had it printed and added it to my kitchen decor!
And today I finished up our Command Center.  I made the chalkboard calendar, added a few pockets for mail, receipts and coupons, a mason jar pen holder and a shelf for keys and miscellaneous items!

Pictures of the rest of the house will have to wait a few weeks.  I'm not decorating or getting much settled until after the repairs we're having done the first week of October--so after that I'll get it set up and show the rest off!

September 17, 2014

Cooking Up Memories: King Ranch Chicken

This recipe came from my sister-in-law's mom.  The shower where I got all of my recipes was held at her house and she is a wonderful hostess.  She gave me this recipe along with the recipes for the food she made for my shower, so I look forward to trying those too!

We are in our final few days in our apartment so my kitchen is pretty sparse right now (in fact I had to unpack a mixing bowl to make this recipe!).  So this is the last dinner I'll be making in our apartment.  I waited until the beginning of the week to make it in hopes that it'll get us through the rest of this week (along with a soup I made over the weekend).  So now the dishes are in the dishwasher and tonight my kitchen will be packed up for good!

David said he really liked this recipe.  I haven't been feeling well so I didn't actually eat any last night, but plan to try some later this week :)

King Ranch Chicken
*2-3 cups grated colby cheese {I used cheddar because we had it and are in the process of using up what we have in our kitchen!} *1 can each cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, and cream of celery soup--Mix well with tomatoes and cream *1/2 can Rotel Tomatoes *8 ounces sour cream *Cooked Cubed Chicken 2-3 cups {I mixed this in with the soup, tomato, cream mixture as well}*Corn Tortillas
-Layer torn corn tortillas, soup mixture & colby cheese
-Repeat ending with cheese
-Bake at 350 for 45 minutes

This was an easy and filling weeknight meal!

September 14, 2014


We are officially Home owners!

I've been looking at houses for months just to see what is available and in July David brought up the idea of starting to seriously look and try to find something.  So we went through the process of getting pre-approved for a loan and contacted a realtor... and then I went out of town for a week and a half (ha!).  When I got back at the end of July we went on our first home tours.

When we had originally looked at houses a few months ago we had looked mostly in Richardson.  There was a house that I fell in love with there and it went off the market in June, but it kept me thinking about what else was out there.  But by the time July came we had started considering a search in East Plano.  So our first few weeks we limited the search to a few neighborhoods in East Plano.  Our church partners with an Elementary school there, so we thought it would be neat to move into that neighborhood and plug in more that way.  We put offers on 2 different houses and both of them fell through.

Then we spent a week checking all the listings and not a single new house was listed in that zip code for the entire week.  So we started talking about looking in Richardson again just to "see what's out there."  We went and looked at 8 houses in Richardson about a month ago and when we got to the 2nd to last house I just felt like I was home.  I had seen the pictures of it online and really liked it, but I always dismissed it because it was further west and south than anything else we were considering.

But we really liked the home that day.  And we did some research on the neighborhood and the schools and started to feel like maybe that was the place we were supposed to be.  The school there is similar to the one our church partners with (and it's right across the street from our house) and as an added bonus this house is really close to UTD and all of the international students we hang out with! So we put an offer in the next morning and it was accepted that night!  

And thus began the crazy process of inspections and quotes and packing.

We closed last week and got the keys on Monday!

Monday night David and I met over there to go into the house for the first time by ourselves.  And we took Lily for her to explore her new home and yard (she was a fan!)
I absolutely love my new kitchen (and all of the house!).  And did I mention the pool?  Something we were definitely not looking for, but excited to have it!

We spent today getting lots of errands run--we went to IKEA, Target, Staples, Home Depot, and Walmart to get some of the necessities and extras as we get ready to move in next week.  Now to finish packing up this week and then get settled in to our very first home!

More pictures to come once it's all set up!

September 13, 2014

Year of Dates: Football Movie

David and I are both big college football fans.  So of course our September date was a football date.  I let David choose which movie he wanted to watch.  We have several football movies, but he decided to rent Draft Day since neither of us had seen it!

 We spent most of last weekend packing up our apartment for our move (note the empty shelves surrounding our TV!), so it was nice to take some time off on Sunday afternoon and cuddle up on the couch to watch a movie!  We both really liked the movie a lot

And here we are tonight getting ready to watch the OU/Tennessee game.  I love all of the activities this time of year, but I also really enjoy Fall afternoons and evenings when we get to stay home and catch a football game!

September 12, 2014

Cooking Up Memories: Chicken Parmesan

We are moving into our new house in about a week, so I have been trying hard to clean out our pantry, freezer, and fridge by cooking things that we already have the ingredients for.  I'm also using this month to make a lot of main dish recipes since we're trying to find meals that will last us a few days in the midst of all the craziness.  This Chicken Parmesan was the perfect recipe for both things--the only thing I had to buy was the Parmesan cheese.  I love the fridge to freezer chicken from Costco--you get the whole sale price but they are already split up into 1 lb of chicken each vacuum sealed packs so they are easy to thaw a little at a time for different recipes.  

 I had a busy end of the day at work yesterday and ended up getting home later than I planned, so it was nice that this recipe was really easy to put together

I served it with the rest of the spaghetti from our pantry and some broccoli from our freezer.  Our friend Barton came over last night so he joined us for dinner and I think this got the nod of approval from both the guys :)

Chicken Parmesan {Recipe from my sister-in-law Rachel!}
*4 deboned chicken breasts *1 stick butter *1/8 teaspoon garlic powder *3/4 cup pepperidge farm dried bread crumbs {Obviously from the picture above, mine are Walmart brand ;)} *3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
-Melt butter and mix in garlic powder
-In a separate, shallow dish, combine bread crumbs and parmesan cheese
-Dip chicken breasts in butter, then into the bread crumb/parmesan cheese combination
-Place chicken breasts in 8x11 or 9x12 pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray
-Cover pan with foil
-Bake at 350 30 minutes covered with foil and another 30 minutes uncovered until golden brown and tender
{One thing I loved about this recipe was that nothing really has to be measured.  A stick of butter, a sprinkle of garlic powder, I measured out the bread crumb, but just used 3 handfuls of cheese instead of measuring it... nothing has to be too exact which made it a great recipe for me!}

I don't make a whole lot of Italian food at home, so this was a nice change from our usual meals!

September 6, 2014

Cooking Up Memories: Crockpot Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti

This is one of my favorite recipes.  My sister in law had given me this recipe a few years back when I first got my Crock Pot and had asked for suggestions.  I made it several times when I was single and would eat off of it for a week and still be able to freeze some for another time.  For some reason, I haven't made it for David since he and I have been together but now seemed like a good time!

 It's a crock pot recipe, but not one you can let cook all day while you're gone.  But it is perfect for this weekend while we are spending our days packing up our apartment--I got it started and then checked on it occasionally and then we had lunch ready!

A whole crock pot full of Chicken Spaghetti. We'll see how long it lasts now that I have to share it with a boy ;)

Crockpot Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti
*16 ounces spaghetti {I used whole wheat this time} *1 lb Velveeta light cheese *2 12.5 ounce cans of chicken breasts, drained *1 can 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup *1 can 98% fat free cream of chicken soup *1 can rotel {I only used about half so it wasn't too spicy for me} *1/2 cup water
-Cook and drain the spaghetti according to it's instructions
-Spray crockpot with Pam {I usually use the crockpot liners for this one because it can be hard to clean up, but I was out of them, so Pam it was!}
-Combine all ingredients and stir
-Cook 2-3 hours.  Stir often {our was ready after 2 hours.  I stir it every half hour or so}

Very yummy lunch for our day at home!

September 3, 2014

Fall Crafts

Labor Day weekend I always start wanting to get ready for Fall.  It's still hot outside and I try not to wish away the time, but I just love fall so much that it's hard to wait!  We will be moving in a few weeks to our new house, so it's not time to decorate for fall just yet here.  Instead I decided to work on a few crafts this weekend to get ready for our new house (it was way more fun than packing!)

A few weeks ago Michaels had all of their canvases on sale, so I stopped to see what I could find.  I debated about a few different kinds, but ended up getting 7 11x14" canvases for $12!  So this weekend I found uses for a few.

This was the first thing I knew I wanted to make.  It's based on this pin that I found on pinterest and seemed like something I could do.  I bought some stickers to help paint the words on.  My favorite way to paint it to paint a couple of base coats of one color, let them dry and then put stickers on to spell out whatever I want, then I paint over them a couple coats of the main color.  Then I let it dry and peel the stickers off!  So I painted the orange on this canvas, but then when I started putting my stickers down they were a little too big to fit the whole words, so I had to pause on this canvas.  We made it to the store later in the weekend so I was able to finish this one last.  

I also took an idea from this post about how to get crisp lines when painting.  She suggested painting over the stickers (or vinyl or contact paper like she used) with mod podge and letting that dry before the final layers of paint.  This helps keep the paint from seeping under the stickers, etc.  And it seemed to work pretty well!

 When I took a pause from the first canvas, I started playing around with the stickers I had bought for that one.  I still really liked them and since I already had out the letters for "thankful" I decided to try out give thanks.  I loved the way it looked so I set to work on that canvas.  I used the same technique with that part and then after the blue paint dried I used stencils for the "In All Things"

And the first weekend of college football always gets me really excited.  I was searching Pinterest for ideas for flags for our front yard and I came across this cute sign and thought I could make something like it.  I used masking tape to try to keep my lines separated easily.  I traced the football onto the canvas first and taped around it.  Then I painted the top yellow.  Once it dried I used dot labels and painted over with the green to make the polka dots.  On the bottom I used masking tape to mark off the white part and painted over red for the chevron.  Lastly I painted the football and used stencils for the words.

I'm really happy with how all of these turned out.  They are nowhere near perfect, but I know I will have a lot of fun displaying them in our new house!