New Discovery

Nate said to me “I think it’s funny how you’ve just now discovered, books can be good.”  This is after I’d read a book all night and all day because I couldn’t possibly do anything else until I knew how the story ended.  Too bad it is part of a trilogy, so I got no resolve at the end of the first book!  But the first book was so dang good, I literally couldn’t put it down and even when I tried, all I thought about were the characters.  Which book was I reading?

When I choose to read this book, I’d never heard of it.  I didn’t know anything about it except that it had over 11,000 ratings on ibooks.  So I thought, why not?  Even posted a status update on my Facebook.  Little did I know, how raunchy and sexual this whole book is!  So be forewarned…I’m glad I wasn’t because I may not have started it 🙂  Even though the raunch level is quite high, there is something about this book, the writing, the character development, that just keeps you wanting to know more.  My one complaint would be, that the author used the word “murmur” way too much.  Can’t wait to start 50 Shades Darker!

After I finished the book and returned from la la land.  Nate had Sunday afternoon off, so he took me for a boat ride, and did some fishing.  It was awesome, relaxing, and we had the most beautiful weather you could ask for to be out on the lake.  Nate caught a catfish, guess what we will be eating at some point this week?

Aint he cute? (Nate not the fish!)
Like my boat shoes?

 I’ve tried out so many face products, I could open up a convenience store in my bathroom.  I’ve been on the search for the perfect facial cleansers and products for what feels like my whole life.  Looking for the products I can use for more than a week with out drying out my skin or the complete opposite.  That’s been my problem, some products work great for a few days then all the sudden, they just stop or take a turn for the worst…anyone else have that happen?  Well, I finally found products that I’ve been using for an extended period of time and have had great results and am borderline obsessed!!

Visibly Bright™ Daily Facial Cleanser

I use this on my face every morning.  Something about the scent itself just perks me right up.  It leaves my face feeling clean, smooth, and ready for the day.  After about 4 days of use, I noticed a HUGE difference in my skin tone and was blemish-free.  

After cleaning my face I always use this on a cotton ball… It helps remove any impurities the cleanser may have missed and doesn’t remove any of the moisture in my face.  The alcohol-free is the trick to this one!  And after the toner, comes the moisturizing lotion.

Alcohol-Free Toner

A key to having clear, smooth, even-toned skin is exfoliating.  You can wash and moisten your face all day long and still not have the perfectly soft skin I know you all want.  I’ve found that exfoliating your skin at least 1-2 times a week works wonders!  Be sure to put on lotion afterwards because exfoliating does dry out your skin.  I’ve fallen madly in love with Aveeno’s POSITIVELY AGELESS® Resurfacing Scrub.  Compared to other exfoliating scrubs, this one seems to be more gentle and really gets down into your face and buffs it.  You can feel the grit in the scrub, but other exfoliators I’ve used in the past, the grit almost felt like huge beads and didn’t really get the job done.  This stuff is like what fine sand paper does to wood, leaves you with a smooth, even, clean, and perfect surface! (yea girl, I just compared your face to a piece of wood!)

Just a few of my latest and greatest discoveries 🙂  And for the record, I was NOT contacted by any of these companies to review their products.  I went to the drug store on my own mission and succeeded.  So I wanted to share in case any of you are looking for great products to solve your skin problems too!  xoxo

Now, back to food… 🙂

Lasagna Pie

How awesome is the feeling when a recipe lightbulb goes off in your head?  And how much more awesome if the feeling with that recipe actually works out and is delicious?  Pretty dang awesome!  It started when I was pondering what to make for dinner Friday night after a hellacious week at work for the two of us.  First I thought about the comforting power and simplicity of lasagna and then I started craving crescent rolls.  Crescent rolls are the but not the best bread to slop up the leftover lasagna sauce…what to do, what to do. LASAGNA PIE!  

The crust of course is made out of crescent rolls (a whole lot quicker and simpler than making pie crust). And the pie filling is made up of all your classic lasagna ingredients minus the noodle.  I almost put a layer of noodles but then I thought it would be weird.  And because there are no noodles in this recipe, I believe lasagna pie is even easier and quicker to throw together than a regular lasagna. Nate said dinner smelled great while it was in the oven, and when I brought him his first piece and he took his first bite he said “I could eat 10 slices of this pie!”  So I would consider this lasagna pie a HUGE success and if you don’t mind, I think I’ll pat myself on the back right now 🙂

Lasagna Pie

Lasagna Pie Slice
Lasagna Pie Crust

1 12oz tube of large crescent roll dough
1 lb ground beef (or sausage or even turkey)
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup marinara sauce
2 teaspoons italian seasoning
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

Spray a 9.5″ pie dish with non-stick spray and line the dish with the crescent roll triangles.  You are forming the crust for your pie. (refer to picture)  Then bake the crust in the oven for 10 minutes.

Season the ground beef with salt and pepper.  Cook the beef over medium heat until browned / cooked through.  Drain as much grease out of the pot as possible.

Remove the pie crust from oven and add the cooked beef on top of the crust.  Form an even layer with the meat.  Sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella over top of the meat.  Place back in the oven for about 5 minutes.  You just want to melt the cheese layer.

Remove the pie from the oven and add a layer of ricotta cheese (depending on how much you care for ricotta, adjust the amount).  Pour the sauce over top of the the ricotta, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon italian seasoning.  Next, add the rest of the mozzarella over the top of your pie and sprinkle with another teaspoon of italian seasoning.

Bake the pie for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melted.  Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes before slicing.  Pat yourself on the back and enjoy!

New Console Table and Storage Ottomans *UPDATE*

Remember this post?  We needed more storage in our living room and a place for misc. items to “land”.  So I went with a console table with drawers and 2 storage ottomans that double as extra seating when needed.  The ottomans have really come in handy because they hide Nate’s ugly xbox controllers (love you) and extra tv wires.  But the table top felt blank because it…was blank.  This past weekend I finally did something about it. (excuse the poor photo quality, my phone didn’t know any better)

console table with storage

I purchased the burlap table runner, the wood serving platter, and the cute fruit bowl from Target.  The bowl is actually Nate’s “drop off” place.  When ever he gets home from work there is no telling where he will lay his keys down or drop off his hat and sunglasses or where his wallet will end up.  Now they all get dropped off in this nifty little bowl!  Problem solved!  Found the lamp at Pier1 and got it for $30 (not bad!) and took a trip to A. C. Moore to pick up a Paula Deen candle and some fake flowers to dress up the table.  Now, next on the list is some wall art or a mirror!

Hope everyone has an awesome weekend, I know I’m ready for it!

Lemon Crackle Cookies

Source:  Tidy Mom
So I’ve mentioned before that I work at a plant nursery.  My co-workers and I could be certified as plant geeks.  Surprisingly, many of them are excellent cooks and bakers!  So when it was time for the annual volunteer potluck, I got super excited because a) would have yummy food to eat b) wouldn’t have to pack my lunch that day.  For a successful potluck, everyone has to bring a dish to contribute to the feast.  And even if you can’t cook, pick up a 2 liter of soda or some napkins, but you must help out in some way.  If you don’t and you never have, you are really lame, and I’ve got news for you, everyone knows who you are!! You’re not flying under the radar like you may have thought.

Anyhoo, I decided to bring a dessert this time.  I’d seen these cookies on pinterest and thought they looked cute, so I had to see if they were also tasty.  And they are, score!  What’s great about this recipe is that is uses cake mix, which if you’ve been following my blog, you know I love me some cake mixes.  You can trade out different flavors of cake mix based on the flavor you are craving.  This time I used lemon, but would also try orange, strawberry, pineapple, and chocolate mixes.  I’m starting to think these would be delicious with 2 sandwiched together with icing in the middle!

Lemon Crackle Cookies

Lemon Crackle Cookies

1 box Lemon Cake Mix
1 8 oz container Cool Whip
1 egg
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°

In medium bowl, beat cool whip, egg and cake mix until well blended. The dough will be thick and very sticky.  If you don’t like getting your hands dirty, just stop now 🙂

Drop by teaspoonfuls (I just eyeballed mine.  I grabbed whatever felt good!) into a bowl of powdered sugar and roll around to coat.  *I found if I dusted my fingers with some powdered sugar to begin with, less of the dough would stick to my fingers and it would drop into the bowl much easier!

Line the cookie dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 – 14 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let sit on the baking sheet for a few minutes to harden up before moving to a cookie rack to finish cooling.

Enjoy! And get creative!

Hunger Hits Home

Something that I feel is very important came to my attention.  Hunger Hits Home.  Many people have made it their mission to help feed children all over the world, which is awesome, but how often do you hear of people feeding the children we have here in our country?  It is hard to take a look at your own country and realize, we too have hungry children right here at home.

Here are 5 facts about childhood hunger in the United States:

1.  More than 16 million kids in America live in households that struggle to put
food on the table. That’s 1 out of 5 kids.

2.  There were also over 16.4 million children in America living in poverty in 2010.
That’s almost 1 million more than in 2009.

3.  9.8 million kids get free or reduced-price school breakfast on an average
school day, more than ever before…but 10.5 million eligible kids go without.

4.  Only 1 in 7 kids who get free and reduced-priced school lunches receive
summer meals.

5.  Almost 45 million Americans used SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
Program, formerly food stamps) during 2011. Nearly 75 percent of these are in
families with children and more than a quarter are in households with seniors
or people with disabilities.

All 5 of these facts surprised me, but the one that really stuck out was #4.  We’ve all seen children in the lunch lines at school who receive free or reduced-price meals.  Have you ever stopped to think, that may be their ONLY meal that day?  I’ve never realized until today, what do these children do in the summer?  They go hungry.  And no child should go hungry.

What can you do?

Donate to Hunger Hits Home

Sign the Petition to Support Hunger Hits Home

Check out the trailer for Hunger Hits Home on Food Network

Watch the documentary premiering April 14 at 8pm/7c on Food Network

Yum Yum Sauce

Okay, this recipe is a little more advanced than the ones I’ve already shared.  Once you learn how to do it though, it is actually a very easy dish to prepare.  And man oh man is this sauce delicious!  It is my absolute favorite sauce to eat with my fish.  When Nate first made this sauce when we were dating years and years ago, we named it “Yum Yum Sauce”.  Anytime I wanted this dish, I’d just ask him to make Yum Yum Sauce and he’d know exactly what I was talking about (And he refers to it as Yum Yum Sauce!).
My mother and granny don’t particularly like seafood.  But when Nate made this dish for them, they cleaned their plates!  They always say that this is the only sauce that can convince them to eat fish.
Remember in my previous post I was talking about my bucket list?  One of the items was that I wanted to catch a fish and eat it too.  So this is the final piece before I could check this off the list!  Because I was cooking this dish myself for the first time, Nate was allowed to be in the kitchen with me and instruct me on what to do.  And since my hands were full, guess who got to play photographer?  ROLE REVERSAL! 

*If I can cook this, then so can you!*

2 fish fillets
corn starch, enough to coat the fish
olive oil
½ a Lemon
1-2 cups tomatoes, diced
basil, chiffonade
1-2 Garlic cloves, minced
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup white wine
5-8 tablespoons butter
1. Place fish in a shallow dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and add some corn starch over the top.  Rub the corn starch onto the fillets until they are covered…this is called dredging.  Dredging is a method used to provide a barrier to what you are cooking from sticking directly to the pan, add a golden color, prevent what you are cooking from becoming tough on the inside, and depending what you dredge with, it will thicken your sauce.
2. In a pan or skillet large enough to accommodate your fish fillets, heat olive oil (add enough to make an even layer on the bottom of the pan) medium to medium high heat.  Add each fillet to the pan and let cook on each side.  How to know when to flip?  The fillets will seem to have stuck to the bottom of the pan, but when each side is done, the fish will easily lift from the pan.  Also, if you give the pan a gentle shake, the fillet should move freely instead of being stuck.  Then give the underside a sneak peak to see if the color is golden.
3. Once the fish have finished cooking, remove to a plate and set aside.  Using the same pan and leaving the juices in there, add the garlic.  Let garlic sauté until its aromatic and starting to become a golden color (not burnt!).  Then add your tomatoes and add juice from half a lemon.  Let than simmer for a few minutes, then add your wine.  Stir together and simmer again for a couple minutes. 
4. Add the cream and stir to combine.  Reduce the sauce by half…WAIT what does that mean anyway?  When it comes to THIS sauce, here is what you are looking for: you should be able to draw a line down the middle with your spoon, and the line will stay there and not fill in with sauce.
5. Gradually add the butter 1 TABLESPOON AT A TIME.  You want to stir in each tablespoon of butter until the sauce becomes thick, shiny, and velvety looking.  The trick here is to keep the sauce heated and hot, but do NOT let it boil.  Boiling the sauce will break your sauce and that’s just embarrassing.
Guess what?  Hate to burst your bubble, but you just made a fancy-schmancy beurre blanc!
6. Give the sauce a little taste, add another tablespoon of butter if needed and adjust the salt and pepper (The sauce should taste rich and buttery, but the butter shouldn’t over power the rest of the ingredients).  Stir in the basil.  Pour the yum yum sauce over the fish.  Wah la! You’re done. 
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Step 6 (if you thought you couldn’t drown a fish, you were wrong.  Cause I just did!)

Descaling and Filleting My First Fish

One of the “to do’s” on my bucket list was to catch a fish and eat it.  Sounds simple enough,  but it took me 26 years to get the chance to do this.  While at the beach I caught my first “real” fish, descaled and filleted it myself, and cooked it at home.  Of course, I had my handsome instructor to guide me the whole time, but I still consider myself a pro now.

Descaling was awesome.  Now I know what to do after a stressful day at work.  Actually, fishing at the beach in general was so relaxing and I thoroughly enjoyed it…just don’t tell the hunter boys or else I’ll be forced to get up at the butt crack of dawn to tag along on their fishing excursions!

While on the beach, Nate would “fillet” some of the puffer fish to use as bait.  Something about cutting an animal that is still alive just gets to me, but filleting this fish, I had no moral problems with it!  So I guess I could never hurt a fly, unless it was already dead haha. But really, was this any different?

Descaling.  Grab that sucker by the tail and give the fish a back rub with the back of the knife.  All the scales should fly out…all over the place.  No one said this wouldn’t be messy!

You can run your finger over the fish to check for missed scales.  They are easy to feel, so just keep going until the fish is nice and soft (the scales are rough/hard).  Yes I am wearing a Backstreet Boys t-shirt to do this.  I think that just makes me more of a bad ass 🙂

Sorry if this grosses anyone out, but I think everyone should see where their food comes from and the process it goes through to get to your plate.  There is a line under the fin that you make your first cut, until you meet the bone. Then you turn your knife towards the tail and head towards it. *TIP* score the fish along the top fin to use a guide when filleting.

It was almost like slicing through butter.  Nate said I did really well for it being my first time.  It was fun at the end to chase him around and make him smell my fingers.  Now I can live in the wild!!

Stay tuned…what’s up next?  The cooking of the fish!

April Beach Trip Part 1

We just got back from a four day vacation to the beach.  Some good friends of ours joined us along with their 3 year old daughter who was loads of fun.  And the weather could not have been anymore perfect, our sun burns say thanks!

You’ve probably heard me talk about hunting, just a tad.  That’s because I hear about it ALL the time.  Now that hunting season is over, the men’s new hobby is…fishing.  Goody.  So while at the beach of course the guys had an arsenal of fishing rods set up along the surf and casted into the water.  They let me take a whack at it, and I will admit, casting those huge poles was fun.  Then we all sat down in our comfy beach chairs and had a few cold ones.  One of the poles started to dance…MINE!

That’s right.  The beginner caught herself a fish.  All it took was me sitting on my butt and drinking a beer to get one…I LOVE THIS HOBBY!  I reeled that big boy in and it turned out to be a 3.5 lb black drum.  Go me.  The weight kind of disappointed me because it felt like 50 lbs was tugging on the line.  Of course I realize this kind of fishing, and most fishing for that matter, is pure luck.  But it was an awesome feeling catching a fish.  A real fish!  Not the tiny little fish sticks we usually catch at the lake.

Between the group, about a dozen puffer fish were caught also.  But we weren’t too sure about eating those so we usually threw them back until another fisherman showed us how to fillet one.  We still weren’t sure about eating them and thought we’d wait until we saw him the next day because that would mean he survived eating his.  He didn’t show up.  So we used the puffer fish as bait.  Our friends daughter had so much fun naming the puffer fish “Sebastian” and every time one was caught she got so excited that Sebastian had come back to see her.  And when her prince charming (Nate) cut up Sebastian for bait, she was…traumatized?  Pissed?  Heartbroken? Good going hun!

And that was just part of the trip.  Hope you enjoy the pictures!  More to come 🙂

Love my fisherman!

The fish was  named Scary. Or was that my face?

Nate, are you jealous?

Artsy Shot #1

Artsy Shot #2

She was cold…and her dad was creative!

Caught you using a pink pole 🙂

Arsenal of Rods


Puffy Sebastian

Deflated Sebastian

Going Out of Town Potatoes

So the title is self explanatory.  We are going out of town for a few days which means we need to get rid of anything that may spoil while we are gone.  Things such as fresh produce, dairy, and opened products.  The other challenge is to not open anything else while using the spoil-prone items or that will defeat the whole purpose.  So here is where making concoctions comes in handy! And the odds were in my favor.

And with that, we are off to the beach for a few days!  So excited to have a few days off with my chef hubby. The last days we had off together were Christmas, so these are long overdue.  Hope everyone has a splendid week!

5-6 red potatoes, sliced thinly
Parmesan Cheese, shredded
Dried Parsley
Olive Oil
Seasoned Salt
Bacon Bits
Ranch Dressing
Sour Cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In a large bowl add the sliced potatoes (I used a mandolin), 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil (you just want to coat the potatoes evenly), dried parsley, seasoned salt, and mix together.

Cover a baking sheet with foil, spray with non-stick spray, and begin to lay each piece of potato in nice rows, that overlap each other ever so slightly.  

Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top as well as more herbs.  I even sprinkled a little more seasoned salt over the top of mine, because I love the stuff!

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the potatoes are a golden brown.

As soon as you remove from the oven, sprinkle bacons bits over the top.  

Serve as a side or appetizer on a game day afternoon, with a side of ranch for dipping.  

Additional Toppings/Modifications
sour cream
green onions
cheddar cheese instead of parmesan 
blue cheese crumbles