Sunday, May 24, 2015

lasagna with cream cheese!

My lasagna recipe doesn't use any type of creamy cheese (ricotta, cottage, or cream cheese).  But I do love cream cheese, so I was looking forward to this recipe.  Came out looking great:

After I scoop out a lasagna piece, no recipe EVER looks pretty!  (easier to cut a pretty piece after it's been in the fridge overnight)

But this was a tasty dish.  Honestly it was much tastier the second day and I believe it is my favorite creamy cheese lasagna over any ricotta cheese recipe I've had (except when Gus made us lasagna which I tried to replicate and DID NOT succeed).  Andy still prefers my other recipe, so I'm not keeping this but it is a great option instead of ricotta or cottage cheese for sure!

Actually you make the lasagna according to the directions on the noodle package, but add 8 oz. cream cheese with the egg mixture instead of ricotta.  Voila!

Friday, May 22, 2015

painting the house foundation

Our house foundation was white, which there was nothing wrong with....if it had stayed white.  But the problem is that the clay dirt had splashed up onto the foundation when it rained.  It happened where there was mulch, rock, and it was splashing up there no matter what.  Then it made our house foundation look beige, which does not match a gray house.  It didn't bother Andy a whole lot, but it bothered me.  So he graciously agreed to powerwash it...except that it wouldn't come off.  It was stained, so that made the decision for me - I was painting it!

We got a lot of paint chips and matched our house siding color...then picked a gray that was darker on the same chip so that it would be similar in tone.  So here are the progress pictures...this one was about the whitest area still:

But it got more is a shot where you can see the old beige/white and the new gray...quite a difference:

This is the front foundation, before:

and after:

Andy got a shot of me in action:



Before (I turned the corner a little first):




I love it - and it is so much better.  It doesn't show any dirt at all, so that's great.  I'm not sure it's in the same tone per se, but I don't much better and now adds some contrast, color, and interest instead of just looking dirty!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

fried fish

My dad catches a lot of bluegill and gives us bags for good eatin'!  Andy's favorite way to have it is fried, and we use a boxed tempura batter that you just mix with water.  It's easy and tasty....but there was a recipe from my grandma in my wedding cookbook, so I wanted to make it!

Simple ingredients: Bisquick, egg, beer!

Then you dip the fish in and deep fry with the oil at about 375-ish (I just put it where it says 'fish' on my thermometer.) 

It came out just fine and pretty tasty!  All in all, I think I'll stick to my tempura box with added water because I couldn't tell a whole lot of difference, and we don't usually have beer.  In fact, to find one bottle of beer for this recipe was hilarious....but a six pack is wasted on us.  So I'll go with convenience, even though this is tasty!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

teddy bear gift (amigurumi)

The Craftsy class I'm taking on amigurumi is teaching crochet of animals.  The animals in the class are bigger, more like stuffed animals, so I decided to make one for my nephew Jonas' birthday!  When you make the pieces, they look like little bowls:

Then you make the face separately, and instead of crocheting a nose, I used a button I had in a jar of miscellaneous buttons:

As I put it on his head, I think I might have put the button a little higher, but I love how you can start seeing how his face is taking shape:

Especially once you add eyes:

Sewing the legs and arms onto the body seems easy, and the first one is...but trying to get them to match is always harder than I think it should be.

So a complete stuffed animal:

From what I hear, Jonas is enjoying him as a little companion!  In hindsight, I would stuff him a little more and probably put his arms a little more forward like I did his legs (and not sticking straight out to the side).  But He turned out pretty cute!  Next in the class is a deer.

Friday, May 15, 2015

sour cream noodles

This is an easy side dish that goes with many types of meals.  Basic ingredients are noodles, butter, sour cream and a little sugar:

The verdict:

Honestly I wish it was creamier.  Now I do use low-fat sour cream because that's what I usually have on hand, so that might have contributed to less-creamy noodles.  Overall it was tasty, but not something that I think I would make again because I'd prefer something more flavorful I think as a keeper.

Noodles & Sour Cream
1 package medium width noodles
3/4 stick butter
1 pint sour cream
1.5 Tbsp sugar

Boil noodles in slated water, drain, and put in casserole dish.
Add butter, sour cream, and sugar, and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

landscaping year at our house - reveal

This year for our house budget (which we put money into each month as part of our Dave Ramsey plan), we planned on spending money on landscaping.  We are minimalists and were planning to go simple, but plans and rock mulch are not cheap.  So here is a picture of the finished product (and if you click on it, you'll be able to see more close up):

Here is a before to give you an idea of what we did:

The major things we did were paint the front door, pulled out all the existing plants (all but one of which had died this past winter), fix the color issue of the house foundation, tie together the downspouts, put in new plants, put down rock mulch, avoid weeding in the future, and do something with the birdbath.  I'll do blog postings for each of those things individually, but I couldn't wait to reveal the finished product!

Monday, May 11, 2015

crunchy asian romaine tossed salad

After my parents got back from wintering in Florida, we had Dad over for his birthday dinner.  I made spaghetti and meatballs that is a favorite around our house.  I decided to try a new salad recipe to go with it in order to make progress through the wedding cookbook AND to hopefully find a salad recipe since that seems to be the most popular thing my mom asks me to bring and I have a hard time coming up with one!

This is an Asian-themed salad with crunch bits:

The dressing is homemade, and easy to make in a container that you can just close and shake:

It does require browning walnuts and Ramen noodle,s but it is totally worth it:

All in all, this recipe is totally a keeper and a great salad option!  Although the recipe says to toss in the dressing, we served it more 'layered' in each bowl since I knew there would be leftovers.  So we put in salad ingredients, then put the dressing on top in each bowl, then topped with the crunchies.  Then I took them to work separately the next day for leftovers.

Everyone liked it, and although Andy doesn't love onions and strongly dislikes broccoli, I gave him an Andy-friendly bite (i.e. no "green trees") and he did say it was good!

Crunchy Asian Romaine Tossed Salad
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 package Ramen noodles, uncooked and broken up
4 Tbsp unsalted butter (I used salted because that's all I had)
1 bunch of broccoli, coarsely chopped
1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
4 green onions, chipped

Dressing (FYI this is 2/3 of the original recipe because we had a lot of dressing left over):
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce

Brown walnuts and Ramen noodles in butter on stove.  Cool and drain on paper towels.  Combine lettuce, broccoli, and onions.  Shake dressing very well and pour over salad ingredients.  Toss to combine.  Tops with nut/noodle mix.  Best if dressing and crunchies (nuts/noodles) are applied right before serving.

Dressing can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

owl keep you warm

I found I really like crocheting in the round, which is a fancy way of saying I like circles instead of rows.  So I saw a pattern online of an owl hat and just had to try it!  So it starts as a boring brown circle:

But then you get to start adding colors.  I used only yarn I had leftover, so it got some of that bird blue:

Adding the ear flaps were really easy actually:

So I had to lay it all out to make sure the pieces went together:

And of course try it on!

Once it's on the curvature of your head the eyes look a little off center, but that's okay. 

Still very fun!!

And this was not a gift but just for me!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

watergate cake

I made this for my dad's birthday after they got back from their winter in Florida.  Andy helped me make this very "green cake":

I let Andy pick the pan, since it could be in many types, and he chose the bundt:

It was golden and smelled so good!

It came out pretty cleanly with only one little spot that "tore"....

which luckily got covered in frosting....

This is essentially a cake with nuts that uses dream whip (never used that before) and pistachio pudding.

And honestly, I thought it was fantastic!  So tasty, and the dream whip icing is so fluffy and not too sweet, which was nice for me because I don't love icing like some people.  I avoid corner pieces of cake because that's too much icing.

Funny enough, I knew I had seen Dream Whip at Walmart, but it took me forever to find because it was on the top shelf way in the back.  I was looking for someone I could ask for help because I couldn't reach it, while another woman was trying to find the coconut cream pudding.  So I found her pudding, and she climbed up the shelves to get my Dream Whip!  Go team!

This went into the recipe box, and I love it!  Rumor has it that it got its name because it became popular at the time of Nixon's Watergate scandal. 

Watergate Cake
3 large eggs
1 package white cake mix
1 cup oil
1 package jello instant pistachio pudding
1 cup 7up (I used Sprite)

Blend and beat above ingredients for 2 minutes at medium speed.  Add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.  Grease and flour pan(s) and bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until done as per the cake mix box.

1 envelope of Dream Whip (there are two envelopes to a box)
1 package jello instant pistachio pudding
1.5 cups of milk

Beat until peaks form, then spread on cake.  Store in fridge and enjoy immensely over the next couple days.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

mac and cheese again!

I love that my cookbook recipe had lots of different macaroni and cheese recipes.  This one had no sausage or hot dogs but just typical macaroni and cheese.  It used a can of cheddar cheese soup and evaporated milk, which was a little different for me.

The picture above proves I should have used a bigger dish, so I couldn't use quite all of the evaporated milk.  Sure turned out nice and golden:

When looking at the inside, it's not as creamy as I prefer my macaroni and cheese...but of course I also didn't use all of the milk required because of dish size, so that could totally be my problem!

Otherwise, super tasty!!

Mom's Awesome Mac & Cheese
1 16 oz box macaroni
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 can carnation evaporated milk
1 egg, beaten
1/2 stick butter
2 lb of shredded cheddar and monterey jack

Cook and drain macaroni.  Add beaten egg and cheddar cheese soup and mix.  Add cheese, and a little salt and pepper, and stir.  Put in buttered casserole dish, and pour evaporated milk over mixture.  Dot with butter.  Bake at 375 for approximately 45 minutes until slightly brown on top.