Friday, September 30, 2011

VLOG! 30 Day Update + October is Gonna Rule.

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Vanilla Cupcakes.

Please note the fantastic manipulation of photography expertise here.  I do believe, with the help of Photoshop, you guys will be loving all future pics.

Vanilla Cupcakes
recipe adapted from

1 cup Butter, softened
1 2/3 cups Sugar
2 Eggs
1 package Vanilla Pudding mix
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
3 cups Flour
2 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/3 cups Milk

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, cream together Butter and Sugar.  Add Eggs one at a time then add your Vanilla Pudding (secret ingredient!). Lastly, add your Vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix together Flour, Baking Powder, and Salt.  Beat the Flour alternately with Milk into your batter.  Pour batter into cupcake liners and bake for about 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

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Cheesy Chicken Stuffed Shells.

This dish was a real hit with Little Steven, so it'll go back into rotation for us!

Cheesy Chicken Stuffed Shells

1 package Jumbo Shells

Cook Shells until al dente; set aside to cool so they're not too hot to handle.

For the Chicken Mixture:
(this should be done ahead of time - crock pot style)

1 lb Frozen Chicken
1 cup Chicken Stock
2 tbsp Italian Seasoning (or 1 tsp each of Basil, Oregano, and Rosemary)
2 cups Ricotta Cheese

Put Chicken, Chicken Stock, and Seasoning  in a crock pot on high for 3.5-4 hours.  When the Chicken is cooked through, add your Ricotta Cheese and allow to mix.

For the Alfredo Sauce:

1/2 cup Butter
1 tbsp Garlic Salt
1/2 cup Flour
2 cups Chicken Broth
1 1/2 cups Milk
4 cups Mozarella Cheese

Melt Butter in a saucepan on Medium heat.  Stir in your Garlic Salt and Flour; simmer until it bubbles.  Mix in Broth and Milk and boil for 1 minute (stirring constantly so Flour doesn't get chunky).  Stir in Mozarella Cheese until melted.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a baking dish, pour half of your Alfredo Sauce to coat the bottom.  Begin to stuff your Shells with the Chicken Mixture and add open face up to dish.  When all Shells are stuffed, pour the remaining Alfredo Sauce over top and top with additional cheese (if desired).  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tator Tot Casserole.

...Or you can call it Obesity on a Plate.  Either/or suits this recipe just fine.  It's quite delicious, but I don't recommend daily consumption.

{I promise that's not a hair in the food, but a scratch in my 100 year old bowl.}
Tator Tot Casserole
1/2 bag Frozen Tator Tots
1lb Ground Beef
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
2 cans Cream of Cheddar Soup
2 tbsp BBQ Seasoning

Preheat oven according to Tator Tot directions.  In a large skillet, brown your Ground Beef; drain and season with BBQ.  Combine the cooked Ground Beef, Cream of Chicken Soup, Cream of Cheddar Soup, and Frozen Tator Tots in a baking dish.  Bake about 20-25 minutes.

I heard if you eat a salad in between bites of the Tator Tot Casserole, the calories cancel out.

Then I heard that's a lie and you'll have to do some cardio for about an hour to burn off the calories.

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Mushroom Marsala Smothered Steak & Polenta.

Mushroom Marsala Smothered Steak & Polenta

For the Steak:
1.5 lb Flank Steak (2-3)
2 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp Minced Onion
1 tbsp EVOO
S&P to taste

Season your uncooked Steak with Garlic Powder, Minced Onion, and S&P.  Add Olive Oil and heat on Medium-High heat.  After your pan is hot, add your Steak and cook about 5 minutes per side or to desired 'doneness.'  I'm all about super well done, which makes me a rarity in the cooking world.

For the Polenta:
6 cups Cold Water
2 tbsp Salt
1 3/4 cups Yellow Cornmeal
3 tbsp Unsalted Butter

My Polenta got a little bit chunky using this exact recipe.  What I would do is bring 5 cups of Cold Water to a boil and use the remaining cup to mix with the Yellow Cornmeal before slowly pouring it into the boiling water.  This will prevent chunking. 

For the Mushroom Marsala Sauce:
2 cups Cremini Mushrooms (or your fav kind)
1 cup Marsala Wine
1 tsp Thyme
1 tbsp EVOO

Heat your EVOO in a pan and add Mushrooms.  Cook until soft, then add your Thyme and allow to cook for about 1 minute.  Add your Marsala and simmer until the sauce reduces.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011


{stevie's first pacie!}
My sweet baby is going to be a 2 year old big boy in November.  It's been so exciting to watch him grow up and has given me such joy.  While there are some really hard times that make me cry and/or want to rip my hair out, there is honestly no greater feeling than being a mom.
{he loved that thing!}
Yesterday, with the help of Mrs. L, I think we broke Little Steven of his beloved pacie.  He went without it all day at Mrs. L's house, so we decided to run with it and put him to bed without one; he never once asked for it and went right to sleep.  When he woke up this morning, he said "bee-u, mama" and I told him he's a big boy and that was that.
{first time in his jumper!}

I'm crossing my fingers that he's not a terror today at daycare because I didn't pack one, but I am so happy that he gave it up so easily.  And, to be honest, a little bit sad.  You see, giving up the pacie is sort of a transition from baby to toddler and I am having real problems with that.

{stevie's first time sitting up on his own!}
The truth is, I secretly wanted him to wake up in the middle of the night crying for me.  I really miss that.  I remember when I thought the up all night phase would never end and now I want it back.  I wish I hadn't hoped for 'better days' when he was up crying all night as a colicky baby because I long to hold him all night now.  I've finally come to terms with not sleeping because I realize now that's when we bonded the most.

{stevie's first time standing on his own!}
Alright, I have to quit now because I'm becoming a blubbering baby at work, but I'm looking forward to not rushing the next 16 years.
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Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like...

...COOKIE SEASON!  What did you think I was gonna say?

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 3 cups of oatmeal
  • 1-3/4 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (Deep South does 3/4 cup)

    Have everything at room temperature before starting. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using a mixer, cream the butter and shortening together until fluffy; add both sugars and blend together. Add the eggs, one a time, until blended in, then add the extract. Remove the mixing bowl from the mixer. Add the salt, oatmeal, and flour and using a wooden spoon mix together. Add the chocolate chips and nuts; gently stir them in.

    Use a small cookie scoop, or drop by large, rounded tablespoonfuls unto a baking sheet sprayed with Baker's Joy or covered in parchment paper or a Silpat. Bake one sheet at a time, on the center rack of the oven at 350 degrees F, for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until cookies are lightly golden brown just around the edges. They will appear underdone, but if you go too long they will be overcooked. Cool 2 to 3 minutes on the baking sheet, then remove with a spatula to a wire rack to fully cool. Once cooled, store in an airtight container.
On a totally unrelated note, 91 days and 17 hours until Christmas!

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Chocolate Banana Muffins.

I don't have any Fall themed cupcake liners yet, but these are cute, no?

The only change I will make the next time around is adding some Chocolate Chips.  I knew something was missing!

Chocolate Banana Muffins

1 cup Mashed Ripe Bananas
1 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Butter
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 cup Milk
2 cups Flour
1/4 cup Cocoa
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt

Mix together your Butter and Sugar until totally blended.  Add Eggs, Bananas, Milk, and Vanilla.  My friend, Sarah, gave me the hint that Bananas are easier to mush when they're frozen first, so you might try that.  In another bowl, combine your dry ingredients - Flour, Cocoa, Baking Soda, and Salt.  Mix the Banana mixture with your dry ingredients well.  Fill each cupcake liner about half way and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean).

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Smilings My Favorite + Awkward & Awesome

Do you even see that picture?!  I just die!  Every time I have a camera, he is ready to smile.  Of course, I love when he smiles in general, but smiling is so contagious.  In pictures, I smile with my mouth shut because I have adult braces; however, in real life, people get the real deal - hardware and all.  It's pretty incredible how much a person's mood can change just by smiling - and how much we can change other people's moods by smiling, too!

I used to work for a hospice company.  I absolutely loved the job itself and am super passionate about the industry; it's the reason I know my calling in life is to be a nurse.  For the most part, I was surrounded by some of the most beautiful people I've ever met, including my Mama, and continue to be so inspired by them.  In contrast, there were a couple of people that rubbed me the wrong way for various reasons.  While I know now that responding back in a negative way was a horrible idea and only cultivated worse feelings, they made it difficult to really enjoy my job and smile.  It occurred to me that I wasn't really proud of the person I was at work in some instances; while I gave and received a lot of encouragement and kindness from the the majority of my coworkers, it bothered me that I wasn't giving and receiving the same encouragement from the minority - specifically two.  So, I decided to move on.  My job now isn't necessarily the most positive working environment, but it allows me to go to school, be a mom, and make money; even if I have my complaints, I'm seriously blessed to have an opportunity to do all of these things and am incredibly grateful for my boss and his kind (albeit, stubborn) heart.  What's not to smile about?

- Snorting.  I snort when I laugh sometimes, which is common knowledge to my friends and family,  but it's always really uncomfortable when a 'new' person experiences the snort.
- Being told by more than one person that Zooey Deschanel's character in The New Girl reminds them of me.  I thought so myself, too, but the realization that everyone else knows me to be that awkward is...awkward.
- My two pack.  I have successfully developed a two pack in my belly, but the part where the other 4 are supposed to go is still a little bit like Jell-O, so it's in a really strange looking stage.
- Giving the neighbors and accidental 'show' this morning in my nighty letting Bella out.  I didn't think anyone would see me!
-GLEE started this week!  While the premiere wasn't all that great, I know it's gonna be a good season.
- The Redskins being 2-0 for the first time in 4 years.  HOLLAA!
- A two pack > A keg.
- Big Steven's cousin had her twins this morning.  Two very big, healthy baby girls!  She's one of the sweetest people I know and has a GIANT heart, so this blessing for her makes me ultra happy.
- Crockpots.  'Nuff Said.
- My Chocolate Banana Muffins.  To be continued...
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What the What?

I didn't even realize it had been a few days without blogging.  Where do the days even go anymore?  So, here is an update in the form of a semi-lengthy blog.

I finally got the time AND energy to work out last night after a 4 day hiatus.  Time and energy simultaneously has become a rarity with the demands of an 8 week math class.  Math?  Really?  I mean, this is why calculators were invented, no?  I've paid $103 for an online lab where I do all my work for the course and I NEED to get it this over with so I can get into Microbiology and Chemistry next semester for further torture, so waiting or taking a longer course is not an option.  I have a 1 1/2 years until I obtain my RN and an additional 1/2 year until I can call myself an RN/BSN.  I'm fairly confident this will be a seriously trying time for me, but the end product will be so worth it.

And now, scenes from the weekend:

When I reference my future MOH, cousin, or BFF, I am talking about Whitney.  She had a birthday last week and we celebrated by going to the Bull Run Wine Festival.  Whitney also happens to be a new member of the Season Ticket Crew, so we got to further celebrate her birth at a Redskins game with a WIN:

This weekend was also made up of a reunion of sorts!  Matty is a season ticket holder this year and will be joining us in tailgate festivities for the games to come.  I haven't seen him since 2006!  He just got married and I can't wait to meet his pocket-sized wife!

{bottle cap earrings that I bought for $15 in the parking lot!}
For good measure, here are a few additional scenes from the game:

{"GROSSMAN!" - this was after his first turnover}
{my twin!}
And lastly, as promised in my last VLOG, some videos for you to showcase the life of a Redskins Fan:

Here is my brother and 'the finger.'

Yes, that was a snort.  From me.  Move on!

And celebration of a touchdown + extra point:

Coincidentally, the above video also showcases my singing abilities and talent with the camera.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Chicken Shepherd's Pie w/ Homemade Mash + Harris Teeter Trip.

Shredding chicken in the crock pot is the easiest, yummiest way to make virtually any type of chicken dish.   I really wanted Homemade Mashed Potatoes, so I decided on a pseudo Shepherd's Pie.

You Will Need:
1-1.5 lbs Frozen Chicken
1 cup Chicken Stock
2 cups Frozen Corn
2 tbsp Garlic Powder (if you love it like I do)
2 tbsp Parsley
S&P to taste

8 Small Potatoes
3 tbsp Butter
1.5 cups Milk
1/2 cup Parmesan Shredded Cheese
2 cups Shredded Cheddar
S&P to taste

For the Chicken Part:
Add your Frozen Chicken, Chicken Stock, Garlic Powder, Parsley, and S&P to the crock pot and cook on high for 4-5 hours.  Stir in Frozen Corn in the last 30 minutes or so.

For the Mashed Potatoes:
Peel and dice Potatoes and add to a big pot of water; allow to boil until soft.  After draining your soft Potatoes, add them to a large bowl with your Milk and Butter.  I use a cheap-o hand mixer to get the job done faster and then add the Parmesan and S&P at the end.

Preheat your oven to 350.  Using a large spoon with holes to transfer 1/3 of my Chicken to a baking dish - you don't want it runny, but a little moisture is delish.  Layer 1/3 of the Mashed Potatoes on top of the Chicken and top with 1/3 of the Shredded Cheddar.  Continue until done and pop that baby in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

And then, you nom.

And then you go shopping at Harris Teeter for Triples and get some solid items that'll last a whiiiile.  Like so:

{click on the picture to make it larger - I mean, if you wanna see all the goods better.}
 What You May/May Not See:
3 Cambell's Chicken Chicken Noodle Soup
2 Whole Wheat Penne Noodles
2 Whole Wheat Spaghettie Noodles
2 Rigatoni Noodles
2 Domino Powdered Sugar
4 Campbells Chunky Soup
3 Spaghettio's w/ Franks
3 Cambells 'Great for Cooking' Soups
2 HT Brand Orzo
4 Smart Ones Meals
3 Totinos Pizzas
1 Gallon Vitamin D Milk
1/2 Gallon Almond Breeze Almond Milk
3 Chicken Helper
2 20pk Frozen Burgers (for the games!)
3 Green Giant Frozen Veggies
3 Yoplait Frozen Smoothie
1 4pk Yoplait YoCrunch
6 Yoplait Greek Yogurt
2 6pk Yoplait Kids
2 Pillsbury Grands Biscuits
2 Pillsbury Pizza Crust
2 Pillsbury Crescent Rounds
1 Pillsbury Orange Cinnamon Rolls
1.5 lb Round Steak
4 1-1.5 b Ground Beef
1.5 lb Pork Chops - Country Ribs
1.5 lb Pork Butterfly Chops
2.74 lb Bananas
2.79lb Grapes

Total OOP: $112.26
Total Saved: $92.30 + $58.40 VIC Savings
Over 50% Savings!  WAHOO!

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Trust & Faith.


Now, when I started on this blog journey, I promised myself I wouldn't get too personal; I swore that I wouldn't give too many details of my life because I believe in saving some details for a close few.  Prompted by The Shine Project, I am slightly breaking my promise to myself.

Danielle asked if we ever had our lives planned out a certain way.  Well, yes - and my plans and real life couldn't be more different.  I feel super blessed to be where I am; I have the most supportive family ever (sometimes a little too supportive), I have a man who loves me despite our disagreements and relationship faults, I have a home with a bed to lay in every night, and I have a perfectly healthy baby boy.

While I admit that I am - in some ways - living a pretty dreamy life, I had serious convictions about my life on a regular basis.  You know that song "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage?"  Well, my song is a little different.  Big Steven and I are not married and Little Steven was the most awesome little BIG 'surprise' of all time.  I make many jokes about not being married and frequently reference a wedding that has yet to happen or officially be planned (though I've had that bad boy in the works for like 15+ years.  Groom = minor details).

Like I said, I have convictions about the life I'm living.  I believe everyone's relationship with God is personal and my bond with Him has become incredibly strong since the day I found out I was pregnant.  There have been many tears shed out of fear of disappointing Him and many long talks with Him that ended in me pleading for direction.

Even when I started this blog, I wondered if I should talk about my faith and love for God in the same place I talk about my boyfriend and our son.  I prayed about it a lot and found that leaving either piece of the puzzle out would take away all sincerity that exists in my faith.


The truth is, God's love surpasses any fathomable love in our minds.  In my circumstances right now, my relief is knowing I'm BIG TIME loved.  I never doubted that love, though I'd felt like I'd disappointed God among others in my life, and I didn't care about the societal traditional values; I mostly feared the responses from other Christians - the ones in my life and the ones who know me 'from a distance.'  While I've made a big effort not to judge anyone or their circumstances, I know judgement comes far too easily to many others.  When even they embraced me, it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders.  And those who don't embrace it only remind me of God's unfailing love.

Trust and faith are constant reminders to me that life is not about being perfect, but remembering that we're forgiven and loved by the One who matters most.  It's knowing God's guidance and will are so good; I don't have to worry.   It's knowing, though it's not visible now, that peace will come in my heart about this situation.  

For now, I pray.  A lot.


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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Awkward & Awesome Thursday!


-The above picture.  My goal was showcase the SHINE necklace.  Even though my pic sucks, go purchase for a good cause.
- Nearly getting stranded without toilet paper at work - nearly.  I awkwardly held it in and got some and, thankfully, made it back before peeing on myself.
- Showing up late for work for the 3rd time this week.  I am just going to have to leave my house 30 min. earlier to ensure arrival on time.  Stupid NOVA traffic.
- Going to take a math test last night only to have to turn back around because I didn't have my ID.  AFTER paying for the meter!  You are welcome, person behind me.


- Having a boss that understands the atrocity of the traffic and never really cares that I'm late.
- The boots I'm wearing.  They're a little bit country, a little bit rock 'n roll.
- My best friend/cousin/future MOH was born on this day.  What a good day!
- Cardio for 30 minutes on top of the Shred on Tuesday and an HOUR yesterday!  Hellooooo, super calorie burn.
- Rachel won Big Brother.  She annoys me, but at some point she grew on me and I was rooting for her hard core.  Now I wanna go on the show and win half a mill.
- This sammie I told ya I was gonna make:

Not as aesthetically appealing thanks to the camera phone, but just as delish!

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Holy Sleep Deprivation.

Hey friends!  It's Tuesday and I haven't even thought about what I'll be cooking this week.  Actually, that's not true, I did think about it and decided to stop thinking about it immediately.

This means that Little Steven had Macaroni and Cheese for dinner and Big Steven walked to Subway.  I was too tired to eat dinner last night, so I opted for a banana protein smoothie instead.  We had a great time this weekend with our friends (pics to come!), and I can't wait to do it again.  Even if it means getting very little sleep...

As for feeding my family, of course I'm gonna.  It's going to be a week full of easy, but delicious.  The Closet Cook has inspired me with some fantastic sammies, which is one of my fav foods btw.  The possibilities are endless!

I will add Ham to this Caramlized Apple and Grilled Cheese Sammie inspired by this yumminess:

And perhaps a Fried Tuna Ball Po Boy?  I die for the Remoulade Sauce.

At least I have some inspiration for this week; I was seriously lacking until I wandered upon Closet Cooking.  I also want to try a Shredded Chicken Shepherd's Pie, so we'll so how it turns out :).

Happy week and stay tuned for recipes from last week and a Shred update.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Photos of My Day So Far...

Stevie + Time Out Chair = BFF today.

He has had a few visits to time out on this yucky rainy day.  Usually when he's in a mood on my work at home days, I just take him for a walk or run and he snaps out of it.  That wasn't an option today and I'm super swamped with work, so I couldn't give him as much attention as he really needed to get out of the funk.  Instead, I had to put him in time out, which is my least favorite thing to do.  He makes the saddest faces and all I wanna do is hold him.

After two minutes, I go over and explain to him that it's not nice to throw his baba at mommy (I gave him water and he was NOT happy).  I told him he could get up, but he was still very upset that I had the audacity to put him in time out again.
After a few of these faces, I just had to love on him.

This may or may not have suited my needs more than his...

Now that he's napping, I get to go shred/die and work on spreadsheets for a few more hours.  I'm not sure which situation is more fun...

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