Tuesday, April 26, 2011

52 Weeks of Happiness: Week 8

Assignment:  Join Leigh vs. Laundry's quest to scout out happiness for a whole year?

How:  Simply post a photo of something that makes you wildly happy and tell us all about it.
Stop & Smell the Roses (well, tulips)

Recently we had three generations of women head off to the arboretum (my mom, me, and my daughter).  I think this is the first time we were all there together - and it was my first time there with my new fancy, dancy camera (yes, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to me!!).  I just had a blast taking in all of the colors and shapes of the flowers ... actually taking TIME to stop and look and photograph the flowers.  So nice and peaceful.

Some of my favorites

Photos taken at The Dallas Arboretum / Dallas Blooms


Monday, April 25, 2011

Shutter Love Tuesday: EASTER


I have decided to get back into the photography groove (since I have my new fancy camera - Happy Birthday to me!).  Each week over at The Trendy Treehouse they have a feature called Shutter Love and a them for the weekly photos ... this week's theme is EASTER! 

Well, here's my photo ...

Bunny provided by Rescued Rabbits ( http://www.rescuedrabbits.org/ )

Monday, April 18, 2011

BBQ Cornbread Casserole

Recently I ran across the recipe for BBQ Cornbread Casserole on a blog that I follow.  It sounded really good (not to mention easy).  So I made this on Friday evening (as I just happen to have all of the ingredients in my pantry and fridge ... love it when that happens).  Here was the end results - not the most beautiful of dishes ... but, hey, we were still willing to give it a shot (it did smell good).

Well, hubby and I dug in and we weren't all that impressed.  Seemed like too much cornbread in relation to the meat (and guts).  I could really tell DH didn't care for it as he only ate one helping, very unusual for him.

This recipe goes on the "well, tried it, but will not make again list."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

SaveOnEnergy Could Pay Your Electric Bill (up tp $250)!!

Last week's winner was Susan Crean from Maricopa, AZ! Congrats! Now is your chance!

Register to Win One Month FREE Electricity! Save on Energy wants to pay your electric bill!

Summer is just around the corner and now is the time to compare providers and make sure you have the lowest rate locked in before the heat waves hit!

Enter to win a weekly drawing for $250 and follow Save on Energy on Facebook.

Save On Energy is the #1 site in North America to shop and compare energy rates. They have done the work and pre-screened suppliers so you don’t have to worry about quality. Just pick the rate that’s the best fit for you and start saving money immediately.

To Win:

"Like" Save on Energy on Facebook by clicking HERE
Register to win $250 to pay your electric bill

Refer your friends to get extra entries

Register between April 4-30, 2011, and make sure to refer your friends and get an extra entry for each one that registers.

Fine Print: One winner will be randomly selected each week during the promotion period, April 4-30, 2011. Limit one winner per household, not valid for previous registrants of Save on Energy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cheat's French Cassoulet

I had a couple of extra hours on Friday afternoon (3ish actually), so I made the Cheats French Cassoulet.  It took a little time, chopping, browning, etc. but it was really worth it.  I did the oven method (not the crockpot).  I served it over mashed potatoes with buttered, toasted bread we will NOT talk about the amount of butter or calories - sshh.

As you know I never know how the family will react to new meals, i.e. the Garlic Chicken - so I served the hubby up his bowl and held my breath ...

His comment, "Wow, you could sell this!"

I take this as a very high compliment from my hubby!!!

My dear daughter came home a little later, with a friend, of course (we always seem to have an extra girl or two over the weekends) ... and while they didn't say much, they both sat at the table and ate it - so I'm marking that down as a success too!

I'm trying out these recipes because I'm really wanting to start having dinner parties ... I think they are a lost art.  I'm not sure if this will be on one of those menus, but this will be made in our house again!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

SaveOnEnergy Could Pay Your Electric Bill (up tp $250)!!

SaveOnEnergy is running a four week campaign and each Monday they will pick a winner and will pay the winner's electric bill (up to $250)!!!  Wow, great deal huh?

To Win:

"Like" Save on Energy on Facebook - CLICK HERE
Register to win $250 to pay your electric bill
Refer your friends to get extra entries
Register between April 4-30, 2011, and make sure to refer your friends and get an extra entry for each one that registers.
Fine Print:One winner will be randomly selected each week during the promotion period, April 4-30, 2011. Limit one winner per household, not valid for previous registrants of Save on Energy.

For more on SaveOnEnergy- it's not an electric company... it's a website created to help consumers take advantage of the emerging competitive energy markets by making saving money on energy prices simple. It basically compares and contrasts companies which makes it a great way to get savings on your electric bill.  I manage shopping centers and SaveOnEnergy is always my go-to company to get the most competive energy rates.

Friday, April 8, 2011

My "coupon" Shopping Day

So I decided today to get all of my "coupon" shopping done.  I sat down last night and made my shopping list for each store and "relocated" my coupons to the appropriate store sections of my binder ... yes, I am that person. 

A recap of my day (and why it pays to coupon):

CVS:  Listerine Mouthwash x2, Betty Crocker Brownie Mix x3, Oral B Toothbrush x2 and a Gold Bond Body Wash ... after card savings ($12.58) and coupons ($10) = $8.66; then deduct the register rewards to use next time, $4.98 = Net Cost:  $3.68!  Not bad, huh?

Tom Thumb:  Milano Cookies x2 don't judge me!, Langer's Juice x2, Kettle Chips x4 see comment after Milano Cookies!, Jello Temptations, Sargento Cheese, Eggs, Power Bar x4, French Bread, English Muffins, Bacon ... after card savings ($21.65) and coupons ($8.20) = $27.52

Target:  Various Easter Stuff x10 can't say what exactly, on the off chance that any of the children might actually read my blog!, the new beverage enhancer can't think of the name of it and I refuse to move from the couch to go check!, Degree Deodorant, Allegra (30), Trident Gum x2 ... after store savings and coupons ($13.06) = $30.78

Walgreens:  Kellogg's Cereal x2, Purex Laundry Detergent x2, Duracell Batteries (4 pk), Gillette Fusion Razor, Aleve (50 ct), Wonka Chocolate Bar x2 again, sshh!, after store savings and coupons ($36.60) = $16.99 then deduct the register rewards to use next time, $4.00 = Net Cost: $12.99

Total Shopping Trip:  $75 ... a total savings of over $110.  Woo hoo!  Makes me not feel so guilty buying my expensive "foodie" ingredients!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chewy Double Chocolate Coconut Blondies

So, as I stated before, I'm on a cooking kick.  I decided to make some goodies to take to Bible study tonight - to celebrate a friend's birthday.  I'm always nervous about making something for the first time and then taking it somewhere for others to eat.  But, ever since I read this recipe over at Can You Stay for Dinner?, I've been dying to try them.

These Chewy Double Chocolate Coconut Blondies are so so very good - so so very chewy and gooey - dare I even say decadent!  The recipe is super easy and takes "normal" ingredients (I had everything that I needed to make these in my pantry and fridge).

I baked these this afternoon, let them cool and then cut them into bars (yes, I might have tried a small corner piece - for quality control of course).  I took them to our group tonight, along with milk (of course), and they were a big hit.  This will for sure be one of my "go-to" desert recipes.

Right out of the oven on the cooling rack.

Close-ups of the chewy goodness.

Garlic Chicken in Casserole with Israeli Couscous

I've been on this "new recipe" kick here lately.  So, as I'm doing housework (aka sitting around on the couch) one Saturday morning watching Anne Burrell's Secret of a Restaurant Chef on The Food Network, she makes what looks like an awesome chicken dish:  Garlic Chicken in Casserole with Israeli Couscous.  So of course, I must make it.

Well, of course I bought the package of chicken that was already cut up ... really?  who butchers their own chickens?  I already had most of the ingredients, but I did have to spring for the Saffron ($13!).

It seemed like I worked on this for most of the day yesterday, starting out in the morning roasting the garlic and then making the marinade.  I did the actual cooking late in the afternoon so it would be ready for the family at 6pm. 

It looked really pretty.  The chicken was browned and moist, the couscous was plump.  My mouth was watering as I put it on the table.  Everyone fills their plates ... and I wait for the reaction and comments.

My daughter, Addison:  "Is this chicken?" 
Me:  "Uh, yes."
Addison:  "What is this weird stuff on the chicken?"
Me:  "Skin.  It's a whole chicken with the skin on." (you can tell that we usually only have skinless chicken breasts)
Addison:  "Humm.  What's this white round stuff?"
Me:  "Israeli Couscous.  You like couscous."
Addison:  "I like the other kind, not this one, the texture is ... weird."  (as she separates all of the couscous to the side of her plate)

So, she ended up eating part of a piece of chicken, a lot corn (canned!) and two rolls (formerly frozen!).  I love knowing that I spent hours making the dish she didn't like, and 15 minutes making the stuff she actually liked.  Have I mentioned that she's 14?

Me:  "So, do you like it?"
My husband, Mitchell:  "Yes, it's ok, it's good." (yes, this was the extent of his comments)

So, he ended up eating two helpings of the chicken and couscous (he is the opposite of Addison and doesn't like the other kind of couscous), along with the "quick" stuff.

All in all - it was a good dish, but not great.  I don't think it was worth all of the prep time that it took.  Probably will not make this again ... but at least now I know.

And what's for dinner tonight?  Well, I had lunch out - so I'm not eating; therefore, the rest of the bunch is having ravioli - spinach and cheese (from a bag purchased at Costco today - so it's "fresh").