My Latest Addiction

Anyone who knows me knows that a Starbucks latte is absolutely one of my favorite treats. Sometimes a nice latte is all I need to turn my day around or get through a long class or celebrate anything, but in an effort to lower the Starbucks bill each month I have opted for a cheaper alternative.

The Starbucks Addict’s Iced Coffee

I begin with a venti Starbucks cup that I saved from my last trip – cleaned of course.


Add brewed coffee up to the second green line. Don’t even ask what kind of coffee I drink. It’s the cheap kind and I am not ashamed.


Then a scant tablespoon of sugar.


Then soy milk up to the next green line.


Then add ice. Oh and don’t forget to give it a stir. Nobody likes a big gulp of straight sugar.


This is seriously so good and so easy! My coffee intake has probably quadrupled, but at least my bank account is not dwindling. Well, at least not because of Starbucks.


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Good Days and Bad Days

I can’t even remember the last time I blogged. I just checked and it was on Valentine’s Day. That makes for quite a long hiatus, but I am ever hopeful that some inspiration and a steady routine will make for more consistent posts.

Inspiration came to me today while walking through the dog park with Enzo. Enzo and I go to the dog park a lot. This is not your average field-with-a-fence dog park but a 53 acre park that has multiple trails and access to the lake. It is great place for Enzo to run off his energy and for me to walk without having to worry about keeping Enzo on a leash. We both really like to go – hence our frequent visits.

Last week we had a bad day. As we were walking along the trail, we passed a lady with two little cattle dogs. Enzo went to say hello per usual and before I knew it, he yelped and was cowering against my legs. Enzo is no wuss. I had no idea what happened. I checked him and didn’t see anything so we carried on our way. It wasn’t until I got home that I found two small bites on his side. I was furious. I wanted to find that lady kick her dogs! I felt guilty that I had not been able to protect Enzo. Needless to say it made for a bad day.



Today we had a good day. Enzo found three tennis balls. The weather was perfect – sunny and 60 degree. We did not run into any rude people or dogs. We took our time and walked the trails. It was the kind of day that keeps me going back to the dog park.


Last week, however, I considered never going back to the dog park, but today I am glad I went back. I am happy that I did not let the fear that something bad would happen stop me from doing something that we both enjoy.

Such a good day deserved a soul-warming kind of meal.


My go to dinner when I don’t have a lot of time and want something warm is Shake N Bake chicken. Oh yeah. I am not ashamed to admit it. Tonight I was out of the real thing so I improvised with whole wheat bread crumbs and various spices – garlic powder, salt, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika. I also make sure to cut the chicken into smaller pieces to cut down on the cook time. In the oven, 400 degrees, 25 minutes. So simple.


The real comforting part came in the form of twice baked potatoes. After baking the potatoes for an hour at 425 degrees, I scooped out the insides and essentially made mashed potatoes – milk, butter, salt and pepper. Then I put the mashed potatoes back in the skins, topped with cheddar cheese and broiled in the over.


Paired with boiled green beans for some nutrients, this was a delicious meal.


The perfect ending to a rather perfect day.


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Valentine’s Day Party

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sean and I had a bunch of friends over on Saturday to celebrate Valentine’s Day. We had a great time, such a great time in fact that we didn’t take any pictures! Just trust me. We had fun!

Sean did get a few pictures of the food that I made. We have greatly generous friends, and we ended up with so much delicious food!

First things first, we had M&M’s!


So festive!


This is what our kitchen island looked like prior to any guests arriving.

I made:
- chocolate chip cookies
- oatmeal raisin cookies
- mini Funfetti cupcakes
- pink frosted butter cookies
- fruit dip with granny smith apples
- spinach artichoke dip with tortilla chip

I was still making finishing touches as our friends started to arrive. Enzo wanted to help me!


My wonderful friends brought:
- Hot cheese and sausage dip with Wheat Thins
- Blue cheese biscuits
- Pigs in a blanket
- Cheddar cheese and crackers
- Cream cheese and jam with crackers
- Homemade guacamole with tortilla chips

I bought adorable Valentine’s Day Chinese boxes at Michael’s and made everyone take some treats with them. Sean and I didn’t end up having too much food leftover!

In hindsight, I wish that I had taken more pictures of the food, and the guests for that matter, but we had a great time. That’s really all that counts!

Sean and I will be snuggling on the couch with Enzo, a glass of wine and a movie at home tonight! I hope you enjoy Valentine’s Day with the ones that you love too!


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I Would Like to Thank the Lime

A few weeks ago I scoured the internet for slow-cooker recipes. It was – who am I kidding, it is – freezing here in Kansas so I wanted to have some easy hot meals. I came across a Cooking Light recipe for pork stew. I made it once and the flavors were a little over-powering, but Sean loved it. Because I am a good wife, I made it again this week with a few changes and it turned out phenomenal!

Thai-Style Pork Stew
Adapted from Cooking Light


1.4 pound pork tenderloin
2 sliced red bell peppers
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
2 tbl lime juice
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup cream peanut butter

1 cup brown rice

Toppings:
peanuts
green onions
fresh lime

Place pork, bell pepper, teriyaki sauce, lime juice, crushed red pepper and garlic in slow-cooker. I cut my pork tenderloin into 4 pieces so it would cook faster. Cook on LOW for 7 hours.

When the pork is done, remove from the slow-cooker and shred. You know the pork is done when it is easily pulled apart by a fork. Add peanut butter to the remaining liquid in the slow-cooker and then stir in the shredded pork.


I served the pork over brown rice and topped it with peanuts and green onions. I also squeezed a fresh lime wedge on top.


The original recipe called for white wine vinegar, but I didn’t have any. I improvised and used lime juice. It was a fantastic substitution! The lime juice totally balances out the peanut butter – in my totally non-professional opinion. The first time I made this recipe, I just skipped the white wine vinegar and didn’t replace it with anything. The peanut butter over-powered the dish. This time the lime juice brought the balance! Seriously this was so delicious!

I hope you try this, and you love it!


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Couldn’t Be Easier

Sean and I made personal pizzas for dinner, and it ended up being one of the easiest meals I have ever made.

BBQ Chicken For Him


BBQ Sauce


Chicken


Red Onions


Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Chicken Alfredo Pizza for Her


Light Alfredo Sauce


Chicken


Baby Spinach


Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Both were baked in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. It was the perfect time and temp to brown the cheese. These were delicious!


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The Thick and the Creamy

I am pretty sure that every time I make oatmeal it turns out different. Oatmeal is a finicky food – or at least mine is. Yesterday my oatmeal was super creamy while today my oatmeal was much thicker. I prefer thicker oatmeal, but I figured I would tell you how I made the creamy oats as well.

The Creamy Blueberry Oatmeal


Ingredients:
- 1/3 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup soy milk (any milk)
- splash of vanillla
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbl flaxseed meal
- 1 ripe banana
- ~ 1/3 frozen blueberries (or fresh)

In a medium saucepan, combine all but the banana and blueberries and begin to cook over medium – low heat.

In a food processor (or blender) blend banana and blueberries together. I did this because I am not a huge fan of the texture of blueberries, but I love the flavor and wanted to nutrients. However, I think this ended up making the oats uber creamy. Once the banana and blueberries are smooth, add to oatmeal.

I stirred off and on until there was no more liquid.

The Thick Cinnamon Oatmeal


Ingredients:
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup soy milk
- splash of vanilla
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- pinch of salt

Combine all into a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Then stir. I cooked and stirred until it got to the thickness that I like. I topped it with a banana since it wasn’t included in the oatmeal itself.


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Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Last week Kristin over at Iowa Girls Eats raved about Crock Pot carnitas tacos. She mentioned that her husband especially liked them, so I figured I would try it out on my own husband.

The original recipe can be found at The Kichtn. I suggest that you follow her recipe to a T.

Don’t Do The Following

Half all the spices since you only have a 3 pound pork shoulder and not a 6-8 pound one.

Skip the chipotle peppers … and the garlic. Apparently I forgot to read while cooking this afternoon.

Cook for less than 8 hours. I started late and then got hungry. Bad combination.

What I managed to cook was nothing to rave about but was still edible. My husband is not picky (Thank you Jesus!) and we were both hungry, so we gobbled them up anyway.


The pork ended up being mildly flavorful but not super tender. 2 more hours in the Crock Pot would have made a huge difference. We made up for the lack of cooking time with red onion, sour cream and cilantro.


Oh, and corn tortillas. Do NOT skip the corn tortillas. My husband did rave about the corn tortillas. That’s saying something.


I was definitely bummed that this didn’t turn out as well as I hoped. It still turned out to be a good meal, and Sean was happy. So there is really nothing to be bummed about!


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