Monday, October 14, 2013

Mac & Cheese


Hey look, a blog post that doesn't involve sugar! What is wrong with me?!? I am starting to get into making actual dinners and this is one of the few that I do well. I think my family would agree, judging by the excitement when they see me making it. It also reheats well (if there is any leftover to reheat!). This recipe is the way I usually make it, but there are some other ways to change it up a bit- last time I used 2% milk and lowfat cheese, and honestly, I didn't notice much of a difference- so there's a "lighter" option for you. I also like to use different pastas instead of just plain ol' elbow macaroni- ziti is good, or farfale, or bowties...

Mac & Cheese
*box of dry pasta
*1/4 cup butter
*2 Tbsp flour
*1 tsp mustard powder
*1 tsp pepper
*2 cups milk
*8oz shredded cheese (I always use a colby/jack blend!)
*8oz velvetta cheese

Prepare box of pasta as directed on the box, drain, and set aside. Using a large pot (so it's big enough to handle all that mac & cheese!), melt the butter.  Once the butter has melted, add the flour, mustard powder, and pepper, stirring until fully incorporated. Add the milk and stir well. Add the cheeses and stir constantly until it is all melted and combined. Add the cooked pasta to the cheese mix, stir, and continue cooking on the stovetop just for about 3 minutes to make sure everything is combined well. Transfer the mac & cheese to a casserole dish and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, covered with foil. Enjoy!

~Erin

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies


I love oatmeal raisin cookies. I also love oatmeal chocolate chip cookies! So put them together and you get this delicious combination in a perfect cookie! My daughter will always choose oatmeal chocolate chip over oatmeal raisin, and she claims to not like oatmeal raisin cookies much at all, but these cookies with the chocolate mixed in have kept her hands trying to reach for the cookie container often. :)

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies

*2 sticks of butter, softened
*3/4 cup granulated sugar
*3/4 cup brown sugar
*2 eggs
*1 1/2 tsp vanilla
*1 tsp baking soda
*2 tsp cinnamon
*1/2 tsp salt
*1 1/2 cups flour
*3 cups oats
*1 cup raisins
*1 cup chocolate chips

Using a hand mixer, cream together butter and sugars, until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, mix well. Add baking soda, cinnamon, and salt to the batter, mix well. Add flour and mix thoroughly. Switch to a wooden spoon (or rubber spatula) and stir in the oats. Finally, add the raisins and chocolate chips, and mix well. Bake at 350* for about 8 minutes (using a small scoop) or about 9 minutes if using a medium scoop. When you take them out of the oven, they should look not quite done, just put the pan on a cooling rack for about 5 minutes. Then remove cookies from the pan onto a cooling rack and let cool completely. Enjoy!

~Erin

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Books...

I just finished a great book. It was called "When In Doubt, Add Butter." I've got to admit, the title caught my attention first, then the picture on the cover. I decided that I wanted to read it before I even knew what it was about. But honestly, can you blame me...???





I was so not ready to let go of these characters when I finished reading this book. I usually get my books from the library, and I still find it strange that when I bring a stack of books to the counter, they just give them to me with a promise to return them without any money exchanged. I am a lover of books, not just reading them, but having them fill my various bookcases, but buying them got way too expensive so now I reserve actually buying books to a select few special titles. This one I was sad to return to the library. I wanted to keep it on my bookshelf. Here is the book description, from Amazon.


 "From the New York Times bestselling author of Shoe Addicts Anonymous and Always Something There to Remind Me comes a delicious new novel about the search for true love and all the ingredients that go into it.

As far as Gemma is concerned, her days of dating are over. In fact, it’s her job to cater other peoples’ dates, and that’s just fine by her. At thirty-seven, she has her own business, working as a private chef, and her life feels full and secure. She’s got six steady clients that keep her hands full.
There’s Lex, the fussy but fabulous department store owner who loves Oysters Rockefeller and 1950s comfort food; Willa, who needs to lose weight under doctor’s orders but still believes butter makes everything better; a colorful family who may or may not be part of the Russian mob; an ├╝berwealthy Georgetown family; the picture-perfect Van Houghtens, whose matriarch is “allergic to everything”; and finally, a man she calls “Mr. Tuesday,” whom she has never met but who she is strangely drawn to.
For Gemma, cooking is predictable. Recipes are certain. Use good ingredients, follow the directions, and you are assured success. Life, on the other hand, is full of variables. So when Gemma’s takes an unexpected turn on a road she always thought was straight and narrow, she must face her past and move on in ways she never would have imagined. Because sometimes in life, all you need is a little hope, a lot of courage, and---oh yes---butter."

Here are some other books that I have read recently and highly recommend... 

"Who Loves You Best" by Tess Stimson

"Still Missing" by Chevy Stevens

"Dead Ever After" by Charlaine Harris

Now I must find another book to read. Any suggestions??? 

~Erin


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bye-Bye Summer....

My daughter started school this week, which means summer is over, no matter what the calendar, or the weather, say about it. I still can't believe she is officially a 5th grader now. This is the first year that I managed to get through putting her on the bus without shedding a tear. At first, I was happy and proud of that fact, but then I decided that I would feel a little sad over not feeling too sad. I don't try to explain my emotions! Just roll with it....

Here is my girl and one of my nieces enjoying a sunset last weekend...


Sunset-time has always been a favorite of mine. Love it! It's getting earlier and earlier though as the end of the year comes nearer. I can just start to see a slight changing of colors on some leaves. I love the Fall. Football season has started (go Steelers!). Another thing that has started... making school lunches.


My girl bought lunch the first day of school, but this is what she brought to school for the second day. Seems like a lot of bread, eh? At least two of the breads are homemade though, banana bread (in the container by itself which was for snack) and zucchini bread to go with lunch. I am loving the Chobani Yogurt in the squeeze tubes for lunches (http://chobani.com/products/tubes-swirlin-strawberry-banana/), makes it easier and I don't have to worry about putting spoons in her lunch bag and hoping they find their way back home. ;) Another thing I found that I love is these water bottles (http://coolgearcan.com/can_16oz_everday.html). They are super cute, they close good and tight, and they keep the water nice and cold!

Of course, a post wouldn't be complete without some mention of the guinea pigs, so here is a new photo collage that I put together of them...


~Erin

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Update on our guinea pigs!

My boys, Cocoa and Mocha are now 3 1/2 months old, and they have gotten so big! They are still best friends and are always right next to eachother. Mocha is my big boy, he is almost as big as his mama, Ganache! Cocoa is longer, though. Here is a picture of them from the day they turned 3 months and one of Mocha with Ganache so you can see how much they have grown...







I have been making lots of salads for them, as they sure do like to eat!


















We have done some updates to their cages....



The boy's cage is the one on top. They have a little bed under their fleece hidey that I made for them and that is where they spend most of their time... The bottom cage is the girl's cage. Yes, that right, girl's as in plural! We have added a new piggie to our family!!

Meet: Cappucchino
 







She is just the sweetest thing!!! We don't know how old she is, but she seems to be older than Ganache since she is somewhat bigger, but we believe she is still young and most likely under a year. She and Ganache have been getting along wonderfully, I'm happy to say! From their first time meeting, it's as if they had been long time best friends!









I could just watch them interact with eachother all day. Love it! I had two different hidey spots in their cage so that they could have their own spot to sleep, but they seemed to like to share instead...





So I decided to make them a bigger fleece hidey for them to share:
That's where they spend most of their time now. As of right now, I think we are maxed out at 4 guinea pigs. With two large cages though, I am thinking of going back to using fleece liners as bedding. That's what we used when we just had Ganache, and she was really good with them but once her boys came along, they were just so messy. Disposable bedding is just getting to be way too expensive with the amount that we need each week.



Monday, August 12, 2013

Blueberry Picking & Muffins



One of the great things about living in the Hudson Valley is that we have so many great farms nearby. No fruit that you buy in the grocery store can compare to the fruit that you pick yourself. Someday when we move out of our apartment and get a house with some property, I plan on having a garden full of my favorite fruits and veggies. Until then, I will just enjoy going to all the different area farms. In season now is blueberries. The farm we visited even had some animals visiting, which were cute to see.

 This little guy nursing was just the cutest thing! After he finished eating, he pranced around, happy as can be!

 Here is my daughter feeding some sheep. She turned 10 the day before this picture was taken and I still can't believe how grown up she is becoming!

My niece visiting the animals

My niece picking some delicious blueberries!

Apparently the bees like blueberries, too!! Yikes! My husband took this picture, no way was I getting that close.

My daughter and my niece, each with their own bucket of blueberries. This has to be one of my favorite pictures. Ever.

Gotta love an outhouse! 


I do have to say, while I loved the blueberries, so did the guinea pigs! Especially Ganache! She ended up with blueberry juice all over her chin!

I made delicious blueberry muffins with these fresh blueberries, also. This is the recipe that I used:
Brown Eyed Baker- Blueberry Muffins I wouldn't change a thing with this recipe, the muffins turned out perfect!

~Erin


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Frozen Hot Cocoa.... and summer fun at the park!


Summer is in full effect, and it is H-O-T!!! Who says I can't have one of my favorite drinks, hot cocoa, on these hot summer days?? Just add some ice for a delicious and refreshing drink.

Frozen Hot Cocoa
*1 package of Hot Cocoa Mix (or enough homemade mix to make one cup)
*1/2 cup Milk
*1 1/2 cups Ice

Put all ingredients into blender, and blend away! Don't forget to top with some fresh whipped cream for an extra special treat!

Now, onto the park.... My husband and I took our daughter to the park for a picnic and a walk yesterday. Walking through the woods gave us some nice shade to enjoy! The picnic wasn't anything big an fancy, just a few PB&J's, some leftover cupcakes, and nice cold drinks. It was nice to eat it all outside, enjoying the scenic views of the Hudson River. Here are a few pictures that I managed to take....