Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Facts




My sweet little friend Erin did this little 'facts' survey she ran across on another blog and since I'm sitting here watching HGTV I thought it seemed like a great little way to pass some time.

FACT: In the picture below I'm wearing two 'under' layers, my husband's coverall's, a sweatshirt, jacket, infinity scarf and I was wearing two pair of gloves prior to beginning laying brick (they proved to inhibit my brick laying skills). You may be thinking, who cares? Well, apparently it's unacceptable in early October in Texas. According to my husband, this is nonsense for 55 to 60 degree weather. So, it is indeed a fact, I'm not a cold lover. Anything less than 78 degrees gives me chills.


FACT: I cry like a little baby every Tuesday night when Parenthood comes on. I LOVE IT! Two weeks ago my husband sat down and watched it with me, I should have loved the interest he'd taken in watching a show he isn't a fan of with me (sheer boredom I'm sure) but instead I found myself upset that I couldn't cry a big fat ugly cry like I do every Tuesday. ;)

FACT: I hate olives! Really, I love pretty much every other food, but olives have been known to ruin my entire day if my mouth comes in contact with one.

FACT: Tonight at my first official BodyPump class the instructor told me I had great form. I totally let this go to my head, never mind I probably should have increased the weight on the bar on most of the exercises. Whoops! ;)

FACT: Butter is my weakness. I pray that someday it will become socially acceptable to just eat butter out of the tub/by the stick.

FACT: This past weekend at my friend Erin's birthday weekend bash in College Station I realized I'm a grown up, and I liked it! Nothing says getting older like watching 18 to 21 year old's make a flat out fool of themselves and thinking, "What would their mother think?" Or not having more than a few drinks because you don't have time for a hangover. GROWN UP!

FACT: I think I'm seriously the funniest person in the world, but only if it's with my husband. Either I keep an awesome hidden talent or my husband is a very good sport.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Goulash!

The past few weeks have flown by it seems. 

Can you believe it's officially Fall already? Everyone knows about my love for Fall! If you don't, you can read about it here, here and here. :)

It is without a doubt my favorite part of the year.

Moving on to the recent happenings in The O'Neal home.

First up, renovations continue and most days we love it. I'd even say about 90% of the time we enjoy it. Of course, you have that 10% where it can be completely overwhelming remodeling, decorating and taking care of a 55 year old home. I'm not complaining though, the improvements are starting to show and it feels good to know that Daniel and I are the ones that made them happen. We've been putting our DIY-ness (is that a word? probably not?) to the test.

Last weekend my handsome husband and I went toilet shopping. Woo hoo! We know how to spice up a Saturday night! Two reasons why we decided we needed a new toilet: The one in the guest bathroom was not level and if you're gonna have to take it off, we're getting a new one. And.... using an old toilet in your own home is gross. 

Unfortunately, I don't have any before and after pictures. Meaning, I don't feel like getting up and taking an after picture. 

Here's Daniel though studying all of "the porcelain throne" specs.


 And here he is after a long day of heavy toilet lifting and installation. The good news, he did an amazing job and I'm so proud of my DIY husband! ;)


I on the other hand, have spent a lot of time working on floors. Parquet. No way! I hate parquet floors, especially when they've covered up hardwood. But taking the adhesive off of hardwood floors is something I've grown to hate even more. 

The below picture is what I found when removing the parquet flooring. Work.


After lots of floor stripper, a razor blade and woman-power I can proudly say the floors are getting there. I'm the queen of bad pictures, but if you look in the picture you can see that there isn't much black ugly adhesive left. Amen!
 

On Monday, Daniel and I were in for a real treat. As I was making dinner I noticed that people were parked across the street from our house in lawn chairs. We know our lives aren't that interesting so we figured there was some sort of parade coming down Buffalo Street. So we grabbed a few Blue Moon's and went to sit on the tailgate to watch.... the Canton Eagles homecoming parade. The beers then seemed a little inappropriate, but we were at our own home. As we watched the parade pass by our house (only photo I have below, I will start to do better I promise) I couldn't help but calculate how old today's class of 2013 high school seniors were when I graduated in 2004. Man, those 3rd graders sure have grown. I decided that little front yard outing just made me feel old. Lol

Husband watching the parade in the front yard.


What next you ask? Well, yesterday morning Daniel and I woke up excited to build this couch table below that we wanted to turn into a TV stand for  the living room.


I'm not quite sure what happened, but instead we decided to start the kitchen remodel. Wow. So far since yesterday we have successfully torn off the bar top, removed lots of drywall and the major reno this weekend was moving the oven outlet and electricity (easier said than done) to another wall in the kitchen.

Below is where the oven used to be. It also showcases the cabinets that are in the middle of getting redone which is why the top two cabinets to the right are white.


Here is Daniel demolishing the bar top, although he looks pretty calm in this picture. If you look closely you can see a little bit of the living room re-do behind him. I still need to post our final result but I think the wall below probably needs to come out first. 

We are completely changing things up in the kitchen so if we invite you over to dinner, don't expect it to be pretty yet. ;)

The kitchen had a completely blank wall. I mean there was nothing on it when we moved in. So I decided to add an old dresser there for now just to take up some space until we got things rearranged. So minus the lack of tidiness in this photo this is what it looked like. Nothing special still.


We decided it made more sense to move the oven on this wall, but because we can't leave well enough alone. We decided to take all the drywall off of this wall too to make it extra reno-y.

So for today this is our end result. A working oven on a new wall! Thank you Jesus for a husband that is all about learning how to do everything ourselves. 

Please understand that I know as a reader you're probably thinking, "Seriously, you guys really messed that room up." I promise this was a huge accomplishment in the kitchen re-do. It now allows us to knock down walls and cabinets that we don't want and add cabinets where we need them. 

So this picture below happens to have victory written all over it for me. :)

And because I found this recipe quite fitting for this post, not to mention it's what we had for dinner and what is cooking in that big pot on the stove.

 Paula Dean's Goulash Recipe

As always things were changed. We halved the meat. Used one onion. No soy sauce. And less salt in general. It was a great easy meal that makes a lot and fills you up! I did have to call it homemade hamburger helper though because Daniel thinks the word goulash is less than appetizing. :)

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 (29-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon House Seasoning, recipe follows
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned salt
  • 2 cups dried elbow macaroni

Directions

In a Dutch oven, saute the ground beef and ground turkey over medium-high heat, until no pink remains. Break up meat while sauteing; spoon off any grease. Add the onions to the pot and saute until they are tender about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups water, along with the tomato sauce, tomatoes, garlic, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, soy sauce, House Seasoning, and seasoned salt. Stir well. Place a lid on the pot and allow this to cook for 20 to 25 minutes.
Add the elbow macaroni, stir well, return the lid to the pot, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the bay leaves and allow the mixture to sit about 30 minutes more before serving.


Thanks for hangin' in on this 'all over the place post!


Monday, August 27, 2012

365 days

One year ago today I was anxious, nervous and excited to become your wife. I was sure that when those big barn doors opened up I was probably going to be sick. But as the doors opened and I saw you standing there my nerves disappeared, an extreme calm washed through me, and there was no one but you and me.

You and me. There's no one else in this world that I'd want to do life with. This past year has been the best year of my life. Each day I love you more. It's even become common for me to tell you, "I'm not sure why but I totally love you more today. It's like my love grew."

As life tends to be, this past year has put choices and challenges in our lives but I'd say that cliche phrase, "The first year's the hardest" didn't apply to us. And if it was hard, I didn't notice.

I realize how much I truly love you when I find myself over the top bragging about how wonderful you are to complete strangers. I know you totally hate when I brag on you but I'm so incredibly proud of the man that you are that I have a very hard time not letting the world know.

I STILL get butterflies calling you my husband. I hope that never becomes something I don't get excited about.


I'm truly enjoying every minute of this time in our lives. I wish I could slow it down sometimes. The nights and weekends go by too fast and work just gets in the way. There's no one else in this world I'd want to spend each day with. I feel like my life was nothing special until I met you and this 1st year of marriage is just the beginning.

Thank you for being loving. caring. strong. determined. grateful. and completely perfect for me.

It's been nothing short of happily ever after...


I love you Daniel Chase. 



Monday, August 20, 2012

A Quick Recap

What have we been up to? Giving our new home lots of love!
Our house has lots of things for us to put our own touch on.

So we spend at least one night a weekend at the good ole Home Depot.
It's now common to walk out with a full buggy or two and in this case below, a wheelbarrow full of home goodness.

It's also not uncommon to come home and find renovations started without me. Like the one below.
Daniel decided while I was at work to start ripping up the concrete porch. (In his defense, it needed to be done.) But it's always a nice surprise when I pull in the drive to see what he's been up to.

Then there are great finds like this one that make up for it. Daniel found this antique dresser at First Monday a few weeks back and we loved it! It's now the new home for our TV in the living room. For half off, we couldn't resist! (Excuse the paint mess, this will be a given for a while)

Just a little sneak peak at the living room colors. I'm using all the colors in this fabric. I'm in the process of making our roman shades out of this now. I have four out of five made for the living room and can't wait to do a big reveal post when we finish with the living room which I hope is in the next week. :)

So how do be stay energized with all these home renovations? Smoothies! I used to make them all the time but I fell off the wagon a while back. But I think I now have a fool proof system to having an awesome smoothie in the mornings.

On Sundays, I cut up all of our fruits lately that's been about 7 bananas, 2 cartons of strawberries (I think I'll be getting 3 this next week), 1 whole pineapple, and fresh spinach.

I wish I had a better recipe for our smoothies but I pretty much just wing it.

A handful of strawberries
one banana or handful of pineapple chunks
(Daniel doesn't eat bananas, but I prefer them)
a handful of spinach
a handful of oatmeal

I put all but the oatmeal in individual freezer bags.
I put the bags in the freezer.
This normally makes 14 smoothies, a weeks worth for both of us.

In the mornings I grab two bags out of the freezer.
I add in some milk. I'm not sure how much. I just eyeball it.
I'm sorry this recipe isn't very precise.

Anyway, I'm now a smoothie-aholic! I seriously get UPSET if I think I might not get a smoothie in the morning. The smoothies have now taken the place of coffee for me. This is probably a good thing since these pack a lot more nutrition.

So that's the short/jumbled version of what we've been up to. I hope to post about the redone living room within  the next week. It feels so nice to be close to having our first room almost done!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Long Time Coming.

Canton, TX  Photo by Me

I feel like we've been on quite the roller coaster ride as we searched for a place to call home these past few months. Daniel and I often joked that our decision on where to live changed just as much as we changed our underpants.

We explored almost every possible place we could think of. Some nights we'd sit down to dinner and say, "Let's just forget it all. Give away all of our things, move to the beach and find work when we get there." Other times, we'd think we were crazy and we should just 'tough it out' in Dallas for the next few years. We wouldn't have to worry about all the stress that comes with 'new'.

The hearts a funny thing though. It knows where it will be happy. And both of ours have been screaming for the past year that it just wasn't in DFW. We do have a lot to be thankful for though. And if I'm being real, I'm even thankful for Dallas. It will always be the first place my new husband and I called home.

But.....there is just something about East Texas. It can't be explained really except that it's home.

About a month ago a few opportunities came our way and through a long process we have been blessed with the option to be close to home.

Canton, TX. It's just a little over 20 miles from Athens (our hometown) and it's where we now call home. A couple of months or so ago we made the announcement to our family and close friends that we'd be moving to Tyler, TX but there were some changes and we couldn't be happier to call Canton home.









When we found out we would be moving to a small town I instantly thought of my friend Erin's post about a year ago. Unlike Erin, Daniel and I are from a small town so we do know what to expect I guess, but I think initially it will be much different. We too will be living in a town without a Starbucks, Target or Jason's Deli within about a 25 mile radius of us. And you know what, I don't think I'll mind.

We've talked a lot of what we will be gaining instead of giving up. Small towns offer community. A place where people watch out for each other. A place where walking into a restaurant or store means you WILL see someone you know. A small town allows us to be close to home instead of across town for work. A small town gives support. For us, it is a place for us and our (distant) future family to enjoy the simple things and appreciate them.

Canton has a population of about 3,500 people and has just grown by two.

The few weeks before we left Dallas I had been having a hard time sleeping at night and was having a hard time pin-pointing what it was that was suddenly waking me up in the middle of the night. My heart was anxious and nervous. All those feelings were instantly taken away though as we pulled into Canton knowing it was going to be our home. I suddenly felt relief and my heart was overwhelmed with the feeling of home.

I'd be lying if I didn't say the whole moving thing hadn't made me a little emotional. I find myself driving or sitting outside on the front porch and becoming extremely appreciative for everything and shedding a few tears of pure joy. It's true. You can't appreciate home until you have left.

So as we start this new life journey there is one main thing we will be working on and looking for. And this is simplicity. We want to work to live, not live to work. Enjoy all the time we possibly can together and with our family and friends. We want to make a difference in the place we call home.

Stay tuned for my next posts...

Our new home. :)
Renovations.
Living in a small town again.

I'm sure you may have noticed a difference in the blog name and style change. I think Victoria-ville was quite outdated since I've been living in O'Neal-ville for almost a year now. ;) Daniel and I are going to do our best to document all of our DIY renovations on the home we bought and are looking forward to sharing this home journey!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Butter Business


It's been awhile since we went to the store and brought home margarine. I really never did a whole lot of research into butter or margarine. I just know that butter is more natural and tastes better. That was good enough for me. 

Recently I've been reading a few articles though about margarine and they made me sick to my stomach to think that I was ever regularly eating this 'plastic'.

I think this article does the best job of explaining in pretty basic terms.
You can just Google 'butter vs. margarine' or 'truth about margarine' and find all kinds of enlightening articles.

"However, margarine often contains poor-quality, refined, artificially saturated vegetable oil.  It also contains harmful trans-fatty acids, and often residues of toxic metals such as nickel and cadmium.  It does not contain many nutrients at all.
                  Butter, by contrast, is a natural food and one of the best sources of important fat-soluble vitamins.  You will pay more for butter, but nutritionally and for its purity, it is well worth it."

 Most store bought butters are just fine (I always read the label just in case) but I decided to try my hand at making butter this weekend and it turned out surprisingly well. 

So well in fact, that I will be making our butter from here on out! This was seriously one of the easiest things I have ever made. I do have a kitchen-aid mixer that we got from my in-laws which may be a huge reason why this was so easy.But still, I felt like a pioneer woman!

This is the recipe I used. 

Ingredients
2 cups heavy cream (I used organic whipping cream)
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

Directions
 Pour cream into a food processor or blender. Process for 10 minutes, or until the butter separates. Strain off the liquid. Season to taste with salt if you like. Press butter into a small bowl with the back of a spoon to further remove liquid. 

It really was that simple. I do have a few tips if you do decide to make your own butter though. The mixture will start to get really thick right before it separates. That's when you should watch it closely because once is separates the liquid (buttermilk) will start to jump out of the mixing bowl as the butter curds form. And I didn't use a spoon to remove the liquid. I just used some cheesecloth and wrapped the butter curds in it and squeezed out all of the extra buttermilk in the sink. 

It's true. Everything is better homemade. The taste of this butter was amazing! You can also add any spice you'd like. You could make a cinnamon sugar butter or garlic butter, which I will probably do next time. :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Larabars!

As I mentioned in a previous post I've come to love Larabar's. I also mentioned that I would be finding a recipe for them since I love them so much.

Well, it didn't take long after that post for me to find one and I made my first batch last Thursday (the first batch was not too hot since I didn't use dates). But by the second batch I got the hang of it and I have to say that Daniel and I love the ones that I've made a 100X more than the actual Larabar's! I'm not sure how that happened but I'm glad it did since it's much more cost efficient.

I found a website called Damy Health and it has tons of recipes for these. So far we've made two batches of the key lime pie, one peanut butter cookie, and one chocolate coconut macaroon. Don't worry, we haven't ate them all yet. :) I made three batches on Sunday night for Daniel and I this week to take for snacks.

I'm constantly looking for things for us (mainly Daniel) to take to work to have something healthy to eat. I'd have to say that the one thing that makes me feel like an awful wife is if he goes to work without a lunch and snacks. I know...I know. He's a grown man who can feed himself. And he's never once gripped or complained if he doesn't have something to eat from home. I just feel like it's my job for us to eat healthy even if we aren't at home. I have mixed feelings about eating out anyway since you never know what's in the food. I like to think of it as limiting our unknown food intake. ;)

Anyway....

Please know that these bars are healthy in moderation. They have good fat, sugar, calories in them. Your body needs all of those things just from the right foods. This is not a food that will aid in weightloss, it is a healthy all natural snack.

When I was visiting my mom on Friday I let her try one and she was curious to know what was in them and seemed to like them as well! When we were eating one I said, "These are pretty much like a candy bar!" My mom looked at me like I was delusional! So I'm not sure if the lack of sugar in my diet makes these things seem amazing, if I'm crazy, or if they are actually as good as I think they are. But my husband loves them too, so that must be a good sign.

Please give them a try for yourself! They are SO easy to make and such a great alternative to all those other fruit/snack bars that 'claim' to be all natural. 

Here are the three recipes I've made so far but the website above has many more.

Key Lime Pie
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup Seedless/Pitted whole Dates
  • dash of sea salt
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/3 shredded coconut
Peanut Butter Cookie
  • 1/2 cup Seedless/Pitted whole Dates
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup peanuts
 Chocolate Coconut Macaroon
  • 1/3 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup Seedless/Pitted whole Dates
  • 3 tbsp dark chocolate
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut

Monday, April 2, 2012

Clarity.

Besides my husband being stuck in Dallas studying for an upcoming test, the weekend was close to perfect.

Friday night when I got into Athens my mom and I got to go eat dinner and catch up. We had a tough time deciding where to eat with all the options in town. Applebee's or Ochoa's? Since my mom had gone with friends to Ochoa's for lunch, Applebee's it was. We walked in and while waiting for a table I listened and watched everyone as they passed by. Everyone knows everyone in our town and that's pretty clear at the local Applebee's. ;)

On Saturday morning I got up early to head to Newton (where my Daddy lives). When I showed up he was outside welding/building fence. I've never known this man to sit still. I've also never known him to not do something on his own. That is one of the biggest things I admire about my Dad, he's a hard worker. That's something that I also admire in my husband. They may be different as night and day in some ways, but working hard isn't one of them.


My stepmom and I spent all day outside cheering my Dad on and occasionally helping when he'd let us. So we grabbed some lawn chairs under a shade tree, sipped on some sweet tea and ate watermelon. Perfect Saturday I think.

It's been such an amazing experience getting to see my Dad turn a piece of land into a home. When he bought this 100 acres about two years ago it was nothing but trees. Now it's cleared off, has a house, roads, he's building a lake, and as you can see above, the fence is coming along. That may not sound like a lot in two years but when you do the majority of it yourself with a little help from family and friends it really is a lot in a short period of time. I'm proud of him. And I can tell how happy it makes him to have this place to call home.

On Saturday evening I took a walk on the land and snapped a quick picture of the sunset. Not because it was the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen but because I found myself really appreciating that moment.


As I looked around me surrounded by everything God made I felt overwhelmingly joyful. As Daniel and I like to say, I got a 'heart jump'. That moment when something makes you so happy your heart does a flip. And at the very same time I found myself wanting to cry because I don't feel like this more often where we live. If I needed anymore clarity that I was not made for the city life, this was it. 

We are still working on our next move and waiting on answers about jobs but everyday is a day closer to getting those answers and we are thankful for all the prayers that have been given.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Happy Friday!

I listen to a lot of music! In the car, at work, working out, cooking dinner. And my choice stations are about 99.9% country. It's not surprising when it's what you grew up on.

I enjoy listening to the older country I grew up on but occasionally a song or two comes out in new country that I find myself loving. 

So here are my two favorite songs below that I can't stop listening to right now! They make me happy!

Speaking of country I'm heading home to Athens after work today to spend tonight with the mom and then set out early in the morning to head to the farm to see my Daddy. I honestly feel giddy with excitement to get out of this town and see the ones I love. Daniel has to stay in Dallas to study for a test. I'd say I wouldn't rub it in that I get to enjoy a little farm & family time but that's just silly. ;)
 Happy Friday!




Thursday, March 29, 2012

One Month Clean.


Today I have gone one month (sort of) without refined sugar. I say sort of because I'm always going to  have my Saturday cheat day where I want a big glass of sweet tea (or 2) and a bowl of ice cream or a cupcake. 

I know this seems like something small. Giving up sugar. I mean people have real problems that don't involve over indulging in something that is meant to be a treat. But I am proud to say that it is no longer my problem. 

I think my favorite find throughout my no sugar journey has been the LARABAR when I really feel like I want something sweet. They are so delicious and sweetened with dates instead of sugar. Not to mention, they have only a few ingredients in them. I can also pronounce and know all the ingredients that they contain. My next mission is to find a good recipe for them.

All in all, I rarely crave sugar anymore. Except on Saturdays, but I'm sure that's just because I know it's ok to have it then. 

So one month down.. a lifetime to go. ;)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Home Search

Please excuse how all over the place I'm sure this post will be. I've had a lot to think about and I'm pretty sure it won't make it out looking all pretty. ;)

As our lease comes to an end here in Dallas in June, we've had lots to discuss in the O'Neal house.

We are not 'city' people. We weren't raised 'city' and we have come to be completely ok with that. We'd like to have it noted that we did give it a go though.

We love spending our extra time outside. The type of outside where you don't have to see tall buildings and traffic.  Where you can build things, help with gardens, let your dog run wild and have 'neighbors' that you can't even see. Maybe that's why we feel more at home when we are in Athens visiting Daniel's family and my mom or in Newton visiting my Dad. It just feels right. There's no house in Dallas that could make us feel 'at home'.

When we visit our families we always feel much more appreciative of the people and things around us. We enjoy life a little slower and we like it that way. 

I think the idea of a city seems great. Having everything at your fingertips. And I understand that for a lot of people it does feel like home to them. And I think that's great too! But it's just not us.

When we moved to Dallas we thought it would be awesome to be so close to everything. You could easily go out for nice dinners at great restaurants each week. We have gone to some great places but the truth is we enjoy cooking at home on a Friday night much more. Going out to a nice restaurant should be a treat not something you do all the time and we would gladly move further away and have it be just that.

I thought about all the great shopping in Dallas. There is every store you could ever imagine. I remember when I was in junior high and high school my mom and I would drive to Dallas early on a Saturday morning once every month or two and spend the whole day shopping at fun places we didn't have back home. I've decided I liked it much better like that. It was seen as something special and those trips will always be great memories of my mom and I getting to spend the day doing nothing but having mother-daughter time. Since I'm someone who feels like spending lots of money on clothes is kind of silly unless its a staple piece, Dallas shopping doesn't do much for me. Honestly, my favorite place to shop in Dallas are the fun thrift stores, especially  Genesis Benefit Thrift Store. I love knowing that the money I spend is going to help others who need it. That's something I hope never changes. I hope I always see that while style might be important, price is not.

People. We have met some great people here and are very thankful for that. But all in all we aren't too happy with how Dallas seems to be a town of how big your house is, what kind of car you drive or what you are wearing. Please let me say that this is in EVERY town in America! It just seems like it's multiplied by a million in this town. All of these things are so extremely unimportant in my eyes. For the obvious reason, these are just things. Living in a city where people seem to work all the time just to keep up seems like more trouble than it's worth. I don't want to ever forget how those are wants and not needs. I may want a lot of things, but I don't need them. I hope I always find myself needing more time with the ones I love and never needing more money for things I want.

With the above said, I want to make it known that we don't think everyone in Dallas is like this and that we've had the opportunity of getting to know really great people. :)

Traffic. How could traffic not make the list of our reasons to move. I'm blessed enough to not have to deal with traffic throughout the week since my husband made the unselfish decision to put us close to my job and not to his. I have to say though, I don't like him driving in it either. Who does? I know that you do what you have to for your family and that is why most people travel more than a few miles to their job. We both just see it as our time together that's being taken away to sit in a car. Honestly, I'd give up a substantial amount of money for us to know we'd be home by 5 everyday. Since Daniel is in traffic everyday during the week, it leaves him not wanting to get out much on the weekend because there's always traffic on the weekends too. I can't blame him, who wants to be in traffic on their days off?

Unfortunately, for job and school reasons we need to stay in the area we are in for a few more years. Even though we feel like we might go crazy staying here for that long. To make it a little better we've been searching for places north of Dallas where there are still school options and good jobs but you can drive a few miles and feel like you're in the country. Also, places where we don't feel so crowded where there is a little more open space. Our search has been narrowed down quite a bit in the past week or so and I think we feel like we're getting closer to making a decision. Please say a little prayer for us that we find a place that feels like a home and not just a place to stay.

As I was typing this for some reason I kept singing this Alabama song in my head. I loved listening to it as a kid and love it even more today when I think of how it makes me think about the simplicity of where we came from. ;)



Well, that's all I've got for today... updates to come.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sugarless Cookies

Photo & Recipe from LuxHippie


So I'm almost a month into my sugarless lifestyle change and for the most part I have been able to control my cravings and they've happened less and less as the month has gone by. (I do still have one cheat day a week though, I'm positive I will never give this up.)

Anyway, last night Daniel and I were sitting on the couch and I though I might go crazy if I didn't get sugar in my body ASAP! So I began to think of ways to 'sneak' it in. Daniel finally remembered me raving about finding a recipe on Pinterest last week that didn't us any sugar in the cookie recipe.

I jumped on the computer and as fast as I could (during The Biggest Loser commercials) I found the recipe and made them. They literally took one commercial break to make. These cookies are just that easy.

Now I do have to say that if you are wanting a sticky sweet cookie, these aren't for you. But if you need just a little sweet to get your through and you don't want to feel bad for eating say, 5 of them in a row, then give this recipe a try.
 
Of course I changed a few things since I hate leaving recipes alone.
1. I added two teaspoons of vanilla instead of one.
2. I made sure to use all natural peanut butter without any added sugar.
3. I used honey instead of syrup
4. I used all purpose flour. I already gave up sugar. I'm not giving up tasty carbs.
5. NO CHOCOLATE CHIPS! Not because I didn't want them but, they'd undo the sugarless thing. 
6. I added pecans (about 1/2 cup) next time I think I will add some unsweetened coconut too! 
7. Super important!!! Only cook them for 10 to 12 minutes. :)
 
Original recipe below....

Ingredients:
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2-1 cup natural chunky peanut butter (depending on how much peanut buttery goodness you want)
4 tablespoons maple syrup
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions: 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
In a large bowl, mix bananas, vanilla, peanut butter and maple syrup into a creamy consistency (best to do with a hand mixer).
In another bowl, combine oats, flour, baking powder and salt
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until they are well combined, the batter should be slightly sticky. Fold in the chocolate chips. The batter will be somewhat runny, this is ok.
Place heaping tablespoon-sized balls of the batter onto a ‘greased’ baking sheet (can also place on wax paper) and cook for 15 minutes.
Makes around 2 dozen cookies
 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Crafts? Yeh, I still do those from time to time ;)

Crafts have been put on the back burner lately and I'm not liking it at all. Since Daniel and I moved to Dallas I haven't had as much free time and have just been letting projects pile up.

Well there are still many that are on my to-do list but recently two of them got to be crossed off.

Over a month ago Daniel and I were visiting our families in Athens when my mother in law asked me if I'd take a few extra lamps off her hands. She'd been to some garage sales and found many of them for a dollar. Yep just one buck.

I don't have any before pictures of my actual lamp. Let's just say it looked something like this...
Not so hot. But my mother in law is a crafting genius and said that brass can easily be painted.

With that in mind, I new what I wanted the lamp to look like. I'd been looking at one in Ballard Designs but at $179 I think I'd have to be crazy to buy it. I refuse to spend a considerable amount of money on something that can be made. So below is the lamp I was wanting except I was wanting it in their rubbed black color but still with the sea grass shade.

Below is the shade I had to work with

Lucky for me, Daniel had just been complaining about our place mats that looked like sea grass so I had bought some new ones. They looked like this. I had got them at a Goodwill in Denton a year or two ago (4 for $1).

I took the fabric off of the lamp shade and even though some of the plastic bad ripped off with it, it seemed usable. 

Then I just got to unrolling the place mats and gluing them to the shade. It took a little while but I think my $5 lamp (including spray paint) will do since I saved about $174. ;)





The next project I conquered was our need for two more dining room chairs. Daniel and I have lived here about 9 months with only two chairs at the dinner table. Not that it really matters, no one eats dinner here but us. But we were on the lookout if we found a good deal. We met some of my family in Canton for First Monday in February and couldn't turn down these $5 chairs. They were hideous (you should have seen the original cushions on them, total '80's) but they had a nice shape and were sturdy so we bought them.

After a few coats of paint, a trip to Hobby Lobby for some fabric for the cushions, and lots of cushion/foam donated by my mother in law I busted out the staple gun and went to work. The end result... we can now seat a table of four. 

We bought the chairs 2 for $10, I spent about $5 on the fabric. I had everything else already or it was given to me. Two chairs, $15? Sounds good to me!

Here's to getting more projects out of the way!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Addict


Yep. Those are big cups of SUGAR! And after lots of comments about my sugar intake from my husband and much denial on my part I've finally come to the realization that I have a very unhealthy relationship with the sweet white stuff above.

What a bummer. I liked denial much better.

How did I know I was addicted to sugar? Well, just take a look at my excuses for finding a way to make sure I have it..

- Making sure there is always some kind of candy in my bag at all times.
- Eating all my veggies so I can have a sweet treat after pretty much every meal. (Yep, I know how childish that sounds.)
- Saying that sugar in coffee doesn't count.
- Picking restaurants that are known for good desserts or ones that are close to an ice cream place so I can go after.
- Pouting about not getting something sweet after dinner. (Yep. I'm five.)
- Putting sugar packets in my purse just in case we go somewhere and I need them. (What the what?! How can that ever be ok?)

The light bulb moment...

I've been running/working out now for a while and I've seen small results but nothing major and although I'm not trying to lose any weight, I am trying to tone what I've got. And that just wasn't happening as quick as I wanted.  Even when I put on a little weight, I've always been able to drop it really fast. Although the fact that I'm heading toward the late twenties may have something to do with it. Anyway, I decided to find a good food journal to see what I was doing wrong. In the back of my mind I knew it was my sugar intake but I would never admit to it. I'd rather cut out veggies and fruits than my sugar. I was convinced there had to be another way. ADDICT.

But as I typed in all my food and workout information so it could tell me how many calories I needed to eat a day to lose a small amount of weight and tone and the results were depressing. They weren't depressing because they said I needed to eat like 1000 calories a day or work out excessively. They were depressing because they pretty much said the amount of calories I needed to give up was almost exactly my daily intake of sugar. I just thought, that's impossible.. I can't! I need it!. ADDICT.

The break up...

Yesterday I woke up and decided to come clean and quit making excuses and for the first time in many many days, months, years I did not have any sugar! A lot of my break up had to do with these articles... here and here. Yeah, these sites are total bummers but the truth stinks.

So I made it through yesterday feeling just fine and even some of this morning I felt fine. It's safe to say that my back-up or overload of sugar is now gone though since I've had a massive headache and been extremely tired since about 10 a.m.

I am allowing Saturday sweets because I think it's just silly to never eat cupcakes, chocolate and ice cream. So I guess I'm not giving them up entirely but I am anxious to see how much better I feel after a week or so.

Wish me luck! It's not easy being healthy. ;)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Halfway to a Year!

Yesterday Daniel and I celebrated 6 happy months of marriage.

Can you believe I get to spend the rest of my life with this guy? ;)



I wouldn't have it any other way.

Most of the bloggers I follow give little updates about their children and what they are learning/doing at certain stages in their life, but Daniel & I have no desire to have children for quite some time. So... I thought I'd give you a little update of what we've learned in the first 6 months of marriage. ;)

1. We keep hearing "the first year's the hardest", so far ours has been great but we still have six months to go with school, job and housing decisions to be made.

2. It doesn't matter if the silverware is perfectly in it's drawer. It's put up and that's all that matters.

3. We're a team. Decisions are made together.

4. Husbands don't like soups. (Mine doesn't) No matter how hard I try.

5. Two sinks in your bathroom are necessary at bedtime. This is now a top priority on the house search.

6. Wives don't like when brown rugs are put with white towels on hot in the washer.

7. Husbands eat A LOT!

8. Date nights are necessary.

9. Laugh. It's not ALL romance. ;)

10. Say I love you more than you think you should.


We've learned many more things in the past 6 months but who really wants to read them all but us.

I've told Daniel a few times now that marrying him was the easiest decision I ever made. There were no doubts about if we'll make it then. And that still stands true. I know 6 months seems like nothing especially when I think about 30 years from now and where we might be, but I also know that these moments are just as special. They are the beginning to forever. They are the stepping stones to the future.

I love you Daniel. Happy 6 months!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

This Past Weeks Eats


I've added some recipes that were on our menu last week that we really liked. I was not meaning to turn this blog into a place with tons of recipes but it seems much easier when I'm searching for them to just pull them up on the blog. So I will probably continue to add them along with other little snippets of our life. A few new recipes on the menu this week as well. So stay tuned!

We had this Chicken Piccata tonight and really enjoyed it, we paired it with the carrot salad below which was also really yummy :) Adjustments....no capers!    

Chicken Piccata w/ Pasta & Mushrooms from Eating Well 

  • 6 ounces whole-wheat angel hair pasta
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 chicken cutlets (3/4-1 pound total), trimmed
  • 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 10-ounce package mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons butter    
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and rinse.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk 5 teaspoons flour and broth in a small bowl until smooth. Place the remaining flour in a shallow dish. Season chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper and dredge both sides in the flour. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned and no longer pink in the middle, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate; cover and keep warm.
  3. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they release their juices and begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add garlic and wine to the pan and cook until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the reserved broth-flour mixture, lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in parsley, capers, butter and the reserved mushrooms. Measure out 1/2 cup of the mushroom sauce. Toss the pasta in the pan with the remaining sauce. Serve the pasta topped with the chicken and the reserved sauce.

 Carrot Salad from Country Living
  • Zest and juice of 2 limes
  • 3 tablespoon(s) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon(s) honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon(s) crushed red pepper
  • Salt
  • 1/4 pound(s) carrots, peeled and sliced crosswise
  • 1/2 cup(s) sliced dried apricots
  • 3 small scallions, sliced
  1. In a medium pan over low heat, cook lime juice, olive oil, honey, mustard, and red pepper until warm, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and cover.
  2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook carrots until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and transfer carrots to a serving bowl.
  3. Add dried apricots and scallions, then toss salad with warm honey-lime dressing. Sprinkle with lime zest. 

 I made these muffins for breakfast on the go for us a week or so ago and we really loved them! Adjustments... I reversed the all-purpose and the wheat flower since I'm not much on a total wheat taste with my pastries. I also used almonds instead of macadamia nuts
.
 Blueberry Coconut Macadamia Muffins from Eating Well website
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup brown sugar, divided
  • 5 tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts, divided
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (see Source) or whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut or vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) blueberries
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.
  2. Combine coconut, 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 tablespoons macadamia nuts in a small bowl. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil; stir to combine. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the remaining 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, egg, egg white, buttermilk, butter and coconut (or vanilla) extract in a medium bowl until well combined. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients; stir until just combined. Add blueberries and the remaining 3 tablespoons nuts; stir just to combine. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle with the reserved coconut topping and gently press into the batter.
  4. Bake the muffins until golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack at least 5 minutes more before serving.


 I found a recipe from All Recipes a year or so ago and kept adapting and adapting it until it seemed pretty much perfect (to us) for chewy granola bars. It looks nothing like the original recipe but it was a good base to start. We LOVE these so much! I try to make a batch of these or some sort of muffins on Sunday (as well as the Earth Balls) for our breakfasts on the go for the week.

Granola Bar Recipe
  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4cup honey
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup walnuts 
  • 1/2 cup cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Lightly grease one 9x13 inch pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, flour, baking soda, vanilla, butter, honey. Stir in the 2 cups assorted chocolate chips, raisins, nuts etc.
  3. Lightly press mixture into the prepared pan. Bake at 325 for 9 minutes and then take out and press mixture into pan again. And then cook for another 10 minutes, press down in pan again when taking out of oven. Let cool for 10 minutes then cut into bars. Let bars cool completely in pan before removing or serving. 

We had this side with some baked salmon the other night and we seemed to like it. Our only complain was too much lemon and garlic. I'd say half the garlic and I may even leave out the lemon juice altogether next time.

Quinoa Side Dish from All Recipes
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 dash fresh lemon juic
  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the quinoa, and toast, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, or until quinoa is tender.
  2. In a bowl, toss quinoa together with garlic, parsley, thyme, salt, and onion. Sprinkle with lemon juice, and serve.

I made the mixture for these the other morning before I left for work (they stay together much better if they are cold when cooking) and popped them in the oven when I got home. As always a few little changes. Dry the beans with a towel after they are rinsed. I put mine in the kitchenaid mixer after to get them nice and mashed up. I increased the breadcrumbs by another 1/4 to 1/2 cup since I could tell the mixture was too mushy.

Black Bean Veggie Burgers from All Recipes
  • 1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 onion, cut into wedges
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce or hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  1. If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil a baking sheet.
  2. In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.
  3. In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Then stir into mashed beans.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce.
  5. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.
  6. If grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side. 



Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weekend Update with Recipes

This past weekend Daniel & I headed into Athens to spend some time with our families. We got in Friday night and were exhausted so we just chatted with Daniel's parents and brother and headed off to bed.

But on Saturday morning my mother in law, momma and I got up and did some thrift shopping at some garage sales/estate sales/thrifty stores. We found a few good things which mainly included fabric for some upcoming projects but the day was mostly just fun because we got to spend it together. After shopping we met up with the guys and had a little Mexican dinner at  one of the O'Neal favorites, Mercados.

We made it back after a little more shopping after lunch and soon got started on dinner where my mother in law and I tried a new spaghetti sauce recipe that turned out quite yummy! As always there were a few changes since we just used what we had on hand being a last minute meal.

First off, we halved everything in this recipe. It makes a lot. We used ground beef instead of sausage. Added some bell pepper with the onions. Used stewed tomatoes (because it's what we had). Italian seasoning instead of just basil. No brown sugar. And simmered for about 30 minutes. And everyone seemed to like it. :) 

Jo Mama's World Famous Spaghetti 
  • 1 small onion , chopped (optional) 
  • 2 lbs. Italian sausage 
  • 3 -4 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water (for a long period of simmering for flavors to meld. If you don't want to simmer it as long, add less)
  • 3 teaspoons basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh coarse ground black pepper
  1. In large, heavy stockpot, brown Italian sausage, breaking up as you stir.
  2. Add onions and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until onions are softened.
  3. Add garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce and water.
  4. Add basil, parsley, brown sugar, salt, crushed red pepper, and black pepper.
  5. Stir well and barely bring to a boil.
  6. Simmer on low, stirring frequently for at least an hour. A longer simmer makes for a better sauce.


Today we spend most of the day relaxing in Athens until Daniel and his Dad started working on trucks and chopping wood (such men, I love it :). Thanks to Daniel's parents we now have enough fire wood to last us through the winter. If we ever get one in Texas this year.

We made it back to Dallas and pulled into to our apartment and saw this little table just outside.Please excuse how frumpy our couch looks today, it needs a little fluffing.


But Daniel and I unloaded it (and all of our fire wood) from the truck and got the table all cleaned up to see it was from Pier 1, which means it was decently made and free. We'll take it! We weren't really looking/wanting a coffee table but it matched so nicely. We probably will sand it down (there are a few small chips in the wood on one side) and then re-finish it. But we like DIY projects around here, especially free ones.

We got settled back into the house and I started making manicotti, one of our favorite pasta dishes.
I use this recipe below and stick to it pretty closely. I do half the ricotta cheese and use fresh spinach and no parm cheese.

Ricotta & Spinach Stuffed Manicotti
  • 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 6 1/2 cups Classico® Tomato and Basil Sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 (8 ounce) package manicotti shells
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine ricotta, spinach, onion and egg. Season with parsley, pepper and garlic powder. Mix in 1 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan. In a separate bowl, stir together pasta sauce and water.
  3. Spread 1 cup sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Stuff uncooked manicotti shells with ricotta mixture, and arrange in a single layer in the dish. Cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes, or until noodles are soft.


Another recipe we tried earlier this week that we thought was AMAZING was Zucchini Rice Casserole! We left of the turkey sausage and kept it just a veggie meal and we used whole milk instead of low fat (we're whole milk drinkers at this house ;) We also used about half the cream cheese. We really LOVED this recipe! But I have to warn that it takes an incredible amount of time. I made it on a Sunday which was perfect. I wouldn't recommend it for weekdays.

Zucchini Rice Casserole

  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups diced zucchini , and/or summer squash (about 1 pound)
  • 2 red or green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups shredded pepper Jack cheese, divided
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) corn kernels
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese , (Neufchâtel)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pickled jalapeños
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Pour rice into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bring broth to a simmer in a small saucepan. Stir hot broth into the rice along with zucchini (and/or squash), bell peppers, onion and salt. Cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, 35 to 45 minutes more.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk milk and flour in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until bubbling and thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add 1 1/2 cups Jack cheese and corn and cook, stirring, until the cheese is melted. Set aside.
  4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add sausage. Cook, stirring and breaking the sausage into small pieces with a spoon, until lightly browned and no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
  5. When the rice is done, stir in the sausage and cheese sauce. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup Jack cheese on top and dollop cream cheese by the teaspoonful over the casserole. Top with jalapeños.
  6. Return the casserole to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
I think those are all the 'new' recipes that were tried for dinner this week. Although, the manicotti isn't new. This week we have a few new recipes on the menu so we looking for them soon! Hope everyone has had a Happy Sunday!