Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

From my sweet Hula Girls!

Yes.  I'm that girl who, not only dresses her dogs up for Halloween, but in coordinating costumes.  Best $10 I've spent at Target all week--go ahead and judge.

Did any of y'all dress up your fur children?!  I'd love to see them--it cracks me up!  Find me on Instagram @amparsons29

Happy Halloween, y'all!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

This week has been crazy...and it's only Wednesday!!  I had feeling behind on house work--I've grown pretty accustomed to my "down time!"  Anywho, I'm on a soup kick.  I posted last week how pumped I am to make our Halloween Chicken Tortilla Soup tomorrow, but I was in a soupy mood last weekend and whipped this up to satisfy my craving.

I hate to see leftovers go to waste, but at the same time I don't always want to eat the same thing two nights in a row or for lunch the next day.  I love taking leftovers and turning them into a whole new meal--especially when I have every ingredient in the house!  This one was definitely a winner--so close to my absolute favorite at Panera!

Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of flour
1 cup of milk
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1 cup of chicken stock 
1 cooked, chopped chicken breast {approx 1 cup}
1ish cups of cooked wild rice
Salt & pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Once melted, add in diced onion {if you want to add some diced carrots and celery too, insert here.}  Saute until onions are soft and translucent, about 5ish minutes.  Add in minced garlic, give it a quick stir & then sprinkle flour over onion/garlic/butter mixture.  Mix until combined {no powder flour visible} and cook for about three minutes.

Add in milk, whisking until combined and starts to thicken.  Stir in Cream of Chicken Soup and chicken stock {side note: I didn't have any chicken stock, so I dissolved one chicken bouillon cube in one cup of water, and then added that in.  Pretty much chicken stock}

Add in the chopped chicken breast and cooked wild rice {I used leftover wild rice from Rice-a-Roni that we had the night before.  The seasonings in the pack gave this great flavor.  It's all rice, no roni, and only one dolla!}  Let chicken and rice heat through and serve.

What is your favorite way to give your leftovers a facelift? 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Five on Friday

I can't believe this is the last Friday in October--time is flying!  I shared my favorite Halloween tradition on Wednesday, and it just made me super excited for next week.  We're getting festive with our Friday five today, friends!

{one}  I love these super cute bowls from Coton Colors!  I think they'd be perfect to hold the candy for trick-or-treaters

{two} We have yet to carve or decorate a pumpkin this year!  It's on the list for this weekend, and I'm still trying to come up with something.  Best pumpkin carving award goes to O back in 2008 for this gem.  Go Skins!

{three} Most favorite Halloween candy?  I really think it's a mini snickers or Reese's Pieces!

{four}  For Izzie's first Halloween, which feels like eons ago, she was a little bumble bee!  {Y'all can read about my bee obsession in this post}.  Definitely my favorite dog costume of all time.  Shelby as the hot dog is a close second ;)

{five} My favorite costume as a kid?  My best friend and I dressed up as dice.  Probably the easiest costume ever for our moms.  A box, painted white with black dots.  DONE.  I'd share a picture if they weren't all at my moms in Virginia.  But it was probably something like this.  Cuteness and all.

We've got a busy weekend ahead of us full of birthday parties, weddings and shoppinggggg :)  I'm excited to see what y'all are up to!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Our Halloween Tradition

Halloween is just one week away!  I don't know about you, but I am so excited to see all of the cute costumes, eating the candy handing out candy, and a tradition I started last year--Chicken Tortilla Soup.  I posted about it here last year, but I think it's worth sharing again!  Not only is it a crazy festive orange & black {bean} soup, it's pretty tasty, too!

Chicken Tortilla Soup with Black Beans
serves 6ish; adapted from Girlichef

vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
5 small corn tortillas, cut or torn into strips
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. paprika 
1 "shake" red pepper flakes
1 can Rotel Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies
1/2 can of tomato paste
1 box (quart) of chicken stock
2 cooked, chopped chicken breasts
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
3/4 c. half & half
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

sour cream
shredded Monterey Jack cheese
fried tortilla strips

Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a dutch oven, or heavy pot over medium heat; add onion and cook until they are translucent, about 4-5 minutes.  Add garlic, and cook an additional minute.  {at this point, I removed half of the cooked onions, and reserved to add back in after I blended the base, for some extra texture.} Mix in spices and tortilla strips, stirring constantly for a few minutes.  Pour in the can of Rotel {juice and all!}, box of chicken stock and the half can of tomato paste; whisk to incorporate.  Reduce heat and let simmer for about 5 minutes.  I turned off the heat and used my immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth {you can also do this in batches in the blender.}  Girlichef recommends that you let the soup cool before blending.  I threw caution to the wind--with T-minus 7 minutes until the trick-or-treaters would be beating down the door for the mini Snickers that I already ate, I needed to get dinner on the table.

After you puree the soup, add in the chopped chicken, black beans, half & half, shredded cheese and reserved onions.  Season to taste with salt & pepper.  Let everything warm through, and then you're ready to serve!

I took a few extra corn tortillas, sliced 'em up, and fried them in vegetable oil until golden & crispy.  We also topped our soup with sour cream, fried tortilla strips & {lots} of shredded cheese!

We will most definitely be eating this next Thursday.  Followed by mass amounts of mini Snickers and Reece's Cups.  Do you have any Halloween traditions?!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Peel and Stick Tile Floor

I totally wanted to share the details of this project with y'all back when we updated the bathroom over Labor Day weekend--better late than never!  I wasn't the one who actually installed the new flooring, O was.  So I had to really ask him a lot of questions to get enough information to actually write a post!

From what I've been told, it really was an easy project.  Just a little time consuming.  For all of $35 we were able to cover up our old, ugly linoleum floor

With much more attractive resilient tile, with grout!  $35!!  You can't beat that in my book!

We started out by cleaning the existing floor really well and allowing it to dry.  O measured the room, and found the center to start with.  Peel the backing off the tile and stick it down and put spacers on each corner. Work your way out.  The only tricky part comes in when its time to cut the tile.

Measure & score on the back side of the tile before removing the paper backing.  Continue to score the back with a utility knife, and then snap it!

Continue peeling and sticking, cutting and snapping until you have covered all of the old flooring.  Then comes the grouting...

Which happened while I was at work one day and someone failed to take pictures of the progress!  Oh well {I failed to get a lot of details as a whole}  Remodelaholic had a great tutorial that explains the process start to finish!

This is the second bathroom where we've used the peel and stick tile with grout & both have held up great!  It really was a great option for updating the bathroom flooring without spending a fortune!

Do you have a favorite inexpensive update?!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Five on Friday!

I wish Friday came as fast as Mondays seem to...but I won't complain!  Because it's finallyyyyyy the weekend!

{1} Thank the Lord, good television is back.  I've been watching every Modern Family rerun faster than I can DVR them.  Another new favorite in our house?  The Goldbergs.  Thanks, ABC, for creating all of my favorite shows.  I seriously love all things 80's, and this show reminds us of all the amazing things that decade brought us.

{2} I love fun jewelry!  I also love finding great sites with inexpensive fun jewelry!  Like this one from A Modern Boutique!  If there are others I should know about, PLEASE tell me!  This one is now on my birthday wish list {ahem, O!}
{3}  This goes along with numero dos above, but a t-shirt with a built in necklace?  Yes, please!  Oh wait....holler when that's on clearance, J. Crew.

{4}  Maybe it's because Halloween is right around the corner, but there is a whole lotta black chevron running around my house.  And I'm ok with it.  {I still need a picture for my new frame!}

{5}  I went into my favorite little store in town and they were burning this amazing candle, Sweet Summer Tea, and it comes in wax melts for my warmer!  My house smells delicious.

Do y'all have any big plans for the weekend?!  It is supposed to be pretty chilly here, so I see a lot of snuggling with the dog children in our future!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Homemade Pesto

I get on these kicks from time-to-time where I go to buy something and as I reach to put it in my cart I think "I could make that."  So, I decided to make pesto from scratch during our low key weekend.  I had all of the ingredients at home, minus the basil--so I bought that and went home to make pesto. It was crazy easy, and so yummy!  Plus I love to use these little mason jars for everything!

We've been eating pesto everything around here.  On pasta {obviously}, on grilled chicken, mixed in with Alfredo sauce {so good}, as a spread on sandwiches, and mixed with olive oil for bread dipping.

Homemade Pesto

1 2/3 cup basil leaves, loosely packed
5 tbsp. toasted pine nuts*
2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp. lemon juice

Place basil leaves, garlic, salt, pepper, and pine nuts into food processor; pulse until finely chopped.  {I had to scrape down the sides a few times to get everything to the bottom of my mini chopper}  Add in lemon juice & gradually add in olive oil through the top opening--scrape again and add in parm.  Pulse to blend.

*to toast your pine nuts, put them in a dry pain over medium heat, stirring constantly until golden.  Don't walk away--these suckers burn in no time flat!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Halloween Decor and a Festive Frame

How is it Monday already?!  It was another low key weekend here in Kentucky!  A lot of relaxing and I was able to finish start putting out our sparse halloween decor.

I had the metallic pumpkins left from last year to set out, as well as a few extras I scored from Hobby Lobby on clearance after Halloween a year ago!

I actually forgot that I purchased this great black and white chevron frame last year, and was SO EXCITED to find it in my Fall Decor box.  I decided to embellish it just a tad to make it a little more festive!

It is amazing what a few wooden letters and a little paint can do!

I think it'll be fun to change out year-to-year with a picture of the kids in their costumes.  And by kids, I mean the dogs.  Two possible contenders? A hot dog or shark.  Both might be in the mail already from Shutterfly...

Have y'all decorated for Halloween yet, or am I just late to the game?  I'm going to guess the latter.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Five on Friday!

I've said it before, but I'll probably say it 100 more times--I LOVE these Five on Friday link-ups!  I love to find new blogs to follow, as well as the new followers to A&O!  And, it satisfies my crazy need to make lists.  Which brings me to some of my fav's:

{one} My Tervis Tumbler!  I carry my coffee to work in one of these bad boys every morning.  I love all of their fun designs--especially this one for good ol' Radford ;)

{two}  If you follow me on Instagram (amparsons29) you already saw this cute little kitchen towel I picked up at a local store.  I think it's pretty accurate!

{three} What would a Five on Friday post be without me listing yet another product I love?  This week, Catwalk by Tigi Transforming Dry Shampoo.  I use this on Day Two to freshen up my 'do {unintentional rhyming, folks}.  It is virtually invisible, and perfect for dark hair!  No powder residue! LOVE.  And, has the all important good-smell factor.

{four} While I'd LOVE to swing by Starbucks daily for either a PSL or Caramel Apple Spice, I just can't.  But I did find something that helps when I'm craving a non-caffinated fall beverage.  Alpine Spiced Apple Cider packs are SO good!  I keep some stashed away in my cube at work.  The k-cup variety is pretty good too.  They're usually in the hot chocolate and coffee aisle at our local store.
{five}  Here's a little factoid about me.  I love when "things" talk, that shouldn't.  For example: babies, food, or animals.  Those e-trade baby commercials!  Please don't judge.  I know it's strange!  My co-worker knows about this weird obsession, and emailed me this hilarious video, and I just have to share!  I may have had the horse laugh and occasional snort while watching this in my cubicle, so beware.  I hope it makes your Friday that.much better!

Hope y'all have the best weekend ever!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Beef Stroganoff

While I was stuck to the sofa on Saturday watching the Modern Family marathon, I did manage to make my way to the kitchen during commercial breaks to make dinner.  It ended up raining all weekend, and I decided to bust out the Crockpot {which will now live on our counter until Spring} and make one of my favorites.

This Beef Stroganoff recipe is so easy and so yummy.  It's different than most I've come across, because it doesn't call for Cream of something soup, and you can pretty much add what you like or leave out what you don't like.  Want mushrooms and onions?  Add 'em.  Don't like mushrooms? Leave them out!  Also, you can do this in a slow cooker OR stove top.  Directions for both, below!

Beef Stroganoff

1 pound beef stew meat, cut into 1" cubes
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 small onion, minced
1 cup of sliced mushrooms {I leave this out.  We're not fans}
1 {10 1/2 oz} can beef broth
2 tbsp. ketchup
1/4 cup of flour
1 cup sour cream
1 package of wide Egg Noodles

option numero uno: Crockpot.
Melt butter in slow cooker set to high heat.  Once melted, add in beef and sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste and garlic powder.  Top with minced onion {and mushrooms if you're using}  Turn heat to low and cook for 6 hours {or on high for 3-4 hours}.  Add in ketchup and beef broth, reserving 2/3 cup of broth.  Turn slow cooker back to high heat and in a separate bowl, add flour to reserved broth.  Once blended, add into meat mixture stirring until combined.  Cook on high for 15 minutes or until thickened {cook noodles on the stove at this time}  Stir in sour cream cream to meat and broth, and heat through.  Serve over noodles.

option two:  Stove top.
Melt butter in the pot over medium heat.  Add in beef and, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until browned on all sides {almost cooked through}. Add in onions, saute until translucent, about five minutes.  Add in beef broth {reserve 2/3 cup}, ketchup and garlic salt.  Cover and simmer about 15 minutes {now would be a good time to start another pot of water to boil the noodles in}.  In a small bowl, blend reserved beef broth with flour, and blend until smooth.  Stir into meat and broth.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir for one minute.  Stir in sour cream, and heat through.  Serve over noodles.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Medicine Cabinet Organization

In an effort to stick to the OctNOber plan, I pretty much camped out at home this weekend.  I just knew I'd be too tempted to pick up a new outfit or fall decor if I went anywhere near Target...BUT,  it was SO nice to get a few little projects wrapped up, do a lot of relaxing AND there may have been an all day Modern Family marathon on Saturday--why didn't we watch this show before?! {yes, I'm late to the game.  Judge away.}

I finally peeled myself off the sofa and decided to organize our new medicine cabinet.  O installed a larger one with more interior space back in September, but most of its contents were still spread all over the top of our small sink.

The whole purpose of installing the new medicine cabinet was to add extra storage to our tiny bathroom.  That, AND the old medicine cabinet was fugly.  So I took a quick five minutes to get things spruced up.

Looking at this picture now, it would appear that this post is sponsored by Aveeno or philosophy.  Not so much--those are just some of our favorite products!

I had a few random votive holders laying around, and decided to put them to good use.  They're now holding q-tips and all of the little odds and ends that cluttered the shelves and fell out when we opened the cabinet.  This was such an easy {and free!} way to keep everything organized & clear off the top of the sink.  I also had an extra bathroom tumbler that I'm using to hold O's razor, and a few other random things.

So what did I learn from this?  Use what you have laying around!  You'd be amazed what you can repurpose in your own house.  That, and our next house will have a double vanity.  With larger countertops.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Five on Friday

I, like all of you I'm sure, am SO glad it's Friday.  Whew, what a week!  I'm linking up with with the girls, again for my fourth edition of a few Friday Favorites.

{one} SCANDAL IS BACK.  This is probably my favorite show on TV--right up there with Mad Men.  I won't say much in case you didn't watch, but HOLY MOTHER.  And if you don't watch it, you should.  Just sayin'

{two} I invested in a big girl curling iron last week, and I'm SO glad that I did.  I feel like my new cut looks so much better with big waves than it does when I straighten it, but my $17 curling iron from Target just wasn't cutting it--enter BaByliss 1 1/2" curling iron.  Game changer.

{three} My sweet Izzie dog got a haircut this week!  She always looks so cute & smells great after she gets groomed.  Our awesome friend, Brandon, takes such good care of her!  We're lucky to have a groomer in the "family"

{four} I was SO inspired by Ally and her OctNOber post this week.  No unnecessary spending for the entire month of October.  I'm going for it!  I think it falls at the perfect time of the year--I can start doing a little saving before the holiday spending starts next month!  When you have time, check out her blog, Life as I know it.  I'm all of four days in to my "month of no spending," and so far so good.  I will say, I see a lot of cleaning and organizing coming this month!

{five}  My planner--I can't believe I didn't post about this the last three Friday's, because this is one thing I couldn't live without.  My friends tease that I carry an old school planner around--but there's nothing "old school" about the Erin Condren Life Planner.  Carrying an actual planner just works for me.  Yes, I know I can do all of this on my phone, but I get immense satisfaction from making a list, and then crossing things off said list.  And I color code...don't judge.

Clearly the picture above shows what an insane week I've had!  We have a nice relaxing weekend planned & I'm looking forward to doing a whole lot of nothing! I'm excited to read through your Friday 5's to see what you're up to!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pepperoni Stromboli

I told y'all on Monday that we did A LOT of cooking and eating while my mom was in town.  Every time she comes to visit, we request that she make her amazing Pepperoni Stromboli.  It's really more of a pepperoni-cheese loaf.  Not quite a calzone and not really a stromboli {we just call it that because we're not really sure what it is}  It's just really really good.  This is perfect to make on a Saturday or Sunday--it's not hard, but does take a little time.

Cindy's Pepperoni Stromboli
makes two loaves

1 Box Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix
1 cup Hot Water
2 tbsp butter
3 eggs (1 for dough, two for "spread")
1/3 c. of grated parmesan
Oregano, to taste
1 package of Pepperoni
2 1/2 cups of shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare Hot Roll Mix according to directions through the "cover and let rest" step.  After the dough has rested for 5 minutes, divide in half.  {I will tell y'all, we've tried to substitute pizza dough for the hot roll mix, and it's just not the same.  The hot roll mix really makes the recipe, so take the time to do it}

Roll out half of the dough onto a floured surface.  Roll out thin--about 14-16" in diameter.

Mix two eggs and grated parmesan until blended.  Spread half of this mixture on dough, leaving 1/2" boarder.

Sprinkle with Oregano.

Top with pepperoni--placed close together, still leaving a 1/2" boarder.

Sprinkle on Mozzarella cheese.

Roll into a long loaf {like a jelly roll}

Pinch the ends, and place on large, non-stick cookie sheet, seam side down {you can also lightly grease the sheet or line with parchment paper} 

Repeat the process to make the second loaf.  Place both loaves into 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool for a few minutes, and slice into individual servings.  Serve warm with pizza sauce or Homemade Ranch Dressing.

These freeze and reheat really well.  I usually freeze the second loaf after it has cooled to room temperature, slice and store in a ziplock bag.  To serve, place in fridge or on counter until defrosted, and warm in oven or microwave.

Is there something that you just have to have your mom or dad make?  My list is pretty long!!
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