Sunday, October 19, 2014

Menu Plan October 20-26

After a lovely anniversary weekend, this week is going to be busy, busy, busy!

Our church is holding some special meetings through Wednesday, so we'll be at church every evening. On Thursday, a friend from Germany is having a few ladies over for a German food night. I can't wait for that!

Then on Saturday we're getting our family pictures taken. I think the kids were toddlers the last time we had our portraits done. Yeah, it's time to update the family photos!

Now here's what we've got on the menu this week:

Greek meatballs, herbed quinoa

Chicken meatball soup

Baked egg rolls, garlic sesame noodles

German food night!

Chicken pesto pizza

Beef enchilada soup (crockpot)

Beef bourguignon, noodles

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Rustic Mason Jar Craft

I'm not a very crafty person. Most of our home decor I leave up to my husband. He has a great eye for color and design. And I don't.

He also is very detailed and meticulous about things. I'm not. That's why for years he has done all the Christmas present wrapping. He measures the paper out and finds just the right decorative touches to go with it - ribbons, handmade bows, flowers, snowflakes, you name it.

Slight hijack for a funny story: Last Christmas he said he was tired of being the one to wrap all the presents and asked me to do it. I said no problem. All of the presents were wrapped in gift bags - no measuring or planning required. Hubby was appalled! And this year he's back to wrapping the gifts. Heh, heh.

Since I'm not a perfectionist, shabby chic and distressed decor really appeals to me. It's supposed to look a little messy. When I saw this idea for painting mason jars floating around Pinterest, I knew it was something I could do!

Here's what you'll need to make this really easy rustic mason jar:

Quart size mason jar (I used a wide mouth jar)
Acrylic paint in your choice of colors
Foam brush
Clear spray sealer
Jute string or twine
Flowers, fresh or fake

Wipe the jar clean of any dust. Use the foam brush to apply paint to the jar. Allow to dry completely.

Take the sandpaper and rub off the paint from the raised areas of the jar. Then randomly scrape a little paint from all sides, including the mouth. Spray the sealer all over the jar and allow to dry.

Wrap the jute string or twine around the top of the jar and fill with flowers.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Menu Plan October 13-19

On Friday, the 17th, we will celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary. Charles is taking me to my favorite restaurant, The Olive Tree in Villa Rica, Georgia. It's about 45 minutes from our house, but the wonderful food and atmosphere are worth the drive.

This weekend Charles went camping with a friend. He was gone for two nights, and I missed him greatly. Over the years we've grown together in our marriage and I can honestly say when he's gone, I feel like part of me is missing. I'm so thankful for a godly man who loves me and is such a great partner. My life would be so boring without his sense of humor and thoughtful gestures. God knew what He was doing when He brought us together. Love you, babe!

Now on to this week's menu:

Grilled Greek chicken, Parmesan couscous

One pot sausage tortellini, rosemary Parmesan bread

Pork adobo (a friend's recipe) over rice

Oktoberfest stew, pretzel bread

Out to eat for our anniversary

Pizza rolls

Crockpot chicken tacos

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Rosemary Parmesan Bread

I really like making homemade bread.

I never thought I would say that. I always believed it was too much work. So for many years, I relied on a bread machine to produce homemade loaves. It was convenient and easy to load up some ingredients and let the machine take care of it.

But after hubby got me a stand mixer, I started to experiment with making my own bread. I started off with easy things like pizza crust. Over time, I've expanded my repertoire of bread recipes so that I hardly use a bread machine any more.

This recipe quickly became a family favorite. It pairs so well with Italian meals like pasta and chicken parmesan. It's a great accompaniment to soup as well. Not only does it make a flavorful grilled cheese sandwich, it's wonderful to use for BLT's. And it's great with real butter spread over it.

You can make this a day ahead of time because it stays moist. It takes about 2 hours to make, so give yourself time. It's worth it!

Here's what you need:

1 1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 TBSP yeast
2 teas sugar
1 TBSP olive oil or melted butter
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teas salt
2 TBSP freshly chopped rosemary or 2 teas dried rosemary
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus a little more
1 TBSP melted butter

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, yeast and sugar. Allow to stand for about 5 minutes until puffy. Add the olive oil, flour,salt and 1 1/2 TBSP of the rosemary. Mix with a dough hook. The dough should come away from the sides of the bowl and form a ball. If it doesn't, sprinkle in a little more flour. Now add the 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese. Continue to mix for about 5 minutes. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for 30 minutes.

Punch the dough down and turn onto a floured surface. Shape into a loaf and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle the remaining rosemary over the top, along with some more Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown all over. If there's any butter remaining, brush it over the loaf.
Can you see the flecks of rosemary in the bread? They give the bread such wonderful flavor. And it smells so heavenly while it's baking! My mouth waters just thinking about it.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Menu Plan October 6-12

My favorite month has arrived! I adore October.

I love the changing leaves, the crisp air, the blue skies. Am I the only one who thinks October skies are just bluer than any other month?

I enjoy curling up on the couch under a cozy blanket to watch a movie, sipping some warm apple cider. It's so satisfying to have a yummy soup bubbling away in the crockpot.

Yep, I love October!

This week's menu contains some of our family's favorite recipes, including one of our best loved soups. Here's what I've got planned:

Chicken parmesan casserole, salad

Baked egg rolls, garlic sesame noodles

Italian sausage sandwiches, fries

Crockpot beef tips over rice, green beans

Homemade pizza

Broccoli cheese soup in bread bowls

Crockpot lasagna, garlic bread

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Smoky Mountain Trip 2014

Last week we spent 4 days and 3 nights in the Great Smoky Mountains in eastern Tennessee. It's a place we've visited before, with kids and without kids. We like it both ways.

Our first dinner was at the Dixie Stampede. While you enjoy a meal eaten only with your hands, stunt riders put on a North-South themed show. It was so entertaining, I had to remind the kids to eat! The Princess loves horses, so she was enthralled with it. Even though it's a bit on the pricy side, we felt the experience was worth it just to see how much the kids enjoyed it. After the show, we got to see some of the show horses up close in the adjacent stable. Totally made the Princess' day!
We knew we wanted to go to Dollywood since we'd never been. We decided to get a package deal by staying in a Dollywood cabin (not at the actual park but in the general area) and purchasing a one-day park ticket. By staying in a Dollywood property, our one-day tickets became valid for our entire stay. Even though we didn't take advantage of it because we had other things to do, we thought that was a great perk. We did get preferred parking at Dollywood, though. You'd better believe we took advantage of that!

Our cabin was named Sky High. And believe me, it lived up to its name. We were at the tippy top of a mountain. And then the cabin itself kind of jutted off the side. Yeah, we were up there.

Here's a view from the top balcony of our cabin - a place where I spent NO time.
I've never been fond of heights, but this literally took my breath away. We were above the tree tops! Charles just laughed at me and asked me what I expected with a cabin called Sky High. Well, I didn't expect to be THAT high! So while I didn't enjoy the location all that much, the views were spectacular and the cabin itself was gorgeous.

This is the top floor loft. There was an air hockey table and a pool table to enjoy. Out on the balcony was a hot tub where Charles relaxed quite often. I would not have found it relaxing at all, so I enjoyed the indoor jacuzzi tub instead.
We've been to several amusement parks over the years, and we all agreed that Dollywood was our second favorite, right after Disney. The park was so clean and well-maintained. Also, the atmosphere was very family friendly. We loved the theming as well.
This was the perfect time of year to go. We walked onto every ride, waiting at times for the ride to come back through so we could get on. There were plenty of attractions for every age group and thrill level.

One of our favorite memories at Dollywood was having an old-time photo made. We had never done that before, so it was cute and fun.
On our last day, we spent some time in Gatlinburg, exploring the shops and playing indoor mini-golf. Everywhere you looked, you saw gorgeous fall decorations.

It was a wonderful vacation, but like every time we go away, we were happy to come home. Now getting back into our normal routine might be a little harder.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Menu Plan September 29-October 5

Can you believe it's almost October? I love this month. It's cooler but not cold (at least, not here in the Deep South). The leaves change color. And we celebrate our wedding anniversary. So what's not to love?

We had a fantastic family trip to the Great Smoky Mountains last week - a much needed break! If you ever have a chance to visit that area, do it! The mountain scenery is gorgeous and there is plenty to do for everyone. I will post some pictures later this week.

So now I have to cook for our family again instead of eating out. It was fun while it lasted!  Here's what I've got planned for this week:

Teriyaki chicken and veggies

Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread

Roast beef sandwiches, oven roasted potatoes

Sausage tortellini soup, crusty bread

Deep dish pizza

Crab and shrimp enchiladas, Mexican rice

Chicken and wild rice soup with bacon, cheesy biscuits

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.