Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Three Years for This Old House...

My how time flies!

Three years ago today Andy and I bought our first home. We had been married for a week shy of a year and were elated to roll up our sleeves to make our new house a home. As I sit tonight I am amazed simply amazed at all that we have done to our little old house. We've painted almost every square inch from top to bottom. The only room left is the laundry room. We gutted our master bath and started over. We did a complete kitchen remodel and had a house in utter chaos for weeks. We've removed wallpaper, patched plaster, and smoothed out walls. Started landscaping around the house. And in all of this we've redone lots of furniture to furnish this old house. Again, I'm simply amazed. The house has been a labor of love and I have loved every minute of it because Andy and I did it together. People will tell you that remodeling a house is a great way to test your relationship. Yes, that statement is true. In our case it has only deepened our relationship. Andy and I love to do projects together around the house and we both take satisfaction in completing a task together. I couldn't imagine under taking something like this without him. And when we finish and move on to another house I look forward to rolling up my sleeves once again with my best friend. So to celebrate here are some of my favorite moments from the last three years...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pickings from my book basket...

Mmmmmm books! How I love a new book and the ability to dive in to my hearts content. I'm a fast reader but life with a toddler doesn't always lend itself to nightly reading like it use to. Most days I read a lot but it is done on the computer. I read the national, state, and local news several times a day in addition to watching it through out the day. I also read a lot of blogs on various topics.

So a week-long vacation = lots of reading for Katie. Here is what I read this past week:

A wonderful historic fiction piece set during the summer of 1893 in Chicago at the World's Fair. I have yet to read a piece by Lynn Austin that I didn't enjoy.

I stumbled across this particular title in the Barnes and Noble in Oahu. The backdrop is post World War 2 London with pieces of Pride and Prejudice woven into the story line. Most of the time I can zip right thru a book and this book required me to think and recall from Pride and Prejudice. (I think the last time I read it was in high school...after finishing it made me want to dust off my old copy and reread it.) This was a fabulous change of pace and the author did a phenomenal job for her debut novel. I'm just happy that I stumbled upon it while in Hawaii.

Always a quick read I enjoyed the newest book in this second spin off series from the original Redemption Series.

My sister, Meg, and sister-in-law, Caroline, both are fans of Sophie...I hadn't read anything by her and decided to try a stand alone title before jumping in to the Shopaholic Series. Simple and very enjoyable "beach" read.

This book I started at the end of our trip on the flight home. Hopefully, I'll finish it in the next day or two. I LOVE Elizabeth Musser's books. Her story telling is perfection and I love that everything she writes takes place in and around Atlanta and North Georgia. This novel is set around Lookout Mountain which is fun for me since we live not too far from there. If you have never read anything by her start with The Swan House. I promise you'll be hooked.

I'm about half way done with this title and read some while in Hawaii. It's a published essay and is very straightforward and no non-sense. In a day and age where we seem to have lost sight of what our forefathers created this is a refreshing read.

The rest of the Family...
-Andy has started reading the E-Myth series and is thoroughly enjoying it. that we are home I need to pull out a new wave of books from our home library for us to read. I've started pulling stuff in themes for us to read daily. I started this at Christmas and placed all our books in a basket. From there we read books from the basket before naps and bedtime. So far we've done Christmas, Winter Snow and Ice, Love, and then Spring/Easter. I'm thinking I might pull a bunch from a particular author for this next go round. Fortunately, we have quite the collection of childrens books and lots of options. I'm not going to lie I'm pretty picky on what we read to him...guess it can be attributed to my EDU classes at Berry and hearing the phrase "quality childrens literature" a million times. Since turning one AG has begun to develop a sense of humor and he will laugh when we read certain books. Usually it is a Mo Willems book and he always laughs in the appropriate place. Which makes Andy and me laugh.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Week 11 of 52 in 2010...

In January I spent a long weekend with some of my girlfriends from college. One of my dear friends, Aubs, informed me of a sweet treat called a Pizookie over the weekend. Pizookie is a huge, gooey, warm, cookie topped with ice cream. I came home and did a little Googling to figure out how to make one.

I did my first run on our college girls for our weekly Thursday night tv date. Since it was right before Valentine's Day I did it in a heart shaped pan. It was a hit and has since become a weekly tradition. I also made one to serve on St. Patrick's Day...Viraj had heard rave reviews about "this pizookie thing" and wanted to try it. Since then I've had requests for it so here we go:

Preheat the oven to 475.

Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick cooking spray. Use a jumbo tube of refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough. I use the Pillsbury kind. Spread as even of a layer as much as possible. I use the back of a spoon and my hands.

Place in the oven and the cooking time will vary depending on your oven. The goal is for it to puff up and have a golden crust on it...BUT you want the inside to still be gooey. It won't take too long so just keep an eye on it. Pull it out and top with vanilla bean ice cream. Serve immediately!

With the college girls I serve it straight from the pan and with spoons to go around. With friends I took the warm pizookie and scooped it out in to coffee mugs. Then topped each individual mug with ice cream. Either way it is absolutely scrumptious!

My next goal is to make my personal cookie dough recipe and chill it before using it in this recipe. We'll see how it goes...

Weeks 9 and 10 of 52 in 2010...

So for Saint Patrick's Day we had some friends over and I tried my hand at a new Beef Stew recipe and biscuits from scratch.

The stew was fabulous and the biscuits were decent for my first try at 'em. I have long term personal cooking goals that I want to be successful at making in my kitchen...biscuits being one of them. I will be going to the drawing board and giving it another go in the weeks to come. My Aunt Mary Ann makes fabulous biscuits from scratch...guess I need to request a cooking how-to. :)

For my biscuit recipe click here.

For my beef stew recipe click here. The only thing I did differently is I added some chopped Russet potato and at the end I put in a handful of frozen peas. Lots of veggies!

We had a fabulous night with good food and friends.

Week 8 of 52 in 2010...

Baked Ziti with Meatballs

Giada de Laurentiis and Mario Batali

This recipe has been modified...for the original click here.


  • 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 3/4 cup grated Romano
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 1 pound ziti
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups skim milk ricotta
  • 1 bag of Italian blend shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, eggs, milk, 1/2 cup of the Italian cheese blend and the parsley, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Add beef and gently combine, being careful not to overwork the meat. Shape into bite-size meatballs. Roll each meatball in flour to coat, shaking off excess.

In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Reserve a cup of starchy liquid and mix with the ricotta. Drain pasta in a colander and then mix with water/ricotta mixture. Pour into 9x13 baking dish.

In a large skillet heat the oil over medium-high heat. When almost smoking, add meatballs in batches and without moving or turning the meat, allow it to brown for about 3 minutes. Turn meatballs and brown other side. Continue to cook until all sides are golden brown. Remove meatballs to a plate.

In a large bowl, combine the crushed tomatoes and drained fire roasted tomatoes. Sprinkle in some oregano, parsley, and basil to suit your preference. Place meatballs into pasta mixture. Ladle tomato sauce on top.

Sprinkle the mozzarella, Parmesan, and remaining Romano all over the top. Dot with the butter. Place baking dish on top of baking sheet covered with aluminum foil to collect any drippings from the dish. Bake until top is golden brown and bubbly, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Week 7 of 52 in 2010...

Crab and Corn Chowder
By Rachael Ray

Since I did not vary this recipe you can just access it from the Food Network website here. I wanted to give this a shot before the weather got too warm. Something about cooking chowder and hot weather don't go together, am I right? This turned out fabulous and we'll be making it again in the fall.

Week 6 of 52 in 2010...

The week returned from Cali I decided to play catch-up and we had several new meals in a week...however, due to all that is going on I'm just now getting around to posting. So here goes:

While not completely a new recipe we did try and a new type of grilled chicken. While grocery shopping I came across a marinade by KC Masterpiece that sounded yummy. So I brought it home and marinated the chicken, Andy grilled it and basted it in some more marinade, and the Roasted Garlic and Balsamic marinade is my new favorite way to eat grilled chicken. :)