Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Holiday Season

Phew! It's been busy busy busy/go go go around here. Thanksgiving was so much fun, but I have a lot of family so it becomes kind of an ordeal to organize everyone/everything. So now that Thanksgiving is over, I'm thinking about Christmas decorations. Let's take a look shall we?

So if I actually had a room like this, this would be pretty cool to do, huh?!

I think it's very festive and beautiful. Subdued, but still beautiful. I could never pull this off at my place, but it sure is nice to look at!

Now this is one totally fits in my house. I loooove that wreath and the way the presents are color coordinated with the decor of the house. The ornaments are a little big for my taste, but the overall feel of the room is what I'm going for in my house.

I'll have all of these lanterns please. How cute!

My house does not look anything like this, but I love this picture! So Christmas-y and cozy. I would love to come in for some hot chocolate! =]

 And this last one, so cozy!

Ah, Christmas. I love this time of year!

All pictures from Google.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chi Alpha

This past weekend, starting on Friday afternoon, I participated in a youth group retreat with my church called Chi Alpha. I've been volunteering with them since January and it has been an extremely rewarding experience. I was so excited to go on this trip and it did not disappoint. For those of you who don't know, Chi Alpha means Christ first.

We went to a church about an hour away and we stayed there in the gym. Obviously this is where worship was held. The two rooms across the way are where the boys stayed and the girls stayed in two rooms behind where I took the picture.

We started out by playing the new XKINECT!!! Or however you spell it. It was actually really cool. If you haven't heard of it, it's similar to the Wii, but you don't have to hold anything. You just move and it picks up on your movements.

Me and my fellow group leader Meaghan. I love her!

After our first worship session, the craziness started.... We had a food relay. There were 3 rounds. The first round we had 3 tins filled with pudding and gummy worms and we had to either use our elbows to get gummy worms out of the pudding or stick our face in to get out gummy worms. Whichever team got out the most gummy worms in a certain amount of time won. The next round we had to mix a huge thing of root beer and ice cream and drink it the fastest.

It was crazy and we all had brain freezes by the end of it.

After that we had to eat pumpkin pie the fastest. It was intense.

The church also had this game room next to the gym: a pool table, two foosball tables, an air hockey table and a ping pong table. Niiice!!

And finally, me and my amazing sister!

We had an amazing time! Chi Alpha!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hashbrown Casserole

I wanted to make hashbrown casserole and so I scoured the internet for recipes and learned that there are about a 1000 different ways to make it. Hmmm. I could have made one of those thousand recipes, but instead I decided to try and make it the way I remembered my grandma making it back in the day. If it ain't broke, don't fix it? Ya know?

My nanny as we so lovingly called her is no longer with us, but I remembered what she did just not how much of each ingredient she put in so of course, I guessed. =]

I began by pre-heating the oven (always a good place to start) to 375 degrees.

I thawed out a package of hash browns and then placed them into a casserole dish and added in half of a small thing of sour cream. Clear as mud? I'm pretty sure it was an 8 oz. container and I just used half of it.

Then I added in one can of cream of mushroom soup and I guessed on how much cheese to put in. I grated some, mixed it in and it looked good so I called it a day.

I baked it for about 50 minutes. I thought it looked good so I got it out and tried it. This is what greeted me.

I really liked it and there were plenty of leftovers for me to take to work. Bonus!

You win grandma!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Breakfast Club

A member of my team at worked create a group several years ago in which each person in the group cycles through bringing breakfast on Fridays. There are quite a few people in the group, so I only end up bringing breakfast every few months and then on those other Fridays, I get to enjoy a free breakfast. =]

This Friday, I'm bringing in these delicious muffins. I've made them before and they are amazing.

Of course, I let the Kitchenaid do all the work.

I added in all the dry ingredients and let it mix them up.

Then added in the wet and the Kitchenaid went to town. 

I quadrupled the recipe so I would have plenty for work and still have some left over (thought I could eat those for breakfast a few days next week). As you can see, that's a LOT of batter.

The Kitchenaid has the strength of a million men. Give or take.

I made some of the muffins plain and others got royal treatment -- either blueberries or chocolate chips.

Bakin' on up!

The topping is so good. It has cinnamon in it and I loooove cinnamon.

This isn't even all the muffins, but it's all I could fit on the cooling rack(s). The Kitchenaid put in a long day and now it can relax while viewing the fruits of its labor...

Yay muffins.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Homemade Potato Soup

When I was in college, I worked for an outdoor writer/photographer and his wife. As an outdoor writer, he wrote about hunting/fishing/etc. They worked out of their home and the wife was the sweetest woman you could ever hope to meet. When she found out I liked to cook and that I was vegetarian, she was always trying to give me recipes, let me borrow cookbooks and give me ideas for vegetarian foods. She also gave me two of their cookbooks that they had written together. One was mainly about fish and the other mainly about deer, but they also included side dishes, appetizers, desserts, soups/salads and the like. I FINALLY got around to going through the books and the first thing I made was their potato soup recipe. We've had a lot of cold weather lately so it seemed like the perfect thing on a cold day.
Homemade Potato Soup (made vegetarian)

3 cups chicken or turkey broth (I used vegetable broth)
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups sliced potatoes
4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
2 cups milk

Combine broth, onions and potatoes in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Let simmer for about 10 minutes (or until potatoes are tender).

Pour ingredients into a blender and blend about 30 seconds.

In the same sauce pan, melt butter. Mix in flour, salt, pepper and add milk all together. Cook and stir until mixture thickens and bubbles. Stir ingredients in from the blender. Cook until thoroughly heated.

I made a double batch and on the first day had it with fresh, french bread from Publix.

On the second day I had it with saltines and grated cheddar cheese. =] I loved it both ways and I was really pleased with how it turned out. GREAT for cold weather. Yum!