Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hobo Satchel

Click here  to see more pics of this fun new creation in my etsy store!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Gourmet on a Budget: Polenta with Eggs & Asperagus

This is a really rich & delicious recipe that I cooked up for Ben & I last night. We are always trying to find new ways to keep our grocery bill down, so I have been experimenting with some egg dishes recently, as an inexpensive source of protein. Plus, our friends from church have a chicken coop and are always giving us fresh eggs! The main ingredients in this recipe are: cornmeal, eggs & milk---you can substitute most anything else in the recipe with ingredients that you have on hand to make it a very frugal, yet tasty dish. For those of you who are new to polenta, it is a creamy, grits-like food made from cornmeal--Its good for you, and obviously a very inexpensive dish to make!

1/2 cup roasted cherry/grape tomatoes*
2 1/4 cups milk, 1% worked well for me
1 cup water
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. parsley
1 cup yellow cornmeal (polenta)
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 TBSP. olive oil
1/2 bunch of asparagus, diced (its in season during spring & summer, so its much cheaper in the stores right now!)
1 small jalapeno, seeded & diced
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 small lemon, wedged
8 eggs
**homemade salsa on side

* roast tomatoes in oven at 350 for about 40 minutes, start this before you start the rest of the meal

1. In a large saucepan combine milk, water, salt & parsley; bring to a boil. Gradually whisk in cornmeal (whisk it real good!) and reduce heat to med-low. cook, stirring frequently for 12 to 15 min or until nice and thick. Reduce heat to low, and cover to keep warm.

2. In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add asparagus, jalapeno, bell pepper & roasted tomatoes. Cook 3-5 min or until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat & wrap the veggies in foil to keep warm.

3. In the same skillet that was used for the veggies, heat olive oil over med to med-high heat. Add eggs one at a time to skillet, frying until they are to your desired "doneness". Sprinkle with pepper & garlic powder.

4. To serve, laddle polenta onto plates, top with vegetable mixture and 2 eggs. Garnish with parmesan cheese, salsa & a wedge of lemon.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Whole Wheat Chocolate Blueberry Cake

Blueberries & Dark Chocolate are two of my favorite treats, I can't wait until the Summer when blueberries are ripe for picking & are super cheap at the store! They are probably my favorite seasonal fruit, honeycrisp apples come in at a close second, though!

I made this cake last night that combined chocolate, blueberries AND whole wheat AND it had absolutely no butter.

I know you are thinking, "Oh, Ashley". But seriously, it was really very delicious, very moist and you couldn't even tell it was missing that whole stick of butter! Ben even liked it, and he is usually very skeptical of my desserts turned healthy.

Unfortunately, I can't take credit for the came from a lady named Dorothy who won the $25,000 prize from Better Homes & Gardens for her cake.

Thank you Dorothy:

Preheat oven to 350*

1cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
6 TBSP cocoa *unsweetened or dark chocolate
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 egg
1 cup frozen cool whip, thawed
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
*fresh blueberries or blueberry sauce


Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl
In a blender combine water, egg & blueberries. Add mixture to the flour mix. Whisk until combined. Pour into a greased 8x8x2 inch baking pan. Bake for 30 min. or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Cool completely on a wire rack. Invert onto serving platter. Microwave coolwhip & chocolate pieces in a bowl, covered, on 50% power for 1 minute. Let stand 5 min. Pour onto cooled cake, spread evenly. Serve with blueberries or blueberry sauce.

Blueberry sauce: in blender combine 1/2 cup cool whip, 1/2 cup blueberries, blend until smooth.

Enjoy :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I love Spring

And I love this clutch.

It incorporates two of my favorite spring time colors and well, I just think its precious ;)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In the Market..

We are in the market for some new coffee. I'd like something reasonably priced, tasty, and whole bean.

I have been trying a lot of different varieties at our local grocery store, but nothing has stuck with me yet. Ben and I just can't seem to get over HEB's Cafe Ole brand, especially their Hill Country brand. Maybe its just because we miss TX. Or maybe its just that good, I don't know. But anyway, its definitely not the most convenient fix.

So, for all the coffee lovers out there who are happy with their coffee, I need your advice:

What are you drinking?

*Sidenote for those interested... other than keeping up our coffee addiction, Ben and I are just hanging out for the time being. He goes to work every day from 7:30 to 3:30 and does a wide variety of office work for the guys in charge. He has done everything from financial paperwork to running errands in Destin. We are still waiting for word on what his permanent career will be. We are looking (hoping, really) for news of that to come in the next couple of weeks--and the joyful news should arrive on a Wednesday, because apparently that is when those decisions are made, so we will see. His new career could probably send us just about anywhere, so it will be interesting to see where we end up!
As for me, I am still volunteering at the elementary school & tutoring. It is a joy, and I always come home with some really funny 1st grader stories to entertain Ben :) I am continuing to sew sew sew in my free time & am enjoying that creative outlet.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Favorite things of the week (so far)

---Finding out that some of our good friends from church and their two little munchkins will be moving into our apartment complex in less than a month, and will be living two stories below us!
So excited!

---Making Homemade Hamburger buns & having your husband say, "these are the best homemade hamburgers I've ever had". Success.

---First hopeful attempts at making sourdough starter yeast. I will like this stuff even more if it makes me some good Sourdough bread!

---New fabric = New creations :)

And now for the not so favorite part of this week.

Our beautiful orchid is dying.

You may remember this:

Well, now it looks like this:

sad :(

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mini Cheesecakes

I wanted to share a recipe with you guys that I absolutely love. Four reasons that I love this recipe: 1. Its super simple 2. Tastes incredibly yummy 3. It makes for such a pretty presentation 4. I have an obsession with miniature things. Its true, I love mini bowls, mini purses, mini people, and the list goes on...just about the only miniature thing I don't like are mini skirts.

But anyway, this is a great recipe, takes all of 30 minutes to prep & bake and people love it!

Mini Cheesecakes

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 8oz. pkgs cream cheese, reduced fat, softened
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
muffin cups

Preheat oven to 300* F. In small bowl, combine: graham crackers, sugar & butter until butter is evenly distributed in the crumbs. Place ~24 muffin cups in 2 muffin pans, pack 1-2 TBSP graham cracker mix into each cup.
In a larger bowl, beat cream cheese & condensed milk until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla, until well mixed. Distribute batter into the 24 muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven, and let cool. Refrigerate.

Top with fruit topping before serving. I sauteed 2 cups blueberries, with 1-2 TBSP of honey & lemon juice until a nice sauce formed around the warmed blueberries.

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

So Cute :)

I am having so much fun making these cute little guys...I just had to show one of them off.

This one might be my favorite so far, with the little fabric flower and button embellishment.

The two fabrics used are from a stash that my grandmother-in-love gave me, making it even more special to me! This one is going up on the etsy shop, but I might have to make a similar one for myself! :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

A New Week

Ben & I had a great & very busy weekend. It started with a trip to the Original Point Restaurant for dinner on Friday night with some friends---Bluegrass + raw oysters + senior citizens = goodtimes, right? We were definitely the youngest in the crowd by at least 20 years, but we got to see a different side of good ol' Pensacola, and that's always entertaining. We are determined to soak in as much of the "native" culture while we still have the chance. I think we are off to a good start.

So far, I've seen one handlebar mustache, overheard a little chat about someone's friend who got 11 years in the slammer, learned that mullets are not just a bad hair cut from the 90's, but in fact are also a type of fish, and that it is possible to singlehandedly carry a 20 ft long PVC pipe on your bicycle while riding on the side of the highway.

In other news, I helped give my first baby shower this weekend. The other hostess and I had a great time prepping, decorating and trying to figure out how to drizzle white chocolate on pretzels, and overall I think the shower was quite a success! We also had a prayer time during the shower, where we used this as our guide for praying over the mommy & baby. I have to say, I am a big fan of prayer showers.

To finish off the weekend, on Sunday afternoon, Ben & I made a special trip to the doctor to get my swollen middle finger checked out. We were pretty sure it was infected (probably through the cuticle or from poking myself with a sewing needle...I do that a lot), and it just kept getting more swollen. We made it into the treatment room pretty quickly, but of course, as soon as they were about to take the knife to my finger and do the procedure that would take all of 30 seconds to complete, the doctor's office got out of control busy, and we ended up waiting for about 3 hours for that 30 second procedure. Eventually, they put my finger in mounds and mounds of gauze wrap, after the bleeding had clearly stopped. They also tried to put it in a brace, until I told them that might be a little bit excessive. But the gauze wrap totally makes my "injury" look legit, so I will keep that on it for a while.

Now onto a new week--Ben went into the office this morning, looking nice & handsome in his blues---he will be reporting to a new office now for the duration of our time here, and will fly a desk for about 8 hours a day. We may find out his new job as early as tomorrow! ....but it also could take up to 4 weeks. Thats a nice little range of possibility, right? Time will tell.

We'll keep ya posted ;)

Monday, March 1, 2010

as of late...

I have been somewhat negligent of my normal blog writing lately for combination of a few different reasons. One being that our life has actually been somewhat consistent lately. What I mean by that is that we actually have a routine schedule each week. Each day looks pretty much the same as the previous. This has not been the norm for us in the past, and will probably not be typical for the majority of our military career, but we'll take it while we can get it. We haven't found the normality of our schedule to be monotonous, but it would be monotonous to write about the same thing every day--thus the lack of blogging.

But despite the routine, I thought I would at least give an update of what our "routine" has looked like for the past month or so.

Ben and I have been consistently able to volunteer at an elementary school for a few hours each day. We have been doing a variety of different things with the students, such as reading with them, helping them write, and helping them with FCAT prep (aka Florida's TAKS test). We have really enjoyed helping out with the children and are learning a lot about how to help our future children get the most out of their education.

Outside of volunteering, we are keeping busy with our church and are blessed to be a part of some new and exciting doors the Lord seems to be opening for our church body in the way of fellowship, discipleship, service & ministry.

Ben is also prepping for more meetings. He will probably have some meetings this week to go over paperwork involving his potential career. We should know more about this within the month.

I, on the other hand, have been trying to catch up on my sewing, and have been tutoring for the past several months.

It has been an interesting season for us here in Pensacola, knowing that we will probably be leaving within the next several months, but at the same time, having our minds, hearts & bodies fully engaged in our Pensacola lives until we do move. I think the Lord has really given us grace in this area--to be fully here, rather than to spend our time dreaming about the "what-if's" of the future. We are excited about the opportunities within the community, military & in our church that He has given us and I think these things are helping us to stay content in where we are right now.