About Me

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I'm just a married twenty-something trying to adapt to being a wife while also trying to balance school/work, fixing dinner, cleaning, friends, entertaining, traveling, crafting, and fitness (ha...)

Friday, November 30, 2012



For all of those women out there too scared or disgusted by taking on the turkey, I will share my first adventure with turkey cooking!


This Thanksgiving my dad was not in good health, which put a lot more on my mom's plate than cooking our entire Thanksgiving dinner, so my sister and I decided that we could handle it-the question was: what are we going to do about the turkey?? My sister and I have always been grossed out by the turkey preparations, I mean grabbing a neck out of the turkey?! NASTY! So we had thought about doing the whole-buy an already cooked turkey thing from a restaurant or caterer, but I decided that just wasn't going to fly--we do not do buy store-made food at our Thanksgiving! If you know my mother, you'd understand! :)  So I took on the turkey!!

I had decided I didn't want to cook it in the oven because I was already going to have a few other things in the oven already and I'm never good at multitasking foods in the oven, I can't ever figure out how to adjust the temperature for more food! So I said forget it and I decided that I would tackle cooking the turkey on our Big Green Egg smoker/grill. We received the Big Green Egg as a wedding gift a couple of years ago and we've done burgers, hot dogs, and tenderloins on it, but that was about the extent of its use so far!  I started Googling and searching on Youtube.com for tips and videos of how to even go about using the egg for the turkey, and as any internet research goes, everyone had a different way of going about the smoking of the turkey; different temps, different lengths of time, using different poultry rubs, using different wood chips, using different liquids for basting, and I thought to myself OMG too many decisions I have no idea what I'm doing! I decided to just take all of the videos into consideration and take tips from all of them! In the end here is how it went:

  • 14lb. Whole frozen turkey-thawed completely
  • 1/2 stick of melted butter
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • a couple of tablespoons of poultry rub (I used Chef Paul Prudhomme's Magid Seasoning Blends Poultry Magic from Kroger)
  • a few hand fulls of water soaked wood chips, I used applewood but Mesquite, cherry..they'd work too.
  • For garnishment-place stuffing/dressing around the turkey and a little bit inside, then place parsley or any other nice greenery or herbs to dress it up'

We ate our dinner on Wednesday so I let my frozen turkey thaw from Saturday-Tuesday night in the refrigerator and it was still a block of ice.... So I followed the instructions and put the turkey, still in its packaging, into the sink with luke warm/tepid water only for about 30 minutes, putting it in HOT water for too long will cause the turkey to reach a temperature that can cause bacteria to start growing, its around 45degrees or something?!!..anyway..So I let that sit for about an hour to take some of the freeze off!! and stuck it back in the fridge until the next day around 12 noon (on Wednesday).  Tuesday night I also put my few hand fulls of wood chips in a bowl of water to soak overnight.

By noon on Wednesday I thought I was ready to roll!  I open the turkey package, spread its legs and I thought I would see the neck-ew! and bag of giblets-ew! first thing, but they were hiding from me..PLUS the  inside cavity of the turkey was still a block of ice.  Of course now I had to call my mom, who advised me to run some hot water into the inside of the turkey and that the hot water would be okay for a couple of minutes. So I'm over here with my turkey butt-up in the sink with hot water shooting into it like a bidet! It finally thawed enough for me to see the neck! So I was able to get the neck out without vomitting! But I could NOT find this wretched bag of giblets anywhere! I almost gave up and assumed that they forgot to put giblets in my turkey! But I could imagine my mom carving the turkey for us and finding a smoked bag of giblets still inside the turkey!!! I looked for so long that I had to call in reinforcement-MOM.  She came turned the turkey over and pulled it right out of course...I WAS IN THE WRONG HOLE! How embarrassing...apparently there's still a neck whole and that is where the bag of giblets were..I was only checking from the other end! But now I really was ready to go!

  1. I put a few more charcoals into the Big Green Egg and put the electric starter in there to get it going, leaving the top open.
  2.  I let the grill get some flames going and then took off the starter and closed the lid.
  3. I then let the temp get up to about 325-350degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Then I sprinkled on my water soaked wood chips so that they were evenly spread over the charcoals.
  5. I closed the lid and let the temp get back up to 325-350 because the wood chips bring the temp down because they're wet.
  6. I put olive oil in my hands along with some sprinkles of the poultry rub and rubbed the turkey with it allover UNDERNEATH the skin..Putting it all on the outside of the skin won't really affect the flavor as much as underneath the skin.  
  7. Next, I set my turkey into an aluminum roasting pan and poured a can, or however much would fit, of chicken broth into the pan with the turkey.
  8. Then I set the turkey and pan inside of the Big Green Egg and once the temp got back up to 325-350 I started timing my two and a half hour cooking time.  Try to not check it often, raising the lid lets out a lot of heat and will prolong your cooking time.  I only checked on mine once and that was around and hour and forty-five minutes into the cook and I brushed the turkey with melted butter so that it would be a nice golden brown color on the outside and I also basted it a little bit with the broth from the pan.
  9. After two and a half hours later, I came back outside to check the turkey and make sure that the temperature of the actual turkey was around 170.  When you take the temperature make sure to stick the thermometer in the muscle of the leg, kind of like its groin area?..lol...Sticking the breast will cause it to dry out more and plus the breast doesn't have to get as hot as the inner leg area.
  10. I then took the turkey off of the grill and wrapped it as good as I could in aluminum foil and set it in another aluminum roasting pan so that I could transport it to my sister's house where my mom could 'decorate it' or garnish it. Here's the end result! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Christmas Craft Night!

Oh What a Night(s)!
don't even think it will get done in one night!!!!!!

So as I mentioned in my last post, I was to host a girl's craft night last Thursday night.  I had purchased paints and canvases at Joann's for us to paint a Christmas quote, saying, etc.  I had picked out a few of my favorites and my friends found some really cute sayings as well.  Let's just say the quote of my choosing was a bit time consuming, but I was determined! Here's how it went...

For the the canvases that needed a solid background we found it easiest to use an actual paint roller AND we noticed that you should not squeeze the paint directly on to the canvas to roll, make sure and squeeze the paint on to a paint tray or something else because it left marks on the canvas. ** The paint dried really fast with the help of  a hair dryer.  

Here is one of my friends canvases, she used the painter's tape roll to trace circles on to her canvas and used a brush to paint the green and to fill in the dots.  We then made our own stencil using the Cricut cartridge "Alphalicious." She was definitely smartest in choosing one that didn't have a million letters to stencil!!!

Okay, so here is mine.  This is what I was going for if you remember from my last blog post.. Night Before Christmas Art I used stamps that I bought at Joann's to create an old vintage look. I found that spacing for such a long quote was going to be my biggest issue, so I noticed that the width of my painter's tape was about the size of the stencil I was using so I tried to space out where each line of text would fit.  I found some really neat sticky stencils at WalMart that looked kind of old-English looking and fit the look I was going for! Here are the stencils I used for the majority of my canvas, they hold up their stickiness for up to 20 uses. The other fonts I used were made from my Cricut or were your regular store bought stencils.

And after about NINE hours of working on my canvas, OMG my back still hurts!! It honestly took me about 3 hours over 3 different nights to finally get this done! Here is what I ended up with...

Of course what slowed me down a lot was the fact that I was freaking out thinking I would misspell something or leave a word out, but I did so good! UNTIL..I thought I was done, I was adding in the colons and semi-colons and I was like OH NO! where is 'by the chimney with care?!?!" Somehow I had skipped an entire line! Talk about furious! So that's why I have one line of handwritten text and that's why my spacing is all jacked up! But by goodness I am not starting over and doing it again!! It'll have to do! ;) 

Next up was my other friend's canvas who went with the "O Come Let us Adore Him" theme, it is going to be so cute! She hasn't finished it just yet, I know that the red part is going to be outlined in a bold black outline, so I already know it's going to be super cute! I'll add another pic as soon as it's done!

Finally, is the Grinch themed canvas; which is too cute!  This one took more time than just our craft night as well, but we had a good time Saturday trying to get ours finished since we chose some more detailed paintings! 

Even though doing my Night Before Christmas canvas stressed me out to the max, I'm ready for another one already! I have two that I know of for sure! I love the Elf quote, "the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." The canvas I saw on Pinterest even has Buddy's (Elf) legs next the the quote to add a little character.  On Pinterest I also liked a simple white canvas with red text that has the lyrics from Silver Bells, "City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style, in the air there's a feeling of Christmas..." Can't wait to make those too, and of course I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

47 Days Until Christmas!!

Crafty Christmas!

So I absolutely cannot wait for Christmas time, yes I'm one of those who seems to hurry past Thanksgiving, I'm thankful! :) but I just REALLY love Christmas!!!  Each year I seem to be taking on more and more Christmas crafts, but I love it! 

This year my friends and I have decided to start having a craft night once a month, at least here around the holidays.  In October we completed a Pinterest  project for Halloween, now in November we are going straight to Christmas.  This Thursday it is my turn to host the craft night and I have decided that we will make our own Christmas canvases to hang on our walls.  I have seen so many cute canvas ideas on Pinterest lately that I narrowed them down to a hand full.  My favorite is trying to recreate this The Night Before Christmas canvas.  

and why not just purchase this already made canvas? Well...I thought about it, it certainly would be easier! But I got a pack of 5 16X20 canvases at Joann's Craft Store for only $25 for my friends and I to split, PLUS there is a major grammatical error in the quote! Which is not part of the original Night Before Christmas book. Can you find it??!!  Please comment if you do!  ;)

Here is my plan of action, we'll see how it works.  

For some of the lettering I bought stencils and for some I actually made my own using my Cricut. I have tried to lay my stencils out to get an idea for spacing. But we'll see how it goes come Thursday!

  • Paint- Christmas Green, Christmas Red, Black. $12
  • 16X20 Canvases at Joann's- $25
  • Stencils-$4 each (but since I'm keeping those for myself, I won't split the cost with friends)
  • Stencil sponge brush for each friend-$5 (.99 each)

Total cost of craft night per friend: $8.40 not too bad! Have one friend bring some wine and one an appetizer and you have a nice girl's craft night! I will totally post the final product of Thursday's craft night! We'll see how it goes, I may very well end up having to buy the grammatically incorrect version off the internet! hehe..

There are many other cute Christmas sayings and quotes I'm thinking about painting on a canvas as well. I got many ideas from just typing in "Christmas quotes" or "Christmas Canvases" on Pinterest.  I really like the Elf movie quote, "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." I also like simple quotes like "All is calm, all is bright." I actually plan on taking down all of my current living room wall hangings and replacing them with Christmas canvases or online Christmas printables put into frames.

BTW if you are a teacher, substitute teacher, school secretary, anything that gets you a school badge because they have to see it, sign up for Joann's Teacher Club, you always get 15% off of everything even on top of other discounts/coupons and sometimes they mail you even better coupons! You do have to reapply each school year though :(

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hey babe, what's for dinner?

Easy Dinners

What a week! Just when you think that you'll have a pretty easy week things just come out of nowhere! Good thing three weeks ago I thought ahead about dinners and bought groceries! I know, you're thinking, "three weeks?! how can anything stay good that long?!" Well, for starters we don't have any kids to pack lunches for or to provide milk, plus I don't drink a lot of milk so we just buy soy milk which lasts up to 6 weeks!! Crazy! I only use it as an ingredient anyways so it all tastes the same when cooking! I buy a ton of meats of different varieties.  My husband is a bit picky and we do eat some meals in repetition, but I'm trying to get him to branch out! So here was where I started on my grocery list (SO I DON'T END UP AT WALMART WITH $200 OF GROCERIES BUT YET NOTHING TO MAKE  INTO A MEAL! it happens,..ok!)

What will my husband eat?! It's sad that it comes to that, but I do want for him to eat it!

(2) pork tenderloins
(1) beef stroganoff with stew meat
(1) tacos
(3) spaghetti (layer noodles, sauce, then cover with package of mozzarella cheese-then freeze for leftovers-- will make a small baked spaghetti for a later night! trick of my mother-in-law's ;)
(1)smoked sausage in pasta 
(4) frozen pizzas (Oh come on! I get at least one free night! Usually Sundays!)
(5) variety of pasta boxes (eat with sauteed chicken, smoked sausage, etc.)
(1) pot roast with potatoes (will make 2 meals)
(1) potato soup (will make 3 meals for two people, freeze leftovers)
(1) pull apart pizza bread (SO GOOD!)
(1) oven fried chicken breasts (with au gratin potatoes)
(1) meatloaf (and mashed potatoes)
(1) grilled chicken caesar salad

After reviewing the meals I would see that I need:

  • 4lbs. of ground beef, 
  • 1 package of chicken breasts 
  • 1 package of chicken strips
  • 1 lb. or small package of stew meat
  • 1 chuck roast
  • 2 already seasoned pork tenderloins, I love the "Garlic & Peppercorn" and the "Garlic & Herb" at Kroger
  • 1 package of skinless smoked sausage
  • 4 frozen pizzas
  • lettuce, salad fixings & dressing
  • 5lb bag of potatoes/ bag of Velveeta crumbles/ sour cream/ bag of real bacon pieces/butter   (for soup)
  • 2 cans of beef broth (one for stroganoff stew meat, the other for pot roast)
  • 5 or so boxes of pasta. My favorites are Pasta-Roni Shells & White Cheddar and Angel Hair & Herbs
  • 5 or so cans of vegetables; peas, green beans...
  • 1 can of pizza dough/ 1 jar of pizza sauce/ 1 bar of mozzarella cheese/ 1 pack of pepperonis for pizza bread
  • 1 box of oats/ A1 sauce/ Worcestershire sauce/eggs/ketchup/ for meatloaf
  • 1 box of Bisquick/ and some paprika  for oven fried chicken
  • 3 boxes of Au Gratin potatoes to go with various meals, good with chicken meals
  • 1 taco kit
  • 1 box of spaghetti noodles
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce
  • 5 packages of bread, Texas toast, rolls, etc. (I love Sister Schuberts!) 
  •  1/2 gallon of milk (Soy milk if you don't plan on going back to the store for awhile!) 

I love these boxed sides, the pasta ones I even make into meals by adding sauteed chicken strips or cut up smoked sausage. 

**If you buy all of this you will have an arsenal of dinners to prepare, at least for 3-4 weeks! All recipes to follow!**

Ok, so that was a quick run through of most of the things I have found that a picky husband will eat! Next, I go and try to think of the number of nights that we will eat at home in a given month.  We eat out every Monday with my father while my mom plays in her bridge group..and I know that every Friday and Saturday we usually eat out with our friends (at least for now!! babies are popping up everywhere! Something is definitely in the water! or maybe it's just our age....) SO! I try to plan about 20 or so meals. Now I look back at the list and decide how  many times in that time span do I want to eat that certain meal; once, twice...; and I go back and put a quantity beside the meal. After counting up how many meals I can get out of that food, it comes up to 25-26! Depending on how hungry we are! :) Like I mentioned, we are just a family of two! No growing children, therefore our meals aren't the healthiest or most nutritious, but WHATEVER! They're darn good!------Only thing to make sure of is to freeze your meats and remember to let them thaw out in the fridge. Setting them out to thaw the morning BEFORE you want to eat it, not the morning of! Do not use meat that has been thawed out completely for over two days!

Let me just let you in on a few of my secrets! My stroganoff is SO easy and SO good! My mom is the best cook, EVER, hands down. She had her own restaurant, her own catering business, and she let me in on this little trick...I'm pretty sure she thought I couldn't handle the made from scratch recipe and gave this to me instead, but ANYWHO! Here it is:

Semi-Homemade Beef Stroganoff 

  • 1 box of Hamburger Helper Beef Stroganoff (plus whatever the box calls for, I believe it's just milk and butter)
  • 1 lb. of Stew Meat from the meat counter at your grocery store (NO HAMBURGER MEAT/GROUND CHUCK OR  GROUND BEEF) only Stew Meat!!!!!!!!!!!!! They're like little cubed chunks of meat...
  • 1-2 Tbs. of Sherry     This needs to be the real deal from the liquor store! BUT you can try the cooking kind-non alcoholic they make at Kroger, but it's pretty weak and you can't taste it as well...You'd have to use a lot more!
  • Milk
  • Butter 
  • Beef Broth
  • Salt 
  • Pepper

  1. In the morning! or at least 5-6 hours (or while you are gone to work all day, the longer the better) before you want to eat dinner, put the stew meat in a Crock-Pot with a whole can of beef broth and cook on low for the whole 5-6 hours.
  2. .....5-6 hours later when you are ready for dinner follow directions on the box of Hamburger Helper up to the point where you add meat.
  3.  Instead of adding browned beef to your Hamburger Helper you will take your stew meat out of the Crock-Pot, it will be so yummy and tender, strain the broth out of the pot by pouring meat into a strainer/colander over the sink, then pour meat into the Hamburger Helper, let simmer/cook according to the directions on the box.  
  4. After time has elapsed from simmering, add your Sherry.  I add 1tbs. and if it's not the kick or taste I like, I put a little more.  Add salt and pepper to taste as well, I like to add quite a bit of pepper because Hamburger Helper seasonings tend to be a bit bland. Let the stroganoff set for a few minutes to thicken.  Should serve at least 3 people. Serve with rolls, peas, and maybe a salad and VOILA! you have yourself a semi-made from scratch dinner! ;) (thanks mom)


Please feel free to share how you put your own touches on box meals! ;)