Monday, December 13, 2010

Homemade Play Kitchen

If you’ve never stopped by Jess’ blog, Craftiness Is Not Optional, then you definitely need to.  Jess has so many inspiring ideas that are always quick and easy.  If you have little girls, then you MUST get there quickly.  Earlier this year her father built her little girl a play kitchen.  Seeing as how we have a little girl about the same age, I thought that it was definitely a project that we could undertake as well.  We used her basic “floor plan” (which you can read about in THIS post) and went to work! 

So, after two months of working his tail off, my husband finished the kitchen this weekend.  I am so amazingly proud of the work that he did.  It wouldn’t have taken him so long if he wasn’t a super perfectionist.  But that’s what I love about him.  :)

(Sorry for the pictures – I was taking them early this morning before it was very light out)


8 12

I love the oven.  The knobs turn and the little burner covers come off.  There are real oven grates inside and little cookie sheets that fit just perfectly.  The sign above the stove is from Hobby Lobby.

9We decided to do the curtain instead of cabinets since I’m a little worried about slammed fingers these days.  I got this retro lemon print as a remnant at JoAnn’s for about $2 a long time ago.  Thankfully it was just the right size and is hung on a tension rod.  The cross stitch print of lemons above the sink is from my grandmother-in-law.  She went to be with the Lord last year and we found this at her house in a drawer when we were cleaning out her house.  I love having a little of her in the kitchen for the kids.

10This is inside the pantry/fridge.  We only did shelves that are high enough for my daughter to reach at this point.  Some day we can add higher ones if we need to.  She’s getting a ton of play food and accessories for her birthday and Christmas so this will be full soon!

I couldn’t be more thrilled with this addition to my daughter’s room.  I know that once she moves to her ‘big girl bed’ all she'll do is play with this instead of sleep, but that’s okay.  Right now she’s more interested in pulling out all the food and putting it on her play table but once she gets older I know that this will be her favorite thing. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Apartment Fish

Even if you don’t like fish, you’re probably at least wondering what is up with the name of this dish.  After I graduated from college, I moved back to Dallas and within a month had to start my first job with the hotel company I eventually worked at for 8 years.  I had a little 600 square foot apartment just 2 miles from the hotel.  I loved it.  I loved being independent, making my own money, decorating my own place, etc.  I worked a lot of night shifts but the nights I was home always involved dinner cooked on my single serve George Foreman grill.  This is a dish I came up with back in those days.  As I started to date my husband and have him over for dinner, this became a favorite.  It still brings back so many memories when we eat it today.

What I love about this dish is that it is SO easy.  4 ingredients, 20 minutes, one dish, done!  I hope you enjoy it too.  This should feed about 3-4 people – 1 fish fillet per person, just add another box of pasta if needed.


DSC_0348-4 Tilapia Filets

-1 box of Pasta Roni Shells & White Cheddar

-1 can of peas, drained

-Your choice of seasoning on the fish (we like the Greek Seasoning, but use your favorite)


1.  Season fish and cook until flaky.  Use whatever method you like best – bake in the oven, grill outside, sauté in a pan, etc.  I still use the George Foreman to cook my fish, but now it’s a lot bigger and fancier one!

2.  While fish is cooking, cook pasta to specifications on box.  Typically takes about 20 minutes by the time it finishes cooking and sits in the sauce to thicken.  Once thickened, add drained peas to pot and stir to heat through.

3.  On each plate, flake 1 tilapia filet into small pieces.  Divide pasta and pea mixture between plates and add on top of fish.  Mix together.

Here it is all mixed together and ready to enjoy!



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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Shepherd’s Pie

I first had this dish at my Mother-in-law’s several years ago.  My husband always raved about it so I got the recipe to make at home.  After a few tries, my husband officially announced that mine was better than his mother’s.  Is there really any better compliment from a Southern man?  Now, not sure if it’s true or he’s just being sweet but I’ll take it either way.  :)  This is a crowd pleaser – quick, easy, and customizable to your family’s tastes. 


-1 pound ground beef

-1 can condensed tomato soup

-1 can green beans

-a couple handfuls of frozen mixed veggies (this is the part that you can customize – use your favorite veggies – peas if you don’t like green beans, etc.  Or use whatever is on hand)

-mashed potatoes – I use the instant from a pouch

-salt and pepper to taste

-1/2 cup cheddar cheese


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Brown beef, drain and place in a mixing bowl.

2.  Add soup, veggies, and salt and pepper to the beef and mix well.  Pour into a lightly greased 1.5 to 2 quart casserole.  Prepare potatoes as per directions on pouch and spread on top of beef mixture.

3.  Cook at 350 for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  Add cheese; return to oven until cheese is melted.

Here it is in the casserole dish – so pretty!


All served up and ready to devour:


Monday, December 6, 2010

Meal Planning Monday

These next two weeks are all about EASY recipes.  We are headed out of town for Christmas this year so we’ve got the next week full of doctors appointments, haircuts, etc. to get ready.  Not to mention packing up Christmas presents to ship out and packing bags for me, the hubs and an almost 2 year old.  Fun.  So here are the meals!

Meals for December 6 to December 15:

Monday – Leftover Smothered Chicken (this was EXCELLENT!)

Tuesday/WednesdayApartment Fish (there is a story behind the name but it’s a VERY quick and easy dish with just 3 ingredients – an “all in one” dish with meat, veggie, starch)

Thursday/SaturdayLemony Chicken, Pink Salad, Crescents

Friday – Dinner out

Monday/Tuesday/WednesdayCheesy Potato and Corn Chowder (already in the freezer, yippee!), Lemon Bread

After that I say “Adios!” for a few weeks.  But stay tuned until then – I’ll be making some very yummy Christmas cookies too!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Dark Chocolate and Orange Butter Cookies

If you aren’t drooling by now, you should immediately go to a doctor and have yourself checked out.  Yes, these are as yummy as they sound.  They are almost completely butter so they kind of fall apart and melt in your mouth.  Quick and easy too.  The recipe below only makes about 2 dozen small cookies so I would definitely double or triple the recipe.  These would make great Christmas cookies!  Recipe from


-1/2 cup sugar

-3/4 cup butter

-1 egg yolk

-1 tsp orange extract

-1.5 cups all purpose flour

-1/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa

-Powdered sugar for dusting


1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In the bowl of a stand up mixer (or hand mixer), combine the sugar, butter, egg yolk and orange extract.  Beat on medium speed until fluffy.  Gradually add flour and dark cocoa until well incorporated (about 2-3 minutes).

2.  Shape into 1” balls and place 1” apart on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 7-9 minutes or until set.  Allow to cool.  Roll in powdered sugar.

Okay, this isn’t my picture.  And mine didn’t really look like this!  But we were so excited to dig in and we ate them so fast that I didn’t even get a picture of them.  (Picture courtesy of


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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hot Fruit Salad

Okay, so I tend to do fruit as a side for dinner quite a bit.  Growing up, the meals were always meat, veggie, starch.  I don’t exactly stick to that anymore, but when I do have a meal like that, fruit is a great side.  For example, I made Shepherd’s Pie last week which has meat, veggie, starch all in one.  This was a perfect side.  It would go great as a side dish to the traditional Christmas ham!  Super quick, super easy, and it makes your house smell delicious.  Recipe from


-1 (20 oz) jar chunky applesauce

-1 (21 oz) can cherry pie filling

-1 (15 oz) can sliced peaches, drained

-1 (11 oz) can mandarin orange segments, drained

-1 (8 oz) can pineapple chunks, drained slightly

-1/2 cup brown sugar

-1 tsp ground cinnamon


1.  Pour all ingredients into slow cooker and mix together.  Cover, and cook on Low setting for 90 minutes.



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