Friday, January 29, 2010

Prisoners Dancing Video

I got this in an email yesterday and thought it was great :)  I don't know how I feel about money being spent to teach prisoner's how to dance/taping/t-shirts, however, I do think it is a really positive activity.  Also, for all I know everything could have been donated.  The discipline and training that this must have required is amazing!  All in all, I think it's pretty cool!

What do you think?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My husband says I'm weird...

I've always had an aversion to eating breakfast foods.  Occasionally, I do get wild and crazy and I'll have an egg or two at home.  Mostly, I'll just eat it if we go out.  I do love Sunshine Skillets from Bob Evans once and a while.
But then I screw things up by ordering this to go with it.

Yep.  That's a salad.  I like to have a tossed salad with my breakfast when we go out.  It has nothing to do with healthyness or anything.  I just like them with breakfast.

I used to eat rice for in the morning as a child and my mom couldn't handle it.  So, she created a recipe for me with rice, scrambled egg, and sausage.  I loved it. Especially with soy sauce on top. Sometimes I didn't eat the egg though, and that really irritated her. 

Then there are days at home when I think I should eat something healthy for breakfast.  So I choose Irish Steel Cut Oatmeal.  But...then I regress and put parmesan cheese and black pepper on it instead of butter and brown sugar.

My husband says this is very weird.  He actually kind of gagged.  I think it's great. Maybe when we have kids they'll grow up to love oatmeal with parmesan cheese and brown sugar.  Now, that's even too odd for me...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole

Last week or so I watched an episode of Sunny Anderson's show on the Food Network.  To be honest, she's not usually my fav.  I think it's because it seems like she makes everything very spicy or very fattening. With that being said, I have found a few of her recipes that I really really like.  This would be one of them.  However, I modified the recipe a lot.  It definitely fell into the really fattening category.  I think it topped out at around 800 calories or so per serving, but I stopped counting at some point.  My recipe isn't exactly healthy, but it's better. Also, I would think that this would make a great freezer meal, because the wild rice wouldn't get mushy.

Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole
Serves 8


2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil *or butter if you want*
1/4 tsp thyme *or one fresh sprig*
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp salt
4 chicken breasts
1 cup wild rice *this is really expensive.  I don't see why you couldn't use a wild rice mix, or any other type of rice that you like. I splurged and got the wild, which was super good though*
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup frozen sour cherries, fresh or frozen  *the original recipe called for cranberries. However, I couldn't find them at the store.  I think they would be delicious, but you may want to up the sugar a little if you use them*
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup bread crumbs
8 oz button mushrooms, quartered
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbsp flour
2 1/2 cups half&half *you could also use evaporated milk or just milk to make it healthier*
2 cups shredded gruyere cheese
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375 and spray a 9x13 casserole dish.

In a large saucepan combine enough water to cover the chicken, thyme, bay leaf, and salt. Bring the water to a boil and add in the chicken. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is done.  Remove from water and chop into 1/2 inch cubes.

If using wild rice, return the water to a boil and add in the rice.  Rice is done when grains start to split open. This will take about 45 mins. Drain wild rice and set aside. If using other rice, just follow the package directions and cook on the side.

In a small pot over medium heat, melt the two tbsp of butter.  Add in the cherries (or cranberries), sugar, breadcrumbs, rosemary, and a pinch of salt. Stir until sugar dissolves and set aside. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add in the mushrooms and onions. Saute until softened, about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle in flour and cook for 1 minute.  Add in the half&half and simmer for a couple minutes until slightly thickened.  Add the gruyere, chicken, and rice into the pan and stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper and transfer to the casserole dish.  

Spread the cherry mixture over the top and bake 25-30 minutes until bubbly and a little golden.  Let cool about 10 minutes to thicken up and serve.

*This recipe was really good.  I know the sweetened topping seems weird, but it adds a little tang, that is super yummy.  Next time, I want to try it with cranberries, because they are even tangier.  Also, I can't say enough about how in love I am with gruyere cheese.  However, it's a little pricey.  So, I think another bolder cheese, like swiss or sharp white cheddar, would be great too.*

Too see more great recipes check out these fantastic blogs:

Have a great day!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Menu Plan 1/24 - 1/30

What a relaxing weekend!  I napped, napped, scrapbooked until 2am with some good friends, napped, went to Church, and then took a nap. Not sure why I was so tired, but I feel better now :).  Here's what I got for the week:

Sunday:  Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole with a salad **Check back Tuesday for the recipe**

Monday: Tacos

Tuesday: LO Tacos

Wednesday:  LO Chicken Casserole

Thursday: Pork Roast with homemade Mashed Potatoes

Friday: Dinner Out

Saturday:  Not sure yet ;)

To see more menu plans go to Organizing Junkie's blog!

Have a great week!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fun Video

This little guy is so cute!

Happy Friday!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

If You're Bored...

Today for my weekly writing assignment Mama Kat told me to write about 10 things to stave off boredom.  This is what I do when I'm bored. It's a strange mix of things that would probably cause boredom for most people.  But it works for me!

1.  Blog...duh!

2.  Organize finances online.  Yes.  I actually think this is fun.  Stop laughing. 

3.  Read a good book or magazine.

4.  Snuggle with someone.

5.  Make lists of things you should be doing.

6.  Organize the fridge.  I see a pattern here.

7.  Watch trashy television that you DVR'd.  Some options are Real Housewives, The Jersey Shore, As the World Turns, or Teen Mom.  I could go on but it would reach even more embarrassing levels.

8.  Work out.  Now I'm not ever really that bored.  But if you are then that's a good option :)

9.  Cook something special.

10.  Clean.  I actually like to clean some things and it makes me feel super accomplished once it's done.

Well.  That was very Martha Stewart/Jerry Springer of me. Hmmmm...I should see someone.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fantastic Forks

Today I found a list of 10 things you can do with a fork in an old issue of Martha Stewart Living. Does anyone else love that magazine as much as I do? I always pull pages out of magazines if I want to make the recipe, craft, etc. When I'm done reading Martha I seriously have no magazine left and a huge pile of paper.  Anyway, I guess I knew you could do all these things with a fork, but it was interesting to see it all written out. Also, I have a huge affinity for lists. You may remember my Lemon Love and Earth Day posts ;) So, here we go:

1. Reaming: Insert the tines into halved citrus fruits to extract juice.

2. Pricking: Make holes in piecrusts or potatoes before baking.

3. Crimping: Decorate a raw piecrust by pressing tines along the edge.

4. Whisking: Whip eggs for omelets and other dishes.

5. Mashing: Crush berries for a sauce or bananas for banana bread.

6. Decorating: Make a crosshatch pattern on cookies of sides of a cake.

7. Dipping: Lower nuts, fruits, or cookies into melted chocolate.

8. Scraping: Carve out spaghetti squash or make granita.

9. Spearing: Lift pickles from a jar and waffles from the waffle iron.  Hold meat when slicing.

10. Testing: Check if boiled potatoes are cooked through.  

Thanks Martha!!

Oh and I haven't given you any pictures of him lately and this post was lacking pictures. You're welcome:

Not sure why this picture is so big, but I figured no one would mind....

Have a great day!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Shrimp Etouffee

I made this last night and it was so good!!  I have made it in the past, but as with most recipes, I forgot about it.  It worked out perfect because I had tons of frozen peppers from the summer and a bag of onions I wanted to use up.  If you want to keep the recipe a little more frugal, just add more veggies and less shrimp.  Also, I don't see why you couldn't add a little cooked chicken. I guess that would take the "shrimp" out of "shrimp etoufee", but who cares.  Also, I know it seems like a lot of ingredients, but many of these things are items that I already have on hand. 

Shrimp Etouffee
Serves 4

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 stick butter  **you could just use one stick of butter and omit the oil**
1/2 cup flour
2 cups onions, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup bell pepper, chopped  **I used green**
1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp white pepper
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 cup water
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tbsp dry white wine or sherry  **You could put in a little lemon instead**
1 1/2 lbs shrimp
green onion for garnish
hot sauce to taste
4 cups cooked rice **I used brown**


In a large pot or dutch oven, melt the butter in with the olive oil over medium heat.  Once melted, add in the flour.  This part is called making a roux.  Stir the flour frequently until it is the color of peanut butter.  This will take 5-10 minutes depending on your heat and pot.  

Add in onions, celery, peppers, black pepper, white pepper, salt, and cajun seasoning.  Cook about 5 minutes until soft.  Add in garlic and cook about one minute.  Add in the water, tomatoes, and wine.  Let cook over low heat, stir
ring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Add in shrimp and cook until they turn pink.  This will be very quick.

Spoon the mixture over rice and garnish with the green onions and hot sauce.  


To see more great recipes check out these fabulous blogs:

Have a great day!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Menu Plan 1/17 - 1/23

Ahhh....I had a pretty relaxing weekend.  We didn't do too much, however, we got too see some friends and played some games on Saturday night, which was really fun.  I felt a little down this weekend.  Maybe I watched too much coverage on Haiti? I wanted to write in my blog a couple times, but never really did it. I think I was feeling like with everything going on there, should I be writing about me? It seems so mundane. But, I know the world must go on. So here is my plan:

Sunday:  Shrimp Etouffee **Look for recipe on Tuesday**

Monday: Dinner out with a friend

Tuesday: Mama Bird's Chicken Spaghetti and a salad

LO Shrimp Etouffee

Thursday:  Salmon, rice, and green beans

Friday:  LO Chicken Spaghetti

Saturday:  Dinner Out

To see more plans please check out Organizing Junkie's blog here :)

Have a great week!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What's in a name?

Hello, I'm Ashley. I don't really have much of an opinion about my name.  I don't love it, but I don't hate it either.  I've never really felt much like an Ashley though.  I've always wanted to be named something fun like Lucy, Sophia, or Vivi.  I particularly like the name Dottie.  I guess I like names from the 50's. Aside from Dottie, because I think she'd kill me, I think I'd name my girls those names if I ever have them.
Anyway, I found out yesterday while on Facebook that my name was the 2nd most popular name the year I was born, in between Jessica and Jennifer. I think my mom lied to me when she said she named me that because no one else named their kids Ashley.  Clearly they did.  Kind of odd considering it means "ash meadow".  I was hoping for something like lovely, spirited, most beautiful on Earth.  But no...ash meadow.  Oh well.
Mama Kat said in her instructions to explain why I was named my name. Well...there is a very nice reason and evidently the real reason which is really...charming.  My family owned a German restaurant in Ann Arbor for years.  It was on Ashley Street.  When my mom decided that's what she wanted to name me she told my dad that it was to honor the restaurant. However, she tells me that she named me after her:

That's Ashley Abbott from The Young & the Restless.  My mom tells me she loved her in the soap as soon as she saw her and always wanted a daughter named Ashley.  This is my mom:

This is how our conversations went when I was little:

little Ashley:  "Dad, why was I named Ashley?"
Dad:  "Oh, cause Mommy thought it would be nice to name you after the street the restaurant was on."
little Ashley:  "That's nice"
Mom walks in the room and whispers to little Ashley:  "No it's not, I named you after Ashley Abbott, from Y&R.  You're going to love that show when you're older too."
little Ashley:  "I'll stick with Dad's story."
Mom: "Be thankful, he was going to name you Percy if you were a boy."

Oddly enough, I love Y&R and I also have a secret desire to name one of my kids Percy.  I think Percy and Dottie would be cute.  You?

To see more reasons people are named what they are check out Mama Kat's blog!!

Have a great day!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

One word: YUM! I made these a over the weekend and they were so delicious!  I modified a recipe from Martha Stewart, which you can find here.   I didn't have cake flour and also didn't need 28. I frosted these cupcakes in cream cheese frosting, because that's my favorite.  Martha did hers in 7-minute frosting.  I would imagine 7-minute frosting would make it taste more like a snickerdoodle, because it's a little bland. However, I kind of hate 7-minute frosting, so I did cream cheese.  So, here's how I did mine:

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes
Makes 20 

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp corn starch
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup butter, room temp
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 20 muffin cups with liners.  Sift/whisk together all dry ingredients in large bowl.

Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy and light.  Add in eggs one at a time, beating until just combined. Add in vanilla and almond extract. Alternate beating in dry mixture and milk, ending with dry mixture.  

Fill each liner about 3/4 way full.  Bake cupcakes for 16-20 minutes until tooth pick comes out clean.  

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 1/2 sticks butter, room temp
8 oz cream cream cheese, room temp
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy.  Add in vanilla.  Gradually beat in sugar, scraping down the bowl in between.  Add milk, 1 tsp at a time, until desired consistency is reached. 


To see some more delicious recipes check out these fabulous blogs:

Have a great day!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Menu Plan 1/10 - 1/16

I finally had a weekend without too many plans so it was great to just be able to relax and do whatever for a couple of days.  We tried a new restaurant, went shopping, and took a couple naps!  Last night, we had a dinner with our small group at Church.  I hosted last month, but someone else hosted this month so all I had to bring was a  salad.  That was kind of nice!

Here is the plan for the week.  I'm really excited about the Lasagna!!

Sunday:  Church Dinner

Monday:  Baked Potatoes loaded with cheese, chicken, spinach, and green onion.  Broccoli on the side.

Wednesday:  LO Lasagna

Thursday:  Volunteering for the food bank @ Church

Friday:  Bowling Night

Saturday:  Night out with friends 

To see more delicious menu plans check out Organizing Junkie's blog here!

Have a great week!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Cutest Video Ever!

I got an email yesterday with a link for this video.  Seriously, I have watched it 10 times.  I love it! I think it is so cool for a hospital to do this to support breast cancer research. Here it is:

Doesn't the janitor kill you? Oh I just want to hug him!  

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Just call me Longfellow

Today I'm doing a writing assignment from Mama Kat. I chose to write a poem about the 7th picture I took last January, because I'm an amazing poet. It just so happens that I made this gorgeous cake for my first Wilton cake decorating class.  I shudder when I see the hideous beauty that is this cake.  Between the cake and my poem, I'm sure to sweep the blog world by storm. Without further ado, here's the masterpiece:

Thugs Like Cakes

This is my cake.
It's so good it looks fake.
It makes boys in the hood shake,
Because it's as beautiful as a lake.
They'd protect the bird with their lives,
to ensure it didn't break.
They'd want to take it to their mother,
Or share it with their brother.
They'd sit and admire it's glory.
It'd go down in family stories.  
It would make gangs dissipate,
and get rid of the hate.
My cake.

Word to your mother.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Projects of 2009 Party

Rhoda over at Southern Hospitality did the most wonderful post about the projects she did around her house in 2009.  She had 10 to post, however, she probably could have done 50.  So ambitious and creative! While I don't have that many, I thought I'd share what we did do.  

1.  Master Bedroom

This is a room that we actually just finished and I haven't done a post about yet.  I think I may do a separate post in a couple days showing more of what we did.  I don't have any before pictures but you can see the color of the walls in this picture from when we were redoing the master bath.
Before Color:


Like I said, check back in a week or so to see more pics of all the projects we did. I'm going to do a bit about repainting laminate furniture. For a little run-down though we painted, made a headboard, added new bedding, bought a new dresser, added a new picture from the Ann Arbor Art Fair, added window treatments, and redid some end tables.

2.  Headboard

Here is a pick of the headboard that we made out of a door for the Master Bedroom.  We didn't have one before.  I really like the headboard because it's attached to the wall and my only cost $22!

3.  Guest Bath

You can see the official post that I did about it here, but this will give you an idea of what happened in this room.

As you can see, there were wood floors in the bathroom....Who knows. 


We replaced the wood floor with a dark slate tile, that you can see in the link above.  We also framed the mirrors out in white, painted the walls grey, and added some accessories.  The candle sticks are gone now and have a new home in our bedroom :)

4.  Powder Room

This is one of the rooms I don't have a before picture for.  It used to be a very deep red.  There was also no mirror on the wall and no blinds.  


Obviously, this still has some left over Christmas decorations :) However, we painted, added a mirror, wood blinds, and did a wall of fabric panels.

5.  Spice/Paper Closets

Oddly enough, this is probably one of my favorite things I did this year. Moving the spices freed up so much much space in my kitchen cabinets. I love the paper door too because now I don't have so much floating around the rest of the house.  I painted each door panel with many coats of magnetic paint and put the spices in magnetic jars.  Voila!

6.  Kitchen Sink before picture.  It used to be a stainless sink that was VERY shallow and had a standard faucet.  I'm so glad we replaced this so I don't give myself a shower every time I wash something other than a fork!

7.  China Cabinet

As for the common theme, there is also no before pictures of this.  I would kill for some though, because this was honestly so much work!  It used to be a light (ugly) brown that was really dull and bland.  The panels on the front were more than not fun to paint :)  I also added some new pulls to the doors.  

8.  Master Bath

This is another re-do that some of you may have seen before here.  These are some peeks of what we did:

The wall color was a burnt orange, there were molding wood floors (gross!), and again just pull-down blinds.


We painted the walls a very light blue, changed to small octagonal tiles, added wood blinds, and accessories.

9.  I'm tired.

10.  I'm going to take a nap.

Now go check out some more projects at Rhoda's blog here!!

Have a great day!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

French Onion Soup

This recipe is sort of a compilation of a few different recipes as well as me tweeking things from times I've made this in the past.  I actually didn't have any beef stock when I made it last night. However, I had homemade chicken stock, and it worked great.  This soup is so good with a salad on a cold night.  I think I could eat it every week!

French Onion Soup
Serves 4-6


3 pounds onions, sliced thinly  *I like yellow*
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp dry thyme or 1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
8 cups beef broth
1/2 cup Sherry
1 cup dry white wine
salt to taste  *I say to taste on this because it really depends on how salty your broth is*
pepper to taste
1 loaf crusty bread *You can use leftover bread in the freezer as well as day old bread*
1 1/2 cups grated gruyere cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese


In a large stock/soup pot saute the onions on medium heat until very golden brown.  You may think they're starting to burn, but a dark brown color is what you want. Add the garlic in the last couple minutes of browning.  

Pour in the sherry and wine and scrap the brown bits up off the bottom of the pan.  This is where the flavor is! Let the wine and sherry simmer for about 5 mintues.  You can see how brown mine is here before I even added the broth.  Also, I doubled the recipe so at this stage yours will probably look less liquid-y than mine.

Add in thyme, bay leaf, and broth.  Simmer on low heat for 25 minutes.  Add in salt and pepper to your taste.  

While the soup is simmering toast the bread and grate the cheese.  You can really use any cheese that you like, but I love love love gruyere cheese.  Ladle soup into crocks or bowls.  Top with toasted bread and cheese.  Place under broiler for 5 minutes or so to melt the cheese like this:


To see some more delicious recipes check out these fabulous blogs:

Have a great day!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Menu Plan 1/3 - 1/9

Ahhh....the holidays are over.  I'm a little sad, but now I feel like I have regained my weekends and hopefully my waist :)  I still haven't taken down the holiday decorations because we had a party this weekend, however, now they're starting to look like too much.  I'm glad to be taking them down this week.  Our party went well, and I'll be posting some recipes in some coming posts.  Here is the menu for the week:

Sunday: French Onion Soup....come back Tuesday for the recipe and pictures.

Tuesday:  Getting my cavity filled :(  I've never had one before and I'm a little scared. This will be an easy night of something frozen in the freezer. 

Wednesday: LO Mexicali Casserole

Thursday: Katie's Supper-Size Egg Rolls  I've been wanting to make these for the longest time but I keep forgetting about them.  I'm so excited to give them a try!

Friday:  Dinner and a movie out.  

Saturday:  Not sure yet...perhaps homemade sushi?  

To check out more menu plans and recipes go to Menu Plan Monday on Organizing Junkie's Blog!

Have a great week!!