Sunday, January 29, 2012

20 Questions

This topic has been cropping up on a lot of the blogs I follow, so I decided to high-jack the idea for myself and do it on my blog. Here goes:

1. What was the last thing you took a picture of? The actual last picture I took was of my couponing haul for the week which you can find under the Weekly Deals section. But the one before that was a silly picture of Gizmo:

Gizmo has taken a liking to Haloti's baby bed
2. What is your favorite smell? Tie between Pulled Pork Tacos cooking in the crock pot and the baking of chocolate chip cookies.
3. What do you love most about yourself? How stubborn I am and how I refuse to give up.
4. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? How stubborn I am and how I refuse to give up! A close second would be my inability to give forgiveness a lot of the time.
5. If you were to win $10 million dollars, what would you do with it? Oh, I have thought about this way too much. First things first, I would buy a home. A new car for Jerame and a new car for me would be next. Obviously, we would give large sums of money to our immediate family members. Next would be large sums of money given to the Humane Society and a charity of Jerame's choosing. The rest would be invested wisely.
6. If you were given the opportunity to live anywhere else in the world, where would you live? I hate to say it people, but I would not stay here. I would have to say Canada (anyone out there surprised?). The culture up there is pretty similar to down here but Canada has universal healthcare, something the US sorely lacks.
7. What is/was your favorite subject in school? Geology. Not so much the mineralogy part, but my favorite course I took in college was Geological Hazards. My next favorite was a class glossing over the rock record (if you know the rock record, you know that it can't be completely covered in one class). 
8. What is your favorite food? Such a hard question! The answer my mind keeps coming back to is shrimp. So delicious and so incredibly versatile!
9. What is your favorite color? Purple (duh)
10. What is your favorite book? Gone With The Wind. I have lost count of how many times I have read this book. When I was younger, I used to read it once a year. I haven't read it in awhile, it might be time to brush the dust off of it and give it another read.
11. What is your favorite TV show of all time? 'Friend's. My husband often says he can't understand how I can watch episodes of 'Friends' over and over and over.
12. What is your favorite song? Wow, that's hard. If you were to look on my iPod to see what the number one song listened to is, it would tell you it's Hinder's "Better Than Me". That's definitely not my favorite song though. I am going to have to say All American Rejects "Move Along" which is on my Top 25 listened to on my iPod.
13. If your life was a song, what would the title be? "The Dance" by good ol' Garth Brooks.
14. Would you rather have the power to be invisible or the power to read minds? While it would be cool to be invisible, I think I would take the power to read minds. Yes, it would suck to know what everyone is thinking of you but you would also find out who your real friends are. Also, think how good this skill would be in business! How much easier would it be to strategize if you always knew what your opponent is thinking?
15. Would you rather have super strength or super intelligence? Easy, super intelligence. The super smart could always find or invent a way for them to develop super strength but there is no guarantee the super strong would also have super intelligence.
16. If you could be an animal, what animal would you be? I think I would want to be my dog. My dogs have it so easy and they have no idea! They don't have to worry about jobs, money, family, etc. The only thing they worry about is if I am going to take them for a walk or sneak them an extra snack. 
17. What is the most beautiful place you have ever seen? I don't travel a lot, so I would have to say Hawaii.
Kona 2007
Valleys in Kona
That's me! Looking out at the ocean in Kona, 2007.
18. What person in history would you most like to meet? I'd have to say Einstein. He was a genius but I bet he was weird as hell!
19. What was your childhood nickname? I didn't really have one but my high school dance coach used to call me "J-Rho". Lame, I know!
20. What is the biggest lesson you learned last year? Not to take anything for granted. Nothing is guaranteed so you have to enjoy and appreciate everything you have. That and 6 months worth of income in your savings is not enough!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Almond Poppy Seed Muffins

Almond Poppy Seed Muffins
I love poppy seed muffins. I like having something ready for breakfast that I can just grab and eat when I wake up. It definitely helps with my goal of eating breakfast. The hubby loves them as well. I love muffins, they take almost no technique. They are that easy! Here's my recipe:

3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk (I use 1%)
1 cup applesauce
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl with hand mixer until well blended (I mix until I don't see any more flour lumps in the batter)
3. Fill lined muffin tins with batter (this recipe makes 24 standard size muffins or 48 mini muffins)
4. Bake muffins 20-25 minutes or until done. I checked my muffins at 18 minutes but ended up letting them bake for 20 minutes. They were perfect!
5. Cool in pan 10 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Allow muffins to cool completely (for storage). You can, of course, eat them while they are warm. Yum!
6. Enjoy with a nice, big glass of milk or cup of coffee

*Side note- The hubby informed me he received some flak at work for eating poppy seed muffins because they can make you fail a drug test. I am sure everyone has heard this urban legend, no? Here's what Snopes had to say regarding this matter: Poppy Seed Muffins/Drug Test. After doing some research on the internet I learned this myth can be true. Something to note though is that many, many companies have been sued for firing and/or not hiring people due to false positives on a drug test from poppy seeds. One woman received almost $1M because a company withdrew their employment offer after a false positive on a drug test from poppy seeds. In today's world, most companies have raised the cut off limit for a positive result, effectively eliminating any false positives from eating poppy seeds. Moral of the story? Enjoy your poppy seed muffins! The likelihood you will fail a drug test from eating them is slim to none.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my Mom's birthday! My mom is one of the strongest women I know and a huge inspiration in my life. She has overcome so many obstacles in her life and throughout it all, she is one of the most positive people I know. She has fought (and beat!) cancer twice, something unbelievable in its self. After her second round of cancer, her hair has never really gotten back to what it once was. You will never hear her complain about this though. She cheerfully puts on her Oregon Ducks scarf on her head everyday. I must confess, she loves the Ducks so much though, I am not sure it bothers her to wear the Oregon scarf everyday. One of my favorite stories and one of the most recent: Last January (2011) the Oregon Ducks football team made it to the National Championship Game and my parents drove down to Arizona to watch them play. They stopped to visit her cousin in Las Vegas on the way. I am still not exactly sure what happened, but while my mom was visiting her cousin, her leg caught on fire at a bonfire event! She ended up sustaining 3rd degree burns to her leg. I am sure a lot of people would have thrown in the towel at this point, but there was nothing that would stop my mom from going to that National Championship game to cheer on her beloved Ducks and she attended the game just a couple of days after burning her leg. That takes some serious strength! In honor of her birthday, here are some of my favorite photos of her:

My parents and me at my high school graduation. Taken shortly after my mom finished treatment for cancer the first time.
September 2007. Taken right after my mom finished treatment for cancer the second time and one of the first times she was able to drink in months. We had a get together to watch Oregon pummel Michigan in football that day. My dad was actually at the game in Michigan watching them get pummeled. Needless to say, it was a memorable day!
September 2007. One of the many Oregon Ducks football games my mother and I attended together.
November 2007. The 2nd time 'College GameDay' visited Eugene in the '07 football season. This was taken at 6 in the morning!
December 2007. Taken at my brother's graduation from college. My mom was the only person able to hold her liquor out of this group that night :)
November 2008 at an Oregon Football tailgate with our family friends Sean and Scott. My mom is never happier than when tailgating, one of her favorite activities.
February 2009, Super Bowl Sunday. My mom and I cheering on the Steelers, who won that year!
July 2009, Jerame and I's wedding day. Also a day when I have never seen my mom happier! 
February 2010, Super Bowl Sunday. We had had Gizmo for a total of 3 days at this point and this was my mom's first meeting with the new puppy.
July 2011 on my first trip home to Oregon after moving to Kentucky. Taken at a little bar in downtown Albany that my mom introduced me to. We had some delicious drinks that night!
Happy Birthday Mom! I hope you know that I think you are an extraordinary woman :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Closing The Door

Yesterday the hubby and I were finally able to close the door on our car accident with the drunk driver from July. I can't believe it has taken so long to wrap up an incident from July! Nevertheless, the ordeal is over and being able to say goodbye to this headache really removes a weight from our chests. This means all the medical bills are settled and paid for which was a HUGE worry for me. With our settlement we also were able to pay off and/or down a lot of the debt we accumulated during the really hard times last year. We even have enough money left over for a down payment on a car. Thank goodness because we have been sharing the car for the last 2 months and a lot of the time I am homebound while the hubby is at work. So needless to say, I am feeling pretty good about the future today.
An update on the Brazil Butt Lift... Apparently my butt and thighs are the least in shape parts of my body because I was too sore to do the Butt Lift for 2 days! I have been doing Pilates for the last 2 days. I am getting back on that horse today though, hopefully the workout feels a little bit better today than it did on Saturday. I better not be too sore because I am going to whip up a batch of poppyseed muffins after my workout. Poppyseed muffins are one of the hubbies favorites for quick, on-the-go breakfasts and since he is working day shifts this week, he is leaving the house at 5:30 in the morning. A quick breakfast is essential for him this week and a healthier option than the danishes I whipped up last week. Pictures and recipe to follow!

***Update: After doing the Brazil Butt Lift today, I have a feeling I am going to be sore for another 2 days. Exhausted!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Robbed The Store... And Then Some!

Propel Fitness water, Hunt's diced tomatoes and tomato paste, Finesse hairspray, Kleenex, Nature's Bounty vitamins, Finish dish soap, Tide Stain Release Boosters, Pledge multi-surface spray, Goldfish, Combos, Revlon nail files, Blistex, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, and Mentos gum.
Today's haul was so good, I just couldn't resist devoting a blog entry to it! I had an amazing day of couponing! Here's the breakdown:
CVS- Great week for CVS! They had some great BOGO's that I couldn't resist. Both the Combos and the vitamins were Buy 1, Get 1. I also had a $1 off of 2 coupon for the Combos and I had 2 $1 off coupons for the vitamins. The Pledge was an amazing deal. They were on sale 2 for $6. I had a CVS store coupon for $2 off 2 and a manufacturer coupon for $2 off 2, making each bottle of Pledge $1. That stuff retails for $6.49 a can! Additional purchases at CVS included Kleenex, the Revlon nail files, and the Blistex.    Thanks to $13 in ECB's from last week, I paid $12.68 out of pocket and earned $10 in ECB's.
Rite Aid: Gum was on sale again this week and this time it was a moneymaker! It was on sale 3 for $3, plus they were offering a $1 UP reward. I used 3 $1 off coupons for the gum, making them free and I made that $1. The Finish dish soap was BOGO, plus I had a $2.15 off coupon (Rite Aid doesn't let you use a coupon on the free item item in a BOGO transaction, which is too bad because I could have gotten another $2.15 off with another coupon). I also picked up the Finesse hairspray on sale 2 for $6. I had 2 $1 off coupons as well. I ended up paying $7.27 out of pocket (I had $2 in UP's from last week) and making $4 in UP rewards.
Kroger: Kroger was amazing this week! They had Hunt's tomatoes on sale for $0.49 plus I had a $0.45 off 3 coupon, which doubled to $0.90. Which means I ended up getting those cans for $0.19 a piece. The Propel flavored water was also on sale for $0.49. The Tide boosters were on sale for $5.99 and with an e-coupon for $2 off, I got that for $3.99. The Goldfish were on sale for $0.99 (I love Goldfish!). Lastly, the butter was on sale for $1.79 and I had a 2 $1 off coupons. You can't beat paying $0.79 for pricey butter spread. I ended up spending $12.01 at Kroger.

There you have it! I paid $31.96 for $119.45 worth of product, for savings of 73%. This was my biggest haul to date and some of my best savings! I will be on cloud 9 for the rest of the day if you need me :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Brazil Butt Lift

I am embarking on a new fitness challenge. I love a good challenge! The hubby arrived home this morning from his night shift and sat down to a quick video game before he went to sleep. I was toiling around the kitchen, making coffee, emptying the dishwasher, my usual stuff. I didn't notice him slyly changing the channel before he went off to bed. When I sat down with my cup of coffee to watch the news, the TV was on an infomercial for the Brazil Butt Lift. The hubby downloaded this workout about 6 months ago and he has been bugging me to try this for months. I keep telling him I will. Now, the hubby knows me very well and he knows that I really only like to do something when I think it is my idea. I, of course, got sucked into the infomercial and am now very jazzed about changing the shape of my butt. It didn't hurt that this workout is endorsed by my favorite Victorias Secret model, Alessandra Ambrosio.

Supermodel butt- setting the bar high!
So here I go! The workout promises a more shapely butt in 60 days (don't worry, I am under no illusions I will look like Alessandra when I am done!). I have the type of big, bubble butt that really only looks good in boy-short bikini bottoms. I can't remember the last time I could wear a string bikini or even a regular bikini bottom! It was probably in high school. This swimsuit season I want... nay, I am going to buy a regular bikini bottom. I am definitely a rewards based person so I have picked out a swimsuit I am going to get myself if I reach my goal of changing the shape of my butt.

Front of the bikini
Back of the bikini
As you can see, a shapely rear end is needed for this suit. As Barney Stinson (for you 'How I Met Your Mother' fans out there) would say, challenge accepted! Stay tuned for results in 60 days!

***Update: It is 11:03 am on Saturday morning. I just completed my first workout and... ugh! This is going to be a challenging 60 days! I am dripping with sweat, completely out of breath, my face is the color of a tomato, and I basically feel like collapsing. And it was only a 30 minute workout. Lesson learned: I am not as in shape as I thought I was. But that's what makes a challenge interesting, right? Looking forward to trying again tomorrow!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Trial and Error

As many of you may know, the hubby and I spent 2011 on a very tight budget. The tightening of the budget led me to what is now one of my favorite hobbies: couponing. Couponing has a very bad rap right now, thanks to TLC and "Extreme Couponing". I used to watch "Extreme Couponing" but now I get so mad when I watch it that I have ceased. The practices on that show are not practices I keep. I never buy more than 3-4 of one product and I have never cleared a shelf. I believe I use coupons the way they were meant to be used, by the average consumer to save money, not make money. Thanks to my new hobby, I have discovered products that I never tried before and now I love! Here are my top faves that I have discovered through couponing:

1. Olay Makeup Removing Face Wipes- I used to only use Neutrogena, which usually runs $6-$7. It rarely goes on sale and I have never gotten a coupon for it. The Olay is regularly on sale for $3.99 and I always find $1 off coupons so I pick this up for $2.99.
Olay Daily Face Wipes
2. Tide Stain Release In-Wash Booster- These you toss in the wash with your detergent. They work amazingly well, getting out whatever was on the clothes. They were a life saver for the hubby's clothes which would get covered in mud at his old job. They also give the clothes a fresh scent (very important to me because I can't stress enough how musty this house smells!). I always get $1-$2 off coupons for these so I am usually able to  
pick these up for $2.99.
Tide Stain Release In-Wash Booster
3. Pantene Color Nourishing Treatment- I will admit, before the recession I was that girl who only used salon products on her hair. I use this in place of a color mask I used to buy for $20. Pantene regularly puts out a $3 off 2 coupon so I can pick this up for $1.50. I think it works just as well, leaving my hair soft and very shiny.
Pantene Color Nourishing Treatment
4. CoverGirl Natureluxe Gloss Balm- I love this lightly tinted lip balm. I usually put it on with the rest of my makeup to give my lips a little tint and then I layer my favorite lip gloss over the top (Still haven't found a replacement for Clinque's GlossBalm). CoverGirl usually puts out a $5 off 2 coupon and combined with sale prices, I can usually buy this for $3. My fave color is Coral.

CoverGirl Natureluxe Gloss Balm
5. Physicians Formula Cosmetics- This is one of the higher end products at the drugstore but with coupons and sale prices, I can find these for cheap. Their prescription strength concealer has amazing coverage. I love their eye shadow shimmer strips which I can wear as eye shadow or I can wet a liner brush and use it as eyeliner. And finally, their powder is light and doesn't give my face that cakey look I hate so much.

Physicians Formula Concealer

Eyeshadow Strips

Translucent Powder
There you go! Good things do come out of trying new products :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cream Cheese Danish

I made my first attempt at the Cream Cheese Danish and I was quite pleased with the result. While I didn't enjoy them (I have never liked a strong cream cheese flavor), the hubby loved them! They were for him anyway. My recipe was a cross between the Barefoot Contessa's and a recipe I found on All Recipes.  Here's my version:


2- 8 ounce packages of cream cheese
3/4 cup of sugar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp sour cream
1 box puff pastry (2 sheets in a box)
1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp butter, very soft

Sliced almonds, toasted

1. Spread sliced almonds on cookie sheet and place under broiler for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Combine cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and sour cream in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer until well combined.
4. Place one sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into a 10 by 10 square. With a sharp knife, cut puff pastry into 4 squares.
5. Spoon cream cheese filling into middle of a puff pastry square. Brush beaten egg onto corners of puff pastry. Fold corners into center to make a little packet. Pinch seams together. Brush packet with the egg wash. Place packet on a prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with the other 3 squares.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 with second puff pastry sheet.
7. Place cookie sheet in preheated oven, cook for 20-30 or until puff pastry is a nice, golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
8. Combine powdered sugar, milk, and butter. Mix until completely combined. You can then drizzle the icing on the danish if you wish but I placed mine in a pastry bag and piped mine on.
9. Sprinkle danish's with toasted, sliced almonds.
10. Enjoy!

Linked to: Retro Re-Pin Party

Friday, January 13, 2012

Where Is All The Snow???

This is the scene I woke up to this morning-

The view from my kitchen window
Last year at this time, we had been in Kentucky for a little over a month and there had been inches of snow on the ground since we set foot in the state on December 10, 2010. This year, we have yet to get the first big snow. I am disappointed! In Oregon, specifically the Willamette Valley where I lived, it was a miracle if we got a centimeter of snow. In fact, school would usually be cancelled for a centimeter of snow. School is definitely not cancelled here, as you can see from the poor kid trudging to school in the dusting of snow. I loved being here last winter where we got snow instead of never ending rain. I can't complain about the rain here, there hasn't been much, but I was looking forward to a nice snowy winter. Granted it is only January, so there is a chance we still might get a nice big snow. We'll see.
On a completely different note, I made entomatadas last night! They were not perfect. But they were good. So good that the hubby raved about them and asked me to save everything so he could have them again today. This is highly unusual because he hates Mexican food. The shredded beef I made was good, but it didn't have enough flavor for me. I made it by mixing a salsa mixture that went into the crock pot and then seared all sides of my chuck roast before putting the roast into the crock pot with the salsa mixture. I believe the problem was that there wasn't enough salsa mixture to flavor the meat so I am going to double that next time. My other problem was the sauce. Now as far as the taste of the sauce, the taste was almost spot on. It's definitely missing something and I have no idea what. It is back to the research boards for me on that one. The other problem was the color. My sauce was a bright orange color, much like the picture I posted of the entomatada interpretation. The sauce I remember was more of a dark brownish-reddish color. The hubby and I are going to try charring all the vegetables on the grill for the next time I make the sauce. The dish as a whole was very tasty though and definitely not a fail in anyway. Plus, I have a ton of shredded beef that I am going to turn into a thick chili for tonight. Yum!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lofty Aspirations

So how are my New Year's goals going? Extremely well! I can proudly report that I have not had fast food since December 26th, the day I got food poisoning. While I can't say I have had breakfast every day (a difficult habit for me to adopt), I can say that all my meals have been from home and relatively un-processed. Last Monday I picked up a store bought rotisserie chicken and it provided chicken for homemade chicken salad sandwiches  for lunch all week last week. I have been buying more fresh fruit and trying to snack on that, as well as string cheese, yogurt, nuts, and granola bars. I have made dinner every night since December 26th. Such an accomplishment for me!
As for my workouts, I am successfully mixing those up as well. I did 2 cardio workouts, 2 Pilates workouts and 1 Carmen Electra workout last week. I am not sure if it is mixing up workouts or the fact that I am trying to eat healthier but I swear my pants fit better and I feel less bloated. I haven't lost any weight but that was not my goal.
I have been researching eating healthier and I have come to my next switch in my diet. Coffee creamer. Google coffee creamer and see what comes up. Scary stuff. It's basically sweetened hydrogenated oil. Gross! I am working on my last bottle and then I am done. Switching to real cream in my coffee, calories be damned! I don't use that much anyway and with real cream, you really need just a smidge. I think the health benefits from not drinking hydrogenated oil more than make up for any calories.
Hopefully everyone out there is still doing well with their New Year's aspirations!

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned

One of my financial goals this year was to track what we are saving by couponing. Thanks to some flexibility from the hubby's new job, I have already put the plan into motion. We decided to use one of our accounts as a "coupon savings account". Whatever money I save from using coupons is transferred into that account each week after my shopping trip. We decided that at the end of the year, we would have a good idea of how much money we are saving plus we would have money to finance Christmas! Why not just use an Excel sheet, you ask? The hubby and I are both rewards based people and seeing that account get fatter all year is a very nice reward.
It's only Week 2 of 2012 and my coupon savings account already has $150 in it! It is going to be so nice to be able to give back to loved ones this year after having a couple of very lean Christmas's.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies

The hubby worked his very first night shift last night, which meant I was home alone from 5:30 pm- on last night. I was hard at work, researching different entomatada recipes to come up with a plan of attack, when I stumbled upon these cookies. This recipe is from a blog called Your Homebased Mom, which coincidentally is run by a woman in Portland, Oregon. I am always surprised when the internet turns out to be a very small world. I almost left the house last night to get what I needed to make these cookies, I was that excited about making them. I managed to wait until morning but then yes, I did run to the grocery store for caramel bits and pretzels. My hubby, the professional taste-tester, loved these cookies (He said they are the best I have made. He said that about a couple of the Christmas cookies so I will take that compliment with a grain of salt). Here is the recipe for them, Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies. WARNING: Extremely addictive!
Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies
A word of advice: Try to make sure there are no caramel bits on the bottom of the cookie touching the cookie sheet. On a couple of my cookies, the caramel melted and stuck to the cookie sheet and I almost ripped the bottom off of several of my cookies trying to unstick them. On my last couple of batches, I just made sure the caramel was on the top of the cookie and I had no problem with sticking.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Money Talks But Chocolate Sings!

I love dessert! Growing up, I always craved salt more than sweets and my go-to snack you could usually find me up to my ears in was chips and salsa. Over the last couple of years however, I have come to appreciate dessert. I have learned dessert doesn't have to be heavy and covered in mountains of chocolate. It can be as simple as one delicious cupcake or two delicate cookies. It can be as light and ethereal as creme brulee. Regardless, since my cookie extravaganza and the success I had, I am really revved up about baking lately. I want to do more and improve more, learn more. To continue on with my 2012 goals, here are my baking aspirations for the year:

1. To master the croissant. The hubby put in a request for me to learn how to make his favorite breakfast pastry, the cream cheese danish. Delicate, flaky pastry with a sweetened, vanilla-y, cream cheese filling and then topped with a sweet icing and toasted, sliced almonds. The first recipe I am going to try involves using puff pastry sheets but I want to master this pastry dough by the end of the year.

2. Cupcakes! Since the discovering the Dollhouse Bake Shoppe blog last month, I have found several of her cupcake recipes I want to try. First on my list is the Churro Cupcakes (also a request from the hubby!). They look delish! I think this will be as easy goal for me.

3. To master making breads. I have only tried once to make something bread-like. It was pizza dough and it was a disaster. I didn't knead the dough long enough and the dough never rose. My husband is a master baker when it comes to bread so I have always left the making of homemade bread to him. Well, no longer! I am going to learn to do it myself. I am going to try my hand at pizza dough again and then I am going to move on to a rustic french bread.

4. My fourth goal is not baking per se, but it greatly has to do with it... I want a STAND MIXER! I do all my baking with a hand mixer and I think it's time for a change. I truly believe all I need is that appliance and my skill will be magnified ten-fold (whether this is true remains to be seen). The hubby and I have decided this year to put all the money I save from couponing in one account and see how much we have at the end of the year and use it to buy our Christmas gift for each other. I am hoping some of this money will go towards this dream.

Stay tuned for pictures of whatever delicious desserts I bake this year! It's going to be a busy year and I haven't even outlined all my goals for the year yet :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012: The Year of the Entomatada

I mentioned yesterday in my post regarding my health goals for 2012 that I also have some cooking goals for 2012. There is so much about cooking that I have yet to discover so without further ado, here are my 2012 cooking aspirations:

1. Numero Uno on my list- The Entomatada. This not a mainstream Mexican item in the United States. When I was a child, back in Oregon, my family's favorite Mexican restaurant was "Los Garzas". It was a tiny, family owned restaurant located in the not-so-nice part of town. Their food was to die for though. I know it was good because as an adult, I can still vividly remember the food. I've also never had Mexican food that good again (sad!). I used to order the entomatadas every time I went, they were that good. Their entomatadas were tortillas smothered in tomato sauce, filled with shredded beef, topped with more sauce, and garnished with tomatoes, lettuce, and Cotjia cheese. What really made this dish was their sauce! Oh, that sauce! I've never had another sauce like it. This is going to be my challenge this year, replicating that sauce. If I can accomplish this, I will be one HAPPY girl!
An entomatada interpretation (not my interpretation). From my memory, the entomatada sauce was more brown suggesting something more than tomatoes in the sauce. We'll see what I can come up with!
2. Roasting a chicken. I made one attempt at roasting a chicken last month. It was... undesirable, to be kind. I picked a crock pot recipe for the chicken and wow, was that bird overdone. The only good thing that came out of it was the homemade stock I made out of the carcass. By the way, homemade stock? Only way to go for me from now on! I am planning on trying my hand at the roasted chicken again next week. Good luck to me!

3. Try something new. My something-new for the year is French cooking. I have never tried my hand at anything French and I think it's time. I am going to start simple, I found a recipe for Coq Au Vin that I think I can handle. If that turns out good, then on to a more difficult French recipe. Here is the recipe I am going to try: Coq Au Vin.

I have found a renewed interest in cooking and I am thankful. I love being in the kitchen, so I am excited for a year of new possibilities in food. Here's to "The Year of the Entomatada!"

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Word of the Year: Healthy

I love the start of a new year. I am new to the club of keeping my New Year's resolutions, having resolved to get in shape last year and happily keeping it. This new year, I have so very many goals and I do believe I will accomplish them. Since I started my blog in May, I have since discovered the world of blogs. There are numerous blogs out there and with so many interesting ones, it would be impossible to read them all. I did read a post yesterday that inspired me, from the blog $5 dinners, about creating a theme for the year through one word. You can find the article here. My word of the year is "healthy" and I think it covers my goals accordingly. Some of my goals for 2012 include:

1. Vary my workouts- I got stuck in a routine last year. A routine I thoroughly enjoyed but I know my body is getting used to. I work out 5 times a week so this year I want to only do the norm workout twice a week, and then the other 3 times a week throw in Pilates, P90X, The Brazilian Butt Lift, and my Carmen Electra StripTease series. I got so caught up in cardio last year that I realized I am sorely lacking in the toning department.

2. Eat breakfast- This is huge for me, I can't tell you have many times I went straight from having coffee to working out. The thing is, I noticed a large difference in my energy every time I ate a little something before a workout and this is something I need to do every time. Rev my metabolism in the morning y'all! :)

3. Drastically reduce, if not completely eliminate, fast food- Also huge for me. I LOVE fast food. I have some sort of grease-lovin' gene in me, always have and probably always will (darn it). But this latest bout of food poisoning from a local fast food joint is the last straw for me. Fast food is junk, it is not real food, and I need to stop eating it, as well as feeding it to my husband. It is not realistic for me to say I will never eat it again, but I am going to try very hard to stay away.

4. To along with #3, eating healthier is another one of my goals. I want to eat more whole foods and less processed crap. More fruit and more veggies. The hubby and I already eat very little meat, usually just chicken and occasionally some red meat. With the hubby's new job comes more money to put towards better food. I am slightly raising my food budget so that I can afford to buy shrimp and fish every month, and so that I can buy more fresh fruit and veggies.

5. Go to as many doctors as possible this year- Haha, I can see some of you out there going "Huh?". Well, it has been a LONG year without health insurance and now we have it! I am aiming to get a physical, an annual, see a dermatologist, a dentist, an eye doctor, and find a new neurologist. Phew!

These are my health goals for 2012. What's funny is I have a handful of crafty goals, a handful of cooking goals, a handful of baking goals, and some financial goals (more on these goals later in the week). All I can say is 2012 is looking to be a better year than the hubby and I have seen in a long time! Happy New Year everyone!