Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ultimate Chicken Spaghetti Recipe

One of hubby's favorite meals is chicken spaghetti and he's been begging me to make it for awhile. Unfortunately, my chicken spaghetti recipe isn't exactly a quick and easy meal so I had been putting it off. I finally gave in and made it for dinner tonight so I thought I would share the recipe with you guys.  This recipe is a collaboration of my mother-in-law's recipe and my grandmother's recipe---thus I'm calling it the ULTIMATE Chicken Spaghetti Recipe.

The ingredients....minus the chicken! I totally forgot to put it in the picture! ha!

1 small onion, 1 cup bell pepper, and 1 cup chopped celery all finely chopped.

Cube the Velveeta and shred the boiled chicken.

Melt the stick of butter in a medium skillet.

Saute the onion, bell pepper, and celery until the onion is translucent and the bell pepper and celery are tender.

Cook the noodles according to package directions, drain, and return to the warm pot.

Add the tomato soup, cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, and Rotel tomatoes to the noodles.

Stir until well combined.

Add the bell pepper, onion, and celery and stir.

Finally, add the chicken and Velveeta and mix until everything is well combined.  Hopefully, if you did this quickly enough your warm noodles, and the warm pot will slowly start to melt the Velveeta and make it easier to mix.

Pour into a greased 9x13 in casserole dish, and bake at 350 for 1 hour.

I like to stir mine occasionally to keep the top layer from getting that dry noodle crusty texture.  It also helps me monitor the moisture, and I add chicken broth as needed. Here's a shot of mine after baking for an hour--see, no crusty noodles!

1 medium package spaghetti noodles (cooked per package directions)
4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (boiled and chopped)
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 can tomato soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 small onion (finely chopped)
1 cup bell pepper (finely chopped)
1 cup celery (finely chopped)
1 stick of butter
1(16 oz) block Velveeta cheese
chicken broth (amount varies--I usually use 1/2 cup to 1 cup)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9x13in baking dish.
2.  Boil chicken and shred/chop into bite-size pieces.
3.  Prepare noodles per package directions.
4.  Saute onion, bell pepper, celery in the stick of butter until the onion is translucent and the bell pepper and celery are tender.
5.  Combine chicken, noodles, soups, Rotel, Velveeta, and chicken--mix thoroughly.
6.  Pour mixture into baking dish and bake at 350 for 1 hour.  Stir occasionally and monitor the moisture, adding chicken broth as needed.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

17 Weeks

I know I didn't do an official announcement here on the blog (considering it's been FOREVER since I've updated), but if you are my friend on facebook you know that Carey and I are expecting!!  We will meet our precious little one in January (official due date is 1/11/12)!  I am 17 weeks today, and here's a little update.

Size of Baby: Baby Antoon is about 5 inches long, and weighs approximately 5 ounces.

Maternity Clothes: Some.  I can still wear most of my normal shirts, but they are quite snug!  I can only wear my normal pants if I use the "rubber band" trick or wear a belly band--I found these great ones called the "Belly Button" that have a button and button holes that match up to the button and button holes on your pants. This way, your pants are still "buttoned" and the belly band folds down over the top of the pants and looks like a long tank top hanging out under your shirt.

Gender: HOPEFULLY we find out next week!!  I've got my fingers crossed that Baby Antoon cooperates because I'm dying to know!

Movement: Apparently, I'm supposed to be feeling the baby move right now, but I don't know if I have. At this stage, the flutter that you feel when the baby moves is, supposedly, very similar to other stomach "gurgles."  I've been having some stomach issues, so "gurgles" have been happening a lot, and I'm not sure how to distinguish between those and possible baby movements.   

Sleep:  I'm sleeping really good right now.  I have at least one bathroom run in the middle of the night, but I usually fall right back to sleep (about two weeks ago, though, this was NOT the case).  I am definitely taking advantage of this sleep and enjoying while I can! 

What I miss: Oddly enough, the occasional glass of wine.  I was never a big drinker before, but I've been craving a good glass of wine when we go out to dinner on the weekends. 

Symptoms: Stuffy nose.  It's the worst at night when I'm trying to get to sleep.  I am also experiencing dizzy spells if I'm walking and change directions too quickly or turn my head abruptly.

Cravings: Not really having any cravings right now--more food aversions than anything.  Chicken...ugh, chicken!  I can't even hardly look at it...cooked or raw, doesn't matter!  Some things may gross me out one day, and then sound good to me the next....but chicken has been gag-inducing since the beginning!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

On My Nightstand

I know it's been awhile, but it's time for another issue of "On My Nightstand!"  Here lately I have really been into following a book series.  Not necessarily a series where you have to read one before you go to the next, but my favorites are where the character(s) are the same in each book, but each book's story is independent of the other.  Am I making any sense?! 

For example, have you seen the movie The Lincoln Lawyer?  Well, that movie was actually based on a book by Michael Connelly.  The main character in that movie, Mickey Haller (played by Matthew McConaughey), is actually the main character in 4 other books.  While each book is independent of the others, I like the fact that you feel like you really know the characters and you learn more about them in each book.  I try to read the series in order and, while it's not necessary to understand the stories, I feel like it helps when something is happening with the character's personal life to have some background information.

Anywho....on to the real point of this post.  The series I want to introduce you guys to today is written by Janet Evanovich, and it is referred to as the Stephanie Plum Series.  There are 17 main books and  4 "Between-the-Numbers" books.  The titles of the main books are all number related (One for the Money, Two for the Dough, Three to Get Deadly, etc.) and the titles of the other books are not number related (thus, they are referred to as "Between-the-Numbers").  These 4 books are also shorter books--kind of like mini stories.

The main character of these books is Stephanie Plum.  She's a 30-something, single woman who lives in New Jersey.  Stephanie has a bit of bad luck when it comes to holding down a job and, in a fit of desperation, decides to try her hand at bounty hunting.  All of these books center around her job as a bounty hunter and the shenanigans she gets herself into.

These books are action-packed, and extremely hilarious at the same time.  Stephanie has a meddling mother, a crazy grandmother, and smoking hot boyfriend that all seem to work their way into the craziness that is her professional life.  Each book has a mystery tied into it so they are definitely page turners, but in the midst of all this you will likely find yourself laughing hysterically throughout the book.

You definitely don't have to read them in order, but I recommend it because it will help you follow the small side stories about her personal life a little better. Below is a list of the books in chronological order. Keep in mind that the first several books were written awhile ago so don't be surprised when Stephanie has to pull over to use a pay phone because cell phones are something that only the super-rich have!

One for the Money
Two for the Dough
Three to Get Deadly
Four to Score
High Five
Hot Six
Seven Up
Hard Eight
Visions of Sugar Plums
To the Nines
Ten Big Ones
Eleven on Top
Twelve Sharp
Plum Lovin'
Lean Mean Thirteen
Plum Lucky
Fearless Fourteen
Plum Spooky
Finger Lickin' Fifteen
Sizzling Sixteen
Smokin' Seventeen

Hope you guys try some of these books out--I think you'll become as addicted as I am!  Number 18 is coming out this fall, and I'm already thinking about pre-ordering it on my Kindle because I'm so excited......yes, I'm that much of a nerd!

Talk to you soon!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Oreo Truffle Recipe

I absolutely love Oreo truffles...or, as the hubs likes to call them, Oreo balls.  Literally, I could eat an entire batch by myself.  They are always a hit, and my friends love them!  I helped throw a baby shower for a sweet friend of mine, and the mom-to-be actually requested that the only dessert was Oreo truffles.  So, of course, I obliged making several different flavors, and they were devoured.  I think my favorite thing about them is that they are so easy.

I know there are tons or recipes out there and you can probably Google this and you would get 234932847528 hits. BUT, here's my recipe along with pictures.

**Note: the pictures in this post show that I used peanut butter Oreos which shows that you can use all the variations of Oreos, but my all-time favorite is truffles made with the regular Oreos.

Oreo Truffles
1 bag of Oreos
1 (8oz) block of cream cheese, softened
Almond bark (amount varies, depending on how thick you coat)

Place the Oreos in your food processor, and pulse until the cookies are crushed into a fine powder.
(At the time, I didn't have a large food processor, but have since upgraded!)

(Here's the consistency that you should have after pulsing in the food processor.)

Using a mixer, combine the cookie crumbs and the softened cream cheese.  Mix until well combined--the mixture should be kind of shiny (almost wet looking) and form a large ball. 
(I use my stand mixer which I LOOOOOOOVE.  It was one of my favorite wedding gifts and I use it all the time!)
(This is what the mixture should look like after mixing.)

Once well combined, pinch off small amounts and form into about 1 inch balls.  I've seen them made bigger, but I like to keep them small and bite-sized. 

(I use my small cookie scoop to get uniform sizes.)
(Sorry this is such a bad picture--I didn't realize the ball was blending in with my black stovetop!
But, you can still see the size here.)

Place the balls onto a wax paper-lined cookie sheet and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes.  You don't want them to be frozen solid, but you want them to be very chilled and firm because you will be tossing them in hot, melted chocolate and you don't want them to lose their shape.

Melt your almond bark in a small, deep bowl.  Almond bark can burn very easily so I warm it in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring inbetween.

Drop the Oreo balls into the almond bark, one at a time.  I like to use two forks to toss the ball around in the melted almond bark to get them well coated.  Once coated, place them back on the wax paper-lined cookie sheet to cool/harden.  IMPORTANT:  do not place in the freezer or the refrigerator--this will cause the truffles to sweat and condensation will form on the outside.  They will harden fairly quickly even at room temperature.

And, of course, my ever-present kitchen helper was right there hoping I would drop something assisting.

Finally, every good cook knows that you must sample your treats before you serve them---I just wanted to make sure they were edible!  =)

Hope you enjoy.  However, I must warn you--this are HIGHLY addicting!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wedding Wednesday - Pre-Ceremony

I know, I know.  It's been forever.  I have been a BUSY little beaver, and have completed lots of projects around the house.  I have documented most of it and will be posting about that soon.  Meanwhile, it's time for another installment of Wedding Wednesday.  Today I'll show you pictures of the pre-ceremony.

The morning of the wedding, some super sweet ladies prepared a wonderful breakfast for my bridesmaids and me.  Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of that, but it was such a fun time! After the breakfast, we split into three groups--some of us went to the reception site to check on the decorations, some went to the church to see what the florist had done the night before (she had to go out of town the night before the wedding so we hadn't seen anything that she'd done at the church), and some went back to my mom's house to start getting ready. My sweet sister and amazing cousin (who, by the way, was over 8 months prego at the time!!!!) took on the task of doing everyone's hair and makeup.....they worked their BUTTS off and then only had about 15 minutes to get themselves ready!!

I love this picture!  This is my cousin, Marci, who was over 8 months pregnant.....that's sweet little Tucker in her belly!

One of my sister's beautiful creations!! Ashley Rose has A LOT of hair so this was quite the task, but my sister has some serious skills!!

Sooooo, due to a little mis-communication, there were no pew markers at the church when we went to check it out the morning of the wedding.  My super-hero cousin was not only my resident makeup artist, but she was also our emergency florist!

True to fashion, I started getting a migraine the morning of the wedding so my sweet Aunt Deb rubbed my neck and back and saved the day!

This picture makes me laugh so hard....and is another reminder of the most memorable bachelorette party ever.  Less than a month before the wedding, we went to Kansas City for my bachelorette party. We had been there all of 30 minutes and my finger gets slammed in a window and we spent the rest of the night in the emergency room! Not only had the window busted through my acrylic nail, my real nail, and cut my nailbed to the bone, it also broke my finger! So, due to this unfortunate accident, I had only 9.25 fingernails on the my wedding day and had to resort to press-on classy is that?! ha!

This is my great-grandmother's cameo pin that I pinned on my bouquet to be my something old.  This was really special to me because I never got to meet her.  She died when my grandmother was only 16.  I've heard she was an amazing seamstress--I like to tell myself that this is where I got my love for all things crafty!

Daddy, if you're reading this, PLEASE don't kill me!  I just couldn't resist putting these pictures on here!  I gave my dad his gift right before the ceremony, and my photographer caught it all.  I gave him an antique handkerchief that I had embroidered with a sweet message. It said:  "Daddy, you'll always be the first man I ever loved.  Love, Erin"  It is such a true statement and I wanted him to know that, even though I was getting married, I would always be his little girl.  I gave my mom a charm bracelet with an engraved charm that said "All that I am, or ever will be is because of you," and it had my wedding date on the back. Unfortunately, I had given that to her earlier in the day before the photographer was around so I don't have any pictures, but she really liked it.  My mama is the strongest, smartest, hardest working woman I know, and she has always been there for me no matter what. I love her dearly!

My bridesmaids made me write my full maiden name one last time.  It was so weird to think that that was the last time I would write it and it still be my name!

My mom and sister (my Matron of Honor) helping me with my dress!  Love them both SO much!

Putting on the of my favorite parts of my dress!
I know, I know....I had the CUTEST flower girls ever!  Stella (on the left) and Presley Kate (on the right).

This is my sweet Aunt Deb putting the sixpence in my shoe. The sixpence was my something borrowed, and it was SO very special.  This was the exact same sixpence that my grandaddy put in her shoe on her wedding day.  My grandaddy passed away when I was only 15, and it was nice to think that I had a little piece of him there with me.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to wedding planning extraordinaire, Mrs. Ashley Rose Rausch!  I was one lucky bride because one of my best friends and bridesmaids is a certified event planner, and she is DANG good at it!  Ashley, I cannot thank you enough for everything you did!

My Maid of Honor (and bff) ,Morgan, putting my garters on for me. Morgan worked her little fingers to the bone the weekend of my wedding, and was the best Maid of Honor I could have ever asked for.

I love this picture.  Both of my flower girls were in awe of my wedding dress that day, and it was the cutest thing ever. I may be a little biased, but I was kind of in awe of my wedding dress too!  =)

....and I leave you with handsome Daddy!  I love this man.

Well, that's it for today's edition of Wedding Wednesday.  See you all soon.