I Did It

I now have a closet doubler in my closet from Walmart. Yes, Walmart. I do have to admit that I was a little nervous picking up my package from the store because of some of the people that hang out there, but I did it. I made it to the back of the store without wandering around and getting lost and I got it!
This morning I pulled all of MY stuff out of the closet and hung up my new hanging rack thingy. I don't think there are better words to describe it. I put away all of my summer stuff, pulled out sweaters and long sleeve shirts. I packed away all of my shorts and tank tops (except for a few, I have sweaters that I like to wear over tanks) and put them in clear airtight bins at the top of the closet. My husbands not here to clear out his stuff, so that'll have to wait until he has a free weekend.
I've realized that I have too many clothes. I started a bag for donations and it's already filled. Tomorrow I will drop it off at Goodwill. I feel better knowing that I'm ready for Fall (even though it's already here) weather. I don't need any more clothes, I counted dress shirts, dress pants, jeans and the like so that way I know exactly what I have. I just need new bras (but then again, I can always shop at Vickie's right???) and maybe some new underwear.
The next step - color coding. We'll see how that goes. For now, I'm alright with my shirts on the top rung and my pants and skirts on the bottom rung.
The only thing is... I wonder how long it will last...


My closet organizer

Did not come. Dang it! Well, I guess for free shipping, you can't really complain! The website did say 7 - 10 days. Oh well. This weekend!

Last night I made a HUGE pot of homemade chili. I only had 1/4 lb of ground beef in the freezer, which was fine because beans are better for you anyway. So here it is! You can add or omit anything that you think is too spicy. This is my fall recipe with my SECRET INGREDIENT as well.

1/4 lb ground beef up to 1 lb of beef
2 cans of Chili ready spicy beans (I buy the Kroger brand)
1 can tomato sauce (a large can)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can of pinto beans
1 can black beans
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1/4 cup grainy mustard
1/2 tsp cinnamin (yes, this is the secret ingredient)
2 tbsp hot sauce (more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
Salt & pepper to taste
1 bag of frozen corn (optional)
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 - 3 tbsp olive oil

Like I said, this is for a HUGE pot of chili that you can freeze and use for the next month. It's worth it! You can ladel this stuff into individual glad containers and take it out as you want it.

Throw the onions, garlic and olive oil into a very large stockpot. Cook until onions are tender, then throw in the beef to brown. The onions will become clear as the beef cooks.

As soon as the beef is brown, throw everything else in except for the corn. Wait to put the corn in until about 5 - 7 minutes before the chili is done cooking.

Simmer for 25 - 30 minutes to make sure that the beans have combined their flavors with the spices.

Serve topped with cheese, green onions and crusty bread.


Potato Soup - The Best of Fall


1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 (14 1/4-ounce) cans low-sodium fat-free chicken broth, divided
3 cups peeled, cubed potato (about 1 1/4 pounds)
2 cups broccoli florets, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/4 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1 (8-ounce) block 2% reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
7 teaspoons shredded 2% reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
7 teaspoons fully cooked bacon pieces
7 teaspoons chopped green onions


Whisk together flour and 1/3 cup chicken broth until smooth.

Combine remaining chicken broth and next 3 ingredients in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Gradually stir in flour mixture. Cook, stirring often, 5 minutes.

Stir in milk and 8 ounces shredded cheese. Cook mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until cheese melts. Top each serving of soup with 1 teaspoon cheese, 1 teaspoon bacon pieces, and 1 teaspoon chopped green onions.

Note: We recommend freshly shredded cheese (versus the preshredded variety) for additional creaminess and even melting.

I saw this at myrecipes.com - I've never had potato soup with broccoli before, so this is going to be my new trial recipe. We'll see - it does sound good!!


Hopefully My Walmart Closet Organizer...

Will come before the weekend! I'm totally ready to get organized, clean out our closet and start all over again. I mean who has time that crap anyway, right? Well, I made time! So instead of wrapping myself up in a cocoon tomorrow on the floor and sleeping while the boys watch college football (Go Gophers!!!!), or, wait, crap, I have to go tailgating!

Ok, it's the plan for Sunday then. No Jungle Room, just complete and utter organization.

Whoops, I mean chaos. I just hope I can do laundry in the same day so that way I can make sure that ALL of my clothes fit back into the closet!!!!

Oh and here's one for the Gopher fans:

Minnesota, hats off to thee!

To thy colors true we shall ever be.

Firm and strong, united are we.

Rah! Rah! Rah! for Ski-U-Mah.Rah!

Rah! Rah! Rah!

Rah! for the U of M.


Minnesota! Minnesota!

Yea Gophers!!!!!


Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Yum! I love cream cheese and pumpkin and muffins. Especially Starbuck's pumpkin cream cheese muffins! And after careful consideration, I found these on thenest.com. I decided that I have to make them for a birthday party tonight (along with bruschetta, which means that I'll be taking a trip to the grocery store after work). And I just realized that I need, like, everything in this recipe! I've been horrible lately with grocery shopping. I guess though, I haven't really gone for awhile so it figures, right???

'Almost Like Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins'
3c. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
2 c. cooked or canned pumpkin
1 1/4c. vegetable oil
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
chopped nuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350.
Mix all incredients. (Except cream cheese and nuts) (I mixed all dry together, then mixed in the wet...) Fill muffin tins (greased or papers) half full. Put 1-2 tsp. cream cheese in the middle, pressing down slightly. ( I cut the 8oz. bar of cream cheese into 24 squares) Sprinkle with chopped nuts. ( I used walnuts)Bake at 350 for 20-25min. or until a toothpick comes out clean from the muffin part. Let cool in pan for 5 min. before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely. Makes 24 miffins.

Inspired to Post Camping Recipes

So this morning as I was surfing a famously wonderful message board I came across a post asking about camping recipes. As an avid camper (I love my tent, my pillows, my sleeping bag and my cast iron pans), but haven't gone this year for obvious law school reasons. I'm very tempted to do it sometime soon. We'll see. These are our usual staple camping recipes when we go.

Black Bean Soup with Bacon

2 cans of black beans
6 slices of bacon
1 small onion, roughly chopped, reserve 1 tbsp for topping if preferred
1 cup of water
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp of cayenne
Salt & pepper to taste
Hot dogs - sliced if you want

Crisp the bacon first, remove and pat off the fat. Throw the onions into the pot with the bacon drippings. Heat until clear, then add the beans, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, salt & pepper and hot dogs. Add the water as well and heat all the way through until very warm. Serve in coffee mugs, topped with cheese & onions.


What to do with Roasted Red Peppers in a Jar?

I bought those jarred roasted red peppers, mostly just to be cool in the check out lane and pretend that I was Giada, but I have no idea what to do with them. I've been surfing the internet in hopes of retrieving some sort of fall recipe where I can just kinda put these into something. I found something on the soup-aholic.blogspot.com blog that I think I might like. It's interesting when pouring over recipes - I need to have them easily accessible to me so that way I can just hit print from the laptop at home. That way if I get the recipe dirty, I can just burn it in the fireplace.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup
- 1 cup of olive oil.
- 3 tablespoonsof minced or diced garlic.
- 2 medium sized jars of Roasted Red Peppers.
- 2 cups of heavy whipping cream.
- Salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne.
- A handful of pine nuts.
- A handful of fresh basil.
1) Place the cup of oil and the garlic in a large soup pot and cook on lowest heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
2) Open both jars of roasted red peppers and set aside half of the oil that is in the jars.
3) Place roasted red peppers and remaining oil that was in the jars into blender.
4) Blend until smooth; work your way from the lowest blender setting to the highest.
5) Without stopping the blender, very slowly pour remaining oil that was in the jars through the top of the blender to create an emulsified mixture.
6) Pour red pepper mixture into soup pot and turn up heat to maximum.
7) Add heavy whipping cream; substitute half-and-half if desired.
8) Add salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne to taste; I suggest about 1 to 2 teaspoons each.
9) Keep a close eye on the soup, as it will greatly expand in the pot when it comes to a boil.
10) Reduce heat to medium when soup comes to a boil and let cook for about 5 minutes. Avoid overcooking the soup as it will Rbreak' and you'll see the oil separate to the top.
11) Slowly toast pine nuts on lowest setting until golden brown; chop coarsely and add to soup.
12) Thinly slice the fresh basil and either mix into soup or sprinkle over individual servings

Books That I NEED to Read

Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
One Hundred Years of Solitude

The Wednesday Letters - Jason F. Wright

Playing For Pizza - John Grisham

Giving: How Each of Us Can Change The World - Bill Clinton

God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything - Christopher Hitchens

Suite Francaise - Irene Nemirovsky

Shattered Dreams, My Life As A Polygamist's Wife - Irene Spencer

Bones to Ashes - Kathy Reichs (um, duh, I am always reading one of her books)

Play Dirty - Sandra Brown (um, another author that I'm always reading)

Chili, Crockpot or Not, It's Still Great!

So here's my recipe for my crockpot chili. Seriously, you don't really need a crockpot but it's easier if you don't want to cook when you get home from work.

1 can of chili-ready beans (can be store brand, I buy Kroger Chili Hot beans)
1 can of pinto beans
1 can of kidney beans
1 packet of chili seasoning, mild, or whatever. I like Hot.
1 lb. browned ground beef or ground sirloin, whatever's on sale.
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

Optional: 2 baking potatoes, peeled & roughly chopped

Combine all into crockpot. Cook for 7 - 8 hours on low, 4 - 5 on high.


If you have time and want to cook after work:

Two swirls of olive oil around a large pan, put in the onions & garlic, simmer until the onions are clear, about 3-4 minutes. Put beef in pan and brown (who cares about the fat, right? No, if you want to drain the meat, brown the meat first then add the onions, we usually buy lean beef though). Do not use potatoes in this recipe, as they won't be tender enough unless you microwave them first.

Add everything else to the pan and simmer on medium for about 25 - 30 minutes.



I'm Getting Better

About organizing my clothes that is! CJ has an interview in Chicago this upcoming weekend so I'm all alone and ready to organize my stuff! So here's the plan, Stan...

1. Buy a closet doubling rod at walmart.com
2. Switch the shoe organizer from the bedroom closet door to the hall closet door to store cleaning supplies, hats, mittens, etc... Also, get an over-the-door hanging hanger thingy from walmart.com to hold the mop & broom.
3. Put over-the-door hangers over the bedroom closet door instead of the hall closet door.
4. Get more drawer organizers and make CJ go thru his sock drawer to pitch what he doesn't like. (Oh, and throw out old underwear & stained T-shirts at the laundromat, he won't notice them gone anyway).
5. Get a bill organizer. Put the bills on the day they are due on the calendar so you see EXACTLY the day you need them in the mail.

Grilled Mustardy Pork Chops

I totally made this one up myself. The actual cooking times are from one of Rachel Ray's books (as I am totally not the person to be cooking the perfect steak or anything like that. I tend to always over cook everything, so I decided to stick to her cooking times). And I LOVE, LOVE pork chops. My dad used to make these grilled paprika pork chops, but I still can't quite duplicate the recipe, so I'll post that one when I can actually figure it out!

4 pork chops

2 tbsp grainy mustard, such as "Grey Poupon"
1/4 - 1/2 cup olive oil
Pepper & a LITTLE salt to taste
1 tbsp worchestershire sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1 bay leaf

Combine all ingredients for the marinade in one dish. Combine with a whisk. Put the pork chops in a glass dish or in a ziploc bag. Pour marinade over pork chops. Marinade for 1 hour to overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Sear meat for 3 minutes on each side in a grill pan. Then put in oven for 10 - 12 minutes. Let the chops rest for 5 minutes.

Serve with mashed potatoes & gravy (with juices from the grill pan) or wild rice.




I tried a Pasta Hot Dish last night... ummm....

I'm not sure if I like it or not! So this is what I had to work with:

Penne, marinara, ricotta, red peppers, onions & garlic.

I made a fake-out lasagna dish because I didn't actually have a pan for the really big lasagna pasta pieces. It didn't turn out too badly, but I wish that I would've had fresh basil and oregano. I guess I could've used the Greek seasoning that we have as well, but oh well!

Red Pepper, Onion, Ricotta & Penna Lasagna Fake-Out

1/2 lb penne, cooked to al dente
2-3 cups marinara sauce
1 small tub ricotta
1 red pepper, sliced thinly
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Fresh basil - maybe 1/2 cup
1/4 - 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Coat a medium pan with olive oil, toss in the red peppers, cook for 3 minutes then add onions and garlic. Cook for 4 more minutes or until onions are clear and soft. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, Put 1 cup of marinara in the bottom of a glass baking dish. Add 1/2 the pasta. Top the pasta with the ricotta cheese. Then put the red peppers, onions and garlic on top of the ricotta. Add the rest of the pasta. Top the pasta with the rest of the marinara and if you have it, shredded parmesan. I just used the crappy stuff in the plastic containers. Worked out well. Top that with the basil.

Stuff into the oven and cook until heated through and the cheese on the top is brown and crusty.

Not too bad for making it up myself I do have to say!!! Plus I also have lunch for today, woo hoo!!!



The Laundromat


I'm in love. With cheese. Especially Brie. Paula Dean's recipe follows:

Brie En Croute

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, pre-packaged
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup walnuts
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (8-ounce) wheel Brie
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
Crackers, for serving
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Defrost puff pastry for approximately 15 to 20 minutes and unfold. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Saute the walnuts in the butter until golden brown, approximately 5 minutes. Add the cinnamon and stir until walnuts are coated well. Place the walnut mixture on top of the Brie and sprinkle the brown sugar over the mixture. Lay the puff pastry out on a flat surface. Place the brie in the center of the pastry. Gather up the edges of the brie, pressing around the brie and gather at the top. Gently squeeze together the excess dough and tie together with a piece of kitchen twine. Brush the beaten egg over top and side of Brie. Place Brie on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes until pastry is golden brown. Serve with crackers. To give a special look, cut extra pastry into heart or flower shapes and bake until golden.

Real, Home-Cooked, Minnesota Chicken Pot Pies. Made Easy

The real thing. Yes. It really is. And man is it good! It's even better than Marie Calendar's! I miss chicken pot pie and I miss Fall. I love wearing my sweaters (but there's no room in the closets for them), I love soup and stew. I love cornbread and muffins and eggs and bacon. I just love the coming of Fall. Today it is 75 degrees outside and I already feel as if I need a jacket. Now that there's a lot of Fall recipes out there, I can't help but start to make them!!!! Oh, and start to put away my summer stuff. Ick. More posts about Fall cleaning coming up later.

2 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
3 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
4 tablespoons salted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
12 small mushrooms, finely chopped (just buy the fresh, chopped ones, it's easier)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
5 tablespoons plus 2 cups flour
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
Ground black pepper
2 teaspoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (get the stuff that's already chopped)
2 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/4 cup frozen sweet peas (or more!)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
1 egg
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. well-shaken buttermilk
Egg wash (1 egg yolk whisked with 1 tbsp. milk)
1. In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring chicken stock to a boil. Add carrots, potatoes, and celery. Lower heat to medium and cook until vegetables are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain vegetables, reserving stock; set both aside separately.
2. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt salted butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook 5 minutes. Add fresh thyme and 5 tbsp. flour and cook 2 minutes. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly, until combined, then add stock and cook, stirring often, until mixture thickens, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with nutmeg, 1 tsp. salt, and pepper to taste. Add parsley, chicken, cooked vegetables, and peas and divide filling evenly among 6 or 7 ovenproof containers (8 to 10 oz. each), leaving the top 1/4 in. unfilled.
3. Preheat oven to 425°. Unless you actually want to make biscuits, just buy Pillsbury's Brand biscuits and stick one on top of each of your ramekins. That works the best. The rest of the recipe is mostly for over achievers who want to make homemade biscuits. That's totally not me.

To make biscuit topping, sift remaining 2 cups flour with baking powder, baking soda, and remaining 1 tsp. salt. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, work in unsalted butter to form a coarse meal, working quickly to keep the butter from warming up and melting into the dough. Stir in cheese and sage. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg and buttermilk and add to the flour mixture, stirring gently until a shaggy dough forms.

4. Lightly flour a counter, a rolling pin, and your hands. Divide dough into 2 balls. Roll out first ball to a 1/4-in. thickness, then use a 2 1/2-in. biscuit cutter to cut into rounds, scraping and rerolling dough as needed. Repeat with second ball.

5. Place 3 rounds of dough on each potpie, overlapping as necessary (any unused rounds can be baked on their own as biscuits). Brush dough with egg wash, put potpies on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil, and bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, 17 to 22 minutes.


So I'm a Huge Dork

I am so NOT good at HTML. I like to copy and paste and when that doesn't work for me, I kind of give up all hope that I can do it.

And yet with Photoshop I can do ANYTHING. Man, see what being a photographer does to you... In any case, two weeks ago I had this fabulous conference in Indy with famous Photoshopper Ben Willmore. He has this blog ( www.whereisben.com) which I enjoy reading because he can do these fabulous things. Of course, if I were to spend the whole year in an RV with my D70 & my D80 and WiFi, I think I could do anything with Photoshop too.

But then again, someone has to make a living in my household... because Law School students make CRAP for a living. Seriously.

Going Vegetarian...

So I need to look for more vegetarian meals. Veggies make my tummy feel better (damn that IBS) and they are also way healthier for you than eating meat. So I'm on the prowl... The following recipe is what I would like to try later this week...

Pasta with Asparagus & Creamy Lemon Sauce

8 ounces uncooked angel hair pasta

2 1/2 cups (1-inch) sliced asparagus (about 1 pound)

1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine

1/2 cup chopped green onions

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon rind

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup fat-free milk

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried dill

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Cook pasta in boiling water 4 minutes. Add asparagus; cook 2 minutes or until tender. Drain.
While the pasta cooks, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and rind; sauté 1 minute. Add juice; cook 1 minute or until liquid almost evaporates.
Combine milk and eggs in a small bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add pasta mixture and milk mixture to pan; stir well. Cook over low heat 3 minutes or until milk mixture is slightly thick, stirring constantly (do not boil). Stir in dill, salt, and nutmeg. Serve immediately.

Macaroni Roma

Thank you Nesties (giving credit to whom it is deserved is part of copying recipes, right?) So here's a recipe that I will have to try, as I love macaroni!

I've been trying to find some good casserole recipes, but those are kind of hard to come by, that's because my mom is the best casserole chef that I know and I can't help but compare ALL tuna casseroles to hers! So for this pasta I'm excited to try it because my mom has NEVER made anything like this before.

Macaroni Roma
8 oz. Package elbow macaroni
1 medium onion, diced
1 lbs. Lean ground beef or turkey
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. basil
dash of black pepper
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
½ lb. Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
½ cup bread crumbs
¼ cup butter
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 ½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. oregano
1 ½ tsp. chili powder
28 ½ oz. can tomatoes
1 pint creamed cottage cheese
2 Tbsp. Butter melted
¼ grated parmesan cheese

1. Cook macaroni until tender as directed on package.
2. Rinse with cold water, drain thoroughly.
3. Melt ¼ cup butter in a deep skillet, add onion and garlic. Cook until transparent.
4. Add meat and cook until brown, add seasonings, tomatoes & tomato paste.
5. Simmer slowly for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Stir occasionally.
6. Combine cottage cheese and macaroni. Pour a little sauce in a buttered 2 ½ qt. Casserole.
7. Top with one third of macaroni mixture, one third of shredded cheese.
8. Repeat.
9. Use last one third of sauce on top.
10. Combine melted butter, bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over top.
11. Bake uncovered in a pre-heated 325° oven for 1 hour.
12. Let stand for 10 minutes before servings.


Grilled Red Pepper & Eggplant

Grilled Red Pepper and Eggplant
Coat 2 red bell peppers, cut into wedges, stems and seeds removed, and 8 1/2-inch slices eggplant with olive oil. Grill; arrange on a platter. Top with 3 Tablespoon olive oil and 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar. Add 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano and 1/2 cup crumbled feta. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

I saw the above on MSN earlier today - I've been wanting to try more veggies that I don't normally eat. I've never made eggplant before so this looks like it'd be pretty easy to try!

And I guess, since CJ's been such a poop lately, I definitely don't feel bad cooking things that he doesn't like or doesn't want to try! That's normally how it works, you don't like my food, you eat your own. I guess that I'll try this later this week.



The Organized Laundry

I'm daunted at the thought of doing laundry this weekend. I feel like I'm climbing up Mount Everest. The pile up is just more than I can take! There has to be at least $25 worth of laundry to be done at the laundromat. We don't have a washing machine or a dryer, so we're stuck paying for it until we have a place that has them. But I actually have ways of organizing this much laundry.

1. Sort out colors, whites & towels/linens. You should have three piles so far. Sometimes I put reds, blacks and khakis in their own piles depending on how much laundry I have. Tomorrow calls for at least six piles. This is the easy part.

2. Give each pile its own basket or laundry bag. This works incredibly well if you go to the laundromat because that way as each load is done, you can fold and put the load into the car without waiting for another one to fill up your basket. Plus, I have a ganglion cyst in my wrist, so the lighter that baskets, the easier it is!

3. Put your laundry soap, Oxyclean, bleach, dryer sheets and whatever else you use in the bottoms of your laundry baskets - that way you don't have to make an extra trip from the car into the laundromat. Also - stick some hangers in your basket for the clothing that you don't want to iron later on. It makes it easier to just Febreeze your shirts and pray to God that they look good when you don't have time to iron in the morning.

4. Pretreat your stains BEFORE you go to the laundromat, that means doing this while you're sorting.

5. Voila! You go to the laundromat, you're all sorted and ready to do the laundry! How easy is that???

Ok, one more tip that I should've put at the beginning, when you take off your clothes each day, put them into the different baskets so that they're already sorted and you don't have to sort them before you go to the laundromat!

Now it's time for Mrs. McTatty to do the laundry. Where the clean clothes will go when I get done, I'm not exactly sure.



Does Going Green Get You More Organized???

I bought those energy savings lights about a week ago at Walmart. I thought, it's time for me to change all the lights in the house! Then I realized something, all of our lights are all different wattages. Oh, and the 60 watt energy saving lights aren't really all that bright, especially in your table lamps. I had to bring an extra floor lamp into my bedroom so that I would be able to read in bed at night. I was not too keen on that idea considering our bedroom is the size of a small walk-in closet and there's not much room for anything besides the bed and MAYBE one or two small dressers. I hate to say it, but going green may save your sanity to a certain extent but if you don't fully convert to going green, it's like your driving habits cancel out your green habits at home. I was watching a television show on TLC or maybe it was the Discovery Channel's program about global warming and it explained approximately how much output of carbon goes into the ozone layer that a single family can produce. Interesting.
I was really more interested in what I could do besides paring down our belongings and living like paupers. I mean, we already changed our light bulbs and the thermostat is set at 75 degrees. I'm not turning it up anymore, for pete's sake it's September in Indiana! Plus we also rent our apartment. I would love solar energy, but try and convince our Republican landlord about that one!
I know that going green can save you money. I also know that when you go green you really go frugal. It's not about your gas guzzling cars and keeping up with the Jones. It's really about how much of a difference one family can make on the environment. For instance, check out http://www.livingonadime.com/ or just google "frugal living." There's so many ways to save money, but those ways also help to save the earth. I'm always amazed at some of the crazy things that people do - but hey, whatever works, right???
Oh, and by the way, I'm still looking for articles about how to still be green while organizing. Give me some suggestions, I'm kinda at a lost for organizing our non-organic compound shoes, socks, clothes and bathroom supplies as well as our DVD's and office stuff.


I Wish I Could Create Menus This Fabulous

As I've been cooking I've been thinking about menu making. On myrecipes.com, they have a ton of menus that you can make (or create yourself). They're supposedly time saving, right? This can start to be a part of my weekly organizing, well, I'm not so sure about organizing but at least I can see what I might or might not make during the week. The first part of this is really to make a shopping list and inventory what we have in the pantry so I save myself time at the grocery store. Hm, maybe menu making could work in my disorganized world! So maybe I'll post a French menu. Oui! J'aime faire du cuisine! If I can remember even an ounce of the french language...

Menu for One Night Only:

Vegetable Potage
Chicken With Garlic Croutons
Provencale Potato Ragout with Green Olives

Vegetable Potage:
5 cups water
2 cups chopped peeled celery
1 1/2 cups sliced carrots
1 1/4 cups diced onion
1 cup diced peeled potato
1 cup chopped Granny Smith apple (1 large apple)
1 cup sliced leek
1/2 cup chopped peeled artichoke
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 thyme sprigs
2 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
Combine all ingredients in a Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Discard thyme and bay leaves. Place vegetable mixture in a blender in 2 batches; process until smooth.

Chicken With Garlic Croutons:
12 ounces French bread, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 (4-pound) roasting chicken
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1 navel orange, halved
2 bay leaves
Cooking spray
4 garlic cloves, minced
Thyme sprigs (optional)
Preheat oven to 450°.
Place bread cubes on a baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 5 minutes; set aside.
Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken. Rinse under cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Sprinkle salt and pepper over chicken. Squeeze orange over a bowl to extract juices. Place 1 orange half, bay leaves, and 3 tablespoons orange juice in neck cavity. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under breasts. Place chicken, breast side up, on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Pierce skin several times with a meat fork. Insert meat thermometer into meaty part of thigh, making sure not to touch bone.
Bake chicken at 450° for 50 minutes or until thermometer registers 180°. Place croutons around chicken, and cook an additional 10 minutes.
Remove chicken from pan, reserving pan drippings. Cover chicken loosely with foil; let stand 10 minutes. Discard skin. Arrange croutons on a jelly-roll pan. Drizzle pan drippings and garlic over croutons, stirring to coat. Bake at 450° for 5 minutes or until crisp. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.

Provencale Potato Ragout with Green Olives
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion
3 1/2 cups coarsely chopped seeded tomato
4 cups cubed peeled baking potato (about 2 pounds)
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 thyme sprigs
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup sliced green olives
Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté 10 minutes or until soft, stirring frequently.
Add tomato; cook 10 minutes or until the liquid almost evaporates, stirring frequently. Add potato and next 6 ingredients (potato through bay leaves); bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally.
Stir in olives; cook an additional 5 minutes. Discard thyme and bay leaves.

Casseroles (Definitely Leftover Friendly)

So lately I've been into looking up casserole recipes. I think it's mostly because CJ and I don't have a whole lot of money and these are a good way to eat without breaking our bank, which reminds me that I have to start doing weekly menu planning anyway - Maybe that will be my next post! In any case, the following are recipes for casseroles that really peaked my interest. I'm so used to doing pasta, but then not baking it or making enchiladas with LOTS of cheese on top. So, here goes! I use tomatoes a lot, but I've been trying to find recipes with different tastes, and I'm also looking forward to cooking this winter! So here is a recipe that I found on myrecipes.com that I enjoy! I've tweaked this one to my family's tastes, but no matter what, they're still enjoyable and freezable.
Beef, Cheese & Noodle Casserole

1 (8-ounce) package small elbow macaroni
PAM Cooking spray
1 cup prechopped onion
1 cup shredded carrot
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 pound lean ground sirloin
1 cup store bought tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) 2% reduced-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350°.
Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. Lightly coat pasta with cooking spray or you can drizzle olive oil on it too - whichever you have on hand.
Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and carrot, and sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add ground beef; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add tomato sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes or until most of liquid evaporates.
Add pasta to beef mixture in pan, stirring to combine. Spoon pasta mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. I use a Le Creuset pan, but it can be glass or ceramic, I'd use ceramic.
Place milk, flour, nutmeg, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan; stir with a whisk until blended. Cook over medium heat 2 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add 1 cup cheese, stirring until smooth. Pour cheese mixture over pasta mixture; stir. Top evenly with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


Isn't it always easier to just buy a dang mix and hope that it doesn't taste store bought???

Exactly! That's what I thought! I found this on myrecipes.com for a basic cornbread recipe. I've never exactly thought I could make cornbread, but this is so dang easy! I can't help but make it once a week!

Basic Cornbread

2 cups buttermilk self-rising white cornmeal mix
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk


Heat a well-greased 9-inch oven-proof skillet at 450° for 5 minutes.
Stir together all ingredients in a bowl. Pour batter into hot skillet.
Bake at 450° for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

I put paprika on top or sometimes even cayenne pepper. Also, what's really good is is you put a sprinkle of sugar on top just before you bake it (I don't know why that sounds so weird, but it tastes really, really good!)

Also - this calls for you to put the batter into a hot skillet. I just shove a muffin tin into the oven while it's warming up. Then when I'm about to put the batter into the tin, I spray it with PAM. It comes out easy. Otherwise you can just pour it into a well PAM'ed cast iron skillet. The bread's a little harder to get out, but it still tastes really good!!!