August 26, 2012

Stuffed Pork Chops and Roasted Red Potatoes

This is a recipe I've been making for a while now, and it's my family's favorite way to have pork chops.  I got some basics of the recipe from What's for Dinner?  I added more seasoning to the pork chops and have my favorite type of stuffing to use.  I also love serving them with my roasted red potatoes- a recipe I made up when I was first learning how to cook as a newlywed.

Roasted Red Potatoes
8-10 mini red potatoes, quartered
1 tsp olive oil
Garlic powder, rosemary, and salt to taste (I usually use about 1/2 tsp each)

Wash and quarter the potatoes.  Place in an oven-safe, lidded dish.  Drizzle with olive oil, then season with garlic powder, rosemary, and salt.  Toss to coat.  Cover, and place in 425 degree oven for 40 minutes.  Stir, cover, and return to oven for 15 more minutes.  Stir and serve.

Stuffed Pork Chops
4 lean boneless pork loin chops, relatively thick cut
1 serving Pepperidge Farm stuffing, prepared according to quick stove-top instructions
Garlic powder, rosemary, salt, and pepper for seasoning the meat to taste
1 tsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare the stuffing per instructions. 

Slice pockets into the pork chops by slicing horizontally in the side, but be sure not to cut all the way through.
Season the pork with garlic powder, rosemary, salt, and pepper, then stuff with stuffing.

Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large oven safe skillet at medium heat. Sear the pork chops on one side for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Flip the chops and place the skillet in the oven for 9 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 3-5 minutes before serving. 

August 23, 2012

Backlog Part 5: Toddler Train Birthday Party

Time to document the super fun train birthday party we threw for my son this year!
I used a Wilton cake pan for the train-shaped cake, decked out with oreo wheels, sugar cone smoke stack and marshmallow smoke (thanks for the idea!).  The marshmallows were a BIG hit- even moreso than the cake for the bday boy.

A few pieces of poster board and craft foam... paper?... made for a train that ran along the back of the couch.

With white balloons for steam.  I was pretty proud of that bit. ;-)

I got the idea for the Happy Birthday banner from Etsy.  Just construction paper, printed out letters, and a couple train pictures strung on ribbon.

The idea to put down black tape as train tracks leading to the house is courtesy of Pinterest.  They make duct tape in a bunch of colors!  Perfect.

My son got a kick out of it and really, it was a manageable, affordable effort.  I did the poster board trains one night, the birthday banner over a couple days, cake the night before, and set up the train tracks the day of.  Hope you enjoyed!

August 22, 2012

Backlog Part 4: Kitchen Fruit Baskets

This one is thanks to Pinterest, which got me drooling over some expensive market baskets to hang on the wall as fruit holders.  A trip to World Market and $16 (!!!) for two wire baskets served me much better than $100 on fancy ones.  A couple screw in hooks were all I needed, and voila: fancy hanging fruit baskets.  Now the kitchen cart actually has free counter space instead of being covered in fruit.

Backlog Part 3: Scrapbook Paper Bookshelf

I'm not even sure where this idea originally started, but when I was pregnant and setting up the nursery, I thought it would be so sweet to decorate the back of the bookshelf in there with scrap paper or something like that.  I should have used that crazy nesting energy to do it when I first had the thought, rather than waiting for time to do it.  So silly.  2 years later, and I finally found that time.  Spray adhesive and scrapbook paper- that's it!  Tip: it's even easier if you just lift the shelves out rather than try to be all slick and slip the paper between the shelf and backing like I did. ;-)

August 21, 2012

Backlog Part 2: Closet Organization

Earlier this year, Spring cleaning struck home in a bad way.  I started an MBA program this year, and was realizing more and more that I needed a functional office in the house- not the junk room with a bed and desk we currently had.  Evidence below:

Things are cluttered and at best sorted into mini piles all over.  I didn't have any work space and my textbooks didn't have a useful home.  A trip to HomeGoods and The Container Store fixed that for me!

Ahh, now THAT is amazing.  And it has stayed in tact all summer!

Green/white patterned oval cardboard storage bins: HomeGoods
White oval cardboard storage bin: Ikea
Large white rectangular cardboard storage bins: Container Store
Dark brown media baskets: Container Store
Clear/white floral plastic storage bins: Container Store
White plastic desk organizers (2): Container Store

August 18, 2012

Backlog Part 1: Map Coasters

Before getting under way with new projects, recipes, and assorted whatnots, I thought I'd first capture some of the things I've edited over the last few years of domestic awesomeness.  First one is a little project I came up with after getting a set of pretty photo coasters during a white elephant gift swap at Christmas a few years ago.  I nabbed that gift because I had an idea right away- instead of pictures, I wanted to fill the coasters with maps of places significant to me and my husband.  My husband loves maps, and they're all over the man cave in the basement.  So with some help from different map searches, and when all else failed Google Maps, I printed out little color maps of where each of us went to college, where we met, and the city where we were married.  I was pretty pleased with myself and my husband was impressed, too!

 I was even sneaky with how I matched colors to maps: blue for the peninsula, yellow to reflect Pittsburgh team colors, purpose for my college's color, and green because that's what was left over.

See, just a little map print out to slide in the photo part of the coaster. Easy peasy. 

I liked this map a lot.  With such a small space to work with, it was hard to be selective in which parts of the map to use while still keeping it magnified enough to know what in the world the map is of.

August 17, 2012

It Begins: Taco Balls

And we're off.  Here we go.  First one!
Let's just dive right in and start with the latest modified recipe.  I found this very tempting pin titled "taco balls" which to my mind immediately equated to ground beef and delicious taco-ness in a pastry, judging by the picture.  The link was actually to the not-at-all taco-like recipe for chicken enchilada puffs.  Well that's not what I drooled over in my head.  I was not to be dismayed- I had a craving and I was going to make it.  With some modifications, I present: Taco Balls.

  •  1 package jumbo crescent rolls
  •  1 lb ground beef
  •  1/2 cup onion
  •  3 oz cream cheese
  •  1/2 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese
  •  1/3 cup enchilada or taco sauce
  •  taco seasoning mix (premade, or make your own: 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, and 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes)
  •  1/4 cup Mexican shredded cheese for sprinkling

  1.  Preheat oven to 375° and line cookie sheet with foil and spray with no-stick spray
  2.  Brown ground beef and onion in a pan; drain oil
  3.  Place cream cheese and 1/2 cup Mexican cheese in medium bowl and microwave for about 30-40 seconds, to soften.
  4.  Add seasoning mix, taco sauce, and cooked beef and onion to cheese mixture and stir until combined.
  5.  Unroll crescent rolls on prepared pan.
  6.  Scoop 1 large heaping tablespoon of beef mixture into the center of the two short ends of the crescent roll.
  7.  Pull outer corners of the crescent roll over the beef mixture, and then pull the long end over, completely enclosing filling. Pinch seams closed.
  8.  Sprinkle tops of puffs with additional shredded Mexican cheese.
  9.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.