Thursday, March 31, 2011

Recipe Entry: Chicken-Orzo Soup

We have sure have been having some rainy and cool days lately. Some good soup might be in order. Liz sent this recipe and says, "Another one my husband raves about. That always makes a recipe a winner in my book. I used dried herbs and it turned out just fine!"

Photo Credit:

Chicken-Orzo Soup
source: Cooking Light

(Yield: 4 servings)
1 (32-ounce) container fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, divided
1/2 cup uncooked orzo
2 teaspoons olive oil
2/3 cup coarsely chopped carrot
1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/4 cups water
3 fresh parsley sprigs
1 fresh thyme sprig
4 cups fresh baby spinach
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1. Bring 1 3/4 cups broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add orzo;
cook 10 minutes or until done. Drain.

2. While orzo cooks, heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add oil
to pan; swirl to coat. Add carrot, celery, onion, and chicken; cook 3
minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in remaining 2 1/4 cups broth, 1
1/4 cups water, parsley, and thyme; bring to a boil. Reduce heat;
cover and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Discard
herb sprigs. Add orzo, spinach, juice, salt, and pepper; simmer 1

Thanks Liz!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Part 2: The part where I show you the wonderful vintage item I snagged!

It all started when I saw this photo:

I was enamored by the this vintage tole chandelier! Isn't it so beautiful and fun the way she painted it?! A great addition to Gus and Lula's nursery (by the way, Gus and Lula are in the process of being adopted in Ethiopia right now!). I thought how fun it would be to have one of these in our dining room, one of our bedrooms, or even the bathroom. I vowed to be on the lookout for one.

I excitedly stumbled upon one at a local antique store, but my heart sank when I saw the price tag: just under $200. They also had another larger one for over $900. So much for that!

Crate and Barrel's kid's site Land of Nod even has a copy cat version of it for $119:

Then as we poked around the garage sale on Saturday I was thrilled when I looked down and saw this:

Yes friends, a tole chandelier for $5!

It has these pretty flowers on it

I asked if she would take $3 for it and soon this pretty lady was mine! Granted she definitely needs some work and paint, but that is half the fun. She has such great potential to be painted and hung as a focal point. Check out what we found when we unscrewed the bottom:

Perhaps her original color?!

I can't wait to tackle this project. Check out some of these photo inspirations:

credit: Celerie Kimble

credit: Ruthie Sommers

Monday, March 28, 2011

Exciting Garage Sale Finds!

Lately I have gotten into garage sale-ing. The last few weeks I have checked out the paper's listings and the listings on Craigslist and made myself a route through our suburb. There have been a lot of them- some better than others for sure!

Up until this past Saturday I really hadn't bought very much. I am trying to be super selective (remember I am trying to get rid of 20 things per day so bringing home more junk would be counterproductive- I am up to 120 items so far!) I was specifically keeping my eyes peeled for a few things though, namely a washing machine and a daybed with trundle. We were hoping to free up some space in our guest room which has twin beds, yet still have a place for guests to sleep.

I wasn't planning to go garage sale-ing this past Saturday until I saw an ad on Friday night that mentioned that there was going to be a sale near us that had a washer, a daybed with trundle, AND the icing on the cake was that she said she was selling items that she had from a previous booth in an antique market. I immediately made plans to be there at 7:00 AM sharp and convinced Ronnie to go with me in the truck because this particular sale had such promise. I tried not to get my hopes up, but I will admit I didn't sleep the best on Friday night in my anticipation :).

Our Trusty Jolly Green Giant

When we pulled up to the house in the above vehicle precisely at 7:00 AM my heart sunk as I saw a man with a pick up truck and trailer loading lots of items. So much for the "no early birds" in their ad!! I high-tailed it into the garage to see what might be left- various pieces of furniture, lo and behold including the daybed and trundle (priced at $25) and the washer (priced at $75)!! Ronnie and I had agreed the night before that we would only spend up to $100 if we were to buy both the daybed and washing machine. We talked to the really friendly owners about the machine and felt like we could trust them in buying it and then offered $80 for both. They agreed! So we are the proud owners of a new to us washing machine (it works great), daybed and trundle AND one more vintage item that I purchased there for $3. I am SOOOOOO excited about it, but it will receive a post of its own!! Stay tuned...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Recipe Entry: Fish Fillet Rollout

Let me start off by saying that I am loving making these recipes that y'all sent me. I made the Greek Pasta this weekend and it was awesome! You should totally try it. My goal is to make all the recipe entries eventually.

This tasty looking one is from Emily T. She says, "My mom found this recipe in a Family Circle magazine a few years ago. It was the first prize entree winner. It sounded strange to me at first- fish with an italian flare? But it's really good! If you use tilapia it doesn't even taste fishy (if you don't like fish). I also add a layer of zucchini over the fish and omit the olives- so you can kind of play with the recipe too. I usually cut it in half and just use 3 fillets and serve with a salad or steamed broccoli."

Photo Credit: Family Circle

Fish Fillet Rollout
Source: Family Circle

(serves 6)
1/2 cup chicken broth (or 1 chicken bouillon cube dissolved in 1/2 cup water)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
6 flounder or tilapia fillets (about 1.5 lbs total)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 container grape tomatoes (about 8 oz), quartered
1/2 cup pitted black olives, sliced (optional)
2 cups mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped (or 1/2 tsp dried)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Place chicken broth and olive oil in a 13x9 baking pan.
In a shallow plate, lightly beat eggs and salt.
Place bread crumbs in another shallow plate.
Dip fillets into egg mixture and then into bread crumbs, coating both sides.
Place in baking pan, overlapping if necessary.
Season with pepper.
Sprinkle tomatoes, olives and cheese over the top.
Evenly sprinkle parsley over the cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees uncovered for 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Thanks Emily!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Recipe Entry: Pan-Fried Pork Chops and Homemade Applesauce

Alert: Today's (Wednesday's) Groupon is for of my all time favorite places to eat. We love Thai food! Check it out!

I still have several more great recipe entries to share from the giveaway . This one is from Liz and looks yummy. She says it takes a little longer than some recipes but is really good.

Pan-Fried Pork Chops and Homemade Applesauce
Source: Cooking Light

Total: 1 hour
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 pork chop and 1/4 cup applesauce)


1 tablespoon butter
3 apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped (about 4 cups chopped)
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 (5-ounce) bone-in center-cut pork chops
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil


1. To prepare applesauce, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium
heat. Add apples to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1/2
cup water, sugar, juice, and 1/8 teaspoon salt to pan; cook 25
minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover and cook 25 minutes or until
apples are tender. Mash gently with the back of a spoon.

2. To prepare pork, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high
heat. Place flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle pork evenly with 1/2
teaspoon salt and pepper; dredge pork in flour. Add oil to pan; swirl
to coat. Add pork to pan; cook 5 minutes or until golden. Turn pork
over; cook 3 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Serve with

Monday, March 21, 2011

20 Items a Day Keeps the Junk Away!

We can't escape it.
It clutters up our spaces.
It can be conquered though!

Every once in a while I get the urge to purge :) Haha, that sounds funny, but I mean that I get the desire to simplify and clean out. Multiple moves and living in a smallish apartment has provided some great incentive in this area.

I have launched into a challenge for myself. The challenge is to get rid of 20 items everyday. I grabbed an extra laundry basket and this has become the spot for the "stuff." It then gets sorted into trash, donate, sell, return to owner, etc.

I can't take credit for this idea. I have been inspired by many in the blogosphere who are doing the same, taking various approaches. For some inspiration check out: Clover Lane and Spoonful.

How long will this challenge last? I am not sure but hopefully a while. I will check in and let you know periodically how it is going. I am three days in- that is 60 items gone!

Will you join me? Come know you have stuff that needs to go!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Recipe Entry: Greek Pasta

Emily H. sent me this recipe and I am so excited about it! I can't wait to try it. I love Greek food and I love pasta so this is a win win for me.

Greek Pasta

6 ounces whole grain pasta, cooked
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 pint mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbs. olive oil (for drizzling over mushrooms and tomatoes)
3 Tbs. mayonnaise (I use the light kind made with olive oil)
2 heaping Tbs. Cavender's Greek Seasoning
3 Tbs. lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil (for dressing)
1 can sliced black olives, drained
1 small jar pimentos, drained
1 jar quartered artichoke heats, drained and rinsed
1 bag of frozen broccoli, steamed and drained
Feta Cheese

Place tomatos and mushrooms on cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes. For the dressing, whisk together mayo, Cavender's, lemon juice, and olive oil. Combine with pasta the tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, pimentos, artichoke hearts, and steamed broccoli. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Sprinkle with feta cheese. May be served warm or cold.

Emily's Notes: I have made this using spaghetti, angel hair, bow tie, and vermicelli pasta. I think my favorites are the bow tie (for cold) and spaghetti (for warm). I also normally make more than 6 ounces of pasta and then just play with my dressing until I think I have enough to coat it well. I have substituted roasted red peppers for the pimentos and I thought it turned out well. I normally use a bag of the microwavable "Steamers" broccoli and it is super easy. I think this is a fun recipe that can be tweaked easily.

Thanks Emily!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Recipe Entry: Pita Pizzas

This recipe is from Emily T. She said, "I had these for the first time at a missionary friend’s house in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, and my family has been making them ever since! This is currently our Sunday night tradition- it’s quick and easy and fun to make them together- not to mention they’re yummy."

Pita Pizzas

Core ingredients:

Whole pita bread

1 (6 oz) can tomato sauce (I freeze the leftover sauce each time and use the leftover sauce several times

2 cups mozzarella cheese (or experiment with different kinds of cheese)

Creative ingredients:

The most fun part is that the rest of the ingredients are up to your creativity and taste! Or if you want a really quick meal, you can stick with plain cheese pizzas too. Here’s what Mark and I really like-


1 roma tomato (quartered)

½ green pepper (thinly sliced)

¼ onion (thinly sliced)


Turkey pepperoni slices

Mark does about 5/pita and I just like one slice right in the middle of mine for a hint of pepperoni flavor


Dried oregano

Dried basil

Garlic powder

+ any other toppings you like


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

Spread the pita bread out on a baking sheet in a single layer

Add desired amount of tomato sauce (don’t use too much or the pizza may be a bit soggy)

Sprinkle spices over tomato sauce and cover with cheese

Add the toppings (load ‘em up!)

Add another layer of cheese

Sprinkle lightly with oregano and/or basil to top it off (that makes it look pretty)

Bake for 10 minutes (or until the cheese looks all the way melted)


Thanks Emily!

Friday, March 11, 2011

And the Winner is...

Forgive my delay in getting the giveaway winner posted. It has been a busy day...but a good one! Now without further ado, the winner is Liz! Liz submitted some great recipes, in fact I am posting one of her weeknight favorites below.

Thanks to all that sent me great recipes. I still have lots of yummy looking ones to post in the coming days so stay tuned!

Asian Grilled Salmon
Source: Barefoot Contessa

  • 1 side fresh salmon, boned but skin on (about 3 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons good soy sauce
  • 6 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

Light charcoal briquettes in a grill and brush the grilling rack with oil to keep the salmon from sticking.

While the grill is heating, lay the salmon skin side down on a cutting board and cut it crosswise into 4 equal pieces. Whisk together the mustard, soy sauce, olive oil, and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle half of the marinade onto the salmon and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.

Place the salmon skin side down on the hot grill; discard the marinade the fish was sitting in. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Turn carefully with a wide spatula and grill for another 4 to 5 minutes. The salmon will be slightly raw in the center, but don't worry; it will keep cooking as it sits.

Transfer the fish to a flat plate, skin side down, and spoon the reserved marinade on top. Allow the fish to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the skin and serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Publix Deals and a Reminder!

***Don't forget friends that tomorrow is the last day to submit a recipe for the LOFT gift card giveaway!! The giveaway ends at midnight on Thursday. If you missed the post, all the giveaway info is here.

I made a quick trip to Publix today and got some great deals. I got the following:

for $44.81!

Ok, so $44.81 doesn't sounds that great, except when you consider that there is a $50 BP gift card in there. The Publix weekly ad has a great coupon for $10 off a $50 gas gift card. That means $10 of gas for free which is great considering the way prices are rising daily. The gift card for $40 also means that the rest only cost $4.81. Check out Southern Saver's Publix matchups if you want the breakdown. (Note: The Philadelphia Cooking Cream and the Zatarain's meal aren't in the matchups, I had coupons for free products)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Recipe Entry: Liberian Pumpkin

This recipe entry is from Margo. She blogged about this recipe on her own blog here.

Liberian Pumpkin
Source: modified recipe from Simply in Season cookbook

1-2 c. browned sausage (spicy, or add hot sauce or dried hot peppers)
3-4 c. chopped winter squash
1-2 c. chopped onion
1 c. stock, wine, or water
Cooked Pasta
Parmesan Reggiano Cheese, hot peppers, Tabasco to taste

Brown 1-2 cups sausage, preferably spicy, and set aside.

In the sausage drippings, add 3-4 cups chopped winter squash and 1-2 c. chopped onion and fry together for a bit until onion is softening.
Add 1 c. stock, wine, or water and put the sausage back in; clap on a lid and cook on low until the squash is soft. Check often and stir as needed.

Serve on pasta with a sprinkle of Parmesan reggiano. Add hot peppers or Tabasco to taste.

Thanks Margo!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Recipe Entry: Easy Fried Rice (or Lo Mein)

Hope that everyone had a great weekend! It rained a lot here but it was a good weekend none the less. My sister Christian and her family were in town for the weekend so it was fun to see them. Christian and I did a little shopping and she landed the clothing deal of the year...I found her a pair of jeans at Old Navy for $.97! They are cute skinny jeans too. I love a good deal!!

Now for some cooking inspiration to start your week:

Christian shared this recipe for the giveaway:

Easy Fried Rice (or Lo Mein)
Source: very loosely based on a Rachel Ray 30 minute meal recipe

2 eggs
3 T oil
2 chopped garlic cloves or 1 tsp minced garlic
1 package frozen Asian stir fry vegetables and any fresh veggies you have on hand
2 cups cooked rice
1-2 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1/4 to 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce

Beat 2 eggs and scramble in a large skillet or wok using 1 T of oil. Push cooked eggs to the side of the pan. Add 2 T more of oil to the pan. Stir fry two chopped garlic cloves or 1 tsp. of minced garlic and one package of frozen Asian stir fry vegetables. (I usually toss add any fresh vegetable that I have on hand as well... broccoli, peppers, carrots, celery, onions, etc.) When vegetables are tender add 2 cups of cooked rice and 1-2 cups of chopped, cooked chicken. Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce. Cook and stir until heated through, incorporating scrambled eggs.

*For Lo Mein use cooked spaghetti noodles instead of rice. Omit eggs.

Thanks Christian!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Recipe Entry: Creamy Tomato-Balsamic Soup

Hey friends, it is Thursday which means you have one more week to send me some recipes to share (details are here if you need them). If you can, try not to wait to the last minute, then I will have more to share between now and then!

Here is another great recipe from Liz. I can't wait to try it! I love good tomato soup.

Creamy Tomato-Balsamic Soup
Source: Cooking Light

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1/2 cup)
Cooking the vegetables at the high temperature of 500° caramelizes their natural sugars and deepens their flavor; the liquid poured over them ensures they won't burn. Prepare the soup up to two days ahead; reheat over medium heat before serving.

Photo Credit:

1 cup less-sodium beef broth, divided
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, drained
  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • Cracked black pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 500°.

Combine 1/2 cup of broth, sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce in a small bowl. Place onion, garlic, and tomatoes in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Pour broth mixture over tomato mixture. Bake at 500° for 50 minutes or until vegetables are lightly browned.

Place tomato mixture in a blender. Add remaining 1/2 cup broth and half-and-half, and process until smooth. Strain mixture through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Garnish with cracked black pepper, if desired.

Thanks Liz!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Update: Recipe Tried

This morning I posted Amanda's entry, the recipe for Tomato Pie. Tonight I made one for dinner. Per her notes, I cut way back on the mayo, using about 1/2 cup. It was really good!

I served it with a salad. We recently had lunch at our pastor's house and his wife made this delicious salad dressing. She served it on lettuce topped with avocado and grapefruit. Tonight we had it on mixed greens with strawberries, dried cranberries, and apples. Yummy!

Sweet Lemon Vinaigrette
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 canola oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine in a jar and shake.

Recipe Entry: Tomato Pie

This recipe entry for the giveaway is from Amanda and looks delicious. Seems like something perfect to serve on these nice, sunny days we have been having. I have included her notes with the recipe.

"Easy and southern as they come, this luncheon pie is surprisingly delicious, healthy and vegetarian. Just don't point that out to Daniel..."

Photo Credit:
Tomato Pie
Source: Paula Deen

3-4 tomatoes, peeled and sliced (I didn't peel mine)
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 c shredded mozzarella
1 c shredded cheddar
1/2 c chopped green onion
1 c mayonaisse (I only used a 1/2 c of light mayo)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 9" deep dish pie shell

Bake pie shell according to directions. While shell is baking, place sliced tomatoes on several paper towels to absorb excess juice. Turn them over and salt and pepper them.

Layer tomato, basil and green onion in pie shell. Combine cheeses and mayo and spread this over tomato mixture. Bake @ 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Notes: This makes one pie. I went ahead and made two while I was making. It keeps well in the refrigerator and is great served with a salad and rolls.

Thanks Amanda for sharing!!