Sunday, September 4, 2011

Apple Pomegranate Pork Loin

Damon's parents are here for the weekend. His dad is allergic to soy, so whenever they come I look for new soy-free recipes. It's challenging but fun. You wouldn't believe how many foods have soy. For example, the other night I did Jackie's crock pot chicken taco meat - one brand of taco seasoning had soy, another didn't. Soft taco shells had soy, hard didn't. Weird.

Anyway, I googled "soy-free recipes" and found this pork loin that turned out super yummy! It was really juicy and tender. Tweaked it a little - I guess pomegranates are not in season, but Kroger had 100% pomegranate juice in their little all-natural beverage section near the produce, so I substituted 1/2 a cup of that for the fresh juice and seeds. Also, as I've said before, Damon is a much better cook than I am, and he added some stuff to the sauce, like ground mustard and pepper. I'm sure it would taste good the way it's given here too.

Apple Pomegranate Pork Loin

1 qt. plus 1/2 c. apple cider
1/4 c. kosher salt or 1/8 c. table salt
3 bay leaves
2- to 2.5-lb. boneless pork loin
freshly ground pepper
juice and seeds from 1 large pomegranate
1 T. corn starch
sugar (if necessary)

In a deep bowl, stir together 1 quart apple cider, salt and bay leaves to make a brine. Immerse pork loin in brine and store in refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight (If using an "enhanced" pork loin, brine for only 2-3 hours because it already has added salt).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove pork from brine (dispose of brine mixture). Pat pork dry with paper towels, season all over with pepper and place on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast pork until meat thermometer inserted in thickest part reaches 160 degrees, approx. 1 hr 30 minutes (I found out after I bought my pork loin that it was already cut into two separate pieces length-wise, so it only took about an hour to cook). Remove roast from oven and place on a serving platter, covered lightly with foil.

In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup apple cider and 1 tablespoon corn starch.

In a saucepan, bring the cider-starch mixture and the pomegranate seeds and juice to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately lower heat to medium-low and cook gently until sauce is clear and very thick, about 8-10 minutes. Taste and add a little sugar, if necessary.

To serve, drizzle enough apple-pomegranate sauce on the pork loin to cover the roast. Pass the rest of the sauce behind the roast at table as a dipping sauce. Serve immediately.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Taffy Apple Salad

I made this delicious salad for a cook-out tomorrow with fellow tenants in our apartment complex. If you're looking for a side/dessert salad that's a little different (and yummier) than the usual fruit salad, please make this! It really tastes like taffied apples and makes me look forward to fall, my favorite season. I got the recipe from my mom, who got it from a former coworker. Make it the night before you need it to let it set/blend flavors.

Taffy Apple Salad

large can crushed pineapple in juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon flour
1 egg, beaten
8 oz. Cool Whip, thawed
4 cups diced apples
3 cups mini marshmallows
1 1/2 cups Spanish peanuts

Drain the juice from the pineapple into a saucepan. Add sugar, vinegar, flour and egg. Cook until mixture thickens and let cool a bit. Then stir in Cool Whip, apples, the pineapple, marshmallows and peanuts (I had to transfer it to a bigger bowl to add everything; my saucepan wasn't very big). Let set in refrigerator overnight.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Worthwhile Education

I meant to do this after I graduated from Cedarville three months ago, but, you know, time gets away from you (holy cow, is it August already?). I slowly chipped away at my English degree for eleven years and finally finished this year. During those years, I got married and established in my job as Coordinator in the Physical Plant at the university, and have been blessed with two children (one currently incubating). I mostly kept taking classes because I could get them for free as a staff member, and I wanted to finish what I started. I don't currently have plans to use my degree in a career, as I'm enjoying being home with the aforementioned kids. If I ever do get a job in my "field" (I'd like to write and/or edit nonfiction - journalistic type stuff), great, but if not, I consider myself blessed simply for the experience of learning to think and write well while reading great literature. I am also thankful for the intelligent, abundantly passionate professors from whom I have learned. If all I get out of this degree is the ability to think critically and to share that skill, as well as a passion for literature, with my children, it was worth it.

Here are just a few of the works I have studied in my time at Cedarville (yes, all of the books in the above photo are from my classes - and I'm sure some of what I've read is not included). Keep in mind that this list contains mostly novels and plays, not the many (MANY) wonderful short stories, nonfiction essays and poems I have read as part of anthologies of American and British literature, both old and recent (oh yeah, and FILMS I have watched - I loved the Christian Motifs in Film class and would be interested in sitting through it again just to hear the discussions). If anyone would like to borrow any of these from me, I'd be glad to share!

Early British Literature:
Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen
Paradise Lost - John Milton
Samson Agonistes - John Milton
Doctor Faustus - Christopher Marlowe
The Jew of Malta - Christopher Marlowe
The Tragedy of Mariam - Elizabeth Cary
SHAKESPEARE - duh, more than I can count :)

Contemporary British Literature:
The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde
W;t - Margaret Edson
The French Lieutenant's Woman - John Fowles
Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

European Novel:
The Stranger - Albert Camus
The Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka
Fathers and Sons - Ivan Turgenev
Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
The Death of Ivan Ilych - Leo Tolstoy

Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe

Recent American Literature:
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
Bright Lights, Big City - Jay McInerny
The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
White Noise - Don DeLillo
The Hours - Michael Cunningham
The Joy Luck Club - Amy Tan

21st Century Literature:
March - Geraldine Brooks
Gilead - Marilynne Robinson
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay - Michael Chabon
The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery

Medea - Euripides
Everyman - anonymous
The Misanthrope - Moliere
The Cherry Orchard - Anton Chekhov
Hedda Gabler - Henrik Ibsen
Riders to the Sea - John Millington Synge
The Crucible - Arthur Miller
A Raisin in the Sun - Lorraine Hansberry
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead - Tom Stoppard
The Piano Lesson - August Wilson

Looking back, I really can't believe how many wonderful works of literature I have read. And this may sound odd, but I also really enjoyed reading The History of the English Language for the class on the same subject (go, Dr. Calhoun!). One of the things I enjoyed about my literature classes is that I was forced to read great stuff; otherwise, I probably wouldn't have made time for it. I would love to go back through these and read them all again; I hope to do so. I am blessed.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Diced Chicken & Almonds

I had the ingredients to make this for our anniversary (June 28), but I ended up having a cold and didn't feel up to it, so Damon made it instead. Definitely a good thing, because he's a much better cook than I am (from his 5 years of experience in the cafeteria at Cedarville while he was finishing his degree - I worked there too, but only for a year and pretty much all I made was pizza).

The recipe is from a cookbook I got from June Campbell, the owner of a bed & breakfast on Kelleys Island in Lake Erie. We took a long weekend up there in October of 2007. June's breakfasts were amazing so I bought her book. Damon tweaked this recipe by adding salt and pepper and cooking wine to the saute-ing chicken.

Diced Chicken & Almonds

3 T. vegetable oil
2 c. diced raw chicken
2 T. soy sauce
1/2 c. diced celery
1 c. boiling water
1 c. peas, fresh or frozen
1/2 can mushroom pieces, drained
1 T. cornstarch
1/4 c. cold water
1/2 c. toasted almonds

Saute chicken in oil until cooked, about 3-5 minutes. Add soy sauce, peas, celery, mushrooms and boiling water. Cover and simmer for 4 minutes. Blend cornstarch and cold water. Add to meat mixture, stirring, and cook until it boils and mixture thickens. Sprinkle with almonds. Serve with rice and soy sauce.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Bathroom

Still working on that project list I started awhile ago. I have been lazier than I probably should be lately. I've gotten a few things done though - I'm almost completely done with Eva's baby book; all that's left is to get her hand print "now that you are one" (she's 17 months, woops). Then I can start a new book for baby #2.

Anyway, I am very happy about having the bathroom redecorating done. We can't paint or do anything permanent in our apartment, so really all I could change were the accessories. We'd had the previous decor since we got married almost eight years ago - I didn't HATE it, but it was starting to look old, and our taste has definitely changed. Not that I'm trying to compare myself to others (though I pridefully do that a lot), but since visiting many homes of the hip young couples at the Oaks (yes, you are - admit it ;)) and seeing what cool things can be done with home interiors, my taste in decor has become less traditional - "old lady" if you will. I mean, our old bathroom trash can and tissue cover were wicker, for cryin' out loud.

Couldn't get great pictures, mostly because it's such a tiny bathroom, but here's the before:

For the new stuff, I wanted to use similar colors (namely light blue and green), so that we could save money by keeping the same rugs and towels, which are still in good shape. But I wanted more white as opposed to beige, since I always felt like the beige made it look a little dim in there. Ta-da:

Toothbrush holder is a little more modern than what we had before, and the silver matches the fixtures:

Look ma, no wicker:

I think my favorite part, though, is the new pictures on the walls. I was finally able to use a couple of nice pics we took on vacations. First, sunrise in Ocean City, Maryland in August of 2009:

And this one is sunset on Kelleys Island in Lake Erie, October 2007:

Happy times. My project for tonight is to sew up a couple tears in the cloth cover on the elastic waist of my maternity jeans, since I will probably need them soon. I LOVE maternity jeans. Still look like jeans but they're SO comfy. I plan to relish wearing maternity clothes this time since we're planning on this being the last biological Titus baby, and my maternity clothes are so much cuter than any of my regular clothes. Totally not fair. Whatevs.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Delicious Apple Muffins

I made these muffins when Damon's parents were here last week. The original recipe is from, but it called for vegetable oil - I changed that to applesauce because of my father-in-law's soy allergy. You can use either one. I actually got the recipe for the crumb topping from a comment someone left on the website. I think the topping makes these muffins about a million times better! :) This makes enough topping for probably 2-3 batches of muffins, so you can cut it down if you're not making that many.

Apple Muffins:

2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. apple juice
1/3 c. applesauce
1 egg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 c. apples - peeled, cored and finely diced

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease bottoms only of 12 muffin cups or line with baking cups.

In medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; mix well. In a separate bowl, combine apple juice, applesauce and egg; blend well. Add dry ingredients all at once; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened (batter will be lumpy). Stir in chopped apples.

Fill cups 2/3 full and top with generous amount of crumb topping. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool one minute before removing from pan.

Crumb topping:

1 c. instant oats
1 c. flour
1 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. melted butter

Mix together until crumbly and sprinkle it on, baby.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Project Progress

Made a little progress the last couple days on my list of projects. Damon's parents are coming to visit today through Monday, to go to my graduation (and see the granddaughter, of course :)). They decided to come in spite of Damon's grandma falling and breaking her hip last night (Damon's dad has a lot of siblings that can be there to help her out). The poor lady has a lot of health issues already - we appreciate prayers for her and the family.

Anyway, I find that having family visit is great motivation for cleaning projects (I mean, who wants the people they love to visit and discover the apartment the way it usually looks, am I right?). So I got to work last night scrubbing my kitchen sink. It started out with some hard water scuzz that had been building up for awhile and now it's shiny and pretty again. I got a little carried away and scrubbed out under the stove burners and under Eva's high chair too. I think I overdid it a little; I'm kinda wiped out today, plus I still have the all-day "morning" sickness. Of course, Eva decided to wake up way too early today too. Today of all days, when I was planning to meet the other sweet girls from my senior seminar class for breakfast. Eva was quite the cranky-pants. Oh well.

I also started the project of looking for soy free recipes since Damon's dad is soy intolerant, but I couldn't really find anything good. Most of the recipes I found that claimed to be soy free called for vegetable oil or other stuff with soy. Hello, vegetable oil is soybean oil. Nice try, recipes. So while they're visiting, I'm planning on modifying a few recipes I already had to make them soy free, like the crock pot pineapple chicken and chicken corn chowder I posted awhile ago. I'm also planning on making apple muffins and oatmeal cake without vegetable oil. Yum.

It's a start! I should probably get back to cleaning before Damon's parents get here this afternoon. The rest of the week is going to be crazy busy with family, work and graduation!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Project List

Praising God this week for getting me through my last class at Cedarville! I've been here since 1999 - had two years as a full time student, took two years off, and I've been doing part time for the past eight. I think it still hasn't really sunk in that I'm done and I won't have any more homework to worry about.

I'm already thinking about the list of projects that has been growing in my mind though - stuff I want to do around the apartment for which I haven't had a lot of time. And it would be great to get many of them done before tiny Titus #2 gets here in December! Maybe I'll blog about completing each one and include pictures when applicable, I don't know. Also, this doesn't include ongoing goals like keeping up with Bible reading, eating better, etc. I'll probably think of more to add, but here's what I have so far, in no particular order:

1. Finish Eva's baby book. I actually did pretty well recording milestones, etc. for Eva's first year, mostly because I knew that I would never remember them if I didn't write them down right away. I just have a few things left to write in it and a few pictures to add.

2. Roll pennies. After my grandma passed away when I was thirteen, at some point I got a cool-looking old, tall, brown glass jug from her old house that I started saving pennies in. I haven't added any since high school, but it's almost full and just sitting there in our study. I want to take the time to put them in rolls and cash them in. I think there's quite a bit in there!

3. Cross-stitch. I enjoy cross-stitching but haven't had time to do it for awhile. I got a baby announcement one for Eva and have barely done anything with it. I'd like to finish that one and start on one for the new baby.

4. Organize recipes. For the past several years, I have been jotting down or printing out recipes of interest and simply throwing them on a stack that sits on top of the cookbooks. It's kind of an embarrassing mess.

5. Re-decorate the bathroom. We've had the same decor in our bathroom since we got married almost eight years ago. I don't hate it, but my taste has definitely changed. I already got the new shower curtain but I'm having the hardest time finding matching toothbrush holder, trash can, artwork, etc.

6. Scrub kitchen sink. This sounds kinda dumb, but does anyone else deal with the scummy hard water gunk building up? It's been awhile since I've been able to give it a good scrubbing, like with a toothbrush and heavy duty cleaner like the stuff we use in the custodial dept at work. I want my sink to shine again.

7. Centerpieces. My brother is getting married October 22nd, and I told my mom I'd help with decorations for the rehearsal dinner, specifically the centerpieces. The bridesmaids' dresses are dark purple, so I want to use that with other fall colors. I'd also like to stay away from flowers, real or fake, because my future sister-in-law's family owns a florist shop and I don't want to try to compete with that because it would probably be rather pitiful. If anyone has ideas let me know.

8. Find soy-free recipes. Damon's dad found out that he's soy intolerant. They don't get to visit super often, but when they do I'd like to be able to have more stuff around that he can eat. They're coming out for my graduation in a couple weeks.

It's a start. Ready, set, go! :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Scott McIntosh's Chicken Sandwiches

Scott & Jen McIntosh hosted our community group for awhile, and they made these sandwiches for us quite often. This is pretty much the best hot chicken sandwich filling ever and it's wicked easy. I made it tonight. You should make it too. Your taste buds will love you and maybe even write a song about you.

Scott McIntosh's Chicken Sandwiches

canned chicken (Jen said they use a 1 lb. 12 oz can)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup milk
5 toast slices, crumbled or cut up
salt & pepper to taste

Mix everything together and bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Apple Curry Chicken

This is from the Slow Cooker, Casseroles & More cookbook I have. This is not a slow cooker recipe. Tried it for the first time a few weeks ago and I'm probably going to make it tonight; it's pretty delish.

Apple Curry Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup apple juice, divided
1/4 tsp. salt
dash black pepper
1 1/2 cups plain croutons
1 medium apple, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup raisins
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. curry powder
3/4 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
2 apple slices and fresh thyme sprigs for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 1 quart round baking dish (I used a bigger one; it wouldn't have fit in a 1 qt.). Arrange chicken breasts in single layer in prepared dish.

Combine 1/4 cup apple juice, salt and pepper in small bowl. Brush juice mixture over chicken.

Combine croutons, apple, onion, raisins, brown sugar, curry, poultry seasoning and garlic powder in large bowl. Toss with remaining 3/4 cup apple juice.

Spread crouton mixture over chicken. Cover with foil; bake 45 minutes or until chicken is tender. Garnish, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

First Day of Spring

I deleted my post from the other day about having to rewrite my senior paper. In case anyone actually read it, if I said anything I shouldn't have I'm sorry. I'm not sure whether I did or not, but after second-guessing the post I removed it just in case. It has been a completely insane roller-coaster week, from doing nothing but writing my paper every night until I finished it, to the extreme relief and decompression of having it done and thinking that I was home free, to finding out I completely missed the point of the assignment and have to start over, not to mention making a complete idiot of myself in front of the professor. Fun, fun times. So I have a couple more weeks of lots and lots of work, and whatever the outcome, whether I'm able to graduate or not, I'm looking forward to finally being able to have a "normal" life with my family without having to deal with this.

Anyway, I don't know why I'm so excited about this, but it's the first day of spring! Wooo!! Looks like the weather will be nice enough to take a walk or something. Lovely.

You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow between the hills;
they give drink to every beast of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
they sing among the branches.
From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
and bread to strengthen man's heart.

May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD rejoice in his works,
who looks on the earth and it trembles,
who touches the mountains and they smoke!
I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the LORD.

Psalm 104:10-15, 31-34

Friday, March 18, 2011

Irish Lamb Stew & Sweet Potato Biscuits

A few years ago I was in the check-out at Walmart around St. Patrick's Day and saw a little booklet of "Irish" recipes from Taste of Home magazine. This is the booklet from which I got the cupcakes that Jackie posted. I'd never made anything else from it, so I decided to remedy that this year. Both of these recipes are from the booklet. The stew was pretty good, but what really impressed me were the biscuits. Oh goodness, they are so lovely I could eat them like cookies.

I'm posting the stew recipe as it is in the book, but we don't have a dutch oven (and we don't have room to store one), so instead we coated & browned the meat and then put all the ingredients in the crock pot. Turned out well, though a little soupy. I added some more half & half at the end to make it creamier. Also, I couldn't find lamb stew meat or pearl onions (Wal-mart and Kroger double-fail), so I cut up lamb shoulder chops from Kroger and half of a regular onion.


6 Tb. all-purpose flour, divided
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 lb. lamb stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 Tb. vegetable oil
3 cups water
1/2 tsp. dill weed
8 pearl onions
3 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup half & half cream

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine 4 tablespoons flour, salt and pepper. Add lamb; shake to coat.

In a dutch oven, brown lamb in oil on all sides. Add water and dill; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until meat is almost tender. Add the onions, carrots and potatoes. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the meat and vegetables are tender.

In a small bowl, place remaining flour; stir in cream until smooth. Stir into stew. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve with biscuits. Yield: 6 servings.


2 cups self-rising flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
7 Tb cold butter, divided
3 Tb. shortening
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
6 Tb. milk

In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Cut in 4 Tb. butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, combine the sweet potatoes and milk; stir into crumb mixture just until moistened. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead 8-10 times. Pat or roll out to 1/2-inch thickness; cut with a floured 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter (I used a glass :)). Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Melt remaining butter; brush over dough. Bake at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks. Serve warm. Yield: 1 1/2 dozen.

Editor's note: As a substitute for each cup of self-rising flour, place 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt in a measuring cup. Add all-purpose flour to measure 1 cup.

Tonight I'm making another recipe from the Irish booklet - glazed mint brownies - for my parents and sister coming to visit tomorrow. :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Crock Pot - Pineapple Chicken & Sweet Potatoes

Today I used my crock pot for the second time ever (the first time was Jackie's chicken soft tacos last week - yum!). The recipe I did for tonight is from the Slow Cooker Casseroles & More cookbook we received as a gift with the crock pot when we got married. You never know how good something will be from a cookbook instead of a friend who's tried it, but this one was tasty. The first recipe I made from the book was Apple Curry Chicken, also super good but not a crock pot recipe. I guess it falls under "& More". I can post that one too if anyone wants it.

Side note: I'm thinking of making Irish lamb stew for St. Patrick's Day - the recipe is not for a crock pot, but I think I might try to make it that way. Look at me, all slow cooker-savvy. Haha, okay, not quite. Oooh, another first - I've never made biscuits before, but I want to make some SWEET POTATO biscuits to go with the lamb stew. Woot!

Pineapple Chicken & Sweet Potatoes

2/3 cup plus 3 Tb. all-purpose flour, divided
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. black pepper
6 chicken breasts
3 sweet potatoes, peeled & sliced
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/4 lb. mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. grated orange peel

Combine 2/3 cup flour, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, onion powder and black pepper in large bowl. Thoroughly coat chicken in flour mixture. Place sweet potatoes on bottom of slow cooker. Top with chicken.

Combine soup, juice, mushrooms, remaining 3 Tb. flour, sugar and orange peel in small bowl; stir well. Pour soup mixture into slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW 8 to 10 hours or on HIGH 3 to 4 hours. Serve chicken and sauce over rice.


- Either they used a bigger crock pot or the chicken breasts we got were huge, because I put 6 half breasts in and it was really full. I think we have a "normal" size oval one though.

- Damon thinks that it would be equally good if you use five spice instead of the nutmeg and cinnamon. He's the better cook; I'll take his word for it.

- I used the pineapple juice from a can of pineapple; if I make this again, I'll probably put in the pineapple chunks too, toward the end of the cooking time. The pineapple flavor didn't come through too much with just the juice. Including the fruit would add color too.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


So I have to say, I have such a wonderful husband. Even though he has grad school stuff to work on too, he knows how stressed I am about my last class and he's been so supportive - encouraging me when I'm over tired and reigning me back in when I overreact to stuff, like not doing as well on my presentation as I'd wanted.

All I have left at this point is my senior paper, due on the 16th. Damon was so amazing this weekend - on Saturday morning he hung out with Eva so I could sleep in, later he took her for a drive so I could get some work done and came back with supplies to make me dinner (dude roasted a chicken!). I enjoyed going to church with my family on Sunday and got a nice break before getting back to research that night. He gets one day off during spring break so he took yesterday - he let me sleep in again and offered to take Eva to get groceries and bought me roses while he was out, just because.

Love that man.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chicken Corn Chowder

In October of 2007, Damon and I were in the midst of change. We had resigned our membership at the church we'd called home since we first started dating (the church we got married in one June day in 2003), to join a brand new one called The Oaks. We had also just gotten a brand new car in the hopes that we'd be able to make the hour drive to church without breaking down on the highway. :)

We took a long weekend to go to Kelleys Island in Lake Erie toward the end of October. My family used to go camp or stay in a condo there almost every year, but Damon had never been. I knew he would like it because it's quiet and not as tourist-y as the surrounding Cedar Point, Put-in-Bay, etc., especially in the off season. It was a good opportunity to relax. We decided to try the Bed & Breakfast thing and stayed with this really sweet couple, Bill and June Campbell, who own a beautiful house on the west side of the island (sunsets over the lake were great).

June's breakfasts were amazing (pumpkin pancakes, strawberry stuffed french toast, mmmmmm........), so I bought her cookbook.

I'd never made anything out of it, until tonight. I've been trying to cook more since we now have a family to feed, and when I was browsing through her book the other day this one popped out at me. Chicken corn chowder has been my favorite Campbell's Chunky Soup lately, so I thought I would try making it myself. Turned out pretty yummy.

I had no idea how much soup it would make, so I doubled the recipe thinking leftovers wouldn't be a bad thing - well it made a LOT. Like, our big stock pot was 2/3 full. I gave a tupperware full to our neighbors and we'll still be eating it for a couple more days. :) p.s., June's recipe didn't have chicken in it - I just added a couple cans of chicken to mine when I put in the corn and everything.

June Campbell's Corn Chowder

6 strips bacon, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 1/2 cups water
1 large potato, peeled and diced
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 15-oz can whole kernel corn, drained
1 15-oz can cream-style corn
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup milk
2 Tb cornstarch

In large saucepan, cook bacon until crisp. Pour off bacon drippings, saving 2 Tb in pan. Saute onion and celery with bacon and drippings until soft. Add diced potato and water. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in milk, garlic powder, dry mustard, pepper, sugar and corn. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook over low heat until it begins to simmer. Stir milk and cornstarch together, and stir into chowder until thickened. Serve hot with crackers or fresh homemade bread.

Now I'm thinking about that strawberry stuffed french toast again - maybe I should try making that one soon.......

Customer Service

I was in Beavercreek for Eva's 12 month check up yesterday, and had two very different experiences with customer service. After the doctor visit it was time for lunch (good, because the girl was a bit cranky after two shots and having blood drawn, and food usually calms her down ;)). I went to Chik-fil-a because it was right across the street and, let's face it, they have the most amazing chicken sandwich in the universe.

I had to park in one of the farthest parking spots since it was the lunch rush. I was carrying Eva toward the building in the rain when an employee came out with an umbrella and walked us the rest of the way to the door, and he was super polite. I went up to the counter and placed my order and the cashier told me to go ahead and get Eva situated and she would bring the food out to me, which she did very quickly. I had just gotten Eva in the high chair when I realized that I forgot about ketchup and mayo. I was about to pick her up to go get some when a manager came by and asked if she could bring me ketchup or anything. I said yes, a mayo and a few ketchups would be great, and she said "and a straw and some napkins?" Duh, I hadn't even noticed I didn't have those either. Long story short: I. love. Chik-fil-a.


I started typing out my example of bad customer service, namely trying to get my windshield wiper blades replaced at wal-mart after lunch (it was an hour and a half event in which I ended up having them put the old blades back on because they didn't know what they were doing, and Brian Murphy replaced them for us himself after community group last night, bless him), but I think the story would be longer than I feel like writing and could easily turn into ranting. I will just say that it was a lesson in patience and grace while dealing with a baby who was WAY overdue for a nap. I should probably just focus on the good part of my day anyway and forget about the rough part. :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Love This

Totally ripping off Steph's "I'm a fan of..." here, but I have to share how much I love this platter I got at Target. For the longest time the only serving tray I had that was big enough to hold 24 cupcakes had snowmen on it - not the best for a summer party. Then I found this. I love it because it's pretty and looks like it would be heavier ceramic or something, but it's actually plastic.

It fits all the cupcakes with room to spare: