Honors & Awards

My friend Sarah over at Uneventfully Wonderful awarded me my first ever Liebster Blog Award.  Liebster Awards are intended to bring attention to blogs with less than 200 followers.  I'm so honored that Sarah thought of me!  I like this award because it honors those who blog because they purely love it, & not because they get paid to.   I started this blog a little over a year ago & enjoy doing it so much.  One of my purposes of this blog is for my kiddos.  Someday when I'm really old & they get married & start families of their own I'd like them to have access to all my recipes & ideas.  Nesting Corral is also a great creative outlet for this busy mom who NEEDS a creative outlet.  Thank you Sarah for awarding me!

Part of receiving the Liebster Award is awarding it to other bloggers.  Here are the guidelines:
1. Choose 5 blogs with fewer than 200 followers to grant the Liebster Blog award. 
2. Show appreciation to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them!
3. Post the award on your blog and link back to the blogs you have given the Liebster Blog award to so everyone else can pay them a visit. 

So here goes...

My Family
Fabulous Farmhouse 5 by Jami Rodolph.  She has so many cute crafty DIY ideas that cost near to nothing.  I'm always inspired (& a little jealous) by her garage sale finds.  Plus there are tons of cute items she makes & sells.  I've blogged about her recipe boxes & photo albums, but there's so much more- you'll have to check it out.  Beyond that, keeping up with her family is always a fun read.  This is a great blog for anyone who likes to create, enjoys shabby chic decor, & is thrifty.

We Have Plenty is co-created by my friend Michelle Fullente & her cousin Myra Cherchio.  It is a great site to get a variety of recipes.  The premise of the website is using what you have.  No overly fancy ingredients, yet wonderfully creative & yummy dishes.  Try the King Ranch Chicken, you'll be hooked!

I know I'm suppose to award five blogs, but my other choices have already received the award or have too many followers.  I am happy just to bring attention to these two wonderful blogs.  Nice work ladies!

Easy Cheese Sticks

These are the easiest fried cheese sticks in the world.  Instead of breading you use spring roll wrappers.
The centers are full of gooey cheesy goodness.  The best part is they don't break easily.  The spring roll wrappers keep the melted cheese contained.  Dip these puppies in some red sauce or ranch & you'll be in heaven.  Here's the how to...
mozzarella cheese sticks (unwrapped  & however many you want to make)
spring roll wrappers
vegetable or canola oil
Open spring roll wrappers & place damp paper towel on top so they don't dry out.
Place cheese stick at one corner of the wrapper.
Roll cheese stick up in wrapper until you get to the middle of the wrapper.
Fold both corners of the wrapper in.
And continue to roll until you get to the end.
Dab a little water on the corner & roll the remaining way (the water will hold the wrapper in place).  Fill a medium size frying pan with an inch of oil, heat over medium.  Once oil is hot place cheese sticks in the oil & fry all sides until golden brown, 1-2 minutes per side.  Enjoy!

Pizza Dip

I kept seeing this dip on Pinterest.  And since my family is basically addicted to pizza I thought I'd better give 'er a whirl.  Plus, I'm concentrating on appetizers & finger foods right now for the upcoming Super Bowl.  I think Pizza Dip screams Super Bowl fare.  This is super easy to pull together.  And if you're like me & always have pizza sauce & pepperoni in the freezer you'll likely have everything in house already.  You can put whatever topping you desire on.  I kept my simple for the kiddos.  But anything you would put on pizza you can put on top of this.  If you do pepperoni, I suggest using the mini pepperonis.  They work better for dipping.   I served my pizza dip with homemade bread sticks, but pita chips work great as well.  Here's the DL...
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
1/2 teaspoon dry parsley
1/4 teaspoon dry basil
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 1/4 cup pizza sauce
mini pepperoni
1 tablespoon sliced green onion
(or any other toppings you may want, anything you would put on a pizza you can put on this)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine cream cheese, garlic powder, oregano, parsley, and basil.  Spread cream cheese mixture evenly in 9 inch pie pan.  Evenly spread on pizza sauce.  Sprinkle on 3/4 cup of the mozzarella.  Add toppings of your choice.  Sprinkle on remaining mozzarella & Parmesan.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.  Serve with bread sticks or pita chips.  Enjoy!
Recipe for Homemade Bread Sticks
I just made up a batch of pizza dough & then formed it into a rectangular-ish shape.  Baked it at 450 degrees for about 8-10 minutes.  Then I sliced it up as pictured above.

The Office Light

When we moved into our house we turned the little loft space into my husbands office.  Since our house was built in the 1970's and apparently ceiling lights were out-lawed then (I'd love any architectural insight into this), our house mostly has sconces.
Such was the case in my husbands office.  not only was it a sconce, but it was a very dim & not very attractive sconce.  Two bad qualities for a light to posses.
For a long time now we've wanted to make a permanent light fixture out of an old latern.  We saw it in one of our rustic decor books.  We took our our bad office lighting as an opportunity to make the light fixture we'd always wanted to try.  So I sold that ol' sconce & three others that matched it our our bedroom on Craiglist & my hubby got to work creating his masterpiece.
It really was quite easy.  He took the bottom out of the lantern & installed a lamp socket.  Then just attached some wire to the socket & hooked er' all up.  (I'm keeping details kind of vague because I'm not a professional electrician.  So if you have no idea what I'm talking about then get someone who knows the business to help you.)
Then he built a base out of barn wood & we screwed it into the wall & it was done.  I love how it looks & how we've taken something forgotten about in our bunkhouse & revived it into a light we use everyday.  It looks so cool at night shining through the old sixteen pain window we reclaimed.  It gives our house personality & cost way less than a new light fixture.  Kuddos to my hubby for getting this done.

Pulled Pork Sliders

This is one of the easiest & yummiest ways to feed a crowd.  This makes a great Superbowl party dish.  You simply whip up a batch of BBQ sauce & throw a pork roast in a crock pot.  This dish uses my all time favorite BBQ sauce that is so easy to make & tastes amazing.  (You could also use store bought sauce, but I recommend trying to make this one.  It is so good!)  This dish will make your house will smell great, bellies will be full, & you won't have to spend too much dinero.  Here's the skinny...
1 pork roast
4 Tablespoons of butter
1 cup water
Dinner rolls or slider buns
BBQ Sauce (you will probably need two batches of this for an average size pork roast)
    1 onion diced
    3 Tablespoons butter
    2 cups ketchup
    1/3 cup molasses
   1 teaspoon mustard
    2 tsp brown sugar
   1 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
   1/8 cup whiskey
Melt butter in  medium saucepan.  Add diced onion & cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients & allow to simmer stirring often for 20 minutes.  Taste it & add more salt or sugar as desired.  If you like things a little spicy add some chili powder.  So good you could eat it by the spoonful, but I suggest using it as a topping.  Makes about 2 1/4 cups.

In crock-pot or slow cooker pour in water.  Set in your pork roast.  Slice the butter into 1/4 pieces & place on top of roast.  Cook on medium for 5-6 hours or until pork easily pulls apart by using two forks (& I mean easily!  Should be like butter.)  Pull the pork by using two forks & shredding it.  Pour on plenty of BBQ sauce & coat the pork.  Put a couple tablespoons on a dinner roll or slider bun & eat it up.
*Cooking time will very depending on the size of your roast.  As long as there is enough moisture you can't really over cook it.  Just test it by using two forks & trying to pull it apart.  If there is resistance then the meat is not done.
*Make sure to have plenty of BBQ sauce.  You will have to probably make 2 batches of the recipe above, maybe more.  If you make too much just freeze the extra for another meal.
*This is a great meal to make for a kid event because the sandwiches are small & manageable... & yummy.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

I figured I better post some dishes for the upcoming Superbowl.  One reason I love the Superbowl is that I get to eat appetizers all day long.  A signature food of any football get-together is buffalo chicken.  There are few things I love more than buffalo chicken.  I like it in it's various forms, wings, chicken strips, nuggets, whatever.  So when my mother-in-law incorporated it into this awesome dip I was hooked.  The best part is that it's paired with ranch & celery, so you get all those wonderful flavors in one bite.  Serve this dip up with some tortilla chips & you'll be a hero at your Superbowl party.  Here's the skinny...
8 ounces cream cheese softened
3 cups shredded chicken
3/4 cups buffalo sauce (my favorite is Frank's Red Hot Wings Buffalo sauce, or make your own {recipe below})
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 celery stock finely diced
{Buffalo Sauce}
1/3 cup hot sauce (like Frank's hot sauce)
1/3 cup butter melted & cooled
1 tablespoon vinegar
Preheat oven to 350.  Mix chicken & buffalo sauce together until chicken is coated, set aside.  In deep dish pie plate or 9x9 baking dish evenly spread the cream cheese.  Sprinkle celery evenly on top of cream cheese.  On top of that spread the ranch dressing & then evenly layer on the chicken.  Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top.  Bake for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly.  Serve with tortilla chips & enjoy!

Chicken Lasagna Roll-Ups

I love lasagna, but I don't like making it.  It takes time and quite a bit of money to buy all that cheese.  This is a great alternative to traditional lasagna.  But it takes half the time & doesn't require as much cheese.  Plus, it's easy to serve & looks fancy.  Here's the DL...
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 cup Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 cup milk
8 lasagna noodles, cooked & drained
2 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In medium bowl combine chicken, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, and milk.  In a 9 by 13 inch baking dish spread 1 cup of spaghetti sauce, or more until bottom of pan is coated.  Lay out lasagna noodles & pat dry with a paper towel.  Spread about 1/2 cup of the chicken & cheese mixture on each noodle.  Spread about 2 tablespoon spaghetti sauce on top of that.  Roll noodle up.
Arrange lasagna rolls seam side down on top of sauce in the baking dish.  Top each noodle with a little more sauce & sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  Cover loosely with tin foil so that foil doesn't touch the top of the rolls (you may have to tent the foil)  Bake for 20 minutes, remove foil & bake for an addition 10 minutes.  Serve & enjoy!

*This would also be good with a little spinach in them as well.  Could substitute ground beef or ground Italian sausage for the chicken.

Missing the Sunrise

Last year when we lived on the ranch there were many things that I didn't care for this time of year.  For instance, feeding livestock in twenty degrees below zero weather.  Or having to open three gates just to get out of our "driveway".  But one thing that I greatly miss are the sunrises.
Our old ranch house faced east & every morning a beautiful sunrise would pop over the mountains.  This always made getting my day started a little bit easier.
Now I live in the mountains close to town.  We do not have sunrises.  It just starts to get brighter & around noon  the sun is visible.
And while I feel extremely blessed to have our new home, I miss my dose of morning sunrise.
Something about a sunrise give you a feeling of newness.  & you think "Yeah, this is a new day.  Come on, let's get going!"
A sunrise will put you beyond yourself & make you think about how big, beautiful, & amazing this world is, & how wonderful of a Creator we have.  It will ground you & make you think about what's important.
A sunrise will stop you in your tracks & make you take a big deep breath & enjoy life.   I miss my sunrises.
Which is why I have one of these photos as my desktop image.  My computer is right by the kitchen, the room where I start my day by feeding, fixing my kiddos hair & getting them ready for school.  So I see it first thing in the morning, gives my day a jump start.  Feel free to grab one of these photos & do the same.  It will make your morning brighter.

Banana Blueberry Muffins

You have to make these!  They are so moist, like banana bread, but convenient like a muffin.  The combination of blueberries & bananas is a winner.  And the crumble topping will brighten your day.  So if you've got a few brown bananas lying around whip this baby up, you won't regret it.  Here's the DL...
2 large ripe (& by ripe I mean really brown) bananas, mashed
2 eggs
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted & slightly cooled
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries
2 tablespoons Sugar in the Raw
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
Mix together using fork until mixture resembles cornmeal.  A few lumps are good.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Coat a muffin tin with cooking spray or use liners.  Using an electric mixer beat together bananas, eggs, brown sugar, melted butter, & vanilla until well blended.  Stir in flour, baking powder, & salt.  Mix until just incorporated (don't mix too long or your muffins will be tough).  Using a spoon, gently fold in blueberries.
Scoop batter into muffin tin, about 2/3 way full.  Evenly spoon topping on top of each muffin.  Sprinkle sugar in the raw on top of each muffin.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Remove from oven & let cool for a bit.  Enjoy!

Taco Chili

This is one of the easiest & tastiest dinners ever.  My entire family from ages 2 to 36 loves this dish.  Best part is I just throw everything in a crock-pot & go on about my day.  Then when dinner rolls around I whip out grated cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, some raw veggies & dinner is done.  No expensive ingredients & wonderful taste, it's a winner.  Here's the skinny...
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 onion diced
2 tablespoons butter
2 cans (15oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
2 cans (15 oz) chili beans in sauce
1 can (15 oz) kernel corn
1/4 cup or 1 package taco seasoning mix
In large skillet melt butter, add onion & cook 2 minutes.  Add ground beef & cook until meat is brown.  In slow cooker or crock pot combine meat mixture, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili beans, corn (undrained), & taco seasoning.  Give a good stir.  Cover 7 cook on low heat setting for 4-6 hours or high heat setting for 2-3 hours.  Serve with grated cheese & sour cream on top.  Enjoy! (Serves 6.)

*You can kick this dish up a notch by adding jalapenos &/or diced green chilies & hot sauce.

A Few Of My Favorite Things

Here are a few things that I absolutely adore right now...

Lightweight v-neck tees from Old Navy.  I discovered these t-shirts this past summer & I love 'em.  I bought a bunch of different colors & I wear them all the time.  They are so comfy, not too tight on the tummy, & look cute.  Perfect.
Cuties.  Have you had these amazing little oranges yet?  They are the perfect size, super yummy, & easy to peel.  So easy, in fact, that my three year old can do it.  I've found myself buying a bag of these each time I'm at Costco.  They are a perfect little snack.
Mini Vaseline container.  I found this at Target & just had to have it.  Winter up here in the Mountains can really do a number on your lips.  I have a standard size Vaseline container that I keep hidden in my desk drawer because let's face it, they're unsightly & make me look like a grandma.  But this cute little Vaseline I can stick on the windowsill above my kitchen sink & it looks just fine.  Plus is easy to access to moisturize my lips or smear on my kiddos chapped cheeks.  Thank you Vaseline for making your cute little container so I don't have to look like a grandma.  (& now I feel the uncontrollable need to put some on my lips.)
Stackable mugs from Pier One.  My friend got me these for my past birthday.  I love how little space they use & that I can just stick this whole set by my coffee maker & it looks good.  The mugs are a great shape as well.  I'm a big believer in a mug not only looking good but being comfortable to hold.  They have to fit just right in your hand if ya' know what I mean.  These mugs are great.
While we're on the topic of caffeinated beverages, may I just say that I am totally addicted to peppermint mochas.  My sis-in-law surprised me with one earlier this winter & I've been hooked ever since.  This is a big step for me because I almost religiously drink iced mochas (no matter how cold it is outside I order a iced mocha light on the chocolate).  So for me to love a hot mocha this much is a milestone.  I also have to say, I've tried these at various places & so far Starbucks does the best job.  For me to say that is another big step.  Crucify me if you like, but I'm not a huge fan of Starbucks.  I think they are overpriced and a little snobby.  I generally try to hit local coffee shops.  But I'll give credit where credit is due, Starbucks makes the best peppermint mochas.
This is our kitty Zamies (if you can name that movie in the comments section below I will buy you a coffee, scouts honor).  Josh got me Zamies out of the "to giveaways" as a mouser.  It was when we were first married & living out on the ranch.  The little farmhouse we were in had a colony of pocket gophers in the front yard & mice in the crawl space.  So Zamies was our exterminator, and she proved to be a good one.  Beyond mice & pocket gophers Zamies has "taken care of" wiesles, pack rats, & gophers.  When we moved into town we left our kitty at the ranch because she just wasn't a town kind of cat.  She mostly lives outside & sleeps in the tack room.  She is the best barn cat ever because she's not mean & loves to cuddle, yet she's tough & a survivor.  We brought Zamies into town with us a couple weeks ago for some r & r.  She has spent the last two weeks eating well, sleeping on the couch & enjoying the warm fire.  It's nice to have a pet around & she's still sweet as can be.  Towards the end of the month we'll return her to her stopping grounds at the ranch, but for now she's living large & being an indoor cat.
I always paint my toenails, always.  I'm generally a red or French pedicure kind of girl, but this pas week while I was sick I decided to try something different.  I have a big bin of polish because my daughters love to paint their toes, my Mom also gives them polish whenever they ask, and because I have this habit of buying pretty colors of polish & then never really using them.

Well, this is a color that my Mom gave them & I love it.  I wish I would have discovered it this Fall because it is the perfect Autumn color.  It's pretty & sparkly, what more could you want.

I'm not in habit of taking pictures of my feet & sharing them with the world, but I wanted you to see the beauty of this color.  Plus getting this shot gave my hamstrings a good stretch.

These locally made earrings from Tailfeathers are some of my favorite ear wear yet.  I've gotten both of these pairs from friends & I love them.  They are unique & adorable.  You can buy them on Etsy, or if you live in the Missoula area just email the owner & she'll let you swing by her house where she has a huge selection & better prices.  Yay for cute jewelry.
I can't live without my knee-high socks.  I know it's a little nerdy, but I need my tall socks.  Mostly because I wear cowboy boots a lot & I don't like the feel of the boots against my skin (especially in hot weather).  So I use my beloved knee-high socks to create a barrier between my shins & my boots.  It was a good day when Target started carrying knee-highs in their "cheap socks bin" (as I call it) & in super cute prints.  It may be a little 1970's, but I got to have me some knee-high socks.

Well, now ya' know what I like.  Not that you really need that knowledge, but maybe you saw something you like too.  Anyway, I've got to go make some  mac & cheese for my monkeys before they riot.  Ten four.

Loaded Potato Soup

There's nothing like a thick creamy soup to make you feel full & warm.  This soup does just that.  It's rich & creamy & also has a more "grown-up" taste, thanks to the beer (& all the Wisconsinites said "yah").  This soup is easy to make.  You can do it ahead of time or at the last minute.  Plus you get to put sour cream & bacon on top, doesn't get much better than that.  Here's the DL...
4 Tablespoons butter
1 celery stock finely chopped
1 carrot finely chopped
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1/4 cup flour
salt & pepper
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup half & half
1 cup milk
1 cup beer
4 medium potatoes
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup Parmesan
sour cream
bacon (cooked & chopped)
diced green onion
Cut potatoes into quarters.  Place in boiling water & cook until fork tender.  Drain & let cool, cut into one inch hunks.  In a dutch oven or large pot melt butter.  add celery, carrot, onion & garlic.  Cook for 8 minutes or until carrots are slightly tender.  Sprinkle in flour & cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Gradually whisk in the chicken stock.  Add the milk & whisk until incorporated.  Add the beer & stir well.  Gradually add in the cheddar & Parmesan cheese, whisk until melted in.  Add the potatoes & simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove soup from heat & using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.  Add salt & pepper to taste (If you don't have an immersion blender just use a potato masher).  Serve warm topped with sour cream, bacon, & green onions.  Enjoy!

Bragging on My Family

Sorry things have been a little slow around here.  Since the day after Christmas I have had a horrible cold.  It knocked me out & I've only left the house once in eight days.  But I'm feeling a little better & think I'm on the up swing.  On top of that a portion of our basement flooded & we had a sewer gas problem in one of our bathrooms.  It has been a busy week for my husband, especially since all I really could do was lay in bed.  He was a trooper though & took care of all the kids, ran to the store (& even got everything on the list & for the best price), did dishes, & took care of our mild disasters.  Things are getting fixed, including my sinuses, and I'll start posting more regularly again this week.
I wanted to brag on my hubby & Mom for a minute.  They got me the best Christmas present ever this year, a KitchenAid mixer!  I've been wanting one of these since the day I got married nine years ago.  I just figured it wouldn't happen for a few more years.  But everyone chipped in & surprised me.  I've only used it twice, since I was sick cooking & baking have been on the back burner.  I can't wait to really mix some stuff up!  I think my poor little hand beaters are relieved that they don't have to mix up my banana bread recipe anymore.  I have the best hubby & family in the world, I really do.
Hope y'all had a good New Years, I'll be back soon with some more recipes & ideas.