Maple-Cherry Glazed Chicken

You really can't get much easier then this. Inspired by Red Lobster's Maple Cherry Glazed Chicken, I searched and searched for a recipe but I needed something that could go in the crock pot because my husband is picky about chicken, it must be juicy, and boneless, and fall apart.

I guessed on the measurements because what I found was all over the map on that, fortunately not on ingredients.

I made my life easier by doing my own thing. I bought a jar of cherry preserves (instead of dried cherries and dicing them up); this also kept me from needing to add sugar and lemon juice to the recipe.

1/2 cup of maple syrup
1/2 a jar, or about 1/2 cup of cherry preserves
2-3 tablespoons of soy sauce
3-4 pieces of boneless, skinless chicken breast

*I dumped all of this into a gallon-size freezer bag and froze it until I wanted to cook it. You can do it either way, the only difference is cooking time.*
5 hours for thawed chicken, 6 hours for frozen.
Crock pot setting: Low heat.
I added a little bit of water (1-2 tablespoons) to the bag to get out the cherry pieces and syrup that were sticking to the inside of the bag and dumped that in too.
About 1 hour before you are ready to serve, stir 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 1-2 tablespoons of water. Stir into sauce and stir occasionally for the next hour to help it thicken.

I served this on a bed of wild rice and with a side of vegetables.


Pumpkin Spice Granola

and it is gorgeous when stored in a glass jar.
I may never buy granola again, well unless I keep running out of this stuff. I made a single batch on Sunday. Wednesday, I made a double batch and was out again the following Sunday. Whoops.
This is stuff is like crack. 
So I stole borrowed the recipe from Joyfulhealthyeats when referred to her by my cousin, who insists that
everyone just triple this recipe.
You will eat it all.

I changed it slightly (adding 1 cup of Rice Crispies or (off-brand) Crispy Rice) and the instructions were switched a bit.

2 cups of old fashioned oats
1 cup of Rice Crispies
½ cup of sliced almonds
¼ cup of dried cranberries
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of pumpkin spice seasoning
½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of salt
4 tablespoons of coconut oil
½ cup of maple syrup
¼ cup of pumpkin puree
1½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

To get started, preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl mix, old fashioned oats, rice crispies and almonds. 

In small bowl, add pumpkin puree, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Whisk together. Add in brown sugar, pumpkin spice seasoning, ground cinnamon, and salt. (This is so it gets evenly distributed now rather then them all be at the bottom of the dry bowl. 

Pour the small bowl into the big bowl, toss to coat and make sure everything is covered. Now add in the dried cranberries. Toss again gently.

On a baking sheet, place either a silicon mat or parchment paper. Then spread the granola mixture across the entire pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, turning the granola every 10 minutes so it doesn't burn.

Remove from oven and let cool.

Enjoy, try not to eat it all at once.


Gluten Free Banana Bread

This recipe is stolen borrowed from Minimalist Baker. I have been trying to cut back on Gluten in my diet as more and more family members seem to be getting the lovely diagnosis of Celiac. And I have a lot to learn... After not needing to cook/bake Gluten Free for the past 8 years or so, I have a lot of catching up to do. I know enough basics to cook around it when I need to but alas I still forget things like adding xanthan gum in with the flour. I even looked at the side of the flour mix to see what I needed to add and then completely forgot. Blaming this on the pregnancy brain, because I can. 

One Bowl Gluten Free Banana Bread (VEGAN OPTIONAL)

3 medium ripe bananas (~1.5 cups)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 egg (or sub 1 chia or flax egg)
3 Tbsp grape seed or coconut oil, melted (I used coconut oil)
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2-3 Tbsp honey, depending on ripeness of bananas
3.5 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup almond or dairy milk
1 1/4 cup almond meal** 
1 1/4 cup gluten free flour blend 
1 1/4 cup gluten free oats
(and I added mini chocolate chips, because every pregnant lady needs chocolate)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a loaf pan with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray.
  2. Mash banana in a large bowl. Add all ingredients through almond milk and whisk vigorously to combine. Last add almond meal, gluten free flour blend and oats and stir.
  3. Bake for 1 hour – 1 hour 15 minutes. When ready, it should feel firm and be crackly and golden brown on top.
  4. Let cool completely before cutting or it will be too tender to hold form.
  5. Serve with butter and honey or as is. Store leftovers in a covered container for up to a few days. Slice and freeze for longer term storage.
**I didn't have this so I just used all-purpose gluten free flour for all of it- so a total of 2.5 cups, and I should have remembered to add Xanthan gum. Oops. 


Little Man #2's nursery

Until a month ago this room was a guest room, with a king size bed taking up nearly half the floor space.
6 weeks out from my due date, I was slightly panicky. I wanted it done and quick, just so that it would be done and I wouldn't have to worry.
It took over 2 weeks to sell the mattress and get it out of there but there was a sigh of relief when it did.
Now I'm a week from my due date and it is done... I mean there's always more to add, but in a general sense... It's done.  Plus according to my little man #1, it has the very important "bubbles" -aka the paper mobile over the bed and the "balloons" -aka the paper lanterns over the changing table/dresser. 


Master Mess Makeover- the Afters!

Here are the afters... where the white dresser used to be. Now vintage themed!

 This is where that white dresser and my desk used to be...

Behind the door... i moved the bookshelf here after moving both of the dressers to the same wall together. One general place for all the clothes, clean and dirty to chill! Trust me, I still come around the door trying to get to the dresser that was here.

This is the wall that was home to the keyboard.

The keyboard found a new home, downstairs... where there's actually room for it.
Oh, and the bed, you were waiting for this... the headboard was a long process... because... the coral fabric is -get this- removable! My poor hubby suffers from allergies, and he was coming up with all sorts of ways to stretch it across and yet make it removable... it was so complicating!! So I sewed it to fit (front and back) and we added snaps to the backs of the buttons and wa-la! Removable!


Master Mess Makeover- BEFORES!

No, this isn't embarrassing. Really. Ok, maybe it is. Our master bedroom is the drop zone, laundry hiding place, mail drop, and must-hide-everything-guest-are-coming spot.
It does drive me nuts. Mostly I have not come up with practical ways of handling the mess and this room has been a free-for-all since we moved in. I was able to get my son's nursery pretty much set up in the month before he came, but all other accomplished projects have been done very slowly in the 2 years since and the master bedroom has not ever been tackled. 
But with another baby on the way and lots of future hours in this room with it becoming the command center again, I really need to get things happening! 

We did move downstairs to cooler temperatures for the summer so this room was free to get cleaned as I pleased. It took awhile but with guests coming and going I was encouraged to get 'er done!

So stare and comment away because the after pictures are coming!!!


Quote Art

FYI, these are pictures mixed and matched showing different steps of different projects. I'm not very good at doing step by step pictures of one whole project.... 

1. Canvas - Pick out your size of canvas. I have gotten 12x12s and 16x20 two packs at hobby lobby- the cheapest brand because I wasn't using regular paints or making a painting.
(I also picked up paint markers/pens for doing the letters while I was here)

2. Paint - I picked up a sample 2 oz at Lowes of the color of my choice. (BM-Palladian Blue) This was more then enough to cover 4 canvases. Or just use some leftover paints depending on who you are doing it for or which room it is going in.

3. Verse, Quote, etc. - originally for our room I was going to do a hymn but I couldn't decide- It was a toss-up of either the first verse of Be Thou My Vision or Lamentations 3- seemed appropriate for over the bed as a reminder as you go to bed or get up in the morning. For other projects, just cute little quotes I spotted while wandering on pinterest. 

4. Fonts - This may not be difficult for the average person but it was for me. I love cursive but I wanted something legible for anybody reading it. I printed off only one paper (two words) at a time until I got the size right. Microsoft Word was mad at me. :)

5. Wiggle room - I laid out the papers when I got to the right size and on my 16x20s I realized that the way I had them lined up was leaving some empty spots. So then it was back to Pinterest to find a way to fill them in. 

     Lace (clearance at the fabric store!) and Paint. I used double stick tape to hold the lace onto the back of the canvas. I was just going to sponge a lighter layer of blue onto the lace but the lace and sponge kept sticking to each other and the lace didn't stay in place. Spray paint to the rescue! I had white gloss laying around so I sprayed a light dusting of that onto the lace and then immediately pulled the lace off the canvas so it wouldn't stick.

6. Prep - Now your canvas is dry and you have your verse, quote, hymn picked out in your font of choice. 
I used rubber bands to line up where my words would go. For example my 12x12 was split for 3 lines, so my 1st line 3 inches down and then my 2nd line was 4 inches down from that line and then the 3 line was down 4 inches from that- leaving an inch of space at the bottom for the "tails" on the the y and g. Measure and adjust accordingly for what you need. 

7. Tools of the trade - Carbon paper (pick up at any office store), regular pen and your printed off quote. I used the rubber band to help keep my layers of paper and carbon paper lined up in the right spot. Trace the letters and it "magically" transfers onto the canvas. 

8. Magic - Remove the papers and rubber bands. Look! It's magic!!! I mean carbon paper. Use your paint marker/pen to fill in the traced words. 

9. Waiting- Let it dry. Usually I set it out of reach of little ones and let it dry for several hours or overnight.

10. Hang it up and show it off!


No-bake cheesecake

I was craving cheesecake as any normal pregnant person should. And I had all the ingredients. in my house. at the same time. So I just needed an excuse and my excuse was our anniversary. 

2 packages of cream cheese (8oz each) - room temperature
1-2 tsp of vanilla extract
3/4 cup of sugar
1 (8 oz) cartoon of Cool Whip, Whipped Topping, etc.
Graham cracker crust 

With a kitchen aid mixer or hand mixer, whip together the first three ingredients. Scrape frequently to get it mixed well. 

Add about a third of the Cool Whip to the cream cheese mixture. Gently whip it until well mixed. 

Scoop half of that mixture into the graham cracker crust. Gently spread it evenly across the bottom of the crust. 

Add another third of the Cool Whip to the other half of the cream cheese/cool whip mixture. Gently whip this also, and then spread gently and evenly on the first layer. 

Top with remaining Cool Whip, spreading evenly across the 2 layer. I used the back of a spoon to make little swirls in the topping.  

Our toppings- added right before serving- were strawberries for me and chocolate peanut butter sauce for him. 

Chocolate peanut butter sauce was just chocolate chips, peanut butter, butter and sugar melted together and mixed together. 

~You don't have to do this many steps or layer it this way, but I wanted to try it and well, my son was napping too~
Eat it up and Enjoy!!!


Musical Dressers - the makeover!

I wish I had a good "before" picture but sadly I had it all apart before I remembered! I know I'm not the only one with this problem so I snapped a couple before I got some help lugging it out to the garage for a fresh coat of white paint...
 Smudges and weird markings from the handles- yuck!
 Crusty and worn handles- yuck!
Can't really see them but there are pink marker marks and dings in the paint- yuck!

Notice a theme??? 

My sister helped me get them painted yesterday so that's done! Yay!! Here's the fresh coat! 

weird smudges and markings gone!

Dings and markings gone!

Oh, and musical dressers you ask? Because it went from this hairy spot in the master bedroom to my son's room and his changing table/dresser is moving into the next baby's room. :) 
And this is my only "Before" picture. eek. 

The handles were definitely the most difficult part of this makeover. Multiple coats of Satin brown spray paint... the handles moving, getting stuck, puddling, etc. UGH! But we finally got to the home stretch after I moved them inside for the last two touch-up sprayings in the extra bedroom. (They dry so much quicker when the humidity isn't 95% and the temperature isn't 95°!)

It just looks so much better! I'm sold!


bookshelf - new look!

I would have never thought to do this, even though I buy my old books solely based on the cover and/or binding, I had never thought to turn them facing out- Thank you BHG for posting this picture!!!

I need to go shopping in my old guest room for more accessories. But the books are out and showing their stuff!


Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

I found this recipe on pinterest from here. My hubby is a big Caesar salad guy so I tried it out on him... and he kept taking "one more" spoonful- must be good!!

I had some chicken leftover from the night before that had simmered for about 4 hours with seasonings so it was falling apart on me as I was trying to get it out of the pot- YUM!!!
(By simmering a large amount of chicken all together it provides enough for several small dishes for a week. Might as well if you are only cooking for a few.)

So here it is:
Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
Author: Amy Allen Clark
Prep time:  15 mins
Cook time:  12 mins
Total time:  27 mins
Serves: 6

To make this dish quicker, use a rotisserie chicken instead of roasting your own!

1 pound dry penne pasta
4 boneless chicken breasts, roasted & seasoned with Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic seasoning* 
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic seasoning*
1 (8 ounce) bottle Caesar salad dressing
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 head romaine lettuce – rinsed, dried and shredded
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (or 1-2 regular tomatoes chopped)
 ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Prepare chicken as directed above. Allow the meat to rest ten minutes and then dice or shred for your pasta salad.
Prepare your lettuce and tomatoes and toss them into a large bowl with the cooled chicken.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add penne pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
In a bowl, mix together salad dressing, vinegar, and seasonings. Toss together pasta, chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, and dressing mixture.
Garnish with croutons and Parmesan cheese, if desired. 

*I had McCormick's Pinch Perfect Garlic and Herb- anything similar to these will work for this.


2 months after Resolutions!

Oh, the big hopes and dreams.
I had a lot of tasks to get done.
Gallery wall. Done.
That's it.
Yep, that's all that got accomplished.
We came home from holidays away and caught some nasty colds. I fought off the flu and had some rough sleep-lacking nights as my son was struggling to breathe with sore throat and major congestion. So not the way the wanted to spend the first 2 months of this new year.

I have had some new ideas for my resolutions, since I had plenty of time to sit around and think about it while I was cuddling my baby.
I was about to move the bookshelf out of bedroom #2 when I realized a coat of light gray paint (found on clearance for $2.50) on the backing of the bookshelf would breathe new life on it and would work really well for bedroom #2. It not going downstairs to the guest room also leaves more space down there for something like a playpen/crib. It got cozy in there awhile back when we had guests with kids!

The office - has had a couple of leaps of toward greatness spread out by weeks of standstill because I walk in and just want to go take a nap. I put some additional shelves up (they were sitting around anyway) hoping these would be for some random trinkets the hubby can show off. We will see... Who's going to go in there- really? 

I was told by the hubby to hold off on the master bedroom until summer. We'll all move downstairs for the summer (it's like 10 degrees cooler down there) again which gives me time to do what I want and not be rushed. Yay!

All painting is waiting for summer too, or at least continual warmer weather... and helpers. I'm gonna need some helpers to help me get it done! Someone has to entertain the little man!
Of course the garage is always way out there in the distant future. My hubby keeps telling me that it's supposed to be nice the next couple of days and I could really get a lot done out there... And sadly i'm thinking about working on it later this week when it gets up to 55 degrees. What am I thinking??

I am only 1 week away from my next big project. More on that to come!


German Meatballs

Today was the second time making this. Both times I made them slightly different so maybe someday I'll get it perfect. The first time I didn't have pork so it was made with just beef -1.5 pounds - just to be fair. The second time I substituted the pork for German sausage from the butcher. Yum. (I also may or may not have the lemon juice and peel on hand when I cook these things.) And for the life of me I can't remember if I added the eggs to the meatballs this time. Oh my goodness, I need help. It still tasted really good!

1 1 inch slice bread
1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon butter or margarine

2 beaten eggs
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork or German sausage
3 tablespoons snipped parsley

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon paprika
 - I use 1/2 tsp to add more flavor
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

 - again 1/2 tsp
3 cups beef broth

1 cup cold water

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Hot cooked noodles, rice or spaetzle

In a large mixing bowl, soak bread in enough milk to cover it.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, cook onion in butter until onion is tender, but not brown. Press milk from bread, discarding milk.
In large bowl, combine bread, eggs, beef, pork, parsley, salt, Worcestershire sauce, peel, juice, paprika, nutmeg, and onion mixture. Mix lightly with your hands. Form into meatballs.
In large skillet, bring broth to boiling. Add meatballs. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until meatballs are done (160 degree F).
With a slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to a serving bowl and keep warm.
Skim fat from cooking liquid. Reserve 2-1/2 cups cooking liquid, adding water, if necessary.
Mix cold water and flour. Stir into reserved cooking liquid. Cook and stir until bubbly. Cook 1 minute. Pour over meatballs. Serve with hot noodles, rice or spaetzle. Top with additional snipped parsley. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Next time I will be adding mushrooms to the sauce and per my hubby's suggestion a scoop of sour cream. The ultimate German thing.


Blackberry Pie explosion.

This is my first attempt at any sort of berry pie... I'm rather partial to my Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie, so I don't stray far. I did use my flaky buttery pie crust. I'm partial to that one as well, or maybe I'm just picky.
I borrowed the recipe from Sweet Anna's... And made a few adjustments.

Blackberry Pie
6 cups fresh or frozen wild blackberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

1 teaspoon sugar
tidbits of butter

Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Line a baking sheet with foil and place that in the oven to preheat also, on a rack on the top 1/3 of the oven (this is to help catch drips!).

Grab a 9" deep-dish pie plate and set it aside for a bit later.

In a large bowl, toss together the berries, and the rest of the ingredients except the tsp of sugar.

On a well floured surface, roll out one half of your pie dough to about an 11" circle. Carefully transfer it to your pie plate and press it firmly into the bottom and sides. Trim the crust to just the edge of the pie plate and place in the fridge.

Re-flour your surface and roll out the other half of your dough into another 11" circle.

Remove the pie plate from the fridge and dump the berry mixture into the crust. Dot the top of the berry mixture with the butter bits (i forgot to do this! eek!) and then gently lay out the rolled out dough onto the top of the pie.

Press this crust down gently around the edges, trim the overhang to about 1" and then fold the top crust under the bottom crust edge, pressing firmly to seal as you go around.

Carefully cut some slits into the top of the pie and then sprinkle with the tsp of sugar.

Cover the edges of the pie with foil and then place the whole pie into the preheated oven, directly onto the foil-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes, remove the foil, and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling.

Let the pie cool if you want prettier pieces. Serve with ice cream or fresh whipped cream!