French Press Friday


A few weeks ago I was on the hunt for a new coffee machine.  I have an espresso machine - which I love - but I needed something else.  Everyone had suggested the Keurig to me.. but I couldn't justify paying that much money for one.  Though I know a lot of people pay for it for the convenience.  Stick in the cup, press the button, out comes your coffee.  And that's fine.

But I needed something that would be friendly to our bank account.  And I'm not in a rush for my coffee in the morning.  So the fact that is brews coffee in like 30 seconds wasn't a 'wow' factor for me.  I just wanted a good cup of coffee, for a good price. 

My cousin had suggested I get a French Press!  I had heard of them before, but didn't know much about them.  So I did my research.  And I ended up going out that same weekend to purchase one.  I took my 20% off coupon and headed to Bed Bath & Beyond to purchase the Bodum Chambord Coffee Press.  It is fun to use.. and only takes 5 minutes for the coffee to be ready.  One minute to boil the water, 4 minutes to steep.  I could live with that.  The coffee it makes is so smooth and rich.  I was pretty proud of my purchase.  Plus it's all pretty-looking.. sitting there on my 'coffee station' in my kitchen.  ;)

Every cup tastes so fresh, because it's best to grind your own when you use a french press.  The smell of coffee beans?  Best smell.  Ever.  Especially in the morning.

You want to grind it, so it's still pretty course. 

And then you have to combine it in the french press with some hot water.  Give it a stir, and let it steep for at least 4 minutes.  After that, you press down the top so it pushes all the coffee grounds to the bottom, and all the coffee up through the mesh strainer.

Of course my favorite part.. is enjoying it.  :)

Anyone else use a French Press and love it?  Or have thought about using one?

New 'Do


I won a free haircut through a drawing.. this is big.  I never win anything.  Ever!  So I started going through my Pinterest board to see what I could come up with.  I've been debating on chopping my hair for a very long time now. 

I needed something cute, fresh... and easy.  Because let's face it.. I have an almost-2-year-old (say what?) and I don't have time to stand in the bathroom blow drying my hair for at least 45 minutes - yes, it took me that long to blow dry my hair.  My hair is thick.  And it retains water, really really well.  And for it to air dry.. yeah, 6 hours.  No thanks.  So pretty much 6 days of the week my hair would be up in a pony or a bun.  And I was tired of it.

I told my husband that I was going to cut my hair and he even asked me, 'How long is your hair anyway?'  Yeah, that's how often I wore my hair down.. he didn't even know how long it was.  Haha.

So anyway, I decided on a pretty cut a la Julianne Hough in the movie 'Safe Haven'.  I was nervous.  And then I would see other beautiful (long) hairstyles on Pinterest.. and think, I don't want to cut my hair.. because I want to try all these pretty ways of styling my hair while it's long.  But who am I kidding.  Ain't nobody got time for that.

But I ended up chopping it, and I love it.  Love, love, love, looooooove.  I'm happy.  A good hair cut always makes a girl feel GOOD.  Am I right or am I right?

How about a little before and after...

Now I feel like I need to go shopping.. a new wardrobe to go with this haircut?  Yes, I think so.  :)

Sausage Pasta Skillet {recipe}


The grown-ups version of hot dogs in mac & cheese.  But about 10x more delicious and flavorful.  This recipe is super simple, only taking a max. of about 30 minutes from start to finish, and using only ONE pan.  Less dirty dishes?  Yes, please.

This is one of my husbands favorites.. he'll even eat the left overs the next day!  I like to use the mild Rotel because I found the original is a little too spicy for me (and my daughter).  But if you like it spicy, go for it!  Even a pinch of red pepper flakes would up the spiciness of this dish.  This is a very versatile dish.. you could even add in some veggies if you'd like (broccoli would be good!).

Spicy Sausage Pasta Skillet 
via Plain Chicken

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 14 oz smoked sausage, sliced into 1/4" rounds
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (10 oz) can rotel (I prefer mild, but if you want more spice use the original)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz whole grain penne (or whatever noodle you prefer, I've also used bowtie)
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
Heat oil over medium-high heat in an oven safe skillet until hot.  Add the sausage and onion and cook until lightly browned, 4-5 minutes.  Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.

Add the broth, rotel, heavy cream, uncooked pasta, and pepper.  Stir well.  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer until the pasta is tender, 15 minutes.  Stir once or twice while cooking.  Preheat the broiler while pasta is cooking.

Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in 1 cup of the cheese. Taste, and add salt as needed. Top with the scallions and remaining cheese.  Broil until the cheese is melted and lightly browned - about 3 minutes.

Tastes great as leftovers the next day, too.. if you have any.  ;)

Apple Bread {recipe}


We eat a lot of apples.  Or should I say, Clara eats a lot of apples!  It's one of her favorites, next to bananas.  I had some extra apples laying around and it's been quite a while since I've made this bread.  It's my husbands favorite.. and probably one of my favorites too (out of all the 'dessert' breads.. banana, pumpkin, etc..).  I'd be lying if I said that grating 4 cups of apples isn't a little bit tedious.  But it's so worth the end result.

Haven't had apple bread before?  Do yourself a favor and try it.

Apple Bread
recipe from my mama

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 c. grated apples
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, cold and cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Mix eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.  Stir in grated apples and flour until just combined.

In a separate, smaller bowl combine 1/2 c. sugar, cinnamon, 2 tsp. flour, and butter.  Mix together until crumbly.

Sprinkle half of the topping mixture into the bottom of 2 loaf pans.  Then divide the batter into each pan.  Then sprinkle the rest of the topping mixture on top of the batter.  Bake for 1 hour, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack.

It's so delicious right from the oven.. my husband could hardly wait to get his paws on it in the photo below..

New Kicks


A couple weeks ago Zulily had a great deal on TOMS.  I've been desperately wanting to get Clara a pair, so I figured since they were on sale, which is a rarity.. then why not!  I absolutely love my pair.. so now she can be like mommy.  ;)

 And I love that for every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a new pair of shoes to a child in need.  Comfy, cute shoes.. and a good cause.  What's not to love?  I think I may need to get myself another pair..

No Bake Energy Bites {recipe}


I made these specifically for my husband.  I'm always trying to find something quick and healthy that he can take with him in the mornings for breakfast during the week.  I just recently made these and he loves them.. as do I... and Clara.. so I'm sure I'll be making these on a somewhat regular basis.  They're very similar to a no-bake cookie, obviously, except without all the butter and sugar.  I'd eat these any time... breakfast, snack, dessert.. they still have chocolate in them, so I'm happy.  ;)

They're small and easy to take with you anywhere.  Hiking, camping... out and about, in a lunch box.. I'm excited to try different varieties of these.  And I also have a few other quick and healthy breakfast recipes coming up in some near-future posts.  So while you're waiting for those, you should try there energy bites out!  Your kids will have fun helping you make them too.. I know Clara loves 'helping' me in the kitchen!  :)

No Bake Energy Bites
adapted from Hello Giggles

  • 1 cup oats (quick-cooking or old fashioned)
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Mix everything in a large bowl.  Refrigerate 30 minutes or so.  Roll in balls and store in fridge for up to a week.  Makes 20-25 one-inch balls.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can substitute almost anything to adjust it to your needs.  If you like coconut (we don't), add in some coconut flakes.  You can substitute the peanut butter for your favorite nut butter such as almond butter, etc.  Instead of the chocolate chips you could add dried fruit, sunflower seeds (or any nut), or any other type of chip (white chocolate, butterscotch, etc).  Oh, and we love flaxseed... I always put it in our oatmeal or cereal.  ;)