Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thankful Thursday!

Hello friends!

Here we are again at another thankful Thursday, except that this one happens to fall on New Year's Eve. Today/tonight is supposed to be pretty busy over on my end-my mom and grandmom are supposed to come over mid-day; the in-laws are stopping by around 3:00, and my best friend and her fiancee are coming over to ring in the New Year around 7:30. Despite the many visitors, I couldn't be happier. I love having people over, even if the house isn't where I want it to be. It's a home, and a place where friends and family gather to laugh, smile and love.

In keeping up with the thankful Thursday theme, I thought it would be appropriate to be thankful for the blog today and for all of my blog readers. Blogging has truly changed my life-it's given me an outlet to write, helped me to cook different recipes, and has brought friends into my life that I didn't know a year ago. I can honestly say that you guys are amazing. You keep me going, give me inspiration and help me to realize that maybe my obsession with food isn't so abnormal. ;)

Since 2009 is the year that I started truly blogging, I thought I'd take a look back at some of my favorite posts from 2009.

1. I'm baaaack! This post was my official "I'm getting back to blogging" post.

2. Black Bean Brownies? What?

3. I realized that the scale doesn't define me.

4. I love when those around me respect my decision to eat healthy.

5. Getting together with friends to help those in need always makes for a good time.

6. The husband and I celebrated our first anniversary.

7. My Grandmom had a post dedicated to her.

8. My Uncle played a practical joke on me.

9. You are beautiful.

10. My own personal blogspot was revealed.

11. The very first Thankful Thursday!

Thank you to all of you-the readers, the commentors and the lurkers. You enrich my day just by stopping by this little blog.

Question of the Day:

What are you thankful for?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Meat-A-Balls!

Imagine an old Italian grandfather reading the above blog title :)

After updating the blog yesterday, I headed off to Bath and Body Works. Right now they are having a phenomenal sale! All of their classic scent lotions are $3.00. Apparently, they are changing the look of their bottles/labels, and all of the older stuff has to go. I picked up 2 bottles of lotion, a tub of eucalyptus lotion, 2 anti-bacterial hand gels, and an air freshener for $23.00. I was very pleased with my finds!

One of the first blogs I ever started reading was Roni's blog over at Green Lite Bites. Along with Green Lite Bites, she also runs Roni's Weigh (and a she has a few more blogs up her sleeve)! I may be a little biased, but she remains one of my favorite bloggers. She has such a wonderful outlook on food, healthy eating, exercise and general wellness. She truly is an inspiration.

It's no secret that the husband loves meatballs. Since we are off this week, and I have a little bit of time to experiment in the kitchen, I thought it was time to make meatballs. I found an easy recipe from Green Lite Bites for Simply Meatballs. I substituted some bread crumbs for the whole wheat bread and also added some minced garlic.



Before getting my hands dirty.



Rolled up and ready to be baked.


Ready for gravy!

I soaked this in red gravy and made some meatball sandwiches. The husband loved them and asked if we could have them more often. With a recipe this easy, I had to tell him yes.

Question of the Day:
What is something you wish you had the time to make, but don't?

Until next time!

~Anne Marie

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Choose Your Own Adventure

Does anyone else remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books? I used to love them as a kid! I remember if I got to an ending that I didn't like, I would pretend that I didn't choose it, go back a few pages and choose an alternate ending. Ahh, those were the days of deciding your own fate. ;)

I can't believe I'm going to say this, but sometimes I run out of ideas when it comes to making chicken. I got the idea to season chicken breasts a few different ways so that the husband and I could "choose our own adventure" when it came to dinner.

I pulled a few spices out of the cabinet and got the chicken ready to be seasoned.


From left to right: chili powder, Mrs. Dash, Jack Daniel's Barbecue Sauce (which I used on the chicken last night), thyme and garlic powder.

I pretty much ran with it, and spiced up the chicken as I saw fit.


Left to right: Mrs. Dash with chili powder; thyme and garlic powder; chili powder; and Mrs. Dash.

I baked them in the oven for about 40 minutes.



The husband had a piece of the Mrs. Dash chicken and loved it. I think this was a good idea for the simple fact that it gives us a variety of seasonings to pick from. I'd like to get more creative with other spices the next time I make chicken like this.

Question of the Day:
What's your favorite seasoning/spice?

I'm a sucker for garlic powder. I think it goes on just about everything I eat!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, December 28, 2009

(More) BBQ Chicken

Wow, I can't believe that Christmas is over already. I had such a wonderful time with my family and the in-laws. Despite the fact that I am a food blogger, I had completely forgotten to take pictures of the food that was served. In fact, I didn't think about it until after dinner, when my cousin asked if I was going to post any of the pictures on the blog.

I hope you all enjoyed your holiday!

Yesterday, the husband and I went to see my dear friend Michele in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. She played the mother, Grace Bradley, and she did a wonderful job! When we came home, I thought it would be a great time to throw in some chicken for meals this week. I raided my cabinets for any free samples I had left, and I came across this guy:


Jack Daniel's Barbecue Sauce


There wasn't too much sauce in the packet, but it was enough to coat these two pieces of chicken.


By the time it had cooked through, there was barely any sauce left on the chicken!

Oh well....at least it was easy!

I'll leave you with a picture of me and my dear friend, Michele from yesterday. She is so adorable!



Question of the Day:
Tell me something about your best friend.

Until next time!

~Anne Marie

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Simply Touched

Sometimes I am simply touched by the thoughtfulness of others. Most times, when I don't think someone is noticing, they are, and they know me better than I think.

Two of the professors that I work for went in together on a Christmas gift for me. I thought it was very sweet, and extremely thoughtful of them.

The first gift was an embroidered lunch bag because I'm the girl in the office that always packs her lunch. This was special to me because it has my name spelled the right way. Not everyone spells my name with the "e" at the end of Anne.



I was informed that one of the professor's daughters wanted to put some homemade cookies inside the lunch bag. Because she knows that I wouldn't eat them, she filled it with bath stuff, lip gloss and 1 point Weight Watchers candies.


The stuffed bag.


The candies.

They also got me this amazing cookbook.


How cool is that?

I didn't realize that they paid so much attention that they picked up on the little things in my life that are not work-related. I was touched....simply touched. This gift took some thought and effort, and I truly appreciate their kindness and generosity.

Question of the Day:
What's the most thoughtful gift you've ever received?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!!

I can't believe it's Christmas day already! It seems like just yesterday the husband and I were putting up our decorations and making the house festive. This is going to be a rather short post, as I have family events to attend!

Today, the husband and I are headed over to my aunt's house. My cousin Allison asked me to bring the game "Catch Phrase" which is always a big hit in my family. Being the loud Italians that we are, everyone gets very into the game to the point where we usually end up yelling over one another in order to be heard. It's all in good fun though!

For those of you that celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

Question of the Day:
What are you planning to do today?


Until next time!

~Anne Marie

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Hello everyone!

I'm stuck here at work today, despite the fact that none of my bosses are here. They need coverage in case someone decides to show up. Oh well, at least today is a half day!

I'm excited to get the Christmas festivities started. Tonight, I'm going to church with the husband and then we are going to my in-laws. Tomorrow morning, we'll be at my mom's house and then we're heading to my aunt's house (which is literally right around the corner from my mom). I can't believe that it's really going to be Christmas tomorrow-where did the time go?

Since it's Thursday, today, I'm thankful for the silence. I'm the type of person who likes noise. I always have to have something on, whether it's the radio or TV. Noise is a part of my everyday life-it has always been that way.

The husband, on the other hand, truly values quiet and silence, and will opt for silence every chance he gets. In his opinion, the world is too noisy and the chance for complete silence is rare and should be treasured.

With all of the snow we got last weekend, the husband and I had the perfect opportunity to experience the silence. Despite the cold and snow, the husband wanted to go for a walk outside. I thought he was crazy, but we had nothing better to do, so I took him up on his offer.

We bundled up and headed out, but snapped a picture first.


Don't mind me....I had just woken up. After the baking spree last weekend, all I could do was sleep!

Our normally fairly busy street was quiet.....and it was amazing.



The only cars on the road were the ones that got buried under the snow.

We had to make a stop at the house down the street. It has the most festive decorations on the block. Some of the neighbors think the owners went a bit overboard, but I'll keep quiet and just leave you with the picture. Keep in mind that there was music playing in the background when we walked by, and you can't even see all of the lights because some of them were covered with snow.


Interesting!

The walk was really nice, even if we were only out for a few minutes. I realized that sometimes, silence is a good thing. It's so different from the noise of every day life.

Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

I can't forget to mention that I'm thankful for baby Jesus coming this Christmas. A baby changes everything. (LOVE that song by Faith Hill.....)

Merry Christmas Eve!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'm a Simple Gal

I had the craving for sloppy joes this week. Admittedly, I've had sloppy joes all of one time when I was younger. How can you have a craving for something that you don't really remember the taste of? Yeah, I don't know either!

I debated about making a homemade sloppy joe sauce, but I opted for the quick and easy route.


I heard the stuff tasted pretty good, so I thought I'd give it a try.

I browned two pounds of ground beef and added the can of Manwich to the mixture.


It might not look too appetizing, but here it is!

I put the sloppy joe mixture onto a bun, and it was great! Nothing gourmet, but that's not what I was expecting anyway! The husband was so excited for sloppy joes that he had two sandwiches. What is it with men being able to eat way more than women? It's not fair if you ask me! haha.

As an update on yesterday's post-THE IT GUYS WERE ABLE TO RESTORE MY HARD DRIVE!! Sorry for the caps lock, but I'm super excited that they were able to recover all of my pictures and documents for work. I think I must have hugged the IT guy a dozen times.

I'll be in work tomorrow morning (yay for having to work Christmas Eve), but I'm hoping I can leave before 12:00. It all works out though-I'll end up having the week between Christmas and New Year's off!!

Since I'm going to be away from work for a week, my blogging may be a bit sporadic. The husband is working at night time, so I'm guessing that my blogging next week will happen at night.

Question of the Day:
What's the easiest meal that you make?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Kickin' It Up A Notch

I do much of my blogging while I'm at work. I sit in front of a computer for the majority of the day, and most times, I can find some time to squeeze in a blog entry.

Yesterday afternoon, my hard drive on my work computer completely crashed. Yeah, major epic fail. All of my blog pictures, links and work info may be completely gone forever. I am not a happy camper at the moment....not even a little bit happy. I'm hoping that some of my hard drive can be salvaged. Until then, I get to play on this loaner laptop.

Clearly, I have my priorities in order (insert sarcasm here). I have presents to wrap, cookies to make and errands to run, bust as soon as I got home, I uploaded my pictures to a thumb drive so that I could write a blog post this morning.

A few months ago, I received a free sample of Emeril's Essence seasoning packet. Since I didn't have to cook much this week (no meals to make for Christmas Eve or Christmas), I thought that this would be a great time to try it out.


The free sample.

I used the spice on two pieces of chicken.


Before cooking.



After.

Even though this is one of the easiest recipes ever, it was very, very tasty. The Essence had a bit of a spicy kick to it that both me and the husband enjoyed. I was worried that it was going to be too spicy for the husband, but he said it had just the right amount of bite.

Another winner in my book!

Question of the day:

Are you ready for Christmas/whatever holiday you celebrate?


I still have to finish making cookies and wrapping. The husband keeps eating the cookies I make, so last night, I made him his own batch of cookies. Hopefully he'll be content with that for the next few days!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snowed In with Five Minute Cookies

While I was wishing, hoping, and crossing my fingers that there would be no snow storm on Saturday, the snow was busy telling me to stop wishing. The husband and I woke up to see the snow starting to fall at around 4:30 a.m. Why were we up that early, you ask? Well, because the husband had to work at 6:00 a.m. He ended up calling out because he works far enough away that he was worried about getting home in the nasty weather. He felt bad about it, but I was happy to have him safe and home and snowed in with me.

Around 7:00 or so, the snow began to really cover the streets.


Naturally, I did what any normal person does when it snows......


I baked more cookies!

I attribute my baking bonanza to my mom. I would venture to say that every time it snowed, there were cookies to be made. I guess I'm carrying that tradition into my own life!



What, I'm the only one who procrastinates when it comes to shoveling?

I would like to mention that I really have the best neighbors in the entire world. On Saturday night, the husband went outside to shovel a little bit, and our neighbor stopped him. He told the husband that he had a snow blower and would be out snow blowing early on Sunday morning. Sunday morning came, and our neighbor used the snow blower not only on most of our block, but he also went around the other side of the street! He also crossed the street and plowed out two of our neighbors who are widows. The husband went outside to help dig out some cars in the neighborhood. I love when everyone works together to get things done.

Now, back to the cookies!

Since I was on a baking spree, I thought it would be good to try out a new recipe that I had seen for awhile but never made. The official name for the recipe is Haystack Cookies, but I want to rename them Five Minute Cookies because that's about how long it takes to get them ready.

To make this recipe, you'll need:

1 cup of Fiber One Cereal
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter

Take 1/4 cup of chocolate chips and 1/4 cup of peanut butter and melt it in the microwave for about a minute.

When it comes out of the microwave, the chocolate chips won't look completely melted-that's okay! Stir the mixture until it is all melted.

Fiber One waiting for the peanut butter and chocolate chips to be finished.



Combine the Fiber One with the peanut butter and chocolate chip mixture and stir until it is all coated.

It should look something like this.

Using a tablespoon, scoop up the mixture and put it on a greased cookie sheet.

I got 8 cookies out of the batter.

Stick it in the fridge and wait a few hours until they are hardened. You could also stick them in the freezer to harden.
When they are all done, take them off the cookie sheet and enjoy! That's right-there's no baking involved!

After hardening in the fridge.

The cookies are AWESOME! I know that I'll be making them on a regular basis because they take five minutes to whip up and they are no-bake! If you are counting points, one cookie is one point. I put the rest of the cookies in a baggie and stuck them in the freezer. I've been having one a night and feel like I am eating something that is so decadent!

Question of the Day:

What's your favorite kind of cookie?

I'm a simple girl-give me some chocolate chip cookies and I'm happy!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn't snow tomorrow. The weather forecasters went from saying that we would have little accumulation and now, they are talking about possible blizzard conditions. I'm not looking forward to trying to drive in the snow. It's something that seriously makes me nervous!

Today I have another video for you. After making this video, I realized a couple of things:

1. I need to learn to edit videos.
2. I talk extremely fast.
3. Talking to a camera (instead of a person) is much more difficult than I thought.


The recipe for the cookies can be found here. It's a tradition for me to make these cookies at least once a year. They are so good!


o


Question of the Day:
Is there any chance of snow in your weekend forecast?

Have a fantastic weekend!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thankful Thursday

I think I say this every Thursday, but I really like these thankful Thursday posts. I'm not kidding when I tell you that every day, I look for little things to be thankful for. I knew that I found the idea for this post last Sunday, and I couldn't wait to share it with you today.


Today, I'm thankful for unexpected messages. On Sunday morning, as I was making breakfast, I noticed that the paper towel roll was empty. I picked up a new roll, loaded it on the dispenser, and was greeted with this message.


Cute, isn't it?

Now, this may not seem like a big deal to you, but it was a huge deal to me. You see, I am a mommy's girl. From the moment I was born, I was inseparable from my mom. I even had a difficult time going to school because I wanted to be home hanging out with her. I eventually grew out of that phase (even if it wasn't until sixth grade), and our relationship turned from one of mom/daughter to best friends. When I say that my mom is one of my best friends, I honestly mean it.

The husband and I never lived together before we got married, and I had never lived on my own. My first night in our house, I cried. Even though I'm only forty minutes away from home, I felt like it was hours. After many discussions with my mom, she told me that it took her almost a year before she felt like she adjusted to life with my dad.

I couldn't even imagine an entire year of up and down emotions, but here I am, a little more than a year later, and I am adjusted. I finally feel like my home is truly my "home sweet home" and I love being there. I'm just lucky that I had a very supportive husband who loved me through all of the emotional craziness.



Seeing that little message on the paper towel really made me smile. I'm thankful for it for sure!



Speaking of unexpected messages....
On my birthday, my brother and sister-in-law gave me a card from my nine month old nephew. They held the pen in his hand and signed his name. I'll be keeping this card forever. I cherish the little writing, even though my brother was holding his hand to do it. I love my nephew, and am so smitten with the little guy!

I don't think I'll be taking down this card any time soon!


On a side note, I'm taking off from work the week between Christmas and New Year's. I'm not sure how my blogging will be, but I'm hoping it's not too sporadic. If anyone is interested in doing a guest post, please feel free to e-mail me at abinns3142@aol.com.


Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Wonderful Clock

On Sunday, the husband and I had a Christmas party to attend. I volunteered to bring a dessert. I've been wanting to try this recipe for Mini Brownie Candy Bars, and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to do so.

I was a little leery because it doesn't remind me of a brownie or a candy bar, but more like a blondie.


Before going into the oven.


All cut up and ready to go.


I got a lot out of that little pan!

I thought that they could have tasted better, but the people at the party gobbled them up like they were going out of style. My guess is that it's because I prefer chocolate over vanilla. I think I would make them again, but I'd have to be in the mood for them. They certainly were easy enough!

At the Christmas party, everyone was asked to bring a gag gift. We all drew numbers and picked out our presents. My husband was so excited when he opened the gift and came across this clock.



The happy husband with the lovely clock.

We were told that the clock didn't work, but the husband was determined to prove the former owners wrong. As soon as we got home, he found some batteries, and lo and behold, we now have a working clock! You should have seen the look on his face when he realized it worked. He was more excited than a kid at Christmas!

Needless to say, we still haven't hung up the clock for fear that the once an hour chime will keep us up all night. Some day, though, it'll grace our walls with its presence. haha.

Question of the Day:
Chocolate or vanilla? Which do you prefer?

I love chocolate, and I always opt for it over vanilla.

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Birthday Party Madness

Today I woke up ready to start the day. I drove down to my mom's house in the morning only to find out that the train was almost an hour late. Oh joy and rapture! Oh well, at least it's Tuesday!

Let me take you back to my Saturday night.  The husband and I invited my immediate family over to our house for dinner. The husband did a fantastic job of setting up the house and making dinner. While my mom and I were out doing some Christmas shopping, he was home getting things ready.


Table one



Table two

We are lucky to have two tables at our disposal. Whenever we have family over, we have to break out both of them to make sure we have enough room for everyone!

By the time my mom and I came home to my house, the husband had already made three trays of baked ziti.


It tasted as good as it looks!


I cut up the bread.


I love having bread at dinner. It's so, so good!

After cutting the bread, it was time for my mom and I to take a picture in front of our Christmas tree.


Even though she probably doesn't want to be on the blog, I think this is a great picture of her, and I'm so proud that she's my mom :)

After some picture taking, my mom went off to the kitchen to decorate the cake. She wanted to make my birthday cake, which I thought was super sweet. She made the diet coke cake recipe and topped it with fat free cool whip and strawberries. It tasted amazing!


Mom working on the cake






A shot of the strawberries.


The finished product!

Before we knew it, it was time to sing happy birthday.


The husband putting twenty seven candles on the cake.


He kept joking that he was going to burn his hand with all of the candles. I kept reminding him that he is the older one!

I can't even believe that I am going to post this picture, but I think it's hilarious. My brothers were making some sort of comment about me blowing out all of the candles on the cake in one breath. Clearly, I thought I was strong enough to do so.


Yeah...this is me....

Last, but certainly not least, we decided it was picture taking time with my awesome nephew.


My brothers, me and the little guy.


A shot with me, the little guy and the husband. My brother tells me that my nephew needs a cousin to play with. Someday, maybe!

It was such a treat to have my family over to my house on Saturday. I love when we all get together and spend quality time together.

Question of the Day:

What is something that you love?


Until next time!
~Anne Marie