Thursday, July 26, 2012

Living On A Dime Summer Print Book Sale!

Living On A Dime Sizzling Summer Sale

Happy Friday Eve y'all!  Apologies for the recent blog silence.  I've just returned to work after spending time at home with the children.  So, I've been catching up on some tasks around the office.  However, I did want to inform you of the Living On A Dime Summer Print Book Sale.  Now through Monday, July 30th at midnight, you can get print books for up to 50% off!  Living On A Dime offers wonderful resources for cutting your grocery budget, saving money and getting out of debt.  I've personally found Dining On A Dime to be an invaluable resource and refer to it constantly!  In fact just last night, I prepared one of its many great recipes for dinner.  The recipes are always a hit with the Dave and the kids, especially the Double Chocolate Cake recipe I made over the weekend!  So, don't miss out on this great sale!

Mary Ellen

Friday, July 20, 2012

Peach Oatmeal Crumble

Peach Oatmeal Crumble with vanilla ice cream

We've been head over heels for peaches lately!  Peach jam, peach pie, peach ice cream.  This easy peachy delight was something I whipped up on the spur of the moment.  I used two different recipes to create one awesome treat! 

First, I peeled and sliced some locally grown peaches and prepared them using the peach pie filling recipe.  I placed the peaches in a greased pie pan.  Next, I prepared about half the oatmeal mixture from the Pioneer Woman's Strawberry Oatmeal Bars recipe.  I made these bars for the Fourth of July and they were absolutely delicious!  For my crumble, I mixed together 1 stick of butter, 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of oatmeal, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of baking powder.  I topped my peaches with the crumble mixture and baked at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  


Mary Ellen   

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What I Wore to Work - White House Black Market Dress

Dress - White House Black Market (Goodwill)

 I love coming across quality pieces like this white, strapless dress from White House Black Market at Goodwill!  Certainly can't beat the Goodwill price!  This dress is just simple, with beautiful feminine lines.  The detailing at the waistline, shown in the photo below, helps to emphasize the hourglass look.       

To make the dress more office friendly, I paired it with my turquoise blue sweater.  The day I wore this dress, I left the office early to get some errands done.  I received lots of compliments from the gentlemen I encountered that afternoon.  But of course, nothing means more to me than sweet words from my husband :)  

Mary Ellen 

pleated poppy

Monday, July 16, 2012

Ice Cream Without An Ice Cream Maker!

Homemade Peach Ice Cream

One of my favorite memories as a child, was my Momma making ice cream during the summer.  So, when I saw this recipe in my latest issue of Woman's Day for making ice cream without an ice cream maker, I knew I had to try it! 

Start with the basic recipe for vanilla ice cream:

2 cups heavy cream
1-14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream, condensed milk and vanilla until thick, stiff peaks form (about 3 -5 minutes).

To add fruit:

-Puree fresh or frozen fruit in a food processer until you have 1 cup of fruit puree.  Strain through a fine sieve if desired.  {I used local peaches from our farmer's market, pureed in my Vitamix.  No straining required!}

-Fold half of the fruit puree into the cream mixture until combined.  Spoon the remaining puree over the cream mixture and fold to create swirls. 

-Transfer to a loaf pan or freezer safe container.  Gently tap to distribute mixture and get rid of air bubbles.  Cover and freeze for at least 8 hours, and up to 2 weeks. 

The kids LOVED this!  I will definitely be making this again and trying different flavors!

Mary Ellen

Friday, July 13, 2012

From Scratch - Peach Pie Recipe

The morning after my peach jam canning session, I mentioned to Dave that maybe I'd make another batch of jam with the remaining peaches.  To which he replied, "Or maybe a peach pie".  Then, I pondered peach salsa.  And once again his response was, "Or maybe peach pie".  At that moment, I got it!  Peach pie wasn't merely a suggestion, but a big hint, hint!  So, when I came in from work that evening, I busied myself in the kitchen working on a peach pie completely from scratch!

For the pie crust, I used The Pioneer Woman's Perfect Pie Crust recipe.  I've made it many times before for her Flat Apple Pie recipe and it is so good!  And very easy to make!  I divided the dough into two, wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for about 30 minutes.  While the crust was chilling, I made the pie filling.

Peach Pie Filling:

5 -6 medium peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine peaches, flour, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.  Set aside.

I took the crusts from the refrigerator and rolled them out on a floured counter.  I took one of the crusts and placed it in my greased pie pan.  As you can see from the photos, my crust crimping skills could use some work!  Add the peach mixture to the pie pan.  Using my pizza cutter, I cut the second crust into strips and formed a lattice pattern over the peaches.  Not all of them were the same width, but it turned out okay!

Bake the pie at  375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. 

Slice and serve with vanilla ice cream and make your peach pie loving husband extremely happy!  Dave especially loved the filling.  He said it was just sweet enough to still allow the natural sweetness of the peaches to come through. 

Hope you have a PEACHY weekend!

Mary Ellen

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Quick Meals for Working Moms - Crockpot Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Green Peppers
in the Crockpot

Stuffed Green Peppers

1 (10 oz.) package frozen corn kernels
1 (15 oz.) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup salsa
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 1/2 cup cooked rice {I used leftover brown rice}
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt {I omitted the salt}
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
6 green peppers, with the tops removed and seeded

Combine all ingredients except 1/4 cup cheese and green peppers.  Stuff peppers.  Arrange peppers in a slow cooker.  Cover.  Cook on low 6 -8 hours (or on high 3 - 4 hours).

Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese during the last 30 minutes.  Makes 6 servings.

Easy Crockpot Recipes and Menus


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Small Batch Canning - Peach Jam

Local peaches from the Sandhills of NC

The past few weeks, we've been enjoying these delicious peaches from the farmer's market.  Of course, I couldn't let this seasonal summer treat pass without making a little bit of jam!

Traditional Peach Jam

4 cups finely chopped, pitted and peeled peaches {I pulsed the fruit in my Vitamix being careful not to puree}

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 package powdered pectin {I always use 1 full package and half of another}

5 cups sugar 

1.  Prepare canner, jars and lids.

2,  In a large, stainless steel saucepan, combine peaches and lemon juice.  Whisk in pectin until dissolved.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Add sugar all at once and return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Boil hard for 1 minute.

3.  Remove from heat and skim off the foam.

4.  Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles using a nonmetallic utensil.  Wipe the jar rim and center the lid on the jar.  Screw band on jar until fingertip-tight.

5.  Place jars in canner and process for 10 minutes.

Mary Ellen

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sunday Picnic at NC State


The kids have been wanting to go on a picnic this summer.  They've also wanted to go walk around the NC State campus to see where Daddy & Mommy met and fell in love!  So this weekend, we decided to kill two birds with one stone - a picnic at NC State!

We loaded up a basket with homemade sandwiches (Ashleigh helped me wrap them), baggies of chips and some lemonade.

And homemade brownies for something sweet! 

For our picnic, we chose a spot overlooking the Court of (North) Carolina. 

Dave recalls having many religion classes at this outdoor classroom near the Court.  When I met Dave, he already had a degree in Management, but was pursuing a second degree in Religious Studies.  His plan at the time was to go onto seminary after undergrad.  So, I was "almost" a preacher's wife!  But, he decided later not to follow that path.

Walking across the Court towards the rest of the campus

This is Daniels Hall, the Electrical Engineering building.  When I was accepted into NC State as a senior in high school, I was accepted into the Electrical & Computer Engineering program.  However, I quickly found out my brain is not compatible with engineering, so I changed majors!  But some of my first classes as a freshman were at Daniels Hall.

This is Harrelson Hall, a completely circular building.  My math classes were here, as well as some other electives.  The first floor of Harrelson currently houses the campus bookstore.

Looking out onto the Brickyard.  I remember walking out here between classes for lunch.  The student center here had the best taco salads!  This was also where you would find Gary the Brickyard Preacher.  He would basically yell we were all heathens that were going to hell!

DH Hill, the main campus library.  We went inside, partly to cool off from all our walking!  The inside has been updated with lots of modern decor, complete with a bunch of swivel egg pod chairs and touch screen tables.  There's also now an ice cream shop, downstairs snack bar and tons of lounge/study areas.  I briefly held a job at the library stacking books, then working in the inter-library loan department. 

Leaving the Brickyard, we headed to central campus via the Free Expression Tunnel.  

As its name implies, the tunnel is an area where students are allowed to express themselves.  The kids thought it was so cool you could spray paint on the walls without getting in trouble!

Leaving the tunnel, we saw some changes to this part of campus.  The student c-store (convenience store) and bookstore building had been torn down as part of an expansion project for the Talley student center.  These cool metal wolf sculptures are also new additions.

And this is my old dorm, Carroll Hall.  When I came to NC State as a freshman, the dorm was all girls.  But, by my sophomore year, it became co-ed.

And directly across from my dorm, was Dave's dorm Owen Hall.  Similar to Carroll, it was all guys initially, but later became co-ed.  Dave was an RA (resident advisor) at Owen and has many fond memories of hanging out with his friends and fellow RAs.  Dave was able to get a peek inside the dorm and was saddened to find the Owen 50th Anniversary mural that was painted while he was living there, had been painted over.

And this is Tucker Beach were people would play volleyball, throw around frisbees and lay out.  The building on the other side is Tucker Hall and where most people on this side of campus went to use the computer lab. 

Heading back towards our car, we walked by Reynolds Coliseum.  Before the larger arena was built off campus, this was where the Men's Basketball team played their home games. 

And of course a tour of the campus is not complete without going to the Bell Tower.  The tower was built as a monument to honor alumni that died in World War I.  There are no actual bells in the tower.  It has an electronic chime system which sounds off every hour.  However, a student movement was started back in 2008 to raise money for actual bells!   

Mary Ellen

Friday, July 6, 2012

New Kitty on the Block!

A new furry girl has taken residence in our home!  Meet Bella - or Pumpkin as the kids wanted to rename her.  Though Bella is what she still answers to!  She's a 2 year old long-haired kitty Dave found while browsing Craigslist.  Her previous owners had recently taken in an abandoned Pitbull-Rottweiller puppy.  Unfortunately, Bella was not able to adjust to the new puppy and her owners thought it best to find her a new dog-free home.   

Ashleigh & Bella

Bella is just the perfect indoor kitty!  She was already litterbox trained, is not the least bit interested in people food (so no issues with her jumping on tables and counters) and just loves to lie around the house.  She's also great with the kids.  She loves playing with her toys and getting lots of rubs and attention - which is abundant in our home!  We've also introduced her to our other cats.  What's funny is that when the other cats come inside, Bella carefully watches them as if they are invading her private space!  Bella is the "purrr-fect" addition to our family :)

Have a great weekend!

Mary Ellen