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Becca’s Belly Busters

19 Aug

Last night was…you guessed it…Girls Night In! Its been awhile since we’ve had a GNI, and I was so excited to kick back with a glass of wine and enjoy the “cooler” weather we’ve been having.  After work I headed over to my friend Alison’s house, and the lovely hostess had some wine ready — just in time!

The other day I cornered Chef Becca and I convinced her to do a recipe tutorial for the blog! She graciously obliged to my begging; and on the menu for the night was….(drumroll please)..Beef Enchiladas a.k.a. Becca’s Belly Busters.  Or if  you ask my sister, they are “cheesy roll-up thingys.”  Becca’s Mexican food is a staple on Girls Night – its something I always look forward to!  Even though the recipe is easy peesy (and cheesy, ha!), until now i’ve never known how to make enchiladas.

Here’s what she did:

1lb ground beef

1 can Rotel (diced tomatoes and green chili peppers)

1 packet taco seasoning

1 bag shredded cheese

1 can red enchilada sauce

1 pkg Large Tortillas

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 375

2. Brown the ground beef and drain well

3.  In a bowl: mix beef, taco seasoning and Rotel (un-drained)

4.  In a casserole dish: pour a small amount of enchilada sauce to lightly coat the bottom of the dish

5.  Spread the beef mixture on the tortillas and sprinkle with cheese

A generous sprinkle

6.  Wrap up (burrito style) and place in the casserole dish

7. After preparing enough to fill your casserole dish, pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the rolls and top with cheese (Becca makes ours extra cheesy)

8.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Cheese should be completely melted.

Voila!  It’s called “Amazing in your mouth!”

For those of you that don’t know, Chef Becca moonlights as a bartender.  See? She made us dessert!

Ay Ay! Tequila!

Two nights in a row I have stuffed my face, looks like the gym will be seeing me this weekend after all!!

This house is Project City!

17 Aug

Part of the reason I have not been posting lately is the fact that I have been completing project after project, after project.  Not work assignments (although work is as busy as ever), but fun household projects.  Jake and I are not in the position to start replacing expensive essential items, so we have resorted to “renewing” the old ones!

When we moved we did some inventory of our belongings and got rid of things that take up too much space, or things we simply do not need.  We held on to things that we couldn’t live with out, or things we knew we could up-cycle.

My first project was one that I have been meaning to do for awhile now.  Jake’s mom gave us some blue storage jars that she got a great deal on, and we ended up using them to store utensils in the kitchen (remember the seventeen spoons?).  Unfortunately, they became a bit of an eyesore seeing as they did not match with anything else in the kitchen.  Rather than spending more money on new stainless steel canisters, I decided to paint these as close to S. S. as possible.

Taa-Daaa

I took my creative self to the hardware store and ended up finding a can of textured spray paint.

I got "Hammered"

The color is actually similar to our stainless steel appliances, and dries in a “hammered” texture.  They turned out great!  I got a little paint happy and also covered our Olive Oil container to match!

My next project was not an “up-do”, but rather a decorative project that saved us some moolah.  A lot of our artwork could be considered hand-me-downs (aka Jake’s man-art).  While most of it is “cool”, none of it really matches with the look we’re going for.  We really needed something fun to hang above the couch, and it seems that everything I like is $$$.  Then, like a ray of sunshine, I found this pattern online.  It seemed pretty easy, so I gave it a shot!

Inspirational!

(Photo courtesy of apartmenttherapy.com)

I purchased a large canvas at a nearby craft store and measured out my pattern with painters tape.  Then, I covered the whole thing in two coats of green paint and waited for it to dry.  I was a little disappointed when I pulled off the tape only to find that the paint had bled through :(.

Jaggedy Lines 😦

Once I removed all of it, the bleeding actually looked kind of cool — so I went with it.  I may just be in denial, but I kind of like that it’s imperfect.

My next projects will be focused toward the outside areas of our house.  I have two tables that are in need of some TLC!

Yek...

Double Yek

Frozen Dog Treats

16 Aug

Thank goodness gracious that this heat is starting to slow down because, phew, i’m so done with it;  and as a matter of fact i’m 100% sure the dogs are done with it too! Brock and Sully usually love being outside and playing around – but not lately.  What was the run? 2 weeks? Two freaking weeks of temperatures over 100 degrees, what are we coming to people!?

I’ve been downing smoothies and frozen yogurt like its my job (this heat is the perfect excuse).  I have even stooped to taking a cold shower on the weekends just to cool off.  My poor little pups have had to grin and bear it.

Jake figured out that they love it when you fill their water bowl outside with ice cubes.  They go crazy and try to catch the ice like they are bobbing for apples.  Seeing them do this reminded me of the Puppy Party we had for Brock at a local pet shop earlier this year.  All of the canines were served “Doggy Ice Cream”, and they loved it so much that the owner was kind enough to give me her recipe!

It’s simple really, kind of reminds me of the way I make my dog biscuits (just throw in what you’ve got).

Here’s what I did:

1 large sweet potato

1/2 cup water

1 cup plain non-fat yogurt (use less if your dog has a weak stomach)

1 small banana

1. Peel and chop the sweet potato into large chunks.  Boil the sweet potatoes for 10 minutes or until soft

Bubble and Boil!

2. Combine the boiled sweet potatoes and 1/2 cup of water in a blender (or food processor) and mix until smooth.  It should look like baby food at this point.

Baby Food Mush

3. Add yogurt and banana split into chunks.  Hit that magical “liquefy” button and viola!

Mmmm..Looks Like Dessert

I poured my mix into silicone ice trays left over from the Fourth of July and stuck them with straws before freezing.  This will make it easier to pull the treats out of the tray.

Two Hours, and We're Ready to Go!

After about 2 hours I let the pups try the frozen treats with every intention of snapping some cute pics.  Yeah, that didn’t work out so well – Sully took hers in one bite and Brock grabbed his and ran.  This is all that was left:

Little Brats!

After a little research online, I noticed that some people add peanut butter or beef bouillon. Brock and Sully would go freaking nuts for that!

Great Night To Celebrate

26 Jul

When I think Monday I normally go straight to “ugh, back to the real world.”  This particular Monday, however, was one I have really been looking forward to!  Despite all the crazy things that have been happening lately, I have found excitement in some small things.

After work I skipped the gym and went straight home to knock a few things off of my to-do lists (yes that’s plural) and get ready for this evening.

When Jake made it home from work we quickly changed and drove a few minutes down the road to the home of our new landlord. We have sealed the deal, folks! The lease is signed! I can now breathe in, breathe out and retrieve my sanity.

Is this even normal?

As soon as we finished up with the lease, we rushed over to one of our favorite little sushi restaurants to celebrate.  Our celebrations were not limited to our new home though; we were joined by our favorite couple: Amber and Joe Ben!

JB embarassing Amber...again.

Amber and I have known each other for a few years now, and is one of my best friends.  She and Joe Ben also had some celebrations in order: Amber’s Birthday!

Happy Birthday to the one person who will answer the phone in the middle of the night when I have something stupid to say 🙂  We have spent our birthdays together for the last few years and I have to say that this has definitely been the most tame (except for some Sake).

Apple Infused Sake = Amazing

The restaurant where we dined, SakiTumi, is actually a place I worked while in college.  In my opinion they have some of the best sushi in town, and I surely wasn’t going to turn down an invitation to stuff my face enjoy some time with Amber and JB.

On Mondays, SakiTumi has an awesome special – 2 for $28.  Jake and I definitely took advantage of that!  The deal includes an adult beverage, an appetizer, and an entree per person.

Jake enjoyed a draft Sapporo, while I sipped on a light and refreshing glass of Pinot Grigio.  My appetizer choice was the Miso Soup, which I loved.

Fire Island Roll

And oh. my. goodness. My favorite sushi roll in the whole world was my entree of choice.  The Fire Island Roll.  Shrimp tempura with avocado, rolled in soy paper and topped with spicy tuna tartar and crispy tempura flakes. Delish!  Jake and I shared a few pieces of Butterfish  too (also amazing).

Post Sushi Attack

I guess Amber liked her sushi roll too!

And if you thought our indulgent meal wasn’t enough, Amber directed us to one of the best little dessert spots in the city.  Nonnah’s is only a few blocks away from SakiTumi and has the most delectable and coma-inducing desserts I have ever had.

Jake's slice of Heaven

Mr. Jake chose the “Chocolate Temptation”.  A rich chocolate cake with Godiva liquor, layered with vanilla cream filling, finished with chocolate ganach.

My Sinful Delight

I, however, chose the Turtle Cheesecake.  A pecan-filled cheesecake topped with chocolate, caramel and even more crunchy pecans.  The cheesecake was so wonderfully airy and though I’ve never tried nuts in a cheesecake before – I’m in love.

Phew, now I’m super Fat and Happy and I seriously cannot complain.  What a productive, fun, relieving kinda Monday!

Just a Tease

21 Jul

This day has absolutely flown by!  I suppose it helps that I have felt a little relief after receiving a very encouraging email yesterday afternoon.

Lets rewind a schmidgen: a few weeks ago we found a house that we loved.  It had everything we wanted and it was right in our price range.  Unfortunately, the landlord was looking for someone to move in ASAP, otherwise she was planning on moving herself in.  Since our lease was not up until September 1, we thought this house would be “the one that got away.”

However, we have changed our move date to August 1 (thanks to last weekends events), and the landlord was willing to show the house to us again! Ohmygoodnessgracious – you have no idea how happy this made me.  Well, we went to see the property again tonight and well, I’m not going to jynx it, but you will find out our final decision tomorrow! (sorry for the tease)

After checking out the house, I headed over to a very special Girls Night In.  Tonight will be our last girls dinner with our beloved friend Tyler.

Dr. Davis

She is taking a huge leap and leaving her southern roots for New Hampshire (Boo for us :()

We had a great time catching up, goofing off, gossiping, and of course stuffing our faces with homemade enchiladas and drinking some wine.  None of us are very happy about our precious Tyler leaving us, but this has got to be a very exciting time in her life.  I know that her and Biff are ready to start a new chapter, together.  We have one last event with Tyler this weekend, her going away party (I’m determined not to have ANY FUN. So there.)

Becca enjoying some wine!

Becca made dessert

The Ladies

We love you and miss you already TD!

Ballin’ on a Budget: Social Life

15 Jul

Mi Madre inspired this post, yes sir! A recent late-night convo with my mom, which included her telling me i’m not that far off from turning 30 (thanks a lot!), made me realize how much  money I don’t need to be spending these days.  Sure, everyone is “the economy this, the economy that”, but as a twenty-something who is fresh to this big bad world — I need to be cheap counting my pennies. 

Lets face it, your first job out of college is not going to pay the big bucks.  It is common knowledge that you will pretty much start out at the bottom of the totem pole (put in your dues)!  A career is something you build, after all.  I have to admit that I’m not struggling (not eating ramen for dinner at night), but I’m certainly not going on shopping sprees like I used to, and I certainly have not built the nest egg that I so desperatly need.  I have had to find ways to continue to enjoy life, but save some moola at the same time.  And so..my “Ballin’ on a Budget” series of posts is born. At first, some of the things I cover may be common sense to you, but bear with me — it will be a constant work in progress.

Tonight’s Ballin’ on a Budget tips will focus on how to maintain your social life and pay your student loans all in the same month.  Thar she blows:

1.  Reality Check:  You are fresh out of college.  Mom and Dad no longer pay those essential bills (Phone, Insurance, etc).  Student loans are kicking in.  You need to face facts – you cannot afford to go out on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  You can no longer buy a round for all your buds every night. Get over it.

2. Take the Party to the House:  Try to limit your bar hopping and find other ways to have a good time with your friends.  My girlfriends and I found a very simple solution: girls night in.  Grab a couple of friends, a few cheap bottles of wine, and bring an ingredient to contribute to the meal.  Lets do some math:

Cinco de Mayo with the girls

Girls Night Out:

Sushi  & Sake (30 including tip) + 4 drinks at a cheap bar (12) + shots (15) = $57.00

Girls Night In:

Garlic Bread for spaghetti (5) + 1 cheap bottle of wine (10) + a few glasses of wine from another bottle (free) = $15.00

That is a savings of $42.00!!!! That is a whole tank of gas, or a mani-pedi (with tip)!  If you substituted one night out with one night in, you could save more that $150 per month.

3.  Suck-it Movie Theatre:  The movies may seem like an inexpensive means of entertainment, but these days think otherwise.  Jake and I L-O-V-E movies and this is surely a weakness for us.  We have learned to deal with it, and wait – yes wait – for the movies to come out in the Redbox or On Demand.  It sucks having to hear all the fun one-liners, but frankly there is no way I can afford to go see every movie I want in the theatre.  Lets do some math:

At the Theatre:

Tickets for two (18) + Popcorn/Soda (9) = $27.00

At Home:

Movie On Demand (4.99) + Popcorn (1.50) + 2 Sodas (3.00) = $9.50

That is a savings of $17.50

4.  New kinda Date Night:  Date night is something Mr. Jake and I cherish.  With so much going on in our lives, we rarely get a chance to really indulge and relax.  Unfortunately, date night for us is not just grabbing a bite to eat – we tend to go all out.  This year, however, we have made a few changes to our date nights.  For Valentine’s Day, we opted to have a fondue night at our house rather than go out.  Not only did we save money, but it was a lot more fun – and we didn’t feel rushed to finish our meal so the next reservation could sit.  Lets do some math:

The Perfect Date Night Snacks

Valentine’s Day at The Melting Pot (fondue restuarant):

All inclusive 5 course meal + 1 bottle champagne = $160-$180(including tip)

Fondue Date Night at Home:

Ingredients for a 3-course meal (around 50) + 1 bottle wine (10)  = $60

That is a savings of $100-$120!! Wowzers!  Jake and I like to have a date night at least once a month, so if we did at least half of our date nights at home, we could potentially save $600 per year.

 4.  Utilize Social Media:  I cannot say it enough people; join networks like Groupon and LiveSocial! If and when we go out to eat, or go out for drinks – its usually because we have a Groupon for the place. This works for us because its like we are using a gift card (doesn’t feel like we are blowing too much money), and this way we feel comfortable trying new places without spending money somewhere we will potientially not like at all.

5. Happy Hour Heaven:  Instead of meeting up with friends for an all-night rager, why not trying the “just one drink” game out for size?  I generally try to stay in on weeknights, but if I do make an appearance somewhere it is usually only for Happy Hour.  Use Happy Hour to your advantage!  My favorite beer is usually 3-4 dollars in restaurants and bars where we live, but at Happy Hour it is only $2. Who doesn’t love that?!  If a penny saved is a penny earned, then save those pennies girlfriend!  Every single one counts! 

Peachy Rita Happy Hour

Question:  What are some ways you save money, and still have a good time?