Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What I Wore: The Turtleneck Edition

Way back when I first started participating in WIWW at The Pleated Poppy, I wrote about my love of cardigans. But if there's one thing I love more than a good cardi, it's a good turtleneck. I live in these things. All. Winter. Long. 
I am the world's biggest freeze-baby, and dress accordingly. I have been known to layer a scarf over my turtleneck. Occasionally, I even throw on a cardi and/or vest over my turtleneck, with my scarf. 
I call it "bag-lady-chic."

The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Check it out:

My librarian look.
Turtleneck and scarf: Lands End
Jeans: Target
Cami: Shade Clothing
Shoes: El Naturalista

Vest: Columbia
Turtleneck: Lands End
Scarf: Macy's {I think, it's really old.}
Jeans: Lucky Brand
Shoes: Pr!vo

Turtleneck: Lands End
Scarf: Target
Vest: The North Face
Jeans: Lucky Brand
Boots: Uggs

 It was Reformation Sunday this week for us Lutherans, so our congregation wore red as part of the celebration. This much red is normally outside my comfort zone, but I ended up really liking it.
Turtleneck dress: Lands End
Tights, belt: Target
Boots: Keen

 I did go sans turtleneck one day this week, but I made sure to pile on the layers anyway. I still felt decidedly chilly all day, though.
Cardi, scarf: Old Navy
Tee: Target
Jeans: Silver

My wardrobe is pretty unimaginative. I stick with my warm, comfy basics- jeans, sweaters- but try to add interest with accessories- scarves, earrings, pins. Turtlenecks are a big part of my winter uniform, so you'll be seeing a lot of them in the coming months!
Do you have a winter uniform?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

31 Days of Comfort Food: Day 27, Angel Chicken

Welcome! Today is day 27 on a 31 day odyssey through comfort food. Now, you may be thinking to yourself, "Day 27? Isn't today the 30th of October?" Yes. Yes, it is. 
I must admit, I've kind of lost steam toward the end of this series. 
I blame hockey season. With both kids playing, and a husband who goes to bed by 7:30 {he gets up for work at 3:00 a.m.}, I spend many of my evenings running back and forth to the rink. Preparing, photographing, and writing about yummy comfort foods has had to take a back seat lately.
I'll finish up eventually... it just may take me till mid-November!
Thank you for your patience.

On to today's recipe- a crockpot special.
It is called Angel Chicken, a name derived from the pasta used in the recipe. But when Caitlin asked why it was called angel chicken, I might have told her it was because I made it with fresh angels.  And when she looked horrified, I might have added that, although they were hard to catch, the extra-crunch of their wings made it worth the effort.
I am a bad mommy.

*Note: No angels were harmed in the preparation of this recipe.
Also, this dish tastes better than it looks in my picture. Food photography is hard, y'all.

Angel Chicken
6 boneless chicken breasts
1/2 c. butter
1 package dry Italian salad dressing mix
1 can golden mushroom soup 
1/2 cup white wine
4 oz. onion and chive cream cheese
1 box angel hair pasta (cooked according to package directions)

Place chicken in crockpot. In sauce pan, melt butter. Stir in Italian dressing mix, soup, cream cheese, and wine. Stir till combined and cream cheese is melted. Pour over chicken and cook on low for 4-5 hours, or till the chicken is done. Serve over pasta. This is also good over rice... but then you would have to call it Rice Chicken, and that's not nearly so pretty.

This has been day 2,582,499 of a 31 day series on Comfort Food. If you missed anything, or you'd like to start from the beginning, you can go here

Sunday, October 28, 2012

31 Days of Comfort Food: Day 26, Fall Treats and Spiced Apple Cider

There are certain foods that just go with certain seasons. 
For example, lemonade and corn-on-the-cob are strictly for summer. It would just feel wrong to have them at any other time. 
In the same sense, spiced apple cider and caramel apples are to be eaten in the fall.
For a recent family movie night, we indulged in a feast of our favorite fall treats...
and a giant bowl of popcorn, which is good at any time.

We still make popcorn the old-fashioned way, on the stove top. 
Just scoop in a generous dollop of butter-flavored Crisco and enough Jiffy popcorn seeds to cover the bottom of the pan, cover, and pop away. Salt it lightly and enjoy! It is so much better than microwave popcorn and not at all greasy. The Crisco gives it a light buttery flavor. 

The kids loved making their own caramel apples and it's really easy. We just follow the directions on the back of the caramel bag and let the kids go to town. Sometimes we get fancy and add chopped nuts or M&Ms, but we went for the basics this time.

Finally, on to the spiced apple cider. I use this recipe on a regular basis between September-January. It smells so good when it's simmering away on the stove, you'll want to make it all the time!

Spiced Apple Cider
6 cups apple cider
1/2 tsp. whole cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3 sticks cinnamon

Heat all ingredients to boiling in a sauce pan over medium-high heat; reduce to low. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Be sure to strain the cider mixture to remove cloves before serving, but the cinnamon sticks make a fun garnish. Serve hot!

This is day 26 of 31 days of comfort food. If you've missed any of the posts in this series or want to start from the beginning you can go here.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

31 Days of Comfort Food: Day 25, French Onion Soup

This is not your average French Onion Soup. This is authentic French Onion Soup. What makes it authentic you ask? 
I pronounce it with a French accent. 
And the recipe came from a French cookbook.
If that's not an authentic pedigree, I don't know what is.
{Authentic} French Onion Soup

3T. butter
3 large onions, thinly sliced
1 T. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 c. beef broth
Thick slices of French bread
1/4 Parmesan cheese
1 c. grated Swiss or Gruyere cheese

In a heavy pan, melt butter and add onions. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until golden. Sprinkle on flour and stir for a few minutes to cook the flour. Season with salt and pepper. Add broth, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, lower heat and let simmer, partially covered for 30 minutes. Toast bread in oven until brown. Place bread in oven proof soup tureen or individual bowls. Preheat broiler. Sprinkle bread with Parmesan cheese. Pour soup over bread and top with Swiss or Gruyere. Brown the cheese under the broiler. Serve immediately.

This is day 25 of 31 days of comfort food. If you've missed any of the posts in this series or want to start from the beginning you can go here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Living Room Tour

I've had these pictures ready and waiting to share for some time, but what with the craziness of 31 Days of Comfort Food, I haven't gotten around to it till now. When I switched out the mantels for fall we also rearranged our living room in preparation for Christmas. That is not as crazy of a jump as it sounds. I just figured since I was making a bit of a mess with the mantel, I might as well make a really big mess and redecorange. 

In a few months, our Christmas tree will go in front of this window.
 I am so ashamed of this filthy window. But not so ashamed that I cleaned it before taking pictures, apparently. Not to worry, it has been cleaned in the days since. And in a year or so, I'm sure I'll clean it again. 

This is the view from our front hall. 
It's funny how seeing a picture of a room I'm in every day can give me a totally different view of it. I realize now that there is a whole lotta red going on, what with the curtains, the afghan, and all the little extra touches of red. I like red, but sheesh!
The afghan helps to cover the back of our very worn out couch. Our couch and love-seat are in such rough shape, but they will have to do for the foreseeable future. If I could afford it, I would love to get a lovely leather couch and some cushy armchairs. And replace the carpet with hardwood, but that's another story altogether.

After years of cramming every book I owned into this one shelf, I finally edited it and just kept out some of our family favorites. It looks nicer, and it is easier to find what I'm looking for.

We've had our family computer in many different areas of our house: the kitchen, the family room, the bedroom. For now, I like it in here, even though it's a tight squeeze. I can monitor the kids' use and I can still be available to them when I'm on the computer too.

This clock hasn't worked in years, but I can't bring myself to get rid of it. I just move the hands periodically so it feels like time is passing.

Our see-through fireplace is, unfortunately, nonfunctional. We just fill it with candles and pretend there's a roaring fire. 

It's been several weeks since I took these pictures and already the living room looks different. And by different, I mean much, much messier. 
The window looks pretty much the same though.
I'm linking up at:
My Romantic Home
The Shabby Nest
A Bowl Full of Lemons
At the Picket Fence
Jennifer Rizzo
Savvy Southern Style
French Country Cottage

31 Days of Comfort Food: Day 24, Junk Food

I fought long and hard against including junk food in this series on comfort food.
And by long and hard, I mean like 15 minutes. But who's counting?
You see, there is a certain time of the month when nothing  is as comforting to me as junk food.
During this period {see what I did there?} I tend to crave sweets- especially ice cream. That craving was magnified a hundred-fold when I was pregnant. As a result, I gained close to 80 pounds with each baby. Thankfully, I am better able to control my appetite these days.
I am not advocating junk food for every day- heck, not even on most days.  As with any indulgence, moderation is the key to enjoyment. But there are some days when a Snickers really does satisfy, when I really do scream for ice-cream. And on those days I think it is okay to take comfort in my favorite treat.
What are your favorite junk food comforts?
You are reading day 24 of 31 days of comfort food. If you've missed any of the posts in this series or want to start from the beginning you can go here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

31 Days of Comfort Food: Day 23, Chicken and Sausage Stuffed Soup

This is a dish that defies classification. It is not quite a soup and not quite a casserole. It is unique and satisfying, plus, it freezes beautifully and feeds a crowd. 
The original recipe came from a funny little cookbook I got years ago, called Hollyhocks and Radishes.  I have modified it somewhat over the years and it has become a wintertime favorite at our house.
There are several steps to preparing this dish, so I've broken down the ingredients accordingly.
Part 1
3-4 pounds chicken, bone in or boneless... I've used both
5-8 cubes chicken bouillon, depending on taste
2 bay leaves
black pepper
Place above ingredients in a large pot with enough water to cover the chicken. Cover pot and simmer until chicken is quite tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  *Cheater Alert* You could skip this step and just buy a rotisserie chicken and use boxed broth... your family will never know!
Part 2
3 onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 T. butter
12 oz. pork sausage links, sliced into bite-size pieces
6 oz. package of stuffing mix
4 tsp. sage
1 T. basil
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup water
Preheat oven to 300. While the chicken broth is simmering away {or not, if you're a cheater/genius}, sauté onions and celery in butter and oil until the onions are soft. Remove with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Brown sausage in same skillet, and transfer to bowl. Add stuffing mix, sage, basil, cheese, and water to bowl, and combine all. Place in a greased 9x13 dish. Cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
Part 3
1 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. crumbled rosemary leaves
chopped parsley to taste
After chicken has cooked, strain broth into another pot. Remove meat from bones, and cut into bite-size pieces. Add to broth along with celery seed, rosemary, and chopped parsley. When the stuffing mixture has finished baking, stir into the pot of chicken. Check seasoning and serve piping hot.
This was Day 23 of 31 days of comfort food. If you've missed any of the posts in this series or want to start from the beginning you can go here.
If you're enjoying this series, I'd love to hear from you! If you would like to follow me on Facebook you can do so here. I am am always adding things to my boards on Pinterest- you can follow me here. And if you'd like to see what I'm up to throughout the day, you can find me on Instagram, too! My user name is "dreamanddiffer". 
Thanks for stopping by!

What I Wore Wednesday

Happy Wednesday! 
Lately, WIWW has been the only thing that gets me out of my pajamas. Hunter and I both have gotten quite lazy about getting dressed and we often have half a school day in before either of us bothers to get dressed. Oh well, it hasn't hindered our homeschool progress one bit!
 {in fact, it's one of our favorite parts about homeschooling!}

You know how a picture doesn't lie? Well that is very often the brutally honest case when I do a WIWW post.
  Upon reflection, I should have skipped the scarf or something with this outfit. There is just a whole lot going on here. It looks much cuter on the model, sans scarf.
See? {outfit is from Banana Republic, shoes are Target}

 Hockey mom uniform.
Scarf, hoodie, tee: Target
Jeans: Lucky Brand
Vest: Columbia
Boots: Uggs

I love this sweater. It's like wrapping up in an afghan.

Sweater: Lands End
Tee: Target
Jeans: Silver
Shoes: El Naturalista 

I'll be linking up at The Pleated Poppy for WIWW. 
pleated poppy

Hope your Wednesday is wonderful!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

31 Days of Comfort Food: Day 22, Cupcakes

There's just something about a cupcake that is intrinsically comforting. Sinking your teeth into a bite sized bit of celebration can make anything and everything seem more fun.
What's not to love about a cupcake? 
Individual portions? Check.
No utensils required? Check.
Just plain cute? Check.
Everybody loves a good cupcake.
That being said, here are a few of my favorite cupcake recipes.
Boston Cream Cupcakes
{recipe from America's Test Kitchen}
These are a bit of a hassle to make, what with all the carving out a hole and filling it with cream.... but, you guys, you carve out a hole and FILL IT WITH CREAM! So worth the effort.
Chocolate Cupcakes with
Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
{recipe from Cake on the Brain}
This is the most silky-smooth-but not too sweet frosting recipe ever. I made them for my grandparents' anniversary party back in June and they were delicious. 

Lemon Dream Cupcakes
{You can find the recipe here}
Not a great picture, but it's the taste that counts, right? Well, these cupcakes are like sunshine in a paper liner.
I could wax poetic about cupcakes for hours. My food board on Pinterest is littered with cupcake recipes. They are, in my opinion, the perfect dessert. Well, that and pie. And cookies... and actual cake.  
Let's just say dessert is the perfect food and call it good, shall we?
You're reading Day 22 of 31 straight days of comfort food. If you've missed any of the posts in this series or want to start from the beginning you can go here.
If you're enjoying this series, I'd love to hear from you. If you would like to follow me on Facebook you can do so here. I am am always adding things to my boards on Pinterest- you can follow me here. And if you'd like to see what I'm up to throughout the day, you can find me on Instagram, too! My user name is "dreamanddiffer". 
Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

31 Days of Comfort Food: Day 21, Hearty Peasant Soup

Welcome to day 21 of 31 straight days of comfort food! I am on the countdown to the finish, but if you've missed any of the posts in this series or want to start from the beginning you can go here.

Today's dish is the type of simple, no-fuss food that common folks have been eating for centuries. It requires no fancy ingredients, little effort in preparation, and is filling enough to satisfy you during a long day of hard labor. Don't let its plebeian roots fool you though, this soup is full flavor fit for a king.
Hearty Peasant Soup
1/2 lb. bacon, cubed
6 sausage links or brats, cut into bite-size chunks
3 onions, chopped
2 lb. potatoes, cut into bite-size chunks
1/2 lb. carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tsp. salt
black pepper, to taste
6 cups beef broth
1/2 lb. fresh or frozen green peas
1/2 lb. fresh or frozen green beans

In a large, heavy pot, cook bacon till crisp and sausage links till brown. Remove sausage links and drain on paper towels. 

Strain off all the fat from the pan, add onions, potatoes, carrots, salt and pepper to the bacon and combine thoroughly. 

Lower the heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. 

Pour in the broth; add the peas, beans, and drained sausage links. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 20 minutes more. 

Serve piping hot with crusty bread. This is will easily feed 6 people, so we usually have lots of leftovers. Luckily, it's even better the next day!

I love hearing from you and I'm so glad you're enjoying this 31 day series. If you would like to follow me on Facebook you can do so here. I am also a huge fan of Pinterest and am always adding things to my boards; you can follow me on on Pinterest here. And if you'd like to see what I'm up to throughout the day, you can find me on Instagram, too! My user name is "dreamanddiffer". Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

31 Days of Comfort Food: Day 20, Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Welcome and thanks for stopping by day 20 of my series, 31 Days of Comfort Food! 
**If you've missed any of the posts in this series or want to start from the beginning you can go here.

Today's recipe is an autumn variation of one of my daughter's favorites, the Lemon Dream Cake. It is easy-peasy and oh-so-delicious. {Please excuse my dark and shadowy picture. I tend to bake late at night.}
Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
For the cake:
1 box spice cake mix
4 eggs
1 can pumpkin {puree, not pie filling}
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

For the frosting:
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 {8 oz.} bricks cream cheese, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Heat oven to 350.  Grease and flour 3 round cake pans. 

In a large bowl, mix boxed cake mix and 4 eggs until they are light and fluffy. Fold in pumpkin, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and bake for 20 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and maple syrup and mix till smooth. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes before frosting and it will spread easier.

I hope you enjoy this rich, moist cake. It is chock-full of fall-flavor!

I love hearing from you and I'm so glad you're enjoying this 31 day series. If you would like to follow me on Facebook you can do so here. I am also a huge fan of Pinterest and am always adding things to my boards; you can follow me on on Pinterest here. And if you'd like to see what I'm up to throughout the day, you can find me on Instagram, too! My user name is "dreamanddiffer". Thanks for stopping by!

31 Days of Comfort Food: Day 19, Pinterest Recipes

I thought for today I would share some of my favorite Pinterest recipes. I love finding new ideas there and am always inspired by all the deliciousness everyone else is coming up with. You can follow me on Pinterest here.

Since pinning this recipe several months ago, this dish has become one of my personal favorites. Not so much for the rest of my family, who all dislike mushrooms. However, sometimes I just claim cook's privileges and make it anyways.
Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

This bread, from Kate at The Small Things Blog, makes me weak at the knees. You should make it. Tonight. You'll never be the same again.

These cookies, from Edie at Life in Grace, are awesome and unexpected. She has a ton of wonderful recipes on her blog, but this has to be one of my favorites.

My aunt Deb made this dip for a recent family gathering and it is really is out-of-this-world-delicious. 

What are your favorite Pinterest recipes?

This has been day 19 of a 31 day series on comfort food.
You can start from the beginning here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

31 Days of Comfort Food: Day 18, Chippy Chewy Bars

Today is day 18 of a 31 day series on comfort food. If you're feeling hungry, you can see all the previous posts by clicking here.
I meant to post about these bars months ago. You see, the only time I make them is when we go camping... in the summer. They are our official camping dessert. Okay, them and s'mores.
But it would be unheard of for me to make Chippy Chewy Bars in the fall, when we are not camping. Luckily, I intended to share the recipe way back in June, but never got around to it. I did, however, take a picture when I made them. So my procrastination has paid off! {Take that high school teachers who told me it never pays to put things off!}
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 bag of peanut butter chips
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 tsp. shortening

Heat oven to 350. Place butter in 13x9 baking pan. Heat in oven till melted; remove pan from oven. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs evenly over butter; press down with fork.

Sprinkle peanut butter chips over crumbs; sprinkle coconut over chips. Drizzle sweetened condensed milk evenly over top.

Bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Combine chocolate chips and shortening in a microwavable bowl and melt in microwave, stirring and checking frequently. I usually do 30 second increments for about a minute and a half. You want them to be just melted and smooth. Drizzle the chocolate evenly over the top. The batch pictured above had a bit thicker consistency to the chocolate, so I spread it rather than drizzled. But a bit more shortening will thin it out if you prefer the drizzle-y look. Cool bars completely before cutting.

These bars are tooth-acheingly sweet, but they are always a hit at potlucks. And for us, it just wouldn't be camping without them.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday and Waffles!

Welcome to What I Wore Wednesday and day 17 of 31 Days of Comfort Food!
I'm so glad you're here! Truly. I really appreciate all my visitors and love reading your comments. It brightens up even the darkest of days.
Thank you.

It's hockey season around here, so you are going to see me in a whole lot of layers from now until April  or so. I spend most evenings sitting on a cold metal bench watching both kids play, so I'm all about comfort and warmth in my winter wardrobe.
Sweater, turtleneck: Lands End
Jeans: Silver
Shoes: El Naturalista

 More layers! They don't do much for a girl's figure, that's for sure.
{31 Days of Comfort Food isn't helping either!}
Vest: Lands End
Sweater, jeans: Target
Gingham blouse: Old Navy
Boots: Emu Australia

Hunter and I went to a local production of The Hobbit this week and had a blast.
The Hobbit was our first read-aloud book for homeschool, so seeing it on stage was a thrill. We are both so excited to see the movie, too.
Top, scarf: Old Navy
Jeans, flats: Target

So much for what I've been wearing...
Here's what I've been eating!
{Don't know what I am referring to? You can find out here.}
Whenever I make waffles, I announce it like Donkey does in Shrek... 
but with jazz hands. It just seems right, somehow.
I don't have a recipe for these, since I just use a Hungry Jack mix, but I do have a few waffle-related rules.
1) Use real, authentic maple syrup.
2) Use real, authentic whip cream.
3) Use real, authentic strawberries.
4) Exception to rule #3: Use strawberry freezer jam if real strawberries are not in season.
You may now eat your waffles.
Good day.
I'm linking up at The Pleated Poppy.