Friday, November 22, 2013

Crockpot Butternut Squash Soup

I recently reintroduced myself to squash. I had a bad experience with squash as a kid. True story... when I was about 8-years-old, my mom bought a squash lasagna from the Schwan's man. I kid you not, it was the grossest thing I have ever eaten in my life! I refused to eat it. My parents made me sit at the kitchen table until I finished eating. After hours of me pushing it around the plate, they gave up and ended up going to bed.  I fed the lasagna to my dog Copper. It was very traumatic- okay not really, but I could never eat squash after that. I also don't eat mushrooms because my 1st grade teacher told me they were made from ant throw-up, but that is a story for another time.

A few months ago, I decided it was time to be an adult and face my fears of squash, because, let's be real, there are much bigger things to be afraid of than a vegetable. I started simple, a yellow squash to put in my pasta sauce. Okay, that wasn't so bad. Then, I tried zucchini squash as a side dish. Hmm, also not bad. So, I went for the mac daddy, the butternut squash.

To be honest, this was the first and only recipe I have ever made with butternut squash. I should definitely try experimenting a little more with it because I have seen some very yummy looking recipes.

I use fresh squash, though you are certainly able to use frozen or packaged. Frozen or packaged squash is a lot easier to use, but I just like to use fresh.

If you use fresh, you will need to peel and dice the squash. This is tricky. The skin is pretty thick. My vegetable peeler isn't sharp enough to cut through it, so I use a knife. Though I did buy it at the dollar store, so you get what you pay for I guess. When picking a squash, you want to look for one that has a long top and smaller bottom. The bottom of the squash is mostly seeds, which you are going to scoop out. My first squash had a huge bottom and there was hardly any actual meat to it.

I love this soup. It is very creamy and is perfect for this colder weather. It does take a little bit of preparation if you are using fresh squash, but it would be a quick recipe if you use frozen or packaged. I hope you like it as much as we do!

What is your favorite way to use squash? Leave a comment below!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I Love Winter Tag

Christina's Answers:

1. Do you like the cold?
Yes, I love the cold. I have always said: When it is cold, you can always add more layers, but when it is hot, you can only take so much off. Josh and I definitely live in the wrong city for that though. Someday, we plan to move back to the Midwest. I grew up in South Dakota, and it gets very, very cold there. I do miss waking up to snow on Christmas morning.  

2. What is your favorite part about Fall/Winter?

I have a lot of favorite things about this time of year. First, I love the changing of the leaves. Again, not something that happens very often in Las Vegas. Funny thing about Palm Trees is that they stay green all year. I love cuddling up in a warm blanket with a hot cup of tea. I love taking Christmas photos. I love watching Christmas movies and listening to Christmas music. I love Thanksgiving. I love seeing all the houses decorated in lights. This truly is my favorite time of year. 

3. What is your favorite Winter drink?

I am not a Starbucks girl. I know, I'm like the one person in the world that doesn't like Starbucks. Almost everything I have tried there makes me sick, so I try to stay away. The one thing I have been liking a lot lately are the refreshers.

One of my favorite holiday drinks is the Red Velvet Hot Chocolate from Coffee is literally the greatest thing in the world. If you have never had it, get in your car, drive to Coffee Bean, and get it NOW! You will die! It tastes like warm red velvet cake in a cup. Yum!

My other favorite Winter drink is actually something I invented. I've included a diagram because I am a nerd. lol. I like to go to 7-11 and get a drink that is 1/3 hot chocolate and 2/3 peppermint mocha. It is so yummy! Adding the hot chocolate to the drink makes it a little less peppermint-y, which I like. 7-11 surprisingly has good coffee. Their pumpkin spice coffee is pretty good as well. The best part is that it is less than $2 for a large cup!

4. What is your favorite holiday activity?
I actually love Thanksgiving, maybe even, dare I say, a little more than Christmas. I love cooking and I love entertaining guests, which I'm sure comes as no surprise since I have a blog about food. Thanksgiving is like my dream holiday because it involves a lot of cooking and a lot of people! 

I also love going to see the holiday flowers at the Bellagio. That was one of my grandma's favorite things to do, so it has become one of mine as well. 

5. What is your favorite holiday scent?
I love Leaves from Bath and Body Works. I also love anything apple or pine tree. I actually stock up on holiday scents so that I can burn them year round. 

6. Does it snow where you live?
No. :( Once like every five years it snows here. The last time it snowed, I was in high school, so maybe we are due for a snow day! 

7. What is your favorite cold weather clothing?
I love scarves. My favorite has been infinity scarves. I also love to crochet scarves. I'm working on this really pretty dark purple one right now. I can't wait until it is finished! 

8. What is your favorite holiday memory?
My favorite holiday memory was spending Christmas at the South Point with my grandparents. We all got dressed up and went out to a fancy supper. It was something pretty normal at the time because I didn't know it was going to be one of her last holidays. Now, it is one of my favorite memories of her. She had always wanted to eat at this restaurant, so I'm glad we finally were able to before she passed away. 

9. Are you a fan of Ugg Boots?
Unfortunately, yes, I am a fan of Ugg boots. They are warm and comfy and are just perfect for cold days. 

10. Christmas is coming, do you have any idea what you want?
I want a sewing machine so badly! I told Josh that if Santa will bring me a sewing machine, he will bring Josh a sound bar for the TV. haha. 

So now it is your turn...I tag YOU! Leave a comment below with your answers. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sour Cream Enchiladas

I love enchiladas! I usually just order them when we go out because they seemed too complicated to make. It was a lot easier than I expected, but I had no idea how messy they were to make! Holy Cow!

I originally found this recipe by Pioneer Woman on Pinterest. I changed it up a bit. It was so yummy, but I can't emphasize how messy this was to make!! haha. Next time, I will probably make it as a casserole instead of individual enchiladas.

This would also be a good recipe to make a lot of and freeze.

We even used the left over sour cream filling to make my chipotle salad tonight for supper. You can find that recipe here.

Hubby's Opinion:
"It was easy to make, and didn't take long. It was really, really good."

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cinnamon Roll Waffles

Happy Sunday!!! You made it through another week!

This has been a super busy week at the Morales Home. Josh finished up a two week straight, no day off, all 2am shifts schedule on Friday! Whew, that was tough. We were on completely opposite schedules, he worked while I slept and I worked while he slept. Needless to say, while I am thankful for the extra overtime, I am more thankful that it is over and I can finally have my husband back.

On Friday morning, I wanted to do something special for Josh to show him how much I appreciate all the hard work he has been doing. So, I got up extra early to clean the house and make him breakfast in bed.

I couldn't believe that Josh slept through all the noise I was making by trying so hard not to make noise. As soon as I let the boys out of the kennel, Binx ran across the bed and jumped right on Josh's face. Josh slept through it. I went to shut the bedroom door and ran into the night stand knocking over the lamp. Josh slept through it. Nicky started barking at a cat walking around the neighborhood. Josh slept through it. Then, around 11, I decided to start making his breakfast. If you are friends with me on Facebook, you already know how this story ends...I hardly got two waffles done before he was out of bed and walking into the kitchen. Fail.

Although surprise breakfast in bed didn't happen, I did make a very yummy and super easy breakfast that I would love to share with you!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sloppy Joes

I work late on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, so I like to make crockpot meals on those days.

We are trying not to eat supper too late, which is really hard to do when you aren't getting home until almost ten. Crockpot meals have really helped us because as soon as I get home we can eat supper instead of having to wait another half hour or longer for me to cook...or worse, me stopping at a fast food restaurant on the way home!

This recipe happened by accident, but it was so yummy. Originally, I was trying to make a buffalo chicken casserole, and forgot to add some of the ingredients. But, I doctored it up a bit, and it turned out to be a great sandwich!

I expected it to be pretty spicy, but the ranch dressing and soup definitely toned it down a bit.

This recipe made enough for two sandwiches that night, and two sandwiches for lunch today. So, it would be perfect for a family. You will love it!!!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Bathroom Sink Storage- No Mess November

Under our bathroom sink used to be clean--I know you can't tell in the before picture, but it was. When we moved into this house I spent a good hour organizing all of my makeup and hair things into my grandma's pretty boxes.

But, at the end of the day, if the organization isn't something you can keep up with on a day to day basis, it doesn't matter how pretty the boxes are, it just isn't going to work. That is exactly what happened. No matter how often I cleaned it, after a few days of running late to work, this is what my bathroom looked like.

I decided last night that enough was enough and reorganized the whole thing. I think this organization is going to be much easier to keep clean because I have made the things that I used on a regular basis more accessible while storing away the things I don't use very often. I was even able to make room for my cleaning products that were previously beside the toilet. Since this was a spur of the moment project, I organized using all storage boxes I already had.
On the far right hand side, I stacked plastic shoe boxes that I originally purchased at the dollar store. The bottom two boxes are things that I don't use often, like extra q-tips and headbands. The top box is my ginormous collection of perfume. I know, I have a problem. I use these regularly, so box is open and easily accessible. 

Next, I used two open boxes to store hair items. The box in front was my grandma's and I used it to store smaller hair products. In the back, I used a plastic box from the dollar store to hold my curling iron, straightener, and hair dryer.

Next, on the bottom, I have storage for extra products like the second bottle of shampoo or the thousand other bars of soap that come in the value packs. Above that, I have my makeup storage. I have used this plastic drawer storage for a few years, I like that it keeps everything separated and organized, but I have a tendency to take the drawers out and leave them on the counter, as you could see in the before picture. I am hoping that moving it higher so that there is nothing in front of it will encourage me to keep the drawers in their spots. So far, so good...but then again it has only been one day, so that isn't saying much.

Finally, I lined up my cleaning supplies along the left hand side of the cabinet. I am happy that I was able to get them in the cabinet as well.

So that is that. I hope you all had a productive first week of No Mess November! I know I have been a day late on all of my posts this week, but I plan to be back on MWF schedule next week. Have a good weekend!!!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Freezer Organization- No Mess November

My freezer is clean!!!!!!!!! Hallelujah!!!

Do you have any idea how frustrating it is for things to fall out of the freezer every time you need to get something out of it??? Holy cow. I kid you not, every time we opened the door, like five bags would fall out on your head.

I hated our freezer!! I would absolutely love to have one of those drawer freezers or a side by side, but we live in an apartment so that isn't an option.

Josh and I are almost vegetarians, so we keep a lot of fruits and vegetables in the freezer. Whenever there is a good sale on something we like, I usually like to stock up and freeze it. For example, if you look in the middle shelf on the bottom photo, that is all guacamole because the grocery store had avocados on sale 20 for $1...don't judge, we like our guacamole. haha

The first thing I did to organize the freezer was take all the frozen fruits and vegetables out of their bags and put them in gallon storage bags. This allowed me to stack the food flat, which you see in the right hand side of the freezer. I really, really love this! I can't believe I never thought of it before. You can easily see what is in each of the bags without having to take every one of them out, which is really convenient.

Then, I went to the trusty dollar store and picked up three of these stack-able bins. The were the perfect height and really provided a space to organize some of the smaller items, like bags of frozen guacamole. Finally, I stacked the other items, like frozen chicken, in the middle.

On the door, I stacked our ice trays and ice packs on the bottom and have a basket of popsicles and butter on the top.

So, that is our freezer!! I am so excited about it! It is functional, you can see everything in it, and it looks pretty too. The best part, nothing falls on your head when you open the door!

What projects are you working on for No Mess November? I would love to hear about your projects! Check back in on Friday to see how I organized the fridge!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Cracker Toffee

One of the therapists at my work made this the other day, and I just had to come home and try it!

It is the perfect combination of salty and sweet. It is super easy to make, and you probably have all of the ingredients in your kitchen!

You can definitely spice this recipe up. You could drizzle some chocolate on top. Maybe even add some peanuts or M&Ms into the mix. Yum! I think I am going to go make another batch!!

Hubby's Opinion:
"This is a good snack to have around. Kids would love it!"