Love One Another

I have been really contemplative over the last week about what the Christmas season really means to me. After the tragedy in Connecticut this weekend…it makes me speechless. I haven’t been able to put my thoughts into words yet. Maybe I’ll write about it eventually, but for now, all I can think of is this song.

As I have loved you, love one another.
This new commandment: love one another.
By this shall men know ye are my disciples,
If ye have love one to another.

My heart goes out to everyone who is hurting, and my prayers are with you. I hope we can take the opportunity this Christmas season to be reminded of our many blessings, but also to remember what really matters in our lives. Most importantly, I hope our reflection and behavior don’t stop when we take down our trees. As I was reading my scriptures the other morning, I came across a paper Christmas ornament that I have had for several years. It somehow got lost between the pages, but I feel like I came across it at just the right time.

Paper Ornament

I encourage each and every one of you this Christmas season to pick something on this ornament, and do it. Pick five somethings. Pick all twenty-two. Take the opportunity every day to make someone else’s life better. Be positive. Care about people. Remember to not take for granted your relationships with those you care about. Treat everyone with respect. Be slow to anger and quick to forgive. And I love the last piece of encouragement:

Speak your love, and then speak it again.

Computer Troubles

Well…my computer won’t connect to the internet, folks. I have WordPress on my phone and tablet, but it is kind of a pain to update from here. I’m working on figuring out how to fix it, but I haven’t figured it out yet and there is no room in our budget for a new computer. Hopefully I can figure it out soon because all of my pictures are on my laptop and I have fun Christmas ideas I want to share with you!

Hopefully ill be posting soon!

Stuffed Mushrooms

As promised in my last post, here is a quick step by step for how to make the most amazingly delicious stuffed mushrooms you have ever tasted in your life. Now, that may sound like an exaggeration, but once you taste these you will realize it is a spot on description of how wonderful they are. Seriously, my mouth is watering even thinking about writing this post.

Okay, here we go. You will need:

Mushrooms, caps and stems washed and separated
Breadcrumbs, preferably Italian style
Parmesan cheese
Fresh garlic, chopped
Fresh parsley, if available
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Salt and pepper to taste

Notice, I don’t have specific measurements for all of these ingredients. I just kind of eyeball it. I’m sorry! I’m Italian and was raised in a household that “cooked until it looked like this” or “tastes like that.” I mean, don’t get me wrong, we had specific recipes too, but I can’t really share those with the internet world because then I would have to kill you. Or my mom would kill me. One or the other. Anyway, back to mushrooms.

It doesn’t really matter what kind of mushrooms you use. For this occasion, I used white button mushrooms because that is what they had on sale. As far as quantity, I was making these for Thanksgiving so I made about 85 or so. I had breadcrumb mixture left over, so we had about 25 more mushrooms later that week. That is one of the nice things about this recipe…it is super flexible and you can make as much or as little as you need!

After the mushrooms have been washed and separated, let the caps dry and chop up the stems. You will be adding the stems to the breadcrumb mixture. In a bowl mix all ingredients except EVOO. You want probably about one third to one half as much cheese compared to how many breadcrumbs you are using. Use salt and pepper to taste, remembering that you don’t need much salt because the breadcrumbs and cheese will be plenty flavorful. I didn’t have fresh parsley, so I added a little bit of Italian seasoning. I personally really love garlic (again, I’m Italian…) so I used 10 to 15 cloves of garlic all chopped nicely. Don’t forget! I made roughly 110 mushrooms with my mixture, so DON’T use that much garlic for just a few mushrooms! These pictures should give you an idea of what the ingredients all look like together:

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In the first picture, I had forgotten to add the chopped mushroom stems, but I did toss them in for the second picture. Once everything is in the bowl, lightly drizzle it with EVOO and begin to toss it all together. You don’t want the mixture too wet because then it would be oily and disgusting. You only want it moist, that way the breadcrumbs won’t burn but instead will crisp up and turn a beautiful golden brown color.

Once everything is all mixed nicely, grab a spoon and begin to stuff your mushrooms. I find it helpful to make sure the cap is filled and then top it with a heaping spoonful so it has a nice little mound of stuffing on top.

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After all of your mushrooms are stuffed, add a bit of water to the bottom of your pan or baking dish. You want to add enough that all of the mushrooms are sitting in water. It will evaporate in the oven and help the mushrooms to stay moist, but most importantly it will ensure the mushrooms don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Let me tell you, one of the worst feelings is trying to take the mushrooms off the pan and ruining them because they are all stuck. Don’t let that happen to you!

Finally, drizzle the tops with a bit more EVOO so it will really crisp up, and pop it in the oven at 400°F to 425°F for about 25 minutes. When the tops are golden brown they are ready! Remember, they are going to be HOT, so resist the urge to eat them immediately, though I know it will be difficult. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone if you sneak a few of the tiny ones!

Mushrooms 2

Delicious!

Don’t know what to make them with? Check out my Kitchenspiration section for ideas!

Pan-Seared Pork with Stuffed Mushrooms

I know I already wrote about another pork dinner last month, but this meal was so quick and delicious I couldn’t help but share.

Pork

I was really craving something amazing to go with some fantastic stuffed mushrooms I made, and this pork chop really hit the spot. I searched around a bit to see if there was anything extra special I could do to make it even more delicious, and I ended up stumbling across this blog post over at Cooking With Michele.

Go check out her step by step how to, and in tomorrow’s post, I’ll teach you how to make the stuffed mushrooms that will really put your dinner over the top. Yum!

Santa Penguin Nails

Pinterest is a wonderful thing. I saw nails similar to these over the weekend and decided to give it a go myself. I didn’t take step by step pictures because to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to pull it off or if it was going to be a complete flop, but in the end I thought they turned out really cute! I got a million comments on them from people at work and the general consensus seemed to be that everyone loved them, so I knew I had to share.

Penguin Nails

With the weather never changing around here, I needed a little dose of winter!

Quick step by step:

1. Start with a good basecoat. I know it seems like you are already going to be adding on a ton of layers, but it really does help the polish stay on longer.
2. Add a layer of light, sky-blue colored polish. Let dry.
3. If you need to add a second layer of blue polish, go ahead. Remember though that it doesn’t have to be perfect. You are going to be covering it up with snow and penguins.
4. Using a dotting tool, make white polka-dots on the nails without penguins. I decided to make my nails pretty spotted, but you could very easily just do a few dots here and there and make it look more like snow than polka-dots. Up to you!
5. On the penguin nails, start by making a layer of “snow” at the bottom by painting a messy french tip. Let dry.
6. Paint a black circle, overlapping slightly so your penguin is standing on the bed of snow. Draw two small lines out of the middle for the penguin’s flippers. Let that dry for a few minutes.
7. Because I only have one nail art brush, I was trying to do all of the like colors at the same time. After I made the black penguin body, I went in and drew a small Santa hat hovering over the penguin’s head. Let that dry for a few minutes as well.
8. Go back in with the white and make a small circle for the belly, two dots for eyes, and put the cotton trim around the Santa hat. Remember: when you are making the white dots for eyes, you want them large enough that you will still be able to put another black dot inside to make the pupil. You can then make a few white snowflakes around your adorable penguin.
9. After your penguin dries a little, take an orange polish, and make a little beak and two feet. It makes the whole thing come together.
** Extra step: I took some glitter polish and added that on top of my polka-dot only nails and at the bottom of the penguin nails on the bed of snow.**
10. Finish by adding a top coat. The one I am currently using is Sally Hansen Diamond Flash Fast Dry Top Coat. I have been looking for a fast dry top coat that not only dries quickly but helps prevent chipping. I can’t say that this one is amazing, but it does the job a lot better than my previous one. When and if I find another, I’ll give you all an update. If any of you have any recommendations for a topcoat you love, please let me know!!!

For all of you who are wondering, these are the colors/brands that I used. If any of you have questions or thoughts please leave them down below!

Penguin Polishes

That’s it! Now you can enjoy the winter-wonderland on your hands all day long, no matter what the weather is outside. 

Thirty Days of Thanks: Days 29 and 30

Yes, I know it is December 3rd. I have come to terms with my shortcomings in being diligent enough to post in a timely manner. I offer my apologies, acknowledge that I can do better, and promise to try harder. That being said, last week was a really difficult week for me and I was feeling kind of down for most of the week, but I am now back to my regular happy self and will finish up my last two days of “thankfuls.”

Day 29. I am grateful for laughter.

I love to laugh. One of my favorite feelings in the world is laughing so hard that I can barely control myself. There is just something so contagious about laughter…most of the time once I start laughing really hard, I can’t stop, which usually ends up making my husband crack up too and then both of us are just laughing like fools for absolutely no reason at all. Have any of you ever laughed until you cried? It is a really fantastic feeling to be so overwhelmed by happiness.

Day 30. I am thankful that I have had the opportunity over the past month to reflect on the things that I am grateful for and that I have been able to share them with all of you.

I really appreciate that I have had the chance each and every day to think about everything I am thankful for. I think it is really important to give thanks for the things that matter to us in life. I know that for me, doing this challenge has helped me to keep a positive attitude every day (even on the days when I didn’t post!). Rather than dwelling on the negative things that happened during my day or week, I challenged myself to think of the blessings in my life, and that has really made a big difference in how I go about my day. Bonus: With all of this positive, happy energy I feel like I am really ready for the Christmas season now!

Thank you also to all of you who have started reading, liking, or following my blog. I am super new to this and I know I have a ton to learn about the blogging world, but I appreciate each and every one of you and your support as I learn by trial and error. I have some really fun ideas for Christmas that I’ll be posting soon, so keep checking back!