Archive for January, 2011

Cleaning party and comfort food, that is what yesterday looked like. Cleaning out, getting rid of junk, organizing our lives…we did all of those things. It was a much much needed day of cleaning. Feels good. To help us clean…some comfort food.

Shepherd’s Pie

Meat mix

  • 1 lbs of ground beef
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  • 16 oz bag of frozen veggies (I use peas, corn, green beans, and carrots)
  • Small jar of gravy (I like Heinz Home Style Savory Beef) (I actually don’t like the taste of it plain, but when baked with the meat and veggies…yum)

Mashed potatoes

  • 5 lbs of russet potatoes (ok we loooove potatoes, so I make a lot)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional – 1 cup of shredded Colby Jack cheese

In a large pot, start boiling the water for the potatoes while you peel and clean them. Add all potatoes and boil until tender. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

Chop the onion and garlic. Start browning the ground beef, onion and garlic. Add a little bit of salt and pepper. Once meat is cooked through, add the jar of gravy and frozen veggies. Let this simmer while potatoes are cooking.

Once potatoes are fork tender, drain and put into a large bowl, premash them a bit. Add salt, butter and milk. Then with a handheld mixer beat potatoes until smooth. Optional – fold in the cheese. I added cheese 🙂

In a 9×13 glass pan, pour in meat mixture. Then take the potatoes and spread them over the top. Cover with foil and place in the middle of the rack in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

I think this might be one of Joe’s favorite things I cook for him….beef, gravy and potatoes. If he had it his way I would leave out the veggies 🙂 but as you can see…I don’t.


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I am obsessed! I need help. All I want to do is make homemade stuff. Not even homemade dinner but crafty gifty type things. I think it all started with Christmas and the Vanilla Sugar that I made. Now I can’t stop googling needle felting and homemade vanilla extract. I guess there are worse things to be obsessed with 🙂 I have already started thinking about homemade Christmas gifts for next year, and its only January.

I used Alton Brown’s Vanilla Sugar recipe but got the idea from Eat, Live, Run. It is delicious!

  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 2 cups granulated sugar

I sliced the vanilla bean and scraped the seeds out. I mixed with the sugar then sifted it to get any large sugar lumps out.

I used some Ball jars that I bought at my local grocery store. After I washed them I made sure they were completely dry before adding the sugar.

Fill the jar with some of the sugar then add the split vanilla bean. Fill the rest of the jar with the sugar burying the bean.

I got these super cute wooden spoons to tie to the jars with festive ribbon.

Let the mix rest for a few weeks before using. My next Vanilla project….Vanilla Extract!

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Happy First blog post of 2011! I ended 2010 with a relaxing and LAZY week off of work. A much needed break after a busy year. So I started 2011 feeling all refreshed and ready to see whats in store 🙂

Today I finished by decorating cookies that I made for my friend’s daughter’s first birthday. My friend had selected a super cute owl theme, “Whooos turning 1?” so to match the theme, owl cookies. I literally have at least a hundred cookie cutters, but no owl. So I tried to think  and figure out what I could use to make my owls. What did I come up with? EASTER EGG!! Yup I used my Easter egg cookie cutter along with a small round one to get the look I wanted.

I also used my tiered wedding cake cutter to make Birthday cakes. Usually I just frost my cookies a solid color, maybe add a few sprinkles, but I wanted to make these extra special. My first attempt (over a year ago) with flooding, was not exactly what I wanted but I thought I would give it another go. I used my normal frosting recipe this time, but left it a little thicker than normal so I could pipe out the outline on the cookies.

Then I thinned the frosting out so it was fairly runny and easy to push around inside of my piped outline. I like to put my frosting in a small squeeze bottle and use my offset spatula that has the pointed tip.

Squeeze (flood) some frosting onto the cookie in the piped outline and spread it around.

I did all my piping on all my cookies, once it had set for about 30 minutes I did all my flooding. I did this for my cakes and my owls. Then I made a thicker frosting for all the details. I have to say I think my second attempt at flooding was a success!


  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter
  • 4 cups of sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp of vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • hot water (amount depends on the consistency you are looking for)
  • (optional) light corn syrup if you want your frosting to have a nice sheen (I did not use this in mine)

I like to melt my butter in the microwave then mix in salt, vanilla and sugar. Add water a little at a time until you get to the desired consistency.

I love this frosting because it never gets super hard or crunchy. Mmmmmm…now I want a cookie 🙂 but I will wait for the party cause I have all these owls packaged up and ready to go!

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