Monday, April 11

Water Chestnut Chicken Divan

Hey there, Monday peeps!

Here is an easy recipe (and Carter family favorite) that looks super fancy!  It is healthy & a "one pan dinner" so you really don't need any additional side.  Add it to your menu this week!

Water Chestnut Chicken Divan
(serves 4-6)

1 lb chicken, cooked & shredded
2 bags frozen broccoli, cooked (or 3 heads of fresh broccoli, steamed)
1 large can water chestnuts, drained
1 T butter
2 t olive oil
2 t minced garlic
chopped onion - I just throw in a little, and I don't measure it
1/4 cup flour
1 cup fat free chicken broth
1 cup skim milk
2 oz dry white cooking wine
6 oz swiss cheese, divided
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I use whole wheat)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions: Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9X13 pan & set aside.  Cook chicken & broccoli and set aside (sometimes I grab a rotisserie chicken from the store if I am in a bind!).  In a large skillet, heat your butter, olive oil, garlic and chopped onion.  Stir well until butter is melted.  Sprinkle in your flour and mix quickly.  Add in broth, milk, and cooking wine.  Bring to a boil...stirring constantly.  (Basically you are making your own cream of chicken sauce - minus the processed junk in the can and yucky sound it makes when you dump it out - eek!)  Remove from heat and stir in half of your swiss cheese.  Stir well and the sauce will start to thicken a bit.

Line your pan with all of the broccoli.  Top with water chestnuts.  We LOVE water chestnuts and sometimes I will add more than one can.  Just make sure to drain first.  If you don't like water chestnuts, feel free to omit.  Next, top with half of sauce mixture.  Sprinkle with salt/pepper.  Top with chicken.  Cover with remaining sauce and remaining half of swiss cheese.  Sprinkle bread crumbs and parmesan cheese on top.  Finally, I take a little cooking spray and spray the whole top - this sets the dish!

Bake for 30 minutes, or until brown.  Serve hot with french bread.  Your family will love it and your Monday meal is taken care of!  :)

Tuesday, March 15

Taco Tuesday...skinny Mexican casserole

Here is a yummy casserole that is easy to throw together for your Taco Tuesday.  Enjoy!

Skinny Mexican Casserole 
(serves 4-6)

1 lb lean ground beef (or ground turkey), cooked & drained
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 large tomato, diced
1 can Grands biscuits (8 count), cut into small pieces
taco seasoning - to taste 
1 cup shredded cheese (I used reduced fat)
Garnish: sour cream, guacamole, salsa, cilantro, etc 

Preheat oven to 350.  Brown your ground beef and chopped onion, drain if needed.  Stir in your taco seasoning (I don't use very much).  Spray a 9X13 pan and set aside.  Chop 4 biscuits into small pieces and sprinkle along the bottom of your pan.  They won't cover the whole pan but that is fine.  Spoon on half of your meat.  Top with half of your veggies (red/green pepper, tomato), then cheese.  Repeat: remaining biscuit pieces, meat, veggies, cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until biscuits are brown.  Top with garnish of choice!  This doesn't really require any sides, but you could do corn, black beans, or a simple salad!  Enjoy!  

Friday, March 4

Friday Favorites has been so long since I blogged.  I barely could recall my password to get in.  Then I remembered it is the same password that I use for everything, so crisis averted.  #notmyaddress #ormybirthday #butclose

Linking up today with Andrea for Friday Favorites!  Here is what I have been loving this week!

I am pretty sure everyone in America could put one of these shows on their Friday Favorites today.  I mean - they couldn't be more different, but when you have an obsessive personality these shows have to be at the top of your list.  Fuller House.  Ahhhh, you are like a favorite fuzzy blanket that I found in the back of my closet.  And, John Stamos - you have stood the test of time. #havemercy  Sure - I love the first series much better, but I enjoy some mindless television every once in awhile!  I do hope they decide to go for another season!

And, O.J...I bet you are loving all this new found stardom from your jail cell.  I was obsessed with the trial back in 1994 & I am re-obsessed with this series now.  I just had to google the crime scene photos, stalk Mark Fuhrman on Facebook & and/or put a hold on every OJ book our library carries.  It is fascinating!  It is also fascinating that he wasn't found guilty!

Speaking of fascinating - this book.  I am usually a Nicholas Sparks/Chick Lit type of gal, but this caught my eye after we recently watched the author speak to Diane Sawyer.  The author is the mother of one of the shooters at Columbine.  The book is a page turner.  Just not at night.  It makes me scared.  The statistics and data given in this book are downright overwhelming.  The FBI profiler on the case goes on to explain that there is no formula when it comes to most school shootings....except for one thing: they tend to be young, white males.  Gulp.  I am raising a young, white male.  This mother wrote it from a very humble perspective, and seems very truthful in things that she missed and what she would have done differently while raising her teenage son.  Both shooters came from a "normal" 2-parent family.  They weren't "trouble-makers" necessarily and participated in school activities, held jobs, had friends, etc.  But there were some major red flags & she does address them.  I can't get a certain part out of my mind.  She simply says that "Loving your child is not enough."  She loved her son dearly and look what happened.  I think we, as parents, need to be more invested in our children's mental health, just as we are invested in their physical health.

I was a double major in college (education and sociology) and sometimes I wish I would have used my sociology major for something.  Maybe I will someday.  Things like this just make me want to study people all day.  Columbine was a very memorable tragedy growing up.  Who doesn't remember the images: students running out with their hands over the head, the boy falling out of the window, all with the pretty Colorado landscape in the background.  The cousin of my boyfriend at the time was actually one of the students shot, but thankfully she survived.  So that definitely hit home as all of this was blasted on national television.  Her name was Casey & I remember asking him years later how she was doing.  He said she still couldn't sleep at night.  I can't imagine.  Even though this was a very heavy topic, it still made the list this week.  I also love that the author is donating 100% of the proceeds to teen mental health/suicide prevention organizations.

Whew - now a lighter Friday Favorites...this hair product!  Fellow bird's nest heads unite!  I randomly saw this in the grocery the other day & thought I would give it a whirl.  It is supposed to cut your drying time down and it really works for me!  Now I am not near as sweaty or annoyed after drying my hair!  #thickhairprobs

A new recent favorite for me - tea!  I got a sweet Valentine gift from someone this year that was an adorable mug with various Tazo teas inside.  Now, I have a never-ending love for coffee #americanoforever, but have always loved tea as well.  Ever since I received that gift I find myself making more of it!  What are your favorite teas?

This punkin'.  Always on the Friday Favorites list.  I put this on Instagram saying that even though we share no DNA, sometimes I forget.  Actually I forget a lot.  This child was so chosen by God to be our son, it is not even funny.  I really can't imagine loving another human being more.  #adoptionrules

And, there you have it!  Happy Friday, party people!  Add some tea to your weekend.  

Tuesday, December 8

Christmas at The Carters...part 2

Hey there!  I am linking up with a fun blogger, Andrea, & sharing my Christmas decorations!  I love looking at other house decor - and ESPECIALLY during Christmas!  Enjoy!

I used to love anything and everything Christmas - and my house was a modge podge of Christmas decor.  Over the years I *think* I have toned it down a little (although the hubs would say 3 Christmas trees is not toning it down - ha!)  We have a huge tree in our front room that is my "Mommy tree" now.  All red, white & silver ornaments.  With corresponding wrapped presents. #recoveringperfectionist  It makes me happy.

Through the hallway is where I put our Christmas cards.  I hot glue ribbon to the top of the door (don't be afraid to hot glue stuff to walls or peels right off!) & then I glue on the cards when we get them.  I love having them all displayed where we can see them versus in a basket or bin like I used to do.  By the end of the month I usually fill up two doors worth & it makes me happy seeing all of the smiling friends & family in our lives.

(from a few years ago)
Dane's playroom tree was sort of a new addition this year.  I had it in our sunroom & it was another girly tree - pink and silver with a tiara on top - ha!  But we put colored lights on it this year, and covered it with sentimental ornaments from when Devin & I were kids + some fun ones we have collected since we have been married.  I have a few new ones that Dane and I have made together and I think this tree will soon be a quick favorite!

my little "Danedeer" ;)

Our living room tree is brown and gold to match our decor & is a real one!  We have gone to a tree farm the last few years to pick it out, and that was always a fun tradition that Devin & I both did with our families growing up.  And that fresh balsam smell?  Oh my.  Forget the Yankee candles this year & just get a real Christmas tree!

Our nativity scenes are fun to put up every year and we now have four!  We have a nice Willow Tree set (off limits to toddler hands), a magnetic one for the fridge, the Little People set that Dane LOVES & this set from when I was a little girl.  The pieces are "stuffed-animal like" and I remember playing with it every Christmas.  We were never allowed to put baby Jesus out until Christmas morning either - His birthday, of course!  Dane loves playing with this one too, so I have it set up in his playroom.  He seems to catch on to things so quickly and loves pointing out the different people.  The funniest thing happened last week when he pointed to a picture of my baby nephew and shouted"Jesus!"  Precious.

I have a few things in the kitchen that I like to put out every year.  I know a lot of people like to put Santa pictures up for Christmas, and I want to continue doing that also!  I have Dane's last two years on the big guy's lap and am looking forward to getting his picture taken this year!  I also put out a Devin/Abigail fave...when we went ice skating at Rockefeller in NYC!  It was snowing and SO pretty and just a fun picture to display for the holidays.

And that is just about it for Carter Christmas decor.  What are your favorite Christmas decorations?  Please share!

Merry, Merry.

Tuesday, November 24

Christmas at the Carters

I heart Christmas.

Growing up, we had a lot of fun Christmas traditions.  We did the classic ones - Christmas light drive, visits to Santa, cookie baking, etc.  But we did some different things also.  On Christmas Eve my brother and I would make pallets on the floor at the foot of our parents bed & sleep in their room.  I don't know how they managed to sneak out for their "Santa duties," but they did.  My brother and I always had a pact to take shifts and stay awake to try & listen for Santa's reindeer.  Of course, one of us always fell asleep during our shift & was to blame when we both awoke Christmas morning and we hadn't heard those famous bells!  Oh, the magic of childhood Christmases.  

We also learned at a young age how important it was to serve others, rather than being served.  We were fortunate to grow up and not really want for anything, but I knew there were many people that were not as fortunate.  My mom always took us and a few friends down to a homeless mission between Thanksgiving and Christmas to serve lunch one day.  A few of us would help in the back with the food preparation, and the rest of us would serve.  It was definitely an eye-opening experience.  I would love to continue this tradition, or something similar, with my little family as it grows.  Right now we participate in our church's Angel Tree ministry, which is a well-known Christmas ministry.  Our church puts up various trees in different locations that have paper angels written with a child's name and one or two gifts.  These children have one, or both parents in prison...which just breaks my heart.  You choose your angel, purchase the gifts listed and turn the wrapped gift in to be delivered.  It is a wonderful program and I am excited for Dane to choose his own angels as he grows.  

Another fun (& unique!) tradition we had was started by my Dad - and is so easy!  He would "disguise" our gifts so we never knew which ones were ours.  For example, one year all of the tags that said "Abigail" were actually my brother's and vice versa.  Another year all of mine had the bow in the right corner, his in the left.  So we always had to try and find out the puzzle of whose gifts belonged to who.  So fun!  

Below is the Carter Christmas list of 2015.  Fun family activities I would love to do this holiday season.

What are your favorite family traditions for the holidays?  I am always looking for new ideas to add to the list!

Merry, Merry to you!

Monday, November 16

All-American Chili

Happy Monday!  Need a quick & cozy dinner for this week?  Try my "All-American Chili!"  It is a Carter family favorite + so easy!

All-American Chili

* 2 lbs lean ground beef (or turkey)
* 28oz can diced tomatoes
* 28oz can tomato PUREE (not tomato paste or sauce)
* 1 can light red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
* 1 can dark red kidney beans, drained & rinced
* 1 yellow onion, diced
* 1 red pepper, diced
* 1-2 t garlic powder
* 2 T chili powder
* 1/4 cup brown sugar
* salt & pepper 

Directions: Brown your ground beef (or turkey) and add in chopped onion & red pepper.  Drain.  At this point, I add everything else into a crock pot, throw in the meat, and simmer on low for a few hours.  You could also put everything in your stock pot and cook on high until it is heated through.  We always top ours with oyster crackers, cheese, sour cream & green onions!  I like to serve ours with veggies & dip + a poppyseed mozzarella bread that I make.  YUM! Enjoy!  

Friday, October 2

Friday Favorites

Three cheers for FRIDAY!  Linking up with some blogger are some of my favorites from the week!

These bars.  Oh my.  I am a bit of a pumpkin snob.  I know every company from Pop-Tarts to Tootsie Rolls breaks out a pumpkin version for the Fall, but trust me - all pumpkin is not equal.  For example, I was so excited about some pumpkin english muffins last year, but they tasted like a cross between Windex & nutmeg.  Definitely not winning a gold medal at the Pumpkin Olympics.  However, my pumpkin radar was on full force in the grocery the other day & I saw these babies on sale.  I like the other kinds that Fiber One offers, so I thought I would "give 'em a whirl." (Home Alone, anyone?)  They passed my pumpkin test.  I guess I'll go stock up since they are out for a limited time.  Sigh.

Awhile back one of my favorite bloggers posted about this Evian facial spray & just raved about it.  You spray it over your make-up and it is supposed to set everything, minimize pores & just waken you up.  I was a little skeptical because I figured my spray bottle and tap water would do the same trick.  Plus, I didn't want to spend $12 on it.  Wellllll, I don't know what I was thinking.  Last weekend I attended the DotMom conference with my friend Adrienne & she had some.  And, I made her spray me about every hour.  I'm a believer now.  I also happened to get a $10 gift card in the mail from Ulta, so $2 instead of $12?  Yes, please.  Go spritz yourself today.

A favorite book of mine this week.  This Christian mama is  She talks about everything from surviving the 90's stirrup phase to the best fried chicken in the south.  Check it out if you need to smile.  

Another favorite book this week - more for people less than 2 feet tall who wear diapers, though.  Sandra Boynton has been a long-time favorite children's author of mine & Spooky Pookie is just adorable.  And Dane pronouncing "Spooky Pookie" is even more adorable.  

A fun Fall nail polish for Fall, "Over The Taupe".  I have had it for years.  Sometimes it looks gray, and sometimes brown.  Kind of like a mood ring for nail polish.  It made the list this week, too!

What are your favorites this week?  Happy Weekend-ing!