Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Turkey & Brussels Sprouts

So lately Frank has been home for dinner! What a concept... It's actually exciting for two reasons.
1. I love seeing my husband more
2. I have someone to try out my cooking experiments!

I don't know about you, but Pinterest has recently become my main source for delicious recipes to try. Sometimes they work out...sometimes they don't. Sometimes I can salvage the mistakes, and sometimes I have to just let go and make pasta instead.

Tonight...I made:
Garlic Parmesan Turkey Meatballs & Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries and Barley

Here are the Pinterest links:

To start, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees. Then, I mixed:
1 pound ground turkey
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
10 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp pepper 
1/2 tsp sea salt

into a medium sized mixing bowl. 

Then, I formed them into golf-ball sized meatballs and arranged them on a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper and put them into the oven for about 30 minutes (the recipe says 30-40 minutes). 

While they were cooking, I began to work on the brussels sprouts. First, I cut off the ends and pulled off any browned leaves and coated the brussels sprouts with:
1 tbsp olive oil
sprinkled with sea salt

Then, I heated a large pan and placed the brussels sprouts flat end down for about 2 minutes, until browned.

This is where I messed up a bit. The recipe calls for a iron cast skillet, which I don't have...so I used a regular frying pan. Well...things got a little smokey and my sprouts may have been a little more  brown than I wanted. I immediately took them off the heat and threw them back into my mixing bowl. I decided since I've roasted veggies before in the oven and the meatballs were already in there, I would just throw them into a small cookie sheet with some extra sea salt and put them in the oven until the meatballs were done.

While both my meatballs and sprouts were in the oven, I prepared the barley. I had cooked the barley the night before which I highly recommend only because I'm horrible at multitasking while I cook. All I did was throw some dried cranberries in a bowl with the pre-cooked barley and heat it in the microwave for about a minute.

When the timer went off, I pulled out my meatballs, checked them with a knife and served! 

I poured the brussels sprouts into a serving bowl with the heated barley & cranberries and drizzled the mixture with 1/2 tbsp syrup and 1/2 tbsp balsamic  vinegar. Delish!!


What recipes have you tried lately?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thankful for Our New Home

On October 29th Hurricane Sandy hit the state of New Jersey pretty hard. Our beaches are destroyed and people lost their cars, homes, and some lost pretty much everything. It was scary and devastating. For days and for some, even weeks, we didn't have power, had little access to internet, and some people didn't have water, heat, or even a working stove top.

Driving around in central New Jersey where things did not even compare to the shore was still heartbreaking. Houses had huge trees on them, giant trees were ripped right out of the ground, and power lines were strewn in the roads and holding up trees and poles that had fallen.

After driving around seeing the devastation to homes, once we finally got power back a week later and saw pictures of the Jersey Shore we grew up spending summers at and where our families had homes, we realized how incredibly blessed we were.

All of this lead to us moving into our apartment. Somehow, in the middle of the aftermath of Sandy, we managed to pack up our belongings, rent a moving truck (in the middle of gas shortages), and move about an hour south from where we were. After not having power, heat, or water for a week, moving into a place that had all of the above felt  blissful. We didn't have internet or cable for two weeks longer, but this didn't bother us at all. We were thankful for a shower and a stove to cook on and the ability to turn on lights when it was dark!

Although we were extremely happy, it almost felt unfair that when others were losing homes, we had the ability to move into a new one. It really put a lot of things into perspective for us. As I was going through our belongings, unpacking them all and organizing, I couldn't help but think of those impacted by Sandy much more than we were.

I encourage you to join with us in continuing to pray for those who lost family, homes, memories, and belongings due to this tragic storm. There are a good deal of volunteering opportunities as well. What better time to volunteer than during the holidays and as weather is getting colder. Frank and I hope to help rebuilding efforts and clean up projects once Seaside, NJ and Lavallette, NJ are open to help. For now, they are not even allowing people to return to their homes for 6-8 months. In the meantime, there are other opportunities to serve.

American Red Cross
Hurricane Sandy Relief Foundation

In light of all that Sandy brought, this year's Thanksgiving meant more than any other before and our new home seemed more of a blessing than it would have otherwise.

What are you thankful for this year?

If you were impacted by Sandy, we sincerely hope that you and your family are safe and we extend our prayers to you. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Coffee Table Makeover

So for the past 3 months or so life has become incredibly busy. Frank got a new job, I started my last Fall semester of grad school, and we moved! That's right, the family sold the house we were living in which allowed us to get our own place. This is exciting for us because we are now able to decorate and really feel stable and at home. I foresee many projects ahead of us! Luckily my husband enjoys helping me with projects, especially furniture makeovers.

So for my first post in a very long time, let me introduce you to the coffee table we found in my grandmother's barn over the summer.

Frank and I scored this coffee table when our family was going through old furniture in my grandmother's barn. Nobody else wanted it and Frank and I noticed that it has a great shape despite that absolutely ugly dark brown finish. We decided to take it and attempt to sand off that brown and paint it instead. 

We used an electric hand sander to sand off the caked on brown finish. We were surprised when we revealed gorgeous wood underneath! This changed our plans. We decided we wanted to keep the wood exposed. 

Once we had everything sanded down good, we picked up a satin stain in Golden Oak from Lowe's. The can called for 2 coats of the stain, but it was pretty dark so we decided to just do one coat. We wanted the wood to be ask close to its natural color as possible, but the stain gave it some depth and warmth.

After we stained the top of the table, we painted the legs and the sides of the top of the table a warm creamy white color also from Lowe's. And, this is what it looks like now (excuse the mess around the table...we haven't finished unpacking yet). 

If you have a decent amount of patience (mostly for the sanding) and a few bucks, you can refinish any ugly piece of furniture and transform it into something you love! This project cost under $40 with the stain, primer, paint, brushes, and sand paper included. Luckily we had a Lowe's gift card so it was no cost to us! 

Have you done any makeovers lately?