Monthly Archives: January 2011

Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Since I’ve learned to cook, we’ve been having significantly less macaroni and cheese.  Kraft mac & cheese has lost its appeal.  This is a completely positive change… however… I must admit I do miss the bit of comfort that a big ol’ bowl of macaroni and cheese brings.

Paul’s sister gave us a recipe for homemade macaroni and cheese that somehow blends that line between comfort food and adult dinner fare – and it’s not much more difficult than opening that blue box!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

based on recipe from Paul’s sister


  • 2 cup macaroni noodles
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1-2 cups milk
  • 8 oz American cheese, shredded or cut into small pieces
  • chopped onions


  1. Boil macaroni noodles according to package directions; drain.
  2. In large saucepan, sautee onions in butter.  Add cooked noodles, 1 cup milk, cheese over low heat.  Add more milk to thin if needed.
  3. Pour macaroni into casserole pan and bake uncovered at 375 for 30 minutes.

Artichoke Dip Recipe

Dump, stir, bake, eat, go back for seconds, thirds, fourths. It’s as simple as that!

Artichoke Dip

recipe from Paul’s aunt; also found on


  • 1 can artichoke hearts (unmarinated)
  • 4 oz green chiles, chopped
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesean cheese
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • chopped garlic


  1. Drain artichoke hearts and break apart.  Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Bake (uncovered) at 350 for 30 minutes.
  3. Serve with Italian bread.

Minimizing (Without Becoming a Minimalist)

We live in a 1,000 square foot house.  While this is by no means a one bedroom apartment, or a home with no storage, or a shack in the woods, it’s on the small side.  According to the National Association of Homebuilders, the average home size was 2330 sqaure feet in 2004.  Even by 1970’s standards, when the average square footage was 1400 square feet, we have a small home.

About two years ago, before my husband moved in, my house was full to the brimble.  I had no storage left.  The basement shelves were full, the garage lined with boxes, the closets bursting.  When Paul (and all of his stuff) moved in, I revamped my ideas of storage.  Instead of cramming items into every possible nook and cranny, we got organized.  Rubbermaid bins, storage ottomans, wicker baskets, grouping like items.  We arranged in a way that allowed us to keep the majority of both of our items.  Success, right?

Well, I suppose it depends on how you define success.

I was trying to find a few books for my classroom that I knew I had a copy of.  Copies of, actually.  I hauled out four large boxes of books, sifted through them, and didn’t find what I was looking for.  Then I realized I had four more boxes in the basement, also packed with books, that I hadn’t touched yet.  At that point I decided I’d rather just check out the books from the library.

Which leads me to the question… is it worth owning and storing something if you can’t find it, don’t use it, or don’t remember you have it?

Books are one of our biggest storage problems, but it goes beyond that.  Food, kitchen supplies, electronics, decorations, photos… it all just ends up sitting because it’s too much of a hassle to retreive.

I know I won’t end up becoming a minimalist.  I don’t have it in me.  I do think it would do me some good, however, to embrace the theory behind it a bit.

On my reading list, then?

I’ll keep updating as I read these (and hopefully internalize their messages).  This is mostly for my own good – I’ve got to be held accountable somehow – but hopefully you’ll reap some benefits as well.

What Are You Into This Month? January Edition

Following the lead of Sorta Crunchy, I’m documenting bits and pieces of interest.  If nothing else, it’ll be a fun way to keep track of where I’m at in the moment, and if I keep up with this, it’ll be a fun to chronicle the months as they fly by!  Feel free to snag this idea as well, or post comments on what you’re into this month.

What I Am Into This Month – January 2011

In My Book Basket: It’s overflowing, that’s for sure!

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
  • Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage by John Gottman
  • The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle
  • Fireflies in December by Jennifer Erin Valent
  • Waiting by Ha Jin
  • His Needs Her Needs by Willard F. Harley, Jr.
  • The Known World by Edward P. Jones
  • The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick
  • Grace by Richard Paul Evans
  • Couple Skills by Matthew McKay
  • The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
  • Readymade magazine
  • Cuisine at Home magazine
  • Cook’s Country magazines
  • America’s Test Kitchen 30-minute Suppers
  • Cook’s Country Lost Recipes

T.V. Show Worth Watching:

After abandoning Netflix for a brief while (lack of internet and general holiday busy-ness), I’m back in the game.  Bones is on in the background now, and I’ve also been enjoying sporadic episodes of Man v. Food and Lie to Me.

Movie I’ve Seen:

I really enjoyed Away We Go – easily the best movie I’ve seen in a while.  It was written by Dave Eggers, author of one of my favorite books – A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.  I found this out after the movie was over, though, so it just reaffirmed my love of all things Eggers.    Here’s the description of the movie from IMDb, in case you’re interested:

A couple who is expecting their first child travel around the U.S. in order to find a perfect place to start their family. Along the way, they have misadventures and find fresh connections with an assortment of relatives and old friends who just might help them discover “home” on their own terms for the first time.

And a bonus: It stars Jim from The Office and Maya Rudolph from SNL.

In My Kitchen:

New recipes have taken a backseat this month.  I’ve still been cooking, but mostly without recipes (roasted asparagus and tilapia, for example) or with recipes I’ve used before.  I can’t pinpoint the reason for the change, and I’m not sure if I like it or not.  It’s really fulfilling to create something new, and I miss that feeling.  The pros?  The kitchen has been a much more relaxed place.  I don’t have to concentrate quite so hard, I don’t spend as much time in the kitchen, and I have fewer dishes to wash – I know what shortcuts I can take without affecting the quality of the meal.  I have made a few new recipes:

healthy muffin

Google Reader Trends (past 30 days)

Favorite Non-Blog Websites: I’ve gotten the most use out of  It’s a little late for Christmas Cards now, but The Merry Newsinator cracked me up.

What I’m Looking Forward in February:

Valentines Day!

Chicken Empanadas Recipe

Step one – heat a tablespoon of oil.

Step two – drop the bottle of oil and spill a cup of it on the floor/cupboard doors.


It’s been that kind of a day.  No, I shouldn’t say that – it hasn’t been that bad, really – but it’s been a bit rough since about 1:30 this afternoon, when I took my kindergarten students down to the church to practice for Mass tomorrow.  They’re going to be up in front, singing in the choir, reading the petitions, and bringing up gifts, so we needed to prepare.  We were in church for all of 45 seconds before three children had broken things.  Three.  Three separate children.  In church.

A little comfort is needed tonight, in the way of empanadas and Just Dance 2.

Chicken Mixture

Oh, and about spilling all the oil… I highly recommend not spilling it in the first place, however if you do, you can just pretend you did it on purpose to shine the floors.  A combination of equal parts vegetable oil and white vinegar makes a mean hardwood floor cleaner/shiner.  Seriously.

Chicken Empanada Recipe

adapted from Food for my Family


  • pie dough
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup sauteed mushrooms*
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1/2 cup sliced green olives
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add in onions, paprika, cumin and honey. Sautee for 10 minutes until onions become translucent. Add in chicken, olives, eggs, mushrooms, water and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 30 minutes before adding to empanada dough circles.
  2. Roll out pie dough in 6″ circles. Fill each with 2 tablespoons chicken mixture. Fold in half and pinch at seams. Roll seams in and press with fork to seal. Beat egg yolk and brush over tops of empanadas. Allow to rest in fridge for 30 minutes before baking to prevent leaks.
  3. Bake at 400º F for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

*The original recipe calls for 3 green chiles, but we happened to have sauteed mushrooms instead.

An Un-folded Empanada

Fireproof – Book Review

FireproofFireproof by Eric Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a beautiful, inspiring story that was much more true-to-life than most other books I’ve read that are classified as “realistic fiction.” I’m looking forward to watching the movie, as this was a novelization of the screenplay.

View all my reviews

On the Bookshelf: My next 40 books to read

Kate’s bookshelf: to-read

Share book reviews and ratings with Kate, and even join a book club on Goodreads.