Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Ten on Tuesday

1. There was no weekend recap this week. My grandfather passed away on Friday and the weekend was too crazy to write about.

2. Everything about the Super Bowl was disappointing. Except the special tribute to the past MVPs.

3. I'm really looking forward to MK Career Conference next month. I could go to a special luncheon if I add three new active team members.

4. My work email inbox is sitting at 14 messages and that bugs the hell out of me. I can't get to inbox zero because I'm waiting on people to do their part. Like always.

5. I'm excited for my next recipe to try for breakfast during the week. However, I don't know if I will be able to make it this weekend or not. It may have to wait. Speaking of recipes, have you seen the new segment here on the blog?

6. It's frigid cold here this week. The actual high temp today is 25* but with the wind chill it actually feels like 10*. And there is no pretty snow to look at.

7. Apparently, this weekend is Valentine's Day.

8. I'm down to the last $3.88 on my Starbucks gift cards I received at Christmas. So sad.

9. All I want to do right now is sit on my couch under a blanket, with my dog in my lap, with a nice cup of coffee, and my book. That would be awesome!

10. I received some homemade granola today. I love granola.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Kitchen Adventures: Easy Breakfast Muffins

Hello! Welcome to the first installment of a brand new segment on the blog: Kitchen Adventures! This segment will share new recipes I've tried, some family classics, tips, budget notes, and views into my small apartment kitchen. I'm sure this segment will evolve, but let's get started. To give you some background, I've recently put myself on a very tight budget. I've allotted myself $100 per month for groceries, but realistically, I should keep it way below that. I really do love to cook and bake, so I'm diving more into that hobby.

My biggest "dining out" expense each month has always been breakfast. Sometimes lunch too, but breakfast is the big downfall. I've simply been lazy in the mornings and never took the time to prepare breakfast. This is where today's recipe comes in. I started with this Easy Breakfast Muffin recipe from Play Party Plan and then made modifications. After you've been cooking for a while, you learn where, when, and how to make some adjustments to recipes to fit your tastes. It's no surprise that I don't like bacon, so I used sausage.

Here are the ingredients. It's hard to see, but since my kitchen is so small that I have gotten a large cutting board to cover part of my sink to supply more counter space. Since I didn't want to buy frozen hashbrowns and I had just bought potatoes, I decided to make my own hashbrowns.

This peeler was a long awaited Christmas gift and I absolutely love it! I hate to peel potatoes and this makes it kind of fun. I started with 6 potatoes, but by the end, I only needed about 4 for this recipe.

While I was peeling and shredding potatoes, I got the sausage cooking on the stove. Definitely use your exhaust fan when cooking anything like sausage or hamburger. If not, it's possible your kitchen and clothes will smell of grease.

Once the potatoes were shredded, they were place into a big bowl of cold water to keep them fresh and to pull out the starch. Starch is what makes potatoes turn brown when peeled and cut. Soaking them also keeps them from getting mushy. I place a colander in my bowl to make it easier later.

When the sausage was done cooking, I mixed it in with my eggs and cheese. This does not look very appetizing at the moment. At this point I was getting a little concerned because I was wondering if these muffins would taste like breakfast burritos. In the past breakfast burritos have not settled in my stomach, so I don't eat them. But, I was too far into this so I kept going.

Here's where it got a little messy. Using a cheesecloth, I squeezed the excess water out of my hashbrowns. This is were the colander came in handy. Can you see that yucky brown water? That's the starch.

The hashbrowns were placed into the bottom of a muffin tin sprayed with cooking spray and baked for a little bit to crisp them up. Mine didn't really crisp up, so I kept going. Pouring the egg/sausage mixture into the tin, I had exactly enough for 12 muffins; with about 2 cups of hashbrowns left over (they were placed in the freezer).

I cooked them a little bit longer than the recipe called for because I know my oven always takes a little bit longer to cook. The muffins looked good and I was excited to try them. After they cooled, I got frustrated because they would not come out of the pan. I struggled to keep them together as I tried to get them out of my pan. There ended up being a little bit of the hashbrowns left in the bottom of the pan, so I soaked the pan in soapy water for about 36 hours (after checking every 12 to see if the mess has loosened up). Then, I ended up having to run the pan through the dishwasher no less than 3 times before it was clean. I have no idea how to fix this problem.

The Review: After considering the size of the muffins, the best serving size was 2 muffins in the morning. I was excited to try them and the first day, they weren't that bad. They did remind me a little of a breakfast burrito, though. By the second day, I thought they needed a little ketchup (I usually eat ketchup on my scrambled eggs). This helped, but I struggled with the texture. Personally, I generally only like eggs that have been scrambled or are on a sandwich. If you are one that likes quiche style eggs (i.e. baked), you will like this recipe. Sadly, I am not one of those people. I couldn't find it in myself to finish the batch and many muffins went to waste. That was a sad day.

In my opinion, I believe are best when served and eaten fresh, like at a brunch with a few people or something. I'm not sure if this is a recipe I will cook again simply because I did not like the texture.

Here's a rough breakdown of the cost:

Potatoes: about $.80 (a 5 lb. bag cost me $1.98, and I estimate I used about 2 lbs.)
Eggs: $2.00 (I ended up using 8 eggs for this recipe)
Sausage: Free, from my parents
Milk: a half gallon cost me about $3, but I only used a little bit, so I can't calculate
Cheese: $.75 (I ended up using half the bag)

This recipe cost me less than $4.00 and provided enough servings for 6 days, so that ends up being about $.67 per serving. Not bad! It definitely beat spending $4/day on breakfast. The rest of the week, I ate oatmeal with brown sugar. I did not buy breakfast. Go Me!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

CHR Challenge Day 7

The final day of the CHR Challenge. I was preparing for something involving a huge action step. Nope. This day was simply to reflect on the week, examine everything learned, and to celebrate facing certain fears.

This process was definitely worth the time. It helped tremendously to face those fears, make them concrete and no longer unknown. Now, they aren't nearly as intimidating. I'm starting to formulate a plan for the future. I've got some big goals in mind, especially for my career and it's time to do something about it. I Can Figure This Out.

If you are interested in finding passion in your work, considering a career overhaul, or just looking for inspiration, check out The Revolutionary Club. There's great information available to you there. I've enjoyed this experience.

I'm actually thinking of doing a follow up a little later with my plan for the future; take what I've learned and apply it. What do you think? Yes, I will probably do that.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ten on Tuesday

1. When did we transition from the phrase "exercise" to "work out"? How often do you hear anyone say, "I'm going to exercise tonight?" Now, you hear, "I'm going to work out." These are the kinds of thoughts that go through my mind.

2. According to the Sorting Hat, I would be placed in Hufflepuff. After reading the description, yep, it sounds about right.

3. So far, I've got two new recipes to share with you. There will be a new segment here on the blog soon!

4. I jogged 1/4 of a mile yesterday without stopping. I know some of you are like, "Big deal". No really, this is a very big deal. And it was cold, so I had a cough all night.

5. I'm on Day 11 of getting to work early. I've been getting up earlier and coming into the office 30 minutes early for a few reasons: 1) to beat most of the morning traffic, 2) to stop oversleeping and rushing in the morning, and 3) to avoid stupid college students running out in front of cars on their way to class despite the safety measures put in place specifically for them (...and caused by them too!). My mornings have been a lot less stressed these days too. That's a bonus.

6. Very true. Melody dances.

7. My grocery budget for January was completely shot to hell last week, so I took advantage of the opportunity to restock some items in my kitchen. Now, the real test begins.

8. I made these Homemade Oatmeal Creme Pies over the weekend; as seen on Sally's Baking Addiction. I didn't get any photos, but they were delicious. Although, incredibly rich.

9. The construction in the hallway at work is getting serious. The noise hasn't been too bad, though. They've been nice enough to keep the doors closed in the rooms they are working in.

10. It's hard to believe that January is already over. That went fast.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Weekend Recap...

Wow, what a busy weekend. By Sunday, I was exhausted.

Friday: After a long week at work, I left early to spend some time with my dog before going to a trivia night fundraiser for St. Jude's. I didn't know what I was expecting, but I was not expecting 54 tables of 8 people, all with their own display of snacks and drinks! This thing was huge! There was also a raffle for prizes that you could purchase tickets for. Our table got 45/60 points. I totally rocked the "name the movie this song is from" category. I knew 8 of the 10 and the others at the table filled in the blanks. It was so much fun and I learned a lot of new facts. It was also a late night.

Saturday: I had an early morning (9:30 am) appointment about some part-time work. It went well, but I'm still waiting to hear back. I was the first of about 3 people to interview. Afterwards, I turned on the 90s pop music and cleaned house. Then it was time to prepare for dinner. I had the Ps over for dinner and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Monopoly. Mrs. P, her husband, and their youngest son came and we had some delicious lasagna and homemade oatmeal cream pies. So yummy! Monopoly is always fun to play, although, I never, ever win. That night, I lost so spectacularly it was quite comical. I lost to a 9 year old.

After such long nights and busy days, by Sunday, I didn't feel like doing anything. I got out of the house to take Melody to be groomed though. She needed it really badly, but she looks all pretty again! And, she is super soft and fluffy. I don't know how they do it, but I like it. The rest of the day was spent doing almost nothing. I napped some and baked a breakfast bread to eat for breakfast this week. It was a new recipe and I was unsure if it would be good. An update coming soon. Other than that, I did nothing all day, and it was nice.

How was your weekend?