Thursday, September 25, 2014

Taco Chili

So I think of this as Taco Soup, Jake calls it Taco Chili...whatever we call it I'm in love with how easy it is to pull together and how easy it is to freeze.

Start with your crock pot...I LOVE my crock pot, I have 3 of them, big, medium and tiny (perfect for cheese dips, etc.). Here is how you make this wonderful pot of goodness...I know it is a lot of cans and some people are against cans, but you could do it without the cans if you wanted to work really hard...I don't want to work really hard and cans don't scare me so I go with cans. This recipe will provide 6 or so servings so it is perfect for Jake and I for a nightly meal and then 4 zip lock baggies for the freezer.

Taco Chili
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
1 can rotel, I use the green chili kind
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced green chilies
1 can enchilada sauce (I use the green kind, but any kind would work)
2 TBS taco seasoning (you can use more or less depending on your preference)
8-12 oz tomato juice (depending on how thick you want it)

Put all ingredients into the crock pot and cook on low for 4-6 hours or high for 2-3. I top with some shredded cheese and plain, non-fat Greek yogurt.

Freezer Prep Method:
If you wanted to prep all the ingredients and give this away to a friend you could brown the hamburger and onions and cool that mixture then add everything to a gallon sized zip lock baggie with the cooking instructions on the outside and freeze then give to a friend or pull out when you are having a long week. Note: I find it easier to write on the bags when there isn't anything in them, so keep a Sharpie in your silverware drawer for just this occasion.

There are lots of variations you can make to this, don't like green chilies (shame on you) you can remove all together, you could add corn (I love corn, just not in soups), you could add other seasonings like chipolte or tomatillo salsa instead of the could replace the ground beef with turkey or chicken or a can of pinto beans.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

It is September 23rd and sickness has hit our house. Well it started with me getting a sinus infection/allergies two weeks ago and then he came down with the crud hard on Sunday...let's hope we are getting this out of our systems before real winter hits. So I thought what makes you feel better than Chicken Noodle Soup.

I am calling this homemade Chicken Noodle Soup but please don't think that the noodles are homemade, if they were then I would call this Chicken and Noodles, you all agree right?

Well even if you don't here is the world's most simple and tasty Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup that only takes 30 minutes from start to finish to complete, can't beat that!

1 precooked rotisserie chicken
1/4 white or yellow onion
15 baby carrots, the smaller the better (optional)
1 stalk of celery (optional)
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 1/2 boxes of 99% fat free, 33% lower sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1 bay leaf
1/2 bag No Yolk Egg Noodles
2 tsp All Purpose Greek Seasoning (Salt Free)
Butter, olive oil, salt and pepper

Start your butter and olive oil in a stock pot. I use about 1 TBS butter and about the same olive oil. Finely dice your onion, chop your carrots and celery and add to the pan over medium heat. Let that mixture cook for 5-7 minutes or until your onions start to turn translucent, add the garlic and cook for one minute making sure it doesn't burn.

Next add your chicken broth, water and bay leaf to the pot and turn the heat up to medium high and bring the broth to a boil. Once to a boil add your egg noodles stirring as you add so they don't stick to each other and return to a boil. Reduce to a slow boil/simmer and cook for 12 minutes or until the noodles are cooked. While your noodles are cooking remove all the meat from your chicken and chop coarsely. Once the noodles are cooked, remove the bay leaf, add the chicken and Greek Seasoning and additional salt and pepper to fit your taste. Serve immediately.

This will keep in the refrigerator in plastic containers for a few days. It will freeze but I've never had the best luck freezing cooked noodles so if you can eat it in a couple days it would probably be best. This recipe above made 5 big servings.

Here is a picture of the final product, no I am not a food photographer but it doesn't look too bad. You will notice we don't have celery in our soup because someone who will remain nameless but is currently sick doesn't like celery in soups. No biggie we just left it out and I added some celery flakes to it.
I also must have deleted the picture from my phone after I posted it to Instgram so here is a screen grab of my Instagram post. Do you follow me on Instagram? If not, you should. @travelingcowgirl

Friday, September 19, 2014

Ready for the Weekend

Whew...what a week! I have been on the road for the last 4 or is it 5 weeks, honestly I have lost track so I am for sure ready for the weekend. Last weekend we had a nice relaxing weekend at home, we had plenty of projects to do inside and out...I was working on priming and painting the laundry sorter that Jake built me and mowing the yard...again...can someone please tell Mother Nature that it is September and the grass needs to die?!?!? And Jake worked on getting our barn ready for concrete, gravel to be put in the driveway and getting my trailer prepped for my big road trip to Texas in a couple of weeks (more about that soon!). In addition to all that fun stuff I spent a lot of time in the kitchen getting meals prepped for us for the winter, and making a few extras to give to three of my friends/co-workers who are have had/having babies in the next month or so. It is nice that I can work off my kitchen island and see the TV from there...I get to watch football and be productive at the same time! Double Bonus!!

I wanted to share with you some successful recipes from last weekend. I only share recipes from Pinterest that I've tried myself and I will always tell you if I modify them in any way.

First of all I made the meat sauce from this Spaghetti Squash Lasagna recipe. One thing I do is I remove the fennel from the meat sauce because well we aren't fans of fennel. You are probably saying why in the world is she making her own meat sauce, but that stuff out of a jar. Which is true and I do love a couple of jarred pasta sauces including Trader Joe's and Classico, but there is a lot of sugar and sodium in those, plus my hamburger is already browned in the sauce!

Next I had bought a big package of chicken thighs at the store...I like them because they have a little more flavor and they are cheaper. I don't like them because they have bones and usually you have to remove the skin yourself but it typically does come off very easily. So I made a couple of these Artichoke Chicken Thighs. Now Jake doesn't care for those flavors so I made a big pan to take to a friend and then a couple of small pans that I can make for myself if he is on the road one night.

Then the sweets snuck I have been doing really good about eating healthy, but it is Pumpkin season and well I LOVE pumpkin so I am not going to completely avoid the pumpkin but be better about what i made. So I made Pumpkin-Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies, what I learned is that they are very soft and I should have left them on the baking racks to harden a little more than I did because they got overly soft in the container I put them in, but they were good none-the-less.

Then what everyone should make this weekend, go buy your favorite baking apple and whip up a batch of the Pioneer Woman's perfect pie crust and make these Salted Carmel Apple Hand Pies. I'm sure her pie crust is just as good but my mom said that PW's was a great one and my mom makes the best pies so that is the direction I went. I will say the hand pies are only going to be good and carmel filled if they are warm so keep that in mind when you serve them.

Hope this crazy rant of a Friday post will provide you with some recipe inspiration for your weekend!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Boot Storage - DIY

At the Rancho Not So Grande, we have a plethora of boots...not just cowboy boots but we do have our fair share we also have work boots, rubber boots, snow boots you name it we have them. So I wanted a good way to organize them in the garage right as you walk in the door so they weren't collecting in my laundry room floor all the time.

So I found a way on Pinterest and thought I would try it out. I just bought wooden crates from Michaels Art and Crafts store (note: they always have a coupon so download their app or go online so you don't pay full price because they add up when you buy as many as you need for this project). Then arrange them as you feel they would work best for you, as I mentioned we have a lot of boots so I needed more vertical oriented crates than horizontal, but I also created some space in and around the crates for extra shoes to go as well. I haven't affixed these together since I wasn't sure I loved the orientation and I like the flexibility to change it as I go, but so far so good. I also will still be on the hunt for some vintage crates or larger crates that can be swapped out on the bottom.

After, it isn't sexy but it is functional!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Oatella Cookies

Stop what you are doing.

Go straight to the grocery and buy a brand new jar of Nutella. (because if you are like me you never have a full, unopened jar of Nutella in the house)

Go home and make these cookies.


I found this recipe on Pinterest and it is what I call a 'Nailed It' recipe now. I've actually created a board on Pinterest called 'Nailed It' to track my success because it is important to know what is successful and what isn't because I think we all have learned that there is plenty on there that takes skills beyond what an average person has, and I consider myself a fairly crafty person.

The pin came from Cookie Madness, but the recipe is actually from Food and Wine.

I thought the only thing that was hard to follow was how long the cookies needed to bake...did they bake for 8-10 minutes total and you were supposed to move the pans at 4-5 minutes or was 8-10 minutes half way. Well I tried 8-10 initially and realized that was way too short, but 16-20 made a pretty crunchy cookie, imagine a great cookie with I split the difference I went about 12 minutes total and they were still a little gooey in the middle when I took them out of the oven and they tasted awesome and didn't get too hard when they cooled.

Pour yourself a big glass of milk and ENJOY!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

House Remodel - Master Bathroom

The Rancho Not So Grande master bedroom and bathroom is one of the most favorite places of mine in the house. Here is some info about the master bathroom upcycle. We did a lot more to this bathroom and are so happy that we did.

Here are some pictures of the original bathroom...yes you are seeing that correctly there are two showers a stand up and a shower tub combo. I like to call them his and hers showers, because who doesn't need his and hers showers.

It is hard to say what needed to go first so here is the list of the things that we changed:
  1. Replaced the vinyl with tile
  2. Removed the wall paper and paint the walls
  3. Remove and replace the vanity
  4. Replace light fixture
  5. Frame out the showers
  6. Replace the toilet and fan/light kit
  7. Paint built-in medicine cabinet doors
Before: En suite bathroom with one sink...I think not.
Before: Wall paper everywhere!

First things first we had to remove the wall paper. Let me go on record saying I HATE WALL PAPER. Especially wall paper in bathrooms because the permeability of that paper even when scored is very little. My mom and I, then Jake and I scraped and scraped and scraped. After that was done we put a nice coat of paint on the walls. This is the same color as in the master bedroom and the half bath, Saddle Suede.

I hate this wall paper. I'm so glad it is gone.

We chose a very simple ceramic tile, we went with larger 18x18 tiles because they were cheaper than the 12x12 and we felt it make the space look a little larger and not so busy.

The vanity is the center piece of the room, I wanted something rustic and unique. We had this piece made by a young furniture maker in Kansas City. Unruh Furniture is located in Grandview and he does really, really nice work. We knew we wanted copper sinks but want and need are two different things, fortunately for me I found copper sinks in the National Ropers Supply catalog...more fortunately for me they were significantly cheaper than what was at Menards or other online places, plus I got my 10% USTRC Gold Plus discount. We used resin on the top of the wood cabinet as well to seal the wood and protect from water. We also framed out the stock mirror in the bathroom, it elevates it so much and makes it look like an expensive framed mirror when we used about $10 worth of trim that we stained.

This is so far my favorite piece that we have added to the house.

The faucets were from Lowes, which are the same style as the faucet in the half bath. You might ask why I have the same faucet style in two places, well for one I love the faucet and secondly I saw a faucet just like that in the Hotel Phillips when I was in college and told myself when I ever got to remodel a house I wanted that faucet and fortunately for me I am spoiled and I got my faucets.

The light fixtures are simple but much better than the original.

The finishing touches were to frame out the showers, add tin to the walls and paint and distress the medicine cabinets. The shower curtain I had at my previous town home and we got the towel hooks from Rod's Western Wear, I believe the are called robe hooks.

We treated our tin with a spray-on poly just to prevent the rust from rubbing off.
Oh hey look, we added a dog too. I forgot that addition!

Now the all important resource list...if you have any questions about where anything came from, just let me know!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Shredding Chicken...

Super exciting title I know...Shredding Chicken, but hey I have something here that will prevent you from having burned fingers and a steamy face from shredding chicken with your fingers or two forks. I did see this on Pinterest but had to try it for myself to see if it worked, and it did!

Take your warm chicken, I wouldn't do it hot straight out of the oven, drop it in your stand mixer with the paddle attachment and turn on low...after 10-20 seconds you will think, that girl is completely crazy...the airport air has gotten to her and this isn't doing anything, then you will see it start to break apart and shred. As the chicken starts to break apart a little then you can turn it up and let it truly shred it apart. and then you get this...1 minute later. AMAZING.

I usually shred up some chicken and put it in the freezer and have it in case I want to make soup or enchiladas as some point, saves me so much time.
It looks like this in about a minute! This was 2 average sized chicken breasts. I would recommend doing them 2 at a time.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

House Remodel - Half Bath

Rancho Not So Grande is taking shape! Well we are finally living upstairs, we have been in the house a year now and the remodel process has taken longer than we both thought, but the best news is that our house is going to be exactly how we wanted it...rustic, western, repurposed and comfortable. I think that a lot of people forget that last one when they are remodeling or working on their houses...if you can't live in it comfortably then what is the purpose of having it?

So here is the first part of the house we are sharing. Our half bath is a very small space, it is right inside the garage entrance hallway and has enough space for a sink and toilet, which I guess is all you need in a half bath. When we moved in the half bath was functional but just dated, as was a lot of the house. Our house was built in 1990 and since the previous owners hadn't lived in the house for the last 10 years there hadn't been a lot of upgrades, but the nice part is that the house was built right when they built it so cosmetic changes were all we have had to make and those were just for personal preference. So anyway back to the half bath...I hated the sink and felt that the oak vanity was nice but it was a lot of oak...hardwood floors, trim and vanity so our solution was pretty easy:


  1. Remove and replace the vanity top and sink/faucet
  2. Update the light fixture and mirror
  3. Upcycle the existing vanity
  4. Update vanity hardware
  5. Paint the walls
  6. Replace the toilet


Starting with the paint we used a nice darker tan called Saddle Suede, which is the same color we used in the master bedroom and master bathroom. I removed the hardware from the vanity and removed the doors and drawer fronts. I rough sanded the wood and used the same color of red we used on our accent wall in the great room to dry brush on some color so you can still see the grain of the wood through the paint. After the paint dried I lightly sanded (with the grain) the edges of the doors and places where natural wear would occur then I used a sock to rub on a dark stain which I rubbed off to create a worn look. We reinstalled the doors and added conchos for the drawer pulls. There are kits you can buy for around $10/6-10 that can turn any concho into a drawer pull.

To replace the vanity top we reused our old decking boards and Jake made it custom to fit the space, I poured resin epoxy on it (3x coats) to give it a smooth finish and make it easier to clean and we trimmed out the top. A lot of people are scared of the resin and if you read the instructions you will understand why. I presonally didn't have any problems with mine not mixing or setting up right. We used a small hand held torch to pop the bubbles, again the instructions will help with this. We purchased a vessel sink and old pump style faucet and installed them into the new vanity top.

This is what the vanity top looks like up close without the facet and sink on it.
I will say, I do NOT recommend taping off the wall before you pour the resin on
because the reality is that the resin will level itself off on the wall and if you do
what I did then the painters tape will be stuck to your wall and you will
be required to trim out the top of your boards.

The light above the mirror is an outdoor barn light purchased from Lowes. The problem is that the light goes directly onto the sink and left the toilet area a little dark so we opted to add a light/vent fan combo above the toilet to replace the vent fan that was there, sorry I don't have a picture of that it just isn't that exciting. But I love my barn light, plus it was super cheap as compared to a lighting store.

The mirror and towel bar are both from Hobby Lobby. The mirror is 5-6 years old but the towel bar I purchased this winter. This total remodel ran around $500 with the sink, faucet, toilet and bathroom fan taking up the bulk of that budget. I've included a resource list below, I often get asked where did you get here you go. Everything except the mirror was purchased within the past year.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts

I've never been a vegetable fan, honestly up until 4 years ago I considered my self a meat, potatoes and chocolate girl, but when I started eating healthier I started trying more veggies and have discovered the brussel sprout. 

Now I started to shred brussel sprouts and mix with chopped kale for a new twist on salad, and now I'm on to roasting and sauting. 

The last two nights I've made Balsamic Glazed Brussel Sprouts, so simple so easy. The trick is to use enough olive oil to keep the pan moist as the sprouts soak up a lot of oil. 

I prep my sprouts by peeling the outer leaves off and trimming the bottoms and then cutting them in half or quarters depending on the size of the sprouts. On medium heat, sauté the sprouts for 8-10 minutes keeping them moving in the pan and adding oil as needed. 

Once the sprouts start showing some color add a small amount of Better Than Bullion ham flavoring and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes. Why would I use the Ham flavoring you might ask? Because it tastes like bacon without the bacon calories. (Sorry bacon for cheating on you) My mom has used this trick for years with green beans. 

Deglaze the pan with balsamic vinegar and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Salt lightly and serve! 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Upside Down Cinnamon Apple Coffee Cake - Pinterest Recipe

We had a breakfast celebration on Mother's Day since it is also Graduation Day for many schools around us. I made a couple of different Pinterest Recipes, all of which turned out really great but the one I want to tell you all about specifically because it was tasty and ridculously simple is the Upside Down Cinnamon Apple Coffee Cake from The Lady Behind the Curtain. Yes it is a mouthful, but sooooo good and so easy because you use a can of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls as the dough, no dough making necessary!

I modified the recipie a little becuase well I forgot the pecans in the gooey bowl of goodness so when I inverted the cake onto a plate I sprinkled the pecans on there and they stuck to the yumminess and no one was the wiser.

Here is the exact recipe from The Lady Behind the Curtain:

  • 1-1/2 cups apples, chopped and peeled
  • 1 can (12.4 ounce) Pillsbury cinnamon rolls with icing
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves or pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray.
  3. Spread 1 cup of the apples in pie plate.
  4. Separate dough into 8 rolls.
  5. Cut each roll into quarters; place in large bowl.
  6. Add remaining 1/2 cup apples and pecans.
  7. In small bowl, mix butter, brown sugar and corn syrup until well blended.
  8. Add brown sugar mixture to dough mixture; toss gently to combine.
  9. Spoon mixture over apples in pan.
  10. Bake 28 to 38 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool 5 minutes.
  11. Invert onto serving platter.
  12. Remove lid from icing.
  13. Microwave icing on high 10 to 15 seconds or until drizzling consistency.
  14. Drizzle over warm coffee cake. Serve warm.
In addition to the Upside Down Cinnamon Apple Coffee Cake we had Stuffed Breakfast Bubble Biscuits with homemade Sausage Gravy, Green Chile Egg Bake (which Jake and I have all the time) and a fresh fruit salad. It was a great way to celebrate Mother's Day with my mom, sister-in-law, grandma and aunt.

Friday, May 9, 2014

DIY Canvas Art

I love my own art work, partially because I just don't think that I have the appropriate funds to purchase the art work which my tastes desire...why do I like pretty, expensive things???? Plus I can also select my own color pallets. This particular design is a knock-off of the ❤️ Wyoming promotion. 

Canvas is so easy to work with and anymore you can find them in a million different sizes and shapes and there are some companies that will even customize a size for you. This is a stock size 12x12 that I bought in a 2-pack from Hobby Lobby, using my 40% off discount coupon in my handy dandy Hobby Lobby app it was about $3 per canvas. 

I started by finding the font I wanted to use and locating a bucking horse silhouette. I printed them out on adhesive paper and cut them out. I highly recommend using a hard surface and exacto knife to cut out the horse with all the detail. If you are way cooler than me and have one of those cool cutting machines yes that is way better than scissors and an exacto and I'm jealous. 

Then prep your canvas. I used a nice neutral color, it is actually called Saddle by Behr and painted the entire surface including the edges. Let that dry completely then position and adhere the stickers on the canvas. Using a sponge brush, dry brush the accent color onto the canvas using short strokes to allow for the original paint color to show through the strokes. Start around the stickers paint outward from the stickers to prevent bleeding around the edges, then expand out to the entire canvas. Be sparing around the edges so you can create a worn look with stain later. This red color is I believe Barn Red, a Martha Stewart color from Lowes. It is the same color as my accent wall in my living room and I love the color. Remove the stickers while the paint is still wet/tacky. Let completely dry. 

The next step is optional and can be done different ways. I wanted to add and aged look to the canvas so I used an old rag dipped lightly in a stain, this is Provincial by Minwax, and I lightly covered the entire canvas focusing on the edges and areas where the stickers were. Not when you put stain on top of paint on a canvas it doesn't wipe off like it would on wood so be very careful to not go too crazy you can alway add more if you want it darker. 

Now to finish the look I used decorator or upholstery nails and have the piece a more finished look. I like to use a rubber hammer so you don't damage the nail head but unfortunately I couldn't find one this day so I just put a clean dry cloth over the nail before I hammered it into the wood frame of the canvas. I've also learned that it is best to make a small nail hole as a pilot hole, the upholstery nails go in so much easier that way. 

Hope you love it as much as I do! 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

DIY Basement Bathroom Storage

So I'm finally to a point where we can start sharing some of the updates we have made to our house. We moved in last August and have been slowly working on things all winter and this spring. We have made a big difference upstairs but just waiting on finishing touches before we can move our stuff upstairs and start on the downstairs.

Our basement bathroom is the bathroom we have been using for the past 9 months, it is a nice big, functional bathroom and really didn't require any major updates, especially since it is going to be a secondary bathroom.

The bathroom was painted a very pretty light turquoise or very close to a Tiffany Blue. It is the only room in the house that we will not end up painting when it is all said and done. The black and white tile and flooring are clean looking so we just decided to keep it was less money. :)

I did add a few things like a nice tray on the counter, which came from my mom, that we can put mismatched things. I started using a cup I received from a friend as my makeup brush holder. It is so easy to grab what I need. You can see in the reflection of the mirror I have a small microwave cart that we hold our hand towels and wash cloths, in the cabinet below I keep all my travel bags and travel sized items and on top I have a giant basket with all my hair styling products/tools and the plastic drawers hold all our medicines and my make up. I stole this idea from Ashley's Makeup Artistry's, Make Over My World blog from a few months back.

Everyone needs something rustic and worn to hold their TP right?
I used a wooden crate purchased from Michaels and I sanded it down, dry brushed it with a simple white satin finished paint, sanded down the corners and applied and quickly wiped off a Minwax stain in Provencal. The shelf brackets I purchased at Hobby Lobby. This whole project cost around $20 because I bought all the items when they were on sale.

Shower is just to the left...

For the towel hanger, I took a piece of our old decking and cut it down to the size I wanted. Then I found a bucking horse silhouette online, printed it out, cut it out and used a sharpie to outline the image onto the board. Normally I would use the sharpie to fill in the image, but because of all the texture on the board I actually put two coats of flat black paint to fill in the image. The actual towel hook is drawer pull I got from Hobby Lobby as well. This whole project cost $2.85 because I got the pull on sale.

I couldn't have made any of these work with out my handyman...he also lives here which is helpful and he is good at dealing with my brain and crazy projects. If you start some projects and don't have a lovable handyman in your house you should get one!

 I believe our upstairs half bath may be next, we are waiting on some furniture for our living room because I can't wait to show it off!

Friday, May 2, 2014

#ccbeautyswap #3

So I think I have preached how much I LOVE the Beauty Swaps that Crystal Cattle has been putting on, however if you haven't paid attention to my previous posts I want to remind everyone why I continue to participate and why I love them so much.

1. I have be paired up with three amazing women. All with different backgrounds than me but we have always had something in common. Most recently I was paired up with Nicole Starr and we have had a pretty similar track on our lives (I've just done mine a, um, few years ahead of her). We are ag girls from beef cattle backgrounds, she works at an ad agency, which was also my first job, we love make up and are proud aunts.
2. It is a great way to meet other ladies in the ag world, I have no idea how I ever would have connected with the three lovely ladies I have connected with over the past few months.
3. It is an awesome way to try new make-up and learn tricks from other like-minded ladies.

My swap partner was Ms. Nicole Starr and she hit my summer pressure points on the head!

I absolutely love the Smash Box Trio with shades of parfait, amethyst and aubergine (which totally reminds me of a great line from my favorite movie Sweet Home Alabama, but I digress). Why I love this so much is I can use the parfait and amethyst for a nice light more natural look, then I can add the aubergine in my crease with a Smash Box pencil liner in imperial with a nice sweep of black liquid liner across the top of my eye lash for a great going out of the house look. Purples are for sure the color of the year and for someone with sometimes green sometimes hazel eyes they are in my weekly rotation anyway!

This is scary I realize, I'm not much of a make-up artists by
the way I take pictures, but it does show a progression of how the
eyeshadow looks with the eyeliners I mentioned.

I'm obsessed with the Essie polish in Peach Daiquiri. I struggle every summer with picking a polish that I like that is versatile enough to be fun and summery and also something I can wear professionally with sandals or heels. This color is perfect. Nicole said it is her go-to polish and it now is mine! Sooo excited to get a new pedicure with this polish.

Love the swaps and want to thank Crystal for hosting yet again!

If you want to hear about my previous two swaps visit the links below:
Swap with Erin
Swap with Lauren

Thursday, May 1, 2014

I love Spaghetti Squash

We love spaghetti squash at our house. Well technically we love all kinds of squash, name it we love it and eat it a lot. I realize that it is more of a winter type of veggie, but well hey it still feels like winter here in Iowa so I guess we will continue to roll with it.

There are a lot of people who are scared to cook squash because they have never done it before...spaghetti squash is super easy and a great replacement for potatoes if you are looking for something different. Plus their are great health benefits.

To cook your spaghetti squash it is very simple, but you need to be very careful and use a sharp knife because cutting through the squash can be a little scary. Preheat your oven to 400, if you have a convection oven keep it at 400 don't drop it the 25 degrees like the manuals state. Start with a hole spaghetti squash with no blemished on the outside, cut it in half and remove the seeds with a tablespoon. I scrape down a little into the meat to make sure I get all of the seed gunk out. Yes seed gunk is a technical term. Take a rimmed baking sheet and line it with parchment, if you don't have parchment no worries just spray lightly with cooking spray. Place the two sides cut side down and wrap tightly with foil. Bake for 50-55 minutes.

Now is the fun part, let your squash cool slightly then turn over and using a fork run through the meat in the squash creating spaghetti like strings. Dump the strings into a bowl and enjoy. Ok so maybe not that quick. I love it that way but there are a lot of people that need to dress it up a little bit so here are some of our favorite ways.

1. Simple - Butter, garlic salt and pepper
2. Creamy - Mix skim milk, butter and lowfat cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30-45 seconds pour over the squash and cover with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, stir and enjoy.
3. Cheesy - Create a roux based cheese sauce and mix into the spaghetti squash then put back in the oven for 10 minutes to seal in all that cheesiness!

Friday, April 4, 2014

DIY Spice Organization


I have a love/hate relationship with spices. I love to add them to food but I typically use my stand-bys, salt, pepper, Lowry's Seasoning Salt and then Jake will take some sort of Cajun seasoning and add it on top since he likes things a little spicier. So I wanted to get my spices under control when we moved into the new house so I created a spice drawer which actually expanded into a spice drawer and cabinet.

I also realized that I keep spices you really throw away the spices that you haven't used by their use-by date, or how do you even know? All my research says 2-3 years but honestly how much do you use something like All Spice? I just keep using mine but then one day I realized I had garlic powder that had turned a golden yellow and it is supposed to be a creamy white, guessing that wasn't the freshest thing I had in my spice drawer.

Anyway when we moved I wanted a better way to access my spices and hopefully to use them more so I purchased little jars from Libbey that are 4.5 ounces, clear and have these great little flat tops on them that I painted with chalk paint. I got mine on Amazon and they came 12 to a box for $20.99 plus free shipping because I am a Prime Member! Note: It took 3 coats of chalk paint on the glass, but they paint dries quickly and I was able to get three coats on with a foam brush in a few hours. Then I took a chalk pencil, like what you would find in the sewing section, and wrote on top what I was putting them. Now realizing that I use some spices very little I left them in their small containers and put them in little white baskets on their sides so I can still access them quickly. The larger containers of mixed seasonings or Jake's favorite Cajun seasonings I left in their shakers since we go through them quite quickly. I also have a shaker with cinnamon and sugar mixed together...why you might ask well for cinnamon toast of course...when was the last time I made cinnamon toast you might ask...well probably 3-4 years ago, but my mom has one in her pantry so I have one in mine is the simplest answer. And the final jar in there is the John Elway Steak Seasoning from Elway's Restaurant in Denver. It IS that good for me a KC Chiefs fan to buy a Denver Bronco's steak seasoning.

Please excuse that my drawer is missing it's front,
 it didn't know it was going to be on the internet today.

Did I misspell taco? Kidding but made you look!

Four staples in our house. Check out why I love the one on the left here.

Because my drawer wasn't big enough for all the large containers of seasonings and my collection of BBQ/Steak rubs I have collected from many places I had to expand up to the cabinet above the drawer. I used a simple basket (like all the baskets in my pantry) that I got from Wal-Mart and then I used a 6-pack beer container for the spices. This makes it really easy to take down and look at or take to the grill or outside during a party for people to use as they wish. I love this original Coors box because the bottles were short so the sides are shorter.

I'm obsessed with white baskets.

Who knew? If you aren't a drinker any glass bottled 6-pack box would work.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Supper in 45

So it is spring time, not that you could tell it by looking out my window where it is currently lightly flurrying (is that even a word), and it is the time of the year that we end up eating a lot of sandwiches and freezer pizzas because we want to be outside and supper just isn't a priority. Well last night I made a great easy meal that was pulled together from start to finish in 45 minutes.

First thing I made was a premarinated pork loin. I don't know if anyone else has seen these or not but I picked up a Oven Perfect(r) Pork Loin from HyVee this week. It was Farmland brand and we got the Chipolte BBQ version but they have plenty of other flavors to choose from. You cook the pork loin in the bag that it comes in...removing the stickers of course. It was sooooo simple, and tasted amazing and was super juicy. You bake it for 35 minutes and let it set for 5 before slicing. How easy is that? and tasty!

The second thing that I made was a recipe I found on Pinterest over the weekend. Now if you are like me you are a little skeptical of the recipes you find on Pinterest so I never share them until I have tried them and made any changes to them I feel necessary. This recipe was originally a Skinny Lobster Mac 'n' Cheese, but I just wanted it to be a Skinny Mac 'n' Cheese so I did and I altered it a little bit and my version is below edited from the Skinny Mom's website. Visit Skinny Mom's blog for more skinny recipes and healthy tips. This Skinny Mac 'n' Cheese took me less than 20 minutes from start to finish.

The final thing I added to the meal was a nice lettuce salad, I just tore up some romaine and added some precut kale and we threw our favorite dressing on it!

In less than 45 minutes I had a fairly healthy and tasty supper ready.

Skinny Mac 'n' Cheese
1.5 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1.5 cups reduced-fat, shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 tsp pepper
1 - 14.5 oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
2 cups whole wheat pasts shells
1/2 cup skim fat-free milk
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp Srircha
  1. Bring a stock pan of water and salt to a boil and cook pasta. Drain and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add flour and cook, making sure to stir constantly to make a roux. Stir until golden brown for about 1 minute.
  3. Add tomatoes and continue to stir constantly. Cook for 2-3 minutes until tomatoes become bubbly and start to thicken.
  4. Next, add cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, mustard powder, Srircha, black pepper and milk.
  5. Make sure to stir constantly until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth for about 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add in cooked shells and lobster chunks and stir to cover evenly. Cook and continue to stir for 2-3 minutes until heated through. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Beauty Swap #2 - I'm a New Mac Fan

I realize I am behind on my post for this swap, but travel has delayed my post, hope everyone is still enjoying the swaps! I love, love, love the beauty swaps. First they have been so much fun to meet people virtually and learn more about them (plus I follow everyone one Instagram) and second I am in love with the products that I have received as part of the swap.

This particular swap I was paired with Miss Lauren Scheller (follow her on Istagram @lscheller). She is a talented young woman so full of life and energy! We almost could have done our swap in person at NCBA but unfortunately I stayed home instead of enjoying time in utopia (Opryland in Nashville). I personally have never tried Mac cosmetics, maybe because I am from a small town and when I did move to the city I didn't know where a Mac store was, but Lauren is a huge fan (as I know is Crystal) and hooked me up with some awesome products. Not to mention that she had the cutest packaging!

She has the most lovely writing...I could only wish I could write so nicely!

Such cuteness, I was soooo excited to open each little treasure!

Mac Paint Pot Eye Primer - this stuff is amazing, it goes on smooth and doesn't cake all day, plus it has color to it. I don't put on eye make up, even neutral colors without using this primer first. And I agree with Lauren, Mac recommends to apply using a brush but we have both found that using your finger works just as well.

Mac Lip Glass - yes I said lip glass, it goes on so very smooth and doesn't get sticky like some other both tubes have just the right amount of color and opaqueness that I can wear them with or without lipstick underneath. I'm a big lipstick girl though so most of the time I have lipstick or a lip pencil underneath. I love these and I have one in my makeup bag and one in my purse always!

Moroccan Oil - I've struggled with moisture in my hair this winter due to the extreme cold in the tundra, ok I know it isn't the tundra but it has been darn cold. I like this product because it isn't too heavy and I can put it on before or after I style my hair. I received the Josie Marin hair oil in my first swap and I still don't know which one I like best, but I do like the Moroccan Oil for dry hair applications and Josie Marin for when I air dry my hair. I will say I also used this as an undereye cream once when I forgot my eye cream on the road, worked awesome!

My Instagram post, follow me at @travelingcowgirl, please disregard my
lack of makeup that day...I work from home!

A big thank you to Cowgirl Crush for co-sponsoring with Crystal Cattle and another big thank you to Crystal and congrats on a second successful swap, I can't wait for the next opportunity to meet some awesome ladies in Ag that love to glam it up and aren't afraid of a little glitter from time to time! If you want to see all the other lovely posts from the swap, visit Crystal's link up post.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Sriracha Chicken Legs

I had chicken legs, I don't know why but I did so I needed to use them and I wanted to make them Buffalo Style since neither one of us are a fan of plain, ol', boring chicken. But neither of us are a huge fan of hot Buffalo sauce, but we are huge fans of Sriracha so I thought I could surely replace the Tabasco with Sriracha...and yes it did work.

So basically I pan seared the chicken legs to give them some browning then baked them for 45 minutes at 375 uncovered turning them once throughout the process. I made a typical Buffalo style sauce but swapped out the Tabasco for Sriracha in a skillet (Butter, Worcestershire, spices, etc.) and then coated the baked legs in the Sriracha Sauce. From there I normally would have grilled them for a few minutes and based them with the Sriracha Sauce a few times to really grill on the flavoring however the windchill prevented me from getting out on the deck (actually I'm pretty sure that the grill wouldn't have stayed lit, but regardless). But instead I just simmered them in the skillet for 3-5 minutes then served them up.

They were great for me since I'm not a huge heat person. Hope you can try them out the next time you are looking for a switch from the norm.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Snow Day Cooking: Gumbo-laya

Happy Snow Day(s)! Oh wait, I work from home so therefore I don't get snow days, I just get a different perspective when I take the dog out and I can't walk out and water the horses in my slippers. But regardless I digress, I'm truly happy for everyone else who gets to have a Snow Day...was that convincing? :)

Regardless of where you are working today I highly recommend making this Gumbo-laya, it received high remarks from the 'landlord' so much so he even suggested inviting over a Gumbo loving friend for dinner sometime. I did alter the original recipe a little bit which I have noted below, but it took me total of 40 minutes to make (it would have been shorter if I would have prepped my ingredients before I started cooking). I also used a stock pot that wasn't non-stick and it created a really great browning on the bottom that I think flavored the Gumbo-laya very well.

I found the recipe on Pinterest (yes everyone close your mouths I know you are shocked). Here is the link to the Pinterest post I found, the original recipe is linked to the headline below.

Gumbo-laya from the Cozy Apron

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound spicy andouille (or smoked) sausage, sliced (I used smoked turkey sausage)
8 chicken tenderloins (or 2 skinless/boneless chicken breasts), cut into bite-size pieces (I used meat off chicken legs that I made over the weekend)
• Salt
• Pepper
3 celery stalks, finely diced (we only like our celery with peanut butter, so we omitted this)
1 large onion, finely diced
1 large bell pepper, finely diced (I used a red pepper)
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon Creole seasoning
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used 2 tsp Sriracha instead because we LOVE it over cayenne)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon, heaping, tomato paste
½ pound okra, sliced into ¼ – ½” thick slices (I used 2 oversized cups of frozen thawed in the microwave for a minute or so)
1 (28 oz) can organic diced tomatoes with juice (I obviously didn't use organic)
2 cups chicken stock, hot
½ pound peeled and cleaned, medium size shrimp (raw)
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
• Fragrant Garlic Rice (recipe below) (someone isn't a fan of the jasmine rice, we just used good ol' brown rice)

-Place a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and add the olive oil; once the oil is hot, add the sliced sausage in, and allow it to caramelize and brown for a few minutes; once well browned, remove the sausage from the pot, and set it aside for a moment; next, add the chicken pieces into the pot along with a sprinkle or two of salt and pepper, and allow them to brown in the oil/sausage drippings for about 2-3 minutes; remove the chicken pieces from the pot, and set aside for a moment; next, add in the diced celery, onion and bell pepper, and caramelize it for about 2-3 minutes in the oil, then add in the bay leaves, the Creole seasoning, the cayenne pepper, ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of black pepper, and stir to combine; next, add in the garlic and stir, and once it becomes aromatic, add in the tomato paste, and cook for about 1 minute to cook out the “raw” tomato flavor; next, add in the sliced okra, the diced tomatoes with juice, the hot chicken stock, and the browned sausage and chicken, and stir to combine, and allow the stew to simmer gently on low/medium-low, uncovered, for 20 minutes; after 20 minutes, add in the shrimp (you can season it with a sprinkle of salt/pepper if you wish), and simmer for only 2 minutes more as to not overcook the shrimp; finish by stirring in the chopped parsley and cilantro, and serve over the Fragrant Garlic Rice, with some additional spice/heat options like hot sauce, red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, if desired.

Fragrant Garlic Rice ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
2 cups jasmine rice
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
3 cups water                  
-Place a medium pot over medium-high heat, and add in the olive oil; once hot, add in the pressed garlic, and stir to combine; once the garlic becomes fragrant, add in the rice, the salt and the pepper and stir, and allow the rice to “toast” in the garlic oil for about 2 minutes; next, add in the water, stir, and simmer the rice, covered, for about 20 minutes, or until tender; turn off the heat, and after 5 minutes, fluff with fork and serve.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Super Bowl Happy App-etizers: PW Bacon Appetizers

So if you follow me on Pinterest you know I have a lot of random boards, but one in particular is called Happy App-etizers where I place all the fun appetizer type recipes that I find online. One in particular I got from the newest Pioneer Woman cookbook A Year of Holidays, but I also added it to my board. By the way I love this, love, love!

Let me introduce to you the Pioneer Woman's Bacon Wrapped Cracker. OH MY, these are good! They are especially good warm, right out of the oven (with a little cooling time since bacon gets really, really hot in the oven for 2 hours) but they are still tasty a day or two later.

A couple things I learned in my process.
1) Do not use the low fat or low sodium bacon that doesn't have full size strips of bacon. You will need the longer strips so when you cut them in half they will wrap around the cracker/cheese mixture.
2) She recommends not wrapping the bacon too tight around the cracker or when it is done it will look like a cinched waist on a debutant in the late 1800's.
3) Use the full-sized Club Crackers not the mini...I mean I guess you could use the min but it will take you a long time to prep everything.
4) Plan ahead...this appetizer does take some time to prep and also it bakes for a couple hours so make sure you plan ahead
5) one sleeve of Club Crackers is equal to a pound of bacon cut in half

Recipe from the PW Website:
  • 1 package Club Crackers
  • 1 pound Thin Sliced Bacon (or More Depending On Number Of Crackers)
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Optional Alternative: Brown Sugar Instead Of Parmesan Cheese

Preparation Instructions

Lay crackers (as many as you want) face up on a cookie sheet.

Scoop about 1 teaspoon of grated Parmesan cheese onto each cracker. Cut your package of bacon in half (or cut pieces individually) and carefully, so the cheese doesn’t fall off, wrap each cheese covered cracker in one half piece of bacon, completely covering the cracker. It should fit snugly around the cracker.

Place the bacon wrapped crackers onto a baking sheet that has a rack on it.

Place in a 250-degree oven for about 2 hours.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Another Beauty Swap

You may have noticed I recently blogged about a beauty swap I was involved in before Christmas. Well good news for you is they are having another one coming up in a couple weeks. For more details you can view the blog here and make sure you like Crystal Cattle and her co-host Cowgirl Crush on Facebook and @crystalcattle and @cowgirlcrushxo on Instagram.

Friday, January 3, 2014

This Seasoning Will Change Your Life

...ok so maybe not your life, but it will change your food for sure and for some people food is there life, or I guess food is required for life, oh whatever you get where I am going with this.

I really wanted to say This Seasoning FROM WALMART Will Change your life but I decided against it since I was sure no one would read this post.

Introducing Cavendar's All Purpose Greek Seasoning

So I knew nothing about this seasoning until a couple of co-workers told me about it and told me it was a must for cooking. I picked some up and they are right. Now dont' think you are going to get a shot of feta and oregano from this bottle, but you will get a lot of great seasonings and I buy the Salt Free version so I can control the salt how I like it but still get the good flavoring.

What would you add it to you might ask...well basically I've added it to everything I've made in the past few months that isn't sweet: soups, stews, pasta sauce with meat, vegetable sides, etc.

I bought mine at Hen House, but the link above is for Walmart...I think it is basically sold at all major grocery stores or online. Kick up those winter dishes and try some out today!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Crystal Cattle Beauty Swap

So back in November a friend a blogger, Crystal Cattle,  posted on her blog that she was going to be hosting a Beauty Swap around the holidays, beauty swap? I've never heard of such a thing but the thought of getting a box of fun beauty supplies that someone else likes was very appealing. I love beauty products, but often feel a little awkward when in places like Sephora when asking the perfectly make-uped ladies questions about products I have heard about or would like to try so this seemed like a great alternative!

I was very fortunate to be swapped up with Erin Worrell (@TXRIVERBOYS on Instagram) from Texas. Erin is a super-mom, her husband travels for work so she is virtually a single parent to her two precious little cowboys during the week and juggles everything flawlessly from what I can tell. We have a lot of things in common, (aside from our college football alliances, but hey at least Mizzou and Texas A&M are in the same dominant football conference now!) Crystal did a great time of pairing us up.

I was very excited to be able to share some of my favorite products but wanted to showcase some of the products that Erin sent me, that I had been wanting to try for a LONG time!

1. Urban Decay's UnSlick - This is a setting spray that a makeup artist told her is awesome!
2. Urban Decay's Naked Basics Pallet - These eye shadows are perfect and can go from natural day to night in a heartbeat. Perfect to pack for a weekend away and you have everything you need.
3. EOS Lip Balm - LOVE!
4. Smash Box Primer - I've been a tinted CC Cream girl for a while, but this was perfect for the night I used foundation and powder for a special night out. It went on smooth and dried quickly, I will for sure use again.
5. Bumble and Bumble Blow Out - This two-step process is very simple and creates a beautiful blow out if you have the time to do it. It did take me a while with all my hair but it was really pretty when done with a big round brush and it didn't require a hot iron.
*All of these products are available at Sephora

I will for sure be participating again in the swap, if you want to be part of the next swap make sure you go to Crystal Cattle's Blog and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.