Nacho Chili

Nacho Chili – a yummy and super easy twist on traditional chili!
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Ingredients

  • 1 to 1.5 lbs of ground beef
  • 1 can of black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 can of chili beans
  • 1.5 19oz cans of Progresso Vegetable Classics “hearty tomato” soup (more or less, depending on how thick you like your chili)
  • 1 cup of frozen corn
  • 1 white onion, chopped

Directions
Add onion and beef to a large pot.  Cook the beef on medium heat for 5-8 minutes, or until cooked through.  Drain and return the beef and onion to the pot.

Add black beans, the entire can of chili, tomato soup, and corn.  Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for at least 10 minutes (the longer, the better if you are not in a hurry)

Top with cheese, sour cream, green onions, salsa, or whatever other topping you’d like.  Serve with tortilla or corn chips.

Enjoy!

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Yum!  This recipe was inspired by one from Betty Crocker.

I Made Bread!

I made a loaf of bread today using yeast and everything!

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That might sound trivial to many of you, but this is the first time I’ve ever used yeast.  In fact, when I was in Home Economics in the 8th grade, we learned about yeast and had to make pizza crust. But guess who forgot to add the yeast to her crust?  So, I’ve literally never used it until today.

Anyhow, I found the recipe on the blog Oddles of Glitter and it looked so delicious I gave it a try right away.

First, I mixed together 2 teaspoons yeast, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 cup warm water, and 1 tablespoon oil and let the ingredients sit for about 10 minutes until it looked foamy.
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Then I added in 3 cups of flour and kneaded the bread for a couple of minutes.  I honestly had no idea what I was doing.

I guessed that this looked okay

I guessed that this looked okay

I put the dough in a bowl and let it rise for about an hour.  After that, I kneaded it more, shaped it, and laid it in a greased bread pan.

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I was a tad worried because I wasn’t sure if it had risen enough.

I then heated the oven up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and baked it for 30 minutes.

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Hey, it worked!

I waited about 40 minutes for it to cool down before cutting in to it.  It was delicious!  Oh, don’t forget to add some salt before you bake the dough.  I sprinkled some, but it could have used a bit more.

My Starter Story

My husband and I recently looked at pictures we took when we were house hunting during the summer of 2011.  The first house we looked at was located on an acre of land just outside of a small city.  Three things I absolutely loved about the house: it had a huge bay window in the living room, about 30 beautiful ash trees in the front yard, and the location was ideal for us.
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We put in an offer on the house, but another couple came in with a higher offer, so we had to continue searching for our first home.

Throughout August, September, and October, we looked at several houses each week and didn’t find anything that stood out to us. Then we received a call from our realtor.  The couple who put an offer on the first house we were interested in changed their minds and the house was up for sale again!  After a week or two of negotiating, the house was ours.

On a lovely November weekend, our families helped us move from our tiny apartment to our new house 25 miles away.

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(left to right) my mom, sister, and me on moving day. The house was a bit of a mess!

After we bought our house, I was really excited but also a bit overwhelmed because I knew we had a lot of work to do before the house would look and feel like a home to us.   Our 900 square foot apartment didn’t allow us to have much furniture, so our new place looked rather empty by comparison.  People who came to see our house would ask, “Where is all of your stuff?” to which I would reply, “We don’t have any!”

Since we had just spent a majority of our savings on the down payment for the house, we couldn’t afford to rush out and purchase new items to fill up the empty space.  Instead, I had to get smart and creative.  Emily Clark’s Blog was super helpful to me because she posts before and after pictures of furniture she’s refinished.  Prior to reading her blog, I had no idea that old pieces of furniture could be brought back to life like that!

Here are some projects I’ve completed over the past few years:

Hall cupboard
I found this at a Goodwill store for $25.  You can’t tell from the picture, but it had a bunch of scratches on it and the color of the wood was outdated. The paint I used was only $3, bringing the total to $28.

Cupboard

Wood Pew
My father-in-law bought this pew for $5 and gave it to my husband and me.  We originally had it outside on our porch, but I thought it would look better inside.  I sanded it, stained it with red mahogany stain, and topped it with three coats of semi-gloss polycrylic.  There are two pillows on it – one I made and one I bought, and I also made the cushion.  Total cost comes to about $30.

Pew

Bed Frame
When I moved in to my college apartment, I bought a brass bed frame from a garage sale for super cheap.  It was fine for back then, but I didn’t like the look of the brass and it didn’t match anything in our new house.  I painted on primer and spray painted it black so that the bed frame went with the other furniture I had planned for the guest room.

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I also refinished a glider chair, a night stand, and my dining room table, but I won’t go in to depth about those as they were featured in previous blog posts.

And when you put it all together with a fresh coat of paint on the walls and some decor:
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The biggest mistake I’ve made so far is the paint color I originally picked out for our entryway.  I remember telling my husband that one of my least favorite colors is country blue and then weeks later I picked this color for the entryway.  In my defense, I didn’t realize how blue it was going to look until after it was done.  Below are pictures of what the room started as (it was a light yellow when we moved it), the horrible blue I picked out, and then the color it is now.

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If you’re interested, you can find additional pictures and stories of our home in the below posts that I’ve written previously:

1. Our Home Then and Now (September 2014)
2. Adventures in Removing Wall Paper (May 2013)
3. Kitchen Gets a Facelift (April 2013)
4. Bedroom Makeover Pictures (January 2013)
5. Bathroom Before and After (October 2012)

This post was inspired by Urban Compass‘s project called Starter Stories. If you’re in the New York City area, look them up the next time you’d like personal assistance finding a new apartment.  Thanks so much for reading!

Coffee Chocolate Cake

Happy New Year everyone!

Today I made chocolate cake using a recipe a friend gave to me about 10 years ago.  The recipe calls for strong coffee, which makes the cake moist.  In exchange for the coffee, you can use less butter and no oil.  So, it’s healthy cake!  Right?

Coffee_Cake

Cake Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp baking soda
¼ cup low fat buttermilk
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup brewed strong coffee
½ cup cocoa powder
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

Cake Directions

  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Coat 9 inch round pan with cooking spray.  I used a springform pan.
  • Combine flour, sugar, and baking soda. Whisk buttermilk, egg, and vanilla in separate bowl.
  • Combine coffee and cocoa in large saucepan. Add butter and bring to a boil. Whisk constantly.
  • Remove from heat and stir in dry ingredients.  Add buttermilk mixture and whisk until smooth.
  • Pour batter into pan and bake 15 to 20 minutes. Or until top looks dry.

If you’d like to add a chocolate glaze (as shown in the picture above), the directions are  below.  I added chocolate glaze and strawberries to my piece of cake today, but it’s honestly delicious without anything on it at all.  In my opinion, this cake is so moist, it’s like a brownie.  Yum!

Chocolate Glaze

2 tbs low-fat buttermilk
2 tbs cocoa powder
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar

Combine buttermilk, cocoa powder, and butter in medium saucepan, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in sugar and vanilla.

Pierce holes all over cake with fork and spread glaze over cake. Let stand 5 minutes.