Month : April 2011

mexican stuffed shells (yum!)

(Only three more posts until the new blog reveal!)

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I bookmarked a recipe for mexican shells a long time ago on Every time I've made stuffed shells in the past, it's been more of an Italian dish – often with ricotta cheese as the main filling. So I was intrigued to try this Mexican spin…plus the dish was tagged as "light and healthy" – score.

I ended up altering the recipe quite a bit, and we both loved how it turned out. It definitely has a little kick, so if you don't like spicy, dial back on the seasoning. As with most first time trial dishes, I made a smaller batch than the recipe calls for (it IS just the two of us after all). I used about 2/3 of all ingredients below and baked in an 8×8 pan. Definitely a hearty three servings – four if you have a side dish to pair these with. Otherwise, the recipe in full is as follows:

Mexican Stuffed Shells

(makes about two dozen stuffed shells)

1 package Barilla jumbo shells

2 cans green enchilada sauce

2 can Rotel diced tomatoes (drain excess liquid)

1 (2-cup) bag of shredded reduced fat cheddar

1 8-oz package of reduced fat cream cheese

1 lb. extra lean ground beef (organic if possible)

1 packet of taco seasoning

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon onion powder

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Add shells to water and cook as directed on package. Heat skillet over medium heat and add garlic and onion powder. After one minute, add ground beef and brown. Add taco seasoning.

Using immersion blender or food processor, puree the Rotel tomatoes. Add to meat once no longer pink. Let tomatoes and meat simmer for a couple of minutes, turn heat to low and add cream cheese. Stir until combined and remove from heat.

Run cooked shells under cold water so you can handle them. Pour 1/2 can of enchilada sauce into the bottom of baking dish. Spoon meat mixture into each shell, packing as many into the dish as will fit. Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the shells and then layer the shredded cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Carefully spoon out the shells onto plates with plenty of cheesy sauce on top!



a royal vacation day.

(Only four more posts until the new blog reveal!)


(circa 7am this morning)

It's been months since I felt I could opt for a day off from work. Finally, I had scheduled one for today! My best friend is a teacher, and I'm always so jealous of her summers off, her recent Spring break. I think the rest of the world needs that kind of schedule! Anyway, if it's been a while since your last day off, you might want to skip this post because I'm about to rub it in. 😉

I'm not going to lie – the day was completely planned around the Royal Wedding (yes, I realize the audience is mixed – some love it and some are sick of hearing about it), but I was determined to soak up every minute of my generation's Princess Diana day.

I was up around 4:15 and Megan and Micole (and Buddy, the sweetest dog in the world) came over at five – just in time to see Kate get out of her car! Micole made scones and brought delicious tea and Megan whipped us up a yummy frittata. I didn't do much except bust out my china to fancy it up a bit, and of course, poured the mimosas.


(black/white photography is your friend when it's 5am without a stitch of makeup!)


How goregeous was Bride Kate? So classic – very Audrey/Jackie we all agreed.


And be still my heart, the queen (Elizabeth, no less!) wore yellow. Sigh.

The girls headed out by 8am, and I crashed on the couch to doze and listen to some of the recap. Next, it was off to a massage appointment, courtesy of my employer for last month's crazy workload (thanks!). Ahhh. Bliss.

Then it was home for a quick lunch and to brush my teeth. I have been wanting to have my teeth professionally bleached forever and thanks to a great Groupon deal a couple of months ago, I was finally able to schedule it! I've used the strips and the toothpastes but the results never seem to last more than a few weeks. For anyone who is interested, I went to a dentist who uses the Zoom Whitening in-office system – and the procedure was very simple. They ask that you have a cleaning right before the procedure, so I had to wait until this week after my six-month checkup. There was no pain during, but definitely some discomfort this evening that they say will be gone by tomorrow. I'm distracting myself from it by looking in the mirror every half hour haha. Ah! Dazzling, right?! 😉 I think the difference is more visible in person – the lighting in my before and after pics is not consistent. I would definitely recommend Jordan Creek Family Dentistry if you're in the area….I got to pick from a library of current movies and they hover the screen over you while you lay back in the chair. Made the time whiz by! I never had braces as a kid – my dentist always said it wasn't all that necessary. But looking at these close-ups, I am aware again of that crooked tooth on my left side. Maybe the next procedure should be Invisalign. Has anyone out there tried it? Loved it? Hated it?


And so my royal vacation day comes to an end…but thankfully it's the weekend! I have a little design work planned and am hoping to get a paint-related project underway. Hopefully I'll be back soon with progress photos! Happy Friday!

Easter weekend (and the new blog countdown!)


Let the countdown to the new blog begin!!! Only five posts to go until the big reveal! Stay tuned. 🙂 I’m uber-excited to share it with you all!

In the meantime, let’s catch up, shall we?

We were excited to learn that Page’s parents and sister would be coming up to visit for Easter weekend. They had not seen our latest house yet and it was fun to spend a holiday in our own home – that rarely happens! Here are some of the highlights….

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One of my favorite things to do is set the table, which I worked on while we waited for everyone to arrive. The little “nests” are actually votive candleholders that later held our eggs…I had to laugh with all the thought I put into setting the table that when we sat down to eat, no one had any forks. Whoops! 🙂

There was a lot to catch up on once they arrived. We gave the tour and then caught up on pictures from a much-deserved cruise his parents recently came back from. (Jealous!) I love this pic of the four of them…complete with Chris’ expression haha.

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The weather was teasingly cool enough that hanging outside required use of our fire pit. What is it with men and fire? Page, and moreso, my father-in-law, took the duties of fire-building very seriously. It was damp and took a little time, but eventually…success!

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But what is a fire without some (Easter themed!) s’mores?! Mmmm….Blake and I both felt a little guilty skewering and burning those cute little peeps….but it was all worth it with the first bite. 🙂

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There was no spoiling our appetites for dinner that night – Page made an amazing beef tenderloin with all the sides to go with. I think family needs to visit more often…it was a treat to have him cook!

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After dinner, the boys played a little golf…

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…while the crafty girls got their dye on.

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Followed by a photo shoot…

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…complete with a little “vogue” ing!

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Although it was a short visit, we packed in a lot of good laughs.

We spent the morning sleeping in, enjoying an Easter brunch, and taking a quick tour of some nearby neighborhoods Page and I have been looking into as the house search warms up. Hopefully we get to do this all sooner again than later – it was a great weekend.

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Hope your Easter was a happy one!

taking a break – back soon.


(Another sneak peek at a blog redesign that really is happening!)

As I posted a few weeks back, this is the expected lull in blogging that I was expecting. I actually thought it might take place in the few weeks BEFORE our corporate meeting and all the hooplah and planning that surrounds it. Turned out, I stayed on top of it through March, but have since crashed and blogging has fallen by the wayside.

I think they call this, "recovery mode". 🙂

At the moment, I'm just getting organized again and back into a work life balance routine. Oh, and harping on my hubby to help me finish up this new blog layout! I was told I'd be on the docket AFTER tax time, so hopefully we can hammer this out in the coming weeks! The artwork and styling is all complete – just need the web master man to make it come to life! (A process that is easier said than done.)

Will be back soon with some stories, projects, and all that good stuff!