Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and were able to spend time with your friends and family.  Christmas was different for me this year.  It's my first year not being in school so I don't get a month off for winter break and let me tell you, that was a rude awakening.  I guess I'm really an adult now.  Lame.

Despite my disappointment at not having a month off, I still managed to have a pretty fabulous Christmas.  Last week, we had a Christmas party at work and a "Tacky Christmas Sweater" contest.

Guess who won?  Yes, that would be me.  What you can't tell from the picture is that instead of buttons there were little jingle bells.  Pretty sure I drove everyone crazy at work, but if you are going to be tacky you better go all out.  Am I right?

Mr. Geek Squad didn't want to miss out on the tacky-action.  We gave this picture framed to his brother and sister in law as a joke.  Unfortunately I'm pretty sure it's going to be displayed in their house.  P.S. I hope you notice the amazing shoulder pads in the sweaters.  That is one trend (of many) that I hope never come back in style. 

Anyway, I spent Christmas Eve with some of Mr. Geek Squad's family.  It's the first year I didn't spend Christmas Eve with my family and while I missed our traditional tamale dinner it was really nice to spend part of the holidays with Mr. G.S. and his family.  Plus, his aunt made an awesome peach cobbler that I definitely need to get the recipe for (note to self).  I left their party early (around 7:30) and drove the 3 hours down to my parents' house and got there just in time to watch "A Christmas Story" with them (another family tradition).  

Christmas morning we woke up, had cinnamon rolls, and got ridiculously spoiled by my parents.  I got, among other things, a hand mixer (!), a white peacoat, a couple new games, some new clothes, and jewelry.  Santa was good to me this year.  I was especially happy because I managed to surprise my mom with her present this year.  She is the hardest person to surprise, but I got her a Kindle and she had NO idea.  

We ended the night with a delicious dinner of prime rib, twice baked potatoes, salad and chocolate chip Kahlua cake and 2 rousing games of Scrabble.  We know how to party.  

And just to prove to you that we don't wear tacky sweaters all the time, here is a normal picture of me and Mr. G.S. in front of my Christmas tree.  

Love you, mean it. 

~Just A Girl~

Sunday, December 4, 2011

White Chicken Artichoke Lasagna

Have you entered my giveaway yet?  If not, what the heck are you waiting for?  Go do it now, I'll wait for you to come back.

Okay, now that we have that taken care of I have some other important business to attend to.  Chicken and artichoke lasagna.  I'll admit, I never was the biggest fan of lasagna.  I always felt like it took forever to make and was basically spaghetti in casserole form.  Besides, I was never the biggest fan of cheese.  Please don't hate me.

Anyway, I saw this recipe on Pinterest (justagirl623, if you're interested in following me) and I happen to love artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes so I figured I'd try it despite my feelings toward lasagna.

So here's what you need (not everything is pictured because I get impatient.  I'm working on it.):

2 cups shredded chicken
1 can artichoke hearts
1 bag mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (I definitely used more)
2 pkgs cream cheese
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (or more, if you want)
Lasagna noodes
Garlic and/or garlic powder
Basil/Italian seasoning

So first, you need to cook some chicken so you can shred it.  Alternatively, you could buy a whole rotisserie chicken at the grocery store and shred up some of that.  Or you could use canned chicken, if you want.  You should also set a pot of water to boil for the noodles. 

Then you want to blend the cream cheese and milk together along with the garlic powder and basil/italian seasoning.  Unfortunately, we do not have mixer/blender at Mr. Geek Squad's house, so I can tell you first hand that you CAN do this by hand.  Is it fun?  No, but you will get a nice arm work out and it turns out just fine, so don't worry if you don't have a mixer, okay?  You can still make this recipe.  I promise.  Also, while you are doing all this mixing have your boyfriend chop up the artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes.  

Now, your chicken should be done cooking.  Go ahead and shred that stuff right up.  Use two forks and pull in the opposite direction.  Easy shmeasy.  Your water will probably also be boiling for the noodles by now.  Put those bad boys in the pot and cook them according to the directions on the box.  Don't overcook them though, please. 

Mix the shredded chicken, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, and the parmesan cheese into half of the cream cheese and milk mixture.  Put the other half aside, we'll be using it soon. 

Spread half of the leftover cream cheese and milk mixture on the bottom of a glass casserole dish.

Put three lasagna noodles on top of that.

Spread 1/3 of the chicken mixture on top of those noodles.  Looks delicious right?  Repeat layer of noodles and chicken twice. 

Top off with the last of the noodles, the other half of the cream cheese and milk mixture, the rest of the mozzarella cheese, and some parmesan too if you want.  A little extra cheese never hurt anybody.

Bake in a 350* oven for 25 minutes until the cheese is all nice and melty and delicious looking and everything is heated through.

Serve with a nice salad, and a glass of wine (not pictured because I was probably busy drinking it).

Special thanks to my boyfriend for being an awesome photographer, and sous chef.  

As always, let me know what you think if you try out this recipe and stay tuned for more exciting recipes in the future.

Love you, mean it.

~Just A Girl~


Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanks for the memories

How many of you like to scrapbook?  When I was younger my mom was really into scrapbooking for a few years.  She still has all of the stuff, but with the move to digital cameras we stopped printing as many pictures and it became too much of a hassle to print the pictures and take the time to put them together in a scrapbook.  I'm always telling myself I should print out more pictures.  In fact, I have a ton of empty picture frames in my house that are practically begging me to put something in them.

Recently, the awesome people over at MyMemories contacted me and asked me to review their MyMemories Suite product.  I received a free copy of their software in exchange for my honest review, plus a copy to giveaway to one of my fabulous blog readers, plus a code to share with everyone for $10 off the MyMemories Suite Scrapbook software and a $10 coupon to use in the My Memories store.

Are you getting excited yet?

So, what did I think of the software?  I think it's very, very user friendly, and it's pretty easy to customize the layouts to whatever you need or want.  I love that there is the ability to create calendars, and you can easily add text and embellishments to any layout.  I've been playing around with it for a couple days, and I've been having a lot of fun doing a ton of crazy stuff.  The only thing that I don't really love about the software is that they included kits are somewhat limited, and the ones that are really cute you'd have to buy.  But hey, there is a code for $10 off in the store, so you can get at least a couple of kits with that!

Want to see a couple things that I made?  Of course you do.

This is the first thing I made.  It took me like 5 minutes, and it's now my desktop background.  Adorable (and not just because of the people in it)!

I think this could be a really cute Christmas card.

Here is the discount code: STMMMS56384.  Please copy and paste that so you don't accidentally mistype!  I want to make sure you get the discount!

And now, here is what you've been waiting for.  How to enter the giveaway.  I think I'll turn this into another "Get to Know Me" giveaway since it's been a while since I've had a question and answer post, AND I am impatient and accidentally deleted all my old posts so all of the getting to know me posts are gone.  Sad day.  Anyway, this how you can enter the giveaway.

1. Follow my blog
2. Go to the MyMemories website and tell me in a comment what scrapbook kit is your favorite.
3. Ask me a question.  I'll answer anything you ask me, promise.
Extra entries:
1. Blog about this giveaway.
2. Follow me on twitter (@justagirl623)
3. Tweet about my giveaway, and make sure you mention me.  You can do this once a day.
4. Send people to my blog, make sure they comment on this entry and tell me who sent them.

Make sure you make each entry a separate comment.

Thanks for playing along, y'all.  I'll be back in a couple days with my take on a couple pinterest recipes, plus my adventures in southern cooking.  It's been a fun couple of weeks in my kitchen!

Love you, mean it.

~Just A Girl~

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Meatloaf Stuffed Bell Peppers

So growing up, meatloaf was one of my favorite meals.  For me, it didn't get much better than a nice slice of meatloaf with a little bit of ketchup on top, and a heaping spoonful of mashed potatoes with corn (mixed together, of course).  I didn't think there was a way to top traditional meatloaf, so I didn't even try.

Then I met Mr. Geek Squad.  Apparently, traditional meatloaf in his family is stuffed in bell peppers.  I'll be honest, I was pretty skeptical.  But I thought I'd humor him and give it a try, because I'm an awesome girlfriend like that.  I was expecting a big pile of meat on top of mushy bell pepper.  Suffice it to say, my hopes were not too high.

Well ladies and gentlemen, I am telling you right now I was wrong.  I discovered a way to top traditional meatloaf, and I am here to share the secret with you.  Are you excited?

Good.  Let's get started.

1 lb hamburger
1 egg
2/3 c. oatmeal (approx.)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 small onion, chopped (approx)
Mustard (to taste)
Ketchup (to taste)
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
3 bell peppers (medium sized)

**If you have your own favorite meatloaf recipe, feel free to use that.  You won't hurt my feelings, promise**

Mix hamburger with egg, oatmeal, garlic, onion, ketchup, mustard, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and whatever the heck else you feel like adding into your meatloaf.  Usually I add a little Worcestershire sauce, but Mr. Geek Squad didn't have any and you know what?  I didn't miss it.  Basically, you cannot mess up meatloaf.  Add whatever sounds good to you.  But when you mix it, you must mix it with your hands.  That is mandatory, okay?

Now, it is time to deal with the peppers.  First, group them together so they look all cute and take a picture for your blog.  Oh wait, not everyone plays with their food before they eat it?  Silly me.

Cut those bell peppers in half lengthwise.  Place them in baking dish that you've sprayed with some non stick cooking spray.  My peppers were a little squished in there, but I deal with limited resources at Mr. Geek Squad's house, and being squished in the dish did not affect the flavor at all. 

Split up the meatloaf between the 6 pepper halves.  Make sure the little pepper boats are full, but not TOO full.  If they are too full, the peppers will be less crisp.  I made that mistake the first time I made them.  Bake them in a 350* oven for 30-35 min.  

That's what they look like when they are done.  Delicious, right? Make sure you cut into the middle of the biggest one to ensure the meat is fully cooked.  This isn't steak tartare, okay?

Serve with mashed potatoes and corn.  It's basically mandatory that you eat meatloaf with mashed potatoes and corn.  I'm pretty sure it's a law actually.  Look it up if you don't believe me. 

I hope you all have enjoyed this edition of cooking with Just A Girl.  Please let me know if you try this recipe and what you think of it.  I think it's a nice twist on meatloaf AND stuffed peppers, and honestly I like this a lot better than the traditional stuffed peppers.  Just sayin'.

~Just A Girl~

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fresh Start

Well hello my lovely bloggers.  Long time, no see.  I am doing a major overhaul of my blog (as you can probably see).  This was motivated by me accidentally deleting all my old posts.  My internet was going slow and I was getting impatient and I somehow deleted all posts.  Fail.  That's what I get for not backing them up somewhere, or something like that.

Anyway, I decided I would turn my impatient screw-up into something positive.  I'm going to completely revamp and update my blog.  And I swear to you that I will be writing MUCH more often.  In fact my boyfriend, Mr. Geek Squad (who, btdubs, runs his own blog) has been bugging encouraging me to blog more.  We were making this super awesome delicious home-made pizza for dinner the other day and he was like "WE SHOULD BE TAKING PICTURES FOR YOUR BLOG!"

But we got distracted and ate it again.  Sorry, I'll take pictures next time.  Promise.

So, stay tuned.  It's probably going to take a couple weeks, but things are going to start looking different around Just A Girl headquarters.  Same girl though, so don't worry things aren't changing TOO much.

Love you, mean it.

~Just A Girl~