Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What's Cooking Calla? Simply Sweet Garlic Boneless Pork

OK, so maybe the name isn't as catchy as I would like but the husband and I were failing at a name and it is just too darn good to not post now that I took photos through the process of it! This meal is so simple and easy to make that you can start it before work and serve it up within an hour of being home (depending on length of side dishes you choose!)

Got 10 minutes in the morning? You can make this!!

 Ingredients Needed:

1 package boneless pork chops/loins--mine was just over a pound. 
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1.5 tbsp minced garlic (I use the stuff from Aldi in olive oil!)
1 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste

Small mixing bowl
small whisk
measuring cup
measuring spoons
crock pot

Step one: Lay your pork chops in the crock pot and turn on LOW

Step two: Put all other ingredients in mixing bowl as shown below

Step three: Whisk those ingredients together

Step four: Pour over the pork chops and cover- you can flip at about 3-4hrs if you are available

At 5.5-6hrs of cooking on low it should look like this

The sauce is amazing with rice, potatoes, and vegetables. We chose to have seasoned French green beans and Parmesan Asiago potatoes. 

A friend of mine mentioned her dad is not a huge fan of pork so this can be substituted for boneless skinless chicken or even some flank steak! I am progressively working on my new recipes so that we are not eating the same dishes all the time and I have new items to add to our monthly meal menu. 


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What's Cooking Calla? Loaded Potato Cheese Soup and Garlic Knots!

So I had made promises to get this recipe up asap and of course since I pulled the leftovers out of the freezer today for dinner I figured good a time as any to make due on the promise. The first time I tried to make a loaded potato soup it came out very bland and a bit rough around the edges. This one had both my husband and I very thrilled, it is super filling, and he was just over the moon about the garlic knots!

Let's start with showing you the finished product this is my personal bowl of soup with toppings and the plate of garlic knots! I made 10 and we ate 9 lol. 

Ingredients (Some are not shown but will be noted..I added them in as choices after I started throwing stuff in to the crock pot.)

1 30oz bag of julienne style hash browns- Ore Ida was my pick
1 (2 cup bag) of Triple Cheddar Cheese- Kraft
1 large container of chicken broth (I think it's 30oz)
1 can condensed cream of chicken
1 can of water from the cream of chicken can
1/2 an onion
1/4 tsp black pepper
Regular cream cheese (must not be low fat it will not melt right!)
Sour Cream
Bacon Bits
(I also added in another type of cheese for toppings and cheddar french fried onion)

Step one: Layer in the crock pot the hash browns  bag of cheese, chicken broth, can of creamed chicken, fill that can up and and one refill of it as water, chop up the onion and put half of it in the soup mix, about 1/2 tsp pepper, close lid and set on low. 

I usually stir if about every 2 hours, no real need in most cases but if I am home I do it. 
Should cook on low for 6-7hrs
Step two: ONE HOUR before you plan to eat it put the cream cheese in a separate container, ladle over 2-3 spoonfuls of soup to the cream cheese and whip it up (this helps melt it so it does not end up in chunks in the soup)- Pour it back into the crock pot and stir. 

15-20 minutes before serving dinner get ready to make your garlic knots!

1 (5ct biscuit can from Grands) you can do more if you want!
Olive Oil
1 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Basil
2 tsp Garlic (I used minced from a jar to have extra power!)
3 tbsp Grated Parmesan cheese- I used powdered as I did not have fresh

Step three: Put all the dry ingredients in to the bowl first and then pour and stir in olive oil until it forms a paste. 

Step four: I took 1 (5ct container) of Grands home style biscuits and separated the layers to make 10. 
On a cutting board lightly powder it with flour. 
Roll each piece into a long strip and tie it in a knot as shown in photo. 

Step five: Depending on the package of biscuits you got, preheat the oven to the temp it states on the package. Once preheated place the naked biscuits in to the oven for about 8-10 minutes where they are not finished baking but a bit firmer. 

Step six: Pull them out and using a marinating brush coat each one with the sauce you made. 

If you choose to you can also add on some cheese on top! 
Step seven: Slide them back in to the oven and bake until golden on all sides and sauce looked dried on top. 

At this point your soup should look like this in the crock pot

Once your biscuits are done they should look like this

I topped my soup with some cheese (regular cheddar not shown in photos), bacon bits, sour cream, and the French's french fried cheddar onions (not shown in photos)

The soup freezes very well for leftovers! The biscuits if you do not finish them off you can store them in the fridge for up to 2 days and microwave for about 20-30 seconds to be warm enough to dip in your soup!

I would say it makes about 6-8 heaping servings of soup as I had 2 bowls and the hubby had 1 and I used two medium containers and one small one to store the leftovers. I honestly would say the most time consuming parts of this were rolling out the biscuits (a whopping five minutes) and slicing the onion (a time stealing full minute) haha

So I did accomplish two new recipes for the month! (Actually three when I post the next one lol) This is perfect for a chilly night to cuddle up and watch a movie!


Thursday, January 17, 2013

What's cooking Calla? Stuffed Parmesan Garlic Biscuits!

I am horrible at coming up with names for recipes I create or even more so recipes I see on pinterest and then decide to completely alter. It then loses its original name and just becomes "Eat it and tell me if you like it", as the statement towards my husband lol. I test drove this recipe not only on my husband last night but today for lunch on one of my best friends. 

I did not have a few of the things for the original recipe I saw so I pulled open the fridge and freezer and made substitutes. Now I introduce the super quick and easy and delightfully amazing Stuffed Parmesan Garlic Biscuits!

1 bag Armour turkey meatballs 
1 bag Publix shredded six Italian Cheese
2 cans (5ct) Grands home style biscuits
2tbsp butter (I used I can't believe it's not butter)
Cooking spray
Marinara sauce (I used Bertolli)
Sugar (optional)
Garlic powder
Parmesan blend bread dip seasoning (got it in the bakery)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
Spray a full size cookie sheet with cooking spray
I defrosted the meatballs and then microwaved them for about a minute

Step one:
Each grands biscuit pull into two separate parts (So a 5ct can becomes 10 pieces)

Sprinkle the shredded cheese on the whole thing making sure to cover it all. 

Place one meatball in the center and pinch the biscuit around it full making a ball. 

Place the seam side you just pinched close on the pan

Step two:
Take your butter and melt it for about 15-20 seconds

Use a brush to coat the top of each ball with melted butter

Sprinkle the bread dip seasoning across the top only (You can make your own blend with dried Parmesan cheese, oregano, basil, and garlic)

Place a tiny pinch of the shredded cheese on top of this (That is what gives it the nice golden color on top after being baked)

Place in over for about 15 minutes give or take your elevation level. Once they are golden on top and crispy to the tap of a butter knife you can pull them out.

Step three:

For every 10-12 biscuit balls you will want half a jar of the Bertolli sauce and you can microwave this or simmer it and keep stirring.

I add 1/4 cup sugar
Oregano, Basil, and Garlic to taste. 

Serve either across the biscuit balls or as a dipping sauce as shown.

ENJOY!!! Not only did four fill each of us up for dinner but I sent four to work with my husband for his lunch, my friend and I had three each for lunch today, and the husband was sad they were all eaten when he got home! It was a slam dunk in the kitchen!

So technically I have knocked off 1 of 2 new recipes for the month. Granted, I did whip up a chicken dish the other night but I was not pleased with the photos so it is not something I am posting a recipe yet until I perfect it! 


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Progression starts with a list of goals

So I am clearly starting the journey for my list of 70 things to accomplish this year. 

I have 3 of 70 complete and 4 others started. 

Complete are number #1 Start blog, #16 Start Christmas shopping before November, and #17 Redo the pantry cabinet area. 

I configured my pantry in a way that makes it easy for me to use. The smaller one has a breakfast shelf, lunch snack and lunch items for the husband so he does not eat them when he is off work, a baking shelf, and a condiment shelf (All organized by expiration date) The very bottom is canned dog food and poweraide for the hubby. 

The larger pantry that I open multiple times a day is stocked by expiration as well but depending on how I organized it, I pull from the side or the bottom (top shelf lol). I put all side dishes like potatoes, rice, and pastas on top shelf. Then we have bagged sides, main pasta sauce, huge tub of sugar, and all cooking tools I use regularly. Next would be the canned items, broth, and rice (mostly used for home made dog food). We then have snack foods and a few more cooking essentials. Lower than that has snack foods that have not been opened, all our Lipton tea for homemade sweet tea, crackers, and lunch ramen for hubby when he is being lazy. Below that are any non perishable dinner kits and all my pastas. The final area which is the bottom has serving trays, wine stash, and we always keep a jug of water in case our county has a boil water ordinance for the dogs to have clean water before we can get to the store for more. 

It took me about an hour and twenty minutes to complete this task. I already feel more organized moving around the kitchen preparing dinner tonight. I wish I had more pantry space but of course until we move into a bigger house, this will have to do! 

The projects I already started working on but have yet to complete are #47 (Catch up on The Lying Game--I watched 2.5 episodes from last season last night on Netflix). #51 already selling on eBay again but a long way to go before I hit that goal, #57 and #58 the personal and joint spending. Yesterday I spent a few hours in my Quicken software lining up things the way I wanted so I can track every dollar as I go through the year. On top of that I did open up my savings tracker software sheet that lets me track how much I save compared to spending with clipped coupons or advertised savings. This is a great tool for me. At the end of the year I can see how much I spent on household/groceries compared to what I saved. I am a 100% visual creature of habit. Show me things on paper or black and white and I will clearly find the best way to make it better. 

Not much else to write today as I spent the day at home working on little projects. Plan to try to knock out some more of the simple things this week. I still do need to come back and write two business reviews about customer service. Maybe I can catch a break tomorrow. OH YES! I nearly forgot. My friend Sasha is egging me on to go Gluten Free to help my stomach issues out. I find I am having severe pain nearly as soon as I finish a meal with a carbohydrate base (pasta, pizzas, rice dishes, etc) so she suggested some quinoa and farina. They are on my shopping list for the week and I already started pinning some ideas of recipes on my Pinterest Board. under dinner or side dishes, I can't recall at the moment. 

Hope everyone else had a super relaxed yet productive day!


Saturday, January 12, 2013

No Perfect People Allowed

Well I have finally finished compiling my list for the year. It tops out at 70 things to focus on. Some are financial, some are fun, and some are just down right simple but listed to make sure I enjoy LIFE and myself at times. I have been working non stop this week on the financial stuff to get it all in order. Started getting the coupons ready, have my books sorted to start the reading, and of course little by little will start knocking things out. This blog is not about ME. It is about reality. The reality of life and the way things go. Nothing can be perfect. My favorite slogan from my church is "No Perfect People Allowed".

When we step out into the world to live our day to day lives we will encounter a lot of great people and a lot of not so great people. Some we will be able to touch and change their life a little bit and others we will end up just pissing off and never seeing them again. That is life. Peel off the rose colored glasses and see that we can't help everyone but we can help ourselves to be better versions of ourselves. Do you ever look back on a conversation or argument and regret things you said? Or feel really proud and boastful that you were able to be quick witted and come up with something on the fly during a conversation that made someone laugh? That is because you are not perfect. Sometimes in life you will have the right things to say. Other won't. It will spill out like word vomit producing a viral affect on the people around you. The venom comes racing through your veins so fast that everything gets blurry and heated and things just go dark in your brain but your mouth keeps moving. Sometimes this will be good. Sometimes it won't. You were made to function in a way that makes you have emotions and feelings and character.

I have a lot to say. I spend many of my days working from home and seeing how people treat each other online. I then try to step outside of the house with a pep in my step and a smile on my face. Sometimes making conversation with strangers who welcome it and other times seeing them roll their eyes thinking I must be insane to want to talk to someone who I don't know. Many times I have had my husband ask me why I try to make jokes with strangers or talk to them. It's because you can't meet people and show love to the world without doing this. Many times I go out and I don't want to be bothered, I don't want to be approached by sales people, and I definitely don't want some rude person making my day or blood pressure uncomfortable.

No one knows what type of person you are...until you open your mouth or of course write something about them. You may be outgoing or you may be shy but how you respond to others the first time you speak to them will determine how that conversation will go. Now this is not to say this is how it works all the time. You can be genuinely nice at first and turn into a wild boar who needs to be shot with a tranquilizer gun down the line. Let people see who you really are. Pull the mask off. Pull the glasses off. Yes there are bad people in the world and there are really dumb people that we can't help but run into or get stuck with them following us like little puppies thinking we want them in our lives...but be nice. As nice as you can be or as long as you can be. I will be the first to admit I have thoroughly enjoyed cutting off some friendships in the past. They made my blood boil. But only you can make that step to find out what type of people you want to be around. Just are not perfect...they are not perfect. No one is perfect.

So this will be a new journey to see if I keep up with a blog. Not only to vent and inspire but to share things that might help others feel inspired or let them get something off their chest. Therefore I have changed the name to Calla Brinly Chats Back. I will chat here about good people, naughty bad people (lol), and life. Down the road you might even find out WHY my pseudo name here is Calla Brinly. PS My name is Nichole. I am proud of my name and not ashamed to use it, I have published articles under my real name. But this Journey goes deeper than my birth name. You will see why hold tight ...because HERE WE GO!!!!!

Calla (Nichole ) :-)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Creeping forward and seeing the good in people!

So this week feels like it has flown by. I realized  better log in to make a quick update before I already fail on the goal of blogging 2x a week for the year lol. I had a pretty hectic week with work at the school, re-opening my online business, keeping up with all the packages I had coming in either here or in Tampa, seeing a very good friend I had not seen since May along with our other best friend for a Girls Night Out, and spending time with my mother over in Tampa. 

I actually have knocked a few things off the list...well maybe not 100%. Perhaps one or two..I have to go back and look. I also am still working on adding a few things to the list. I had a very good experience at Olive Garden even though we were forgotten about with our reservation and today at Publix I had an amazing experience with not only the employees but a customer as well. I will update more about that in my next blog of seeing the good in people and praising them for it. It seems like more people do RAOK then you would realize. Even though most of those people may not know it while they are doing it. Sometimes it just happens without planning and that makes it even more beautiful and rewarding. Not only to be the person on the receiving end but I am sure that when people smile at customer service people or even strangers.MOST and I say most because I get weird looks sometimes.....getting a random smile or "Thank you" from someone can just brighten up your day and put a little skip in your step. (Names to remember when posting later: Rick, Crystal, Chuck, Alex-yes I can leave myself reminders, it is my blog lol)

I am making some big decisions this month. Some having to do with my goals listed here and some just to help go forward. I may have to change the name of the blog but for now my baby steps seem to be working. I already have received $10 in free gift card money, saved over $200 on stuff at Target plus more at Homegoods and Pier 1 Imports but of course I will get in to all that very soon. I have had many people tell me I need to teach them to shop. Trust me. I can. In due time. It is nearly midnight and I have to make the husband some lunch for work tomorrow and get ready for bed myself. I did not want to be all lack luster in meeting my challenge so this entry might be weak in a way of not performing like my normal upbeat thriving on all the action fun BUT it will prepare you for all the good stuff to come to find out how I am getting free stuff, discounts, and of course what freebies I am about to start getting! Hope January is treating all my friends well. 


Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012

I sit here a little after 11pm Eastern writing this blog (or at least starting it). It will probably take me a few days to finish compiling what I am about to start here. You see, years ago (2008 to be exact) I started a blog. I trashed it after awhile. I did a short two week blog while in Canada in 2010 to keep my family updated on my travels and share with them. That too got tossed out the window. I come and go as I please kind of wavering in the wind a little bit never quite cementing myself to anything long term. I tend to take those baby steps and then run off instead of making leaps and bounds. Therefore the title of this blog is to take the baby steps into my leaps and bounds and hopefully become successful with some areas of life as I move forward. I am almost 30 for crying out loud. I should start to think about how I want to spend the rest of my life and make the most of it and keep making memories that really do turn out to be memorable instead of bad life choices of mistakes that keep taunting me as I try to move forward.

So back in 2008 I had started a list of things I wanted to accomplish in a year or two (it came in at over 100 things) By March I had already defeated over 80% of the list therefore leaving me with a lackluster taste in my mouth that just had me throwing in the towel because it was no longer a challenge for me. So I am stepping up to the plate again and taking time to really decide how I want to tackle things going forward. Since then, I now went from one dog to owning three. I got married. I am in a house not living with family or bouncing around places in New Jersey. I am still trying to find what I enjoy in life work wise and am coming to terms with the fact that I am very fickle unless it has to do with working from home. So I will compile my list and keep track of it here. Another added bonus is that many of my friends always wonder how I get so much free stuff, gift cards, and money online. I will share that here piece by piece and link up things so everyone can find it in one place. If you are interested...use it...if not then ignore it.

So here we go to say peace out 2012 and pray that 2013 and the years to come start to make me feel like I am defining myself in a way I find acceptable.


1. Start a blog (Oh snap, I can cross something off!)---don't we always have to do something easy like that?
2. Nanny again, even if just one child and not a group of siblings.
3. Take a concealed weapons course.
4. Hang wedding photos up
5. Create a wedding photo album
6. Stand up for what I believe in, even if it might upset others.
7. Buy ankle heel boots
8. Have the guts to wear ankle heel boots with shorts, cute top, and accessories like I see in magazines!
9. Blog at least 2x a week unless on vacation (52 weeks= 104 blogs in year minimum)
10. Maintain an Amazon wishlist so my husband can "surprise me" and not ask for lists around the holidays or special occasions.

11. Organize my pinterest into smaller boards to find things easier.
12. Get to 3000 feedback on eBay (that is unique feedback not total)
13. Get to 200 feedback as a seller on Lista
14. Get shelves of some sort to display my Barbie collection
15. Attempt an herb garden inside or out
16. Start Christmas shopping BEFORE November this year
17. Redo the pantry and cabinets to make more functional
18. Track calories consumed for at least 30 days straight on Sparkpeople
19. Try to make creme brulee
20. Learn to make Kiss On The Lips beverage

21. Do at least one fun 5K- like Color or Glow run
22. Train Lucy to not jump and more commands
23. Learn to clip dog nails without traumatizing them or me!
24. Have a yard sale finally at this house
25. Get a bamboo plant and care for it
26. Reorganize make up in bathroom to free up counter space
27. Make a toy bin/closet type thing for dogs items to get them organized
28. Kayak
29. Sell off wedding stuff still in storage
30. Get at least (6) professional pedicures during the year

31. Get a facial at least 1x this year
32. Get a full body massage at least 2x this year
33. Track all free items earned online to share info with family and friends/blog readers
34. Finally sew up the torn dog toys that might still have life in them
35. Obtain a Michael Vincent artwork piece (even if just a print of my favorite)
36. Try six new restaurants
37. Ice skate more than once or twice this year..I used to compete for crying out loud!
38. See Symphony of Lights at Wiregrass Mall
39. Create a weekly menu to guide myself by to make dinners easier
40. Grow hair out

41. Catch up on Revenge
42. Catch up on Once Upon A Time
43. Catch up on 90210
44. Catch up on Vampire Diaries
45. Catch up on 2 Broke Girls
46. Catch up on Cougartown
47. Catch up on The Lying Game
48. Catch up on Supernatural
49. Catch up on Raising Hope
50. Catch up on Hart of Dixie

51. Clear $18,000 on eBay after fees and investments
52. Create two new recipes a month from imagination or cookbook
53. Watch 24 movies I have never seen before
54. Read 24 books
55. Pay off 2-3 credit debts
56. Redo my coupon book
57. Track all personal spending from my allowance account
58. Track all spending/bills from joint account to help drown out debt
59. Learn to play the guitar
60. Take a pole dancing class.

61. Watch an episode or two of 1600 Penn to see if I might like it
62. Start working on the children's book I had in mind
63. Catch up on Nashville
64. Attempt to call credit cards and at least ask if they will lower interest or increase limit to help ratio it.
65. Send more complimentary product emails and not just complaints

66. Start a baby hope chest (with girls and boys we can gift out things we can't use lol)
67. Schedule some ME time at least once a week (reading, bubble bath, gym)
68. Get at least 100 items up on Amazon (Mom has over 5,000 and does well)
69. Attempt to clear at least $50-$100 extra cash flow on Amazon a month (or as I figure $600-$1200yr)
70. Do not buy an item on impulse unless it is a seasonal item and less than 10 on the shelf

I think that rounds out the list for personal goals and improvement along with giving me things to help relax and enjoy myself. I of course can do more than the list but I need some structure!