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the best fall chili

This time of year I always get hungry for soups and chili. This recipe has been a staple in our household for years. It's easy to make (and freeze for later use) and is the perfect dinner on a cold evening. 

I just made a large double batch to send with my husband to a bachelor party at my aunt & uncle's cabin. My cousin is getting married in a few weeks so the guys are spending the weekend in the woods. This chili will go great with all the beer they'll be drinking. Here's the recipe in case you'd like to make your own batch:

Turkey Chili
2 lbs. ground turkey
1/2 large yellow onion (chopped)
drizzle of olive oil
palm full of chili powder
palm full of cumin powder
1/2 palm full of salt
1/2 palm full of pepper
1 can tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
2 cans of crushed or diced tomatoes
3 cans of kidney beans (drained - I use dark, light & white northern)
1 can black beans (drained)
1 can whole kernel corn
1. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil in the bottom of a soup pot. Add the chopped onion and ground turkey. Cook until meat is crumbled and cooked. Drain some (but not all) of the grease.

2. Add in your spices: palm full of chili powder, palm full of cumin powder, 1/2 palm full of salt & 1/2 palm full of black pepper.

3. Stir in tomato sauce, tomato paste & crushed tomatoes.

4. Add in your kidney beans, black beans & corn.

Cook on low for a few hours (stirring occasionally). Taste and add more spices if needed. Serve with a sprinkle of shredded cheese and some corn bread. Yum... happy Fall!

[p.s. this post may be linked to any number of these blogs]


apple chips

As I mentioned in my last post, Adam and I picked 17lbs of apples on Sunday. Yeah... I think we might have gone a little apple crazy. Each row we walked up was like "Oh! Look at THIS apple..." and "Yeah, I think we need that apple..." You know how it goes.

Anyways, with all of these apples sitting on my kitchen counter I've been search for fun ways to eat them. I came across this recipe for apple chips and thought I'd give it a shot.

2 large apples
4 cups water
1/2 cup lemon juice

Slice apples into really thin slices (about 1/8"). You can leave the skin on and the core in because it gives them really good texture and makes them look pretty (that's always important).

On a cookie sheet prepared with parchment paper, bake your apple slices at 200 degrees for 1 hour. Flip apple slices after an hour and bake for another 1-2 hours (depending on how crispy or soft you want them). Turn off the oven when finished and allow your chips to completely cool.

Eating chips can't get much healthier than this! Yum!

[p.s. this post may be linked to any number of these blogs]


apple dumplings

Adam and I went to a local orchard this weekend to pick apples. The weather was beautiful and the day was perfect. Since we picked about 17lbs. of apples, I knew that I was going to be doing a lot of baking over the next week. First up... apple dumplings!

This apple dumpling recipe came from my great grandmother’s best friend and my mom taught me how to make them when I was a kid. There is so much to love about apple dumplings. They are gooey and delicious and one of the best “comfort foods” around. They are the perfect fall recipe and I always get hungry for them this time of year.

Here's what you'll need to make a batch of Apple Dumplings:

Apple Dumplings

3 apples (any variety you like)

1 ½ c. sugar
¾ c. water
¼ tsp. cinnamon
4 tbs. butter

2 ¼ c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
⅔ c. crisco
½ c. milk

I usually start by coring, peeling and cubing my apples. This is the most time consuming part (it’s the part that my mom always did when we made apple dumplings together). Once your apples are cut into bite size pieces, put them in a bowl with a little bit of water to keep them from getting brown. Set them aside for later.

Next, you’ll make the dough. Combine the flour, baking powder and Crisco in a medium bowl. With a fork, cut the Crisco into the flour/baking powder mix until well combined and a little “crumby”. Gradually stir in the milk. Once all of the milk is added, use your hands to lightly knead the dough until everything is well mixed and sticking together. Form into a ball. Your dough should be slightly flakey. From here, divide your lump of dough into 6 smaller dough balls. 

One at a time, thinly roll the dough balls out with a rolling pin. Don’t worry about the shape of your dough. Mine looked sort of “amoeba-ish”… but it doesn’t matter once you fold them up.

Drain your apples well. Place a heaping ½ cup full of apples into the center of your rolled out dough. Lightly sprinkle with some cinnamon and sugar. You can add a pad of butter into this step if you’d like, but I leave it out (I don’t ever miss it). 

Fold your dough up around your apple mixture. Pinch together to keep your dumpling together. Place your dumplings into a 9x13 pan and lightly sprinkle again with cinnamon.

Now for the delicious sauce that gets poured over the dumplings! Combine sugar, water and cinnamon into a medium sauce pan. Over medium high heat, bring mixture to a light boil (stirring frequently). Turn off the heat, add the butter and stir until everything is combined and the butter is melted.

Cover your dumplings in the delicious buttery/sugary sauce you just made. Bake your dumplings for 30-40 minutes (uncovered) in a 350 degree oven. Baste at least twice during baking.

Dig in! No need to practice any patience here… I think they’re best when they’re fresh out of the oven. Serve with milk or ice cream and enjoy. Invite some friends over so you don’t eat the whole pan yourself. Oh, and don't forget to download the printable recipe card!

[p.s. this post may be linked to any number of these blogs]


advice to ikea shoppers

We love the place. 
Where else can you get shoe storage, a kitchen faucet & swedish meatballs?

As we prepared for our bathroom remodel we kept coming back to the items we loved at Ikea. They were our style, they fit our space and they most importantly fit into our budget. We looked for reasons why we should choose something else, but in the end concluded that for us, they were the perfect choice.

Here are the steps we took in finding & buying the stuff we needed to complete our bathroom remodel at Ikea:

We looked... and looked... and looked. We looked for vanities, storage units and ideas for almost a year while we saved up the money to complete the project. For me, I like knowing that I've seen what's available and make the best choice for our space. On one of our many trips to Ikea, we thoroughly checked out the pieces we were considering. We checked out the sizes, finish and overall stability of the pieces. Once we had gathered that information, we came home and remeasured our space to get a feel for how those particular pieces would fit into our bathroom.

Once our minds were made up, we weren't hesitant at all to swipe our credit card. We had done our research and knew we were happy with our decisions. Here are my suggestions for making a big purchase at Ikea (especially on a busy day like Saturday or Sunday).
  • Before you even leave the house, make a list of everything that you need to buy. Include the article # of the item (which can be found online). An Ikea employee can use this article number to bring up that exact item in their system. They compile a "Self Serve" list and a "C&C Full Service" list and print them out for you. From there, you gather your "Self Serve" items while they gather your "C&C Full Service items." It was very simple to do since we came prepared with the article numbers.

Dare I say this was the fun part? Ha! Once we were home it was time to put everything together. My advice? Clear a nice, clean space to work... put on a movie... make sure you have all of the parts and pieces you're supposed to... and follow the directions. Ikea assembly can be slightly tricky sometimes, so just take your time and have a little fun with it.
[p.s. this post may be linked to any number of these blogs]


"how to make whoopie": an adorable bridal shower gift

A few weeks ago, my co-worker told me about the cutest idea she put together for her daughter's bridal shower. She called it "How To Make Whoopie" - a gift that was centered around everything to do with making "whoopie pies."

I attended my cousin's fiances bridal shower recently and decided to make a similar version of this adorable gift. I ordered a whoopie pie pan, a whoopie pie recipe book and a wooden mixing spoon on Amazon. I wrapped them all together with ribbon & twine and finished it off with a handmade sign.

It turned out cute and the bride loved it! This is such an easy and adorable gift idea for a bridal shower. It was perfect because this bride LOVES to bake.

[p.s. this post may be linked to any number of these blogs]


diy advice from diy bloggers

When you're doing a remodel, it seems to be the only thing you think about. One day, while thinking about our bathroom remodel I thought it would be fun to get advice from other people who are all too familiar with DIYing. Below you'll find advice from some of my fellow bloggers about renovations, how to stay on a budget, how to pin down your style & even tips on what to cook/eat while you're life is consumed with dust and power tools. Seriously... these people are awesome. I can't thank them enough for their input. Happy reading!

Cassity | Remodelaholic

"If possible, before starting a renovation I really like to live in the space for as long as I can stand it. This is a great time to save up some cash! This also gives me a first-hand knowledge of how my family uses the space, what problems there are, and what great features the space has. Next I start looking for  inspiration. Obviously with Pinterest around it is a little easier to plan out a project. Collect images that you love, then break down the images part by part, and ask yourself what you like about the image. Do you like the wall color? the texture? Make a list of the things that keep reoccurring in the inspiration images. If you are on a tight budget, pick one or two things that you cannot live without, and work your room around those star features. Then get to work! (P.S. Be sure you have a refuge in your home from the exhaustion and mess that inevitably come with remodeling!)"


"We did a mini version of a bathroom renovation, but kept things as simple (and inexpensive) as possible. My advice is not to be afraid to work with what you have. In an ideal world, we would have ripped out our ugly green bathtub and also replaced the floor (which is a bit dated, but in really great shape)... but we looked at our budget and attacked just what we could in order to get the most bang for our buck. I think it turned out pretty great for spending around $600!"


"Hi there!  I am Cassie and I blog at Primitive and Proper.  I am so happy to be here sharing a tip about DIY Reno.  Now, I will start by saying that I am not the handiest with power tools, and I know my limitations.  Things like say, knocking down walls, need to be left to the professionals in my house.  We recently began a kitchen reno, contracting out the major electric work, and construction elements, like wall removal.  But, in order to save money and time, I painted my kitchen cabinets.  Painting cabinets is a great way to save money, and update the look of your space!  Here is a glimpse of what my 1970's cabinets look like painted....

Tackling this part of it myself, and salvaging the existing cabinets was a great way for us to save a lot of money!"


"Having read Shannon’s post on Prepping for a Bathroom Remodel, I have to say, she (and her husband Adam) look locked in and ready to go.  Shannon, it appears, and as I am just learning, has a leg up - working in a professional design role.  This gives even more weight to the tips she provides.  So heed her advice.  But now she has asked me for my million dollar remodeling tips, I mean – I have done a few myself, but really, what could I add?

Well, okay … I’ll give you three.

Looking passed the possibility that Shannon and Adam may be addressing the only bathroom in their home, and the disruption that that would create – I say, stay on it and do it till it’s done … and done.  When I DIY I have a tendency to say, “Oh well, I’ll get to that later.”  And sure I will, and do, but most of the time it ends up being much, much later.  Use sick time, vacation time, lunch time … on consecutive days until every inch of that punch list (and barring maybe some d├ęcor touches) is licked.

If you are doing a gut of any room, take time to think about what is above, below and on the other side of every wall.  I am not talking about the risk of potentially knocking wall hangings from their place (though that’s valid too), I am talking about … the (foreseeable) future. What could you, or might you, do in any of the adjacent spaces?  We remodeled a hall bath a few years back, and though we hired it out, I took the time to run wiring for an electrical sub panel, as well as cable and phone, from my basement to the attic.  It was only a few months later that I added an outlet to our youngest daughters’ room.  Taking the time when the walls were open made it much, much easier.

And lastly, anoint a project manager.  And let’s face it guys, in almost any traditional relationship and for any shared space – that means the Mrs.!  Shannon and Adam appear to be doing a great job of communicating, but when push comes to shove, and it usually does – get out of the better half’s way. This is especially valuable when it comes to finishes, shut up and just do what she says.  The one lone exception to this, and barring a stay-at-home dad situation – is with a kitchen remodel and where you are the primary cook.  Some of my best, as in – most enjoyable, remodels were accomplished this way.

That’s it and happy remodeling."


"When I begin to tackle a DIY renovation, the first thing I do is… Think about it.  I know that sounds so obvious, but it’s a very important stage. I will sit in the room we want to work on and think and write.  I write down dreams, creative ideas, and any details.  This gives me something to look back on.  Then I talk about it, first of all to my hubby, then family and friends. Hubby and I will discuss it at length, and we’ll look at pictures in magazines or Pinterest for inspiration.  We’re trying to get a feel for the room. The next thing we do is something I learned at a blogging conference, that has really revolutionized our process of renovating and decorating.  We chose 5 to 7 words that describe how we want that room to make us feel.  We narrow down the top 3 and use them as a gauge for everything we do in that room.  This process has become a key tool for us.  You can see how we used this process in our Powder Room Inspiration." 


"Hi everyone, I’m Shauna and I blog over at The Best Blog Recipes!  Shannon recently asked me if I had any experience remodeling and if I could share some of my meal preparation tips for those of you that are getting ready to tackle your next project.  At first I had to laugh, because I started thinking about our last big project. It was a nightmare!  We weren’t even planning on doing a remodel and hadn’t even talked about it.  It all started when my hubby bought a new bathroom door on clearance at Lowe’s, brought it home and installed it.  Just to realize that it opened on the wrong side.  We thought we’d just quickly move the light switch to the other side of the bathroom door and then we’d be done. So wrong.  We ran into problem after problem.  That’s what we should have expected from a 1940’s house.  It was 2 weeks before Christmas and I was getting ready to deliver our son in 4 weeks.  Yes, only 4 weeks till he arrived and we decided to rip the whole bathroom out and start from scratch.  What were we thinking?  I don’t know.  We’re crazy! 

So, for those of you in the process of a remodel, or if you’re getting ready to start your project keep these tips in mind:

1.        You don’t have to cook gourmet meals!  Easy and simple is better.  Chances are that you’ll be overwhelmed and exhausted by the remodel itself.  Cook as simply and healthy as you can!  Casseroles are a perfect dish because they’ll give you leftovers for the next day which really come in handy for lunches! 
2.       Get your crock pot out and put it to work!   Crockpot meals are simple since you just dump everything in when you wake up and dinner is ready when you’re just about too tired to eat after working hard all day long. 

3.       It’s ok if you don’t cook a hot meal every night during a remodel!   Sandwiches are a really easy way to feed the family when everyone is hungry.  Spice it up a little bit so your family doesn’t get bored.  Buy cheeses and meats that you don’t usually get that are easy and quick to throw together.  You can use the extra cheeses and meat the next night to make a chef salad which is very filling and goes a long way too!

4.       Buy bananas, grapes, cheese sticks, crackers, granola bars and anything else that’s easy for you to grab and go!  You’ll want to keep refueling your body as you work throughout the day!

So just remember…. cooking during a remodel doesn’t have to be hard and time consuming.  Make a menu plan at the start of your project so you can lump all of your grocery shopping into one or two trips which will help save you time & money!"

Darlene | My Honey Bunch

"Starting a new project is always exciting and filled with visions and creative juices flowing.  Once it all gets rolling we always seem to hit some crossroads… Do you really like that color we chose? This doesn’t fit like we planned.. I saw something else-what do you think?

My biggest advice to anyone planning a makeover or remodel is to be flexible and have an open mind to change.  Some may debate me on that statement by saying that your project should be planned out to the very last detail to avoid any problems.  Most of us that are doing DIY makeovers are not professional designers, builders, architects, engineers, etc., therefore making it difficult to produce a detailed plan.

When doing our Kitchen remodel, we purchased used cabinets and had to work with what we had in terms of cabinet sizes and placement.  We moved and changed until we came up with a layout that we were pleased with. We also didn’t plan on the extra expense of the corbels on the stove hood either.  These were a bit pricey but we felt they were worth adding.  

As the project moved forward we added, changed, removed and tweeked until it was finished.  Moving the basement stairs from the middle of the room to the end was not in the original plan either!  This turned out to be an excellent change from the original plan and where flexibility was key in our remodel."

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