Thursday, December 29, 2011

Chicken and Broccoli Ritz Cracker Casserole

Saw this on Pinterest via Get Off Your Butt and Bake (a great blog!).  I made it and it was deeeelicious!  Not very healthy, mind you, but yummy nonetheless.  My pictures aren't nearly as beautiful as Jonna's but here goes.  I also added some fresh parsley I had on hand which gave a good color to the cracker crumbs along with the poppy seeds.  I also made my sauce in the same pan that I cooked the chicken and I think it added some great flavor (plus, one less dish to clean up).

What You'll Need:
  1 lb. fresh broccoli, chopped
3 chicken breasts
 3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
 2 tubes Ritz crackers
 1  stick melted butter
 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
 1/3 C. Butter melted
 1/4 C. Cornstarch, dissolved in 1/2 C. COLD Water
 1/3 C. Chicken Broth
1/4 tsp. Salt
 1/4 tsp Pepper
 2 Cups Milk
1 1/2 cups of the above Cheddar Cheese
What You'll Do:
Season chicken generously with salt and pepper.  Heat olive oil and cook chicken.

Remove from heat.  In greased glass pan, layer the broccoli and chicken, then set aside.

As an aside, I cannot tell you how much more fun it is to cook in a house that actually has kitchen space!  I love the island:

In the same chicken pan heat butter for sauce over medium heat.

 Combine the cornstarch dissolved in water, chicken broth, seasonings, and milk. Stir well, and continue stirring until sauce has thickened.

Turn heat down to low, and add 1- 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese. Stir until melted. Pour over the chicken and broccoli. Top with 1- 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese.

Melt the remaining butter, add the poppy seeds, and stir well. Crush Ritz crackers in large zip-lock bag but don’t crush too small. Add crumbs to the melted butter along with the fresh parsley and stir.

 Sprinkle crumbs over the top of the grated cheese.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

I served with garlicky rice.  YUM!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

When the Rubber Meets the Road...  This is the moment I've been waiting for for my whole life.  My first chance to pick paint colors on a home of my very own.  And now that the opportunity has presented itself, I am choking.  I'm nervous and second guessing myself.  I am starting with the basement so maybe I shouldn't worry so much.

In fact, all the work in our house has been on the basement so far.  First, we took out the wet bar:

This was no small feat since that sucker was wired with electricity, plumbing for the sink and liquid nailed down to the tiles on the floor.  Not to mention two walls of mirrors behind it that had to go.  The space is so much bigger feeling already!

My husband has informed me that we are no longer going to live like "hoarders".  We weren't before - it is just that I had a bunch of furniture and things piled up in the basement which made it impossible to have a normal living space out of it.  Our new basement has to have a nice space for my husband to work (since his new job requires him to work from home), a comfy tv area (for me to send him when he doesn't want to watch HGTV - ha ha), a crafting area for me and storage.  And there's a full bath down there but that's a story for another day. 

First problem is lack of storage.  Second problem is that the heating/air is loud downstairs where my husband has to work.  So...(I have to give my husband credit for this since it was all his idea) we built a wall and doorway to the back to a "utility area" that will house our washing machine and dryer a tool closet (existing but we will likely outfit it with peg board) and the hot water heater. 

On the wall opposite where the wet bar used to be (which is the future home to my crafting area), we built a large closet that will give us plenty of room to hide Christmas decorations, suitcases, boxes, etc.

Here's a look at the work in progress (Bill and Mike are hard at work):

But that ain't all that is going on (and if you heard all the banging and clanging going on right now, you'd believe me).  All of the basement walls are covered by dated dark wood paneling on the bottom and horrible, textured plaster on the top.  Case in point:

It took a little convincing but I finally got my husband's buy in that the textured plaster HAD to go and that the wood paneling had to get painted. So while Bill and Mike work on the wall to the utility room and the closet, Eddie is busy dry walling the entire basement before he paints it. 

And this is where we stand now:

I swear the dry wall is so much better than the plaster, it wouldn't even bother me if we didn't paint it.  :)  Not really but it is a DRASTIC difference already.

So, here I am back at the paint choices.  I have to decide by Friday.  Initially I thought I was going to paint all of the woodwork white and then do a color on the dry wall up top but the painter is trying to convince me to do a color on the woodwork that is darker and then a lighter color up top. many choices!!  I am going to go to Home Depot and get some paint samples and go from there.  I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New Abode

So we moved into the new house a couple of weeks ago.  We're slowly settling in and definitely still unpacking but I am having so much fun so far.  I can't wait for a week off work next week to hopefully get more done.  Here are a couple of pictures to give you an idea...



 Guest bedroom:

Christmas tree:


Console table by the front door (with the gorgeous Christmas cactus my sweet friend Diana gave us):

We've already started on a few projects and I can't wait to see the finished results.  Lots more posts to come in 2012 about the house, I'm sure!

Heading to New Mexico for Christmas tomorrow - Merry Christmas to all!!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


I love Chairloom. They reupholster old furniture into new and hip pieces. I especially adore these extra long x-benches that they have been featuring recently. I'd never seen those but I adore.

Updating vintage furniture is definitely something that I want to do in my store one day! :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Go West...Elm

I'm pretty much loving all of West Elm lately.  There are tons of things I want!  I know this is not the season to shop for oneself but I have the new house to look forward to so that is my excuse.  We close next Tuesday and move in next Friday. Ahhhhh!! Finally a house of my own to decorate!

Have a great weekend!

Everything found via West Elm.
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