Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Knitting

After I graduated in December, I found I had a lot of time on my hands.  I was used to going to school full time, working part time, and trying find time for Bryan and Sydney too.  Turns out school is what took up most of my time.  Even working 40 hours a week now, I still find I have a lot of time.  I've been lacking in creativity in the kitchen, so I started taking up knitting.  I remember my grandma teaching me when I was younger, but I never stuck with it.  I made a few blankets for my American Girl Dolls....

Well, I tried knitting again.  And now I can't stop.  My first few project, like most firsts, were less than perfect.  But I was learning.  I still have a few mistakes here and there in my simple patterns for scarfs, but I'm learning!  I have a Ravelry account now, so you can look at some stuff there!

The first one I actually followed a pattern for - I didn't like it, it was an odd size
                              

I love the buttons, but it is 
                                      


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Frozen February

During the months of December and January, Bryan and I took several day trips down to Yellowstone.  We love going down during the winter months for different reasons.  There aren't many tourists (and if there are, they are snowmobilers passing through from Gardiner to Cook City), there is only one road to take, less people means we can stop more, less people also means more animals.  Of course there are tons of Bison we see all over, especially in the Lamar Valley.  However, the last few times we went down, we saw 50+ Elk each trip.  Some were in small groups, others were in larger herds.  We also saw moose recently, and even a few coyotes!  But the most exciting thing we saw, which is not common unless you hike out somewhere, was a black wolf.  He was up on a ridge and difficult to see with the naked eye.  Luckily we just received our newest set of binoculars in the mail and brought them with to test out!  The temps here and down in Yellowstone have been frigid the past few days, limiting us to how often we decide to leave the house....  We're visiting Bryan's parents in about a week and a half, so we'll have to hold off on another Yellowstone trip for a few weeks, but for now, I'll post some of my favorite pictures we captured over the past two months.







Sunday, January 26, 2014

Chewy M&M Oatmeal Cookies

Note: Recipe swaps can be found at the bottom of the post!

I made these cookies during the holiday season.  I love oatmeal cookies.  LOVE.  But they aren't very festive looking...  So I went on a search for an oatmeal cookie with M&Ms in it.  I found these!  I'm obsessed.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2 cups M&Ms (1 medium bag)
    • I used mini/baking M&Ms
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F
  2. Combine butter and brown sugar
  3. Add in eggs one at a time
  4. Add vanilla
  5. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder
    1. Be sure not to over mix the batter
  6. Add oats and M&Ms
  7. Scoop cookies onto parchment lined baking sheets
    1. I use silpat mats
  8. Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until cookies are slightly golden brown on the edges but still soft in the middle
  9. Let cool completely on wire racks

These were a huge hit with both Bryan and my coworkers!  In addition to these cookies, I made Chocolate Surprise Cookies again.  Everyone loved them last year, so I figured I should make them again.  This year I decided to frost them a little bit to make them more festive.

Chocolate Surprise, Chewy Oatmeal M&M, Chocolate Surprise

OPTIONAL RECIPE SWAPS:
  • Vanilla Chip Maple Oatmeal Cookies:
    • 1tsp Maple Flavoring & 1tsp Vanilla extract instead of 2tsp vanilla
    • 1 bag Vanilla Chips instead of M&Ms

  • Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies:
    • 1 bag Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips instead of M&Ms

Friday, January 24, 2014

Chicken Chili Stew

Well, I finally started trying and cooking new recipes again!  It's been so easy to just stick to what we know and not be very adventurous in our cooking...  The local grocery store we shop at sends out monthly coupons for its reward program members that also contain some recipes.  I don't normally like any of the recipes they send, but I found one in this month's flyer and thought we could try it!

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup Canola Oil
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
  • 1lb cooked Chicken Breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cans Mexican-Style Stewed Tomatoes
  • 1 can Pinto Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 16oz jar Medium Salsa
  • 1 tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Cumin
  • Tortillas of your choice
    • We prefer flour tortillas
  • Shredded cheese of your choice
    • Pepper Jack, Mexican, or Nacho & Taco recommended
Directions
  1. In a large pot, heat canola oil over medium-high heat
  2. Add onion, peppers, and garlic
  3. Cook 2-3 minutes, until tender
  4. Stir in chicken, tomatoes, beans, salsa, and spices
  5. Bring to a boil
  6. Reduce heat and simmer 30-40 minutes
  7. Serve and refrigerate any leftovers

Serving Suggestion:
  1. Cut tortilla(s) into 1/2-inch wide strips
  2. Place strips on the bottom of individual bowls
  3. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top of tortilla strips
  4. Spoon stew over cheese

I wasn't a huge fan of the stewed tomatoes, because I don't really like tomatoes in general.  However, the rest of the soup was very delicious!  We froze half and then put the other half in the fridge to reheat over the next few days.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Twelve Days

Well, it's December.

Thanksgiving was so late this year!  The way our break from school fell was kind of at an awkward time.  We have one week of regular classes left (dead week) and then finals week.  Almost seems like a waste of a few weeks!

Anyway, I came to the realization today that I am graduating in just twelve days.  I have four papers, one exam, one quiz, and a poster presentation left to do and then I'm done with my under graduate career.

It's weird, ya know.  I knew eventually this day would come, but I didn't think it would be in December in Montana when I first started college.

I also didn't think I would be married and own a dog!

But here we are, on December 2nd, just twelve days away from walking down the graduation processional with my parents, my brother, and my grandmother cheering me on!

Bryan's parents will be here too, which I'm really excited about!  Our parents haven't been in the same state/city/building/room since our wedding in 2011.  So just over two years later, we'll all be hanging out and celebrating again!

I just wanted to remind everyone that I'm graduating!  And that I'll need to update the "About Ashley" section soon....