Life in the Real World

Real life experiences after college

Trying something new today July 28, 2008

Filed under: Church,Communications — jenncollins @ 12:02 pm

I woke up today (barely) and was so exhausted. I had a busy weekend. Friday I was able to sleep in a little but we ran errands that day and then went to a Shaun Groves concert at FBCFTL…didn’t get home till late. Saturday morning I had my 3rd Communications Network meeting and had to be at Calvary before 11. The meeting was incredible. We had a great turnout (18 people!) and people really connected with each other. It was cool to watch. Then I took a tour (my 2nd that week) of Calvary with some of the others. Got home around 3 p.m. Then left for church at 5 p.m. to sing for the service. Woke up early Sunday morning to sing at all services. Took Mom out for her birthday celebration all the way in Boca at the Muvico Palace to see Mamma Mia!  It was a great time…didn’t get to bed till 11.

So yeah it was crazy! So I thought this morning that I would try working from home as a practice run for when I have Sadie and I will be home for a while. So far, so good…but of course I don’t have a hungry, screaming child with me either. I’ve written and replied to lots of emails and updated the website from here. The downside is that it’s 1 p.m. and I’m still in my PJs. After lunch I will probably get a shower and get ready for the day…lol. If this working from home thing works out, I could stay home in the mornings with Sadie and then go to work in the afternoons while my Mom watches her.

I’m not gonna lie…staying home is nice. I’ve cleaned the kitchen, have the candles lit, listening to music as loud as I want and doing other things I couldn’t do if I was in the office! So far so good…we’ll see how it goes.


Rizzo chicken parm and spaghetti sauce

Filed under: Family,Food,Fun stuff — jenncollins @ 11:42 am

I feel like the recipe needs a better name…oh well. Let me give you a few disclaimers before I share the recipe:

  • the sauce is an all-day thing. you can either let it simmer all day on the stove top if you are home or make it in your crock pot. both ways will have the same result: DELICIOUS!
  • the sauce is very thick and a little sweet. it’s not always everyone’s favorite. i prefer thicker, less chunky sauce as opposed to thin and chunky. to each his/her own!
  • you will see that i don’t have any measurements for the spices. that’s because it’s really hard to make measure what i put in. you want a lot of oregano and basil for flavor but don’t go overboard. pepper also helps. if, after stirring, you can see the flakes of the spices, that’s usually a good sign that you have enough. just keep stirring, tasting and adding to your liking!
  • you must promise to think of family and friends when making this sauce. it is one of my comfort foods, therefore, a lot of love goes into this recipe. i only make it for special people…:)
  • tell me what you think after you make it…the good, the bad and the ugly…I can take it!

Spaghetti sauce:

1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
1 onion (as large or small as you want…I like a lot of onion) chopped or finely minced
3-4 garlic cloves minced
2 14 oz cans of tomato puree (any brand will do…even Publix)
2 cartons of Pomi Strained tomatoes (you can find this in Publix on the spaghetti sauce aisle…usually toward the bottom…make sure you get strained, not chopped…unless you want chopped)
Lots of oregano
Lots of basil
Salt & pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste (I like my sauce with a little kick)
1 T sugar (you may need to add more…taste it later in the day and see if it’s too acidic…if so, add more sugar)

Saute onions & garlic in olive oil in a small pan until soft and translucent. Meanwhile, pour containers of sauce into a dutch oven or crockpot. Add onions, garlic and the oil you cooked it in. Add all seasonings and stir until combined. Bring to a light boil then simmer for at least 5-6 hours. Taste about halfway through to see if it’s too acidic. If so, add some more sugar until it tastes good to you.

This recipe makes a lot of sauce…could feed up to 6 people. If you’re making it for a small crowd, this freezes wonderfully and tastes even better when you thaw it out and use it again!

Chicken Parmiagiana

4 chicken breasts (butterflied or pounded very thin)
1 box of Progresso Panko bread crumbs (this is a new product I found in Publix and I love it for the crust on the chicken)
1 egg
Flour (for dusting the chicken)
Spaghetti sauce (see above recipe)
Mozzarella cheese

This is pretty basic chicken parm. Pre-heat the oven to 350 (if you don’t want to bake it, then use a large pan to pan fry it…either way is delicious). Lightly grease a 9 x 13 dish. Lay 3 dishes out; flour, egg (with a splash of water) and bread crumbs. Place chicken in flour and lightly coat, shaking off any excess. Then dip into egg & water on both sides. Place into bread crumbs and make sure it is liberally coated; press it into the chicken. Lay the chicken in the dish and place in the oven for about 30-35 minutes. Check it to make sure it is cooked through. Take out of the oven and spoon some sauce over the top of each chicken breast (don’t overdo it or the chicken coating will be soggy!). Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over each chicken breast. Place back in oven until cheese is melted.

Serves 4. Serve with any type of pasta, the spaghetti sauce, your favorite garlic bread and a Caesar salad! Enjoy!


Coca-Cola Cake: you NEED to make this July 21, 2008

Filed under: Food,Fun stuff,Random — jenncollins @ 12:16 pm

I’m feeling generous…and apparently quite HUNGRY so I’m sharing a free recipe with you all. Unfortunately I did not create this unbelievably scrumptous cake (it combines two of my favorite things: a cake with Coke in it=revolutionary!). I got it from a quaint tea house in Louisville, KY from one of their cookbooks (I wish I could remember the name of said quaint tea house, but like I said earlier, I can’t remember squat).

Anyway, here it is: The Revolutionary Cake aka Coca-Cola Cake (wish I had pictures…but I NEED A CAMERA!)

Chocolate cake

  • 18.25 oz pkg white cake mix
  • 4 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 8 T (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 C Coca-Cola (the recipe says any “cola” will do…but I must disagree…it has to be Coca-Cola brand or nothing…none of that Pepsi stuff or off-brands)
  • 1/2 C buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 C miniature marshmallows

Chocolate frosting

  • 8 T (1 stick) butter
  • 4 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 C Coca-Cola (same note as above…)
  • 4 C powdered sugar
  • 1 C pecans, chopped (optional – I’m not a big fan of nuts in my cake, but if you are, go for it!)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-by-13 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix all of the cake ingredients together save the marshmallows. Beat well, until no lumps remain. Fold the marshmallows into the batter.
  3. Pour the batter into greased baking pan. Bake 40-42 minutes. The cake will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Allow the cake to cool for about 15 minutes before frosting.
  4. Meanwhile, make the frosting. Place the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. As butter melts, stir in the cocoa powder and Coca-Cola. Continue stirring until the edges begin to boil; remove the frosting from heat at this point.
  5. If the saucepan is big enough, stir the powdered sugar into the frosting. If necessary, transfer the frosting to a large mixing bowl and then add the powdered sugar. The final mixture should appear glossy and smooth. Fold the pecans into the frosting.
  6. Pour the frosting over the partially cooled cake. Allow the cake and frosting to cool entirely before serving, about 30 minutes.

Serves 12-16

Keep at room temperature for up to 1 week.

I know you’ll love this. Let me know when/if you make it!


What’s up with me

Filed under: Blogging,Family,Food,Life,pregnancy,Random — jenncollins @ 9:47 am

It’s been a while since I posted so I though I’d do a list of stuff that’s happening with me to catch you all up!

  • I’m 22 weeks preggo now (5 1/2 months!!) and Sadie is kicking much harder and more frequently now. Anyone can feel her kick now!!
  • We painted our nursery (pics to come…don’t have a camera right now) mint green and light pink. It’s super cute!
  • I’m showing a little more (again, pics to come).
  • My brother and his wife are moving in 2 weeks to GA where my bro will get his doctorate at UGA. I’m gonna miss them…like, A LOT.
  • My Mom’s turning 50 this week!
  • Joel surprised me on Friday with new maternity jeans and a pink maternity tank top that says “Kicking 24/7”. It was so sweet of him…my pants are beginning to feel tight around my waistline now!
  • I’ve been finding 2 for $5 Coldstone coupons in the paper recently. We’ve been twice already and it’s a great little date! The baby LOVES ice cream…especially Coldstone…she told me.
  • I forget everything now…EVERYTHING. It seems to be accurate that pregnant woman are more clumsy and forgetful than their former non-preggo selves.
  • I ordered this book on last night. I want to buy this, this and this, but I’ve gotta wait for the $$$.
  • We are getting FREE furniture for Sadie’s room from our dear friends…words can’t even express our gratitude!! Along with their generoisty, many other family and friends have given us clothes, bottles, socks! and much more. My cup runneth over (I’ve never said that in my life but that’s how I feel!).

Later in the week I’m going to post my family’s secret spaghetti sauce recipe with Chicken Parmigiana. Consider yourselves lucky…very lucky.