Saturday, August 31, 2013

One Meal, Done 2 Ways: Beef and Broccoli

One of my favorite kinds of food is Chinese. I've always have had an acquired taste for it, ever since I can remember. Whether it be Chicken and Mushrooms {which is my favorite}, Orange Chicken, or just plain ol' fried rice, I love the spices and flavor of these dishes. One of my top favorites as well, has always been Beef and Broccoli. While Adam was away during this last deployment, one of the new recipes that I found and tried while he was gone was a recipe for it. When I tried it the first time, it was instantly my new favorite meal, one that I knew Adam would enjoy as well. The recipe was a stove top recipe, but was easy to make and didn't call for anything to out of the ordinary. The flavor in this recipe is to die for, so I just have to share it with you! You really won't regret trying this out, which you all should do! 

Beef and Broccoli   
stove-top edition
 {As found on a Rainy Day Gal's blog}

Step one, marinate the meat:

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp low

sodium soy sauce

1 tbsp water

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 1/2 lbs flank steak, sliced into thin strips

1. Whisk together the baking soda, sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, water, and
vegetable oil in a large bowl. Toss the steak with the marinade to coat. Cover
and refrigerate at least 1 hour, then proceed.
1/2 c low sodium soy sauce (Do NOT use regular.
The final product will be way too

2 tbsp brown sugar

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp flour

1 tbsp sherry

3 tbsp vegetable oil

2 heads broccoli, crowns only
1. In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, flour and sherry
until smooth. Set aside.
2. In a large wok or saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over high
heat until shimmering. Add broccoli and saute 3 minutes, stirring often. Transfer
broccoli to a plate.
3. Reduce heat to medium high. Carefully add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the hot pan. Add the marinated meat and half of the sauce mixture and saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink. Stir in the broccoli and remaining sauce. Saute 1 minute more. Serve. 
I love to pair this dish with Skinny Taste's Edamame Fried Rice {I don't use soy products, so I usually replace the Edamame with another veggie}. Such a healthier version of fried rice that is to die for! Or get the recipe here, when I made it with Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken.

**This recipe serves 4**

As you can see, you mostly have all of these ingredients already in your fridge. If not, they're easy to find in your grcoery store. 

I've made this version too many times to count, and love the leftovers it provides as well {sometimes there are none it's that good! ;}

Recently, I found a crockpot version of Beef and Broccoli that I was eager to try out and see if which recipe I like better. Usually when a recipe is crockpot, I'm more drawn to it. Since my discovery of the crockpot 2 1/2 years ago, I haven't been the same. To throw all your ingredients in one place, and either be completely done with or semi close to done with your meal, is completely and utterly fabulous if  you ask me. For those of you who are afraid of using a crockpot or haven't discovered its glory firsthand, you are missing out. Tell me now, why wouldn't you love something that saves you time, your energy, and sanity when preparing a meal?!? huh? THAT'S WHAT IT DOES FOLKS!! Don't be afraid! 

Anyways, as I was saying, I discovered this crockpot recipe and you need to be aware of it-IT'S SO GOOD!

Beef and Broccoli  
Crockpot edition
{As seen on Table for Two's blog}
1 lb. boneless, beef chuck roast, sliced into thin strips
1 cup beef consumme or beef broth
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. cornstarch
4 tbsp. sauce (from the crockpot after dish is cooked)
Frozen broccoli florets (as many as desired, I believe I used almost 2 cups)
White rice, cooked


  1. In the insert of the crockpot, whisk together beef consume, soy sauce, dark brown sugar, sesame oil, and garlic.
  2. Gently place your slices of beef in the liquid and toss to coat.
  3. Turn crockpot on low and cook for 6 hours.**
  4. When done, in a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and cooking liquid to create a slurry, pour into crockpot, stir to mix well. Cook on low for an additional 30 minutes to thicken up the sauce.
  5. Toss in your broccoli florets then serve hot over white rice.
 **Your crockpot may vary in temperature. The creator of this recipe warns if it's your first time, start of with cooking meat for 4 hours in your crocpot and go from there. You don't want to end up with shredded beef, but rather beef chunks.
***I serve this meal with Skinny Taste's Edamame Fried Rice {The same fried rice as mentioned in the stovetop edition}.

This recipe yields great results. Doesn't this recipe sound amazing. I've been using the crockpot edition lately, because it's my favorite for many reasons:
  1. It's a crockpot recipe
  2. It's easy and saves my sanity after work
  3. You don't have to brown the meet first or defrost first{if using frozen broccoli} or steam first {if using fresh}; AH-MAZING!  
  4. It's absolutely delicious!!!

**Beef and Broccoli: A Zickefoose family favorite meal!**

So there you go, one meal that can be done two different ways. Which way are you going to try??

ps. Both of these versions have been added to my recipe page, where you can easily find them there any time!

Happy Cooking & Eating!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

From This to That: Bookshelf

Hey there! I wanted to share with you all a little series I have come up with to keep me going with my crafty projects, and a fun post for you all to read. It's called

From This to That

This post is going to be where I take something ordinary, or something that I have purchased from like goodwill, an auction, or wherever, and I turn it into something spunky, new and fun for my home-and possibly yours too!

Here we go with project #1. Drum roll please.......

How to turn a plain ol' book shelf, into a fun item piece for your room, office, or living space. 

When we purchased our house, a lot of stuff was left in it. Most of it was junk, but there were some things that I wanted to save because I knew I could do something with them or turn them into something else. A 5 shelf book shelf was one of those in the "keep" pile. It sat in the office for months, until I began to decorate the living room. My dad was in town then, so he helped me carry it out there, but I just wasn't cutting it. It was waaayyy too boring for me. This is what it looked like {pretty darn similar to this one from Walmart}:

**Bookshelf pre transformation**

I found a few ideas from pinterest that I had my mind set on. I was originally going to put scrapbook paper on the back wall, finding grey or yellow to make our decor. That idea was shot down, as there were no color choices without desins on them at either Joanns OR Target. That idea was obviously out. So next I thought that it would be cool to put a map behind it. I mean, if  you are up to date on anything on pinterest, it's all about maps folks! However, that idea was also shot down when the only map I had was just barely too small to fit the whole back wall. Um, so that idea was out too. I was left thinking, "WHAT THE HECK AM I GOING TO DO NOW??!!??!" Then I had an amazing epiphany. Why don't I use pages from a book, you know to literally make it a book shelf {haha anyone?} SCORE!!! I went running down the hall immediately to my boxes of books {since they hadn't been unpacked yet due to not knowing what to do with the book shelf} and tried to find one that I obviously didn't want to ruin. I did have second thoughts, since it seemed kind of illegal to be tearing up pages from a book, but I went along with it anyways. I found a book from my childhood that I thought fit the job perfectly: Island of the Blue Dolphins, which happened to be the very first chapter book I read. I also chose this book, because the pages were tinted looking older/yellow looking, which was perfect since that was my color scheme.

So I set out with my book in hand, however, not to read it, but to tear it up. I grabbed my homemade modge podge and began the tedious task of gluing the pages to the wall.

I got in a rhythm and before I knew it I was done, and SO happy with the results that were starring me in the face. WHAT A GENIOUS IDEA!!!!

Here is the final result of my modge-podge book page book shelf:

 **Finally done and in heaven with the results**

I then set out to fill the shelves. I got all my books and put them on it in different ways on every shelf-it makes for a more unique display. I gathered some unique decorations that I've been saving from auctions, memorabilia from our honeymoon, keepsakes from our wedding, and our heart shaped "Where were you born" picture frames that I made for us.Badda-Bing, Badda Boom!

**Bookshelf complete with decorations**

And there you have it, I turned a boring ol' bookshelf, into a spunky new "book" shelf!

Whatcha gonna turn your shelf into? The possibilities are endless y'all!! Have fun with it!


Friday, August 23, 2013

A Desparately Needed Summer Recap


I know it's been a long time since I've last written. I mean, a.long.time. I mean, a loooonnnnggggg time!! BUT with that said, I really do plan to come back into full gear with my blog. I mean like regular set posts, with days that are entitled to certain "themes." I really want to document our adventures, my cooking endeavors/sometimes creations, and the crafty projects I encounter to fill our home with a taste of homemade lovin'. I'm gonna try to stick to it, and that's my word.

Since I last wrote, there have been quite a few adventures we've encountered and enjoyed, that I just would love to share. Now, I'm not going to go into full detail with some of them that I would like to, but I'll skim the surface so you can get a taste of what is goin' on with us. Here we go.

Upon Adam's return, we took a trip to the San Juan Islands, here in Washington, to relax, recoup, and rejuvenate with each other, after being apart for far too long to count. We originally were going to do a cruise, and Adam was fine with that, since being on the boat is WAY different than a cruise ship, but it cycled down once I really looked into it, and for the time we wanted to go, there wasn't availability for the places we would have liked to go. So I thought, why not do something here in WA that we haven't explored yet. And BAM! The San Juans came into mind. Since we don't have children yet, it was a perfect opportunity for us to go. Man, are we glad we chose there! It was down right beautiful!! Despite not seeing any whales {bummer!!}, we saw sea otter {from our own private beach}, a sea lion {from our hike}, and a dolphin--not too bad!! Here are a few pictures from our adventures.

 **The view we had from our private beach at our vacation rental. SO BEAUTIFUL!!**

 **The same view, but at sunset.**

 **My boys enjoying the beach. We were the only ones!!**

 **On our hike. Such a gorgeous view of WA!**
 **A view of a light house**

 **A dreamy sunrise!**

We got to celebrate Adam's birthday together this year-the first time in 3 years! So I made sure that his birthday was extra special this year!

 **Adam's present: soda/candy cake. I found the tutorial here if you're interested.
They make a great gift!!**

 **Adam surrounded by the gifts from family**

 **Of course he got the Cooney family tradition of streamers on his door to wake up to!**

**I also made him a birthday balloon wreath {with this tutorial}!!**

We got to spend 4th of July together this year, at our own home. It was kind of sad to be away from family, since this is my favorite secular holiday, but we made the most of it. We got together with some friends of ours from the ship, in the morning and evening, and were hosts for the first time TOGETHER in our own home! I loved it! I went all out and made patriotic appetizers and desserts!!

 **We watched fireworks for the first time here in WA, in Poulsbo. It was a decent show.**

 **Flag cupcakes and flag fruit kabbobs were definitely a hit on our hosting menu!**

**It's legal to light fireworks here in WA, so, yes, naturally Adam went all out in buying them. But at least we were safe in doing so {ie. see the white bucket of water. ;)}**

Adam also got to see our niece and our sister-in-law. The last time he saw them both when she was 5 months old, and she's now 2 1/2!  It was so nice to spend some time with them, although it was brief!

 **Auntie and Uncle with the silly, yet sweet Emma Grace!**

Another one of the things I was looking forward to the most in the summer, was a visit from my best friend Della, who has been in South Korea since after our wedding, which was over 3 years ago. I've seen her once since the wedding, but it was way too short of a visit. This time, she flew to my house here in WA, where we got to hang out for 4 days before I had to take her to the airport. She was surprising her family with her trip, because after she was leaving our house she was going home to Cali, and it was a blessing to get this time with each other. 

**As you can see from these snap shots of our time, we utilized it to the fullest. We explored, took adventures, walked, we introduced her to croquet, we antique shopped, we clothes shopped, we crafted, painted nails, watched movies, talked; we enjoyed each other's company to fullest. God really has blessed me with her friendship and I'm so thankful for her presence in my life! Such a great visit!

We didn't go home for the Fourth of July this year like I usually do, because one of my cousins was getting married, so we decided to go home in the middle of July instead. We went home for a week and a half, which seems like a long time, but it really isn't. It went by way too fast. We cherished the time we had together with both of our families, some of our friends, and each other. 

 **Trading the beautiful Seattle, for sunny Cali**

 **I got to meet the handsome Cayden Graham and visit with my beautiful college room mate, Christina. So fun!!**

 **We got to actually DRESS UP, go to a wedding together, and dance for the first time since our own wedding!! You don't know how happy this made me!! Such a BIG DEAL GUYS!! :D**

**Congrats to my cousin and his now wife!!**
 **Family photos, captured at the wedding**

 **My silly parents on our traditional beach kayaking trip**

 **Adam and I chest-pumping, to prepare for our awesome kayak ride.**

 **Spending our 3rd wedding anniversary, dirty of course! haha We spent it at Glen Ivy, relaxing the day away, because we earned it of course!**

 **Went to our first Angels game together, in 3 years, with excellent seats of course: front row!!**

 **Got to spend a short time with my dear friend Hannah, who I've known since birth and who is so dear to my heart! She took some family photos for us, which turned out AMAZING!!! I love that we now have some with him in his NDUBS!! Check out a few of my favorites below** 

 **Me and my honey**


**Even some with BAX!!**

Another special, new adventure that we've embarked on, is adding a new addition to our family. We got another fur ball in our household now, who we I so happen to have named, Coco.

 **We're now a family of 4**

 **Meet Coco**
**Bax and Coco have slowly become best friends. It's kinda cute {and other times it's not!!}**

We got a visit in early August from Adam's dad, who helped us out with projects around the house. It was fun to have his help on things. We had fun and we know he did, too. Can't wait for the next visit from him, when we can work him hard again have fun and enjoy his company again!! ;)

 **An evening break from house projects, for a walk to the park. They got on the swings at the same time. Like father, like son they say!**

Next came my 25th birthday, which this year just so happened to earn a visit from my brother and his girlfriend. I feel kinda bad {but then kinda not}, because as you all know me I like to do bucket list things on my birthdays, so we literally spent ALL.DAY.LONG completing my bucket list things for turning a quarter of a century: completing 25 things for my 25th birthday!! It was fun, but SO very tiring!

**25 things to do on my birthday!!**

**a tradition my mom started 25 years ago: a flower for every year of birth on my birthday. This year, I chose sun flowers. LOVE my mom, and LOVING these sun flowers and LOVING the texture of the brick wall here in this pic!!**

**The main thing I did for my birthday was item #4: Do a new adventurous activity, which I chose to be Paintballing. Adam has been begging me since we started dating and I always said no. So I decided to give Adam a birthday gift on my birthday, and decided to let him shoot me; with a paintball gun of course!!**

**I left which just 1 battle wound, which isn't that bad. However, it was an illegal shot from my hubby of course. Sucker.**

 **The time together with my brother was priceless!!**

**It was so fun getting to know my brother and his girl friend as a couple. We played rounds of croquet, went out to dinner, and took them around WA. Literally. It was exhausting but so fun, as I miss them both already!!**

On my brother's road trip back to Cali, he proposed to Natalie on the Golden State Bridge. He told us a month in prior to his trip that he was going to propose and I tried to beg him to do it on the way up so we could celebrate with them and not have to keep a secret, but he wouldn't budge {guess it's not all about me ;)}. I'm so excited when I got the call on the 15th letting me know she said yes!! I cried when he told me. I don't know why I am/was so emotional about the thought of my brother getting married, but I guess it comes down to the fact that I'm just SO HAPPY FOR HIM!! Just the thought of having another sister makes me smile from ear-to-ear, since my mom never gave me one! I've been best friends with my brother since I could remember, and I'm so happy that he's found a best friend on another level-one that he can cherish and love, and spend the rest of his life with! Love ya bro!!

 **The future Mr. & Mrs. Cooney!!
**We enjoyed their company so much and are looking forward to couple events in the future!!**

I know this was a long post, but I just wanted to update {anyone who cares} on our life. Check back in with us for what we're exploring, what I'm cookin', or what I'm craftin' to add to our home decor. 

Love to you all!!