Monthly Archives: April 2015

Asian-style Pork Meatball Stir Fry

Asian-style Pork Meatball Stir Fry

I enjoy cooking, I really do. But the past few weeks my husband & I have been running around most week nights, making our dinners seem more like after thoughts. So I promised my husband earlier this week that Friday night I would make something delicious for us. Not that he’s been complaining or anything, but he did share as part of our wedding ceremony how much he likes my cooking. So I don’t want to drop the ball only 4 months into our marriage!

I’ve had some ground pork in the freezer for like 3 weeks, waiting for both the inspiration & the time to use it. Friday was the night. I finally decided on meatballs.

I’ve been wanting to make stir fry for weeks now, but haven’t been able to find the noodles I like lately. Then, all of the sudden, I realized: Who needs noodles? I have a bunch of veggies in the freezer!

I’ve never made meatballs from scratch, so I looked up some recipes for inspiration & how-tos before coming up with my own 🙂

Asian-style Pork Meatball Stir fry

The meatballs were not terribly difficult to make! I think ground pork might be one of our new freezer staples.

Asian-style Pork Meatball Stirfry

I was tempted for a minute to just cook one giant meatball. But, then what would my husband eat?

While the meatballs were cooking, I made the sauce & cooked the frozen veggies. Once the sauce was done, I took it off the heat & put half of it in with the veggies to give them more flavor.

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Once the meatballs were done, I combined everything.

Asian-style Pork Meatball Stir Fry

I thought I was going to have left overs, but this was sooo good we ate the whole thing! The sauce is sweet & spicy. The meatballs on their own have a nice savory flavor. I’m patting myself on the back for my new sauce & very first meatball recipe!

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Asian-style Pork Meatball Stir Fry

Makes 24 meatballs

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • Sriracha sauce
  • Vegetables for stir fry
  • Sesame seeds (optional)

For meatballs:

  1. Heat the oven to 400°.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with foil & coat with butter (or use non stick spray).
  3. Combine the pork with the egg, bread crumbs, onion, 1 clove pressed garlic, salt, & pepper. Mix the pork mixture by hand until all ingredients are well blended.Shape the pork into meatballs & arrange them on the baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.

For sauce:

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the remaining 3 cloves of pressed garlic. Cook for about 1 minute while stirring continuously.
  3. Add the ground ginger, chili sauce, honey, soy sauce, and desired amount of Sriracha. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 1 minute.

Putting the Stir Fry together:

  1. Cook vegetables in a large skillet. Once meatballs & sauce are done, combine with veggies in the skillet.
  2. Serve, sprinkle with sesame seeds, & enjoy!
In The New House Designs

Married Lent

This past Lenten season was the most meaningful one to me yet. It probably has a lot to do with this being the first Lent as a married person.

Being married has changed my perspective on a lot of things so far. It’s funny, during our honeymoon I kept telling my husband, “I don’t feel married; I don’t feel any different.” My married friends & family were telling me how different it is being married vs. engaged. I felt the difference from dating to engaged instantly. I remember thinking THIS IS IT; we were instantly much closer. So when it was day 3 of our honeymoon & I felt the same as I had the week before – over the moon happy & in love, but no different – I was wondering what everyone else was talking about. Then it started hitting me slowly. I started shifting focus from my husband being ‘the man who makes me happy’ to ‘my #1 priority on Earth.’ He’s my partner for life. That doesn’t just mean that he’s stuck with me for the rest of his life, it means he is my partner in this thing we call life. I always told him I wanted to ‘do life with him’ – not just be happy. There is a difference. I hope our life together is happy, but even when it’s not I want to go through it with him.

So this Lenten season we just experienced was very special to me.

When Ash Wednesday came, we had just gotten some sad family news. I wrote a post about making a pie for my husband that night to cheer him up. The service at our church was just what we needed. I really love our church & I am very grateful that I can make it to most of the non-Sunday events. It’s not a ‘feel-good’ church – I don’t leave services thinking everything is awesome & skip home. I am reminded that I am a sinner & Jesus died for me. There is one phrase from my Catholic days that goes around my head every now & then. I didn’t fully understand it back then, but rote memorization is good for some things. Lord, I am not worthy to receive you. But only say the word & I shall be healed.

So between Ash Wednesday & Palm Sunday there were no ‘special’ church services or other events to keep us in line. We had to try & focus on God on our own. I gave up chocolate for Lent & my husband gave up road rage. Not that it’s a contest, but I think he ‘won’. I didn’t have a single piece of chocolate all through out lent – not even on Sundays which are supposed to be exempt from the self denial. But it wasn’t meaningful, like, at all. It wasn’t even that hard – and it didn’t make me any healthier because I certainly made up for it with non-chocolatey desserts (like the aforementioned pie). My husband, on the other hand, even though he didn’t maintain a perfect 40 days of calm in the car, probably benefited more by his actions, & so did I. Anytime a car cut us off & I saw him get tense I would tell him, “It’s still Lent.” That was more meaningful a reminder to me than skipping on a piece of chocolate. He was reminded to change his thoughts & actions against others because it was Lent, and he says he is trying to maintain that calm in general. I, on the other hand, had chocolate almost immediately on Easter Sunday without a second thought. Having a partner in life keeps me focused; I’m accountable to someone. My husband cares about me & redirects me if I mess up. He celebrates with me when things are going well. I think he would say I do the same for him.

On Palm Sunday, my friend Beth & I had the pleasure of playing hand bells to accompany the choir & children’s choir singing Hosanna. It was wonderful seeing the little kids come in with the palms. Our church does a really good job of getting the kids involved with worship. Our husbands cheered us on as we served the church in this way. I’m very happy we have married friends who love Jesus. Our single & non-Christian friends are awesome, too, but with another Christian couple we can vent & bounce ideas around that others may not understand or relate to. Beth & David have been married for over a year, & watching them together gives my husband & I things to look forward to!

Holy Thursday service at the church was very moving. Our church did a service of the nails. Everyone got a nail when they walked in & held it throughout service. It was powerful. A meaningful moment for me was when I sneaked a peak at my husband while he was holding the nail & praying with his eyes closed. How lucky blessed am I? During the service, different words were nailed to a cross, representing sins.

Holy Thursday Service of the Nails

Photo credit to my Sunday school friend, Angela.

 We also had communion during this service. I was very happy for that. John Wesley said, “…the duty of every Christian to receive the Lord’s Supper as often as he can.”

For Good Friday, I stuck to the traditions of my Hispanic Catholic childhood & abstained from eating meat, & introduced the tradition to my husband. I actually really like that tradition because it is more cultural than spiritual. I like that even people who do not fully appreciate what Good Friday & Easter really mean are aware & paying homage to the sacrifice. Now that I am a ‘non denominational Christian who currectly goes to a Methodist church’ (thanks, Josh), I would call that prevenient grace.

I also wanted to do a Messianic seder. Well, I got the idea while I was sitting at work on Good Friday (I meant to ask for the day off so that I could attend the Good Friday service at church, but alas, I did not.) My friend Caroline did a seder in college & it was so great to celebrate Jesus’ last supper. I love the freedom we have as Christians to celebrate Old Testament rituals without being bound by the laws. Most Messianic seders take place on Holy Thursday, but this year, Passover & Good Friday coincided so I figured it was OK to do it then. We invited Beth & David over, & I drew up a little script & everything.

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We had a 5th table setting for Jesus. It was pretty informal, but very meaningful. We had seafood instead of lamb (see Good Friday  above), so it was a blending of several traditions. The most important thing is that it was all for God’s glory. It was a lot of fun to have fellowship with our friends with traditions we don’t typically observe. I am so grateful to have a husband who enjoys praying & worshiping with others. Especially since this was an impromptu thing on my part, & he was totally down for it!

Saturday, we took our niece to my coworker’s Easter egg hunt party. It was a lot of fun. We hadn’t spent the day with her in a while! Plus, everyone kept joking with us that it was good practice! I made a Bunny Cake & my 2 year old niece immediately said ‘my bunny cake’. How precious! At the end of the day we sent her back to my parents’ sound asleep, despite all the sugar!

Easter Sunday was great. Since we were playing hand bells, we got to attend/perform at both the 1st service & the 3rd service (the two traditional services). Also, since Easter fell on the first Sunday of the month, we got to receive communion at both services! On top of performing with the hand bell choir, my husband also played trumpet in the brass quartet. I cannot reiterate it enough how happy & proud I am to have a husband that loves serving the Lord in that manner! When we met in high school marching band over ten years ago, I could have never imagined that he would be my husband & I would get to see him play at church. It’s so funny how God works in our lives!

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There’s a quote  from Nancy Leigh DeMoss I saw on Pinterest, “The ulitmate purpose of marriage is not to make us happy, but to glorify God.”

I love that quote. So far, marriage has made me much more aware of God’s presence. I am constantly reminded of God because my husband is made in God’s image. I know that everyone is, but for some reason it’s in my husband that I see this clearer than I ever have before. My marriage is not just a piece of paper, or betting my husband half my stuff that we’re staying together. My marriage is, indeed, something holy.

Red & Cream Music Themed Wedding Stationery

As soon as we got engaged in March & set the date for December, I knew I was going to do a lot of stuff myself for the wedding. I really do enjoy crafting, and also I can be a little bit of a control freak. I won’t guarantee that I saved a ton of money, but I did get exactly what I wanted, designed by me, made to my specifications. These projects were time consuming! And time is money, friends.

Save the Dates

From the very beginning of our engagement we decided on a Christmas-y Music themed wedding. We met in high school marching band & both remain pretty band nerd-ish (we play hand bells at our church). I saw the idea for save the date calendar stickers before online, & I think mine came out pretty good!

Red Cream Music Save the Date

Invitations

I probably did save quite a bit of money on my invitations. The secret is that I cut almost all my own paper. I originally bought an invitation kit from Michael’s that included the RSVP cards. I didn’t like the invitation but I did like the RSVP cards so I used those. Then I bought 8.5 x 11 cream card stock, as well as sheet music & red card stock 12 x 12 in bulk (watching for sales & 50% off coupons at Michael’s) & spent hours with a paper cutter watching Gilmore Girls & cutting paper. I only cut myself once during the entire process!

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I took the advise of a lot of DIY invitation blogs/forums I read & chose my envelopes first, then decided what size I wanted the invitation to be. I read several horror stories where brides made these beautiful invitations that were not a ‘standard’ size & then their enveloped cost a fortune or didn’t fit properly.

In my invitation suite I included invitation (7×5), reception card (4.5×5.75), RSVP card & envelope (5.5×4.25), map/directions card(3.5×5), & accommodations/website card(3.5×5).

Red Cream Sheet Music Wedding Invitation

Then all of these inserts were wrapped together with a belly band.

Red Cream Sheet Music Belly Band Wedding Invitation

I designed & printed everything myself, including the envelopes. There are tutorials online for doing mail merges & how to print on envelopes. I lined the envelopes with the music paper. This worked out well for me since I bought square flap envelopes – I just had to cut the sheet music up into squares. Had they been the pointed/European style envelopes I don’t think I would have put myself through the trouble.

I had help assembling the invitations. After I cut everything, my mom, mother in law, sister in law, and BFOTB (best friend of the bride – a la Sookie from Gilmore Girls) came over for an assembly party.IMG_20140913_193131

Programs

The last thing I printed for the wedding were the programs. I bought a bi-fold program kit from Michael’s & designed them similarly to how I did the invitations. I was very pleased with how they turned out.

Red Cream Music Wedding Programs


This was A LOT of work, but it’s a once in a lifetime experience. It made the wedding planning experience more ‘mine’, & I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Bacon Waffle Sandwiches

Apparently we eat a lot of waffles in this house. And a lot of bacon!

Our friend from Sunday school recently posted a video from MyFridgeFood.com on how to cook bacon better. We are a little bacon obsessed in Sunday School. We are even planning a bacon-themed potluck at some point – stay tuned!

Last night my husband said he wanted bacon sandwiched for dinner, & since he is the designated bacon cooker (it’s one of the 100 things I love about him) he told me he had a great idea & not to come into the kitchen until he was done. He said, “You may have to blog about this.” So I told him to start taking pictures!

Bacon Waffle Sandwich

Once the bacon was in the toaster oven he let me in on the secret. And he told me his brilliant idea #2.

Bacon Waffle Sandwich

I am currently obsessed with the microwaveable Eggo waffle sandwiches. So my husband busted out the waffle maker & got to work making his own version. He is the best.

Bacon Waffle Sandwich

We didn’t go all out with eggs & cheese, just a little butter & syrup.

Bacon Waffle Sandwich

I just had to show off my new salt & pepper shakers!

They were tasty!

Bacon Waffle Sandwich

Bacon Waffle Sandwich

Easter Bunny Cake

Easter Bunny Cake

Tomorrow is Easter! I’m super excited this year. The Lenten season was very meaningful to me. But more on that later here! 🙂

Today my husband & I took our niece to an Easter egg hunt my coworker put on. It was a lot of fun! Everyone brought a little something to contribute, so of course I brought dessert.

This Easter bunny cake was super easy! Apparently it’s an old Kraft recipe. I used the template below to cut 2 round cakes into the necessary shapes.

kraft bunny cake template

I actually used a 9″ cake for ‘A’ & an 8″ cake for ‘B’ & ‘C’. I liked this a little better than the pictures I saw online because the ears & the bow tie weren’t giant.

I baked my cakes, cut the pieces, & frosted them individually. Then, I assembled them together.

Easter Bunny Cake

I gave him a cute little bunny face & festive bow tie 🙂

Easter Bunny Cake

The kids (and the adults) loved it!

This is a great bunny cake because you can get as fancy or as creative as you want!

Today was a very nice day spent with family & friends.

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Happy Easter! He is risen, indeed!

A Steak & Potatoes Crock Pot Recipe, & Other Tales

Steak & Potatoes Crock Pot

Our friends David & Beth got us a super fancy crock pot as a wedding present.

There’s a bit of a back story. First of all, I had never even used a crock pot until I moved in with my husband. It’s just not a very Cuban appliance. Then, last November Beth & I made 20 crock pot freezer meals. We spent a whole afternoon chopping & prepping.

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Since then we’ve had sort of this inside joke about crock pots.

The thing is that while some of these meals were good, others were not so great. I think the ingredients just don’t always freeze well, & if you leave them in the crock pot all day they can get mushy. Plus, one day I forgot to thaw one the night before so I got the brilliant  really, really dumb idea to cut the frozen block into smaller chunks to fit in the small crock pot we had before this fancy one. With a serrated knife. All before I had coffee in the morning (I blame that). That, kids, is how I got the scar on my left hand 3 weeks before my wedding.

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Not the best morning I ever had.

Anyway, our new crock pot is awesome. It’s got a few different settings (our old one just had high/low) & the lid locks for easy transport. My favorite setting is the one for 10 hours. I think that was part of the problem with the last set of freezer meals- the fact that from the time I leave my house in the morning to the time I get back is usually 10 hours & the ‘low’ setting on our old crock pot was really meant for 8. Our new one switched automatically to keep warm after the time you set. Beth, have I said thank you enough?

So I was looking online for crock pot recipes for Eye of Round Steak. My husband and I are total beef people. I even got a degree in it! Seriously. Though I don’t work in agriculture currently, my B.S. is in Animal Science – Beef Industries. I like to tell people I studied cows in college.

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#TBT to my crazy college days

So being beef people, we look for ways to eat more beef! Last week we bought some Eye of Round on sale. In my search for crock pot recipes, I decided I could probably come up with my own. A) I didn’t have all of the ingredients necessary to make some of the recipes I was looking at, B) how hard could it be?

I chopped up the fresh stuff & set out my seasonings Monday night. Tuesday morning I put the frozen steak, fresh veggies, & seasonings in the crock pot with a little butter & water.

I apologize for the lack of pretty pictures of the finished product. We didn’t get around to eating this until after hand bell practice at church – almost 10PM that night! Which is like 14+ hours in the crock pot (I checked it & tasted it after 10 – right before dashing to practice). And it came out delicious. We were STARVING, & devoured the whole thing! When I make it again, which shouldn’t be too long because we really liked it, I’ll be sure to take some pictures!

Eye of Round Steak & Potatoes

Serves 2

  • 9oz eye of round steak
  • 4 medium red potatoes
  • Carrots (I used baby carrots)
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1.5 tbsp butter
  • 1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1/4 tsp Montreal steak seasoning
  • 1/2 cup water
  1. Chop up the potatoes, onions, & carrots (if necessary).
  2. Add frozen steak to crock pot with all other ingredients. Cook for 10 hours on low. Stir up to shred the steak.
  3. Enjoy!

There’s not a whole lot to this recipe; the Worcestershire sauce is really what makes it in my opinion. I love it because it’s not exactly like a stew; it’s meat and potatoes. I’d experiment with adding different veggies, more meat if I want, maybe a little cayenne pepper for spice, etc!

In The New House Designs