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Life is beautiful whether you're soaking in sunshine or caught in a thunderstorm. I take the beauty of life for granted too often. I have a supportive husband who I don't want to live life without, a beautiful son who is always reminding me of the simple things that really matter, and an independent daughter who is teaching me to throw schedules out the window and live in the moment. My day is made when free samples fill my mailbox. I love discovering a new product and sharing it with others. I hope you will enjoy reading my posts and will share your stories with me as well.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Crock-pot Friendly Breakfast Casserole

I made this delicious breakfast casserole for our Christmas morning breakfast.  My favorite part was that it is Crock-pot friendly!  Thanks Moneysavingmom for sharing this great recipe.  We really enjoyed it and think this is the best Crock-pot breakfast casserole by far!

  • 12-15 breakfast sausage links
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 c. milk
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 pkg. (2 lbs) potatoes o'brien (hash browns with diced onions and peppers)
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Brown sausage links in skillet until cooked through and cut into pieces--set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat eggs together with milk. Add salt and pepper.
  • Stir in cut up sausage, potatoes o'brien, tomato, and cheese.
  • Spray crock pot with cooking spray and pour egg mixture in.
  • Cook on low heat for 6 hours.
  • Optional: Top with sour cream or salsa.
 I like the ground sausage better than the links.  I put everything together in the Crock-pot and left it in the refrigerator until I was ready to cook it.  I woke up at 2 am to start the Crock-Pot and it was ready to eat by 8 am.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Genovese Christmas Letter 2012

Merry Christmas from the Genovese Family!

Ty is now 2 ½ years old and is quite the ladies man.  He is talking more than ever and his favorite phrase is “Bradley did it”.  We are still working on his adoption and will be going to court in January for what we hope will be the final court date before the actual adoption hearing.  We are so grateful to be near the end of this journey and excited for the day we can move on as a family without the “system” keeping us guessing.

Bradley is 18 months old and he is all boy.  He has a high pain tolerance, which is something he definitely didn’t inherit from Mommy. He is always pushing himself to keep up with Ty.  He is at the 95% for height and 85% for weight so keeping him in clothes is quite the challenge.  His mischievous grin and sparkling eyes makes disciplining very difficult.  He has a sweet spirit and very laid back personality.

We were able to open our home to 3 more children this past year.  A 9 year old boy Travis was only with us for 1 week but brought us so much closer together as family.  He loved family activities including basketball and Monopoly.  Dylan who was 11 years old was with our family for a little over 2 months.  His maturity showed in so many ways.  He made us very proud when he called us one weekend and told us he would be mentoring foster children after school on Wednesday’s.  Emma who is 6 years old came to live with us at the end of November.  It was quite a change having a girl living in the house but it’s been a lot of fun.  Girls definitely have a lot more “stuff” than boys do!  The way these children approached the upheaval in their lives with courage has been an inspiration.  We are so thankful for supportive family and friends that love each one of these children.  That support is needed to help us continue this important ministry.

Mike switched careers in January and is now a Private Banker for Wells Fargo.  The stability of this new career has been a blessing especially after spending almost three years building his previous business from scratch.  Mike had surgery for his Crohn’s disease in July.  The power of prayer was very evident to our family during his surgery and recovery as he was in the hospital for 12 days.  We are so appreciative to our family and friends who helped with the boys, prepared meals, and most importantly, prayed for healing of Mike and strength for Ashley.

Ashley continues to work as a ministry assistant at Riverside Baptist Church.  She enjoys the diverse job description and is very thankful for being able to work with great co-workers. As much as she complains about the grocery bill getting higher, she is really enjoying cooking and baking for a larger family.  Ashley also continues to serve on the board of the Greenville County Foster Parent Association where she enjoys being a part of the local fostering community.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”  Looking back in 2012 we can say that there were things that happened that we didn’t plan and at times didn’t want but through it all we were certain that God had a purpose in all of it.  Our desire for you in 2013 is that your lives will glorify our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ which is life’s greatest purpose.

Merry Christmas!
Mike, Ashley, Ty, & Bradley Genovese

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cinnamon-Streusel Coffeecake Recipe

Sometimes there is nothing better than a coffeecake with ice cold milk.  This is a delicious and fairly easy recipe for a cinnamon-streusel coffeecake.  Perfect for breakfast or a late evening snack.  Only comment about this recipe would that it makes a lot of Streusel topping.  Next time I might only put 1/2 the amount on the cake.

Streusel Topping
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons salted butter, melted

1 cup brown sugar, light or dark
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspooon unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 cup salted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 1/4 cups milk (anything from skim to whole)
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease 9 x 13 pan.

Make the topping by whisking together the sugar, flour, and cinnamon.  Add the melted butter, stirring until well combined.  Set the topping aside.

Make the filling by mixing together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. 
Set aside.

Make the cake by beating together the butter, salt, sugars, baking powder, and vanilla until well combined and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add sour cream or yogurt and milk until well combined.  Add the flour to the mixture beating gently to combine.

Pour/spread half the better into the prepared 9x13 pan spreading all the way to the edges. 
Sprinkle the filling evenly on top of the batter. Spread the remaining batter on top of the filling.  Use a table knife to gently swirl the filling into the batter, as though you were making a marble cake.  Sprinkle the topping over the batter.

Bake the cake until dark golden brown around the edges about 60 minutes.
Remove the cake from over and allow to cool for 20 minutes before cutting and serving.

Makes 24 servings.

No Fast Food

Last month we went way over our food budget.  When I say way over, I mean way over!  So for the month of November, I cut out all fast food and takeout.  The only way we could eat out is if we used a gift card.  We did really well and I'm surprised at how easy it actually was.  I only made one trip to Zaxby's for lunch and I ordered off the kids menu to save a couple bucks.  My husband only made one stop at Subway for a $5 sandwich.

We are working ourselves into the month of December and I haven't been to the grocery store in 12 days to buy anything but milk.  We haven't had sliced sandwich bread in the house for over a week.  I can't even tell you how many mornings I wanted a Chick-fil-A breakfast sandwich, or a Panera Bread cinnamon crunch bagel, or my absolute favorite cinnamon roll from The Flour Haven.  There were several days that it would have been so much easier just to grab a deli sub for lunch or KFC for dinner. 

 I forced myself to fix meals from scratch and use up some items in our freezer and pantry.  The other morning I tried a new recipe for bread machine cinnamon rolls and Oh My Gosh, they were incredible!  We made homemade cinnamon donuts one Saturday morning and I couldn't believe how much better they were than Dunkin Donuts.  It's okay to have breakfast for dinner.  It's okay to have a bowl of cereal for lunch. 

In this month long process, I've learned that we waste a lot of money on takeout and prepackaged foods.  All it takes is a little more discipline in planning the menu to save money.  You may have to spend just a few minutes looking up recipes, (google is my new best friend when finding those), but it's completely worth those extra minutes.  If I would just have more patience when cooking rather than expecting to have instant dinner on the table.  And I'm absolutely positive that eating from home is a lot healthier than eating out! 

I'm not sure how much longer I'll last without going to the grocery store but this has been a great experience for me.  And I'm super proud of my husband for sticking with our plan!