Friday, August 26, 2016

Food for Thought

Ah . . . the cool weather means roll the comfort food on out!  And with several 70 degree days this week, plus rain, the menu was loaded with warm and gooey items.  It's almost been a pleasure to be at the stove.  Almost because the new gas range and I are not exactly besties.  Well, the stove top and I are getting along.  Me and the ovens, yeah, not so much - even less so as I gaze across at the fallen cake sitting on top cooling, while I decide what to do with it.  Not.  Happy.

But fallen cake aside, these are some delish meals if you're in need of inspiration for tonight, or planning for next week.


I have made these Cheese Enchiladas before and they are awesome.  The sauce is nicely spiced and rich.  The all-cheese insides are gooey deliciousness.  If you have some onion-phobic people, mince them well, or even grate them, but keep them in there if at all possible.  Plus it uses flour tortillas which are much easier to roll, and hold up better in cooking.  Even  with making the sauce, this is an easy, pretty quick recipe to pull off.  It makes 16, so you could freeze half.  We serve with avocado, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream.


These Meatball Calzones sounded good, but I didn't really use anything from the recipe.  It was more the idea.  I had meatballs in the freezer, so I didn't make my own, but they look good.  I used my Quick Dough recipe, instead of frozen loaves.  You could use the pizza dough in a tube if you're looking for a faster fix, or you can usually get a pound or so of pizza dough from local pizzerias - one of our local grocers even sold dough with their store-made take-and-bake pizzas.  I made Marinara, but if you have a favorite jar, go for it.  I opted to make individual calzones.  My dough recipe made eight; I divided the dough evenly into balls and rolled them out into 8" rounds.  I put three meatballs per calzone, but I could have probably gotten in four for a better meat ratio.  I also added some chopped green chilies inside that I had left over.


This Mexican Chicken Alfredo will make two casseroles.  I opted to just cut it in half and make one.  I used chicken thighs, but you could use rotisserie chicken.  Just cook the onions on their own until soft, then add the chicken in when you make the sauce.  I also opted to try making my own Alfredo sauce; I've yet to find a jarred one that I like.  NOTE:  It's probably the jarred ones that make this freezable - homemade sauces would probably separate on reheating.  I also used my own Taco Seasoning that makes a decent amount to keep on hand.  I did bake it, but the homemade Alfredo did separate.  Next time, because separation aside, it is warm, spiced well, and perfect for a rainy evening, I'll just toss the sauce with the pasta and served it.  Top it with some fresh cilantro.


While I like cooking most things from scratch, I'm not opposed to short cuts, store boughts and pre-mades.  These Creamy Lemon Cake Bars are just such an animal.  It's basically five ingredients.  I wasn't so much worried about the cake mix, it was the canned frosting.  Some frosting has a weird taste.  I actually thought about adding some lemon zest to freshen up the flavors, but stuck to the recipe as-is for the first time around.  The cake/bars were moist and chewy with a light lemon flavor; they don't have that tart punch that you get from fresh lemons.  The lemon frosting I picked definitely had an imitation flavor to it, but nobody but me seemed to notice.  I think the zest might have helped with that, had I added it.  Next time.

We don't really have plans for the weekend.  The kids do - one is heading to a friend's for dinner tonight.  One is heading up to Greeley, after work, to see a friend.  One is heading out on a rafting trip with friends.  Hubby is finishing up the boys' beds and we'll get those moved in at some point this weekend.  Otherwise, it's quiet.

Happy Friday,

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Throw Back Thursday

Nope.  Haven't played with paper.  Played with embroidery thread.  Played at cleaning up.  Played with sorting out sketches from old scrap mags.  Sat at the table where all my stuff is spread out.  But. nope, haven't created lately.


I used Week Three's sketch, from Scrapbook & Cards Today's Easy-Detailed-Expert classto create this layout.  Week Three came with a cut file of a heart.  I didn't feel like digging out my Silhouette, so I opted to use stitching - something I really don't do.  And now I know why.  It is freakin' time consuming.  Dang!

The sketch only featured two photos, overlapping, in the center of the heart, and in my usual way, I got on more photos doing the overlapping thing, and then loosely following the heart shape.  This one is for my now 17 y.o.'s book.  

So far I've only done one layout inspired by this sketch, but it's still sitting on the table, so I can see it coming into use again.  Basic Grey's Life of the Party, from a 2011 Smaller kit,  helped create this layout.  I used some of the papers to create this layout.  The stickers and a few of the buttons (I added more from my stash) were from the remnants of that layout.  I still have a fair amount of paper, but I think I'm done with the line and will retire the remaining paper to the kindergarten.

Even though it was a longer process to create this particular layout, I like how it turned out.  Plus, it got me doing something I don't normally do.

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

We Are

We are, well I am, enjoying a Fall Preview this week.  Today, it's 70.  Misty rain.  Overcast.  It's awesome!

We are all back in school and there is peace throughout the land.

  • A new issue filled with all things cool weather cooking
  • There is someplace that looks worse than your daughter's room.  Unfortunately, it's where she works and a whole lotta other people made the mess.  #lessonsinretail
  • A senior and a sophomore
  • What you get when you ask hubby to grab a dessert because you didn't have eggs
  • When you discover vinyl
  • This four-years-ago photo seems like much longer ago
  • Third Grade here he comes
  • Nursing pursuit continues in a new venue
  • When nobody is noticing that it's 10 a.m. on a Monday.  Time for a treat.
Happy Wednesday,

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Stash Busting

I've mentioned the mess my basement (which is where my craft studio is) has became.  I've talked about the ceiling and its repair - it still needs to be sealed, textured and painted.  No biggie.

However, the largest portion of the mess comes from a reorg.  Besides the usual mess, because the kids watch TV, or have friends over, or play the Wii, or all the above - we had some nice (read:  expensive and freakin' heavy) modular office furniture down there.  It lived on the main floor before hubby's employer moved employees to home offices.  When I gave up that shared space my portion of the furniture migrated down a level.

Now, flash forward 12 years or so since the furniture made it's retreat to the basement and the 17 y.o. wants a desk in his room.  Hubby and I decided to offer him any of the pieces from the basement.  He took us up, since it was free, and set about taking his pieces.  He, his brother and hubby moved the pieces up to his room. . .two floors up.  Lots of cussing.  One ding in the wall up the stairs.  The removal of one door to get one of the pieces in the room.  Those pieces are never leaving, nor, I doubt, if they will ever move from their current set-up.  We may have to sell the house with them there.

He also wanted the the hutch.  Fine.  He opted to empty it himself, rather than wait for me (smart boy), and he left everything stacked along the wall.

I had no idea I crammed so much stuff in that hutch.  I tried to ignore the work it would take to sort and reorganize everything, all with the hope of not having to buy another unit from IKEA.  This weekend I could take it no longer and decided to dig in.  I sorted.  I stacked.  I piled.  I threw away.  I moved things.  I even pulled what was left of the furniture away from the wall to suck up 12 years of dust and dead spiders - and living spiders who weren't happy their peace was being disturbed.

I made good progress, though it is not finished.  I even managed to get my new-still-in-its-box sewing machine on its own table.  I also found a list of challenges - SWEET.

Which brings me the long way to today's post.  While I'm not dealing exclusively with my stash, I am uncovering some of it.  I always get interested in playing when I'm excavating, so it's fun to find new ways to get rolling.



 

I keep a color board on Pinterest.  There's a definite pattern in the colors that inspire me.  And there's also been personal discoveries in seeing a group of colors all in one place.  But it's also a place to turn to to find groups of colors to craft with.

Today, pick three colors you love and create a page with them.  Don't try to match the photos to the colors.  Chances are the photos will look fine with the color scheme.  If you need check out the Pinterest board to find colors that appeal.

Go.  Create.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Food for Thought

I receive two magazines to my home - Midwest Living and Taste of Home.  I have been getting both for years.  I love Midwest Living for the variety - some of their featured travel spots we can get to from Colorado for a weekend (we haven't, but we could.)  They have great recipes.  Plus, I was born in Minnesota and lived nine years in Wisconsin.  My extended family is almost all in Michigan.  The upper Midwest holds a sweet spot in my heart; the Great Lakes especially.

Taste of Home I've been getting for even longer than the Midwest Living.  It was my go-to for menu planning before there was Pinterest.  I rotate my magazines according to month.  Then I have seasonal recipes at my fingertips.

The mailman delivered my newest TOH this week and to say I wish it was Fall is an understatement.  I've wished it was fall for weeks now, but add the yummy fall recipes filling the magazine and I. CAN'T.  WAIT.

For now, I'm cooking with a mind toward the heat outside, and in my kitchen.


I was making a dessert for In-Law Dinner Night needed a large pound cake.  The kitchen would be too hot to make one, so I was going to pick up a family size.  For whatever reason our local grocer isn't carrying that size anymore.  After checking the price to buy two regular-size ones, my cheap-side won over the need to not heat up the kitchen. I had a couple pound cakes pinned, but the Easiest Pound Cake Ever won.  It made two loaves.  It is definitely not your store bought cake.  It has a crunchy texture outside, not unlike an angel food cake, but more dense inside.  Not as dense as the store version, the crumb is lighter.  It was good and it was easy.  Grease your pans well...when you  think you've done enough, do more.  The sugar and the eggs, which give it its nice crunch, makes it very sticky when in the pan.


I used the above pound cake to make this Berries and Cream Desserts (I don't know why they have "desserts" - it's just one.)  You can use any fruit.  You could even macerate the fruit, but be careful you don't go too sweet.  The topping is what I was looking forward to - something other than whipped cream.  It's basically that fruit dip of marshmallow cream and cream cheese.  It was just sweet enough and light - even with having to turn on the oven.


I was heading out to a women's meeting on Tuesday night and needed a dish to take.  I had no clue what was for dinner, nor what anyone else was taking so I thought a pasta dish would be good.  I found this Hawaiian Pasta Salad (as the blogger points out, not to be confused with the macaroni salad that accompanies dishes on the island.)  I liked it.  The dressing was light and slightly sweet from the pineapple juice and the peppers added a nice freshness.  Because canned pineapple can be lighter in flavor than fresh, next time I may use fresh pineapples.  I always have pineapple juice (in the small cans) on hand, so I'd be covered.  It makes a great light main dish - I've had it for lunch a couple times this week.


Monday was hot, so outside of baking the pound cake, I wasn't cooking inside.  Hubby would be grilling the Orange Maple Glazed Chicken for me.  The sauce was different - in a good way.  It had a slightly sweet thing going, but this fresh punch of orange.  The fresh basil gave it different twist.  The recipe calls for basting the chicken as it grills, but because of the balsamic in it, I asked hubby to baste it near the end of the cooking time to cut down on the chance of flare ups from the sugars.


I had some potatoes that were languishing in my pantry, so I used them instead of the red potatoes called for in this Bacon Potato Salad.  I liked the dressing on this - the ranch and Parmesan were different twists.  There was a bit more dressing than necessary, which isn't bad, but if you like your dressing less saucy, you can use more potatoes than called for or play with the ratio of mayo and vinegar.  I also used a homemade ranch, which may have added more liquid than a store bought, but I don't think that accounted for how much dressing there was compared to potatoes.

I'm sure you have a standard burger recipe, even if it's just making patties from ground meat.  I like playing with different takes on a basic.  This Burger Americana was the base for 50 different toppings.  The recipe called for mixing the "filling" before adding the meat.  Don't do this.  Or I should say, I don't know how to do this and get the filling to mix in with the meat so you don't have clumps of seasoned breadcrumbs in your patties.  Because of this I overworked the ground beef - they weren't tough, but they weren't as juicy as they would otherwise have been.  LESSON - mix it all together.


I love grilled cheese.  Any time of year.  This Green Chili Grilled Cheese Melt was awesome.  Little bits of roasted green chilies.  Lots of gooey cheese.  This is one of those I need to remember for soup season, because it would make an awesome side to a potato or tomato soup.

I have plans.  I'm heading to the basement to start trying to find order in it.  I need a dessert for tonight, which may just be cookies since school has started and I need something for lunches.  We'll see how the rest of the weekend takes shape.

Happy Friday,

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Throw Back Thursday

Signs of fall are coming fast and furious here.  Well, not today, but tonight and in through the weekend.  70's baby!  And rain.  It's gonna be awesome.  It's Colorado, so it won't last because Summer doesn't go quietly, but I'll take what I can get.

My sweet hubby has been cleaning up some of the small projects around the house that have been getting under my skin - he dealt with the holes in the basement ceiling (they need to be textured and painted, but the holes are sealed) and he installed the new ceiling fan in our bedroom.  The garage is looking pretty good, and I understand that some things from the store room are now out in the garage.  All that means less clutter and may help free my creative brain.


Back when my creativity was spilling over, I created the above layout, using Week Two's sketch for inspiration, from Scrapbook & Cards Today's Easy-Detailed-Expert class (they have a new class starting in September about creating 2-pagers.)

The sketch was a one-page, two photos (on a single mat), stacked vertically.  The layered circles were one of the elements, found in two of the examples, that I used.  I don't think I've ever done such an element, at least not that I can recall.  The photo placement only resembles the sketch in that the photos are stacked.  But to give it a similar feel to the photos from the sketch, I kept the edges in line.  The paper helped even out otherwise uneven edges, as well as giving it the feel of being matted.

The paper is Basic Grey's Life of the Party line, which was found in a Smaller kit from 2011.   I didn't use much of the paper from this kit, nor the embellishments; I added to the buttons that came with the kit.  I did create another layout using the remaining papers.  

Wow, this is my 17 y.o. when he was my youngest's age, back in 2005.  And tomorrow he'll start his final year of High School. *sniff*

Cool weather.  House projects getting cleaned-up.  It's all good.

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

We Are

We are experiencing internet issues. 

We are prepped and ready for school.  Well, I am ready for them to be back in school.  There are varying degrees of agreement from the peanut gallery on this.

Update on the "funk."  Still here.  


  • When people mistake "post work-out" face with a medical issue.  #runnergirlproblems
  • I gave him fair warning.  Play, or they go.  Then he gave me "the look" and told me how hard he worked on it.  True.  For three whole days, of the 81 days of Summer Break.  Then I caved and dragged it down to the basement
  • The GT went, though
  • Prepping for the holidays by putting up some Cherry Bounce
  • Movie Night - "What About Bob"
  • When your husband doesn't like the color of polish you have
  • The struggle of the early morning shift when you're used to the night shifts
  • Perkier
  • When you're done with dinner and it's a means to an end.  #nailedit
  • We kid him about his bushy eyebrows. . .so he cut them off.  #futuretherapy
Happy Wednesday,