Friday, January 29, 2016

Food for Thought

It was a lovely, productive week for me and, as a result, I feel really good.  Today alone, I started dealing with 25+ years of crap in our store room.  I'm pretty happy with what I got done, but I'm also pretty sure nobody will notice a thing.  I mean, it's 25 years of marriage and babies and hobbies and collections and stuff, but I notice the holes and spaces where stuff no longer lives and I'm good with that.  I may go back and do some more, but I told myself I was going to play with paper and baby pictures before I decided that.

Our weekend starts with an early sports date, which hasn't happened in years and years.  We hit the ice at 7:45 am for week three of camp.  Then we're off to First Reconciliation for the 7 y.o.  Hubby's brother is coming into town for some skiing, but we'll enjoy his company for a day before he heads up into the hills.  Sunday, the long awaiting Pinewood Derby.

It's a weekend that needs easy meals, especially if I want to get back to my photos.  If you've got a busy weekend, or you're looking to plan for the upcoming week, check out the recipes below.

I've made Pioneer Woman's Sherried Tomato Soup before.  It is my go-to for tomato soup, though I've yet to add sherry to it; I sub in chicken broth.  This time I opted to use dried basil, about a tablespoon, and fresh parsley.  The flavor was great, as always, and I love the chunky feel of the tomatoes in the soup.  If you like it smooth, use the blender (cover the lid to prevent getting hot soup all over you) or use an immersion blender.

I've served the above soup with basic garlic bread or rolls, Olive Cheese Bread (which for my kids' sake I make one side of the bread olive-less), Ham and Cheese Sliders, Grilled Pimento and Cheese Sandwiches - all good, but this time I opted for Homemade Pizza Rolls.  I had planned to use the tube pizza crusts, but the grocery store was wiped out from the Bronco's play-off game the day before, so I made my Quick Bread and it was probably even better.

I had Kielbasa, it's a staple in my freezer, but I opted to use some other brats I had on hand for these Hawaiian Kielbasa Sandwiches.  I like them, and I'm sure the Kielbasa would have been amazing as well.  I used regular hot dog buns, which were crazy-marked-down after the Bronco game.  Super easy, super good.  You could probably serve them bun-less and do up rice instead.

These Apple Pie Dumplings are two ingredients.  Can it get much easier?  They were good, but the recipe didn't make enough.  If I made it again, I'd use and 8x8 or 9x9 inch pan, and it could almost use two cans of apples.  That or add ice cream.  While it was good, I have other recipes to try, plus ones that I've tried and liked better.

Canned pie filling is pricey, so when I saw the link to this Quick Apple Pie Filling in the above Dumpling recipe I thought I'd give it shot.  Super simple.  So simple, I will use it whenever I need canned apple pie filling.  I used a couple different apples - Granny and Macintosh - and the only thing I'd do different is slice the a little thicker; a personal preference.  If using medium apples, it make the equivalent of a 21 oz. can.

I have to say I was skeptical when I pinned this Cheeseburger Soup.  I thought it looked good, and reading the recipe sounded good, but didn't think it would pack a flavor-punch.  Was I wrong.  It was flavorful, creamy, filling.  It was a do-again, for sure.

New year, means new (or a return to forgotten) goals.  One meatless meal a week, plus Lent coming up in a couple weeks, means fish is starting to stock my freezer.  Enter Maple Glazed Salmon.  The glaze was simple, and tasty and we always enjoy salmon.

I made Dill Potato Wedges to go with the salmon.  I chose not to spend the money on the packaged red potatoes, instead I bought fresh red potatoes and boiled them earlier in the day, and then followed the recipe.  If you choose to do the same, cook them just a bit al dente, since you'll cook them again.  You could use another potato, but red potatoes will hold up better to the cooking.

I was scrounging my pantry for dessert on Monday, and found a Cake Mix with a cookie recipe on the side.  These Chunky Chocolate Cookies filled my need for a cookie for lunches for the week, plus they are really good.  Instead of nuts, I used chopped dried cherries.  My boys can't leave them alone.  Since I'm trying to move away from store-bought cake mixes, I will make them again using a homemade cake mix.

Time to decide - scrapbook or continue in the basement.  I tell you, when I'm on a cleaning/purging roll, just get out of my way.  It's hard for me to not keep going.  I'm not the only one like this, am I?

Happy Friday,

Scrap Your Stash - Challenge 11


I love brads.  So many colors.  So many designs.  Plus, brads are probably one of the easiest embellishments to use, so for me, I have few in my stash.  That doesn't mean I have none, but compared to other embellishments, it's a small stash.  However, if that's not the case for you, CONGRATS, today's the day for you.

Today, you're going to roll out some brads and use them.  Try using at least five to seven on your layout or card.

Go. Create.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Scrap Your Stash - Challenge 10


Even if you haven't purchased a big box or package of them for your pocket pages (aka ProjectLife®), chances are pretty good than your stash of journaling cards makes a fair stack.  Sheets or individual cards, journaling cards are more than just for journaling.  Layer them, use them as a base for a grouping, use them as a mat for small photos, or shoot trim them and use the part that works best.  

Today's the day to round up a sheet, or a stack and use them, and maybe not just for journaling.

Go. Create.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

We Are

  • We are FINALLY looking at the blank space where a tree used to be.  Woohoo!
  • We are looking for hair care products to start working on our "flow."  I was asked if, "they dye hair here?"  I can't tell if he's too ahead of himself, or if he's dressing for the part he wants.
  • She is finding ways of eating well with a microwave, a mini 'fridge and no storage.
  • He is his music
  • We are gettin' it done.
  • We are suffering the consequences of ice clearing.  Hard to see it, but there is a large lump in the middle of his palm, and three popped blisters around it.  Problems of houses facing due north.
  • We are celebrating a birthday.  #missingjack
Happy Wednesday,

Scrap Your Stash - Challenge Nine


I have a Mason Jar full of posies.  There are more flowers in there, than grow in my gardens.  I have enough leaves to outfit a small tree.

I have a love-hate relationship with florals and leaves.  I love the abundance of them.  I love their cheeriness.  Well placed ones can make a layout or card.  I hate that I can't always use them effectively; I want them to work, but they just won't.  So, the extras sit in a jar - quite cheery and peppy in my creative space, but they should be in an album.

Today, rake up your leaves, and grab a fistful of blooms.  It's time to use them on your layout, card or home decor piece.

Go.  Create.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Scrap Your Stash - Challenge Eight


Tags.  Tabs.  Charms.  Plates.  Gears.  Flair.  Corners.  All made of metal.  

Making Memories - remember them? - always had great metal items.  My stash of metal embellishments isn't terrible, when compared to say, oh, my paper, but they are items I tend to pass over when creating a layout.

Today, there is no passing over.  Round up your metal goodies and create a layout, card or other paper craft using at least one, but more if you can work it.

Go.  Create.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Food For Thought

My house has finally been de-Christmased, with getting the tree down just a couple of days ago (what random item will I find I forgot to put away, though.)  I was determined to not have the tree still up while celebrating hubby's birthday this week.  His being gone on a business trip made that easier, since cooking is minimal when he's away.  We have another night of hockey camp tonight.  Girlie is coming home for her dad's birthday - and to get her fill of midget hockey.  I'm heading out to scrapbook with a friend tonight - at some point I should figure out what I'm taking.

If any of that sounds like your week, or an upcoming week, and you need some recipes to help with your menu planning, then check the following.

Hubby's birthday was yesterday, and he was coming home from his trip, so I planned to make him the lobster we didn't have on New Year's Eve.  I needed something for dessert and found this Chocolate Pecan Cheesecake.  It was no bake, which meant it would be easy to set up before dinner.  It was easy enough to make and it tasted really good - I served it with Cherry Sauce, instead of Chocolate Sauce.  The only complaint I have is the caramel pecan layer on the bottom.  While it was chew-able it was not cut-able.  It set up too much to get a fork through.  If I had let it sit out to soften, the chocolate would loosen up, too.  I will make it again, but I will add more sweetened condensed milk to the caramels.  Or make my own caramel sauce, which would be softer than the melted caramel thing.

Like I mentioned, hubby was gone two nights this week.  When he's gone dinner is simple.  Simple like this Chicken Tostada Salad, though I made several changes.  First I used taco shells, instead of tostada.  While I can manage a tostada there are some in the family who struggle.  I used two chicken breasts that I sprinkled with taco seasoning and cooked up, instead of store bought.  I left out the black olives, which I love, but the boys would have picked out.  I chopped the tomatoes to fit better in the tacos, and tossed them in with the lettuce - made it harder to pick them out.  The only thing I would do different is to use a hardy lettuce - iceburg, romaine or even shredded cabbage.  The sauce is heavy and will wilt up a less substantial lettuce.

Hubby has, had, an enormous aversion to brussel sprouts, and even that's putting it mildly.  Childhood recipes made him barely able to say "brussel sprout" let alone get one any where near his mouth.  That changed last Christmas at a company Christmas party, where he tried, with much doubt, a fried brussel sprout.  To his amazement he like them and had more than just one "try it bite."  I was shocked to find a bag of them in my 'fridge recently, with the request to make some.  My first foray into brussel sprout-dome is below, this Brussel Sprouts with Balsamic and Cranberries was my second.  I made them to go with the lobster (I cut the recipe into thirds.) They were good.  Really good.  Hubby says they're a do-again.

There was no way I was going to get the boys to eat lobster, so I opted to make them Spirals and Cheese, which also made a good side for the lobster.  Because of pantry deficiencies, meaning I didn't look too well before doing my weekly shopping, I changed things up a bit.  I didn't have spirals, I don't like them anyway as they tend to fall apart.  I thought I had elbows - I did, but not enough for the recipe, but I did have enough penne.  I did a mix of Gouda and Colby Jack instead of cheddar and I left off the breadcrumb topping, though I'm sure it would have been great, it was a time-crunch decision.  It was a creamy, stomach-warming dish.  Great on its own, or as a side to lobster.

I made chili on Monday and was going to make Corn Bread to go with it, when I remembered I still had a couple sweet potatoes in my pantry.  Sweet Potato Corn Bread it was.  Based on my now favorite go-to corn bread, it had the added softness of sweet potatoes.  The cinnamon and nutmeg were just the thing to go with the chili.  

I first made this Very Berry Cranberry Sauce for this past Thanksgiving.  I made it again when I cooked up a ham.  I was missing a ham at Christmas, so I made one myself.  It's simple.  It's sweet.  It's tart.  It's good.  Add a little more water and reheat it to make it saucier and it's good on Oatmeal Pancakes.

This was the first brussel sprout recipe I made, that made hubby into a believer.  Southwest Brussel Sprouts and Beans were a side to the casserole below.  Because I had the sprouts on hand, I didn't put in the beans, but I'm sure they would have been good in it.

I mentioned I made a ham, therefore, I had some ham left over.  I knew I also had cheese tortellini in the freezer.  The Pioneer Woman's Tortellini Primavera was just the ticket.  It was really good, though for us, I would put in less carrots.  The amount just didn't mix in well, so there was a lot of carrots hanging out in the pan when the rest of the ingredients were gone.

I needed my mexican fix for the week and Renae's Taco Bake did the trick.  It was spiced right and was cozy on a cold evening.  I chose to used ground turkey instead of beef, just because.  I wish the bottom layer of noodles was creamier.  Instead of straight cheddar, I will probably use a colby-jack mix next time.  I love sharp cheddar, extra sharp when I can get it, which just doesn't melt creamy.  If that doesn't do the trick, I would add a splash of milk.  The sauce is going to absorb into the noodles, so it'll need to be a little looser when it goes into the oven.  Also remember to go a tad under al dente on the noodles, since they will continue to cook in the oven.

No cooking today.  No cleaning today.  No laundry.  Just get the Girlie, watch the 7 y.o. livin' the hockey dream and then time with paper, pictures and friends.

Happy Friday,