Friday, January 26, 2018

Food for Thought

I need to get a care package out to the 19 y.o. that includes some foods he could buy himself, but I think it's more about getting something from home, than what's in it necessarily.  

We've got hubby's brother coming in to visit this weekend, a company party, a pinewood derby and a birthday party.  This weekend's menu will be quick, easy and gluten free; brother-in-law has celiac disease. 

Still reaching back in the archives of posts - this one looks like it was from around Thanksgiving, given the preponderance of cranberries and turkey left-over recipes.  The turkey recipes I'd cook up a turkey breast just to make them again.

This Better Than Sex Pumpkin Cake was good.  Better than sex good?  Well . . . let's just leave it that it was a really good pumpkin cake that will need some sort of activity to burn off the calories it carries with it.  Really moist and a nice light hand with the pumpkin seasonings, topped with sweetened condensed milk before you add creamy cheese frosting.  Totally worth it, but yeah, not for the diet-conscience.

One pan meal, Apple Cider Chicken Skillet was juicy and saucy.  Chicken and apples go so well together, then you add a little zing of mustard.  Yum.  A side salad, crusty bread and dinner is done.

I made two of these Turkey and BBQ Cranberry Sauce Pizzas and used up some of our left over turkey - I use this dough for pizza.  I made one with goat cheese - for the lactose sensitive in the house - and the other with shredded Gouda.  While the Gouda version was good, there was something even better about the goat cheese pizza.  That creaminess and a little tartness; the Gouda, even though smoked, kinda got lost.  It could be that our turkey had been smoked, so it had a lot of flavor on its own.  Next time I'd try Monterrey Jack for a traditional cheese, but the goat cheese version will always be a must!

Still more turkey leftovers, so we went for Cran-Turkey Chili, which was really good.  Warm, with a bit of spice from the salsa and some sweet from the cranberries.  Plus, it couldn't have been easier to whip up - a must in the chaos of the holidays.  

Yep, this Christmas Punch is from the Christmas Eve we hosted.  This was a GOOOD punch.  Bright, fresh and bubbly light.  Though I could have used a drink after hosting dinner, I didn't miss the alcohol in this drink.

This Chicken and Dumplings was from the same Christmas/Thanksgiving time frame, and we needed a break from leftovers.  I couldn't find one of my two stand-bys for Chicken and Dumplings, but this worked just fine.  Warm, creamy with those great pillowy dumplings.  Good stuff.

We've done the usual Green Bean Casserole at Thanksgiving, it's almost a tradition, but I was looking for something lighter and this Lemon Butter Green Beans with Cranberries, Walnuts & Feta looked to fit the bill.  And it did.  It was bright from the lemon, and we a liked the bite of feta and seasonal holiday punch from the cranberries.  It'd be great with chicken, too.

Happy Friday,


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Build Your Own and Save

If I didn't think kits were a way to better, easier, more efficient paper crafting, I wouldn't have started Apron Strings 13 years ago.  The fact that it's closing isn't a a sign that my opinion has changed, just the industry - which also, now, showcases kits and a variety of ways of getting stories from camera to book.

With TV Dinner and Past Kits all sold out, you can build your own kits.  It's easy enough to do, here are some tips.  For me it always starts with paper.  Browse the Paper aisle.  Pick packs of Second Helpings based on color schemes you like or themes that you are working on.  (Grab two, if you have trouble picking which side of the papers to use. wink)

Next head for Embellishments.  First there's the obvious - if you've got a stack of Christmas paper, then by all means pick up Christmas "flavored" embellishments.  But then I like to work with a formula when I add embellishments.  I need something to write on, which can also double as background layers and mats.  This could include sheets of cards, individual cards, diecut shapes, chipboard cards, tags and envelopes or bags. 

Then it's about layers and texture.  You can taylor your selections based on what you continually grab for when creating pages and cards.  Buttons, dots, jewels or brads - grab ones that cooridinate with the color pallets of your chosen paper, or go for neutral metals or colors like white, brown or black.  Got Christmas and Summer lines, look for apple greens or reds to use with both. 

Pick up neutral kraft or chalkboard items that go with a huge variety of lines.  Look for accent stickers that share colors.  That fall sticker sheet may be orange, red and yellow, but the pennats will also go with that summer paper you picked and the woodland creatures work with the paper you picked for your camping trip, plus that apple tag would be great on your school page. 

Bare wood and chipboard shapes go with just about anything you've got in your cart.  So do neutral fabric shapes and florals.

TIP:  try to pick all your paper first, then look at your cart and you'll be able to see shared color patterns and pallets, which makes it easier to pair up embellishments.

This week build your own kits and save an additional 25% on your entire order.  Use code:  buildit at checkout and save even more on already discounted items.

We Are

It was a mostly quiet week where my focus was on filing sales tax - and the prep before doing so (I don't want to think about personal taxes - bleh.)  I finished filing on Saturday night and woke up Sunday to snow.  Sunday was also hubby's birthday, so after making up cinnamon rolls for him, I had big plans to hunker down and craft.  Instead, he shoveled all day (not so much a birthday present) and I cleaned and did laundry.  I did manage to do a fair amount of nothing, but never managed to pull off the creative plans.  Which is probably fair, since hubby didn't exactly get a great birthday.

  • Hey, at least it wasn't a shift day and that's what you looked like after your shift.
  • Just in time for the Blue Supermoon Eclipse next week
  • And she got the little nut ball to look at the camera
  • I got some happy mail this week.  This cute little vintage jar from Etsy (Colorado doesn't seem to be a mecca for antique collecting, if "antique" stores here are anything to go by.)  And the sweet little towel, from TheVintageHomeStudio.  I said part of my being creative included things for my house, and these two pieces make me happy when I'm in the kitchen.  We'll see if they can continue to do so when it's 1000 degrees in the summer.
  • Birthday Cinnamon Rolls - too bad the morning shoveling had to come first.
  • Snow?  In Colorado?  In January?  You'd think it was winter or something.
  • Deadlines looming for applications
  • She got this bed for Christmas and has refused. . .R.E.F.U.S.E.D. . .to use it.  That is until we put a blanket on it.  She spent most of the snow day here.
Happy Wednesday,


Friday, January 19, 2018

Food for Thought

It's been an odd week.  Just felt off.  I've got my lists burning in my brain (and energy and motivation to tackle it), but on the top is taxes - blech!  Taxes are a mood killer.  It didn't help I didn't have a menu plan. this week.  I did manage to clear out leftovers by remaking them, but all I can say is we were fed.  

If you're looking for more than getting by and cleaning out the 'fridge, I've got a few recipes here.  Since I was cooking without a net this week, they aren't from this week, but a few weeks ago (you'll see how long ago), as I work through my backlog of unposted posts.

I don't do regular oatmeal - heaven knows I've tried.  I can't get past the texture of it.  But when I tried my first baked oatmeal recipe, I was hooked.  I've made a variety of baked oatmeal, and this Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal is just one in a long line.  This is hearty and filling without being sweet.  I bake it and eat it all week long.  A quick pop in the microwave and a splash of milk.  You could top it with a few chopped nuts.

Now you find out how deep my backlog of food posts is - this Chocolate Raspberry Bundt Cake I made for Christmas Eve dinner.  And it was awesome, the second time I made it.  The first time I didn't add any extra flour, for altitude adjustment, to the boxed mix this cake starts with, and the weight of the cake flattened my first attempt - though it still tasted good.  The second shot was perfect - rich chocolate and with flavor of raspberries, all topped with a velvety chocolate ganache.  

Another Christmas Eve recipe, served as a side to the Ham was Cranberry Almond Rice Pilaf.  I wanted something light, but with a touch of the season.  It was a good choice.  Light and fluffy, with a pop of dried cranberries and crunch of almonds.  It would remake well as a fried rice with any leftover ham tossed in.

We enjoyed Deep Fried Prime Rib for New Year's Eve.  It was good, well seasoned and because of the deep frying, that great crispiness on the outside.  And if we had relied on a thermometer instead of the timer, it would have been perfectly cooked.  I'm pretty sure we deep fried it long enough, but it was the resting where we messed up.  Just a good reminder to always, always rely on temp, not time.

This lovely Honey Glazed Ham was the centerpiece at Christmas Eve dinner.  I love a spiral cut ham, but they always get dried out when you reheat them.  This was so not the case with this recipe.  Cooked in a bag, and slathered with a sweet/savory sauce, it was amazing.  Definitely a do-again!

I love watching The Kitchen and Pioneer Woman on the FoodNetwork.  One of the pre-Christmas shows of the kitchen served up some holiday recipes.  That's where I saw this Cheesy Yorkshire Pudding and knew immediately that I was making that for Christmas Eve.  It was so easy, and it was sooo good!  Instead of blue cheese, I dropped in cranberry goat cheese.  YUM!  They are soft, chewy and light and then the cheese . . . oh my.

After the Christmas food fest, I was looking for something lighter and Slow Cooker Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps seemed like the perfect fit.  And it was.  They were filling without being heavy and they reheated well.  It would also be good on a rice bowl with additional chunky cut veggies.

Off to deal with the taxes.

Happy Friday,


Thursday, January 18, 2018

On The Road

Whenever we do a road trip I take stuff to do in the car - reading (both books and magazines) and at least two crafts.  I know I will never read all I bring, but I like options.  The same is true of the crafts I bring.  I bring two or three, usually some kind of sewing or knitting.

I think I've mentioned on that my giant 2018 to-do list, I've listed out some projects I'd like to complete as part of my creating on a regular basis this year.  Part of that list includes household items.  I've decided that being creative includes the décor in my house and after almost 30 years of marriage, not to mention over 50 years on this planet, I've finally figured out what I like.  What my style is.  What makes my house feel like a refuge. 

Years ago I used to do up the Christmas tree with garlands and lights and tinsel and ornaments.  Then we had kids who grabbed the tinsel off the tree, and come May I was still finding the glittering threads all over the house.  I dropped the tinsel.  I went through many different garlands - traditional tinsel, shiny plastic beads and finally blown glass balls. (my favorite, but a pain in the butt because it was super fragile.)  All of which attracted my children like Santa to a cookie plate.  Out went the garlands.  Now it's just ornaments and lights.  The tree is pre-lit, so really it's just ornaments.  A lot of ornaments.  A. LOT.  Even with the amount of ornaments, it needs linear to break them up.  Something like a garland.

One of my projects is to make a garland.  I had originally thought to make a felt ball garland.  I toyed with buying the balls from Etsy and stringing it, but the expense was high; we have a nine foot tree.  Then looked at how to make them - pretty easy - but that would be a lot of wool and balls.  Then I saw a cute garland using yarn pom-poms for a mantel and thought I could do that for the tree.  I picked up these pom pom makers by Clover at Hobby Lobby.  There are tutorials galore on YouTube.

When we took our 19 y.o. down to school, I took this project with me.  Super easy, except that it looked like a cat exploded in my lap.  The fuzz-fest came from trimming the poms, not from wrapping and cutting them off the device.

I highly recommend fine-tipped scissors.  When hubby saw the discomfort using my regular scissors caused, he stopped at a Hobby Lobby (enroute) for me to get a pair of fine-tipped sharp scissors - these Tonic Spring Cut Fine Tip Scissors.  Heaven.  Miracle.  A must.

I made over twenty of the little puff balls.  I decided to use the two smallest sizes and mix it up a bit.  I plan to string it on jute.  I also know that I won't be stringing them close together.  So I'm trying to decide if I just do the poms, or intersperse them with wooden beads or maybe small jingle bells.  It'll take playing around once I have enough poms to string.

Stay tuned.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

We Are

It was a week of getting back into regular routines.  Seems like MLK marks the official end of the holiday season, which starts at Halloween.  The rush is over.  The constant flow of decorating is over - though mine isn't quite put away, it is down.  School is back in session.  The winter cold (though we haven't had that or snow) keeps things slow as we recover.

This past week marked us taking our 19 y.o. down to school and the goings one while we did that.

And like last week, I loaded these photos in reverse order.  Maybe next week will be the week I'll catch that.  I wouldn't count on it, but there's always the hope.

  • We've got the cold.  Now if we could just get the snow, we might be persueded to think it was winter.
  • Obstacle course adventures.  When he wonders if he can do it, remind him he did rock climbing and then he remembers he's a monkey and can do anything.
  • Bouncing off some energy
  • I'm pretty sure it's nuts to go here on a day off from school when it's snowing.  Sort of snowing.  But it wasn't too bad.
  • North-western New Mexico.  In case you ever wondered where Cars got its backdrop.
  • Arizona.  Coco's.  Total throw back.  We had one of these here in town.  It closed in the 80's, but I'm pretty sure this is the exact decor from then.
  • This is an actual college-level course.  If they need taste testers the Girlie and I are in.
  • Letting go.
  • Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona. . . 
  • . . . on Route 66.  I don't have a bucket list, but if I did, following some of the remaining Route would be on it
  • Meanwhile, back at home
  • Northern New Mexico has a desolate beauty
  • Things seem normal at home
  • Concentration for High School students seems to be on point
Happy Wednesday,


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Food for Thought

A few days later than planned with this week's recipes, but we were taking our 19 y.o. down to school.  He has chosen, and obviously admitted to, Northern Arizona University.  We left on Thursday at o-freaking-before-the-crack-of-dawn and came back home Saturday, well after sunset.  He's settled into his dorm, has wandered around campus and is now just waiting for classes to start today.  At breakfast before we left, we asked him what he wanted in a care package, to which he answered dinner rolls and chocolate chip cookies.  No big surprise there.  My boy loves his carbs.  I asked if he was at all interested in doing some of his own dorm-room cooking, because I'd send him some easy mug-meals if he was.

Mug-meals were not part of this week's menu.  If you're menu planning give the below a try.

This Enchilada Meatball Bake was really good and really easy - two things that score in my book.  The meatballs were flavorful - I left out the jalapenos and used this enchilada sauce.  Now, this is recipe was one I cooked a while ago, but feel in the black-hole of non-posting.  I don't remember what I served these with, I seem to recall, just tortilla chips and toppings, but it would be great as part of a rice bowl, with the toppings.

I've made a different Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars recipe, but I think I'll use this one from now on.  Moist and lightly flavored with vanilla and cinnamon and a quick dessert to pull together.

During one of the few cold snaps we've had - it was 50 today - this One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese made an appearance.  It was flavorful, with just enough heat, and filling with lots of protein.  And who doesn't love a one-pot meal?

Outside of the zucchini-hating son, who did try the zucchini, everyone liked this Crispy Parmesan Garlic Chicken with Zucchini.  It was a warm comforting meal - love crunchy chicken, but light as well.

This Creamy Mexican Corn Chowder is just packed with flavor and creamy goodness.  Diced avocado is a definite must on top!  It reheats marvelously the next day.

At the time I made this One Pan Creamy Tortellini with Butternut Squash Kale and Bacon (which was a while ago) I didn't know there was a lactose free half-and-half, so I made a light roux to thicken up this dish.  It was good, but the roux made it goopey as it sat.  Now I have lactose free half-and-half and will make this dish again - goop-free.  If you haven't tried Kale, this is the dish to do so; lots of good stuff going on in there.

Healthy eating kick aside, sometimes you just need some gooey-fried-thing on your plate.  Here comes Chicken Parm Sliders.  And they were so worth every extra step I had to take to eat them!  Gooey and saucy and crunchy chicken.  I can, and will, lighten up some of the excess calories by grilling the chicken, or using rotisserie, reducing some of the sauce (it really is a lot) and putting on less cheese (mozzarella gets plenty stringy) and it would still be a yummy dish!

After you have Chicken Parm Sliders, breakfast should probably get you back on the wagon, so I made these Pumpkin Oat Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies.  I didn't expect any crunch, and didn't get any, but I got a nice chewy thing with the oatmeal.  Plus it had chocolate chips - so winner!  they weren't as delicate as I expected, either.  One cookie kept me feeling full longer than I expected.

Happy Monday,


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

We Are

I like having a look back at our week - and my kids' when I snag photos from their social media.  And because I loaded these photos in reverse order, you are looking back.  Yes, I'm too lazy to drag the photos around the page to rearrange them, or to start over re-upload them.

  • 'Tis the season for Cherry Hearts!  They have been hard to find in past years, but these were fresh on display, so naturally I had to grab them.
  • I mentioned in my New Year's post that I've started walking - I'm as surprised as anyone that not only am walking, but that it's a regular habit now.  And yesterday was a gorgeous day for a walk.
  • When you had a tooth pulled and haven't had your weekly treat in weeks, you'll even lay on the new bed you refuse to use to get said treat.
  • Our Golden Rocket recipient
  • The 17 y.o. finally got his license, just before Christmas break.  I knew he liked being to school early, but. . .
  • We gave girlie Capture Your 365 for Christmas, and this is one of her assignment pics.  She's a good photographer, but wanted to get to know her camera more.  Nothing acquaints you with your equipment like practice.  365 days of practice.
  • Cherries.  Cherry anything is my favorite.  About the time Halloween rolls around I start craving Cherry Cordials - which don't come out until around December.  This year, I only found two boxes around Christmas-time.  I snagged them, but someone (ahem, 9 y.o.) ate them.  All.  I knew they were usually produced from Christmas to Valentines, but finding them is difficult.  So, when I came upon this stash, well. . .I'm sure you can imagine.  The 9 y.o. is banned.
  • The 19 y.o. is making good use of his time, now that he's left his job, in preparation to head to college in just a couple days.
  • Like I need towels (see previous post) but I couldn't help myself when these went on sale at The Vintage Home Studio.  Uh, she has Valentine's one being posted really soon.  I think I may need to go through my current towels and make some room.  I'm sure there are some that need to see the rag-bag.
  • If the blueberry juice smiley face is an indication, his pancakes will be awesome
  • A fun assignment each of the kids did during their Freshman year, and received heading into their Senior year - A letter to their future self.
  • When it's too nice an afternoon not to take the 'Stang out for a drive.
  • Super Moon - the morning after
  • When you've been wanting a vintage-style refrigerator, but the ones you've seen are too small, by a lot.  So, you go buy some modern monstrosity.  Then . . then, naturally, you find this!  Just like, exactly like, the modern monstrosity but with all the vintageness you were craving.
  • Because having the car you just drove across the parking lot, to the gas station in the same parking lot, not start when you're done filling it up is a super fun way to end the day.  Dead battery.
Happy Wednesday,