Wednesday, February 28, 2018

We Are

It was a super quiet week. . .at least in terms of photos, well activities, too.  Had an "Outlander Couch" session at my sister's.  Outlander is a Starz show, based on the books by Diana Gabaldon and it is amazing; the books and the show.  Anyway, we gather every-now-and-then for binge sessions, oogling and food.  

We also hit the Home and Garden show looking for some project information.  When your home is 20 years old, you know stuff's about to go down - furnace and air conditioning aren't getting younger, floors need refinishing, cabinets need upgrading, replacing the slider.  You know, big ticket crap that has a habit of happening at the same time.  Like we just replaced all our appliances.  Water heater was a couple years ago.  Painted the exterior last year.  Something's coming and we want to be ready.

  • I took time for some scrapbooking - the first in a long time.  Did a layout, a card and set up another layout.
  • My sister and her husband have a new puppy - which added some spice to our Outlander Couch day.  Don't let this angelic photo fool you, she's full of . . . it all . . . energy, the dickens, puppy teeth and nails (both sharp), and bounces.  She can launch herself from 10 feet away.
  • FINALLY!  Snow.
  • Working on another towel
  • Catching up on a year-long display project.  *All crafting will have posts to come. :)
See, light week on activities, but pretty heavy in the crafting area.

Happy Wednesday,


Friday, February 23, 2018

Food for Thought

I did no cooking this week.  Well, almost no cooking.  I used my new InstantPot (on sale at Kohl's, plus 30% off, plus $10 off Home purchase - so I kinda had to buy it.)  Anyway, after cooking on Monday, the rest of the week was reinvented leftovers.

Some weeks are just like that.  But if you're looking to infuse one or two recipes into your leftover nights, there's a few goodies below.

I have my grandmother's chocolate chip recipe and it's awesome.  So why mess with a sure thing?  Because I like chocolate chip cookies and you have to be sure the one you use all the time really is as good as you think.  So I made these Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies.  They were soft and chippy and good.  They actually had a similar flavor to my grandmother's, but they were more cakey, less chewy; a highly dunkable cookie - if that's your thing.  I liked them and would make them again.  The family did too, but wondered why I didn't bake the standard.

We have a serious love of mexican foods.  These Crock Pot Tex Mex Chicken Tacos are just another in a long string of recipes.  This was among the easiest of dump-and-go recipes ever, and the flavor was great, even if I did forget the mexi-corn.  I opted to serve them in crunchy taco shells, rather than the boats, but it would be a great filling for burritos, or bowls.

Yep.  Mexican flavors in these Healthy Chili and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers.  They had great spice and flavor.  This could be a totally meatless meal, just up the beans and/or quinoa.  This would also be a good stuffing in zucchini boats.

Catching a theme yet?  Skillet Chili Taco Pie with Polenta was another delish, warm, comforting meal.  Another one you could also do meat free, by upping the beans, or adding a grain like quinoa or farro.  My family isn't quite sold on the whole polenta thing (I've tried a couple recipes with it.)  I think if I sliced it even thinner than called for, and maybe fried it first to get it a bit crispy they may go for it.  Maybe.

Hmmm . . . yeah, we may need to branch out.  Quinoa White Chicken Chili was a great light, but filling meal.  Lots of good flavor, in part to using homemade broth.  This would freeze great.

Girlie made these Homemade Peanut Butter Treats for her friends' dogs (I think they all have dogs) and for the neighborhood pooches.  They made it to the friends but not the neighbors, which our dog loved because she got the remainders.  Don't store in air-tight bags - brown bags or open containers.

No big plans for the weekend, except to see if I can make broth in my Instant Pot.  Oh, and at some point hitting the Home and Garden show.

Happy Friday,


Thursday, February 22, 2018

We Are

Just wasn't able to pull myself together enough to get a post up on Wednesday, which would include last Wednesday's doings.  I'm a slacker this week, what can I say.

  • When you're just happy it's Monday, because that means treats
  • FINALLY, a photo of the 19 y.o.  P.S.  I'd never be on that bridge.  Not ever.
  • The Girlie.  21.  Brownies were her choice of birthday dessert.  See Friday's (or maybe next Friday's) post for the recipes.  Both were good, but one won.
  • Treating the care-givers 
  • He always could sleep anywhere
  • School project in the making using only recycled materials.
  • Wish I could take credit for these cookies, but they were all Girlie.  #luckyfriends
  • Walking outside, beats round-and-round in my house.
  • Sunday matinee of Romeo & Juliet, the ballet, with mom and sister
  • Guess she's not much into the Olympics
  • I caved.  Guess you'll be getting InstantPot recipes on Friday now.
Happy Thursday,


Friday, February 16, 2018

Food for Thought

Welcome to the post where I actually cooked these things in the last week or so. . .not months ago.

This week I had a plan, sort of.  I forgot Lent started and so I had to toss out one meal because it was all about the meat and one meal I didn't so much plan - tonight's.

If you're looking for the meat and the non-meat recipes, I've got a few below.

We've done a lot of soups this season.  I guess my thought is it's winter, and even though there's been pretty much no snow, I still need the food that would go with it.  Enter Creamy Potato Kielbasa and White Cheddar Soup   It was really good.  Creamy without being heavy, but hearty enough to feel like a meal.  I used a buffalo jalapeno sausage, which put a nice zing in the soup and because of some lactose sensitivity in the family I put cheese on top, instead of stirring it in; which might account for the lightness of the broth.

I love bowl meals for nights when I don't know who will be here and when.  These Taco Bowls weren't really any different from others, but the meat had good seasonings and was less dry than some.  I loved the Pico - I need to remember to make that more often.  I used farrow instead of cauliflower rice, but would really like to try the cauliflower rice one of these days.

Slow Cooker Rotel Chicken Soup - see, more soup - but I used all thighs instead of splitting it with breasts.  I just find that thighs hold up so much better in the slow cooker.  I was going to get pickled jalapenos to add in, really I was, but totally forgot to put them on the list.  Even without them it was flavorful.  Leftover Pico from the Taco Bowls and avocados are a must.

Clearly not going to be a traditional Jambalaya, but this One Pan Jambalaya  was AHMAZING!  Tons of flavor.  I left the shells on the shrimp and I believe that helped them cook perfectly and not get rubbery and dry - even when I reheated it the next day.  

Trying to keep in mind the fish thing, at least once a month - if not more often - even outside of Lent.  This Creamy Salmon Piccata was delicious.  I left out the heavy cream and used lactose free whole milk instead.  If you worry about over-cooking salmon, which can happen easily, go for slightly undercooked.  Not only is it okay, as long as you've handled it safely to begin with, but carry-over cooking is likely to cook it to perfection.  If the fat is dripping out on to your cooking surface, while cooking, you've gone too far.  Stop and cover to keep warm.

I think this Tasty Lentil Tacos recipe is the second I've done with lentils.  I like them as a replacement for beans or quinoa in our meatless meals.  This filling was well flavored and had a good texture - reheated well too.  It would be good on a salad, in a burrito or on nachos.

I had some left-over rolls, so I made up these Italian Pulled-Chicken Sliders to use them up.  Seasonings were perfect.  Sometimes there's too much liquid in my slow cooker meals, so before things got rolling, I poured off some of the extra liquid the chicken was leaching.  I think that helped with the flavor not being watered down.  I use my go-to Marinara.  Toasting and cheese are a must.

I made this Bacon Tomato and Spinach Spaghetti with some hesitation because I struggle with getting heavy ingredients in recipes, like tomatoes, to stay mixed in with the pasta.  I don't know what was different with this recipe, but something about the sauce totally worked and suspended the heavier items.  Plus it was really good!  A simple, but filling meal.

This Peanut Butter Brownie Baked Oatmeal is a very decadent for a breakfast for me - and higher in calories than I would normally do to start the day.  It's still under 4
00 calories a serving though.  But it was so good.  I loved the ribbons of peanut butter I'd hit now and then.  I was well into the recipe when I found that I didn't have any cocoa.  I pulled my handy Substitution Bible down and subbed an ounce of unsweetened chocolate for the missing cocoa.  Also, microwave the peanut butter to liquefy it for better "drizzling and cutting in."  Oh, and I used my regular peanut butter, but if natural is your thing, go for it.  For that matter if you do other nut butters, you could to those too.

I've got few plans this weekend and a 'fridge with a few leftovers to clear out.  It's supposed to be nice, before another round of snow, so here's to hoping I can walk outside instead of in circles in my house.

Happy Friday,


Shop the President's Day Sale @ Apron Strings

Nothing says "celebrate the fathers of our country" like huge discounts on consumer goods, right?  
Be that as it may, we're gonna celebrate it with 75% savings on your entire order - plus I'll throw in a paper pack with every purchase.  Just like George would do.
Use code: prezday at check-out to get your savings.  
Now go.  Shop.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Food for Thought

I think I'm closing in on my backlog of menu/recipe posts.  When I looked to edit this one I think I only saw one!

This was an "I don't want to cook" week, so it's a good thing I had a plan, because on weeks like that ,without a plan, it's not pretty.  We're talking cereal for dinner kinda of thing.

You won't have to do that though, with any of the following recipes.

So this One Pan Creamy Tortellini and Smoked Sausage meal was made on a "I don't wanna cook and I have no plan" night.  It was all stuff I had on hand and it was good!  Creamy.  Cheesy.  Goodness.

Uh, I can date this Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins recipe, because it's pumpkin and fresh cranberries.  I made this during the holidays.  They were moist and light and I loved the pop of fresh cranberry.  Perfect no matter what time of year.

So we whipped this Breakfast Casserole up on Christmas Eve, in the midst of cleaning up from hosting Christmas Eve dinner, while we were, last minute, deciding to go to Midnight Mass.  Luckily I had the troops in order and one of the kids, or two of them, pulled this together so we would eat well Christmas morning.  And it was a hit!  It will definitely be on a brunch menu sometime soon.

There was no occasion for this Roast Beef Rub Recipe with Eye of Round Roast other than hubby wanted to use the smoker.  We adjusted the recipe to allow for the smoker, but I know the outcome would be just as wonderful in the oven - I've made other beef roasts using this method and it works perfect every time!  The meat was butter-tender and the seasoning was amazing.

My family is not a fan of soft corn tortillas, they always have issue with them splitting (I don't have that issue, LOL.)  I'm trying to get more whole grains, so I'm trying to cut down on using flour tortillas, so when I made this Quinoa Black Bean and Corn Tacos I used crispy shells instead.  This was a great meatless filling that was, well, filling.  I didn't serve it with cheese or sour cream, but you totally could, but definitely go with the avocados.  This would also be good on nachos or as the topping in a bowl.

I mixed up this super simple Spanish Rice with Salsa as a side to the tacos above.  I only used one cup of salsa, and it was just fine.  I liked how easy it was and how great it tasted.

I was wanting to use up some of the leftover cream cheese I had from the holidays and so I mixed up this Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread and picked up some Pretzel rolls.  Delish.  Plus, the cost of making it versus buying it - no question about it. . .MAKE IT.

I think I made these Garlic-Herb Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Parmesan to go with the beef roast above.  And even though I totally forgot to sprinkle it with Parmesan, they were delicious.  Sweet potatoes are fast becoming something I have on hand all the time.

Lots of big meals, means there are days where I just want simple.  So it's usually a sandwich of some kind like these Bacon and Swiss Chicken Sandwiches.  Instead of grilling up chicken breasts, I had chopped rotisserie chicken left over, so I just mixed up the ingredients into chicken salad.  The chicken, mayo, mustard, honey and seasoning went with the chicken and then topped it with the cheese, bacon and lettuce.

This is another Christmas-ish recipe.  I used our leftover ham and the sweet potatoes we had on hand to make this Sweet Potato Ham and Corn Chowder.  Holy moly it was good.  Rich and creamy and chock full of all kinds of goodness.  No leftover ham, just pick up a ham steak, or in a pinch, use sliced up deli ham.

The totally lazy cook in me, combined with the mom who needs to get food on the table often goes for sheet pan nachos.  You can load up whatever you have on hand, get it all melty and serve it right on the tray in the middle of the table.  That lazy mom cook did just that with these Spicy Baked Black Bean Nachos.  Another awesome meatless meal with the family gathered around trying to get the cheesiest chip.  The only thing I didn't do was layer the chips - I have huge sheet pans, so I could just spread them out.

I believe I'm heading out to get an InstantPot.  They are on sale and I have a coupon.  We'll see if I actually cave to the craze and get one.

Happy Friday,


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Making Sewing a Thing in 2018

One of my intentions for the new year was intentional creativity.  That means, not just creating when I've found the odd minute, or am rewarding myself with time at a craft table.  It means making creativity part of my life.  Does it mean I craft every day?  Every week?  Or when I've found myself with nothing to do?  

Quite the contrary.  So far, I've found myself sitting, with nothing pressing to do, and thinking I should go do something crafty and I end up just sitting and reading, scrolling through my phone or just blanking out in front of the TV.  I'm perfectly aware that this is time I could create.  I think part of my challenge is acknowledging the time (or how much of it I actually have)  Probably, like most women/people, I'm good at thinking I have no time for this or that, when we actually do.  So recognizing down time, is big, regardless of whether I actually do anything.  

Another part of being intentional is it's not all about scrapbooking.  It's trying something new, or returning to something I used to do.  Sewing is both something new, and something I used to do.  Sort of.  Kinda.  I know the basics of sewing.  I can create from a simple pattern - I've made several Halloween costumes over the years.  I can find my way around a machine and produce something trick-or-treat worthy (I won't mention how I went to do the below project and couldn't remember how to turn on my new machine.)  The new is my machine - which I have now admitted to myself, intimidates the crap out of me.  New is also trying something new - enter the Sweetwater Project Kits.

I have several kits waiting, some with more complicated (for me) projects than others.  I decided to pick something super simple and found it, a towel.  Yes, I seem to be on a towel kick - I can't explain it.  This one seemed simple enough - attach a little ric rac and then a strip of fabric from the stack included.

The instructions were simple enough to follow.  One afternoon I pulled out my cutting mat and measured out the strip, pressed it accordingly and cut my ric rac.  Then it sat, for about a week or so.

Can I just take a side street here and show you this.  It's from the machine manual - which I needed to refer to to re-thread my machine.  Note the illustration on using the foot pedal.  It's not so much that someone needs not only words, but a graphic to operate the foot pedal (I almost needed it to find the power switch) but it's the fact that the foot is in a slipper.  With a sock!

Okay, so back at it.  Superbowl Sunday I decided was the day to finish the towel.  So with things to do, I decided to take a bit and go downstairs and finish this thing up.  I had trimmed my ric rac only to find the towel material had a lot of stretch.  I should have probably sewn the ric rac down and then cut and turned under the ends.  I also should have sewn it on upside down, because I'd have seen the towel edge.  As it was I had to pull out the basting because only about a third of it hit the towel.

I also should have checked the width of the fabric strip against the stretchy towel base.  I had pressed according to direction, but with the give in the towel I pressed it just a bit short, cut it right though.  I pulled out an extra 1/4" (no, I didn't re-press it, just went for it) and sewed.

I think it came out rather well.  My machine cooperated.  I kept a pretty straight line.  It was pretty thick going over the edges where the ric rac was turned.  Looking back I could have basted the ric rac, not turned the edges, sewn on the fabric strip and, then, turned the ric rac under.

Oh, well.  Live and learn and move on to the next sewing project a little wiser, with a little forethought before the needle.

Happy Thursday,


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

We Are

So yeah, I started this post last week, but never managed to get it published.  Lucky you, you get two weeks - though I didn't really add much more.  Two weeks ago was much more busy than this last week.

We enjoyed a nice weekend with hubby's brother, who was visiting here before heading up for several days of spring skiing in Breckenridge.  It was terribly low-key (I kinda felt bad that it seemed like all we did was feed him), with bursts of activities.  We went to a company outing at Dave & Busters for dinner and a game playing.  Pinewood Derby the following day, with last minute tweaks (and a video viewing on the physics of making the car run faster), and a Sweet 16 for my niece.  Then it was war movies for the brothers - I was outta there for those; saw them once and that was it for me.

This past week Girlie turned 21.  Yesterday, actually.  Superbowl, Girlie's friends (who cooked and one who remembered her lactose sensitivity and made his meatball subs with "her" cheese - super sweet!) and a win for the Eagles!  Frankly, I'd have rooted for anyone other than the Patriots.  And the 9 y.o. had his play performance - which was what you'd expect for a 3rd - 5th grade production - pretty good, hardly any empty pauses, almost all lines were remembered, laughter and full of sweetness for getting up there and just doing it.  Watching the second play, the older kids (6th thru 8th grades) I was impressed with what second year drama kids can do.  Kudos to the director for both plays and wrangling a few dozen kids every week since September!

  • Parent Appreciation Day - gotta love the kids who stand out, curbside, on one of the few freezing mornings we've had, to hand out breakfast burritos to parents dropping off their kids.  #catholicschoolsweek
  • Sun is coming up earlier if she caught the sunrise - she's at work before 6 am for her twelve hour shift.  So she's been getting there in the dark, and leaving in the dark.  Spring must be coming.
  • Took Second overall in the Pinewood Derby
  • Out of his four heats, he took first on the last one, coming in second for the first three.
  • While boys were debating the physics and design of a Derby car, I was picking out my next sewing project from Sweetwater.  I have a few Project Sweetwater boxes, so I chose a project with something simple to continue getting to know my sewing machine.  I have realized the new one intimidates the crap out of me!
  • Of course the Derby car is modeled after a Mustang.  Raise you're hand if you're surprised.  Not.
  • Putting her Christmas present to use and loving it.  Except that one time she connected with the bag wrong and bruised the bejezzus out of her knee.
  • Day off.  Dressed.  What is up with the universe?
  • When the best of a squirrel's day is that you, once again, taunted and eluded the dog
  • He's going to school early for the sunrises?  
  • When she gives you "the face."
  • She's very talented.  Gets it from her Great-Grandpa J.
  • Bestie.  Giant cookie.  Bob Ross Wannabe.  Wine.  'Cause she's legal now.  
  • She's ready for Rockies season and Charlie.
  • I have a feeling she sleeps there when nobody's home, but this time we were home and someone tucked her in.  Without the blanket, I'm not sure she'd be there.
  • Superbowl spread, Kroo-made
  • He played Billy in the Velveteen Rabbit.  Nice job, too.
  • Warm enough to walk outside.  Untied shoelaces.  #happenseverytime
Happy Wednesday,