Thursday, May 10, 2012

Recipe: Chicken Avocado & Tomato Grilled Cheese

Whew! Now that is, quite literally, a mouthful. I made this sandwich over the weekend on a whim and... Yum!

Ingredients:

2 slices white bread
2 slices deli chicken breast
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, or 2 slices
1/2 avocado, peeled and seeded
1/2 small tomato, diced
1/2 tsp lime juice (can sub lemon juice)
1/8 tsp course salt
1/8 tsp cracked black pepper
butter or oil, for grilling

Preheat your electric skillet to 350°.
In a small bowl, mix together the avocado, tomato, lime juice, salt and pepper. Mash with a fork until biggest lumps are gone.
Spread butter or oil on one side of each slice of bread. Place that side down onto skillet and layer sandwich with cheese, avocado mixture, and chicken. Lay second slice of bread on top with butter side up. (This is how I do my grilled cheese, but I know everyone has their own method!)
Grill for 2-3 minutes and then carefully flip. Grill an additional 2-3 minutes. Both sides should be golden and crispy.

Enjoy!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

DIY: Painted wood bead necklace.

 


What you'll need for this project:

Wooden beads
Paint brush
Acrylic paints
Hemp rope or similar, cut 2-3 inches longer than desired necklace length




1. Paint your beads in desired color and pattern and let dry. I inserted toothpicks into the beads to hold them while I painted and then stuck the toothpicks into a block of styrofoam to hold upright while they dried. The paint dries rather quickly but I'd wait at least 15 minutes before assembling your necklace.
2. String your dry painted beads onto the rope and center them. If you prefer, tie a knot on either side of the string of beads to hold them in place like I did.
3. Now, think of the two ends of your rope as A and B. Tie the end of string A to string B, and the end of string B to string A. Tighten the knots. You want them to be snug but still have a little slack to move along the string. This allows the necklace to be adjustable! By holding the knot in one hand and the single piece of string in the other, you can push the knots along the string to adjust the length of the necklace. The photos above just show how to tie the rope. Make sure you put the beads on BEFORE tying the necklace!
 
 



Friday, May 4, 2012

Recipe: Blueberry Orange Crumb Bars

 
Ingredients:
Makes 12 small bars.

1 cup white sugar, divided in half
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, cold
3 tsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
Juice from one small orange
1 tbsp zest from orange
2 cups fresh blueberries


Preheat oven to 375°. Grease a 9x9 inch pan.
In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix in orange zest. Using a fork, cut in egg, vanilla and cold butter to form a crumbly dough.
Pour half of mixture into prepared pan and pat down to make bottom "crust".
In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch and orange juice. Gently stir in blueberries. Pour mixture evenly over crust.
Add nutmeg to remaining crumb mixture and sprinkle over top. Bake for 40-45 min until top is slightly browned. Cool before cutting into bars.

 
 
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

DIY: Felt Poppy Shoe Clips


Shoe clips are a quick and simple way to customize your shoes for any outfit. Making your own can save a few bucks and allow you to really personalize them!

What you need for these:


Old hair clips (2)
Circles of felt-- 2 each in small, med, and large
Needle & thread
Beads of your choice
Hot glue gun with glue stick

 

 
1. Sew your felt circles together, one on top of the other-- largest to smallest, using a loose stitch.
2. To create a slightly rippled petal look, tug on the thread from the back to tighten it. Then, knot the thread and snip off the extra.
3. Sew a few beads in the center to finish the flower.
4. Place a dot of hot glue on either end of your clip, and press felt poppy onto glue to secure.

You can clip your poppies in your hair, too!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Recipe: Spring Salad w/ Homemade Raspberry Vinaigrette.

 
Salad:

Baby spinach & spring mix, 50/50 blend
3 slices bacon
Feta cheese, crumbled
Pine nuts
Cracked black pepper

I prefer my bacon cooked in the oven, but if you use a different method feel free to skip these first few steps on cooking the bacon :)

Place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet. Lay bacon slices on top of cooling rack (this way, the baking sheet catches the grease drippings but the bacon doesn't sit in it while cooking). Place baking sheet in the oven and turn oven on to 400°F. Set timer for 18 minutes. Once bacon is finished cooking, remove from oven and place on paper towels to soak up excess grease. Break up bacon into small pieces and set aside.

While bacon is cooking, heat a small saucepan over medium heat on stovetop. Once hot, drop a handful of pine nuts into the pan to toast. Shake pan around almost constantly to prevent burning. When pine nuts have a light golden color to them they are finished.

Assemble salad: lettuce, bacon bits, feta cheese, and toasted pine nuts, top with cracked black pepper to taste. Drizzle with raspberry vinaigrette dressing (recipe follows). YUM!

Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing:

1 c oil
1 c white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c fresh raspberries
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp sugar
2 tsp Dijon-style mustard
1/4 tsp parsley
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

In a medium bowl combine oil, vinegar, and lemon juice. Whisk in mustard. Set aside.
In a food processor, puree raspberries and garlic. Slowly add oil and vinegar mixture and continue to blend. Add in sugar, parsley, salt, and pepper. Once fully mixed, strain through a strainer to remove raspberry seeds from dressing. Pour into desired air-tight container and store in the refrigerator.

Monday, April 23, 2012

DIY: Tie-dyeing with bleach.

 

I took a light blue cotton dress and gave it a fun and funky new look with a little bleach dying! I intend to wear this as a swimsuit cover up when it warms up this summer. I'm pretty pleased with the result, although it turned out different than I was expecting. Below are the steps to do your own at-home tie-dyeing with bleach!  

What you need to begin:



Clothing item of your choice (100% cotton works best)
A bucket or large bowl
Bleach
Vinegar (any kind will do)
Rubber bands
Rubber gloves

1. Roll up your piece of clothing and secure sections tightly with rubber bands. Do this in whatever design or pattern you prefer! (I did some research to figure out how to achieve the desired tie-dye pattern I wanted.)
2. Mix 1 part bleach to 4 parts water in your bucket or large bowl. Diluting the bleach helps reduce the likeliness of damaging your garment. Also, it is recommended that you wear gloves while handling bleach to protect your skin.
3. Submerge clothing in bleach solution and let soak for 5-8 minutes. I periodically stirred mine around with a spoon but this is not a requirement.



As you can see, after several minutes the dye in the clothing starts to saturate the bleach solution. This means it's working!

4. Remove garment from bleach solution and rinse thoroughly with water without removing rubber bands.
5. In another bowl, or the same bowl as before after being rinsed thoroughly, combine equal parts vinegar and water and submerge garment in this new solution. The vinegar will neutralize the bleach and stop the tie-dyeing process. Allow to soak for approx. 10 minutes.


6. Remove garment from the vinegar solution and rinse thoroughly with water. Remove rubber bands and continue to rinse to get any remaining bleach or vinegar out of the garment. Let your clothing dry completely and it is ready to be washed and worn!

 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Recipe: Easy Orange Berry Sangria

I love wine, I love fruit, I love warm summer days on the back patio. I love sangria.

I had some left-over red wine last Sunday and some fresh fruit, and it was nice and warm and beautiful outside. I have never made sangria although I've seen it made behind the bar a hundred times. Everyone makes it different and I don't think there is any right or wrong way. This is what I had to work with, so this is how I made mine.



Ingredients:
(Makes 2 glasses)

Half a bottle of your favorite red wine
1 c orange juice
1 c ginger ale or clear soda
2 tbsp white sugar
1 small orange, sliced
a handful of raspberries, blueberries, blackberries etc.
ice, cubed

In a small pitcher, combine liquids. Add berries and ice and stir until liquid is cooled through.
Pour into a glass and drink up!

*The longer the drink sits the more the fruit flavors will come out. You can make a large pitcher ahead for a party and serve chilled. Experiment with different fruits for a different variety of flavor!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Recipe: Monte Cristo Sandwich

What is a Monte Cristo sandwich, you ask? Basically it is a ham, turkey and Swiss sandwich, battered and fried and served with powdered sugar and a sweet and fruity dipping sauce. I tried my very first Monte Cristo sandwich last summer at a local restaurant that has never disappointed me, and that still holds true! I was hesitant because, let's be honest, it sounds weird! Right? Weird for sure, but intriguing enough that I had to try it. My husband-the-picky-eater wouldn't taste a small bite even after I swore it was delicious. But since I'm the cook of the house, I decided to make them myself for dinner and force feed him until he liked it! Just kidding, sort of. I did make the sandwiches and told him to eat or go hungry. And guess what? He didn't like it, he loved it! Now you can try it and love it too :)

FYI: This is a somewhat heavy and very filling sandwich which is why this recipe only makes enough for 4 half sandwiches. If you have more people to serve or have a larger appetite, just double the recipe.



Ingredients:

4 slices white bread
2 slices deli ham
2 slices deli turkey
2 slices Swiss cheese
1 egg
2/3 c milk
2/3 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 tbsp mayo, optional
oil, for frying
powdered sugar, for dusting
raspberry jam, for dipping

In a frying pan or deep skillet, pour in about 2 inches of oil and turn on medium heat. While oil is heating up, assemble sandwiches as follows: bread + ham + cheese + turkey + bread. You may spread a little mayo onto one of the slices of bread if desired (my hubby boycotts the mayo but I like it). Slice sandwiches in half once, from corner to corner.
In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt & pepper and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg and milk. Stir dry ingredients into egg and milk mixture.
Dip each sandwich-half  into the batter and coat all over. Transfer to the oil and fry until all sides are golden, about 2 minutes on each side. You can stick toothpicks into the sandwich before dipping to help it hold together if you have some trouble.
Dust with powdered sugar and drizzle with warm raspberry jam. Or, if you prefer, serve the jam on the side for dipping. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Recipe: Devilish eggs.

Deviled eggs are one of my favorite summer side dishes. Those hard-boiled little eggs with a sweet and sour center-- I prefer mine a little more sour than sweet-- get me every time! My favorite kind of deviled egg is the very basic recipe that my mama always made growing up, but lately I've been wanting to try some new varieties. Last night I attended a get-together where a delicious deviled egg was served that was different than any I'd had before. My interest was peaked and I just knew I was going to boil some eggs today and start a little experiment. The following four recipes are what I came up with. I now have two favorite types of deviled eggs. The other two did not appeal to me quite as much, but maybe they will to you?




Garlic & Olive deviled eggs:
Makes 24.

12 hard-cooked eggs
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp dijon-style mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper, to taste
black olives, sliced, for garnish

Peel your hard-cooked eggs and discard shells. Cut each egg in half, lengthwise, and remove the yellow centers into a bowl. Set aside the hard whites of the eggs. Mash up yellow centers using a whisk or fork. Add mayonnaise, mustard, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Continue mixing and mashing until all ingredients are combined and are as smooth as you can get them. Aline the whites of the eggs onto a serving platter. Fill a plastic sandwich bag (like Zip-loc) with yellow mixture and seal. With scissors, snip off a small corner of the bag. Squeezing the bag, pipe filling into the center of each egg evenly. Top each egg with a black olive slice.


Traditional deviled eggs:
Makes 24.

12 hard-cooked eggs
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp prepared mustard*
1 tbsp sweet pickle relish
paprika, for garnish

Peel your hard-cooked eggs and discard shells. Cut each egg in half, lengthwise, and remove the yellow centers into a bowl. Set aside the hard whites of the eggs. Mash up yellow centers using a whisk or fork. Add mayo, mustard, and relish. Continue mixing and mashing until all ingredients are combined and as smooth are as you can get them. Aline the whites of the eggs onto a serving platter. Fill a plastic sandwich bag (like Zip-loc) with yellow mixture and seal. With scissors, snip off a small corner of the bag. Squeezing the bag, pipe filling into the center of each egg evenly. Sprinkle with paprika for garnish.


*I like a little more mustard than most, but I scaled down for this recipe. You can taste-test your mixture before filling the eggs and add more mustard if desired.


Sweet "angel" eggs:
Makes 24.

12 hard-cooked eggs
1/3 cup miracle whip
2 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp cider vinegar
basil, fresh or dried, for garnish

Peel your hard-cooked eggs and discard shells. Cut each egg in half, lengthwise, and remove the yellow centers into a bowl. Set aside the hard whites of the eggs. Mash up yellow centers using a whisk or fork. Add miracle whip, sugar, and vinegar. Continue mixing and mashing until all ingredients are combined and are as smooth as you can get them. Aline the whites of the eggs onto a serving platter. Fill a plastic sandwich bag (like Zip-loc) with yellow mixture and seal. With scissors, snip off a small corner of the bag. Squeezing the bag, pipe filling into the center of each egg evenly. Sprinkle with dried basil or fresh snipped basil for garnish.


Buffalo deviled eggs:
Makes 24.

12 hard-cooked eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp hot sauce
1 tbsp ranch dressing
green onions, chopped, for garnish

Peel your hard-cooked eggs and discard shells. Cut each egg in half, lengthwise, and remove the yellow centers into a bowl. Set aside the hard whites of the eggs. Mash up yellow centers using a whisk or fork. Add mayo, hot sauce, and ranch dressing. Continue mixing and mashing until all ingredients are combined and are as smooth as you can get them. Aline the whites of the eggs onto a serving platter. Fill a plastic sandwich bag (like Zip-loc) with yellow mixture and seal. With scissors, snip off a small corner of the bag. Squeezing the bag, pipe filling into the center of each egg evenly. Top with chopped green onions.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Recipe: Beer bread with spicy cheese dip.

 

This is a recipe for a very basic beer bread that goes well with practically anything and everything. I made some to take to our family Easter at the park on Saturday and I whipped up a really quick cheese dip to go with it. It was completely devoured in less than 20 minutes!

Bread:

3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 12oz can beer (or soda) of your choice, I used Miller Lite*

OR

3 cups self rising flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 12oz can beer (or soda) of your choice, I used Miller Lite*

*Keep in mind flavored beers/sodas will produce slightly different flavors of bread.

Preheat oven to 375°. In a medium bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add beer to flour mixture and stir just until combined. Do not over mix. Batter will be sticky and may have small lumps, that's OK!
Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake 50-55 minutes until top is golden and pulls away from sides.

Optional: Just a few minutes before bread is finished, pour 3 tbsp melted butter over top and replace in oven to finish baking.

Cheese Dip:

1 block cream cheese
1/2 cup nacho cheese sauce
1 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 tsp garlic powder, or to taste
2 tbsp chopped green onions

Melt a block of cream cheese in a microwave-safe bowl (heat 15 seconds, stir, repeat until completely melted). Mix in nacho cheese sauce until completely combined. Stir in cayenne pepper, garlic powder and green onions. Best served warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

I hope everyone is have a fabulous Easter Sunday! I wanted to share a few Easter-inspired goodies I came across this week. Enjoy!





















                 Clockwise from top left:
                 1. Marshmallow Nests
                 2. Eggshell Votives
                 3. Easter Candy Pretzels

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

DIY: French phrase tee.

I saw this t-shirt online from Forever 21 and thought it was cute. I also thought it looked super simple and easy to recreate, and making my own would give me the ability to use any phrase my little heart desired ;) I decided to make one for myself and was pleased as punch with the results.



Here is what you need to make your own...

Plain white tee
Paint in 2 colors (or more!)-- I used acrylic and it worked just fine.
Masking tape
Paint brush/roller
Letter stamps

1. Lay your shirt flat on a hard surface and place a piece of cardboard inside the shirt. This will keep the excess paint from soaking through the other side of the shirt!

2. Mask off the stripes with tape. You can space them as close together or as far apart as you like, just remember that the taped portions will remain white. You can use a ruler if needed to keep your lines straight. I also used the tape to mask off around the sleeves so that I didn't make any paint boo-boos.

3. Get your paint and roller ready. I wanted an uneven/worn look so I just rolled the paint on without much care. If you want a more even/solid line then be sure to get an equal amount of paint all around the roller and re-load with paint often. Let stripes dry completely before removing the tape.

4. Once the stripes are dry and tape is removed, it's time for lettering! I wanted to stick with the French theme but I wasn't particularly fond of the phrase "Bonjour- je mapelle" (Hello, my name is). I chose instead to use "Bonjour- Mon Amour" which means "Hello, my love". You can use whatever phrase you like here! Simply dab the paint on your letter stencils and place them down on the shirt where you want it to go. If you want to be really precise you can always measure and mark, lightly, where each letter should go. But I kind of like the imperfect look of homemade, myself. :)

5. Once all the paint is good and dry, you can remove any tape or cardboard from the shirt and toss into the wash on a normal cycle. I have washed mine twice and it's holding up just fine!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Severe weather report.

Last night a terrible storm ripped through my hometown and surrounding areas in Kentucky. I was driving home from work while the phone calls and texts were pouring in, warning me to stay North. I have to admit it was frightening, and for several minutes (that felt like hours) I was worried that I may be driving directly into my demise. When I pulled off my exit, it was like entering a ghost town. Besides the pouring rain and few other cars, there was little commotion at all. All of the street lights were off and most of the people were hiding in their basements.

I was surprised to find that my home was perfectly intact, my dogs excited as ever to see me, and we even still had power! My husband arrived minutes after me and we spent the next couple hours watching coverage and realizing how incredibly lucky we were.

At least three tornadoes touched down in the tri-state area (SE Indiana, N Kentucky, SW Ohio). The count of lives lost is up to 34 at this point with several others critically injured. We are blessed to not have been hurt and our home suffered no damage, but many others were not so lucky. One of the tornadoes destroyed a neighborhood and nearby streets just a few miles from my own home.

Today, my husband and I ventured out to assess the damage and lend a helping hand however possible. Unfortunately, they aren't allowing us to help just yet but they are taking donations of all sorts at the local city buildings and churches. My heart is broken for those people who lost their homes, their lives, their loved ones, and their pets.

The following photos are not my own but were taken by friends and local news crews.




What is most amazing to me is the overwhelming support that came almost immediately for those in need. Over 1,100 locals have already joined an online group on Facebook that was created within an hour of the news reports of the damage. People are showing up in large masses to donate supplies, clothing, food, and to lend a helping hand. The line of traffic of folks just trying to get in to help was a mile long. It's inspiring to say the least! I am praying for everyone who was affected by the tornadoes last night and for everyone jumping at the chance to help as well.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

DIY: Tile Drink Coasters


I have been seeing this cute little project all around on Pinterest. I don't know where it originated, but it's very simple and fun to do! What you need:

Plain tiles from the hardware store
Paper
Mod Podge
Sponge brush
Felt
Craft glue


Gather up your materials. You will need to cut your paper to fit the tile pieces prior to beginning this project. Prep your tiles by spreading a generous amount of Mod Podge all over the surface with your brush. Line up your paper onto the tile and smooth across across the top. Using a credit card or something similar, rub out any bubbles or wrinkles across the paper. Clean up any glue that seeps out with the sponge brush. Allow to dry completely, at least 20-30 minutes. Once glue is dry, spread another generous amount of Mod Podge over the entire surface of the paper/tile. Again allow to dry completely. When surface is totally dry the coasters are ready to use! One final step to keep your tiles from scratching up your table surfaces is to glue felt pieces to the bottom. Simply apply dabs of glue to the under side of the tile and glue down the felt.


Let the glue dry totally and your coasters are ready to use! Using different designs of paper would make these perfect for any season, holiday or occasion! They'd even be great as a gift for someone you love :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Recipe: Scrumptious Simple Salmon

I have fallen a bit behind in my new recipe posts. I might need to start doubling up and do two a week to catch up! The goal is to have 52 new recipes by the end of the year, and here is number six...

Scrumptious Simple Salmon


Ingredients:

2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
1/2lb of salmon
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 lemon, divided*
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
1/4 cup cream
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
    *How do you divide a lemon, you ask? You're gonna need half a lemon; cut a few thin slices out of it for garnish for your salmon and save the rest to juice for the orzo.

    In a small saucepan, boil orzo pasta in water until al dente (about 9 minutes). Drain water, add cream and squeeze the lemon juice in and stir. Turn heat down to low and add Parmesan and a pinch of basil. Cover and simmer until ready to serve.

    In the meantime, stir together the remaining basil, garlic powder, and salt in a small bowl. Rub evenly all over the salmon filets.

    Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the salmon and cook until lightly browned and flaky, about 5 minutes per side. Serve each piece of salmon with a lemon wedge on top and pasta on the side.(I actually placed a big spoonful of pasta in the middle of the plate and laid the salmon right on top to look more fancy ;) )

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    DIY: Stenciled pillow covers.


    Our home is FULL of beige and brown, and I'm finally getting sick of the blah. I am trying to find small, inexpensive ways to add color throughout the house. One super easy way to do that is with throw pillows! I really just needed to cover the drab pillows we already had, so I decided to make pillow covers. I purchased a light-weight, creamy colored fabric for $3/yd, a large bottle of acrylic paint for $1.65, 3 sheets of stencil "paper" for $3, and I already had the roller and sewing machine. So in total to make two rockin' throw pillows, I paid about $8. I say that's a pretty good deal! Not to mention having paint and stencil paper to spare. Plus it always feels nice to be able to say "I made that". 
    If you want to make your own awesome throw pillows, here's how:

     

    1. Find yourself a neutral colored fabric and a paint color you like. You can purchase stencils of all sorts online or at any craft store, but stencils can be a bit pricey and you may not find the design you are looking for. I decided to make my own using a sheet of stencil paper and an Xacto knife.

    2. Lay your fabric out onto a clean solid surface. You may want to lay down newspaper or cardboard underneath to catch any paint that soaks through. Place your stencil onto the pillow in your desired position. I chose to do a repeating pattern so I placed my stencil at the top left corner of the fabric, painted, then moved it over making sure to line it up right as I went. You can also use tape to hold the stencil in place as you paint. I would suggest waiting a minute or two to let the paint dry slightly before moving the stencil.

    3. Once your fabric is painted and dried completely, you can begin to sew it into a pillow! Sewing an envelope pillow cover is very easy but I'm not sure that I could explain it properly, so if you're not sure about that part I suggest this video.

    Now that I've made my first set of pillows, I'm already rummaging through my fabric stash for more fun pillow ideas. I made the blue flower pillow covers from an inexpensive patterned fabric I had on hand. At this rate, my couch will be covered in no time!
     


    Sunday, February 12, 2012

    Quick & Tasty lunches

    These are two very simple and delicious lunches that aren't terribly bad for your health, either (or that's what I tell myself anyway!)

    #1: Avocado & Tomato on French Bread



    Ingredients:

    Avocado
    Tomato, sliced
    Salt & pepper, to taste
    Olive oil
    Shredded mozzarella
    Fresh lemon or lemon juice
    French bread or baguette

    I didn't list measurements because I don't typically measure meals like this. I just simply poured some olive oil into a cup and sprinkled in a few shakes of sea salt and pepper, then brushed both sides of a slice of French bread and grilled it on the electric griddle. I mixed half of an avocado with a pinch more salt and a few squirts of lemon juice, then spread the avocado mixture onto the slice of grilled French bread, sprinkled with Mozzarella cheese and topped with a slice of tomato. YUMM!

    I spotted this delicious "Simple Lunch" here by Joy the Baker. I only did a few things differently when I made mine (grilled the bread, added cheese and tomato) but I am willing to bet that it's delicious her way too!



    #2: Chicken Salad with Tarragon


    Ingredients:

    1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked & shredded
    1 stalk celery, finely chopped*
    2 tbsp dried cranberries*
    2 tbsp chopped pecans*
    1 tsp lemon juice
    3 tbsp mayonnaise*
    1 tsp dried tarragon*

    * All of these are "to taste"-- some may like more mayo or less, more celery or less, so just make it to your own liking!

    Mix all ingredients together and (if you have the time) let sit in the refrigerator in an air tight container for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld. I like to eat this chicken salad best on a croissant or crackers.

    This is one of my top two favorite chicken salad recipes (I'll post my other fave another day). I found it a while back at Simply Recipes and I think what I like most is that it's simple to make and always tasty. Chicken salad is a regular a go-to for me but my mood usually decides what type of chicken salad I want that day. This one never fails to please my taste buds!

    Sunday, February 5, 2012

    Recipe: Corn Chowder with Chicken & Bacon

    My favorite thing to happen is when I decide to whip something up on a whim, not really knowing what to expect, and it turns out surprisingly delicious. That was exactly the case with this week's new recipe! I was in a warm & hearty soup kind of mood, and I didn't want to have to go to the grocery... So I started rummaging through the pantry and fridge to see what I had on hand. I've eaten some tasty chowders (clam chowder is my favorite), but never corn chowder. So what the hey? I thought corn chowder sounded pretty good for a Sunday dinner... And it was!

    Corn Chowder with Chicken & Bacon




    Ingredients:

    1 small onion, chopped
    1 stalk celery, chopped
    3-4 slices of bacon
    1 large potato
    1 boneless skinless chicken breast
    1 small can of creamed corn (8.5oz)
    1 small can of sweet corn (8.5oz), drained
    1 can of chicken broth (14oz)
    1 half-pint of heavy cream
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp pepper
    2 tbsp butter or margarine
    3 tbsp flour 
    1 tbsp cooking oil 


    Start a pot of boiling water on the stove. Peel and chop potato into bit sized pieces and add to the boiling water. While potato is cooking, place chicken breast in a skillet with the cooking oil, cover and cook on medium heat until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Set chicken aside to cool.

    In a large saucepan, fry 3-4 slices of bacon over medium heat. Remove bacon once crispy and set aside.  Do not drain grease from the saucepan.

    Chop onion and celery and add to the bacon grease in the saucepan. Cook and stir until tender. Add butter and flour; mix until flour is dissolved. 
    Add heavy cream to saucepan and stir well. Mix in the can of creamed corn, the drained sweet corn, the chicken broth, and salt & pepper. Heat on med until boiling. Reduce heat to low.
     
    Shred the chicken breast, crumble the bacon, and drain the pot of chopped potatoes. Add all of these to the soup in the saucepan, cover and simmer for about 15 more minutes. Serve with warm rolls and enjoy!

    Note: I personally like my chowder on the thicker side, but if you feel it's too thick just add a little milk until it reaches your desired consistency. :)

    Tuesday, January 31, 2012

    DIY: Glass "Etched" Salt & Pepper Shakers.


    I have seen a lot of lovely projects recently involving etched glass. I found several DIYs online that used an etching cream, and thought that seemed simple enough and was a good place to start. So, off to the craft store I went. FYI: when I go to the craft store I get completely lost in craft-land. I spent a combined 3 1/2 hrs at our local Hobby Lobby and Michael's yesterday, and left without half of what was on my list but a few extra things I hadn't intended to buy. I couldn't find the etching cream at my first stop, but I did pick up some Krylon Frosted Glass Finish. At the second stop, I found the etching cream but when I saw the price I decided to stick with the frosty spray finish instead.

    Like I said, there are a ton of awesomely great ideas for glass projects, but I figured for my first time ever I should start small. I decided to decorate some salt and pepper shakers that I purchased at the dollar store a while back for... a dollar. Making this total project cost about $8, with plenty of frosted finish to spare.
     

    Materials:
    • Painters tape
    • Krylon Frosted Glass Finish
    • Glass salt & pepper shakers
    • Stencil or stickers



    Tape off all the areas of the project that you do not want to be frosted. I wanted just a tiny bit of it frosted, so I basically covered the entire shaker with tape, leaving a small square on the front.

    Place your stencil, or in my case a sticker, on the surface where you would like it to go as well. Remember, anything covered will not be frosted.

    Following the directions on the back of the bottle, in a well-ventilated area, spray the exposed surfaces with several thin coats of the finish. Allow to dry approximately 20-30 minutes before removing the sticker/stencil.

    If there is any sticky residue left from your stickers (this happened to me), grab a q-tip and some nail polish remover to clean it off. The nail polish remover WILL remove the frosty finish as well, so be careful. But don't worry, if this happens (it happened to me), just replace your sticker/stencil and spray it again. I used a combination of q-tips and a toothpick to clean up my lines and remove all the sticky residue.

    Remove the painters tape last. I suggest waiting about an hour before doing this just to be sure everything is dried up. If any of the spray seeped under the tape (this happened to me), just clean it up with your trusty q-tips, toothpicks and nail polish remover.

    For my first project I think the results aren't bad at all. It wasn't as difficult as it sounds, just be patient and allow the finish to dry before you go peeling off your stickers!

    Monday, January 30, 2012

    Recipe: Balsamic & Garlic Pork Tenderloin

    I have challenged myself with the task of trying one new recipe a week for every week of the new year, and so far it is moving along nicely. I have to admit that coming up with the time to choose a worthy new recipe, purchase the ingredients that I don't already have, prepare it and cook it, is harder than I thought it would be. But I am determined to keep this going! Not only because I don't want to fail at the one and only "resolution" I made this year, but because I LOVE food and I really enjoy cooking. I think it's important not to fall into the rut of eating the same old, same old all the time. When able, I will credit whatever blog, site, or cookbook that I adapted the recipe from. This one originally came from Kitchen Confidante. That blog is chock full of wonderful recipes and other food-related posts so I suggest you check it out! I followed the recipe pretty closely with just a few minor modifications.


    Ingredients:
    • 1 1/2 lb pork tenderloin, or two 3/4 lb loins
    • 4-5 garlic cloves, finely minced or crushed & roughly chopped
    • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons oil for cooking 
    Mix together the garlic, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a small bowl. The original recipe describes the result as a paste, but mine was much runnier than that. More like a marinade.

    Place your tenderloins in a dish and brush on the marinade generously. I cut a few slits in my tenderloin and made sure to get plenty of marinade inside there too. Then, I ended up pouring the entire mixture over the tenderloins and massaged it in using my fingers for a minute or so.

     

    I recently read an article that described common cooking mistakes. One of them was not allowing your meat to reach room temperature before cooking. So, remembering that, I left my covered tenderloins to marinate on the counter for about 2 hours before cooking. This will also allow it to really soak up the flavors of the marinade and makes for an incredibly moist tenderloin. 

    Preheat your oven to 400°. Heat the cooking oil in a saute pan over med-high heat. Move the tenderloins to the skillet and cook in the oil until browned on all sides, about 4-5min. total.

     

    Place tenderloins in a baking dish and pour any leftover marinade on top. Bake in the preheated oven until cooked through, about 30-35min. Let rest several minutes before slicing.

    Serve and enjoy! This is easy and DELICIOUS.

     
    **October 17, 2013 EDIT: The photo above is the original photo taken for this recipe. I made this again tonight for dinner and it was even better than last time! I made a few very slight tweaks the recipe which are reflected above, as well as a couple of new photos.

     
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