Monday, July 26, 2010

I'm Still Here!

I had a crazy busy week last week (don't worry it wasn't just all work and no play, there was definitely play involved!) and my poor blog was neglected! I had saved a couple of things I found earlier in the week for my "Things I Like Thursday" post that I clearly didn't get to, so I will share them with you today!

Unfortunately, my blog was not the only thing that was left behind last week, my house looks like it exploded! I'm sure you are all dying to know what I did last week, so a quick recap!

Monday night I met Hannah in Pella for a girls night. We had pedicures followed by supper! It was so nice to catch up! We do not get together often enough, life just gets in the way sometimes!

Tuesday I only worked until noon! Then I headed to Newton and my hubby took me to Quizno's for lunch! They just opened one in Newton and I am so glad, I love their food! Then I headed to Des Moines and did a little shopping and had my annual eye exam, then met up with Jenna to do some thrift store shopping! We have not seen each other in FOREVER, so again, it was so nice to catch up!

Thursday night, Maggie and I got together to make some cards! I am so glad that I have a friend to share this craft with!

I also managed to paint my craft room (pictures to come sometime, hopefully this week), have lunch with my mom, grandma, and aunt on Saturday, and spend a lovely day at the lake yesterday!

See why I have not done any blogging or cleaning (or laundry, or yardwork, or cooking for that matter)? I have been a busy girl!

This week should be a little more calm, so hopefully my house will get straightened up and I will be able to show you some awesome things! I do get to go to BUNCO tonight, so at least I have something fun to look forward to on this Monday!

Now for the projects that I didn't show you last week!

Charts for the amount of fabric necessary for re-upholstering furniture at All Things Thrifty.

Terry Spit Cloths at Scraps N' Strings.

Wall Reveal at You Craft Me Up!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Food Friday

I told you that I would be here with recipes this week! I didn't want to let you down two weeks in a row!

This week I thought I would share with you the recipes that I made for my first round of freezer cooking. The couple of recipes that I have tried have tasted really good!

All of these recipes came from "Once-a-Month Cooking" by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg. I would highly recommend this book if you would like to try your hand at freezer cooking. There are two-week and once-a-month plans in this book. They take you step by step thru the entire process! These recipes have obviously been tested to ensure that they work great for freezer cooking. I checked this book out from the library first and loved it, so I found it on Amazon for $2.18!! On to the recipes!

(Ingredients with an * are ones that you will prepare the day of serving)

Spaghetti Sauce
1 lb. bulk Italian sausage (or hamburger)
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 12-ounce can tomato paste
3 28-ounce cans Italian style or plain crushed tomatoes in puree
2 cups water
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 gloves)
4 bay leaves
2 T sugar
4 tsp dried basil leaves
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
4 T chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1 16-ounce package spaghetti*

In a large pot, cook and stir the meat with the onion until the meat is brown; drain fat. Add remaining ingredients, except the spaghetti. Bring sauce to a boil; reduce heat. Partly cover, and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. (If desired, simmer in a crockpot instead of pot) Makes 12 cups of sauce.

After sauce has cooled, freeze 4 cups for Spaghetti and 3 cups for Frech Bread Pizza; divide remaining 5 cups sauce in half, and freeze in 2 1-quart bags for Calzones.

To prepare for serving Spaghetti, thaw sauce, and heat in a medium saucepan. Cook noodles according to package directions, drain, and pour sauce over them. Makes 6 servings.

French Bread Pizza
1 loaf unsliced Frech Bread (not sourdough)*
3 cups Spaghetti Sauce*
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese*
1 cup grated Mozzarella cheese*
3 ounces Pepperoni slices*

This recipe is assembled on the day it's served. Put sauce in a 3-cup container, cheeses in 2 1-quart bags, and pepperoni in 1-quart bag; wrap bread in heavy foil. Freeze them together.

To prepare for serving, thaw French bread, sauce, grated cheeses, and pepperoni. Set oven to broil and/or 550 degrees. Slice loaf of French bread in half lengthwise. Layer sauce, parmesan cheese, pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese on each half. Place bread on baking sheet, and put in over. Broil until mozzarella is melted. Cut pizza into serving-size pieces. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

2 loaves frozen bread dough (Italian, French, or white)
6 ounces grated mozzarella cheese
5 cups Spaghetti sauce

Thaw two loaves of bread dough. Divide each loaf into 5 parts. One at a time, roll each dough piece on a floured board or stretch with your hands, making 10 7-inch squares. Fold each dough square over a pinch of cheese to form a turnover, and pinch edges to seal.

Place each turnover in a small sandwich bag. Put 5 turnovers in a 1-gallong freezer bag. Divide sauce in half, and store in 2 1-quart freezer bags; enclose each bag of sauce in a bag of Calzones. Do the same with the remaining 5 turnovers.

To prepare for serving, thaw sauce; heat in a medium pan 10 to 15 minutes until bubbley. At the same time, take frozen turnovers out of bags, and place them about 2inches apart on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for about 20 minutes. Turnovers will be golden brown when done. Ladle sauce on top of turnovers and serve. Makes 10 servings.

Chicken Packets
2 cups cooked, chopped chicken
1 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 T choped chives
2 T milk
Salt to taste
1/2 cup crushed, seasoned crouton crumbs*
2 8-ounce packages refrigerated crescent rolls*
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted margarine*

Mix chicken, cream cheese, chives, milk, and salt in a medium bowl (mixing with hands works best) to make filling, and store in a 1-quart freezer bag. Put crouton crumbs in another 1-quart bag, attach it to bag of chicken filling and freeze. Refrigerate crescent rolls.

To prepare for serving, thaw chicken mixture. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll crescent rolls. Each tube will contain 4 rectangles of dough with a diagonal perforation. Press dough along each perforation so the rectangle halves will not separate. Place about 1/2 cup of chicken mixture into the center of each rectangle. Fold dough over the filling, and pinch the edges to seal tightly. Dip each packet in melted margarine, and coat with crouton crumbs. Place packets on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Packets are good either hot or cold. Makes 8 packets. (I split the filling in half to make 2 separate batches of these since it makes so many servings) We had these this week and they are really good!

Chinese Chicken Morsels
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 cups)
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup regular, uncooked rice*

Cut chicken breasts (kitchen scissors work best) into 1-inch cubes. Mix lemon juice, soy sauce, mustard, oil, and pepper. Put marinade and chicken cubes in a 1-gallon bag and store in the freezer.

To prepare for serving, thaw chicken and remove from marinade. Warm marinade in a small saucepan. Place cubes about an inch apart on broiler pan treated with nonstick spray. Broil 4 to 5 minutes from heat for 7 minutes, brushing with marinade once. Turn chicken and broil another 4 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare rice according to package directions. Heat remaining marinade and serve over rice. Makes 4 to 5 servings. (I didn't like that you use the same marinade that you had the raw chicken in to marinade the cooked food, so I placed half of the marinade over the chicken to freeze and froze the other half in a separate bag to use when cooking.)

Chili Hamburgers
1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
2 T finely chopped green bell pepper
1 T minced onion
1 T chili powder
1 T chili sauce (I couldn't find this, but they tasted good without it!)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
4 Hamburger buns*

Thoroughly mix all ingredients except hamburger buns. Shape into 4 hamburger patties. Freeze in a large freezer bag, with waxed paper between each one.

To prepare for serving, thaw patties and hamburger buns. Grill or fry patties to desired pinkness in center. Serve on warmed hamburger buns. Makes 4 servings.

I hope you enjoy these recipes if you try them!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

July Stampin' Up! Party

As promised, here are the pictures of the cards we made at the Stampin' Up party Maggie and I went to last Saturday. Lots to do, so you are just gonna get a post with a lot of pictures!

Aren't they pretty?! And they were all super easy and fun to make!

Things I Like Thursday

I am sure you are all pretty shocked to see this post this early in the day huh? Well that is because it is actually Wednesday, I am ahead of schedule this week!!! How exciting! Since it is like the hottest day EVER here today, I don't have any desire to be anywhere but in my air conditioned house, blogging! Here are some things that have caught my eye this week.

A great tutorial on 7 Steps to Freezer Paper stencling at the Creative Maven.

3 Dozen (Plus four) Flower Tutorials at Oopsey Daisy! There are links to tutorials for any kind of DIY flower you would ever want to make, plus some!

Peanut Lime Satay Chicken from Making the World Cuter. Sounds pretty delicious!

Cupcake Flower Centerpiece from How Does She? Super Cute idea!

Kitchen Redo at the Purple Pea. Beautiful. I love it. I want this kitchen in my house!

Canvas Wall Art at the Purple Pea. Looks pretty easy and very pretty!

Flower Petal Pillow at The Adventures of One Crazy Lady. So cute! I'm loving the flowers this week if you can't tell!

Well there you have it, another edition of "things I like Thursday." I hope you find some inspiration from these projects! Happy Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I'm Back!

I just totally left you hanging after my "Things I Like Thursday" post! I said I would be back for Food Friday and I wasn't! I apologize, I had a very busy few days.

As you may recall, last week I talked about my freezer cooking plan. Well I planned what I wanted to make, did the grocery shopping and had every intention of setting aside Thursday evening for my cooking. That did not work out so well. The yard needed mowed and several other things needed taken care of so I was only able to barely start my freezer cooking. After several different sessions, my first plan is complete! I hope to share with you the recipes I made this time on this weeks Food Friday post!

Friday night, Nick and I met in Knoxville to have supper with his cousin and his wife who were visiting from North Carolina. They also brought along their five month old daughter! I absolutely fell in love with this baby! She has these big, beautiful brown eyes, and all she does is smile! I kid you not, this was the happiest baby I have ever seen! If you could promise me a baby like that, I would have 4 of them!

After dinner I checked my phone and had a voicemail from my mom saying that my grandma had to call 911 and the ambulance had taken her to the hospital but she didn't know much more than that yet. Not knowing how serious this might be, Nick and I decided to park one of our vehicles and head down there. It turned out that it was a very severe ear infection. Apparently when you have an ear infection that bad, it messes up the balance in your body, which would explain why the whole world was spinning for her whenever she sat or stood up! They thought it best to keep her overnight to give her meds and get her better. She ended up staying two nights and was released on Sunday.

Saturday, Maggie and I went to a Stampin' Up workshop and man oh man, it was a blast! We made 6 cards that afternoon and I love all of them! (I will try to do another post this evening and show you them!) I ordered the Stampin' Up demonstrator kit! So officially I am a Stampin' Up demonstrator, but I don't really plan on doing anything with that. I really just did it to get the discount on the products. I get 30% off my first order, so I am building my wish list! (Which is basically EVERYTHING in the catalog.

Sunday we woke up to dreary weather! It didn't rain all morning, but it looked like it was going to, so we didn't know if we should head to the lake or not. But when it started raining about 12:30 we decided to just stay home! Then Nick calls me at 1:15 when I had just left to run an errand and says he has the cooler packed and we are heading to the lake! It turned out to be, what we think anyway, the best day on the lake! There was hardly any boats out there, we tied up in one place for 5 hours or so and 3 boats went by the whole time! It was warm, but not too hot, no breeze, and the water was just like glass! We had a really hard time leaving!

This week hasn't been anything too special. I did have lunch with a Malea yesterday so that was fun! We met at a meeting in Des Moines and realized we have a lot in common! Always fun to make new friends! I also have plans to do some thrift store shopping with Jenna in Des Moines next Tuesday (and taking the afternoon off to have lunch with my hubby, go to my eye doctor and maybe make a trip to Hobby Lobby!), then Thursday night Maggie and I are getting together to make some cards! So I have a pretty exciting couple of weeks planned! The weather so far looks spectacular for boating this weekend! Oh, and don't forget, my Stampin' Up order should be here on Friday! Woo-Hoo!!!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Things I Like Thursday

I feel like I just blinked my eyes and Thursday is here again! I was going to get on here tonight and tell you that I have just been too busy doing important things to look at blogs and get ideas for this week's "Things I like Thursday" post, but that would be a lie. I want to keep it real around here, so I must come clean with all of you. I have been busy doing important things like mowing, laundry, dishes, crafts, and planning my freezer cooking, but I have also been doing something else. Something not important or useful at all. It is addicting though, let me tell you!

This is the reason I have not been finding all sorts of amazing projects out here in blogland:

This little beauty is my brand-spankin new Xbox 360 that we bought on Sunday! Isn't it pretty??!!

You want to know what makes this little addiction of mine even worse?? I'm not playing some girly cooking game or anything like that. Nope I'm playing this.

That's right, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is my new favorite pastime.

Those of you that have known me for year's are probably quite surprised by this new found love affair with video games. I never played video games when I was young! As a matter of fact, I would have told you 3 months ago that I hated this game! But then Nick taught me how to play. Suffice to say it was all down hill from there. The real problem is that this is only a one player game, so the two of us can't play the actual game together (unless we just play each other, which wouldn't be any fun). So we had to go buy a second Xbox, a second game, and pay for a second Xbox Live subscription just so I could play this game with him. Now I sit upstairs and he sits downstairs and we play, and talk on our headsets. How romantic are we?? I should tell you though, that we do not spend hours upon hours doing this, so don't worry that we have real issues. Just when we have free time!

The really great thing about this is that we can stream movies thru the Xbox, so now we have tons of movies right at our fingertips.

I apologize to those of you that came to my blog looking for some inspiration and all you hear about is my obsession with my new toy! I will be back next week with the normal "Things I Like Thursday" (if I can pry myself away from Call of Duty for that long:)

See you tomorrow for Food Friday!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Freezer Cooking: Getting Started

I will just begin this post with this fact: I really don't enjoy preparing supper on a nightly basis anymore. Now don't get me wrong, I love having a delicious meal prepared when my hubby gets home from work each night, but when it comes down to actually deciding each day what I would like to make and taking the time to make it, I really don't enjoy it. By the time I spend 1 1/2 to 2 hours at the gym each evening, do other house work, mow when it needs it, take care of other outside things, and do my "projects" (which I have to do to keep my sanity), supper is the last thing that I want to focus on. I'm not making excuses here and I almost always cook supper anyway, I'm just saying, there has to be a better way to manage my time and help me enjoy my evenings a little more. Enter Freezer Cooking!

I have spent several hours the last few days researching freezer cooking (or once-a-month cooking, batch cooking, or whatever else you want to call it) and have decided that I would like to give it a whirl.

Obviously time is the main factor that draws me to trying freezer cooking. You will spend a large amount of time doing your planning, shopping, and cooking up front, but each evening (when time is so precious) you will basically just heat up the meal and eat. Freezer cooking can also be a money saving tool. If you plan your meals that you will cook based on items that are on sale when you are doing your shopping, you will spend less than if you just thought, hey, steak sounds good for supper and run to the store and buy steak. It might not be on sale that night, so you are spending more than if you would have planned ahead. You will spend a significant amount on your large shopping day (once or twice a month depending on if you are attempting once-a-month cooking or two week cooking) but then you will only need to go back a few times for perishable items such as milk and produce. I don't know about you but I always buy more than just what was on my list when I go to the grocery store, so the less I go, the more I will save! Freezer cooking can also help you save money because you have an easy to serve meal at your finger tips when you are crunched for time. I know with us when we don't have a lot of time or it is last minute and I haven't thought of anything, we go out to eat. We spend more money and don't eat as healthy when we eat out!

So after deciding that freezer cooking may work for us, I now need to come up with a plan! Different techniques work for different people. Here is how I have decided to go about trying it this first time!

-Research! As I said I have spent several hours researching how to make this work rather than just running to the store and buying a cart full of stuff and not knowing what to do with it. Google "freezer cooking" or "batch cooking" and you will find several helpful links. I also found a book at the library called "Once-a-Month Cooking" by Mary Lagerborg and Mimi Wilson and it is awesome!! They give intro tips, then actual 2 week or 1 month meal plans with all of the shopping, prep, and cooking instructions. There are a ton of yummy sounding recipes so I went to Amazon and purchased the book today for $2.18!!

-Plan your recipes. I decided to start pretty small so I picked out about 4 or 5 recipes that sound good to try. Some of them will make enough servings for 2 meals for Nick and I so I will end up with about 2 weeks worth of meals with a couple of days of our favorites thrown in that won't work so well in the freezer.

-Prepare your grocery list. I went thru my recipes and wrote down all of the items I will need to buy. If I need multiples of one item, I just put a tally mark next to it so I know how many to buy.

-Shopping day! From everything I read, it is best to devote a separate day for shopping and cooking. If you try to shop, prep, and cook all in one day I think it would be very overwhelming! Don't forget to include things like freezer bags, freezer paper, aluminum foil, tupperware containers, masking tape, and a sharpie if you do not have enough!

-Prep. This can be the same day as your shopping day if you wish. This may be thawing stuff out, chopping or grating ingredients, or preparing all of your utensils.

-Cooking Day!! It sounds like you should plan about 4 hours for a two week cooking plan or 8 to 9 hours for a one month cooking session. Sounds like a lot, but think of all the meals you are making!

You should also spend some time researching different freezing tips and tricks as different items freeze better than others!

My plan is to do my shopping and prep work tonight and my cooking tomorrow night! I will be sure to update you and let you know how it goes. Hopefully it won't be a complete disaster for me!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Food Friday: Crispy Chicken Wraps

I thought by doing a weekly "Food Friday" post, it would get me to try more new things so I can share them with you!

This week I tried some Crispy Chicken Wraps and I loved them! Nick liked them too, but wants me to cut out the sour cream and add a little more spices to it next time. I didn't use the cilantro. I bought it and fully intended to use it, then I started cutting it up. I don't think I have ever used or tasted fresh cilantro and the smell just about made me gag, so somehow I didn't think I would like the taste of it either! Half this recipe was just right for the two of us as I didn't think they would be very good reheated. (I just copied and pasted this recipe in an email the other day and did not note where I found it! The recipe is originally from My Kitchen Cafe, but I found it on another blog, if I figure it out, I will let you know!)

Crispy Chicken Wraps

1/3 cup mayonnaise, light or regular

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 scallions, sliced very thin

2 tablespoons sour cream, light or regular

1 rotisserie chicken, skin discarded, meat shredded into bite-sized pieces (about 3 cups) You can also use canned chicken, which is what I did. I used one 10 oz. can for two wraps.

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

4 (12-inch) flour tortillas

1. Whisk the mayonnaise, cilantro, scallions, sour cream in a large bowl. Add chicken and toss to combine.
2. Sprinkle cheese over tortillas, leaving 1/2-inch border around edges, then arrange chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll stuffed tortillas, leaving edges open. Spray the tortillas all over with cooking spray.
3. Heat a large non-stick skillet (or griddle) over medium heat for 1 minute. Arrange 2 wraps, seam-side down, in pan and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining wraps. Serve.

Here is a recipe that I would like to maybe try next week!
Cheesy Sweet Potato Crisps from How Sweet It Is.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Things I Like Thursday

What a crazy week it has been!! It seems like it is always that way the week before a holiday and the week after! Work hasn't been crazy, but my evenings sure have been! Should be packing the truck up tonight so we are ready to roll when Nick gets home from work tomorrow! I just found a few projects that I think are really neat this week, enjoy!

Patriotic cup cake paper wreath at Mom in High Heels.

Glass Vase to Painted Blue Lamp at the Hand Me Down House.

Framed Twine Wreath at Brown Paper Packages

Come back tomorrow, I am going to try another weekly post called "Food Friday's." I will plan on trying at least one new recipe at my house each week and will share it with you on Friday's!