Friday, August 31, 2012

Cajun Rice Delight...That Cooks Itself

I'm always torn over the summer because I have time during the day that actually allows me to cook, but on the other hand, it's approximately 1,234 degrees outside, and the last thing I want to do is turn on an oven, so.....thus begins a hunt through recipes I've saved, filed, planned out that don't actually require baking.  Sure, there are a plethora of crockpot recipes out there, but I'm saving those for the winter months when I'm not home to cook, enter....skillet meals.  In particular, this meal was great because it literally cooks itself once you toss it in a pan.  I had this ragged little strip of paper I had pulled from who knows what source (I'm thinking someone at work), and it was a good recipe, but most importantly, it didn't heat my house, and it actually took very little cooking.  I had precut the veggies the night before, so it was a matter of a few measurements and it was ready to go.  This was a great 'basic' Cajun rice meal, and I think it's all in the seasoning.  I skipped the hot sauce the recipe calls for and add more salty type seasonings, but that's because I have a unhealthy love for salt thanks to all the running.  OK....and without further ado..an easy dinner idea....
Cajun Rice Delight Recipe
Ingredients:  1 c. extra long grain rice, 8 oz smoked link sausage (sliced...I doubled mine b/c that is how much was in the pkg), 1/2 c. onion (chopped), 1/2 c. green pepper (chopped), 2 c. okra (I skipped this), 16 oz. canned whole tomatoes (I chopped mine into fourths and I drained the juice from the can, but I did let some of the juice from the innards plop into the pan), 10 3/4 oz can chicken broth, 2 c. water, 1 t. sage, 1 t. hot sauce (skipped this), salt and pepper to taste. 
Instructions:  In a large pan, combine all the ingredients (uncooked at this point except the sausage which comes pre-cooked).  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove the lid and simmer an additional 10 minutes (or until the water has evaporated and the rice looks ready to go). 
Serves 6

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Yo-Yo Pillow

 Soooooo....a few months ago I was at a store and I saw a pillow made out of yo-yos.  I fell in love right up until I saw the price....52 dollars.  Eeeck.  I then began the process of taking it apart in my head and figuring out if I could make it.  I recently went to a retreat with some friends, some of who lived through the yo-yo making craze the first time around and they taught me how to make yo-yos.  It's super easy, and I blogged about it yesterday.  If I were really adventurous I would make a quilt, but.....that's not going to happen.  Sooooo, I've actually been trying to slowly acquire/make a collection of throw pillows for my living room to replace the pillows that are ten years old.  I want them to be eclectic and colorful....who knew it was so hard to find fun pillows.  I decided this was a must.  I won't go through the yo yo making process again, that's all document on yesterdays post, but basically, once you have a bunch of yo yos (I needed enough to cover a 12x12 piece of fabric....
 I decided to sew them all together but running a little thread towards the back of each yo yo and tying several knots.
 I took a piece of cream colored fabric cut to 12 by 12 and I pinned the four sides down. 
 I sewed a big square towards the edge, and then I took a needle and thread and I went through the center of each yo yo to attach it more securely to the pillow.  Clearly, it's a good thing I'm not a doctor in charge of stitching people up given my creative needle work. 
 At the suggestion of my friend, Jolene, I actually sewed 3 3/4 sides together with the right sides facing out.....since I was going to add a little binding, these seems will be covered, and I was able to insure I caught the edge of each outside yo yo a second time. 
 I then cut 2 1/4 inch piece of fabric (enough to go around all four sides, so....a little more than 48 inches).  I folded it and sewed the raw edge down to the front, the folded seam facing in towards the front of the pillow.  I brought it to the same opening. 
I stuffed the pillow, then finished closing it up and sewing on the last little bit of binding by hand.   I pulled the folded seam over all those stitches to the back side of the pillow and took a needle and caught the fold and the edge of the back of the fabric of the pillow to finish it off.  The same process as a quilt. 
 You could also use seam binding that only requires one stitch, but I was trying to be frugal and use the fabric at hand. A new concept for me....frugal.  It will probably last until tomorrow's post. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Making Yo-Yo's

 I'm always looking for little projects I can take on a plane with me....all that time away from crafts....it can be really trying......the yo yo is all over the craft stores these days, and I'll be sharing my first yo-yo project tomorrow, but first.....I had to figure out how to make these, and it's super easy.  I asked the experts....my friends that were around the first time yo-yo's were big.  I also was able to snag a collection of old fabrics (with a few newer from my collection) from some ladies that have been quilting forever and shared old scraps with me, which makes it even more special.  I love the idea that these little yo-yos have friends in quilts made by masters somewhere in the world. 
I digress.  Let me just say, first...I bought a yo yo maker, this little plastic thing I do NOT recommend.  BUT....if you are doing a yo yo project and want them to all be the same size, then create a template.  a 3 inch circle makes about a 1 inch yo yo....just experiment.  I wasn't actually looking for uniform size, so I just cut a bunch of small circles from random fabric. 
 I doubled over quilting thread.  and tied a knot, then began going in and out around the circle. 
 Literally, just follow the outside of the circle, stay as close to the outside as possible. 
 Come back to the start.  Pull tight. 
 Tie off a knot. 
 and literally just squish it down until you have this. 
 I used white thread so it showed up in the tutorial.  Use thread that matches the fabric better, or added a button to the center to cover up the thread. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Paint-By-Numbers....With Friends

I was recently clearing pictures off of my phone, and I completely forgot to blog about this little get together, and it really was a blog worthy night.  Somehow my job at work over the last few years has morphed into helping with the social events.  At the end of the school year, at the suggestion of some of the gals who have done this before, some of us decided to go to one of the local painting places.  These have been popping up all over Dallas, and I suspect further.  They have different names, I have no preference, we just chose one close to work.  Gnosh, Letsartparty, Painting with a Twist.  Each month they come out with a calendar of paintings you can choose between.  You choose a painting, and essentially the night they are going to 'create' that painting (if you have a big enough party you aren't tied to the art schedule, you can book the place for free.  Some of my friends have been taking their kiddos, and themselves to birthday parties under this painting umbrella).  We chose a pretty basic design (we voted, very democratic, I know....I used to teach Social Studies).  You show up and the place provides everything, the canvas, the paint...more paint if you are a fan of globs.  I am.  The apron, the brushes, and the instructor.  You can bring your own drink, and your own food. 
The 'class' lasted two hours with a break in the middle.  The instructor was really nice, and he took us step by step by easy step to create our art work.  There was a table (really, a room) full of people with all sorts of varying art skills, most of us don't paint, so.....it was great.  You can choose different colors, and a few ladies, not in our group, branched out, but even with us all following the same steps (they instructor and another lady also walked around and helped), they are all a little different, but all something we are hanging in our rooms/homes/garages.  Everyone really did have a good time.  It makes me nervous to plan new outings not knowing how they will go, and I think we were all in agreement this was definitely something we'd do again.  So....if you have a group, a birthday, friends, need to make friends, blank space on your wall.....I'm a fan of these painting places.  Just sayin'.

Back to School Craft Ideas


I'll be sharing a few teacher/student how to's on Good Morning, Texas today.  Last spring I linked 25 plus post...and counting here.  Since teaching is where I earn my keep, I've been studying the art of gift giving, and I've been blessed with gift getting along the journey.  I'll be sharing three simple, super cheap ideas made from scraps and salvaged materials.  With everything else pulling the purse strings at this time of year, cheap, but thoughtful is a good thing.  Here are the three crafts I'll be sharing, and the links with all the info, how to's, why's, and how to create world peace, and balance the governments budget....happy crafting.  :O)

  • Post-It Holders.  The link with all the how-to's is here

  • Clipboard.  The link with all the how-to's is here

  • Recycled Notebooks.  The link with all the how-to's is here

Monday, August 27, 2012

Old Jars

 I'll be filing this project under the category-things I don't know why I felt the need to make, but....I definitely needed to make them.  I've been seeing jars in all the craft stores lately decorated with tags and pictures.  I don't know why I like them, other than the fact that I like old glass anything, but.....I 'needed' some in my house. 
I found some old jars at an antique store for a steal, probably because they are, like, 5 years old, someone just didn't clean or dust them, so now they look about 30 years old....
 I ripped some strips of muslin so it would look frayed, and I cut burlap, pulling a few strands off the sides, again, a little fraying. 
 I glued those down, and then added some old lace I bought at an antique store, and then a flower I made using this method to the second jar.  I'm sure these will eventually get something to fill them or jazz them up, but for now I can check 'decorate old jars' off my to do list, trust me....it needed to get done. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sea Glass Necklace

 This summer my Mom, cousin and I went to Maine.  I discovered the addictive activity of searching for sea glass.  I came home with quite a collection of all sizes.....
 I decided to make a little some out of these pieces, so I went on the hunt of a way to create jewelry.  I saw quite a few different styles on the roads in New England, but I wanted to display some of my favorite pieces (the blue) in a necklace for my Mom's upcoing birthday.   I only had very tiny pieces of the blue.  After hunting down lockets, I found that most of the lockets out there only have enough room for a little piece of paper, but I found this company via a childhood friend of mine called Origami Owl.  Truly, just letting you know b/c I love it and not because I get anything for saying I love it....
 You can buy all sorts of charms to go inside, or to attach to the necklace, but I just bought a medium locket and I filled it with the sea glass.  I heart it. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Family Name Collage

Sooooooo...a few months ago my family came into town and I borrowed them for a little project I've been wanting to try out.  I've seen various projects like this, and I decide it was time to sort of capture a moment in family history.  I cut out some letters on tag board and I had my relatives get in various combinations to hold them.  One particular member was really....really....into letter holding and didn't like NOT being a part of the mix. 
After I went through the pictures, I used a piece of grass as the 'back drop' of empty space and then I squished them and overlapped them together in printshop.  I'm kind of digging the outcome.  I'm going to print some cards out with this picture for my family for Christmas.  They are good sports.  This would be fun for wedding photos, or other various events....

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chicken and Broccoli Noodle Caserole

The thing I love about summer is that I have the time to try out lots of new dishes.  The great thing about this 'new' dish....other than the fact that it was really tasty, is that it can be frozen for the next 9 months when time is something I read about in dictionaries.  I found this recipe on 6Sister's blog.  Chicken and Broccoli Noodle Casserole Recipe
Ingredients:  6 oz egg noodles, 2 t. oil, 4 cloves garlic (diced), 12 oz fresh broccoli florets (chopped), 1 T butter, 1 bunch green onions, 3 T flour, 1 3/4 c. chicken broth, 1 c. milk, 12 oz cooked/shredded chicken breast, 4 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese, cooking spray, 3 T shredded Parmesan cheese, 2 T Italian bread crumbs
Instructions:

1.  Cook noodles until al dente.  Set aside.
2.  Heat oil in a skillet and add garlic on medium heat.  Cook about 1 min (until golden).  Add broccoli and a little salt.  Saute and cover for 3 minutes until it begins to soften.  Set aside.
3.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a 9x12 inch casserole dish with cooking spray. 
4.  Heat butter on med heat.  When melted add green onions and cook 3 minutes.  Add the flour, a pinch of salt and stir.  Cook 3 more minutes. 
5.  Slowly add chicken broth.  Whisk for 30 seconds then add milk.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally for 7 minutes. 
6.  Remove pan from heat and add cheese and T of Parmesan cheese.  Add shredded chicken, noodles, and broccoli.  Coat everything evenly. 
7.  Pour into dish and top with the rest of the Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs.  Spray with a little cooking spray. 
8.  Bake 25 minutes.  Place under the broiler for a few minutes until golden.
*To freeze, before you cook the dish put foil over the pan.  You can put it into the fridge 24 hours before cooking, or add 25 minutes to the cooking time and move it directly from the freezer to the oven. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bobbin Storage

 I recently went on a little retreat with friends.  I decided (after witnessing a friend do this) to thread a bunch of bobbins in advance so I didn't spend my three days running out of thread (which always....always happens about 3 inches from any 'finished' portion of whatever project I'm working on).  I found this idea on sew4home on storing bobbins so they aren't rolling around, unraveling, and being a messy tangle of threadnessmess.
See, messy bobbins.
 One pedicure and free 'toe separator thingies that hurt and I rip off before even stepping out of the chair' later.....ta da, organized bobbins.
The good news, sure you can purchase your own set of these things for a few cents, but.....I personally think it's just not the same unless you acquire a pair via a pedicure....it practically is saving you money!  Clearly, I'm ready for Washington's budget committee meetings. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hashbrown Waffles

 I think I may have just entered a stage of my life entitled "waffle iron obsession."  I saw these waffle iron hashbrowns pinned awhile ago, but the pin just links to a picture.  That drives me crazy as a blogger.  I can't take credit, and I can't find the original owner after an extensive search.  If you know where this originated, let me know and I'll link....every site I've found doesn't list the original site, but they seem to all spring up the same time....hmmm.  Mystery.  Whoever it is, is a genious.  Since there was not link, I just sort of invented some simple instructions.  You could certainly jazz these up by shredding your own potatoes, adding onions, or fun toppings like sour create, but I just went for the basics, and I was pleased enough, it's going to be a regular at my house.  As if I needed another reason to make another form of potato....
Basically, I bought a bag of frozen hash browns.  I already had a two person waffle iron.  I use 'person' lightly b/c the second waffle usually makes it's way into a doggy dish if I'm feeling full.
 I sprayed the whole 'machine' with cooking spray when it was heated up.  I threw down some hash browns and squeezed it tightly shut until the machine said it was finished.  It probably took about ten minutes.
Crunchy on the outside, just soft enough on the inside.  You could make at least ten with a bag of hashbrowns.  Yum!  And now I'm off to see what fits in a waffle iron.  :My chihuahua seems to be moving very rapidly away from my location at the moment.: