Monday, May 22, 2017

Italian Pasta Salad

It's always hard to distinguish one salad from another on the internet, so the best way I can describe this recipe is that....I like it so much I have an old fashion recipe card written for this one, you know, in case the internet goes out of style and we stop keeping electronic copies...this one is one I DON'T want to lose.  Some pasta salads are bland, but not this one.  It's definitely a tangy salad with the salami and lemon juice.  I love it, and love that it doesn't leave me craving flavor.  It's a super simple one to throw together and....it makes enough you might actually be willing to share a bowl or two.
Italian Pasta Salad
Ingredients:  1 lb angel hair pasta (cooked), 1/2 lb salami (chopped), 1/2 c. black olives, 1/2 c. green peppers (chopped), 1/2 c. roasted red peppers (chopped), 1/2 c. marinated mini mozzarella balls (halved), 1/4 c. olive oil, 2 T. lemon juice, 1 t. kosher salt, 1/4 t. crushed red peppers
*if you can't find the marinated mozzarella balls, you can use cubed mozzarella pieces.  
Instructions:  
1.  Cook the pasta according to the directions (until al dente).  Drain, and place in a bowl.
2.  Add salami, olives, roasted red pepper, green peppers, and mozzarella.
3.  In a separate bowl whisk olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and red pepper flakes.  Toss with salad.
Serve immediately, or serve cold.....it's great either way.
*SERVES 8

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Strawberry and Banana Fluff

I pretend when you stick strawberries and bananas in something it's practically a fruit salad.  And hey, yogurt is good for you, right?  Whatever-even if there was nothing redeemable about the health of this dish, it's super delicious and the perfect little scoop after a nice dinner from the grill.  Really, that's just an excuse-the first time I made this it just turned into my lunch the next day because I walk a fine line when it comes to dessert-ish dishes and if I can redeem it-I'll count it.  Try it because it's yum.
Ingredients:  1 box (3.4 oz) cheesecake or white chocolate pudding mix, 12 oz whipped topping, 18 oz strawberry yogurt, 1 lb strawberries (sliced), 3 bananas (sliced just before serving), 3 c. marshmallows (optional)
Instructions:
1.  Mix yogurt, whipped topping, and pudding mix.  Place in the fridge for at least an hour.
2.  Just before serving, add in strawberries, bananas, and marshmallows

Monday, May 15, 2017

Crockpot Brown Sugar Chicken

This was a really easy recipe to throw together in the crockpot.  It's not too sweet (which I find a lot of these chicken recipes end up being), and...it goes good with rice...and anything that makes friends with a carb is a friend of mine.


Crockpot Brown Sugar Chicken
Ingredients:  4 chicken breast (about 2 lbs-boneless and skinless), 1 c. packed brown sugar, 2/3 c. vinegar, 1/4 c. lemon-lime soda, 3 T minced garlic, 2 T soy sauce, 1 t. fresh ground pepper, 1 T corn starch, 2 T water
Instructions:  
1.  Spray crockpot with non-stick cooking spray (or use a liner)
2.  Place chicken (frozen or thawed) into crockpot.  
3.  Mix all the other ingredients (except the cornstarch and water) together and pour over the chicken.  
4.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours (frozen chicken needs longer).  
5.  Remove chicken, it should be falling apart.  
6.  Place the sauce in a pan and add the water and corn starch to the pan.  Heat, let it come to a boil and boil for 2-3 minutes (should start to thickin and turn into a glaze).  
7.  Remove from heat and let it sit for a few minutes.  Pour over chicken and serve.  I shredded mine over rice....because...carbs.  
The original recipe came from six sister stuff.  

Friday, May 12, 2017

Golden Book Scrapbook

 I decided this year I was going to buy old Golden Books and make scrapbooks out of them.  I've seen journals, and when I searched I even found some albums.  Instead of scrapbooking on the page itself, I inserted pages throughout the book so pictures good be added, but the stories could still be read.
 Here is a video walk through of all the pages.

 There are some things I didn't show in the album....first....I sliced off the spine of the book with a paper cutter.
...and this is the binding machine I used.  You could also take it to an office store, but the one thing I learned was that I needed to cut down the pages and punch them before I embellish them b/c I did have some trouble fitting them into the binder with the stickers etc on the pages.
This one I kept pretty simple to fit my pal's taste, but my plan is to do some more and really jazz them up.  I may even add some photos to a few before gifting them.
 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Dinosaur Party Hats

 I helped out with a dinosaur party a few months back.  The goal was to make as many 'at home' projects and save as much money as possible.  I looked up party hats and found that designs generally ranged around 4 bucks for 8.  I needed 24.
 I found that the dollar store had some generic hats 8 for a dollar, so I bought those and used some construction paper (a great time to buy construction paper is during the back to school sales in August).  I measured one hat out to get the right shape to cover the hat and used this for my template.  I then wrapped it around each hat and stapled it.  The staples didn't matter b/c I used the scales to cover up the staples.
I super glued the scales down the staples.  For a few bucks I made a bunch of dino hats for what I would have spent over twenty bucks for, AND I varied the colors to make it a little more fun.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Broccoli and Bacon Side Salad

It's May, which means the BBQs are lighting up again....which means it's my favorite cooking season-side salads!  I made this awhile back for a potluck I was attending.  I really enjoyed it because it wasn't too saucy, but flavorful.   If you like bacon, this is right up your alley.
Broccoli and Bacon Salad
Ingredients: 
12 oz pkg of spiral pasta, 1 c. mayonnaise, 1/4 c. red wine vinegar, 1/4 c. sugar, 1 t. salt, 2 c. raw broccoli (chopped), 1 c. cheddar cheese (cubed), 1/2 c. roasted sunflower seeds (salted or unsalted), 1/2 c. bacon (cooked and crumbled), 1/2 c. red onion
Instructions:  
1.  Cook pasta according to package.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Toss in bowl with broccoli, cheese, sunflower seeds, onion, and bacon.
2.  In a separate bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, sugar, and salt.  Pour over pasta and toss.
3.  Chill for at least one hour.

Friday, May 05, 2017

DIY Dinosaur Party Projects

I recently helped a friend host a birthday party for her daughter's 7th birthday.  The goal was to do as many simple/diy projects as possible.  I tried to pick things that weren't intimidating.  One thing we made were these pudding cups.  We did this in place of ice cream and served them next to the cake.  We crushed oreos and made layers of oreos and pudding.  On the top I also placed a little plastic dinosaur in each and some chocolate rocks and we called it prehistoric dirt.  

I also made this banner.  I googled an outline for a dino skull and then just placed it over construction paper and cut out the shape.  I punched out the birthday girl's names and strung them all together.  I love layering banners so I also added the pompom puffs from the dollar store, and some dino punches.  All for less than two bucks.  
I also decorated a frame and made some picks and took pictures of each kiddo.  They loved this.  I put out some stickers and paper 'frames.'  They glued the picture to the middle and decorated the frame.
More to come, but...so far-minus some construction paper (you can grab for pennies at back to school sales in the fall), most of these has been practically free.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Dinosaur Party Details

A month or so back I helped with a dinosaur themed party.  I have lots of finished details I'll share in another post, but here is some of the prep.  I made a shirt using my cricut machine and some iron on vinyl.  The nice thing about the dinosaur is you could print out a design from online and lay vinyl over and cut it out and make your own without a machine.  I also made a welcome sign for the door using one of the dinosaur metal cut outs I found at Hobby Lobby.  They had two different designs and I grabbed it when it was half off.  Again, I added a vinyl message that I'm pealing off...a ribbon and a bow to greet guest.  
 There are several different activities, but one that was age appropriate, and seasonal (though I thing you can get away with this all year) was an egg hunt....a DINOSAUR egg hunt.  I ordered the fillers from Oriental Trading.  I found a couple coupons by searching online so I got 10 dollars off my order and free shipping.  I ordered some eggs with puppets inside (it was the same cost with or without the eggs for these puppets).  I also ordered stamps, gummies, erasers, stickers, foam stickers, and 144 different shades of green eggs (they have a ton of different colors).
 I also made a banner-modeling it after a bunch I saw online.
 I just looked up a skull outline, printed it and then placed my paper behind it and cut.  I free handed a tail and then made little banners with her name spelled across it.
More details to come...

Monday, May 01, 2017

Fruit Salad

It's time for fruit.  I discovered this fruit salad last summer and it really was delicious.  I like it because it's one that you can make beforehand, but it doesn't require creams and mayo and all the things that take away the benefits of eating fruit.  OK, yes, there is some brown sugar, but....in the grand scheme of life, this one leans more towards healthy than not in my mind.  I didn't have blueberries to toss in when I made this (because the  crop at the store had seen better days), but really, any combination of fruit works, it's the sauce that makes the salad!
So, warm weather, and fruit...I'm ready for you!
Fruit Salad
Ingredients: 2/3 c. orange juice, 1/3 c. lemon juice, 1/3 c. (packed) brown sugar, 1 t. vanilla,   1/2 t. orange zest, 1/2 t. lemon zest, 2 c. cubed pineapple, 3 peeled and  sliced bananas, 3 kiwis peeled and sliced, 2 c. strawberries (remove stems and slice), 1 c. seedless grapes, 1 orange (peeled) and sliced, 2 c. blueberries
Instructions:  
1.  Bring orange juice, lemon juice, orange and lemon zest, and brown sugar to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat and let simmer for about 5 minutes (should be thickening up).  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  
2.  Toss all the fruits and the cooled sauce together in a bowl.  Cover and put in the fridge for at least 3 hours.  

Friday, April 28, 2017

Laundry Room Makeover

In January, I FINALLYdecided to tackle my Laundry Room/Utility Room.  Through the years it had become this place where I shoved everything I kept meaning to do something with until it became almost unwalkable. In the last few years I've redone my bedroom, closet, craft room, and now my utility room.  My living room/kitchen/yard that everyone sees needs some major TLC, but.....their day will come.  Redoing these unseen rooms actually makes the biggest impact on me  I breath so much easier!  As much as I wanted to go all out-I used the shelves and things I had already.  I did give the walls a coat of white paint b/c it's a dark room, and I threw down a rug over the concrete floor.  Maybe I'll go back SOMEDAY and add some 'real floors', but there are so many other things in my house that need some attention, and this is a million times better than it was.  I don't have a before in this case b/c....I'd like to be left with some dignity.  It was a hard room to photograph b/c it's long and skinny (an add on from the garage), so I took a video TRYING to show a bit more....that video lives here....
https://youtu.be/CSttADHct_4

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Freezer Bread

 As a single, usually when I make a meal, if I don't cut it in half, I eat on it for a week...which can get old.  I recently ran across this recipe for freezer garlic bread.  Uhhh, yes.  The best part is that you can just pop it out a few slices at a time and heat and eat.  And eat it.  And eat it.  And eat it.
Freezer Garlic Bread
Ingredients:  1 stick of butter (softened), 2 T olive oil, 1 T. parsley, 4 cloves of minced garlic, 1/4 t. salt, 1 loaf of french bread (cut into 16 slices).
Instructions:
1.  Mix butter, oil, parsley, garlic,and salt together.
2.  Spread evenly over bread.
3.  Place bread in freezer for 10 minutes until butter hardens some.
4.  Stack bread by twos and place in freezer bags.  Freeze for up to three months.
5.  Pull out and place in 400 preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

I made these last winter....during one of the four days of winter we get here in Texas.  When it's cold....all I want is spring.  I'm sure I could enjoy winter more if I were more equipped physically and mentally, but it's such a rare occurrence (at least lately)...it throws me for a loop.  But these lemon muffins....I'm pretty sure they don't need to be limited by a season!
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Ingredients:  1 yellow cake mix, 1 1/4 c. water, 1/3 c. vegetable oil, 3 eggs, 2 T poppy seeds, 1 T lemon extract
Instructions:
1.  Heat oven to 350.
2.  Grease 24 muffin cups, or line with paper baking cups.
3.  Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until the cake mix is well incorporated and no longer lumpy.
4.  Fill cups to 2/3 cups full.  Bake 18-23 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean with inserted.
*makes 24 muffins

Friday, April 21, 2017

 I actually made this album for a friend's birthday.  Occasionally some of my friends read my blog, so...if you see 'your' gift in advance....sorry!
 A lot of my friends take pictures, but they really aren't into scrapbooking.  I stopped giving scrapbooks to non-scrapbookers years ago b/c I don't think the gifts are really useful/nor is the time that goes into them understood, but I decided this year I'm going to give it one more go as my friend's have kiddos that get older and their online photos are getting dusty on instagram and facebook.  It scares me to think about the number of pictures that will be 'lost' because they are on a phone and never printed.  I digress...
I found this little drawer and decided it would be an adorable holder for a scrapbook.  I bought these little tags and I found a bunch of different quotes to represent each month of the year.  
I used my scraps and paper embellishments and I made a 'main' month tag for each month, but then I also made three colorful tags to go behind each month.  The idea is that she can add pictures and stories to the tags that go along with each month so that at the end of the year, there is a year worth of stories and pictures.  
I love the way this first project turned out.  Next up, golden book scrapbooks...

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

BBQ Chicken

I found this recipe at Natasha'sKitchen and it was so simple, delicious, and it makes enough for an army.  I'm an army of one, so I froze part of it for later.  I put this together a few months back.
During the busy holidays the crockpot is about as big of a commitment as I make to most dinners..mostly because my oven is busy, but seriously, busy or not, this one is staying in my rotation.
Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken
Ingredients:  3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken, 1 1/2 c. bbq sauce, 1/2 medium onion (grated with juice), 1 T olive oil, 1 T. Worcestershire sauce, 2 T. brown sugar

Instructions:  Stir all ingredients together (except chicken).  Add chicken and turn to coat.  Cover and cook 4 hours on high or 7 hours on low.  Take a fork and shred and stir with juices.  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Birthday Party in a Box

My friend, Regan, lives up in Seattle....really really far from family and friends.  Her husband is in the military and this is where Uncle Sam wants him for the time being.  It's a fun place to visit for the rest of us, but....I know birthdays aren't as fun without friends around, so I decided to send her a birthday party in the mail.  A friend did something like this for me once in college and it was the cutest.  I bought a banner, confetti, plates, napkins, and a made a pinata where I put her gift inside.  Here is that tutorial. Unicorns are our joke.   No doubt, birthdays are better when served up on a princess plate.


Friday, April 14, 2017

DIY Dinosaur Invitations

 I helped out a pal with a dinosaur themed party project.  I added the additional task of doing it on the cheap just to see what I could do....and because she was game.  I wanted to go back to basics of how things used to be before people rented ballrooms and cotton candy machines for their kid's 2nd birthday.  No cutting machines or fancy scrapbook paper.  Don't get me wrong-I'm a girl that even owns a little cotton candy machine, BUT.....my challenge was to try to pull from my stash and not go purchase.
 I started by finding a free outline of a dinosaur.  I pasted it to word and then typed the invitation info so that it fit in the dino.  I then cut out along the outline.  It would be cute on green paper, but what I had was white copy paper, so white is what I went with.  I did glue it to some orange construction paper and make a border just to make it pop a bit.
 I then cut out two egg shapes (big enough to cover the size of the dino.  I cut the one of them in half in a zig zag (like a cracking egg).  I embellished and layered it a bit to give it some fun colors, but the gist is I took the bottom half, some tacky glue, and glued it down.
 When it dried it made this pocket (where I slipped my dinosaur).
 I did NOT glue the top half on.  I punch a hole in the side of the bottom half with the glued pocket, and the side of the top half and pushed a brad through.  Again, I had some (they sell them at craft stores and office supply stores-you can even get fun colors).  If you don't have brads-you could use ribbons.
This allows the top half to tilt out and then you pull the dino out of the pocket with the invite information.
Lots more DIY dino to come....