Sunday, August 29, 2010

Other goings On

Also for the last 2 weeks, I've really wanted some Nacho Cheese Doritos.  I can't eat very many at one time, and they smell horrid, but I just REALLY wanted some.  However, I never picked any up at the store, so today my wonderful husband bought them for me.  They tasted AMAZING!

While the a/c was out I still had a couple projects I wanted to work on so I moved my sewing machine to the dining room table (in front of the window unit) and got busy.  Here are a couple shots of the work in progress;
Trimmings from many half square triangles and pinwheels.  

Blocks before sewing on the sashing...hopefully that will happen this week.  I'm excited for this Christmas quilt.

This is my favorite wine.  I just thought you should know.  It's amazing.  Gewurztraminer from Llano Vineyards...sweet and spicy.

This is just a small glimpse of a painting in progress.  Something our pastor said last week really struck me and I just HAD to get it on the canvas.  It's close, but not quite there yet.  You'll see when it's done.

Until the next time, you might consider going to Albertson's and indulging in this;
Snicker's cake.  It is a dreamy creation that will make your mouth oh so happy.  Don't feel guilty either because they have a coupon for an 8" round that is only $3.99!  I'm not ashamed one bit.  It was a fantastic compliment to my Doritos for dinner!!

The new to us Porcelain

As I mentioned, we had several new to us boxes of porcelain to go through.  Here are some pictures of the wonderful treasures passed down to us from Aunt Mildred who was a phenomenal china painter.
 Just a look at it all in the floor....well, most of it.  And there are about 20 plates all stacked up because there wasn't enough space in our living room to actually spread it all out. *Edit* Please also note the bins to the left that contain numerous vials of powdered paints which are VERY difficult to come by in my house because of the cost.

Some beautiful Tulip Style tea cups and a little Christmas village waiting for the colors of the season.

A cute little birdie sitting in it's nest, some picture frames, plates, and several footed bowls.

Lots of little Texas ornaments, and even some ceramic soup spoons.

A lovely piece that just needs to go in the kiln (when we find a way to power it).

Do you see it? 

This beautiful little Japanese tea cup held quite a surprise.

A nice little Geisha staring back when you drink your tea.

This turtle needs to be fired, but I thought he was awfully cute.

Some ceramic eggs waiting to be decorated for Easter.  I've wanted to make some of these since the first time I saw the ones in my in-law's house that Mildred painted.

Some of the AMAZING talent of Mildred also known as Millie.  I fell in love with this as soon as the wrapping came off.   I don't know that I will ever be capable of this.

And last but definitely not least, my favorite piece of the whole lot.  This little flying pig ornament made me laugh and certainly made me think of Mildred more than anything else in the bunch.  It took me several days to get all this unpacked, and a few more to get it all packed back up to put in the garage/studio until I can do something with it.  I'm itching to get started. 

Why I've Been Gone

 A little over two weeks ago we had a death in the family.  It was quite surprising even if a little expected due to age.  Everything happened very quickly; we found out on a Friday night, my husband's parents drove in Saturday night, the funeral was Monday morning, and they left that afternoon.  The visitation and funeral were so touching for me.  The family was so open and inviting and we learned so much about everyone, even about a family vineyard out in Plains, TX that we didn't previously know about.  The service was so moving for me to hear about and even feel all the love that this amazing woman shared with the world.

With the visit, my in-laws also brought with them several gifts.  They gave us early anniversary, birthday, and Christmas presents which were; a fantastic stone baking pan from Pampered Chef,

a great Miche bag,

several boxes of porcelain from Aunt Mildred's studio.  More on this in another post.  And, Christmas ornaments.

Monday after they left this happened; 
the fan on our a/c locked up.  So, at 10 p.m. we trekked across town to pick up two window units from my parents.  We were SO thankful they had these and weren't using them.  Now, two weeks later we finally have a new system in place and working.  In light of these events I've not been willing to cook much, or do much for that matter.

And the next day this happened;

We got a new back fence.  It was much needed, and we really need to re-do the entire fence...but that isn't possible right now.

As you can see, it was a little busy around here.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Several missing posts

So, I know I've been out for a little while...there's been a lot happening in our world.'s your heads up; there will be several posts coming in the next week that I haven't had time to get up yet. 
Sorry I've been missing...I'll be better about that.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Peanut Butter Cups/Buckeyes

Buckeyes are something I grew up with.  This is not my original's been passed down in our family since forever.  We all do it slightly differently based on preference, whether our own or that of the ones we are making it for.  We always had these at the holidays, or when my brothers requested them because they've always been a favorite.  I'm sharing this with the world because I think everyone should get to enjoy this easy and tasty treat.  Enjoy!  And remember it always tastes better when you share with someone you love!

Ingredients; 1 pckg graham crackers (crushed), 2 cups peanut butter*, 2 sticks butter (melted), 2c. powdered sugar, 1 pkg chocolate bark or semi-sweet chocolate chips**

Mix everything EXCEPT chocolate.
To make bars/cups;
Spread into a 9x13" casserole dish and refrigerate 30 minutes.  Heat chocolate in 10 second increments in microwave until melted (stirring each time and being very careful not to overcook)***.  Spread melted chocolate over peanut butter mixture and refrigerate 30 minutes or until chocolate hardens.  Cut into 1" squares and share.

For Buckeyes;
Roll peanut butter mixture into small bite-size balls, place on cookie sheets and refrigerate 1-2 hours until they are stiff enough to dip in melted chocolate.  Use a toothpick to dip balls into melted chocolate, leaving a dime size bit on top not covered.  Return to cookie sheet and refrigerate 30 minutes until chocolate is hardened.  Makes about 5 dozen buckeyes. 

*Regarding peanut butter, my mom uses creamy, I use crunchy or sometimes a half and half mix of both.
**Chocolate Chips vs. Chocolate Bark;
a. chocolate bark doesn't burn as quickly as chips
b. chocolate bark doesn't seize up as quickly as chips
c. there is a more consistent taste with chocolate bark
d. the original recipe calls for bark, but chips work fine if they are all you have you just have to be careful not to burn the chips.

***Melting Chocolate: I prefer the microwave method.  With bark you can go on a 20 to 30 second cycle depending on the power of your machine.  With chips you have to check it more often because it burns faster.  ALWAYS stir between each cycle!  always.  You don't have to get it perfectly drippy, if you stir it and it comes mostly together STOP the process and just keep stirring.  Trust me!  If you keep stirring at this point it will come together using the heat held in by the bowl.  If you heat it any further it will seize up and make a nasty, smell, burned mess that will make you curse ever having to tried melting chocolate.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Summer Egg Casserole

I have a love/dislike relationship with Egg Casserole.  I have very fond memories of egg casseroles from my childhood.  We had these often around the holidays, or if we had overnight company and I was always hopeful for these events so I could have egg casserole and sausage balls.  Over the last 5 years or so I have made many egg casseroles, some good, some not so good.  I always get frustrated because I can never remember how to make it the way my mom did(I should just ask for her recipe, but never think to) and end up just throwing things together hoping it will work.  I've made MANY less than desirable egg messes! Well, this time I've made a hit!  So, I'm writing down my recipe and sharing it with the world.  This is a good summer version (explanation after the recipe).

Note: Be prepared to let it refrigerate overnight(10 hours) prior to cooking.
6 slices english muffin bread or bread of your choosing
18 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1-2 Tbsp. chopped purple onion
2 handfuls baby spinach (can chop but not necessary)
1/2 to 1c. diced fresh cherry tomatoes
1/2 to 1lb. breakfast sausage cooked and crumbled
1 handful shredded cheese
salt and pepper

Spray 9x13" casserole dish with non-stick spray.  Line with bread.  Layer spinach, tomatoes, onion, and cooked sausage crumbles in that order so there is a little on each bite.  Scramble eggs in a large bowl with milk, put in a dash or two of salt and pepper.  Pour over bread/vegetable/meat mix.  Cover with foil and put in refrigerator overnight (10 hours, might be okay after 3-4 hours but I did it overnight to save time in the morning and it was perfect.)  Place cold dish into cold oven, set to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, then turn up to 475 degrees Fahrenheit for another 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with cheese and serve. 

I say this is perfect for summer because you get the fresh pop of the cherry tomatoes and spinach.  The version I grew up with reminds me more of winter because it includes chopped green chilis, doesn't use the fresh vegetables, and is a little bit heavier.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cheese-Steak Sandwiches

An easy meal that feels like a treat.  There used to be a great little restaurant in our city that served cheese-steak sandwiches and that was about it.  Unfortunately it closed and we don't have anywhere to go to fill that craving that now comes.  A craving I'd never had before because I'd not experienced a cheese-steak sandwich prior to going to this particular shop.  I think it was only there for a couple of years.  In light of this new craving for something unavailable to me I decided I'd figure out how to make it at home.  Here it is;

 On my griddle; onion strips and bell pepper and RIBEYE!  It is so easy to do.  Here's how;  At the meat counter in your supermarket purchase a ribeye and ask the butcher to slice it paper thin.  If he/she looks at you like you are nuts just nicely tell them you are making philly cheesesteak sandwiches and they will nod and cut your meat.  A 16oz./1lb. piece of meat will make 4 sandwiches. Purchase accordingly.   If you are too embarrassed to ask the butcher to cut your meat, or don't have a meat counter/butcher you can freeze the ribeye for a few hours.  Yes I said freeze your steak.  This will make it easier to cut, but it is by far much easier to ask the butcher to slice it on his big fancy machine where you can't possibly cut off your precious little fingers. 
Now, go home with your steak and remember you'll need; Vidalia or sweet onions (1/sandwich if they are small), 1-2 green bell peppers, some type of white cheese-we like mozzarella, swiss, or provolone, and bread.  Hoagie rolls are the best, hot dog buns work well in a pinch, and if you have neither plain sandwich bread is fine.

Slice onions (preferably Vidalia because they are sweeter) and green bell pepper.  Just make 1/4-1/2" wide strips(no I don't get out a ruler, just eyeball it).  Put these on your stove-top griddle (if you have one) at 250-300 degrees Fahrenheit with a touch of olive oil.  Cook, turning regularly so they don't burn, until they get soft/limp, and move to a plate.  If you don't have a griddle, just cook them in a skillet until they get soft.  Next take your shaved ribeye and put it on the griddle laying each piece out flat.  They will only take a few minutes to cook.  Maybe 1-2 minutes on each side.  Continue the process until all meat is cooked.  On your bun/bread layer first the cheese, then peppers, then steak.  If you are using sliced bread put a piece of cheese against each slice of bread.  The end.  Eat, enjoy.  It's fantastic.  I don't put any seasoning on the meat.  My husband likes a touch of malt vinegar on his sandwich, I prefer it dry.

A curtain, some shoes, and a gift

A Curtain

After painting the kitchen and deciding we liked all the light coming in the window we decided a curtain was unnecessary.  However, after many mornings of blinding light, I felt like it needed just a little something to help with the light coming in, and to feel finished.  So we ended up with a valance.  I made this one with only 2 yards of fabric @ $1.50/yd.  I couldn't have purchased such a pretty thing pre-made.

Here's the close-up of the fabric.  It's more traditional than I would have thought we'd like, but surprisingly out of a blind pick(no persuasion or hinting from me) Ryan picked this from about 10 pieces.  Also surprisingly it was the first thing that caught my eye when I went into the store-again, much more traditional than we usually choose.

Some Shoes

Today I decided to go to Payless for my lunch break.  One, I usually eat at my desk while continuing to work, therefore rarely taking a lunch break.  Two, my shoes were aggravating my feet and this should not be acceptable ever.  Three, I really wanted to get outside for some reason.  Fortunately for me they were having a "BOGO" sale and I found two great pair of shoes.
These are a super cute/comfy pair of navy blue flats with a cute little polka dot flower pom-pom on the toe.  I won't wear these all the time because there is elastic on the back which is quite handy at keeping them from slipping off your foot, but after many hours of wear it tends to be slightly annoying because it pushes your foot forward in the shoe.  However, they perfectly matched the navy blue with white bits blouse that I was wearing, thus allowing me to wear them for the remainder of the afternoon.
These are a nice leather flat slingback.  I don't typically care for slingbacks, but these fit perfectly and have just enough cutouts to feel slightly like a sandal.  I think I will wear these quite often. 

A Gift

My husband and I are coming up on our 2nd wedding anniversary in about a month and I gave him part of his present early.  I can be very good at keeping secrets, but when it comes to gifts I get so excited about it sometimes I will give in and tell (or dole it out) even without being prompted.  So I did that.  Here's what we have;
Cell phones you ask?...Yes.  All but one of the cell phones we've had since we started dating, not including the ones we are currently using of course.  Where is the missing one you ask, well, we don't know.  It's missing.  It was a great big clunker of a flip phone I carried and should be the third in the line of these, alas it could not be located.  So, in the 5ish years since we've been together these lovelies have helped us communicate.  They now hover in a shadow box above the desk in our home office, reminding us to always keep the communication lines open; even if we think we've outgrown the technology, the concept will always remain the same. (yes it's kinda sappy, whatever. I love it. and it's true.)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Omelettes Made Easy

Omelettes made Easy

For years the omelette baffled me, I was never quite able to get the darn things to work and always ended up with a really messy scramble.  They still tasted good, but I was always disappointed.  Then I was reminded of the easiest way to make them; sealed baggies.  You chop up whatever ingredients you want and throw it into a sandwich sized resealable bag with some scrambled egg goo and seal it up.  Write an initial or name on the bag with permanent marker and throw (or rather gently place) them into a pot of boiling water for about 20 minutes.  Perfect every time!!!

For our omelettes I used fresh spinach, bacon, purple onion, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, and Ryan had bread & butter jalapenos.  YUMMY!

Not what I wanted to see

So when I came home from work yesterday I found this in our master bathroom;

Not at all what I expected to see, and definitely not something I wanted to see.  I immediately called for my husband because I was already barefoot and had almost stepped right on the little guy....well, he was about 2 inches.  Ryan quickly got some pliers and grabbed him up and flushed him down the toilet for which I was very thankful.  The little guy did swim for a while, but he finally went down the pipes and far far away.  Ryan said they've had a number of these at work recently and they are moving closer to town because of the weather.  Needless to say; I'll be watching my steps a little closer the next few weeks!

Enchilada Casserole

This is the start of a great meal!  Enchilada Casserole.

Ingredients; 1/4-1/2c. chopped onion, 1 clove garlic chopped, 1 pckg. flour tortillas, 1-2 lb. ground beef, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 bag or 2c. shredded cheese, 1 large can chopped green chilis, celery salt, taco seasoning, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cumin, cilantro, olive oil
*Note : I don't always measure when I cook, especially something like this, something I've been cooking for as long as I can remember (or helping my mom cook it). So, I just eyeball things.  If a measurement sounds REALLY off, adjust it, or if you know your family doesn't like a particular spice or ingredient don't use it or replace it.  I won't be offended.

In a skillet cook onions and garlic in a little olive oil until onions are translucent.  Add ground beef.  While beef is browning add 1 tsp. taco seasoning, a dash or two of the other spices.  Mix spices into meat along with chilis and let it continue cooking until  cooked through. Next add can of mushroom soup.  If the mixture is too thick add 1 Tbsp. of water at a time, mixing well in between each addition.  Remove from heat.  In a 9x13" casserole dish (sprayed with non-stick spray) layer tortillas, meat mixture, cheese, and so on until you've used all of your meat mixture.  You should have 2 or 3 layers, ending with meat and cheese on top.  Cook at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes to melt the cheese.  Serves 8-10.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Stash Manicure

I love reading a number of blogs and am always fascinated by the amazing designer fabrics everyone uses.  All my fabric comes from the clearance bin at the Wal-Mart (this is THE ONLY reason I will go into the store).  I'd love to have some of the fantastic prints and solids from the hip new lines like the ones being given away over at Stash Manicure.  They have such a great site!  And they do a give-away of these lovely bits at the end of each month.  Maybe I'll win sometime!