Friday, September 24, 2010

A Bib Necklace of Buttons

I had this idea; I love buttons, and have some really beautiful buttons I won't be using on any projects, so why not make a necklace!  This was the beginning design. 

This is the final project.  It's not perfect, and I'll probably never wear it.  I can't pull off anything of this size, but I love it.  I think I will frame it as a piece of art for the sewing room. It holds lots of memories because I know where most of the buttons came from. 

A Fall Project

I have to start by saying I love to decorate.  I could easily spend my paycheck at Pier1, if I didn't have bills.  I love changing things around and would love to have decorations for each season/holiday and the time/space to actually decorate with and store those things.  But I don't.  So, I decided to get creative.

This is me getting an idea...

I have had this metal decoration for about 5 years.  I never know what to do with it.  So I decided today was the day to change it up, make it visible, and make it fit the season.

 I took scrap strips of orange and brown fabrics and weaved them through, tying the ends onto the frame.

And ended up with this; A PUMPKIN!!!

It is hanging outside on our porch.  Now we are decorated like everyone else on the block.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cranberry Muffin Surprise

2 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 dashes each clove and ginger
1/2 c. softened butter
1 c. milk or cream
1/2 c. orange juice
2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 c. frozen cranberries
3-4 Tbsp. Nutella

Combine all except cranberries.  Mix until well combined.  Stir in cranberries.  Fill muffin tins two thirds full, making sure to get a few cranberries in each cup.  Bake for 30 minutes(or until toothpick comes out clean) at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  These do not puff up above the level they are filled.  If tin is filled to top the batter will run over the top to create a flat edge(makes it difficult to remove without crumbling).  Makes 4 dozen mini muffins or about 2 dozen regular muffins.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Family Wine

We recently learned about some family owned vineyards who send their grapes to Becker Vineyard.  We've always enjoyed Becker's wines and learned that we'd had several bottles of the Claret from the one family member's vineyard.  We recently purchased this reserve bottle from the other vineyard because we thought it would be great just to have.  I'm excited to try it, but it's not a bottle you open just because.  It needs a special occasion.  We thought we'd have it for our anniversary this year, but that was interrupted by the U.S. Open Men's Tennis Final.  Although entertaining, it was not exactly what I thought would be the focus of our anniversary.  So, for now it's sitting pretty on our buffet in the dining room.

Organizing the Kitchen

These are our new canisters for flour and sugar and such.  Unfortunately we only have about 6 feet of working counter space, so I had to do a little rearranging.  This is our pantry.  It's only 2 feet across which is tiny.  At any rate this is what we ended up with.

Yes, our microwave is in our pantry.  As is our coffee pot, slow cooker, blender, and stock pot.  Refer to the aforementioned lack of counter space.  Basically the only things that stay on the counter are the toaster and stand mixer, and they are shoved in the corner.  Oh, and can goods go in a shallow metal rack screwed onto the side cabinet next to the stove.

Fish Tacos

There are three main components to this dish, all of which are rather simple.  You start with fresh tilapia fillets, add a roasted corn, black bean and jalapeno jumble, and put it all in a slightly warmed corn tortilla.  Quite filling and easy.

Fish Makins Ingredients; Makes enough for 2-3 servings(2 tacos per serving)
2 Tilapia fillets ( I like to get them fresh from the butcher counter, but frozen is fine too.  Just thaw before cooking)
1 c. flour per 2-3 fillets
1 c. milk
1 Tbsp. taco seasoning
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/8-1/2 tsp. salt and pepper
Vegetable Oil optional (if you want to fry then you need oil, but can also be baked.)
Non-Latex Gloves

To Make:
Mix flour and spices together in wide bowl.  Pour milk into separate yet similarly sized wide bowl.  (If frying fish in deep fryer let it preheat now, if in skillet on the stove top let your oil come up to temperature and put on an apron!  If baking, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a baking sheet.)  Coat both sides of your fillet(s) in flour, then milk, then flour again.  You may want to wear gloves to avoid discoloring on your hands from the spices, otherwise you'll have orange finger tips for the next day or so.  (non-latex gloves from the drugstore work fine, and they are very inexpensive)  When you have coated your fillets, place in hot oil or on pan.  If frying in deep fryer let them cook about 6-7 minutes, in a skillet they will need about 3-4 minutes on each side.  If baking, let them bake about 8-10 minutes or until cooked through, and you may want to turn half-way through.  When all fillets have finished cooking set them aside on a paper towel lined plate and try (hard as it may be) not to taste test because it will be difficult to stop!
*Note* You could also grill your fish, but the added crunch is nice.

Fillin Makins Ingredients;
This is a Roasted Corn, Black Bean, and Jalapeno Jumble

1 fresh jalapeno seeded and minced
1 fresh poblano seeded and diced
1 fresh green bell pepper seeded and diced
1/4-1/2 fresh red bell pepper seeded and diced
1/4 yellow onion diced
1/4 purple onion diced
1-2 cloves garlic minced
1 can black beans drained
2-3 c. frozen corn
1-2 roma tomatoes diced
1/2-1 bunch fresh cilantro finely chopped
1 package corn tortillas

To Make:
Preheat your skillet to medium high heat.  Roast your corn and peppers for about 5-10 minutes.  Add all other vegetables and a small amount of olive oil.  Continue cooking for just long enough to be warm through(about 1-2 minutes). *Could also add chopped green chiles.
Warm tortillas on clean skillet/griddle.

Break Fish into pieces.  Fill tortillas with fish, Jumble, cheese and sour cream.  May also add salsa.  Enjoy.

**1 fillet is really enough for 2 people @ 2 tacos each.  The filling recipe prepares enough for 6-8 servings (2 tacos per serving).  Adjust fish ingredients according to how many you want to serve.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kitchen Sink Pizza

Kitchen Sink Pizza, some people call it Ratatouille Pizza
because it has almost everything in it except the kitchen sink
Actually you can put just about anything on it, but here is what I did;

1 can pizza dough (we like the thin crust) it rolls out into 9x13" rectangle
4 oz. can tomato sauce (if you can't get it this small just get a regular can and use about 1/2)
1tsp. italian seasoning
1 small pkg. italian sausage (cooked and crumbled)
1 small pkg. pepperoni slices
1 bag (8 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 small yellow squash, quartered and thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, quartered and thinly sliced
2-3 small red potatoes, quartered and thinly sliced
1/2 small purple onion, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2-3 roma tomatoes, cut into bite-sized cubes
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 package fresh mushroom slices

Note; Before you start, this is a deep fork-it kind of pizza, and you will definitely need a dish that has sides tall enough to hold in all the stuff.  So, put away your flat pizza stone (sacrilege, I know), and find a deeper dish.  (see the dish I received from my in-laws a few posts back, it was perfect!)

Now that all your veggies are chopped and your sausage is cooked preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray your baking dish with non-stick spray and roll out your dough.  If it doesn't cover the whole dish just stretch it into the whole dish.  If you get a hole, don't panic!  Just smush it back together, it will be fine, trust me!  I pre-cook my pizza dough for about 5 minutes, it's just a personal preference.   Once your dough is ready spread tomato sauce over it thinly.  Sprinkle with italian seasoning.   Next spread all your vegetables on, making sure to get a good spread of each.  If you want a picture, take it now because it's not as pretty after it cooks.  Next just place your sausage crumbles and about 20 pepperonis over the top.  Cover with cheese.  Bake at 425 for 25-30 minutes.  (If you don't want ANY crunch on potatoes you might pre-cook them for 10 minutes in a skillet.  They will be mostly cooked without a pre-cook, but some may still have a slight crunch.)  Slice into squares and enjoy!  Serves 4-8 depending on size of serving/person.  One 4-5" slice per person is quite filling...especially if you have any other sides, but very filling even by itself.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Infamous Menu Board

 This is our menu board.
 Just a simple small dry erase board where I can plan our meals for the month, and the groceries needed to make them.  It sits on the side of the refrigerator(held up with magnets) next to the stove so we can quickly see what we are having.

It seems we discuss this with most people we know.  If you've ever heard me talk about budgeting, or planning meals, or grocery listing, this has probably come up.  Before we started doing this I threw so much food in the garbage, and wasted so much money because we didn't eat what we bought.  I've been using this planning method for 6 months to a year and we love it! 

As you can see I write out each weeks' meals and look at what's in the cabinet to either plan around what's available, or decide what I need to purchase.  It works great for us, and there isn't much question as to what we can have.  I don't always stick to the plan, and we often move meals to a different day depending on what's going on during the week.   Days with a squiggle mean we know we won't be eating at home, whether we have planned a meal out, or a get together.  After we've had a meal, I mark through it with a diagonal line.  I keep our grocery list under the menu in case I need to go back for fresh ingredients later-such as fish or herbs.  I know most people aren't so worried about it, but it has made a real difference in how I shop and prepare.

The more you know...

Buffalo Ranch Chicken Sandwich

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
hamburger buns, or sesame buns
1/2c. blue cheese crumbles
1/2c. peppercorn ranch dressing
1-2c. all purpose flour
1tsp. coarse salt
1tsp. ground black pepper
1Tbsp. paprika
1/2c. milk
Tomato Slices
1-2c. vegetable oil(if pan frying)
2-4 Tbsp. Frank's Red Hot Wings Buffalo Sauce

Mix flour, paprika, salt and pepper.  Dredge chicken breasts in flour, then milk, then flour.  Place coated breasts into hot oil for about 3 minutes ( I do this in a fry daddy so it isn't as messy) for a quick pan fry.   Take out and place  on baking sheet, then pour buffalo sauce on each breast.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes to fully cook chicken.  Doing this will ensure a juicy flavorful piece of meat.  Once cooked through slather ranch dressing on both buns.  Put blue cheese crumbles on bottom bun, then meat, then tomato, lettuce, and top bun.  Serves 4-8.  If the breasts are extra large, cut them in half to make 8 sandwiches.

Fries optional, but if you choose to serve them Ore-ida Extra Crispy fry/bake up the best without a weird after-taste.  I did these a special treat since we don't have them much.

The Painting

I told you I was working on is the end result.  A few close-ups below.  But first, here's the story.  A few weeks ago our pastor said something that I immediately saw in my mind's eye as something I just had to get on canvas.  During communion he said we are finite and can only stretch so far, but God reaches down to us.  It really touched me.  So here is the result.

That we are finite and can only stretch so far, Yet God in His infinite grace and mercy would reach down to lift us up; How great a love is this.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Surprise

I found this guy on our gate and thought he was quite fearless and beautiful!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Our Children

We are asked pretty regularly if we have children, usually my response is; "We have dogs."  Recently we had a new addition.  The newest member of our family is TJ.  Please forgive the fuzzy quality...she moves pretty fast and was not in the mood to be photographed.  She made our porch her home 11 months ago, and decided to adopt us I guess because she stayed.  She is such a loving cat and quite helpful too (bringing us many "presents" over the last months).  So now, I just say we have pets, they are our children.

Our oldest is Brighton.  I've had him since he was six weeks old, and he's my baby.  He's half miniature Dachshund and half Labrador.  He's beautiful and his whole goal in life is playing ball.  He's ALWAYS happy, unless someone is outside our house acting strangely.  He is a great guard dog.
Our middle child is Kerbie.  She and Brighton have the same mother (mini Dachshund), but she was born to a litter a year later.  The vet thinks she has either a Beagle or Rottweiler as a father.  She's just happy.
We love our babies and life wouldn't be the same without them!