Friday, November 1, 2013

Thanksgiving Countdown

Well, Hello, November 1st.

Am I the only one who is sort of in shock that Halloween is over and the 'holidays' are officially upon us?

We Trick-or-Treated our legs off tonight!  Or was it last night?  I's still night, I'm burning the midnight oil!  My sweet girl came home with her pumpkin bucket filled to the brim with all kinds of yummy treats.

All I can think about is her teeth.  And sugar bugs.  And how sugar bugs make cavities.

Well, a friend on Facebook reminded me of a fun craft that helps you cut down how much Halloween candy goes down the hatch!  I first heard about this when my girl was a few weeks old and I vowed to remember it.

I didn't.  Until tonight!

Thanksgiving Countdown.  Brilliant.

You get to blame the TURKEY for hiding the Halloween candy!  The kids will never know.  It's our little secret.

This can be done all sorts of ways, but here's what I did.

1.  Counted 28+ pieces of Halloween candy, put it in a Ziplock, and hid it in pantry.
2.  Pigged out on Threw out remaining candy.
3. Cut a cute turkey shape out of brown construction paper.
4.  Cut 28 feather shapes from construction paper.
5. Numbered the front of each feather; 1-28, and wrote a clue or riddle on the back of each feather.  (These are clues to where THE TURKEY has hidden a piece of candy; sock drawer, fridge, playhouse, booster seat, etc.)

Thanks for reading and thank you, Facebook Friend, for the reminder!

Happy November!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

DIY Pumpkin Puree

One of my favorite things to do after every trip to the pumpkin patch is make my own pumpkin puree. Our favorite pumpkin patch grows quite a few pumpkin varieties, but my favorite for puree is the Red Kuri. It makes the smoothest pies, bars, delicious can make any pumpkin treat you want! I make enough so that I can have it all year long.

Who says pumpkin is just for Fall?

One large pumpkin yields about 45 ounces of puree, which is the same as 3- 15 ounce cans.

DIY Pumpkin Puree

Cut pumpkins in half, scoop out seeds, (save for roasting or dry them for planting next summer)! Place pumpkins, cut side down, in glass baking dish filled with about 1 inch of water. Bake in 350 degree oven for about an hour, or until pumpkin is easily pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and let pumpkins rest until you can handle them without getting burned.

With a paring knife, carefully scrape the skin off and discard. Put pumpkin in a food processor and puree till you have a thick puree, sometimes you'll need to add water and sometimes you won't. (I only had to add a quarter of a cup this time. Last year it was a lot more.)

Allow puree to cool completely. Scoop 15 ounces of puree into freezer bags, flatten and freeze! Each bag is the same as one can of pumpkin.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Simple Fall Wreath

I love to decorate for Fall and lately, I'm all about wreaths.

I got a few things at The Dollar Tree and had some stuff at home already and spent 2 hours putting this little cutie together.  For me, the simpler and plainer the better, but you could totally deck this out with all kinds of fall leaves, pumpkins, gourds....there are tons of cute inexpensive things you could get to make it your own.

For this little diddy you'll need:
-a 12-14 inch wreath form, I used straw because it's cheap!
-2 fat quarters
-hot glue
-scrapbook paper
-sticker letters
-various decorations; leaves, crows, owls, scarecrows, etc. from the Dollar Tree

Cut the fat quarters into 9 long strips, and then cut those in half so that you have 18 short, squatty strips.Wrap each strip around the wreath attaching with hot glue. Embellish with all manner of fall decor!  I used an owl from Dollar Tree and a few leaves from there too.  I had a strand of berries already and I just cut a length for fun.

Before this, I'd never made any sort of banner. I mean, isn't that the kind of thing you just order off Etsy? After many, many tries, I couldn't get my triangles right.  Literally.could.not.

I had a good cry and put a Silhouette Cameo on my Christmas list.

Ready to forge ahead, I made the shape you see above.  I'm sure it has a proper name, but I don't know what it is.  I cut the paper in to 4-inch by 2-inch strips, cut a triangle out of the bottom (those turned out fine, wouldn't you know), and wrapped the top around the twine, sealing it with hot glue.  Since my paper was black and my letters were black, I needed a coordinating paper to offset the letters.

To hang the wreath, I took an extra fat quarter strip and used sewing pins to attach it to the back.  About 5 pins on each side of the strip.

Happy Fall, Y'all!


Friday, September 20, 2013

Rotisserie Chicken Series: Doritos Casserole

I had you at 'Doritos'.


It's not often that I have Doritos laying around. When I do, it's a problem. Doritos are a childhood favorite. I think because they were my dad's favorite. He's all healthy now, so he would probably scoff at them now-a-days. Doritos are my comfort food. I turn to them when I'm sad, or happy, or stressed, or bored, or when I'm procrastinating. It's a problem! I can't have these bad boys in the house unless I am truly craving them.

Enter Doritos Casserole.

I've seen recipes floating around Pinterest for a long time, so I finally decided to give it a go. The recipe, as is, is a little spicy for little kids. My 3 year old, who normally eats anything, cried. Poor baby. She got to have yogurt and a hug instead.

I think the Rotel tomatoes I used had a little zing to them, so if you want to avoid tears at the dinner table, you could substitute plain diced tomatoes and use your favorite salsa to spice up your own portion.

Doritos Casserole- barely adapted from

2 cups shredded cooked chicken (about half a rotisserie chicken)
2 cups shredded cheddar or mexican cheese blend (divided)
1 (10 oz) can cream of chicken soup
½ cup milk
½ cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes (drained)
½ packet taco seasoning
1 large bag Doritos
Shredded lettuce (optional)
diced tomato (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix together shredded chicken, 1 cup of cheese, cream of chicken soup, milk, sour cream, Ro-tel tomatoes, and taco seasoning. Mix well.

Grease a 2-quart casserole dish, and add a layer of crushed Doritos across the bottom. Top with a layer of the chicken mixture. Add another layer of crushed Doritos, and then add another layer of the chicken mixture. Top with remaining cheese.

Cover and place into the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 30-25 minutes until bubbling hot. Remove from the oven and top with more crushed Doritos. Top with lettuce and tomato if you like.

Thus concludes my Rotisserie Chicken Series. I wasn't that great about posting as much as I wanted to, so it's time for a fresh start!

See you soon!


Monday, June 24, 2013

DIY Flip Flop Wreath

You don't know how bad I wanted to call this post 'DIY Thong Wreath'.  That's my inappropriate side coming out!

Am I the only one who could while away the hours looking at Pinterest?  I didn't think so.  I've got a thing for wreaths lately.  After searching for summer wreaths, I came across a pin for a wreath made from flip flops.  The pin only links to a picture.  Here's the pin.  I wasn't able to find one tutorial for this so I thought I'd make a tutorial myself!

Here's what you'll need:

10-14 flip flops in different colors/designs
a cut of ribbon to hang the wreath
silk flowers
other embellishments
hot glue gun

You can get flip flops for around a dollar a pair.  I got mine at JoAnn, and I've seen them at Old Navy and the Dollar Tree, too.  I chose the same size for all of them; Medium. I tried to make the wreath using a wire wreath form, but I couldn't get the flip flops to lay right, so I just did it freestyle.

Lets get started!

First, toe side in, arrange half of the flip flops in a circle like flower petals. Next, you'll stack the remaining flip flops on top between the straps, heel side in. 

Now it's time for gluing.  I used E-6000 because it will glue anything!  I applied the glue to the heels of the flip flops on top.  I was pretty generous with the glue, smearing it in a 2 inch strip across the heel. Once all of the flip flops are glued down, stack some heavy books on top and allow to dry for a few hours.

After the glue was dry, I attached a ribbon to the back, tying or winding the ribbon around the straps. You can easily tie it to the toe strap, but you'll need to wind it around the strap in the back.  

Now it's time to embellish! I used silk flowers and 'gems'.  I wanted the flowers in the toes of the flip flops, but the hot glue wouldn't adhere to the strap.  Instead I filled the hole where the toe strap comes through with hot glue and stuck the flower in there and held it till it set.  Then I glued under the flower to position it correctly.

Enjoy your summer masterpiece!  I don't think I waited for the glue to dry before I hung it up!

Happy Summer!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Rotisserie Chicken Series: Chicken Enchiladas

I'm ba--ack!  Does life ever get the better of you? sure does me.  The last couple of months have been stressful and as much as I wanted to write blogs and be all Super-Woman-y, I just couldn't.  But tonight, I shall continue my Rotisserie Chicken Series with my FAVORITE chicken enchilada recipe.

I used to subscribe to Cook's Country Magazine and found this little gem a few years ago. This recipe is so easy and SO good!  It's my go-to recipe to take to my friends when they have babies.  It freezes well and everyone loves it.  (One time, a friend's husband emailed me for the recipe because he loved it so much!)

Chicken Enchiladas

2-10 oz. cans green enchilada sauce
1 c. chopped cilantro
3 c. chopped rotisserie chicken
2 1/2 c. shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
12 (6 in.) corn tortillas

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease 13x9 baking dish.  (You can use a foil pan for freezing.)  Puree enchilada sauce and 1 cup cilantro in food processor or blender.  Combine 1 cup of the pureed sauce, chicken and 1 1/2 cups cheese in a large bowl.

Wrap tortillas in clean kitchen towel and microwave until pliable, 30-90 seconds.  Top each tortilla with 1/4 cup chicken mixture and roll tightly.  Arrange, seam side down, in prepared baking dish. Top with remaining sauce and cheese.  Bake until cheese is melted and enchiladas are heated through.  15-20 minutes.  Garnish with cilantro and top with sour cream, if desired.

Edited:  I forgot to mention that I double the recipe to get two pans; one for us and one for someone else.  You only need one chicken if you roast one yourself or get one at Costco (if you can).

Friday, March 1, 2013

Rotisserie Chicken Series: Chicken Pot Pie Crumble

I'm kicking myself because I forgot to get a picture of the whole pie!  This dish is perfect for a weekend or a dreary day or anytime you're craving comfort food.  It's not necessarily quick, but it is worth the effort.  (That's why I think it would be best on a weekend...mmmmm Sunday dinner.)                                               
I followed the recipe here pretty closely.  Her picture is way better and much more appetizing.  I just need more practice!
Chicken Pot Pie Crumble
2-3 cups chopped rotisserie chicken (you could use turkey, too)
1 (14.5 oz) can low-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup peeled and diced carrots (about 2 large carrots)
3/4 cup diced celery (about 2 large stalks)
3/4 cup finely diced yellow onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
2/3 cup frozen peas
3 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp dried thyme
For the crumble:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour  (I used white whole wheat flour.)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder (use 1/2 tsp for a slightly stronger garlic flavor)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 cup butter, cold and diced into small cubes
2 oz. finely shredded Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup packed)
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp heavy cream
For the crumble:
Preheat oven to 450°F. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, garlic powder and optional cayenne pepper. Using your finger tips, cut butter into mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Pour in heavy cream and mix just until combine. Break and drop mixture into 1 - 2-inch pieces onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes until golden, longer if you like it a little more toasty like me! Remove from oven, set aside and lower oven to 400°F.
For the filling:
(I used 1- 14 inch cast iron pan for everything.) Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Once hot, add diced carrots, onion and celery. Saute vegetables, stirring occasionally until lightly golden and tender, about 10 minutes. Pour vegetables into a bowl and set aside. Reduce heat to medium, melt butter in saucepan, then add flour and cook, stirring constantly for about 20 seconds (it will be very thick). While stirring, slowly add in milk followed by chicken broth, lemon juice, parsley, thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring mixture just to a boil, then slightly reduce heat and allow to cook about 1 minute longer until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove sauce from heat and add sauteed vegetables, frozen peas and diced chicken to sauce, then toss to evenly coat. Pour mixture into a 9-inch pie dish and sprinkle with baked crumble topping (mine fit perfectly in my pie dish but if yours is coming close to the top edge you may want to sit it on top of a cookie sheet to prevent spills in your oven). Bake until nicely golden about 12 - 14 minutes.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Rotisserie Chicken Series: BBQ Chicken Pizza

Oh the things that can be done with a store bought rotisserie chicken!  Swing by on your way home from work and dinner's basically done.  I've added 'rotisserie chicken' to my grocery list for the last few weeks.  Not only is it a good snack, it's so versatile and one chicken can give you enough poultry for two pans of enchiladas, a few chicken pizzas, soup, salad....endless possibilities here! 

I like to buy my rotisserie chickens at Costco, it seems like the ones in smaller grocery stores are really tiny.  Plus, it's cheaper than buying one to cook myself!  I pull the meat off and chop it up, keeping white and dark meat together.  A lot of recipes call for just chicken breast (white meat), throwing some dark meat in there adds a little more fat and a lot more flavor.

Pizza is big in our house.  We love to order it, we love to make it and this is one of our favorite's.  This recipe assumes your pizza dough is ready to go.*

BBQ Chicken Pizza
Makes 1- 12in. pizza; or 8 slices

1 c. chopped chicken
2 T  (heaping) Cilantro, chopped
1/2 c. thinly sliced red onion
1/2 c.  sweet BBQ sauce (We like KC Masterpiece.)
2 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella or jack cheese, divided
Your choice of pizza dough.*

Preheat oven to 425°F. 

Pour BBQ sauce in the middle of dough. Using the bottom of a ladle, make circles to spread the sauce.  Cover sauce with 2 cups of cheese.  Top with chicken, cilantro, and onion.  Add remaining cheese.  Bake for 12-18 minutes.

After pizza is out of the oven, let it rest for about 10 minutes, then slice and dig in! 


*I make my own dough, or use frozen bread dough for the crust.  Here's my method; on a large, lightly floured cutting board, roll dough to desired diameter (about 12 inches).  Pick dough up and sprinkle board with cornmeal, replace dough. Shake to make sure dough isn't sticking to the board.  Add toppings, shaking every so often to keep dough from sticking to the board.  I use a stoneware pizza pan and I leave it in the oven while it's preheating.  I very carefully scoot the pizza on to the stone. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fresh Strawberry Bread

I am ready for Spring.  Living in the Pacific Northwest, we really don't see the sun a whole lot.  But when we do, it's glorious.  I can't wait to soak up some rays (as long as it's not too hot)!  On my grocery run this week, I saw them....beautiful red strawberries.  We've been snacking on them, but I'm saving some aside for one of my favorite strawberry recipes. 

This is, hands down, my favorite thing to bake in spring and even summer! 
I got the recipe from My Baking Addiction, my favorite baking blog.

Fresh Strawberry Bread
Makes 1 loaf

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups strawberries, rinsed, dried and chopped

Large sugar sprinkles, optional. (They add a fun crunch to the crust!!)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

With electric mixer cream butter, sugar and cream cheese until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla.

In separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Blend flour mixture with butter mixture just until blended. Add buttermilk and only stir until just combined; do not over mix.

Carefully fold in strawberries. Batter will be thick.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  If desired, top with sugar sprinkles.  Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.

I like mine warm!  With coffee.  :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Vacationing Without the Kids

Right before Christmas, my husband and I took a long over due vacation.  A 5 day trip to Disneyland. Alone.  Without our daughter.

{I know what you're thinking.}

We had always wanted to go Disneyland together but life just got in our way and we were never able to make it work.  But that all changed when we started planning for our trip in June.  Our daughter knows about Disneyland, but doesn't really know what it is and we wanted to go before she knew what she was missing!  (We plan on going back with her in 2 years.....I can hardly wait!)

My parents were generous enough to come stay at our house while we were gone.  Our girl was over the moon.  She loves her Grandma and Papa and doesn't get to see them often.  I completely trusted my mom and dad with her, but in 3 years, we had never left her for even a night.

6 months was plenty of time for me to worry about leaving our daughter for that long. I scoured the Internet for tips to make it easier on her and her caregivers. There wasn't a whole lot out there, so I did it myself. I thought I'd put it out there for anyone else in the same situation!

Be advised, I found all kinds of ways to offend grandparents while they are watching the kids!  There's even an entire forum dedicated to the subject!  I called my mom to ask her if she minded if I put something together. She thought it would be helpful, so I went for it. I didn't schedule every moment, I didn't lay her clothes out for every day, I didn't leave cooking instructions for Macaroni and Cheese; all no-no's according to that forum!  I was more concerned with letting my parents know about our girl's quirks and emergency information.

I bought a cheap red pocket folder and just put the paperwork in the pockets.

All of the emergency information was in the left pocket:
  • Emergency contacts
  • Doctor info
  • Our address (very important)
  • The address and phone number of where you're staying, flight info, etc.
(All of that was on one sheet of paper). 

Behind it, I included a medical release form; I just googled it and found one that covered the bases.  It basically authorizes medical staff to treat your child as they normally would if you were there.  There was a place on the pocket to slide a business card, I just slid our insurance card in there.

In the other pocket were several pages:
  • Working the TV remotes (why is every TV different??)
  • Our daughter's typical meals, snacks and drinks.  At the top, I wrote that it was okay to deviate from 'the list', that it was okay for them to spoil her while they were there.
  • Her 'schedule'; this included wake up time, TV time, eating time, nap get the idea.  And again I reiterated that it was okay to do their own thing.  (It really was okay with me, but it made me feel better to leave them with something to go by if they needed it.)
  • Discipline; time outs, etc.
  • Dosages for medicine in case she got sick
  • Leaving the house; what she likes to bring with her, etc.
  • A list of stores and fun places to go with their addresses
  • The last page was just random stuff like when to give her a bath, her favorite show on the DVR, where kid movies are...that sort of thing.
Another thing I did to make it easier was to have the diaper bag ready with plenty of diapers, wipes and a change of clothes.  I had aspirations to pre-pack snacks for the diaper bag, but that didn't happen. 

Since it was Christmastime, there were all sorts of easy art projects at Michael's.  I bought a different one for each day we were gone.  A 'ready to decorate' gingerbread house, a new awesome coloring book, a few of those 'foam' crafts.  It didn't matter to me if they used them.  I just wanted to make sure my parents had plenty of things to do with her if they wanted.  Turns out they used them all!  We had all sorts of fun art projects waiting for us when we got home

My parents said that they really appreciated having the folder and that they used it every day.  It took a lot of guess work out for them. 

It was hard to leave my little girl for that long; and giving up control.  I cried all the way to the airport!  But in the end, the trip was so good for our marriage; and our girl was no worse for wear when we got back. She had a wonderful time with her grandparents.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Valentine Shortbread Pops

Valentine's Day is right around the corner!  For us, it means Teacher Appreciation at MOMS- a group where I can fellowship with other moms, eat a lovely meal (that I don't have to share), and hear a new speaker every week who encourages me in my role as 'Mommy'.  Last year I waited till the night before to even think about teacher appreciation, so I was determined to put a little more thought into it this year.  I really appreciate that while I'm NOT sharing my meal, my daughter is well cared for!

This is a basic shortbread recipe, it's flaky and delicious.  Making the shortbread into cookie pops is a little time consuming, but the end result makes it worth it!

3/4 lb. butter (yep--that's three cubes!)
1 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt

cookie pop sticks
1 package of milk chocolate chips
Valentine sprinkles

Combine flour and salt and set aside. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla. Cut in flour and salt with a pastry cutter or 2 forks. (A stand mixer can probably handle the task with the paddle attachment.) Form into two balls, wrap in waxed paper and chill for 2 hours. Roll out to just over 1/4 inch thick on a pastry cloth, or lightly floured surface. Cut w/ heart cutter.  Carefully insert the pop stick into bottom of cookie, going about 3/4 of the way up. Carefully lay on cookie sheet.

Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and using a spatula, place shortbread pops on a cooling rack. 

Allow to cool completely.  Cover cool cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper.  Melt chocolate according to package directions, usually about 2 minutes on 50% power in the microwave.  You can add a little canola oil to thin the chocolate out if you need to.  Carefully dip the shortbread pop in the chocolate covering the front, tap gently to get rid of the extra chocolate.  Lay pop on covered cookie sheet and decorate with sprinkles.  (Fun for the kids!) 

Out of 14 pops, only one stick came loose, I dipped the stick in chocolate and reinserted it into the cookie.  It doesn't look the prettiest, but it got the job done!  I used a medium sized heart cutter and got about 14 shortbread pops and 6 regular cookies (no sticks).

 **If you roll the dough too thick (1/2 inch or more), the sticks will not stay in...I don't know why, I'm not science-y like that, but I made the mistake!

You can get the lollipop sticks in different lengths to make a cute cookie bouquet, but I plan to wrap them in cellophane and tie with a ribbon.

Off I go to dip one of these treats in some coffee!

Friday, January 18, 2013

What you never knew about Candy Corn...

I'm addicted to Pinterest. Addicted, I tell you! I was browsing last night and came across something very yummy and interesting. Homemade Butterfingers; using candy corn (yes, CANDY CORN), peanut butter and chocolate. My hubby and I were SHOCKED at how good and butterfinger-like they were!

I wish I could say that I came up with this little dandy, but alas, I'm not known for my ability to make up a recipe!  It came from Six Sisters Stuff.  Love them. 

I'm working on my photog skillz....right now it's more like 'faux-tog' skills!  For now, here's a cruddy pic off my iPhone!