Saturday, December 31, 2011

Recipe - Orange Date Almond Salad


Orange Date Salad - originally seen in my local newspaper

Once again, I had to make do with what was at our local store. I substituted packaged dates, canned mandarin oranges and orange juice concentrate. The vinaigrette was a bit mustardy for our tastes so I added more orange juice concentrate. I did mix this in lettuce to create a salad. 


Recipe - Balsamic Roasted Red Potatoes

Balsamic Roasted Red Potatoes

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
  • 2 pounds small red potatoes, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

  1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes, onion and garlic; toss to combine. Add the thyme, rosemary and nutmeg; toss well. Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes or until potatoes are hot.
  2. Transfer to a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until potatoes are golden and almost tender. Add the vinegar, salt and pepper; toss well. Bake 5-8 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender.


MY NOTES: I could not find small red potatoes, so I made do with larger red ones, cutting each into eight large wedges. I did not use fresh garlic cloves, but the minced type in a jar. We never use herbs in our cooking and they were sooooooo expensive to buy for only needing a little for this recipe. I was surprised to find a spice "kit"  for Chicken Cacciatore - it had two of the herbs this recipe called for ! Granted, it was only 1/2 teaspoon each, but it was more than enough for us since we are not used to them. Also, I reduced the balsamic to 1/8 cup and omitted the nutmeg. Most pieces of potato had no balsamic flavor because I used so little, those that did had a nice zing to them and I rather liked it. Now I need to find more recipes that use it since I have an entire bottle of it leftover!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Recipe - Roasted Cauliflower w/ Cheese Sauce


Ingredients
  • Cauliflower
    1 medium head cauliflower (about 2 1/4 pounds), trimmed and cut into florets
  • 6 cloves garlic, halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Cheese Sauce
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • 6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)

Directions

Cauliflower
1. Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Combine cauliflower and garlic in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. While stirring, season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast at 450 degrees F for 30 minutes, stirring once.
Cheese Sauce
2. Meanwhile, melt butter over medium heat in a medium-size saucepan (not nonstick). Whisk in flour and cook 2 minutes. Gradually add milk, whisking constantly until smooth. Bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally. Season with salt and nutmeg. Simmer 4 minutes and remove from heat. Stir in shredded cheese, whisking until smooth.
3. Transfer roasted cauliflower and garlic to a platter. Top with cheese sauce and serve immediately.

Recipe - Plum Glazed Cornish Hens

I haven't made many projects this year. I enjoy making things, but no one seems to really appreciate them (or have too many things as it is and don't want more) so I didn't do much this year. Instead I decided to try my hand at making a few different recipes. I'll share them over the next few posts.

My family isn't very adventurous when it comes to trying new things. I won't try a lot of "gourmet" things myself, we are simple people. However, there are lots of recipes I see I want to try but don't knowing they'd all say "eeeeeew, what is that? " and not even try it.

This year I cooked Christmas Day dinner for my parents and tried a couple of different things. Of course I had the regular corn, dads green beans, fruit salad, carrots and celery sticks as well as "normal" salad  and dinner rolls to keep the kids happy. The new to me recipes turned out pretty good, even if I did change things up a tiny bit. I didn't get any photos of the food, I'll share the recipes over the next couple of days.



Plum Glazed Cornish Hens
  • 3 (1 1/2 pound) Cornish game hens
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup plum jam
  • 1 (1.25 ounce) envelope dry onion soup mix
  • 2 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced, for garnish

Directions

  1. Place the game hens in a slow cooker. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes.
  2. Mix the plum jam and onion soup mix together in a bowl until well blended. Remove 1/4 cup of the jam mixture and refrigerate until needed. Brush the remaining jam mixture over the hens.
  3. Set the slow cooker on Low for 7 hours. Brush the reserved glaze over the hens. Cook on Low 1 hour more. Place hens on serving plates and garnish with kiwifruit slices.


MY NOTES: I cooked four 22 oz cornish hens in a 6 QT slow cooker. They were stood up on end and I did not stuff them with anything. There was no plum jam to be found, so I used Paula Deen's Forest Fruit jam, 1 cup. I cooked the hens for one hour on high then 5 hours on low, brushing with glaze every two hours. They fell off of the bone so it was tricky getting them out of the cooker in one piece and onto a platter. I omitted the Kiwi fruit garnish, it would have been a waste of money/food since no one in my family would have eaten it and really don't care about "presentation" of food. They turned out great ! 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Breakfast

(that is my Santa Suit plant wrap project in the background)

I was given a mason jar of home made apple butter so I decided to see if there were any recipes that could be made with it. I found several ! I made this for breakfast Christmas morning, but knowing the kids would look at it and say "eeeeeew!" I made the cute reindeer donuts below for them. 

Awesome Apple Butter Breakfast Cake
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/awesome-apple-butter-breakfast-cake/detail.aspx



  • 2 cups MUSSELMAN'S® Apple Butter







  • 2 1/4 cups baking mix (like Bisquick®)







  • 3/4 cup milk







  • 1/2 cup sugar







  • 1 large egg







  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted







  • 1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut







  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped







  • 1/3 cup sugar







  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

    Directions

    1. In bowl, stir together baking mix, milk, sugar, egg and 2 tablespoons melted butter. Pour 2/3 of the batter into an 8x8-inch baking dish coated with non-stick cooking spray. Cover with MUSSELMAN'S Apple Butter. Drop remaining batter by spoonfuls on cake.
    2. Combine last four ingredients and sprinkle on top. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour until cake tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean.












  • Mini chocolate covered donuts for a head, broken pretzels for antlers, red M&Ms candies for a nose and dabs of white icing for eyes. 


    Thanks for looking =) 

    Wednesday, December 28, 2011

    Cookies for Santa

    I made a couple of different cookie recipes this year, each was new to me and I thought turned out well. 







    Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

    Ingredients
    • Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
    • 3/4 cup Crisco® Butter Shortening or Crisco® Butter Flavor All-Vegetable Shortening Sticks*
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 cup Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
    • 1 cup dried cranberries
    • 1 cup chopped walnuts

    Directions

    1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat baking sheets with no-stick cooking spray.
    2. Beat shortening, sugar and brown sugar in large bowl at medium speed of electric mixer until blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in small bowl. Beat into shortening mixture until smooth. Stir in oats, dried cranberries and walnuts. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2-inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
    3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light brown. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes. Place on cooling rack to cool completely.




    Magic Cookie Bars

    Ingredients
    • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
    • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
    • 14 fluid ounces sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)
    • 1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
    • 1 cup chopped nuts

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees F for glass dish). In 13 x 9-inch baking pan, melt butter in oven. Sprinkle crumbs over butter; pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumbs. Top with remaining ingredients; press down firmly with fork. Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Chill if desired. Cut into bars. Store covered at room temperature.









    Turtle Fudge Chocolate Chip Cookies
    http://www.marthawhite.com/Recipes/Detail.aspx?recipeID=5511&mealtype=

    I'm not sure if the above link is going to work ....... I saw the recipe on an insert in a magazine, tried to look it up on the Martha White website.

    Ingredients

    Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
    5ounces unsweetened chocolate
    1/4cup butter
    1 (14 oz.)can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
    2 (7.4 oz.)packages Martha White® Chocolate Chip Muffin Mix
    2/3cup chopped pecans
    48 foil-wrapped chocolate covered caramel candies, unwrapped

    Preparation Directions

    1.HEAT oven to 350ยบ F. Coat large cookie sheet with no-stick cooking spray. Microwave chocolate and butter in uncovered large microwave-safe bowl on HIGH for 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Stir in sweetened condensed milk. Stir in muffin mix until completely blended.
    2.ROLL tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Dip bottoms into pecans. Place on cookie sheet with nut side up, 2 inches apart. Bake 7 to 8 minutes or just until cookies look slightly crackled and centers are still soft. Immediately press a caramel candy into center of each cookie. Place on a wire rack. Swirl chocolate gently with knife while candy is warm, if desired. Cool.


    MY NOTES: My local grocery store does not carry this brand of chocolate chip muffin mix so I substituted a Betty Crocker premium mix. They turned out just fine. 

    Monday, December 26, 2011

    Mini Lunch Box Gift Card Holder




    Two tiny "lunch boxes" I made into gift card holders.

    These originally held candy and were sold at a dollar section of a local store a few years ago. I kept the tins for another one of those "some day I'll do something with these" projects. I finally got around to it (I really do have a true "RoundToIt" somewhere......).

    I took them apart, sanded lightly, sanded off portions then spray painted them with primer.

    I cut decorative paper to fit around the side, top and bottom. Adhered it with super sticky double stick tape. The letters were cut with a Cricut die cut machine using the Don Juan cartridge. I used a deep red colored paper that had a white core so I could sand them lightly, exposing a bit of white.

    The trees were made with a half of a scalloped circle punch. Instructions can be found here:
    http://inkspiredtreasures.com/wp-content/uploads/Folded%20Tree%20Diagram2(1).pdf

    Dimensional paper paints I bought years ago came in handy to decorate them.

    I hope they don't end up in the trash................. !

    Thanks for looking =) 

    Sunday, December 25, 2011

    Two Special Cards I Made


    Two special cards I made this year, one for my mother and father the other for my sister and her family.


    The first was totally inspired by an old photo of a sample I saved by "winnipeg1" from Splitcoastsampers.com http://www.splitcoaststampers.com/gallery/photo/1125156?&si=winnipeg1

    The second is a near copy of a sample by "wendybell" at Splitcoaststampers.com

    Everything used on the cards is from Stampin' Up!, except the snowflake border punch. I made mine into "easel cards". The instructions can be found here
    They are 5 1/2" square. I created a little pocket inside on the upper portion to insert a gift card.


    Thanks for looking and Merry Christmas !
















    Saturday, December 24, 2011

    More Christmas Cards







    This is a near duplicate of a card I saw a couple years ago. The layout is flipped . I don't know the artists real name, but the file name I saved it under says it was by "chanteuse" . I think I was shared at Splitcoaststampers.com







    Friday, December 23, 2011

    Tidings of Comfort and Joy - card




    Lots of fun things used on this card ! 
    Everything, except the ribbon, is from Stampin' Up!

    Thursday, December 22, 2011

    Happy Winter ~ several cards to share








    I really like how this card (plus a bonus ornament!) turned out!
    The "Dahlia medallion" was made from eight circle punches of double sided paper that were folded. It's a technique called "tea bag folding".  Instructions can be found here.












    Prettier in real life, the colors seem off in the photograph on my monitor. 






    I love this brass template for dry embossing and paper piercing !






    Thanks for looking and Happy Winter !

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    Jingle All The Way - card






    Rubber stamp image from Stampin' Up! (retired Alphabet Soup) colored with markers.
    Cuttlebug embossing folder
    Wide striped grosgrain ribbon, linen thread, card stocks and markers from Stampin' Up!


    Thanks for looking =)

    Tuesday, December 20, 2011

    Jar of Nothing




    The Nothing Jar

    Did you say nothing?
    When you were asked what you wanted for Christmas
    (or your Birthday, Anniversary, etc)
    Don't you remember saying "NOTHING." ?
    Well, this time someone heard you,
    searched high and low
    and found the perfect gift for you ! 






    I saw this poem / gag gift idea online somewhere a year or two ago and saved the poem for "some day".
    I think it was posted at a recipe site of all places!  It had a very simple, plain tag printed out on sticker paper and adhered to the jar. 
    I decided to finally put it to use this year and made a version using Stampin' Up! products / My Digital Studio.

    The idea is to give the recipient an empty jar with absolutely nothing in it. If you really want to give the person "something" and they truly want "nothing", perhaps make a donation to a worthy cause in their name or offer your time and talents (wash their car, walk their dog, etc). 






    punches to create the embellishment:
    punch out an oval, fold in half lengthwise then trim the edges with scissors to make the scallops
    unfold and add details with marker, ink pad and aquapainter
    glitter glue on the 1/4" circle punch berries



    super thin sliver of card stock used as "thread" for the corduroy button




    This is a great project for repurposing items, too !
    • reuse and old jar
    • ribbons from past gifts 
    • a button from an old shirt or jacket
    • gift wrap, old greeting cards or magazines for the decorative paper background


    This project can be as plain and simple as you want or over the top decorated, creating a piece of home decor / art worthy of display year round. 





    My project was created using supplies from Stampin' Up! 
    and the My Digital Studio program from Stampin' Up!


    Card stock:
      Very Vanilla
      Crumb Cake
      Always Artichoke
      Cherry Cobbler
    Always Artichoke classic ink and marker
    Wide Striped Grosgrain ribbon, retired
    Corduroy Button, retired
    Small oval punch 
    1/4" circle punch 
    Scallop edge punch
    Red glitter glue


    I designed the printed paper piece with My Digital Studio, printed it out then mounted it to several pieces of card stock. The back ground designer paper image is found in the  "Deck The Halls" Designer Kit add on, paper 1. 

    I layered the textured background stamp over it, reduced the size and opacity, the color was changed to Early Espresso.

    I used a square digital punch, elongated it and resized. I then added a Cherry Cobbler mat and drop shadow in Early Espresso  (100% opacity, full blur, centered). 

    Insert a text box, resize to fit the square punch, type in the poem using Early Espresso "ink". 

    The title is another text box with Very Vanilla type, drop shadowed with Basic Black. 



    Thanks for looking  and Happy Holidays =) 

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    Assorted Christmas Cards


    I'm finally getting around to finishing a few handmade holiday cards and sharing them ! I must have been a bit burned out after making so many to send to Operation Write Home, I didn't feel much like making anything. I  didn't make near the amount I normally do this year (and every one of my cards is always different). I believe most people I gave them to don't really care anyway and they are thrown away, plus with postage being so high for "bulky" cards (nearly every one I mailed out this year required the extra postage, ugh!) I decided to cut back. I'll share a few of my favorites over the next couple days. 






    Closeup of Santa's beard. I used dimensional paper paint I bought years ago.
    That is also a wooden star that I painted.













    I put the images and ribbon a square cornered card after taking this photo; it looked so wrong having the rounded corners on the bottom to me.

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Snowman Ornament - Petal Cone Die






    I've made many, many different snowmen projects over the years. Some are very similar to this project. This year I decided to put the Petal Cone die to use to see if I could make it into a snowman face ornament. I knew it would be a bit more work than other snowmen I've made. I think it turned out okay (but I won't be making any more !). So here it is, another fun use for the Petal Cone die from Stampin'  Up! 




    Most supplies used were from Stampin' Up!:
    Big Shot die cut machine
    Petal Cone die
    Snowflakes die


    Scrap of Whisper White card stock


    Clear drying liquid glue
    Dazzling Diamonds glitter
    Button ( Night Of Navy from the Fresh Favorites collection)


    Linen thread
    Fabrics
    Polyfil
    Hot glue
    Twine or ribbon
    Scrap of Pumpkin Pie (or any orange) card stock
    Two black brads, buttons or 1/4" circles of Basic Black card stock








    Cut two petal cones out of fabric. I used an old white bedspread that I tea stained.



    Hot glue edges together (or stitch) to create the cone. Run a little bit of Fray Check along the raw edges of the fabric first to help keep them from fraying.
    Stuff with polyfil.




    Carefully glue the bottom flaps closed. Or hand stitch. 
    Die cut a snowflake, brush on clear drying liquid glue, cover with Dazzling Diamonds glitter. Set aside to dry.
    Make a simple hat from a tube of fabric (or old sock or sweater !).
    Hot glue hanging loop to pointy end of cone.
    Slide hat over pointy end, hot glue in place. Tie twine (or ribbon) around the top.
    Glue on snowflake and button.





    Make a "carrot" nose out of a long skinny  triangle piece of card stock rolled tightly. Glue to face. I would normally use orange clay or a piece of dowel rod sharpened and painted, but decided to show a simple way to make a nose for paper crafters. You could also use an orange pipe cleaner curled up on itself or a piece of orange felt / fun foam. 
    Glue on two 1/4 " circles of Basic Black card stock for eyes. I used a white Signo gel pen for the highlights. You could also use buttons, brads, knotted embroidery thread, felt or fun foam instead of the card stock.
    Brush blush (Stampin' Pastels) on the cheeks if you'd like. I didn't on this particular project because it wouldn't work well on the knobby material.






    I cut a strip from a fleece blanket (cheap way to buy fleece for craft projects) to make the scarf. It was hot glued on. The above photo shows the finished snowman before putting the scarf on (which is optional).

    Thanks for looking =)   

    Birthday Cards I Received


    From a "pen pal".  She used Basic Grey papers. 




    This one was made with My Digital Studio from Stampin' Up !
    and came from Stampin' Up!
    It was all printed, inside and out, with two rhinestones added to the front.

    Sunday, December 11, 2011

    Santa Suit Plant Wrap









    I received these gorgeous poinsettias from my parents for my birthday. They had a plastic "wrapping paper" type of wrap around the pot, as you normally see around potted plants. I decided to make something fun to use instead and came up with this Santa Suit Plant Wrap. You could also repurpose an old tin can by using paint and perhaps a real belt if you want something more sturdy to use year after year or give as a gift. 




    All supplies from Stampin' Up!:
    12x12 textured Real Red card stock
    12x12 Basic Black card stock
    Whisper White card stock, scrap
    Silver metallic card stock, scrap
    Texturz Plate Perfect Details
    Embossing Folder Frames
    Big Shot die cut machine
    1/2" Circle Punch
    Brass Template - I don't recall the name; circles and squares
    Stylus
    Paper Piercer
    Tearing Edge
    Scissors
    Sticky Strip
    SNAIL Adhesive
    Velcro - sewing notions 



    I cut two strips of the textured Real Red card stock to 5 1/2" x 12" to fit around my pot. I pieced them together using Sticky Strip to make one 19" long strip to wrap around the pot. When you are assembling this, be sure that the seams are off to the sides. You want the smooth 12" portion for the front of the Santa Suit Plant Wrap.

    I adhered Velcro with Sticky Strip along the short edges so I can easily remove the wrap and store it flat for next year. However, as I was making this, I thought it would have been better to punch a few holes along the short edges, reinforce the holes then lace up the seam with ribbon. By doing it this way, I could wrap a pot that was larger. I may still do this if I am able to remove the Velcro without damaging the wrap.

    Using the Perfect Details Texturz Plate, emboss a scrap of Whisper White card stock. Tear the two 5 1/2" long edges and glue to the front middle of the Real Red card stock.

    Cut two pieces of Basic Black card stock 1 1/2" x 12". Piece them together to wrap around the length of the Real Red card stock, leaving seams off to the sides, out of sight from the front view. Don't glue to the Real Red wrap just yet !

    Run a scrap of silver metallic card stock through the Big Shot in the Frames embossing folder. Carefully trim around the outer edge of the frame with scissors then use a hobby knife and straight edge to cut two slits inside the two short edges the middle. This will allow you to run the black strip of card stock through.

    Run the Basic Black card stock strip through the "buckle". Glue to the Real Red card stock, centering the buckle over the Whisper White "fur trim".

    You can use real buttons, but I didn't have any black ones the size I wanted so I made my own. There are also dies to make buttons out of card stock, but I do not have one. To create my paper buttons, I punched two 1/2" circles from Basic Black card stock. Using a stylus and brass template, I dry embossed just inside the edges of the circles. I then punched two small holes with the paper piercer in the center. Glue to the Whisper White "fur trim".

    Thanks for looking =) 

    Saturday, December 10, 2011

    EEK!




    NOT what I want to find first thing in the morning..... a snake skin stuck to a pot ? Or do lizards shed, too, its a skin from one of them ? Either way, CREEPY to find in the cabinet.......... now I am leary of being in the kitchen ! My two cats are slacking off on their critter catching duties - or is that they caught something and brought it in to show me and it got away ?

    Kitty did catch two large lizards in the house earlier this year....ahhh, the joys of rural life.

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    Operation Write Home - received and thanks




    I received an email letting me know that Operation Write Home received my 365 cards =)
    My name was also listed among the many that were thanked on their blog on December 8th.
    I've shared many of my cards on my blog over the past couple of months.