Friday, May 27, 2016

Bacon Cracker Appetizers

 These are, seriously, the easiest appetizers ever, and SOOOOO delicious.  I was a skeptic because I'm not a huge fan of meat, in particular bacon.  I know, I know....scary.  But....with the brown sugar sweetness, this is just the way I like my bacon...with carbs.  You can make these trays up in advance and pop them into the oven through a party, or while you are home alone and nobody can see.  The best part is they literally make a million.

All you need is...
bacon (get the thin/cheaper kind, I know....wow?), club crackers, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper.

Then you....
The original recipe used a wire rack (like a cookie cooling rack).  I have one of those.  I have no idea where it is currently living, so.....I used a mini muffin pan.
I lined up my crackers and cut my strips of bacon into sixths (just long enough to cover the cracker).
I thin mounded brown sugar on top of the bacon (this helps keep it from curling, and gives it a sweet taste).  Sprinkle a teeny tiny bit of cayenne on each one (unless you are brave, don't over do that).
 Bake at 350 for about 13 minutes.  Remove, cool.  Eat.  Repeat.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Baby Card

Whenever I CAN I try to make homemade cards.  I recently was sending a baby shower gift and decided it was time.  I like to buy the patterned card sets at Hobby Lobby and then add my design on top.  In this case, I cut some letters out with my Cricut and added some twine and a few embelishments.  Very simple, and...made with a little extra love.  I have a stamp I added to the inside, but....I forgot to take a picture of that, so you'll just have to believe me, until next time!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Grow a Tomato

     I've got my very own science project going in my backyard.  Did you know if you planted seeds, things will grow from them?  I get it, there are people that, like, grow their own salads, but I'm not one of those people.  Every year I go and buy a bunch of plants from the store.  I plant those puppies and I water them all of April.  They grow all of May.  Some even produce a little crop of strawberries/tomatoes/jalapenos.  One year I grew a bean.  Yes, one.  I took a photo of it....and then, like I do with all my plants....June comes and I leave to jet around the world, state, or just hibernate in my house.  I want to be a gardener, I do. Each year I get a little better.  I learn a little more, and this year....I learned you don't even have to buy plants in their little pots with their green leaves, you can plant seeds you have in your fridge.
     I found some tomatoes in the vegetable drawer that were on the other side of edible and I sliced off a few slices and thew them in a pot-I left them whole, but those seeds...I told them to get busy.  I put less than an inch of dirt over them and then I started watering them daily.  In about two weeks I had a pot of little green buds.  I kept watering...
   A few weeks later I had these little guys....
I took those little seeds and pulled a few of the healthiest looking ones out and planted them in little pots by themselves....and I'm watering away.  This year I'm going to grow my own tomatoes from a rotten tomato in my fridge I didn't eat.   I'll probably get one to grow...pick it...and let it rot too, but...that's not the point.   Perhaps I'm posting this a little premature, but....June is just around the corner....and just in case these don't make it through June because....my track record ain't too pretty, I wanted to show what I learned.  I'm planning on planting a bunch of other seeds....watch out world....fresh pasta in July, for sure, or at least....a tomato on a salad.

Friday, May 20, 2016

July 4th Banner

 Next school year, I'm planning on putting together a patriotic theme and doing a mock election (which I do every major election).  My goal has been to make one hallway decoration a week.  I'll probably use these for July 4th first, but.....it's ready to be rolled out in September, but first summer.  I found a fancy free font and used this tutorial for printing on dictionary pages to print off each letter.
 I added sequined stars, rick rack blah blah blah to each letter and strung them together.
Easy, and pretty cute.  :O)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sea Shell Tea Lights

 Tomorrow (I think), Good Morning Texas will be airing a segment I pre-recorded a few weeks ago.  The theme was sea shells.  This is one of the crafts I'll be bringing-tea light sea shells.  I'm bringing quite a few crafts.  I'll post a link to the segment on facebook once it airs, but in the meantime....here's a sneak peak.
 I found the original idea for these via a photo from youtube.  I'm not sure of the exact step by steps there, I went off the clip photo, but I imagine it's similar.  I wanted to keep the wick from being blackened, so I put a tea light on a candle warmer (or coffee cupwarmer-whatever you call it).
 I took tweezers and pulled the wick out and placed it in the bottom of the shell.
I then took the tweezers and lifted the tea light (it was too hot to hold) and tipped it over into the shell.  It hardened and now I can burn it like a candle.  I'm going to put these outside this summer in some sand and flower pots.  The great thing is I can refill my shells as many times as I want.  Fun and functional.  It doesn't get a lot easier than this!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Mother's Day Gift Idea

 I did not make this, but...I had the good sense to order it.  Years ago I saw these jewelry pieces in a magazine and I've been meaning to look into it.  FINALLY, this year I did it.
My grandmother passed away over 30 years ago, but I know that it has left a big hole in my Mom and my Aunt's heart.  She's in heaven.  We will see her again, but I love the idea of these charms.
I found my Mom's old wedding cards where my grandmother had signed her name.  I went on Etsy and found a ton of shops that make these pieces of jewelry in all shapes, sizes, and colors.  All I had to do was take a photo of what I wanted written and send the picture.  I just asked the gal to center love over mother.
I don't know how she did it, but she nailed that signature down to the m, o, t etc.  I'm added a little emerald stone to each of these (my grandmother's birth stone) that I bought on ebay, and I gave one to my Mom for Mother's Day, and another to my aunt for her birthday (right after Mother's Day). I could not be happier with these keepsakes, and I had to share.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Mint Tin Mini Album

 I'm going to visit my goddaughter in a few weeks.  She is currently living in Seattle.  I decided to get ahead of the game this time and make my album ahead of time.  I will only be there for the weekend, so I won't need to make a large album, but I try to store special memories in more than my facebook feed.  This go round I decided I'm going to use thumbnail size photos (more to come on that later).
 I've seen little albums you can make using an Altoids Mint can.  I've been meaning to put one together for years, but when I found these little tins and ready to go albums at Michael's for half off....I let them do all the work.
 I bought 5 sheets of paper, which I have MOST of still remaining b/c these took very little paper.  I bought a set of letters for a dollar, a few flowers and sticky gems (probably another 4 dollars, but..I didn't use them all).  I didn't want to make it too thick, since it has to live inside the tin.
 I also got a 50 cent roll of ribbon in Hobby Lobby's scrapbooking section and then I went to work.
 I measured the size of the folded 'pages' and cut out my paper.
 I left a few places for journaling, and the rest of the space will be used for thumbnail size prints.
 Now....I just need to take those photos...I'll be back with the finished product and how the whole 'thumbnail' print thing goes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Naughty Brownies

I recently went to a pampered chef party and bought the square brownie pan, BUT these could be made in regular muffin cups as well.  They are super simple and really delicious.  The key is NOT skipping any of the ingredients (I didn't have enough Reeses and they just weren't the same without it.  

 All you need is a thing of slice and bake cookies, 12 Reese's cups, and a box of brownie mix. 
 Spray the pans with cooking oil and then divide the cookie dough evenly into the 12 pans.  Press the dough down.  Place a Reese's on top of each. 
Mix half the box of fudge brownies with 1/3 c. vegetable oil, 2 T water, and 2 eggs.  Mix and then pour the batter evenly over the 12 Reeses.
Bake at 350 for 19 minutes.  Cool and then remove from the pan. 

Monday, May 09, 2016

Hawaiian Chicken Salad

I work at a school.  We have been adopted by a church that spoils all the teachers and students on a regular basis.  Recently, one of the Sunday School classes brought us lunch and one of the dishes was this Hawaiian Chicken Salad.  I didn't know what was in it, but it was seriously delicious.  Seriously.  The lady who brought the dish shared her recipe, and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to make.  Seriously, give this a try. 
Hawaiian Chicken Salad
Ingredients:  1 large can of Swanson Chicken breast (drained), 1 c. mayonnaise, 1 c. celery (chopped), 1 c. pecans (chopped), 1 c. flaked coconut, 1 small can crushed pineapple (well drained), 1/2 c sour cream
Instructions:  Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.  Chill.  Serve on lettuce leaf as a salad, or on bread. 
*Makes enough for 6+ sandwiches.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Shutter Headboard

 This is still a work in progress, but....I've already lost several pictures, so I decided to go ahead and post the progress so far.
 I'm redoing one of the bedrooms in my house to be a beach themed room.  I wanted to make a shutter headboard with some old shutters I have.  I laid them out and lined the top (even though some are a little shorter).  I screwed them to a 2x4 I laid across the shutters horizontally so they remained even.
I then added 2 2x4's (I screwed into the 2x4 that went across the back) to become the legs of the headboard.  I'll eventually mount the whole thing to the wall, but so far...so good...not too shabby for three 2x4's.  The size will depend on your bed.  This one is going with a full size bed, so I just measure the 2x4 I put the shutters on to be the length of the headboard and the shortest shutter begins below the mattress line.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

My Thoughts on Blue Apron (this is not an ad!).

 First and foremost....I'm not getting ANYTHING for telling you about Blue Apron.  I just decided to try it, and if you are like me, you've heard about it and wondered what it was all about, so...I decided to blog about it.  I don't feel any obligations to anyone but myself and anyone who is reading this and has wondered.
 Blue Apron is something you can set up online.  They send organic and fresh ingredients in a refrigerated box each week and recipe cards for the ingredients for you to use to cook up dinners.  You can chose a family plan (that feeds 4 and I think it's about 70 dollars and includes all the ingredients for 2 meals) or a couples plan (that feeds two, but you get three different meal for 60).  There is a place on the website to check off things you don't eat (shell fish, pork, fish, beef etc).  Each week there are six different meal options and you can adjust them SOME if you don't like the meals they are planning to send (based on your profile).  You can also skip any week you won't be in town/or doesn't sounds like something you'd want to enjoy.  Here's the one issue I have-I really wish you could just select all your meals....if you choose one others aren't an option with 'that combo'.  So...I find most weeks I really don't see three meals I want to try.  I don't eat fish, lamb, and I try to avoid pork.  BUT if you don't have these issues, you won't have as much trouble.
You choose from a few delivery days (I had mine delivered on Tuesday) and it arrives in an insulated box with three ice packs (see above).  
Each recipe card list all the ingredients needed for the meal and there are little brown bags with all the spices, butters etc for that meal.  The only thing they didn't provide you need a lot of is olive oil and salt and pepper.
The first meal I tried out was a steak meal.  I love it because there was even a little bit about where the ingredients were from/what country inspired the ensemble etc.  This one was from South Africa.
I have eaten a few plantains out and about, but I had never cooked one, and the trial spice in this go round was Grains of Paradise.  
 The card gives you step by steps on what to chop up and how.  The prep takes a bit of time, but I really enjoyed it because I was working with things I would not have chosen, and the instructions were clear enough I felt confident.
 The steak turned out really good.  I don't cook steak much AT ALL, especially via the stove.  I have also never cooked collard greens.  I think it had a little too much lime for my taste....I'm learning less is more when it comes to lemons and limes in cooking (though in baked goods, I'm a fan).
Meal two was chicken and purple potatoes, which I'd never cooked with before.  The one thing that impressed me was that the ingredients really were all 'the best' and in the end your vegetables took up half your plate, which I know is the recommended proportions these days.  I was even able to share a bowl of the potatoes, onions, and apple mix with my brother who is vegan because no dairy products were used in the set up of that part of the dish.  Side note: a lot of the options are vegetarian (not usually vegan).  
 Again, the apples in the mix threw me off a little, BUT if for no other reason, Blue Apron this go round was TOTALLY worth it for me because I learned how to cook chicken in a new way on the stove top and it was amazing...and it was nothing fancy.  I'll blog about that another time....it rocked my world.  The first two meals I tried were all totally made on the stove.  I needed a lot of prep bowls, a zester, and a skillet, but....not much else beyond that.
 Meal three was probably my favorite all around.  It was the only one that required baking.  I made a zucchini and spinach quiche.  The meal even came with two fresh mini pie crusts and two farm fresh eggs.  In this meal I got to work with a pink lemon and cream fresh....which I'd never worked with before.
The first week there is a coupon code to get 'one meal free'...basically 20 bucks off, so it was 40 dollars for three meals, which includes shipping.  I'll definitely try it again in the future.  I kind of felt like I was taking a cooking class.  I can't tell you that I'll make these particular recipes again, but I know more about food than I did last week.  I tried out things I've never tried (all ingredients are what's in season), and my chicken prep is forever changed.
One thing I'll say, if you are someone who likes home cooking, and wouldn't fall under the foodie category that loves experimenting and trying new foods-this is probably not for you.  BUT I felt like I was eating fairly healthy this week.  I enjoyed the prep and process.  I also got to skip the grocery store this week.  Winning.