Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Handmade Christmas update

Christmas with my family doesn't happen until New years day, but I thought I would share my progress with my handmade gifts for the nieces and nephews.

For the two pre-teens and one five year old niece I made Organza flowers following this tutorial on Reesedixon.com I am so pleased with how they came out. The best part is that I had all of the components on hand. The organza came from my fabric stash, and the seed beads from an old bracelet that I had taken apart years ago.
Then, I glued them to some inexpensive satin headbands that I purchased. And here is the final result:

I adore them! I hope my nieces love them as much as I do.

Next, for my nephew and 13 year old niece (who would never wear a flowery headband!), I made these duct tape wallets. I had one of these (that I bought! How silly) when I was younger, and I remember how cool I thought I was, so I thought that they would like them.
Even the bug detail is tape. I used a scrapbooking punch to make the cutouts, and used to voids along the bottom. I'm thrilled with how they turned out!

So, I have one gift left to complete. 2 year old PJ's crochet hat. Yes, I'm crocheting again! after a two year hiatus, it only took me a few minutes to get back into the rhythm, and I've already completed one scarf and most of his little hat.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Peanut Butter Balls (Buckeyes)

(Far Right in photo)

These have been on my Christmas rotation since I was kid. Easy and delicious!

2 Cups powdered sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 (12 oz) package chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter, softened (but not runny)
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

Combine all ingredients except for chocolate. Mix until well blended. Roll into small balls. Stick toothpicks in balls, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Melt chocolate chips on double broiler. Dip peanut butter balls in chocolate. remove toothpicks and store in a cool place.

(refrigerating the balls with the toothpick inside is a little tip to make dipping easier. the toothpicks stay in much better!)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Spritz Cookies

I've always been fascinated by Spritz cookies, I didn't know that they were made from a press until a few years ago. I thought it was some cookie mould that would be very time consuming...

Anyways, the Wilton press was on sale at JoAnn's last week, and I couldn't resist. I love these cookies! I can't wait to try out new variations (I saw one where a spritz was pressed on top of a round cookie-so cute!)

Basic Spritz Cookies
1 1/2 cups butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tbs milk
1 teas vanilla
1/2 teas almond extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teas baking powder
Also, the cookies pictured are my "seconds". I'd already packaged up the "firsts" to give to friends and coworkers. The cookie press is definitely worth the $6 I paid for it! :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Russian Tea Cookies (Snowballs)

I've had these every Christmas as far back as I can remember. This recipe comes from my Grandmother, and it could not be easier (or more delicious). Now, I use margarine for these, because that's what her recipe says. Don't hate the margarine cookies, they really are awesome!

Sift together 2 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teas salt. Then add 1 cup soft margarine (not runny!) and 2 teas vanilla. Blend with pastry cutter. add in 1 cup finely chopped pecans. Roll into balls. Bake at 325 for 25 minutes.

Remove and cool for 5 minutes, then roll in powdered sugar. They keep really well if you store them in an airtight container with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

20 Minute tree skirt

Last week, in a rush to find something to hide the ugly base of my fake Christmas tree, I bought this "drape" from the dollar store. It was okay, but just looked like fabric wrapped around the base of my falsey.
But yesterday I saw this tree skirt on the blog Shanty2Chic. How Cute is that?! I love it.
So, after my movie was over last night it was still to early to go to bed, so I decided to use my dollar store drape to make a ruffle tree skirt.
The result: (click to enlarge)
Not bad! It only took 20 minutes, and I didn't use a pattern (not like I had invested a ton of money into it!)
Also, at first I was jealous of the ruffle foot on Shanty2Chic's sewing machine, but as I was sewing in a very loose top stitch on the ruffle (to pull to make the ruffle) somehow my machine began pulling it and created the ruffle! I was probably way more excited about that than I should be. And, by some twist of fate, the ruffle was the perfect size.
This will probably be a one year tree skirt, as next year we're hosting Christmas for my family, so I plan on getting a giant real tree, which will need a bigger better skirt. This was great practice though, and I'm really happy with it!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dead Air

I know it's been a little quiet around here. I haven't been spending much time in my kitchen but I'm sure I'll be back in there soon, especially with my annual candy making day coming up this weekend!
I promise to have new and exciting posts up soon.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Quilling or paper filigree is an art form that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs. The paper is wound around a quill to create a basic coil shape. The paper is then glued at the tip and the coil shaped, these shaped coils are arranged to form flowers, leaves, and various ornamental patterns similar to ironwork.

I want to do it. Why?

Check out this tutorial, and the finished product:

Reese Dixon Quilled snowflake ornament.

Is that not absolutely gorgeous?! I think I'll try my hand at these for next year. I'd love to have some on my tree this year, but with my busy schedule the next few weekends, I just don't see it happening. As someone who hates the commercialized red and green Christmas and all things tacky that come with it, I'm excited to put some of her gorgeous ideas to work on my tree.

Be sure to check out other crafts at ReeseDixon.com , she's amazing and totally inspiring.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Broccoli Beef

This is from Pioneer Womans Broccoli Beef post a few weeks ago. Amazingly easy and delicious! Head over to her blog for the recipe, it's definitely worth a try.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

This is kind of a no brainer, but these turned out so good I had to share.

2 Large Sweet Potatoes
2 tbs butter
2 tbs honey
half and half

Boil Sweet potatoes until soft. Toss into kitchenaid (or mash by hand) with butter and honey. Add Half and half until smooth and creamy.

TADAAA! Instant beautiful side dish to go with your honey pecan pork :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chicken Garlic Artichoke pizza

For our housewarming party we were given a gift card to Williams and Sonoma, which we finally used last week. We ended up getting a big gorgeous pizza stone. Anxious to use it, we made this pizza the same night.
oh.my.gah! If you don't have a pizza stone, I recommend getting one. It made the crust crispy and delicious, far better than any pizza we've ever cooked at home!

Chicken Garlic Artichoke Pizza

Preheat your oven to 500 to get your pizza stone nice and hot!

Pizza Dough (this is the best pizza dough recipe I've found so far)

3 cups flour (any will do. We used Wheat flour)
2 and 1/4 teas. yeast (or one package)
2 tbs veggie oil
1 teas salt
1 teas sugar
1 cup warm water

Combine flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. Mix in oil and water. Let rise. Bake at 375.

Now you can let it rise, but you can also cook it right away. It's a little more dense if you don't give it time to rise though. I also like to mix the yeast in with the warm water first, it activates a little better.


White garlic sauce (we cheat and buy this in the deli of our grocery store. SOOOOO good!)
1 boneless skinless chicken breast
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts
bell pepper
mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper chicken, and fully cook on stove top. Spread sauce over rolled out pizza crust, top with mozz, chicken chunks, artichoke hearts and bell pepper. Sprinkle parm over top.

Turn oven down to 375. Sprinkle corn meal over pizza stone, and slide pizza on to stone. (I had some problems here, hence my wonky shaped pizza)
Bake for about 15 minutes, or until crust is browned.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Handmade Christmas

This post will be ever changing as I find ideas for a handmade Christmas. I started it on Oct. 19th, but am just getting ideas collected nearly a month later! The next four weekends are going to be busy ones!

Since beginning this post, I also found out that we are expecting a new niece or nephew next summer, so I will add one more to my list: fetus, due July 1. I'm calling niece as they just had a boy last summer :)

Looking at last years list, I have some gifts I never made, so I'll roll those over to this year. Also, I've found a wonderful new resource for handmade gifts called Givers Log that is filled with beautiful gift ideas.

nephew P, 6 months - we purchased all of his presents. oops.
nephew PJ, 2 - crochet hat
niece A, 5 - Organza flower headband
nephew B, 11 - Duct Tape wallet with ants
niece C, 11 - Organza flower headband
niece M, 13 - Organza flower headband
niece J, 13 - Duct tape wallet

These Organza flowers will look adorable attached to headbands for the nieces. The only niece who I think might not like this is niece J, who isn't the headband type of girl. I'll make her one anyways, though, because maybe someday she'll want to wear it to church :)

Hot Chocolate on a Stick
, for adults

Pecan Honey Pork

I made this for my husband when he returned from a long week of work. He said it was the best dinner I've ever made him, so I think it's a winner! Really, this could not be any easier and impressive tasting.

Awesome Honey Pecan Pork Chops from allrecipes.com


* 1 1/4 pounds boneless pork loin, pounded thin
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour for coating
* salt and pepper to taste
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1/4 cup honey
* 1/4 cup chopped pecans


1. In a shallow dish, mix together flour, salt and pepper. Dredge pork cutlets in the flour mixture.
2. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add chops, and brown both sides. Transfer to a warm plate.
3. Mix honey and pecans into the pan drippings. Heat through, stirring constantly. Pour sauce over cutlets.

You want to be careful not to burn the pork when you're browning it, because then your sauce will come out dark and ugly.
mmmmm! enjoy!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pumpkin-Chocolate cheescake pie

Oh Yes. My horrible photography does not do this pie justice!

I made this for a family dinner on Sunday, and it was incredible. I've never attempted a cheesecake before, so this was kind of a cheater version. It was very easy, though, and I highly recommend!

From the Better Homes and Gardens All Time Favorites 2010 Cookbook

Pumpkin-Chocolate Cheesecake Pie

1 pie crust
12 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 C. granulated sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 C finely chopped semi sweet chocolate
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
4 Eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 C. half and half

1. Preheat oven to 450. Transfer pastry shell to 9.5 or 10 inch deep dish pie pan (I used a regular one). Trim crust to 1/2 inch beyond edge of plate. Crimp edges high. Using fork, prick bottom and sides of pastry. Line pastry with double thickness of foil and bake 8 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5 to 6 minutes more until golden. cool on a wire rack. Reduce oven temp to 375.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, one egg and 1.4 C. sugar on low speed until smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture in pastry shell. Sprinkle with finely chopped chocolate.
3. In bowl, combine pumpkin, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice. stir in four eggs. Stir in half and half. Slowly pour pumpkin mixture over chocolate layer. To prevent over browning, cover pie edge with foil
4. Bake 60 to 65 minutes or until knife inserted in middle comes out clean. Remove foil and cool on wire rack. Refrigerate within 2 hours, top with extra chocolate for garnish if desired.

I'd recommend making this the day before, as it needs to be completely cold to taste good :)

mmmmm, pie!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Easy Halloween Craft.

So it's a little late for this year, but it's never too early to collect ideas for next year! I just have to share this super cute idea that I got from Thrifty Decor chick :

Mummy candle holders! I just hot glued the eyes on, wrapped it with some gauze (I stretched and pulled holes into the gauze to make it mummier) And lit the candles!

I LOVE them!

Then, after Halloween, all the embellishments popped right off so I can save them for next year, leaving the candle holders available for a new holiday craft.

Yay for Halloween crafts! I can't wait for next year to bust these mummies out again :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Salsa Chicken

Being single during the week for the last month had me searching for simple meals. Most nights (I'm a little shamed to admit) dinner consisted of Pop Tarts or a Junior Mint milkshake.
So last night I decided to whip up something quick and easy for myself. I'd seen talk of this "Salsa chicken" and thought it sounded interesting.

1/2 c. Salsa
1 chicken breast
Taco seasoning

I sprinkled taco seasoning on the breast before tossing it in the crockpot on high and drowning it in salsa.

After it had reached the desirable temperature, I tossed it on a bed of buttery noodles. Really, not bad for a lonely Wednesday night!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Muffin pan tip

I hate when I run out of batter and can't fill up my muffin pan. If you only have half of the holes filled, there's a chance that your muffin pan will warp. To avoid this, you can fill the empty cups up with water, and Voila! No warpage.

Is warpage a word? Probably not. But my tip is still valid and that's all that matters!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TWO ingredient muffins? Yes please!

Yes, I am a cheater cheater pumpkin eater. I'm not ashamed, and I shouldn't be!
I have a wicked sweet tooth (surprise, surprise!) and my husband is out of town, so obviously I'm not going to make anything fancy.

Are you ready for the ingredients? Are you sure you can handle it? Okay.

One box spice cake mix
One can pumpkin puree (15 oz)

Yes, really! You combine the two together, and bake at 350 until the top springs back (15 minutes or so)

I whipped up some simple cream cheese frosting to top them. I know, muffins aren't supposed to have frosting. But I wanted frosting. Mmmmmmm. frosting.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Baked Brie

Yesterday was my FIL's 50th birthday party, happy birthday FIL! I was to bring an appetizer, and after many google searches and blog searches for "Fall like appetizers that might be good with barbecued foods but are also impressive and easy to make", I settled on Baked Brie.

Really, this could not be any simpler, and it was quite impressive! I was very pleased that it was well liked!

Baked Brie

Wedge or wheel of Brie (I couldn't find a big enough wheel, so I used a wedge)
Plum Jam (Fig would be marvelous!)
1 package of crescent rolls or 1 sheet of puff pastry
1 egg

Freeze brie for an hour, then remove from freezer and cut in half. Spread Jam on 1 half of brie, then put other half back on top. Set aside.
Remove crescent rolls from carton, unroll, and lay out side by side. pinch seams together with your fingers. Roll flat with rolling pin. Spread jam in center of pastry sheet.
Place brie in center of pastry, and wrap pastry around it. (I also used a cookie cutter to stamp a shape here, but it disappeared.) Brush with egg white.
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes, on a dish with sides. Serve immediately, or stick in oven at 350 for ten minutes before serving.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Blog changes

I've decided to remove the personal posts from my blog, and keep only the kitchen and crafty ones, since those are my most favorite hobbies. There just isn't a whole lot going on here for me to keep a personal blog.

Hope you'll stick around as I make some changes!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Etsy Love- Uncommonly Chic

Earlier this month I decided to treat myself to an early birthday present. (My birthday was on the 9th-if you missed it, that's okay! I accept late gifts)
I'd been watching Uncommonly Chic for awhile. She had posted a Necklace that I loved, but alas somebody was quicker on the draw than I. Finally one day in a posting frenzy she put up a new one, and I snatched it up before anyone noticed it was there. Muhahahaha!

Uncommonly Chic sold something like 30 necklaces that day, but I received my necklace 4 days later, in a cute little box tied up with raffia. I love it! It's not too flashy, but very cute. Just my style. I was very impressed with the quality (especially for the price!) and the quick shipping.

here are some other Uncommonly Chic necklaces that I love:


Sarah II


Her photography is pretty great too. You know exactly what you're getting. (all photos credit Uncommonly Chic)

So if you feel like you need a treat, go visit. You wont be disappointed!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Homemade Spaghetti sauce

In addition to a plethora of zucchini, this has also been the summer of tomatoes. And what a summer to choose for that, due to my tooth problems, I couldn't EAT the tomatoes. Talk about torture, I love a good tomato!

Anyways, my boss told me that I needed to "get on board with this cooking thing" and make my own tomato sauce, so I did!

First, I took my gorgeous Parker bowl (Thank you hub!) full of red and yellow tomatoes and I pureed four of the tomatoes, and chopped the other four.

Then, I tossed some garlic in olive oil in a hot pan.

Then I tossed in both the pureed tomatoes and the chopped, along with some onions and red wine vinegar (and a wee bit of sugar, there was just a little too much bite), and cooked it for about an hour.

Then, I sauteed up some squash, cooked some noddles and poured my sauce over both. Then I drowned everything in way too much feta.

mmmmm. Still, my end review is "Meh, not worth it." I prefer store bought sauce, but IDK, maybe I did something wrong. It just could've been better.

Zucchini Muffins

I hate writing the word zucchini, I always spell it wrong. I wish Dictionary.com kept track of how many times one person looked up a word, I bet I've looked up that one at least 20 times. What can I say, I'm a slow learner!

Anyways, this summer has truly been the summer of zucchini (there's that word again!) we've been given far more zucchini (gah!) than we could deep fry, so I decided to try my hand at zucchini muffins. My mom used to make a bread that I liked, but muffins are so much more portable and handy.

After a little research, I settled on this recipe from Simply recipes. The only change I made was substituting almond extract for vanilla. (I also omitted cranberries and walnuts cause I didn't have any.) I don't know how I ran out of vanilla extract, it's such a staple! And they turned out awesome!

mmm. Also, notice those muffin cups they are in? BUY THOSE. One of my least favorite kitchen chores is cleaning the muffin pan, and these little suckers have cured that for me! You don't need a muffin tin at all, you just pour your batter in the silver cups (that are lined with paper) and throw them in the oven and voila! Muffin tin-less muffins!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Le card making

After a year and a half of intense planning, my mother in law and I finally got together to make some greeting cards. We've done this one other time, in March 2008 with great success, and it was always our plan to do it again "really soon". Yeah, we suck at "really soon".
For my birthday (last August!) she bought me this stamp set I'd admired, and today I finally got to use it! (Carte Postale from Stampin' Up). You'll see the reoccurring theme in my cards.

I managed to pump out 8 adorable cards in a few hours (MIL made 3, she's a perfectionist!), using scrap booking paper leftover my scrap booking days, and MIL's stamp pads. Total cost for my 8 unique and sweet cards: $0. Love it! I gave MIL her favorite one as a thanks.

Anyways, if you're looking for a new hobby, I highly suggest card making! Fun, useful, and if you find you don't like it then you can send me all of your supplies!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Best Chocolate Frosting EVER

For his birthday, Dimples requested that I make him a funfetti cake with chocolate frosting. Well, i don't know about you, but I can't make funfetti from Scratch. So, to make up for my funfetti failure, I went to allrecipes.com to try and find the most decadent chocolate frosting possible. I think I found it.

2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (3.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup heavy cream, whipped

Blend the melted chocolate and milk. Gradually mix in the water, vanilla, and pudding mix, and whisk until smooth. Fold in the heavy cream. Frost the cake immediately, and chill at least 30 minutes before serving.

OMG! It's seriously the easiest, bestest frosting in the world. It's very close to a mousse in both texture and flavor (I seriously could not keep my face out of the kitchenaid bowl, that's how delicious this frosting is). I was eating by the spoonful. It made way more than necessary to generously frost the cake.

Make it. You wont be sorry.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Trying my hand at Royal Icing

It seems like every where I look online, I see pictures of gorgeous Sugar cookies, iced with Royal Icing. This morning I decided to try my hand at it.

I also used a new recipe this time, not my basic Wilton recipe that I've been using. I found this recipe on a year in the kitchen, and the icing recipe came from Creative Catering.

I halved Ashlee's recipe, and it made about two dozen cookies. And they are flakey and delicious. I omitted the lemon zest and the almond extract because I didn't have any on hand, so the cookies were a little blah until I added the frosting, then they were perfection.

As for the icing being...gorgeous, well, i fail at that. This is my third attempt to use frosting tips and bags, and I think my fate is sealed: I'm terrible at it. I have a very shaky hand, so I have to move really quick or my edges turn out funky. I also am not patient enough to spread the "flood" frosting with a toothpick, I gave up and used a spoon. Much easier. I also should've made it more watery.

Anyways the result:

So, they're not super impressive. But, they were tons of fun to make, and they're pretty cute. They served their purpose, though. I no longer have a Sunday Sweet Tooth :)

Sorry my pictures are sideways! I don't know what's going on.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Old pictures

The other day my Mom gave me a box filled with pictures from my childhood. Just for fun, here are a few of my favorites:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Adventures in Vegan baking

Lately I've been experimenting with vegan baked goods. No, I'm not becoming a vegan (I could never betray bacon like that!) I'm just starting to prefer saving our dairy and eggs for eating alone. Most of the time, I don't even notice a difference. I'm definitely not feeling deprived, that's for sure (just ask my love handles, they'll agree)!
Today I was trying to think of an easy grab and go snack, using ingredients that we have on hand. I found this recipe, from allrecipes.com and tweaked it a little to eliminate the dairy and eggs. I also used whole wheat flour instead of regular flour, because I think it keeps you feeling full longer. I've italicized my changes, other than that it's the same as the allrecipes link.

Cranberry Oatmeal bars

1/2 cup melted margarine (I know there's margarine haters out there, but I love margarine. Not all brands of margarine are vegan, so be sure to check ingredients if you really care.)
1 heaping tbs. Soy flour (this, combined with the 1 tbs water, replaces an egg)
1 tbs water
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teas nutmeg (I eliminated this, I didn't have any)
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup walnuts (I just didn't have pecans on hand)
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease 11x7 inch baking pan.
2. Pour melted butter into a mixing bowl, and beat in the Soy flour and water, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice together in a separate mixing bowl. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until thoroughly blended. Mix in the cranberries, walnuts, and oats until evenly blended. Press mixture into prepared baking dish.
3. Bake in preheated oven until top is dry and edges slightly pull away from the sides of the pan, 13 to 15 minutes. Cool before cutting into squares.

Also, I used a 11x15 pan and it was still too big. It's easier to get the bars out of the pan if they aren't touching the sides. The batter will smell...bad. Sort of like chewed up alfalfa hay (if you're a horse person, you know what that smells like) but never fear! Once these are cooked they smell and taste amazing. Not at all like alfalfa.