Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New bag-lost sleep

I have been wanting to try to make a new purse for a loooooong time.  I have had this tutorial saved for entirely too long.  I was just afraid to try it...there are so many steps and layers. I have made small purses for Abby but just easy-throw-it-together-without-planning ones.  I wanted something  little nicer (but fun!) for me.  This probably took me longer than it would a more experienced sewer...but the directions were great and despite a few mistakes, I think it turned out cute! Plus, it makes me want to keep en eye out for cute fabrics on sale to make more purses in a variety of styles. :) All in all, it was worth losing a bit of sleep staying up to make this last night.
Here is my finished bag-

I think my next project will be a little matching wallet to use with this. :)
What's your next project???  Maybe I want to make one as well! LOL

Monday, March 29, 2010

Scrap That!

Melissa asked if she could use one of my sketches for the weekly challenge at Scrap That! this week and of course I said yes! I hope you'll take the challenge!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Another new sketch and some layouts

I have another new sketch for you.  Anyone out there using them? :)  If so, I would love to see your pages!  Thanks so much to those of you who share your pages in the comments...I really love to see them. It makes my day when I can inspire someone even just a teeny tiny bit!

Here's a layout I created using this sketch.
And here's a layout that my good friend Stacy Killion made using this sketch. (Thanks so much for using the sketch, Stacy!!) I really love this page!
I hope you make time for something creative this weekend. Happy Scrapping!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New layout

I got to scrap two new pages yesterday! (Actually, three but one was just cardstock with some extra photos and no creativity was involved! Do you make those sometimes as well???) Here's my favorite of the two pages.  I used a sketch from a challenge issued by Melissa on Scrap That!

This layout is for Ellie's scrapbook.  I think I have shared layouts with these pics for the other albums before. :)

I hope you get some scrappy time in soon!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Trader Joes, a giveaway and a yummy salad dressing recipe.

Check out the great giveaway here- http://mypursuitof.blogspot.com/2010/03/grocery-shopping-with-grom-and-giveaway.html And make sure to watch the fun Trader Joes video.  Oh, how I miss being able to shop at TJ's regularly.

With our pizza last night, we tried a new recipe for Asian Vinaigrette. It's a keeper!!  So tasty and low in points. Here's the recipe with a slight change to use what I had on hand. (See the photo from yesterday's post.)

Asian Vinaigrette
3 TBS chicken broth
2 TBS rice wine vinegar
1 TBS soy sauce
2 tsp canola oil
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Add all ingredients to a small jar, add the lid and shake it well.
This makes 4 servings (almost 2 TBS each serving) @ 1 pt a serving.

We tossed this with some shredded cabbage leftover from St. Patty's Day, some shredded carrots, green onions and toasted sesame seeds.  This would also be great on lettuce with diced chicken and mandarin oranges.  YUM.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pizza Dough recipe

I posted my recipe for pizza dough a long time ago but it was accidentally deleted.  No worries, though...I have new and improved directions for you! This is especially for my dear friends who have told me they want to try to make their own dough but haven't been brave enough yet.  To you, I say, "Go for it!!" Despite the steps and all of the photos, it is really a simple process and once you make it a couple of times, it will be very easy.

I use this dough for pizza, breadsticks, pizza rolls, focaccia, and calzones. I have used it so many times over the years that I don't even have to look at a recipe. LOL I will share some of those tips and recipes as I make them and take pictures.

*My confession* I usually use my Kitchen Aid mixer with a dough hook to make my pizza dough and breads.  But I didn't start out that way.  Since I know that many of you might not have a mixer or dough attachment, I am demonstrating how to make your dough by hand.  :)
Ingredients needed:
*This recipe will make 2 medium/thin pizza crusts or one really big/thick crust. I usually just half the recipe but I am trying out saving half of the dough in the fridge for another day...I will let you know how that works out.
3 cups flour (I used bread flour today but I have used all purpose for years and it works fine.  I also often substitute whole wheat for half of the flour.)
1 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (or one of those little envelopes of yeast)
2 TBS olive oil
WW points- the whole recipe comes out to 30 points.  I use half of the dough for one pizza so if you cut it into 8 slices, each slice will have about 2 points worth of dough.  Then you can calculate the rest of your pizza depending on how much cheese and other toppings you add.  
1. Mix the water and sugar together in a small bowl.  Sprinkle the yeast on top of it and let sit for about 5-10 minutes or until it gets foamy.
2. While the yeast is doing it's thing, mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. When you measure flour, always use something else to scoop the flour into the measuring cup and level it off with a knife. Don't scoop the flour out with your measuring cup or you will end up with too much flour.
Adding and mixing the flour and salt. Use a whisk or a fork to stir the flour mixture and make sure you fluff it up pretty well.
3. Once the yeast has mostly turned to a layer of foam, stir in the olive oil.
4. Add the yeast mixture to the bowl with the flour and salt. Use a large spoon to stir it initially until the wet ingredients start to blend in with the dry stuff.
5. Now use your *clean* hands to finish combining the ingredients. Just scrape the sides of the bowl and squish it all together. This can be a little messy and your dough won't look very pretty yet. As soon as it is all mostly mixed together, dump it out on your work surface.

6. Now you get to KNEAD the dough.  If you have never done this, you might be a little intimidated.  But trust me, it is easy.  And it is a bit theraputic once you get into the "zone" (unless you have little  hands trying to get in to help knead it like I normally do.)
To knead the dough, all you do is fold the dough over on itself and press it down.  Then you turn it and fold again and press.  I usually use two hands to do this (since you need to put a bit of muscle into it) but I had to take a photo with one of them. :) Keep kneading it and kneading it for about 5-10 minutes. You can add a touch more flour if you need to...I added about a 1/2 teaspoon or so.
7. The photo on the left was after 2 minutes of kneading.  The one on the right was after about 8 or 9 minutes. Place the dough into a large bowl sprayed with cooking spray and cover it with plastic wrap (also sprayed with cooking spray.) Place the bowl in a warm area for about 20 minutes to rise.  I always put mine in the oven after turning it on for 1-2 minutes.  (I made the mistake once of forgetting to turn the oven off and ruined the dough...so now I ALWAYS set my timer for 2 minutes so I can remember to shut off the heat.)
8. After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down.  (Just press your fist into it and fold it over itself once or twice.) This is when you will want to cut it in half to make your two crusts (or save half for another time.) If you like a really thick crust, then by all means, just use the full amount to create your crust. We like it thinner.
9. Press or roll out the dough to the size you want it.  I like to use my hands to do this.  I press it out to get the shape going and then I hold it up with two hands and work around the edge to let gravity stretch it out for  me.  This was really hard to get a photo of  since I use two hands to do it so I hope you can understand what I mean.
10. Place the dough on your pan.  I don't have to spray my pizza stone since it won't stick (I love my Pampered Chef Stoneware!!) but you might need to spray yours or add a sprinkle or cornmeal under the dough.  Oh, by the way, you don't have to make a round pizza!  I have made a rectangle shape and used a large cookie sheet as well (you might want to use the whole recipe for that!)

These guys are anxious for dinner...and chomping at the bit to help add toppings!
Turn on your oven to 400 degrees to start heating up while you chop toppings and decorate your dough. It will rise a little more while you are prepping your toppings. I usually set it on top of or next to my oven so the heat can help it along a bit. you can brush some olive oil on the dough or spray it with a little cooking spray to keep the dough moist.

Bake your pizza for about 20 minutes.  Now PLEASE PLEASE check your pizza after about 10 minutes and again every few minutes.  All ovens are a little different.  This is how long it takes MY oven to cook the pizzas how we like them.  Yours may cook faster or slower.  It also depends on how high you pile your toppings.  You certainly don't want a doughy crust and you don't want it to be overcooked. So just keep a close eye on it.
Let your pizza set for a few minutes before cutting it.  Enjoy! What are your favorite pizza toppings?
Check out more tasty foods at Tasty Tuesdays!

Muffin Tin Monday- no theme

Sorry I am a bit late in posting this.  No time today to upload or edit any photos. There was no theme today for our muffin tin lunch so we had homemade "Lunchables." Crackers, turkey, cheese, oranges, and carrots.
Check out Muffin Tin Mom for more fun MTM ideas!

Menu Planning Monday

I will try to take pictures and repost a couple of recipes that I seem to have accidentally deleted with the blog changes as well as new ones if they turn out well. Watch for them this week!

Monday- Homemade pizza with sausage, bell peppers, onions & tomatoes, salad
Tuesday- Turkey keilbasa sauteed with onions and red potatoes, spinach
Wednesday- Chicken potstickers, Hungry Girl wonton soup, rice (might just make the soup and rice...not sure yet) *new recipes*
Thursday- Tacos and beans
Friday- Chickpeas & pasta *new recipe*
Saturday-Garlic shrimp, quinoa & spinach
Sunday- Curried lentils, rice and sweet potato fritters *new recipe*

Check out http://www.orgjunkie.com/ for more menu ideas.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New sketch and layouts!

Here's another new sketch for you! All of the kids (and hubby!) have been sick and so I haven't had much time to scrap let alone get much of anything else done. 

Anyhow, I hope you like the sketch and the layouts.  Stacy K. created an awesome layout using this sketch...thanks Stacy!!!

The sketch-

My layout (a bit busy...but my pages always seem off to me when I don't scrap for a long time...oh well!)

And a layout by Stacy K.  So so cute!!!

Happy Scrapping!!

Lean and Green Chili

Not a St. Patty's day food, but I thought it was appropriate since it's green. :) This is a really tasty chili (it's actually a little more soupy than chili-ish).  I rarely follow recipes exactly as written so I included some of my changes.  The first time I made this, I made the little tortilla strips but we just used a few tortilla chips this time instead.  I hope you enjoy this!!

Lean N Green Chili
(I got the original recipe from a Pampered Chef cookbook but I have seen close variations a couple of places online.)
6 servings...about 1 1/4 cup each
WW- 5 points a serving

8 6-in. corn tortillas, divided
2 tsp. vegetable oil, dived (I used olive oil)
1 c. chopped Poblano Chile peppers (or green bell peppers) (I used half red and half orange bell peppers instead)
1/2 c. chopped onion (I probably used more)
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ¾-in. pieces
1 tsp. ground cumin (I probably used more...I don't usually measure spices.)
1 garlic clove, pressed (I used 3 cloves I think)
2 cans (14.5 oz.) 99% fat free chicken broth
2 cans (15 oz.) pinto beans, drained and rinsed (I used one can pinto and one can black beans.)
1 1/4 c. salsa verde (or 1 can green Chile enchilada sauce) (I used enchilada sauce PLUS a little green salsa)
3-4 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro (I used more and added it about 10-15 minutes before finishing to let the flavors blend.)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut four of the tortillas in half and stack them one on top of another. Cut the tortillas into ½ inch strips. Place in bowl and toss with 1 tsp of the oil. Spread in a single layer in a baking pan. Bake 10 – 12 min or until crisp, stirring once. Remove from oven.

Chop peppers and onion. Cut chicken into ¾ inch pieces; toss with cumin in small bowl. Fold one tortilla to fit into a food processor coarsely grate. Repeat with remaining 3 tortillas. Set aside.

Heat remaining 1 tsp oil in large pot over medium heat. Add chicken; cook and stir 5 min. Remove chicken from pot; add Chile peppers, onion, and garlic. Cook and stir 3 min. Stir in chicken, broth, beans, salsa and grated tortillas. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 15 min. (I simmered it a little longer and added the lid after the first 15 minutes.) Stir cilantro into chili. Ladle soup into bowls; top with baked tortilla strips.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday- Green

Today's theme for Muffin Tin Monday is "green." Not everything is exactly green here, but we tried. :)
 We had guacamole (dip for bean, rice and cheese burritos), broccoli with green onion dip, kiwi, and some green candy.

Visit http://michellesjournalcorner.blogspot.com/ for more "green" muffin tin ideas. :)

Weekly menu coming soon if I can get it done!!! LOL

Friday, March 12, 2010

Granola Bars-recipe link

Abby's favorite snack is a granola bar.  Actually, she'd eat more than one if I let her.  She begs for them.  I buy them once in a while but we tend to run out of them as quickly as we get them.  I came across this recipe for homemade granola bars on one of the cooking blogs I read and so we had to try it. Joshua and Abby both helped make them and the results were delicious!!! Definitely better than store bought granola bars (and healthier despite the amount of sugar!). For the 2-3 cups of fruit and nuts, I used a mixture of raisins, craisins, wheat germ, flax seed, almonds and walnuts (I used about 12 oz worth total.  The recipe calls for 10-15 oz). I used 1/2 cup of sugar and I think they were plenty sweet...I wouldn't want to add any more than that.  Another change I made was to use an 8 1/2 x 11 glass pan instead of the one it calls to use (I don't have that size). So my bars were done after about 30 minutes instead of 40-50. If you get a chance to make these, I think you will love them!
Happy eating!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Goodbye old apron...hello new!

It's been a great 12 or more years but it's time to say goodbye.  One of my best friends (Emily!!) and I made similar aprons when we were in college. I think it's funny that our idea of a fun evening was to hang out, head to Joann's and play around with fabric and our sewing machines!  It's STILL one of my favorite things to do (although I wish we could do it together!!!) Anyhow, Emily doesn't have her apron anymore but it's been my one and only apron since then. It's treated me well but it's time I finally moved on. 

I picked out some fun new fabric from Walmart a couple of weeks ago but I couldn't decide how I wanted to make it.  I went with easy and made up my own design. LOL I have never been very good at following directions. ;) Anyhow, it turned out a little big...but that's ok...more protection from food stains! It was an easy project and I am thinking I might try a fancier apron next time (sooner than 12 years from now! I need a few in different colors!)

Do you use an apron????

Monday, March 8, 2010

Orange Chicken-recipe

This was a really yummy dish.  The munchkins devoured it and even asked for seconds.

Orange Chicken

Makes 4 servings at 4 WW points each
1 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, (about 2 large chicken breasts)
Rind of a small orange sliced into thin strips
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup chicken broth, divided
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp canola oil
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 medium scallions, chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, (optional-makes it a little spicy. Add more or less to your taste.)
salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

1. In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, broth, sugar, cornstarch, ginger, and vinegar, then set aside.
2. Season breasts with a little salt, pepper and garlic powder.
3. In a large skillet, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts and brown on both sides.
4. Add orange rinds, scallions, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for about 2 minutes. Add ½ cup of broth, cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through. (Add a little more water if needed when cooking the chicken...don't let the pan get dry.)
5. Remove the chicken and chop into chunks. Put both the chicken and the sauce mixture into the pan and let simmer until the sauce starts to get thick, this should take approximately 3-4 minutes. Serve chicken and sauce over rice.

Menu Planning Monday

It's time for another menu!  Here's the plan...hope we can stick to it. :)
Monday: Orange chicken (new recipe), rice and broccoli
Tuesday: Tacos with salsa chicken (just salsa and chicken breasts in the crockpot), Mexican rice and beans
Wednesday: Black bean soup (we never made this last week)
Thursday: Red bean, rice and sausage soup (new recipe)
Friday: Not exactly sure...probably grilled cheese and soup (possibly leftovers)
Saturday: Lean and green chili (soooo yummy...will post recipe soon)
Sunday: Split pea soup and herbed oatmeal bread

I will try to remember to take pictures and share some recipes!
Happy cooking. :) Visit orgjunkie.coim for more great menu ideas!!

Muffin Tin Monday- Yellow

Today's muffin tin theme is "yellow." While everything isn't exactly bright yellow, I think it's close enough. ;)
The kids had egg salad sandwiches, bananas, applesauce, popcorn and peach/apple smoothies.

I hope you'll check out upcoming MTM themes and more ideas at http://michellesjournalcorner.blogspot.com/

Have a great Monday!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Another new sketch!

Happy Friday!  I fell asleep early last night so I woke up with plenty of energy to create a new layout this morning....hope you like the sketch and layout samples.  I hope they inspire you to create something new this weekend. I also have a wonderful example from my friend, Stacey Curry who was on the design team with me at Feeling Scrappy. Thanks so much for creating a sample for us!!

Here's my layout example (I turned the sketch.  The background is really a rich brown but it's really cloudy so the colors are a little off.):

Here's the sample Stacey Curry created for us...I love those little flowers!

Thanks for stopping by!  I would love to see your layout if you use one of my sketches.  Please leave a link so we can check it out and leave some love. :)
(Anyone else having problems getting the spacing right with this new blog editing??  It's driving me crazy!)

Happy scrapping!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chore Chart

I made a chore chart for Abby today.  Joshua has had one for awhile and it was time to start keeping little miss Abby accountable.  At the end of the day, if they have completed all of their chores, they get a ticket to the "Mommy Store." The Mommy Store is a little box filled with $1 or less items. I need to buy some girly things to add to it but right now, it has Hot Wheels, coloring books, crayons, etc. They need two tickets to buy one item. The last "chore" isn't really a chore, more of a daily reminder to be as good of helpers as they can.  I will put a new chore over it when I need to add another one.

Anyhow, this is super easy.  I used a 10x10 piece of thin cardboard and glued some paper to it.  I cut 1 1/2 inch squares out of the same material. I used my OLD sewing machine to slowly and carefully sew the velcro on to the squares and the chart. (Trust me, go slowly or you will break a needle. Oh, don't use the same needle on fabric after you use it on paper.) You can also stitch them on by hand like I did with Joshua's last year.  But this was easier and faster for me.  (I was obviously too lazy to stop between velcro pieces which is why you can see all the zig zags.  Oh well.  If I wanted it perfect, I would have had to wait to do it until late at night instead of with a 2 year old or 6 month old on my lap.) Then I think the rest is pretty self explanatory...glue more paper, add some letters and a ribbon to hang it...ta-da!

Sooo....can 2 1/2 year olds really do these things? YES!!! They might (ok, WILL) need daily reminders, but in the long run, it will be worth it to teach them independence and responsibility. :)
~ Have your kids use plastic dishes so they don't break anything (mine also get their own forks and plates, etc. from a drawer I have low enough for them to reach.) Then they can set their dishes near the sink (or toss them in like mine usually do.)
~They pull up their comforters and straighten their beds to the best of their ability (obviously it won't be as nice as if an adult did it!!)
~They can pick out their clothes and *try* to put them on.  My daughter has mastered taking off clothes but can just partially put them back on. LOL She's practicing and getting better though.
~We have boxes for most of their toys so they toss each different type of toy into the correct box.  Sometimes they get all mixed up.  But as long as they get picked up, I am happy. :) I used to have just one box on Joshua's chart for picking up toys but I found I need it on there twice so we don't have such a big mess at the end of the day.

Happy crafting!!

Roasted Cauliflower

Here's a super simple side dish that is healthy and very tasty. Not the prettiest to photograph...but tasty!!!

Roasted Cauliflower
Makes 4 servings @ 1 WW point a serving

4 cups cauliflower, chopped into bite sized pieces
1-4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped (depending on how much your family likes garlic. I used 4 cloves and it was really garlicky but we love garlic.)
1 TBS olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Toss ingredients together in a big bowl. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for about 20-30 minutes. Keep an eye on it. You want it to brown some but not burn. I would toss the cauliflower around a bit about half way through cooking. Some of the garlic might turn really dark..but most of it should be lightly browned and yummy. :)

Happy cooking!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New sewing project-Camera Strap Cover

Who needs sleep?  I mean really.  Sleep is overrated when you can stay up crafting!!!! LOL No, I really do need my sleep most nights...but I was so anxious to try this fun little project last night that I didn't get nearly enough of it.

I came across this tutorial on how to make a cover for your camera strap -http://funtocraft.blogspot.com/2010/02/camera-strap-cover-tutorial_15.html and thought it was such a great idea.  I've had my eye on cute camera straps sold online but couldn't justify spending 20-30 on one so this was perfect! I used mostly materials/scraps I already had (and I am realizing almost all of my fabrics are kiddy...I need to start stocking up on more grown up prints! LOL) but I did have to buy 1/8 of a yard of the soft cream fabric.  (I only spent $2 and have enough left to make another strap in different colors!).  Anyhow, the pink is a little bright, but it's fun and the cream fabric that goes around my neck is oooh sooo soft!!! So much nicer than the itchy and boring old strap!
Also, does anyone know how to create a "stamp" (or ?? I really don't know what it would be called) to easily stamp my name on my photos in Photoshop Elements?  Seems like a pain to have to use the text tool everytime. I am sure one of you knows!!!! Help! :)

Happy sewing!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Garlic Chicken and Broccoli

Here's a yummy and easy new recipe for you to try. :) This was the first time we made it and everyone liked it.  Joshua and Abby both had seconds and practically licked their bowls clean. LOL 

Garlic chicken and broccoli

Makes 4 servings @ 4 WW points each (about 1 cup each serving)

2 tsp olive oil
2 chicken breasts (skinless, boneless)
Dried thyme (about 1 tsp), salt and pepper to taste
6 garlic cloves, chopped up
4 cups of chopped fresh broccoli
1 can (or about 2 cups) fat free chicken broth (I used low sodium)
1 ½ TBS cornstarch

1. Season chicken with thyme, salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken to skillet and brown on both sides.
2. Add garlic to skillet and cook for about 1 minute. Pour half of the broth into the pan. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
3. Remove chicken and set aside. Add broccoli to the pan, cover and cook for about 5 -8 minutes or until it is cooked how you like it (we like it on the firmer side.) While the broccoli cooks, chop up the chicken then add it back into the pan.
4. Mix the cornstarch with the rest of the broth and add it to the skillet. Simmer until the sauce is thickened (should only take a couple of minutes.) 

Serve over rice (extra points).

Muffin Tin (Cup) Monday

 stumbled across this fun idea last night while browsing the internet (instead of getting to bed at a reasonable hour!!) and thought it sounded like fun.  http://michellesjournalcorner.blogspot.com/2010/03/muffin-tin-monday.html Muffin Tin Mom posts themes for these fun little lunches (this week was a free theme week) and lots of other moms share what they serve the kids. I don't have any small muffin tin pans so I just used cupcake liners instead. :) I think this is a neat idea because it makes lunch a little different and fun, it helps teach portion control, and can encourage them to try new foods depending on the theme and my creativity. :) Anyhow, not sure I will do it every week...but I think we'll give it a shot! I didn't have much time to plan so I just used what was easy today. We have hummus, baby carrots, goldfish, pb banana sandwiches and hame rolled up with some cream cheese.

I am hoping to get to another sketch this week to share with you.  I should've scrapped during naptime today but I started reorganizing the pantry and time got away from me. Oh well.  Maybe another day. :)

My lovely blog visitors