Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Little Redecorating...

...of my blog. I spruced it up a bit. Even whipped out the ol' Adobe Illustrator to personalize my header. If you are a secret stalker who goes to my blog every 10-15 minutes, tonight you'd have seen three backgrounds go whizzing by, and a lot of re-arranging of the gadgets. It's like a house. You paint the walls, and it makes you want to move the furniture around. Then you add in the accessories...I got a little blinky crazy. There may be more coming...if it gets so bad they start giving you seizures, let me know. Though I think I refrained from ones that actually blink.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ribbon Dresses

I made these two dresses at different times. I made Suzy's* dress last year, which is why it's a little short. I made Sydney's dress during her visit to us this spring.
These are super easy dresses. I simply took a length of fabric from selvage to selvage, and sewed the selvages together, leaving a couple inches at the top unsewed. Then I gathered the top, and attached it to ribbon for a bodice. I sewed the ribbon onto the wrong side, then flipped it and sewed it again to make a quick lining. At least, I did for Sydney's. Suzy's was just scratchy, poor thing!
I added some ribbon straps, a button and button hole in the back of the ribbon, hemmed it and added trim on the hemline, and I was done! The girls loved having matching dresses.
I made a couple of these dresses for Suzy last summer. I think I may try one in a heavier fabric to make a jumper for fall!
*Please excuse her wild fluff of hair. This was before I discovered curl creme!

Monday, July 12, 2010

My Unfortunate Grandchildren...

Yesterday Suzy told me when she grows up, she will get married, and then have babies. I asked her what she'd name them.
"Lisa,Eric, Erin, Ruben, Lisa..."
"You already said Lisa."
*Gives me a disparaging look* "I have lots of children." So many, they apparently don't get individual names.
"Any others?"
"Candeefra, Tanna, Hannah, Lisa..."
"Another Lisa!"
"Rick, Ruben..."
"You said Ruben already."
"...and the baby - Lisa."

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sweet Promises

This year I went through a difficult time that left me feeling far from God. A sweet sister in Christ pointed me to these verses in Lamentations. If anyone knows about being down, it's the prophet Jeremiah! (He's the one who wrote Lamentations.)
"The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.

It is good that he waits silently
For the salvation of the LORD. "
-Lamentations 3:22-26
And then a wee bit further in the chapter:
v.32 "For if He causes grief,
Then He will have compassion
According to His abundant lovingkindness."

New Recipes!

One of my prayers is that I will glorify God in how I care for my home - how I take care of my family. One way that I love to do that is cooking for them. So we all noticed when I got in a rut cooking. Every week, I could only think of the same things over and over. It had been my policy previously to try one or two new recipes a month. I had some winners - La Madeliene's Tomato Soup and Chicken Yum Yum (don't mock the title! It's accurate!) and some losers. California Sushi Rolls didn't go over big with Nate or Suzy, but I believe Vanilla Butternut Squash Soup was the biggest bomb I ever made. But I had gotten so into a recipe rut that I hadn't even thought of looking for new recipes.
I mentioned it to Nate, and he agreed that it was getting a little boring eating the same thing week after week.
I flipped through my cookbooks, but nothing struck my fancy. I googled "recipes", "frugal recipes", "easy recipes", and "quick recipes." It gave me information overload! Millions-billions- of recipes...I couldn't even think, my eyes just glazed over. Finally I googled something like "in a recipe rut!" And a blog came up that was just what I was looking for - Breaking The Recipe Rut!
I very quickly found two do-able, affordable recipes. I made them last week, and they were both winners with the family!
I thought I'd share them here.
The first is a lowfat marinera sauce. I added a bag of frozen meatballs to it. The first night we had meatball subs, and another night we had spaghetti with meatballs. And I froze about half of the meatballs for later meals, so it ends up being super frugal.
Main Event Marinara Sauce
Olive Oil Spray
1 cup minced yellow or white onion
2 tablespoons freshly minced garlic
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons no salt added tomato paste
2 teaspoons honey (I substituted 2 teaspoons sugar because I was out of honey)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt, to taste (optional)

Spray a medium nonstick saucepan with olive oil spray and place over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until just becoming tender (they should not brown), 4-6 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and with a wooden spoon stir in the tomatoes, water, tomato paste, honey, oregano, basil, and pepper flakes until well combined. (I add the frozen meatballs at this point.) Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for at least one hour. Season with salt if needed.
This was a huge hit with Nate, so we will definitely have it again.

The second recipe is a white chili. It's actually a Racheal Ray recipe.
White Bean Chicken Chili
1 32-ounce box chicken stock
3 cans white beans, left undrained
5 cups cooked chicken, rotisserie or boiled (I used canned chicken)
1 16-ounce jar salsa
1 8-ounce block pepper jack cheese, grated
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used a teaspoon of garlic powder because I didnb't have time to chop the garlic!)
Black or white pepper to taste
1/2 cup finely crushed corn chips
Sour cream, for garnish

Place all ingredients except the corn chips in a crockpot. Cook on high until the cheese is melted (about 1 - 1 1/2 hours).
Chili may also be cooked on the stovetop over medium-high heat until cheese is melted.
When the chili is ready, add the crushed corn chips, if using, and simmer for 10 minutes to thicken. Garnish with more chips, cheese and/or sour cream and serve.
This made an enormous pot of chili! I should have immediately frozen half of it instead of letting it languish in the fridge.
Here's another recipe. I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds pretty ingenious, so I intend to. SInce I know most of you, like me, usually have frozen chicken breasts in the freezer, I thought I'd share it before I tested it. If you make it and it's good, let me know!
Easiest, Yummiest Chicken EVER!
When you are in a pinch and dinner is an hour away and all you have on hand is frozen chicken breasts, which are still as hard as a rock since you didn't even think to thaw them, this is the recipe for you! You'll fool everyone with the flavor and they'll all think you slaved away.

Here it is:

Frozen chicken breast
Mayonaise (we use Best Foods Lite)
Season Salt

That is it for ingredients, and we can't even count two of those items as ingredients! Wouldn't season salt be...a seasoning? Anyway...

Take a nice big square of foil, slap the frozen chicken breast down in the middle (do this for as many as you need to make). After the chicken is laying stiff as a board and cold as ice on the foil, take a tablespoon and drop a plop of mayo on each breast, being careful not to actually touch the spoon to the chicken. When all mayo is plopped, use the spoon to spread it across the frozen breast, then sprinkle each with a healthy dash of season salt.

Bring the corners of the foil up and pinch them together, forming an airtight tent around the chicken, but leaving air around the chicken itself. Place each bundle on a jelly roll pan and bake at around 350 or 375 for an hour or so (check for pinkness before serving. If I'm in a hurry, I'll bake at 400). Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes, then de-tent the chicken and place on a platter. Be sure and save the juices in the foil and pour those over the chicken.
Sounds easy, doesn't it?