Friday, January 31, 2014

5 thing Friday - ice, wine, cleaning, babka, and Scout

On Tuesday morning we awoke to another Icemageddon.  Schools cancelled, roads un-driveable or closed, work delayed, or in my case, missed altogether.
 Hubby is recording the terrifying conditions at our house.
 What better activity than to EAT?  I can't think of any.
 We certainly aren't going to lift weights or move our bodies around.  It's too cold fo dat.
 Unless it's to lift our wineglasses. 
 Irony = boxed wine next to case of protein drink.  His and hers.
These shelves in Bubbie's room were making me twitch.  So crowded.  So dusty.  So full of toys and crap from a couple of years ago.
There's still a lot on there, but now everything has a shelf and he can actually find his books. 
(I spy with my little eye, a starfish, boomerang, a Rubik's cube, and about 20 James Bond VHS tapes)
The fabulousness of chocolate babka - Hubby's birthday breakfast, served with Hill Country Pecan coffee and bacon.  If band camp doesn't wreck our evening I plan on treating him to a date night.
Self-portrait by Scout for the yearbook senior ad.  I see a repeat of 2010 coming on - me going through photos for the build up to graduation, crying all the way...
Bring on the weekend.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cherry Sliced Icebox Cookie Fail

I already threw the copy of the recipe away and didn't take a picture of the cookies  - it wasn't pretty anyway.  I had such high hopes for them, but it wasn't meant to be.  The cookies, even with the dough chilled, spread too much, then stuck to my Silpat.  After we pried them off, everyone kept asking "Now, what kind of cookies are these?".  Sigh. 
I didn't want to throw the batter out, but I knew it was too soft.  I just added a teensy bit more flour and a tad bit of baking powder, spread it in a 13x9, and after 25 minutes or so, I had Cherry Bars.  I guess I could have slathered some leftover frosting on them, but I didn't think of that at the time!
It didn't matter - at least they got eaten.  Have you ever done that?  
Recycled a cookie dough that wasn't going to work as cookies?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Mealplan Monday #95 and a lovely burlap pillow

I have a whole lot of burlap leftover from back in November when I made the shabby chic tree skirt.  My original plan was to make a matching table runner for the dining room, but I just ran out of time.  Maybe this Fall...instead I covered a pillow in some of it.  Want to see?  Sure you do! (wink)
Ta da!  It took me only an hour or so to make.  
I searched around Pinterest for some ideas before I began, and I found these:
All of which were super cute, too. But mine is an original!
Monday -  Rotisserie Chicken, scallopeds, broccoli
Tuesday - (Freezer) Beef and Bean Soup, garlic toast
Wednesday - (Freezer) Maple Dijon Chicken Thighs, couscous, salad
Thursday - Cheesy Smoked Sausage Skillet, green beans, garlic toast
Friday - Mom and Dad OUT for his birthday - Boys get pizza and a movie
Saturday - Dad grill
Sunday - Sloppy Joes and Fritos
Dessert this week is PB&J Bars to use up some of the jam we are not eating!
Here's the director's chair we've had since Hubby was in college.  He will not part with it.  It's not comfy to sit in, so mostly it stays right here, between the den and kitchen.  The pillow on it is so blah...
I started out by covering the pillow with some natural color fabric I had in my stash (not shown).  I did that so the green wouldn't show thru the burlap, but I doubled the thickness of burlap for the pillow cover anyway.  Then I sewed a couple of long fat strips and pressed the seam to the inside on each.
I laid the pillow on the fabric, folded where I wanted it to cross over in the back, pressed it.  Then I knotted the two strips of burlap and laid them out on the fabric to criss cross the front of the pillow cover, like so:
I wanted the ends to be sewn in to the bottom seams because I am doing a French enclosure pillow cover.  It will allow me to slip the pillow in like a card in an envelope.  That's my favorite way to make pillow covers!
I carefully pin everything and press.   I really like sewing burlap.  As long as you cut and measure correctly, it's fun to sew it.  Pressing it is easy and I love the smell - is that weird?  It reminds me of hay, and barns, and summer...
The seams are nice and neat, but maybe next time I will make it a little tighter fit as the strips of burlap tend to sag a little on the finished product.
I turn it right side out and inspect it before I trim the seams.

 I really like how different it it - meant to be decorative, mainly.  And I love that it took me less than an hour and was mostly free from stuff I already had!
 It's a nice little side wall, well-lit by the lamp on the kitchen bar.  And I'm going to just leave it as is, maybe changing the wall art come Spring.
Sewn anything lately?

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Freezer meals #5

I've been having all kinds of success with freezer meals lately.  Most of the ones I do are for the crock pot.  I just freeze the ingredients in a gallon zip loc, plop it into the crock pot frozen, and by the time I get home from work the house smells fab.  Clean up is really easy, too, and I don't even buy those fancy schmancy crock pot liners.  Here is my recent 15 minutes of meal prep for the freezer:

Cafe Rio Chicken
2# boneless, skinless thighs
1/2 c. zesty Italian dressing
1/2 t. garlic powder
1 pkt of Ranch dip mix
1/4 water
1/2 t. each chili powder and cumin
Low, 6-8 hours.  Serve in flour tortillas with all the fixings.

Mississippi Pot Roast (from Plain Chicken)
3 lb. roast
1 pkt. Ranch dressing mix
1 pkt. au jus mix
6 pepperoncini peppers
1 stick butter
(I also added a couple of tomatoes diced because they were about to be too soft to use for salads)
Cook on low 8-10 hours.

Maple Dijon Chicken (from Plain Chicken)
2 lb boneless,skinless chicken thighs
2/3 cup dijon mustard
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 t. white vinegar
1 t. lemon juice
1 t. dried rosemary
The directions for this were for the oven - I will either do that, or the crock.  Thawed, it should take about 40 minutes in a 40 degree oven.  Frozen in the crock, I would think 6 hours or so.  I'm going to serve this with couscous.

Cranberry BBQ Chicken (my own creation!)
2 lb boneless skinless thighs (that I happened to have)
a handful or two of fresh cranberries - which I had left from the holidays
a cup or so of BBQ sauce (which used up a jar from Southside Market)
1/4 brown sugar
I'm going to cook this 6-8 hours in the crock and serve with a mashed sweet potatoes on the side.

It might look like sloppy chaos in here. but these bags are easy to look through, and the contents are easy to fit into the crock.  And the difference it makes in us getting a hot meal on the days I work are well worth the effort!

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Firstborn turns 24

On Sunday I got off a little early so we could cook up a great birthday meal for Firstborn.  His request was for ribs and jalapeno poppers on the grill.  Can do!  He worked all weekend, same as me.  I miss the days of big birthday parties with my kids and lots of little friends, but I love these times at home with them, too.
I fixed baked potatoes with the works, a big salad,  and a chocolate cake to go with the grilled stuff.  I have a neat trick for getting big fat candles to stay on the cake properly.  I didn't make this up, but I forget where I found this tip.  I've been doing it for years...
I simply push a toothpick into the base of the candle.  
Twenty Four.  2.4.  How in the world did that happen?!
This is him on his first birthday...what a cutie!
I kept the cake super simple - Firstborn is not a fancy sort of guy.
I spiffed up the kitchen table for us to eat dessert after dinner.  It was going to be too chilly on the patio by nightfall...
It's hard for me to get that he's 24.  I still see him as my curly haired angel baby.  No matter how big and burly he gets, he will always be my baby...sniff...
He got some much-needed jeans, cash, and a bag of treats he can't afford to buy for himself!
 The after-gift-opening entertainment was throwing tissue paper for the cat to play in..
(don't eat it, Sugie!)
 ...and cake with ice cream.
Birthdays are over so fast...

Monday, January 20, 2014

Mealplan Monday #94 and Chicken with Butternut Squash

I found this yummy recipe from Serious Eats last week - Pan-Cooked Chicken Thighs with Butternut Squash.  Well, I made a few adjustments - mainly in the type of chicken and general directions.  You can go here for the original.  
Monday - Dr. Martin's Mix, leftover salad from Sunday
Tuesday - Freezer Crockpot Meal (haven't chosen it yet)
Wednesday - Chicken Fajita Salads with Creamy Jalapeno Ranch
Thursday - Mediterranean Pork Chops, masheds, veggie or salad
Friday - Salmon/Tilapia filets, steramed carrots, pasta salad
Saturday - Dad grill
Sunday - Beef and Bean Soup
Dessert this week is Cherry Sliced Icebox Cookies - I've been wanting to make these since Christmas!
So here's basically what I did with the Chicken and Butternut recipe:
Brown 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs in 1 tablespoon olive oil til browned on both sides.  Remove to plate and keep warm.  To the pan drippings add 4 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash and half an onion, minced.  Saute about 6 minutes.  Add sage or rosemary - I used 1 T dried - and cook til fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Lay the chicken thighs on top of the squash, pour over 1 c. chicken broth mixed with the juice from one lemon.  Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes, covered.  Uncover and continue simmering about 15 minutes or so to reduce the sauce.  I served it with a green veggie, but a roll would have been nice.   Maybe next time...  This was really good and made the house smell warm and happy.  And who doesn't LOVE butternut squash?

Friday, January 17, 2014

5 thing Friday - windows, ornaments, camping, skillet, rosemary

Sometimes by Friday I am bored out of my gourd.  Two days off with chores and errands leaves me with an empty Friday and zero ideas with how to fill it up.  However, today, I have plenty to keep me busy.
Starting with taking down the rest of the Winter-y decor and finding some new curtains for the dining room.  I am over the blue in here.  And speaking of taking down Winter, I need to get the rest of the Christmas put away - specifically the stuff I bought at 75% off. 
I happened to be in World Market right after they marked the remainder down and scored $14 of really pretty baubles for $3.50.  My kind of deal!  I also picked up some cranberry orange pancake mix for a dollar, and some gingerbread mix.  Both of which will warm a chilly morning. The rest of the clearance stuff was wrap, and that has gotten stored for next year already.  Do you do that each year?  I do a little, I'll admit.
The boys camp this weekend...I always think that I will enjoy having the whole house to myself, but it turns out I don't like living alone.  This is the first time I can remember Bubbie being packed and ready to go before Friday.  I will rent a movie and have a nice dinner; they are getting pizza before heading out.  No point in making a nice dinner like last night...
That was when I made this one skillet wonder of chicken and butternut squash from  a recipe I got from Serious Eats.  It was very tasty!  The recipe said you could substitute fresh rosemary for the sage and lucky me, I happened to have some.
Well, turns out it was mostly dried out.  I had purchased it around Christmas for that white wine sangria and it was still in the fridge.  Laying it out in a dish for a few days finished the job and I have dried rosemary now, which is still pungent and great for cooking.
So... whatcha got planned for your Friday?


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