Monday, January 31, 2011

5 Minute-Super Easy-No Sewing Required-Minimal Supplies Crafty For Your Monday Morning!

If your family is anything like mine you've got a million different activities, commitments and places to be each day.

If you're anything like me, you forget them if they are not staring you in the face.

To keep us on track we keep a white dry-erase board by our back door.

It reminds us to take out the trashcans on trash day, to bring the cookies we baked for school, to bring our lunches to work and about a hundred other things each day.

This is our new, updated dry-erase board:
It's an glass picture frame with fabric inside instead of a picture. You could also use pretty paper from your local craft store. No sewing, hot-gluing or stapling required.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I don't know about you but I tend to get on a cooking kick where I make several things from the same cook/chef. Apparently this week I'm on a Pioneer Woman kick. If you didn't get a chance to check out the Migas you are totally missing out. Most of the same ingredients are in her Chicken Torilla Soup too so you get two great meals in one shopping trip!

The soup takes about an hour and a half from start to finish so make sure you plan enough time. It's definitely not a quick last minute meal.

  • 2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1-½ teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Diced Onion
  • ¼ cups Diced Green Bell Pepper
  • ¼ cups Red Bell Pepper
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 can Rotel Tomatoes And Green Chilies
  • 32 ounces, fluid Low Sodium Chicken Stock
  • 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 4 cups Hot Water
  • 2 cans Black Beans, Drained (I omitted these and it still was de-lish!)
  • 3 Tablespoons Cornmeal Or Masa
  • 5 whole Corn Tortillas, Cut Into Uniform Strips Around 2 To 3 Inches
  • Garnishes:
  • Sour Cream
  • Diced Avocado
  • Diced Red Onion
  • Salsa Or Pico De Gallo
  • Grated Monterey Jack Cheese
  • Cilantro
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on chicken breasts, then sprinkle a small amount of spice mix on both sides. Set aside the rest of the spice mix.

Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Use two forks to shred chicken. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add onions, red pepper, green pepper, and minced garlic. Stir and begin cooking, then add the rest of the spice mix. Stir to combine, then add shredded chicken and stir.

Pour in Rotel, chicken stock, tomato paste, water, and black beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.

Mix cornmeal with a small amount of water. Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Check seasonings, adding more if needed—add more chili powder if it needs more spice, and be sure not to undersalt. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Five minutes before serving, gently stir in tortilla strips.

Ladle into bowls, then top with sour cream, diced red onion, diced avocado, pico de gallo, and grated cheese, if you have it! (The garnishes really make the soup delicious.)

**This really was a family hit! My oldest, who is also my pickiest, gave it her all-star approval. I was a little worried about how the tortillas would taste (usually I fry mine and use them as a garnish) but they were great and PW's way is much easier. Serve with corn muffins and you've got a great meal for a cold winter day.  


Saturday, January 29, 2011

One Man's Trash...Part II

I found this dresser at Goodwill for $35.
It was in great condition except for a few stickers. It will forever be known as the "NASA Dresser"

A few minutes of sanding, a can of paint and a roller brush and instantly I have a new dresser
**I REALLY wanted to change the knobs but for some weird reason no matter how hard we tried (and about 4 people did try) we could not get all of them very weird!

This retro bookshelf was also purchased at Goodwill for $35.

I know, it's really ugly but something about it told me that it could be awesome. We have a really big wall in our bedroom that needed something and I new it would fit there perfectly!

Since it had a lot of spindles we (me and my very wonderful crafty neighbor Kathleen) thought spray paint would be the best option. Spray paint has its drawbacks...mainly it can leave streaks but trying to use a brush on this project had the potential to leave brush strokes and visible drips.

I like Krylon sprays. They come in so many colors and types and you can find it everywhere.
I chose a great plum color. It looks so amazing against our sand-colored walls. This picture really doesn't do it justice.

Here is a close-up of the color:

Kathleen also used some distressing polish which helped camouflage any streaks left by the spray paint.

Sometimes it's really hard to get past what a used piece of furniture looks like, but if you're drawn to a piece buy it! There are so many easy refurbishing options and it is so more cost effective than going out and buying something new-plus you get to say that you have a one-of-a-kind piece!!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Me Gusta Migas!!!

Oh boy is my hubby going to be bummed that he missed this one! I think I've found my new favorite food!!!

I've been a huge fan of the The Pioneer Woman for quite awhile now, but after trying her recipe for Migas I love her about a million times more!

As a Foodie I'm a little embarrassed to say that I had never even heard of Migas before and I'm not really sure how that is possible. I LOVE breakfast and I double LOVE Mexican food so I'm not sure how this tasty dish slipped my radar! ( I'm writing this I'm wondering when I could make it again!)

The ingredients are simple:

(The original recipe below makes enough to feed an entire ranch so I just adjusted the amounts to make "Migas for One")
  • 4 whole Corn Tortillas
  • 1 whole Jalapeno, Seeds And Membranes Removed, Finely Diced
  • 4 whole Plum Tomatoes, Roughly Chopped
  • 1 whole Green Pepper, Roughly Chopped
  • 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Roughly Chopped
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Chopped
  • 12 whole Large Eggs
  • ¼ liters Cotija Cheese, Grated (may Use Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Etc.)
  • ⅓ cups Cilantro, Chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • ¼ cups Half-and-half (I used fat-free milk b/c that's what I had)

In a bowl, whisk together eggs and half & half. Salt and pepper eggs, then set aside.

In a small skillet over medium heat, heat oil and fry each corn tortilla just until crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Chop tortillas and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the olive oil with the butter. Add onions and bell peppers and cook until starting to turn brown/black, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add in diced jalapenos and stir to combine.

Add tomatoes to the skillet and stir around, then add tortilla pieces, stirring gently to combine.

Reduce heat to low.

When the heat has decreased, pour egg mixture into skillet. Gently cook with the peppers, folding (do not stir!) mixture very carefully as it cooks. Add in grated cheese and chopped cilantro, and stir to combine.

Top with sour cream if you'd like!

Eat the entire plate!

So good! They would be great with fruit for breakfast or serve with beans and instantly you have dinner!

Seriously, try them! I promise you won't be disappointed!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

One project down...a million more to go...

I FINALLY finished a project I've been slowly working on! I'm not sure why it took me so certainly wasn't a hard one...I've actually had most of it done for quite awhile but I needed to hide the loose ends which is my least favorite part of any crochet project so I've been dragging my feet for months...(yes, you heard me took me months to hide about 8 strings...)

At least I finished it before spring so I'll actually get to wear it this season!

For those crafty are my crude directions:

  • Each row is 8 double crochets (don't forget to make your first row 10 to accommodate when you "go up two")
  • Keep going until you get to the length you want.
  • The border  is 3 double crochets in each hole all the way around. It makes a nice curly ruffle.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Crafty Cups

You know I love wine.

You know I love Diet Coke.

Did you know I love medicine cups???

Neither did I, but when I was emptying the dishwasher I found theses in my cupboard:

Who knew I had such a collection? The more I thought about it the more I realized how much I used these little things and just how handy they are to have around!

Here are a few of my favorite uses:

  • For dipping sauces. It lets me monitor how much the girls get AND because it's a small cup they think since it is full they are getting a lot! The are great for ranch dip for our veggies, ketchup for french fries, BBQ sauce for nuggets...the possibilities are endless
  •  Great for the girls painting projects. It's small so we don't waste a lot and if it spills there isn't much to clean up. Plus they are much easier for little hands to manipulate.
  •  Great for holding small beads, buttons, pins and sequins for art projects.
  •  A fun way to get little sick kids to drink. I used them a lot after my daughter's tonsillectomy. She had to drink a lot of water so we turned it into a game. We set a timer and every 15 minutes she had to drink one cupful. (Yes, I know, it totally sounds like a drinking game, but hey it worked!...I'll worry about paying for therapy later on...)
  • We use them to hold glue for our painting projects.
  • The girls like to pour their own syrup on their waffles and pancakes. I fill up the cups and then they can do it themselves. Again, b/c it's a full cup they think they are getting a lot!
  • Great for "special treats" like M&Ms or Skittles or fill up a few with ice cream toppings and create your own build-your-own-bar sundae bar.
  •  Great for holding "treasures" and "collections" girls are always filling up little cups w/ money, things they find in nature and little tiny Polly Pocket accessories.
  • Water cups for our paint-with-water books...again, no big deal if it spills!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Dress You Up"

A few days ago my daughter was playing dress-up and come out looking like this:

Okay she really looked like this:

But the first picture is what came to my mind first and I had a series of flash-forwards into our future ...I'm so not ready for her to grow-up...please excuse me while I go restart my heart...

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Easy" Bakin'

For a brief moment yesterday I lost my mind.

I actually suggested that we use the Easy Bake Oven.

Any mom will agree that the EB Oven was obviously invented by someone without children.

Remember when they used to look like this:

They've come along way in color and design, but they still cook ridiculously small foods with a light-bulb. Really, what small child wouldn't want to wait patiently for a cookie the size of a quarter...

Despite it taking us about an hour to make 6 "cookies", 3 pretzels and play 500 rounds of "is it done YET?!?!?" We had a lot of fun!

Lo decided to make pretzels with nacho cheese dip and NoJo wanted cookies.

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE cooking with my girls. It great for teaching them so many things. They learn to follow directions, measurements and when using the EB oven, the art of waiting patiently for your food! The nice thing about the EB Oven is that everything is made for little ones and they can do most, if not all, of the work themselves.

We had a few issues with the cookies. They were really sticky and hard to form.

No worries! NoJo was able to solve her own problem.

The pretzels were much easier and Lo was proud of how they came out.

Nothing tastes better than food you have made all by yourself!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

De-Lish (and super easy) Tortellini Soup

We had this soup last night.

It was soooooooooooooooo good!

Lo gave it 10 thumbs up!

My husband loved it because it was fabulous and there was only one pot to wash.

(He always rates meals on a wash:taste ratio. A meal can be the best ever, but if it requires him to wash too many dishes then its rating goes down significantly.)

Thank you The Well-Fed Newlyweds!

Here is what you need:
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • ½ whole Small Onion, Minced (about 1/4 Cup)
  • ½ teaspoons Dried Oregano
  • 1 quart Low-sodium Chicken Broth (or Vegetable Broth)
  • 15 ounces, weight Canned Whole Tomatoes (I used a 20 oz can and did not drain it)
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 9 ounces, weight Package Tortellini, Any Variety, Fresh Or Frozen
  • 3 cups Fresh Spinach, Chopped And Loosely Packed
  • Parmesan Cheese, To Serve

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion. Cook until the onion is softened and the garlic has turned light gold, about 5 minutes.

Add the oregano, broth, tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste. (You can break up the tomatoes with your fingers as you add them to the pot, or break them up with a spoon once you’ve added them to the soup.)

Bring the soup to a boil and add the tortellini. Cook according to the package directions.

One minute before the tortellini are done, add the spinach. Stir to combine.

When the tortellini are cooked, remove the pot from the heat immediately so they do not overcook. Season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

Serve the soup immediately, topped with grated Parmesan cheese.

**The only thing I didn't like was the lack of left-overs...we ate it all! Next time I will double the recipe so I can enjoy the yumminess the next day!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Crafty Carriage

It's been ridiculously cold here...

Not just cold...

VERY cold...

Negative degree cold...

Which means we stay inside and keep warm...

Today the natives were restless...

So we were crafty!

This was a gift from our most wonderful friend and caretaker Miss A. We heart her very much! She takes such good care of the girls and our family. I seriously don't know how we'd survive without her!!!

This is what she gave the girls for Christmas:
It's a cardboard playhouse that is in the shape of a princess carriage AND you get to color it!!!

The girls LOVE it!!!

We've had it put together for quite awhile.

Today they got to color it!

Each girl was assigned their own two sides. It was fun to see how their minds worked.

Lo took the "coloring" approach:

NoJo was more into decorating her sides:

It was a great cold day activity!!!

***So later that afternoon I was shopping at Cost Plus World Market and came across this:

It's on sale for $10. Click here for the info. It's only available in stores but it's a great deal!!! And for my Indy friends...they had quite a few at the Keystone/116th Store.

Friday, January 21, 2011

This Is Not Your Father's Stain

Flipping through my latest copy of Martha Stewart Living yesterday I gained about 30 years on my crafty life when I saw this:

MINWAX Express Color Stain IN A TUBE!!!

O-M-G how cool is that!?!?! Stain in a toothpaste tube!

The crafty possibilities are endless.

No more dripping stain.

It dries in an hour.

Each tube covers 30-35 square feet!

It cleans up with soap and harsh chemicals needed!

You literally squeeze the stain onto a cloth and then apply it to the wood.

I think I'm in love!

It currently comes in 8 colors...there are your basic stain colors but it also comes in fun colors too like Emerald and Indigo!

...K I've gotta go...heading to Goodwill to find fun things to stain!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Crafty for the Self-Proclaimed Non-Crafty

I hear from a lot of people..."but I'm not crafty like you..."

NO EXCUSES PEOPLE!!! I know I go overboard on the crafty but that doesn't mean you have to too! There are so many low-key crafty ideas.

Today was a crazy day with dentist appointments, errands and a dirty messy house. Like all moms I'm a HUGE fan of bribery and I love that I can use art projects as a bribe!

Today's bribe was a painting project in exchange for Mommy's sanity.

I try to keep art supplies on hand. You can usually find the basics wherever you do your marketing.

I picked up these at Wal-mart.

My girls love any project that involves the possibility of getting messy!

My oldest loves the paint your own pottery stores, but they can get pricey and this project cost about $5 per child. (An added bonus is that you get to stay at home in your jammies while your kids paint...I sure do love my jammies!!!)

I love her focus and concentration!

I didn't hear her say one word for almost 20 minutes (that NEVER happens!).

My monkey tried to see how much paint she could layer on one piece. She wasn't as quiet but she stayed in one place for 20 minutes and that NEVER happens!!! (It was a crafty miracle!)

We are hoping all her paint will be dry in two weeks!

They were so proud of their finished projects and can't wait to put them in their rooms!