Monday, May 28, 2012

DIY Bow Holder

I started making bow holders about a year and a half ago when I found out one of my best friends was having a baby girl.  They soon became the perfect gift to give expectant mothers along with some handmade bows.  Now that I’m having a little girl of my own, I’ve been on a mission to create different things to match her nursery.  One of the first projects on my list was a bow holder.  I didn’t want to do the typical monogram because the space I planned on hanging it was pretty big.  So, I decided to do a framed monogram look. I love how it turned out and even more now that it’s filled with bows.  The only thing I need is a little princess to put them on!

1 square wood frame (mine was from Hobby Lobby, but can be found at most craft stores).
1 monogram letter to go on the top.  Make sure it’s not too much smaller than the frame and definitely not bigger.  (Michaels is where I found mine).
Acrylic Paint to match the nursery or color scheme you’re going for
Matching Ribbon (Grossgrain is preferred, bows slip off the rest)
Hot Glue
Mod Podge


Paint the wood frame the color of your choice.  Here is where you can be as creative as you wish.  Think of fun patterns or keep it simple.  It’s up to you.  
After the wood frame is painted, brush over it with a layer or two of Mod Podge.  Make sure to get the sides as well, they will be visible.  
After the Mod Podge is dry, hot glue the monogram to the frame.  My “A” already came white, or else I would have painted and sealed it first.  
To finish it off, hot glue a ribbon loop to the top of the frame.  I used about 8 inches for the loop and glued a bow I made to the tippy top for an added touch.  
Lastly, using more matching ribbon, glue about 20 inches to the bottom of the holder.  I usually glue it in a loop and cut it at the bottom to create two straight lines of ribbon, which leaves two places to hang bows.  A final touch is to seal the ends with heat from a lighter. 

If you have any questions, let me know.  If you make a holder of your own, please share!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Broccoli, Grape and Pasta Salad

This recipe was another Pinterst find.  I made this salad for our Mother's Day cook out.  I knew it would be the perfect pair for juicy burgers and baked beans.  I made the dressing while the pasta was cooking.  I will admit, that I wasn’t completely sold on the dressing after it was finished.  It was a little too strong for my liking (vinegar wise).  But, I left it alone and continued to follow the directions.  I used all the ingredients besides the red onions and bacon. I mixed everything up (according to directions) and  left it in the refrigerator for only 2 hours.  Of course I taste tested it before I served it to my family and I was pleasantly surprised.  The dressing wasn’t as strong and provided the perfect amount of sweetness and tang for the salad.  I had the leftovers for lunch the rest of the week and it was just as good. It won't be long before I make this meal again.  Enjoy!

Broccoli, Grape and Pasta Salad 
Courtesy of My Recipes 

1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 (16-oz.) package farfalle (bow-tie) pasta
1 pound fresh broccoli
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
8 cooked bacon slices, crumbled


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake
pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
2. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
3. Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets from stems, and separate florets into small pieces using tip of a paring knife. Peel away tough outer layer of stems, and finely chop stems.
4. Whisk together mayonnaise and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; add broccoli, hot cooked pasta, and grapes, and stir to coat. Cover and chill 3 hours. Stir bacon and pecans into salad just before serving.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Poke Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes about a week ago for a classroom celebration.  I thought they would be a fun treat for my students.  I've never made a poke cake before, but supposedly this is very similar.  I already had strawberry cake mix at home, so I decided to pair that with strawberry jello.  I loved this combination and so did my students.  The original recipe called for a cool whip frosting, but I just used store bought vanilla.  
Be prepared for a sticky pan and cupcake liner if you use one.  The gelatin will seep through but after some time in the fridge, it will dry.  I also didn't use all the gelatin because it looked like a lot, but next time I will use more.  There weren't enough of the lines seeping through when I cut them open.  I will most definitely make these again and will try out a few different cake/ jello combinations as well. 

Poke Cupcakes
Adapted from The Country Cook 

1 box Strawberry Cake Mix
(Ingredients required to make cake; usually egg whites, water and oil)
1 box strawberry gelatin
1 cup boiled water
1 container of Vanilla Frosting

Mix cupcakes as directed on the back of the box and bake as directed.
Allow cupcakes to cool completely.
Boil 1 cup water and add jello, stir until completely dissolved.
 Poke holes in cupcakes with fork or toothpick. Don't be afraid to pick right down in there several times. 
You want plenty of holes for the jell-o to seep into.
Using a spoon, pour strawberry gelatin mixture over cupcake.
They are still a little naked. Now they need to go into the fridge for about 2-3 hours to set.
Once set, frost cupcakes using whipped frosting. 
And if you like, top it off with fresh, sliced strawberries and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Harvest Pasta Bake

If you don’t already subscribe to Kraft Foods emails, go sign up now.  Every few days I receive delicious recipe ideas right to my inbox.  Which is where I found this new recipe.  I’ve been trying to make a big pasta dish at the beginning of each week in order to get some good (and cheap) lunches for the week.  I selected this one because I love squash and already had cooking crème at home.  Credit for this meal goes completely to hubs.  I feel asleep watching the news this night, so he took over dinner.  Of course, the one change he made was adding meat to this veggie dish.  He cooked ground Italian sausage and added it to the mixture before it was topped with croutons and cheese.  I have to admit, the meat (and red pepper) added a great kick to the pasta.  I enjoyed this dish for dinner and for lunch throughout the week.  This will definitely be made again, next time I might even add zucchini to it!

                                                   Harvest Bake  
                                            Courtesy of  Kraft Foods 

What You Need

    1 butternut squash (2 lb.), peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
    1 onion, cut lengthwise in half, then sliced crosswise
    1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
    2Tbsp. olive oil
    8 oz. (1/2 of 16-oz. pkg.) rigatoni pasta (3-1/3 cups), uncooked
    1/2 cup PHILADELPHIA Original Cooking Creme
    1 pkg. (8 oz.) KRAFT Shredded Three Cheese with a TOUCH OF    PHILADELPHIA, divided
    1/4 cup croutons, crushed

Make It

    HEAT oven to 400ºF.

    COMBINE first 4 ingredients in 13x9-inch baking dish. Bake 30 to 40 min. or until squash is tender. Meanwhile, cook pasta as directed on package, omitting salt.

    DRAIN pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Add to squash mixture with cooking creme and 1 cup shredded cheese; mix lightly. Top with crouton crumbs and remaining shredded cheese.

    BAKE 20 min. or until heated through.
    Kraft Kitchens Tips

Monday, May 14, 2012

Kit Kat Brownies

I've seen lots of candy brownie combinations floating around lately.  My favorite candy bar is Kit Kat.  After teacher appreciation week I came home with about 10 kit kat candy bars, so I decided to see how they would taste in a brownie.  I used a dark chocolate Betty Crocker brownie mix and prepared the mix as directed on the box. Pour half of the brownie mix into a 9x13 greased baking dish.  Break apart the bars and lay them across the pan.  You can break them into smaller pieces if you choose.  After all the candy bars are on the mix, top it off with the remainder of the brownie mixture.  Make sure all the candy bars are covered.  Bake as directed on the box.  These brownies are best the day they are made. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Spring Monogram Door Hanger

This project was pinspired, like most of my projects lately.  
We've been in need of door decorations for spring and I knew this would be a quick and easy project.
All you need is a wooden letter, paint, ribbon and embellishments of your choice.  
I bought a plain white letter from Michael's for about $2 (with a coupon).  I already had yellow paint at home and these little flowers with rhinestones in the middle.  I decided to paint diagonal stripes on the monogram.  I didn't measure the out the lines before I painted them.  I just freehanded it.  It's not perfect but that's what gives it character.  After the paint was dry, I hot glued the flowers onto the wooden monogram.  To finish it off, I hot glued about 8 inches of ribbon to the top of the H.  Once it was completely dry, I used the ribbon to hang it off a over the door hook.  Overall, this entire project took just 15 minutes. 
My door is now one of the cutest on the block! 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Baked Oatmeal Cups

Are you even in need of a quick, yet healthy breakfast recipe?  I feel like we are always on a constant search in our household.  I came across this recipe on Pinterest from Sugar Free Mom.  It looked good and I love how there were many different variations we could make.  So, I decided to give it a try for the week.  I followed the linked recipe and was happy with the results. I used a bag of frozen blueberries for my topping/ mix in.  Hubs wished they were a little sweeter, that would probably be the only thing I would change next time.  We've been enjoying them all week for breakfast.  Follow the links above for the recipe.  Enjoy!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pretzel Chicken

I will warn you, if you're looking for a healthy recipe you have not found it here.  When I first added this recipe to my menu for the week I didn't know it was fried.  I actually didn't realize it until we had all the ingredients out and were getting ready to cook.  So we went with it. Hubs did the chicken and I made the sauce which was really easy.  Of course it was delicious, what fried chicken isn't?  The sauce was the perfect touch to top the chicken off.  Enjoy!


                                        Pretzel Chicken with a Mustard-Cheddar  Sauce
  Courtesy of Taste and Tell 

total time:  about 30 minutes
serves 4
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
about 6 ounces of salted pretzels
salt and pepper
2 eggs
vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon spicy mustard
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Completely butterfly each of the chicken breasts, making a total of 4 thin chicken breasts. One by one, put the chicken breast in between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and flatten slightly with a mallet.
Put the pretzels in a food processor and process until you have fine crumbs. Put the crumbs in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. In another shallow dish, beat the eggs.
In a large saute pan over medium heat, heat up the oil, about 1/8″ deep.
Dip each chicken piece into the pretzels, then into the eggs, then back into the pretzels. Add to the hot oil in the pan. Put the chicken into the hot oil and cook until the pretzels are browned and the chicken is cooked through. This only takes about 3 or 4 minutes on each side.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and the mustard, and cook until slightly thickened. Stir in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.
Serve the chicken with the Mustard-Cheddar Sauce, and sprinkle a generous amount of parsley on top.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Covered Frozen Bananas

While making dinner the other night, I remembered seeing something like this on Pinterest.  I was cooking pasta, so I figured I could whip these up while it was cooking.  I had all the ingredients and about 10 minutes.  So, I gave them a shot.  

I cut one banana and placed them on a sheet of wax paper.  Next, I spread some peanut butter on top of the banana.  This was a little difficult, it didn't stick well.  Nonetheless, it worked.  Finally, I heated some chocolate almond bark and covered the bananas with the chocolate.  I attempted to dip the banana in the chocolate but it made a mess and most got stuck.  So, I took the easy way out.  After they were all covered I froze them for about an hour.  Which for us, was enough time. 

Next time, I would definitely take the time to completely dip them.  The ones that were dipped completely were a little better then the other ones.  

They tasted MUCH better than they look.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

White Cheddar Chicken Pasta

At first I was a little intimidated by this recipe but it looked so good and I had almost everything at home to make it.  The only thing I had to get was the cheese.  Hubs cooked the chicken the night before.  He pan fried it and seasoned it perfectly, he didn't follow the chicken recipe below.  This saved me a lot of time when cooking tonight.  I followed the rest of the recipe as directed making a few changes along the way.  First, I thought it called for a little too much milk.  I used a cup and a half with some heavy cream and still had to add some extra flour to thicken it up a bit.  I also added garlic salt and pepper to taste when it was finished.  Next time I make this, I'll add some peas.   This was a very  filling dinner, I barely finished my plate and I was starving.  I do love that it provided lunch for us for the next two days though. Overall, the recipe was worth the time and effort.  If I had to rename it, it would be grown up mac and cheese! 

White Cheddar Chicken Pasta

For the chicken:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp dry mustard
1 T fresh thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 T olive oil

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Mix together mustard, thyme, salt and pepper and sprinkle over chicken pieces. When pan is hot, add chicken and brown about 3 minutes per side until cooked through. Remove to a plate and cover with foil.

For the pasta:
1 pound rotini or other short cut pasta
2 T butter
2 T flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely diced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 T Dijon mustard
8 oz sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups milk (I used skim milk but mixed in about 2 T heavy cream)
1 T fresh thyme
1 T fresh oregano
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
Parmesan cheese to taste

Heat water to boil in a large stock pot for pasta, add salt and pasta and cook to al dente and drain according to directions. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add flour and whisk to combine. Add wine, garlic, onions, and mustard. Cook about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Reduce heat to low and slowly add milk, stirring to combine. Cook about 5-7 minutes more until mixture begins to thicken. Add cheese and stir to melt. Add chicken and pasta and toss to incorporate sauce. Add thyme and oregano and serve topped with crushed red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese.

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