"Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave?" - Kathleen Kelly (You've Got Mail)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yarn Wreaths

I kept coming across these really fun looking wreaths on Etsy and in some blogs I subscribe to and they looked like something I could easily make myself. So I read a few simple tutorials and got the supplies! All I needed was a straw wreath, yarn and felt. I already had everything else I needed. I didn't even spend $9.00 on the first one and I had a blast making it so I've made several more since! So let me show you the wreaths I made and then I'll tell you how I did it....

This is the one I made for my front door. I picked colors that matched my door, rug and other outdoor decor

Our  church is having a silent auction this week so I made a couple wreaths to donate to the auction. This first one is entirely black and white

This is the other one I made for the auction. It's chocolate brown with lots of bright, fun colors

So basically all you need is a plastic wrapped straw wreath (leave the plastic on!), yarn, hot glue, ribbon and whatever decorations you like. I chose buttons of course :) and I thought the felt was fun with it.

You start by attaching the end of the yarn with a small dot of hot glue to the back of the wreath and then tightly wrap it around. If you notice small gaps as you go, wrap the yarn around an extra time to cover it. Every few inches, add another dot of hot glue just to keep the yarn in place. You may find you don't need anymore hot glue until you're finished...the yarn stays put pretty well. If you want to change colors, just cut the yarn and glue it in the back then start your next color.

Once you're done, cut and attach the yarn to the back with a dot of hot glue. Decide where the top will be and tie a ribbon around, securing with hot glue if you like. Leave about 1-2 feet hanging on each side to tie into a bow to hang on your door.

Decorate with whatever you like! I sewed buttons to felt and then glued them right onto the wreath. For the black and white one, you can see I used a white daisy at the bottom and buttons on their own all the way around. If you have any questions about how I made these, please feel free to ask! I realize this was kind of a quick desciption. Thanks for reading :)

Pumpkin Spice Latte Ice Cream

2 c. heavy cream
1 1/2 c. whole milk
2 tbsp. instant espresso powder
1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
4 egg yolks
3/4 c. white sugar
1 c. pumpkin puree

In a medium or large saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the heavy cream, milk, espresso powder and spices and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, using a mixer on medium speed, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until the mixture becomes light in color and falls from the beaters in ribbons.

Remove one cup of liquid from the cream mixture and gradually pour into the egg yolk mixture, beating the entire time, to temper the eggs. Add tempered egg mixture back to the saucepan and whisk well. Add the pumpkin puree and continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking until the custard has thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon.

Transfer the custard to a large bowl, preferably one with a pour spout, and cover tightly. Chill for at least two hours, or overnight. Freeze the custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Once the ice cream has reached soft serve consistency, transfer to an airtight container and freeze for 3-4 hours, or until ice cream has hardened.

Notes: I was really excited when I came across this recipe back in November and I just now got around to making it since I had some extra cream on hand. Pumpkin spice lattes are one of the few things I can't resist! This ice cream turned out great. In my opinion it needs more of an espresso taste though...the pumpkin really over powers it. Next time I'll add an extra tablespoon of espresso powder and I think it'll be perfect!

Recipe adapted from here

Hawaiian Chicken

Don't let the ugly picture fool you, I can't say enough good things about this recipe! It was easy, cheap, moist and flavorful! This is definitely going in my regular meal rotation. We ate it with sauteed garlic asparagus and big, fresh strawberries. Next time I may try chunking up the chicken and then serving it over rice...mmm! I can't wait to make this again.

Hawaiian Chicken

4 small bonless skinless chicken breasts
1 c. crushed pineapple
1/3 c. low sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. hot sauce (optional)

In a medium sized bowl mix together pineapple and all other ingredients (except the chicken) until well combined. Place chicken in the bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. After marinating, place chicken and all the marinade in a large skillet. Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through and marinade has reduced slightly. Serve chicken topped with cooked marinade. Makes 4 servings.

Recipe found here

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Espresso Chip Meringues

3 egg white at room temperature
Pinch of salt
3/4 c. white sugar
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. instant espresso powder
2/3 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt until frothy, about 1 minute. With the machine on medium-high speed, gradually add the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time until sugar is dissolved. Add the cream of tartar, vanilla extract and espresso powder. Increase the speed to high and beat until the mixture is thick and holds stiff peaks, about 3 minutes. Using a spatula, fold in the chocolate chips. Drop by 1/4 cupfuls onto the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake exactly 1 hour. Turn off the oven and allow the meringues to cool completely while still in the oven, about 2 hours. Makes about 1 dozen cookies.

Notes: I am a HUGE meringue fan and I watched Giada make these on one of her shows and they looked amazing so I bookmarked the recipe. I had some egg whites leftover today from making ice cream (only used the yolks for that) so I decided to try these out. They are by far the BEST meringues I have ever had! I love the espresso/chocolate combo....YUM! Next time I will probably make them about half the size, just so I have more than 12 to eat :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Brunch Stuffed Peppers

4 yellow or orange bell peppers
1 c. frozen hash browns, thawed
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 eggs
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 c. milk
1/2 c. biscuit mix (I used Bisquick)
1/4 c. sour cream
2 tbsp. chopped green onion
Salt and peper to taste

Directions:Preheat oven to 350. Pour 1/2 cup of hot water into an 8x8 baking dish. Cut the tops off the bell peppers and remove seeds. Place the peppers cut side down in the baking dish with water. Place in the oven to steam for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, cheese, milk, biscuit mix, sour cream, onions, salt and pepper and set aside. Remove peppers from the oven and discard the water. Fill the bottom of each pepper evenly with the hash browns followed  by the bacon. Pour the egg mixture into each pepper, filling to the top.
Bake in the same 8x8 dish for 45 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes before eating. Makes 4 servings.

Notes: I saw this recipe on Paula Deans show and it looked too good not to try! The only change I really made was steaming the peppers beforehand (the reviews said they came out a little crunchy) and I'm glad I did! They came out perfect that way. I also recommend letting them sit few a few minutes before eating them or else the filling isn't quite set. Randy and I both loved these. We ate them for dinner with a fresh fruit salad...yum! You could omit the bacon and make this a great vegetarian dish, too!

Pregnant...sick...tired...busy...no computer

Those are a few of my excuses for my lack of blogging! Being pregnant still makes it hard to stay motivated to meal plan and cook. Margot had the flu two weeks ago and then I got it last week so obviously that put a damper on things and the combination of the last two things makes for a very exhausted and busy mama AND our computer crashed last week so there was no way I could get to my blog to update it.

We bought a new laptop this weekend and this morning is my first time using it! It's wonderful :) I have several blog updates I want to post (an awesome stuffed pepper recipe and my latest craft adventure!) so be looking for those things soon!

Thanks for sticking around...I appreciate all my readers. For now I'll leave you with a picture of Margot from this weekend...enjoying lunch at our favorite local spot and sporting her new shades:


Friday, March 4, 2011

Mediterranean Penne Pasta Toss

10 oz. whole wheat penne pasta
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced and divided
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. dried basil
1 zucchini, diced
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, diced
15 oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 c. crumbled feta cheese

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook penne according to the package directions. Drain, and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet, season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and cook in the skillet for 6-8 minutes on each side or until completely cooked through.Chop into bite sized pieces.

In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, 2 of the minced garlic cloves, balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and set aside to marinate.

Heat the last tablespoon of oil in another large skillet and saute the zucchini, bell pepper and 2 remaining minced garlic cloves for about 5 minutes, or until tender. Add the beans and cook just until heated through.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked penne, chicken, tomato mixture, sauteed vegetable mixture and 1/2 cup of feta. Stir well and then top with remaining feta cheese. Serve hot or refrigerate and serve cold! Makes 6 servings.

Notes: I came across this recipe in another food blog and put it on my menu a couple weeks ago...I finally got around to making it this week and I'm SO glad I did! I made a few changes and it turned out delicious. It's yummy both hot and cold and can work as a main dish or a side. It dirtied up quite a few dishes but it was worth it :)