Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Relaxing Thanksgiving Weekend

Hard to believe it's Saturday already. I've been off since Thursday. Finally catching up on much needed rest. We did lots of good cooking for Thanksgiving dinner. I gave a few new things a try. Sometimes you just need to break out of doing things the same old way. Mostly everything I made turned out delicious. Here is the run down of recipes.

Turkey with Herbes de Provence and Citrus - Giada De Laurentis' recipe. The turkey was a beauty and delicious. The drippings in the pan made a wonderful flavorful gravy
Oven Roasted Honey-Glazed Sweet Potatoes - Simple and tasted good
Sausage and Bread Dressing - Usual family recipe, but served it as dressing this year instead of stuffing.
Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmmsan Chese and Bread Crumbs - Giada De Laurentis' recipe - Brian saw these made on TV last week and had to have them. They were delicious and almost all gone, everyone liked them.
Orange Cranberry Sauce - Didn't turn out they way I had hoped, a bit to tart. From RecipeZaar.
90 Minute Batter Rolls - a nice recipe from 'Zaar but a bit sweet
Green Beans - Standard and yummy.
Creamed Onions - Tasted good but found some of the onions in the bag a bit large. Brian loves these with Thanksgiving dinner.
Dessert - Pumpkin Pie, along with goodies Michelle brought from the bakery and cookies Arianna brought filled with jelly.

It was nice sitting around the table talking and finally relaxing after all the cooking. The hot kitchen got me a bit cranky but I was fine afterwards once I cooled down.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday. Now onto planning Christmas. Sounds like we are planning a potluck dinner this year. No ideas yet but I'll be checking my recipes for some inspiriation.

I have some great recipes on RecipeZaar to try out. You can find me there too under the name Paintpuddles.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Easy Craft - The Love Stone

I use to make and sell these years ago at craft shows. They make a nice little gift for someone special. Not sure where I got this from originally. I use to make prayer rocks the same way but have long lost the poem, hopefully one day I'll find it again.

Use pretty scrap fabric (use pinking shears around the edge) and get creative with making the card on the computer.

Love Stone

To make and pass on to a loved one for when you are

The following is the poem which was printed out on pretty paper and

Love Stone

The stone in this pouch
Bears a wonderful charm
To heal all your troubles
And to keep you safe from harm.
It is a special stone
That you can never see
The reason its so special,
Is its just for you, from me.
Whenever you are lonely
Or even feeling blue
You only have to hold it
And know I think of you.
You never should unwrap it
Please leave the bundle tied
Just hold the stone to your heart
And feel the LOVE inside.

Then you punch a hole in the top corner of the laminated paper and
put either a pretty ribbon or raffia, etc. through the hole and the
other end of the ribbon is tied around a pretty little piece of
fabric which you have wrapped around the stone of your choosing.

(Just lay the little square of fabric down and place the stone in the
middle and draw up the edges around it and twist, then tie the ribbon
around to hold secure)

Pretty Gifts to make - Sand Sachets

Sand Sachets

1 cup clean sand
2 ounces paraffin wax
1 crayon - whatever color you'd like
1/2 teaspoon incense oil

Melt the wax in a double boiler or in a coffee can in a pot of water over medium/low heat until liquid. Add pieces of crayon until you get the color that you like. Add incense oil, then sand. Mix and pour into molds. Candy molds work great for these.

You can play with the ingredient amounts until you get the look that you like. Wrap in tulle and tie with a ribbon for drawer sachets. They make very nice gifts. This is another recipe that you can get creative with, adding herbs and botanicals to your hearts desire!

Homemade Gifts - Terry Rice Bags

Time to think about any easy last minute gifts to make. This is one of my all time favorites.

Terry Cloth Rice Bags

These large terry cloth rice pads are just terrific for soothing all your aches and pains.
The bag measurements should be about 10 inches by 6.5 inches for maximum coverage
of your arms, neck, shoulders, knees or ankles.

Use it warm or use in the freezer for those times you need an ice bag, just chill for thirty minutes. A good idea is to make two and leave one in a plastic zip-lock bag in the freezer.

Yes, you can use it over and over again! Use with a drop of essential oil for aromatherapy.
If you give as a gift remember to add a small tag with the following instructions or something similkar.

Pop the rice pad into the microwave for a minute or two, no more than that or you will get burned.

The ones I made I mixed the rice with a bit of dried lavender. I made a over a dozen
of these for gifts during one holiday. The stories I heard after let me know
how much they were appreciated. My hubby is still using his.

Remember not to over fill with rice or the bag won’t be able to mold to your body
it will be too stiff.

There are so many ways to make the pouches but I found
stacks of terry cloth towels on sale in WalMart.
They were a nice heavy thickness and have held up wonderfully.
You don’t want to use too thin a towel.
I have a fancy sewing machine that embroiders lettering
and put each persons name on the one end to personalize.

Busy weeks and a few good meals

Can't believe how the weeks are flying by and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. The days at work have been full ones and learning a new job just seems to be taking forever. But in the evening once I'm home with my hubby and my fur babies I can relax and fill my evening with enjoyable things.
I'm finally working on my holiday planning and preparing my lists. As I prepare my Thanksgiving list I remind myself of how blessed I am to have a dinner to prepare and family to share it with. I won't over do the holidays this year as I sometimes often do because Brian is still out of work. The girls and I have agreed we all need to keep it simple and spending the time together to enjoy a meal and sharing time with each other is what we want most. Our busy lives seem to keep us apart more than we would like but I know we are always in each others thoughts.

I do have a few good recipes I made this week but sorry no photos :( Just way too tired and forgot.

The first recipe is one I received from a co-worker friend. I paired it up with a chicken dish and Brian and Matt loved both dishes. It was like a weeknight fiesta! Both dishes were easy to make and absolutely delicious. Matt called them amazing! If you decide to try these recipes I hope you you enjoy them!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving where ever you may be. I have some new recipes to try for Thanksgiving and hopefully I will get some photos posted soon. Keep in touch.

Creamy Spinach Enchiladas

1 pkg flour tortillas
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 TBLS butter or margarine (or PAM)
1 10 pckg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack (or 1 cup Monterrey jack, 1 cup pepper jack)
1 10oz can enchilada sauce

Remove tortillas from fridge
heat oven to 375F
In a medium sauce pan, saute onions in butter/margarine/Pam until crisp tender, add spinach. Cook until moisture is evaporated. Stirring occasionally, remove from heat. Stir in ricotta cheese, sour cream and 1 cup shredded cheese.
Warm tortillas as directed on package. Spoon approx. 1/4 cup filling down center or each tortilla, roll up. Place seam side down in a greased 13x9 baking dish. Pour sauce evenly over tortillas. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly & heated through. Serve with sour cream and green onions.

Saucy Mexican Chicken

What You Need:

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 small breasts or 8 boneless thighs)
1 jar (16 oz.) Thick 'N Chunky Salsa
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed
1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

COOK chicken in nonstick skillet on medium-high heat 4 min. on each side or until browned on both sides.

ADD salsa and beans. Bring to boil; cover. Simmer on medium-low heat 5 min. or until chicken is done (165ºF).

TOP with cheese.
Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, 5 min. or until cheese is melted.

Suggestions: You can add onions and serve over rice. The possibilities are endless with this recipe. It's quick and easy and can be made in less than 30 min.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Blustry Day Clam Chowder

Last blog for today. Just wanted to catch up with a favorite recipe I made this past week. I call this my Blustry Day Clam Chowder. Great for when those Autumn winds get kicking up. Here is my recipe.

Blustry Day Clam Chowder

This is a perfect recipe on those windy Autumn or Winter days where you want to get the chill out. It is a combination of several other recipes I found and a few tweaks here and there. I named it after one of my favorite stories, can you guess which one?

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 1/2 cups medium-diced celery
1 1/2 cups medium-diced carrots
1 1/2 cups medium-diced green pepper
4 cups peeled medium-diced boiling potatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 quart (4 cups) clam juice
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
About 25 oz of drained canned chopped clams (the large can from Costco is perfect, just drain it) or about 3 cups chopped fresh chowder clams

Melt 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of the butter in a large heavy-bottomed stockpot. Add the onions, celery, carrots, green pepper,a nd cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add the potatoes, thyme, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 more minutes.
Add the clam juice, bring to a boil, and simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
In a small pot, melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter and whisk in the flour. Cook over very low heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Whisk in a cup of the hot broth and then pour this mixture back into the cooked vegetables. Simmer for a few minutes until the broth is thickened.
Add the milk and clams and heat gently for a few minutes to cook the clams. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve hot.

You must try these waffles!

Brian loves waffles. It had been quite a few years since our waffle iron had died, with the kids all grown we just never replaced it. So now it's Autumn and what do I find in my email one day are recipes for pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins and the like. One recipe was for pumpkin waffles, the reviews on the recipe weren't too good but OMG, that got me thinking I need a waffle iron. Not just to make those buttermilk kind but all those savory ones I've seen made on TV. I love pumpkin spice anything, to me it's the true taste of Autumn.
So Brian and I went on a hunt for a waffle iron the next weekend. We checked online and in the mall. We found you could get a waffle iron anywhere from $14 to $200. Yikes, no way could I justify spending $200 for the Cadilac of waffle irons. As for the cheep ones, well they were just that, cheap. We settled for a nice Belgium waffle iron for $50. The next morning we used the waffle recipe from the book and it made delicious waffles. They were kind of heavy and the Belgium waffles were a bit larger than we had been used to eating. We had been eating those toaster kind for far too long, but heck we liked them. The one thing I wanted was to make Pumpkin Waffles. I could almost see them, almost taste them, so I went on the great online hunt for the perfect recipe and I found it. As you can see from the photo (this was Brian's plate), these waffles were picture perfect. They were so delicious, fluffy and the recipe is a keeper. They were the perfect brunch to start off our Samhain morning.
Here is the site where you can find the recipe. I hope you make them for yourself to see how great they really are.
It is called "Ultimate Pumpkin Waffles" and the photos speak for themselves.
Hope you enjoy!

Where did October go?

Did anyone see where October went?
Last I remember it was the beginning of Autumn and before I knew it it was Samhain! Oh gosh, the days turn into weeks much too quickly. My days at work are full and sometimes frustrating. I try to hold onto words from my wise mentors that I read to help me get through those days. Sometimes I let my emotions get the best of me. I do like my new position and it will still take some time to feel comfortable as I learn all the ins and outs of OTC labeling. Patience, a tough lesson.
One of the things I've been doing this month is some self evaluation, where I've been and where I want to be. I guess you get to thinking these kinds of things as the years pass by and the next thing you realize you are in the crone stage of life. So I hope to make some changes within myself in various areas of my life, both physically and creatively. Not that I haven't tried this before but at least I continue to try. I need to remind myself to get up, dust myself off and try again. One day it will click.
I just really need to accept who I am. I know there are those I come into contact with in my daily life that sometimes probably don't get me, but oh well. Who am I? I'm just a simple cottage witch trying to find my place where I'm most comfortable. Learn from my mistakes and just let everyone know anything I do really is from within my heart.