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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Name Blocks

I had seen blocks with letter on them, and thought it would be a cute idea to have them on our mantle.  My father-in-law works with wood, and tends to have scraps--so he was generous enough to give me 5 cut squares of a 2x4.  (Or, at least I think that is what he cut up)

I took them home, and found letter that would compliment our living room decor.  I then found coordinating paper to go behind the letters.  I glued it all on with a tape runner, and then modpodged on top of the paper and letters.  After the mod podge dried, I then added embellishments such as ribbon, crackets, flowers, etc.

The backs of the letters seemed a little plain, so I decided that I would devote each block to a family member-  So, on the backs of each of them there are individual pictures and embellishments.  They never get turned to that side, but it is a nice surprise when someone picks them up to look at them.

These simple and cheap little blocks have become quite a staple on my mantle--even at the new house.  If you have some scrap wood, I would encourage you to try these.  They are simple, and can be adapted easily to whatever suits you.  You can use any word or name-- Maybe the word, CREATE for your scrapbooking area, or the word BABY for a nursery.  Have fun with it, and let me know if you try it out!
Monday, September 28, 2009

Southern Chicken Noodle Soup on a Cool Fall Day


I was in the mood for soup today, and my family was a little spoiled--since, I was in the mood to cook and bake from scratch.  Or, at least I think they are spoiled--they would rather order pizza ;).

 I keep telling myself, they WILL appreciate this one day, when they go off to college!!  

However, since I was also trying to clean the carpeting in the house, watch 2 toddlers and a baby, and organize my spice cabinet--I decided that getting out the slow-cooker might be a good idea.  

It turned out to be a big hit with everyone-- DH, and kids both gobbled it up!  Well, maybe it's because they knew there would be no peach cobbler, if they didn't finish their soup!! 







Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 pounds chicken pieces 
  • 8 cups of water
  • 4 T chicken bouillon 
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 t of celery seed *because I didn't have celery 
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon  basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6-8 ounces noodles

Preparation:

Place all ingredients except noodles in the Crock Pot. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours. Remove chicken and bay leaf from pot; take meat from bones, dice, and return to broth, and add the noodles. Cook another hour or until noodles are done (about 1/2 hour on high). Or, cook the noodles separately and add them just before serving.

So, don't wait 'til you're sick to make this yummy soup- Take advantage of the cool weather, and warm up with a bowl of old-fashioned goodness!

We have a Winning Peach Cobbler

We had quite a few fresh peaches to do something with, before they were wasted--so, I decided to make a Peach Cobbler.  I have made these in the past, because they are my husband's favorite treat--but, none of them were PERFECT, in his eyes.


So, I made something, part pie/part cobbler- It has a pie type bottom crust, and a lattice top, but made in a 9x13 pan.  It does take a little over 2 hours to make--but, I am told it is worth it.   It is very juicy, and I guess--PERFECT!!

I had a great little helper, in rolling out the crust, (or nibbling on it, anyway)--
So, instead of doing just a regular boring ol' lattice top--we cut out a, "J" for Jaxen and a spaceship for Buzz Lightyear!  Sorry, about the picture--I forgot to take a pic, until it was 1/2 eaten!!



The recipe is:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  •  
  • 3 pounds fresh peaches - peeled, pitted and sliced
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  •  
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  1. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, and salt. Work in the shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and cold water. Sprinkle over flour mixture, and work with hands to form dough into a ball. Chill 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Roll out half of dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Place in a 9x13 inch baking dish, covering bottom and halfway up sides. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  3. In a large saucepan, mix the peaches, lemon juice, and orange juice. Add 1/2 cup butter, and cook over medium-low heat until butter is melted. In a mixing bowl, stir together 2 cups sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cornstarch; mix into peach mixture. Remove from heat, and pour into baked crust.
  4. Roll remaining dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Cut into half-inch-wide strips. Weave strips into a lattice over peaches. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon melted butter.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until top crust is golden brown. 

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Truffles

My DH and I were hosting a wine-tasting party.  No dinner, just h'ourderves.  I decided it was the perfect time to make chocolate truffles for the first time.  I wanted to try 2 different recipes, just in case one didn't turn out.   The first recipe was:


  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 2 oz of rich chocolate (the expensive stuff)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 T whipping cream/heavy cream



  1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until well blended. Stir in melted chocolate and vanilla until no streaks remain. Refrigerate for about 1 hour. Shape into 1 inch balls.Roll truffles in ground walnuts (or any ground nuts), cocoa, coconut, confectioners' sugar, candy sprinkles, etc.


  • To flavor truffles with liqueurs or other flavorings, omit vanilla. Divide truffle mixture into thirds. Add 1 tablespoon liqueur (almond, coffee, orange) to each mixture; mix well.
    I flavored these with almond extract.  I dipped them in a combination of finely ground coffee and Penzey's Dutch Process Cocoa Powder.  These were easy to roll, cheap to make, and were pretty tasty.  

    The second recipe I tried, was a richer recipe was found here-- and these turned out VERY rich, with that meltaway center.  I used raspberry flavoring , and dipped them in Penzey's dutch process cocoa.  Yum! This recipe, made significantly less truffles-- 
    I can't honestly say which ones were a bigger hit--because they were ALL eaten-- and everyone had too much wine to really be able to say which one was their favorite.  
    I will for sure make both of these again, since I really only got to eat 1 :(.  



Monday, September 21, 2009

Silhouettes




I decided that it would be cute if I made old-fashioned silhouettes of my children-- I started by searching thru hundreds of pictures, to see if I could find side profile shots of each of them--
There were several of Jaxen, because he never seems to be looking at the camera, but he also never seems to be looking ahead either.

So, I decided it would be best, if I just took brand new pictures of them to use. I took the pictures, at the same distance, for each one. Then I printed them off as 8x10's on regular computer paper. Then I placed the printed picture on top of black scrapbooking cardstock, and cut out both pieces together in the shape of their precious little faces.

I realized two things--upon reviewing my shadow-pictures of my babies. 1. Jaxen has a very BIG head. 2. Alexis has her dad's nose and Jaxen has his mom's nose ;) (okay, I already knew that)

So, I had to find frames that would accommodate Jaxen's melon, and ones that would look good in my living room--Off to Target I went. Luckily, I found frames big enough on sale for $4 a piece!!

I used coordinating paper, and filled the frames--I love, LOVE, love them!! Now, to get them hung.

Oh, also- I looked for a family shot that would still look distinguishable in a silhouette, and only could find one so far. I framed that one also, and hope to find another one that will include daddy next time :).
Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Tortilla Chips


Labor day weekend, a few neighbors were coming over for an impromptu get-together. I thought, we needed some kind of fruit basket, because that is what my mom always had at get-togethers. I would cut a watermelon into a basket or a whale or something else not very creative. :)

I sent my DH, to the grocery store to pick up some fruit, along with the watermelon. He came home, with fruit and the tiniest watermelon I have ever seen! There was no way, I could make a basket or a whale out of it--I could possibly pull off a goldfish--but, it wouldn't hold very much fruit--so I began to think of another idea--and decided quickly that I would just make fruit salsa...

I did not have the ingredients I had heard goes into fruit salsa, so I just improvised--and it turned out perfectly--a big hit with the neighbors and my daughter!

I used my amazing Vidalia chopper- as seen on tv, and now at Target :). I LOVE IT!! Anyway, I chopped up some strawberries, some grapes, some apples, and threw in a few tablespoons of preserves, and tasted it--Oh my--I could have eaten a whole bowl!

Here is what I used

1 pint of strawberries
couple handfuls of grapes
1 whole, large apple
3 Tbl plum preserves

For the chips, I had flour tortillas on hand, (thank goodness) and cut them up w/ a pizza slicer into 1/8 sections- sprayed both sides with butter-flavored spray, and then dipped them in a cinnamon-sugar mixture. Arranged on cookie sheet, baked at 400 for 10 minutes, or until they start curling at the corners.

Wow--these were also AMAZING--noone could get enough of them! They taste like, sopapillas! And, since they are baked, they are a nice healthier version of the greasy fried, tortilla chips--

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