Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Dollar Store Spring Wreath

With St Patrick's day over and done with for this year, it was time to take down the shamrock "Welcome" sign off the front door and replace it with something for Spring/Easter.  While on a trip to the dollar store with the male off spring I hit the jackpot!

A little grapevine wreath.  Some spring floral sprigs, and an adorable little birds nest.  Toss in a little hot glue and you have the perfect combination for a cute little spring wreath.

Add a bow with some ribbon I had left over from my inside Easter decor. 

And VOILA!  My Spring wreath is complete.

For only $4 people!!
And it looks soooo cute on my front door, if I do say so myself!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Using Dried Beans

For whatever reason, I have been timid about using dried beads.  I think it's because I see them as being so time consuming.  However, recently I have set that aside and taken the plunge.  No more canned beans for me!  With a little prep, they are ready to use when you need them.  And oh so much less expensive than canned!  A can of beans typically runs me about 75 cents.  A pound of beans is on average about $1.25 - which yields me the equal of about 4 cans of beans! 

I like to use the "Quick Soak" method to prepare my beans for cooking:  Pour dried beans into a pot.  Add 6 to 8 cups of water.  Bring to a boil for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and cover.  Allow to sit for 1 hour.

 Drain.  Rinse.  Sort through the beans, removiny any icky beans, small stones etc.  (In all the times I have ever used dried beans I have never ever found a stone.  Does this really happen??)

At this point, I cook the beans.  Return beans to the pot. Add 6 cups water.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat.  Simmer 1 to 2 hours.

Drain and rinse. 

I bag the beans for freezing.  A can of beans without the liquid is about 1 1/2 cups of beans, so that is the amount I freeze per bag.

When I need a "can" of beans, I just pull a bag out of the freezer. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Irish Beef Stew


2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Monday, March 18, 2013

Lamp Makeover

I had a lamp that used to be in a the bedroom, and was now going unused.  I decided with a coat of silver paint, it would work perfectly in the living room. 

I gave it a good cleaning with some homemade glass cleaner.

I was more than a little concerned with how this was going to turn out following the first coat.

And not much more comforted following the second coat.

Or the third or fourth.

Finally things starting showing a little improvement.

And after many, many coats of the silver paint, I was finally pleased with the result.

Now... what to do about that sad, stained lampshade?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Easter Decoration

I have had so much fun creating decorations getting ready for Easter this year!
I've had this Pfaltzgraff flower pot for years, but never done much of anything with it.  Until now.  A little Easter grass, a couple of glittery egg picks - and voila!  Makes me smile.

Found these adorable egg cups int the dollar spot at Target.  Took some more of those glittery egg picks, pulled the stick out, a drip of hot glue to hold them in place. 

A couple of pretty lavender candles.  And the Pfaltzgraff frame that matches the flower pot from above. 
Still looking for just the right picture for it; but now I'm thinking about a lovely Bible verse or Easter quote.

A pretty lavender plaid bow

Two cute little votive holders from Michael's.  I found them in the dollar section - turned out they were two for a dollar.  I love a surprise bargain!

The tableau on my cake plate - two little crackle finish egg chicks (another Target dollar spot find), a painted wooden Easter egg, and a chocolate bunny.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Steak Tagliata

I saw Nigella Lawson make this yummy steak dish and knew immediately I was going to have to try it!  I've seen her prepare and serve it with rosemary garlic potatoes, and a baked spinach dish.  I served it with garlic cheese mashed potatoes and a green salad. 

Steak Tagliata

12 oz New York strip steak
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
8 oz grape tomatoes (halved)

Combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, oregano, and salt in a small dish. Set aside.

Oil steak. Cook in a hot pan for 2 minutes on each side.  (yes, it will be very rare.  cook it longer if you prefer it more well done) Remove and place in dish of marinade.  Rest for about 5 minutes, turning half way through.

Remove steak to cutting board.  Add tomatoes, cut side down,  to marinade.

Cut steak into thin strips. Arrange on plate. Pour tomatoes and marinade over steak.  Serve immediately.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sausage and Broccoli Pasta

Sausage and Broccoli Pasta

1lb medium shells pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb Italian sausage (casings removed)
1 lb broccoli florets
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 cup parmesan (grated)
salt & pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta according to package directions, minus one minute.
Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta water.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven.  Add sausage and thoroughly brown, breaking apart with a wooden spoon.

Add broccoli.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir to coat with sausage drippings.  Add 1 cup pasta water.  Stir, scraping up browned pieces from bottom of pan.

Add pasta.  Toss to coat.  Cook for one minute.  Remove from heat.

Add Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.  Stir until creamy. 

Sprinkle with extra parmesan and serve immediately.

(The inspiration for this dish came from The Chew.  My thanks to Mario Batali!! For whatever reason I couldn't find broccoli rabe at my local grocery, so I substituted the broccoli florets.  And rather than making the pasta, I substituted a dried pasta.  Mario's version also calls for pecorino.  As I was getting ready to prepare the dish, I realized I had forgotten the pecorino cheese, so I used parmesan instead)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Monster Cupcakes

I just had to share with y'all the adorable cupcakes the female offspring made for the grand baby's 1st birthday!  He was having a Sesame Street theme party, so she created cupcakes to represent two of his favorite little monsters. 

Seriously!  How cute are these?? 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Chicken Run!

One evening earlier this week, I let the girls out to run completely free around the yard for a while just before dusk.  No big deal, we do this occasionally.  They always go back in the coop as it starts to get dark, to roost for the night.  It's chicken nature.

The next morning, I went out to take care of the morning outside chores.  (take dog out, feed and water chickens, gather eggs) - and there were the girls running about the yard having a grand ol' time! 

I had forgotten to go out and close up the coop for the night!  Oops! 

And they were not having anything to do with the idea of going back into the pen.  I'm pretty sure all that clucking was chicken for "Are you crazy woman? You can go in the pen if you want, we're staying right out here!" 

Even the dog barking his fool head off didn't persuade them that it was time to go back to the house.

Fortunately they are pretty predictable creatures.  A few cucumber scraps and some dried bread crust tossed inside and they were scurrying to be first to get the goodies.  Door closed.  All's well that ends well.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Bacon Cheddar Potato Soup

I always enjoy a good crock pot recipe.  The easier - the better!  I also like a good yummy soup on a chilly evening.  This soup fits all those criteria!  It's simple and delicious.

Crock Pot Bacon Cheddar Potato Soup

4 cans condensed cream of potato soup
Milk (enough to fill 4 soup cans)
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 bag real bacon bits
black pepper, to taste
2 cups shredded cheddar

Stir soup, milk, potatoes, bacon, and pepper together in crock pot.
Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.
Add cheese and stir until cheese is melted.

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