Monday, December 14, 2009

Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque

I have my daughter-in-law to thank for this delicious recipe. I asked her what I should make for dinner for a friend who just had a baby and she suggested this recipe. I DETEST sweet squash soups and was a little bit concerned that it would be sweet, considering it has apples and apple juice in it. I switched out fat free half and half for heavy cream and I added the rosemary and coriander to make sure there would be a little more savory flavor--just in case.

It was delicious and only slightly sweet--perfection! There's something to be said for having a daughter-in-law in culinary school!

Butternut squash is so cheap right now and this delicious soup is perfect for chasing away the winter chills. It's filling and is only 1 WW point per serving (3/4 cup).










Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque

1 small/medium Butternut squash (approx 2 lbs)
2 Tbsp butter
1 C onions, diced
½ C celery, diced
½ C carrots, diced
½ C apples, diced
2 C chicken or vegetable broth
1 C apple juice or cider
1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced or 1/4 tsp dried
1/4 tsp ground coriander
½ C fat free half and half
Salt and black pepper to taste

1. Slice squash in half, scoop seeds out (seeds may be toasted and used for garnish) and place cut side down on a greased cookie sheet and roast in 400 degree oven for 45 minutes or until tender. When tender, flip squash over, let cool slightly, and scoop out the roasted squash meat.

2. In soup pot over medium high heat, add olive oil and onions, celery, carrots, and apples. Cook for about 4 minutes or until softened and sweet smelling. Add the roasted butternut squash, the chicken broth, apple juice/cider, rosemary, and coriander. Bring to a boil, and simmer for about 15 minutes until all ingredients are tender.

3. Transfer soup to blender or use a hand blender to puree soup to desired consistency. Finish by whisking in the half and half. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Flat Turkey

My Stepson's wedding was Thanksgiving weekend, so we did a very simple Thanksgiving on Wednesday night. I didn't start cooking until about 4 and we ate at 7.

I spatchcocked our turkey, which means you cut out the backbone and break the breastbone so the turkey lays flat. Our 12 lb turkey cooked in 70 minutes! I know y'all have probably moved on and are getting ready for Christmas, but since it's all fairly non-traditional, this meal would be perfect for Christmas as well.

Menu:
High Roast Butterflied Turkey
Savory Butternut Squash Dressing
Mrs. Hoggle's Stuffed Cranberry Sauce
Roasted Brussels Sprouts (no recipe--just halve sprouts and toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and roast at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes and top with toasted almonds)
Frozen Pumpkin Mousse Pie


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Swaggity, Baby!!

Are you using Swagbucks? If not--you should be!! I signed up for swagbucks a little over six months ago and have earned enough Swagbucks for a bunch of Amazon.com gift cards!! I bought Midget's adorable Raggedy Ann costume and a Christmas present for her with my gift cards.


You can use your Swagbucks for TONS of different items, from gift cards to an iPhone--all for just using Swagbucks as your search engine! It's an easy way to get stuff for doing something you probably already do several times a day.

Best of all, you can refer your friends and family and earn Swagbucks for doing it. So, if you decide to sign up, send me an email and I'll send you a link to sign up.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Quiet Book

For the last month or so, I've been working on a Quiet Book for my niece. My brother, his wife, and my niece are in the process of moving to Rwanda to do missionary work. I wanted to make a gift for my niece that would keep her occupied on her long plane ride to Africa. Soooo.....




This has been a labor of love and I'm still not finished, but I hope to have it completed in a few weeks.

Here are the pages I have completed so far in the order they are posted. Well, I haven't titled any of them or sewed them togther, so technically they're not completed at all. Sheesh! Quit complaining! This has been a TON of work!
  • Button My Flowers (three felt flowers to button)
  • Dress Me Up (velcro shirt, skirt, and shoes)
  • Put Your Hand in My Mitten (open on the bottom to place hand inside)
  • Traffic Light (velcro lights to put in the right order)
  • Snap on My Shapes (snapped shapes to match to sewn on shapes )
  • Telephone (moving dial and velcro handset)
  • Chalkboard (two pages--chalk oilcloth, chalk, chalk holder, yarn secured sponge eraser, and eraser holder)
  • Noah's Ark (zippered ark with six animal finger puppets from IKEA)


If you need a crash course in sewing--do one of these! I've learned to applique, put in a zipper, sew on velcro, attach snaps--all in one project!

I still have three pages left to do, so I'll update you along the way!

I've used LOTS of inspiration, but here's a few of my favorite places to gather ideas on how to make your own quiet book.

Quiet Book Instructions in PDF format with patterns
Homemade by Jill's Quiet Book with templates
An entire blog dedicated to making Quiet Books

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween

Hope you had a great one! Ours was a bit chilly, but we just put our costumes on over our coats and looked like puffy Raggedy Ann Dolls.

video

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Witches' Tea Party


When I saw these invitations on Living Locurto, I was dying for an excuse to do a Witches' Tea Party. Thank goodness one of my friends was looking for someone to watch her kids!! I thought it would be a fun way to have a little bitty Halloween party, something I've loved to host since I was a little girl. I printed out the invitations, rolled them up, tied them with a little string, and delivered them to their mailboxes.

When the kids arrived, we read a short Halloween book from the library and quickly got to decorating the kids' witch hats. I found the hats, the foam stickers, and the cookies at the dollar store. Since it was a kid party, I made Russian Tea, which is Tang and Instant Tea simmered with whole cloves and cinnamon sticks. I spent about $15 in total on all the supplies. Not bad for a whole lot of fun! Even Lucy Wiener Witch enjoyed herself!

This post is linked up to Amy's Finer Things Friday






Monday, October 19, 2009

DC BABY!

I've been a bit slow at posting the last few weeks for two reasons.

1. Midget decided to throw a Little People giraffe at my laptop and busted my LCD screen. Thankfully, I purchased the full service plan through Best Buy, so I didn't have to pay to get my screen replaced. I did have to live without my computer for three full weeks. At times, I'd find myself sitting on the couch with my arms raised. It was like I had a phantom laptop!

2. I went to visit a friend (sans hubby and Midget) in Washington D.C.!! Unfortunately, it was cold and rainy nearly the entire time, so most of my pictures turned out crummy. We had a great time anyway--soaking boots and all!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Handmade Fabric Barn

For a little boy's 1st birthday and my niece's 2nd birthday, I decided to torture myself and make a little travelling barn using the UK Lass in the US's tutorial. It's a great tutorial, but I would only recommend this project if you have some sewing experience. It makes an amazing product! These pictures are from the first barn I made. I'd like to say that the second one turned out perfect, but I waited too long in between making the two to remember what I'd learned from making the first one! Not perfect, but filled with character!
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Elmo and Zoe Birthday Cakes

Despite my best intentions, I just couldn't help but go a little insane for Midget's Birthday dinner. When I realized that one Elmo cake wouldn't feed the number of people we were having over, I decided to make a second cake. But I couldn't just do a second Elmo cake or a round cake or cupcakes or anything that would be easy.

I decided to use the Elmo pan to make a Zoe cake. I had to do a little carving to make Zoe's nose out of Elmo's and I had to figure out a way to make her hair.

I think they turned out pretty good! Please excuse the crummy lighting. I took these pictures at 4:30 a.m. I have a sickness, people...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Me & Midge

Just thought I'd share quickly the newest picture of me and Midget, which show the new sassy glasses. My other sweet glasses got a ginormous scratch right in my line of sight. I'll get the lenses replaced, but I got these so cheap, I couldn't pass them up!

Midget's 2nd birthday is on Saturday and we are having a few people over for dinner. I didn't want to do a party because I get all crazy and go overboard with everything, but my friend Stacey was adamant that I'd better have one because she wanted to come! So we are doing burgers and dogs on the grill and I'm making a cake. It's been super hard for me not to do a zillion activities, games, goodie bags, etc.! At this point, there's just no need to go crazy. When she can invite her own little friends over, I'll do a few more special things.

So, off I go to clean. I'm such a procrastinator, it isn't even funny!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Visit from a Bloggy Buddy!

I was so excited when Angie, co-founder of iHeartFaces and her personal blog The Arthur Clan, tweeted me that she was going to be in Ann Arbor and we should find a time to meet! We've been bloggy friends since she happened upon one of my favorite blog posts I've written thus far. She just couldn't resist my charm!

Angie is an amazing photographer and has inspired me to take better pictures and see things differently than I did before. Of course, my pictures still suck, but at least they suck a little less than they did before! When you go see her post about our meeting, you will be treated to gorgeous photos of Midget and all of Angie's adorable little rugrats! You also get to see her lovely face and my super pasty skin. I'm actually a little pissed at her for not photoshopping a tan on me! C'mon Ang!! Put those mad skillz of yours to good use and make me a bronze goddess!! While you're at it--could you pretty please take another 10 lbs off of me in our picture? Preferably in the boobage area. Thankyouverymuch.

We decided to meet at a park where all the kids could play and we could capture some good shots. Well, where she could capture some good shots and I could take 90% of my photos in the wrong setting and give them all a blue tinge. Please also pay no attention to the fact that we met in the middle of July and it is now almost September! I told y'all I've been crazy busy!!

Angie's husband Bill, aka Sweatiepy, didn't come along and I'm convinced he was afraid I was going to lay the sarcasm smack down on him! Next time, you'd better bring it Billy Boy!

Midget and Weslea were instant friends and I've decided to bring Wes along with me on all future solo trips with Midge!












Of course, Midget was equally enamored with Angie and made herself right at home in Angie's lap.













Will and Wyatt spent most of the time like this:

Blurry...











And I got to meet the love of my life--WESTON! Oh geez, I love this kid!!

How do you ever say no to this face, Angie???

Friday, August 21, 2009

A New Business Venture

Apparently, Henry and Lucy Wiener have decided to go into business. Last year, they grew one and this year, they have increased their output exponentially. This year, they've planted four tomato plants out in our dog run.



Henry Wiener told me it was Lucy Wiener's idea to start a pasta sauce company. They've decided to name it "Crappy Wiener Sauce." They expect to quadruple their efforts again next year. Since they are dogs, they've hired me to be their manager on the condition that I get all the money and continue to feed them lots of tomatoes. Pretty sweet deal, if you ask me!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Yearbook Photos

I know I'm the last person on the planet to do this, but holy crow! My stomach still hurts from laughing at these! I especially like my 1970 picture where I'm all "Foxy Brown!" Hilarious, right??

Which one is your favorite?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Our Houseguests

A week ago, the hubby notified me that we had a houseguest--a Mourning Dove. She had made her nest on top of the hose reel and had laid two little bitty eggs. Yesterday, both her little bitty chicks hatched!
























Aren't they cute?? In an "Alien" sort of way...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The First Harvest!

All I have to say is, "I GREW THIS!!!"













*Crookneck Squash, Cucumber, Purple Kohlrabi, and Radishes*

For those of you who asked what Kohlrabi is--it is my favorite vegetable of all time! It's hard to explain, but it tastes and has the texture of peeled broccoli stem, but just a little bit more cabbage-ey (pretty sure that isn't a word, but it is now because I said so). You can eat it raw or cooked, but my favorite way to eat it is raw, sprinkled with a little salt. YUM!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Taggie Blanket

So you all know I sing, right? But did you know I play the violin?

Yep.

I started when I was 10 years old. A few years later, I was in a full-blown war with a violinist in my 7th grade class in Helena, MT named Teresa. We couldn't stand each other! We were always competing for first chair, didn't like the other's playing style (she was a very technical player and I was more on the artistic side), she practiced all the time and I practiced as little as possible, and we were not very nice to each other. At one point, our teacher even separated us on each side of the room because she was tired of listening to us bicker!

During a summer orchestra program, we were in an orchestra filled with older and unfamiliar faces. That summer, we began to respect each other and work together. We played together all throughout High School and never fought again. She always played First Chair, 1st violin and I played First Chair, 2nd violins. It worked beautifully! Her technical ability suited more difficult portions in 1st violin and my deeper sound added richness to the 2nd violins.

I didn't intend to write a Kumbayah post here, but my friend Teresa (who coincidentally lives about an hour away) is having her first baby sometime around the end of August.

I wanted to do something special for her baby, but I'm low on time these days (hence the lack of posts in the last month). I decided a taggie blanket would be an easy handmade project that I could finish in one evening. I found a celery green flannel remnant at JoAnn's and decided to base the blanket around that. I found a brightly colored flannel that matched and some coordinating ribbon of different textures. I spent less than $10 and have enough materials to make three blankets!

I used these instructions, but didn't really find an exceptional tutorial (clear step by step pictures). I was in a hurry when I made this one, but if enough of you are looking for instructions, I do have more material and would be happy to make a tutorial. Just let me know in the comments if you are interested. I think it turned out great!

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Blueberry


The ONLY blueberry this year, to be exact. In order to allow the bushes to put all their energy into the plant instead of the fruit, we picked off all the berries before they matured, save this singular beauty. I was so looking forward to tasting this little blue sphere of happiness, but unfortunately, I left it on the table inside while I was talking to the hubby on the deck for a second. Midget climbed up and ate it.

*Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah*

Friday, July 24, 2009

Garden Update

The garden is growing so quickly! I took these pictures a week ago and they're already outdated--BIG TIME!

Although the garden has grown a lot in a week, we've hardly harvested anything yet. It's definitely a major exercise in patience for me. Because basically, I have none.

But no one's perfect right? It is my one and only flaw.

What??

When you say "lack of modesty," what exactly do you mean??

You can explain some other time. I'd rather just show you the pics.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My First Bloggy Buddy Meetup!

Some of you may know the fabulous Aubrey, from The Fam Five. If you aren't already a reader, get yourself on over there and get a good giggle! I was so excited to get to meet her while I was in Colorado visiting family!

We had a great time talking and laughing while the kids played, although I felt a little bad that she was completely inundated with poop stories. I'm not sure why, but it doesn't take long for my family to start talking poop. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised, considering my sister came with me.

Here's a few pics of our fun day! We were having so much fun yakking that I kind of forgot to take pictures!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Patriotic Pom-Poms!

For our little town's annual summer fair, Midget and I walked in the parade. I found a little outfit at a consignment store and found this fun pom-pom project in my Disney Family Fun Magazine. I had everything already on hand at home (plastic bags, wooden dowels, and blue painter's tape), except I had to call on a few friends to get enough Target plastic bags and I used cheap wooden chopsticks for handles.

I was excited to find the Patriotic Pom-Poms project online so I could share it with all of you, just in time for Independence Day!

Midget certainly drew LOTS of squeals and giggles!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I'm BUSY!

If you're wondering why you haven't heard from me in a while, here's what's been occupying our time.

Drove to Madison, WI
Dropped off the Wieners and stayed overnight at the Frazier Family Hotel
Drove to Milwaukee, WI
Hopped a plane to Denver, CO
Took Midget to Open Gymnastics (total maniac)
Attended exactly 6,348,983 little league baseball games, each two hours long
Played Tennis
Roasted Marshmallows
Had my very first meetup with a bloggy friend in real life--more on that later!!
Drove to Nebraska
Went to a big 50th Wedding Anniversary party
Let Midget ride her first horse
Got molested by a giant moth I was trying to take pictures of
Visited Carhenge--this is a once in a lifetime opportunity peeps...
Drove back to Denver, CO

Feeeeeee-yoooooooof! I'm tired just from writing this and I'm not scheduled to return until the 1st of July.

We'll return to your scheduled programming shortly, folks! Until then, here's a few pics of some of the activities.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lusciously Lowercal Chicken Spanakopita

I figured I'd better redeem myself after posting that last disgusting-looking pile of goo. Yes, we ate them. No, they weren't as disgusting as they looked. Maybe I'll try again with a thicker dough instead of a batter.

This should remind you that I AM a cooking prodigy in an ever-shrinking platinum blonde package. hehe




So you might be going, "Chicken Spank-a-what??"







Spanakopita is Greek for Spinach Pie. Traditional Spanakopita is FATTENING--buttery layers of phyllo dough stuffed full of eggs, onions fried in olive oil, and full-fat feta cheese. It normally comes in around 12 Weight Watcher points (approximately 500 calories and almost FORTY grams of fat), but I made several small changes and kept the dish lip-smacking delicious and cut the WW points down to FIVE!

Phyllo dough is a mystery to some and many people are frightened to work with it, but by using cooking spray instead of melted butter, it not only cuts the calories, but it's as easy as (spinach) pie!

*bah dah bomp-chhhhhhh* Thank you folks, I'll be here all week.

By the way, you can find phyllo dough in any decent-sized grocery store freezer aisle, usually in a box containing two 8 oz twin packs of dough. Be sure to let it thaw out completely at room temperature or you will hate me forever for suggesting working with phyllo is easy.

This recipe is simple enough to make for a weeknight dinner and impressive enough to make for company! This dish manages to stay lowercal and adds ground chicken to make it a complete meal. Pair it with a salad dressed with Red Wine Vinegar, a sprinkle of garlic salt, and just a tish of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and you've got yourself a meal you'll want to scream OPA!! after!

Lusciously Lowercal Chicken Spanakopita


Nonstick Cooking Spray (butter or olive oil flavor recommended)
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
1 large Onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 lb Ground Chicken
2 10 oz. packages frozen chopped Spinach, thawed and squeezed to drain liquid
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
dash of Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Dried Oregano (or 1 Tablespoon Fresh)
1/4 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 cup Lowfat or Light Feta Cheese Crumbles
1 cup Egg Beaters
8 oz (9 x 14 in) Phyllo Dough, THAWED COMPLETELY


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Over medium high heat, heat a large skillet and add Olive Oil. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add chicken. Cook until no longer pink, approximately 8 minutes. Add spinach and all spices. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until there is no liquid coming out of the spinach.

Remove the spinach mixture from the heat and set aside while you are working with the phyllo.

Spray a 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Open and unroll the phyllo dough. Place one sheet of phyllo in the bottom of the pan (the dough is nearly paper thin, so be sure to just do one sheet at a time) and spray with cooking spray. Repeat with 9 more sheets of phyllo, making sure to spray with the nonstick spray between layers.

Mix the feta cheese crumbles and the egg beaters into the spinach mixture. Spread this mixture over the the phyllo "crust" in the pan.

Repeat the same phyllo, then cooking spray technique over the top of the spinach mixture with the remaining sheets of phyllo (there should be about 10 sheets remaining).

By the way, if your phyllo sheets tear, don't worry--it doesn't matter at all! Just piece it back together and keep layering.

LISTEN UP! Do not skip this next step or you risk your spinach pie turning into a crumbling mess!

Cut the top layer of phyllo crust into 8 equal pieces BEFORE PLACING IN THE OVEN and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned. You will need to cut your 8 pieces again after baking to cut your bottom crust.

Makes 8 servings, 5 Weight Watchers points per serving.

This is what your pan should look like. Give yourself a few activity points for all the jumping up and down you'll be doing after you taste this dish!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Recipe Flop

Since I always post perfect pictures of excellent recipes (yes, I'm quite modest--or completely delusional), I thought I'd post a picture of a recent flop. After taking Midget to her first carnival on Saturday, I had a massive craving for corn dogs! But I was not ready to spend a day's worth of points to eat a soggy microwaved one at home.

By the way, here's evidence of how much Midget loved the carnival rides.










So, I jumped on the good ol' internets and tried to find a recipe for baked corn dogs. The closest I came to finding a recipe was a baked dairy-free soy corn dog--bleeeeeech!

So I attempted to do one out of my head. This was the result.


I dub thee--PUDDLE DOGS!

Do not attempt this at home, kids.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Garden Goddess

Or as I like to call it, "Ho with a Hoe."

I know you're all laughing with me, not at me, right??

Excuse the blue hue--I'm still getting to know my new camera and I change things and can't remember how to get them back.

Oh! And can you believe how skinny I'm getting?? You may now commence heaping praise (even though I still gots lotsa chunkies). Actually, I don't think I've ever posted a full body pic on here before. Don't even ask for a full body "before" pic--I'm DEFINITELY not going to post one!!




By the way, all my plants are in the garden! Now I just have to have patience. This is not a skill I possess.

Trust me...