Sunday, October 14, 2012

DIY Cheap Autumn Decoration

You know how I said I'm not a food writer or a photographer?  Yeah, I'm also not a crafter.  I did get bored last night and decided to do something with the construction paper I've had for years.. put up for "someday", I guess.  Here are some autumn-y things I made. (I won't show you the hand-shape turkeys I attempted.  They weren't pretty.)

Halloween craft: Spooky Floating Ghosts

I actually made these guys several years ago, and only used them once.  I went upstairs- where we store all of our junk - last night to get something and found these.. and a possible one-time rodent problem -- yuck!  I brought them down, tore them apart and started over with clean supplies.  I thought it'd be a good opportunity to trick you all into thinking I'm crafty (mwahahaha!) ;)

What you need:

Styrofoam balls - or any lightweight ball. I think mine were about 4" across, but any size will work depending on your desired ghost size. I had these left over from my wedding over 4 years ago.
Plastic grocery bags
A marker
Floral wire or sturdy thread

How to make them:

Start off by cutting off the handles of your plastic bag.  Cover the styrofoam ball with the plastic bag.

Cut out any large logos.  Smaller things can be hidden when you gather the bag.

Cut a strip of plastic (or thread, or wire.. whatever.  The bag handles work well though) and use it to gather the plastic under the ball, tucking in anything you want hidden, and tie.

Draw a spooky face.  I know, mine isn't very spooky.

Tulle, since I forgot to take a picture of it with everything else..

Cut some strips of tulle in the desired length.  Mine were a little longer than the plastic.  Cover your ghost's head with tulle, letting it drape over to form the body.  Secure with a thin strip of tulle.

Cut some strips of floral wire or thread.  Again, this depends on how far you want yours to hang. (I so wish I had a tree to hang mine on!)

Form a hook on each end and put through the tulle (Sorry this picture is upside down)

Secure by twisting or pulling over to close.


Mine blowing in the wind.

Like this idea?  

And here's a cheap remake of a Halloween decoration I didn't think was creepy enough.  This was a bound guy that's motion activated.  He howls and makes all kind of noise trying to get loose.  I wrapped him with store-bought spiderweb.. stuff.. and attached a couple spider.  Now I just need a giant spider web to attach him too..
(ugh, how can I get blogger NOT to flip my pictures when I upload them?)

Guilt-free chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

Yesterday, my 2 year old (which will be lovingly referred to as DD - dear daughter - on this blog) randomly decided she wanted cookies. Of course she does.. because we're out of cookies. I usually am not up for making cookies because I tend to not have the patience for baking. I over- or under-cook a lot of things. I knew we had everything we needed to make cookies, though, and figured I could find a "healthy" recipe.

I looked through my Jessica Seinfeld cookbook but didn't have the chickpeas I'd need, so I went to Pinterest. I found these: World's Healthiest Chocolate Chip Cookies.  (Also I'm pretty sure Chocolate Covered Katie is going to become a new favorite food blog!  Healthy desserts?  I'm sold!)

Because I don't want to inadvertently claim credit for this - or any - recipe by reposting on my blog, click the link above for the original recipe. Here is how I made the cookies:

I used 1/4c. whole wheat flour and 1/3c. unbleached all-purpose flour
I didn't measure how much chocolate chips I used, I just poured my bag of mini chocolate chips until it looked like enough
I used brown sugar, white sugar and melted Best Life Buttery Spread
I also added about a tablespoon of flax seed and a handful (1/3c?) of old-fashioned oats.

I made 9 cookies.

I didn't chill the dough but the cookies still came out soft and delicious.  Even my picky husband loves these!

Nutrional Info*
Guilt-free Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Calories: 98
Total Fat: 3g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Sodium: 81mg
Potassium: 17mgCarbs: 17g
Fiber: >1g
Sugars: 9g
Protein: 2g

Friday, October 12, 2012

Slow Cooked Chicken Pot Pie

Last night I tried a recipe for something I've never made before:  Chicken pot pie.  I and my husband really like chicken pot pie but most recipes I've looked at called for cream of chicken soup, and just the idea of "cream of" soup turns me off - bad experience once, so I try not to use them.  I also don't like making pie crust because I usually have no luck rolling out dough - I just don't have the patience for it.

I found this recipe for slow-cooker chicken pot pie that uses chicken broth, flour and milk for the sauce, and figured I'd give it a try.  I had originally planned to have my husband make the pie crust, but he wouldn't be home until later, so I thought I'd just throw Pillsbury biscuits on top.  I nixed that idea and just made a pie crust myself.  I knew my two year-old would want to help, so I figured why not give it a shot.  (Woo-hoo.. I didn't even mess it up!)

As usual, I did make some changes to the recipe.  Obviously, I used a homemade pie crust (The recipe in the Better Home and Gardens cookbook is my go-to) instead of pre-made.  I added green beans - all veggies were fresh from the garden - and a little more chicken broth and milk to make up for the extra solids.    I had cooked a few chicken breast in the crock pot and shredded them up earlier in the week.  Some of it went for chicken salad and the rest went in the freezer.   For this recipe, I just threw in as much frozen chicken as I wanted.  I also sprinkled with pepper (I love pepper) and a little Seasoned Salt.

After reading the comments on the original recipe, I mixed in a little cornstarch (about 1/2t. for my halved recipe).  I also did not put the pie crust on the mixture in the crock after reading comments.  Once the mixture was cooked, I transferred it to a casserole dish, covered it with the crust, cut some slits for venting and baked it at about 400 degrees until the crust was flaky and slightly browned (because I usually burn my pie crust!)

Here's a tip:  Do not cut into this right away.  Let it sit for a few minutes to thicken up.

This was very good!  I wasn't sure how it'd turn out since I'd never used fresh green beans or peas in a slow-cooked recipe.  Everything turned out perfectly!
Nutrional Info*
Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie
Calories: 315
Total Fat: 10g
Saturated Fat: 4g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g
Cholesterol: 40mg
Sodium: 493mg
Carbs: 37g
Fiber: 4g
Sugars: 7g
Protein: 17g

*Nutritional info is approximate, is calculated using MyFitnessPal, and accounts for all revisions/substitutions made.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hassleback potatoes: take two

Okay, so I tried that Hassleback Potatoes recipe again last night.  I forgot to add butter this time *sigh* but it was delicious anyway!  I just pulled it apart and ate it with my fingers.  This is definitely a Pinned recipe that's being moved onto my "favorite recipes" board.


This is usually the time of year my husband loves and I dread: Pear and apple canning time.  Don't get me wrong, I love having canned and frozen foods that we grew - or at least picked - ourselves*, and had total control over every ingredient added.  I just don't like all the prep work.  Peeling, slicing, washing jars, finding rings, waiting forever for our canning to boil, and so on.  About 3/4 of the way through the process, I get on board and get excited too.  Up until that point, I'm pretty much an unwilling participant.

We have about 13 quarts of canned pears at the moment - we filled a large laundry basket from a neighbor's Pear tree in exchange for some of our garden goodies - as well as peaches from last year.  (Never again - I hate canning peaches!)  We also grew our own pumpkins, which were roasted, pureed and frozen.  And applesauce.. oh boy, do we have applesauce!

About a month ago, Husband and I went to his aunt and uncle's house to pick their "leftover" apples (whatever is left after they and their kids get what they want - and we're happy to do it!)  We brought home about 35lbs.  I'm not exactly sure what types they have, but there's a tree with reddish apples and a tree with yellowish apples (helps, right?)  After I complained a bit about having to make applesauce, we started.  We got 9 quarts of applesauce from that batch.  I didn't want to can the applesauce, so I froze it in gallon bags - 6 cups per bag.

Then Wal-Mart had a sale on Golden Delicious apples that my husband couldn't resist.  So he bought more apples. They sat around for a while until we finally got motivated enough to make more applesauce.. which was last night.

Making applesauce is a lot easier than you may think.  Here's how to do it:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A tasty Pinned meal

Here is an example of a full meal planned with Pinterest. I know the picture isn't very pretty because I
used my phone rather than my digital camera - not that it's much better sometimes - so I apologize for that. Anyway, I had to post this because these pork ribs were amazing!

My husband usually like to use certain sauces on his ribs, and he had planned to grill these pork spare ribs. However, he'd decided to go play golf or something (my how my memory is short these days!) and I didn't want to wait around for him so I hopped on Pinterest to search for BBQ pork ribs. What I found now has a permanent place in my recipe book.

These ribs were moist and the sauce was bone-sucking good.  (I kid you not: I literally sucked the sauce off one of the ribs before my husband threw them to the dogs)  I like nice sticky ribs, and these were definitely that!  I did make a couple changes:
1. I used vinegar because I didn't have lemon juice.  I figured it wouldn't matter since it was probably the acidity needed, not the lemon flavor; it didn't seem to matter.
2. I threw in some sliced onions before baking simply because I love onions.  (I'm sure glad my love for garlic and onions didn't scare away my husband.)
3. I didn't use garlic salt and salt.  We aren't big salt junkies, so we were fine with just the garlic salt.


The noodles are Taste of Home's Parmesan Herbed Noodles. We're kind of on a whole-grains kick and I didn't want to use the egg noodles called for in the recipe, BUT I did have egg noodles to use.. and proably the last of our fresh basil (left out the thyme).  I liked them, my husband needed more flavor. (I threw together a similar side dish last night with whole wheat shells.. but they were a little bland.  My husband actually reheated his with milk and Velveeta *sigh*)

The Hassleback potatoes looked yummy, but I didn't cook them long enough.  I won't give my opinion on those until I give them a fair shot.

This was not exactly a "healthy" meal, but the ribs were a worthy splurge.

Nutrional Info*
BBQ Pork Ribs (Calculated as about a 5-ounce serving)
Calories: 455
Total Fat: 20.6g
Saturated Fat: 7.6g
Monounsaturated Fat: 7.4g
Cholesterol: 82.4mg
Sodium: 290.2mg
Carbs: 49g
Sugars: 46g - yowza!
Protein: 20.4g
Parmesan Herbed Noodles (As a side dish, I calculated these as 1/2c. servings)
Calories: 200
Total Fat: 14.7g
Saturated Fat: 4.7g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.3g
Monounsaturated Fat: 6.7g
Cholesterol: 15mg
Sodium: 106.7mg
Potassium: 9.2mg
Carbs: 13.7g
Sugars: 1g
Protein: 4.7g

Hasselback Potatoes (info only for one 5oz potato, not including the drizzle of olive oil, garlic or pad of butter I used)
Calories: 139
Total Fat: 0
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 21mg
Potassium: 1645mg
Carbs: 3g
Fiber: 7g
Sugars: 3g
Protein: 8g

*Nutritional info is approximate, is calculated using MyFitnessPal, and accounts for all revisions/substitutions made when I made these dishes.


Well, I couldn't stay away from the blogging world for too long.  If you were one of the handful of followers I had at well, this blog probably won't be a whole lot different.  Maybe a little more interesting.. I hope. 

Because I'm slightly addicted to Pinterest, I decided I'd start a blog again and use it to share my favorite pinned recipes and projects (You know, if I ever feel creative and start a project.) I love pinning things - yes, mostly food stuffs - and then sharing the good stuff.  This will be my place to do that.. instead of boring my Facebook friends to death with pictures of food.

So this is it.  My new "place".  I'm still getting settled in, so don't mind the mess. :)