Sunday, October 13, 2013

Caramel Corn

When I think of caramel corn, I think of fall.  That’s when my mom made it at our house when I was a kid.  And since I have been seeing spider lilies like crazy for a few weeks (a symbol that fall is coming to the south!), I decided to make caramel corn.  Well, it was also Movie Night at our house and we usually have popcorn.  So this week we had caramel corn!
Since my mom couldn’t find her recipe and I couldn’t find mine…and I had some delicious caramel corn my friend Emily made…and I had asked her for her recipe months ago, I used her recipe.   
It’s easy (though a bit time consuming but it’s not bad) and the rewards are worth it!  This recipe makes a ton so I usually make half. 

1 ½ sticks butter
1 ½ cups firmly-packed brown sugar
1 cup light or dark corn syrup (I’ve used pancake syrup too)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
6 quarts popped corn (you can use natural microwave popcorn or air pop the corn; I use my microwave by putting about 3 tablespoons corn in a small paper lunch sack, fold over twice and use the microwave’s popcorn setting.)

Melt butter in medium saucepan; stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to boil, stirring constantly; boil without stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in soda and vanilla. Gradually pour over popped corn, mixing well. Turn into 2 large, shallow baking or roasting pans. Bake @ 250 for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven, cool completely. Break apart and store in tightly-covered container. Makes about 5 quarts.

You can mix chex cereal and/or Cheerios in with the popcorn.  I would think dry roasted peanuts would work too.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Miniature Quiche

Makes about 36 quiche

¾ cup margarine or butter, melted
1 ½ cups flour
Stir together and press into 36 miniature muffin cups.  I used a small cookie scoop to scoop uniform sized amounts of dough and then divided the dough balls in half for each muffin cup.  I then used a tart maker dipped in flour (from Pampered Chef).  This is an inexpensive tool that’s quite helpful!  I still have to form the dough on up the upper part of the sides of the pan but it doesn’t take very long to do this.

6-8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
3-4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (you can use any cheese; I will try Swiss next!)
4 eggs
2/3 cup whole milk
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Divide the crumbled bacon among the muffin cups.  Add a little cheese.  Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper.  Make sure this mixture is mixed together extremely well.  Carefully pour mixture over the cheese and bacon (I used a one cup measure cup with a nice spout), about 2/3 full.
Bake at 325 for 10-20 minutes or until set.  Serve warm.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

How I Fixed a Paint-Stained Shirt

My middle daughter’s favorite shirt was ruined with paint. She was heartsick! I decided to try to redeem it and the only thing I could come up with was covering the spots. I think it worked well! The spots are covered (though the shirt may now be considered “tacky”), I had the supplies on hand, and she loves the “revised” shirt! Her older sister has even requested that I put something on her favorite shirt. Now I have to start making little flowers to embellish her Dora T-shirt. LOL

This is how the shirt looked with the pain spots (you can’t really see the two smaller spots, but they were very visible in person!):

I made a paper pattern:

I traced the pattern pieces onto the fabric (in this case, yellow gingham) using a water soluble marker. Then I sewed over the lines (doubling the fabric, right sides together) completely (not leaving an open place for turning):

Then I cut around the pieces (about 1/8 of an inch), clipping the corners diagonally and cutting
notches around the circle.  Then I used a ripper-outer to slice a slit in the middle of the back so that I could turn the piece out from there.  I then turned the pieces right side out and ironed them flat.
I discovered that the largest paint spot could be seen through the pieces so I decided to place a piece of fusible batting under the appliqués. This was a terrific idea! It gave the pieces a quilted look! I then ironed the pieces and batting in place, then sewed them in place by hand.

Finished project (as you can tell, I nixed one of the rays…it just seemed there wasn’t room):

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

My dear friend Lisa gave me this recipe.  It’s a very unique cookie recipe and so yummy.  They are decadent and very soft—almost like eating cake!

1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Beat butter and sugar until creamy.  Add pumpkin and egg, mix well.  In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Gradually add to pumpkin mixture, mix with mixer.  If dough gets too stiff, stir by hand.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-11 minutes or until set.  Drizzle icing on top of warm cookies.

3 tablespoons butter
4 teaspoons milk
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup powdered sugar
¾ teaspoons vanilla

Cook first 3 ingredients over low-medium heat until melted.  Add powdered sugar and vanilla.  Beat well.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Easy Zipper Pouch

I saw this on a sewing show one Saturday. I knew I had some zippers that were recycled (free!) that I could use. They came off of the packages that contained some curtains my mom bought and she was going to throw them away! Thankfully I saved them and used them for this! I was also able to buy some coordinating fabric on clearance. Since it doesn’t require much fabric, this was a cheap project!

I’ll try my best to describe and show you how I made this pouch.

Don’t worry if you’re not good at zippers. I’m not either. Because this is a flat project, doing the zippers isn’t really that bad.

Size of fabric used depends on the size you need. I just took some paper, folded and cut it to the approximate size and added about an inch to each side. My finished product was large enough to hold a 4x6 card in the folded pocket area, to give you an idea of size (see top picture).

PICTURE DISCLAIMER: I made two pouches (one lined, one unlined), which may cause a bit of confusion when comparing the pictures. They were made with the same fabrics, just turned differently.

You will need…

Two zippers (mine were about 9 inches long)

Two pieces of fabric that coordinate but are different (mine were 10 ½ inches x 8 inches)

Two pieces of heavy weight interfacing (mine wasn’t fusible—but it would be helpful if it was) This isn’t totally necessary if your fabric is thick or if you line it (I used it with the unlined project; didn’t with the lined project). I admit the lined project could have used a lightweight interfacing but it’s okay without.

1 inch wide strip of coordinating fabric, about 15 inches long, depending on your pouch height

Safety pins, straight pins, thread, sewing machine, ripper-outer (if you are recycling zippers), etc.

This is how my zippers started out.


This is how they turned out after removing them from the plastic packaging.

The two fabric panels, two pieces of interfacing, and fabric strip.

If using fusible interfacing, fuse the pieces to the wrong sides of the fabric panels. Place one zipper face down on the right side of the fabric panel, pin in place. Using the zipper foot, sew on the zipper.

If lining, place the lining and the outside pieces wrong sides together, place one zipper face down on the right side of the outside fabric panel and proceed.

Trim the fabric and interfacing (or lining) under the zipper. This will ensure that there are no raw edges after you have sewn the zipper down. Forgive my terrible cutting ability here, please. Repeat with other fabric panel so you end up with two fabric panels end-to-end with a zipper down the middle. Then repeat the process by attaching the second zipper to a panel, then to the other side.

You may find it necessary to unzip the zipper to allow you to work on the project easier. If you do this and there is not a “stopper” on the end of the zipper (mine didn’t have one), place a safety pin at the end of the zipper (pinned across the zipper part) so it doesn’t unzip all the way. I did this because I didn’t know how I would fix the zipper if it unzipped completely.

Sew the zipper down (sew on top of the fabric while holding the zipper down), being sure to catch the edge of the zipper fabric.

This is how it looks underneath. Not perfect, but no raw edges either!

Both zippers installed:

Lined project:

Turn the project right-side out, holding a zipper in each hand. Fold one zipper over and decide where you want the fold to be, offsetting it so you have different heights (see final picture to help with this). Then, using a ruler and a water soluble pen, mark a line, then sew across it (this will ensure that when you put something in one zipper compartment, it won’t “travel” to the other one).

Fold the pouch along the line you just sewed. If you need to even up the sides, use a straight edge, mark each side, then cut. Sew the strip of fabric onto the front of the pouch.

Trim the edge.

From the back of the pouch, fold the fabric strip over the raw edges, folding the raw edge of strip inward. You can sew this down by hand. If you want to machine sew it, sew the strips on from the back first, fold over and sew on the machine from the front. Be sure to completely cover raw edges on the bottom and that you’re sewing right up to the end of the zipper.

These are the finished projects. I gave one away and I’m using mine in my purse. It seems that pens, grocery list, note pad, tea bags, and gum end up in the bottom of my purse. Here they are contained in one pouch for easy access.

I had a some extra long strips leftover so I decided to make these cute pouches for the girls (with just one pocket, no zippers). Perfect for a travel art set (3x5 cards and a few colored pencils). 


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Well, I've joined the ranks of making my own laundry soap. Honestly I was concerned that just a few tablespoons of homemade soap couldn’t possibly get our clothes clean. My husband comes home with steel dust and other nasty stuff on his clothes from work. I never figured there was any way his clothes would come clean!

How wrong I was!

I admit my main reason for making my own is cost. For about $14, I can make the equivalent of 8 small boxes (or more) of Gain detergent. Even if I bought the Gain on a great sale and had a good coupon, I’m still $10+ ahead! 

I make one huge batch and have it for a couple of months! It only takes a few minutes to make.

Admittedly, the hardest thing about it is grating the soap. I use a hand grater and it doesn’t take long.

I found all the items at Wal-Mart.

1 - 4 lb. 12 oz. box Borax
2 - 3 lb. 7 oz. boxes Washing Soda
2 ½ bars Fels Naptha laundry soap, grated on small holes of cheese grater

Mix all together.  (I usually pour two cups each of Borax and Washing Soda then 1 cup Fels Naptha into my container, stir, repeat).

Use 2-4 tablespoons per load, depending on size and how dirty the clothes are (for my husband’s clothes, I use 3 heaping tablespoons).

If you want to try it out without making a big batch (this is what I did at first), stir together 2 parts borax and washing soda and 1 part grated laundry soap.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Banana Cake with Caramel Icing

This is an easy cake to make and a great way to use those over-ripe bananas.  I oftentimes buy the “clearance” or “day old” bananas.  Most of the time my family will eat them before they get too mushy.  But for those occasions that they don’t, I either mash them up and freeze them in freezer bags or I make this cake (or Lyn's banana nut bread or no-sugar fudgsicles). 

The cake pairs well with a cream cheese icing as well.  I just prefer the caramel icing.  I also prefer this cake warm.  Of course it’s good cold too.

2 cups flour
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup mashed ripe banana
½ cup buttermilk or sour milk (I put ½ tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice in a half cup measuring cup and add enough milk to fill, set aside for 5 minutes)
½ cup shortening
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir together four, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Add banana, milk, shortening, eggs, and vanilla. Mix with mixer for 3 minutes or until it’s smooth and fluffy.

Pour into two round cake pans that have been greased and floured. You can use a 9x13 but you may have to bake it longer. Place in a 350 degree preheated oven. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until done (when a toothpick comes out clean).

Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Place the layers on cake racks to cool a bit. When using a 9x13, I just leave it in the pan (glass pan, not metal).

At this point I start the icing.


6 tablespoons salted butter (no substitutes)
6 tablespoons milk (preferably whole)
6 tablespoons white sugar
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar (you can use light, the taste will just be milder—I used light in the pictures provided)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted

Place the butter and milk in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. When the butter is almost melted, add the white sugar and brown sugar. Whisk to blend and continue cooking until it starts to boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla. Add the powdered sugar and whisk until smooth.

Slowly pour ¼ cup of icing over the cake (I start in the center and move outwards), continuing with ¼ cup at a time until cake is covered. I usually do ¼ cup on one cake, do ¼ cup on the other, switching back and forth. It gives the icing a chance to harden a bit. It seems like when you pour it all on the cake at once, most of it runs off the sides.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Egg Teacups

Do you have extra plastic eggs lying around the house?  I saw this idea in the Family Fun Magazine.  Since Josie got a huge package of buttons for her birthday and we had an excess of plastic eggs after the egg hunt Saturday, I decided to make some bowls and teacups for the girls to play with (because though they have several, there's never enough! LOL). 

Simply hot glue a button to the bottom of an egg half.  You can add a pony bead or another button for a handle (some eggs get side-heavy so the beads seem to work best).  Or don't add a handle at all.

You can embellish them with stick-on gems, foam stickers, sequins (use glue dots to add them), permanent markers, etc.  When I saw how excited the girls were about having more teacups and bowls, I decided to forgo the embellishments (we may do so later). 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Lemon Bar Trifle (Taste of Home)

I got this recipe several years ago from a Taste of Home Magazine.  It's not complicated, it just requires some time and attention.  The nice thing about it is you make everything ahead of time and then assemble at the last minute.  It's easy to assemble.  It's elegant.  And it's very rich and yummy!  Everyone raves when I make it.  I made it recently for my mom's retirement party and I had several people come up to me telling me it was delicious.  My mom also received compliments on it.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup butter, melted

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed

1-1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1-3/4 cups cold water
3 egg yolks, beaten
2/3 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
4 teaspoons grated lemon peel (I never put this In)

In a small bowl, combine flour and pecans; stir in butter. Press into an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Crumble the baked pecan mixture; set aside 1/2 cup for topping.

In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and flour. Stir in water until smooth. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; cook and stir 2 minutes longer.

Remove from the heat. Stir a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Put back on the heat and bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Gently stir in the lemon juice, butter and lemon peel.

Transfer to a large bowl. Cool to room temperature without stirring. Cover surface with waxed paper; refrigerate until chilled.

Just before serving, in a 3-qt. trifle bowl, layer 1 cup each pecan mixture, lemon mixture and cream cheese mixture. Repeat layers twice. Sprinkle with reserved pecan mixture. Refrigerate leftovers.

This isn't very good leftover (the crust gets soggy). So only assemble what you plan to use.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Homemade Doughnuts

Chocolate Glazed Doughnuts
I have tried doughnuts before but they were cake doughnuts and not very good.  I gave up for a few years but have always wanted to try yeast doughnuts.  I was encouraged after successfully making beignets so I decided to try a Southern Living doughnut recipe that I (of course!) modified. 

They are not hard but plan on them taking about 2 hours to make.  This is a once-in-awhile weekend treat at our house.

1 package rapid rise yeast
2 tablespoons warm water (105-115 degrees)
¾ cup warm milk (105-115 degrees)
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons shortening
¾ teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
Canola Oil

Sprinkle the yeast into large mixing bowl.  Add the warm water and whisk until smooth.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Add the warm milk, sugar, shortening, salt and egg.  Whisk well.  Add 1 ½ cups flour and whisk vigorously (you can mix with mixer but it’s not necessary) until smooth.  Stir in the rest of the flour.  The dough will be sticky.  Cover the bowl and allow to rise until doubled (a cold oven with the light on is perfect for this), about 1 hour.

Remove dough from bowl onto floured surface.  Knead a few times.  Roll to about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut with doughnut cutter (or round cutter and the large end of a decorating tip to make hole).  Place on lightly floured tray and place in the oven with the light on.  Allow to rise for 30 minutes.

About 20 minutes into the second rising, place enough oil in a large pan to measure 2-3 inches deep.  Heat the oil to 350 degrees (I use medium on my stove).  You want to only cook each side about 1 minute so adjust the heat accordingly.  You do not want to overcook them so be careful.  It’s amazing how quickly they cook!

Drain the doughnuts on a wire rack over a cookie sheet.  Dip them into the glaze while still warm.  I usually make the glaze during the first rising and just set aside.  Sprinkle with sprinkles if desired.

1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of salt
Milk (1-3 tablespoons)
Combine ingredients.  Add more powdered sugar if it’s too thin.

Chocolate Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of salt
Milk (1-3 tablespoons)
Combine ingredients.  Add more powdered sugar if it’s too thin.

Cut out and rising.

These are ready to come out!  You don't want them darker than this.

Plain glazed doughnuts--forgive the color, I got heavy-
handed with the Mexican vanilla and it made the glaze dark.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Yard Toy from 2 Pallets

My husband wanted to make the girls a yard toy that he could pick up and move when mowing or just to move it to another part of the yard.  He discovered that a local business had pallets for free so he picked some up and made this yard toy!  The girls love it!
One of two hinges, looking down from the top.

Looking up from underneath.

He added a chain so it wouldn't slide out from under the kids.

The finished product!  He hand sanded the edges a bit so hopefully they don't get splinters.

Cabbage Casserole

Before Baking
After Baking

This is probably one of the most unique things I’ve made. Austin told me about this casserole he had years ago at a family member’s house. I gave it a try and he said it was a keeper recipe with a couple of changes (included). I baked this in a normal 9x13 but Austin said to double the amount of cabbage and I don’t think my pan will be deep enough for all of that. So, if you do use a full head of cabbage, be sure to put it in a deeper or larger pan.

1 head cabbage, roughly chopped (I did half head but it wasn’t enough)
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 pound hamburger meat, cooked, drained, fixed with taco seasoning
1 packet taco seasoning plus water needed for directions on package
1 pound Polk’s sausage (or preferred smoked sausage), cut into 3-inch logs, split down middle
1 pound carrots, peeled (you can leave them whole or chop them)
½ stick butter (the original recipe called for 1 full stick but it was too much)

Spray a deep dish 9x13 or larger pan with non-stick cooking spray. Layer the items in the pan in order as they appear in the recipe. Dot the butter on top. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 for about 1 ½ hours or until carrots are tender.

This can also be done on the grill but I honestly wouldn’t know how to tell you to do it!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Beef Enchiladas (leftover roast)

I’m always wanting ways to use roast that’s been leftover. This is probably my favorite so far! You can use canned enchilada sauce if you don’t want to make your own. The night I made these I didn’t have any so I just made some. Turned out really well! Sorry my instructions and recipe are kind of vague.

The flour tortillas in the kit were somewhat small so if you buy them separately, you may not be able to fill 10 large ones. Although mine were pretty full of meat.

Old El Paso soft taco kit (10 flour tortillas, taco sauce, and taco seasoning which you won’t use)
2 cups tomato sauce
Garlic powder to taste (just sprinkle some in)
Cumin powder to taste (about 1 teaspoon)
Chili powder to taste (about 1 ½ teaspoons)
Black pepper to taste (just sprinkle some in)
¾ cup water
Leftover beef roast (I used half of a 2 ½ pound roast, cooked), cut into chunks
2 cups cheese (I used a mixture of sharp cheddar and marbled Colby/Monterey Jack), shredded

Place the sauce, spices, water, taco sauce from kit, and beef in a medium saucepan over low-medium or medium heat. Cook for about 15 minutes or until beef has shredded apart and mixture is somewhat thick. Strain the meat, reserve the sauce.

Pour enough sauce into greased 11x7 pan to coat bottom. Stir 1 cup cheese into the beef. Fill the flour tortillas and roll up, placing them into the pan seam side down. I had to place two enchiladas sideways down the long side of the pan. Pour the rest of the sauce over the enchiladas. Top with cheese. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Old Fashioned Blueberry Muffins

I never was very successful at making muffins.  That was until I located this recipe on one of our blueberry picking trips to Johnson Blueberry Farm.  The owners have a file box there with recipes the customers can take home.  I grabbed a muffin sheet and the first recipe on it is the one I'm sharing with you.  The recipe is easy, uses items I have on hand, and yummy.  Try this recipe, and I bet you'll never make boxed blueberry muffins again!

1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar (if blueberries are a little tart, add an extra 2 tablespoons sugar)
1 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.  Whisk egg, milk, and oil in a small mixing bowl.  In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened (some lumps will remain).  Fold in blueberries and put int muffin pan.  Bake 15-20 minutes or until browned.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Stained Glass Cookies


I know I’m late in posting this for Christmas but I figured I could post in time for Valentine’s Day.

We used the basic Wilton sugar cookie recipe (something sturdy, not soft).  Bake on foil until almost done.  Add crushed hard candy (we used Jolly Ranchers, put in ziplock baggie and beat with a hammer) to the cut-out spot.  Return to oven until candy is melted.  Allow to cool completely.  Peel off foil.  Easy and beautiful!

If you want to hang them, be sure to use a straw to poke a hole in the top of them before baking.
This was the day my kids thought I was amazing.  Oh, and we were able to learn about how heat melts things, an added bonus!  It’s sooo fun watching those candies melt! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Washer Necklaces

I got this idea from Family Fun Magazine--a very useful, well-worth-the-money magazine we get (a gift from my mom).  I made some of these for nursery workers, teachers at church, and grandmothers.  I hope to make some more soon.  They were something the two older girls could help with, so that should tell you how easy it was!  It was also pretty inexpensive.

What you need:
Washers (any size will do)
Nail polish
Ribbon (about 30 inches per necklace, depending on how long you want them)

I had to put about 2-3 coats of a background color on each washer.  Then I used another color or colors to paint a design on them.  I used different sized paint brushes and simply swished them in nail polish remover afterwards and washed with soap and water.  I was extremely pleased with the outcome!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings is one meal that my entire family loves.  I actually have kids standing at the stove begging for some!  When I announce that we’re having chicken and dumplings, I usually hear cheers!  This may seem like nothing to you but to me it’s huge (I have some picky kids).

I’m sorry but this is not really a healthy meal.  It’s southern comfort at its best. 

I use my food processor for this and have never tried not using it.  If you don’t have one, try just cutting in the fat and stirring the rest in.

This adapted from Cook's Country (Chicken with Slicks).

2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons of chicken fat (rises to top of cooled broth after you boil chicken that has skin on it), if you don’t have chicken fat, use shortening or *gasp* bacon grease
1 tablespoon oil
½ cup warm chicken broth

Process in flour and salt in food processor.  In a measuring cup with spout, add the chicken fat, oil, and broth.

Slowly add liquid to food processor while processing.  Process until incorporated.  Remove dough from processor.  Roll half of dough at a time on floured surface to 1/8 inch.  Cut into 1 inch thick strips (I use a pizza cutter for this), about 4-6 inches long.  Line a large plate with wax paper and place a single layer of dumplings on it, place another sheet of wax paper over them and repeat with more dumplings and wax paper.  Freeze for 10-30 minutes.

4 ½ cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
Chicken:  cooked and pulled apart (I usually do about two chicken breasts and this is plenty of meat)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Warm broth in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until simmering.  Add the dumplings, stirring while adding.  Add  milk and return to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low-medium and cook about 30-45 minutes or until the dumplings are desired doneness (not tough), stirring often to prevent sticking.

I usually add the milk with the broth before adding the dumplings but it tends to boil over so you can do that, just be careful.

Serve with corn bread and a veggie.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Wall Calendar for less than $10

I wanted a big wall calendar that the kids could help me update every month and add holidays, birthdays, etc.  I saw them for more-than-I-wanted-to-spend and decided to tackle making my own from the things I already had. 
It was one of those projects I put off for a few months.  I think I was scared to do it.  Ha!  It finally occurred to me one day that if I messed it up, it wasn’t like I had a ton of money invested in it so it wouldn’t be a big deal.  It took me one afternoon to do it and I was pretty pleased with the results.  It’s certainly not perfect but it fits our needs and most importantly, the girls love it!
I measured the elements and figured out the layout.  I sewed a very simple background (two pieces of fabric since it was pretty thin, hemmed the edges, and sewed a placket for the dowel to fit through).  Using a water-soluble fabric pen, I marked where I wanted to sew the lines.  Then I laid one single sheet of clear vinyl over the top, pinning at the far edges just to keep it held in place, and sewed over the lines I had marked.  I then cut away the excess vinyl.  I felt like using a whole sheet of vinyl was much easier than trying to cut and sew individual pieces. 
It was my first experience with sewing clear vinyl and I admit it was a little difficult at times but once I got used to it, it wasn’t so bad.
Here’s what I used:
Blue and white striped fabric I bought at Hudson’s years ago (probably $1 a yard)
A dowel (for 80something cents at Wal-Mart)
Calendar elements from Dollar Tree (a background, month banners, and numbers with holidays) in three different packs for a total of $3
Two different packs from Dollar Tree (day of the week and weather) for a total of $2
Some clear vinyl from Wal-Mart for $2 a yard

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Last week it snowed here.  For those who live where it normally snows, our little 1 inch dusting wouldn’t be a big deal.  For those who live in the deep south and are accustomed to snow being a rarity, understand just how excited we were! 

The bad thing (or good thing, depending on how you look at the situation!) is that snow around here rarely lasts more than a day.  Such was the case Thursday.  By the time we played in it, came in, got warm and dry, and went back out, it was starting to melt and turning into a muddy mess!  My children were pretty distraught.  So I decided since I had to make cookies for a funeral at church the next day, I would include the kids and we would make snowballs!  Of course until we dipped the first tray of them into the powdered sugar, my kids kept saying “These don’t look like snowballs!”  But then after the first dipping, they nodded their heads and said (quite emphatically!), “Snowballs!”  And so we ended our snow day with getting “snow” (powdered sugar) all over our kitchen while making snowballs.  Of course, these tasted a bit better than the real ones. 

Here’s the recipe.  It’s from Land O’ Lakes and I later discovered my mom’s recipe is the
same except hers calls for ¼ cup powdered sugar in the cookies instead of granulated
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
Powdered sugar

Heat oven to 325°F. Beat the butter and sugar, add the flour and mix until combined.  Mix in the pecans.  Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 18-25 minutes or until very lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes; roll in powdered sugar while still warm and again when cool.

J's hands helping!

A's hands helping!

Beignets (Cook's Country)

finished product

Cutting them out

I have never tried making beignets. I admit that I've been afraid of them. I don't have a problem making yeast breads but beignets seem so...well, difficult! Also, I figured I couldn't possibly do them for breakfast...yeast stuff takes so long! 

Then I received my Cook's Country magazine the other day with beignets on the cover.  I immediately turned to the recipe and looked at the ingredients and realized I had everything in the house to make them.  I even had a reason to make them (a friend came over for supper and I know I can always try new stuff on her)!  I just couldn't do it. 

So this morning I was up at 4:30 and while I was working in the kitchen, I realized I would have time to make them to go with Austin's breakfast!  Then I discovered I only had ingredients for half a batch which turned out to be perfect for us!  Especially since I burned a few at first.

I’m a tea drinker but I admit to making myself a cup of café au late this morning to go with these!  It just felt right.

I'm sorry I don't have a picture to prove I made them.  I can promise you they were ugly but they were so light and airy—simply perfect!  They were gone pretty quickly since my girls woke up early this morning.  So, no time to snap a picture.  I'll try to next time I make them.

The dough is pretty sticky so be sure to flour your rolling surface well.  Also, don’t drain on paper towels, simply put a cake wire rack over a cookie sheet!

1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon instant or rapid rise yeast (you'll need two packets--one is almost enough but not quite)
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons oil (more for frying in)

3 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar

Combine 1 tablespoon sugar, yeast, and water in bowl.  Stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy (it'll look like the yeast has risen to the top).  Whisk the eggs and oil into the yeast mixture.  Combine the flour, rest of the sugar, and salt in a separate bowl.  Add to the yeast and egg mixture and stir vigorously to combine.   Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (or a lid if the bowl has one).  Refrigerate 1 hour.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator.  Divide dough into two parts.  Pat into a rough rectangle on floured rolling surface.  Roll with a rolling pin to about ¼ inch thick.  Cut into 3 inch squares (I did them smaller and they lost their shape due to not having enough flour!) and fry in oil at 350 degrees (I just had my burner on medium) until golden, turn to cook other side. 

Remove to a wire rack that’s been placed over a cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar immediately.  Serve.

NOTE:  Admittedly we've discovered we prefer them with a simple cocoa, powdered sugar, milk icing.