Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Double Post - Crafts AND Recipe!

As mentioned in my previous post I have been really busy lately.

For one, a co-worker of mine was RIFed from her job, but luckily got a new one just one floor down. So, as a "new job!" sentiment, I made her a few things:

2 of the 3 of these things we've seen before; the summer scarf and the flower corsage. The new thing is a butterfly pillow, modified from the tutorial on Ruffles and Stuff.

Instead of covering the pillow with felt, I just used a charcoal gray broadcloth because a) it was cheaper and b) I liked the contrast of the gray with pink.

As you can probably tell, this person's favorite color is pink.

I think she appreciated the sentiment. I know she liked the corsage because when she came up to help the person who took over her job, she was wearing it. She says she likes the rest, but she's so nice that you can just never tell. Regardless, I'm happy to have done it.

So, in addition to all of these things, I also made myself a pair of black pants with light yellow pinstripes, and started on a secret project for my boyfriend and my 4-year anniversary (which, obviously I can't talk about because he reads this and it would TOTALLY give away the surprise that, really, he already knows about). And working a full time job. And trying to get started on my teaching stuff. And doing the grad school thing.

BUT. I did find the time to make some food for myself and my well-intentioned-but-often-broke boyfriend. We made taquitos! I adapted the recipe from Rachel Ray's 30 Minue Meals cookbook.


1 rotisserie chicken, meat removed and shredded
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped                                   
2 tsp fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
1 4 oz. can green chiles
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
corn tortillas
vegetable oil (I use canola)

 Heat oven to 375 F. In a skillet/fryingpan/wok/shallow pan of some kind, put in about 1 inch of oil, and heat on medium-low (you don't want the oil to bubble and boil, but be hot). Combine first 8 ingredients. When the oil is hot enough, put in a tortilla to soften it, about 1 minute, turning if needed. The tortilla should bubble a bit, like so:

When the tortilla is soft, take it out of the oil and place it on some paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Then, fill the middle of tortilla with a couple of forkfuls of the meat mixture, like so:

Then wrap it as tightly as you can without tearing the tortilla, and place seam-side down in a baking dish. Repeat until all meat mixture is gone.

You should end up with about 12. When they're all wrapped, put the dish in the 375 degree oven for about 12 minutes, or until hot and crisp on the edges.

Enjoy with chips and homemade salsa.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Snicker Salad? Yes Please!

First off, I apologize for such a delayed post. Although I have many many things to share with you about this past week, between work, switching computers, grad school assignments, crafting/sewing, and the series finale of Lost, I simply haven't had the time. But I will update about all those goings on in another post.

Today, it's all about Snicker Salad. And yes, that's Snickers as in those delicious chocolate nougat caramel peanut candy bars. Yum. It's my contribution to Jack Night tonight (series finale of 24! It's a big week for network TV.).

Snicker Salad

1-2 medium apples, cut into cubes (soak momentarily in lemon juice and water so they keep their color)
2 regular Snickers bars, cut into pieces
1 bag mini marshmallows
1 regular container whipped cream

Mix ingredients.

How easy is that?! Of course the amounts can be increased/diminished based on your preferences. It can be eaten either as a side or a dessert. But I must say, there are few things that delight me more than eating a dessert-like food as a side. This is a summer staple at my grandma's, and she knows that heads will roll if there is no Snicker Salad at a family get together. It just makes me smile.

I suppose if you want to get all fancy you could make your own  sweetened whipped cream, but I'll take the easy route.

Be off and enjoy the easiest and tastiest summer salad ever.

Monday, May 17, 2010


After 4 years of busting my butt and spending the majority of my time away from my loving boyfriend (who, by the way, designed my blog and is still working on the finishing touches - isn't it beautiful?), I finally graduated from K-State this past Saturday.

My grandparents were kind enough to drive all the way from the Chicago area to come see me graduate. They only come here once a year so if I get to see them out of the norm it's quite special. As I mentioned, I made matching blue flower corsages for myself, mom, and grandma, and grandma really liked hers, and liked getting compliments on it.

They said my last name wrong as I walked across the stage. Oh well. I expected it. I'm sure I wasn't the only one whose last name was completely butchered during my 5 seconds of limelight (Why is it called that?).

Dad, grandpa, grandma, and mom waiting for the ceremony to start

All of us (minus the loving boyfriend who took the photo) before we left for Manhattan.

Me with the loving boyfriend (whose name is Garrick, for the record) at Bramlage just before the ceremony. (Can you see the powercat hidden behind us?)

These photos were taken with my mom's iPhone so the quality isn't super awesome. I have some on my camera but I'm not putting anything new on my old computer, I'm just waiting until the new one comes (tomorrow!).

And today: grad school begins. Will I ever be done??

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sauce of the gods

This sauce is soooo good and so easy to make. It's really good just on plain pasta, or REALLY good when you put chicken breasts in a crockpot and put the sauce over them, and just let it cook all day. The chicken is moist and falls apart - I just put the chicken and sauce over pasta. So good.

Creamy Chive Sauce:
1/4 c. butter
1 pkg. Italian Dressing mix
1/2 c. white wine or chicken broth* (I prefer the taste the wine gives)
1 can golden mushroom soup
4 oz. chive and onion creem cheese

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined and smooth.

Alternative: If you don't feel like buying the chive and onion cream cheese, but have regular (or 1/3 reduced fat) cream cheese on hand instead, here's what you do: Cut up 1/4 cup of onion and a couple of tablespoons of fresh chives, or about1 tablespoon dried chives. After you melt the butter, put the onion in and cook it until it is softened, then follow the rest of the directions. Throw the chives in at the last minute and stir them around. (Fun fact: did you know you can buy fresh chives and freeze them? They freeze quite well, which saves you money!)

*I don't recommend using cooking wine. If that's all you have, cut it with chicken broth or water, about half and half.

I have made this several times and I have loved it every time, and so has everyone I have made it for. I didn't take a picture because, honestly, it's not an attractive sauce. It's much like beef stroganoff - it looks like someone threw up on a plate, but it tastes so good.

Happy eating!

By the way - the moms both liked their mother's day presents. I even made a matching blue flower corsage for my grandma, and all three of us are going to wear them on graduation day this Saturday.

Also - my laptop is about to die, thus I'm using it as little as possible, so I might not write much in the next couple of weeks. A new laptop is being made and shipped, though, and I expect it at the end of the month!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

This Mother's Day is a little different than past ones for me. Because I've been student teaching the last 5 months and consequently have been unable to have a paying job for that time but still have to pay money out the wazoo to get licensed to teach, I am on a very strict budget. So for this Mother's Day, in order to save money AND give a thoughtful gift, I made the gifts I'm giving.

I made gifts for my mom and my boyfriend's mom. This is what they are getting:

3 summer scarves a la MADE - one bright blue with polka dots, one off white knit stripe, and one green with floral print. None of these pictures do the fabric or colors any justice. I need to work on my photography skills.

My boyfriend's mom is getting this poppy corsage from the  Grosgrain tutorial:
I did make a few changes to the tutorial as I went along. For one, I didn't want to spend $10 on Fray Stop spray, and didn't want to waste a bunch of hairspray, so I sprayed the fabric with starch after I cut it out and THEN ironed it. I also basted along the edge of each petal in a bright yellow to add a bit of interest. Instead of a felt center, I went with a large yellow button to compliment the yellow thread.

My reason for doing this is that every Mother's Day my boyfriend's mom only wanted a corsage so that everyone would know she's special. Well, given that she now lives several hundred miles away now, giving her a fresh corsage is rather difficult, so we made one that would never wilt.

MY mom gets this corsage, from the tutorial at V and Co.:
And look, I put it on the package in place of a bow:
I liked the way hers turned out so much that I made one for myself. I have no idea what I'm going to do with it, but when I decide it will be there...

I was also going to make my mom a necklace like this but unfortunately the lace appliques that I ordered from Hong Kong have not yet made it to my doorstep. Considering I ordered them early last week, I am rather disappointed with this fact. But to be fair they do have a long way to travel. Luckily her birthday is in just a couple of weeks, so I can give it to her then instead. I'm also making one for myself because I like them so much.

Soon to come: making a make-up bag out of scraps tutorial, the aforementioned necklace, and possibly a tutorial on crocheting.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ongoing Project

I thought I'd share what I have been working on the last couple of months, and will continue to work on in the months to come.

It's an afghan. The base color is brown, and the trim is a lovely bright blue. It's going to be someone's Christmas present (Yes I realize it's May and thus too early to be thinking about Christmas, but I made the mistake last year of starting one of these too late and was scrambling to get it done in the end. So. Christmas. May.).

For this afghan I'm using, quite obviously, an afghan stitch. There are 5 panels - the middle is 42 stitches across, the 2 panels on either side are 24 stitches across, and each panel is 223 rows long. The trim is done with a single crochet.

I'd show an example of a finished project, but I don't have a picture of the one I did for this past Christmas, so, alas, you'll have to wait until I'm done with this one. Aren't the colors great, though?

I'm thinking about putting up a tutorial on how to make this afghan...good idea?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Salsa for Jack Night

 Tonight, and every Monday night, is Jack Night. Jack Night is where my boyfriend's sister, Ilene, has people over to eat and watch episodes of "24" (or "Lost" or "Heroes" in the off-season). Tonight for dinner: burritos in celebration of Cinco de Mayo. My contribution: chips and salsa. Pretty simple, right? Except I really don't like store-bought salsa. It's always too chunky and doesn't have the right flavor - it's almost bland. So I make my own.

A lot of people don't really think to make their own salsa, but it's SO easy and tastes SO much better, and the ingredients are likely ones you have in your pantry anyway. My recipe is based on the flavor profile of On The Border's salsa (the stuff you get in the restaurant, not the stuff they sell in the store). The best thing about salsa is you can adjust it to your own taste - more heat, less heat, more onion, less onion, more garlic, less garlic, etc. So here is my preferred salsa recipe:

Salsa - On The Border Style
  • 1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes in juice
  • 1 14.5 oz. can stewed sliced tomatoes
  • 1/2 to 1 small onoin (vidalia is best), chopped
  • 2 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1-2 Tbsp pickled jalepeno (for less heat, add less or leave out, for more heat, add more)
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Process in a food processor or blender and blend to your desired consistency. For chunky salsa, blend less, or chop your tomatoes by hand and simply add the rest of the ingredients. For smooth salsa, blend longer.

It tastes best once it has been refrigerated for several hours or overnight so that the flavors can marry, but it's good right away too.

This makes a large batch, but you can always can it if you're into that, or freeze it in batches after letting it sit in the fridge for a few hours, although it may have a more watery consistency once thawed. Honestly, I can eat the whole batch by myself within 2 weeks. I love it.

Variations I have made include using lime juice instead of the red wine vinegar, and adding some oregano - about 1 tsp. dried or 1 Tbsp fresh. We have an herb garden at my parent's house so I love using fresh herbs when I can.

And that's all there is to it! Do you have a favorite salsa recipe?