December 13, 2008

Secret Santa and Ordaments

Here are a few of the crafts that I've been working on for gifts over the past few weeks.  I can now post these because I've handed them out.  After Christmas I will have a bunch more if I can ever get them done!

This was a gift I made for my work's secret Santa.  I just used mod podge, paper, and stickers.  It was VERY simple once I figured out what to do.  Unfortunately, I couldn't ask her what her colors were because it was a secret Santa gift.  

In my recipe group this month we all made ornaments to give to one another.  I found these stars at Michael's for 25 cents and then painted them white.  I then used mod podge to put the cute Christmas paper on.  You can't tell from the pictures but the paper has glitter on it.  I just drilled a hole through the top of the star and used thin twine to tie it up.  (Yes, that is my grandma couch from the Goodwill!)
These stars where a very simple ornament to make and if you had specific colors for your tree you could make some cute decorations for next year (or this year if you fast!) I was able to make 12 of these fairly quickly.  

October 29, 2008

Baby Quilts

These are a few quilts that I have recently made.  I've decided I love making baby quilts.  They are small enough that you don't hate them by the time you are done AND you don't have to buy as much fabric which helps when you're on a budget.  

This first one is my latest one.  It is a rag quilt style that I wanted to try out.  I thought the flannel fabric was adorable and according to the Internet it is supposed to be an easier quilt to do (I don't necessarily agree!)  I first decided to do a 1 inch seam allowance because I thought it would look better after I cut it and washed it but when I had planned it out, I only planned for a 1/2 inch seam allowance in my mind.  After I had everything sewn together my quilt was MUCH small than I wanted. I had also noticed that I messed up in a few other areas too. I decided that it was better to rip the quilt apart and do it again than not be happy with the final project.  I am so happy that took the time to make the quilt better because trust me it looks MUCH better.  The quilt itself wasn't too hard but cutting each of the seems on the quilt isn't fun for those of you who are interested in doing your own.  You should see the lint on my floor!
I did this fleece quilt from extra material that I had.  It was supposed to be one of those really fast, just throw together type quilts but I kept doing things that are above my experience level which I then proceeded to mess up on.  This is one of those quilts that I will be fine if it gets dirty because trust me there are a lot of mistakes!

July 11, 2008

Flannel Blanket

I got this great idea for a flannel blanket and decided to make some gifts for family. To make your own double sided flannel baby blanket, you need 1 yard of flannel for the top, 1 yard of flannel for the bottom, and a spool of thread. Cut the two pieces of flannel so they are equal sizes and straight/squared up on all sides. With right sides together, sew all the way around the edges, leaving about a 5 inch hole for turning it right side out. Flip the fabric right side out, push the corners out until they are square, then press the edges smooth and flat using an iron. Using a decorative stitch, sew all the way around the outside of the quilt. This should seal the hole used to turn the quilt right side out. Such a simple but very cute blanket. Thanks Jennifer V. for the idea!

July 8, 2008

Baby Quilt

After finding out that I was pregnant, I was excited to start on a baby quilt. I had a lot of knit fabric left over from my children’s sewing class that I decided to use. After I put the top of the quilt together I decided I didn’t want to tie the quilt so I took it down to my moms over the weekend and we quilted by hand. This was my first time ever quilting and I think that I’m hooked. I’m still not very good at it but the baby quilt still turned out really cute.

May 24, 2008

Chicken and Red Lentil Soup

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 small carrots, finely chopped
2 large ribs celery, finely chopped
½ large onion, sliced
1 ½ cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
¾ cup red lentils
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cups chicken broth
1 ½ teaspoons tomato paste
2 cups water
Sliced green peppers, for garnish

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, curry powder, ginger, cumin, and pepper flakes. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables have softened. Stir in the lentils and place the chicken on top. Add the broth.

In a cup, combine the tomato paste with a small amount of water, then stir into the vegetable mixture. Add the remaining water. Partially cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and the chicken is cooked through.

Remove the pot from the heat. Remove the chicken from the pot, place on a cutting board, and cut into shreds. In a blender or food processor, puree 2 cups of the soup, then return it to the pot, along with the shredded chicken. Evenly divide the soup among 4 serving bowls. Sprinkle the scallion on top for garnish.

Creamy Chicken Paprikash

8 ounces whole wheat linguine
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¾ cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons ground paprika
1 ½ cups broccoli florets
1 cup fat-free sour cream

Prepare the linguine according to package directions. Drain and cover to keep warm. Meanwhile, sprinkle the chicken with the salt and pepper. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the pieces begin to brown. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Add the onion, garlic, and 3 tablespoons of the broth to the skillet. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until the onion is tender. (Add more broth if necessary to prevent burning.) Stir in the paprika and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the remaining broth, then add the chicken and broccoli. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Stir the sour cream into the chicken mixture. Cook, stirring, over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, or until heated through. (Do not boil.) Serve the chicken over the linguine.

May 18, 2008

Cilantro Mayonnaise

This is great for wraps or sandwiches. Roll up turkey, lettuce, peppers and cilantro mayonnaise for a great snack. It is also a really good vegetable dip.

¾ cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
¾ cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 small clove garlic

Place the mayonnaise, cilantro, lime juice, soy sauce, and garlic in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

Chicken in Scallion and Ginger Sauce

½ cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
¼ cup finely chopped green onion
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 pound chicken breasts

Preheat the oven to 400F. Mix the broth, soy sauce, sesame oil, onion, ginger, and garlic in a small bowl. Place the chicken in an ovenproof casserole dish or pan. Drizzle the marinade over the chicken and bake until chicken is cooked through. Flip chicken once during cooking time.

The chicken will developed a stronger taste if it marinated in the sauce in the fridge for a few hours. This recipe is also good with fish.

Savory Chicken Sauté

This is a great summer meal. It is fast and doesn't heat up the kitchen.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
½ cup fat-free chicken broth
pinch salt
pinch ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the chicken breasts in the oil for 4 minutes, then turn them over and add the onion. Cover and cook for 3 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, rosemary, and broth. Cover and cook until the onion is tender-crisp, about 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.

May 13, 2008

Wholesome Oat Muffins

These muffins are great for those who love to eat muffins but don’t want to feel guilty about it. I think they are wonderful and to me they taste very similar to a brown sugar muffin.

¾ cup + 2 tablespoons oats
1 cup buttermilk
1 ¼ cups whole grain flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup canola oil
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup brown sugar substitute
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 425F. Coat a 12-cup nonstick muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper baking cups.
In a small bowl, combine ¾ cup of the oats and the buttermilk. Let soak for 30 minutes. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and walnuts. In a large bowl, stir together the oil, egg, brown sugar substitute, and vanilla until well blended. Stir in the oat mixture. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Do not over mix.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling them about two-thirds full. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons oats over the muffins. Bake for 11 to 15 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Remove to the rack to cool completely. Makes 12 muffins.

Brown Sugar substitute was hard for me to find but I did find some half Splenda half brown sugar with the other Splenda products. I also really like cinnamon so I added another ¼ teaspoon cinnamon to my mix.

May 5, 2008

Vegetarian Chili with Avocado Salsa

Avocado Salsa

  • 1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted and finely chopped
  • 1 small tomato, finely chopped
  • ¼ red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 large lime
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Vegetarian Chili

  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can (14 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained (I prefer more beans so I used 2 cans)
  • 1 can (14 oz) tomatoes
  • 1 can (14 oz) vegetable broth
  • 1 can (4 oz) green chili peppers, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ cup fat-free sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

To make the avocado salsa: In a large bowl, combine the avocado, tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, cumin, and pepper. Lightly toss. Let stand for 30 minutes

To make the vegetarian chili: Meanwhile, heat the oil in a 6 qt. pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Add the beans, tomatoes (with juice), broth, chili peppers, chili powder, garlic, cumin, and oregano and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with the avocado salsa and sour cream. Sprinkle with the cilantro.

When I made this I didn’t have time to make the salsa. I just made guacamole dip out of the avocado, fat-free sour cream and some chili powder and put that on my chili. This recipe doesn’t include meat but that could easily be added. Just cook and cut up some chicken, sirloin or tenderloin (use healthier red meats).