Sunday, November 27, 2011

Etsy Custom Stamp

I love these custom stamps from Etsy (sweetpaperie)
I think it would be awesome to have one for a return address ... so different and fun!

Cheater Chicken Soup

This is the fastest soup to pull together on a cold, rainy day.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups carrots, chopped - small
2 cups celery (with leafy tops), chopped - small
2 cups onion, chopped - small

1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander

3 quarts (12 cups) water
3 tablespoons Better Than Bullion Chicken Base
1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 rotisserie chicken from the grocery store (cheater chicken!)

In a giant soup pot, sauté onions in olive oil over medium heat for 7 minutes.  Add celery and carrots, and sauté for 15 minutes.  Add salt, pepper and coriander and stir.

Add water and chicken base (note: this is weaker than the packaging suggests to make chicken stock, I just taste it as I go and sometimes add a little more).  Also add rice vinegar (the secret ingredient).  Simmer for 10 minutes.

Pull apart the cheater chicken discarding the skin and bones.  Roughly chop the chicken meat and add to soup.  (Taste to see if you need to add more chicken base).  Lower heat and allow to cook for approximately 20 minutes.

You can serve this with a big Matzo ball (my favorite) or over a pasta of your choice, 
like Acini de Pepi (Eric’s favorite) or all by itself with a hunk of French bread.


I love reading the super clever thank you notes that 
writes to things in her life daily.


This is recipe concocted from a few different recipes I've read online and in magazines... 
and it is deeelicious.

1 package oven ready lasagna noodles
3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup Romano cheese, grated

The Sauce:
1 package sweet & hot mixed Italian sausage (casing removed)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 jar DelGrosso tomato basil sauce
1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz) (I like the brand with olive oil and roasted garlic) 
1 can tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup water
In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

The Ricotta Mix:
16 oz ricotta cheese
6 oz whipped cream cheese
1 box chopped spinach (10 oz)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 egg

Thaw spinach in microwave, squeeze water from spinach by wrapping in paper towel and squeezing over the sink.  In a bowl, combine ricotta, cream cheese, 
spinach, parsley, egg, salt & pepper.

To assemble, spread 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange noodles over sauce. Spread with the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with mozzarella cheese. Spoon sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with Romano cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Romano cheese. 
Cover with foil making sure the foil does not touch the cheese. 

Bake @ 375 for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. 
Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Serve with a big salad and Italian bread.

Holiday Flavors

Eric is the ice cream monster around here, but peppermint ice cream sounds sooo good!

How to Eat a Pomegranate

Hmmm, I always cut pomegranates in half and whack the back of it with a spoon...
this looks waaaaay less messy!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Real Tree & The Muppets

Last night Eric's sister came over the help decorate the real tree ... aka the little tree.

I made a killer lasagna (recipe coming soon).  
We drank too much wine, laughed too loud, had too much fun and decorated the little tree.

The big tree is decked out in hues of snazzy red, sparkles, antique silver, brushed gold, mercury glass and treasured ornaments.

The little tree is more of a wild card with its colored lights, 
funky multicolored ornaments and sequined garland.

It's super cute in our office (which is decorated a little funky too).

After the Holiday fun, Eric took us to see the new Muppets movie.

It was full of singing, dancing & retro Muppet memories.  We loved it :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Christmas Decorating

I love decorating for Christmas the weekend after Thanksgiving.
The way I see it, the Christmas decorations are only up for a month-ish, and we want to enjoy the festive mood as long as possible.

We are a two tree household.  A big artificial prelit beauty that takes 2 seconds to yank up from the basement and a small real tree that is more funky and fun for the office.

Eric and I both grew up in 'real tree' households.  Both of our families made a big deal out of cutting down our own tree and the experience of it all.  Now that we are our own family, I'm just not that into it.  (More like I'm not into the mess of watering it, dead needles and tree bags.)  
Eric would still love a real tree, so we compromise with the little guy.

Twinkle lights should really be a year-round thing.

Happy Turkey

Thanksgiving Corn Pudding

The mister and I alternate which family we spend holidays with for the 3 biggies ... 
Turkey, Christmas and Easter.  

We used to kill ourselves trying to make it to his grandparents, my mom, his other grandparents, my other family crap and the bar.  We only have so much holiday cheer.
The decision to spend an entire holiday with one family was met with mixed reviews, but everyone has gotten used to the rotation and this Thanksgiving is with his family.

While Eric and I are a lot alike, our family holiday traditions are vastly different.
For every holiday, Eric's family serves the exact same meal... and everyone has an 'assigned' dish.  The whole ordeal runs like clockwork.  Grandma makes pie, his mom makes salad, Aunt #1 green bean casserole, Aunt # 2 sweet potato crap, Grandma turkey, yadda yadda.  

There are no surprises.  
(There are plastic cups with your name sharpied on them, 
but that only surprised me the first time.)

Since I've joined this family, my assigned dish is Corn Pudding.  Now, this was a stretch when I suggested it.  This would be replacing the can of corn Aunt #3 that can't cook brings.
My dish was on a trial basis the first year.
(with the can of corn lurking around as back up I'm sure)
Four years later, the Corn Pudding has become a staple.
I think it made the cut because it still contains pretty ghetto Thanksgiving pantry items... 

8 oz light sour cream
1 stick melted butter
1 can creamed corn (16 oz)
1 can whole kernel corn (16 oz)
1 package Jiffy corn muffin mix (8 oz)

Mix it all up.  Spread in greased baking dish.
Bake @ 350 for 45 minutes.

I also like to shake things up and bring a 'wildcard' item.  It cracks me up to see the "wherethehell are we going to put these stuffed mushrooms that were not an assigned menu item" faces that inevitably ensue.  
One year I made honey butter to go along with my assigned store-bought rolls.  hysterical!
This year I made bacon wrapped water chestnuts.

Anything wrapped in bacon wins with this crowd.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Que Sera, Sera

White Bean Chicken Chili

After a Saturday at the dance studio, I was happy to come home and throw together 
a big batch of White Bean Chicken Chili.
Once fall/winter hits, Eric would happily eat chili every single weekend,  
(I think it's a football thing) and since chili is so easy to make it's a win, win all around!

1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
½ package McCormick White Bean Chicken Chili Seasoning
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 boxes (32 oz) low sodium chicken stock
2 cans (4 oz) fire roasted green chilies
2 cans (15 oz) cannellini beans
3 chicken breasts, grilled and chopped
1 cup half & half
1 ½ cups shredded monetary jack cheese
2 cups frozen corn
10 shakes jalapeno Tabasco sauce (and more on the side!)

In a big ol’ soup pot over medium heat, sauté onions, garlic and bell pepper in butter.
Cook for 10 minutes.
Add spices and flour.  Cook for another 3-4 minutes.
Crank up the heat and add chicken stock.  Stir and bring to a simmer.
Reduce heat to medium-low and add green chilies, chicken & beans.  Cook for 10 minutes.
Add half & half, cheese, corn and Tabasco.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Monday, November 14, 2011

FINDS - tmr Greeting Cards

Finds Furniture Consignment opened on November 1st and it has been crazy busy ever since!
We are using only recycled shopping bags to go along with the upcycling theme of consignment furniture and home accessories.  
I have  a bunch and I've put out an email to family and friends to save their bags too.

Score 1 for being a bag hoarder.

We're also selling some neat one-of-a-kind items (the 'Finds' part of the shop) and I agreed to make greeting cards.  I hunkered down this past Sunday and banged out 18 cards in about 4 hours.  One more weekend of card making and I should be good to go.

Each card has a vintage detail...  a button, bead, sparkle or bauble.
Some of them are pretty random, but I made a bunch of cards that I would buy.  
I figured if I would buy them, someone else would too.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pumpkin Cranberry Cookies

Basically the most delicious seasonal cookie ever.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½  teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt in medium bowl. 
Beat sugar and butter in large mixer bowl until well blended. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually beat in flour mixture. 
Drop by rounded tablespoon (or cookie scoop) onto greased baking sheets.

Bake at
350° for 15 to 17 minutes.  
Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. 
Drizzle Glaze over cookies.

Combine 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in small bowl until smooth. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

The 'New' Ballerina Bun

Whoever decided that the super high, messy bun is the newest 'it' hairdo is my hero.

I usually wear my massive amounts of long hair down, slightly messy and kind of 'whatever'. 

For this look, it's a high pony, tease it with some medium hold hairspray, loosely wrap it in a bun and secure with a few pins.  Pull on the bun a little bit to shape it and that's it.

 I'm sure I won't abandon my usual long & wavy look, but this is a nice change of pace...
especially for those mornings after dance when I need to be at the shop.

Wary Meyers

I'm loving these city posters designed by Wary Meyers
So different from everything else out there.

Wary Meyers (a husband and wife team) are a true inspiration for someone like me who doesn't love cookie-cutter design.  
Their book and blog are filled with unconventional design ideas.
I just eat it up!