Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Grocery Bag Holders

I think I am officially the queen of finding tutorials and following them. It appears as of late that I am not all that creative on my own. Maybe that should be my New Year's resolution.

Anyway, about 1 1/2 years ago I made a GROCERY BAG HOLDER for our kitchen so that we would have somewhere to store our plastic grocery bags. My mother saw it while visiting and mentioned that she would like one so I made her one for Christmas. Her kitchen colors are greens and yellows so I tried to follow her color scheme.


I love this project because it is so useful and it helps brighten up your kitchen or closet (depending on where you hang it). Once I finished my mother's bag I decided that I should also make one for my best friend Mary.


Her kitchen colors are light blue, navy, and brown. I found this fabric at JoAnn's and thought it would be perfect. After it was finished it became my favorite. I love the floral design and the colors are beautiful. I hope you enjoyed your gifts Mary and mom!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Hooded Teddy Bear Towels

One of my Christmas gifts to my husband this year was a Teddy Bear Hooded Towel. He recently mentioned that he wanted a hooded towel like our son Bennett. He was wondering why adults don't get hooded towels as well. So, I made him one as a surprise. I decided to make a matching one for Bennett. Here's Bennett modeling his towel for us. I love the cute little ears! You can find the tutorial HERE.



A close up of those ears! This was one of the more simple projects I have done. From start to finish it took me about an hour to cut and sew two towels. What a fun gift this would be for all of those baby showers I have coming up!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

For 2010 I made a goal for myself to design our own Christmas Cards. I did this for a couple of different reasons. I first thought it would be fun, then I realized it would be cheaper and therefore a bonus, and lastly I wanted to learn how to manipulate pictures/text in GIMP (a free online program comparable to Photoshop). I absolutely LOVE how they turned out! Here is the final product:

The names are a bit off centered due to the printing at Costco. I off centered them so that once they were cut they would be centered (that was a tricky business). Anyway, Merry Christmas to you all! I have posts about all of the crafty Christmas presents I did this year ready and coming your way this week! Hope you enjoy and are inspired to create something.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Airport Car Seat Bag

With all of the traveling we have been doing to show off little Bennett we have been struggling to keep his car seat clean and free from rips (no rips so far luckily). The plastic bags that they have at the airport cost at least $5 and they rip so easily that they really are not all that protective. My husband decided to do a quick search online to see if he could find something we could buy to protect the car seat and he found THIS tutorial on how to make your own airport car seat bag. Genius! Of course he knew I would want to make one. He literally found the tutorial on Thursday and I had it made by Saturday night. I bought the heaviest material I could find - it is a heavy canvas fabric that was actually pretty cheap and on sale. They mostly had light colors so I went with red thinking it would show less dirt than the creams. Plus our luggage is red so now our car seat fits right in! Here is how it turned out:





Can you tell how much I LOVE it? It is amazing, and so easy to carry! I think everyone needs this bag. Who wants one?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Frosted Banana Bars

These bars are so delicious and the recipe makes a huge batch. It is the ideal dessert for large crowds. Plus it adds variety to what you can do with those overripe bananas sitting on your counter. I found the recipe HERE. And there are tons of other delicious recipes yet to be tried on their blog.


Frosted Banana Bars

½ cup butter, softened

1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

2 medium ripe bananas, mashed

Frosting:

1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

½ cup butter, softened

3 ¾ - 4 cups powdered sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in bananas. Spread into a greased 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool.


For frosting, in a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Gradually beat in enough powdered sugar to achieve desired consistency. Frost bars. Store in the fridge.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Taco Salad

One of the bonuses to having a baby is all of the wonderful meals that friends bring after the birth. We had so many wonderful friends who brought us delicious food. We asked for all of the recipes and ended up with some lifelong favorites! Here is one of the easiest, best salads I have ever had:


Taco Salad

1 bag of Romaine lettuce
1 cucumber, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained
1/2 cup shredded cheese
Diced chicken, olives or tomatoes (optional)
Dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tsp taco seasoning

Toss salad ingredients in a large bowl. Mix dressing ingredients and pour over the salad, mixing well. Serve with broken up tortilla chips!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Baby Carsen

One of my best friends Mary, had a baby in September and I finally finished her gift this past week. Talk about LATE! And yes, I know that I should be demoted from said status as best friend since I am so late with the gift. Sorry Mary.

Anyway, I made a cover for baby Carsen's car seat! I love how it turned out! Hopefully momma and baby enjoy it as well.


Welcome to the world baby Carsen!
(Mary, this will be in the mail as soon as I can get to the post office!)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake


This cake is simply delicious! If you like lemon anything then you will love this cake! I took my tried and true Poppy Seed Cake recipe and used lemon ingredients instead of the regular yellow cake mix and french vanilla pudding. The idea came from my genius of a mother! You really must try this cake!

1 – 18 oz pkg. lemon cake mix

3 ¼ oz pkg. instant lemon pudding mix

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream

½ cup water

1 teaspoon lemon extract

½ cup melted butter

¼ cup poppy seeds

1 tablespoon flour

Combine cake & pudding mixes, eggs, sour cream, butter, water, & poppy seeds in large bowl with electric mixer. Blend well on low speed. Beat at medium speed for 5 minutes. Pour into Bundt pan – bake at 350˚ for 40 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar.

Monday, November 1, 2010

November Already?

Is it seriously November already? Where did the year go? We had a fun Halloween with our cute little Tiger. Our family dressed up as Calvin, Hobbes, & Susie from the comic "Calvin & Hobbes." So little Bennett was Hobbes.


I am trying to get all geared up for Holiday presents and crafts. I am starting early because I want to mostly give homemade gifts and I am really hoping to finally finish my Christmas quilt and our Christmas tree skirt. I made a top last year, and I think I now have an idea for how to add a bottom. Plus, I am finally in the process of making pillow shams for my big euro pillows. Hopefully I will have tons to post in the upcoming months before Christmas.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

7 Layer Dip


My mother-in-law shared this yummy dip with me. It is so delicious. It goes great with any Mexican meal. Give it a try, you'll see what I mean!


7-Layer Dip


Layer in a 13x9 dish in the following order:
1. Bean dip (I use 1 can of refried beans)
2. Cheese dip (I use salsa con queso)
3. Guacomole (I buy it in a 3 pack at Costco and use 1 package)
4. 1 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup mayonaise, and 1 pkg. taco seasoning (mix these 3 ingredients together to make 4th layer)
5. Chopped green onions
6. Diced Tomatoes
7. Olives


Top with a layer of cheese and serve with tortilla chips

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Strawberry Cream Puff Cake

I have been meaning to post this delicious recipe ever since I made it before my little boy was born. Unfortunately it got caught in the drafts and forgotten. So here it is finally! This is my absolute favorite dessert now, but I only make it when strawberries are a good price. Except, now that I am posting this I have a strong desire to make it right now. I may have to find some strawberries at the grocery store this week!


This is another delicious recipe from Melanie at My Kitchen Cafe. I am always drawn to her recipes. And for good reason too!

Cream Puff Base:

5 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
2/3 cup flour
3 eggs

Cream Cheese Mixture:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup powdered sugar

For the cream puff layer, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bring the butter, water and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the flour all at once and stir quickly until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the mixture until smooth. Let cool for 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until the mixture is shiny with a satiny sheen. Don’t overbeat. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan (or in a pinch, you could use a 9-inch circle cake pan). Using an offset spatula, spread the mixture on the bottom and one inch up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and prick pastry with a toothpick 10-12 times. Return to the oven and bake 5-10 minutes more until golden brown but not overbaked (you can insert a toothpick into the center and if it comes out with sticky dough, it still needs longer in the oven). Cool completely.

For the cream cheese mixture, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar (if you want to ensure there are no lumps, sift the powdered sugar into the cream cheese) and beat with the cream cheese until mixture is smooth and light. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until stiff peaks form. Spread onto the cooled cream puff shell.

Top with fresh sliced strawberries (I mixed 2 cups of strawberries with 1 teaspoon sugar and let them hang out in the fridge while I was prepping the cake) or you can use a 16-ounce bag of frozen strawberries that have been thawed. Mix the thawed strawberries and juice with 1-2 teaspoons sugar and bring to a simmer in a saucepan. Cook until slightly thickened. Cool completely and use as topping for the cake.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Banana Bread

I have been making this banana bread ever since my sweet husband found the recipe on allrecipes.com! We had very ripe bananas and we decided to whip up some banana bread. Fortunately for us he picked a great recipe and it quickly became a family favorite. I like to make it in the mini loaf pans so that I can share it with friends! If you use mini loaf pans then it takes 3 for 1 batch.


Banana Bread


3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed

1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups of flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a wooden spoon, mix butter and mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last and mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into a buttered 4x8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Manicotti

This Italian dish is my absolute favorite to make and eat. I use it as my go to lasagna even though it is called Baked Manicotti. I love the addition of red pepper flakes. It really gives it a kick. I hesitate to ever make another lasagna recipe in my life. And the homemade sauce would be great even for spaghetti or baked ziti. Another thing I love about this recipe is that I can make it a day ahead and have it in the refrigerator. That makes my Sunday meal preparation much easier and more relaxing and Sabbath worthy.


Recipe from Melanie at My Kitchen Cafe.

Tomato Sauce
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (in juice)
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried basil

Cheese Filling and Pasta
3 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 cups)
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (about 2 cups)
2 large eggs , lightly beaten
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves (or 2 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried basil)
16 no-boil lasagna noodles

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat oil, garlic, and pepper flakes (if using) in large saucepan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, basil and 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan chese, mozzarella cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, and herbs; set aside.

To assemble, pour 1 inch boiling water into 13 by 9-inch baking dish, then add noodles one at a time. Let noodles soak until pliable, about 5 minutes, separating noodles with tip of sharp knife to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on clean kitchen towels; discard water in baking dish and dry baking dish.

Spread bottom of baking dish evenly with 1 1/2 cups sauce. Spread 1/4 cup cheese mixture evenly onto bottom three-quarters of each noodle (with short side facing you), leaving top quarter of noodle exposed. Roll into tube shape and arrange in baking dish seam side down. (You should be able to fit 8 manicotti in each row, allowing all 16 to fit in the dish). Top evenly with remaining sauce, making certain that pasta is completely covered.

Cover manicotti with aluminum foil. Bake until bubbling, about 40 minutes, then remove foil. Sprinkle manicotti evenly with remaining 1 cup Parmesan. Bake until cheese is browned and bubbly, about 6-7 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

The manicotti can be prepared right up until the baking step then covered with a sheet of parchment paper, wrapped in aluminum foil, and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. (If frozen, thaw the manicotti in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.) To bake, remove the parchment, replace the aluminum foil, and increase baking time to 1 to 1 1/4 hours.