Thursday, January 28, 2010

Little Bird Thank You

I love giving and receiving homemade cards, and card making is one of my favorite crafts. I don't profess to be a super scrapbooker (which often seems to be coupled with card making), nor do I profess to be a brilliant card maker, but I really enjoy taking the time to do it, which usually leads to a good result. :-) I made a Thank You note today for a friend who came to Maddox's First Birthday party and I've posted a little tutorial below in case anyone out there wants a new idea for a homemade card. It's simple and sweet!

-Envelope you plan to mail/give the card in (any size is fine)
-Piece of scrap fabric at least as big as your envelope
-Piece of cardstock at least as big as your envelope (any color you can write on)
-Embroidery thread in a corresponding (or clashing, it's your card) color
-Markers or a pen to write your note with

First choose and iron your fabric. I chose this vintage style floral print, which I happen to think is completely gorgeous.

Next trace the outline of the envelope onto the cardstock. You'll draw the outline of your card inside the envelope outline to be sure your card will fit well into its envelope.

Now draw the outline of your card. I wanted to draw a bird, but this card can be made in any shape that can be drawn inside the envelope. I googled "bird silhouette" to find a guideline for the shape of my bird. You can also use a stencil.
Draw the outline of your card, cut it out, then trace it onto the fabric with the wrong sides together (back of the fabric meets the back of the cardstock).

Put the cardstock and the fabric together with just a couple drops of glue in between to hold the two pieces in place while you sew them together. Then use the embroidery thread to sew loops all the way around the edges by pushing the needle through both pieces from top to bottom, bringing it around the edge back to the top, and repeating.

Then just write your message on the cardstock and voila! A cute, simple, homemade card to proudly share with a friend!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cilantro Lime Chicken Cacciatore

Matt and I read The Maker's Diet, by Jordan Rubin, about 4 and a half years ago and made some serious changes in the way we eat as a result. While we don't follow the plan strictly anymore, we definitely follow some basic principles, like no processed food or refined sugar. This is one of Matt's FAVORITE recipes ever, right out of the book, and is a kick in the mouth to the standard chicken dish.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Cacciatore
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 Tbsp minced garlic*
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, divided
3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp EVOO
5 medium-sized roma tomatoes
Celtic sea salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste (go easy on this at first, you can always add more)

*Don't like mincing garlic? Do what Rachael Ray does and run a clove over your cheese grater for an easy garlic paste. Seriously, she is a genius.

Heat pan to medium on stove top. Add olive oil, garlic, cilantro, and 1/4 cup of lime juice. Simmer for 4-6 minutes. While simmering, pour the other 1/4 cup of lime juice over chicken and let stand for 1-2 minutes. Season chicken with salt and cayenne pepper. Add seasoned chicken to pan and cook for 8-10 minutes over medium to medium-high heat. Serves 4.

MMM this one is GOOD! Serve over a bed of pasta for a mexitalian meal, or alongside a spinach and mango salad to balance out the spice of the chicken.

You can enjoy healthy food!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Giant Umbrella Lady

Wow... I found this picture on a blog I've been following (Domestic Bliss) and I thought it was so gorgeous I had to repost it!

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Good Morning" with Tea

Lately I have been considering getting up before Maddox so I can spend some quiet time with God and get a little head start on my day... but up until this morning I had only made half efforts, which never worked out. Well last night I put my mind to it. I was going to get up at 5:30 this morning, and not just this morning, but every day this week, to see if I can really make the change.

I needed an incentive, though. I needed something that I knew would make me happy right off the bat so I wouldn't be stumbling out of bed thinking, "curses on this dark morning!" While I am completely in LOVE with the smell of coffee, I can't stand the taste, so unfortunately I don't have that first cup to look forward to on my way out of bed. I do, however, like tea very much. So before I went to bed last night I set up a cute little tea station, all ready to go for my 5:30 awakening.

Sure enough, when I stirred at 5:45 (having no recollection of the alarm going off at 5:30), I thought of my tea waiting for me downstairs, and had a smile. Still somewhat reluctant, I pulled myself from under the warm, heavy covers and trod down the stairs to make my tea.

Moroccan Mint

The morning ended up being really wonderful. I was able to spend about 30 minutes praying, reading my Bible, and journaling. Maddox woke up around 6:30, at which point I got him out of his crib and brought him back into bed with me. We fell back asleep until 8:00. :-) I think that's the only reason I am functioning at all right now!

"In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation."
Psalm 5:3

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22-23

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cake and Casserole

My litte boy, Maddox, turned one last week. And being the controlling, I mean creative, person that I am, I decided I wanted to make, from scratch, his very first birthday cake. Very exciting! I had never baked a cake before! I made a basic 2 layer butter cake (recipe courtesy of my fabulous baking friend, Melanie) using strawberry jam between the layers and a YUMMY cream cheese frosting (also from scratch) all over. I really enjoyed this baking project! You can see the finished cake in the pictures below, complete with my elementary icing drawing of The Hungry Caterpillar. :-)

And here's the birthday boy himself... all tired out from eating all that cake!

Onto the next recipe project... Once a month our church holds a big potluck and all the ladies cook all this amazing food! Well, all the ladies except me! Historically, I am awful at cooking for potlucks. Usually around 8:30 p.m. Saturday night I remember that I have to have food together to bring the next morning and we end up running to the store for some chips and salsa, or worse yet, macaroni salad from the deli.

Well, this month I was determined to cook something actually worth eating! If you've ever looked at the bottom of a bag of tortilla chips and wondered what to do with all those tiny pieces that are too small to dip but too big to throw away, read on for a Mexican Casserole recipe! It's the perfect place to dump those tortilla tinies!

Tex Mex Casserole
2 tubes pre-cooked polenta (for this casserole I used sun-dried tomato and garlic)
1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced or cubed
1 packet Simply Organic Southwest Taco seasoning
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro (don't skimp, use the fresh stuff!)
1 15 oz can of black beans
1 15 oz can of corn
16 oz of your favorite salsa or pico de gallo
All those tortilla tinies from the bottom of the bag
A couple handfuls shredded Mexican blend cheese (Cheddar and Monterey Jack)

1. Pre-heat oven to 350. Start your chicken cooking on the stove over medium heat. Takes about 10-15 minutes to cook through, depending on how big your chunks are.

2. Open your tube of polenta, slice about half inch slices and layer on the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish. You can also do this with freshly cooked polenta. Just spread it to cover the bottom of the dish and allow to firm up (about 15 minutes) before adding the next layer.

3. Coarsely chop your cilantro. (Mmmmmm! I am having a love affair with fresh cilantro right now!) Then layer over polenta.

4. When chicken is cooked through, mix contents of spice packet with 1/2 cup warm water and stir into chicken until it thickens a little. Spread chicken over cilantro.

5. Mix corn and beans and spread over chicken.

6. Spread salsa over corn/bean mix.

7. Here come those tortilla tinies! Spread 'em over the salsa.

8. Finally cover with a couple handfuls of cheese! WOW, this looks good!

9. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 more minutes, or until cheese melts and just starts turning golden.

Delicious, healthy (yes, it is!), easy, mexican-inspired dinner!

Happy creating!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Spaghetti-less Spaghetti!

This is my new favorite dinner recipe, straight from Rachael Ray (LOVE her). It is so fun and super easy to make! I know, you're thinking, SQUASH... REALLY?! REALLY!! The spaghetti squash is nutty and so full of flavor and not at all like the squash that made me gag when I was a kid. :-) Trust me and give it a try!

Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs
4 Servings
Prep 10 min
Cook 25 min
1 large spaghetti squash (about 4 pounds), halved lengthwise and seeded
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound uncooked chicken or turkey sausage, casings removed
3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
8 basil leaves, torn

1.Place the squash, cut side up, on a damp paper towel in a microwavable dish. Microwave on high until tender, about 15 minutes. Using a fork, scrape the strands of squash into a microwavable bowl and toss with the butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2.Meanwhile, combine the sausage with the bread crumbs and form into 1-inch meatballs. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook, stirring, until browned, about 6 minutes. Cover and cook over low heat until cooked through, about 3 minutes more.

3.Reheat the shredded squash in the microwave and top with the meatballs, cheese and basil.

OK - So you can try the original recipe, or you can try the version I do in my kitchen, which is also DELISH!

Place your halved and seeded squash cut side up on a baking sheet. Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes (or until soft). While that's baking, slice or cube some boneless skinless chicken breasts and cook up on the stove. I don't season the chicken because there's enough seasoning/salt in the sauce for my taste. You can grab your favorite red sauce or make your own. When the squash is done, shred it with a fork till it looks like spaghetti and leave it in the shell. Put a big helping of chicken over the "spaghetti" and pour your red sauce all down over the top. YUMMMMM! Eat it right out of the shell!

I served this to my family in Phoenix when we visited over Christmas and it was a big hit! Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
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