Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pretty Pincushions…

So after my first sewing project, the Bit of Whimsy dolls… I decided that maybe sticking my fingers into the pin box over and over was NOT the best idea I ever had. Actually, my sore little fingers were BEGGING me for a pin cushion. Why, you may ask, did I not purchase one when I bought my sewing machine and other crafty paraphernalia? Because of course I had to have a super cute, over-the-top pincushion…like the cupcake pattern I picked up at the Queen Bee Market… remember that? After the assembly began with the “High Calorie” version I realized that this was going to be one BIG cupcake, but hey- more surface area for pins, AND they do look rather cute on the shelf next to my beloved Singer. Don’t you think? Here’s how the little cuties turned out…

If you’re interested, you can snag the pattern Here. Also- I used fabric from Here on the “High Calorie” cupcake, and the super cute decorative pins were purchased Here.


Friday, May 28, 2010

It's Friday... you know what that means!

So, yes it is Burger Friday, but guess what?! This week you get TWO recipes… the original Recipe, and then the “let’s make it a burger” one! Yay! This post is near and dear to my Hubby since Chicken Parm is his absolute Favorite. So without further ado…

Yes, that’s Bri’s thumb in the picture… he just couldn’t keep his hands off his plate so I could take a picture.

Chicken Parmesan by Rachael Ray
1 cup flour
2 eggs (beaten)
½ cup Italian breadcrumbs
½ cup grated Parm
Small Bunch of flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
4-6 Chicken Breast Cutlets (depending on how many you’re feeding)
1 Ball of Fresh Mozzarella
Big bunch of Basil
Jar of your favorite marinara (unless you want to go crazy and make your own!)
½ lb of angel hair pasta

Preheat your broiler

Set up three pie pans on your counter; one with flour, one with eggs, and one with the bread crumbs, parm and parsley. Coat the chicken in flour first, then eggs and then breadcrumb mixture… Make sure you use one hand for dry and one for wet ingredients or you’ll end up with fingers glued with goo…. Not a pleasant experience.
Put about 5 tbsp of EVOO over medium head in a large skillet. Cook only 2 chicken cutlets at a time to keep the oil at the right temp, for about 4-5 minutes on each side.

Meanwhile, get your sauce heating in a small sauce pan, and boil some water for your angel hair. Don’t forget to SALT that pasta water!
When the cutlets are done, put them on a plate lined with paper towels, to soak up extra oil.

Grab a casserole dish and put a layer of sauce on the bottom. Add the chicken cutlets and a bit of sauce on each one. Then put big slices of fresh mozzarella on each cutlet. Place them under the broiler to get the cheese melty and then sprinkle with Basil. Serve on top of a nest of Angel hair and DIG IN! yum.

Next up… let’s make this baby a burger!

Here’s the line-up, minus the Italian seasoning… the thyme was in the original recipe, but didn’t work so well, in my humble opinion so I switched it. The end.

Chicken Parm Sliders by Rachael Ray tweaked by yours truly
1 pint cherry tomatoes
A bunch of basil (finely chopped)
1 ½ lbs ground chicken
2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
½ cup grated Parm
A small bunch of flat-leaf parsley (finely chopped)
4oz fresh mozzarella
8 slider rolls

Grab a small sauce pan with a tight fitting lid and heat a couple tbsp EVOO over medium-high heat, cover pot and cook tomatoes, shaking the pot occasionally, until tomatoes burst, 8-10 minutes. Mash up the sauce with the back of a wooden spoon and season tomatoes with S&P. Let the sauce thicken, uncovered for 2-3 minutes, then stir in basil leaves and turn off heat.

Don’t forget to pop the slider rolls under the broiler to get them nice and toasty!

Meanwhile, season the chicken with Italian seasoning, and S&P. In a pie dish, combine breadcrumbs with parm and parsley. Divide the chicken mixture into 8 small patties and coat them in breadcrumbs, pressing to make ‘em stick. Heat a tbsp EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook patties till they’re golden brown, about 3 min on each side, adding a slice of the mozzarella at the last minute to get it melty.

To assemble, place a spoonful of sauce on the bottom bun, then the patty, then some more sauce! Grab some napkins and Enjoy!

Also… I love natural light. Now that I’ve made my patio an enjoyable space, maybe my food pictures won’t be so dark and gloomy. Yay for good lighting!


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It pays to be a book junkie...

Confession: I read a ridiculous amount of books. When Bri and I moved out here to San Diego, we had to buy two MORE bookshelves, added to the 3 I already brought from MO. Sadly, I left another one full of books and a few boxes of them back at my parents house! Before the books took over our small abode and ate us, my wonderful Father-in-law bought me a Kindle. If you don’t know what a Kindle is, first of all, shame on you for being more out of the loop in the digital age than I am, and second of all, GO BUY ONE! It holds up to 1500 books and has saved my poor husband from having to sit among piles of books, and from going broke. I’ve yet to buy a book that was more than 9.99 and most of them cost me over 15 at B&N! I’ve read 16 novels in the past 5 months and am almost done with #17. Needless to say, Brian loooves my Kindle too.

What on earth do I read you ask? Well, I try to mostly fill my head with things that encourage me and keep my thoughts on the right track… so I’ve read almost everything written by; Phillip Yancey, Beth Moore, C.S. Lewis, Terri Blackstock, Brandilyn Collins, Francine Rivers, etc. I’m not a total Nun, so I also must admit to having read every single book written by Nicholas Sparks, and sadly, the entire Twilight & Harry Potter Series (Gasp!)

Every so often a book really hits home, and after reading Francine Rivers’ The Scarlet Thread, boy was I feeling convicted! I should tell you that it takes a LOT to convict me… I’m a bit ornery.

It’s no secret to my close friends/family that when Bri and I first got out here, and even in recent days that I was angry to be out here in So Cal and so far away from my wonderful friends and family. I could go on and on about the daily discoveries that made me cringe to be here … and I know what you’re thinking… “You are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place!” Well as many times as I heard that when I first got out here… I swear I was about to smack someone. Seriously. The fact that I pay TWICE what the mortgage payment is for a 4 bedroom house, two car garage and a YARD for a 2 bed/2 bath apartment is something I struggle to swallow daily. The people here are different, there aren’t the same stores as back home, the same laws, the same weather (I sure miss a good thunder storm once in a while!) It costs twice what it costs to fly from a coast to the Midwest as it costs to fly most other places, so getting back to visit MO became where every penny I made went. The conservative churches here are scarce, I was sweating in a tank top on Halloween, I pay $240 to register my car EVERY year… need I go on? Besides all that, even when I escaped my small abode to sit on the beach and remind myself how amazing this opportunity is, I’d end up sitting in a puddle of my own tears feeling homesick for my family.

My point? God’s got me here for a REASON! Duh. Ten months later, it took reading about the two strong-willed ladies in Francine’s book to finally hammer that into my thick head! The minute I started reading about the first character being uprooted from her home and family and moving for her husband’s new job, I was seriously angry at the husbands character! Can you imagine? I’m sitting there on the couch telling my husband what a jerk I think the character is! Dense huh? The more I read, the more I realized that the longer the characters begrudgingly went, and took out their anger on their husbands, the more MISERABLE they were. It took literally decades for the two characters to figure this out… and I found myself desperately wanting to AVOID a lifetime of misery, simply because I was too stubborn to accept that THIS is where God’s got me right now and I better make the best of it. Not only is it about “making the best of it” but I think it’s about letting God use me for his purposes wherever I am… not where I think I should be to start my life. As of today, that purpose is volunteering in the children’s ministry at our church; Daybreak, honing my domestic skills and being open to whatever God’s got for me next! The funny thing is, when I finally realized this, things started seeming a whole lot better out here on the Sunny west coast… shocking I know.

This post is obviously a bit deeper than my typical “Here’s a recipe” posts, but this realization has been a long time coming and boy am I thankful that it’s finally sinking in! Kinda makes me want to shout it from my patio, but then the neighbors would just add another strike against us crazy Midwesterners… better not do that!

I hope this blesses ya’ll!


Friday, May 21, 2010

It’s Burger Friday again…

I find it really interesting that after going through my recipes/foodie photos last night I found that about 85 percent of my recipes are Italian. Being a very vanilla Midwestern girl (country music and all) I blame Rach. She came up with this delicious dish that we devoured…

Meatball Melties by Rachael Ray (tweaked by yours truly)
1 lb ground sirloin
½ lb ground pork
2/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs
Small bunch of flat-leaf parsley (finely chopped)
1/3 cup grated Parm/Romano mix
1 egg
¼ onion (grated with a micro plane)
A splash of milk
Dash of nutmeg (sounds weird, but it works!)
4 slices provolone cheese
Jar of your favorite Tomato Basil Marinara (I used Trader Joe’s)
4 ciabatta rolls (I cut up a small ciabatta loaf)

Heat a large cast-iron grill pan over medium heat. In a large bowl, put the ground sirloin, ground pork, breadcrumbs, parsley, grated parm/romano, egg, onion, milk, nutmeg and S&P. You’ve heard me say it before… Take off those rings and MIX! Divide the mixture into 4 big patties, making the middle a little thinner.

Drizzle the patties with some EVOO. Place in the hot skillet and cook, flipping once, for about 10min or so. Top each burger with a slice of provolone in the last few minutes to get it melty.

Heat up your Marinara in a sauce pan while the burgers cook, and let it thicken for a bit.

Put your rolls/sliced ciabatta under the broiler to get ’em nice and toasty!

Place the burgers on one piece of ciabatta, top em’ with plenty of sauce and another piece of ciabatta. Roll up your sleeves and dig in! My poor Hubby has to wait patiently, drooling, while I photograph my plate before he can eat… Thank you Hunny! Muah!

Have a great weekend ya’ll!


Monday, May 17, 2010

A Patio Refresh...

Being in So Cal, we typically have sunny, 70-something weather almost every day of the year… meaning we loooove to be OUTSIDE! When we first moved into our beloved abode, I was thrilled to discover the large patio area where I could put my good ‘ol Missouri $25 garage sale table and chairs… and we soon started eating candle lit dinners at our little café set while the sun went down… ah the romance (please don’t barf.)

Well, recently, it had been a few months since we ate outside, and even longer since we cleaned the dust off the table, cleared the cob webs, and swept the dirt and dead bugs off the concrete. It was looking GROSS. Seriously. I looked out the living room window one day, cringed, and decided, SOMETHING had to be done! I immediately enlisted my poor Hubby for scrubbing the concrete duty… he was not thrilled, but together, we swept, scrubbed and squeegeed all the water off the patio until it was a nice clean blank slate for me to decorate… yay! The poor husband also gave in to yet ANOTHER “This is the last room I redo… I promise!” Ha. Yeah right… poor guy.

Here’s how it looked after it was cleaned…

So bleh right?! I just HAD to give it a refresher…it was the right thing to do. I began my internet search for new cushions, something to add to the table, citronella candles, and something green! I had seen some hanging mason jars at Pottery Barn, but when I went to get them, they were back ordered, and if you know me, I have NO patience… plus I wanted to save a few bucks. I searched and searched and SEARCHED for mason jars. It’s the kind of thing I thought I could grab at Target or Walmart (Heaven forbid I go there) I mean, don’t people can things anymore? I was just about to order them online when I found some at The Container Store here in San Diego! If you’ve never been to The Container Store, you simply MUST! It will organize your entire life for a just a few bucks… it makes my heart leap a little!

Surprisingly, I also had to search high and low to find citronella candles… apparently So Cal doesn’t have much need for them since we don’t have mosquitoes or chiggers bugging us at dinner… just pesky gnats! I, for one, like the refreshing scent and the fact that they scare away ALL bugs… harmless or not… I don’t want them near MY food! I finally found some tealights at Crate and Barrel that were citronella and boy was I a happy customer! I bought two boxes! I also grabbed some clearance cushions at ($9.99 each) and a couple of PB outdoor placemats that were displays (so they gave them to me for $7! Saweet!)

I’m completely in LOVE with mason jars… I feel like they add that special summer time, old timey-ness that makes the space so inviting.

Then the Hubby and I headed to our local Home Depot to buy some flowers. At this point, I should mention that I’ve never actually grown anything in my life. My plants in High School botany class all died… I’m not even sure what some of them were supposed to be. So with a little prayer, and some Miracle-Gro soil, we bought flowers that I remembered from back home like Snapdragons and then I wandered around until I found some that I thought were pretty and said “half sun/ half shade” on the tag since our deck only gets about 4-5 hours of sun a day. We ended up with 2 boxes of Snapdragons and Snowflakes and 1 box of blue and purple Lobelia. So far the little suckers are hanging on … even if Mama Candace forgets to water ‘em once in a while… oops.

All I know is that when I look out my window and see this…

I sigh with contentment. Have a beautiful day.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Burger Fridays!

In order to try a save a few bucks on Friday date night, as well as indulging our deep love for the best food group ever, Burgers, Brian and I have been enjoying a new and different type of meaty delight every Friday for the past few weeks. I’ve decided that this simply MUST continue and it just so happens that my dear friend Rach is the self proclaimed Queen of Burgers and has written about a bazillion recipes for them! Yay! So every Friday, I will be posting the burger we had the week before, because, let’s face it, I’m not skipping date night to write on my blog.

I recently discovered my love for Chicken Cacciatore, and decided that it might be just as tasty as a burger…. The results were finger lickin’ good…

Beef Cacciatore Sliders by Yours Truly
8 small rolls or slider buns
½ carton of fresh mushrooms (sauteed in a little EVOO)
[The mushroom are totally optional… my hubby would kill me if I didn’t say this… he loathes them…which makes me wonder how we can even cooexist. Seriously.]
4 slices of Provolone cheese (a folded half for each slider)

Meat Mixture
11/2 lb Ground Sirloin
Pinch Red Pepper flakes
¼ yellow onion (grated into the meat mixture with a micro plane)
10-12 fresh basil leaves (finely chopped)
½ Cup grated Parm/Romano mix (kraft makes one)

Cacciatore Sauce
1 small onion (finely chopped)
14oz can of diced tomatoes
4oz can of tomato paste (I only used 2/3 of it)
5 fresh basil leaves (finely chopped)
2 Tbsp capers

Add a couple tablespoons of EVOO to a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the onions until they are nice and soft. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, capers and basil and cook for about 10-15 minutes until the sauce is nice and thick!

Put the meat in a large bowl with the pepper flakes, S&P, onion, cheese and basil. Take off your rings and MIX! Divide it into 8 even patties, making the middle a little thinner so they grill evenly. I grilled them on a cast iron grill pan for about 5 minutes on each side. Put the provolone on for the last two minutes to get it melty!

Meanwhile, get those rolls toastin’ under a hot broiler! But keep the oven light on so you don’t forget about em’!

To assemble, put some of the sauce on the bottom half of the bun, then the burger, then more sauce, then some mushrooms, then the top half of the bun. You will definitely need at least two of these babies... and some napkins! Enjoy!


Monday, May 10, 2010

And sew it begins…

Ah the cheese. I know it’s odd that I got way out here in the land of sun and sand to hone my domestic skills, but alas, it’s where I’m at. The family I have been babysitting for, likes to refer to me as “very domestic.” I even recovered their dining room chairs the first month I worked for them. They also referred to my Thanksgiving casseroles as having “Midwest Flair”… but that’s a whole different story…

After some pretty deep evaluating, it seems that I have a problem with sitting still, or “relaxing” my husband says… I just don’t feel like it’s very productive to be sitting around when there’s a million things I could do to fill my time. (Is there something wrong with that?) When I graduated college, I felt a void similar to the one I felt when I got here in Cali. Back then, I enrolled in a t-shirt quilting class at a dear friend’s shop and now I’ve made a few special keepsakes using all the old t-shirts that sat collecting dust in the back of the drawer.

When I got here and the “blog stalking” began, I stumbled upon about a bazillion different crafty sewing projects that I wanted to tackle… and after realizing that I left my Mom’s hundred pound 1970 something sewing machine wayyy back in Missouri, I decided I wanted one of my own, preferably from this decade.

When that blessed time of year called tax season rolled around… my wonderful hubby granted my wish and bought me my very own Singer Simple… even going as far as driving me way out to Walmart and going in… YIKES! (We really dislike Walmart ) I’m pretty sure Bri’s motivation was the fact that he needed to give me something to do so that he could play hours of video games without feeling like a bad Husband, but anyway…

Here is my beloved new friend (well, sometimes beloved… we’re still getting to know each other)

Ain’t she purdy?!

Now, for my first trick…

One of my first discoveries in the crafty blogging world, was this lovely little Etsy shop… Bit of Whimsy. Sooo stinkin’ cute. I just had to have a pattern. Only having a general knowledge of sewing, this was definitely a challenging first project, but the little faces I was making these whimsical friends for were well worth the blood shed. (Did I mention I’m a bit clumsy?) The special little boys are Jack and Jett…Jack is taking his very first airplane ride out to visit Auntie Candace later this month, and Jett is the newest member of the Zimmermann family (their blog is to the right.) I picked the “Liberty Lion” pattern because it was just plain adorable. The instructions were super simple and I loved getting to use whatever fabric I wanted. Once I figured out the tension and my machine and I had a few good long talks, it was a pretty easy project. Here’s how the little guys turned out…

I’ve bought a few more patterns since then, and have “favorited” a few hundred crafting blogs… my list of what I want to make next is actually getting out of control… there is so much great stuff out there for little tykes… mine will be those poor kids who’s answer to every “Where did you get that” will be; “My mom made it.”


Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Yummy Dish with a Naughty Name…

Although neither of us are picky eaters to begin with, Bri and I have been stepping out of the box when it comes to trying new kinds of food. We’re more than willing to try anything once, but when it comes to what we crave, it’s usually Mexican (a new kind of taco, burrito, fajita, etc) or Italian (some kind of pasta covered in a new sauce with LOTS of cheese.) We’ve been pleasantly surprised by some of the new things I’ve been cooking up… Honey Chicken with Sweet and Spicy Chutney, Mediterranean Chicken, Balsamic Glazed Chicken Caprese, etc. I’ll post about these delightful dishes later… but the one that quickly became a new fav for me was, Devil’s Shrimp.

Stop right there… don’t hate me because my food has an unholy name. If you’re like me and grew up in a home where Deviled Eggs were under NO circumstances to be called anything but “Creamed Eggs,” then by ALL means, rename this dish. Anywho... here’s the cast…

The Shrimp are hiding in the bowl, and the green Chile is behind the Basil… very sneaky.

Devil’s Shrimp
1 lb Fettuccini (I used about ¾ of the package)
1 hot green chile, finely chopped
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken stock
28oz can Italian tomatoes (the can says “with garlic and oregano”)
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1lb large shrimp (peeled, deveined, halved, and patted dry)
Juice of ½ lemon
2 Tbsp butter (yum)
10 large basil leaves (finely chopped)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook to package directions. When you drain the pasta, keep a ladle full of the starchy water for the sauce.

Grab a large deep skillet and heat the EVOO, 4 turns of the pan, over medium heat. Cook the chile for a few minutes. Add the wine and let it cook out and reduce for about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, oregano and S&P. Simmer over medium heat until reduced, about 20 minutes.

Put the shrimp in a large bowl with some salt and lemon juice. In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Cook the shrimp for 2 min on each side. DON’T overcook it! Trust me. Add the shrimp, pasta, and starchy water to the sauce and toss it all together. Top it with the basil. It should look like this…

And then grab a big bowl and a fork… and get you some of that!


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Comfort food that’s good for you… say what?!

Seriously… this stew is so stinkin’ good! (In a good way… your house will smell heavenly!) It’s filling, delicious, and shocking low in calories. I found in on Rach’s magazine website… but surprisingly she didn’t write it… and of course I tweaked it. It’s not a quick meal, but I find it extremely therapeutic to spend some time in the kitchen just peeling and chopping. Is that odd? So make it on a rainy Saturday afternoon and then enjoy the leftovers for lunch during the week. Here’s the line up…

Sadly, the poor green beans got left out of the picture… you snooze you lose… and they were snoozing in the freezer.

Hearty Chicken Vegetable Stew
1 ¼ lbs boneless, skinless chicken tenders
1 lb small yellow potatoes (skins on, washed and thinly sliced, and I mean thin!)
½ lb of fresh green beans (ends snapped off and then cut/snapped in half)
1 lb of carrots (peeled and chopped)
4 Plum tomatoes (quartered)
1 Large onion (finely minced)
32oz of Chicken Stock
1 heaping tablespoon of Herbe de Provence

First, preheat your oven to 500˚. Meanwhile, get to washing and chopping those veggies.
Coat the tomatoes in a little EVOO, S&P. Roast them for 20 minutes, or until they melt into the pan when pressed with a fork. While they’re roasting, pat your chicken dry and season both sides with S&P. Put a large soup pot over medium heat with some EVOO and cook the chicken 4 minutes on each side, then put it on a plate to rest a bit before you shred it up with a couple of forks. Add a little more EVOO to the pot if needed, and add the onion and a little salt. Cook until they’re nice and soft and then add the carrots, potatoes and stock. Simmer for 10 minutes and then add green beans, tomatoes, and herbe de provence. Partially cover the pot with the lid and simmer for another 10 minutes or so, until the veggies are tender. Add the shredded chicken to the pot. Salt and Pepper to taste.

It should look like this…

Take a big whiff and then grab that ladle! Make sure you let it cool for a bit… a couple eager people have burned their tongues more than once on this stuff! It’s just so darn inviting!

Sluuurp. Sorry… can’t help myself. Enjoy!


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Queen Bee Market!

Today, thanks to my dear friend Casey (who found out about the event and immediately told me I HAD to go!) I went to the Queen Bee Market in Carlsbad (where we go to church), which featured several Etsy Shops, and crafty bloggers I love! It was a B-E-A-utiful day here in SoCal and the drive down Faraday Ave was so relaxing. Here’s a Few pics of what I saw when I arrived…

The booths looked amazing… props to all the Ladies who participated… your creativity inspired me!

And here is the loot…

Necklace: (This shop is Jess’s… one of the amazing gals who hosted the whole thing!)
Cupcake Pincushion Pattern:
Adorable Fabric:
Cupcake Pins: Crè

Check out some of these other lovely blogs/Etsy shops for handmade goodies:

My Fav’s:

An Amazing woman with adorable bows for little ones Joy's Hope
No Stranger to my friends The Pleated Poppy has so many girly delights
Adorable Wood and Paper goods Paisley Mill
Fabulous bags, bows and dresses Emme
Crocheted Cuteness and cake stands to die for Emily Sparks
Beautiful Jewelry Cinnamon Sticks

After grabbing my free Starbucks on the way home (I'm a Gold Card Member), and stopping by Joann’s for some crafting supplies, I’m pretty sure it was a perfect day.

Love, Candace