Sunday, January 22, 2012

Birds and pies

Hey there, my friends! Guess what? Lookie!
I finished that cute little bird pillow from this book!
It was a very fun project. The embroidery was a pleasure, and so was the applique...although I did change up the flowers a wee bit. The smallest one was supposed to have appliqued petals, but I didn't want to deal with teeny-tiny pieces of fabric so I just embroidered it and made the next-biggest one applique.
Plus I used buttons for all the flower centers....some of the ones on the pattern are satin-stitched, which is a stitch I dread. I did it for this half a bud...
...but for anything else, especially a thank you. To me, it is a deceptively difficult stitch. The welting was a bit tricky but I think it's worth it.
So that's it! hope you like it. It adds a nice little touch of sunshine, I think.
Tomorrow, January 23rd, is National Pie Day! Long-time readers of this blog know that we've been celebrating this "holiday" for several years now. I am going to make the traditional Lemon Angel, Nestle Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie. And what would dinner be without pizza pie? Quiche would be a good choice too!

I hope you are enjoying your weekend! Eat some pie tomorrow!

♥ Jen

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The best oatmeal raisin cookies

The other day, Dave requested that I make some oatmeal raisin cookies. I used to make these cookies all the time. This recipe used to be on the back of the Quaker Oats container...but somewhere along the line, they changed it. The current one they use is okay, but this old one is the very best. Luckily I copied it down years ago, and I thought you might like it too.

Quaker's "old" Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
1 Cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 Cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Cups Quaker Oats (quick or old-fashioned, uncooked)
1 Cup raisins (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together butter and sugars until creamy.
Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Stir in oats and raisins; mix well. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet (I like to line the pans with parchment paper). Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack. Makes about 4 dozen.
*Bar cookies: Bake 30-35 min. in ungreased 13" x 9" metal baking pan.
They're soooo yummy! I had more pictures of the cooking process but for some reason Blogger kept wanting to turn them sideways. Ugh! Anyway, if you try them I hope you enjoy them too!
Remember I said I was making the Chicken & Spinach Pasta Bake a week or so ago? It was delicious! I found the recipe through Pinterest. Here's what it looked like, fresh out of the oven...
It was sooo tasty. I used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, so it was super easy.
I felt like I needed a little "boost" earlier this week, so I bought this new lipstick...
Seriously, isn't that the sweetest packaging you've ever seen? And lipstick with a heart built right in? So cute! It's a little bit too "pink" in real life but it's a good layer-er.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy these recipes! Talk to you soon!

♥ Jen

Monday, January 16, 2012

"Rush-Hour Recipes" WINNER!

Hello and Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! I hope everyone had a great weekend! My kids have off today, and Friday was a snow day, so they get a four-day weekend. We had some friends over on Saturday night, and they own a fabulous chocolate shop called Lune Chocolat. They brought over a NINE POUND chocolate-peanut butter cake for dessert that was soooo good. It was a really fun night, plus their kids slept over so Annabelle and Mason were in seventh heaven.
Ok, onto the winner of Gooseberry Patch's "Rush-Hour Recipes!" I had my son pick a number and he chose 74, which is....Sheila Shook! Sheila wrote:

"This book would be awesome to win."

Congratulations, I know you will love it! Please send me your address and I will get this in the mail asap!

Off to take a shower...enjoy your day!

♥ Jen

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Winter, where are you?

Are you having strange, unseasonable weather where you are? We have such mild temps, and very little snow. Weird for central New York! Oh well, I'll take it. It is unusual to see grass in January, that's for sure!
I've been doing a teeny bit of decorating for Valentine's Day. This is a little vignette over my sink.
I've had the Welcome plate for awhile, but Dave got me the bird jewelry holder and the milk jug measuring cup set for Christmas. So I've got a little white-theme going here...grounded with a red heart placemat.
I went to Christmas Tree Shops this morning...seems like I haven't been there in a long time! I got the cutest little birdhouse cloche. Only $2.99! I filled it with some mini candles from Bath and Body Works.
That's a Valentine table topper I had a made a couple of years ago.
Last year I had gotten a few heart placemats at CTS, just in a different pattern. I couldn't resist getting two of the coordinating pattern. And you can't beat two for $3.00!
Guess what? I started a sewing project! Thank you, thank you. It felt so good to get back in there, pick out a pattern and fabrics, etc. I'm working on the bird pillow I showed you...
I've got some of the applique done, and all the supplies are ready.
I love embroidery, it's so relaxing!
I have some fun news! My twin sister Karen started a new blog. It's called "My Soul Counts." I love her's all about a place to go to recharge, get inspired, and relax. Take a look if you can, it's wonderful!
Don't forget, my giveaway for the Gooseberry Patch cookbook ends next Monday. Enter HERE!

Enjoy your day!

♥ Jen

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"Rush-Hour Recipes" Review and GIVEAWAY!

Hey there, buds! Today I will show you a sneak-peek at Gooseberry Patch's new cookbook, "Rush-Hour Recipes."
I am so glad that I was selected to review this cookbook. As the cover says, it contains, "More than 230 quick-to-fix dinner recipes your family will love...even slow-cooker meals and potluck dishes!" Awesome. Exactly what I need! The six sections are: 5-Ingredient Favorites; One-Dish Dinners; Slow Cookers to the Rescue; Soup's On!; Make-A-Meal Sides; and Speedy Potluck & Party Foods. I selected three recipes to test, and I'm including them here. The first one I tried was "Tomato & Chicken Penne." (please note: Although I am reprinting the original recipe, I cut the amounts in half. Except for the garlic, I used that full-strength!)
(I don't need the casserole dish for this recipe...but I couldn't resist showing it here. A Christmas gift from Dave's brother and sister-in-law. Isn't it great??)
16-oz. package penne pasta, uncooked
1/4 Cup olive oil
1 tsp. garlic, chopped
28-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained (I used Roasted Garlic and Onion flavored)
1/2 Cup fresh basil chopped, or 1 tsp. dried basil
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
8-oz. package shredded mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; saute for one minute.
Stir in tomatoes and basil; continue cooking for two minutes.
Add chicken to skillet. Simmer for about five minutes, until heated through.
Transfer mixture in skillet to a large serving bowl; toss with pasta and cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
VERDICT:  Yummy, easy and quick. I poached two chicken breasts, but if you have leftover roast chicken, even quicker. I topped each serving with grated parmesan cheese, which added a lot to the flavor. I will certainly make this again! Got the thumbs-up from all who ate it! (Oh, and yes, there are some rotini mixed in there. I didn't have quite enough penne.)

OK, on to the next recipe! Here is one I couldn't resist making..."Better Than Brownies."
3.4-oz. package cook & serve chocolate pudding mix
2 Cups milk (I used 2%)
18-1/2 oz. package chocolate cake mix
1 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Cup chopped nuts (I left these out)

Prepare dry pudding mix with milk according to package directions; cook until slightly thickened.
 From lumpy to smooth!
Remove from heat. Stir in dry cake mix. (Careful, don't make a mess, like I did!)
Spread batter in a greased 13" x 9" baking pan; sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Cool; cut into squares. Makes about 2 dozen.
VERDICT: I was wondering what this would be more like, cake or brownies. I think it can best be described as a very fudgy cake! Delish. I really like the addition of the chocolate chips on top. This was VERY simple to make and really good too!

The last recipe I chose for this review is "Sauteed Greens & Warm Pecan Dressing."
2 Tbsps. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. mustard
2 tsps. honey
1/2 Cup pecans, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsps. canola or olive oil
1 to 2 bunches kale, spinach or Swiss chard, chopped (I used one bunch of green Swiss chard.)

In a small bowl, combine vinegar, mustard, honey, and pecans; set aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add greens and toss until well coated with oil. (It looks like a lot, but it cooks down quite a bit.)
Cook and stir until greens are wilted but still bright green. (Just enough for two of us now!)
Add vinegar mixture to skillet, stirring lightly. Cook for about one minute and serve immediately. Serves 6.
VERDICT: I chose this recipe because Dave and I really enjoy sauteed greens; I usually just use olive oil and garlic, so it was great to try something different. The pecans add such a great flavor ~ and the sweetness of the honey, the tang of the vinegar, and the spiciness of the mustard give this dish a tremendous taste.

"Rush-Hour Recipes" is a great addition to my cookbook library. As always, I *love* the sprinklings of helpful facts and tips throughout the book...for example, "Oversize cookie bars are tempting, but for a change, slice them into one-inch squares and set them in frilly paper candy cups. Guests will feel free to sample 'just a bite' of several different treats." I also like that idea for portion control!

Would you like to win a copy of "Rush-Hour Recipes?" To enter, please leave a comment on this post by Monday, January 16th. I will use the random-number-generator-thingy to select a winner. As always, if your email address is not linked/included, I will have to omit your entry. So please make sure I have it! If you'd like to purchase it now, you can do so here!

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed my review!

♥ Jen

New books

Look at me, posting two days in a row! I am just so excited about the new books I got in the mail yesterday...remember I had mentioned Gooseberry Patch's after-Christmas sale? This is what I ordered...
And all of this was about 20 bucks! I'm excited for the cookbooks of course, but the sewing books are particularly fun! By the way, that candle holder at the top of the photo was a Christmas gift from Annabelle. She's so sweet.
So about the books! Oh-So-Sweet Embroidery has some darling projects...just look at this apron! Love aprons.
And this doll nightgown? I can totally make this for Annabelle's American Girl.
I NEED to make this Bird Pillow. How cute for spring, right?
Sweetly Stitched for Kids also has some adorable projects. How about this sweet doll?
 AND, this is my favorite...
SUCH a cute wallhanging. Sigh. I hope I actually make all of these!! Scratch that, I WILL make all of these! Both of these books are still available at amazon (each title is linked up above); albeit not at the sale price. Still I think they're worth it.

Catch you all later!
♥ Jen