Sunday, December 27, 2009

Online Crop & Organization Challenge

Let’s start the year off right . . .
6th Annual New Year's Day Online Crop
Wow . . . I can't believe it . . . time for our SIXTH annual New Year's Day Crop. I hope you can join us.

Ways you can join in . . .

1. Join Crafting Made Simple and participate online. We will be posting challenges and ideas throughout the day.

2. If you have a bricks & mortar, home-based or online store, we would sure appreciate you sponsoring a challenge and offering a small prize.

3. Invite some friends over and crop together. I have spaces for 5-6 friends to join me for the day. I'm going to start the day with brunch and then get right into some serious scrapbooking. Let me know if you would like to crop with me.

I'm so looking forward to scrapbooking with you.
Annual Organization Challenge
I’ve lost track of how many years we’ve been doing this challenge, but I think this is our 4th Annual. I hadn’t planned on repeating this event but I’ve lost track of the number of people who have requested it. So beginning January 1st, 2010, I will post a challenge each week for 10 weeks. I’m sure we can arrange a location for a yard sale at the end of the 10 weeks. Check out Crafting Made Simple or my blog each week for your challenge and please post a message to cheer each other on and report completed challenges.
See ya

Friday, December 18, 2009

6th Annual New Year's Day Online Crop

Wow . . . I can't believe it . . . time for our SIXTH annual New Year's Day Crop. I hope you can join us.

Ways you can join in . . .

1. Join and participate online. We will be posting challenges and ideas throughout the day.

2. Sponsor a challenge and offer a sma...ll prize. I know there are lots of bricks & mortar businesses and home-based businesses that could benefit from being a sponsor.

3. Invite some friends over and crop together. I have spaces for 5-6 friends to join me for the day. I'm going to start the day with brunch and then get right into some serious scrapbooking. Let me know if you would like to crop with me.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

I'm so looking forward to scrapbooking with you.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Lightened-Up Cream of Mushroom Soup ~r

Lightened-Up Cream of Mushroom Soup - Recipes - Food - Canadian Living

Posted using ShareThis

I made this soup the other night using white mushrooms I found on the "hardly used nearly new rack" at Superstore. I'm not a fan of mushroom soup but I really enjoyed this one. Hal is a fan.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Back to Kitchener . . . because there are so many amazing boxes there . . .

Today was a PA Day for the grandsons. What to do? Letterboxing, of course. First stop was in New Hamburg for a second attempt at Mennonites of Ontario #20. We pulled into a parking lot to get our bearings and there just happened to be a Cheese Factory there. So we had to go in and sample some cheese. We came out with Onion & Garlic Cheese and a bag of Cheese Curds.

Once again, we were unsuccessful in New Hamburg. Cam (4) thinks perhaps someone took the box home because they didn't know it was a letterbox. But at least we had fun and got some yummy cheese.
Okay, this is not a letterboxing photo. Just a photo of a cool cow. Anyone know what kind of cow it is??
Next stop was Sunrise In Kitchener. We found it!! This area is being built up so quickly that the new area map we just bought was missing new streets already. It was very windy in open areas. We actually saw a couple of birds trying to fly into the wind and being blown backwards!!!! Good thing we were wearing lots of layers.
Our third effort was to locate Mennonites of Ontario #11Success!! The box was a simple find. The stamp had amazing detail. That makes 2 finds so far . . .
Next was a second attempt at Mennonites of Ontario #10. We had tried this one back in July but the tree was just so prickly that we couldn't access the box. This time Hal was covered from head to toe and ready to dive in for the find. Our third success for the day . . . Yahoo!!!!!
Our final box of the day was A Looong Way From Home. What a great hide and the stamp is adorable. And a nice little bonus -- a flea inside. The flea came home with us and will be released again soon.
It was a lovely day and we hope there are still some nice letterboxing days left in 2009.
See ya on the trails,
Pam of the Big Blue Team
St. Thomas ON

Saturday, November 28, 2009

An awesome day in Kitchener/Waterloo ON -- November 23, 2009

I went along for the ride today to keep Hal company while he stood in line at the Drive Test Centre in Kitchener ON. We were really surprised when he was in and out with his paperwork done in less than an hour. Good thing we'd brought along our letterboxing gear. What a great way to spend the rest of the day!!!!
If you are heading out to find Mummies Under Cover, you will find out that the Buddha is not in the window. In fact, when we were there all the windows in the building were being replaced. That won't stop you from finding the box if you can figure out the rest of the clues.

This is a true story . . . We stopped in this cute little neighbourhood park for a picnic lunch, musing that the neighbours probably were staring at these strange old people eating a picnic in late November. But it was a nice day!!!! Well I thought to myself "look at that lovely tree in that lovely corner of the park. What a great place to hide a letterbox". I was disappointed that we hadn't brought a box along to hide. Later when we were following clues down some railway tracks, Hal says "haven't we seen that house and park before" and we both started to laugh. We were right back at the park we'd picniced in and the box was hidden right where I'd suggested would be a perfect spot for a letterbox.

A half day visit to Kitchener ON - November 15, 2009

Our first attempt was Alpine Adventure Kitchener but it was just an attempt. The area the box should had been greatly muggled by children building forts, etc. It was definitely a lovely walk though.

Mennonites of Ontario - #19 Nine Patch Quilt Block by Waterlily was an easy find. We are really enjoying learning about the Mennonite communities in Ontario and finding all these lovely quilt blocks.

Stop and Smell the Flowers was a lovely spot. Don't worry that the fountains are covered in winter and can't be used with the clues. There are other hints in the clue which will get you to the letterbox. I am definitely coming back in the summer to see the gardens in full bloom and all the fountains splashing.

Our next find was another of Waterlily's quilt squares -- Mennonites of Ontario #16 Square in a Square Quilt Block. Yes, the bush is definitely prickly!

We grabbed a quick lunch and headed home. A great day!!!

Gift Tin Album

You choose the theme and colours for this mini album in a tin.
Saturday, December 19 @ 1 pm

An Album in an Afternoon

You select the papers and theme. This is a 20 page 8" x 8" gift album. Perfect for Christmas gift.
$50.00. Price is for pages only.
Saturday, December 12 @ 1 pm

A Week in My Life

An exciting project documenting your day to day life. The project is 12" x 12" and 18 pages. You select the papers and cardstocks you wish to use. Price is for pages only.
Wednesday, December 9 @ 7 pm

Baby Paper Bag Album

For your baby girl or baby boy . . .

Tuesday, December 8 @ 10 am, 3 pm or 7 pm
$25.00 - all materials supplied

Thirty Minute Layouts for December

Do you think I got a little carried away with the buttons? LOL . . . I don't.

Saturday, December 5 @ 1 pm
Wednesday, December 16 @ 7 pm
$24.00 - all materials supplied.

Wonder Years

Wednesday, December 2 @ 3 pm
Thursday, December 3 @ 7 pm
$12.50 - all materials are supplied

Canvas Album

I was reading a designer's blog one day and spotted her canvas album. There were only peeks at the finished project; not enough to scrap lift from (darn it!! LOL) but I was intrigued with the idea. So of course I had to try and make my own.

AND I LOVED IT . . . THE ENTIRE PROCESS. Here is my finished album. Believe me, the photo does not do it justice . . . all the textures and colours are so delicious.

Would you like to make this easy, sewing-optional, album? You choose your patterned papers, embellishments and colours.
Wednesday, December 2 @ 10 am & 7 pm
Wednesday, December 9 @ 3 pm
$30.00 - All materials are supplied.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Stuffed Pork Chops ~r

Did you see that several supermarkets have pork roasts on sale this week? Mom & I picked up 6 roasts for $1.89 and $1.99 per pound at Metro and spent today cooking. I hope you enjoy the 6 recipes I am posting: Dijon Pork Chops, Sweet-n-Sout Pork, Pork Rice Skillet Bake, Herbed Pork Chops, Provencale Pork, and Stuffed Pork Chops. I did a lot of cutting to turn the roasts into dozens of pork chops and Mom chopped and stirred and packed like crazy. We knew we'd done a good job when my nephew (her grandson), Scott, walked in after school and you could see his eyes glaze over as he smelled the aromas coming from the stove and oven. He went home with a stuffed pork chop, scalloped potatoes and Provencale Pork. I have since heard that he really enjoyed his supper . . . LOL.

On the subject of the cookbook we used today, "Frozen Assets Lite & Easy" by Deborah Taylor-Hough, I have to say I love this book . . . perhaps a little too much. It is now covered in olive oil and white wine and who knows what else. Don't worry Pam D., you will be getting a brand new copy of this book . . . LOL . . . On the down side, the editor or proofreader of this book needs to be fired. I have found several mistakes that have been a little frustrating like ingredients missing from the shopping list or extras added that aren't needed and sometimes the recipes have things out of order. But that's okay because the recipe results make up for most shortcomings.

6 servings

6 thick-cut pork chops (about 1-inch thick)
1/2 cup wild rice mix
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup sherry
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 teaspoons pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
1-1/2 cups fat-free beef broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Cook wild rice mixture according to package directions, substituting 1/3 cup sherry for 1/3 cup water in directions. Heat butter in skillet; stir in mushroom slices and onions, cook until softened. Remove from heat. Stir 1/2 mushrooms into wild rice mixture. Slice a pocket in each chop. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons wild rice/mushroom mixture into each chop. Close with toothpicks. Rub pepper and paprika into chops. Broil chops on broiler rack 5-inches from the heat for 15 minutes (turning halfway through). To make sauce, in saucepan stir together broth and cornstarch. Add remaining sauteed mushrooms; cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Stir in 1 tablespoon sherry.

In my opinion: Well a few things didn't go quite right with this recipe. We were using pork roasts and slicing into pork chop sized pieces. Unfortunately pork-roast-style chops don't always lend themselves to having pockets sliced into them. And we also didn't have a package of wild rice mix so we used a rice vegetable mix and just followed the package directions. Since the pockets were not very big we just stuffed with rice (no mushrooms) and used all of the mushrooms in the sauce. Now after all that I have to say the chops and sauce turned out gorgeous and were enjoyed by my nephew, Scott. Also, we used cremini mushrooms, because they are firmer and more flavourful than white mushrooms.

Recipe from "Frozen Assets Lite & Easy" by Deborah Taylor-Hough.

Le dîner est servi . . .

Provencale Pork ~r

6 servings

2 pounds boneless pork chops, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1/4 cup butter
2 medium onions, sliced
1 (15-oz.) can stewed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
1-1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Trim excess fat off pork chops; slice into thin strips. In large skillet over medium heat, melt half the butter. Add slices of pork; cook, stirring constantly, until no longer pink. Remove meat from skillet; set aside. Stir onions into juices remaining in pan; cook until just tender. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and mixed herbs to pan. Heat to boil; reduce heat; simmer about 5 minutes. In casserold dish, layer pork, sauce and potatoes (end with potato layer). Brush top of potatoes with melted butter; sprinkle with parsley. Cover casserole dish with a lid and bake at 350F for 1 hour.

In my opinion: Beautiful!! While we were at it, Mom sliced up some extra potatoes and onions and made scalloped potatoes.

Recipe from "Frozen Assets Lite & Easy" by Deborah Taylor Hough.

Le dîner est servi . . .

Herbed Pork Chop ~r

6 servings

1/3 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons fennel, crushed
1 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons basil
6 pork chops

Combine together in a small bowl: wine, fennel, marjoram, basil, salt and garlic: blend well. Set aside. Spray large skillet with cooking spray. Cook pork chops over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Turn chops, add wine mixture. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until pork is no longer pink.

In my opinion: This recipe was elegant, aromatic, attractive and so quick and easy!!!!! The aroma from the wine and the fennel were absolutely fabulous!!!!!

This recipe from "Frozen Assest Lite & Easy" by Deborah Taylor Hough.

Le dîner est servi . . .

Pork Rice Skillet Bake ~r

6 servings

6 pork chops
1 package brown and wild rice mushroom mix
2 cups water
1 large tomato, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Spray large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over high heat; place chops in skillet; cook 2 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove from heat. Remove pork chops from skillet; set aside. In a casserole dish, stir together drippings from browning pork chops, the wild rice mix and 2 cups water. Arrange slices of tomato and onion in a single layer over rice mixture. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup parsley. Arrange pork chops over top. Cover. Bake in 350 F oven for 40-50 minutes, or until pork is no longer pink in centre and rice is cooked.

In my opinion: We put the parsley on top of the pork chops because it was prettier. This recipe is quite simple, and looks and smells wonderful.

Recipe is from "Frozen Assets Lite & Easy" by Deborah Taylor Hough.

Le dîner est servi . . .

Sweet-n-Sour Pork ~r

6 servings

3/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons catsup
1-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 egg, beaten
6 boneless pork chops, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large onion, cut into thin wedges
1 large gree pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch squares
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large tomato, cut into wedges
2 cups canned pineapple chunks, drained
1 cup water

In a medium-sized bowl, combine 1/4 cup cornstarch and the vinegar. Stir in 1 cup water, sugar, catsup, soy sauce and cayenne; set aside. In small bowl, beat egg. In separate bowl, place remaining cornstarch. Dip pork chunks in egg; then dip into cornstarch. Over medium-high heat, heat vegetable oil in large skillet. Add meat to hot oil and saute until golden brown on the outside and no longer pink inside (stirring contantly); remove meat from pat using a slotted spoon. Add onion, green pepper, garlic and 2 tablespoons water to pan; saute for 1 minute. Stir sweet-n-sour sauce into pan with vegetables. Cook stirring constantly until sauce boils and thickens. Remove from heat. Add tomato and pineapple.

In my opinion: This recipe is very easy to make and looks and smells wonderful. Hal had a bowlful for his lunch and really enjoyed it. I did cheat a bit when making it. We were making a double batch and it was taking forever to dip each piece of pork so I poured the egg into the bowl of cubed pork and tossed it well. Then I added the cornstarch and tossed the pork until it was all well coated.

This recipe from "Frozen Assets Lite & Easy" by Deborah Taylor-Hough.
Le dîner est servi . . .

Dijon Pork Chops ~r

6 servings

1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 pork chops
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

In pie plate, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, oil and pepper. Mix well. Set aside. Spread both sides of pork chops with mustard; press chops into bread crumb mixture, coating both sides. Spray rack in broiler pan with cooking spray, arrange chops on rack; broil 5-6 inches from element until cooked (5-6 minutes on each side).

In my opinion: These chops are so simple and the aroma . . . fabulous!!!!!

Recipe from "Frozen Assets Lite & Easy" by Deborah Taylor-Hough.

Le dîner est servi . . .

Monday, November 2, 2009

More Baby Paper Piecings for Sale

Bib $3.50
Rattle $3.50
Bottle $4.50
Call 519-495-1897 or

Need a special dish for a pot luck?? Check this out . . . ~r

I haven't woken up Taylor from his nap to taste test this one yet. I think it tastes really really good. It looks pretty good too. And it was quite simple to make.

Tortilla Casserole
6 servings
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
1 (15-oz.) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (4.5-oz.) can chopped green chilies
1 package taco seasoning mix
6 corn tortillas
3/4 cup nonfat sour cream
4 oz (1 cup) grated mozzarella or cheddar cheese
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
Heat oven to 350 F. Spray nonstick skillet with non-stick cooking spray. heat over high heat until hot. Add ground beef; brown 8-10 minutes or until thoroughly cooked, stirring constantly. Drain well; return beef to skillet. Add beans, tomatoes, chilies and taco seasoning mix; mix well. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, spray 12 x 8 (2-quart) baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cut each tortilla in half; place 6 halves in bottom of sprayed baking dish, overlapping slightly. Spoon half of beef mixture evenly over tortillas. Spoon sour cream over beef mixture; spread evenly. Top with remaining 6 tortilla halves and remaining beef mixture. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes. Remove from oven; sprinkle with cheese. Cover; let stand 3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with cilantro.
Per serving: 324.9 calories; 10.8 g fat; 23.8 g protein; 34.2 g carbohydrates; 45 mg cholesterol.
Le dîner est servi . . .

Macaroni and Beef ~r

Taylor and I really enjoyed taste-testing this recipe. I used Unico Scoobi Doo macaroni for a little extra excitement. And it is soooooo simple to make.

Macaroni and Beef

6 servings

6 oz elbow macaroni, cooked
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp pepper
4 oz (1 cup) reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, grated

(I substituted 1/4 cup of homemade pesto for the basil)

In large skillet, brown ground beef, onion and bell pepper until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are softened. Add tomato sauce, basil, thyme and pepper, Stir frequently over medium heat until heated through. Remove from heat. Add macaroni; stir to combine. Sprinkle cheese over top.

Per Serving: 292.2 calories; 10.3 g fat; 21.3 g protein; 28.3 g carbohydrates; 43 mg cholesterol

Le dîner est servi . . .

Pizza Burgers ~r

These burgers didn't make it into the freezer . . . they were lunch . . . and very yummy!!!!!

Pizza Burgers

Serves 6

1 pound extra-lean ground beef (I think I would have liked bigger burgers so maybe 1-1/2 pounds of ground beef would be better)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup muchrooms, thinly sliced
1 tbsp butter
4 oz (1 cup) fat free mozzarella cheese, grated
1 tbsp parsley
6 hamburger buns

In skillet over medium-high heat, saute mushroom slices in butter. Remove from heat. In large bowl combine beef, salt, pepper and oregano. Form beef mixutre into six equal patties. Cook patties in non-stick skillet for 3 minutes (or until cooked through). Spread each patty with 1 tbsp tomato sauce and 1 tbsp mushrooms. Divide cheese evenly between patties. Serve sprinkled with parsley in hamburger buns.

Per serving: 217.1 calories; 13.1 g fat; 21.0 g protein; 3.5 g carbohydrates; 56 mg cholesterol

Le dîner est servi . . .

Beef Loaf ~r

Beef Loaf

8 servings

2 cups onion, chopped
2 cups carrots, shredded
2 cups zucchini, shredded
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
4 tbsp skim milk
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tbsp parsley
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp sage

Spray medium skillet with cooking spray. Heat and add onions. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until golden brown. Add carrot, zucchini and garlic, stirring contantly until vegetables are softened. Remove from heat. Set aside. In small bowl, combine bread and milk. Let stand five minutes. In large bowl, combine beef, eggs, parsley, salt, pepper, thyme, sage, cooled vegetables and soaked bread. Shape into loaf. Place into centre of 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Per serving: 206.4 calories; 10.3 g fat; 13.7 g protein; 15.1 g carbohydrates; 105 mg cholesterol.

This was very simple to make, smells wonderful, and tastes good too. I did make one substitution. There is a typo in the recipe book's shopping list so I did not have the zucchini for this recipe. So I went through the freezer looking for something green and vegetable-like . . . peas. I think it worked out just fine.

Le dîner est servi . . .

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Today was a perfect day for letterboxing

Today was a perfect fall day for letterboxing. We started with Early Telephone in Paris ON. We found a great hitchhiker in this box -- Ohio Farm Land by Saddle Bag (which has already been planted in another box somewhere in Ontario).

And to finish the image we had to find Calling Long Distance in Brantford ON.
I'd like to bring the grandsons back here to see the Bell Homestead.
Finding The Great One in Brantford ON was a wonderful walk. Some tricky directions in the clue . . . LOL
We really enjoyed our walk through Riverside Park. The Little Houses in the Woods were absolutely charming.
Our next stop was to find Mennonites of Ontario - #12 Pinwheel Flower Quilt Block. This was our second try at this Kitchener, ON letterbox and we FOUND IT!!!!!
We then headed to Lookout - Pioneers in Kitchener, ON.
Our last stop was Topsy Turvy in Kitchener, ON. It was a great walk. Topsy turvy was a great name for the board walk we were on. But we never did find the box. Hoping to hear from the owner with an extra clue.

What a great day . . . and then we headed for home . . .

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Black Bean and Rice Salad ~r

I made this salad for Paula's baby shower a couple of weeks ago because I thought it would go nicely with the spare ribs that Deb was bringing. I was right.

Image result for black bean and rice salad
1 can (15 ounce) black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked long-grain rice, chilled
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
2 to 3 green onions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
fresh chopped parsley or cilantro for garnish, if desired

Combine beans with rice, green and red bell pepper, tomato, and green onion. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, mustard, sugar, cumin, and pepper. Add dressing to beans and rice and stir gently to blend ingredients. Garnish with parsley or cilantro and serve chilled. Serves 6.

Le dîner est servi . . .

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ladies Day Out

Ladies Day Out (L.D.O.) is for anyone who needs a break and wants company while doing it!
Spend a day out and reconnect with old friends and feel free to invite some new friends too!
The cost is $5 per day per person (table space only) at St Mark’s Church Hall in St Thomas, Ontario.
The next date is Thursday October 29th from 9-3.
DON"T BE DISCOURAGED if this date doesn't work for you! The plan is to change the day of the week each time so everyone gets a chance to come!
Work on your craft, painting, sewing, scrapbooking, paper tole,crocheting, knitting, needlepoint, card making, sewing or any other project you choose to bring.
Because no food is provided (hence the very low cost),remember to bring your lunch. Close by (but a little far to walk) is a Tim Hortons, a variety store and a Shoppers Drug Mart.
Everyone is welcome.
If the event is successful, then we would like to continue it on a regular basis. ***We may consider bringing in class instructors (extra fee), or businessesto do small classes or demonstrations, if you choose to particiapte in them!
Please email or call us with any questions, or if you have a large group who need to be accomodated. (so you can sit together)519-631-4352 (Joyce) or (Deb).

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mushroom Chicken Couscous ~r

also from "Frozen Assets Lite & Easy: by Deborah Taylor-Hough

I had a tough time picking which recipes to test today. This recipe book is a true gem.
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 tbsp margarine
1 large onion, chopped finely
12 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup reduced-fat chicken broth
3 tbsp sherry
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/8 tsp cayenne
2 cups skim milk
3/4 cup reduced-fat chicken broth
1-1/2 cups couscous
cooking spray
fresh cilantro springs (optional)

Place chicken between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper. Pound with a meat mallet until 1/4-inch thick. Cut chicken into 1/2-inch wide strips.

In medium bowl, stir together cornstarch, 1/4 cup broth, sherry, soy sauce and cayenne.

In large skillet or saucepan, melt margarine over medium-high heat. Add onion and mushrooms; cook until onion is golden brown, stirring frequently; remove from heat. Remove onion mixture from skillet; set aside. Spray saucepan with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat; add chicken. Cooking, stirring gently and frequently, until chicken is no longer pink. Add onion/mushroom mixture to cooked chicken; pour in cornstarch mixture and stir constantly over medium-high heat until sauce is thickened slightly and bubbly. Remove from heat. Cool. Place in labeled freezer bag; freeze.

To Serve: Thaw chicken mixture. In large saucepan, stir together milk and 3/4 cup broth; heat to boiling. Stir in couscous, voer pan and remove from heat; let sit for 10 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Heat chicken mixture over medium heat in large skillet until heated through. Fluff couscous. Serve chicken beside couscous. Garnish with cilantro.

Per Serving: 317.7 calories; 3.4 g fat; 25.9 g protein; 44.4 g carbohydrates; 37 mg cholesterol.

Changes I made: I substituted apple cider for sherry and chili powder for cayenne, but only because I didn't have the sherry and cayenne. I cooked the couscous and froze the couscous and chicken in individual serving dishes.

This dish is lovely. The apple cider gives it a nice fruity finish.
Le dîner est servi . . .

Chicken Pasta Italiano ~r

6 oz bow tie pasta, uncooked
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 small red pepper, cut into thin strips
2 tsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/8 cup Parmesan chees

In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and chicken slices; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add onion, zucchini, red pepper, frozen peas, salt and Italian seasoning. Cook 1 minute longer. Remove from heat and stir in tomatoes. Cool. Place into labeled freezer bags. Freezer.

To Serve: Thaw chicken mixture. Cook bow-tie pasta according to package directions. Heat chicken mixture in large skillet over medium heat until heated through. Toss together pasta and chicken mixture; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Per Serving: 197.7 calories; 3.1 g fat; 13.0 g protein; 29.6 g carbohydrates; 19 mg cholesterol.

Changes I made: After adding the vegetables I cooked them well. I cooked the pasta. I tossed the pasta with the chicken mixture and then packaged in freezer bags. I tossed in a pinch of grated Parmesan, sealed the bags and put them in the freezer.
This one was a toss-up. I absolutely loved it, in fact I think it is my favourite of the 5 recipes I made this evening. Hal did not like it.
Le dîner est servi . . .

Chicken Vegetable Skillet ~r

I went shopping this afternoon and purchased everything I needed to cook and freeze FIVE entrees:
Old-Fashioned Chicken and Rice
Chicken Vegetable Skillet
Chicken Pasta Italiano
Chicken Noodle Soup
Mushroom Chicken Couscous

Chicken Vegetable Skillet

from "Frozen Assets Lite & Easty" by Deborah Taylor-Hough

6 tsp olive oil
1 pound potatoes, sliced thin
1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tbsp butter or margarine
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup carrot, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15-oz) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes
3 tbsp fresh parley, chopped
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; add potatoes and chicken; cook until chicken is no longer pink, stirring constantly. Transfer mixture to another container and set aside. Using same skillet, melt butter and stir in onion, green pepper, carrot slices and garlic; cook over high heat until just barely tender. Add potato-chicken mixture to vegetables in skillet. Stir in tomatoes, and remaining spices. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until potatoes are just barely starting to get tender (cook potatoes completely if you are serving right away). Remove from heat. Cool in refrigerator. Place mixture into labeled freezer bag; seal and freeze.

To serve: Thaw. Heat in large skillet over medium heat until heated through.

Per serving: 254.8 calories; 11.3 g fat; 17.0 g protein; 22.8 g carbohydrates; 35 mg cholesterol.

Le dîner est servi . . .

Old Fashioned Chicken and Rice ~r

from "Frozen Assets Lite & Easy" by Deborah Taylor-Hough

2-1/2 cups canned fat-free chicken broth
1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1-1/2 cups long-grain rice, uncooked
1 cup onions, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 small red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 (6-oz) jar sliced mushrooms, undrained
1 tsp pountry seasonings

In large saucepan or Dutch oven, bring broth to a boil. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well and return to boil. Reduce heat to medium; cover tightly and cook 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and rice is tender. Cool. Place into labeled freezer bags; freeze.

To serve, thaw. Place into large skillt; heat over medium heat until heated through.

Per Serving: 301.9 calories; 1.7 g fat; 30.2 g protein; 43.3 g carbohydrates; 53 mg cholesterol.

Quick and easy and tastes delicious.
Le dîner est servi . . .

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Autumn Embellishments for Sale

Pie $2.50
Apples $4.50
Acorns $5.75

I Believe -- Wednesday @ 1 pm -- $15.00

I wish the photo was better. The layout background is a really pretty pattern and the mats are a lovely shade of green . . .

I Believe is you chance to scrapbook about yourself . . . This layout was designed to pay tribute to those women who have influenced our lives; lead us to be the women we are today.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Thirty Minute Layouts

Tonight's 30 minute layouts. I put together a couple of extra kits so it's not too late to sign up. The class has been moved to my studio.

See ya

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Crafting Made Simple Newsletter - September 19 2009

Crafting Made Simple
September 19 2009

Thirty Minute LayoutsYou will be amazed by the terrific layouts you can create in mere minutes. By the end of the class, you will have created four layouts that only need photos and your own personal touches to complete. Bring your basic kit. $24.00
Monday, September 21
@ 7 pm
@ Joyce’s home studio

I BelieveA chance to scrapbook about yourself . . . and you don't have to get too serious (if you don't want to). Bring your basic kit. $15.00
Wednesday, September 23
@ 7 pm
@ Pam’s home studio

Beginner ClassI teach beginners everything they need to know to begin scrapbooking. Classes can be booked at your convenience and are taught in my studio.
If you put a group together of 3 or more students, I am quite happy to travel to your home or venue to teach.

Our Test Kitchen Blog
Inspired by the movie Julia & Julie, we have embarked on a journey to try new and interesting recipes and share the recipes and our experiences through this blog. Each month contributors will select a new cookbook and set a goal of how many recipes to try each week.

Book ClubAre you interested in expanding your literary horizons? I am hosting the September book club meeting and we will be discussing The Birth House by Ami McKay. Our long-term project is Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. It will be an enjoyable evening and, of course, refreshments will be served.
Wednesday, September 30
@ 7 pm
@ Pam’s home

Craft Guild
Many of us have many hobbies and interests, including scrapbooking. And how many of the hobbies and interests result in piles of unfinished projects? I have more counted cross stitches, afghans, table cloths and quilts waiting to be finished then I even want to count. The Craft Guild is here to inspire you. Join us once a month in the host’s home for a make n take (which will be non-scrapbooking . . . lol) and a chance to sit down with an unfinished project, some friends, a treat and a cup of tea (coffee) and get it done. There is no cost for this guild . . . just the enjoyment of your company. I am hosting this month.
Monday, September 28
@ 7 pm
@ Pam’s place

Cardmakers Club
Host for October is Sandra McKay. We are doing something a little bit different this month . . . a shoe box swap. Each person will create a Christmas card and pack everything needed to create 6 more of the same cards. We will spend the evening building 6 different cards from the swap. Please let us know if you will be attending.
Tuesday, October 20
@ 7 pm
@ Sandra’s (Grand Central)

Crafting Made Simple Yahoo group
This group has been created as a forum for people who live in the St. Thomas, ON area to share our favourite hobbies and crafts, such as scrapbooking and cardmaking, needlecrafts, reading and writing, and painting. Off-topic conversation is very welcome. While this group is geared to a certain geographical area, out-of-towners are very welcome to join. You are welcome to use this group to set up swaps and meet-ups. Advertising is allowed on Sundays. AD must be shown in the subject line.

Learn How to KnitKnitting is fulfilling, creative hobby to enjoy for your lifetime. You will receive a set of knitting needles, a darning needle, and cotton yarn to create this week's project . . . a simple dish cloth. During this class you will learn everything you need to know to begin knitting. $25.00 You are welcome to book a private class to suit your schedule.

Learn How to CrochetCrochet is also a fulfilling, creative hobby to enjoy for your lifetime. You will receive two crochet hooks, a darning needle, and acrylic yarn to create this week's project . . . a simple head hugger. During this class you will learn everything you need to know to begin crochet. $25.00 You are welcome to book a private class to suit your schedule.

Learn Counted Cross StitchWhen you register and pay for your class you will receive: Needles and needle threader, Embroidery hoop, Fabric, an Instruction booklet and the floss required to complete your first project. During this class you will learn everything you need to know to begin counted cross stitch. $25.00 Please book a private class to suit your schedule.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Roasted Veggie Lasagna ~r

As requested, here is the lasagna recipe I developed by blending two recipes I found online and my own intuition:

Roasted Veggie Lasagna
2-3 onions, sliced
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced (I used crimini)
3 zucchini sliced
2 red or green sweet peppers, cut into 6 pcs
and slice up any other veggies you think might be interesting in your lasagna.

In a separate bowl, mix 3 tbsp olive oil, 1 minced garlic, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper.

Place veggies in large baking dish. Brush both sides of veggies with the oil mixture. Put veggies in 400F oven for 15 minutes. Turn over and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Mix 15 oz ricotta or cottage cheese, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan and 1 beaten egg.

You will also need a 26 oz jar of spaghetti sauce (I used diced tomatoes and 1/4 cup of homemade basil pesto), 12 no-boil lasagna noodles, and 2 cups grated mozzarella.

In a 9 x 13" pan pour 1/4 of the sauce.

Place 4 noodles. Spoon 1/2 of the cheese mixture over noodles. Place 1/2 of the roasted veggies over cheese. Pour 1/3 of the sauce over veggies. The next layer is 2/3 cup of mozzarella. Repeat these layers one more time. Top with 4 noodles and the remainder of the sauce.

Cover and bake in a 450F oven for 40 minutes. Uncover. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese over the top and return to over for 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

Pam Hedden

Le dîner est servi . . .

The Ladies Come for Lunch ~r

I invited a few of my favourite lady friends for lunch today to taste test some more recipes from No-More-Than-4 Ingredient Recipes: A Cookbook for Kitchen Klutzes by Joy Gallagher Douglas.

Orange Blossom Specials
Chicken and Peppers
Chutney Peaches
Tomatoes and Brie
Lovely Limas
Strawberries Lola
Orange Blossom Specials3 cups orange juice
1 cup white wine
2 thin orange slices
4 mint sprigs (optional)
Put ice cubes in 4 tall glasses. In pitcher, mix orange juice and white wine. Fill glasses. Garnish with half a slice of orange and a mint sprig if desired.
Serves 4

This beverage is very enjoyable!
Chicken and Peppers1 green or red sweet pepper
2 tbsp butter
4 whole chicken breasts, halved
ground cumin
Cut pepper in half. Core and remove seeds and slice into thin strips. Heat butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle each brest half with a pinch of cumin. Saute breasts for about 3 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned. Turn breasts, add pepper strips and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring often, until breasts are tender, about 5 minutes on each side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Serves 4

I couldn't understand buying boneless, skinless chicken breasts and then frying them, so, I seasoned them and baked them in the oven. I added them to the sauteed peppers shortly before serving. I think it must have been the cumin, but the chicken had a lovely aroma and taste.
Chutney Peaches4 canned peach halves
4 tbsp melted butter
4 tbsp chutney
Place peach halves cut side up in buttered baking dish. Brush each with 1 tbsp melted butter and fill cavity with 1 tbsp chutney. Bake in preheated 350F oven for 10-15 minutes, or until hot.
Serves 4

I used peach chutney for the filling. These little gems were soooooo delicious.
Tomatoes and Brie2 ripe tomatoes
4 thin slices Brie cheese
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp dried basil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
On small serving plate, overlap sliced tomatoes and slices of Brie. Sprinkle with basil and vinegar, and salt and pepper if desired.
Serves 4

Delicious. Refreshing. A wonderful way to start the meal.
Lovely Limas1 package frozen lima beans
2 tbst chopped piniento
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup dairy sour cream
In saucepan, cook lima beans according to package directions and drain well. Combine with remaining ingredients and mix lightly but well.
Serves 4

I think even lima bean haters might like this recipe. I found that frozen lima beans were very expensive so I used canned lima beans, rinsing the beans and cooking them in fresh water. Because I used canned beans, the cooking time was much shorter.
Biscuits1/2 cup butter or margarine, at room temperature
1 package cream cheese
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
Cream together butter or margarine and cream cheese. Add flour and a pinch of salt and mix well. Form into small balls and put on ungreased baking sheet. Press down with fingers. Bake in preheated 350F oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with butter.
Serves 4

I couldn't figure out how these biscuits were going to rise, and they did not rise much. But they were quite delicious and disappeared quickly.
Strawberries Lola4 cups fresh strawberries
4 tbsp dairy sour cream
4 tsp brown sugar
Wash, hull and drain strawberries and place in 4 dessert dishes. Top each with 1 tbsp of sour cream and sprinkle with 1 tsp brown sugar.
Serves 4

A wonderful end to the meal. You might not think these ingredients should go together, but this dessert is surprisingly refreshing and delicious.
To get this meal on the table for 1 pm (using the recipes exactly as posted):
12:15 set table
12:20 make dessert
12:30 make biscuits
12:35 make chicken
12:40 make lima beans
12:45 make peaches
12:50 make tomatoes and brie
12:55 make beverages
Times will need to be adjusted if you use my suggestions.

Le dîner est servi . . .
Pam Hedden

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Curry-ing Chicken Favour ~r

Curried Orange Chicken
Parmesan Onions
Potatoes Hannah
French Bread
Pineapple Perfect

Curried Orange Chicken

1 cup orange marmalade
1 tbsp curry powder
1 chicken, cut up

In medium bowl, combine marmalade, curry powder, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 cup water. Place chicken pieces, skin side up, in buttered baking dish. Spoon marmalade mixture over chicken. Bake, uncovered in 350F oven for 45-60 minutes, spooning sauce over chicken several times during baking. If sauce begins to stick to bottom or pan, add an additional 1/4 cup water. When tender, remove chicken from sauce. Skim fat from sauce and serve sauce over chicken.
Serves 4

Notes: I just swirled a little olive oil in the bottom of the pan before baking instead of butter. I used 6 chicken quarters I found on sale.

Fabulous. Juicy. Delicious.

Parmesan Onions

2 large sweet Spanish onions
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Peel and chop onions. In saucepan, cook in butter over low heat until onions are tender but not brown. Turn onions into small shallow casserole and sprinkle with cheese. Put under broiler only long enough to melt cheese or put casserole in 350F oven just until cheese melts, about 5 minutes.

Notes: I followed this recipe exactly.

I thought it was quite tasty. Hal wasn't so keen. That's okay, because I can freeze it to use on hot dogs, hamburgs, etc.

Potatoes Hannah

6 medium potatoes
1/2 cup melted butter

Peel and slice potatoes very thinly. Immediately toss slices in melted butter, coating all over so they won't turn brown. Arrange buttered slices in layers of overlapping circles in generously greased shallow casserole, salting and peppering each layer. Bake in 350F oven for 45 minutes.

Notes: Sprinkled top layer with some paprika.

Delicious. Simple.

Pineapple Perfect1 cup dairy sour cream
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp. finely copped candied ginger
2 cups pineapple chunks, drained

In bowl, combine sour cream, honey and candied ginger. Spoon chilled pineapple chunks into 4 individual dessert dishes and top with sauce.

Notes: I used crystallized ginger. Is that the same as candied ginger?

I loved it. Hal says he doesn't like pineapple except on Hawaiian pizza so he didn't even try it. It was smooth and sweet and tangy. Cameron doesn't like pineapple but he posed so I could get a cute photo of the dessert.

All in all, a delicious meal in just an hour. Instead of French bread, I served baguette, goat cheese and bruschetta (all store bought).
To serve supper at 5 pm:
4:00 pm Prepare chicken and put in oven; prepare dessert and put in fridge
4:15 pm Prepare potatoes and put in oven
4:40 pm Cook onions
4:55 pm Put onions in casserole, add cheese and melt in oven.
Le dîner est servi . . .