Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Week 29 Craft: Updated on Painted Needlework

Ahhhhh....the last stitch.  Do you hear angels singing?  It seems like I started this forever ago.

Now it's time to start the footstool.  Here is the stool I'm going to use:

Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Week 29 Recipe: Chicken Parmesan

Scrap whatever you had planned for dinner and make this instead.  Chicken parmesan doesn't seem like it's worth getting that excited about, but this one is.  It has a secret ingredient that kicks up the crunch factor in the crust and also adds a nice depth of flavor.   And the secret ingredient is...potato flakes.  This nifty trick comes straight from chef Anne Burrell.

4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
 1/2 cup of flour
1 egg (you might need two depending on how large your chicken breasts are)
2 T olive Oil
1 T butter
1 cup of panko bread crumbs
1 cup of potato flakes
24 Oz jar of your favorite marinara sauce
8 slices of provolone cheese
1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
Heat your oven to 350°.  
Pound your chicken breasts to 1/4" to 1/2" thick.  No, you don't need to get your ruler out; just make sure they are thin.  Note: Once pounded cut your chicken in half to make it easier to handle.
In a pan heat the olive oil and butter to medium high heat.
Prepare a breading station.  Get three shallow pans (large enough to fit a chicken breast).

     No. 1 should have flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper.
     No. 2 should have the beaten egg
     No. 3 is where you combine the panko crumbs with the potato flakes
Coat your breasts (the chicken breasts that is!) in the flour, shaking off any excess.
Run the breasts through the egg and then into the pan with the crumbs.  Make sure you get a nice coating.
Cook the chicken for three minutes per side.  Don't crowd your pan; I was only able to do two cutlets at a time.  Just look at that golden yummy goodness!
Drain the chicken on some paper towels.
Coat the bottom of a large casserole dish with a thin layer of your marinara.  
Arrange the chicken cutlets in the dish and place a slice of provolone on each piece.

Pour the remainder of the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with the mozzarella and Parmesan.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Week 28 Craft: Painted Oars

Silly me, I made a trip to Pottery Barn this week.  I should know better, because every time I go I end up wanting to totally redecorate my entire house.  Maybe because it's summer and I'm drawn to the water I was inspired by their oars.

The rustic ones are amazing, but a little too rustic, and the navy ones weren't rustic enough.  What's a girl to do?  I guess I'll have to make my own.  

What you need: 
Wooden oars
Sand paper
Craft Paint
Painter's tape
Wood Stain

The 5' oars were ordered on Amazon from SeaSense; they were only $36 for the two of them.  

1. Put on your iPod and get to sanding!  You want to make sure you remove all the finish from the paddles so that you get good adherence with your paint and stain.

2. Once your paddle is sanded paint with your base coat.  I used Minwax pearl grey tinted stain.  Note: This was my first time using this product.  Maybe the wood in the oars was treated, but this product behaved like paint and not stain.  

3. When your base coat is dry tape off areas to add  your stripes and numbers.  For the number just print one out and tape it over your painter's tape.  Use an exacto knife to cut the number out. could use a stencil if you have one handy.

4. Paint your stripes in coordinating colors.  
5. Remove your tape and with fine sandpaper "distress" your oars.
6. Put a small amount of stain on a rag and run it over your oars.  It will not only soften the look of the paint, but will absorb into the raw wood - making the exposed wood look more aged.
Here's a comparison between non-distressed and distressed. 

I haven't decided if I'm going to use wax to finish my oars or polyurathane, but make sure you use some type of finish.

Week 28 Recipe: Bang Bang Shrimp

There is little in this world my hubby loves more than the Bang Bang Shrimp from Bonefish.  Unfortunately, the one in our town closed even though we singlehandedly tried to keep it open by eating there so often.

After some searching and experimenting I think I've pretty much got the recipe, at least according to the spousal unit.  The great thing about this dinner is that you can make it in less than 15 minutes.

1/2 cup of light mayonnaise
1/4 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
10 drops Sriracha hot chili sauce (use less if you are a wimp when it comes to the spicy stuff)
1 lb. of shrimp shelled and deveined (I used jumbo and cut them in half)
1 egg
Vegetable Oil

Heat your oil for frying
In a large bowl mix together the mayo, sweet chili sauce and hot chili sauce
Season the flour with salt and pepper to taste.
Run your shrimp through the beaten egg and then through the flour mixture.
Fry for two minutes.  Drain on paper towels.

Place your shrimp into the bowl with the sauce and toss to coat.
Serve with brown rice or noodles.

Week 27 Craft: Creepy Cornucopia

Cornucopias are cool.  To me they are the often overlooked fall decoration.  Sure, you see them on Thanksgiving tables, but other than that?  Not so much.  Well, I've decided to change that and give a little extra life to the cornucopia.  Behold the creepy cornucopia!

With a little guidance from you this is a totally fun kid project.

What you need:
Flour and water
Sculpy clay
Craft paint
Glue gun

1. Take a piece of wire about a foot long and bend it into a three pronged foot - think "chicken leg".  I used some coated wire my hubby had laying around his shop; you can purchase it at Home Depot.  It's more flexible than a coat hanger, but about the same thickness.
2. Work the wire feet into the cornucopia.  This took a little bit of time to figure out where to place the feet and balance the cornucopia; it might be a little easier if you change his "tail" so it points up.  You can also see I trimmed the decorative braid and feet off my cornucopia.  It's up to you whether to remove those pieces or not.  If so, they clipped off very easily with a pair of wire cutters.
Once you are happy with the placement you need to bend the wire inside the cornucopia so it stays in place.  The paper mache will also help hold the feet in position.

3. Make some paper mache!  CLICK HERE for some paper mache recipes.  I haven't used this stuff since grade school, but now that I have rediscovered it I'm going to find more ways to use it.  Beware!  It makes a monster of a mess.  Make sure you have tons of newspaper on your work space to catch the glop.  You want to completely cover the inside and outside of the cornucopia as well as the monster's claws.
4.  Let the paper mache dry overnight.  Bummer!  I'm an instant gratification kind of gal, so I hate waiting.  But, if you don't let it completely dry you end up with a moldy craft project down the road.

5.  Good news!  While your monster is drying you can work on his personality.  Grab your Sculpy clay and make his eyes and teeth.  My monster has crooked gnarly fangs, but sweet baby blue eyes.  

6. Next is his tongue.  Grab two pieces of felt and sew them together.  Turn right side out and stuff VERY LOOSLY with fiberfil.  For definition I stitched a line about two thirds up the middle.   My tongue....well, my monster's about 3" wide by 6" long.  

I think my next beast will have a forked tongue.

7. While your monster's eyes and teeth are baking it's time to distress your cheesecloth.  You can "age" the cheesecloth in a multitude of ways, but I chose to soak mine in some leftover brewed coffee.  After you let it dry cut it into strips.
8. Once your beast is dry it's time to paint his body.  I chose a moldy green for the exterior and a dark blood clot red for the inside.   For his claws a chose a darkish gold.
9.  Using your trusty glue gun glue his eyes and teeth into place.  Note: This through my little monster off balance and I had to add some stones into his belly to bring back his equilibrium.
10.  Wrap the cheesecloth around his body; you can tuck or glue the ends into place.  
11. Glue the monster's tongue into place and you are done!

Week 27 Recipe: Creamy Enchilada Pie

You know what I was thinking the other day?  Casseroles are awesome!  You mix everything together and throw it in the oven.  It gets all bubbly and crusty on top and best of all....the longer you leave them in the fridge the better they seem to taste.  reheated or cold, they just taste yummy.  So here's this week's tip 'o the hat to casseroles: Creamy Enchilada Pie.

I'm a big fan of enchilada sauce.  For some reason my hubby likes enchiladas, but if you use the sauce in a casserole then not so much.  Weird, right?  So I thought I would try to pump up the volume on the normal enchilada casserole recipe to see if I could win him over.

Serves 8
1 lb lean ground beef or turkey
1 24 oz can of red enchilada sauce
corn tortillas
1/2 cup of corn
1/2 cup of black beans
1 jalapeño pepper chopped fine
1/2 cup of onion chopped fine
8 oz cream cheese softened

Heat oven to 350°.
Brown your ground beef and drain off any liquid.  
Add the black beans, corn and some of the enchilada sauce to the meat, mix well.  I say some of the sauce because you only want to add enough to moisten the meat; you don't want it overly soupy.
mix the cream cheese, jalapeño and onion in a bowl.  

Line a 9"x 9" casserole dish with foil.  
Spread a small amount of enchilada sauce in the bottom of the dish.
Dip your tortillas in the enchilada sauce and lay in the bottom of the dish.  4 to 5 should get you good coverage and I usually cut some in half to make sure the bottom gets totally covered.

Spread half of the cream cheese mixture over the tortillas.  This can get a little messy, but what fun is cooking if you aren't getting messy?

Layer on half of the meat mixture and sprinkle with some cheese.  
Cover with a third layer of tortillas and sprinkle the top generously with cheese.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes.  That's another reason casseroles are so great; all the ingredients are already cooked so you don't have to be so precise on baking time.  You just want everything to marry together.

Serve with your favorite cornbread.  Yum!