Sunday, February 20, 2011

Banana Shake

  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  • 1/3 cup 1% milk
  • 1/3 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt (about 2 large spoonfuls)
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1 large extra ripe banana (about 8 inches)
  • 1 Tbsp Smuckers sugar-free marmalade
Put all ingredients in the order listed above into a blender. Mix on "Shake" setting until ice cubes are fully blended. Serves 1.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ben's Turkey Pot Pie

This recipe makes two pies:

Bake three turkey legs in Dutch oven with baby carrots, one Yukon gold potato, one red potato, two chopped leeks, 1/4 of a chopped red onion, 1/2 quart chicken stock, and sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary at 350 degrees F for 90 minutes. Discard thyme and rosemary.

To make gravy, broil the drippings from the turkey plus one quart of chicken stock in the Dutch oven with the lid removed. Add 1/2 cup of wheat flour to thicken it while stirring occasionally.

Separate the turkey from the bone. Put pulled turkey and other ingredients plus frozen peas into two aluminum pie dishes and add salt and pepper. Add gravy. Roll out Pillsbury crescent dough and cover the pies. Bake in oven at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes to one hour.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jewelry Crafting

General supplies: Choose your beads plus wire cutters, jewelry pliers and crimp beads.
General directions: Follow this tutorial.
Our necklaces:
  • Bob's Necklace (top left) - Use jewelry wire and make 3 or 4 strands of equal length, interspersing slightly larger beads for variety. Thread pendant onto necklace. Attach all strands to a multi-strand clasp.
  • Jess' Necklace (top right) - Thread all beads onto jewelry wire and close with a lobster claw clasp. Symmetry is important.
  • Stacy's Shell Necklace (above) - Follow directions for Jess' necklace.
  • Stacy's Crochet Marker Bracelet (above) - Use six large lobster claw clasps to make crochet markers and attach them to jewelry chain
  • Stacy's Yarn Spinner Necklace (right) - Attach yarn spinner and beads to a long crocheted strand.

Sheppard's Pie

This recipe is by Rachael Ray w/ modification by Stacy. Original recipe is available here.
The recipe below is for an 8x8in casserole dish and serves 4.
For a 9x13in (3 quart) dish double the recipe and it will serve 8.

  • 2 pounds of potatoes (such as russet) peeled and cubed
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream or softened cream cheese
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil to coat pan
  • 1 3/4 pounds ground beef or ground lamb
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef stock or broth
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves (optional)

(1) Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 12 mins.
(2) While boiling potatoes:
  • Cook meat and vegetables
    • Preheat large skillet over med high heat. Add oil to hot pan with meat.
    • Season meat with salt and pepper.
    • Brown and crumble meat for 3 or 4 mins (if meat is fatty, spoon away some of the drippings).
    • Add chopped carrot and onion to the meat. Cook veggies with meat 5 mins, stirring frequently.
  • Cook gravy
    • In a second small skillet over med heat cook butter w/ flour 2 mins.
    • Whisk in broth and Worcestershire sauce.
    • Thicken gravy 1 min.
  • Add gravy to meat and veggies
  • Stir in peas

(3) Drain potatoes and pour them into a bowl.
(4) In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, egg yolk and cream.
(5) Add cream mixture to potatoes and mash until potatoes are almost smooth.
(6) Put it in the oven
  • Preheat broiler to high.
  • Fill a small rectangular casserole with meat and veggie mix.
  • Spoon potatoes over meat evenly.
  • Top potatoes with paprika and broil 6 to 8 inches from heat until potatoes are evenly browned.

(7) Top casserole dish with chopped parsley if desired and serve.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pear and Bacon Sandwich

Sandwich Ingredients
  • Turkey Bacon
  • Wheat bread
  • Bleu cheese
  • 1 Bosc Pear
  1. Cook bacon* over medium heat for 8 mins, flipping once
  2. Toast bread
  3. Slice pear
  4. Assemble all ingredients

Salad Ingredients
  • Dandelion greens
  • Belgian Endive
  • Fresh Parsley, 4 sprigs per person
  • Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
  • Mayo
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Wash greens - use a ratio of 5 parts dandelion greens to 2 parts endive
  2. For dressing, combine soy sauce with mayo in a ratio of 1 part soy sauce, 2 parts mayo; Next add a squeeze of lemon and a dash of pepper
  3. Mix dressing, then toss with salad
  4. Finish with another dash of pepper on top

    For sandwich:
    • You could use regular bacon or sliced deli meat such as Black Forest ham
    • You could do a closed sandwich instead of an open-face one
    • You could use a milder cheese like Gouda or mild cheddar
    • You could use a different type of pear like Anjou or use a soft apple like Gala
    For salad:
    • Instead of dandelion greens, you could use green leaf lettuce or mixed greens
    • Instead of endive, you could use iceberg lettuce

    *Notes: If using regular bacon, cook at med-high for about 5 mins, flipping once

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    Champagne Chicken

    • Chicken Breasts
    • 1/2 Bottle Champagne
    • 1-2 Shallots, cut into fourths
    • 1/2 an Onion, chopped
    • Baby Carrots
    • Fresh Thyme

    1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
    2. Brown chicken in pan on med-high for 5 mins (I used level 7 out of 10 on my stove). Add 1/4 cup champagne to the pan after minute 3.
    3. Place a slit in each breast and insert a quarter shallot. Flip and brown for 3-5 more mins on side 2. If pan becomes completely dry, add a little more champagne.
    4. Place carrots, onion and any remaining shallot quarters into baking dish. Add chicken, then pan drippings, then 1/2 cup champagne and thyme.
    5. Bake for 20 minutes, then baste and add 1/4 cup more champagne.
    6. Bake for 10 more minutes.
    7. Serve remaining champagne with dinner.

    Optional Sauteed Mushrooms
    • Olive Oil
    • 1-2 Shallots
    • 1 Tbs Butter
    • 6 Mushrooms, sliced
    • Fresh Thyme
    10 mins before chicken will be done, heat oil in pan over med-low (I used level 3 out of 10). Add shallots and butter. Wait 2 mins, then add mushrooms and thyme.

    Everyone likes this chicken, even cats.

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    Where are the Crafters?

    Last week Louis and Stacy were sick. This weekend Bob and Jess are sick. We hope to craft together again next weekend!

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Ben's Grandma's Cranberry Bread

    Ben's grandma made this bread using Peggy MacDonald's recipe.

    • 1 lb cranberries (4 generous cups)
    • 2 med oranges
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 4 cups sifted flour
    • 2 tsp soda
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 2 Tbs melted butter
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 2 tsp vanilla
    • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
    • Coarsely grind berries and oranges into a bowl and add sugar; let set for 2 hours.
    • Sift dry ingredients together into a large mixing bowl.
    • Combine remaining ingredients with fruit mixture and add to dry ingredients; Mix just until flour is moistened.
    • Turn into two greased 9"x5" loaf pans lined with greased wax paper.
    • Cover with aluminum foil to help prevent loaves from cracking on top.
    • Bake at 350 deg F for 20 mins.
    • Uncover and bake 40 mins more.
    • Turn out immediately; Peel off wax paper; Cool.
    • Keep one day before slicing; Wrap in foil to keep moist.

    Friday, December 31, 2010

    Ben's Grandma's Sloppy Joes

    • 1 1/2 lbs Hamburger
    • 1 Large Onion, chopped
    • 1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
    • 3/4 cup Ketchup
    • 2 Tbs Sugar
    • 2 Tbs Yellow Mustard
    • 1 Tbs Vinegar

    Steps (serves 6)
    Brown meet over stove.
    Add onion and green pepper.
    Mix rest of ingredients.
    Add to meat and simmer 30 mins.
    Serve with buns.

    Monday, December 20, 2010

    Homemade Candy Treats

    What better to bring to your office during the week before Christmas than candy!

    Caramel Marshmallow Balls
    I got the recipe from here but my recommendation is to only use 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks). Also, be careful not to let the caramel burn.

    Oreo Balls
    Bob go the recipe from here.
    Sugar-Free Chocolate Dipped Fruit & Pretzels
    Stacy's recipe is here. Note that adding agave will make the chocolate more stiff/crumbly and less spreadable. The sweetness of the apples counters the slight bitterness of the sugar-free chocolate well, but pretzels are probably best left saved for regular chocolate only.
    For more candy ideas, try:
    Fudge and more

    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    Sugar Cookie Gingerbread Sculptures/Houses

    Stacy and I baked sugar cookies. They baked up a lot wider and rounder than expected.

    • To make the red and black cookies we used gel food coloring. We used liquid food coloring for the green cookies.
    • For the pine trees, we made 2 trees, cut one in half, and spackled with icing.
    • For the black tree, we made a small circle cookie, cut it in half, and used it as a tree stand.
    • For the Charlie Brown and Lucy cookies, we dyed white icing with food coloring to get yellow, blue, black and pink.
    • For our mortar/icing, we used white Betty Crocker Easy Squeeze Decorating Icing

    Note: We'll add shaved coconut for snow to the Snoopy display. We use cake-takers to transport the cookies.

    Sunday, December 12, 2010

    Homemade Ornaments

    We used yarn, ribbon, sewing pins and Styrofoam balls
    to make these ornaments at a holiday party!
    For design #1: Use thick ribbon, tie into 6 knots, close the loop, and add a bell.
    For design #2: Pin pieces of three colors of ribbon into place on ball.
    For design #3: Wrap three colors of yarn around Styrofoam ball.
    For design #4: Wrap yarn around a paper ornament form.
    For design #5: Wrap yarn around ball and secure with pins at top and bottom. Add extra pins and wrap yarn around them on side of ornament.
    For design #6: Wrap ribbon around Styrofoam ball, securing with hot glue as needed, and finish with pins on top and bottom.
    For design #7: Wrap thick ribbon vertically around ball and wrap a thinner ribbon around it.
    For design #8: Use small design pins to secure a small bead and a sequin all over ball.

    For more inspiration see this example and this other example.

    Saturday, December 11, 2010

    Home-Printed Cards

    Steps to create these cards:
    1. Do a watercolor painting for the card's front, i.e. poinsettias.
    2. Scan the painting.
    3. Import the picture into Microsoft PowerPoint, resize to fit onto blank cards, and add a red outline*.
    4. Design a message for the interior of the card, i.e. "Happy Holidays"
    5. Print and cut out cover and card's interior. Secure to blank cards with a glue stick.
    6. Print out address labels if desired.
    *Note: Outlining makes designs easier to cut out and apply evenly to the card.

      Monday, December 6, 2010

      Gifts Post - Gifts in a Jar, Pet Portraits, and Decorated Candles!

      Tonight was a choose-your-own-adventure night of crafts.

      Gifts-In-A-Jar by Stacy
      1-Pint jars she made:
      1-Quart jars she made:

      Candles by Bob
      She bought flameless candles** - just as great-smelling as regular candles but zero mess, zero stress. She decorated them by hot-gluing a thicker ribbon and then a thinner ribbon around the candles, finishing with a bow.

      Pet Portraits by Jess
      The portraits were created using watercolor paint. You can see them by clicking here.

      UPDATE: Jess finally made her gifts-in-a-jar too! It took 3 hours (surprisingly long).

      *Mexican Hot Cocoa Recipe for Pint-Size Jars
      • Ingredients to make 3 jars:
        • 5 cups powdered milk
        • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
        • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
        • 3 tsp powdered vanilla non-dairy creamer
        • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
      • To fill gift jars:
        • Mix all ingredients and divide equally among three pint-sized jars
        • Use tulle or other fabric on lid of jar and tie on a decorative bow
      • To make hot cocoa:
        • Combine 2 1/2 tbsp mix per 1 cup boiling water and stir
        • Each pint-size jar makes about 6 servings of hot cocoa

      For more gift-in-a-jar ideas, see this example and this other example and this further example and yet another example.

      **Note: "Flameless candles" are also called "electric candles" or "battery-operated candles." They have an LED light instead of a flame.