Monday, December 3, 2012

Tortilla Soup--Ah Yummy!

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I went looking for a copy cat recipe for Cafe Rio's tortilla soup--and found one here.  I have to say, pretty good stuff.  I made a couple tweaks based on what I had in my cupboard and the time that I had (got home from work at about 5:45 and had the soup done and ready by about 6:15).  I do love Cafe Rio's soup, and this one came as close as I've ever gotten to replicating it.  Totally worth it.  I think the key to speed and tastiness was my stop at my local Hispanic grocery store (they have already made pico and guac and fresh tortillas).   This recipe made 4 servings. 


1 small onion, diced
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 T. vegetable oil
3 cans low-sodium chicken broth
1 c. water

Heat the oil over medium heat and saute the onion for about 5-6 minutes until transparent and soft.  Add the spices and cook another minute before adding the broth and water.  Simmer for about 20 minutes while you get the rest of the ingredients ready.

1/2 a  rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 T. taco seasoning
1 T.  Herdez salsa ranchera (look for it on the Mexican food aisle)
1/2 c. water

Toss the shredded chicken in a bowl with the taco seasoning and Herdez sauce
(the Herdez is pretty spicy, so use more/less to control the heat)-add about 1/2 c. of water and heat up.  

For garnish
Pico de gallo
Shredded cheese
Tortilla chips
lime wedges
warm flour tortillas

Build your bowl of yummy soup like they do at Cafe Rio:

Get your bowl
Mound up some chicken
Scoop of guacamole
Scoop of pico
Cheese (if using)
Now add the hot broth
Top with corn chips and cilantro
Squeeze a lime wedge over the top.

Serve with a warm flour tortilla and enjoy the yumminess. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Joy to the World Chalkboard Prints

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Chalkboard art seems to be very popular these days. I'm getting ready to deck the halls around my house and decided I wanted to go with this look for my mantle art. I thought about painting up a board in chalkboard paint and actually writing on it, and I toyed with doing vinyl, but nope, I decided to do some Photoshop instead-not sure it was any faster- but it is easier to share :)

So, the first thing I needed was a chalkboard background, which it turns out I had to make because if you want to print something in large format, no such background exists out on the internet.  I found some great instructions here--but I've uploaded my version so  you can just use mine if you want.  It is HUGE, 20x30 and at 300 dpi, so you can print it (I think it's a 12 MB file).  

I did the Joy print in both 20x30 and 8x10.  I suppose you could try it at other sizes too--should have plenty of pixels to print whatever you want.  I'm doing the giant size from Costco for $8.99 and will put it up in the mirror frame already on the mantle.


Blank Chalkboard background 20x30
8x10 Joy to the World
20x30 Joy to the World

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Bucket List

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Pinterest is full of Christmas Bucket Lists or Advent Activities--so here is my version.  I've created a check list style, which is great if you just want to pick something and do it as you feel like it.  I also created some labels, which would be great to stick on cardstock or scrapbook paper and put in a jar to randomly pull out (or slip into an advent calendar).  Since I live in Salt Lake, I added a few local things to my list, but for my friends and family in Idaho I tweaked one for them too.  I've actually already checked several of these off already (including a picture with Santa at Disneyland :)

I decided to keep mine pretty simple, just black and white- so feel free to print it off on colored paper to make it more festive.  I've uploaded the Word version, just in case you want to use it as a template for your own list. 

I thought it might be a nice gift for neighbors; the activities are family-centered and pretty inexpensive.

Click on one of the links to get the PDF of the item. 

SLC Label style (print on Avery 5160 size labels)
SLC List style
Idaho Falls Label style (print on Avery 5160 size labels)
Idaho Falls List style

Microsoft Word version (if you don't have the same fonts as me, you'll have to make some changes).

Example:  Salt Lake lists include the "ZCMI Candy windows" which are now City Creek Candy Windows and Gardner Village.

Idaho Falls lists-includes Winder Dairy and Candy Cane Lane!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pumpkin Pie

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Picture from

I've been a bit busy lately, so the projects have fallen behind, but with Thanksgiving tomorrow, I know I needed to get my assignments done for the family dinner.  I'm in charge of pies and yams...both things I really love.  I did the apple pie using some of my freezer pie filling, so that was a snap.  The pumpkin pie is SUPER easy--why buy it (even from Costco) when it takes about 5 minutes to mix up and about an hour to bake.

I used the recipe from McCormick's Pumpkin Pie Spice mix, found here.  You'll need
1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice mix
1 unbaked pie shell.

I par-baked my pie shell for 5 minutes before I started mixing up the filling.  Mix the pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs and spices with a mixer until nice and smooth.  Pour into the shell.  Wrap foil around the edges of the shell so it doesn't get too brown during baking.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425, then turn the oven down to 350 and keep on baking for another 40 minutes.  My foil was wrapped a bit too close to the filling, so when the filling puffed up during baking, some of it got stuck on the foil.  Oh well.  I'll be covering it with whip cream anyway.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Candy Corn Rice Krispy Treats

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When I got my Everyday Food magazine for October, these adorable treats were printed on the inside back cover.  I already love rice krispy treats, so making them a festive candy corn shape seemed like the right thing to do.  Don't try to divide a single batch and tint each part...just make 3 separate batches because you know how quickly the marshmallow will set up  on you.  Also, add the food coloring to the marshmallow mix BEFORE you pour it over the cereal...much more consistent coloring that way.

Ingredients  for 3 batches
12 C. mini marshmallows (probably need 2 bags)
9 C. cereal
9 T. butter
3/4 tsp. salt

For each batch you'll need:  4 C. marshmallow, 3 C. cereal, 3 T. butter and 1/4 t. salt.

In a saucepan on med-low heat (don't try to do this fast on a higher temperature) melt the butter, then add the marshmallows and salt.  Stir until melted.  Pour over the cereal in a large bowl and stir up with a wooden spoon.

Make up the first batch of treats, don't add any food coloring and press into the bottom of a bread pan that you sprayed with cooking spray.

Make the next batch with orange coloring (or mix red/yellow...more drops of yellow than red).  Press on top of the plain layer.

 Make the 3rd batch and color it yellow and press in to the pan.  Let it sit for about 5 minutes and then plop out of the pan on a cutting board.
Cut the loaf into slices, then cut each slice in half and use your fingers to squish the top together and gently round the edges. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chevron Thanksgiving Word Art

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OK, so this post looks remarkably similar to the last one, I just changed holidays. I did bake cookies this week, some yummy ginger molasses cookies, so hopefully I can get that posted too.  In the meantime, here is my Thanksgiving word art.  I printed it in my home printer 8x10 with no trouble, here is the link to the large file, so you should be able to print it at least that large, maybe 11x14.  Gobble, gobble.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Halloween Chevron Subway Art Printable

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A couple years ago, I started this blog because I had seen another Halloween themed subway art, which inspired me to do some for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I've now done my own Halloween version and am happy to share it with you.  I created it in Photoshop Elements and used the fonts:

Bleeding Cowboys
Wild West Wind

Click here to get the large JPG of the file so you can print it.  It will print 8x10 with no trouble, not sure if you can stretch it to 11x14.  I printed mine on my home printer with photopaper and it looks great :)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Freezer Meals for a New Mom

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I am so excited for this weekend!  I get to go and see my new niece who is 3 weeks old.  Of course my plan is to just cuddle her the whole time, but I thought I could probably be of some help to my sister-in-law by bringing a cooler full of freezer meals.  I spent a few nights getting these all put together (if I had a whole day I could have done one of those cook-for-a-month-in-a-day things, but I only had evenings after work).  I made dishes that I know our family has always enjoyed and that would be really easy for them to prepare.  Many of the pins and blogs and recipe books about freezer meals had "mostly ready" meals where you had to stir fry the meat or cook side dishes, but I wanted things that were pretty much self contained.

I stopped at Dollar Tree and found packages of foil containers (4 for $1)--I thought I had enough rectangle ones, but oh well, lasagna in a round pan will taste just fine.   I ended up with 5 entrees, each making two pans...10 meals ready to go!  (Its just my brother and his wife needing the meals, so if you are making things for larger families, you could just use larger pans and end up with 5 meals, or double things up).

16-20 Corn tortillas
1 1/2 lb. Shredded cooked chicken
1 small onion, diced and sauted
1 can green enchilada sauce
8 oz. Shredded mexican cheese mix

Dice the onions and saute until soft.  Clean out pan and use it to warm the tortillas.  In the bottom of the pan spread some sauce.  Fill each tortilla with chicken, onions, cheese and sauce.  Once the pan is full, pour sauce all over making sure all the tortillas are covered.  Sprinkle cheese on top.
Bake from frozen:  350 for about 40 minutes.

1 lb ground beef
1 c. quick oats
1 sm. onion, finely diced
1 egg
1 can tomato sauce
1 tsp each salt and pepper

Mix everything up in a bowl and put in a loaf pan.   You can top the meatloaf with your favorite bbq sauce before baking, or make your own sauce by mixing ketchup and brown sugar. When ready to cook:  Thaw in fridge, then bake for 70-80 minutes at 350.  Serve with the twice baked potatoes.

Twice Baked Potatoes
4 russet potatoes
salt and pepper
cheddar cheese

Bake the potatoes at 350 for about 60-80 minutes (depends on how big the potato) until tender.  While still hot, use a paper towel or pot holder to hold the potato while you cut it in half and scoop the potato into a bowl.  Add butter and milk and whip the potatoes with a mixer.  Refill the potato shells and top with a thin slice of cheddar cheese.  Cool, then freeze in a zipper bag.  To bake from frozen:  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.  


Chicken Pot Pie
I used the America's Test Kitchen recipe (free sign up with your email address)
When ready to cook, put frozen pie in 400 degree oven for 40 minutes and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

chicken broth
frozen peas
prepared pie crust (I used the Betty Crocker mix)

Thai Coconut Chicken Curry
1 lb chicken, cut into pieces
1 each red, green, yellow pepper, cut into same size pieces as chicken
1 onion, cut into pieces
2 carrots, sliced in rounds
3 mushrooms, sliced
2 T. green Thai curry mix (I buy a bottle of seasoning at Ross or TJ Maxx)
1 can coconut milk

Toss the chicken with the curry powder mix.  Put the chicken in the bottom of a zipper bag then pile up the veggies.  Freeze.  When ready to cook:  Thaw in fridge, toss in crock pot with a can of coconut milk for 4 hours on  high.  Serve over rice (I pre cooked rice and put it in a zipper bag too--thaw in fridge, reheat in microwave with a bit of extra water added).


1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 clove garlic
2 tsp. basil (dry)
2 small cans crushed tomatoes
2 cans tomato paste
1/2 c. apple juice
1 tsp each salt and pepper
3 c. cottage cheese or ricotta
2 eggs
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
2 T. parsley flakes
1 tsp salt and pepper
Noodles, cooked (I don't like the no-cook  noodles)
Mozzarella, shredded

Cook the meat in a large pot.  Drain any excess fat.  Add the garlic and cook for about one minute.  Add tomatoes, paste, basil, apple juice, salt and pepper to the meat.

In a bowl, make the cheese mixture:  Cottage cheese (small curd), parmesan, parsley, eggs, salt and pepper.  Mix it well.

To make the casserole:  Put a bit of sauce on the bottom of the pan.  Layer noodle, then a layer of meat sauce, then a layer of cheese mixture, then shredded mozzerella.  Repeat the layers, ending with shredded mozzerella.

I chose to bake the lasagnas, then cool then freeze.  When ready to cook:  Bake for about 1 hour at 350 on a cookie sheet to catch any spillover.

Peach Pie
I had a few peaches from a neighbor's tree, so I made a single crust pie using the same technique I've done with freezer pies before.

4 C. peaches
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. instant tapioca
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. butter
prepared pie crust (I used just a top crust that I made with a Betty Crocker mix)

Mix it all together and put in a 8" pan, dot with butter and place the crust on the top. Freeze.  When ready to bake, do not defrost, just bake from frozen at 350 for about 1 hour (may need to wrap some foil around the edges to keep the crust from getting too brown). 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Baby Toms

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I've had several baby showers recently and saw these cute shoes on Pinterest and decided to give them a try. I purchased the pattern from Twirly Bird

I followed the instructions and they turned out cute. However, cutting the back out of a single piece of fabric (on the fold) would make assembling them a bit easier. The tiny size makes it a bit tricky to maneuver.

I used a corduroy fabric from Walmart for the main fabric, with some brown faux suede on the soles.  The instructions call for elastic, but make sure you choose knit or braid style elastic...the woven type is too stiff to use in these shoes.  My JoAnne's had all sorts of colors of knit elastic (just use your 40% off coupon). 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Freezing Corn

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As a kid, I remember my family spending the end of summer putting up food for the winter.  Mom bottled peaches, bing cherries, pears and pickles.  She also made use of our avocado green  upright freezer (which I think may still be around somewhere...) by freezing corn.  Corn was a veggie that all of us kids would definitely eat.  Since I was just a kid, it seemed like a literal mountain of corn that would be piled out in the  yard and my brothers and I were assigned to husk it all (with the reward of a trip to A&W for a rootbeer float after).  I figure that it was probably around 12 dozen ears of, lots of corn.  Big family.

Twelve dozen would be serious overload for me, so I usually do just 1.5 dozen, sometimes 2.  If the ears of corn are good sized, you'll get about 1 c. of kernels per ear.  Start to finish for my 1.5 dozen was about an hour.

Get the corn husked and rinsed to get off as much of the silk as you can.

If you are doing a large amount of corn, you'll want to buy a block of ice and fill up one side of the sink with the ice block and water--the other side of the sink is just cold water. If you do a small batch, like me, you can get away without the ice block.

Bring your water to a boil and add as much corn as will fit.  Bring back up to boil and put the lid on the pot--boil for 4 minutes.

Remove the corn from the boiling water and leave it in a bowl for a few minutes while you go get more corn for the pot.

Once the next batch of corn is on the timer, you put the cooked corn in the side of the sink WITHOUT the ice to cool a bit.  As you keep bringing corn from the stove, you'll move corn out of the water side and into the ice side.  (See, if you go straight from the pot to the ice side, you'll melt the ice...what you want is to cool the corn a bit first in the water, then get it nice and cold so that it stops cooking and will be easy to handle).

Pull the corn out of the ice water and place on a clean towel.

You can either get all the corn cooked and cooled before you start cutting it off the cob, or you can just do each batch as it is ready.

To cut the corn off the cob I like to use a pan with low sides (like the broiler pan)-although today I used a serving platter and a sharp butcher knife.  There are gadgets that are designed for cutting kernel off, but a sharp knife works really well. (I couldn't hold the camera, the knife and the corn all at the same time, so be sure to use both hands :)

Hold the corn with the fat end on the tray and cut the kernels off close to the cob.  With a couple tries you'll find just the right spot where you're getting all the corn off the cob, but not getting any of the tough cob in the process.

Once the corn is cut off, you have a pile off corn strips that everyone who walks by will snag.  Use your hands to reach in and break up the corn.  I do not add anything to the corn. 

All that is left is to measure it into freezer bags.  I make small 1-cup serving portions and put it in regular sandwich bags, because I like to put several bags into a larger freezer bag.  My mom used to do 3-cup bags for our family of 7.

This corn is so tasty in January when generally there is no good produce to be found.  Well, I think a rootbeer float is in order!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Shabby Nightstand with Blue Interior

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I've had the twin nightstand to the one I painted earlier this summer just waiting for me to decide what to do. I finally found a great inspiration picture on Pinterest and set about making mine just as fun.

This stand needed more repairs than the other one. The pins at the base of the front door were missing and a chunk of wood in the front right corner needed to be repaired. I used some wood filler resin (2 part putty) to fill in the missing wood and hit my local Ace Hardware for the small pins (my Ace has a wall of bits and bobs that you can buy just one at a time, including hardware for furniture). I lightly sanded all the surfaces before priming it with one coat of Kilz.

I painted the interior of the drawer and cabinet Aqua Smoke from Home Depot, still from the sample can from the previous project. The outside is crisp white-also a Behr Ultra Premium sample, just no color added. I distressed it a bit with my palm sander and finished it with a coat of wax. Glass knobs from Hobby Lobby fancy it up. (I'm still thinking about what to do with the super fun fabric I found at HobLob while picking up the knobs).

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Black and White Cookies

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I have a good friend who works in a bakery, and sometimes she brings me home a black and white cookie--so delicious!  I don't often make cookies that require frosting, but when I saw these on the cover of Cook's Country magazine, I knew I'd be trying them out.  So glad I did!

According to the magazine,the traditional B/W cookie is lemon flavored, but they did a vanilla version and I really loved it (because as much as I like chocolate frosting, I don't love lemon/chocolate).  So, here is the recipe

Cook's Country, March 2012, pg 22

1 3/4 C. all purpose flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/8 t. salt
10 T. unsalted butter, softened
1 C. sugar
1 lg egg
2 t. vanilla (the good stuff)
1/3 C. sour cream

Glaze (I made half a batch of glaze and it was just enough for a full batch of cookies)

5 C. powdered sugar, sifted
7 T. whole milk (divided)
2 T. corn syrup
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
3 T. cocoa powder

For the cookies:  Preheat to 350.  In a bowl, sift the dry ingredients together.  In a stand mixer, use the paddle to cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, the add the egg and vanilla.  Alternate adding some of the dry mix then the sour cream to the mixer.

Use a 1/4 c. measure to make drop cookies (note:  I did not use that big a scoop, I used my regular cookie scoop, which is about 1 1/2 T.) onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake 15-18 minutes until the edges are lightly golden (turn the cookie sheet around after about 7 minutes).  Cool on a rack.

For the glaze:  In a bowl, whisk the sugar, 6 T. of the milk, corn syrup, vanilla and salt until smooth.  Transfer 1 C. of the mix to another bowl.  In the remaining glaze, add the rest of the milk and the cocoa powder.  Now you have both the vanilla and the chocolate glaze.

To glaze the cookie:  Frost with the vanilla first using an offset spatula to smooth it to the edge.  Place in the fridge or freezer for a few minute to set the glaze, then frost with the chocolate.

I froze some of the leftovers, and while they tasted delicious, the chocolate glaze changed color-so keep that in mind if you are making them in advance. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Table re-do with French graphic transfer

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I've had this little table in my garage for a while, and it needed some love.  I know it is solid, but someone did some tole painting on it many years ago, and then it looks like it spent some time outside before I found it.

I knew that removing paint would be a really trying job considering all the curves and crevices, so I decided to get the top looking great and let the legs be a bit shabby chic.

Using some of the "less toxic" paint stripper (the kind that is orange scented) I coated it thickly and laid the plastic tarp over it to let it do its work for about 50 minutes.  Some scraping and most of the paint came off, revealing what appeared to be walnut!  Another coat of stripper and another 30 minutes and the top was pretty clean.  I let it dry and sanded the top clean.  The legs, I used the palm sander to remove some of the paint, but left some too.

I re-stained the top using a dark walnut stain and let it dry.

To do the image transfer, first I picked out a graphic from The Graphics Fairy.  This one is a chocolate label, so of course I love it! I had to flip the image so that the words were backwards (I resized the image in Word, then used the Rotation menu to flip it).  I printed out my image on freezer paper.  I tried it on wax paper and my ink jet printer DID NOT like the light weight of wax paper (it just ate it).  Freezer paper has paper on one side and wax on the other. So just cut a piece of freezer paper to the same size as regular printer paper.  Just set it up so that the image will print on the waxy side.  Be super careful when you remove the paper from the printer that you don't smudge it.

I wiped the table top down with a damp paper towel before I laid the graphic down, waxy side down (the side with the ink on it).  If I were doing it again, I'd cut away all the extra paper from around the image so that it would be easier to center.  Once you set down the image, don't move it.  The ink jet ink will start to transfer to the slightly damp table.  I used a credit card to smooth down the image and get a good ink transfer.

I wiped the table with wax and called it good.  Cute huh?