Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ramping up for quick holiday treats - Mini No Bake Cheesecakes - Only Four Ingredients!



It's that time of year again!  'Tis the season for treat days, goody days, parties, carry-ins and guests in general.  Sometimes I have lots of time to prepare snacks and treats but there are other times, that I don't have much time at all.  

It's nice this time of year to reassess the things you might make that are inexpensive, if you don't have a lot of money to spare, and a few things that are super quick, if you don't have much time. 

Yesterday, my daughter, Rebecca texted me and asked what she could make for her office carry-in meal the next day.  Her department had been assigned desserts.  I suggested a few things like Pumpkin Crunch Dessert, Sugar Cookie Bars (because they are delicious but cheap to make - and most generally you have everything on hand):


I also suggested making brownies, Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake with Easy Chocolate Frosting (again, a very frugal, pantry ingredient, dessert) (someone was already making brownies):


Someone was already making brownies so she thought that covered the chocolate stuff, and none of these other things were quite as quick as Rebecca was after.

I suggested something that she has had a few times at "girls' night". No Bake Mini Cheesecakes.  I also suggested a simplified version than she had previously made.  They turned out FANTASTIC so I told Rebecca to make sure she took a picture and I would put the recipe on my blog.

Here's how Rebecca made Quick Mini Cheesecakes AT HOME MY WAY:


No Bake Mini Cheesecakes
  • Small Box of cheesecake instant pudding mix
  • Small container of whipped topping, like Cool Whip
  • Fruit for topping (strawberries, washed and sliced)
  • Mini Fillo Tart shells like these (we found at Walmart) (I think one small whipped topping + one pudding mix filled 24 shells):



Instructions:

Stir pudding mix into thawed cool whip.  Stir Well.  Spoon or pipe into fillo shells.  Top with sliced strawberries.  

Options:  You could use other flavors of instant pudding mix, such as chocolate with rasperries, lemon with blueberries, coconut or banana.  

Note:  If making for serving the next day, just fill the shells with the pudding/whipped topping mixture but save adding the fruit until the day of serving.



Enjoy!


Gina




Monday, November 16, 2015

Red Velvet Cookies (made with coconut oil)



We have a great little cookie bakery in the town where I work called "Hot Box Cookies".  The cookies are heavy, moist, and fantastic!  We only get Hot Box Cookies on super special occasions and one of the guys at work had a birthday complete with some Hot Box Cookies not too long ago.  One of my favorites is the Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip cookies that they have so I set out recently to come up with a recipe that I could make at home.

Wouldn't you know it, I had everything I needed except butter.  Typical in my kitchen!  I did have some coconut oil which I sometimes use as a replacement for the fat in my recipes and/or in my soap making.  I decided to just use coconut oil instead of butter in my cookie recipe.  It was amazing!  I liked them so much that I decided to only make this recipe with coconut oil.  The cookies turned out nice and fat, crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside.  So good!  I am definitely going to try subbing in coconut oil the next time I make other cookie recipes.

I haven't posted anything on my blog in so long but I did want to share this recipe, if for no reason other than so I can find it the next time I want to make this recipe.

These cookies have a great presentation.  The deep red color and white chips make such a pretty cookie!  Plus they are completely delicious.  They are not overly sweet.  We love them!  They would be perfect to sharing on your Christmas cookie platter or making for a loved one for Valentine's Day.

Here's how I made RED VELVET COOKIES, made with coconut oil AT HOME MY WAY:


RED VELVET COOKIES (Coconut Oil)


  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (I just get LouAna brand at Walmart)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 teaspoons red food color liquid (optional but they won't be deep red without it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour (unbleached is best)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips


Instructions:

Soften the coconut oil slightly - not all the way, just a little bit so it is easier to cream/work with (but okay if it softens completely).  Make sure it is cool before adding the egg if the coconut oil heats up and melts all the way.  (I used the microwave.)

Mix in the egg and stir well well to incorporate.  Add in the food coloring  (it is impossible to add food coloring after dry ingredients so make sure to add it now).

Add in the brown sugar, baking soda, vanilla, salt, stir well.

Add in the cocoa powder, stir.

Add in the flour and stir well until combined.  I had to knead mine in some.  It just depends on how soft your coconut oil is if you will have to knead or can stir in the flour.  Add the white chocolate chips and mix until evenly disbursed.

Refrigerate for approximately 30 minutes.  (If you must refrigerate longer or overnight, you just have to take the cookie dough out of the fridge to warm up some/come to room temp in order to be able to dip it out.)  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Make balls the size of ping-pong balls and place on sprayed cookie sheet or use parchment paper.

Bake 10-12 minutes @ 350 degrees (fully preheated oven) or until done.  Don't overcook.


Enjoy!


Gina

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Remaking Leftovers into Something Wonderful "BBQ Chicken Pizza"!



Last night was pizza night at our house.  We were actually craving take out pizza on Tuesday (our favorite is Casey's) but - trying to be diligent about saving money, I quickly made our favorite pizza dough before leaving for work (Wednesday morning) and stuck the bowl of dough in the fridge.  I use the 5-Minute-A-Day dough which I blogged about here.

Making pizza at our house involves dough, a can of plain tomato sauce spread over the dough and sprinkled with salt/pepper/garlic powder/oregano, and then topped with cheese and usually pepperoni.

Tuesday we had crockpot BBQ chicken for supper so I had one lone piece of BBQ chicken in my fridge.  I have often seen BBQ chicken pizzas on menus and on Pinterest but had never really checked out what was on it.  BBQ chicken on pizza sauce never sounded very good to me.  Well... to my surprise most people don't use PIZZA SAUCE on a pizza with BBQ chicken on it.  Duh!!!  The recipes I found just involved spreading the dough with your favorite BBQ sauce, topping with cheese, and then BBQ chicken.  I had to try it!

I'm here to tell ya... BBQ chicken pizza is delicious!  What a great way to use up leftover chicken, either from BBQ chicken, crockpot BBQ chicken, or even leftover rotisserie chicken.  It was a great, cheap way to put dinner on the table.  AND IT WAS DELICIOUS!  In fact, I brought the leftovers with me to work for lunch.  I loved it.

My husband??  He was a sceptic.  I'm not sure I convinced him because he's weird.  But he likes those frozen BBQ chicken hot pockets and BBQ Chicken Pizza is the same thing - just made flat for heaven's sake!  Trust me, it is delicious!

Here's how I made BBQ Chicken Pizza AT HOME MY WAY:

BBQ Chicken Pizza

  • Unbaked pizza crust of your choice.  Hey, you could even use a tortilla, canned biscuit, a mix, or my favorite - the 5-Minute a Day recipe for dough
  • BBQ sauce, your favorite kind (it doesn't take much)
  • Grated Cheese (I used mozzarela and sharp cheddar)
  • Chicken, chopped (leftover BBQ chicken, rotisserie chicken)

Spread your dough into a greased/sprayed pizza pan.  Drizzle on some BBQ sauce and spread evenly.  Layer on the grated cheese.  Top with the chopped chicken.

Bake at 350 until cheese is melted and crust is browning (15 minutes or so.

Enjoy!


Gina






Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Super Easy - Crockpot Salisbury Steak



My hubby is a real meat and potatoes kind of man so I'm always trying to dream up new and improved ways of getting dinner on the table that he will enjoy.

One of our go-to meals is round steak or cube steak cooked in the crockpot with cream of mushroom soup or brown gravy mix, which he prefers over mashed potatoes (he even likes instant, so there ya go).  The problem is that cube steak and/or round steak is kind of pricey!

I had a brain storm Monday and decided to try out a similar method for making Doug's go-to meal with hamburger meat.  The one thing I was concerned about was that since we are gone from home for so long during the day, that the long cook time until we got home would pretty much cook the hamburger patties down to nothing.  The solution I came up with was to use hand patted, frozen hamburger patties, which I normally keep in baggies in my freezer for days when we need a quick fix in the kitchen. (Normally, I just cook them in a skillet with a lid as hamburgers/ cheeseburgers from frozen until they are done.)  I figured frozen hamburger patties would be small enough that they would have time to thaw and cook and yet not overcook throughout the day.  

Boy, was I right!  Doug peeled and sliced a few potatoes into the crockpot before we left since he likes potatoes, potatoes, and more potatoes.  He only sliced two into the crockpot since I planned on having noodles with mine.

Hamburger is SOOOO much cheaper than steak and throwing frozen hamburger patties, adding a packet of gravy mix and some water in a crockpot can't get any easier for busy mornings.  This meal turned out completely over-the-top wonderful!  Definitely I will be making this often!

This meal was reminiscent for me of the TV dinners I ate at my granny's house when I was little.  Yummy little meat patties covered in thick brown gravy.

Here's how I made EASY CROCKPOT SALISBURY STEAK at home my way:


Easy Crockpot Salisbury Steak

  • Hand patted, FROZEN hamburger patties (I just pat some decent burger into patties, and store individually in my freezer in baggies.  You could also freeze them and stack with wax paper in between - you do neet to get them apart.)
  • 1 package cheap brown gravy mix (mine came from Aldi)
  • 2 cups water 
  • Salt/pepper/onion powder
  • Optional:  Sliced/peeled potatoes (lengthwise), carrots, whatever vegetables you like.  This would be great with some mushrooms as well!
Thickening (for after you get home, but before you eat):

  • 3/4 cup COLD water
  • 3 heaping Tablespoons flour

INSTRUCTIONS:

Place frozen hamburger patties in your crockpot first.   Salt & pepper a little.

Top with any vegetables you are using, if any.  Sprinkle with seasonings like onion powder, salt, pepper.

In a measuring cup, measure the 2 cups of water, and add the gravy mix.  Stir until smooth.  

Pour over vegetables and frozen patties in the crockpot.

Cook on LOW all day!  (At least 8-10 hours).


WHEN YOU GET HOME:

Measure 3/4 cups COLD water in a cup (it has to be COLD).  Add 3 heaping Tablespoons flour and stir until smooth (should be like a runny milkshake).  Pour into crockpot and stir gently.

Replace crockpot lid and let cook while you are getting the rest of your dinner ready.  I made a side, some noodles for me, and mixed up some Homemade Biscuits.  (mmmm!)


Let the thickening in the crockpot cook another 15 or 20 minutes until thick (while you change your clothes, let the dog in- stuff like that).

Now dive in and be so glad that you threw all of this in the crockpot!  YUM!

(Any leftovers will make a great vegetable soup base or even a pot pie!)






Enjoy!


Gina


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Comfort Food - Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole



This weekend we had surprise overnight guests.  Our friends live in Florida so it was super nice to see them.  We wanted to make a really nice meal since they had been living out of a suitcase for many days.  

For supper on Sunday, my hubby smoked a pork loin and some chicken. I was looking to make a side that wasn't our typical, boring baked potatoes and decided to make my husband's family's recipe for Broccoli Cheese Casserole (which has actually has rice in it so I added that to the title). This is always one of the first dishes to be emptied at our family dinners.  It's yummy and cheesy and is always a family favorite.  It goes as well with baked ham and turkey for winter meals as it does with summer BBQ; a year round dish!!


I called my sister-in-law on my cell while I was at Walmart to see if she remembered the recipe.  She was at a ball tournament out of town but this recipe is so easy, she remembered it right off.  


My sister-in-law's recipe makes a 9x13 dish of this casserole.  I only made half of the recipe since my two overnight guests and I would be the only eaters.  


This recipe is fast to prepare. You literally mix it all together and toss it in the oven.  I even mixed it right in the dish.


Our family recipe for Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole uses Cheese Whiz and Minute rice. (eeek!  I know, LOL...)  I have yet to play with the recipe using real cheese and long grain or brown rice, but I'm going to try a few variations to see what I come up with.  For now, this will have to do!  Why mess with perfection when you're craving a family favorite?


Here's how I made Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole AT HOME MY WAY:



Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole

  • 2 bags frozen steamable chopped broccoli
  • 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 jar Cheese Whiz
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup instant (Minute) rice (UNCOOKED)
Instructions:

Steam the broccoli.  Carefully open and place in a sprayed 9 x 13 dish.  Add all remaining ingredients.  Stir well and spread evenly in the pan.

Bake @ 350 degrees UNCOVERED for approximately 45 minutes to one hour - or until edges are browning and all bubbly/cheesy.

Remove from oven and let sit a few minutes before serving.


(** If making one-half of this recipe, bake in a regular square or round casserole dish.  Also an 8x8 square pan would work fine.)



I served this dish with the smoked pork/chicken, some corn on the cob, rolls, and another family favorite:






It was a feast, I yell ya!



Enjoy!



Gina

Monday, June 1, 2015

Sunday cooking for the week - May 31, 2015

I was bound and determined this weekend to prepare a few lunch and breakfast items for the week ahead.  This would hopefully make packing lunches and grabbing breakfasts easier as well as helping me save a little moolah.

We have had some seriously cool and rainy weather for the last week or so here in mid Missouri.  Personally, I am ready for warm/hot - summer weather, but it appears I'll be waiting a little longer.....


Rainy/cool weather does make for good cooking weather.  I spent the cool, dreary day doing something I enjoy.  Cooking!  I started the day making breakfast.  My husband loves this combination:







Bakin' Bacon (I didn't make the biscuits-we had bagels.)

Later in the day, I decided to make a batch of these homemade pigs in a blanket to stick in the freezer for fast and easy lunch packing.  These are so easy to make since the dough is made in the bread machine.  I figure one batch of bread dough and a $1.00 package of hot dogs saves me a bunch and they smell oh so yummy coming out of the oven!



While the oven was hot, I made some Chocolate Granola.  Great for my breakfast and snacking pleasure!  I can't get enough of this stuff!




For supper, I made a favorite, Hawaiian Chicken:



I even mixed up my own Homemade Egg Roll Wrappers (easy recipe coming this week) for some Baked Egg Rolls:



Making the egg roll wrappers was so fun!  And they were perfect.  I can't wait to share that recipe here.

I froze my leftover white rice from supper in single portion bags for easy reheating.  Reheating frozen rice works so much better than refrigerated.  I'm not sure why that is, but it is what it is LOL.  I also froze the leftover egg rolls.  I even love them for breakfast!

I had some leftover Best Goulash Ever languishing in my fridge.  Before letting it spoil,  I scooped it into some pint canning jars for storing in the freezer.  They will make great substitutions for canned beefaroni which I don't buy any more.  I'm thinking any sort of "freezes great" type casserole should make wonderful single sized meals if packed in canning jars for my freezer.  I may do more items like this.

I'll share the egg roll wrapper recipe soon!  What a great cooking day!  And it was soooooo much easier packing my lunch and grabbing breakfast this morning since I had so many homemade, and ready choices to pick from.

Have a great week!



Gina


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Ditch the Box of chocolate cold cereal- CHOCOLATE GRANOLA has arrived!



I love, love, LOVE cold cereal for breakfast!  Specifically, I love CHOCOLATE cold cereal-cereal like Cocoa Krispies, those yummy little puffs that make my milk chocolatey and my tummy happy.  I also have gone crazy for Cocoa Puffs on occasion.  But, having given up boxed cereal years ago, I haven't had my fix for way too long.  That doesn't mean I haven't dreamed of a big spoonful of that chocolatey goodness.  But who knows what's in that stuff at the store?  I just can't buy it.

I recently set out on a mission to find a homemade solution to my chocolately breakfast love.  And, I have found and successfully made, the best, most delicious, chocolate, stays crunchy in milk, leaves my milk chocolatey, HOMEMADE cereal and it's called "CHOCOLATE GRANOLA"!

I've made one other chocolate granola recipe but wasn't sold on it.  It was made by melting chocolate chips and it left my cereal a little to bitter tasting.  I was looking for something similar to those Cocoa Krispies I grew up on.  This recipe pretty much nails it!  I keep mine in a big gallon glass jar and it keeps perfectly.  

You could eat this Chocolate Granola with vanilla yogurt, berries, bananas, but seriously, the best way to eat it is with cold milk, in a bowl, with a spoon!

I had it yesterday for breakfast and found that I was amazingly full and satisfied until lunch.  Winner, winner, granola dinner!

I actually had all of the ingredients in my pantry to make this.  I even had the chia seeds, which I found in my grocery store in a small pouch for hardly nothing.  I usually add them to my smoothies as they are a super food.  I was thrilled to see them included in this recipe.  There is also coconut in this recipe.  I have to confess that I don't taste the coconut one iota in this recipe.  I'm sure it adds to the overall perfect taste but don't worry that this will taste like an Almond Joy candy bar, if you don't happen to like those.  It really just tastes like chocolate cereal.  YUM!  

Here's how I made Chocolate Granola AT HOME MY WAY:


Chocolate Granola
www.AtHomemyWay.blogspot.com

  • 4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup raw walnut, pecan pieces - or almond slices
  • 1/2 cup chia or flax seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°.

Melt coconut oil and stir in cocoa powder, salt, honey and brown sugar.  Heat CAREFULLY so not to scorch just until brown sugar is melted.  Remove from heat.  Add the vanilla and stir well until smooth.

In a large bowl, combine oats, coconut, chia seeds.

Pour hot cocoa mixture over oat mixture and stir well with a big spoon until well coated.

Layer on a large cookie sheet which has first been SPRAYED or coated lightly with coconut oil.

Bake at 325° for 15 minutes.  Stir and bake another 10-15 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Let cool, then break apart and store once completely cool in glass jar or resealable bag.

Now, eat, enjoy, and don't feel guilty because you know exactly what's in this delicious cold cereal!

Enjoy!



Gina

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream AT HOME MY WAY



I've been meaning to put this recipe on for a while.  Since there's been lots of  bad press recently about Listeria and commercial ice cream (even very good, reputable brands), I thought it would be worth post this recipe.  Definitely it is always safer to make things at home.  This becomes more and more clear every single day.

My favorite ice cream is usually cherry vanilla.  I love the stuff!  And this recipe is perfectly wonderful.  I sometimes have a hard time getting homemade ice cream to be scoopable but after a few minutes on the counter, this ice cream is just as scoopable as if it were commercial, store bought ice cream.  Except for one thing, it TASTES better!  It is rich, creamy, cold, sweet, and just Mmmmm!

I think I will even use the base of this ice cream (the sweetened condensed milk + whipping cream+ half & half) as the basic base for all of my ice creams from now on.  I love it just that much.

This ice cream taste great served in a bowl or a cone.  I actually prefer cones with this flavor.  The cherries are just "the cherry on top" literally!

This recipe is easy to mix up, doesn't require eggs or cooking anything.  You basically dump it all together, chill, and then add it to the ice cream maker.  I use this Cuisinart, table top model which my mom bought me one Christmas.  It is one of those kitchen gadgets that SHE thought I would rarely use, but I use it all the time since I don't buy ice cream anymore from the store.




Here's how I made Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream AT HOME MY WAY:


Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 cups half & half
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk (homemade is fine - recipe coming soon)
  • 1 jar (10 oz) maraschino cherries, DRAINED and sliced/chopped (without stems) (save the juice for something else)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla 
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (vital ingredient, do not omit)
Instructions:

Combine all ingredients and place in the fridge to chill well.  Then add to ice cream maker and churn until thick.

I stored mine in an old Blue Bunny container.  It fit perfectly:



This ice cream is over the top wonderful.  I hope you enjoy!




Gina


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Italian Bread - Bread Machine Dough - So Easy! - One Small Loaf



I made a delicious loaf of Italian bread the other night to go with supper.  Italian bread is different from French bread in that traditional French bread (baguette) is made from only flour, water, yeast, and salt.  Italian bread adds a little milk, sugar, or fat to soften up the loaf.

Sometimes we buy those $1 loaves of "french" bread at Walmart and either make sandwiches with the bread or make garlic bread with it.  They're pretty good stuff if you don't have time to make homemade.  They have few preservatives and are much cheaper than buying sliced white bread for sandwiches.  A few cuts with my electric knife and I have some great sandwich bread with a little more stretch to my dollar.  

But I wanted a recipe so that I could make those at home. I've been trying french bread recipes and they're good, but not the texture that my husband prefers when we make garlic bread at home (because he's prefers store bought - ugh!).  I knew the loaves I bought at Walmart were a little soft, not hard and crusty like a traditional baguette.  I decided that Walmart is really selling Italian bread instead of French bread.  The quest was on to find such a recipe!

I used my basic White Sandwich loaf recipe because I wanted light, airy bread, just soft and not crusty for my loaf and just eliminated the oil from that recipe.  I kept the water, yeast, sugar, flour & salt.  This recipe is small enough that it makes one loaf, no more, which is perfect to go with supper or for some sandwiches.    It saved me a trip to the store and turned out spot on!  This little loaf is the size of a traditional loaf of french bread that you would buy at the grocery store in a clear plastic bag, often sold in the deli/bakery section.  

I wrapped my hot loaf in a cloth instead of letting it cool on the counter, with just a small opening for steam to escape, and this worked perfectly to produce a soft, moist loaf of Italian bread which wasn't crusty and hard like a typical baguette (which is also delicious but not the texture I was after).

This Italian Bread recipe will be my go-to recipe for those long, unformed loaves of bread that I USED to buy.  I do think I'll try this recipe in a loaf pan though.  I loved the texture of this bread so much and the soft interior that I think we will also love it for sandwich bread.  It will be kind of like those sliced loaves of Italian bread found in the sandwich bread section of the grocery store, often found in clear/white/red wrappers.  

I make the dough for this bread in my bread machine.  That gives me the perfect amount of kneading for a delicate dough which turns into delicious bread!  I'm sure you could try it by hand though and it would turn out wonderful.

Here's how I made an Italian Bread Loaf AT HOME MY WAY:


Italian Bread (one small loaf)
(Bread machine - dough only - 
bakes in the oven)
  • 1 cup very warm water (hot but no hurt is my rule - like hot bath water)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 packet of active yeast or (2 teaspoons yeast)
  • 3 cups all purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Instructions:

Measure 1 cup very warm water (hot but no hurt - should feel like hot bath water).  Add yeast and sugar.  Let sit a few minutes until starting to get frothy.

Add to bread machine pan.

Next add the flour and salt last.

Set bread machine to dough setting.

When dough setting is complete, dump onto floured surface.  I just use a dinner plate covered with flour.  Toss with flour until you can pick it up but not completely squishing the air out of it.  Be gentle.  Form into a long loaf.  I like to give mine a few twists like a corkscrew for shape.

Place in french bread pan or on a cookie sheet (sprayed, oiled or greased).  Let rise 45 minutes.

Bake in PREHEATED oven at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until browned well.

Let cool about 10 minutes and then wrap in a clean towel leaving a small vent for steam - until cool.

Cool completely before slicing.



Enjoy!


Gina

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sewing Beach Bags



Even big girls need Easter baskets and this year I made my girls a couple of fun Beach Bags to hold their treats.  

I'm not going to include a pattern.  Just a link to this great used 2004 pattern book that I bought at Amazon:



You can find it on Amazon HERE!


A friend of my older daughter had one of these bags that her mother made for her to use as a diaper bag.  The body of the bag is quilted and it has pockets galore.  I knew it would make a fun project and a perfect beach bag for summer.  I begged and pleaded for my daughter's friend to ask her mom where she got the pattern.  She sent me a picture of the book and I searched Amazon until I found it.  I don't believe it is in print anymore, but the directions are easy and the book was cheap.

You start by cutting all of the pieces out and quilting the main body of the bag.  I had never done any quilting, machine or otherwise, but I figured it out with no problems. On the aqua bag, I actually drew lines on the lining fabric so I knew where to sew, but for the pink one, I just free styled it, and it turned out just fine!

Here's a closeup of the quilting:



A friend and I noticed after I showed the bags to her that they were completely reversable.  I used cheap bath towels from Walmart for my lining.  Terry cloth at the fabric store is about $10 per yard and this was a much cheaper way to get terry cloth for less $$.


I had the gray fabric and some old batting in my fabric stash so I just had to buy the accent fabrics for the pockets.  

I really think they turned out nice.  As nice as any Vera Bradley bag, if I do say so myself!  I hope to add a few extras like bikini bags (made from PUL for wet bathing suits) and sunglass cases, but I haven't gotten those done yet.  I was just glad to get these finished in time for Easter morning.

My girls were thrilled and I can't wait to make myself one!  Thinking I'll use black fabrics and black thread for the quilting.  Fun-fun!  These were really fun and super rewarding to make!  I can't wait to make more of them!

Enjoy!


Gina


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Quickie Supper - Remaking Leftovers into- Beanie Weinies & Mac & Cheese



Sometimes you just need a quick meal idea - to get some food on the table.  Sure, you can run to your favorite burger or pizza joint, but all of that food you have in your pantry/cabinet is already there, right?  You might as well cook it and be $10+ richer in your pocket?  That was my theory the other night, anyway...

I really wanted to go out for supper.  I get home from work 6PM-ish and had managed to force myself to go for a run.  My only problem is that after a supper-time run, I am really famished by the time I get home!  I tend to gravitate to takeout food in times like these, but I took a deep breath and a long look in my refrigerator and this is the meal I came up with.

It was DELICIOUS!  

It immediately brought me back to the days when my dad was a long distance truck driver and my mom made us quick and easy suppers like these to stretch her budget.  A meal like this can be stretched with more or less hotdogs and more or less cans of beans.  My mom even sometimes made beanie weenies with a small amount ground beef instead of hotdogs and we really liked that too!  

Instead of macaroni and cheese, we typically had leftover spaghetti hanging around in the fridge, so more often than not, my mom always made "spaghetti & cheese" instead of macaroni and cheese.  Something about slurping up those cheese covered noodles makes this dish taste even better.

So, this is a flexible meal - stovetop cooked baked beans with or without meat; some kind of cooked pasta with a little butter, milk, and cheese, and any other vegetable you might have hanging around.  This time of year, for me it's asparagus fresh from my garden.  Gotta love that!

Supper doesn't have to be an expensive, laborious task.  Suppers just like this beanie weenie/mac & cheese dinner, can fill 'em up just as well, with very little cost and lots of smiles!

Here's how I make my Beanie Weenie - Macaroni & Cheese meal AT HOME MY WAY:

Beanie Weenies
  • Canned pork & beans (generic is just fine) (do not drain)
  • hot dogs (just a few, sliced into thick chunks)
  • brown sugar
  • raw onion or onion powder (my family doesn't like cooked onion so I always use onion powder)
  • ketchup
  • mustard
Instructions:

In a saucepan or skillet, brown thick hot dog slices in a little bacon grease (like 1 teaspoon), butter/margarine, or a dab of oil.  Stir around until they start to have brown spots on the hot dog pieces; dump on your can(s) of pork & beans.  Sprinkle on some onion powder (like 1 teaspoon).  If you want to use fresh onion, just cook that first in the oil/bacon grease/ butter/ or margarine before you brown the hot dog slices.  Next add a little brown sugar (like 2 Tablespoons per can of pork & beans that you use); ketchup (3 heaping Tablespoons per can of pork & beans), mustard (3/4 teaspoon per can of beans).  Stir well and cook without a lid until thick - about 15 or 20 minutes while you get the mac & cheese ready.

Mac & Cheese

  • Cooked/salted pasta (leftover or freshly cooked spaghetti pasta, elbow macaroni, rotini noodles, shell pasta, etc.)
  • Butter/margarine (2 Tablespoons cut from the stick)
  • Milk
  • Cheese (American, Velveeta, grated cheddar)

Put drained pasta in a saucepan.  Add 2 tablespoons of butter/margarine, a drizzle of milk (just enough to cover the bottom of the pot), a few slices (2) of cheese and a little grated cheddar.  Heat on medium and stir often until all of the cheese is melted and mixed through.  Taste to see if it needs a little salt.  A little pepper is also good.  Remove from burner and let sit about 5 minutes before serving (this allows the cheese to set up some making it thicker and yummier).


Enjoy!


Gina


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