Tuesday, January 31, 2012

on top of the fridge

 Apparently, if you leave a large bowl filled with cloth napkins on top of your fridge ~
a kitty will declare it the perfect snoozing spot.

 He might even try to tuck himself into the bowl.

Monday, January 23, 2012

cabinet and drawer organization in the kitchen

I was at it again this weekend ~ cleaning out and reorganizing some of my 
kitchen cabinets and drawers. 
It's a big job when you take everything out, thoroughly wipe down 
the inside of the cabinets, then put everything back in
neatly and organized.

Here's the BEFORE picture of my main food cabinet:

And here's the AFTER.
I use jars (mainly repurposed) for nuts, grains, pastas, and dried fruit.

This junk drawer always gets so messy!
This is obviously the BEFORE:

And the AFTER:

Baking cabinet BEFORE:

Baking cabinet AFTER ~ including new shelf liner:

Next up on my clean-up and organization list ~
the under-the-sink bathroom cabinets.

Monday, January 16, 2012

dishing up comfort food on cold days

Something I enjoy doing when I have time - mainly on non-work days - is to cook and bake. We had this garlic chicken recipe for dinner tonight and let me tell you ~ it was delicious. Next time I make this, I'm going to try serving it over mashed potatoes. I can imagine the creamy potatoes soaking up all that garlicky gravy...drool.


(Source: recipegirl.com - adapted from Everyday Food)
3-4 lbs. bone-in chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, drumsticks)
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 med. sweet onion, sliced
8 large garlic cloves, halved
Several springs fresh thyme (note: I used dried thyme)
1 c. dry white wine
1/3 c. flour
Season the chicken with salt & pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over med-high heat.
Cook the chicken, skin-side down, until the skin turns golden brown (about 4 min.).
Combine the onion, garlic & thyme in a slow cooker & season with salt & pepper.
Top with chicken, skin-side up. In a small bowl, whisk together the wine & flour until
smooth & pour it over the chicken & into the slow cooker. Cover & cook until the chicken
is tender - 3-1/2 hours on high or 7 hours on low.
Serve chicken topped with sauce. Serve over rice, couscous, spaghetti, polenta, or potatoes.
Yield: 4 serv.

Apple pie muffins are wonderful with a cup of tea or coffee, especially when they're warm. I found this recipe on a blog, but I don't remember which one. I would love to give credit where credit is due, so if anyone knows what blog these are from, please let me know.

2 - 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 c. half and half (low-fat is fine)
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
3 c. diced apples
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 T. melted butter

Preheat oven to 375F. Mix dry ingredients in large mixing bowl. Mix wet ingredients (egg - apples) in a medium-sized bowl. Add the wet ingredients to dry mixture and stir just until mixed. Mix topping ingredients in small bowl. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan or line with muffin liners (grease those, if using). Scoop batter into each cup, filling 3/4 full. Sprinkle topping mixture over batter. Bake 25 min. Let cool on wire rack.

There's nothing coming home to a bowl of hot, nutritious soup on a cold winter night. 
Warms you to the bones!

1 lg. onion, diced
2 T. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 ribs celery, diced (1/2 c.)
1 lg. carrot, peeled & diced
1 med. zucchini, diced
1 tsp. EACH dried oregano, basil, and salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
6 c. low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth (48 oz.)
1 28-oz. can no-salt added diced tomatoes
1 14-oz. can no-salt added crushed tomatoes
1 15-oz. can low-sodium cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 c. whole grain elbow pasta (note: I used ditalini pasta)
1/3 c. finely shredded Parmesan cheese
2 T. chopped fresh parsley leaves

In a large soup pot over med-high heat cook and stir onion in hot oil for 4 min. or until translucent. Add garlic; cook for 30 seconds. Add celery and carrot. Cook and stir 5 min., until veggies begin to soften. Add zucchini, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Cook for 2 min., stirring frequently. Add the broth and the diced and crushed tomatoes. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat to med-low. Simmer uncovered for 10 min. Add the beans and pasta. Cook 10-15 min. more or until pasta and vegetables are tender. Top servings with cheese and parsley. Makes 6 serv.


And what's a bowl of soup without some homemade bread? This recipe is easy-peasy because it starts in the bread machine. It's a recipe from Laine at www.lainesletters.com.

1 c. warm water
2 T. olive or canola oil
3 T. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 c. whole wheat flour
2 c. bread flour
2 - 1/2 tsp. yeast

Hit the dough cycle. When it has risen in the machine, take it out and shape into a smooth, round loaf. Put this to rise again in a greased round cake pan or pie tin, covered. Let double again. Bake at 375F. for 30 minutes. Dust loaf with some flour for an old world look.


Shredded chicken taco bowls make an easy dinner that everyone loves, as they can add their toppings of choice. It also makes great use of leftover chicken. I simply layered brown rice, shredded leftover chicken, black beans, salsa, sour cream, and fresh cilantro.

What dishes have you been cooking up lately?

Monday, January 9, 2012

smash book

Have any of you jumped on the Smash Book craze?
I consider it a form of art journaling, though not as "fancy".
You can buy a plain, unlined book; or you can buy the original Smash Book.

Basically, you make it what you want it to be - "smash" in photos, ticket stubs,
restaurant menus, little sayings, stickers, drawings...
You can write in it, doodle in it, decorate it any way you want.

Funny thing is ~ I had started one of these books nine years ago, before the 
term Smash Book was even invented!
So, now I've been working to complete my book (a plain one).
I did buy the original Smash Book, which I will start once my
plain book is finished.

Yikes ~ anyone want to come wash my window?!
This little work area is in the guest/craft room, which is still a work-in-progress.
We still (obviously) have to get blinds and curtains for the windows.
And wash them first.

While I'm posting about the guest/craft room, here's how I displayed my rubber stamp
collection. I got this cute idea of displaying the stamps on a shelf - instead of hiding them
in a drawer - from Brenda at www.cozylittlehouse.com

I'd love to hear if any of you are making a Smash Book
and, if so, what kinds of things you're "smashing" into it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

some new decor for the new year

I'd been looking for tall, skinny, matching lamps for the console table in the living room
for a long time and had checked outall the usual sources -
department stores, big box stores,HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, and different online sites,
  all to no avail. This weekend, however, I was in Hobby Lobby and while
browsing, I spied these two red lamps. At first, I wasn't sure about them
and almost passed them up.
Then I figured I may as well try them, and if they didn't work, I could always return
them, right?
Well, turns out I love them! I think they look perfect.
Who would've thunk?? 
Living room lamps from Hobby Lobby!
Just goes to show you that you have to think outside the box sometimes.

I love the soft glow they emit at night...
And the deep red color of the shades during the day.
Oh - you see that green and gold pitcher and two matching glasses on the top, 
middle of the console table? I had totally forgotten about them. I found them
tucked away in a cabinet down in the basement. They belonged to my grandmother.
I'm assuming they are for some kind of liquor?
I don't know, but they sure are pretty!
I also found this pretty little baker's rack while I was at Hobby Lobby.
It's much more useful (and prettier) than the painted red wooden chair I previously
had in that same space. It holds a lot of my cookbooks.
I plan on updating that little lampshade. I was thinking of hot-gluing a band of
ribbon along the bottom of the shade, maybe with pom-poms.
Any other (simple) ideas?
I also hate that you can see the lamp cord going across the wall. I have this "thing"
about visible cords. Drives me nuts!

I change the plates on the vertical plate rack all the time, depending on my mood, 
the season, a particular holiday, or heck - simply because it's Friday. 
Or I didn't have hormonal night sweats in my sleep the previous night.
Anyhoo, also at Hobby Lobby, I also found the white and black
monogrammed plates. I wanted four of them to use in a typical place setting, 
but they only had three left with the initial "R".
You can't see it in this photo, but I have one other "R" plate at the top of the rack.
I'll go back to Hobby Lobby in a couple of weeks to see if they have any more of these plates in stock.

Here's to new beginnings...even if it's just some household decor for now.