Monday, April 25, 2011

Meal of the Week 5: Rachel Ray's Chili Recipe

This week’s meal of the week is brought to us by my stand out favorite quick meals chef, Rachael Ray. Now I’m not really into talk shows, but if I wanted to watch one I would probably watch hers. It’s wholesome, focuses of food, occasionally shows fuzzy animals, and otherwise makes me chuckle. Really, I just think I like that she comes out of an elevator at the beginning. All that to say, this week’s recipe comes from yet another cook book that I have never made anything out of, Guy Food, One of RR’s Top 30 30 minute Meals books. So here goes:
Manly Manny’s Chili:
For this recipe you will need:
DSC_0021DSC_00252 T vegetable oil
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 lbs ground sirloin 90% lean
Montreal Steak seasoning (or salt and pepper to taste)
1/2 bottle of beer (what are YOU going to do with the other half?)
14 oz Beef Broth
6 oz Tomato paste
1 1/2 T dark chili powder
1 T ground Cumin (yes! I have it this time!)
2 oz smoky BBQ sauce
2 oz hot sauce (about 3 T)
6 oz shredded smoked cheddar cheese
chopped raw onions optional
DSC_0026DSC_0027Start by heating the oil in a big pot over Med-Hi heat.
Sauté the onions and garlic for 3-5 min. 
Add Beef and brown it. (3-5 min)
Season with salt/pepper or Montreal steak seasoning. Add beer and let it reduce by half.
Stir in broth, paste, chili powder, cumin, BBQ sauce, and hot sauce. Reduce heat to Med-low and simmer for 10 min. Top with cheddar and onions. Serve with or over corn chips. (Although we really like corn bread and a pack of jiffy corn muffin mix is like $0.50 versus the $2 for a bag of cheap chips – pick your fave or what ever your budget can afford.)
The key to the amazing pictures is always keeping the baby busy while the food is cooking. I find I have better luck with great pictures when the whole house is about to erupt in chaos. So like right now: the babyDSC_0016DSC_0017 is screaming and the dog needs to go out.. oh and my husband is calling on the phone. Time to take a quick snapshot of the boiling chili mmmmmm.
Ok, so really folks, the only Chili I’ve ever seen that has no beans in it is Wendy’s chili. (Although a pot of it did win the chili cook-off at a church picnic I was at years ago.) However, because my husband got really excited about the fact that there were no beans since he doesn’t care for beans, We had salad on the side, but if you’re more inclined to eat your veggies hot you can always chop a green pepper and put it into the chili. Which brings us to the rest of my substitutions. I didn’t feel like paying an arm and a leg for “smoked” cheddar cheese, so I bought what was on sale, sharp cheddar cheese. I know it won’t taste the same but it should be ok. I also used “honey BBq sauce” instead of “Smoky BBQ sauce” because that’s what we had. No substitutes for cumin this time because… drum roll please… I actually bought some!! Go ahead, send up a cheer. And that’s it! It was Oooooh so Yummy!
Happy Eats!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Meal of the Week 4: Spinach Quiche

Brinner! Everyone, at least in my house, LOVES brinner. I try not to fix it too often because then we get spoiled, but for the last two weeks brinner has just been on my mind. Last week it was french toast with a side of scrambled eggs and this week’s hankering for breakfast food in the pm is bringing us the meal of the week.
Crust-less Spinach Quiche
For this recipe you will need:
DSC_0029 (2)
3 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, softened

1 cup fat-free milk
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and well drained
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 package of presliced fresh mushrooms
This is so easy it makes me smiles just thinking about it!!
In a large mixing bowl beat together the cream cheese, milk, eggs and pepper until smooth.
DSC_0031 (2)
Stir in remaining ingredients with a fork. Tip into a pan of your choice, my 8x13 Pyrex worked great – or you could put it into an actual quiche pan if you have one (I don’t….).
DSC_0033 (2)
Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
My substitutions:
This recipe is SOOOOooooooooo awesome because you can put whatever you want into it! If you want to add bacon bits, do it! If you want to add ham, do it! If you want to add more veggies, do it! Just make sure that you really do squeeze the spinach dry and drain any water from the veggies you add. I might add a little fresh garlic next time and maybe a little more pepper, but that’s what I love about this basic quiche recipe, you can play with it however you want!
This was so yummy, I can’t wait to eat the leftovers!
Happy Brinner!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tea Towel Dress

Have I mentioned that my sewing machine is a piece o’ junk? It took me all day to figure out why the tension was messing up (a key to this AWESOME easy dress) but I finally figured it out!!! I’m so excited.
I used to have a dress like this, but I think mine was maroon, or maybe it was yellow? Anyways, I remember thinking it was soooo comfy. I can’t wait to see how Sweet Pea looks in this fabulous dress!
Note: The tutorial I’m linking doesn’t say to use normal thread for the top thread, but you do. ALSO, if you have issues with your bobbin tension the shirring will NOT work. I learned this the hard way. Luckily, I also found great tips for fixing my bobbin tension and I shouldn’t have that problem any more!!! Hooray!!
Happy Dress Making!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Organza Flowers

I take no credit for this craft idea. Actually I have no idea where it came from, but a friend of mine showed me how to make these a couple of months back and just this week my husband asked me if I would make some for our Sweet Pea. How cool that my husband is actually asking me to make something specific next!
<3. He’s awesome. I should make something for him next….

On to the craft!


For this activity you will need:
about an 1/8th of a yard of your choice color of organza.
A needle and thread
3-5 tiny beads.
Oh yeah… you need scissors too. Smile

Start by cutting out 3-4 circles of different sizes from the organza. No need to be exact. We’ll smooth out the edges in a minute. In fact, sometimes a bumpy circle makes a cool flower. I just did circles because I didn’t feel like being overly interesting. If you try it with a bumpy circle, I’d love to hear how it turns out!


** This is NOT a kid friendly activity, so make your all your bitty ones are napping or playing elsewhere while you craft!!***

Light your favorite candle. I like one with a scent, but if your sensitive, the scent is only for pleasure and in no way related to the craft.


Carefully melt the edges of each piece of organza by moving it slowly in and out of the flame. You’ll start to see the edges curl up. Be careful that you don’t melt the edges too much. After you try it a couple of times you’ll start to see how much is too much and how much is just right. It all comes down to your personal preference.


Layer the the pieces together so that they create a flower.


Using the needle and thread, run a stitch through all the pieces of fabric. Run the needle through a bead to string it into the stitch.


When you finish your stitch, try to insert the needle as close to the thread as possible so that your stitches don’t show.


Repeat for 3 – 5 beads.


Sew onto your favorite hair band or a round of hosiery (they work great for baby headbands!) and voila!

Here’s hoping that April showers bring more May flowers your way. Happy Crafting!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dessert 1!

This week’s meal of the week is actually dessert! I love dessert and certain desserts remind me so much of my childhood. This is one of the best memories and a super tasty treat that you could almost count as healthy! I had to ask my mom for this recipe because its not one in a cookbook that I own. Humorously, when she pulled out her recipe to email it to me she found that whatever marker she had originally written it down in had blurred over the years. The runny green marker recipe card didn’t yeild much help, but, because my mom is BRILLIANT, she found a similar recipe online for me. So, while I’d like to say this recipe is my mom’s… its actually from (Read more about it at,186,158186-233200,00.html Content Copyright © 2011 - All rights reserved.) with my mom’s modifications. We found it quite tasty. I hope you enjoy it!
Butterscotch Apple Cake
Today’s ingredients: All the basics for cookies plus a few extras SmileDSC_0056
Beat together: (I don’t have an electric mixer, but mixing with a fork worked just fine)
2 c. sugar (I only used 1 1/2 C)
1 c. cooking oil + 2 tbsp. oil 
3 eggs
1 tsp. each cinnamon and vanilla (could probably use a little more cinnamon. I found it a bit lacking on the spice)
Mix dry ingredients and add:
2 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt (scant)
And now for the best two ingredients:
and Butterscotch chips… mmmmmm
Fold in 3 cups diced apples.
We had a little issue while cutting the apples… my chopper didn’t like the idea of tough apple skin…DSC_0066
But it turned out ok...DSC_0068
(Remember that I folded in the Apples AND the Butterscotch chips. so if you’re following my mods, skip the last step below)
Pour into greased and floured oblong pan.
DSC_0074Sprinkle 1 package (6 ounce) butterscotch chips over top of cake batter.
Bake at 350 degrees approximately 45 minutes.
My mom’s modifications:
I highly suggest using these mods as the result was basically awesome. I used only 1 1/2 cups of sugar – and I probably could have used less. Because of the butterscotch chips and the apples, the cake would be WAY too sweet if you actually used the whole 2 cups of sugar. Next time I’ll probably only use 1 cup and maybe use some apple sauce as well. I wish I had added more cinnamon – 1 tsp would have added more spice!! (I like spice). I also used whole wheat flour instead of white flour (mostly because I didn’t have any white flour… shhhhhhh! don’t tell anyone) but actually using whole wheat flour is exactly what my mom used to do! It would have also been fluffier (it was pretty dense on tast testing) if I has used more flour. Probably a 1/2 cup extra would have been nice. I also folded in the butterscotch chips instead of putting them on top (that’s the way momma always did it!) A 9x13 pan works perfectly.
Watch out for snacking kids with this one! Happy Eats!

P.S. Mom email me this morning. Said she probably peeled the apples. It tastes amazing either way, but peeling the apples definitely makes chopping easier... :-)