Monday, March 28, 2011

Mexican Wagon

I know I have talked about my long awaited America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution Cookbook already, and here is yet another reason why.

Me and my husband love Mexican food, so whenever I see something easy but tasty looking I try it.  The new cookbook has recipes for shredded chicken, shredded beef and shredded pork.  I started with the chicken.  The recipe called for a combination of boneless chicken thighs and breasts, I am not a fan of dark meat but I figure to fully test the recipe I would need to keep it like the original.

Just the stuff that you start on the stove and move into the crockpot left a delicious aroma throughout the house.

As a side to the shredded chicken there was a Mexican Rice recipe at the bottom of the page that I figured I would try.  The recipe was huge, it looked like it would make enough for the army, or atleast the mexican army.  But once again to keep it fluid, I made it like it was written.

Well the meal turned out FANTASTIC!  The chicken was juicy and flavorful.  The rice was authentic. Let's just say my husband loved it so much he said he was going to sell burritos out of the back of his car at lunchtime in town.

 I have a funny side note about the rice.  Working with many people of  hispanic descent in my day job, they all talk about "washing rice".  I always tell them rice should not be washed, you are washing whatever nutrients they have added when they "enriched" the rice.  Many bags of rice actually say "Do Not Wash".  This recipe called for washed rice, so yes ladies and gentlemen I washed the rice.  On top of that I fried it...CRAZY!  This is probably why it tasted so good!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

We after patiently waiting I finally received my copy of America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Cookbook and I am ready to use it.  I love my crockpot and needed some fresh new ideas to use in it.  The Loaded Baked Potato Soup has lots of great ingredients, most of which I had readily available at home.  I love when that happens.

Well the potato part didn't go a planned, I don't use allot of potatoes at home, but I had a bag in the pantry for a few weeks.  Much to my surprise those potatoes were there maybe longer than I had thought, they looked like aliens with more bulging eyes than I can count.  So instead of the russet potatoes I used the red skinned ones I had planned on using for St Patrick's Day.  Minor bump.


8 ounces bacon, chopped
1 onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tea dried thyme
2 tbsp flour
4 cups chicken broth
3 pounds russet potatoes
2 cups shredded cheddar
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt & pepper
3 scallions, sliced thin

Cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, 5-7 minutes.  Transfer bacon to paper towel lined plate.  Pour off all but 2 tbsp bacon fat left in skillet.

Add onion, garlic, and thyme to fat in skillet and cook over medium high heat until onion is softened and lightly browned.  Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in 1 cup of broth, scrapping up any browned bits, transfer to slow cooker.

Stir in remaining 3 cups of broth and potatoes into slow cooker.  Cover and cook until potatoes are tender, 4 to 6 hours on low.

Transfer 2 cups cooked potatoes to bowl and mash smooth with potato masher.  Stir cheddar into soup until evenly melted, them stir in mashed potatoes and cream.  Let soup sit until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Season soup with salt and pepper.  Serve with scallions, crisp bacon and additional cheddar.

The soup took a little longer to cook than the recipe called for, I don't know if it was the type of potatoes I used.  It was a tasty soup that really improved the longer it sat.  Reheated was actually the best!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Probably one of my favorite products is Bisquick, I have three cookbooks dedicated to the mix.  I also buy it in bulk at Costco, the large box lasts about a month in our house.  From pancakes to waffles, biscuits to cake, I really use my fair share.

So I was having some friends over for a little crafting and I was looking for a quick easy dessert to make with what I had available in the house, as I was in no mood to make a run to the store last minute.  I reached for my Best Bisquick Recipe Cookbook and found the Cream Cheese Pound Cake.  About 5 minutes later all of the ingredients were mixed and waiting for the oven to finish preheating.  The recipe called for 55-60 minutes in the oven, and I have come to the conclusion I have a hot oven so I lessened the amount of time to 45 minutes and checked early.  It was done at the 45 minute mark.

I expected the cake to be moister, but I am going to attribute that to the hot oven and will be purchasing myself a thermometer for the oven.  All in all it was a tasty cake.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Most Recent Shadow Box

I had promised a few weeks ago to post my most recent shadow box for a friend.  I was real happy with the quality of this one.  First of all the quality of the shadow box was far superior to the other ones I had purchased at Michael's.  This one I got at TJ Maxx, the linen backing was tight and thick, and the box itself was well made.  The corners were fitted properly, the older version had spaces, all though small they still annoyed me.  This box could not be beaten for the price either, I actually bought whatever I could get my hands on that day and I have been browsing TJ Maxx for them again.

The paper itself was from Close To My Heart and it is called Mayberry.  For the bling I choose some light blue pearls I had picked up in Michael's.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Explosion Box

Well I hosted another Get Your Craft On night with some ladies from the "mom's group" aka MSB.  I have been shooting for a project every other month, and I am always on the search for the next great thing.  Once I see a craft that I want to copy, I hope it has directions, often it doesn't.  When it doesn't have directions I turn to google and youtube to find directions.  I am still in awe of all the crafty women out there who are putting directions in video, what did we do before the internet?  Had to figure things out for ourselves?

Okay, back to the project.  I had seen the explosion box on Kerry's Paper Craft's Blog, she is great with all of her directions.  She even goes so far as to provide links for where she buys her supplies.  This project she didn't have directions because her box was made out of what looks like chipboard.  So I found directions on youtube, for one strictly made out of cardstock.

I was actually surprised at the ease of this project and how cute is actually turned out.  I haven't added photos to my box yet because I made it with "girly" paper and may give it as a gift.

A big hit that night was the butterfly punch Heidi bought with her, it was from Martha Stewart Crafts.  Traci doubled the butterflies to give them a 3D effect and I loved it so much I put one on the inside of the cover.

Baby Shower Favor

I was excited about having a baby shower at work because not only was I excited about a friend having a baby but I was dying to make a cute favor I had an idea for.  I had been itching to use my owl punch and this was the perfect opportunity.  I did a search of owl baby showers and found a cute phrase to put on the favor "Look whoooooo's having a baby".

I used the scallop square and scallop oval from Spellbinder to make the front and back of the box, I used the word window punch and owl punch from Stampin' Up.  The paper was a pattern out of the new Close To My Heart catalog.  They were the perfect size to be filled with Ghirardelli squares.