Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Metal Letters & Numbers

Maybe you've seen the metal numbers and letters that I've been coo'ing over for a couple of years?  At first, I wasn't sure what letters I would want or even where I would put them....At $20 each, I knew that I didn't want to have to order too many.

My doll of a husband brought home some individual boxes (wine-crate-like) of candele lunghe Italian pasta, and it finally hit me.  In that really awkward small space above our extra tall upper kitchen cabinets, I could put pasta "crates" and the letters "E-A-T".  Really, $60 + taxes + shipping for three little letters???  Not so much. 
I had to find a way to do it for less...and I *did*!
Paper mache letters from Hobby Lobby or JoAnn Fabric + a couple of metalic paints from Home Depot or Lowe's?  Yes, please!

The pasta crates.  (The candele lunghe noodles are each as long as the box!)

Even though they aren't lower case letters, I absolutely love them.  I've already started thinking of ways that I can incorporate them into seasonal decor and possibly do some on the other side of the kitchen as well.  All said and done, each letter (depending on how much paint from each can I actually used) cost me about $3.50-$5.00 to make.  Even if I had emptied out both cans on the 3 letters, they would have been less than $9 each. I made a set out of thinner chip board letters as well for my sister.  If you can snag the letters when they are on sale for 40-50% off then, you could make them for about $2.50-$3.00 each!  If you're a big fan of the numbers that are found on everything right now, this would be an inexpensive way to add one to any part of your home!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Italian Flag Chicken

If you know me, then you know that I cannot *stand* to watch or hear Rachael Ray.  I'm not a fan of her cookbooks, either.  I'm not a food snob; although I certainly love food and appreciate really great food. 
I have a confession: Her magazine is starting to grow on me.  I don't know where the subscription came from; honestly, I thought it was a joke from a friend at first.  It keeps coming.  I pick it up. I flip through it.  I even *gasp* tried a recipe.
I saw a recipe for "Italian Flag Chicken" in her November magazine, and I altered it some.  I will say that I was happy with the results.  It was healthy and tasty.  Even our little people enjoyed it.

Italian Flag Chicken
adapted from Rachael Ray

  • 1/2 onion diced & sauteed
  • 8 packed cups stemmed, thinly sliced kale
  • 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 3 oz. shredded fontina cheese
  • 1-2 T minced garlic
  • 1/2 t oregano
  • 1 t thyme
  • 6 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 3 lbs.)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 T EVOO
  • 2 cans cannellini beans


  1. Cook kale in pot of boiling, salted water for 5 minutes; drain and run under cold water. Squeeze dry or spin in a salad spinner and transfer to bowl; stir in tomatoes, garlic, thyme, oregano, sauteed onions, and cheese.
  2. Cut a deep pocket in center of each breast; stuff with kale mixture and season.
  3. Heat EVOO in skillet over medium heat; add chicken and cook about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the beans and any remaining kale mixture to the pan. 
  5. Cook until chicken registers 160 in the thickest part of uncut chicken breast. (Not the stuffing)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bento: Fall

Food Markers....I've seen some amazing things done with food markers on cheese, and so I finally broke down and ordered some Wilton Food Writers on Amazon.  I think this cheese had too high of a moisture content, because I struggled.  Regardless, I'm here to share my triumphs and what I am LEARNING as I sew, bake, cut, and create.  I'm going to try on Provolone next time and see how that works.

In the Laptop Lunch system:
  • Sandwich with fruit leather cut out and negative
  • Crackers with Cheese leaf cut outs (colored with Food Writers)
  • Yogurt covered pretzels
  • Dried pineapple
  • Mini rice crackers - my son prefers the apple cinnamon ones even over the caramel!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bento: Pumpkins

Quick bento!  I've been without motivation lately.  This is still fun according to my 6 year old, but it only took an additional 30 seconds from packing a "standard" lunch without any "fun" elements.  Fruit leather cut outs and their "negatives" are used in every container.
  • Fresh peaches, silicone "grass" baran divider, carrots, Ranch dip
  • Mini rice cakes
  • Sandwich cut out in pumpkin shape, dried pineapple
  • Rice Crispy treat

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Granola Popcorn Balls

A few years ago, I started experimenting with my popcorn ball recipe.  I found some pumpkin spice granola at our local grocery store in the health food "bulk" section.  It made to-die-for popcorn balls.  This year, we can't seem to find the pumpkin spice granola....So, reinvention of a "fall" recipe began.

Granola Popcorn Balls


  • 3 1/2 quarts popped popcorn
  • 1 quart granola (pick your favorite flavor, or use plain and add seasonings)
  • 1 C light Karo 
  • 1/2 C molasses
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 t Cinnamon
  • 1/8 t Ginger
  • 1/8 t Allspice
  • 1/8 t Cloves
  • 1/4 t Nutmeg
  • 2 T Vanilla


Grease a large 5-quart bowl. Mix popcorn with the granola. In a 2-quart saucepan (or larger), combine karo, molasses and sugar. Add seasonings as desired.  Boil over medium heat until temperature registers 260°, or to hard ball stage. Pour syrup evenly over popcorn mixture, and toss with a greased spoon to coat all popcorn and granola. Let mixture cool to the point you can handle it. Butter hands (or use Saran Wrap sprayed with cooking spray) and shape warm mixture into balls about the size of a tennis ball. Wrap in plastic wrap until ready to serve.
Makes about 18 granola popcorn balls.