These cookies are super cute and quite tasty. I used the Wilton Easy Cut-Out Cookie recipe to make quick work of this project. Just make the dough, pinch off a small ball, form it around the treat stick, and place your cookie cut-out on top. I used three chocolate chips to top the cookie and then popped them in the oven. Here’s the video for the Wilton recipe.
During the recent Thanksgiving holiday, the weather turned cold. I had an idea to cook up a large pot of hearty soup; a comfort food that is always a good idea during the Midwestern winter months. I had plenty of leftover vegetables that I’d purchased to make stuffing and to season other dishes. So, Friday morning I threw a few chicken breasts into a pot of simmering water and set out to make a soup for those looking for a comforting bowl of deliciousness during the weekend.
While I could have used my leftover turkey for this recipe, I chose to leave it for sandwiches as the family likes to pile turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce on a hearty wheat bread for traditional turkey leftover sandwiches. I did, however, toast some super thin Pepperidge Farm’s bread to act as a crispy accent to the smooth and creamy soup. I hope you try this delicious soup as this one warms the soul…
Note: I keep chicken stock base in my pantry for times when I don’t have chicken broth on the shelf. Follow the directions on the side of the container to substitute this base for the canned broth.
Creamy Chicken Rice Soup
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup long grain rice, uncooked
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) chicken broth
3 tablespoons flour
1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk
2 cups chicken breast, cooked and cubed
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat; sauté carrot, celery and onion until tender. Add garlic; cook until vegetables are translucent. Stir in rice, seasonings and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered about 15 minutes, until the rice is tender. In a small bowl, mix flour and evaporated milk until smooth; stir into soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in chicken and heat through.
I found these delightful self-watering containers at a local hardware store. I always begin the growing season with the good intention for watering my plants regularly. Slowly but surely, as the season moves into the hot and sticky months, my intentions are quickly forgotten and my garden begins to fade. I’m hoping these little babies will help me find success this year.
Today we had the pleasure of experiencing our first honey harvest. Our bees have been busy visiting fields of clover and Queen Anne’s Lace over the past several weeks. After watching hours of video focused on harvesting honey and rendering beeswax, we finally took a leap of faith and carefully extracted the liquid gold produced by our very own bees.
Here’s a step by step look at the process:
We carefully swept the bees off of the short, capped honey frames to prepare for extraction.
We set up the extractor and a screened sieve to remove the honey and filter out the wax and other unwanted items. A clean and organized area is imperative. We had buckets of soapy water with sanitizer and tarped surfaces in the extraction area.
After the extractor does its work (we have a hand crank version), the gate can be opened to pour unfiltered honey into a clean, food-safe bucket. The sieve and filter will take out the impurities.
We cleaned and sanitized our honey containers prior to setting up our bottling station.
The filtered honey is ready for bottling. We used 12 and 16 ounce jars. We wanted to try a mixture of plastic and glass jars.
We were able to bottle 12- 12 ounce, 12- 16 ounce, and 2- 4 ounce jars. What a delight to get so much honey from just 8 short frames.
I order a few different labels from Amazon to finish off the process. I think I’ll order a set of more personally printed labels for next year.
Now, it’s time to render the filtered wax to make our own beeswax blocks for future projects.
Once again, I was able to join a great group of individuals at one of the local county parks for a day of basket making. I took several pictures throughout the day to capture the steps used to assemble this potluck or market basket. For those of you that are interested in basket making, I strongly suggest you find a class in your area. This is a dying art and learning the basic skills will build toward ideas for advanced methods. Local libraries, park district programs, and 4-H program leaders often offer hands-on opportunities to assemble basic baskets. Many basketmaking supply shops also offer classes. I really enjoy the process and certainly, the complete project. I always sign my baskets as I look forward to handing them down through the generations.
Sharing a few basketmaking tips…
We experienced some weather difficulties so we relocated to the interior of the old 1920’s barn. This June morning was cold and rainy. We usually meet in a covered pavilion but the winds were very strong and continued to blow away our supplies.
First, I measured 15 inches of weaving material (strips) for the length of the basket.l
I numerically marked all of my strips to help me weave a pattern on one side of the handle. Then, I duplicated the process on the other side of the wooden handle. Centering the project is very important.
Then, it was time to start working on the sides. I wanted to maintain my pattern up the side of the basket, so I used clothes pins to help me achieve this. The first row is always the most difficult to manage. The clothes pins act as another pair of “hands”.
Continue working up the side of the basket, adding any details desired. I added a colorful pattern of dyed strips. Make sure to alter the starting point for each strip, rotating the basket a half turn for an altered starting point for each row. Continue to shape the basket while building the sides.
Trim and bend alternate strips along the top edge of the basket making sure to leave enough length to insert strips under the existing basket weave.
Now it’s time for the finishing touches. An edge is placed on the top of the basket and sea grass is placed between the (half-round) edging strips. Once again, clothes pins act as extra “hands” to hold it all in place.
Lashing is used to complete the project and pull all of the finished edge pieces together.
A final dip in a black walnut wash finishes off the project by adding a weathered or aged look to the basket. Here the baskets dry in the shade of the old barn.
I love the size and shape of this beautiful basket. I can’t wait for our next basketmaking session!
My daughter had seen one of the famous Fixer Upper hosts wearing a sweatshirt with the words, “Book Club” screen printed onto the front of the garment. Being an avid reader, she immediately declared her desire to have a shirt like this for Christmas. After looking up the cost for said sweatshirt, I decided to make one of my own using my trusty embroidery machine. Carefully reviewing the garment, I quickly found a few heather colored sweatshirts at the discount store and identified a font that would work the the “Book Club” design. I didn’t care for the font used in the original design so I settled on a text style that looked just like one found when reading a book; a contemporary spin on Times New Roman. Here are the steps I used to embroider font or text onto the front of a basic medium-weight sweatshirt.
Use a temporary spray adhesive (found in the sewing department) to adhere a piece of medium weight stabilizer to the wrong side of the fabric. Make sure the stabilizer is large enough to cover and extend beyond the outside of your embroidery hoop.
Crease the sweatshirt to find it’s center and position the embroidery hoop paying close attention to desired design placement.
Audition various threads to decide which will work best for your design. I used a heavy weight black thread for the book style font.
After you have created your design (I use my laptop), send the design to your sewing machine and begin sewing.
I usually stay with the machine for a simple design and trim threads when possible.
When the machine has completed the design, remove hoop from the embroidery arm and trim any threads carefully.
Remove hoop and turn the garment inside out to sparingly trim threads from the back of the design. I usually leave connecting threads intact to further secure the design. Trim stabilizer, if needed.
With a thick pressing cloth or towel, carefully iron the crease out of the center front area.
Fold the sweatshirt neatly and get it ready for gift giving…
Have fun creating other “book related” designs…
Saturday’s unseasonable temperatures made for a very chilly (end of the summer) basketmaking workshop. Wearing several long-sleeved layers didn’t do much to shield us from the brisk winds during this cool and breezy day. It was hard to imagine that the temperatures had climbed to nearly 100 degrees the weekend before. Despite the weather, we happily socialized as we worked beneath a shelter at a local county park. The item that we were to assemble was a cute round, (continuous weave structure); a pumpkin-shaped basket. Here are the steps that our incredible instructor took us through during this four-hour weekend event.
Dividing the disk into 4 equal parts, place 23 spokes within the well of the disk; weaving while working in the spokes.After weaving 6 continuous rows, gently begin shaping the basket upwards. Continue weaving upward for 14 more rows; loosely weaving to shape the belly of the pumpkin.
At row 19 or 20 begin to tighten the weave to form the top of the pumpkin.
At row thirty, the weave is complete.Bend down, every other spoke. Clip; mark remaining spokes to bend under and secure under weave.Secure wire handle before finishing rim of the basket.Complete basket rim with sea grass and lashing.We enjoyed a beautiful, but chilly, day at our local county park!
When strawberries are in season, I usually try to make several batches of fruit leather for my family. Rolling strawberry fruit leather on wax paper strips makes for a delicious, nutritious, summer treat.
On my daily drive home from work, I pass a local strawberry farm so I usually stop by to pick up a few buckets of fresh berries. There are lots of recipes for fruit leather, many encourage the addition of sugar and lemon juice. For me, I’d rather find the sweetest, freshest berries possible, pulse them in a blender, and pour them into trays to dehydrate. Simple and sweet, a pure delight. Here’s what I do…
Start with sweet fresh berries… Mine are freshly picked
Dry at 135 degrees for 4-8 hours. Using your finger, press to make a small indentation in the fruit leather. It should not be wet or sticky. It should be tacky. Check in a few areas around the fruit leather disk. Peel the disk off of the silicone sheet while still warm. Lay on a sheet of waxed paper.
While I used 6 cups of strawberries, here are a few adapted recipes recommended by Nesco Dehydrators:
3 cups applesauce
3 cups strawberries
Or, try mixing:
2 cups applesauce
2 cups bananas
In a blender, puree all ingredients. Pour onto Solid Fruit Roll Sheets.
Place on dehydrator trays. Dry at 135º F for 4 to 8 hours, or until leathery.
Remove from sheets while still warm. Let cool, slice and wrap.
Roll and store in dark, dry, cool place or in freezer.
My daughter was recently invited to a surprise party for a co-worker. She had just started working at the facility and was excited to spend time outside of work with this fun group of coworkers. After the party, she commented that she had a great time and was so happy to be included.
Later, she told me about one of the items on the menu for the event that evening. She called it “white chili” and tried her best to describe all of the flavors she experienced while tasting the flavorful dish. Several days later, I found the recipe as it was placed on my kitchen counter. Her coworker had neatly typed up the recipe for many attending the party had requested a copy. After looking over all of the ingredients, I was delighted to find that most items were already in my kitchen fridge and pantry. We were experiencing a cooler than normal spring day so I pulled out my crockpot and threw all of the ingredients in (with a few minor changes).
Here’s my version of the original recipe…
Fiesta Crockpot Chili
2-3 frozen chicken breasts
2 (10 ounce) bags frozen corn
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed
1 (10 ounce) can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
8 ounces block cream cheese
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 package Hidden Valley Spicy Ranch Dressing
Cilantro to taste
Add all ingredients to the crockpot; except cilantro. Cook 6 hours on high or 8 hours on low setting. Shred chicken 30 minutes before completed hours, return to crockpot and add cilantro. When serving, top with tortilla strips and pour over tender noodles or cooked rice.
Here’s the recipe as I received it…
Jill’s Special Chili
2 frozen chicken breasts
1 bag frozen corn
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies
4 oz cream cheese
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 package Ranch Fiesta
Cilantro to taste
Add all ingredients to the crockpot; except cilantro
Cook 6 hours or high or 8 hours on low
Shred chicken 30 minutes before completed hours and add cilantro
I did a kitchen cupboard inventory yesterday. On one of the upper shelves, I found a can of Solo Cake & Pastry Filling. I pulled back the label of the almond flavored can and noticed a recipe for a Bundt cake. Who doesn’t love the aroma of almonds and butter baking in a cake batter? I immediately pulled out a few sticks of butter to soften on the counter and waited in anticipation for a beautiful baking experience. Here’s the recipe: