Mar 23, 2011

Free Message Prints

I found these wonderful message prints online today at Make it Perfect. There are many to choose from. All you have to do is drag them to your desktop. I can't wait to print and frame these for my daughter's room.  She gives some other clever ideas for using these on her blog. Check it out!

Mar 21, 2011

Zuppa Toscana Soup and Kale Chips

I love Zuppa Toscana soup. The last time I ordered it at Olive Garden I thought, "I want to make this." So I looked it up online and found a lot of recipes posted.  They were all similar, and just what I thought: sausage, potatoes, bacon, kale, chicken stock, and a little cream.  I used this recipe.  One difference is that I used red potatoes, which worked great.  I chopped the potatoes first, so they could start cooking in the pot with the seasonings and chicken stock. While that was cooking, I started on the meat.

I heard a great trick on Rachael Ray the other day. She talked about cooking bacon in the oven on a roasting pan or cooling rack. I just put it in the oven at 300 degrees for about 10 minutes, and didn't have to fuss over it on the stove. I turned out great! Using the roasting pan allowed the bacon to cook evenly and all the fat drained to the bottom.  I cooked the bacon in the oven while I browned the sausage on the stove.

Then I chopped the bacon and kale and added the bacon to the pot with the sausage.

After 10 min, I added the kale and heavy cream.

That's it! It was delicious. It tasted just like at the restaurant.  Actually, a little better. ;)

With some of the kale I had left, I tried making kale chips.  Sounds weird, but they're really tasty. I got the recipe from smitten kitchen, which is a great website. Basically, you tear the kale into pieces, toss it with olive oil and salt, and bake at 300 for 10-20 min.  It's a little tricky, though. My first batch burned and was too salty.  The second batch was just right.  If you're leery, let me tell you that my veggie-hating husband loved these!

Mar 13, 2011

How Time Flies

I am so excited that my little sweetie will be turning 1 next month! It hit me a few months ago... I have to plan a kid's birthday party! I'm not used to throwing parties, but now that we're parents it's a new yearly tradition.  I've looked around at decorations, and am not excited to spend (so much) money on cheesy paper decorations that will go in the trash. Being the creative and crafty girl that I am, I think I'm going to design my own.  I'm thinking of a #1 theme.  I found these GREAT blogs for party inspiration. Check them out if you have any kind of celebration coming up.  Also, please share your favorite birthday party idea to help me out.  Next month I'll post the party pics.

Mar 12, 2011

Walk a Mile in My Shoes

All found at

Don't you love silver shoes? I just found a pair of Sbicca silver wedges at Ross for $16. Here's what they look like during a day in my life...

At the highchair

In the kitchen
At home with baby, I'm always in the kitchen!

At the changing table

I don't even want to think about how much time I've spent here!

In the rocker
I LOVE the time spent here!

On the go

I do get out sometimes!

At the grocery store
...even if it is only to the grocery store. :)

With a baby, even the grocery store is an adventure!

On the couch
It was a good day.

Mar 6, 2011

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

I really don't mean to have a chocolate theme going here.  I do have to admit that I am more of a chocolate lover lately. Maybe it's a postpartum thing. Speaking of pregnancy... Isn't it so fantastic when your best friend is expecting?  That's how I feel, so I was so excited to whip these up for her baby shower.  Ok, you can't just whip them up.  They're a little more time-consuming than I thought, but still fun and easy.  However, if you are not using a candy mold it's super fast and easy.

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

You need:
1 small bag White chocolate chips
1 small bag Milk chocolate chips
1 small bag Candy Melts
2 bags Pretzel rods
2 Candy molds
(makes 24)

With my candy mold, I decided to only use one color, so I melted the blue candy melts first in the microwave.  Melt them at half power for 1 minute.  Stir, then heat at 30 second intervals until melted. After a few trials, I found that a toothpick worked great to fill in the spaces with blue. (That's the time-consuming part.) When your done, you have to let it set for a while.  The fridge or freezer will help speed up the process. 

Next, I melted the chocolate in the microwave at half power for 1 minute, then at 30 second intervals until melted. I never knew it was this easy to melt chocolate! No double-boiler needed.  I spooned the chocolate into each mold and spread it out evenly.  The pretzel rod fits right into the mold, and with a turn is covered in chocolate.

The pretzels set up after about 45 minutes in the refrigerator, and I was pleasantly surprised at how easily they came out.  I just twisted the mold like an ice cube tray and they were free!

I had a small amount of chocolate left, so I just used a spoon to 'paint' it onto a few more pretzels and  added blue sprinkles.  This is what I would do for us at home, or for a party.
hmmm... What else can I cover in chocolate?

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