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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cranberries and Hydrangeas

Take a pretty glass container, fill with cranberries about 3/4 of the way, and then add hydrangeas.  This  makes a festive table arrangement.

Also, you can take an artichoke, take all of the insides out...and add some pretty roses in it...and walla...another table arrangement.

Apple Drink Like Starbucks

All you need:
Apple Juice
Cinnamon Dolce Syrup (from Starbucks!) I like to use the sugar free kind, but some people are pickier than I am! The HUGE bottles run about $6.95 or so...they will last you FOREVER. However, it makes a great cider if you are having a party! People will be SO impressed
Carmel Sauce- you can pick this up at Starbucks as well, however, you can use a store bought caramel sauce to save a little cash!
Optional- whipped cream
*also, when you buy your cinnamon dolce syrup, ask if they have any extra pumps. It depends on how nice they are, but a lot of times they will give one to you if they have extra!*
You will see below why I’m NOT a star chief...I eyeball everything so nothing turns out right…but its hard to mess this one up! And if you do, you just have to make and drink another (shucks!)
Single Serving
For a single cup (and by cup I mean tall size of sbux so 12 oz), add apple juice (12oz or so) add 3 pumps of Cinnamon Dolce (1 pump= about 2 Tbs) you can always add more if you’d like! Then go ahead and heat it up in the microwave like you would any other hot beverage (if you are doing this for a party, just put it over the stove)
If you are a whipped cream person (which I am not!) this is where you put the whipped cream on the top! Then top it off with caramel sauce! If you want to get technical (...and boy are they picky when you work there!) The caramel should be in a swirl shape on the top...but go crazy and make fun designs!!!
And there you have you're Carmel Apple Spice! So go ahead and get a sharpie :)
Par-tay!
If you are making it in bulk, go ahead and melt 2 teaspoons of caramel sauce per every cup of apple juice. If you are measuring by the cup, you may want to go ahead and only use 1-2 pumps of C.D per cup. That way it is all ready to go and people can add whip cream on if they’d like!

Cheddar Biscuits

Biscuits:
2 1/2 cups Bisquick
4 Tbsp cold butter
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
3/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Butter Glaze:
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp dried parsley flakes

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease or line one cookie sheet with parchment; set aside.

Combine Bisquick with cold butter in a medium bowl using a pastry cutter (I just used 2 forks). Don't worry about mixing too thoroughly; there will be small chunks of butter in the mix about the size of peas. Add cheddar cheese, milk, and garlic powder. Mix by hand until combined, but don't over mix.

Drop 1/4 cup portions of the dough onto the lightly greased or parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes in preheated oven until the tops of the biscuits begin to turn light brown.

While the biscuits are baking, melt butter is a small bowl in the microwave. Stir in garlic powder and dried parsley flakes. Use a brush to spread the garlic butter over the tops of all the biscuits. Sprinkle a little kosher salt on the freshly coated biscuits. Makes one dozen.

Wine Glass Place Cards

Take a wine glass and paint the bottom with chalkboard paint...write a name on it and Walla..you have a place card wine glass or if you have the same people overall of the time...create their own unique wine glass

Pot Pie

This homespun classic comes to the table in the skillet it is cooked in, topped with herbed buttermilk biscuits that kick its comfort level up to new heights. Don't hesitate to make the filling in advance if you like, then simply reheat and top with the biscuits before popping in the oven.
Ingredients
·  2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
·  1 ½ teaspoons salt
·  ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
·  1 tablespoon olive oil
·  3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 3 tablespoons melted
·  1 pound button mushrooms stemmed and quartered
·  1 ½ cups small-diced onion
·  ¾ cup small-diced carrot
·  ¾ cup small-diced celery
·  1 tablespoon minced garlic
·  ¼ cup all-purpose flour
·  4 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
·  8 ounces Yukon Gold Potatoes, scrubbed and diced
·  1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
·  ½ cup fresh or frozen green peas
·  1 recipe Tarragon Biscuits
·  For the Tarragon Biscuits:
·  1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
·  1 cup cake flour
·  1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
·  2 teaspoons sugar
·  1 ½ teaspoons salt
·  5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
·  1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
·  1 ½ cups buttermilk
Cooking Directions
Set a 12 inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat
In a large bowl, combine the chicken thighs with 1 teaspoon of the salt, ½ teaspoon of the pepper, and the olive oil. Place half the chicken in the pan and sear, stirring occasionally, until the chicken begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside in a separate bowl while you cook the remaining chicken. Place that cooked chicken in a bowl as well.
Add the unmelted butter to the pan and, when melted, add the mushrooms and the remaining salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms are well caramelized, 3 to 4 minutes, then add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the stock, browned chicken, potatoes, and thyme.
Preheat oven to 475 degrees
Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat so that the sauce just simmers, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken and potatoes are tender…about 35 minutes. Gently stir in the peas and then remove the pan from the heat. Place the biscuits on top of the chicken and gravy, with 8 biscuits around the edge of the pan and the remaining 4 biscuits in the center. Be sure the biscuits do not touch. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter and bake until the biscuits are golden brown and flaky..14 to 15 minutes. Allow the pot pie to cool briefly before serving.
For the Tarragon Biscuits:
Sift the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt into a large bowl
Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, work the cold butter into the flour until the pieces of butter are pea sized. Add the tarragon and buttermilk, and with your ands or a rubber spatula, stir until the milk and flour come together to form a dough
Sprinkle some of the extra all-purpose flour on a work surface and place the dough on top of the flour. Use your hands to press the dough into a ½ inch thick disk about 9 inches in diameter. Using a 2 inch round cutter dusted with flour, cut out 12 dough rounds. Be sure to press straight down when cutting the dough…a twisting motion will prevent the dough from rising.
Place the biscuits on top of the pot pie and bake as directed.
Makes 12-16 servings

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake and Cheese Cake

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 sticks Butter
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 cup Peanut Butter
  • ½ cups Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1 stick Butter
  • ½ cups Peanut Butter
  • 6 teaspoons Milk
  • 1 pound Powdered Sugar

Preparation Instructions

In a large bowl, mix together sugar, baking soda, flour and salt. Set aside.
Combine butter, water and peanut butter in saucepan and bring to boil. Pour over flour mixture.
Add milk, vanilla and eggs. Mix.
Pour in large cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. Bake at 400F degrees for 20 minutes.
Frosting:
Bring butter, peanut butter and milk to boil in saucepan. Add one pound of powdered sugar. Pour warmed frosting over cooled cake.


CheeseCake

Ingredients:
-3 cans pillsbury butter crescent rolls
-2 (8oz) packages cream cheese (softened)
-1 cup sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1/4 cup butter (melted)
-Cinnamon & sugar

Instructions:
Unrolled and spread 1 & 1/2 can crescent rolls on bottom of un-greased pan. Combine softened cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Spread mixture over crescent rolls. Unroll and spread remaining crescent rolls over mixture. Spread melted butter over the top and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
**Edit 8.20.11: to save some calories (and dough...as in mulah! oh, the puns are endless...), I have found that I can actually cut the recipe down to 2 cans of crescent roll dough. Just spread the dough a bit thinner and you can still cover a 9x13 pan. I also use Neufch√Ętel in place of cream cheese (they're right next to each other on your grocer's shelf). It's 1/3 less fat .

Pasta With Tomato-Basil

Pasta With Tomato-Basil

10 Minutes
Ingredients
·         1 (20-oz.) package refrigerated four-cheese ravioli*
·         1 (16-oz.) jar sun-dried tomato Alfredo sauce
·         2 tablespoons white wine
·         2 medium-size fresh tomatoes, chopped**
·         1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
·         1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
·         Garnish: fresh basil strips
Preparation
·         1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
·         2. Meanwhile, pour Alfredo sauce into a medium saucepan. Pour wine into sauce jar; cover tightly, and shake well. Stir wine mixture into saucepan. Stir in chopped tomatoes and 1/2 cup chopped basil, and cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Toss with pasta, and top evenly with 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Garnish, if desired.
·         *1 (13-oz.) package three-cheese tortellini may be substituted.
·         **1 (14.5-oz.) can petite diced tomatoes, fully drained, may be substituted.
·         Note: For testing purposes only, we used Buitoni Four Cheese Ravioli and Classico Sun-dried Tomato Alfredo Pasta Sauce.

Queso Dip

Yields: About 2 cups queso
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup white onion, finely diced
1 large jalapeno, seeds and stem removed; finely diced
12 oz white American cheese, shredded
4 oz Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded (don’t use pre-shredded)
1/2 to 1 cup cream, half-and-half, or whole milk
1 – 2 roma tomatoes, seeds removed and diced
1 small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Saute the onion and pepper until softened and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in the shredded cheese and 1/4 cup of the cream.  Quickly stir until the cheese is melted. Add the tomatoes, cilantro, and additional cream a little at a time until you reach desired consistency.  Serve immediately with tortilla chips, tortillas, or on tacos, burritos, etc.

Simple Solutions from Real Simple

Baby Oil as Chrome Polish
Forget keeping skin soft, baby oil also polishes chrome. Apply a dab to a cotton cloth and use it to shine everything from faucets to hubcaps. You'll end up with shiny, happy surfaces from a medicine-cabinet staple.

Aluminum Foil as Glassware Scrubber
To get baked-on food off a glass pan or an oven rack, use dishwashing liquid and a ball of foil in place of a steel-wool soap pad, says Mary Findley, president of the cleaning-products developer Mary Moppins. It's one way to recycle those used but perfectly good pieces of foil you hate to throw out.

Baking Soda as Silver Polish
To polish silver: Wash items, then place on aluminum foil in the bottom of a pot. Add a baking-soda solution (¼ cup soda, a few teaspoons salt, 1 quart boiling water) and cover for a few seconds. The result? A chemical reaction that gets the black off the gravy boat.
Broom as Long Distance Duster
To dust crown moldings, place a microfiber rag over the broom's bristles and secure with a rubber band. Then use the long handle to dust areas that your arms can't reach. No more circus acts (starring you, on a rickety, wobbly stool).
Car Wax as Sink Polish
Polish faucets, sinks, tile, even shower doors with Turtle Wax, which leaves behind a protective barrier against water and soap buildup, so your hard-earned sparkle will last past the next tooth-brushing.
Car Wax as Garden Shear Lubricant
For cleaner cuts with less elbow grease, rub a little paste on the hinge of a pair of garden shears so they don’t get jammed.
Chalk as Tarnish Prevention
Slow the tarnish on your good silver by tying up a few moisture-absorbing pieces in cheesecloth and store them with your cutlery for shinier flatware that reflects well on you in no time flat.
Coaster as Drip Catcher
Catch the sticky stuff from bottles and jars in cupboards. No more shelves that require a full wipe-down after every spoonful of honey, slather of jam, or glug of olive oil.
Cooking Spray as Candlestick Cleaner
Celebrating by candlelight? Spray the inside of a votive holder with a thin coating before dropping in a tea light. After the candle has burned down, the remaining wax will slip out.
Use Cooking Spray as an Ice Repellent
Before clearing snow off a driveway, liberally spray both sides of a plastic or metal shovel with cooking spray. The ice will slide right off the oily surface. It's the easiest trick for smoother snow removal.

Cotton Ball as Rubber Glove Protector
For leak-resistant gloves at your fingertips, push one cotton ball into the end of each finger of a dishwashing glove to keep sharp nails from splitting the rubber.

Dryer Sheet as Iron Cleaner
Remove gunk from the soleplate of an iron. With the setting on low, rub the iron over the dryer sheet until the residue disappears, and you're left with a pristine press.
Dustpan as Toy Herder
Scoop up small toys―Lego blocks, jacks, Barbie shoes, plastic soldiers—with your dustpan and brush, so you can reclaim your living room for grown-ups.
Eggshells as Bottle and Vase Cleaners
Here’s an idea for all those eggs you hard-boiled: Use their broken eggshells to clean the hard-to-reach places in bottles and vases. Drop some crushed shells in the bottle, add warm water and a drop of dishwashing liquid, and give it a good swirl. The shells will scrape off the gunk you can’t get to, so you can save your elbow grease for the dinner dishes.
Emery Board as Stain Remover
Remove small stains from suede by gently rubbing the file (either side) across the problem area a few times to get rid of the splotch and refresh the nap.
Fork as Carpet Fluffer
Use the tines to gently fluff plush carpet fibers back to their original height, removing dents left by heavy furniture. Now, that's a real fork lift.

Baking Soda as Linen Freshener
Place an open box of baking soda alongside your stacks of sheets and towels to stave off mustiness.
Baking Soda as Drain Unclogger
To get your drain running again (without resorting to chemicals worthy of a hazmat suit) pour ½ cup soda, then ½ cup vinegar, down a clogged drain. Cover it with a wet cloth, wait 5 minutes, uncover, and flush with steaming-hot water.
Baking Soda as Stain Remover
Clean discolored teacups and teapots by making a paste of baking soda and water. Gently rub over the stain to remove.
Baking Soda as Carpet Freshener
To absorb stale odors from carpet (and to generally freshen up a room), scatter soda on it, wait a few hours, then vacuum up the powder.
Bath Mat as Car Seat Protector
Protect your car seats from muddy paws by covering them with a bath mat or two before packing Lilly the Lab in the backseat. The rubber bottom will help the mat stay in place. Between trips, stow the mat in the trunk.
Car Wax as Stovetop Polish
Preserve a pristine stovetop by applying a thin layer of car wax, then wiping it off. Future spills will lift off easily.
Citrus Peel as Coffee Mug Cleaner
Remove coffee or tea stains from a mug by rubbing them with a lightly salted citrus peel.
Citrus Peel as Garbage Disposal Deodorizer
Keep your disposal smelling fresh by dropping a few peels down the drain and flipping the switch.
Clothespin as Cord Keeper
The secret to keeping a retractable cord from rewinding too soon is to clip the cord near the opening.
Cornmeal as Grease Absorber
Add this to the grocery shopping list for new reasons. Cornmeal absorbs grease on light colored fabric or upholstery. Pour enough on to cover the soiled area and let sit for 15 to 30 minutes. Vacuum to remove the grains.
Cotton Swab as Computer Detailer
With the machine turned off, disconnect the keyboard and trace between the keys with a cotton swab lightly dipped in isopropyl alcohol. If your mouse is the kind that rolls on a ball, unscrew the bottom and go over the ball and the interior with a cotton swab, too.
Denture Tablet as Vase Cleaner
When residue clings to unreachable spots inside a vase or a decanter, fill the container with warm water and drop in one or two denture-cleaning tablets for every eight ounces of warm water. Let the fizzy solution sit for the time specified on the product's box, then rinse.
Dryer Sheet as Sawdust Clearer
An easy way to keep the work area clean. Saw dust at a work station sweeps up so fast with one pass of a used fabric softener sheet.
Dryer Sheet as Scum Buster
Remove obstinate soap buildup from glass shower doors by sprinkling a few drops of water onto a used fabric-softener sheet and scrubbing.
Emery Board as Eraser Saver
To revive a dried-out eraser or clean a smudged one, lightly rub it over an emery board. The board's fine grain will shave off the eraser's old top layer, leaving you with a good-as-new mistake-removing surface.
Hair Dryer as Sticker Remover
A little hot air quickly loosens price labels—with zero fingernail-chipping frustration.
Lemon as Laundry Brightener
Skip the bleach—add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of lemon juice to the wash cycle to brighter up those fading whites.
Lint Roller as Glitter Pick-Up
Clean up glitter (and tiny pieces of construction paper) after craft time.
Magnet as Trash Bag Holder
Minimize garbage-day malaise. Hold the top of a trash bag in place with magnets so bits don’t find their way to the bottom of the bin.
Mustard Powder as Jar Deodorizer
Deodorize smelly glass jars by washing them with a mixture of one teaspoon powdered mustard and one quart warm water.
Newspaper as Window Washer
Newspapers deposit less lint than paper towels do and don't leave any streaks. Just spray on a glass cleaner and wipe.
Onion as Basement Deodorizer
Clear the air in a dank basement. Cut an onion in half, place it on a plate, and leave it out overnight. Once the initial salad-bar aroma dissipates, you'll have a fresh (non-oniony) atmosphere.
Pant Hanger as Drying Rack
Use a pant hanger to air-dry a bath mat after showering. Simply hang it over the shower curtain rod.
Panty Hose as Candle Duster
Remove dust from candles by running it through the leg of an old pair of panty hose.
Rice as Vase Scrubber
Prepare a stained vase for a new batch of blooms. If you can't reach the residue at the bottom, add a tablespoon of rice and a lot of soapy water, shake, and rinse until clean.
Rubber Band as Stemware Securer
Secure wayward stemware in the dishwasher by tethering it to the machine's prongs with rubber bands.
Rubber Glove as Pet Hair Remover
Put on a damp rubber dishwashing glove and run your hand over hair-covered upholstery—the hair will cling to the glove, not the sofa. Rinse off the glove in the sink (with the drain catcher in place, of course).
Rubbing Alcohol as Hairspray Remover
Lift off hair-spray residue from bathroom walls. Spray a mixture of one part rubbing alcohol, two parts water, and a dash of dishwashing liquid onto vinyl wallpaper or semigloss (not flat) paint. Wipe clean.
Rubbing Alcohol as Permanent Marker Remover
Remove permanent marker from countertops and walls. Pour a bit of alcohol onto a cotton ball and rub on the stain. (Spot test on a hidden area first.)
Salt as Wreath Duster
Place a wreath of pinecones or faux evergreen in a paper bag with a 1/4 cup of salt. Fold the top of the bag over and gently shake.
Salt as Salad Wash
Clean dirt from leafy vegetables by washing them in a bath of salt water.
Seam Ripper as Vacuum Roller Cleaner
Restore a vacuum to maximum power by cutting the lint and hair from its roller brush.
Shoe Polish as Furniture Polish
Spruce up wood furniture by filling in scratches with shoe polish in a similar shade.
Shower Curtain as Picnic Blanket Liner
Do dew diligence and layer a liner underneath a picnic blanket to avoid soggy bottoms and grass or mud stains.
Sugar as Hand Degreaser
Cut grease on hands by rubbing them with a mixture of sugar and water.
Electric Toothbrush as Grout Scrubber
Scour bathroom crevices with a battery-powered toothbrush.
Toothpaste as Linoleum Cleaner
Use white toothpaste to buff scuffs out of linoleum tiles.
Tape as Keyboard Cleaner
Remove dust and crumbs from a keyboard and slide a
short strip between the letters.
Vanilla as Freezer Freshener
Trade frostbite funk for a more pleasing freezer scent and wipe the inside of the icebox with an extract-dampened cotton pad.
Vinegar as Odor Remover
After chopping onions, scrub your hands with salt and a splash of vinegar to eliminate the smell.
Vinegar as Coffeemaker Cleaner
Clean a coffeemaker or a tea kettle by making a pot using a mixture of water and vinegar. Follow with several cycles of water to rinse.
Vinegar as Sticker Remover
Dislodge a stubborn price sticker. Paint with several coats of vinegar, let it sit for five minutes, then wipe away.
Vinegar as Garbage Disposal Deodorizer
Deodorize a garbage disposal. Make vinegar ice cubes and feed them down the disposal. After grinding, run cold water through the drain - also grinding lemons is great to clean and freshen the smell of garbage disposal.