Friday, December 31, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Dip, Color Palette Inspiration, Cleaning Challenge!

It's New Year's Eve morning, and I'm looking forward to spending time with friends and family today.  I'm meeting my pal, Leah, for a late lunch halfway between her new home and mine--about a 75 mile drive to get to our meeting spot.  Our boys enjoyed a sleepover last night, and I am looking forward to hearing all about their adventures on the ride home.  Tonight, we will be spending New Year's Eve with some old friends, so this morning, I am tackling the several loads of laundry that have piled up.  Not much time for blogging today!
The recipe below is what I am taking to April's house for New Year's Eve.  I got the recipe out of my sister's husband's family reunion cookbook.  She gave me a copy, becasuse she knows how much I love these church/family/fundraiser/private press type cookbooks.  You know the ones I mean; they're not available in a bookstore.  You have to know somebody to get one!  They are filled with delicious recipes from ordinary cooks like me and they use ingredients you already have in your pantry.  They have names like "The Brent Family Cookbook", "Tasty Adventures from Indian Creek Elementary PTA" and "The Blackjack Baptist Women's Cookbook".  Two of my favorite "bookstore" cookbooks are "The Pioneer Woman" and "Southern Plate".  They feel like these fundraiser cookbooks, but have beautiful full color photographs of every recipe.
Recipe:  Buffalo Chicken Dip (from Ryan and Emilie) Preheat oven to 325.  In a large bowl, mix together 2  8 oz packages of softened cream cheese, 1 large can of shredded, cooked chicken, and 1 package of ranch dressing mix (I only put in about 1/2 - 2/3 of the package).  Add several shakes of Frank's hot sauce and put mixture in a 9 x 12 baking dish.  Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top to cover.  Drizzle more hot sauce on top.  Heat dip in oven until cheese is melted and mixture is bubbly.  Of course, if you use low-fat cheese like I did, it doesn't melt as pretty! :0(   Serve with tortilla chips.
Housekeeping Challenge:  Clean out your refrigerator and freezer.  Get rid of all the holiday leftovers, limp salad fixings and almost empty jars of jelly.  Take everything out and give the shelves and bins a good scrubbing with warm soapy water or all purpose cleaner and rinse well.  Now, you have room to put in healthy, fresh food for your New Year's eat-healthy/lose-weight resolution (or is that just me?)
Scrapbooking Tip:  Color palette inspiration  I like to use an overall color palette of three or four colors to give each album a cohesive flow.  I picked up this idea from my friend, Karina, who scrapbooked her trip to Paris in black, white and red.  C'est Manifique!  Sometimes, I find one patterned paper that I love, and pull the colors from that.  But if you have a fabric in your wardrobe or on a favorite piece of furniture or drapes, take a photo with your phone or camera and take it with you to the scrapbook/hobby store.  You already like that palette, or you wouldn't have bought that outfit, chair or curtains, right?
Happy New Year!  Lisa

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Baked Ziti, Using Cards as Scrapbook Embellishments, Bare Minimum Cleaning

Got home after midnight last night, but had a wonderful time catching up with my DH's mom, sister and brother.  Drove DS to spend the night with his best friend who moved 150 miles away last summer.  This is their third time to have a sleepover since they moved in August.  I am so glad that his mom is as committed as I am that our boys maintain their friendship.  She is one of my favorite cropping buddies and a great friend, and a few miles is not too far to go for friends like that!  On the way home, DD and I had some time to enjoy music together, talk, and go out for lunch.  We did a little shopping when we got back in town, rented some DVD's, and called DH to bring home some takeout.  I hardly hit a lick of housework today, but the connections I made and helped my children make are far more important than having a clean house!  (Note:  I am not suggesting you should never clean house again, or cook a meal; but sometimes, it's okay to make other things a priority.  Sometimes, you have to make other things a priority, or those connections will be lost.)  I am guessing only minimal housework will be done tomorrow, too, because I will be again driving 3 hours to pick up DS, plus spending an hour or so catching up with his friend's mom, then we will be spending New Year's Eve with an old friend from high school days and her family.  The housework will still be there Saturday morning!  I hope you are taking time to maintain connections with family and friends this week.  It's all about balance!  The recipe below is what I took to my mother-in-law's house for dinner last night.
Recipe:  Baked Ziti  Cook a 16 oz. pkg of ziti, penne or rigatoni according to package directions.  Drain, but do not rinse.  While pasta is still hot, add a 15 oz. carton low fat ricotta cheese, 1 cup shredded mozzarella, 1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and  1 tsp. Mrs. Dash Garlic Herb Seasoning (you can substitute garlic powder, salt, pepper and dried basil.  Stir until cheeses are throroughly mixed into pasta.  This will look melty and delicious, but we're not done!  Pour 1/4 of a large jar of pasta sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.  Spread pasta and cheese mixture in pan, cover with remaining pasta sauce.  Top with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, and sprinkle on 1/8 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.  Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and continue baking for another ten minutes or until bubbly.  Feeds 6-8 if served with salad and bread.
Scrapbooking Tip:  Recycling handmade cards  If you make handmade cards (or if you have a talented sister who does, like I do!) they make wonderful scrapbook page accents.  I save all the cards my dear sis sends us, cut off the front and coordinate my paper and other embellishments to her design.  I often use the inside message as well to make the page even more personal.  Instant pizzazz, and a piece of Aunt Ginny on our pages, too!
Homemaking Tip:  Bare minimum cleaning  On those days when work, family, friends or just plain LIFE keeps you too busy to do much around the house, just do a twenty or thirty minute sweep through your house.  Make your bed, pick up dirty clothes and put in hamper, unload and reload the dishwasher, start a load of laundry. A little maintenance goes a long way.  You can do the rest tomorrow (or the next day). 
I hope you had time for some meaningful connections with people you love today!  Lisa

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Super Easy Crock Pot Chicken, Housecleaning Challenge

Good morning!  I was inspired to start my own blog by my friend, Gabby.  I enjoy reading her blog, and I enjoy exchanging ideas with other scrapbookers and homemakers, so I decided to create my own blog to share some of the tips and encouragement I have received from others.  I am sure the format will evolve over time, but I have decided to just "jump right in"!  I have been married to a wonderful man since 1987.  We worked our way through college, and welcomed a daughter in 1996 and a son in 1998.  I worked as a kindergarten, first and third grade teacher for six years before we had children, and returned to teaching after staying home with my kids for four years.  After ten years back in the classroom (kinder for nine, third grade for one), I decided to return to life as a full time homemaker for a while.  I was feeling a little burned out, my husband's pay had increased to a level that we thought with some careful budgeting we could manage, and I realized my kids would be leaving for college in a few short years, and that I wanted to spend more time with them.  Lest you think this blog is geared solely towards stay at home moms, let me assure you, that I hope I will provide inspiration for all kinds of homemakers--SAHM, WAHM, working moms, singles, retirees, etc.  Maybe even some dads/male type homemakers! Anyone who cares about running their household is invited!  I love to scrapbook, and hope to share ideas and inspiration for those of you who have also taken on the role of family historian.  Today, I will just start with a favorite quote, a simple recipe, and a housekeeping challenge:
     Quote:  "Bloom where you are planted." You may not be in a "perfect" spot in your life--job, home, weight/health, financial bracket.  But you can learn to find joy and meaning wherever you are!
I was reading the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens "Scrapbooks, etc." and drooling over the scrapbooking/crafting room that is featured this month.  Maybe someday I will have a room like that!  But over the past 15 years, I have managed to create over 20 scrapbooks of special memories at crops and my kitchen table.  Thank goodness I didn't wait until I had the "perfect" crafting room!

     Recipe:  Super Easy Crock Pot Chicken  cut up six boneless, skinless chicken thighs into two or three large pieces each.  Place in greased crockpot (or use plastic crockpot liner for easy cleanup).  Mix together 1 can low fat cream of mushroom soup, 1 can low fat cream of chicken soup, 1/2 cup chicken broth, and 1 pkg onion soup mix (I substitute 1 1/2 Tbsp. of Mrs. Dash Garlic Herb Seasoning).  Pour over chicken, and place lid on crock pot.  Cook on high for four hours or low for 6-8 hours.  Serve over cooked rice, mashed potatoes or egg noodles.  Serves four.
     Housekeeping Challenge:  Put away CD's, DVD's, and video games that are out of their cases and strewn (that is a word, right?) all over the house. posted this as a daily challenge a couple of days ago.  It took me all of 15 minutes to do this, and it made my house just a little bit tidier!
Have a wonderful day!  Lisa