Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pork Chops, Stuffing, and Apples Dinner- Tasty Tuesday

A lot of people in blog-land do a Tasty Tuesday feature of a new recipe. I'm going to try to make sure I post new recipes on Tuesdays at least, and more often if I have good ones to share.

Mom sent me this really easy Fall pork chop recipe. It was really yummy too!


4 pork chops
1 package stuffing mix, prepared
1 can Apple Pie filling (or make your own)

I had made apples earlier and made this recipe to use them up.
I peeled, cored, and cubed 6 small apples. Cook in 1/2 c Splenda granular and 1/2 c water with cinnamon, and nutmeg 30 minutes over medium-low heat or until soft. You're trying to make somewhere between pie filling and apple sauce.

Grease a 13x9 pan with cooking spray.
Spread apple filling on the bottom of the pan
Top with prepared stuffing mix
Top that with the raw pork chops. Sprinkle pork chops on top with salt, pepper, and any other spices you'd like (cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice would be good, I think curry powder would too, or a "glaze" with some apricot jam.)

Bake in a 350 degree oven until the pork chops are done (I cooked my boneless chops about 30 minutes.)


Monday, October 25, 2010

By the river and through the woods

We had a gorgeous weekend here in Atlanta! It was so  nice I tried to spend as much time as possible outside!

Sunday afternoon, I dragged Prospective Prince Charming Z to Ikea for some more boxes for my bookshelf. ( Pictures to come). Since he was such a good sport, we went to Pinkberry for some yummy frozen yogurt.

Then I felt like we needed to work it off. Z lives near the river, and so we decided to walk/ hike on the Chattahoochee nature trails. If you live in Atlanta and haven't been- they're GORGEOUS! 

So off we go. Except, I'm not really dressed for a hike. I've got my cute brown crocodile flats on, not tennis shoes or hiking boots.  Which would not be a problem, except to get to the Chattahoochee trail, we had to go through this other trail. Which was not really a trail at all. So here we are, climbing over rocks and trees,  trying not to fall in the river as we scale this really huge rock that goes almost all the way to the water. Yeah. Spontaneous Adventure.

So, since this trail is not quite a trail, all I can think are two things: One: What if one of us falls and breaks a limb. How am I going to tell EMS where we are?  Two: Snakes!
The EMS thing, I never did figure out. But the snake part I did.

I've always been told snakes don't like noise, so make a lot of it. But we were concentrating on not falling down, not exactly having deep philosophical discussions about the meaning of life. So I made up this little rhyme and kept singing/saying it to make noise

"Snake, Snake Go away, Come out again another day!"

Z found this "cute."

We did eventually find the real trail and have a nice long walk. I made sure to tell Z that marked trails that are reasonably flat, with gravel or mulch or some such covering are more what I was thinking of when I suggested a walk. I think he agreed with me.

But yay for being spontaneous and going on what turned out to be quite the adventure!

Annie update: She's sanded down, and waiting on her primer coat. Work is a bit crazy so I'm having trouble finding time to work on her.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

White Bean Arugula and Chicken salad

I'm trying to get back on the bandwagon and eat healthier. I'd gotten a recipe for this salad using salmon in a mailer last summer and put it aside to try. I found it again when going through and re-organizing my recipe binder.

The original recipe is from Weight Watchers.

I used:
(4 servings)
1 15 oz can white cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
2- 5 oz cans chunk chicken breast, drained
1 red onion, diced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon (3 tbsp)
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Mix everything but the arugula together, and put it on top of the arugula.

OK, so this needs some changes to the original recipe.

I would dress the arugula with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper before adding the chicken-bean mixture on top. It needed something bad!

Also, I highly recommend  cutting WAY back on the onion. Like maybe 1/4 of an onion would be good.  Mine was intensely onion-y. Good thing Z was at his house, because man. Onion breath in a bad way.  And I'm a huge fan of onions.

I ate this the next day for lunch at work, and it definitely needed more dressing as the beans and chicken absorbed a lot of the original dressing.

It's a very good salad, just needs some changes to make it more palatable.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mini Mincemeat Pies

Every year, I host a gingerbread house decorating party for the holidays. It's a lot of fun and really gets you in the holiday spirit. This year, I'm determined to not kill myself with the preparation.

I'm trying to do some make-ahead things I can freeze and re-heat the day of to make my life a little less stressful. At least as less stressful you can be when making  double batches of royal icing right before your party.

So, I started by making mini- mincemeat pies. Mincemeat is so very "holiday" to me.

I totally cheated and used packaged refrigerated pie crust and jarred Mincemeat filling.

I rolled the crust out and cut it into rounds with a biscuit cutter.  I then put them into mini- muffin cups.
Then I filled them with mincemeat filling.

 I cut smaller circles for the tops and laid them on.
 Smush the edges to seal them, then I crimped mine with a fork. I'm not Martha.
 Bake in the oven for like 15 minutes??? or until golden brown.

I plan to pop these frozen in the oven covered with foil to keep from browning, and reheat until hot the day of.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Healthier Homemade Mac and Cheese

At Sissy's request, I tried to "healthify" Mac and Cheese.  I love me some ooey cheesy goodness, so getting it healthier means I can have it more often!

Rachel Ray had done a segment on her show.. last year maybe? and had put squash in mac and cheese to get kids to eat veggies. So I thought I'd try that too.

I used Betty Crocker's recipe for macaroni and cheese from an old cookbook of hers.

Macaroni and Cheese from Betty Crocker's Cookbook, 40th Anniversary Edition (1991)

2 cups uncooked pasta ( I would change to using a whole pound of pasta)
2 Tbsp margarine or butter ( I used 1 Tbsp olive oil, and 1 Tbsp margarine)
1/4 c chopped onion
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups milk ( I used skim)
8 oz shredded cheese ( I used 2% cheddar)

Plus I added:
4 oz grated mozzarella blend (leftover)
10 oz packaged cooked squash, thawed (Not in Betty's)

Cook the pasta in boiling water according to package directions. Melt the margarine in a saucepan ( use a saucepan, this is what you make the cheese sauce in!) over not too high heat (medium at best!) Cook the onion until soft.  Add flour, salt , and pepper. Cook until bubbly and looks like this:

 Remove from heat, stir in milk. Return to heat and stir constantly until boiling. Keep stirring and boiling for about a minute, it will thicken up. Take it back off the heat, and stir in the cheese and squash.  Add the macaroni and stir it all together.

Pour into an ungreased casserole and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until bubbly. Enjoy!
I added about 12 oz of cheese in total. The squash flavor was still pretty apparent. I'd recommend half the squash next time, or double everything else. 
Overall, it was very cheesy and creamy, and very filling. I ate this with some roasted veggies and didn't miss meat at all!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It really is just like riding a bike

Prospective Prince Charming Z is a huge mountain biker. Me, I'm a runner. I haven't been on a bike since I was a kid. In fact, my last bike didn't have gears. Or hand brakes.

But I'm willing to give new things a try. So since he has FOUR bikes, I borrowed one and we went out to the Silver Comet trail for a ride. ( and seriously, why FOUR? You can only ride one at the time. Boys and their toys!)

The Silver Comet trail is this beautiful paved trail that runs from Smyrna all the way to Alabama on abandoned rail lines. It's FLAT, and very scenic. I can totally see this being a great place to run.

I was very apprehensive about this whole experience. Not having been on a bike in years, and being gracefully challenged, I had this image of me, face planted into the dirt, all scraped up. Like a kid who just got the training wheels taken off their bike. Only rainbow band aids are not the cool statement at the office they are in the second grade.

Gladly, it really did come back to me, although I still need a LOT of practice. But we managed to ride for almost an hour and I didn't fall once. Stopping, still an issue. People passing me-eek. But overall, a great experience.

I'm encouraged to try new things more often. I only wish I'd remembered to have a picture taken during the ride to share with you. Maybe next time!

What are you going to try new or get back into?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mercury Glass Pumpkins...Sorta

I'm trying to work on the curb appeal of my house, making it more inviting and personalized. Not quite so cookie cutter beige box. But living in a condo, I have strict limits on what I can do. No touching the precious vinyl siding. No nails!

I decided to try making mercury glass pumpkins after seeing the idea somewhere (or maybe several somewheres) out in blog-land. If I interpreted your idea, please let me know so I can properly credit you!

I love mercury glass, but it's so expensive!

So I gathered my pumpkins:

First I sprayed them with matte silver spray paint. I used this one:

I sprayed one coat lightly all over the pumpkin, and let it dry. Yes, I am spray painting on a trashbag as a dropcloth. It works, it's cheap, it's disposable. Shush.

I then sprayed them lightly with Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint to add the depth of Mercury glass.
I used my mercury glass candlestick (THANK YOU MOM!) for reference:

End result? Not quite mercury glass, but I like it nonetheless.

Here is the finished product on my front porch.

I have a few more projects for here up my sleeve. For now, I've got mums waiting to be planted!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Outdoor Chairs Before and After

I'm fortunate that my condo has both a front and back door, and feels more like a townhome.

Last year, in an attempt to gain more outdoor living space, I bought two wood lounge chairs at Ikea. After a year being exposed to the elements,they were in rather sad shape.

Mom had just finished staining her deck with a solid color deck stain from Sherwin Williams. I liked the dark charcoaly-green color and she had just a bit left over. Being the helpful daughter I am, I tried to use it up.  Plus it has a five year warranty for decks, so I should not have to do this again for a while.

I wiped down the chairs to get the dirt, pine needles, and other crusty stuff off. If you really want to do it up right, clean with a deck cleaner.

I painted one coat with a foam brush. If I did this over again, I would use a real paintbrush. The foam brushes tore apart midway through the second chair. But cleaning brushes is a huge pain to me, so I'm all about disposable.

I did one thin coat.  A few things I learned about this product: Stir really well to mix the stain as it tends to separate if left standing for a few days. It's a lot runnier than paint, so thin coats and use a dropcloth.

After one coat it looked nice, but the wood still showed through.

And then it rained for four days.

After the downpours stopped, I let the chairs dry out for a few days. Then I painted a thin second coat on and let it dry while I went out of town for work.

When I got back, they look like this:

I'm looking forward to enjoying wine in the evenings and coffee in the mornings on my newly redone patio chairs!

Linked up to:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Status Update

I took the plunge. I changed my relationship status on Facebook. Prospective Prince Charming Z and I are now "in a relationship."

I've never done that before. It's both exciting and scary- now it's REAL!

Hopefully this turns out well and this frog really does turn into a prince!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Vanity Stool Re-upholstery project!

The same day I made my Fall wreath , I was waiting on my new washing machine to be delivered. I got a very cool high efficency front load machine. She's so pretty!

Since delivery guys are never on time, I also had time to re-upholster this vanity stool.

This mahogany beauty was my grandmother's. It's part of the set she and my grandfather had when they first got married!

I'm using the dressing table as a computer desk in my guestroom (where I'm blogging from in case you were wondering), and am using the stool as a luggage bench of sorts for when I have visitors.

I have a guest room re-do as a future project (way down on the list too), but this was a quick change and made her so much prettier!

Since she just got refinished professionally, I didn't have to do any work to the frame. I flipped her upside down, and un-screwed the top.

I then painstakingly pulled out all the staples holding the existing upholstery in place. Use both a flathead screwdriver and needle nose pliers.

I then laid my ironed fabric right side down on the floor. Center the seat on the fabric. Pull up one side, and staple in the center. Staple the opposite side, pulling taught. Staple the third side, then the fourth side opposite. Now that you have one staple in each side, go back around and staple the whole thing down, pulling tight.
Now for the corners- I pulled and folded like I was wrapping a package, then stapled them like it was going out of style.
Flip her over, check her out. If you don't like what you just did, honey, it's just staples.
When you're happy, screw the seat back into the frame. You did put those screws in a safe place, right?
Take a picture!


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