Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pretty Placecards

You may have noticed in my Tastefully Simple post a couple weeks ago the adorable placecards/tags I used to label the food items. 

Well, some of my real life friends asked me about where I got them...answer?  I made them, of course :)

Here is what I did:

I found some of these placecards in the wedding section at the Dollar Tree.

I found this cool Martha Stewart paper punch at TJ Maxx for $3.99

The back side of the punch - here you can see that it only punches a small section at a time but you can line up the pattern on the front to make sure you get a continuous pattern.  This is why the punch is so wide.

Punch along each side (sorry about the crappy pics - it is HARD to take good pictures of something so small!)

Remove excess tags from the punched sides.

I had to cut these with two corners at an angle.  I don't know why they came out like this but I liked how it looked so it didn't really matter to me.

Tape a popsicle stick to the back


You can also make tent-style cards by only punching one edge.  I loved how these turned out and I plan on using this awesome punch a lot in the future.  I kind of felt like it added a special little something to the party :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pasta Night

Pasta night.  I think most American families have a regular pasta night every week or two - it is just too easy to open a jar of spaghetti sauce and boil some noodles, what more can a busy mom ask for?  I mentioned here that I make my own marinara.  Although I rarely cook with a recipe, here is what I typically do.

These are my typical ingredients.  I've mentioned these tomatoes before and I really do love them.  You can use an off brand and you might be able to find an Italian seasoned version in an off brand but these really do have the best flavor.  This is one item where I always buy name brand.

Heat some olive oil in a large skillet and add a whole diced onion.  You really can add as much or as little and chop it as finely as you prefer.  I like really chunky sauce so I keep the pieces pretty big.

When the onion starts to turn transparent, add your garlic.

Now is time for your garlic.  See that bulb in the picture above?  I used the whole thing.  Plus three additional cloves.  Yeah, I love garlic.  I also like having large chunks of garlic in this sauce.  When the sauce is done and the garlic is cooked, it is almost sweet.  Love!

Here I seasoned with a little bit of salt, black pepper and a bit of crushed red pepper.

When the garlic is in and has been cooking for about two minutes or so, add a big spoonful of tomato paste.  

Add your cans of tomatoes, I usually add two - three cans.

Let your sauce simmer while you cook your noodles.

Look at those big pieces of garlic...YUMMY!

I add my pasta directly to the sauce.  I don't really drain it, I just scoop it right out of the pot into the sauce.  A little bit of pasta water won't hurt anything.

Add some refrigerated breadsticks heated in the oven and some greens and you've got a simple dinner in less than 30 minutes!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tastefully Simple

Have you ever heard of Tastefully Simple?  They're a direct-sales company where you have a consultant come to your home and you host a party with a bunch of your friends where you get to sample yummy food and order it.  Who doesn't love yummy food?

I recently got to host one of these parties (any chance I can get to host a party at my house - I take it!) and it was tons of fun.  They've got so many great items but most of their products are mixes for appetizers (my fave!). 

Here is just a sampling of what we had:

I've used that Bayou Bourbon Glaze and the Shanghai Stir-fry sauce in my hamburgers - they add such great flavor.  I love that stir-fry sauce way more than typical teriyaki, it isn't quite as sweet.  Oh, and that Rhubarb Strawberry Spread...I'm usually not much for sweets but I could just eat it with a spoon :)

One awesome thing about Tastefully Simple is that all their mixes require two additional ingredients or less.  Take all these dips...all you do is add sour cream and/or mayo and you're done!  Easy peasy!
(see that Carrot Cake Crunch cheeseball?  It tastes like a cross between carrot cake and cheesecake - I even liked it and I don't like either)

Bountiful Beer Bread - just mix a can of beer and bake.  This is one of their most popular items and one of my personal favorites.

I took these pics before the party really started so I still didn't have everything out.  We also had a chai drink mix that we tried hot and cold and an awesome wild rice soup mix we were lucky enough to taste.  I was only recently introduced to this stuff and I'll be going back over and over for some of these items. 

So, have you ever tried Tastefully Simple?  What other direct-sales companies do you like?


If you have kids, you know just how picky they can be when it comes to what they eat.  I have a beautiful two year old and although she likes a lot of different side dishes, she's not so into her veggies :(  I have NO idea where she got this because neither my husband nor I have ever met a veggie we didn't like.  The one exception for her is BEANS.  She loves 'em!  Even LIMA beans.  Who knew?  Anyway, I was paging through a magazine and saw an advertisement for Bush's Beans with recipes when a picture caught my eye.

(click here for more)

I know, I just looks like a big pile of beans.  Well, I got to reading and there are veggies hidden in with those beans!  I figured it would be worth a try so I went and bought a can of pinto beans (I always have black and kidney beans on hand).

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 small celery stalk, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped canned whole tomatoes
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 teaspoons white wine
Salt and pepper to taste

Okay, so I didn't have any canned whole tomatoes but I always have these yummy tomatoes from Hunt's on hand.  However, I didn't use them. (more on that later)

Chop your veggies (onion, carrots and celery).  I chopped them pretty small so they wouldn't take too long to cook and so they wouldn't be so obvious in with those beans.

Heat your oil in a pan set to medium

Add veggies to hot oil

Sautee until the onion starts to get transparent, you can add salt and pepper to taste any time in here.  Just remember that canned beans are already kind of salty, you probably don't need to add a lot.

Add your chopped garlic for the last two minutes.  This is important because you don't want your garlic to burn as it can really taste bitter.  Here I actually tripled the amount of garlic the recipe calls for.  Hey - I already told you I LOVE GARLIC!

Add your tomato.  I decided to seed and chop a fresh tomato I had on hand instead of opening up a whole can for just a half a cup.

Add your beans

Add your thyme and white wine.  (you can sub water or chicken broth for the wine)

Yum!  The kid loved them and because they're such a great source of fiber and protein, they're so healthy.  Bonus!

What food quirks do your kids have?  Do you have any tricks you use to get them to eat healthier?  I can't wait to hear!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Love My Lattice!

About ten months ago, we moved into our new home.  Shortly after, I was at Joann, just browsing like I love to do.  I came across a really pretty fabric in the decorator fabric clearance section and figured that since it was such a great deal, despite having no idea what I was going to do with it, it had to be mine.  I bought what was left on the bolt (just under five yards) for about $20. 

Fast forward seven months; it suddenly hits me.  DRAPES!!  I had to make new drapes for my living/dining room.  Unfortunately, I needed about 10 yards to cover my two windows.  I was on a hunt for this fabric, Googling, checking ebay and Amazon  I even put out a request on facebook!  After much searching I had to give up my quest.  I was very disappointed and couldn't find anything else I liked as much...until I started this blog

I was doing a Google Images search, looking for something beautiful to use as a background, when I saw it -

Lovely Lattice by Waverly in Mocha!!  In my search for this, I found so many other beautiful colors readily availible but my heart was set on Mocha.  I didn't want to get my hopes up too much because I've found this in the indoor/outdoor version and I knew that wasn't the weight I was looking for.  The description online didn't say if this was the 100% cotton version I was looking for or the polyester indoor/outdoor.  I found the customer service number on the bottom of the page and they were SO HELPFUL!  I was excited to find out it was the cotton I was looking for and placed my order right away.  Just a few days later this was delivered to my doorstep. 

I can't wait to get started on the new curtains.  I'll post before and after pics as soon as they're done and up!
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