Saturday, August 24, 2013

If it's not one thing...

So. Our youngest son had an interview today and since the truck needs brakes and steering work, hubby's been taking my car, which meant I had to take him to work this morning. He keeps saying he's not working this Saturday, and every Friday, they ask him to come in. So anyway, we come downstairs to take the dogs out to only to find Maverick's  left cheek all swollen. That was NOT like that last night! And of course it's the weekend and the vet isn't open till Monday. If I thought it was life threatening, yeah, id find a way to pay an emergency vet, but he's acting fine, eating, drinking, and playing, so we're keeping an eye on it and calling the vet Monday morning. I had my son hold him as still as he could (all the men in my family are big softies...the never hold the animals tight enough for fear of hurting them even when it's for their own good) while I put some peroxide on it.

I don't know what the hell happened, but he has like a scratch/cut/whatever in the middle if the swelling. He was in his kennel all night so I'm clueless.

Then I have been dying for some good potato salad. The store bought stuff makes me gag. So, I put some potatoes on to boil....and proceeded to forget about them and took a nap as I haven't been sleeping well. All the water boiled off. Hubby was taking the dogs out and saw it. *sigh*. So I'm all upset because we're having burgers and I'm thinking the potatoes are going to be too soft for salad and WTF can you make with mashed potatoes that would go with burgers???

So, I though I would try some fried potato patties and started peeling. Whoa. Wait a minute...they weren't *that* soft! So I put eggs on to boil and cut the potatoes. Cut them a little bigger than usual just so they wouldn't fall apart so easy. Then, instead of spooning mayo on top and stirring, then adding mustard and so on, stirring after each, I mixed the dressing up in a bowl and added it after the eggs and onions were in with the potatoes so there was only one stirring. Turned out GREAT!

Now, I would love to share the recipe...but I don't measure any of the ingredients. So...I'll tell you what I put in and let you measure to taste.

I make a lot because we love it and it goes fast. So...this is about what I use.

6-8 medium potatoes. Boiled with the skin on. This keeps them from rubbing together in the water and getting really mushy.
4-5 eggs, boiled, peeled, and chopped
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2-3 C. Mayo
1/2 C. Mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Now, if you like it more or less tart, add more or less mustard.

Peel the potatoes once they're cool.  You can use your fingers as the skin should come right off.  Cut them into bite sized pieces. Mix everything together and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Grilled Shoyu Chicken

Chicken was on sale, so my freezer is full! Love getting just thighs rather than leg quarters. Fewer bones. Anyway, that meant I needed some good recipes! I've made this before, but not for a long time, and it was def a hit!

I was going to just throw it in the oven, then hubs came in and asked if I wanted him to grill it. Awww shucks! Ya twisted my arm!

The whole back yard smelled heavenly!  He said the neighbor, who was trimming some bushes, was sniffing our way the whole time, too!  Gotta love making something so good that just the smell has the neighbors jealous!

Made cheddar mashed potatoes and he threw some corn on the cob on the grill, too. I had my corn after the chicken and potatoes because I loveeee corn on the cob and didn't want chicken and potatoes on it.

Grilled Shoyu Chicken

Chicken pieces to feed everyone (bones in or out, but adjust cooking time for boneless), skin removed
1 C water
1 C soy sauce
1 C brown sugar
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1 t pepper
1 T paprika
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 t ginger

Combine everything except the chicken in a ziploc or large bowl and mix well.  Add chicken, making sure the meaty sides are covered. Chill 1 hour.

Place meat on heated grill, turned medium low. For bone in chicken, cook about an hour, or until juices run clear.  For boneless, cook about 30 minutes, or till juices run clear.

This can also be baked at 350 for about the same cook times listed above.

Hubby brushed the marinade over the meat as it cooked. Just remember to never use marinade that has had raw meat soaking in it unless it is to baste meat that is still cooking or place the marinade in a pan and bring it to a boil, then let it boil 5 minutes, before using! Otherwise, you may well get food poisoning.

The potatoes in the pic were just mashed with milk and butter. Then I added some salt and 2 cups of shredded cheddar.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Nacho Stuffed Shells

This has been a favorite for years. It's a little labor intensive, but worth it. I planned it last night, when I actually felt like cooking. Unlike today. Blah. Oh, well. Hubby offered to pick up Chinese, but damn that gets expensive with four of us! So...our oldest son is going to a concert at the state fair tomorrow. Guess what the rest of us are having for dinner ;)

Speaking of my oldest, he finally, after sitting on his butt all summer and twanging my last nerve repeatedly, contacted the college he wants to attend. Went in and started the ball rolling. Yay! And my youngest is now a mere 8 pounds from enlisting. With all that's now going on, I'm not as enthusiastic as I otherwise would have been, but it's what he wants. Hey, maybe, in another 5-10 years, hubby and I will have the house to ourselves!


Nacho Stuffed Shells

16 oz. Box jumbo shells
1 lb ground beef
16 oz. Can refried beans
1 C. Salsa
16 oz. Can tomato sauce
2 C. Shredded cheese of your choice
1 packet taco meat seasoning
1 C. Water

Cook shells according to package directions.
While pasta cooks, brown beef in a large skillet.
Drain both meat and pasta. Cover shells with cold water. Stir water and seasoning into meat, simmer 10 minutes. Stir in beans and half of cheese. Heat to melt cheese.
Combine tomato sauce and salsa.
Heat oven to 350.
Spread 1 C. Salsa mixture over bottom of 10x14" baking dish. Fill each shell with about 2 T meat mixture and arrange in the baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over filled shells and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Cover with foil and bake 25-30 minutes.

Friday, August 9, 2013


So I was wanting hot wings. Really, really wanting them! Of course it was like 11pm, I never do things the easy way. So o go to the grocery store. I believe I have already told you that I'm cheap, right? So when I see my choices, I got inventive.
See, they had small boxes of like 6 winglets (you know, not the whole wing, just half) for like $4. Seriously? So I move on. They have  4 pound bag of frozen winglets, plain, just cut and frozen, for $8. Better, but all I want is a snack, not a meal for the family! OK, let's look at the fresh wings. Now I remember when wings were all but free because nobody wanted them. Now they're as much as chicken breast! I. Don't. Think. So!

What to do? Hmmmm. Well, I *do* have a package of chicken breast thawing in the fridge. There's more than I'll need for dinner...yeah! That'll work!
Now these were bone in breast halves, so they included the tenders. They're not heavily breaded, either, but quick and pretty good!  Oh, and I don't do the butter in the hot sauce thing, but if you prefer it that way, feel free.

Hot Fingers

1 large chicken breast half, cut into strips
1/2 cup flour
1 T Cajun seasoning
Hot sauce

Combine flour And Cajun seasoning in a medium bowl. Add chicken strips and toss to coat.
Heat oil in a large skillet, then add chicken a little at a time so it doesn't clump together. Fry about 10 minutes or till cooked through.  Remove to paper towels to drain. In a bowl, add as much hot sauce as you like, add chicken, and toss to coat.
* there's really enough for 2 people for a snack or one for a meal, but...they really were good!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Chicken Parmesan

This is such an easy meal and sooooo good! It's nice when the store has chicken breast on sale and I can stock up. I actually prefer the bone in breasts. It's not hard to de-bone it and as a bonus, you get the tenders, too. Not to mention, the bone in is usually cheaper than the boneless even when the boneless is n sale.

So, they had the bone n breasts for 99¢ a pound, so I bought like 15 pounds. When your freezer is full of the all the same meat, you have to get creative! And I have, but this is a favorite.

Now, my husband is NOT a fan of chicken breast. In fact, if I cook them as is, he won't touch them. They have to be cut up or shredded in some kind of dish or pounded thin. So, I pound them down to about 1/2" thick before I use them. The also cook faster this way, so if you want to skip this step, you'll have to adjust the cooking time. Also, he doesn't like the meat smothered in the pasta sauce and baked, so that's another option.  We also like a lot of sauce, so if you don't, one jar will do.

Chicken Parmesan

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
3/4 C. Breadcrumbs
1/2 C. Grated Parmesan
1/2 C. Shredded mozzarella
16 oz. Pasta, whatever shape you like
2 jars pasta sauce

Heat oven to 250.

Place each chicken breast half between layers of plastic wrap and pound to 1/2" thick.
In a plate, combine Parmesan and breadcrumbs. Coat each breast in this mixture.
Heat oil in a large skillet and cook chicken until juices run clear and it is no longer pink.

While the chicken is cooking, heat a large pot of water to boiling and cook pasta according to package directions.

When chicken is done, place it in a baking dish, sprinkle with mozzarella, then with extra breadcrumbs and cover with foil. Place in oven.

In the same skillet, heat pasta sauce until heated through. You can pour some or all of this over the chicken if you like, cover, and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes.

Serve chicken with pasta and sauce.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cinnamon Bread

OK, I have no idea where this recipe came from, but I found it on my Facebook wall, shared by a friend who also had no clue where it came from. It is SOOOO good! It makes 2 loaves and one was gone by bedtime. The other one lasted a little longer. Because we were all asleep part of the time!

Hubby said I must always have a loaf of this made up LOL go for it, dude!

I've made it twice, following the recipe exactly. Well. Sorry of. I think I may have accidentally added an extra 1/2 cup of flour the last time. The batter was thicker than in the pictures. The first time, the bread was more of a cake texture, but more bread-like the last time. Next time, I'm going to purposefully ads an extra 1/2 cup of flour and see what happens. Also going to double the cinnamon. It's good as-is, but we'll really like cinnamon, so...

Cinnamon Bread

2 C. Buttermilk
2 C. Sugar
4 C. Flour
1 C. Butter, room temperature
2 eggs
2 t. Baking soda

2/3 C. Sugar
2 t. Cinnamon

Heat oven to 350.

Cream together 2 C. Sugar and butter. Add eggs, milk, flour, and baking soda. Mix well.

In a small bowl, combine 2/3 C. Sugar and cinnamon.

Grease 2 loaf pans. Fill each pan with 1/4 of the batter (1/2 of the batter, total). Set aside 1/4 of the cinnamon sugar. Sprinkle the remaining 3/4 equally over the batter in the pans. Top with the remaining batter, split equally between the pans. Split the remaining cinnamon sugar between the pans, sprinkling on top of the batter

Bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fried Rice

So hubby wanted something to take to work for lunch and nothing sounded good.  Veggie fried rice? He loves rice, so...
I make a lot, so feel free to halve it.

Vegetable Fried Rice

4-5 cups cooked rice, leftover is fine.
1 C. Frozen peas, thawed
3 eggs, beaten
1 large onion, chopped (we love onion)
1/2 t. Garlic powder
1/2 C. Soy sauce
1/4 C. Vegetable oil

Scramble eggs, remove from skillet and set aside. Add a drizzle of the oil, then add the onions. Cook, stirring, until soft.  Add peas and cook until heated through.  Add rice and eggs. Stir to combine.  Add remaining oil, soy sauce, and garlic powder, stirring, until well mixed and heated through.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Taco Cornbread Bake

I was hesitant about making this, even with the changes, but I'm glad I did!  Everyone loved it.  For me, anyway, it has just the right amount of zip.  I like spicy foods, but sometimes you don't want to need a gallon of water with your dinner!  And you can alter the amount of zip by the kind of salsa you use.  We always get medium, but you can go hotter or cooler.  If that's not hot enough, add a can of diced green chili peppers.

I really thought it would be bland, but the salsa does the job.  This can be halved, if you don't live with eating machines like I do.  Of course, I forgot to get a picture till it was almost gone...*sigh*  I'll get my head out of my butt one day, I swear!

Taco Cornbread Bake

2 pounds ground beef
1t. dry oregano
1 1/2 C. salsa
2 16 oz cans tomato sauce
2 cans corn, drained
2 boxes cornbread mix and the ingredients to make them
2 C. shredded cheddar

Heat oven to 375.
Brown beef with oregano.  Drain.  Add salsa, tomato sauce, corn, and 1 C. cheese.
Pour into a 9 x 13" baking pan.
Mix cornbread mix with required ingredients.  Pour over meat mixture and spread evenly.  Top with remaining cheese.
Bake 25-30 minutes.  Allow to rest at least 10 minutes before serving.

Road Trip

As I believe I posted earlier, my oldest son was recently discharged from the Army. He had been stationed in Hawaii and they had to ship his car.  It arrived just outside St. Louis last Friday and he has been driving me batshit ever since. We weren't able to get him down there until today. So, in 4 hours, my husband, my oldest son, and I will head out on a 350 mile trip and my youngest will stay here with the zoo.  If it were just the cats, we could leave them for the day, but not the dogs.
So, anyway, here I am, not sleeping.  Hubby will be driving most of the way down so I can sleep and drive back. Will post pictures if I get any decent ones.
So we got back last night, after stopping to pick up dog food, and man was it nice!  Had a snack and when hubby started playing a video game, I went upstairs to call my SIL.  She had asked me online to call when we got home, so I did.  Of course I caught her mid grocery shopping, and she said she'd call back.  Crap!  I left my current book in the car and everything else I haven't read was downstairs.  So, I figured I'd check Facebook and email. 
Then hubby's alarm was going off at 5am.  Grrrr, he forgot to reset it!  Wait, what???  Oh.  I guess I fell asleep! 
So, here it is 7:30 am, and my head is telling me that the bath and breakfast was nice and all, but I really wasn't done sleeping.  Think I'll go catch a nap after I finish here. 

This was somewhere along the way, still in Iowa.  Just thought it was a pretty scene on a beautiful day.  LOL It was sometime before 10am, because that's when the windows went up and the a/c went on!  It was already 88 by then! 
This was in the afternoon, on the way back, somewhere in Missouri.  Sill a lovely day...just hotter than hell!  Was around 95 with a heat index around 100. 
 This was the sky over Crawford, IA on the way back, about 7pm.  A few minutes later, it started to rain.  HUGE drops, but it only lasted a few seconds, paused, then a little heavier for maybe 30 seconds, then it was done.
And, finally, about 9pm, almost home. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Spicy Bowties and Sausage

It was a busy day today, so for dinner, I wanted something quick that I had all the ingredients for.   Didn't do too bad!  The sauce wasn't too heavy and it had just enough spice.
Think this is going to be a short entry because I'm just too pooped to pop.

Spicy Bowties with Sausage

1 pound. Italian sausage
1 small onion,  chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
16 oz. Bowtie pasta, cooked and drained
2 cans (14.5 oz each) stewed tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 C. Heavy cream
1 T red pepper flakes

In a large skillet, cook sausage, onion, and garlic until sausage is no longer pink.  Drain
Add pepper flakes, tomatoes, and cream.  Heat. to boiling, reduce to medium and simmer until thickened. Pour over pasta and toss to coat.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Crispy Baked Chicken

That'll teach me.  Planning dinner without checking the forecast. Baking chicken when it's 90 and humid is not a good idea!  Still...dinner was pretty good!
Nothing fancy, but there's nothing left, so I guess it hit the spot.  I made green beans and fried potatoes with it.

Baked Crispy Chicken

4 chicken legs
4 chicken thighs
1 C. Bread crumbs
1 T. Oregano
1 T. Basil
1 t. Garlic
1 T. Onion powder
1T. Paprika
1/4 C. Parmesan cheese
6 pieces skinless chicken

Heat oven to 350.
Combine everything except chicken in s large zipper bag an shake to mix. Add chicken a piece at a time and shake to coat.
Arrange chicken on a baking sheet.
For bone-in bake 45-55 minutes, for boneless, 30-40 minutes.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Dinner for 4, less than $10

I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for ways to feed us without breaking the bank, especially since our oldest came home.  Who'd have thought one more mouth would raise the food bill so much!
So tonight I really didn't feel like cooking, but we'd already had pizza this week, so...*sigh* guess I was cooking. It's been hot today and my husband works in the heat, which is draining, so I knew he wasn't going to want to stop by the store, and I certainly didn't want to, so that left what I had on hand.
OK, I can do this. Here's what I came up with. There are a lot of similar recipes out there, but, here it is.  After eating it, I think it would be good with rice, too, as long as you used cooked rice. Using uncooked would take too long, and I know I never have any luck with that...there's always so much that doesn't cook either at all or not completely, and if ruins dinner.

Chicken and Stuffing Casserole

1 large or 2 small chicken breast halves (or thighs), cooked and shredded
1 box stuffing mix
1 stick butter, melted
1 can cream soup (whatever flavor you like)
1 C. Water
Salt and pepper to taste (and any other seasoning you like)

Heat oven to 350.
Mix butter and stuffing mix and set aside.
Whisk water and soup together and set aside
Spray a 8x8" pan with nonstick spray.
Remove 1/4 C. Stuffing and set aside.
Spread half the stuffing on bottom of pan. Top with half the chicken, then half the soup. Repeat. Sprinkle reserved stuffing on top.
Bake 30 minutes.

If you use rice, I would think about 3 cups would do, and I personally, would season it with salt, pepper, and maybe poultry seasoning, and cook it in. Chicken broth.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Beef Tips

OK, I have pictures this time! Picked up some tri tip steak for cheap.  It was on its sell-by date, so they had it marked down, and I'm all for saving money!  Which is also why, rather than using it as steak, I decided to get 2 meals out of it.  Tonight is beef tips, and the rest can stay in the freezer for a few days when I think I'll make some Oriental beef of some type.  Haven't yet found a recipe I like as much as my old tried and true...and VERY sweet...recipe.  May have to experiment on my own.

Anyway!  Usually, when I make a recipe for the first time, I follow the directions pretty closely, but this time, not so much.  Some of the steps seemed silly and after tasting the meat, it was a little bland, so...yeah.

Beef Tips

1 1/2 lbs. cubed beef (the type doesn't matter as they simmer long enough to tenderize any cut)
1 T garlic powder
1 T. onion powder (I was out so I used dried minced)
1/4 C. red wine, divided (optional)
3 C. water
1 T. beef bouillon or 3 cubes
3 T. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 T. cornstarch
3-4 T. water
Hot buttery egg noodles

Season meat with garlic and onion powders.  Brown in a large skillet with 1/8 C. wine until cooked through.

Add water, bouillon, onions, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.  Simmer over medium heat 45-60 minutes, or until meat is very tender.
Combine water and cornstarch and stir until cornstarch is dissolved.  Add slowly to skillet while stirring.  Bring skillet to a boil, boil about a minute then turn heat off and allow to cool slightly so it thickens.
Serve over egg noodles.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cheesecake Bites UPDATE!!!

Hmmm...that didn't come out right.  What I meant was...well...cheesecake bites.  Clear as mud!  Bite-sized cheesecake treats.  Does that make more sense?  Good.  No, I wish I didn't like cheesecake.  I could eat my weight in the stuff!!

I'm an idiot and forgot to take pictures...twice!  I made a batch for us the first time, then, after hubby declared them acceptable (I think his words were something along the lines of "damned good!"), he asked if I could make some more for him to take to work for a retirement party. No problem!  And still, I forgot to take a picture!  *sigh* 

So, I'm going to post the recipe and I'll just have to make more (the suffering I put myself through!), and get pictures then.

The original recipe, and no, I don't remember where I got it, but I didn't come up with it, called for a cinnamon-sugar coating, and that's how I made both batches because I always follow the original recipe the first time I make something.  With the second batch, I didn't want to change it when it was going to feed others until I had made it differently for us and was sure it would work that way.  What I want to try next will be a coating of graham cracker crumbs with a little cinnamon and sugar mixed in.  That would be closer to cheesecake, I think.

Cheesecake Bites

8 oz, cream cheese, room temperature
16 oz loaf of bread (not the thick sliced stuff)
3/4 C. powdered sugar
3/4 C. melted butter
1 pack Graham crackers, finely crushed
1 1/2 T sugar

Heat the oven to 350.
Cut the crusts off the bread, then, with a rolling pin, roll the bread slices flat.
Combine the powdered sugar and cream cheese and mix well.
Combine the cracker crumbs and sugar and mix well.
Spread the cream cheese mixture on the bread slices, about 1 T. per slice.  Roll the bread up jelly roll style.
Now, for bites, you would cut each roll in half, or you can leave it whole and they're more like sticks.
Dip each piece in the melted butter, then roll in the cinnamon-sugar.
Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 10-15 minutes.

This originally called for 2/3 C sugar and 1T cinnamon to coat them instead of the Graham crackers and sugar, but that was REALLY sweet. I think the cracker crumbs are wayyyy better!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Using Up Scrap Yarn

So, a friend of a friend is in need of baby stuff.  Well, my "baby" is 20, so I don't have anything, but I hate to see someone in need and not help if there's any way I possibly can.  Like most folks, my husband and I rarely see much of our money.  It's generally spent before we actually get paid, so there's nothing I could do in that regard, so I offered to make her a baby afghan out of leftover yarn.  She's having a girl, so was asking for girl stuff, but while this blanket is going to be colorful, I'm working with what I have. 

I was raised on the phrase "beggars can't be choosers", and I still live by it, so if what I make doesn't suit her, that's fine, I'm sure I can find someone who would appreciate it.  I don't mean to sound nasty, but I have made too many things for people, put time, effort, and thought into it, only to have them turn their noses up at it.  I don't want, need, or expect a big production of gratitude, but it would be nice to be thanked, and for the person to NOT look like I just handed them a bag of dog poop!  *sigh*  Sorry.

Usually those folks are the same ones who raise their eyebrows when they find out how much it is to buy an afghan.  No, they're not cheap.  Not to buy and not to make.  On average, I ask around $200 for a regular sized afghan.  For a blanket??  No, a blanket you can go to the store and buy for $20.  This is a hand made afghan.  Not only that, but my afghans are made to order.  Bigger or smaller, whatever colors you like, and if you want to pay for Merino, I can do that, too!  (That's gonna be a hell of a lot more than $200, though!).  Once I take out the price of the yarn and break it down into all the hours I put into it, I'm making about half minimum wage.  Oh, well, you can do this sitting on the sofa in front of the TV.  Yeah...I can...but it's still work.  It still makes my carpal tunnel act up sometimes, I still get a stiff neck and sore shoulders from it!

I have looked at several calculators that are supposed to help you price your hand made items.  HA!  I should be charging at least three times what I do!  Now, there may be s few folks out there willing to put that kind of money out for an afghan, but I certainly don't know any of them!  I know I had an aunt who made quilts and she could sell just the tops for $600 each, but I don't see that happening here. 


I've just done a simple half double.  I have more blue and purple yarn, so I do five rows of one, then six rows, each one a different color, in no special order, then five rows of the other.  It's not baby-ish and it's not girly, but it's colorful...and it's free!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Finally Back!

Finally.  About a month ago, my 3 month old computer fatally crashed.  I got it back the other day.  I feel like I should get something out of it beyond them fixing it for free, I mean come on!  3 months and it dies?  *sigh*  Frustrating!

So, I've been busy.  Just a little bit!  I started and finished a baby blanket for a friend's first grandson.  I used the pattern I've already posted, the vertical lattice, but it's yellow this time. 

I think it turned out beautifully, if I do say so myself!
Our oldest son came home last month, too.  He's been stationed in Hawaii since 2010 and is finally home.  Big adjustment for all of us.  He's planning on going to school next spring, so now it's working on getting a job. 
Feeling a bit off with all that's going on, so please bear with me.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cajun Pasta Alfredo

This work thing takes up way too much of my time!  I've been working on the same afghan for almost a month now and I'm only about 2/3 done!  Granted it's queen sized, but still.  Between now and mid July I have to make a baby blanket for a friend.  Her first grandchild is due in early August...she's my age and her daughter is my son's age...makes me fell soooo old!  Then between now and November, I have this afghan and one for another of my in-laws.  I want it done in time to mail it to Utah and have it there before Christmas.  And when I'm done with this one, I have a cousin who wants one!  Glad I don't have to work in the summer!

I had some of those mini smoked sausages and wanted to make something for dinner with them.  I could really only find recipes for snacks and such, sooo...I got creative.

Cajun Pasta Alfredo

16 oz. rotini pasta
15 oz jar Alfredo sauce (this makes it a little dry, so if you like it saucy, use 2)
1 T. Cajun seasoning (I like Tony Chachere's) (use more if you like a lot of spice)
1 package mini smoked sausages cut into 4 pieces (or sliced and quartered regular sized)
dry bread crumbs

Heat oven to 350.

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain.
Stir in sauce, sausage, and seasoning.  Mix well.
Spoon pasta into a 9 x 13" baking pan, sprinkle with bread crumbs, and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Made this again tonight (5/10) but this time I used 2 jars of sauce...we like it saucy and last time was a little dry for our tastes.  Also, there was some pork and chicken Italian sausage on sale that I used instead of smoked sausage and it was AMAZING!!  The chicken in it, kept the sausage from being greasy and the spice in it (it was mild, but still had TONS of flavor!) meant I only needed a little Cajun seasoning.  VERY GOOD!!!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Is Summer Here Yet?

Not that I'm looking forward to the sweltering heat, but as a school bus monitor, I get the summer off!  No, I am not like most people, who love the summer.  I could live in constant spring or fall, but the summer heat kills me.  Especially since we moved to Iowa from Utah.  I grew up in Indiana but never got used to the humidity.  I wanted to move back east from Utah, but I do miss those dry summers!

Summer, for me, means that I can get back to what I really want to do...crochet!!  This work thing has cut into my crochet time terribly!

I have started another afghan, however.  My aunt asked me to make her one to replace one her mother made her years ago and that she lost to a house fire, also quite a while ago.  She wanted it in the same pattern as my last afghan, but in her high school colors as the one she lost was.  Now she went to the same high school as my dad did.  The enemy!!  LOL  That high school was hated by many when I was a teen...because they kicked everyone's butt in basketball!!  This was back in the '80s.  Their colors are purple and gold so, of course, while they were winning, they called it the purple reign.  If you're from the '80s, you'll get it.  So, also of course, I have to tease her. 

So, since I already shared the pattern, I'll share pix of the work in progress.  This one is going to be queen sized, so in addition to adding stitches to make it bigger, I am also using a larger hook...I used an I hook last time and a J hook this time.

about 1/6 done!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Wash Cloths

This whole work thing is seriously cutting into my crochet time!  *sigh*  I haven't gotten nearly as much done in the last couple of weeks as I would have liked, but I did get some great cotton yarn and made 2 wash cloths out of it.  I got some Lion Brand Recycled Cotton, which, from what I gather, is scraps from when they cut pieces for T-shirts mixed with some acrylic fiber so it's 76% cotton and 24% acrylic, but it feels like all cotton and the acrylic gives it a little extra durability.  I used the color Marine and just love the result!

I used a simple single and half double crochet pattern.  I made one about 10" square and one about 8" square.  The pattern was supposed to make a 9" square, but even after using a smaller hook, it was 10".  I used fewer chains for the smaller one.

Mesh Washcloth
worsted weight cotton yarn
H hook (I used an F hook and it was still larger)

Ch. 39.
Row 1:  sc in 3rd ch from hook *ch 1, skip nexr ch, sc in next ch.  Repeat from * across.  Ch. 2, turn.
Row 2:  hdc in 1st ch. 1 sp *ch 1, skip next sc, hdc in next ch 1 sp.  Repeat from * across.  Ch 1, turn
Row 3:  sc in 1st ch 1 sp *ch 1, skip next hdc, sc in next ch 1 a.  Repeat from * across.  Ch 2, turn
Repeat rows 2 & 3 until cloth is square, ending with sc row.  DO NOT FINISH OFF.

Ch 1, turn.  In same sp as ch, (sc, ch 2, sc).  sc evenly around edge of wash cloth, working (sc, ch 2, sc) in every corner.  Join with sl st to first sc.  Finish off.  Weave in ends.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Another Afghan

So, Monday I started working with the school district as a bus monitor.  The worst part is getting up at 5am.  I am SO not a morning person LOL At least I get to come home after dropping the kids off at their schools and take a nap before having to take the back home!

I started a new afghan.  I LOVE the way it looks, even though I'm not crazy about the colors.  It's for one of my sisters-in-law and she loves purple and black, so...

Color Waves Afghan

28 oz. worsted weight yarn MC
14 oz contrasting worsted weight yarn A
I hook
Guage:  13 sts and 12 rows =  4" in pattern
htc = half triple crochet.  YO twice, insert hook in top of stitch, YO and pull through.  YO, pull through 2 loops, YO, pull through remaining 3 loops.

With A ch 179.

Row 1:  (RS) 1 sc in 2nd chain from hook and in each ch across.  Ch 1, turn (178 sts)

Row 2:  1 sc in first sc and each sc across.  Join MC, ch 3, turn.

Row 3:  Skip first  sc, dc in next sc, hdc in next sc, sc in next sc.  *ch 2.  Skip next 2 sc.  1 sc in next sc, hdc in next sc, dc in next 2 sc, htc in next 2 sc, dc in next 2 sc, hdc in next sc, sc in next sc.  Rep from * to last 6 sc.  Ch 2.  Skip next 2 sc.  1 sc in next sc, 1 hdc in next sc, dc in last two sc.  Ch 3, turn.

Row 4:  Skip first st, dc in next st, 1hdc in next st, 1 sc in next st.  *ch 2, skip next ch-2 sp, 1 sc in next st, 1 hdc in next st, 1 dc in next 2 sts, 1 htc in next 2 sts, 1 dc in next 2 sts, 1 hdc in next st, 1 sc in next st.  Repeat from * to last 6 sts.  Ch 2, skip ch-2 sp, 1 sc in next st, 1 hdc in next st, 1 dc in each of the last 2 sts.  Join A, ch 1, turn.

Row 5:  1 sc in each of first 4 sts.  *Working over ch-2 sp, work 1 sc in next 2 free sc worked in A, 3 rows below.  1 sc in next 10 sts.  Repeat from * to last 6 sts.  Working over ch-2 sp, work 1 sc in next 2 free sc worked in A, 3 rows below.  1 sc in next 4sts. ch 1, turn.

Row 6:  1 sc in first st and each st across to end of row.  Join MC, ch 1, and turn.

Row 7:  1 sc in first st, 1 hdc in next st, *1 dc in next 2 sts, 1 htc in next 2 sts, 1 dc in next 2 sts, 1 hdc in next st, 1 sc in next s, ch 2, skip next 2 sts, 1 sc in next st, 1 hdc in next st.  Repeat from * to last 8 sts.  1 dc in next 2 sts, 1 htc in next 2 sts, 1 dc in next 2 sts, 1 hdc in next st, 1 sc in last st.  Ch 1, turn.

Row 8:  1 sc in first st, 1 hdc in next st. *1dc in next 3 sts, 1 htc in next 2 sts, 1 dc in next 2 sts, 1 hdc in next st, 1 sc in next st, ch 2.  1 sc in next st, 1 hdc in next st,  Repeat from * to kast 8 sts.  1 dc in next 2 sts, 1 htc in next 2 sts, 1 dc in next 2 sts, 1 hdc in next st, 1 sc in last st.  Join A, ch 1, and turn.

Row 9:  1 sc in first st, 1 sc in each of next 9 sts.  *Working over ch-2 sp, work 1 sc in next 2 free sc worked in A. 3 rows below.  1 sc in next 10 sts.  Repeat from * to last 12 sts.  Working over ch-2 sp, work 1 sc in next 2 free sc worked in A, 3 rows below.  1 sc in last 10 sts.  Ch1, turn.

Continue in pattern until work from beginning measures approximately 44 1/2", ending with row 2 of pattern.  Do NOT fasten off.

Continue as follows:
Lower edging:  Working into short side of afghan, with A, work 1 row evenly across to opposite edge, ch 1, turn.
Next row:  1 sc un furt sc and each sc across to end of row.  Fasten off.
Work remaining short side of afghan in same manner.

Outer edging:  With RS facing, join MC to lower corner of afghan.  Working from left to right, instean of right to left as usual, work 1 reverse sc in each sc around outer edge of afghan, working 3 sts in corners.  Sl st fto first sc, fasten off.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Chicken Alfredo

I've made this before, but the sauce always came out really thick and gluey, so I decided to play around in the kitchen and see what I could come up with...and pray it came out OK, so dinner didn't suck!  It didn't!  I finally found an Alfredo sauce keeper!  Best of all, no cream cheese! 

I had a box of whole wheat linguine and one of regular linguine.  My son and husband insist that they don't like the whole wheat stuff, but I really can't taste a difference, especially when it has a good sauce on it, so I get a box of each and use half of each.  They still gripe, but tough crunchies! 

So, here was the menu:  linguine with chicken Alfredo sauce, asparagus (I forgot I still had some in the fridge and wanted to make it while it was still good!  I had planned a salad, but...), and garlic toast.  The toast was a loaf of Italian bread sliced, buttered and sprinkled with garlic powder.  I don't like using the broiler for this because I can never get it the way I want it.  It's either untoasted or burnt, so I turn the oven on bake and set it as high as it will go before broil.  Then I flip the slices of bread over, butter side down, and in about 8 minutes, it's perfectly toasted!

Linguine with Chicken Alfredo Sauce

16 oz. linguine
2 C. half and half
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/4 C. flour
1/4 C. butter
1/3 C. grated parmesan
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast half, thinly sliced
1/8 t. garlic powder
1/8 t. basil
1/4 t. onion powder
1/4 C. white wine
2 T. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Sprinkle chicken with 1/8 t. garlic powder, onion powder, and basil.  Heat olive oil and white wine in a skillet, add chicken and cook until no longer pink.  Remove from skillet and set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add flour and garlic powder.  Whisk together until completely combined.  Gradually add half and half, whisking until smooth between each addition.  When all half and half has been added, add parmesan and whisk together.  Add salt and pepper as you like.  Increase heat to medium high until sauce comes to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium, simmer while stirring until sauce has thickened, about 8-10 minutes.  Keep in mind, sauce will thicken as it cools.  When sauce is thickened, but still a bit thin, add chicken, stir together, and allow to rest to cool and thicken sauce and warm up chicken.

When the pasta is done, drain.  Serve with sauce.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


I've posted pictures of my dogs, and since I haven't cooked anything out of the ordinary, that deserved to be shared, I thought I would introduce a few more family members.  My cats.  I will be starting a new job in a few hours and, of course, can't sleep, so here I am.

First, allow me to introduce the old man, Pumba, who is seven and a half years old.  We took him and his brother, Timon in when a lady posted online that she had taken in a pregnant stray until it had had it's litter and weaned them, but now needed to rehome them as she had a houseful of her own.  We picked Pumba out because he was a little fluffball.  That left one male kitten and momma cat unclaimed, but the kittens weren't quite ready to go yet, so that was ok.  The day before we were to pick Pumba up, the lady emailed me, asking if we would be able to take the other male kitten because he was the only one that hadn't found a new home and she needed them all gone, which meant the shelter for him.  Well, of course we took him.  Couldn't let him go to the pound. 

Fast forward from 2005 to 2011.  The brothers had grown HUGE.  Sometime in November, Timon became ill, the Pumba followed.  The vet gave us meds for them, but getting it down Timon was almost impossible.  He was HUGE...25 pounds and very strong, even when he was sick.  We were in and out of the vet's office, but Timon simply wasn't responding to the meds.  Not even when the vet gave us an injectable  antibiotic.  We tried everything, but he just never got any better, and on December 30, he passed away...over a year ago and it still hurts to type that.
This was Timon...

I couldn't handle losing both of them.  The vet hadn't attached much importance to the cats not eating as long as they were drinking, but that hadn't worked so well with Timon, so I said to hell with what he said, got some kitten milk and force fed it to Pumba with an eye dropper.  Finally, he started to respond, and is still with us.  He's a big momma's boy, and I know that, sooner or later, I will lose him, but until then, I'll spoil him.

Next is Shanzi.  She's four and a half and a teeny tiny thing.  We found her online, too.  Another case of finding her a home of taking her to the shelter.  She is very stand offish and doesn't care much for people, but Timon was her buddy.  She claimed him as hers from day one and she hasn't been the same since he passed. 
Then there's Sheena.  I have always loved calicoes, and when I found her on Craigslist, I had to have her.  The guy who owned her had neighbors with mean dogs that were terrifying his cats, so he was rehoming most of them.  She'll be two in April and is the sweetest, most loving little girl EVER.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Starting a New Afghan

I love bringing home a bag full of yarn!!  Feels almost like Christmas. 

So, I found a pattern at that I liked...not sure how to share that without stepping on toes, but if I figure it out, I'll post it here.  It's called Ripple Flash Dance Throw.  I've changed the colors to suit the person I'm making it for.  I'm using off white, brown, beige, and hunter green.  Haven't quite gotten to the green yet.

I'll post more pictures as I get more work done.

It's really easy and the variation in ripple length gives an otherwise very common ripple a bit of character.  You can't see it in the picture, and I'll post another once I have more done, but in the middle there's an extra long section.  So the length of the ripples goes 15, 11, 11, 11, 19, 19, 11, 11, 11, 15. 

I hope the colors work out ok.  She likes browns/tans, and dark green, and I couldn't find 2 shades of dark green that weren't either too close to each other or...well...ugly, so I went with 2 shades of brown.
About halfway there!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Vertical Lattice Baby Blanket

This is a pattern I wrote a couple of years ago for a baby blanket.  I had never written one before, but couldn't find one I really liked.  It was for a friend whose baby was due in early August, so I wanted one that was a little lighter weight than the ones I was finding.  I think it turned out beautiful, if I do say so myself...especially for a first timer!  I bought a big one pound skein of baby weight yarn, but had plenty left, so 550-600 yards.

This pattern is available for purchase in my Etsy shop here: Vertical Lattice Baby Blanket Pattern

Alternatively, if you would rather have one custom made for you, visit my Etsy shop, Vertical Lattice Baby Blanket. It's available in baby or throw size.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I've never made a real carrot cake before.  You know, not from a box, with real carrots in it.  Every recipe I looked up wanted me to use 3 round cake pans and I only have 2.  I rarely use them, why would I go buy another?  I'm a lazy baker.  I would rather use a 9 x 13" pan or a bundt.  Making a bunch of layers, hoping they all come out of the pans in one piece, then messing with frosting all the layers.  Blah.  So, I found a few that I liked, mixed and matched, and used my bundt pan.  Pretty good!  Think next time I'll add a little more cinnamon...or maybe a touch of nutmeg?  Cloves?  I dunno.  But it's very good this way, too.  Sometimes the carrots are overpowered by the spices, so  I dunno.

I had it timed just right, too.  I had taken the cake from the oven, not yet turned the oven off, when the flippin power went out!  Was out from 5 - 8:30 pm!  Grrr  Ended up ordering Chinese for dinner because all the cheaper places on our side of the river were without power.

I admit, I didn't make the frosting.  I was too frustrated with the lack of electricity, so I used a canister of cream cheese frosting I had in the cupboard.  This recipe includes a recipe for the frosting.

Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • Butter, for greasing


  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped finely


For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together the granulated sugar, oil and eggs in a large bowl. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and combine. Then add the carrots and mix well. Pour the batter into a greased and floured Bundt pan and bake until done, about 50 minutes. Leave to cool completely.

Meanwhile, for the icing: In a larger bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese together. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and blend. Then mix in the pecans. Spread the icing on the cooled carrot cake.

Since I didn't use the frosting recipe, my pictures don't have the pecans on it, either.