Monday, January 30, 2012

Week 5 - Crockpot Mexican Chicken

I went scanning Pinterest yesterday for something new to try out with chicken.  We eat a lot of chicken - it's good for you and we have a place where we get it cheap.  Unfortunately, it can get boring doing the same things with it over and over again. Before I'd gotten beyond my main page on Pinterest, I saw a recipe that a friend of mine had posted.

Mel from The Larson Lingo posted the recipe I selected for dinner.  On my hubby's way home, I had him stop to pick up the couple of ingredients we would need and didn't already have.  Here's what you'll need:

- Frozen Chicken Breasts (I had a family size pack of thighs that we used instead.)
- 1 block of cream cheese
- 1 can of black beans
- 1 can of whole kernal corn
- 1 can of Rotel tomatoes (We used the lime and cilantro ones.)
- whatever you want to serve them on or top them with (our choice was corn tortillas that we fried up and topped with shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and salsa)

Here's what you do (and what I did):
- Drain the beans, corn, and tomatoes.  Be sure they are drained thoroughly or this dish will end up soupy.
- Place your chicken in the slow cooker then top it with the cream cheese, beans, corn, and Rotel.  Since I knew we would need to remove the bones and skin from our chicken, I cooked it first on its own then put it all back in together once the chicken was done.
- Cook it on low 6-8 hours, stirring every couple of hours - mine only took about an hour to cook on high since the chicken was precooked.
- Turn the slow cooker off and allow the dish to set about 30-45 minutes.  This is essential since it will still be slightly soupy to begin with.  As it sits, it thickens up.
- Serve up and enjoy!!

Let me just say that the possibilities for this are endless.  Mel served hers over rice and on flour tortillas.  We served ours on corn tortillas that my hubby fried up.  The next morning, we even used some to mix in with some scrambled eggs, which was delicious!  If you have kids who are picky, don't let that discourage you.  Neither one of my children is a fan of black beans, nor am I, but my whole family ate this dish until every bite had been devoured.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Week 4 - Simple Croheted Kerchief

I came across another pattern on Pinterest that was created by Anneliese at Aesthetic Nest.  Her blog is quickly becoming one of my favorites for crochet patterns.  This pattern was for the Simple Kerchief.

My daughter, Daisha, has hair that is absolutely unruly and near impossible to tame.  To help, she loves to take funky, colorful bandanas and fold them in half to tie around her head.  She says it reminds her of Cinderella at the beginning of the movie.  :)  I had picked up a skein of beautiful and super soft yarn - Loops & Threads Impeccable in Holland Ombre.  I knew that this design would be perfect for the yarn so I got started.

If you look at the pattern, which can be found here, you'll notice Anneliese added a flower to hers.  I was going to do that as well, but Daisha liked it without the flowers instead.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Week 4 - Hello Kitty Hat

My neighbor has a 5-year old granddaughter who absolutely LOVES Hello Kitty.  It is because of her that anytime I come across a Hello Kitty craft project, I usually pin it with her in mind to do it later.  With the cool weather finally upon us here in Southwest Alabama, at least periodically, I knew it was time to make her this hat.  

The details in the hat are so cute... and were relatively easy to do.  

The original pattern came from Amy at Crochet Creative Patterns.  I used the pattern as a guide more than anything, making my own changes to it.  She has the size guide for lots of ages, but the right size didn't seem like it was going to be big enough.  I also considered that the recipient of this hat has lots of thick curls to fit underneath.  I worked the original pattern, increasing on 2 additional rows to make the hat larger.

I also made some changes to the piece that hangs from the earflaps.  I used 3 24-inch pieces of the black, white, and hot pink yarn.  I pulled the pieces through a gap in the yarn at the bottom of each earflap, tying it off with a spare piece of yarn just underneath the earflap.  This allows the braid and tassel to be secure enough to not fall off.  From there, I just grouped the yarn into three sections and braided them together.  The ends were tied off with another spare piece of yarn, leaving enough at the end to give it a tassled look.

The final product turned out better than I had hoped, especially after starting it over twice in an attempt to get it the right size.  And the part that most surprised me is that in the end, it took only one day to make.
As far as the yarn goes, I used a variety of what I had on hand:
- Red Heart Super Saver in Soft White (1 skein)
- Loops & Threads Impeccable in Black (1 skein)
- Caron Simply Soft in Watermelon (1 skein)
- Bernat Baby Soft in Soft Yellow (1 skein)
The pattern called for a variety of hook sizes.  I used a size H hook for the hat ears, and earflaps, rather than size I as recommended so that the gauge was a little tighter.  (This is also part of why I had to increase on additional rows to get the correct size.)  The pink border around the bottom, as well as the eyes, nose, and bow, were done with a size G hook.  

If you're interested in trying out this pattern yourself, you can find it here.  

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Week 3 - Crocheted Crown

One of my favorite subjects to shoot through my photography business Sophisticated Snapshots is children.  Because of this, I've discovered that crocheting some of my own accessories can be cost-effective and give the photos a warm feel all at the same time.  And it allows me to fulfill my need to craft.  LOL

I got so excited when a found the Pin for this crown.  The original pattern is from Alli Crafts and can be found here.  The pattern is available in sizes newborn through 2T.  I pulled out some leftover Bernat Baby Sport yarn I had leftover from other projects and tried it out.

I can't wait to make a few more of these in different sizes to use as props... and in different colors!

Week 3 - Plastic Bread Tags to Organize

With the new year in full swing, one of my resolutions was to quit talking about getting organized and just do it.  I got a new-to-me desk earlier this week from a friend of mine.  That meant having to pull apart the computer components and move them to the new desk.  Since everything was unhooked, it gave me the perfect opportunity to use one of the first Pins I came across that was an organizing tip.

After seeing this tip, I began saving the twist ties, both the wire ones and plastic tabs, from every bag of bread we purchase.  I pulled out those plastic tabs and put them to use as I was reassembling the computer on the new desk.  

Now I know that if I have to unhook something specific from the computer, determining which power cord  I need to access will be an easy task.

*  The original Pin led back to a Tumblr post but I was unable to locate a specific link for you.

Week 3 - Crocheted Baby Cloche

Crocheting has become a new hobby of mine.  That means that throughout the course of this challenge you will likely see many of the crochet projects I come across on Pinterest.

I have never made a hat, as working in rounds seemed tricky at first.  I finally gave it another shot and it worked.  YAY!  A few months back, my childhood friend, Nikki, gave birth to her second son, Collins.  Unfortunately, due to unforeseen complications, Collins left his family and all those who loved him to be with God.  After losing her beautiful son, Nikki decided to that something good should come out of such a tragedy.  She started a cause called Caps from Collins.  Through this cause, she collects and crochets caps that she then provides these caps to the NICU at a local hospital and to Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.  The caps are given to the children in the NICU who are fighting for survival.

Nikki's story was what inspired me to learn to crochet.  Being a mother of two, I could not imagine the pain of losing a child, and wanted to be able to help make the caps that are sent to those children fighting for their lives before they've even had a chance to begin living them.

I found the link to the Pin through AestheticNest.  Anneliese has the original tutorial posted here, as well as a downloadable pattern here on  The pattern has several sizes you can use, to make the cap fit babies from 0 months up to 12 months.

Despite what the pattern called for, the only yarn I had available at the time I made this was Bernat Baby Sport yarn.  It was leftover from an afghan I had just finished for a friend.  To make the cloche a little thicker, I opted to use two colors of the Baby Sport:  Peach Blossom and Baby Pink.  Then I used one strand of the Soft Yellow to make the flower.  I still used an size H hook to get the gauge right.

I love the eyelets at the bottom of the cloche.  They give it a girly touch.  

And in the end, the hat kind of looks like it belongs back in the 20s on a flapper girl.  I think I'm going to try one using brown and a baby pink yarn, or maybe a sage green, to give it a vintage feel! 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Week 2 - Spaghetti Bread

For Week 2, I finally attempted a dish I have been wanting to try for many weeks (like ever since i came 
across it).  We had some friends over to watch the BCS National Championship game on Monday night, so that became my excuse to make the spaghetti bread.

The original recipe for the Spaghetti Bread can be found here.  It's featured on the Rhode's Bake N Serv website.  I, myself, have never tried the Rhode's bread dough products.  I'm not sure if they're actually sold in my area since I wasn't able to locate them in the grocery store.  I decided to make the dish with a recipe for homemade italian bread and it worked great.

The first step was, obviously, to prepare my spaghetti.  I'm one of those people that likes to make my sauce early in the day and let it simmer.  Once I knew the sauce was ready, I boiled the pasta and started the bread dough.  After letting the dough rise for the last time, I rolled it out and filled it, topping with some shredded mozzarella.  I cut the side into strips and braided the dough according to the directions provided by Rhode's.  From there, I did the egg wash and sprinkled on some oregano, parmesan, and garlic.

Here are the photos of how things went:


This dish was a lot easier to make than I expected.  I actually used leftover spaghetti to make it again a couple of nights later.  The best thing about this Spaghetti Bread is that it's light enough to be a snack for times when you have friends or family over, but also hearty enough to be served as a stand-alone meal.  And just a tip, you don't have to skimp on the amount of spaghetti you put inside the bread.  The second time I made it, I used almost twice as much spaghetti and it still turned out great!  I also rolled the dough out a little thinner on the sides so it wasn't as thick on top after baking.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Week 1 - Pumpkin Popper

This week officially starts my 52 Weeks of Pinterest Challenge.  The first pin I opted to try was Pumpkin Poppers, a recipe from Domestically Speaking.  My family loves all things pumpkin, regardless of what time of year it is.  The main reason I attempted this recipe when I did was because I needed something to feed my family breakfast earlier this week, but it was before we'd gone grocery shopping.  I had everything I needed for this in the pantry so it made it an easy choice.

The recipe can be found here in case my isn't sufficient enough for you.  ;)  Here's what I did after gathering all  of the ingredients (see the full recipe at the bottom):

Preheat the over to 350 degrees.

Spray your muffin pan with some non-stick cooking spray.  I used a mini muffin pan, just like MaryAnn did.  If you choose to use a regular size muffin pan, increase the baking time a few minutes.
In a medium size bowl, mix the dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, mix the wet ingredients.
Now add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
Mix everything until just combined.

Next, fill each muffin tin until almost full, then bake 10-12 minutes.  
While the poppers are in the oven, it's time to prepare your coating.  Start by melting the butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

And mix the cinnamon and sugar together in separate container.

Once the poppers are done, pull them out of the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.

This is where things start to get messy - and fun.  Roll each popper into the butter, followed by the cinnamon sugar.

That's it... you're all done.  It's time to indulge.

These Pumpkin Poppers are super light and airy, and not overly sweet since the only sugar is in the coating.  I do think that the next time I make them I'm going to add some extra pumpkin.  They seemed to be a little light on the pumpkin flavor.  One batch made 28 mini poppers - I had enough to feed my family and the neighbors.  

Here's the full recipe:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup pumpkin (fresh or canned, but not the pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup milk (MaryAnn's recipe calls for low-fat - I used 2%)

1 stick (1/4 cup) butter, melted
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon

- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray your muffin pans.
- Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, and spices) in a medium bowl and whisk until combined.
- In a separate larger bowl, mix together the wet ingredients (oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin, and milk). 
- Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined - do not overmix!
- Fill your muffin tins until almost full and bake 10-12 minutes.
- While waiting on the poppers, melt your butter in a small bowl and combine your cinnamon and sugar in a separate bowl.
- Let the poppers cool for a few minutes before rolling them around in the melted butter.  Next, roll them in the cinnamon sugar.
- EAT and ENJOY!!!