Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Twitter Feed Stopped working

I don't know what happened with my Twitter Feed. It seems to have stopped working. I hope it comes back soon!

2/26/09 Hooray as of 7:30 I installed it again and this time it's working! No idea why but glad it's going again!

Chicken Spaghetti

We were introduced to Chicken Spaghetti several years ago when we lived in Corona, CA. My neighbor, Diane, was from Texas and shared her recipe with me. Now that we live in Texas it seems like everyone has a slightly different recipe for Chicken Spaghetti. This is Diane's recipe with a few alterations.... A new trick I have learned since moving here is to use chicken broth or stock instead of water for boiling the chicken - make sure not to dump it... you'll need it to cook the spaghetti. The original recipe called for a whole chicken, I find boneless chicken breasts are much easier.

4 or 5 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Chicken Broth (or water)
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
olive oil
1 can of condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup
1 can of condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 can of rotel tomatoes w/ green chilies (mild)
8-10 oz. of spaghetti
Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1) Boil the chicken in a large pot of broth or water. Save the cooking liquid. Shred the chicken with a fork while it is still warm.
2) In a large skillet saute the onion and bell pepper in olive oil until soft.
3) In a large bowl, mix together soups, rotele tomatoes, onion and bell pepper, then add chicken and stir together.

4) Cook the spaghetti in a large pot in the reserved broth or cooking water until almost done. Save some of the cooking liquid before you drain the spaghetti.
5) Add spaghetti to the mixture and stir gently trying not to mush the pasta. If it looks dry add a little of the reserved cooking liquid. Place in a 9x13 casserole dish, the pasta will absorb liquid as it bakes so pour in a little more of the cooking water. Top with cheese, cover tightly and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes if desired.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

He Loves To Draw

Ethan loves to draw things. Isn't it funny how they pick up on what you are doing. He insisted I take a picture of him because he wants to "Share his artwork." He sounds like a paper-crafter's child, does he not? So here he is with a giant smile showing off his ART!

Friday, February 20, 2009

What Is Twitter

Twitter is that top box there on the right margin of my blog. I've been resisting for awhile now, but I finally gave in. I answer the question... "What are you doing?" and it shows up there on my blog. So now you know what I'm up to thru the day. Watch the video for a more detailed explanation.
Tweet Tweet!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Low Tech Parental Controls: Auto-Shut Off for Wii

I begin with the disclaimer that this will only work with young children or those who won't question how things work the way they do, or rule followers.

In the interest of encouraging Ethan to be a little more independent and allowing him more access to the computer, I recently set up parental controls on my computer (the ones that came with Windows Vista.) In doing so I discovered that I could set the hours during which Ethan's user account is allowed to use the computer. No more fighting with him to get off of Webkinz World and come eat dinner at 7. Now the computer shuts him off at 7 and he comes downstairs on his own.... WOW what a change it made in my evenings!!!

If only the Wii had a parental control like that -- I checked, it doesn't.

Then today the clouds parted, angels sang, and I had an inspiration. I went to Wall-mart and bought one of those auto-timers you use to automatically turn on and off your lights or TV in your house when you are on vacations... ($4) I plugged it into the power strip, set it to turn on at 7 AM and shut off at 7 PM then I plugged the Wii into it. Now it will automatically shut off the power going to the Wii machine at 7 PM. I set the clock on the DVD player so Ethan can plan ahead and save his game prior to shut off.

If we want to play a family game after 7 we can just plug the Wii into one of the other slots on the power strip.

It probably wouldn't work with older kids, but it will work for my child - he challenges a lot of things... but if you tell him the machine is programmed to shut of by itself, and then it does... He doesn't question technology. I can't believe the solution was so simple and it took me so long to figure it out!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Zucchini Custard Bake

I love zucchini, I could eat it every night. I love finding new ways to include it in a meal. I served it with Italian Sweet sausage and leftover baked spaghetti. It was so good that Ethan was leaving the spaghetti alone and asking for more zucchini. This would make a nice breakfast side, too - perhaps with pancakes or waffles. I mixed all the Parmesan into the egg mixture rather than sprinkling it over the top as the recipe calls for.
This is another recipe from Paula Deen's "The Lady & Sons" cookbook.

4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
2 pounds zucchini, cut into small pieces (see Cook's Note)
3 eggs
1/2 cup undiluted evaporated milk or light cream
2 tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon instant minced onion
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash of liquid hot pepper sauce
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, combine melted butter and zucchini. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender (5-7 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.
Beat eggs (see Cook's Note) with milk; add bread crumbs, onion, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper, and 3 tablespoons of the Parmesan. Mix well. Combine mixture with zucchini, stirring until blended. Turn into a buttered 1 1/2 quart casserole. Sprinkle top with remaining Parmesan cheese.
Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes. If the dish has been refrigerated, allow about 10 minutes longer baking time.

Serves 4 to 6.

Cook's Notes:
I prefer to cut zucchini into a large dice. My child is more receptive to it in that shape than the traditional moons and half-moon slices. I also find it easier to cook, I can tumble it around in the pan, eliminating the need to turning pieces over to cook the other side and the pieces don't stick together the way slices often do.
Smoothly Combined Eggs:
If you beat the eggs first with nothing else in the bowl and get them nice and smooth, they won't separate on you after you add the other ingredients - this is because the fat in the yolk emulsifies with the liquid in the white- I always beat up the eggs on their own before adding additional ingredients. Even recipes like breakfast casseroles which require an overnight rest in the refrigerator before baking don't separate if you will beat those eggs on their own in the bowl first. I don't know why cooking shows don't share this tip! I had to figure it out for myself.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Creamy Artichoke and Garlic Chicken

I made up a new recipe for dinner last night. Inspiration struck after the Super Bowl. I had made my friend, Heather's, Hot Artichoke Dip. I had leftover ingredients, and the dip is so good - but if I made it during the week I would end up eating it all myself which is not something I wanted to do. Soooooo I tweaked it slightly and made it into a main dish. The result was easy and delicious. My 10 year old complained that there wasn't more. I give you...

Creamy Artichoke and Garlic Chicken

8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3 Tablespoons Tastefully Simple - Garlic Garlic Seasoning
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 can (water packed) artichokes hearts, drained & chopped into small pieces
1/2 onion chopped fine (I used my Pampered Chef food chopper)
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts - one for each person.

Combine the cream cheese and Garlic Garlic seasoning - you can do this step several hours ahead and leave the bowl, covered, on your kitchen counter for the cream cheese to continue to soften.

When you are ready to cook, add the mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, artichoke hearts and onion to the cream cheese mixture and combine well.

Place Chicken Pieces in the bottom of an oven-safe baking dish and cover with the artichoke mixture. Place in a preheated 350 F oven and bake until the chicken is fully cooked. Serve with rice and a vegetable.

Cooks Notes:
1) I always use Neufatchel Cheese in recipes that call for cream cheese. It has less fat, tastes and performs the SAME - I promise.
2) On the other side of the coin - do NOT used reduced fat mayonnaise in this recipe, something funny happens to reduced fat mayonnaise in hot recipes, they can separate and they don't set up... save the reduced fat stuff for chilled recipes.

3) Tastefully Simple is a line of specialty foods and mixes sold by consultants at craft shows and home parties.
4) I added 1/2 teaspoon of Garlic Garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of Chicken Base to the rice cooking water to give additional flavor.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I Bought A Pattern.....

So the shelves are not completely up in my craft room, yet... but I talked to Diana at work about sewing some curtains for me.

My Dad painted my room when he was here for Thanksgiving, now I have the shelves I wanted... I know what I want for curtains.... and today I bought the pattern. I just have to find the fabric that matches what I see in my head....
This might actually all come together!


Sunday, February 1, 2009

elfa Sale at The Container Store thru Feb 9, 2009

The 30 % off elfa shelving sale is going on right now at The Container Store. The sale ends Monday February 9th. This is the type of shelving I have in my craft room. Go down the left to Labels (or the bottom of this post) and click Craft Room to see the post with a photo of my shelves. I have noticed that is one of the most looked at posts on my blog (along with the grilled cheese and roasted chicken recipes) so I thought I would put a heads up here that the sale is running. They only go on sale 2x's a year.

Hubby is supposed to install phase 2 of my craft room, today. It will be a 7 foot length of wall with shelves. I'll have a work area at the bottom where I can work with machines. I have a sewing machine, Cricut, Cuttlebug, and a Bind-it-All. It will be so nice to have a space where I can set up a machine work station.
I'll have to learn to sew all over again, I haven't sewn since I was a teen, and then it was just a few really easy don't expect anything fancy.
I'm so excited!