Thursday, November 3, 2011

Table Scraps - Beef Vegetable Soup (Crock Pot Recipe)

It is a cold, rainy, dreary day today. I did achieve my goal this morning of getting to the grocery store and back before the rain started. That was the highlight of my day. As soon as my son got on the school bus, my daughter and I raced to the store, and although I didn't think I needed very many things, we somehow managed to fill up the cart. Pork loins and spare ribs are on sale at Meijer this week, by the way, which made the trip worth it.

Nothing makes a cold, rainy day better than homemade beef vegetable soup. I made this recipe up one afternoon with what I had on hand, and I loved it so much that I am afraid to alter it in any way. Even my somewhat picky kids like it. You have to keep in mind that I can most of my vegetables, so that is why you see measurements in quarts and pints. Just remember that one pint equals two cups and one quart equals four cups.

Beef Vegetable Soup

1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat
1 quart potatoes, cut into chunks
1 pint diced tomatoes, with juice (or you can use a store bought 14 oz can)
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 bag (16 oz) frozen mixed vegetables (I use a carrot, pea, green bean, corn blend)
2 small wedges of cabbage, thinly sliced
1 quart tomato juice
1 can (14.5 oz) beef broth
1-2 beef bouillon cubes
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf

Heat 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, and brown the stew meat. Add the browned meat and all of the other ingredients to the crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Discard bay leaf before serving.

Serve with homemade bread or cheese and crackers. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Yarn Scraps - Rapunzel Wig

My daughter's favorite movie is Tangled. She would watch it every day if I would let her. So, naturally, she wanted to be Rapunzel for Halloween. I decided to make her a wig to wear with her costume out of yarn. I was a little unsure whether or not I could pull it off, but I love how it turned out, and it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be.I wish I would have taken step by step pictures, but I really didn't think it would actually turn out as well as it did. I started with an old pair of tights. I cut off the legs and sewed the part that I cut off together, making sort of a cap. I used two skeins of Loops and Threads Impeccable yarn from Michael's in Butterscotch. I cut each skein into strands 120 inches long. Then I cut a piece of felt about 1 inch wide by 8 inches long. I gathered all of the yarn in the middle (60 inches on each side) and placed the felt piece under the yarn, right at the center. Leaving about an inch of felt uncovered on each end, I sewed right down the middle of the yarn and felt (so you have about a 6 inch wide band of yarn), attaching the yarn and felt all together, and also creating the "part" for the hair. I trimmed off the extra felt, and then I sewed the felt and yarn to the cap I made out of the tights. I tied the yarn together at the base of the skull and braided the wig and hot glued silk flowers all over the wig. Not at all difficult, and the most time consuming part was cutting each strand of yarn.

This would also be perfect for Jessie from Toy Story! Just use red yarn, cut the strands a bit shorter and make two braids. Maybe we will do that next Halloween!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Paper Scraps - All good things must come to an end

It feels so weird for me to say this, but as of today, I am no longer on any scrapbooking design teams. I have been on various kit club and sketch blog design teams for about four years, so this is going to be hard. I still love scrapping, but rushing to meet deadlines and creating work that, to me, wasn't design team worthy because I felt rushed was taking its toll on me. I thought I needed to be on design teams to be happy, to keep my scrapping fresh, and to just keep scrapping at all. I thought once my son started school that things would slow down, but in fact, quite the opposite has happened, and we are busier than ever.

This doesn't mean that I am going to stop scrapping. I am hoping this will allow me to get back to the root of why I started scrapping in the first place. I want to fill my pages with stories of our lives and meaningful journaling. No more searching for new and unusual techniques or crazy tutorials that my kids aren't going to give a hoot about when they look at these pages years from now. It is time for me to tell my stories, and that is exactly what I plan on doing, and I'm looking forward to doing it at my own pace with whatever supplies I choose to use. I seriously doubt that my kids are going to care about whether or not I used the latest and greatest in paper and products. It is time to keep it real, and keep it simple. I'm not necessarily saying my style is going to change, but I hope to make my pages much more meaningful. After all, scrapping is still an artistic outlet for me.

Here are the last few pages I did for Creative Scrappers. Thank you, Kristine, for having me on the design team for another term. Maybe someday things will slow down, and I'll join again, but for now, I am going to embrace my new creative freedom and run with it.Notice anything about these pages? Not a single one has any journaling on it. Not every page needs journaling, of course. Sometimes the pictures tell the whole story. But I want to go beyond the pictures and express more. I think my next project is going to be to make a journal to jot down stories and things I want to be sure to document on my pages. I'll post it when I get it done! Thanks for looking and happy scrapping!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Table Scraps - Pulled Pork Tacos (Crock Pot Recipe)

I have a confession to make...

I HATE grocery shopping. Seriously, despise it. The only thing I hate more than grocery shopping is grocery shopping on a weekend...with my husband.

Yes, I said it. I HATE grocery shopping with my husband. Trust me. It is an ordeal from hell shopping with him, and it starts before we even leave the house. He has a standard grocery list saved on the computer of things that we usually buy on most grocery trips. That list is organized by aisles in the store. He prints this stupid list out and then makes me go in the kitchen to look in the cabinets and refrigerator while he calls out items on the list and crosses them off if I say we already have that. If I try to add something to the list in the middle of this process, I am told to wait because we aren't at that aisle of the store yet on the list. You see where this is going, right?

Once at the store, he immediately pulls out the list and starts reading and planning out his strategy for maximum efficiency. There is no leisurely stroll to browse items. If I pick something up and put it in the cart that was not on the list, I am interrogated as to the necessity/when it will be used/what it will be used for. And let's not forget about the endless "Don't we already have that in the cabinet?" question. When I go to the store alone, I rarely make a list, and if I do, it is just a few key items that I am afraid I will forget. And 99% of the time when I do make a list, I don't even bother to pull it out of my purse once I get to the store anyway.

There is one thing that does make me happy when I go to the store though. That is a sale on boneless pork loins! I love it when I find them on sale for $1.99/lb or less. I usually buy two or three of them when they go on sale. Once I get them home, I slice them in half and freeze them for future meals. They are so versatile, and I use them for tons of things from pulled pork BBQ, pork stir fry, etc, etc.

One of my favorite uses for boneless pork loin is for my pulled pork taco recipe. My husband loves this recipe so much that he ate leftovers for lunch for three days straight and was sad when it was gone. The beauty of this recipe is that it is done in the crock pot, so there is very little work. Just throw it all in and forget about it.

Pulled Pork Tacos
2 lb. boneless pork loin, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 large onion, quartered
2 jalapeno peppers, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 cup chicken broth

Trim fat off of meat and place meat in crock pot. Add chicken broth and then the rest of the ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Remove meat from crock pot and shred with a fork.

Serve meat on flour tortillas with sour cream, Mexican cheese, fresh lime juice, and fresh cilantro.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Table Scraps - Roast Sticky Chicken

If you like rotisserie chicken, you are going to love this recipe! This chicken tastes a lot like rotisserie chicken, but you slow roast it in the oven. This is a staple at our house, and it is super easy to make too. And it smells oh so good while it cooks!
Roast Sticky Chicken

2 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 onion, quartered
2 Tbsp butter/margarine, melted
1 whole chicken (about 5 lbs)

Combine the salt, paprika, onion powder, thyme, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl.

Remove giblets, neck, and whatever all of that other stuff is inside the chicken and discard. Wash chicken under cold water and pat dry. Place chicken in a roasting pan, and sprinkle some of the seasoning inside the cavity of the chicken. Place the onion inside the chicken, and tie the legs together.

Brush the chicken with melted butter, and sprinkle on the rest of the seasoning. Cover chicken, and let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Remove cover from chicken, and bake, uncovered, for 5 hours, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the leg or thigh reads 180 degrees.

Most of the time, I make gravy out of the pan drippings after the chicken has been cooked. To do that, all you do pour the pan drippings in a glass measuring cup. Skim the fat from the top and reserve 1/4 cup of the fat. Pour the fat in a saucepan and add 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour. Whisk together until smooth, over medium heat. Add enough water to the rest of the pan drippings to equal 2 cups, and gradually add that to the flour mixture. Whisk together, and bring to a boil. Cook and stir until thickened.

I love this recipe because I usually get another meal out of the leftovers. The leftover chicken is great for creamed chicken on toast or buffalo chicken dip!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Winner winner chicken dinner!

I have to apologize for not announcing the winner of the scrappy goodies from my first blog post. I just completely forgot about it, and it hit me as I was driving to my son's school this morning. Thank you all for following my blog and for leaving me comments. I LOVE reading them all!

So without further adieu, I present you with the winner of the scrappy supplies...Comment #4 was Roz!!

Roz said...

I've been a bad blogger lately, but I'll try to be better! You are great!

Congrats Roz! I will get your prize out to you asap!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Yarn Scraps - My Etsy Shop (Hook Happy)

My grandma taught me to crochet when I was in the fourth grade. Over the years, I've made some afghans, scarves, doilies, and such. Last year I thought it would be fun to start making hats for my kids. I made a couple and posted them, and some of my friends encouraged me to start selling my creations. So my Etsy shop, Hook Happy, was born.I started out making girl hats with flowers on them. Then I started making some boy hats. Later I played around with my patterns and started making ear flap hats for both girls and boys. I love coming up with fun color combinations and styles. I make up all of my own hat patterns and designs. They are all 100% original, unique, handmade creations by me, and me alone.A lot of time and love goes into each and every hat I make. A friend on Facebook posted this the other day, and I thought it was very fitting for those of us putting ourselves out there with our little boutiques.

When you buy from boutiques and small businesses, instead of helping a CEO buy a third vacation home, you are helping a mom put food on the table, a student pay for her college textbooks, a little girl finally gets to take that ballet class they couldn't afford. Support our boutiques!

I am gradually adding new items to my Etsy shop as I make them, and I've brought back a few of the most popular sellers from last year. I hope you will check out my shop and share it with your friends too! I also have a Facebook page that you can like to keep up with all of the latest additions. Thanks for your support! You have no idea how much it means to me!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Table Scraps - Apple Butter

This is one of my very favorite things about fall. I love apple butter. I also love the way my house smells when I make it. I'm pretty sure Heaven smells like apple butter. The good news about apple butter - it is easy to make and oh so delicious.

The bad news about apple butter - it takes a while to make it.

But it is worth giving up a whole afternoon for this sugary sweet cinnamon apple goodness. You will be glad when you spread a little on your biscuit at breakfast.

Start by washing, coring, and slicing apples. I used Jonathan utility apples. I sliced enough to fill two large stock pots. Add 1/4 cup water to each pot and start cooking over medium heat. Turn heat down as apples start cooking and stir frequently to prevent burning them. Once they are cooked down and very mushy, run them through a food strainer (See my applesauce post for more info on my Norpro Sauce Master.) Measure out 16 cups of apple pulp. Add 1/2 cup cider vinegar to pulp.Add 8 cups of sugar. Yes, you read that right EIGHT cups of sugar. Some people get all in a tizzy over that much sugar. The apples are tart. It is necessary. Don't worry. It's not like you are going to eat a whole jar of apple butter in one sitting. might. Just don't tell anyone if you do.Add 4 tsp. cinnamon and 1 tsp. ground nutmeg.Stir it all up. Do not resist the urge to stick your finger in there and taste it.
Pour it all into a large, oven-safe stock pot. Put a splatter screen over the pot and bake at 350 degrees for at least 2 hours, stirring the apple butter every 30 minutes. Depending on how dark you like your apple butter, you can bake it longer. The longer you bake it, the darker the color. I baked mine for 2 1/2 hours.
Sterilize your jars and flat lids in boiling water. Ladle hot apple butter into hot jars. Adjust two piece lids and set aside.

Here is the beauty of this recipe...are you ready for this?

You do NOT have to process this in a pressure canner or a hot water bath! The hot apple butter combined with the hot jars causes the lids to seal themselves. I am not making this up! I had jars sealing before I even finished ladling out the last jar of apple butter. Just store in a cool, dry place, away from light. I have two jars left from a batch I made in 2009, and it is just as good as the day I made it.

This recipe makes about 10 pints of apple butter. I put mine in 12 oz. quilted jelly jars, and ended up with 14 of those.

Apple Butter

16 cups apple pulp
1/2 cup cider vinegar
8 cups sugar
4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients and transfer to a large, oven-safe stock pot. Place a splatter screen over the pot. Bake at 350 degrees for at least 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Bake longer if you prefer a darker color. Ladle hot apple butter into hot, sterilized jars. Adjust two-piece caps and set aside. Makes 10 pints.

Paper Scraps - Creative Scrappers

I have been a bit sporadic in my posting of scrapbook layouts, so I thought I would just post all of my latest pages for Creative Scrappers at once. I love their sketches, and honestly as busy as I have been this summer, if I weren't on the design team there, I probably wouldn't have scrapped a single page. Thanks to Kristine and her fantastic sketch blog for keeping my scrappy mojo going!

Sketch #164 - Fancy Pants papers, Prima flowersSketch #166 - Pink Paislee papers, Prima flowersSketch #168 - October Afternoon papers, BasicGrey flowers, Studio Calico wood hearts, Webster's Pages trimSketch #170 - Bo Bunny papers, Maya Road doiliesSketch #172 - Crate Paper papers, Riff Raff chipboard, Making Memories butterfliesSketch #174 - Cosmo Cricket papers, Riff Raff chipboard
Be sure and enter my scrap stash giveaway by clicking here! Thanks for stopping by and happy scrapping!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Table Scraps - Homemade Applesauce

Criss cross applesauce.

That's what I think of now when I think of applesauce. I had never heard that term until Caleb started school, and apparently it refers to the way they are supposed to sit on the floor for various school activities. I'm pretty sure it is the same as the term sitting "Indian style" which we used when I was in school about 100 years ago. I suppose that term was deemed politically incorrect at some point along the line or something, so now it is criss cross applesauce. Whatever.

Anyway, Chloe and I made applesauce today. We do this every fall. We head up to Huber's Orchard with my mom and we each buy two giant bags of Jonathan utility apples. They are the best apples to use for freezing applesauce in my opinion. They are actually a very versatile apple and good for many other uses too.Making your own applesauce is super easy if you have the right tools, but it can be time consuming if you don't have help. It took me a good two hours today to finish one batch, which was two large kettles full of sliced apples. I ended up with 16 cups of applesauce in that batch.

All you have to do is wash your apples. Core and slice them. Do NOT peel your apples. keeping the peel on gives your applesauce a gorgeous pink color. I have a habit of only picking the prettiest, reddest apples out of the bag when I'm making applesauce just so it will be prettier. I save the ugly apples for apple butter. It turns brown anyway.

Put your sliced apples in a large pot, and add 1/4 cup of water to keep the apples from sticking to the bottom and burning. No one likes charred applesauce. Cover the pot and start cooking over medium heat. Stir frequently, and turn the heat down as the apples start cooking. Cook them until they are very mushy.If you are serious about canning and freezing, I highly recommend the Norpro Sauce Master. This thing seriously cuts my canning time in half and keeps my arms from falling off using a foley strainer. They are usually around $50 at farm stores, like Rural King. I've seen them on sale for as low as $37, so if you can snag one at that price, it is well worth it. You can also get different screens for it to use for berries, pumpkin, salsa, etc. Not only do I use it for applesauce, but also for tomato juice and all of my freezer jams. It removes all of the peel/seeds from your fruit, and there is very little waste. I am always amazed at how much pulp I get when I use this thing. It is worth its weight in gold around here.

Once your apples are cooked down and mushy, dump them into the strainer, and start cranking the handle. This is the part that the kids like to do. Look at that gorgeous pink apple goodness! Add sugar to taste. I think I put about 3/4 of a cup in this batch. We don't like it super sweet. Let it sit for a few minutes, and put into freezer containers, label, and freeze for up to 1 year.

I still have a bag and a half of apples left, so next up will be apple butter! Yum!

Don't forget about the giveaway on my first blog post! Become a follower of my blog and leave a comment on that post for a chance to win!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Table Scraps - Chinese Fake-Out Dinner

It is no secret that I LOVE Chinese food. I'm talking, I could eat it every day kind of love. But I don't have the money to buy Chinese take-out every day, nor do I have the desire to drive to any special grocery store to buy ingredients that I can't find at Meijer. Also, if your children are weird, like mine, and they don't like Chinese food, (Whose kids are these anyway?) you still have to cook a meal for them anyway. And THAT takes all of the fun out of getting Chinese take-out.

I have solved BOTH of those problems with these recipes! An entire Chinese take-out meal made at home - egg drop soup, crab rangoon, and orange chicken!
I found the orange chicken recipe on Pinterest. If you haven't joined Pinterest, you should! It is a virtual pin board of all kinds of inspiration on the internet, from recipes to crafts to home decor to make up tutorials, and on and on and on. That's a whole other blog post for another day. I did tweak the recipe ever so slightly to suit my needs, and it still turned out fantastic!

Orange Chicken

For the marinade and sauce:
3/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
6 Tbsp. white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. cold water

For the chicken coating:
3 large egg whites
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
vegetable oil for deep frying

Combine chicken broth, orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne pepper in a saucepan, and blend well. Put chicken pieces in a large ziploc bag. Measure out 3/4 cup of the marinade and add to chicken in bag. Seal bag and shake it around to distribute the marinade evenly. Put chicken in refrigerator and marinate for 30-60 minutes, but no longer. Heat the remaining sauce on medium high heat and bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and water until smooth. Add to the saucepan, and continue simmering until the sauce is thick and translucent, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Preheat a deep fryer to 350 degrees.

For the coating, put egg whites in a pie plate and whisk until frothy. In another pie plate, mix the cornstarch, baking soda, and cayenne pepper. Drain the chicken of the marinade in a large colander, and pat dry with paper towels. Dredge the chicken pieces (about half at a time) in the egg whites, then coat with the cornstarch mixture. Shake off the excess coating and transfer coated chicken pieces to a plate. Once deep fryer has reached 350 degrees, place chicken in fryer (half at a time if using a small fryer) and cook until done, about 5-8 minutes. Transfer cooked chicken to a paper towel lined plate.
Toss chicken with sauce and garnish with sliced green onions, if desired. Serve with rice.
Remember my weird kids? Well they won't eat the sauce on the chicken, so if your kids are weird like mine, you can just put aside some of the fried chicken for them before you toss it in the sauce. Tell them it is popcorn chicken and give them some ketchup. It is horrifying to me, but a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do.

Crab Rangoon

4 oz. imitation crab meat, finely diced
8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
dash of A-1 steak sauce
dash of garlic powder (If you are a little heavy handed on that "dash" that's ok. Is there such a thing as too much garlic powder? I think not.)
sliced green onions to taste, optional
wonton wrappers
1 egg yolk
vegetable oil for frying
In a large bowl, combine the crab, cream cheese, A-1, garlic powder, and green onions until well blended. Spoon about a teaspoon full of the mixture on each wonton wrapper. Brush the edges of the wonton wrapper with egg yolk, and fold in half, corner to corner, making a triangle. Push the edges to seal. You don't want any of that crab/cream cheese goodness sneaking out of there when you fry it! Then fold over the two bottom corners, making it look like an opened envelope. Repeat until all filling is used. If you used the deep fryer to cook your chicken for the orange chicken recipe, you can just throw these in after the chicken cooks. Just fry them until they are a nice golden brown. If you don't want to use the deep fryer, you can fry them in batches in vegetable oil in a large skillet until golden brown on both sides. Transfer finished crab rangoon to a plate lined with paper towels.
Egg Drop Soup

(Confession time. This is my husband's recipe. I have never actually made this myself. He always makes it when we have crab rangoon, and it is so good! I made him write it down for me so I could post it here today. So if you make this, and it doesn't turn out right, it is all his fault.)

6 cups water
6-9 chicken flavored bouillon cubes
3 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. corn starch
1 cup cold water
Sliced green onions to taste
4-6 eggs, beaten

Combine water, bouillon cubes, vinegar, soy sauce, and green onions in a large pot. In a small bowl, stir together cold water and corn starch until smooth. Add to mixture in pot. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Slowly add the beaten eggs while constantly stirring. The eggs will cook instantly as you pour them in the pot.
I am sitting here eating leftovers as I type...

It is still just as good reheated the next day...

Oh and the crab rangoon...I had that cold for breakfast this morning...yes, it is good even leftover and cold...

I'm just saying.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Welcome to my new blog!

Hello to everyone on the world wide web!

I've been pondering the idea of starting fresh in the blogging world for several months now. I have been wanting to take things in a different include more than just scrapbooking. I felt limited on my last blog. I don't know why I felt that way because, after all, it was MY blog, and I was free to post whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. But for whatever reason, I thought that I should keep it restricted just to scrapping.

I started chatting back and forth with my friend, Kristine, about my idea to start fresh. She said, why abandon Scraps of Deb? Scraps don't have to refer to just scrapbooking...

OMG this woman is a GENIUS! Why didn't I think of this before?

So now I'm starting fresh with The Scraps of Life! (Can you hear The Facts of Life theme song in your head now? Or maybe I'm just showing my age here.) Anyway, The Scraps of Life will be a hodge podge of crafty stuff and life in general. Just a place where I can share my projects or things that I find inspiring, and ramble on about total nonsense, much like I am doing right now.

Most posts will be divided into categories, which just so happen to be some of my favorite things:
  • Paper Scraps - posts about scrapbooking and recent layouts.
  • Yarn Scraps - crochet projects and updates on my Etsy shop of crocheted hats.
  • Fabric Scraps - my adventures (or misadventures mostly) as I dabble in learning to sew.
  • Table Scraps - cooking, recipes, canning and food preservation.
  • General Scraps - whatever else I feel like posting about when I feel like posting about it -anything from what I'm reading to something silly my kids have done or said.

I hope you will follow me in my new blogging adventure! How about a giveaway to kick it off? Click on the "JOIN THIS SITE" button on the sidebar, AND leave a comment on THIS POST, and I will choose a winner at random one week from today (which will be September 25th) to win some fun scrappy goodies from my stash! Here's a picture of the loot:

Thanks for stopping by!