Thursday, August 31, 2017

Pinterest Specials Part One

Each summer I look forward to a return visit with some teacher friends (we all once worked together). They come to the lake for relaxation, good eats, fine conversations and making crafts. We rotate taking turns coming up with a craft and making sure everyone has the right supplies. Thrift stores are one of our most valuable resources. Some of our previous creative endeavors from years past include:(left to right front of picture)
cake stand (plate glued on a wine glass for a base), wine glass (decorative wire and beads glued on), spoon (decorative wire and beads glued on), writing original poems (typing on decorative paper and framing the work), and napkin note cards. 
Then there were the addictive paper gift boxes (made from cardstock) which we couldn't seem to stop making once we got the hang of it. 
 And let's not forget the wine bags made from jean pant legs and khaki pants. 
And last year we went for a fall theme. We decorated Styrofoam pumpkins starting with our favorite quote and then letting our imagination take its course with glitter, Derwent Watercolor Pens and Pitt Artist Pens.  
You'd think we'd run out of ideas but NEVER. This year we decorated plain color gift bags from the Dollar Store using our extensive scrap-booking supplies and made marbleized paper using shaving cream. 
Perhaps your imagination maybe fueled by some of these finished bags. 

We thought this bag would be perfect for the preschool/kindergarten teacher for review of letter recognition.  Objects that begin with each letter could be added to the inside.  
How to Marbleize Paper
This was a labor intensive project that needs to be done outside (messy) but produces great results. The marbleized paper can be turned into a variety of projects including notecards and scrap-booking paper to decorate bags. 
You will need a day with some sun (for drying), a hose nearby, bucket. squeegee,  cardstock paper, plastic tray same size of paper, a couple cans of shaving cream, acrylic pints, a long skewer or bamboo toothpick. Oh, yes imagination! 
This youtube video is quite helpful with clear steps and more detail and some of my photos showing DIY steps.   

JoAnne (on left) was our craft instructor.
Some finished items using this method.
The shape of Minnesota was made with a cookie cutter but any shapes can be created with cookie cutter. 
First glue old postage stamps in a random fashion on cardstock. Using a cookie cutter the shape was traced, cut out,transferred and glued on notepaper. 

Check back tomorrow for Part Two with fun, easy DIY Pinterest Christmas ideas. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Triple Berry Crumble Pie

Triple Berry Crumble Pie – A bright and tangy berry filling topped with a gorgeous crumble topping. This pie screams summer. Take advantage of fresh summer plentiful berries. This is a crumble pie. The perfect blend of pie and crumble. It is the best of both worlds. You have the texture of the crumble on top with the delicious pie base on the bottom. The only way to improve this is to serve it warm with whipped cream or a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.
The filling is flexible–you can use all berries (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries), or you can use a mixture of berries. 
Recipe from Food Network Magazine September 2017
1 prepared pie crust or homemade
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  •  1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice 
  • 5 TB. cold butter, cut into small pieces 
  • 6 cups mixed berries (I used blackberries, strawberries and raspberries) 
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 TB. lemon juice
  • 2 TB. instant tapioca
  • 1/2 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • Optional 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
  • Dash of salt 
  • Place crust in pie pan and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Make topping combining all ingredients food processor. Pulse in the butter until just combined with some pea size  pieces remaining. Refrigerate until ready to assemble pie. 
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Make the filling by combining berries, sugars, lemon juice, tapioca, cinnamon, cardamon and salt in a large bowl. 
  • Place a baking sheet on the lowest rack to catch any drips. 
  • Remove crust from refrigerator and place filling inside. 
  • Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over pie filling.  Add strips of foil around outer edge to avoid over browning. 
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Lower oven temperature  to 375 degrees and continue baking 30 minutes longer. Rotate the pie halfway through until crust is browned and filling is bubbling.  

Monday, August 28, 2017

Butternut Squash Stew with Sausage, Beans and Rice

Maple trees have put on their autumn finery.  Yikes! It does seem a bit early.  
Cook's Notes: Butternut Squash Stew with Sausage, Beans and Rice is just that comfort food to usher in an early fall. It is hearty with a host of health benefits. Butternut squash is high in nutrients, low in calories and an excellent source of vitamin A and a rich source of antioxidants.  Black and kidney beans are a good source of fiber and protein. Make the stew a day ahead and will taste better because all the flavors will have time to meld. Pair the meal with artisan bread and a fresh fruit compote. DEElicious! 
Recipe adapted from October 2017 and serves 4-6 depending on the size of the bowl. 
  • 3 cups cooked and crumbled Italian sausage
  • 1 cup each diced, red or green peppers and sweet onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups diced butternut squash 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. each chili powder, Saigon cinnamon. ground cumin and oregano
  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • 1 box 32 oz. low sodium chicken broth 
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (garlic and oregano)
  • 1 can red kidney beans light or dark, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained  
  • 2 TB. tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar  
  • 3/4 cup dry Arborio (Italian) rice or any other short grain white rice 
  • Optional: garnish fresh cilantro
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Line a baking pan with parchment paper or a silicone liner.
  • In a large bowl add peppers, onion, minced garlic, squash and spices.
  • Toss with 1 TB olive oil and spread out evenly on baking sheet. 
  • Roast 15 minutes just until squash is al dente.
  • In a large soup pot add roasted mixture, cooked sausage, chicken broth, rinsed beans tomato paste and sugar. On low bring to a boil and simmer for an hour uncovered.
  • Add in rice last 10 minutes of cooking time, cover and cook 10 minutes more. 
  • Since rice absorbs the liquid to reheat next day may need to add more chicken broth.  

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Brownie Walnut Bites

Cook's notes: A sweet treat to jump start your week. When you bake brownies as cookies, you get the best of both worlds. A super chewy edge and that familiar soft fudge-like center everyone loves. What's not to like! Indulge in a decadent cookie bite--pure bliss

The base of this recipe is… pure chocolate! You’ll melt down 8 ounces of the good stuff and mix it right into the dough. Use a quality chocolate from the baking aisle like Ghirardelli. The melted chocolate paired with brown sugar and eggs creates a remarkably moist center.

Recipe adapted from and makes 2 dozen.
1 four ounce bar of chocolate melted is equivalent to 1/2 cup of chocolate chips when melted. 

Brownie Walnut Bites
  • 2 four ounce bars of semi-sweet or dark chocolate or a combination of both
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup or 5 TB. softened butter
  •  3/4 cup brown sugar
  •  1/4 cup sugar
  •  2 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 tsp.vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Melt the chocolate in microwave in 20 second increments, stirring after each until completely melted. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl or container whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
  • Beat butter, sugars together on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add eggs and vanilla beat on high one minute. 
  • Add melted chocolate and mix on medium speed until combined. On low add in flour mixture and beat until combined.Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips. Cover with wax paper and chill dough in refrigerator for 45 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. 
  • Flour hands and roll dough into 2 inch balls. Bake 9-10 minutes. Cool on a wire cooking rack.   

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Weekend Round-Up

Kid-Friendly Snacks and Meal Ideas to Jump Start the Arrival of School
Check out these fun ideas from
Apple Race Cars
Peanut Butter Sandwich Kabobs
Turkey Ranch Wrap
Butterfly Snack Catcher
Beach Treats...Dirt Dessert by Ever Ready
  • 1 package of Oreo cookies crushed
  • 1- 8 0z cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 small box vanilla pudding
  • 12 oz cool whip
  • gummy worms
  • Prepare pudding according to directions set aside to cool
  • Mix together powdered sugar and cream cheese and fold in cool whip
  • Layer the crushed cookies then pudding mixture. In between layers place gummy worms and on top of the final layer
  • If using a sand pail use a new shovel/spade to serve dessert
  • If using a flower pot put a flower in middle layer as a garnish

Amy Thielen's Banana Apple Butter Smoothie
Tomato, Avocado, Zucchini and Corn Salad by Ever Ready
Cook's Notes: Eat healthy with this salad made with fresh garden ingredients.
  • 2 cups  tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 2 cups diced zucchini
  • 1/2 cup diced red onions
  • 1 cup corn, frozen.canned or fresh from 4 cooked cobs 
  • 1 cup diced red peppers
  • Fat Free Greek Vinaigrette
  • Optional seasoned croutons
  • Cut tomatoes into chunks or halve Roma tomatoes. Place on a paper towel, salt and let rest for 20 minutes.
  • Mix all ingredients and toss with prepared dressing. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Sweet Potato, Avocado and Black Bean Tacos

These Sweet Potato, Avocado and Black Bean Tacos are gluten-free and vegetarian. They make a great breakfast, lunch or dinner taco meal. 
Let's Taco Bout It
Not many tacos can boast that they’re rich in vitamin A. Tender roasted cubes of sweet potato joined by black beans and a zesty avocado crema make for some of the most delectable veggie goodness you’ll find inside the fold of a tortilla.This hearty taco recipe features spicy roasted sweet potatoes, black beans for protein, and a pretty spectacular avocado spread made with freshly toasted pepitas for texture and savory notes. Top them off with some salty crumbled feta, more toasted pepitas and  you have a well-balanced dinner.
Recipe adapted from Good Housekeeping Magazine June 2017 and serves four.

  • 2 cups butternut squash or sweet potatoes cut into 1/2" chunks
  • 3/4 cup red onions, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. each chili powder, smoked or regular paprika, cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-1/2 cups no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 c. salsa verde
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 4 corn tortillas
  • 1/4 c. crumbled cotija or feta cheese
  • Optional cilantro, for garnish
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees and cover a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  • Toss sweet potatoes with olive oil, onions, garlic and spices.  Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet. Roast 20 minutes at 425 degrees.
  • In saucepan, combine black beans with salsa verde cook on medium uncovered until warm, 
  • Wrap 4 corn tortillas in foil and warm at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. 
  • Divide roasted sweet potatoes, black bean mixture  and avocado slices among 4 corn tortilla. Grate cheese over the top. 

That butternut squash beats the sweet potato with fewer calories per serving and lower carb and sugar counts, too. Squash is also rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins B6 and E. The sweet potato, however, does provide more fiber and protein. Butternut squash can be substituted for sweet potatoes in this recipe. 
Butternut squash
Sweet Potato

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The World According to Bella

Surviving the Dog Days of Summer
I've had to entertain myself a lot lately with Mr. C and Mrs. S off busy doing who knows what.  For almost a month we were boatless.  Often I sat at the top of the hill wishing someone would stop by and give me a ride.     

When I got tired of standing on the hill looking out at the water I moved to the front yard for chipmunk watch. You never know when I"ll get lucky.  

If the day  was hot I cooled off sitting in my hole, went for a swim  

or moved inside for my AC fix and afternoon nap.
It was fun having an unexpected Sadie visit. But I made sure she knew there'd be no boat rides for us. 
I like my daily walks to the mailbox. And even better with there's mail and treats from Chunk for me. 

After 27 days (I was counting) we finally got the boat back and I was back on board. With a few warnings from Mrs. S about barking and possible loss of boating privileges I did my best to behave. I needed to do a loon check.
I LOVE summer!
Love, Bella

P.S.So what have you done to survive the dog days of summer?

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

GET TO KNOW YOUR APPLES Pink Lady , great balance of sweet and tart. Granny Smith , maybe the most popular baking apple. A little more tart ...