Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chicken Tetrazzini

one of my favorite casseroles mom made growing up was Chicken Tetrazzini, and it's still a treat to have now.  I made some this week with some leftover grilled chicken - so good :)  Matt told me that on America's Test Kitchen they tell you to soak your meat in a salt brine to make it juicy when cooked.  we did some chicken quarter in a salt and brown sugar brine and threw them on the grill.  they came out really well!  I shredded the chicken and put them in seal-a-meal bags in the freezer so I could pull small portions out when I needed them.  worked perfect for this.
Chicken Tetrazzini
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 can chicken broth (I use 2 cups of water and add 2 bouillon cubes) 
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
1/4 lb. pasta (I use penne or spiral when I have them, otherwise I use spaghetti)
sliced toast, bread crumbs, or croutons
1/4 cup butter
3 TBSP chopped onion
4 TBSP chopped bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery
shredded jack cheese (pepper jack is the best!)
Reserve 1/2 cup of chicken broth and use the rest in the water to boil the pasta.  Sauté vegetables in butter until tender, turn off heat add in the reserved chicken broth, milk, cream of mushroom soup, chicken, and cooked pasta.  Pour into casserole dish and top with cubed toast, bread crumbs, or croutons.  Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.  After baking, cover top with cheese.  This is best made the day before.  Once assembled in dish, cover and refrigerate until ready to bake - overnight is best!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

easy pickled eggs

after doing pickled beet eggs again I wanted to see what else I could pickle eggs in that was already on hand in the fridge.
beet juice, onion powder, and sugar
 regular pickle juice
sweet gherkin juice
banana pepper juice (our favorite)
black olive juice
(Matt said this one tasted like pickled fish)
Worcestershire, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar
pimentos, apple cider vinegar, and distilled water

they're real easy and all ya gotta do is boil your eggs, de-shell, and soak in whatever ya want for at least a day in the fridge.  I soaked mine for two days.  I also made an extra egg to cut into and check the yolk for doneness after boiling them... which mine was, but all the ones I pickled (minus the pimento) looked not quite done after I opened them.  weird.  anyway, it was fun to try different flavors but I think banana pepper is the one I'll be keeping stocked in the fridge.

Monday, April 15, 2013

getting there

Leo has had his cast off for 11 days now.  it's been easier than when it was on, but we're still not back to where we were.  it's like learning to walk again except it hurts :(  but he's getting stronger and as long as we make a super huge deal about how well he's doing he seems to try harder and not be as frustrated about not being able to do what he used to.
on our way to get the cast off!
he did so good when they sawed it off :)  he was pretty sore after, but did well with the pain from being stiff.  the orthopedic doctor told us to bicycle his legs around everyday to help lessen the stiffness, but he makes a big fuss about that, so I just tickle his feet and try to be silly with him so that he moves it on his own, which seems to be better than if we move it for him pain-wise.  warm bubble baths help, too.
we had a scare the first night when he tried to stand on his own and because of the lack of muscles fell.  his thigh swelled a little and he was very upset and we couldn't touch it without him screaming.  we thought he broke it again!  Matt took him to a small 24 hour ER clinic down the road to get an x-ray and make sure he was okay.  it was fine, thankfully.  they think it was a sprain, but he'd be okay as long as he stayed off of it for a bit.  he was fine the next morning.  it took him about a week to try to walk on it himself without help so I don't know if the fall delayed him trying or if that's just when it stopped being quite as sore.
we were still having to carry him around to begin with and he just wanted to lay on the couch like he had been doing for the past 6 weeks, but after a couple of days we started making him walk while we held his hands to get around the house so he builds that muscle back up.
he's excited to sit in his highchair again instead of us draping a towel over his chest and eating lying down.  I think he's missed drinking from an open top cup, too, because that seems to be a really fun thing for him to do again.
shoes are a big thing now, too.  it's nice to have them on him again when we go outside, and he seems to like to wear them.  he's in-between the sizes we have for him, so when I put shoes on him that are too big he thinks I'm putting my shoes on him and says "momma's shoes" :P
we were unable to do a lot of things for a while - blow bubbles, eat from a spoon, ride upright in the wagon, wear pants, go somewhere besides the doctors office -  so we're doing as much as we can now!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

center-pull yarn ball

I like to wrap my yarn into balls, then put them into this glass pitcher I have to keep the yarn clean and contained while I work with it, which has been just fine, but sometimes I have a ball too big to fit inside the opening and I really don't like cutting the yarn and rejoining later.
I searched videos on youtube to see what I could do to make a center-pull ball and found a bunch of variations on rolling one by hand.  I like this one on wrapping around a cardboard tube.
I used a pen tube so the hole in the middle was smaller and the ball wasn't too big when it was done.  after I ran the yarn through the tube I pushed the tip of the pen back in just enough to hold the yarn in place while I wrapped the ball.
it came out a little egg shaped as I wrapped, but once it was off the tube I was able to round it out.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Sunday dinner

everyone came over for Easter again this year since we couldn't go anywhere yet.  we did dinner this time instead of our usual lunch.  it makes getting ready for it a lot easier since we have the day to prep instead of just a couple of hours in the morning.  we were pretty tired by the end of the day, though!
I did pickled beet eggs again, made my first Tres Leches cake, and some bunny cars.  the food was awesome and I forgot to get a pic!  everyone brought something yummy and Matt made a roast on his new grill.
Leo had just been wearing shirts while in his cast, but I wanted him to look fully clothed in our Easter pics (not that most of them turned out at all!) so I altered some of my old shorts for him with some Velcro along the sides.  I at least got some pics of the boys together.
for only $5 I made a new spring wreath with stuff I had and a few new things from Dollar Tree.  I'm limited on my errand running now so since I didn't see any ribbon at the Dollar Tree I just made some from paper towel rolls that I painted brown.  since most of the weight is on one side I added a small clear Command hook at the bottom of the wreath so it hung correctly and not all skewed to one side.  keeps it from swinging on the wreath hook or banging against the door when it's opened and closed, too.
I did another contact paper cut out for the door.  I was afraid my design would be too difficult to put on, but it went on without too much fuss.  I'm really liking my Silhouette cutter more and more :)
I got a Butterfly in a Jar forever ago and sorta forgot about it.  Leo loves it so I have to sneak it away from him to put out on the porch.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

peach hand pies

I had some cans of peaches in my pantry and decided to try making some hand pies with them, and they came out really well!  I don't have much luck when I try to just throw something together, but this one is going in my cook book :)  I had to search online for an idea of how to do them and decided to mix together a lot of the information I came across.
you'll need enough dough for two pie crusts, or you could make one and just use half the filling recipe for 12 hand pies and save the rest of the filling in the fridge for later.  I like using the tart crust recipe below, but I found a good looking one the other day at FoodWishes that I really wanna try.
RECIPE FOR ONE 9" CRUST: (double this for full recipe of 24 hand pies)
1 cup flour
6 TBSP cold butter
1 egg yolk whisked with 2 TBSP cold water
cut the butter into the flour until just blended - don't over work, add egg and water mixture and form into a ball.  wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge.  the things to keep in mind about pie dough is to use cold ingredients, work it cold, and keep it cold.
1 can of peaches (or other fruit) in water
1 cup sugar
2 TBSP cornstarch
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 TBSP butter
mix sugar, cornstarch, and nutmeg in a sauce pan and add butter and juice from the can of fruit.  cook over medium heat stirring constantly with a whisk until thick enough that when stirred it leaves momentary open spots in the bottom of the pot,  add fruit back in and stir until fruit is warm and in small bits.  let sit and cool.
section the dough evenly into 48 balls (or 24 if you only made one dough recipe) and roll each one out thinly between sheets of plastic wrap with a rolling pin, or press flat under a plate until it's about 4" across.  brush the bottom round of dough with egg white to act as a glue for the top round, spoon about a tablespoon of filling in the middle and place the top round over that.  mash the edges down, then roll them over themselves and crimp to make sure they don't open up when they cook.  add a few slits in the top so steam can escape, brush the tops with egg white, and then sprinkle them with sugar.  bake at 400°F for 18 minutes or until lightly browned.
I baked mine in a greased glass baking dish so I could check on the bottoms, but a baking sheet is fine to use, too.  you can also buy pre-made dough, and just thicken pie filling from a can or use marmalade so these are even easier. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

counting down the days

Leo has been in a spica cast since the end of February for a broken femur.  it's been hard for everyone else, so I can't imagine how bad it's been for Leo :(
he's been doing pretty good to just lay around and watch Netflix (he's getting into the older shows like Charlie Brown and Gumby), play with his trucks, draw on his Magnadoodle, and once in a while we're allowed to read him books when it's not bedtime.  he wiggles around pretty good on his belly and back to get across the floor, too.
he's becoming more attached to stuffed animals - this started when we had Jack and he'd put his bear in the swing, give it a drink from his sippy cup, and wipe it's nose - but now he almost plays with a few of his stuffed animals as much as he plays with his trucks.  I catch him talking to them sometimes - too cute!  he's named a bear that his Great-Great-Aunt Georgina gave him Baby Jack :) 
when it's nice out we take a wagon ride around the neighborhood, but that's the only place other than the house we can take him since he's not supposed to really travel much.  his car seat doesn't hold him too well and it's uncomfortable after a little while.  fortunately, he gets weekly visits from Mé, PawPaw, and Grandma.  occasionally Jack is allowed to share his pillow for a few moments.
one good thing is he's getting more verbal when he needs something since he has to rely on being able to tell us what he needs.  for the first few weeks he just screamed in frustration and we could count on a daily temper tantrum, but then they stopped and he asks "please?" or "help" to get our attention.
he's also getting pretty clever.  he learned that one of our biggest concerns is keeping his cast clean, so we asked him a lot if he was poopy in the beginning since his answer was always 'no' even if he was, then because we made such a big deal about poop he's been informing us every time he toots, and announcing "no poo poo! :) " when we check his diaper.  he even uses the frantic "POO POO!" as a way to get me too run to his aid when he needs a toy or something out of his reach when I'm preoccupied with feeding or soothing Jack and I've already told him he'll need to wait.  he's become 'The Boy Who Cried Poop', but because he's so cute I let it slide.  I'm hoping this will put him in tune with what's going on and maybe he'll be a little more ready to sit on the potty when this is over.
I've got calendars set around the house and have been marking the days until we go to get the cast off.  we have 3 days left and I hope the x-rays look good when we go in Thursday to see the Orthopedic Doctor so that this thing comes off right then and there.  Leo finally started telling us he wanted the cast off when we had 2 weeks to go so I've been counting down the days with him.  I can't wait to get him back to the park, and just out of the house!