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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mini Meatball Stew

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One afternoon I watched a little snippet of Giada on the Food Network and saw her making this Hearty Meatball Stew

I decided to give it a try and it was super delicious!!!

I changed a few things that Giada did. 
Here is what I did . . .



  • 1 slice white sandwich bread, torn into small pieces
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • One 8 to 10-ounce russet potato, peeled, halved lengthwise and halved lengthwise again, sliced into 1/3-inch slices
  • 1 can green beans, drained
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced in rounds
  • Two 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained 
  • 1 cup tomato juice (I saved what I drained from the diced tomatoes)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated + a little for garnish
Meatballs: Place the bread and 3 tablespoons water into a medium bowl. Mash bread very finely. Add the beef, egg, parsley, salt and pepper. Blend the mixture thoroughly with your hands or a fork. Form the mixture into mini meatballs (I made about 35-40 with 1 pound of beef). Arrange the meatballs on a greased baking sheet and cook in a 400 degree oven until the doneness that you like (anywhere from 8-18 minutes). 

Stew: Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, peppers, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Cook until soft, 4 minutes. 

Push the pepper and onions to the outside and place potatoes in the center of the bottom. 
Place the carrots, beans, and tomatoes on top of potatoes. Add the red pepper flakes, chicken broth, and the tomato juice. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the cooked meatballs. 

Make a roux with the butter and flour and drop in the soup in little pieces. (This way you won't have clumping of flour in the stew, when the butter melts the flour also melts into the stew and helps thicken the broth.)

Cover the pan with the lid and simmer until the potatoes and carrots are tender, about 30 minutes. 
Now sprinkle in a 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. When cheese has melted in, mix and serve.
Garnish the top of each bowl with a little grated parmesan cheese. 
If you want a perfect meal, make a little french bread to go along with your delicious stew!

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Friday, March 2, 2012

Jean Pencil Skirt

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I have been looking, for a couple of years, to find a modest jean pencil skirt. Whenever I find one I like it is too expense. I just found one online by JCrew for $98. WOW!
I have decided that I can just make my own with an old pair of jeans I have!
(This would be perfect for those jeans that you love that have shrunk in the length or that have frayed hems where they drag slightly on the ground.)


Here's what you need...

- 1 Pair of Jeans
- Top Stitching Thread
- Jean Needle (for your sewing machine)
- Seam Ripper
- Scissors

Begin by cutting 12'' off the length of your jeans.
This gave me several inches to work with when it came to hemming the bottom.

Now this next part doesn't take nearly as long as I thought it would.
Unpick the seams on the inside of both legs, starting where the crotch of the pants comes together.

Please be very careful! I began to get a little to confident in myself and ripped a hole in the fabric with the seam ripper. (Luckily it was a part that wasn't going to show in the end.)

After the inside of the legs are all finished, unpick the front where the bottom of the zipper is to where the crotch came together.

Unpick the back where... um... where I am pointing (not sure what this location would be called) to where the crotch used to come together.

Now this part can be a little tricky and you may need to have a little extra patience.

Lay the front of one of the legs over the other leg until you have a nice straight line all the way down.
Pin very well!!!

Pin the back so that you have a straight seam that will go all the way down. 
I left open the bottom from about the top of the back of my knee. This is to add a little extra piece of fabric so that you will be able to walk in the skirt.
(Ignore my pins at the very top because I also took the waist in on the pants.)

Cut a rectangle of fabric out of one of the legs you cut off earlier.

Place the piece in teh back of the skirt where you want it to go.

VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure the grain of the fabric (in the added piece) is going the same way as the rest of the skirt.

When pinning this piece into place, make sure to fold all your raw edges in.

Make sure the back of the skirt is pinned very well.

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Just an FYI: I tried on my skirt at this point, VERY CAREFULLY, to make sure it was going to fit correctly. It is much easier to move pins, than it is to unpick the entire thing again. 

Time to begin sewing the front and back. 

**Don't forget to put the jean needle on, the top stitching thread in place of normal thread, and changing the tension of both the bobbin case and the top needle tension!**

I tried to duplicate what the stitching used to look like before I unpicked it. 
(My jean had a slightly darker color where the stitching used to be. You can kind of see it in this picture. I just used those existing marks when I did my sewing.)

Front Stitching

Back Stitching

Once you have sewn it into place try it on.  If it is how you want it, cut out the extra fabric leaving about 1/2'' seams (you are welcome to finish the seams, but I just left mine raw).

Now have someone help you measure where you want the hem to be. 

I measured the hem up 1/2'' and rolled it up another 3/4'', pinned it into place, and sewed it with a 5/8'' seam. 
If you need to know how to iron and roll up a hem to prepare it please go here to see how I prepared the hem for my seven dollar dress, but don't do the blind hem stitch.

You did it! You just made a modest jean pencil skirt out of an old pair of jeans.

Front View

Back View

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bonnie's Banana Bread

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My sister's mother-in-law, Bonnie, has a wonderful banana bread recipe that I LOVE!
We love to make it into bread and/or muffins.

This week I changed it up a bit by adding mini cinnamon chips instead of chocolate chips. 
It was wish-ious (delicious), in the words of my 2-year-old!

1/2 C - Butter
1 C - Sugar
2 Eggs
4 Lg. Bananas, very ripe
1 & 3/4 C - Flour
1 tsp - Baking Soda
1/2 tsp - Salt
1 C - Chocolate Chips (I used Cinnamon Chips instead)

Put first four ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat. Add the remaining ingredients and mix.

**If you don't have beaters or a kitchen mixer you can purchase a King Arthur Dough Whisk to make all your breads, works wonderful. **

Pour into greased and floured loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. (Muffins cook 15-20 minutes, makes 24 muffins.)
Use toothpick to test.

(Can't find my picture of the finished bread, sorry.)

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Gone Fishin'

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Cabin fever is hitting our house even more than usual, since there is no snow on the ground. It looks nice and wonderful outside, but is freezing cold! 
My two-year-old just can't figure out why we can't go play at the park.

Here is a fast, no-sewing craft that your toddler will love to help with and play with.

Here is what you need:
-Girl Ankle Socks (from the Dollar Store)
-Dowel (from Wal-mart 5/16'' (57 cents))
-Embroidery String
-Hot Glue Gun
-Doughnut Magnet
-Power Magnets (the button magnets shown above didn't work well)
(Power Magnets are found at Hobby Lobby (strength is 9 out of 10)
I chose the smallest size they had, smaller than a pea, it had 12 magnets in it.)

Use a TINY amount of hot glue to attach the magnet to the inside of the sock at the toe.
Do not use the button magnets I used! Use the power magnets as mentioned above.

Put some batting in the sock.

Tie the sock shut just as you would a balloon.

Hot Glue buttons on to look like eyes.

Take embroidery string and cut to desired length x 2.
(I folded mine in half so that I could attach the doughnut magnet.)

Pull the string back through the loop to attach the magnet.

 Wrap the end of the string around the dowel 3 times and tie a square knot.

Seal the knot and string on the dowel with a little hot glue around the entire knot.

All done! Look how simple that was!

Now let your kids have a blast fishing for those cute sock fish!

If you have girls, you may consider making this cuter version. I have boys and the bows would be ripped off as soon as I attached them on.

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