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41  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Lightened up Smothered Chicken on: January 16, 2014 04:36:17 PM
I made this for dinner last night and it was really good. I found a recipe here but it was kind of ridiculous, it had a stick of butter plus 2T of olive oil just in the mushrooms! Dang! I decided if I removed all the butter and oil I could reduce the fat and calories and still use 3 cheeses! Smaller amounts of more flavorful cheeses (parmesan, pepperjack), is better IMO than mounds of mozzarella.



Pre-heat oven to 350*F. Spray a large baking dish with Pam. You'll need two big non-stick saute pans also (or one large and one medium), get them both going on medium high after chopping up your veggies.

6- Four Ounce chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
seasoned salt and granulated garlic
Pam spray
4 cups sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup diced yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup white wine (dry)
2 T half and half
1/4 cup whipped cream cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
10 cups raw spinach, chopped roughly
6 T pepperjack cheese, shredded

1. In large saute pan sprayed with Pam, heated very high (8-9 on my stove), place chicken breasts. Season with seasoned salt and granulated garlic. Sear on both sides until nice brown crust, 1-2 minutes each side. Move to baking dish and place in pre-heated oven. Set timer for 15 minutes

2. While chicken is searing, put mushrooms in medium saute pan over medium high heat (6-7). No oil or butter, just spray with Pam first. Continue to cook and stir until these are golden brown, then remove from heat and set aside.

3. After chicken is removed from large pan, add more Pam spray (no need to wipe out), lower heat to medium low, and add the diced onions. When onions have cooked down and are soft but not browned, add garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then de-glaze pan with white wine. Add cream cheese and parmesan cheese. Stir in half and half, season with red pepper flakes and black pepper. Add half the spinach, stir and cook. When that's wilted down nicely add the other half. When it's wilted completely it is done and hopefully 15 minutes is about up.

4. When chicken has been in oven 15 minutes, remove. Top each chicken breast with mushrooms, then add the spinach mixture and finally 1 Tablespoon of pepperjack cheese to each one. Put back in oven for 15 minutes to finish cooking through and to melt cheeses.

Serves 6, each serving is 1 chicken breast with 1/6 the mushrooms and 1/6 the spinach/cheese mixture and 1 T pepperjack cheese

Nutrition info via MyFitnessPal:
238 calories, 6 g carbs, 32 g protein, 9 g fat, 2 g fiber

Serve with potatoes, rice or your favorite side dish.
42  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Healthy Eating in 2014 on: January 03, 2014 11:26:58 AM
Hi all!

A new year and my resolution isn't "to lose weight," like usual, it's to eat healthy and NOT do any crazy diets this year. My main goals are eating more fruits and vegetables and counting calories (portion size!) I'd love it if you joined me here to share meal plans, recipes, and other things that could encourage each other to cook and eat healthy.

Green smoothies, for me, are a great way to get in some vegetables and fruits early in the day! Here's my go-to recipe:

MareMare's Fave Green Smoothie

1 1/2 cups cold water
2 giant handfuls raw spinach (2 packed cups if you want to measure)
sweetener of choice (preferable liquid...honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, sf syrup)
5-6 frozen strawberries
1/2 frozen banana or several chunks frozen peaches

I use a regular blender for this, while I would love a BlendTek or VitaMix someday, it's not in the cards right now. Add water and spinach to blender and blend on high for at least 30 seconds. Scrape down sides if needed. Blend until it looks liquid, then blend another 15 seconds. Add sweetener and frozen fruit and blend until smooth. Drink. Love. Mmm.



43  QUILTING / Quilting: Discussion and Questions / 14 Quilt Projects in 2014 Quilt Along! on: December 31, 2013 04:08:28 AM
It's time for the 2014 Quilt Along! The point of this Quilt Along is to motivate ourselves and others to work on their projects and provide a space to discuss projects during and after their completion.

To join our Quilt Along, please post a list of the 14 quilt projects you will be working on this year. It's ok if you have more or less than 14, but we're shooting for 14(ish). Feel free to join any time throughout the year! Projects may be large or small, full sized quilts, baby quilts, quilted mug rugs, wall hangings, whatever you are working on this year!

I'll keep track with links in the second post of people's lists. When you post a project on Craftster from your list, strike it out and be sure to share a pic with us of the finished project, or post a link to where you posted it on Craftster!

2011 QuiltAlong Thread
2012 QuiltAlong Thread
2013 QuiltAlong Thread




Quilt by meleriffic in the 2013 Quilt Along
44  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / Aiming for Accuracy Quilt #1 on: December 26, 2013 11:05:24 AM
I joined the Aiming for Accuracy Quilt Along earlier this year and was working on two sets of blocks. One was this colorway of purple, aqua/turquoise, yellow, pink, and gray with a medium gray sashing. I didn't really have plans for either one, but was having fun working on them. I got behind in the QAL at the end of the summer though. A month or two ago I decided that this one would be a nice Christmas present for my boyfriend's parents, so I started working on it!

I had some problems with the borders and ended up just doing a single border. Also, the quilt is upside down in all the pics. D'oh! Not that it matters that much, but since I was following a pattern I've been used to seeing it the other way!

Front:


Back:


Close-up of Crossword puzzle fabric on the back and quilting:




The quilt is about 52" x 77" which is a little bit bigger than I care to quilt on my machine at home, so I quilted it on the quilting frame at a local shop. It was my second time quilting a quilt on the frame and my first time doing so by myself (my friend who teaches there was alongside me last time!) My boyfriend paid for my time of the frame so the quilt was from both of us Smiley

A couple close-ups of the blocks:





This was my first time using a flange binding and although it was more work than my regular binding, I do like the little pop of color. You make it by stitching two strips of fabric together lengthwise for the binding, the part you want to be the flange should be wider than the other strip by about 1/4-1/2 inch. After folding in half to make the binding the flange side will pop out just a tiny bit! It's machine sewn to the back of the quilt and folded to the front and machine sewed down just like my regular binding method.



The quilt was a big hit and his mom cried a little bit when she opened it!

I still have another one in bright pink, bright blue, black, lime green, orange and white. Not sure when I'll finish it but I think that one will be for me Smiley
45  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Winter Holidays / Discussion: Ideas for Holiday Kids' Crafts and Activities on: November 26, 2013 06:32:23 PM
I do daycare for my nephews when they're out of school and am already making a list of what to do with them during the week of Christmas I'll have them. In the summer it's not as hard to entertain them, but I can't exactly make them play outside for hours at a time during winter Smiley Here are some ideas I have on how to entertain my boys during that week, please let me know if you have any more!

--Making wrapping paper like we did last year

--Embroider, I just got some new robot embroidery patterns and the boys love to embroider (or as they alternately have called it--knitting, quilting, sewing, and threading. They can't remember the word embroider Smiley )

--Gingerbread house (or rather, this year I found a Gingerbread train kit)

--Hanging our "tree," this year I am going to string lights on the wall in the shape of a tree and hang light ornaments from it. Thank you Facebook friend for the idea! Smiley

--We might even string popcorn to decorate with/pass the time since they can use needles now (even the 5 year old!)

--Making Ornaments, I found a box of ribbons and trims at the fabric store in clearance for $1. I'm going to cut tree shapes out of felt and let them glue the ribbons on to mimic garland. Also I have tons of other ornament ideas pinned, and lots of them here on Craftster!


Here's a few more ornaments we might try!

Ice skates with paper clip and felt
http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=214525.0#axzz2kSsHWAym

Trees with felt and ribbon/ricrac/etc
http://www.craftster.org/forum /index.php?topic=398871.0#axzz2kSsHWAym

Kid's drawings
http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=418072.0#axzz2kSsHWAym

Salt Dough ornaments
http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=402743.0#axzz2kSsHWAym

This would be easy, recycled Christmas cards. You could probably use Christmas wrapping paper reinforced with cardstock or cardboard too
http://www.rufflesandstuff.com/2011/12/recycling-christmas-cards.html

 I think you could sub the styrofoam base out for something else (a piece of cardboard?)
http://christopherandtia.blogspot.com/2010/12/handmade-yarn-wreath-ornaments-2010.html

Not so much crafty, but still sanity savers

--Going to Dollar Tree and giving them each $2 to spend

--Possibly riding the Max (light rail) out to the mall for lunch and adventures

--Walking to the park and playing (if it's dry out)

--Dance parties, turn on the music and boogie! Or, actually play Just Dance on the Wii.

Two of my boys busy at work crafting inside their pillow fort:
46  BATH AND BEAUTY / Bath and Beauty: Completed Projects / Snickerdoodle Oats 'n Honey, Tomato Leaf, & Shea Luxury CP Soaps on: November 19, 2013 04:12:34 PM
These are my most recent batches of soap. I made my usual Oats 'n Honey with honey and ground oats, but added some Snickerdoodle Buttercream fragrance. Smells like dessert!





This Tomato Leaf fragrance smelled soooo amazing in the bottle. Unfortunately it was not quite as wonderful once it soaped up, but it still had a nice green fragrance.





This is one of my favorite bars, Shea Luxury, with 60% Unrefined Shea Butter. I leave it unfragranced and uncolored, so the creamy color and the slight smokiness is just from the shea butter.






The next bars I need to make are more Shea Luxury, Black Raspberry Vanilla, and Gardener's Scrub!
47  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / Vintage Boho Star Baby Quilt on: November 18, 2013 08:18:11 AM
I made this baby quilt for a friend from a Moda Bake Shop pattern. It's meant to be a lap quilt and should have a charm square border, but it's already pretty huge for a baby quilt so I didn't really want the extra 10 inches on width and height. The border is pretty cute though, so it was a hard decision to make.



I started with a charm pack of the Little Red Riding Hood fabric from Riley Blake and some yardage from the same line, plus other prints that I liked. I had to buy a good amount of red since I apparently don't use it that much!



The basic design is making a 9 patch, then turning it into a giant half square triangle with a square of a solid. I miscounted and had two extra 9 patches (D'oh!) so I used them on the back.



I also pieced a mini boho star on the back to mimic the front, and then just kind of filled in the rest with some of the other cuts of fabric from the front and others that worked.




I love using diagonal stripes on bidning and love that this line had diagonal stripes. I bought extra to use on a few more quilts too, since I use gray quite a bit. I know I could make bias diagonal stripes from any stripe...but I'm too lazy to make bias binding!

48  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Party Planning / Food Idea help for Sodastream/Sewing party on: November 12, 2013 04:24:13 PM


I'm hosting a SodaStream party this weekend through House Party and am super excited. Drinks will be taken care of, but I need some help with food. What are your go-to party snacks?

So far this is what I'm doing:
--Cauliflower Pizza Bites, some with pepperoni and some just cheese (I have one friend that doesn't eat pork, and I forgot to buy the turkey pepperoni)
--a Cheese board, 3 kinds of cheese, some kind of nut (candied almonds or walnuts?) and grape or berries or something? And various crackers, maybe some baguette. Anybody have some cheese board tips?
--some kind of dessert, but haven't decided yet. I want it to be easy to make. I might buy something like truffles as well (going to Trader Joe's for the cheese)

Any other ideas? I feel like I should have a veggie or something too and maybe something snacky--chip/popcorn something.
49  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Easy Spicy Zuppa Toscana on: November 06, 2013 01:36:36 PM
So, apparenlty Zuppa Toscana is served at the Olive Garden and is a big hit. I wouldn't know because I'm too busy eating the Pasta Fagioli and the Gnocchi soup. But I ran across a blog that raved about it, it was cold out and soup sounded good, and I had the ingredients needed (and a few changes, of course!)

Zuppa Toscana

12 ounce package bulk sausage, mild
1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2 Tablespoons dried onion flakes
half bunch green onions, white and green parts, thinly chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed
4 cups chicken broth (or 4 cups water + 4 teaspoons Better than Boullion, chicken flavor)
1 small potato*, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into very thin half moons
1 medium/small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into very thin half moons
1/2 package frozen spinach, or fresh spinach or kale, chopped

Cream and shredded parmesan cheese for serving, optional

To medium sized soup pan, add sausage and next six ingredients, through the pressed garlic. Brown sausage until no longer pink. No oil needed because it's freaking sausage. If, after browning it seems super oily, you can drain off some of the grease. I didn't feel the need. Add the sliced zucchini and potato along with the broth. If you are using kale, add that now too so it can break down. Simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes or so, until potato is cooked through. Add spinach at the end and heat until warmed through (frozen) or wilted (fresh). For serving, add a smidge of cream and/or Parmesan cheese to each bowl if you like.

*You can add more potatoes, as in a traditional Zuppa Toscana, but I am doing a low carb-ish thing and don't care for potatoes that much anyways.

Nutritional info, based on 4 servings, without cream or Parmesan:

Calories: 325
Carbs: 10 g
Protein: 19 g
Fat: 23 g
Fiber: 2 g

Use chicken sausage for less fat, and really any veggies that float your boat!


I know the picture isn't great, but I swear this is very tasty! Smiley

ETA: This is the original recipe that this blogger loosely followed and then I loosely followed what he did.

http://paleogeek.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/paleo-ish-zuppa-toscana/
50  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / Offset Arrows Baby Quilt on: November 06, 2013 12:38:31 PM
This is a baby quilt for my best friend's niece! She is due in January and will be the first grandbaby, so everyone is very excited. The baby shower was last weekend so I can finally show this! I designed it using the Threadbias Design tool and it was really fun to use (although a bit of a learning curve). I've seen lots of arrow quilts, but none of them were offset and that's what I really wanted. This is just made up of simple rectangles and half square triangles.



The baby's crib set is black and cream and the mom wanted to add in pink and green. As soon as I heard that, I thought of the Comma line of fabric by Zen Chic. I'd been wanting to use that, so this was a great excuse! The colors in the line were orange, yellow, and a brighter green, so I opted to just use the black and cream prints and add in some solid Kona cotton--Bubble Gum and Tarragon are the shades.

I pieced the back from leftovers from the front. I had already run to the store twice for fabric (which is what happens when you buy fabric before you nail down your design!) so I ran a little short and didn't want to make a third trip. I made due with a small strip of solid Kona black. You can see the quilting best here. I did quilting in the ditch down the length and width of the squares, and then did double diagonal lines in just one direction.



The cool thing about designing in Threadbias is that they have tons of actual fabric lines in their database, so in my digital mockup I could put the actual fabric, instead of just a solid color. This is what my mockup looked like:



And this is the original I designed with Allyssa Thomas' line of Critter Patch fabric. It's fun to see how different a pattern can be with different fabrics.



Here is the blank pattern if anyone wants to make their own, I found it easiest after filling it in, to name each color A, B, etc and then just make a chart of how many rectangles and half square triangles I need to make of each one. The rectangles were 7.5 x 4 (I believe) and the half square triangles started at 5 inches and were trimmed down to 4 inches after being made. I can double check my measurements if anyone is interested in making this pattern. With these measurements and amount of rows and columns it's a decent sized baby quilt, I want to say about 42 inches square?

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