Thursday, December 20, 2007

Nikki57's Salsa Chicken

My daughter Nina is friends with a group of brides she met on They all got married in July 2007 and they still keep in touch with each other. I think they have all started blogs, mostly about cooking. They do baked goods and other gift exchanges and they have a really good time doing all this.
I have looked at a few of their blogs and found this recipe on Nikki's.
She called it crockpot salsa chicken.
I adapted it when I cooked it last night and cooked it in the oven. And I left the sour cream out of the cooking process and we just ate it dolloped on top.
Dessert was a 1/2 recipe of Hello Dolly Squares a.k.a. Magic 7 layer bars. Nina left a half can of Eagle Brand milk in my fridge last week and this recipe was a great way to use it up.
Stolen from and Nikki57
4 chicken breasts - put in frozen if you’re worried about overcooking
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 packet reduced sodium taco seasoning
1 16 oz jar salsa
1 can corn
1 can rinsed and drained black beans
1 cup reduced fat sour cream
Mix soup, salsa, and taco seasoning together and pour over chicken. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Before serving, shred the chicken, add corn, beans, and sour cream. Cook for a few more minutes until everything is heated through. Serve with tortilla chips or in a tortilla.
(I chopped my chicken into bite size pieces, browned them in a pan with just a bit of oil. Then baked them covered with the soup, salsa and seasoning for about 1 hour at 350. Then I stirred in the beans and corn and baked another 30 minutes.
we had Mexican rice, corn tortillas and chips, salad, salsa, cheese and sour cream to add as desired.)
Jimmy is home from law school for Christmas break and he will be so happy to find the leftovers in our fridge too.

Thanks Nikki57 and Nina!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Theirs are bigger than mine"

One of my sons commented when he saw the new stockings for John and Nina that their stockings were bigger than his. I had been wanting to make stockings with names on them for all the kids and I managed to do that this week.
The felt appliques are easy to work with. I sewed them on the stockings with clear nylon thread, it sews in almost invisible and saves time on all that thread changing when using colored thread.
The dark red ones on the left belong to Jeff and me, maybe we will get new ones this year but maybe we won't.
This is son Bobby. I think it is self portrait he secretly took of himself with my camera. Bobby has been a picture poser since the day he was born and has never met a camera he did not like.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Product testing

Almost every time I am online, I take a peek at and browse the forums. It is a very busy board where good shopping deals, freebies and coupons are discussed. A few weeks ago, I read about Self magazine doing a sign up for product testers. I registered but never expected to be picked. Surprise, they did pick me.And since I am turning 50 soon, they sent me lots of eye creams! I am mostly just a Ponds girl but will try all these creams and report back in a month as they asked.

This deal is no longer available but there is so much stuff posted at Slick Deals. A person could just read the new posts all day long. I don't recommend you do that but do check out the forums there when you have a little free time and you just might save a little money.

my freebies today
Bliss The Youth As We Know it Eye Cream
Diana B. Eye Cream 30 ml
Patricia Wexler MD - Dematology- Intensive 3-in-1 eye cream
La Roche-Posay Redermic Daily Anti-wrinkle fill-in firming care (I think my son moved this one before I took the picture)
Skin Appetit by Keri Glassman Firming Eye Gel
Hydro Cool Firming eye gels

Latest bag

I have sewn a lot of bags because I am always looking for the perfect one for me. This one is pretty close. It is is big, the sides are about 12X13 and it is about 6 inches deep. I put a pocket on each end and 3 pockets on the inside.
There is some funky stitching on the inside because I used regular fleece, not the iron in kind, for the interfacing, and I had to stitch it down or it would be shifting all over.
And of course, this is yet another project made completely with supplies on hand.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Homemade gifts

I love getting hand made gifts and today I was blessed with 2 very special ones. My brother, the bachelor professor, sent this box to me with Jimmy today. The box is really large and I could not even imagine what could be in it.
This beautiful hand made wreath!
It is truly gorgeous and this picture does not do it justice. And it smells as good as it looks.

These treats are a yearly tradition from our good friend, Miss Connie. The assortment varies just a little but always includes homemade candy, homemade hot chocolate mix with marshmallows and zucchini bread. It all tastes just as good as it looks too.

Sometimes I am hesitant to give home made things and I guess some people don't appreciate them, but I truly love both of these gifts and like them better than anything from the mall.

And I am sure I will remember them longer too. So if you are wondering about a gift to give, make some candy or a wreath, as long as you put some love in it, the receiver will be love it too.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ice day project

This week, my job is probably the most un-essential in town and since most of the outside surfaces are slipperyfrom the ice storm, I am staying home.
Nina told me she wanted a new stocking, she requested it be retro, colorful and have her name on it. I made these this morning, only using supplies from my craft closet. I think they are pretty cute and I hope the newlyweds like them too.
I used black velvet left from a quilt I made several years ago for the base, and felt, bought for 25 cents a pound at a clothing factory that is no longer in business. Felt is almost weightless and I got quite an assortment then for almost no money.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Cookie Exchange?

My cookies are baked and the recipes printed but we are having an ice storm and the roads are getting more treacherous by the minute. The cookie exchange is supposed to be this afternoon at my friend, Tammy's home in the country but I am afraid it will have to be postponed.
I baked thumbprint cookies to take.I have baked this recipe so many times. I baked them for lots of wedding showers back in my home town. I entered them in 3 contests when I was growing up. And won 2 of them! The frosting always got colored to match the event, pink and green for Christmas, or the bride's colors for wedding showers.
I left the frosting white for the first time ever on this batch. White seems to be a popular Christmas decorating color this year and I like them white.
It looks like this batch will be put in the freezer for now. I did keep out several for Jeff and I snack on. :)
Thumbprint Cookies
By Betty Crocker and Rhonda

½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup shortening
½ cup softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, separated
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
scant cup of finely chopped pecans

Mix brown sugar, shortening, butter, vanilla and egg yolks. Stir in flour and salt until blended. (I usually make the dough ahead and let it chill for a day or two)
Shape into 1 inch balls.
Beat egg white slightly. Dip each ball into the egg white and then dip each into chopped pecans. Place about 2 inches apart onto lightly greased baking sheets. Press a finger deeply into the center of each. ( I use my pointer finger, it works better than my thumb)
Bake at 350 degrees from about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Fill with frosting. Dip frosting top into more chopped pecans or shredded coconut if desired.

Creamy Vanilla Frosting

3 Cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
about 2 tablespoons milk ( start with 1 ½ T)
food coloring if desired
Mix all ingredients. (You can do it by hand but I prefer a mixer.)
Add more milk a scant teaspoon full at a time until the frosting is smooth and soft consistency.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


This is Jeff in the backyard with his Horizon smoker.
When he smokes meat, it takes a lot of wood and a good part of a day. So he cooks lots of meat and then we freeze most of it for future meals.
We have several good barbecue restaurants in our town but Jeff's meat is better than any of them.
I love having this meat already cooked in the freezer, it is the ultimate in convenience food.
The loins get sliced, the butts are made into chopped barbecue sandwiches, and the chickens will just be frozen whole. 2 pork loins and 2 pork butts just getting started.
Jeff wraps them in foil after they have taken on a lot of smoke flavor and then lets them continue to cook in the foil so they don't dry out. He also cooked 2 whole chickens.

Christmas thrift store finds

I have not been to our local thrift stores in weeks. It seems like I just go to work and then hurry home to work on projects here.
Today Jeff and I were out doing a few Saturday morning errands and we were just a few blocks from my favorite shop so we stopped.
We got these silly Christmas mugs for just a quarter each, the cookie tins were also a quarter each and 2 pretty pieces of green cotton fabric. The 1 yard piece was 5o cents and the 2 yard piece was $1.
I am drinking hot tea right now from the mug on the left, it was definitely worth 25 cents!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Dinner with the Newlyweds

Last night, we had a fun dinner with Nina and John, a.k.a. the Newlyweds. I baked a small turkey with some cornbread dressing, potatoes, gravy and green beans. Nina brought Paula Deens fudge for dessert.
The rolls in the center of table are a very simple recipe that I have been making ever since I was a newlywed way back in 1980. I think they are even better now because I use a well seasoned Pampered Chef stone baking dish to bake them in. This was my first piece of PC stoneware and I got it at a garage sale in 1995.
If you don't want to pay full price for PC things, look at garage sales. It is amazing how many things are for sale. I found another PC 13 x 9 just like my first one at a garage sale 2 houses down from my house this summer. I bought it for just $3 and gave it to my mom.

Newlywed Roll Recipe

1 cup warm water

2 t yeast

1/4 each of oil and sugar

1 t salt

about 3 cups of Flour

Mix the yeast with the warm water and sugar. After the yeast starts to work, stir in the salt, oil and flour. Stir well and then knead as much or as little as you feel like. (I do about 30 seconds or so) Put the dough back into the mixing bowl and let rise. Press out the dough about 3/4 inch thick and cut into circles. Put in a greased pan and let them rise again. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned. Serve with butter.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Corn Fritters

I got this recipe in 1976 from a magazine article in Womans Day. Jo Ann York was the queen of grocery shopping back then. She wrote a book called "I Feed My Family for $16 a Week"
She used very bare-bones basic menus with small portions and said that most people would not want to cut the budget like her family would.
This recipe is very low cost and is also just plain delicious. Maybe it is the Southerner in me, but sometimes, I just want something "fried"
This is a great recipe to round out a plain menu or maybe you just want something "fried" too.
Jo Ann York's Corn Fritters
2/3 C Flour
1 1/2 t sugar
1 t baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 c corn - canned is good if drained, if you use frozen, make sure it is thawed
1/3 C milk
Mix together the dry ingredients.
Stir together the egg and milk.
Mix the egg mixture with the dry ingredients just till moistened. Stir in corn.
Drop batter by spoonfuls into 1/2 cup hot oil in medium sized skillet. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Birthday cake for the boss

Today is Jeff's boss's birthday. We decided to just bake a cake for him instead of the expensive and not so tasty bakery idea. Our town does not have a good bakery, just the big grocery stores and a few doughnut shops.
I used 2 cake mixes, one white and one dark chocolate, bought on sale with coupons. I baked them in checkerboard pans and it made a very tall 3 layer cake. I wish I could of cut a slice for this picture but I think the guys would of noticed.
The frosting was made from scratch with Aldis powdered sugar, cocoa, vanilla, butter and a little milk.
The pecans on top were free, Jeff picked them up and shelled them.
So, for less than $3.75 and 1/2 hour of actual time, Jeff's boss is getting a very nice cake today.
Happy Birthday, John!
even though I am certain he does not read my blog!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Company Christmas party

Last night we attended the Christmas party that my employer hosts. It was beautiful sit-down dinner for 379 people - employees and their spouses. I enjoyed last year's party so much and this one was a real let down, I've been in a bad mood ever since.
I am ready to get back in to a better Christmas mood now!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Christmas dishes - less is more

I have long wanted a set of pretty Christmas dishes. Two years ago I found this little set of china plates at a thrift store for $1. They are so sweet and old fashioned. I get them out at the first of December and they sit on the counter top all season, and get used every time we have a little dessert or breakfast toast or a sandwich at lunch.
I like this little set so much, I no longer think I need a complete set of seasonal dishes - a complete set would take up so much room and cost a lot more than $1.
In this case, less is more, really!

the simplest sugar scrub

I love the sugar scrub that Bath and Bodyworks sells for $18 a tub. Meridith had a recent post with lots of comments about making scrub on You can read all the suggestions there and read about some very good ways to package it for gift giving.
I was not convinced than homemade would be as good as the expensive kind but I thought I would just mix up a small batch for my own use with ingredients on hand.
I used 1 cup of regular sugar, about 1/3 cups of coconut oil and about 1 tablespoon of body spray for the scent. The container is just a re-used deli container.
I have used it twice already and am just amazed at how soft and moist my skin feels. And I have really dry skin.
With fancier containers and a nice scent, this would make a great gift for most any adult.