Potato Salad with Country Ranch Dressing

Today’s tester recipe was bbq season inspired. I was looking for something tasty to go along with bbq pork chops and though I’d try to find a potato salad recipe. I’m not a big fan of potato salad usually but I figured that if I look hard enough, Pinterest wouldn’t let me down. The recipe I decided to try was from Better Homes & Gardens.

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For a potato salad it was quite labour intensive, but it was definitely worth it! I did the classic boiling of the potatoes instead of baking in the oven like the recipe says and did the onions & corn in a pan instead. For potato salads, I like the texture you get when boiling the potatoes more than baking (I think this way will take a bit off the cooking time as well).

This recipe is a nice change from the usual ol’ potato salad. The powdered ranch mix added zing, but it didn’t overpower the taste of all the other ingredients. The corn and avocado was also another welcomed addition! So if you have some time to try out this salad and venture from your normal recipe, I would absolutely recommend it!

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Rice Noodle Veggie-Chicken Dinner

This recipe is sure to be a favourite once you try it! While searching for dinner last night, I found a recipe for Rice Noodle Veggie-Tofu Salad on My Recipes.com. Now being that we’re meat lovers in this house and don’t care much for tofu, I decided to substitute in chicken. I also turned it into a warm pasta rather than a pasta salad, since I had to cook the chicken. I’m sure it would be just as good with tofu though.

The recipe itself was fantastic! The marinade was extremely flavourful and the chicken was the star of this dish. All the different vegetables made it filling and every bite had a bit of a different flavour to it. I especially like the use of rice noodles as a change from the every day pasta dish.

The marinade was so tasty that I will most likely try it with grilled chicken, baked chicken or even pork tenderloin.

This is a must try recipe!

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Tried a new recipe tonight. I was looking for something different, but fairly easy because I didn’t want to take a long time to cook. So I found a recipe for sweet and sour chicken in one of my Pinterest boards and thought I’d give it a go.

(Not the most appetizing photo but we ate the meal too quick for me to grab a pic!)

Overall the recipe was really tasty. It was easy and quick in prep, the longest part was waiting for it to bake for an hour. But baking means I can do other things at the same time so that’s alright with me!

The only suggestion I’d make is to 1 and a half to double the amount of ketchup used. I found that the apple cider vinegar was really potent and even burned my eyes when I opened the oven to check on the chicken. I made a second sauce with more ketchup and added it to the half baked chicken and it turned out great.

So if you’re looking for a fairly quick and easy meal, go to Mel’s Kitchen Cafe and try this recipe!

Snickerdoodle Cake

So it seems I missed a month of posting, in my defence it was a crazy month and we were out of town for the majority of it! However, I’ll make it up to you with this post and a few more to come.

My husband had his birthday this month and to celebrate that I tried a cake recipe that I found on Pinterest in the flavour of his favourite cookie. The Snickerdoodle. For those of you who don’t know what this cookie tastes like, it’s sweet and cinnamony (it’s a word).

The original recipe is found at Foodie with Family

This recipe was both a hit and a miss. Overall everyone seemed to like it quite a bit, one comment was that it tasted like a cinnamon bun in cake form, which I would take as a good thing. But from a critical stand point I probably wouldn’t do this recipe again, not without changes at least. 

 

The icing was quite sweet (and I have a HUGE sweet tooth so this says alot). If you don’t like overly sweet things then you may want to tone down the recipe by using a cream cheese based icing with some cinnamon in it. The cake itself was moist when you’re eating it, but it crumbled like crazy when I was attempting to cut it for layers and placing it into cake form. For this reason alone I wouldn’t use the recipe again. However! If you want to give it a shot it does taste good, and my husband thought it tasted exactly like a cake version of the cookie would.

Balsamic Roast Beef

 

A few days ago I found this roast recipe on Pinterest, originally fromaddapinch.com. My thought was, basamic vinigar and beef, hmm…could be good, could be terrible. Lets try it!

And so I did. It turned out really well! I love cooking roasts in the slow cooker because they always turn out so good, fall apart to the touch and usually moist. This recipe was 2 out of 3. I had a hard time getting the roast out of the crock pot because it kept falling apart. It ended up a little dry but that’s my fault. It ended up cooking an extra 2 hours on low than it was supposed to since we had running around to do before we could sit down to eat. But throw on the gravy I made with the leftover juices and it wasn’t even noticeable. 

It’s such a versatile recipe, we ate it on open faced sandwiches one night and the leftovers on rice. If you aren’t used to vinegary taste, then this recipe may surprise you at first bite, but after you get accustomed to it, you’ll see that it complimented the beef well and made for a quick, tasty, easy meal. 

Tile Coasters

This PinQuest was a lesson in following directions. Now that may sounds like a bit of a duh moment, but in the crafting world, there’s often substitutes and slightly different ways of doing things to get the same end product. This project however, was not the case.

After making my coffee table I decided I wanted coasters to go with it. I’d seen a Pin where you use 4×4″ tiles and black and white photos. I liked the look and so that’s the coasters I chose. However, there was 2 different tutorials on the same project, using different supplies. One used resin and one used Mod Podge. I found that resin would be very expensive for the amount of coasters I wanted to do. Great if you were making many for gifts, but there’s be too much left over for my small project. So I went with the Modge Podge way found at The Frugal Girls.com.
The way you’re supposed to do this is Mod Podge your photos to the tile then finish with a few layers of Acrylic High Gloss Coating Spray.
While perusing Michaels for supplies I found a spray on glue and was having a hard time finding the hight gloss acrylic coating spray so I found a normal gloss spray.
The results were as follows (and no, the picture is not blurry, the coaster is):
Not the best outcome. I’m not sure if it was the spray glue or the gloss that made it blurry. It also caused strange snowflake like blemishes, you can see them on the right edge of this coaster. I’m guessing the gloss spray, as it didn’t even smudge the photo, just seemed to react with the photo properties and blurred the image.
So I peeled off all the pictures, went and bought the proper materials and tried again.
They worked this time!
The tutorial is a good one to follow. One suggestion I would make is to make absolute sure that when you put a layer of Mod Podge over the photos, to smooth it out so there are no ridges once it dries. If there is, then these will not go away unless you do another layer of smooth Mod Podge before spraying on the acrylic gloss. I’ve also read somewhere that you can sand Mod Podge with a light sand paper, but I didn’t try that. Didn’t want to risk ruining it again!
Hope someone out there tries these coasters out. They’re really nice and it’s a great way to have photos around the house other than on the walls.

Cupcake Baby Gift

I saw this great tutorial on Pinterest of onesies and baby socks turned into cupcakes for a baby gift. Recently a friend had a baby, so I wanted to give it a try. The tutorial can be found at Club Chica Circle

It really is pretty easy to make these look cute and like actual cupcakes. The only thing I would suggest is to use only newborn sized onsies. I had trouble making the larger ones look nice or even fit into a cupcake wrap. As you can see below, there are 2 larger sized ones. I made them work, but it was very difficult.

Upholstered Wall Hangings

Well folks, this is by far my favourite pin thus far. Not because it looks better than any others I’ve done or because the end result was any better, but because of how easy it was!

If you’re one of those people who love Pinterest and all the great DIY projects but think you don’t have the skills to make it, then this is the pin for you! It took me 45 min from planning to install. That’s it. It really is that easy.

The pin came from a blog called The New England Southerner. Now being that I live in a rental we are trying to not put too many holes in the walls or hang heavy items, so I’ve been looking around trying to find things to decorate with that fit this criteria. You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to decorate a small space without putting things on the walls. So when I came across this pin I thought it was ingenious.

To make these wall hangings all you need to do is pick out a great fabric to match your decor, pick up some foam insulation from any hardware store (I used 1/4 inch thick and it was $6 for the whole sheet which made all 3 of my panels) and have a staple gun on hand. Then you measure the space, decide how big you want each panel to be and measure your materials out. All that’s left now is to fold over the fabric and staple it onto the insulation. I took a picture to show you how I did it.

You’ll notice that I have quite a bit of overhang on the bottom. That’s because I decided not to cut the fabric more in case I wanted to use it someday for something else. The great thing about these panels is that because it’s just insulation and staples, if you ever get bored of the fabric and want to change it up, it’s super easy! Just pull out the staples and assemble new fabric.

In total these cost me $18 plus staples (like a few cents?). A great price for a great addition to any space that has a blank wall and needs a little pizazz!

Oh, and some of you are probably wondering how to hang something like this. Again, really easy. Because it’s simply Styrofoam and fabric all I did was poke a nail through the top and bottom, yes through the fabric and all, nail it into the wall behind it and then pull the fabric over the nail head so it’s not visible. Done! Use a nail with the smallest head possible and once it’s through the fabric you should be able to scrape your nail over the surface and move the threads back into place making the nail look like it was never there.

I honestly hope someone else tries this project. It’s fast, it’s simple and it looks great!

Stuffed Acorn Squash, Oven Fried Chicken Bites & Tootsie Rolls

Well today’s post is a triple threat. That is, triple the pin it, try it and eat it! It’s been a while since I’ve posted so I thought I would try out a few recipes today and give you the run-down.
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On the menu tonight was:

Stuffed Acorn Squash – courtesy of the Lean Green Bean
Oven Fried Chicken Bites (I added the bites portion) – found onTheFoodNetwork.com
And last but not least,
Tootsie Rolls, home made of course, thanks to Food 52
So let’s start off with the:

Stuffed Acorn Squash

This was theirs:

 
This was mine:
 
Now I’m sure you can see that there is an obvious difference. The thing about this recipe was that it can be very diverse. The thing I love about cooking is that you can take the base of a recipe and turn it into whatever you desire. Say you don’t like mushrooms *cough* like me *cough*, you don’t have to put it in! Or you don’t have sweet potatoes in the pantry at the moment…again, like me. This doesn’t mean you can’t make the recipe! It just means you have to alter it. And in a lot of cases, that can work in your favour. Now, I’m not saying take out a main ingredient or anything like that, I mean, fettuccini alfredo wouldn’t really be fettuccini alfredo without the alfredo. You get my point? But substituting broccoli for mushrooms or chicken for sausage isn’t going to make or break the recipe.
Anyways, I’ll get on with it. The recipe calls for the following and I did not have the underlined things:
·         1 acorn squash
·         1 sweet potato
·         1/2 a small onion, diced
·         2 cloves of garlic, minced
·         2 Tbsp mushroom, diced
·         1/4 c zucchini, diced
·         1/2 c apple, diced
·         1/2 c veggie broth
·         3/4 c quinoa, cooked
·         1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
·         1/2 tsp paprika
·         1/2 tsp cumin
·         1/8 tsp cinnamon
Not a big deal, instead I used carrots, broccoli, snow peas and rice. The end result was still quite tasty! You may say that because I didn’t use the exact ingredients that I didn’t really make the recipe. But I think I did. To me cooking should be focused on whatever you have around the house and turning it into something wonderful. This recipe does just that.
One thing I’d like to note though is not to forget step 6…it may not exist in the recipe instructions, but in the step by step walk through she writes to put it in the oven for 15 min or so at 300 degrees. This is obviously quite important to finishing the cooking. Enjoy!

Oven Fried Chicken Bites

Then next recipe I tried was Oven Fried Chicken. I changed this recipe a little bit too, just to use what I had around the house. I didn’t have any bone in chicken breasts, but I had boneless and in the picture it looks like they had made bites so that’s what I decided to do. I also did not have rice-corn crispy cereal, but I had raisin bran! And I didn’t have melba toast either, but that is easily substituted with either pre-ground bread crumbs or I had an intentionally dried out piece of French bread that I threw in the food processor with the cereal to grind up.
 
 I find having a little bit of dried bread around the house is a good trick. If you ever have bread that you know is going stale and are considering throwing out, DON’T! Just leave it out to dry then food process that baby and voila! Bread crumbs that most people go out and buy in the store, add some herbs and you’ve got your own Italian bread crumbs.
This recipe turned out great. If given a choice I probably would have gone for the corn flakes or something of that sort but the end result was still yummy. Served with a side of sweet and spicy thai sauce and you’ve got something very similar to the sweet and spicy thai bites you pay full price for at Boston Pizza.

Homemade Tootsie Rolls

The last and final recipe I tried tonight was home made tootsie rolls. Now here is a recipe I probably wouldn’t recommend to anyone, unless you are allergic to corn syrup like one of the commenter’s on their site. The flavour really wasn’t close to a tootsie rolls, not to mention the overwhelming taste of dried milk. Not a pleasant experience.
 
Let me give you a run down. I made the recipe just as it says to but only had 1 cup of dried milk. The recipe said you may not use it all, so I was hoping I wouldn’t need the last 1/4 cup. Unfortunately the candy was still much too sticky without it, so I started adding more powdered sugar. I probably added about 1 1/2 – 2 cups of powdered sugar before it started to become workable. The other downside was that the powdered milk made it very grainy. I had read this in the comments and one reader had said that they were able to get that texture out of it after much kneading. Well I kneaded and kneaded and it was still grainy. The person who suggested this may or may not have been the same person who was allergic to corn syrup, maybe they were just looking on the bright side? Anyways, I’m glad I didn’t have that 1/4 more of powdered milk or else I would have had a lot more flavour and graininess to counter.
I wanted to try and save the candy from the garbage because I hate to waste! Especially with such an expensive ingredient as honey. So I started experimenting. I found that adding about 2 tablespoons of molasses (hence adding yet again more icing sugar) helped with the flavour but unfortunately the grainy texture is a lost cause.
Overall, I’m sorry to say that this recipe did not pass my test. Now on to making the failed project into something more edible. Wish me luck!

Crate Coffee Table

Well, my next project is complete! Below is February’s pinquest.

My husband has been wanting to get a coffee table recently and upon seeing retail price I decided that I didn’t want to pay that. So I thought I would just make my own instead of paying full price. I remembered something I had pinned once and thought that it was exactly what our living room needed. The original tutorial can be found at a blog by the name of Vintage Chic.

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What do you think? I mostly followed the tutorial. I did however decide to use dowling for the frame and not L-brackets (my husband said it would be easier), it’s not! USE THE L-BRACKETS!
Another thing the tutorial missed what the measurements for the pieces used in the frame. This does depend on the size of crates you find though. I got mine from Michaels and needed 2-3 1/2″ X 6 ft boards of pine cut into 2-27″ pieces, 3-20″ pieces and 2-8 1/4″ pieces. The frame ended up being a tad small, but we also had it cut at the store and the pieces weren’t exactly cut to the right lengths, so that may have had something to do with that.
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 All in all, the tutorial was great. I was able to follow it and make my own table without a problem. There are things you can customize as well, like the stain colour (don’t forget to clear coat if you don’t want your table ruined when something spills), I used legs instead of casters for my table, and I didn’t put images on the side of my crates though it does add a nice effect. In the tutorial she also filled the hole in the middle with a few boards and made it into a holder for stones, etc. I plan to do this in the future, but at the moment I put a bowl in it and that will do for now.
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So if you like this idea and have seen it on Pinterest before, go ahead and give it a try. It’s actually quite easy and looks great!