Friday, May 29, 2015


Well, it's the last Friday of the month so time to make dessert for the Alzheimer's Idaho support group dinner. This is a yummy Ina Garten recipe for those who love chocolate and peanut-butter. It is a rich, chocolate cupcake topped with a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup!
To add a little more deep chocolate flavor I added some chocolate nibs - not in the recipe.
Beanilla makes the most wonderful natural extracts, free shipping and great selection.  Will post link below.

Over the years I have tried several gadgets that promise easy portions for the cupcake cups and have been very disappointed with all of them until I tried this one and it WORKS! The only downside I encountered is that I had to fill the pastry bag a couple of times so I ended up washing my hands  a few more time but so worth the effort - no spills, etc.
Ready to frost - they smell so good...
Every other month is also my turn to provide a door prize and I found this cute metal and glass tray that I thought would be good for a door prize and also to carry the cupcakes.
 The frosting smells so good too......

Cupcake Recipe

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 teaspoons coffee extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup good cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee extract. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it's completely blended.
Divide the batter among the cupcake pans (1 rounded standard ice cream scoop per cup is the right amount). Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
2 sticks softened salted butter4 cups powdered sugar
¼ c. peanut butter
½ c. whole milk
1 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. Beanilla Coffee Extract

Add sugar, butter, cocoa powder, peanut butter, coffee extract and almond extract to mixer bowl with whisk attachment. Beat on low speed slowly adding milk to mixer. Increase speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy. Pipe on to cool cupcake, garnish with peanut butter cup.


Recipe, Ina Garten
Glass & metal tray, Hobby Lobby
Wilton Perfect Fill,Wilton 2109-6370 10-Piece Perfect Fill Batter
Benilla Extracts, Link
Cupcake cups, specialty stores
Paper straws,Brown Striped Paper Straws - 24 pcs

Thank you for stopping by.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


I am always looking for ways to make high protein meals that are lower in fat and sugar but still tasty.  This is my version of a Mexican chicken salad to be used the same way you would use chicken salad - in salads, sandwiches, etc.
This is a good recipe for leftover chicken but if you don't have leftovers bake the chicken.  I just put season salt and pepper on three small skinless, boneless breasts and wrapped in foil, baked in a 325° oven for approximately 45 minutes - depends on the size, thickness of the breasts, I checked them at 30 mins and set the timer again for 45 - you want them done but not overcooked and dry.  Set them aside to cool.
After the chicken has cooled, cube it and put into a bowl large enough to mix your salad.  I really have not measured recipe for this but I take some ranch dressing that I have made with buttermilk (cuts way down on the fat) and add some catchup and some chili powder (instead of the catchup you could use some of the yummy Thai sweet chili sauce) and set aside for the flavors to meld. The only ingredient that may be a little hard to find are the sliced, sweet jalapenos that really make this salad pop (they are also just the best to add to tuna salad).  Walmart carries them and many other stores do too - Trappey's and Mrs. Renfros are the brands I have tried.

Mexican Chicken Salad

To the cubed chicken and some of the jalapenos (I chop them), some of the dressing, corn, beans, green onion and some salsa (I like the smokey taste of Stonewall's black bean salsa but use what you like).  It needs to bind a little but you don't want too much of the dressing.

Next put the salad together, line the plate with some of the iceberg lettuce then top with a lot of the shredded lettuce, put a nice amount of the chicken salad in the middle and then add sliced green onions, diced tomatoes and avocado, some of the beans and the corn and finally some of the tortilla strips (usually found in the produce area) then drizzle some more of the dressing on the salad. 

A delicious, healthy chicken salad, with a twist.
Serve with a little more dressing - nothing else needed.  If you were not concerned about adding some extra calories serve with some nice warm tortillas and add some grated cheese to the salad.  Salad is hubby approved - we are happy to have it without the cheese and the tortillas - makes a nice lunch or summer dinner.


Sweet Jalapenos, Walmart and specialty food stores
Red Place Mats, Set of 4 PCS Quilted,13X19" QLT? PLACEMAT, CONSTANTINE
Red crystal water goblets, Horchow

Red flatware, Hampton Forge Argent Sophia 20-Piece Flatware Set, Red, AFU70920QF
Red hand made Italian dinner plates, HomeGoods

White lantern, Hobby Lobby

Thank you for stopping by.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


Memorial Day - always a special day to remember those who have gone before us, those who have sacrificed themselves for our freedom that is not free.  I realized that it would not take much to add a couple of things to the canister on the bench out front to make it very patriotic.
By just adding a couple of flags, a pick that contained some rusty stars, red berries and white flowers a couple of rusty stars, the canister is now ready to celebrate Memorial Day.  I like it so much I think I will have to trot it out again for the 4th of July.
A closer look at the pick with stars and the rusty stars....
Just a couple of items and the canister is completely changed for the occasion.
Using the pillow covers from last year (made from kitchen towels from Williams-Sonoma) and the updated canister, a patriotic bench!
Finishing touch - hubby put out old glory!


Small flags, Hobby Lobby
Rusty stars, Ebay seller
Pick with rusty stars, Ebay seller
Linen kitchen towels for pillow covers, Williams-Sonoma

Thank you for stopping by.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


After listening to the most recent long-term weather forecast I think we are safe in putting out the flowers in pots and giving the porch and the bench a good cleaning. I decided an easy-peasy arrangement to go with the oilcloth pillows might look nice.
This is my kind of easy craft project.  I am sure much to my hubby's chagrin I keep a "treasure box" (among many other things) in the garage.  You know what I'm talking about....those odds and ends that you are not quite sure what you will do with them but don't want to get rid of them - like containers that floral arrangements came in, etc. I found this large metal canister and the color and size were perfect.  No gluing for this as I cut a piece of the desert foam to fit snugly inside and with the piece I cut off, pushed it down behind the long piece and it is inside very stable and ready to put in my flowers.
I just did a simple arrangement and then attached a raffia bow to a bamboo skewer and sunk that into the desert foam.
I found some Gerbera daisies in my flower stash and added them around the edges.

 Ready for the bench.....
This is a wreath I made last year and thought this would coordinate well with the bench - a link below to the posting and full instructions on making this wreath.

First things first - time to wipe down the bench with some teak oil - good to do a couple of times a year.
I added the pillows and the arrangement in between two big pots of geraniums.
Looks like a cozy spot to sit a spell....
As cute as the pillows are from the front - love the back peek of the cherries.


Rooster wreath post with instructions, Link
Silk flowers and desert foam, Michael's and Hobby Lobby

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Thursday, May 14, 2015


I am particularly fond of oil cloth. Something about it resonates with me, I find it nostalgic.  It is also easy and fun to work with.  Back in the day it was a lot more prevalent then it is today. It was often used to line open shelving and before the advent of contact paper used as shelf paper.  If a redwood table was worn out it might be covered with oil cloth as well as the benches. It was a time of reuse and keep not replace - my parents and my friends parents had all lived through the great depression and being wasteful was highly frowned upon.
I found an online vendor that has a very wide selection of oilcloth at reasonable prices and reasonable shipping - they have lots of other fabric too.  I chose these two to make pillow covers for the 16" square pillows I use on the bench on our porch.
I liked the idea of one fabric on the front and the other on the back and to tie it all together I cut out some of the cherries with the intent of gluing them on the front of the pillow on the polka dot fabric.
These pillow envelope covers are so simple - my pillows are 16" so I cut out (for each pillow) one polka dot piece 17x17 and then 1 of the cherry fabric 17x22 and cut that piece in half.  The additional fabric makes the overlap for the pillow.  On the cherry fabric turn over the fabric and stitch a 1/4" seam. Because the oilcloth is very slick you will want to hold the fabric behind the machine to help feed it so that you get an even stitch.
Right sides together, pin them and sew all around...

Then clip the four corners....
Turn the pillow right-side out and using a bone folder, carefully push the corners to make them smooth.

Insert your pillows and here they are front and back.
Using a little double sided tape attach your cherry "appliques" to make sure you like the placement before gluing them onto the pillow.
Once you are pleased with the placement, using a quick dry glue, attach the cherries to the pillow - this is my favorite glue.

Here they are - a very quick project, ready for the bench.
I have a couple of books in my craft book library with some very interesting oilcloth projects - will add a link below.


Oilcloth Fabric, Online Fabric Store, Link 
Sewing with Oilcloth, Kelly McCants,Sewing with Oilcloth
Oilcloth Inspirations, Sophie Bester,Oil Cloth Inspirations

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