Monday, March 7, 2016

Cheez-It Chicken Recipe

Everyone loves Cheez-It's! Many people have it on their weekly shopping list, and who can blame them?! But have you ever though about breading some chicken with it? All my years of eating Cheez-It's... and I never even gave it a thought. But then Mr. C had a dream that I made him some chicken breaded in Cheez-It's. And I thought "Holy COW that sounds delicious!!" So, of course, I immediately consult my Pinterest App to look for recipes. (Pinterest is like my Google, I always look there first!)

The first recipe I find is a simple one: dunk chicken in flour, then egg, then crushed Cheez-It's, and bake. Well apparently I didn't crush up the crackers well enough and there were big chunks on the chicken pieces. While it tasted okay, the chicken wasn't fully coated and there were gaps where chicken was really showing through. In my opinion, a good breading needs to cover ALL the chicken, no holes please!

As usual, I decided to try and do my own thing. Let me tell you, Mr. C loved my new Cheez-It Chicken recipe and was SO PUMPED to eat his leftovers the next day for lunch! Instead of just the crackers, I used a mixture of breadcrumbs, Ritz Crackers, and Cheez-It's. And instead of baking it in the oven, I decided it would taste better fried in some vegetable oil..makes it nice and crispy. Plus, who doesn't love them some good ole' fried chicken??

So listen, the first time I made this, I used whole chicken breast marinaded in a soy sauce / honey / ginger mixture. It made the chicken a little salty, but gave it an interesting flavor that Mr. C loved. While I won't include this part in the official recipe, it's certainly a way to change up the flavors. So experiment with different marinades and see what you like! Italian dressing, teriyaki sauce, cajun rubs, all of the above!

Without further ado, here is my Cheez-It Chicken recipe.

Serves 5-6
Time: 10-15 prep + 15-20 cook time

5 boneless skinless chicken breasts, flattened to about 1/2 inch thick, then cut in half.
1/2 to 3/4 of a sleeve of Ritz Garden Vegetable crackers (or other flavor of your choice)
3/4 cup garlic & herb breadcrumbs
2 cups Four Cheese Cheez-It crackers (or other flavor of your choice)
4 large brown eggs
Vegetable Oil, enough to have 1/2 inch in a large skillet
Pinch of Salt
Pinch of Pepper

1. Combine Ritz crackers and Cheez-It crackers in a food processor and blend until fine, no big chunks. Alternatively, seal crackers in a ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin.

2. Combine cracker mix and breadcrumbs in a bowl or pie plate.

3. In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Sprinkle in salt & pepper and mix well.

4. In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium to high heat until shimmery, about 5 minutes.

5. Heat oven to WARM, and line a cookie sheet with a few layers of paper towel.

1. Taking your flattened chicken piece, dunk in egg to coat, then in the cracker mixture to coat completely. Place carefully in heated oil.

2. Cook chicken on both sides until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes per side, using tongs to handle.

3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 until all chicken is coated and cooked. Discard extra egg and cracker mixture.

4. As your chicken is finished cooking, place on top of paper towel and in the oven to keep warm until ready to eat.

Serve, and enjoy!!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Homemade Tomato Sauce

Everybody loves homemade tomato sauce, right? Being an Italian woman of 25, you'd think I would have made a tomato sauce from scratch before. Surprisingly, no.... until today!! I researched recipes in cookbooks and on Pinterest, and pestered my mom and BFF for opinions. I finally decided to take pieces from a few different sources and make my own.

I REALLY liked the simplicity of this recipe from the Wellness Mama Blog. I especially loved that she used carrots!! However, I was looking for a sauce to simmer all day long with LOTS of veggies and hamburg. So I modified it to my liking. Here is my recipe:

5-6 lbs fresh tomatoes, cored and peeled (With a paring knife, slice just through the skin on both sides of the tomato, immerse in boiling water for 30 secs to 1 minute, then immediately put into a bowl of ice water. The skin should separate from the flesh.)
1 yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
1 medium to large leek, trimmed and sliced into circles and then cut in half
5-8 large baby button mushrooms, sliced thin
1 rounded Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1.5 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 lb hamburg (I used 85% lean organic grass fed)
3/4 to 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1. In a large pot, combine everything EXCEPT the hamburg and the cheese. I used a potato masher to smoosh the tomatoes down and get the juices flowing, but it isn't necessary.
2. Simmer covered on low heat for 4 to 5 hours, stirring once or twice an hour.
3. Uncover sauce mixture, and continue simmering on low heat. (At this point, if you don't want a chunky sauce, use an immersion blender or a food processor until smooth.)
4. At the same time, cook your hamburg until browned.
5. Mix cooked hamburg and cheese into the sauce mixture, and simmer uncovered until sauce thickens to your liking, 15-20 minutes.

Makes about 3 quarts, maybe a little more, but definitely under a gallon. Mr. C and I used 1 quart with dinner (Hobo Stew!! YUM!), and I stored the remaining sauce in quart-sized freezer bags for using another time. Lay flat for easy storage!

Not pictured: Celery

Peeled & cored tomatoes

After the juices started can really see all the vegetables in this one!
Taken just after the first hour.

This is after I used the immersion blender, and added the hamburg & cheese.
Still looks really chunky!

Hobo Stew made with homemade tomato sauce

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Yarn Explosion and Reorganization

I once thought there was no such thing as "too much yarn." Holy crap, was I wrong!! LOL 
Before Mr. C and I moved into our current apartment, I had a very small area in which to "organize" my yarn collection. And by "organize," I really mean four trash bags stuffed full of mix-matching yarn in no order whatsoever. Yeah, that was fun...

So when we moved into our new place, I told him we needed to get something to make sense of all this yarn. Thank you Wal-Mart for Sterilite drawers! Flash forward 1 month, I had it all organized and things were working out wonderfully.  But then a problem started...and I'm sure any yarn-o-holic can relate. Mr. C and I go to Joann's and Michael's craft stores quite often, and for no apparent reason. "Ooh that yarn would be perfect for [insert project here]!" and " Oh, I LOVE this color!!" Sometimes you buy 1 skein, sometimes you buy more. Those drawers started getting a little cramped. Two sets of drawers (and a couple trash bags still!!) simply wasn't enough. 

So hubby bought me two more sets of drawers, so at this point I have 4. This worked pretty well for a while...but I seriously have a problem with buying yarn, lol. To top that off, I was getting FREE yarn from a family member. Yes, FREE! I was so excited, and therefore took all of it. ALL. OF.  IT. Not the best idea, looking back now...I still haven't used most of it, to be honest. (What the hell do you use velvety yarn for anyway??)

So obviously, there was still a problem. Here is a picture of my situation.

Listen, the yarn on the floor I can explain....It WAS in that black bag. But my cat decided that a big bag of yarn would be a super comfortable lounging spot. So he laid there and sprawled out and messed up the bag. I know, I know... But he was cute! If you look close, you can see two other overflowing bags of yarn in addition to the mess on the some yarn things on top of the drawers. Obviously, it's a hot mess.

Here is the culprit. His name is Oyster (or Monsieur Clam) and we believe he is a Norwegian Forest Cat. They are larger than Maine Coon Cats...this beast weighs about 25-30 pounds.

So this past weekend, I told Mr. C that I needed 2 more sets of drawers, totaling 6!! It's time to take control, my friends. Without further ado, here is the most current collection. They're even labeled!

We have:
2 Blue
2 Green
2 Pink
1 Purple
1 Orange
1 Yellow/Tan
1 Brown
2 Red
2 White
1 White Mixture
1 Black
1 Grey
1 Mixed Colors

So far, its been amazing. But who knows how long I will be able to keep this up, haha.

I know all you crafters out there have a yarn collection, and I want to see them!! Whether its messy or its organized, in bags or in drawers. I would love to see the different ways of organization!!

Monday, February 15, 2016

February Updates

Hey folks!

So I know it's been a while...had a lot going on with Christmas and whatnot. As a side note, I am now a stay at home dog mom, and it's been amazing! This pretty lady has been my sidekick during the day, voicing her opinions on colors and designs. But mostly...she sleeps, ha!

On my Etsy website, I sold over 25 sock snowmen just for the 2015/2016 season! I couldn't believe it!! Then again...who can resist these adorable faces??

My best customer, a nice woman from Maryland, ordered 5 snowmen and said I could do any colors that I wanted. I LOVE when people do that, because it lets me be creative and do my own thing. 

I made a few Christmas presents this year, as well as Yankee Swap gifts. My cousin was SUPER psyched to get the reindeer wine bottle holder. As I recall, she said she saw them posted on my Facebook page and secretly wanted them. When she opened her present, she shrieked....and it was the best reaction yet! This is the reason I do what I do. People's reactions make it worth everything.

 More recently, I made some Valentine's Day Owls for a friend, and an Easter Bunny Toilet Roll Cover. Both custom orders!

Bunny Ears are 100% bendable!

Currently, I am working on a pattern for an Owl Toilet Roll Cover. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a weird obsession for owls. Literally...they're all around my house. My poor husband, LOL! Can I just say how hard it is to write a pattern?! Thank God I have my mom to test them out for me. Here is a peek at one of the owl tp covers, available in my Etsy shop. Pattern will also be available there shortly.

Okay kids, that't it for one day. Tah Tah for now!

Friday, September 4, 2015

PeePee TeePee's & Diaper Clutches!

Hey lovelies!!

It's starting to look a little bit like Fall out there, no? Sounds like it's almost time to start making pumpkins and snowmen! I already showed you how to make the snowmen, so please, SHOW ME! I would love love LOVE to see your creations!

On another note, I attended a baby shower last weekend for V's niece. And of course, I made everything! 2 burp cloths, a bib, 3 peepee teepees, and a diaper clutch! Not sure if everyone knows what a peepee teepee is... When you have a baby boy, word has it that when you change him, he pees everywhere, including all over you! So someone was a complete genius and made these little cone things that you place over his junk while you change him. The peepee teepee absorbs his pee and prevents danger from anyone in the "splash zone." Also known as WeeWee Wigwams, or Tinkle Tops!

Sure, you could buy these in the store. But they SO boring. No cute colors or designs. So I found a pattern online and started mass producing those suckers! I altered it a little bit, to my liking. But they are so easy to make, and they even come with a cute little poem when I give them out:

Changing a baby girl is not all glitz and glory.
Changing a baby boy is another horror story.
You hold his legs with one hand,
and a diaper with the other,
The whole time praying,
"Please don't pee on your mother!"

PeePee TeePee's are made with 1 layer of designed fabric, and 1 layer of terrycloth. For extra absorbency, you can include a layer or two of flannel in between the terrycloth and the cool design. I also like to sew in a ribbon loop at the top so that when you go to remove the pee-ridden ingenious invention, you don't have to touch the pee. Just throw it right in the washer!

I also made a diaper clutch for momma to hold a few diapers and a travel wipe container while she's out and about. No need to carry an entire diaper bag around with you! Plus daddy can feel a little better about carrying such things. The one pictured below is 98% finished, I didn't add the button before snapping a picture. (Sorry, got too excited!)

Do any of you make diaper clutches? I would love to see different styles, as I'm not really sure about the one above. Don't get me wrong, its adorable! I just think I would like to get a wider range on my options. 

Until next time...

Monday, August 10, 2015

DIY Sock Snowman/Snowlady Tutorial

Yes, yes I know it's August. But I have to start making these now to be ready for the winter season, right? Right. I have this friend who HATES the summer. She hates the sun, she hates the heat... she just hates it. So I'm bringing a little bit of winter in to remind us all that there's only 136 days until Christmas. Yeah...I said it. Sorry, not sorry.

I had a woman purchase these 2 snow-people from my Etsy last week - a boy and a girl. A snowman with a mustache, isn't that the funniest thing you've seen all day?? After she got them, she thought that it was so cute that she bought another one! So, while I make the new one, its a perfect time for me to teach YOU how to make one yourself. Doesn't that sound exciting? Just don't put me out of business, k?

Supplies needed:
1 tube sock - Men's (preferably white, unless you want a funky colored one)
Polyfill or other cottony stuffing
Hot glue gun
Pins with colored pin-heads * See picture
Rubber bands - 3 per snowman
1 Jingle Bell
Some white thread or white embroidering thread
Tapestry or Yarn Needle
Knifty Knitter Spool Loom - This is the one I use ** see other scarf options below
2 different  yarns - complimentary colors, I like to use the frilly Lion Brand Fun Fur for these along with a plain color. Or you could do 2 different shades of the same color, as I do in this tutorial.

*These are the pins I use for the eyes. You could use different colors depending on what color scarf you make! (The red ones kind of creep me out though..)


Starting with your tube sock, lay it flat and measure about 11 inches from the opening. Cut the sock at this spot. You will now have 2 pieces of sock! Put aside the part on the right, the toe part. We will revisit this guy later.

Now turn the other part inside out. Scrunch up the cut end evenly and put a rubber band around it tightly, pretty close to the end.

Turn it back right-side out. Now we are going to throw some rice in there. I don't usually measure how much I put in there, but for your sake, I will. I put about 1 cup of dry rice into the sock. FYI - its really hard to pour rice out of a measuring cup into the sock with only 2 hands.... This is probably why I don't measure?? Generally, I cut a diagonal hole in the rice bag and just pour until it looks right.

Now you want to take your cotton stuffing and stuff, stuff, stuff! The first piece or two that you put down there, you will want to smoosh it into the rice, so that the rice kind of travels outward and upwards. Then stuff on top of that until you get the shape you like. Smoosh it around, move that stuffing and rice around until it feels right. When you get the size you like, put a rubber band around the top, right where the stuffing ends.You will have leftover sock at the top. Totally okay.

Dunkin' Donuts to keep my crafting skills alive.

Looks like a tall, fat, white turd, huh? haha.. My snowman measures 6.5 inches from bottom to rubber band. So now we want to get rid of the excess sock at the top. Cut it off, leaving about 1/4 inch above the rubber band. Like this:

Okay so we need to give him a head, so figure out where you want it to start. I like to start it just above where the ribbed section starts. Put a rubber band around there, but not too tight, just enough to give him a shape. He might look a little lumpy and weird, but its okay.

Now is the time to turn him to find the best angle for his front. I like to put the lumpy parts in the back because its easier than trying to smoosh and shape them into something smooth. For the most part, the head is always the right shape, but if not, you can work that pretty easily.

Let's put his hat on now! Take the toe part that you cut off earlier and fold the cut part up about 1/2 inch, and then fold it AGAIN about 1 inch. Then, carefully, put it on top of your snowman's head, covering up his silly ponytail on top. If you don't cut off the excess top, you will have a huge lump here when the hat is on top. I like to pull the back and the sides of the hat down to almost the rubber band, so it looks like a real hat. The front should be up to allocate for his face. I also like to shape the hat so that the top is pulled down next to his face. This helps hide the bump from the top of his head.

Fold it up 1/2 inch...
Then fold it up about 1 inch.

Put his hat on!

Say you wanted a longer hat, you would go back to the beginning where you cut this piece initially, and just make it longer. Sure, it makes the snowman a little shorter, but its still adorable!

Okay, okay, time to make our scarf. Cast onto the small end of your Spool Loom (side with 5 prongs) using both strands of yarn, and continue working the yarn until it measures about 12 inches long. Cut off a long tail, and use a yarn or tapestry needle to cast off. Pull tight, and pull the tail through the middle of the scarf to hide it. Do the same for the other end.

** Other scarf options - If you don't have a Spool Loom (really, they are only $5 at Wal-Mart), you could cut a piece of fabric instead and just tie it loosely around the neck. Or you could crochet one, or knit one. Whatever your preferred crafting style is!

Cut a piece of yarn about 10 inches long and thread it through your needle. (For this part, I use the yarn that is least frilly/furry, and the most easily-threadable through a needle. If you see the light blue yarn I used, its super fuzzy and hard to get through a needle eye. Going for the least-frustrating!)

Wrap your scarf around your snowman's neck and arrange the way you want it to look. Pull it a little tight around the neck, so its longer (just don't choke him!). While holding it place, stick the needle up through the bottom, going through both layers of scarf, over a 1/4 - 1/2 inch across the top, and then back down through both layers again. Tie both ends together with a double or triple knot. Cut the excess strings less than 1 inch from the knot. I usually just leave these there, once you fix the scarf, you won't even be able to see it. Because, really, who is going to be checking out the underside of your snow-person's scarf?

Cut 1 piece of yarn from each color that you used for the scarf about 20 inches long. This is the hard part...Using both strings together, tie a bow around just the very tip of the hat. Less then 1 inch from the end. Make the loops long. If you want longer loops, then you would just need to make your yarn longer, 24 inches or more.
This is how it is supposed to look, but the strings are a little short for my liking. I usually have them go down to the bottom of the snowman.

Take your thread and thread it through the hole in the jingle bell, then through the same hole in the same direction that you just did. See the picture below if you can't figure out my weird wording lol.  Then thread one side of the string through your needle, and through the very tip of the hat. Tie this piece to the other end with a double or triple knot, and then cut the strings short.

I know I said use white, but I ran out..

 Now we can add the buttons, eyes, and nose. Plug in that glue gun that you brought along, and glue those suckers on!

And here he is!
I love using mismatched buttons for these. I've used plain
black ones before, but they just look so boring!

Adorable, no? Hope you made it through the entire tutorial...sorry it was long. Show me the little snowmen and women that you create! I would love to see them :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Quick Update

Hey strangers! Things have been CRAZY at home the last few weeks! But I still found time to make a few things. Someone even put an order into Etsy for two snowmen. Made me giggle...since its August and all. I almost put a note in with them saying Happy Christmas! Almost...

So here are a few pictures to show you my creations these last few weeks. I also learned how to make my own fabric tags here! Let me know what you guys think of the logo....and the cuteness!