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Happy Birthday Virgos

L and B 9 11 18 Boudouire_097

 

Happy Birthday to all those Virgos out there!  

 

I’m sorry for the radio silence since the internet went out.  All sorts of stuff went on, between my laptop starting to go out, internet going back out; all those great moments in life that make you say meh and hide away until the next day.  Next thing you know it’s been quite a while since you’ve blogged.  *grin* I have managed to make several pieces of product that I’m actually sending over to a favorite show in Ireland, plus Christmas items, and had a LOT of failures while making product recipes.  *laugh*

 

While I’m at it, this is the least enthusiastic I’ve ever felt about my birthday, honestly.  My mind is pulled too many directions, plus it was recently the twentieth anniversary of miscarrying Sierra, which has a lot more emotional impact than just another middling birthday.  It’s a step closer to the fortieth, which is a little less enthusiastic than even this one.  *laugh* It’ll make figuring up my age easier for the doctor’s office, at least.  If you ever wonder about why I’m so critical with myself or analyse everything, just read the definition of a Virgo.  I’m the epitome of the nerdy one.  *grin*

 

One super huge event that has taken up most of my thoughts while off is that the BIS meeting happened for our hopeful daughter.  We’ll know in a month or so how the results came out, so it’s a dual-edged sword; there’s finally a time frame for expectations, but now there’s a chance that in four or so weeks I may learn that we weren’t selected for this daughter that I felt for as soon as I read her profile.  It’s been just the two of us rattling around in this home for so long that it’s hard to imagine another person, especially when it’s not one that has grown up into our family, but is a mini-adult with us all jumping into massive changes.  I can imagine her at Christmas, making product with me, and going through schoolwork together.  I’m trying to not be excited, since our SW made it sound like it went very favorably, but we’ve been burned so much by our experiences.  Parts of me can’t help but think if we have at least visitation by Christmas I’m turning our home into a mini-Branson.  *laugh* Make a freaking Winter Wonderland for the first Christmas with our daughter, plus it’ll be such a memorable time with the family anyway.  Needless to say, I’ve had a lot of self-editing of my emotions and thoughts, but the hamsters are still pretty lost in the ideas and hope, honestly.

 

Anyway, I’m back with my new laptop, improved internet connection, and five injuries I’m recovering from.  *laugh* Bengay is considered pampering too, right?  😉

Fuji Apple Salad Recipe by Leah

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Panera Bread® sells a fabulous Fuji Apple Salad with seasoned chicken breast, crispy apple chips, and an AMAZING apple vinaigrette.  It is sooo good!  I love the combination of crunch with the saltiness of the chicken and nuts, all topped off with the sweet tangy dressing.  When I saw the grocery store selling Panera’s® dressing I may have squealed in delight. I grabbed two bottles just in case it was a one-time thing.  When I got home my thriftiness crept in.  “I can make that.  I love that salad.  What have I been waiting for?”  I tried a few times and have ended up with an apple vinaigrette I love.

My salad is slightly different than Panera’s®.  They use chicken, but I usually leave it out and serve this as a side.  They use apple chips and I use thinly sliced apples.  They use toasted pecans and I use candied.  Either way, this salad is a winner.

 

 

 

 

Fuji Apple Salad

yield: 6 servings

 

INGREDIENTS

dressing

2 Tbsp apple juice concentrate

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup Canola oil

salad

12 cups mixed greens

2 chilled fuji apples, cored and thinly sliced

1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola

1/2 medium red onion, quartered and sliced

1 cup grape tomatoes

1/2 cup candied pecans

PREPARATION

  1. Blend all dressing ingredients together and set aside.  You’ll have more dressing than you need.
  2. In a large bowl, gently toss greens with dressing.
  3. Divide among plates and top with remaining ingredients.

Marshmallow Oreo Chip Cookies, Adapted Recipe by Leah

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A few years ago I came across this Marshmallow Oreo Chip Cookie recipe© from The Gracious Wife™.  I knew they would be delicious just reading through the recipe, but it didn’t prepare me for just how good they would be.  A couple weeks later I made them again for a dessert table at a birthday party.  You wouldn’t believe how many people approached me about them!  Some wanted the recipe, some wanted to know if I would be willing to make and sell them, and there were even a few who sheepishly asked if they could take some home.

 

When I was whipping up the batch for this blog post my sister happened to call.  The conversation went like this…

“What are you doing?”

“Oh, I just took some cookies out of the oven.”

“Which ones?”

“Oreo and Marshmallow”

“Are those the ones with the Cookies n’ Cream bar?”

“Yes.”

“I’ll be right over.”

And she was!

I’ve made a few small alterations over time so if you want the original recipe be sure to check out The Gracious Wife blog©.

 

Oreo and Marshmallow Cookies

 

 

Marshmallow Oreo Chip Cookies, Adapted

 

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

4.2 oz pkg Oreo cookies ‘n creme instant pudding

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 cups flour

1 cup mini marshmallows

6 oz chopped pieces of Hershey’s Cookies ‘n Cream bar

8 Oreos, coarsely crushed

 

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla and mix again.
  4. Mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to butter mixture, along with cocoa powder and pudding mix. Stir until everything is fully combined.
  5. Fold in marshmallows, chopped candy bar, and crushed Oreos.
  6. Chill dough for about 30 minutes.
  7. Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough and shape into balls. Place on a greased cookie sheet (and I DO mean greased. None of that wimpy cooking spray. You’re going to have to break out the butter and slick it down because marshmallows are sticky!) or silpat 2 inches apart.
  8. Bake for 8-11 minutes.  When they come out of the oven you can use a greased butter knife to gently push the marshmallows that have spread back against the cookie edges.  Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet before moving.

A Little Scots-Irish Heritage Celebration

Today L surprised me with a trip to a Highland Games held nearby between the championships. When I learned I’d be outside I knew my hair would get that horrible drippy-sweaty look, plus I didn’t want the wind blowing my hair in my face, so I used an S A face shield for a bandana. Pre-event it worked perfectly in the wind, and even when I got overheated it did a great job of keeping my hair neat.

We couldn’t stay in the shade the whole time though, and I didn’t think to sunblock my scalp, so I just opened the bandana a bit to cover to the back of my scalp, while the rest still worked as a headband.

I can’t quit raving about (and using) them, and nope, I don’t get squat for what I say about them. They’d probably fix that little mistaken link with that amazing deal if I did reach out. *grin*

Anyway, I just wanted to share that I got to celebrate part of my heritage today that was on my bucket list (caber toss in person!!) and had a great chance to show the face shield in one of the many uses it has.

Bucket list #34 Check!! Thank you Gentlemen!

Since we don’t have internet and they’ve given themselves another whole week to try to figure out what’s wrong with our DSL line, and so much of my life is internet based, I have to limit my LTE time before I cap out any minute. That said, I’m hoping to slip in a post at a hotspot when I’m in the city on Monday, otherwise, you’ll only get the last few recipes blogged by Leah. Unfortunately she needs to dedicate her time to family and I’m hoping to have a new food guest blogger soon. *crossing fingers* So, if it’s a little bit before I post, just know I’m jonesing for some ‘net and probably have a bunch of products or gifts to share once I’m back online. In the meantime, happy pampering! 🙂

SA Face Shields

It’s no secret that I’m halfway through my Christmas shopping, which gives me time to hit sales when they come up beyond the frustrating ones that make the server crash usually. So, when I find an incredible deal, I’ll share them with you.

If you have an outdoorsy person on your list, then S A Fishing has a lot of great options for you, however, there are deals that are massively different than what they show on their bundles page. There are a variety of items available, but I think face shields are more versatile, so that’s where I went.

A bundle of five are currently on sale for $75. However, I found a sub link that takes you to a face shields sale page of five for $15, plus a decal HERE. If you want more you can even select another shield for just $3. If you don’t want to do the add ons, there are also 8 for $24 at this link. These are massive discounts from what the current “sale” prices are and I don’t know how long these sub links will work, so I hope to it if you’re interested.

As you can tell, they’re very versatile. I’m not outdoorsy and I use one of the two of mine almost daily. I use the pirate wrap, but tuck the extra under to make a skull cap and I use as a headband. They’re moisture wicking and help prevent flying outdoor nasties from getting in your mouth or nose when you use the face shield. Mine are actually for when I am crafting or working and are so much more comfortable than a hairnet or shower cap!! Some look pretty wicked when the face shield layout is used. My fav that I have is a hot pink with a half skeletal face, so it just rests on the nose and makes the rest of my face creep as hell, so I kind of love that idea come winter. *laugh*

My hot pink one is like the blue one in this pic.

Here’s another way of using them that I love, although I have short hair still, so it’s a doubled sheet hanging down my neck if left like that, which is why I go ahead and twist at the end of my hair and then tuck the bottom at the base of my skull.

They’re great for when you have to get sweaty or it’s windy and it’s worth getting the good brand (especially at knockoff prices!!). I have a different kind and it makes me hot even if I’m just vacuuming or making product.

There are a TON of options to suit anyone who would wear one, but take my advice – don’t pick mystery. Sure, it could be randomly selected by a computer, but I got two that I would much rather have just chosen black instead and suspect they pick from the less loved bins. *laugh*

I had a nasty fall the other day and am going to have to limit my activities, so batch 2 of the Dreadful Delight Soaps will be a little longer than expected. Instead I’ll post some helpful shopping bits or fun randomness (I’m definitely able to promise randomness!). In the meantime, have a healthy and fun remaining week! 🙂

Not Quite as Planned

While working on creating “Dreadful Delights” soaps, which took a few days since I needed layers to dry in between, things went from starting out well to very unpleasant. *laugh*

So, I got things ready on my cafeteria tray (SO much easier to have molds on that and be able to move the setting soaps without them wrinkling or popping open nearly as often!!). I used the custom scent wheel, which has a total of 10 ratio of blotter sticks that can then be converted to your recipe. So each clothespin held the amount of ratio of scent I planned to use – four of Vanilla Brownie, 3 of Bakery, 2 of Fudge Brownie, and 1 of Honey Nut. Then I was able to wave combos of them together to make sure the whole group mixed and then which worked together to make the icing for the Dreadful icing. *smile* I can’t keep all those sticks in order without a lot more work than putting each scent in a clothespin. *laugh* And I was excited to use some of my micas for the first time. The cakes came out amazing to me, with mixed reactions over what scents were detected, and I let them set longer because they’re some big and heavy soaps.

If it wasn’t a weird hour when I took this picture, the lighting would be better. *laugh* There’s a slight shimmer to the broad as light hits it, but without having light on them, they look like delicious little chocolate cakes!

That’s when it all went wrong.

I made the icing to drizzle and let it cool in the measuring cup until it would thicken instead of just running off and pulling. I even added some creative cubes of “flavor” for the monster, with some decay, gelatinous goo, and dry blood. However, it was close enough in color it just looked like more of itself instead of the black fudge drizzle, so I added some “blood” to the icing. Turns out that red, black, and brown can make a very unfortunate choice of colors. I persisted, thinking maybe thicker rivers of icing down the edges would bring them back to what’s in my mind.

Um, no. It just made it so gross that I don’t feel comfortable showing the end results because it’s slightly nauseating. *laugh*

So, I’ll melt down the whole caboodle, although it’ll have a little different color, pour the cakes again, and then maybe do straight up red icing. Maybe I’ll make a brain soap to chop for the top of the Monster one, so you see the wrinkled brain pouring out of the bundt center, and it can go in just the Zombie group, instead of working for all monsters.

At least I got three other soaps all done while waiting for the icing to cool enough, so not an epic fail this time. *grin* I’ve been on an iZombie ™ marathon for a few days, so I like the idea of a zombies only combo to be available for enthusiasts. Let’s just hope the icing comes out better this time so I can actually show a picture of them. *cracking up*

I hope you have a dreadfully delightful day! 🙂

Beef Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce – Pressure Cooker Recipe by Leah

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Tasty and easy beef gyros are bursting with hearty flavor!  Traditionally, gyro meat is cooked on a vertical spit and shaved off.  Though I’m dying to try making it that way, it’s not really practical in a home kitchen.  It’s also typically made with lamb, but that’s not too practical for my budget. ☺  What is practical is eating tender, mouthwatering beef,  wrapped in a soft pita, dripping in creamy sauce.  What could be better?  That it’s a year-round friendly recipe!  It’s hearty and filling for those cold winter evenings, but perfect for the heat of summer too.  Using your electric pressure cooker means you’re not heating up your house with your oven or stove.  No pressure cooker?  Just grill your roast instead!  Don’t forget to make your Tzatziki sauce ahead of time.

 

Beef Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

 

 

Beef Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce – Pressure Cooker

yield: 4-6 servings

 

INGREDIENTS

Beef

2 lb chuck roast

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp cumin

1 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp dill

1/2 tsp marjoram

1/4 tsp thyme

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup beef broth

Tzatziki sauce

1 cup English Hothouse Cucumber (about half of one cucumber)

1 Tbsp kosher salt

2 Tbsp fresh dill, minced or 1 Tbsp dried dill

1 garlic clove, grated or minced

4 tsp lemon juice

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

For serving

warmed pocketless pitas

tomatoes, sliced

red onion, sliced

feta crumbles

 

PREPARATION

Tzatziki sauce

  1. Peel, seed, and cut into large chunks.  Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp salt.  Let sit 30 minutes.  Drain and dry cucumbers by pressing lightly with a paper towel.
  2. In a food processor or blender add cucumbers, dill, garlic, and lemon juice.  Process then stir into the yogurt.
  3. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.  It keeps for a few days in the refrigerator but you will need to drain off any water and stir each time you use it.

Beef

Mix together the spices then rub onto the roast.  Put oil in the bottom of the Instant Pot.  Set the roast in and add lemon juice and beef broth.  Lock the lid and cook for 15 minutes.  Allow to natural release for an additional 15 minutes.  Quick release and remove roast to a cutting board.  Shred or thinly slice your meat and add remaining liquid until the meat is moisted to your desire.

Serving

Lay beef in the center of the pita.  Spread some Tzatziki sauce over the meat and add tomatoes, onions, and feta as desired.

 

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