Monday, March 28, 2016

I Made it Monday, well, I Made a Lot of Things

I Made it Monday

Join me on my ongoing quest to share tips, tricks, projects, and recipes along with just about anything else on I Made it Monday.

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase using the link. For my full disclosure statement please click here.

I Made a Lot of Things

Here's the deal ... I have been trying really hard to be sure to post something every Monday. I have tried really hard to plan my posts and often have them written several days before they are actually posted on Monday. But this time, this time is different. There's nothing. No pre-written post, no tutorial, no extra pics. Last week was Spring Break for my two girls that are still at home and the week before was Spring Break for my oldest daughter that is away at college in Maryland. To say that we've had a busy two weeks would be an understatement. My older daughter visited for a week with two college classmates and the day that she left my middle daughter's best friend arrived for a six day stay. Essentially, I've been running a bed and breakfast for the last two weeks. Don't tell the HOA. It can be our secret. So here's what I made ...

  • I made dozens of dirty towels turn into clean, folded towels, ready to be soiled again.
  • I made several trips to the grocery store.
  • I made a lot of bacon. 
  • I made dirty dishes turn into clean dishes after serving home cooked meals to kids who eat in a dining hall every night.
  • I made meatloaf, not because I wanted to, because they asked for it.
  • I made my youngest daughter squeal with delight when I told her we were meeting friends from Maryland for a day in Orlando.
  • I made our middle daughter cry when she found out that her best friend was coming from Maryland to spend the week with her.
  • I made a lot of beach sand go back outside where it belonged.
  • I made it possible for six kids to smile and laugh and relax for a week before going back for the final stretch of their school year. 
  • And, I even made it out of bed on time this Monday morning. That was the hardest thing of all.

Next week will be different. Things will be normal, whatever that is, and I'll post a fun craft or tutorial, maybe a recipe, and a few pics. This week I'll be satisfied with the memories that I made over the last two weeks because isn't that what we're all aiming for anyway?

My middle daughter and her best friend headed out to a movie. Those girls were on the move the entire time that she was here. It was like they never missed a beat.

Be sure to follow me on Pinterest, as well as Facebook, and find my designs at Applique Time. Check back next week to see my next I Made it Monday post. 


Monday, March 21, 2016

I Made it Monday Cream of Chicken (or anything else) Soup

I Made it Monday

Join me on my ongoing quest to share tips, tricks, projects, and recipes along with just about anything else on I Made it Monday.

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase using the link. For my full disclosure statement please click here.

Cream of Chicken (or anything else) Soup

I'm making Chicken Enchiladas for dinner tonight. I'm pretty sure it's my middle daughter's favorite meal. Whenever I am meal planning and ask her what she wants her first response is always Chicken Enchiladas. One of the ingredients for my chicken enchilada recipe is one 10.5 ounce can of cream of chicken soup. I'm not completely against using the canned stuff, but I prefer not to, so this morning I made a batch of "Cream Of" soup to use when I make the enchiladas this evening. 

My "Cream Of" recipe yields about three cans worth so I typically store it in mason jars and freeze the extra until I'm ready to use it.

Cream Of ... Soup

12 Tbsp butter
  1 cup flour
  3 cups milk
  2 tsp chicken base or bouillon (I use Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base. It is available in Beef and Vegetable flavors as well. It is also far less expensive at the grocery store compared to Amazon.)

In a medium sauce pan (preferably a non-stick pan) melt the butter over medium heat.

Add flour and cook 1 1/2 minutes, while whisking continuously. 

If you've ever made home made play-doh, you'll find the flour and butter are a similar consistency when mixed.

Slowly pour milk into butter/flour mixture, while continuously whisking.

Add 2 tsp chicken base or bouillon. This is really a matter of preference but I find that 2 tsp gives me just what I'm looking for, a touch of flavor over the flour and milk, but not too overpowering.

Cook mixture, stirring constantly, until it thickens. This will take a few minutes but once it starts to thicken it happens very quickly.

Canned cream of soup comes in a 10.5 ounce can and most recipes that call for it typically call for a full can. This recipe yields just enough to fill three mason jars just above the 10 ounce mark each, essentially giving you three cans of cream of whatever soup. You can store it in the fridge for up to 7 days, or freeze it until you're ready to thaw and use.

Do you have another staple item that you regularly make instead of buy? Feel free to share the recipe. I'll be sharing some of my tried and tested recipes for seasoning packets soon too.

Be sure to follow me on Pinterest, as well as Facebook, and find my designs at Applique Time. Check back next week to see my next I Made it Monday post. 


Monday, March 14, 2016

I Made it Monday Five Cheese Ziti

I Made it Monday

Join me on my ongoing quest to share tips, tricks, projects, and recipes along with just about anything else on I Made it Monday.

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase using the link. For my full disclosure statement please click here.

Five Cheese Baked Ziti

My house is very full this week. Our oldest daughter is home from college for spring break and she brought two friends back to Florida with her. Although it has been a mild winter in the greater DC area I don't know many college kids that would pass at the chance of free room and board for spring break in Florida. So, our house is full, our sink is full, our laundry baskets are full, our beds are full, our refrigerator was full, and I am happy.

This week I'm going to share one of my go to recipes for feeding a crowd, Five Cheese Baked Ziti. I found this recipe while looking for a copy cat of the dish served at Olive Garden.

Below I've posted the recipe as it is written. Of course, being who I am, I do things a little different. First of all, I double the recipe. If I'm not expecting to serve it all at once I make smaller dishes to freeze for later. This recipe takes time and a fair amount of ingredients and clean up, so while it is delicious, there are lots of excuses available for me to not want to make it. To alleviate that, I double it, make three dishes of it, serve one the first night and freeze the other two for later. This is a great dish for a busy school night. Just pop it in the oven, serve it, and wash 1 baking dish. Typically I make one 13x9 dish and two 8x8 dishes. The 13x9 for a crowd, the 8x8's for just our family. When preparing it to freeze, be sure to line your dish with aluminium foil so you can remove your dish after it has frozen and not have dishes tied up in the freezer. You could also use disposable aluminium foil pans if you want to make clean up even easier.

A few other tips ... 

  • I don't use Fontina or Romano cheese very often so I vacuum freeze the extra. 
  • I never measure the Fontina, Parmesan or Romano and choose to just estimate.
  • If I don't have fresh parsley I just use the stuff from the spice cabinet.
  • I have been known to use Penne pasta instead of Ziti if that is what I have on hand.
  • I never have fresh garlic. Never. I always use minced garlic from a jar. 
  • When cooking from frozen I just put the aluminium foil "brick" back in the original dish. If I remember, I put it out to thaw that morning and usually bake it for 30 to 40 minutes at dinner time. I have cooked the dish from frozen before (think frozen lasagna from the freezer section at the grocery store) but it takes a lot longer. I start with 50 minutes then start checking. It will definitely need more time but it's a good starting point.
  • When cooking from frozen I like to tent the aluminium foil so the cheese doesn't stick or get too browned. When it's close to finishing time I will open the foil so the top can brown and crisp some.
  • My favorite part is the topping. I save that part for last.

Please note: This is the standard recipe for a 13x9 dish. It is not doubled. To make a 13x9 and two 8x8 dishes for later dates you will need to double the recipe.


4 cups tomato sauce
2 cups Alfredo sauce
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
3 tablespoons fontina cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon garlic pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons Romano cheese, grated

3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 pound dry ziti pasta
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Combining all ingredients for the Ziti Sauce in a large bowl; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the first four ingredients for the Ziti Topping.

Add the garlic, oil, and parsley and mix until thoroughly blended. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 13-by-9-inch baking dish or large casserole with non-stick spray.

Prepare the pasta according to package directions.

Pour 1/2 cup of prepared ziti sauce into the prepared dish, and spread it evenly over the bottom using a spoon.

When pasta has finished cooking, drain 

Click here to the water and pour the hot pasta into the bowl of remaining sauce. Mix thoroughly; pour into the baking dish.

Spread 1 cup of shredded mozzarella over the pasta and sauce mixture.

Top the mozzarella with the prepared Ziti Topping, spreading evenly.

Place pan on center oven rack and bake until top is golden brown and cheese is bubbling, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove and serve immediately.

These are the ingredients for a double batch. Remember, the recipe above is not doubled. If you want to get the full benefit of having some now and having it ready to go for later you'll need to double the ingredients.

I failed to get a picture after removing it from the oven. It's hard to stay focused with a full house.

Be sure to follow me on Pinterest, as well as Facebook, and find my designs at Applique Time. Check back next week to see my next I Made it Monday post. 


Monday, March 7, 2016

I Made it Monday Removable St.Patrick's Throw Pillow Covers

I Made it Monday

Join me on my ongoing quest to share tips, tricks, projects, and recipes along with just about anything else on I Made it Monday.

Removable St. Patrick's Throw Pillow Covers

First of all, I must say, these pillow covers were inspired by a cute kids craft project that I pinned some time ago, The black and white stripes and the green contrast really caught me eye and I thought they would make for cute pillows.

Both the black and white canopy stripe fabric and the green denim fabric that I used came from Sometimes I can get a little worked up about ordering fabric online. Call me crazy, but I really like to touch and feel my fabric. Unfortunately, I just wasn't finding what I wanted locally so I had to order it. I wish I could tell you just how wonderfully lucky I was. Both fabrics turned out to be exactly what I hoped they would.

A few weeks ago I shared how I make removable throw pillow covers. This week I'm riding along the pillow wave and sharing my St.Patrick's throw pillow covers. I told you, I like pillows, and I like decorating for the seasons and holidays. Please try not to be shocked, like my husband was, that I like making pillows for the seasons and holidays. It is deep within me. No amount of shame or over decorating judgement will take it away. 

Now, if this tutorial seems familiar it's because it is. There are only a few extra steps involved to add the shamrock applique. If you weren't scared by the original then don't let this one scare you.

  • Pillow forms. I got mine at IKEA for $3.99 each.
  • 1 ½ yards of 54” home d├ęcor fabric of choice to make 2 twenty inch square pillow covers.
  • Basic sewing supplies, machine, needle, thread, scissors, iron, ruler, you know, the basics.
  • Fabric for your applique of choice. This is really going to depend on what size you are making your applique. If you're following along as close as possible you'll need about 3/8 yd. If your fabric shop will cut fat quarters you could get by with 1 fat quarter instead.
  • Heat n Bond Lite Iron On Sewable Adhesive. This can usually be found near the notions aisle with the other stabilizers. 
Measure pillows. Mine were labeled 20” x 20” but they were really more like 19 ½” x 19 ½”.

Determine your width and length and cut your fabric. I suggest using the same width measurement as your pillow. I know what you’re thinking, “There’s no seam allowance. It won’t fit.” But it will. It will fit snug and your pillow will look full and plump, not half empty and limp. For the length you are going to double the length of the pillow and add 8”. For me this means my fabric will need to be 19 ½” x 47” (19 ½ + 19 ½ + 8).

For large cuts of fabric I find that it is often easier to fold the fabric in half then cut it. Just be sure to think about the orientation of the pattern of the fabric.
Now you should have a rectangle of fabric. On the short ends you will need to fold over 3/8”, iron, then fold it over itself, and iron it again. After you have ironed both ends go ahead and sew the seam down on each end.

Fold over 3/8", fold over again, and iron.

Sew your seam. I used the side of the presser foot as a guide.
This is where things take a slight detour from the original tutorial. 

Now it's time to deal with the applique. For my shamrock I simply Googled shamrock clip art line drawing, looked around a little, and selected one. If you click on the image it will take you to a Google Doc I have hosted where you can download from there. 

Click here to download. 
When I printed it a few of the petals/leaves (what are they anyway?) were cut off. I cut out the shamrock as it was then taped a little extra paper to the cut off edges, drew them in, then cut out the rest of the edges to complete the shamrock. I wanted it to be essentially the size of a full piece of paper. Mine ended up being around 11" x 10".

Next comes the Heat n Bond Lite (HNBL) and your shamrock fabric. I think of HNBL as paper fabric glue. I know that's not really what it is but that's how it starts, as paper, and ends, as glue, so it's paper fabric glue to me. In the interest of staying on topic, and not making this tutorial 18 pages long, I'll just say follow the directions on the package for the proper use of HNBL. You'll want to adhere it to the shamrock fabric first, cut out your shamrock, then adhere the shamrock to the pillow fabric.   

Unfortunately I failed to get a picture of the back side with the HNBL attached. Just be sure to follow the directions on the package and you'll be fine.
When your shamrock is ready to be placed lay the pillow fabric rectangle out and find the center vertically and horizontally. I folded the fabric over vertically, ran my finger on the fold to make a crease, unfolded the fabric, then folded it horizontally, ran my finger on the fold to make a crease, and unfolded it again. This gave me an x/y axis and the center. I used painter's tape to help mark the center so it wouldn't get lost in the stripes of my fabric.

I placed my shamrock in the center trying to keep it even on all sides. Since I was making two pillows I wanted them to be as close to the same as possible. You could always rotate the shamrock or even put it off to the side. Have fun playing with the look. They are your pillows after all. Once you have the shamrock where you want it you'll need to do something to keep it in place so you can move it to your ironing board. I used painter's tape again. You could also pin it down. Iron the top of the shamrock in place really well. I know the HNBL directions say a silk setting but I didn't feel like this was working so I bumped the temp on my iron up a little. You want to be really sure to iron well around all of the edges. 

I used painter's tape to help hold it in place while I moved over to the ironing board.

Iron and iron well. Iron some more. Did I mention that you really have to iron it?

This next step is optional. I can understand why you might not want to do it but I highly suggest it. If you're not going to do this then please iron the shamrock down some more. And maybe even some more after that. You don't want it to start to peel up.

I sewed a simple line around the  edge of the shamrock to help it stay adhered. If the thought of all of those curves and turns scares you try this ... don't look at the needle. If you're watching where the needle is going you can't be watching what is coming so you're probably sewing to close or turning to sharp or backing up a lot. Instead of watching the needle, try watching just outside of it. My standard presser foot has three red lines. I keep my needle set to center and watch the far right line. If I keep the right line of the presser foot lined up with the edge of the fabric I can sew a fairly neat little edge stitch. Since I'm not watching the needle and am watching the guide line I'm looking just ahead and can anticipate curves and edges. For the "v" part of the curves I sewed two straight stitches across then continued into the next turn. Hopefully the pictures help explain it a little better.

See how the edge of the fabric is lined up with the red line to the right? I only glance occasionally at the needle and focus most of my attention at keeping the red line in line with the edge of the fabric.

If you look at the "v" of the curves you can see where I stitched two straight stitches then continued back with the curve. 
Once your shamrock is secure it's time to fold the fabric to form the actual pillow case. With your fabric right side up, lay it out on a flat surface. I found the center of the long length and marked mine with painter's tape again. Since I knew that my pillow cover needed to be 19 1/2" long when finished I decided to go with some simple math this time to find out how much to fold each side in. This ensured that my shamrock was going to be in the middle of my finished product. I divided my desired length, 19 1/2", by 2, which equaled 9 3/4".  This meant that I needed to fold up my fabric from each side until I had 9 3/4" on each side of center. If you're not so worried about your shamrock being in the middle or think you want to eye it, go for it! I'm not going to stop you. Once you have your sides adjusted, pin them together, then sew the side seams.

Are you starting to see the magic of painter's tape?

I folded each side so that the length on each side of center was 9 3/4" then checked to make sure that I had the desired 19 1/2".

Yes, that's not the same fabric. I failed to take a picture of the pinned and ready to sew stripes. Thankfully I had this from the last tutorial. This is what it will look like when you're ready to sew the side seams.

Sew your side seams with an approximately 5/8 inch seam.

You're almost there. Next, trim the corners of your seams to allow for easy turning, then turn the pillow cover right side out. I like to use the tip of a small paint brush to push out the corners. Give a quick press with your iron then turn your pillow cover, stuff your pillow form inside, and fluff. That’s it. You’re finished!

Trim the corners for easy turning.

This is what the back looks like.

Don't you love them?

And finally, the obligatory outside, on a dining room chair, in the bright Florida sun picture.
Do you decorate for St.Patrick's? How about cook for it? I haven't got into that yet but if you have a good recipe feel free to share it. I'm always up for something new.

Be sure to follow me on Pinterest, as well as Facebook, and find my designs at Applique Time. Check back next week to see my next I Made it Monday post.