Simpatico: March 2011

Simpatico

Just the life and times of a silly girl, her dachshunds and all things Southern!

Easter Printables




A couple things I made for my Easter Decorations...

Ravioli Bake

This is a busy week for me, as you know. So the menu is specially formulated to maximize my time for my project and keep me out of the kitchen. The recipe for last night is about as easy as a girl can get and still offer a good, hardy meal. Enjoy!

*Notice my new Easter plates that are crooked in the shot?!?!? Set of 4 dinner plates, salad plates and soup bowls at Goodwill $5.30 :D*

Ravioli Bake
1 jar (26 oz.) spaghetti sauce
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1/3 cup Italian Salad Dressing
1 1/4 cup Beef Broth
1 pkg. (24 oz) frozen cheese frozen cheese ravioli, cooked and drained
1 pkg. (8 oz.) shredded Mozzarella
2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan Cheese


Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Mix spaghetti sauce, tomatoes, beef broth and salad dressing in the bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish. Add ravioli and stir gently to cover with the sauce mixture; cover with foil and bake.

Bake 30 min.; uncover and sprinkle top with shredded cheese and grated Parmesan. Bake 10 min. or until ravioli is tender and heated through. Let stand 10 min before serving.

Workin' Hard This Week

Next week I have a project due for my company Penned Design, but its also Spring Break. I am trying to finish the project this week so I can enjoy next week with just a few interruptions to fix a few little 'changes' that always happen closer to the show. *I technically direct a few shows a year at a Performing Arts Centre and also put together all of the graphics, videography and audio... its fun, but time consuming prior to the shows*

So while I am working I have music playing... I wanted to share my playlist for this morning with you! :)


Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

I refined this recipe because the little man didn't like the flavor combinations last time. As this is the EMITW (easiest Meal in the world) rated by this mom and time managing guru.... I had no issue trying again. This is a 15 minutes whole meal was on the table menu... believe me, I have NO problem fixing these sorts of meals! (15 ish minutes for the cheddar biscuits, 7 minutes for microwave potatoes and 8 minutes for these lovely tilapia gems!)

This one got 2 thumbs up by the little man... now I shall go and delete the other recipe I posted :D

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia
*12 oz of Tilapia filets (I used half of a 24 oz bag which was 3 filets)
*1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
*4 tablespoons mayonnaise
*2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
*1/8 teaspoon onion powder
*1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
*ground black pepper and salt


Preheat your oven's broiler. Use non-stick spray on your broiling pan or line pan with aluminum foil.
In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with garlic powder and onion powder. Mix well and set aside.

Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan; season with black pepper and salt. Broil a few inches from the heat for 3-4 minutes. Gently flip the fillets over and broil for 2 minutes.

Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side. Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to over cook the fish.

Mexican Chicken Casserole

I love this recipe... yeah, it could have been made better by having handmade flour tortillas, homemade salsa, and the like, but sometimes you need a quick, easy, hearty and tasty meal... this is definitely one of them. Think of it as an easy Mexican-type lasagna. :)

Mexican Chicken Casserole
*2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
*1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
*1 red pepper, chopped
*2 cups Salsa (no salt preferably)
*3 oz. cream cheese, cubed
*2 cans (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed
*2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
*4 flour tortillas, torn in half
*1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided

Heat oven to 375ºF.
Cook and stir chicken and cumin in nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium heat 2 min.
Add red pepper; cook 2 min., stirring occasionally.
Stir in salsa; cook 2 min.
Add cream cheese; cook 2 min. or until melted.
Gently stir in beans and tomatoes.

Spoon 1/3 of chicken mixture into 11x7 baking dish; cover with tortillas and half each of the remaining chicken mixture and shredded cheese.
Top with remaining tortilla and chicken mixture; cover with aluminum foil.

Bake 25 min. or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese; bake, uncovered, 5 min. or until melted.

RIP Dachshund Lover Elizabeth Taylor

She was one of my favorites... she was the epitome of class, style, and enthusiasm... and she was a dachshund lover, too!! She will be greatly missed.

Budget Cooking

As many of you know I am definitely a girl with budgeting in mind! I love to save pennies whenever and however I can. And, even in my weekly planning of food I will plan and carry out as best I can to make my small amount of cash go its farthest.

I am not a huge coupon shopper. The only places that will use computer printed coupons is Meijer and Kroger, and oftentimes the savings is not worth the travel to those stores. So I get around my budget in other ways.

When I do go shopping with coupons I get them from Coupons.com. They have coupons for those major chain, major company items which I cannot do without.

Instead of purchasing ready made mixes, I will make mine from scratch using recipes I have found at Mom Advise. ie why buy Bisquick when you can make it cheaper at home? Another great site for make at home items is Budget101.com.

Sign-up for Kraft First Taste, which will allow you to try never been seen before Kraft items, often free or with a huge discount.

But my number one thing is to stock my pantry with basic staples which will help you down the road when shopping. I have all of the things that Paula Deen says are 'necessities' and a few more of my own to suit my family's taste buds. Then when you go shopping, you really only need to pick up any special meats or veggies and any pantry basic on which you are running low.

Another great thing is to shop at Aldi. Aldi is an off shoot, with low prices, of Trade Joe's. Their foods are fantastic, and they offer a Double Guarantee... they will replace the product AND refund your money. I have never taken them up on this, as everything I have purchased is wonderful! Just take your own bags and load up on the savings!

These are my means of saving money each week...

This is my way of stretching my food dollar...

Cinnamon Praline Bread Pudding

I am trying to clean out my pantry... use up all the stuff that has been accumulating and not being used. I have no clue where I got a can of evaporated milk... it must have been accidentally picked up instead of sweetened condensed... But nonetheless here I was with a can of evaporated milk and nothing to do with it... Until -grin- inspiration...

Bread Pudding!!

Ok, so I made it for breakfast, so you could say its a glorified baked french toast, but humor moi!

You have to make... so easy... amazingly good!

Cinnamon Praline Bread Pudding
* Cooking Spray
* 5 slices toasted bread
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1/3 cup raisins
* 2 large eggs
* 1/2 cup light brown sugar
* Dash of salt
* 1 cup evaporated milk
* 1 cup boiling water
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/3 cup light brown sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 3 tablespoons butter, softened


Heat oven to 350°F. Coat an 11x7 baking dish with no-stick cooking spray.
Spread toasted bread with butter and cut into quarters. Place buttered side up in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle chopped pecans over toast.
Whisk eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, evaporated milk, boiling water and vanilla. Pour over toast and let stand 10 minutes, occasionally pressing bread into liquid with back of spoon.
Combine 4 teaspoons sugar, butter and cinnamon with a fork. Crumble butter mixture over top.
Bake 35 minutes or until knife inserted near edge comes out clean.

You can serve for breakfast with or without syrup.
You could substitute raisins or currents for pecans.
You could make the whole pan for yourself and not share any of it... I won't tell!

Cheesy Hash Brown Chili Bake

Cheesy Hash Brown Chili
* 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
* 1 onion, chopped finely
* 2 tablespoons chili powder
* 2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 1/4 cup tomato paste
* 1 pound ground beef
* Salt and pepper
* 1 15-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
* 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
* 1 1-pound bag frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
* 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, chili powder and cumin and cook, stirring, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the tomato paste. Add the beef and cook, breaking up the meat, for 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
Add the beans and the tomatoes with their juice and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, partially cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Transfer to an 8-by-11-inch baking dish.
In a large bowl, combine the potatoes and cheese. Scatter the potato mixture over the chili. Place the baking dish on a baking sheet and bake until the potatoes are cooked through and the chili is bubbling, about 35 minutes.

Apple Strudel from Phyllo Dough

I was preparing for my picnic with the pups and peeps, and needed a dessert that isn't really a dessert as we have given up dessert for lent! So strudel isn't my fav thing to make, but I had mistakenly picked up Phyllo dough instead of Puff Pastry, so strudel was what I could come up with to fit the 'no dessert' and 'not go out to buy anything' plans I had made!

This was a little bit of work, but it was so tasty that it made me forget all about the work!

Apple Strudel from Phyllo Dough
* 6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
* 1/2 cup dried cranberries
* 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
* 1 tsp cinnamon
* 6 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
* Vegetable-oil cooking spray
* 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

**Most important thing, have all your ingredients ready and handy as Phyllo will dry out quickly.
Heat oven to 350°F. In a pan over medium heat, cook apples with dried cranberries, sugar and cinnamon until tender, about 10 minutes. Let cool, reserving liquid for optional sauce. Layer 2 phyllo sheets on top of each other. Coat top of phyllo layer with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1/3 of cookie crumbs. Layer 2 more sheets of phyllo on top, coat with cooking spray, then crumbs; repeat once more. Spread apple mixture on top; roll up from the shorter end. Coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Place strudel on sheet and bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool.

Throw Together Asian Salad

I was planning a picnic dinner at the local arboretum, and really didn't wish to go out to purchase anything. I looked at my fridge and pantry, and this was what I came up with to go along with grilled hamburgers. It was a huge hit!
Throw Together Asian Salad
Dressing
* 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
* 1/2 teaspoon bottled ground fresh ginger
* 1 teaspoons garlic powder
* 1 tablespoon sugar
* 2 tablespoons sesame oil
* 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
* 4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
* 2 tablespoons soy sauce
Salad
* 1/2 cup thinly sliced seeded peeled cucumber
* 1/4 cup chopped red onion
* 1/2 cup matchstick-cut carrots
* 2 tablespoons flaked coconut
* 1/4 cup chopped pecans
* 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
* 1 orange, cut into segments
* 2 1/2 cups cooked spaghetti noodles

Mix the dressing together in a bowl and combine with the salad. Refrigerate until serving.

Maple Balsamic Grilled Salmon ~ Shelle's Way

I could have this dish every single night. It's not only simple, but is so flavorful.

Maple Balsamic Grilled Salmon
* 1/4 cup maple syrup
* 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
* 1 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1/4 cup orange juice
* 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
* 1 tablespoon oil
* 4 salmon fillets


Combine all the ingredients, except the salmon, in a resealable kitchen bag. Seal and shake gently to mix. Add the salmon and refrigerate several hours to allow flavors to blend.

Preheat grill to medium heat. Grill 4 minutes on each side or until salmon flakes easily with fork brushing frequently with the syrup mixture.

Computer Woes & Other Climactic Events

I would love to say the past week of non-blog time was spent on a beach, with small little umbrella'd drinks, and a hot cabana boy bringing me towels constantly, but... sigh... I cannot. My week was filled with me installing a new motherboard, new hard drive, reformatting and moving my 'stuff' and waiting for the local cable company twice, once for internet outage due to rain (and those horrible squirrels) and new dvrs throughout the house, which had to be networked into my normal network.

Yeah, the past week was not one I wish to repeat. Ev-ah.

Yeah, I have other computers in the house I could have used to blog, but my frustration level at doing nothing during those 'off times' was high. But I found it to be a highly project and food productive week, because if you have ever reformatted and moved your 'stuff' then you know there is a whole heck of a lot of hurry up and waiting.

I didn't take a lot of pictures this past week, so you'll just have to close your eyes and imagine the dishes... and the projects are not going to be seen until I clean up the Saint Patrick's Day decor and bring out the Easter.

So sit back and read the foodie posts that are coming your way next. :)

Hamburger Seasoning Mix

I am currently working on a rather largish project so food around my house has been pretty tame of late.

I tried a recipe for Monday I thought would be a hit, it wasn't. It was too bad, it had all the elements to make something fantastic, but somehow just didn't jive with the taste buds. I fixed homemade sliders Tuesday, a huge hit but as I am allergic to beef I will spend the next two days sniffing and snuffing around!

But they are amazingly good... the secret? The seasoning mix. :) I had thought I had the PERFECT Seasoning mix, which I did... but I adjusted it a bit more, cause that it the kinda thing I do in my life. I thought I would share my final, not to be changed seasoning mix with you. This makes 6 or so tablespoons, which is just enough to fit into my seasoning jar.

**The recipe holder was made by Reed at preschool. His favorite recipe? Octopus Hotdogs. I shall share those with you one day. **

Shelle's Burger Seasoning Mix
*6 teaspoons paprika
*4 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
*3 3/4 teaspoons sea salt
*2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
*1 teaspoon garlic powder
*1 teaspoon onion powder
*3/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Mix all the items together and place in a sealed container.

Peanut Butter No-Bake Bars

Someone looking through my blog asked if I had really made all the things shown and those were the pictures. I told them "yes, but for ever recipe that is perfection and beautiful, I have 3 or more failures that lead to it." When those failures happen, I resort to making something with peanut butter to make my little man happier than when he was trying to swallow something he just didn't like!

Yeah, so here is my new peanut butter recipe to make up for the smoked sausage penne pasta catastrophe.

No Bake Peanut Butter Bars
(adapted from here)
*2 cups creamy peanut butter, divided
*3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
*2 cups powdered sugar, divided
*3 cups graham cracker crumbs
*1 1/2 cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Morsels, divided

Grease 11x7-inch baking pan.

Beat 1 1/4 cups peanut butter and all of the butter in large mixer bowl until creamy. Gradually beat in 1 cup powdered sugar. With a wooden spoon, work in remaining 1 cup powdered sugar and graham cracker crumbs. Press evenly into prepared baking pan. Smooth top with spatula.

Melt remaining 3/4 cup peanut butter and chocolate morsels in a microwave safe bowl, on half power for 45 seconds. Remove from the microwave, stir and return to the microwave for an additional 20 seconds at half power until the mixture is melted and smooth. Spread over graham cracker crust in pan. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until chocolate is firm. Cut into bars. Store in covered container in refrigerator.

Golf Room, Part II

Here are a few more things I have made for my golf guest room.

I made a french memo board from the same material I used in the rest of the room. I criss-crossed brown grosgrain ribbon and used push pins covered with golf scrapbooking buttons. Now we have a place to put all of our scorecards!! :) I included a few from last year as this year has not been conducive to playing golf!



Here is the golf subway art I made a few weeks ago. My colors shifted a wee bit from the original design, but that is ok as it still feels a part of the room through the chocolate brown frame and neutral matting.

I have to admit this was a lot of fun creating. Trying to find the right words, colors, position of the verbiage, and font just made this little geeky girl's day. I love photoshop and could spend a whole day just sorting thru different means to make your pictures look different and better!


Here is a shelf that had been in Reed's baby room, given to me by a great friend Melissa. I had it stuck away thinking I would use it again, and sure enough it was just what this room was calling for.

It was painted white, and I didn't wish to paint it brown as well, so I used a glaze to give it a nice antique look. I think it turned out ok... It was my first try at antiquing anything, so forgive my faux pas!



I picked up this golf art at Hobby Lobby for a steal. I was so happy when I saw the sale!!

Behind the art I created a moss covered foam core frame to give the area a bit of depth. Reed told me it looked like a golf hole. It was not my intention, but that is rather cool! :)

I am going to divorce my glue gun after this project. You should see the blister I have on my thumb as a result of it 'accidentally' leaking hot glue on me.


To the other side of the shelf is a frame painted the same chocolate brown with a picture saying "Today's Score". I have a black dry erase marker purchased to keep here so we can enter our score for the day.

It also says "A bad day golfing is beter than a good day working." Isn't that the truth?

The small golf ball container is holding our 'golf money'. Each week we put aside some money to play or go to the driving range to hit some balls.

Golf Room, Part I

I had this little room, it was the 3rd bedroom which never got any love from me. I piled it full of junk and closed the door whenever people would come over. It made me crazy walking past it everyday, but had no clue as to what direction to take it in.

Then Reed gave me the inspiration... Golf!

After he gave the inspiration then things just started falling into my hands!

It is such a small room so it was impossible to fit even a full size bed in without it taking the total floor space. So, I began hunting for a twin bed I could love! Goodwill seems to be my answer for just about anything. I found a solid maple twin bed, including the rails, for $9.50. Yes, at that price it needed lots and lots and lots of love, but look at it now!!

I wood putted the heck out of it, sanded and sanded, then painted it a lovely "Boston Tudor Brown". It looks just like hot chocolate.

I knew I wanted to go with a traditional 'golf' color scheme.. solid paired with a plaid. I loved the navy against the chocolate, but am not a blue fan. But the more I looked around, the navy became the only color I was happy with. So I purchased a navy coverlet and paired it with gold color sheets.

Then came the plaid contrast fabric. I found it at Joann's on sale, then had a coupon, the girl also added a coupon, and I walked out with 8 yard of fabric for $13. :) Yeah, that made me happy. It is a beige background with blue, moss green, rusty red, and gold small plaid. It is perfect as it brings in the colors from the other rooms!

I just noticed I didn't had not taken a picture of the valance nor of the bed skirt. Here is the valance. It is rather plain, but I am eventually going to spruce it up. I kinda ran outta money for decorating. :) The bed skirt is similar. I wanted it this way. I wanted to keep this room rather linear as my golf play is more hooks than anything!

Then came the best part!! All those hats we have collected over the years... The ones which should have gone to Goodwill eons ago, were made into the most perfect edition to any room!

Behold the golf hat pillow! I simply found hats which fit into my color scheme, cut off the front part of the logo of several hats... Most had been given to us through several charity events or thru being a member of the PGA.

It was tricky and time consuming, but at the end of the day, when I stuffed it with the feather pillow insert I was totally pleased with the morning that I was cursing my sewing skills and machine!

This is Milo and Dixie's bed. :) Yep, if you look below that horrible looking comforter they insist on rolling up in each night, you will find a nice crib mattress covered with navy fabric with the contrasting fabric and piping to match the rest of the room! :)

Now if I can talk them out of that pillow and comforter. -sigh- That will be an impossibility, as they are the most stubborn of dogs!

Saint Patrick's Day Printable


Here are a couple of free printables, created by me, for your Saint Patrick's Day house. The Irish Blessing "May the Road Rise Up to Meet You" was placed in a glass canister with some split peas. It looks fantastic.

The other blessing "May Good Luck Be Your Friend" was created for the black frame I keep sitting on my piano all year long. I absolutely love the Celtic shamrocks and border on this piece. Makes me wish I was Irish and could get away with displaying it all year long!

All you need to do is simply click on each of the pictures, which will allow you to view the picture by itself on a page, then right click again to save each to your local hard drive.

I hope you enjoy!! :) And Happy Saint Patrick's Day!!

Cheap Decor ala Shelle (and JoAnn's Fabric)

Two new additions to my house... one made from a pallet and one purchased cheap!!

This is my pallet shelf, taken a bit from this tutorial, but modified to fit what I needed.

I needed someplace to hang those book bags, my big ole purse and jackets that were now cluttering up a bench, but was -sigh- cheap. So I begged on Freecycle and Craig's List for a broken pallet! Took exactly 1 day until I had this lovely piece of wood in my hands.

I cut it apart, wood puttied, sanded, sanded, sanded, oh and sanded, then it was ready for some love. As you can tell, I love red. Its my accent color in my house so when I have something I want to be a nice focal, it gets some red love. I added some pewter hooks, a couple metal containers to hold colored pencils and pens, pencils, and scissors to one side, and a print out of the family rules on the other side. I loved it like that, but then added a couple silk magnolia flowers and ivy to soften it up as it was close to this old ficus tree I cannot seem to find the will to throw away as it was given to me by my grandmother.

This baby is just an ode to bargain shopping. It was $14.99 originally. I do not spend $14.99 for something that is going to gather dust. :) So I watched it fall down into clearance. It made a slow descent, but eventually it fell to $3.97, which is a great price, but I made it even better with a coupon for 20% off anything at Joann's, which the girl also added another 20% off, which brought my new pretty dust catcher for my fridge to $2.55.

:) That is a good discount!

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