Category Archives: recipes

Positively 2016!!!

Happy New Year!  In the northeast, the new year brings cold weather. Our white bean chicken chili will positively warm you on a cold winter’s night. We also offer a couple of upbeat craft projects, our garden update, and of course, the bears, who share their New Year’s resolutions!

WHITE BEAN CHICKEN CHILI

We were surprised when we looked back at our previous 64 blogs and saw that we hadn’t shared one of our favorite recipes, white bean chicken chili. It’s a healthy, warming comfort food, perfect for a cold winter night!
DSCF2018 (2)

 

 

 

 

 

This chili is easy to make and delicious.

DSCF2001 (2)

Ingredients:

  • One teaspoon olive oil
  • One lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Three 15.5 oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed
  • One 16 oz. can fat-free refried beans
  • One 32 oz. carton low sodium chicken broth
  • One small onion, chopped
  • One 4 oz. can chopped green chilis
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash garlic herb mix
  • One teaspoon cumin

How to prepare:

  • Chop chicken breast into 3/4 inch pieces.
  • Warm olive oil over medium heat in a 5-quart Dutch oven.
  • Saute onion in olive oil until soft.
  • Sprinkle chicken with chili powder and add to Dutch oven.
  • Cook chicken until lightly brown, about 3 minutes.
  • Add cannellini beans, refried beans, chilis and cumin to pot.
  • Stir to break up refried beans.
  • Cover mixture with chicken broth.
  • Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
  • Simmer 20 minutes or until thickened.
  • Serve with tortilla chips, guacamole, olives (Kevin’s favorite), green onions, salsa, sour cream or any of your favorite toppings.

Adjust seasonings to make it more hot or mild according to your own taste!

COLLAGE

The new year is a hopeful time and one way to maintain that feeling is to surround yourself with positive messages. We combined two uplifting thoughts into one inspirational piece of art.

We cut out letters from old magazines and newspaper inserts, choosing contrasting sizes, colors and fonts. If you can’t find all the letters you need for your project, use stickers or print letters from the computer. Once all of our letters were gathered, they were attached to a piece of specialty scrapbook paper cut to fit the size of the frame. Gift wrap or construction paper also could be used as a background. Total cost for our framed project was about $6.00! This easy and effective type of collage has many applications. It’s a fun project for kids and adults alike. We’d love to see your positive messages for 2016!

DSCF2044 (3)

SPEAKING OF POSITIVE MESSAGES

People appreciate being remembered. We make a point of mailing birthday, anniversary and holiday cards to family and friends throughout the year. To make this easier, one thing we do at the beginning of the year is to note special occasions on a wall calendar that hangs in our living room. It’s an easy way to keep track of card-worthy events throughout the year. Who doesn’t like to be thought of with a card? We recently received a touching, handwritten thank you note from Kevin’s 5-year old great-niece, and it made our day. Positivity bounces back and forth!

PATIO UPDATE

We removed the decorative holiday items this week, but left the greenery and lit tomato cages. The greenery will be removed when it starts to dry out. Hoping the tomato cages will be glowing on the patio all winter.

DSCF2038 (2)

Sign for the Patio

While we were designing the “Create Peace” collage, we came upon a beat up old door from a long-discarded cabinet. A quick paint job and fun message adds a bit of whimsy! Let’s grow!

DSCF2041 (2)

DSCF2026 (2)

Hitchcock’s view from our patio:

Is Tippi Hendren in town? (Rizzolty rozzolty now now now) This photo from our patio reminds us of Hitchcock’s classic movie, “The Birds”.

DSCF1995 (2)

FOOD ART

DSCF2063 (2)

THE BEARS

The bears are doing pretty well with their resolutions!

DSCF2059 (2)

Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin

Merry Christmas!!!

This week, we share a couple of ideas to simplify your holiday preparations. Included are an easy recipe for minty fudge brownies, last-minute gift tips, more of our decorations, a patio update, and, of course, the bears, who are our featured image this week.

FUDGE BROWNIES WITH CHOCOLATE MINT CANDY TOPPING

DSCF1847 (2)

These delicious and easy brownies are always a hit!

DSCF1799 (2)

Ingredients: 28-piece box of Andes candies mints, 18.3 oz. box of brownie mix.

How to prepare: 

Bake brownies according to package directions.

Top the warm brownies with 25 unwrapped mint candies (the baker gets the remaining three candies). Allow the candies to melt for a minute and spread them like frosting with an off-set spatula or knife. Cool the mint-covered brownies for 15 minutes and then place in the refrigerator for one hour. Candy will harden to its original consistency, making a delicious chocolate mint crust on your brownies.

DSCF1834 (2)

DSCF1842 (2)

Cut, serve and enjoy!

A FEW LAST-MINUTE GIFT IDEAS

You’re driving to a holiday celebration and realize you forgot someone on your list and need to get a last-minute gift. Here are a few suggestions, including two places open Christmas Day.

Gas stations

  • Gift card for the gas station – great gift for family and friends traveling over the holidays!
  • Scratch tickets or lottery numbers. They can’t win if they don’t play!
  • Gloves and hats – who knew they were sold at gas stations?
  • Make a quick car kit with an ice scraper, windshield wiper fluid, car air freshener and other related items.
  • Some gas stations sell gift cards for other stores just like major supermarkets.
  • Make up a tailgating kit: Buy chips, soda, Slim Jims and more for the sports fan on your list.

Movie theaters

Most movie theaters are open on Christmas Day. Buy movie passes and candy to make a great gift combo.

Online e-cards and gifts

The technology available today makes last-minute gift giving a lot easier than it used to be. You can order gifts online and have them shipped. Print out and give a picture of the gift to the recipient. Most companies also will send an e-mail notification that a gift is on the way. You can send gift e-cards directly to anyone’s e-mail address. One site we’ve used is giftcertificates.com, or go directly to specific company websites and see if they offer e-gift cards.

OUR DECORATIONS

More of our holiday vignettes, including snowmen, Santas, and New England sports teams.

DSCF1905 (2)

DSCF1917 (2) DSCF1914 (2)

PATIO UPDATE

Even with the recent rain, the addition of fresh pine cuttings, faux poinsettia and holly on our patio add color and make a festive view from our kitchen. The basil plant and other plants on the window sill are hanging in as well!

DSCF1830 (3)

FOOD ART

NUTTY SANTA

DSCF1901 (3)

THE BEARS

The bears love to reunite with family and friends at Christmas time! Look what old friend is visiting with them at the top of the page!

We wish you all peace and joy this holiday season. Merry Christmas!!!

Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin

Cool Christmas!

Christmas is fast approaching and we are just about finished decorating.

This week, we feature pretty decorations using Christmas ornaments, an easy wreath project, a recycling craft, recipe ideas, a festive patio update, and of course, the bears!

SPARKLING DECORATIONS

DSCF1729 (2)

Fill clear glass vases and pitchers with Christmas balls. Keep it simple, one color per vessel. Add a string of holiday lights behind or around the vases. This technique makes a beautiful display! Really catches the light!

EASY AND SPECIAL WREATH

DSCF1697 (3)

Recycling was the inspiration for this wreath. We removed the original decorations and saved the metal form from an old wreath. Then, we wrapped it with the pretty piece of garland pictured below, which Kevin’s mom used to decorate her dining room chandelier during the holidays. The garland is not permanently attached and in future years, we can use it in other ways. Hmmm – maybe we’ll get a chandelier!

IMG_5976 (2)

GIFT TAGS FROM CHRISTMAS CARDS

Recycle your old Christmas cards into gift tags! Simply cut out your favorite images, hole punch the top, add a ribbon and you have these cute gift tags. Write the recipient’s name on the back. These also could be used as ornaments and even necklaces. This is a fun craft for kids!

DSCF1687 (3)DSCF1787 (3)

PATIO UPDATE

Evergreen cuttings trimmed from the large pine trees on our property add lush greenery to the patio. For additional color, we dotted them with faux poinsettia, unbreakable Christmas ornaments and pinecones.

DSCF1767 (2)

The tool box planter looks great filled with fresh pine cuttings. The bee and flamingo both seem to like it!

DSCF1761 (2)

We fashioned this swag by attaching a simple waterproof ribbon to an evergreen cutting and hanging it on the patio door. Cost: $1.25!

DSCF1752 (2)

Of course, we have our tomato cage trees again this year!

DSCF1774 (2)

Here is our post from last year with instructions on how to make these tomato cage trees.

https://funclesarts.com/2014/12/13/christmas-blog-2-the-celebration-continues/

SWEET HOLIDAY TREATS

All this decorating is making us hungry! Here are a few recipes for some easy holiday desserts.

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/desserts/easy-holiday-desserts

FOOD ART 

Our final harvest of garden tomatoes, which we picked green and ripened indoors in a paper bag for almost a month, are finally ready for their closeup!

DSCF1745 (2)

The tomatoes were roasted and served with baked fish – delicious!

JOKE OF THE WEEK

What does Santa suffer from if he gets stuck in a chimney? Claus-trophobia! Source:Theholidayspot.com

THE BEARS

The bears are hanging with some cool company this week!

DSCF1726 (2)

Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin

 

 

Happy and Fun Thanksgiving to All!!!

“Gratitude is the best attitude.” – Unknown                                                                                    Source: Quotegarden.com

Happy Thanksgiving! As Turkey Day approaches, we revisit updated versions of a couple of our favorite side dishes, a hostess gift idea, some of our favorite Thanksgiving things, what we are thankful for, the garden (now patio) update and, of course, the bears!

FAVORITE HOLIDAY SIDE DISHES

Sweet potatoes with bananas

IMG_2743 (2)

Check out the recipe here!

https://funclesarts.com/2014/11/22/thanksgiving-the-third-blog-post/

Cranberry sauce with jalapeno peppers

IMG_2714 (3)

 

This zingy favorite is sure to surprise!                     Heat one 14 oz. can of whole berry cranberry sauce over medium heat until it liquefies. Finely chop one jalapeno pepper (remove seeds and ribs to make less spicy if desired) and add to cranberries. Simmer for 5 minutes. Cool at least one hour until mixture solidifies.

Check out last year’s post, where this recipe first appeared, to find a crunchy cranberry sauce variation with a touch of citrus!

Click here for the post and recipe:

https://funclesarts.com/2014/11/14/thanksgiving-continued/

HOSTESS GIFT IDEA

DSCF1449 (3)

Baked goods are great hostess gifts, but time constraints around the holidays can make baking from scratch difficult. We suggest using quality mixes. This pumpkin bread was made from a boxed mix. Add dried cranberries, raisins, nuts or whatever you think will work to personalize your goodies. Make it your own! It’s a great gift when wrapped and paired with specialty tea. You can find delicious mixes and ready to bake treats at any supermarket. Easy and appreciated!

“Thanksgiving, man. Not a good day to be my pants!” – Kevin James (comedian)

THANKSGIVING TREASURES

Cornucopia

This cornucopia has been in Roy’s family for as long as he can remember. It was the subject of a recent “veg art” photo!

DSCF1205 (2)

Pilgrim candle

Kevin’s family has had this pilgrim candle a long time, too. His mom gave it to us for Thanksgiving just a few years ago. A treasure for sure.

DSCF1411 (2)

“Family gathers to share good noise and good food, gratitude abounds!”

poet Alexandra Elle (source goodreads.com)

PATIO UPDATE (FORMERLY GARDEN UPDATE)

The bee is bee-fuddled by the change in the impatiens.

IMG_5884 (2)

IMG_5497 (2)

The tomato cages are waiting to be transformed into Christmas trees or some other holiday creation!

DSCF1400 (2)

Bonus picture: We love bittersweet, a fall vine with berries which grows abundantly on our property. Bittersweet make a great fall decoration, but be warned, if you use it indoors, the berries can stain!

IMG_5896 (2)

FOOD ART (FORMERLY VEG ART

Fruits and vegetables ready for Thanksgiving!

DSCF1398 (2)

JOKE OF THE WEEK

What sound does a space turkey make?  Hubble . . . Hubble . . .Hubble!!!                                       source:101thanksgiving.com

THANKSGIVING TRIVIA

Here is some interesting trivia about Thanksgiving!

http://www.examiner.com/article/50-family-friendly-thanksgiving-trivia-questions-and-answers

Thankful

We are thankful to have wonderful, supportive families, great friends and fun and creative lives. Plus, the 10-0 Pats!!!

THE BEARS

The bears get in the act with their own turkey hats.

DSCF1369 (3)

Last but DEFINITELY not least, we are thankful for your support and kindness!

Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin

We’ve Only Just Begun!!!

A year ago today, we decided to start a holiday blog and do one post a week from mid-October through New Year’s Day. Once the ball got rolling, we didn’t want to stop. The blog has been a lot of fun to do and it has inspired us to be more creative. Thank you to everyone who has followed and contributed to our the blog. We’re looking forward to another crafty and tasty holiday season and a fun 2016!

PAPER

For wedding anniversaries, the traditional gift for the first year is paper. With that tradition in mind (sorta), we share two crafts made from paper. The first paper project is a clip-on Halloween witch made from construction paper and a clothespin. The second project is a banner we made for Kevin’s brother’s family, wishing them luck on their upcoming move to Florida. Additionally, we offer a recipe for broccoli rabe, a garden update and, of course, the bears!

WITCH CRAFT

Halloween is coming and we are creating a few fun and easy crafts. This week, it’s the cute clip-on witches shown above.

IMG_5638 (2)

You will need:

  • clothespins
  • black, orange, green and white construction paper
  • glue stick
  • double-stick tape
  • scissors
  • a fine marker (black ink)
  • ruler

To make:

Cut the following equIMG_5648 (2)ilateral triangles:

  • three 1-1/4 inch triangles – 1 green (head), 1 orange (hair), 1 black (hat)
  • two 1-1/2 inch triangles – 1 black (dress), 1 yellow (broom head)
  • two 1/2 inch black triangles (shoes)

 

You also will need:

  • one 3/4-inch x 1-1/2 inch white rectangle
  • one 1-inch x 1/8 inch strip of green construction paper

Draw (as shown in picture below):

  • lines on the white rectangle – every quarter-inch
  • a face on the green triangle
  • a black verticle line on the yellow broom head

A little more cutting (see picture below):

  • cut the white rectangle in half lengthwise to form the legs
  • cut broom bristles 1/16-inch wide ending at the verticle line
  • cut 1/16-inch wide strips in bottom of orange triangle to create hair
  • cut 1/4-inch off the tops of the yellow and black 1-1/2 inch triangles
  • cut the tops off of the 1/2-inch triangles (1/8 inch off the tops)

IMG_5652 (2)

  • attach orange hair to the back of the head with glue stick as shown below.
  • attach shoes to legs and legs to body
  • attach arm to body

IMG_5657 (2)

  • attach head to body and hat to head
  • using double stick tape, attach broom bristle to end of clothespin

Before attaching, the back of the witch should look something like this:

IMG_5659 (2)

Attach witch to clothes pin as shown using double stick tape.

The completed witch will look something like this.

IMG_5663 (2)

DSCF1014 (2)

These witches love to help decorate! Use them to clip Halloween cards to curtains or on our clothesline banner (search previous blogs for info). Looking forward to seeing photos of your witch creations!

This is a simple, kid-friendly craft which is more difficult to describe than to create. Use these basic guidelines and have fun!!!

BANNER  

IMG_5527 (2)

    IMG_5465 (2)                                                                                     

 We designed this special banner by thinking of what symbolizes Florida and came up with the  two obvious answers: oranges and sunshine. We cut out orange and yellow circles to represent  those iconic images. Some quick cuts turned the yellow circles into suns and green leaves attached with small black paper fasteners transformed the orange circles into fruits. Stickers express the sentiment, “Enjoy FLORIDA!”. The banner was strung together using curling ribbon and embellished with sandal and beach themed stickers. (The top of the exclamation point at the end of the banner is a surf board sticker; the paws represent their dog, “Sadie”.)

This was a fun project to create, making use of quality stickers, craft paper, and a new circle cutter. We’ve said it before, but it bares repeating. Always look online for coupons from craft stores (and any stores for that matter). We saved money on all the items use in this banner with just a few minutes effort to print the coupons.

BROCCOLI RABE

IMG_5671 (2)

In our effort to explore new foods, this week we tried broccoli rabe. The first recipe found on- line did not boil the rabe first. It was awful – very bitter! Our second attempt is this recipe from one of our go-to favorites – Rachael Ray. It’s a delicious, healthy way to cook this green.

Here is the recipe:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/broccoli-rabe-with-lemon-and-garlic-recipe.html

GARDEN UPDATE 

IMG_5684 (2)

The recent, unseasonably good weather has kept our garden thriving! We have at least 70 green tomatoes on our two cherry tomato plants and 25 peppers in various stages of growth on our Shishito pepper plant. They better hurry up and ripen before this weekend’s predicted frost or we may be growing them in the house. Wonder how much indoor grow lamps cost!

Kevin spotted this lone flower today on the vine that grows on the fence that surrounds our property! This vine has never flowered in our eight years here!

IMG_5678 (2)

VEG ART

The apples have taken over. (No, we didn’t grow them!)

IMG_5688 (2)

THE BEARS

DSCF1002 (2)

The bears are starting to figure out their Halloween costumes!

Enjoy!

Roy and Kevin

 

 

Fall into a cool season!

It’s officially fall and the temps have dipped. This week, we share delicious recipes for delicata squash and our apple spice upside down cake. Also featured this week, the first of many quick and easy Halloween decorating ideas, a garden update and, of course, the bears.

DELICATA SQUASH

Kevin’s sister, Christine, introduced us to this user-friendly squash. It’s makes a tasty side dish, after being part of your fall home decor. You can eat the skin, which is different from some other squash varieties. The original recipe can be found in the link below.

IMG_5476 (2) IMG_5488 IMG_5478 (2)DSCF0384 (2)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

You will need: two large delicata squash, about one lb. each; two tablespoons olive oil; one teaspoon dried rosemary; salt and pepper to taste.

To prepare:

  • Wash squash, split in half. Remove seeds.
  • Cut into moon shapes, about 1/2-inch thick.
  • Toss with olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper.
  • Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Roast 15 minutes, turn squash over and roast another 15 minutes.

Here is the original recipe from eatingwell.com

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/roast_delicata_squash_onions.html

APPLE SPICE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

This idea came from a recipe Roy found in Readers Digest many years ago. It makes good use of a cake mix, and adds fruit, so it’s really a health food!

IMG_5482 (2)

You will need: One spice cake mix and the ingredients listed for preparation: two tablespoons butter; six medium apples, peeled and sliced; 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; two tablespoons brown sugar; pinch of salt.

To prepare:

  • Melt butter or margarine in pan over medium heat.
  • Add apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.
  • Mix well, saute for 5-7 minutes until apples are tender.
  • Prepare cake mix according to directions.
  • Place cooked apple slices evenly in the bottom of a greased 9″ x 13″ pan.
  • Pour cake batter over cooked apples. Bake according to package directions.
  • Cool for 15 minutes. Turn cooled cake onto platter.
  • Serve with ice cream or whipped topping.

Great warm or cold!

Not a spice cake fan? Works with carrot, yellow or white cake mixes as well. Experiment with different cake and fruit mixes. Chocolate cake and cherries? Share your ideas with us!

PUT ON A HAPPY (OR SCARY) FACE!

DSCF0374

DSCF0399 (2)We added Jack-O-Lantern faces to these planters by cutting faces out of construction paper and attaching them with double-sided tape for a quick and simple decoration. Funny sidenote: Christmas Poinsettia and 2 Christmas Cacti are shown! Use what you have!

DSCF0447 (2) IMG_5512 (2) IMG_5516 (2)

Using the same technique, we decorated this 4-sided lamp and table combo (left) with a variety of faces. Happy accident – when photo was taken of the decorated lamp shade, another panel showed in the mirror.

We cut our Jack-O-Lantern faces out freehand, but you can find templates for them at:

http://www.myhomeideas.com/holidays/9-jack-o-lantern-templates/jack-o-lantern-pumpkin-carving-template

What can you decorate in your home? Use you imagination and share your ideas!

 

GARDEN UPDATE

IMG_5500 (2) IMG_5497 (2) IMG_5502 (2)IMG_5501

This week, the Impatiens (don’t they look great!) and marigolds have had a surprising resurgence, and the shishito peppers just went crazy! Plus, we were pleased to discover our first purple pansy bloom. We grew pansies from seed this year, and blooms have been few and far between. It’s late in the season, but our patio garden continues to bring us food and joyl!

VEGETABLE ART:

Home-grown basil adds dimension to this week’s pepper harvest!

DSCF0450

JOKE OF THE WEEK

What did one leaf say to the other? I’m falling for you! 

Source: Mytutors.com

THE BEARS

The bears couldn’t wait to play in the falling leaves, so they got into our leaf garland decor (above). Now they are enjoying rummaging through our fall and Halloween clothes!

DSCF0443 (2)

Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin

Reentry and Splashdown!

We just thoroughly enjoyed a mini-vacation. It started off with 2 nights at the beach. Then we went to visit family and enjoy Kevin’s brother’s retirement gala. Our third state in four days ended with a delicious dinner at another hotel. Finally, we made it home in time to see the New England Patriots win on Sunday. (Phew!) Here are some tips for reentry from vacation, an easy way to display vacation photos, a quick and tasty dessert, and this week’s garden update. Also, a look at what the bears did while they were home alone.

TIP (IN HINDSIGHT)

We had a great time on our vacation, but forgot to bring several items, including cell phone chargers, a corkscrew, extra batteries and our beach chairs. The real issue was not having a good vacation to-do-list. It seems so simple, but have a master list of what to do, what to pack and what to buy to prepare for your vacation. Check it twice! Santa is onto something!

HOW TO MAKE REENTRY EASIER

FOOD

Last week, we offered a great recipe for baked ziti, which we prepared and had waiting for us in the freezer for our return. We realized it would have been nice to have dessert, too!

These ice cream sandwiches would have fit the bill.

IMG_5447 (2)

IMG_5453

Using store-bought cookies and ice cream, these fun treats are quick and easy to make.

You will need:

Ice cream, cookies, sprinkles, nuts, chocolate chips, and other toppings of your choice. Lots of cookie and ice cream combos are possible – let your imagination and taste buds decide! Today, we used chocolate cookies with fudge swirl ice cream and chocolate sprinkles. Our second sandwich features iced oatmeal cookies with vanilla ice cream, raisins and walnuts.

To make:

  • Cover a sheet tray with parchment or waxed paper and place it in the freezer.
  • Spread each topping on individual plates.
  • Put 1 scoop of ice cream onto a cookie. Cover with another cookie. Roll cookie sandwich like a wheel in the topping of your choice, coating the ice cream. Pop this onto sheet tray in freezer.
  • Allow to set in freezer for 1 hr. If not eating immediately, wrap sandwiches tightly in wax paper.

How about you?

What would make your reentry from vacation or a long weekend better? Perhaps your favorite coffee, a nice bottle of wine, or a couple of lottery tickets to scratch? Have something fun for your vacation reentry – not just doing the laundry!

PUT UP THOSE PHOTOS! (no pressure)

Don’t leave your vacation photos in your camera or cell phone. We take lots of photos during vacation, and print out and display some of them clothesline-style on a 6-foot piece of jute, strung between two tacks. The photos are attached with painted clothespins. They are a great way to keep that vacation spirit alive. These are pictures from the beach and the retirement party.

DSCF0344 (2)

Bonus picture: Here’s a pretty sunset we saw in Westerly, RI!

IMG_5381 (2)

GARDEN UPDATE

DSCF0349 DSCF0350

The warm weather so far this September has been a boon for our garden. We were pleased to pick a bunch of tomatoes and a few peppers when we came home from vacation. The herbs actually looked better, which leads us to think we may have been over watering them. The miniature marigolds grown from seed are still hanging in there!

VEGETABLE ART

IMG_5459 (2)

THE BEARS

The bears did their best to stow away, as you can see,

DSCF0325 (2)

but they stayed home and managed to keep themselves entertained.

They were supposed to tackle their summer reading list, but instead they ate popcorn and watched endless loops of Winnie the Pooh, Paddington Bear, and The Jungle Book!

DSCF0369 (2)

Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin

A Super Bowl dip, lights and a recycling tip. (Now that’s poetry!)

This week, we have a couple of Super Bowl related ideas and a recycling suggestion.

“NO TELL” QUESO DIP RECIPE:  We love the Rotel Queso Dip you see on TV with the canned tomatoes with chiles and Velveeta. We decided to make it healthier. Our version uses light cream cheese and cheddar. It’s great to bring to parties because it can be made in advance and reheated in a microwave.

IMG_3086 (2)      i

Ingredients: 2 tablespoons of light margarine; 2 tablespoons of fine flour such as Wondra; 1 1/2 cups milk; one 8-oz. package of room-temperature light cream cheese; 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese; one 10-oz. can diced tomatoes with mild chiles, drained; 1/2 teaspoon chili powder; chopped tomato; hot sauce (if desired).

How to make:

  • In a medium sauce pan, melt margarine and whisk in flour to create a roux
  • Add milk and stir until mixture begins to thicken
  • Stir in cream cheese until melted and smooth
  • Add cheddar cheese, mix to combine
  • Add chili powder
  • Add drained tomatoes to cheese mixture
  • Lower heat and allow to thicken – about one-two minutes
  • Spoon into serving dish, sprinkle with hot sauce and garnish with chopped tomatoes
  • Serve with tortilla chips or the pita chips from last weeks blog (shown with dip in picture above). This also is delicious with a small French baguette. (Kevin likes this dip with mini-pumpernickel bread from the deli department at the grocery store.)

    PUT A LITTLEIMG_3099 LIGHT ON THE SUBJECT:                                                      In our home, we use festive party lights year round. We have lights for St. Valentines Day, St. Patricks Day and Easter and, of course, Christmas. During non-holiday times, we love the warm glow the lights give our home and patio(Think Tavern on the Green!)     For the Super Bowl, we’ve decorated our patio with our tomato                                                 cage trees emblazoned in blue and red Patriots colors!  Go Pats!!!

 RANDOM THOUGHT:

IMG_3129 (2)

RECYCLING AND ORGANIZING IDEA:                                                                                                       We often buy pre-packaged cold cuts from the grocery store. They come in small plastic containers similar to Tupperware. We recycle these tubs by using them to store our sewing and craft supplies. (Love our glue sticks!) They stack easily and are transparent, so we can easily find the items we need. These work out great!

Have a wonderful week!

Roy & Kevin

Thanksgiving -The Third Blog Post

Wow – this is our 6th blog entry already and next week is Thanksgiving. We are focusing on the meal and table today. Every celebration needs a nice centerpiece, and we saw one which showed a flower arrangement in a pumpkin. We did our own take on that. Also, we have a recipe we got from Rachael Ray a few years ago. We’ve changed it up a bit to make it healthier, yet still delicious! Enjoy!

PUMPKIN & FLOWER CENTERPIECE

IMG_2744

Looking for pumpkins the week before Thanksgiving can be tricky. In our area, they are not easy to find (or else we are looking in the wrong places – hmm, could be). Anyway, we adapted and created the pumpkin vase (pictured above) using the plastic pumpkin in the photo to the left.

For an 8-inch plastic pumpkin, you will need: 80 inches of orange (or the color of your choice) twisted paper cord (one brand available in most craft stores is called creative twist), hot glue gun and glue, small pot of mums or your favorite fall flower that will fit into your pumpkin. Our plant is 4 inches in diameter and 12 inches high.

  • Untwist paper cord and cut into eight 10-inch strips. When untwisted, the paper cord is about 4 inches wide.
  • Cover the Jack-O-Latern’s face with one of the crepe paper strips. You may have to cut the strip in 2 and piece them together, depending on the Jack-O-Lantern design. Secure with hot glue. (The face needs to be covered twice for this project so it will not show.)
  • After the face has been covered once, and starting next to a handle, cover the pumpkin by applying the strips vertically. Glue top of strip 1/2″ into inside of pumpkin. Add glue to middle of crepe paper strip and then glue to the bottom. Overlap strips by about a 1/16th of an inch as you go around.
  • Insert plant.

 SWEET POTATOES WITH BANANAS

IMG_2743 (2)

We tweaked a great recipe we saw Rachael Ray make so it would be healthier. Go to foodnetwork.com for the original recipe for Rachael Ray’s wonderful Mashed Sweet Potatoes.

Here is our version with less fat and sugar:

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds of sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks.
  • 2 tablespoons light margerine (with no hydrogenated oils)
  • 1 sliced banana
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Directions:

Boil potatoes about 20 minutes until tender, drain and put potatoes aside. In the original pot, add margerine and banana slices.  Cook the banana 5 minutes on medium heat and add the juice of the orange. Allow the orange juice to cook out for about 1 minute. Add the potatoes back to the pot with the stock and brown sugar. Mash together until its well mixed. Season with nutmeg, salt, pepper and orange zest to taste. Mash to combine, top with 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans.  WE LOVE THESE SWEET POTATOES!!

JOKE OF THE WEEK:                                                                                                                                       Can a turkey jump higher than the Empire State Building?                                                             Yes! A building can’t jump at all!

Joke source:  Kidsactivities.net

FUN FACTS: According to the website Life123 the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade took place in 1924. It was known then as the Macy’s Christmas Parade. Today, the parade is attended by an estimated 3 million people and is viewed by approximately 44 million people all over the country.

Thanks so much for reading, following and sharing these blogs. We have been having fun creating and writing.

1 more blog post before Thanksgiving! Gobble Gobble!

Roy & Kevin