Crowd Pleasing Pasta Salad

You know how there is always one salad that someone is always asked to bring to a BBQ?  for my mom, it is her potato salad.  People have tried to reproduce it, and cannot get it exactly the same.

For me, it is my pasta salad.  It is creamy decliciousness in a bowl (or plate) and so easy to make.

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Here is how I make it, and I promise, it is so easy to do, and you will get so many compliments.

Prepare your pasta according to package directions.  I like to use a curly pasta like rotini or scoobi doo, the dressing seems to stick better to it.

While the pasta is boiling cut up your veggies.  You can add whatever you have on hand.  The ones I always use are carrots, celery, cucumber, radish.  If I happen to have cherry tomatoes I will toss those in too.

Next comes cheese.  In our house it means lots and lots of cheese.  We like cheese!

All veggies shoulf be cut in bite size pieces, and I cut the cheese in to little cubes.
And now for the secret sauce: it is peppercorn ranch dressing!  Add in as much or as little as you like.  I tend to go a little saucier as my family likes it better that way.

 

See, easy peasy.  Make one of these for your next gathering and get prepared for lots of compliments!

How to Remove Sticker Residue From Clothes

So I washed B’s soccer shirt with his name tag still on it.  When it came out of the dryer the sticker was gone and I was left with a big rectangle of sticker residue.  That stuff did not want to come off!  After a second washing it then had sand and lint stuck on it too.

Well tonight is soccer photo night, and I couldn’t have B looking goofy, so I tried something that actually worked to take it off easily, rubbing alcohol!

That’s right, rubbing alcohol.  I poured some on the area, let it soak in for a few minutes and used an old toothbrush to rub it.  The stuff came right off and it looks as good as new!  You will need to launder the clothes after as well, but he is ready for pictures now.

*Disclaimer* I have used rubbing alcohol to clean things before (see my cleaning microfibre couch post) and have never had an issue with staining or colour removal.  However, if you are worried about it, test in an inconspicuous area of the garment first.

Also, you may need to repeat this process a couple of times to get all of the residue off.

Mini Tortilla Pizzas

I am always on a mission to find good new lunch box items.  I am also always on a mission to use up leftovers.  So with this recipe I double scored!  I had leftover tortillas after making chicken caesar wraps for dinner and needed something to do with them.  I stumbled across this recipe and thought I would give it a try.

Well, they were a huge success, in fact I had to make more than I originally planned because they kept getting eaten right off the plate as fast as I could take them out of the oven.  They are perfect as appetizers, for a pot luck, and in lunch boxes.  You can use whatever toppings you want to, I made some pepperoni and cheese, and some just cheese for my little picky pants.

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Ingredients

tortillas

pizza sauce

grated cheese

pepperoni (I chopped mine up instead of slices)

other optional toppings.

 

You want to start by preheating your oven to 450*

While the oven is preheating dump your sauce in to another container and wash and dry your can.  You are going to use the top of it to cut your tortillas in to circles.  You will end up with this (and a little bit of waste which you can bake and dip in hummus).

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Press your tortilla rounds in to a muffin tin and bake for 4 minutes, or until slightly browned.  This will give them a nice little bit of crunch.

Once they come out of the oven, add your sauce, toppings and cheese.  Return to the oven and bake for another 4 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve and enjoy!

Spring, Finally!

I am still here!  Spring has finally sprung in my little corner of the world. I wasn’t sure it was going to ever happen, but it has.

I have been keeping really busy with yard and garden work, and some garden work for friends, and nursing a wicked head cold right now.

Some flowers have started coming out which I am so happy for, the ice is off the lake, and the sun is shining (on the days it isn’t raining).

Pretty soon it will be full blown gardening time, and barefoot in the grass time!

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What is your favourite thing about Spring?

I Can Knit

I decided shortly before Christmas that I wanted to teach myself how to knit.  I have always wanted to learn, but I don’t really know anyone who does it other than family who live 4 hours north of me.

So I got on youtube and found some great videos that taught me the very basics.  I started out by making three different dish cloths, using three different knitting techniques.

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My next project was a pair of slippers.  I found the easiest pattern that I could on ravelry.com   This was my first time following a pattern, and it turned out I had questions, and encountered some new stitches.  For help, I have found an amazing website that I highly recommend, it has videos for just about anything knitting to show you how to do it.

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I am currently working on a scarf for B that he asked me to make.  But I wanted to share something else that I learned how to do recently, arm knitting!  I saw a video on Pinterest on how to knit an scarf in half an hour and thought I would give it a try.  I have made three so far and they are so easy!

It took me a little longer than the half hour to do it, and hour and twenty minutes to be exact, but the results are so pretty, and I have had requests from people already. Here is the video if you want to learn how to do it.  All you need is two skeins of bulky yarn, your arms, and an hour of spare time.

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A Simple Minecraft Party

O had his sleepover birthday party this past weekend.  The theme he wanted…..Minecraft.  No surprise there, the boy is obsessed (remember the Minecraft mask post?).

Well, let me tell you, there are NO Minecraft decorations to be purchased in store.  There are some invitations and other small things that can be purchased from Etsy, but I was not willing to go that route and I also found them rather expensive for what you were getting.

So, I took to trusty Pinterest to see what I could find to do myself.  I managed to put together a nicely decorated and inexpensive party room, make a nice cake, and a huge success with goodie bags.

First I will show you decorations.  I kept it simple, the boys would be in the dining room (party room) for pizza, cake and gifts, so this was the only room I decorated.  The rest of the time they were up in O’s bedroom playing Minecraft on their devices, or watching a movie in the living room.

I know nothing about this game (still) as I mentioned in my Halloween mask post, but I managed to get some good ideas both from Pinterest and by questioning O about certain aspects of the game.

These are my TNT decorations.  They were as simple as wrapping a couple of boxes in red wrapping paper.  I used a hot glue gun to attach white ribbon, but you could also use construction paper if you didn’t have any ribbon.  I used a sharpie for the writing, and black ribbon on the top for the “charge”.  Again, you could use any black materials you have laying around for the charge part.

I hit up the Dollar Store for tableware.  I got a green and a blue table plastic table cloth, green square plates, green napkins, and green cups.

For the cups I grabbed my trusty sharpie and drew Creeper faces (some sort of bad guy) on them. 

My best find was square pieces of grass, perfect for the middle of the table.

I served homemade pizza, cut in to squares of course.  Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of that part.

The cake was a hit!  It was a chocolate dirt clump cake, iced with a chocolate buttercream frosting.  I used Oreo baking crumbs over top of the icing on the sides to get the dirt look.  The grass part on the top is vanilla buttercream icing with green food colouring.  I used a Wilton grass tip to get the grass effect.  For the cake I used this recipe from housewife2hostess.  It really is a good chocolate cake, and easy to make.  The recipe will make two layers, I ended up wanting a third layer as it wasn’t quite tall enough.

And the goodie bags!  I was quite pleased with myself on this one.  O is 10, and I didn’t want to do a goodie bag with the typical little toys that always get thrown out, and seriously, what ten year old really wants those?

The bags required a morning of trip in to town.  I got green paper bags and hit up the bulk food store for supplies.  On the bags I drew another Creeper face, and filled the bags with candies that represent items on Minecraft!  Here is a link that tells you different items used in the game and what they represent.

I put more candy in than what you see in the picture!  But there are gummy fish, and sour melons which satisy hunger in the game.  There is chocolate rocks/gravel which is used for mining or building in the game.  And last but not least, gold wrapped mini chocolate bars.  Gold is used for crafting, and currency.

There you go, I hope that this post gave you some easy, inexpensive ideas that you can do on your own!

A Sandwich Bread Tutorial

I told myself that I had to sit down today and write this post since I took the pictures for it already!

Since I got my KitchenAid Mixer and got over my fear of making bread I have been making it weekly.  I am proud to say that I have not bought a single loaf of bread since Christmas!

I use a recipe that I found on hubpages.  Easy to follow directions, and the bread turns out great everytime.  I went to pull up my recipe last week, and I could not find it  Cue panic!

Luckily, I had written the recipe down, but I like to have pretty pictures to follow along with, so I thought I would do a post about it, and then I can always find my recipe and pictures.  🙂  This recipe will make two loaves.

Ingredients

1/2 cup milk
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp butter
2 packages active dry yeast (or 4.5 tsp of bulk yeast)
1.5 cups warm water (105*- 115*F)
5-6 cups flour (I use 5.5)

Combine your milk, sugar, salt and butter in a pot on low heat until the butter meats.  Cool to lukewarm (105-115*)  A digital thermometer is your best friend when making bread.  You can do it without, I find it much easier to use one though.

Warm your mixing bowl by swirling hot water and dumping it.  Add 1.5 cups warm water and dissolve yeast in it.  Whisk it up with a fork to help it along.  It will start to look like this pretty quickly.

Add your lukewarm milk mixture and 4.5 cups of the flour to the bowl.  Attach your dough hook and mix at the lowest speed for two minutes.
Continue mixing at the same speed while adding the rest of the flour (5.5 cups is what I use).  Add 1/2 cup at a time until the dough clears the sides of the bowl and sticks to the hook.  Continue to knead for another 3-5 minutes after this until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Turn your dough in to a large greased bowl.  You want to actually put your dough in the bowl, turn it in a circle and then flip it.

You will cover the bowl and set it to rise for an hour. You can use either plastic wrap or a clean dish towel. It needs to be in a warm area free from drafts.  If you put it in your oven with the light on this is the best place.  This next picture is after the rise!

Punch your dough down a couple of times to release air.  Divide it in half.  You can use a kitchen scale if you want to be precise, I normally just eyeball it.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour.  One ball at a time roll out to approximately 9″x14″

Now you fold it into thirds along the long edge. Wipe off excess flour and then tightly roll dough up.  Pinch the seams and the ends.

Put in two greased loaf pans seam side down.  Cover and rise again until doubled.  This usually takes another hour.  The next two photos are before and after the rise.

Remove the pans from the oven and then heat the oven to 400*.  Bake for 30 minutes until they are golden brown.

Take the loaves out of the pans right away and cool on wire racks.  You know that your loaves are done when you tap the bottom and it sounds hollow.  Enjoy!