The Ultimate Comfort Food

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The Ultimate Comfort Food

Chicken Poppyseed Casserole

For those of you that aren't from the south, you may not have this recipe. For those of you that are from the south, you most definitely have this recipe but let this be a little reminder of it!  This completely carb-loaded happy food isn't something to cook often but it's good every once in a while, it's a great "pick me up" food that will "put you down" on the couch, taking a good, solid nap in no time flat! 

Recipe:
3-4 chicken breasts
2 cans cream of chicken soup
8 oz sour cream
1 pkg Ritz crackers
1 1/2 sticks margarine, melted
2 tbsp poppy seed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place your seasoned (salt & pepper) chicken breasts in a greased 13 x 9 inch pan.  Bake for 35 minutes.

Shredded Chicken Trick: Remove chicken from the oven and place the chicken breasts along with juice (from the pan) in your stand up mixer.  Using the paddle attachment, slowly churn/mix the chicken and then increase the speed until the chicken is completely shredded (as pictured below)  Now, isn't that a nice little trick?

Now, dump your soup and sour cream into the mixer bowl, on top of the shredded chicken and mix it up.  Place back into that 13 x 9 inch pan.  Crush crackers and crumble over the top of the casserole.  Sprinkle poppy seeds over crackers and drizzle melted butter evenly to cover the entire dish.  Bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes.  Yields 6 servings.

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Flourless Chocolate Cake

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I made this delicious cake for Valentine's Day and I just had to share it with you. 

You can find the complete recipe at...  
This is such a cool blog. 
They have a lot of great looking recipes that I'm looking forward to trying!

I served mine with...
 Red Velvet Ice Cream
Heart Shaped - Fresh Sliced Strawberries
and Fresh Whipped Topping.  





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Garlic Spinach Pasta

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This pasta is quick and easy but it tastes unbelievable!

Ingredients:
8 oz. angel hair pasta, cooked as directed.
1 tsp EVOO
2 Tbsp shallots, finely chopped
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
12 oz baby spinach leaves
1/4 c. fresh grated parmesan.

Sautee shallots and garlic in heated olive oil until tender.  Add lemon juice and simmer for a minute.  Add spinach leaves to the shallots and garlic.  Cook spinach until wilted and dark, stirring and turning constantly.  Serve with cooked pasta and sprinkled parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!
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NO SINK Chocolate Chip Muffins

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My kids LOVE chocolate chip muffins.  If you read my blog, you already know that we have muffins every Sunday morning.  It's our tradition.  I usually make somewhat healthy muffins with applesauce, oatmeal, fresh fruit, etc but every once in a while, I make up a batch of their favorites.  The only problem was that the chocolate chips always ended up on the bottom of the muffin, leaving the top of the muffin bare.  I tried several things including thickening the batter to fix the problem with no luck until I discovered this little trick.


Best ever
chocolate chip muffin recipe

Ingredients:
1 c. sugar (raw sugar is best)
1 c. milk
2 eggs
2/3 c. EVOO
1 tsp vanilla
1 c. quick cook oatmeal (UNCOOKED)
2 c. self-rising flour
1 bag of chocolate chips


shhhhere's the secret:  
Mix up the muffin batter but don't add the chocolate chips yet!
Pour batter into greased muffin cups and then add 5 chocolate chips to the top of each muffin.
*I left one muffin plain (for my weenie dog - see photo)
She gets a muffin on Sundays too!  
That's her only table food - don't judge!
Anyway, back to the trick - stick the muffins in preheated 400 degree oven for 5 minutes.  Set your timer and then remove them after 5 minutes.


Pour the remaining chocolate chips on to the tops of all the muffins (except the doggie's)
and replace pan in oven.  Cook for 15-18 minutes more.


You'll find these are the most perfect muffins with evenly dispersed chocolate chips throughout!

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Spaghetti & Meatballs with Basil Cream Sauce

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Meatballs:
1 lb ground beef
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tbsp. EVOO, divided
1 tsp. minced garlic
3/4 c. bread crumbs
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt

Sautee shallot and garlic in 1 Tbsp. olive oil.  
Add to uncooked ground beef.
Mix in egg, bread crumbs and salt to beef mixture.
Roll into meatballs.
Cook in heated skillet with remaining olive oil.
Cook about 8 minutes or until no pink remains.

Basil Cream Sauce:
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp minced garlic
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 c vodka (optional)
1 c chicken stock
32 oz crushed tomatoes
1/2 c. heavy cream
20 torn basil leaves

Heat EVOO and butter in deep skillet, add garlic and shallots.  Saute over medium heat for 3-5 minutes.  Add vodka and boil for 2-3 minutes, allowing it to completely cook off (2-3 minutes).  Add chicken stock and crushed tomatoes.  Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce to simmer.  Add salt and pepper (to taste).  Just before serving, stir in heavy cream and basil leaves.

Serve with your favorite pasta.  I like this dish with thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta.


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Serger Cleaning

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Cleaning your Serger

When I first saw some serger videos and photos (before I got mine), I was astonished at the amount of lint and dust inside EVERY SINGLE ONE! I was a bit appalled, to be honest!  I thought, "Why don't these people take better care of their machines?" I had no idea that they become covered in lint after every serging project and they are impossible to keep clean!

Sergers cut and stitch at the same time so there's an enormous amount of "junk" in your machine!  I tried to vacuum mine using my little hand held vac but the opening was just too wide so there wasn't enough suction to move a fiber of string.  I decided I would just order a tiny sewing machine vacuum but after I read the reviews, I found that none of them were great.  I also read negative comments about aerosol spray cans and how BAD they can be for a serger because they only force the lint and fuzz into the machine further so what to do???!!!?  I looked at keyboard cleaners and other options at office supply stores, I even looked at a couple of different sewing machine shops but I couldn't find anything.  Then I saw this handy little shop vac at Walmart.
SHOP VAC $19.99

ATTACHMENT KIT $7.99

It is the perfect size for my serger and craft room!  I bought the (above) package of small attachments to go along with it.  I must say that this thing is ideal.  Just look at the before and after photos...



I can easily vacuum the inside of my serger, making it look like new and knowing that I'm prolonging it's life.

I can also use the vac to clean up after all kinds of craft projects.  It even operates as a wet vac although I haven't had to use it for that yet... I'm sure that opportunity's right around the corner, knowing my luck :)


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Painted Napkin Rings

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I love napkin rings as much as I love cloth napkins.  
I like to mix them up and leave them unmatched.  
I think it creates an interesting table.
I usually find my favorite napkin rings at Pier One.


I decided I wanted to create my own colors so I bought some natural wood rings at Hobby Lobby.
I painted them with acrylic paint and then sanded them to add distressed character.

The above photo shows how cool they are left naturally too.

I think this color of turquoise is my favorite.


You can find my tutorial on making cloth napkins at the following links...



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Healthy You - Sausage Corn Chowder

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You are going to love this recipe!

Ingredients:
12 oz reduced fat pork sausage
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
8 small new potatoes, cut into chunks
1 tbsp light butter
1 tbsp self-rising flour
1/4 c. chicken broth
3 3/4 c. chicken broth
20 oz frozen cream style corn
12 oz can sweet kernel corn
8 oz light sour cream
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions:
Brown pork sausage in skillet, add chopped onion and garlic.  Set aside.
In stock pot, add butter and cook until lightly browned.
Add flour and brown slightly, creating a roux. Using whisk, add 1/4 c broth.
Thicken and gradually add remaining broth.
Melt frozen corn in the warm broth mixture.  Add additional can of corn and sour cream.
When corn is melted, add salt and pepper along with sausage onion mixture.
Bring to boil and simmer for 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

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Seersucker Napkins DIY

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Seersucker Napkins


This is an easy one-hour project.
Cut napkin squares 17" x 17" (or any size you'd like)


Using rolled hem setting on your serger, serge all 4 edges.
Cut loose threads and you're done!

Here's a link to my complete tutorial on making cloth napkins...

I am currently working on a tutorial post about the wooden napkin rings seen in these photos.  
I'll have that posted next week.


This is a cool look - using double napkins.  I just slipped them into the ring as usual but I love the way the bottom of these look.  They have added character.

Here are some other samples of place settings using my new seersucker napkins...






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Annie Sloan Chalk Painter

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Annie Sloan Chalk Painter


I thought I'd share my ASCP painted furniture portfolio from the past year.  I have painted many things and learned A LOT about this amazing paint in the process.  I have tried different techniques and have discovered my favorite ways to use it.  Come along on this journey with me as we look at my ASCP projects along with my rookie painting tips.  If you want to read more details on a project, click on the photo to go directly to the post.


My very first ASCP project... painting bathroom cabinets. 
Way to dive right in, Nicole!  Right?  
I must admit that it's probably not a great idea for your first experience to be on such a big project but honestly, there were no problems and they turned out beautiful.  
That's a testament to this paint and how easy it is to use!

This is the mirror I bought at Lowes and painted to match the bathroom cabinets.


I got this coffee table for $15 at a garage sale.  It's been in my living room since I painted it.


Breakfast tray... I branched out from "Old White" and used some "French Linen" on this project.

Back to "Old White" again, these matching end tables turned out amazing.  I snagged them for $15 (for the pair) at a Garage Sale.


This was an interesting project.  My husband didn't agree with me on this purchase even though I got it for $5 at YET another garage sale.  It was really ugly and hollow but after I painted it using "Coco and Paris Grey" and bought these awesome baskets at Target, it was one of our favorites!

This was an old teacher's desk that I revived and now sits in my office.  I love the artsy feel of this one.  My office is in my art studio so it fits in perfectly with it's rebellious distressing.  This one is painted with Graphite.

This little side table is so cheerful.  I love Arles.  It's the prettiest shade of yellow.  This was (of course) another garage sale find.

Ahhh... the project that put my blog on the map!  I painted my grandmother's old piano and LOVE LOVE LOVEd the results, as did a lot of readers.  This project turned out just beautiful and is very special and dear to me!

This bed was Steve's grandparents bed for many years.  We inherited it after their passing.  It is now my daughter's bed and I love everything about it.  Especially the spindle posts.  I think the graphite compliments it perfectly.


This was my first attempt with stencil using ASCP.  I did the drawer facings on my daughter's dresser using Paris Grey.  It compliments the Graphite painted bed perfectly.

This sweet magazine rack was my second stencil project.  The rack was painted using "Creme" and the stenciled side is done with "Old White".

I was sooooo excited to find this card catalog AT A GARAGE SALE.  Did I mention how EXCITED I was when I found this?  I used duck egg with a dark wax.  I LOVE this one!

 This is the island in my friend's kitchen... I painted it using Provence.  It was a fun project and turned out absolutely beautiful!
My baby girl helped me paint this using "Pure White" - she did a great job.  It was a great addition to her room.

Cute little spindle table.  Honestly, it's not my favorite project that I've done.  I'm not sure why - maybe it was the mildew???  I used "Creme" and "Paris Grey" on this one.  


This was my "Bob the Builder" phase.   I got real busy with power tools and made a ton of these trays... very empowering ;) I love love love this photo.  It's a fun shot of the various paint colors and drawer pulls I used.

Ugly lingerie chest turned paper storage with a little help from "Provence".  This one is sitting pretty in my art room.

The Chicken Wire Armoire - I loved this armoire and would have kept it if only I had a place for it.  I used "Old Whte" on the outside and "Coco" on the inside.  I replaced the door panels with chicken wire.  Did I mention that I LOVE-ed this armoire?

Another love affair - right here - this table was so beautiful!  I LOVE this table!!! I used graphite (tinted to almost black) and old white.  I even painted the original drawer pulls with ASCP.

Provence chair with dark wax.  I got the fabric for the seat at Premiere Fabrics in Germantown.  This chair was another garage sale find.

Memphis City Schools old teacher's desk - SOLID as they come!  I used "Florence" on this with a dark wax.  I stripped and stained the wood on top and kept the original wooden hardware.


These are currently sitting pretty in my living room.  I  painted matching side tables and stenciled the drawer facings.  They are sweet.  I really love the way they turned out.  The tables are painted in "Old White" with the stencil in "Duck Egg"

Got this one on Craig's List.  It is the perfect armoire for my daughter's "graphite" bed.  I got the hardware at Hobby Lobby.  This piece turned out really sweet.


Aside from the piano, this is probably the most chatted-up item on my blog at the moment.  I don't know if it's because it's my most recent piece of furniture or if it's because it is drop dead gorgeous - which it definitely is.  I used duck egg with old white on the inside.  It has inspired me to tackle the old side board (currently in my garage) and use the same color scheme.  This belonged to my husband's great aunt.  I simply love this pie safe.  It's precious in many ways.

So, what's to come?  Ahhhh... if you could only take a peak at my garage right now.  I have so many pieces out there and I'm not EVEN kidding.  You honestly wouldn't believe it so I won't even try but there are beds, armoires, sideboards, wash stands, coffee tables, rocking chairs, shelving...  I could go on and on.  Lots of new painting adventures for this year.
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