Monday, April 16, 2012

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

What is that from...I say it all the time and I don't know where I got it...

I've been "pinning my way through dinner" for several weeks now.  I'd say my luck as been about 50-50.  I don't want to call out the "bad" recipes so I'll just tell you about a few that we enjoyed.  I will also warn you that I am in no way a great cook OR a food photographer.  We can just pretend that this is just a blog about the way food REALLY looks for normal people who cook while multi-tasking, and who use a point and shoot camera. ;)  I didn't ask permission to post the actual recipes here, so I will just give you the links and let you go there yourself.  :)

#1 Chicken Broccoli Supreme
When I saw the title I knew I had to taste this.  We eat a lot of chicken and a lot of broccoli, so why not combine them!  If I tell my husband we're having a casserole he already "knows" he doesn't like it, so I appreciate the term "Supreme" and now incorporate it into other dishes for that reason...shhh!  The recipe is on the Get off your butt and...Bake blog.

The sauce was easy to make, don't get overwhelmed looking at directions.  If I can do it, anyone can.  I don't recommend trying to watch your toddler at the same time though, the sauce does take constant attention.  I left the poppyseeds out of the crumb mixture, although I'm not sure why...probably because I forgot about them while I was trying to watch my daughter at the same time.  I like dinners that bake in the oven for 30 mins+ because it gives me time to prep anything else (ie. side dish, dessert, or a toddler bath) This is how ours turned out:

Delicious!  I will make it again for sure!  Would be a great dish for potlucks, family gatherings, or taking to someone in need of a meal.  The leftovers the next day were still delicious.

#2 Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu
I really recommend that you check out The Girl Who Ate Everything.  She has some amazing recipes.  Now that I've learned my lesson on Pinterest recipes, I think I'll go through her blog for the next few weeks of dinners.  This Cordon Bleu truly was so easy, however I cheated through a few steps.
1. I didn't slice my chicken breasts, I just bought smaller ones.
2. I used store bought bread crumbs since I had them in my pantry and I don't have a food processor (gasp!) to quickly make them.
3. I used sprinkle Kraft parmesean cheese (double gasp!) because I don't use parmesean cheese enough to buy a block of it, and I was doing this recipe from pantry ingredients rather than a shopping list of items.
4. And lastly I used deli cut ham rather than sliced.  It is thicker and tastes more like ham in my opinion.  It was also harder to cut through that thinly sliced ham would've been so you choose which you prefer.

Ohhhh, that sauce was so scrumcious that I poured it on the plates as if it were a side dish!  The pink you see is the ham...see what I mean about thicker slices verses the version on the blog?

#3 Maple Mustard Chicken
I found a recipe on Pinterest with the plan to follow the directions and see how it turned out.  However, I read through all the comments on the blog post and on my "repin" and decided to take matters into my own hands.  Remember how I said that I prefer cooking to baking because I can throw in more or less of different ingredients without following directions?  This was a great example of that.  So I will try to give measurements to what I actually did.

4 small Chicken breasts
1/2 cup Sweet and Honey Dijon mustard
1/2 cup Maple syrup (Log Cabin brand, I didn't have an real syrup handy)
1/2 cup Honey BBQ sauce
1 tbsp Rice wine vinegar (optional)

I have yet to determine what Rice Wine Vinegar does.  Everytime I add it to something I wish I hadn't.  I don't care for vinegar on any level so I'll skip it next time.  But if you like that tanginess, go for it.  Mix your mustard, syrup, BBQ sauce, and vinegar in a bowl.  Pour a straight line of sauce in the middle of the dish, lay your chicken along the line and wiggle them a little to spread the sauce.  Pour remaining sauce over chicken.  Bake at 400 for 30 minutes, flipping the chicken breasts half way through.  Mine turned out looking nothing like the Pinterest picture which seemed to be the general consensus on the comments I read.  The sauce bubbled up to the top of the dish and fortunately did not spill over, but you may want to put a cookie sheet on the rack below to catch any spills.  I served this with broccoli and sweet potato slices (a Pinterest recipe gone wrong so we'll pretend it didn't happen).

I'm off to have a Maple Mustard chicken salad sandwich for lunch!  I just recently figured out that chicken of almost any flavor can be cut up, add some mayo and pickle relish and you have gourmet (and I use that word lightly) CHICKEN SALAD!  Yum!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cabinet Repurposing #2

I have issues...issues regarding "looking up and following directions".  It's why I don't like to bake, I don't like follow precise directions.  Cooking is fun because I can just throw random ingredients in, more of this, less of kind of directions.

So, Pinterest kills me for this reason.  I see a picture of something and decide to make it up as I go.  Had I actually followed the directions for this cute kid's desk at iCandy Homemade's awesome blog, mine would've turned out way cuter than it did.  But for a 2.5 year old, this will do.

I started with 2 cabinet doors.  I learned from my chalkboard project and sanded these very well.  This was the most time consuming part and it's tempting to skip over but, as I've learned, it's a necessary step.  Then I used a spray paint primer.  The guy in the paint department recommended using a primer with old wood because paint soaks in some places more than others.  This way I'd get a more even coat with the colored paint.  Oddly enough, he was hesitant to open the spray paint cabinets for me until I had fully explained my project.  Maybe the fact that I bought purple and pink assured him that I was not headed for a night of tagging...that, or my babbling on about a cabinet door desk for my 2 year old bored him and he just wanted me to stop talking.

I let the primered doors dry in the sun which sped up the process.  (*note: I am absolutely not a painter so please forgive me if that is an incorrect way to paint!)  Then I moved onto my purple spray paint.  I used an entire can of purple paint for this one project.  I don't know if that is good or bad but it was fine with me.

 I sprinkled pink glitter on the door that was going to be the bottom tray, just for fun.  Because glitter makes everything fun.

And here is where I became a bad blogger and didn't take pictures of the building process.  Sorry!  I bought regular gate hinges from Lowes.  I really wanted something that would close slowly but I had the hardest time figuring that out in the "hinge aisle" and apparently no one wants to help a lady out!

I also bought 4 of these cute, short table legs at Lowes and painted them purple as well.  I definitely should've taken a picture of the way I painted these, I was quite proud of myself.  I tied a string from my daughter's slide to our bird feeder pole.  Then used clothespins to hang the legs by their tags (not shown in the picture).  This way I could spray all the way around them and let them hang to dry.

So, I marked where I wanted the hinges placed and screwed them in.  I enlisted my husband's help at this point because we used the power drill (screwdriver).  Now don't get me wrong, I can use a power tool as good as any man, but I just like to see him work with power tools.  ;)  He also drilled four holes a tad smaller than the screws on the legs, onto the bottom of the bottom tray.

And voilà!  The finished product!

A couple of notes -

*I actually never  read the original blog post until after I had completed my project.  I had only seen the picture on Pinterest but I had forgotten that she had "frames" on the top to hold the pencils and such.  My thinking was to make the top be the work surface and the inside just to hold the art supplies.

*After 30 seconds of Kaylee using her table she bonked her head as the top fell down on her.  So I do recommend finding a hardware store employee and asking them about slow closing hinges. Reading the original blog, I like how she used the actual door hardware.  I attempted to do that with mine but we had external hinges the didn't work the direction I needed them to.  For now Kaylee will just have to learn to hold with one hand, grab the necessary supplies and close the lid.  I do have rubber spacers that I will put on the inside to keep from slamming fingers.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Cabinet Repurposing #1

I was recently given a bunch of old cabinet doors and so I of course hit up Pinterest for some ideas to repurpose them.  I'm still working on the really cool and fun projects so you'll have to wait for those.  But I did make Kaylee a chalkboard today.

First I sanded the cabinet door.  I recommend using a larger grit than 400 though, you really want to get the original stain off.  I noticed that the areas I didn't sand well didn't hold the paint as well either.  Maybe that's common knowledge...I am NO painter, that's for sure.

Then I taped off the center area and painted my border.  I used leftover paint from Kaylee's room decor, it's just standard indoor, satin finish paint from Lowes.

I allowed that to dry, took the tape off and started with my chalkboard paint from Joanns.  In the past I have used chalkboard paint from Lowes and it painted on so smoothly.  I bought this jar of FolkArt Chalkboard paint at Joanns because it was convenient.  It was gloopy and took 4 coats (jar says 2 coats).  This could be because I didn't sand well but I'll be sticking to my Lowes paint for future projects.
After the last coat dried I followed the directions on the jar and conditioned the paint with a piece of chalk.  Note to self: sidewalk chalk is not meant for painted chalkboards.  Oops!  It is very hard and scratched my new paint.  But life goes on.  I found a regular piece of chalk and finished the job.

Lastly I used 2 picture hanging loopy screws (that's the official name for them right?) and twine to hang it on our backyard fence.  This way we can bring it inside or place it on the front porch with a welcome message!
All that matters is that Kaylee thought it was so cool when she woke up from her nap.  She even drew you a nice Easter greeting.  :)