Monday, August 6, 2012

Panko breaded chicken tenderloins with fresh tomato basil Sauce-- time consuming but worth it!

So, let me first say this meal took me about an hour and a half to make.  If you have fresh, home-grown tomatoes at hand-- it is worth it.  If you aren't sure where your tomatoes came from-- you can buy the sauce and enjoy the Panko encrusted chicken, nonetheless.

I set up a Toss, Dunk, Press process. As in toss the chicken tenderloin into the flour, dunk it into the egg, and press it into the panko crumbs.  I do toss the Panko crumbs with Italian seasonings for flavor.  Bake at 350  for about 25 minutes. It ends up looking like this:
Now, if you don't have home-grown or farmer's market tomatoes, go with your recipe of choice for topping.  If you are lucky enough to have special tomatoes on hand, this is a great recipe for sauce,, You will have wanted to start this about 1 hour prior to your chicken cook time.  Quarter the tomatoes and place in a pan with 1 cup of water.  Combine with diced onions comparable to the amount of tomatoes you are using. Also add about a Tbsp of sugar, salt and pepper, garlic to taste.At this time add your spices/herbs to the sauce.   I love fresh basil.-- amazing!!   Let them simmer to the point they are breaking down.. At that point, mash them with a potato masher, set to the side, and allow to cool a bit.Then peel and discard all the tomato skins you mange.  They will peel easily.
 So, we are almost done!!  Next, spoon about 1/2 cup onto each chicken tenderloin, top with a slice of mozzarella, return to the oven.

In about 3 minutes-- dinner is served!!  And it is fabulous!!  So thankful God has given us this abundance of ingredients to use and the skill to use them:)  Enjoy and Bon Appetit:)

I can't believe I didn't get a photo of these babies when they were out of the oven.. Do try.. And do cook.. And do enjoy!  Bon Appetit!   :)

15 minutes, 0 preservatives, cheesy ravioli = yummy weekday meal!!

    Here is a quick, easy, veggie enhanced choice for a week night meal (or a weekend lunch).  This is so easy to prepare.  At the same time, it is super cheap and free of all those nasty tasting, non-nutritious preservatives.  Deacan has a very hard time with "Chef" Boyardee-- but will eat it if that is the only source available.  Try and taste this and you will never go back!!

3 steps-- easy peasy!!

1st step:  Buy frozen cheese ravioli and boil them for about 3 minutes...  Aldi sells an excellent product for about $3/ 8 serving bag.  After boiling, strain, and toss with a bit of olive oil..
Above photo, in the same pan, mix up a jar of pasta sauce (your choice).. We love Aldi's Mushroom Pasta Sauce-- but roll with what you like.  I also added a can of stewed tomatoes to this batch. You could even branch out and do an alfredo or pesto! 

I like to get a bit fancy and add 2 tablespoons of mince garlic (for our immune systems/ Deacan's lack of adequate hand-washing).  I also throw in a handful of basil.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Really- the world is your oyster here.  Whatever spices and sauces you like-- wonderful!  Just make sure they are complementary.  We can't have Judy Bloom with James Patterson.  Right?
Fresh basil, minced garlic, store-bought tomato sauce=  3 minutes to a culinary YUM!! :)  It all melts down to a beautiful medley also known as tomato sauce.. Now spoon onto those raviolis and you have an awesome meal in less than 15 minutes flat!  Sweet!!  Or shall I say "A'More!"  :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

How to make Canvas Map wall Art-- easy & inexpensive!

     So, I have collected maps from my travels and whereabouts over the years.  I have been meaning to make wall art with them for quite some time (um, about 6 years).  I FINALLY got around to actually doing it! Yay!  This project is simple and costs around $10, depending on the canvas you chose.  My future project will be a bit more expensive due to the large canvas. I got two canvases in a value pack for $8 at Micheal's.  I loved the square ones:
Then it was time to bust out the maps!  Thankfully, I had them stored in a nice, neat packet and a file folder:
Once unbound, it was a bit of a mess!

After much deliberation, I found the perfect pair to go with for my "beginner's project".  I wanted to save the most special and larger maps for later, in case I messed up.  I went with a couple of maps from the Sonoma Valley wineries.  Oh, how I wish I could visit that majestic land again-- RIGHT NOW! ! :)

There are several tutorials online about how to wrap the maps around the canvas, which looks really nice.  I chose to paint a border around mine due to the size of the maps once I cut them.  If you have a larger map-- check out the wrapping technique. 

That being said, my next step was to blend a few of my paints to make it work and create a border.  I also painted wall facing edges of the canvas. 
Then, just Mod Podge onto the canvas, pasting the pieces of the map onto there per-determined spots.  I emphasize PRE-DETERMINED  because the piece will not remove easily-- hence crackling and folding.  Be extra sure where you want it-- it is a bit unforgiving of error.  My final product had a few creases.  That being said, relax but be positive about your lay out in the beginning..
Once it is all Mod Podged, it will still be kind of wet.  In spite of this fact, add another layer of Mod Podge over it.  It will seem as if it is gunky and will perhaps disenigrate -- it won't! Trust me.. Throw on a healthy layer of M.P.
Do not touch!! Put in a safe place to dry.  And within 24 hours you will have some super-cool wall art to hang.  YAY!!  Here is my finished project, sadly to say I have not hung them up yet.. I need to find my nails. HA!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Happy Birthday, Deacan!! My 5 yr old big boy!! :)

I can't believe my baby just turned 5 years old!!  Where does the time go?  Yikes!  Deacan had a super fun birthday party.. We were blessed to have lots of friends and family there with us to celebrate.  The kids (and a few grown-ups, including me) had lots of fun jumping and sliding on the inflatable equipment at Pump It Up..
Go, Go, Go!!

Pile Up on Aisle 7  !! :)
Uncle Murf had to join in the fun!

     We were so happy with Deacan's birthday cake -- absolutely perfect!!  We are big fans of Baskin Robbins icecream cakes but they didn't have any Scooby Doo layouts.  Fortunately they informed us that you can take any photo to Wal-Mart bakery and they will copy it to editable paper for about $6 per photo.  I found a neat pic on the internet, printed it, and took it to Wal-Mart.  Not even 10 minutes later, we had what we needed.  Yay!!  We took it back to Baskin Robbins, told them what we wanted, and they it was ready when we needed it.  We went for a larger size than the employees there suggested.  They recommended a half sheet for 15 kids.  I wanted to feed the parents, as well, and too not worry about the stress of extra guests not being fed.  We went with a full sheet and it was the perfect amount to feed all 22 kids, parents, and family members.  And when I say the PERFECT amount-- I am being literal.. There was one lone piece standing after all was said and done with the serving.. SWEET!! Mommy gets a piece!! And it was deeeee-lish!! :)

     I added the number 5 candle and we were ready for my baby's birthday wish!!
"Hmm, gotta think about this one!"

"May all your wishes come true, always"- Mommy

Then it was time to enjoy the cake, snack on some chips, and drink Capri-Suns!!
What a great photo of all of Deacan's sweet friends!!    

     Next order of business-- all of the presents!  Deacan got lots of fun gifts.  The opening of these presents was quite a process!!  We are so thankful for all the presents, but it was the presence that mattered more than anything..:)

     Thanks to everyone that made Deacan's birthday extra special!!  Family members (although not pictured)-- Aunt Natilee, Pops, Chlo-Bo, and friends-- we love you!  So glad you all were there..  Now, can time slow down a bit until my baby turns 6, please!  Happy birthday, D-Nanner!!  :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

A fun idea for Chinese fortune cookie Papers

So, I have been saving my Chinese fortune cookie papers for quite some time.  I was originally planning on pasting them on a box- like purse.  Well, I came up with a better idea-- display them on a Chinese food tray we can bust out when we order Chinese food!! Yay!!  This is so easy-- the most time consuming part is accumulating the fortunes.. Unless, of course, you want to cheat and order them through Oriental Trading.. No judgements!! :)   All you need is fortunes, a cheap tray, and Mod Podge.  This costs me about $ 5.00 , aside from all the Chinese takeout and pounds to my body! HA!!

   First-- collect fortunes (or buy them).. I had a baby food jar full, which was the perfect amount:

I had a hard time choosing between two trays.  In the end, I love the clear one because you can read the Chinese to English words/ numbers from the bottom-- so cool!  Here are the two I chose between; they both cost under $ 3.00 :
Next, I sorted through my "fortunes" and grouped them together.  This could be due to my slight case of OCD-- not a necessary step.  I do like how they are somewhat grouped in the final piece, though (be it work-related, travels, matters of the heart, etc).  In the end, it is your tray so whatever makes you happy is perfect..

Lastly, you simply Mod Podge (which is like glue and can be bought at Wal Mart for about  $5.00  per canister).  You will only use about 75 cents worth of the Mod Podge and will have lots left to play with.  See my future Map Art post or google Mod Podge and find many neat uses for this product. :)

Cover the surface of your tray one area at a time as you lay down the "fortunes'.  No need to overwhelm yourself.  Just take it piece by piece and have fun with it.. Once you lay one, it is best to probably keep there, unless you REALLY want it somewhere else... The paper can get "gunky" and tends to want to stay put... That being said, lay out your design before you press papers into the Mod Podge..

 Once you have the papers "glued" (with the Mod Podge)-- you want to take a brush and paint over them with another coat of Mod Podge.. It will look fuzzy-- not unlike a mess:
Some parts may even look bubbly-- don't mess with them!  I got impatient and tampered with mine, thus resulting in a popped bubble-- not pretty!!  I wish I would have let time work that out..   Just make sure to paint a thick coat and you will end up with a super-fly Chinese fortune tray and a great excuse to order in Chinese tomorrow night!! :)
 A look at the underside of the tray (clear):

Have fun and be happy:)


Uncle Murf's 33rd Bday Cook Out :)

We recently celebrated Rocky's, 33rd birthday!  Yay!  We have come a long way from him tattle-telling on me and me scaring him half to death when babysitting him.  Ha!  We had lots of fun cooking out burgers and hotdogs.  Also, we got to enjoy his "world famous" bbq baked beans-- yum!  I once cooked his beans for my New Hampshire friends and they were bewildered by the concept of beans with ground beef-- guess it is a Southern thing!  No matter where you live, you love this recipe once you try it.. Anyhow, I am so blessed to have spent another year with my bro and look forward to many more!!  Deacan loves his Uncle Murf, too!! :)  Here are some pics we took:

                                 Grill Master-- Uncle Murf
                                        Papa bought Snap Pops for the Kiddos

Deacan helped Mommy make the cake the night before:

  It turned out delicious-- yellow cake with chocolate frosting, topped with fresh strawberries,, And a #30 plus 3 single candles, to boot..

 Deacan helped him blow out the candles-- Hope he made an awesome wish!! 

We decided to take a family portrait (or two) while I was busy playing with my camera :

Happy happy Birthday, Murf !!
We love you so very, very much!!  :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

***Swimming Lessons-- Deacan was a Star!! *****

Deacan was a participant in the Pre-K swimming lessons at the  YMCA Cordova this year.  He was way more advanced than most of his classmates but the YMCA goes by age only. His instructors did push him farther and he swam without this lifesaving backpack on the entire lesson.  AWESOME!!

He also learned boat safety, which is a great thing considering how much his mommy and daddy love water sports..

At the end of the class-- Deacan can swim about half of an average pools length in 5 feet.  Yay!!  His report card was all top marks and included the comment, " Deacan is the first student I've ever had to swim without his backpack the entire lesson.  He is going to be a great swimmer!"- signed Brennan:)

I am so proud of my baby's swimming, and more importantly, his listening skills and attention during the lessons.  Great job, Deacan!!  Mommy loves:)

Happy 4th of July!!

We had a wonderful 4th of July.. Mommy kept her mouth shut about the state of this country, it's president and his total disregard of the Constitution.  Ha!  Anyhow, here are some pictures I snapped along the way:
Fun at the pool...
Daddy showed up for the festivities...
After the pool, we headed out to Eads, TN to get fireworks.. We passed by an awesome waterslide, which we had lots of fun partaking in... Mommy's camera batteries were out at this point.  My apologies to my 3 blog followers---  an Eads waterslide post will be coming soon, though...

We got lots of fireworks and then we went out and fired them off (and waited for the police to come!)..
Okay, I will admit the last shot was not of any firework we purchased.  Haha!!  That is a Hope Church production.  Gotcha, didn't I?  :)
    Wishing everyone a very happy month of July and let's all pray for our beloved country!!!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A great day off work in the Middle of the Week:)

     Due to low numbers at the childcare center, I get a day off per pay period.  Nevermind the loss of money-- we wanna have some FUN!!  I got up early (7am) so I could make the most of this precious time off.  It was actually cool enough outside for me to finally unload the canned goods from my car I bought last weekend! Yay!  Then I scooped Deacan up from his dad's and took time to play with my camera snapping photos of his garden..
                                           This is my favorite one..  A simple green bean..

                                                     Deacan with his tomato plants

While I was taking pictures, Deac made me this lovely salad with produce from the garden.  He even washed the veggies.  He swears he did not use a knife to cut the okra... Hmmmm... ?

     Then we were on our way to Shelby Farms in a race to beat the heat!  We were able to squeeze in a little time on the slides before they were blazing, although they were well on the way to being.  Poor Deacan did get a pretty bad burn on his back from another slide later on in the day.. Nothing a little Neosporin and TLC couldn't fix, though..

Then we were off to Sand and Water, still his favorite..  I managed to find some shade so he was able to get in a couple of hours of "serious work" in. :)

     Next stop, Hawaiian Ice truck (and Neosporin retrieval).  Nothing like a watermelon/ pineapple icee to cool you down on a hot day.  Deacan wanted to take a few silly photos with the spoon, as well, to share with our many blog followers. Ha!
      Then it we were off on a bug hunt!  It would not surprise me one bit if Deacan turned out to be an entomologist-- the boy is crazy about bugs!!  He was very sweet to let the creatures go after a minimal amount of torture.  He told a frog, "Now go have a lifetime".  Later he tells a  HUGE beetle, "Go find your mother"  after trying to find the exact place he found it.  So sweet!  Only one casualty was had and that was due to mommy leaving a baby frog on the hood of the car in a glass to roast.. Whoops!!
     It was also neat working together to turn big logs over in the quest for bugs.  My baby said, "Remember, we are a team!".  Awww!!  The best team I've ever been in, D-Nanner!!  He did show his muscles off turning one log, and proudly announced, "No team needed!":

       By this time, it was scorching hot.  I was talked into going to the swings, in spite of the sweat slowly encompassing my clothing and my longing for our pool.  Glad we did it!

     At this point in the day (12:30ish), the pool never looked so good!!
     We had to head back home to rest up for swimming lessons.  We did manage to cram as much fun as possible into our Wednesday outside of our normal routine.  I am blessed to have such wonderful company.  How I love summertime!!  :)