Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Day After Christmas - Leftovers

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas yesterday!  Ours was filled with lots of fun and only one meltdown!

Well, I thought I would start off the posts after Christmas by posting a guide to re-using your Christmas day feast leftovers.  I did a similar post at Thanksgiving, but I have expanded this to include other ideas in case your main dish was not Turkey!  Enjoy!

1. Sandwiches - I like to use the cranberries as the condiment of choice for my left over Christmas sandwiches, my husband prefers mayo. But let's face it, you can pile anything on a yummy left over roll or slice of bread and it will be delicious! From turkey, ham or roast beef, to stuffing to even mashed potatoes, some even like to soak a piece of bread in gravy and put that in the middle of their sandwiches too! (Hey! I've heard of stranger things!) Yum yum yum!

2. Turkey Noodle Soup - Think chicken noodle soup with leftover turkey instead. Nice and warm on a cold winter day!

3. Ham and Bean Soup - Some people like making a split pea soup with ham, I prefer using a white bean with my ham leftovers.  Yum!

4. Pot Pie - Layer plenty of cubed turkey, ham or beef, left over chopped veggies and gravy in a pan. Even put a layer of mashed potatoes on there! Top with a left over, unused, premade pie crust and cook until the crust is browned.

5. Enchiladas - Cube or shred turkey or beef. Place turkey, cheese and enchilada sauce on a tortilla. Roll and place in a pan. Cover all enchiladas with enchilada sauce and cheese. Bake until cheese is melted and enchiladas are warm throughout.

6. Turkey and Stuffing Casserole - Cube several cups of turkey and lay in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Mix 1 pint sour cream and 1 can cream of chicken soup and spread over turkey. Next, put a layer of stuffing on top. Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes until bubbly around edges.

7. Turkey Pizza - Why not? Either make or buy a premade pizza crust. Layer with sauce, cubed turkey pieces, maybe some chopped veggies or bacon and lots of cheese. Cook in the oven according to pizza crust directions.

8. Turkey Pineapple Curry - This recipe I found on About.com. I have not tried it but it looks yummy! Check it out here.

9. Salad - Lettuce, turkey, ham or beef cubes, cheese, nuts, cranberries, etc., throw caution to the wind and mix up a salad using all sorts of Christmas leftovers.

10. Turkey Egg Rolls - Let's face it. You still have tons of leftovers but you don't want to feel like you are eating Christmas every day! This will give your turkey an entirely new flavor! Buy egg roll wrappers. Chop up some turkey, green beans (from that green bean casserole I know you made but haven't touched since!) and maybe some mashed potatoes or stuffing. Throw it all in a food processor until the consistency is coarse; perfect egg roll filling consistency. Place in egg roll wrappers and fry (or bake) according to the wrapper directions. For dipping sauce, try mixing a little soy sauce in with left over cranberry sauce.  (I will post more on this soon, stay tuned!)

11. Cranberries - Still have more cranberries? Warm it up and serve it over vanilla ice cream. Or mix cranberries with cream cheese and use as a spread on bagels!

12.  Ham Quiche - What a great way to use left over ham, eggs and cheese.  You can even do a crustless kind to keep this recipe even more simple.  This is the recipe I like to use:

3 eggs

1/2 c. Bisquick mix
1/2 c. melted Margarine
1 c. shredded cheese
1 1/2 c. milk
1/4 tsp. salt
Dash pepper
½ - 1 c. chopped ham
1 pkg. (9 oz.) frozen chopped spinach (thaw and squeeze out the juice so it’s pretty dry) or chopped broccoli (must be thawed or cooked lightly)
1/3 c. chopped onion (1 sm. onion)

Place drained vegetable in greased 9 inch pie plate.
Sprinkle with onion and cheese.
Add ham
Beat Bisquick, milk , eggs, salt & pepper for 10 – 20 seconds in blender.
Pour into pie pan. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees, or until inserted knife comes out clean.
Let stand for 5 minutes.

13.  Tacos / Fajitas / Burritos - Shred left over beef or turkey, cook on the stove with a bit of taco seasoning, fajita seasoning or (we like) Tabasco Chipotle style sauce.  Add the appropriate sides/condiments and place on tacos, burritos, fajitas or taco salad!  This will taste like a completely different meal then what you started with!

14.  Quesadillas - Cube beef and add with lots of cheese on a tortilla.  Place butter in a pan, and cook the tortilla with the beef and cheese inside of it, in the pan, on both sides, until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is lightly brown.  Serve with sour cream, guacamole, or anything you can dream of!

15.  Stir Fry - I like to use beef for this but I am sure turkey would work also.  Cut the meat up, add to frozen (or fresh) stir fry veggies and make or buy your favorite sauce (teriyaki, soy sauce, or any stir fry type sauce works well), heat over the stove.  Serve over rice! 

Happy Christmas Leftovers!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ornaments



There is a long explaination as to how this craft came to be.  But the long and short of it is, I was having some vinyl cut for me through NataLee Allen Designs and I happened to have 3 left over clear glass ornaments.  I am not one to let things like that go to waste, so I asked NataLee to cut some snowflakes out of vinyl for me so I could decorate these ornaments to give as gifts!

The great part about this was that it was ridiculously easy and I was able to choose my colors so I could custom design each ornament for different people depending on their decorating styles/colors! 

The basics for vinyl application can be found here.

The only varient is that when applying vinyl to a curved surface, it helps to snip the backing first to help the vinyl curve around the shape. 



Apply vinyl to ornament.  Carefully peel off the backing.  Be sure the vinyl is secure to the ornament.  Tie a ribbon through the top and you have beatiful hand-made gifts or new ornaments for your tree!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Donut Hole Reindeer Pops


I've recently updated this post with a few new (better) photos of my Donut Hole Reindeer Pops!  Everything else has stayed the same :)


For almost every holiday my daughter has the opportunity to take treats to a potluck party at her preschool.  This gives me the chance to try something fun and new, while knowing I won't have a house full of treats that I really don't need to eat!

This month's potluck treat:  Reindeer Pops!

(I apologize in advance that some of these photos are a bit blurry...camera issues.)


I originally found the idea here but modified it a bit to keep things simple.


Donut Hole Reindeer Pops

You will need:

  • Donut holes
  • Melting chocolate (or chocolate chips with a bit of shortening) (check out my tips for melting chocolate for dipping here)
  • Small pretzels
  • Red M&M's (or other small red item for the nose)
  • Decorating gel or icing, black and white
  • Lollipop sticks

Melt the chocolate and dip the lollipop stick in the chocolate first.  Push the lollipop stick into the donut hole.  This helps secure the lollipop stick in the donut hole so it doesn't fall off!  Let it dry.


Next, dip the donut hole in the melted chocolate, tapping off the excess gently.


Break the small pretzels apart into "antlers" and put in place while the chocolate is still wet.




Let dry.

Using a bit more melted chocolate, adhere Rudolf's red noses!


Use black and white decorating gel or icing to make eyes and a mouth.


Let dry.  Then eat them, give them away as holiday treats, or take to a potluck party! 


For display purposes, (in my original ones) I covered a small pot I had with Christmas wrapping paper.  Then I put a piece of dry floral foam in it.  Covered it all with red, white and green candy corns and stuck the Reindeer Lollypops in!  Such a cute display and they are sure to be a hit with the children (and adults) at my daughter's preschool!


In the almost three years I have been blogging, I am so happy I have learned a few photography tips!  I love how my new photos turned out so much, I can't help but show you just a few more :)



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Friday, December 18, 2009

Fudge - Easy Festive Treats to Make and Deliver



I always like to deliver some sort of goodie to our friends during the holiday season.  This year, I decided to make fudge.  Yum!

I have a very simple recipe that is fairly fool-proof and the fudge turns out great every time!  It only took a few minutes of active prep time so it is also very quick to make.  The other thing I did differently this year was, instead of making a large batch, cutting it up and transfering smaller portions to a plate or tin, I poured the fudge directly into individual ceramic dishes I found at my local craft store for $1 each!  So the fudge was delivered in its own special festive container!



So, here goes:

In a large heavy pan combine:
1 lb butter
5 c sugar
1 can evaporated milk
Dash salt



Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes, stirring well on the bottom

Add in:
18 oz chocolate chips (I like milk chocolate but you could use semi, dark, white, butterscotch etc.)
1 bag mini-marshmellows
2 t vanilla
Nuts (optional)



Mix well

Pour into buttered 9x13 pan (or smaller containers).  Chill before cutting.



To make this even a bit more festive, it would be cute to sprinkle crushed candy canes on top of the fudge before it sets completely.  (I didn't do this, but maybe next time.)


Monday, December 14, 2009

Santa's Cookies and Milk




Every year we put out cookies and milk for Santa on Christmas Eve.  Well, this year, Santa will be served his yummy cookies on a personalized plate!  How fun is that?!

I found this great vinyl for the Santa's Cookie's plate through Scribble It. 



I thought it was such a great idea, I contacted the owner to see about getting vinyl lettering for Santa's Milk to go on a cup.  She was great to work with and very promptly helped me with my custom order (which even involved her sizing the vinyl application around the exact cup I purchased!)




Follow the vinyl application instructions found here and voila!  You have cute dishware to leave Santa's treats out on for Christmas Eve!  Isn't this the easiest holiday project ever!

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Vinyl Application Tutorial

Vinyl.  I have just discovered the wonders of vinyl.  I had no idea how versitle and how wonderful and EASY it is!  I have just discovered how much I like vinyl.

Now I don't have a vinyl cutter, and I don't have a Cricuit, so I can't cut my own vinyl.  Fortunitly, I have a great friend, NataLee who can design and cut vinyl.  I have been enlisting her help with a lot of projects recently.  Some of her fabulous work can be seen on her website here, or in a variety of my posts (and upcoming posts) on this blog. 

I thought it would be a good idea to give a brief vinyl application tutorial since you may not know how to apply it.  It is very simple!

First, when I use vinyl, I like to be sure the area that I will be applying the vinyl to is clean and dry.  Vinyl can be applied to almost any surface including wood, ceramic tiles, dishes, glass, walls, doors etc.  The options are endless!

Second, I like to be sure the vinyl is secured to the top layer by rubbing the vinyl. (Your fingers work fine for doing this, but I like using my pot scraper!)




Then you carefully peel off the top layer from the bottom layer. The vinyl image should remain on the top layer.  (Do this carefully and slowly.  If the vinyl isn't all staying on the top layer, rub it some more until it does.)



Place the vinyl image on the glass block. I like to stand above the vinyl so that I can be sure it is centered correctly.

Then, rub the vinyl onto the glass blocks being sure to secure it well.  Again, your fingers (or a pot scraper) works just fine for this.



Carefully peel the application paper off of the glass block making sure that all the vinyl stays on the block. 



And voila!  You have just applied your vinyl image! 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Countdown Chain and Other Holiday Traditions



The weather has started to get yucky here and so, on a cold day, when we wanted to stay indoors, we decided to help our daughter make a Christmas Countdown Chain. 

You can simply use construction paper to make this or, I found some neat links to color that my daughter enjoyed doing here.  (Of course there are still so many days until Christmas that my husband and I also colored some of these links to help her out!)

She has enjoyed taking one chain link off every night and it has helped her to know that Christmas is coming, but we still have a few more days before it is here!

Since December is flying by, we decided to make a list of traditions that we wanted to be sure we did this year before Christmas.  Here is our list:
  • Set up Christmas tree, lights and decorations around house (Done!)
  • See Santa at the mall (Done!  My daughter asked for a big girl bike, a helmet and a candy cane!)
  • Christmas chain link (Done!)
  • Advent calendar (In progress.  Ok, I cheat.  I buy one with chocolates in it from Trader Joe's.  Yum!)
  • Christmas book tradition (In progress)
  • Go see Christmas lights - There is an incredible neighborhood near where we live that, every year, puts up incredible lights and holiday displays in their yard and on their houses.  This street is packed full of cars and people walking every night to see the lights!  It is such an amazing thing that every single person on this street does each year.  We can't wait to see what they did this year!
  • Make gingerbread houses
  • Write a letter to Santa
  • Bake Christmas cookies
  • Bake treats to take to friends (a post on this coming soon!)
What are your holiday traditions?

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Glass Blocks


Today’s simple holiday home d├ęcor item: Christmas Glass Blocks!


These were a lot of fun to make and very easy to do since I enlisted the help of my good friend NataLee.  She owns her own business and does many things including designing and cutting vinyl.  I have been enlisting her help a lot recently on several projects.  You can see her handy work in today’s project but you can also check out her website here.

I have seen several people do glass block decorations, so I thought I would try my hand at them.  I absolutely love using glass blocks for Christmas since you can put Christmas lights in them and when you turn them on, they sparkle!  (Of course this can be done for any holiday or any reason; the applications are endless!)

For this project I used (3) 6”x8” glass blocks.  (I had a difficult time finding someplace that sold glass blocks individually, luckily the Lowe’s near me carries them.)  I also used a diamond drill bit (more on this later), (3) strands of 50 Christmas lights with white wire, (3) vinyl images (more on this later), felt pads (optional) and ribbon.

The first thing you will want to do is cut a hole in the bottom of each of your glass blocks.  The most important part here is purchasing the correct drill bit.  It needs to be a drill bit suitable for drilling glass.  There are only a couple of options available at most hardware stores.  Below is an image showing the first diamond drill bit that we purchased. Please note, this is not the correct drill bit!  I could only find this style in a ½” diameter size which we soon discovered was too small to put a strand of Christmas lights through.  So back to the hardware store we went to exchange it.


Below is the diamond drill bit you will need!  It is 1” in diameter and, unfortunately, 3x the price of the above one.  But if you want sparkly glass blocks, you will need to be able to drill a larger hole.  As a side note to this, we were told at Lowe’s that at Christmas time, sometimes, they carry pre-drilled glass blocks.  We could not find any, so we drilled our own.  Also, if you live close to us, we would be more than happy to help you with this.


Be sure to follow the directions when drilling the holes.  Our drill bit directions told us to keep the area we were drilling moist with water while drilling.  I enlisted the help of my husband to assist me with drilling while I held the glass block in place.  This is easier with 2 sets of hands.


We added felt pads to the bottom of our blocks to help protect the surface we wanted to place them on.


After the glass blocks are drilled, you will need to rinse out the insides of the blocks and let them dry.  After they are dry you can insert your Christmas lights inside.  I used white lights but feel free to use any color you want.



Next I prepared the vinyl images.  NataLee helped me design and produce these vinyl images.  I like using vinyl because it is so easy to apply.  If you don’t want to order vinyl images or don’t have access to a vinyl cutter, you can always print or cut images yourself and apply them to the glass blocks using mod podge.  I would use a glossy finish mod podge if you go this route.

When I use vinyl I like to be sure the vinyl is secured to the top layer by rubbing the vinyl.  (Your fingers work fine for doing this, but I like using my pot scraper!)


Then you carefully peel off the top layer from the bottom layer.  The vinyl image should stay on the top layer.


Place the vinyl image on the glass block.  I like to stand above the vinyl so that I can be sure it is centered correctly.

Then, rub the vinyl onto the glass blocks being sure to secure it well.


Carefully peel the application paper off of the glass block making sure that all the vinyl stays on the block.  Repeat for all (3) glass blocks.

Tie ribbon around the glass block if you choose.  (I used 2” wide ribbon.)


Turn on the lights in the glass blocks, turn off your house lights, and you have a beautiful, sparkly holiday decoration!


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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ornament Wreath



I will not claim that this is a new idea.  I think it originally came from the Eddie Ross website here.  But it was sure a lot of fun, very simple, and I love the end result!  This week's easy Christmas (or any holiday) idea / craft: an Ornament Wreath!

This is a great project to do with your left-over ornaments after you are done decorating the tree this year.  Or a great excuse to scour the local dollar store or Christmas shop!

You will need a hot glue gun, a lot of ornaments (shatterproof unless you are very brave) in a variety of sizes (I used 55 total, Eddie Ross used 80 I believe, you can use less though for a smaller wreath), a wire hanger, wire cutters and a bit of patience.



First things first.  Take all of the metal or plastic tops off of your ornaments.  Seriously.  (I mentioned you would need a bit of patience for this first part.)  Then, hot glue them back on.  Really.  I am not joking.  We have all had ornaments become detached from their top, well, when placed on a wreath and bent in a circle, they will surely pop off.  So save yourself some time in the years to come, and glue the tops on now.  (After this is done, the project goes very quickly!)



Secondly, untwist the wire hanger, leaving the hook on the top and start stringing the ornaments on the wire, one at a time, varying sizes and colors as you go.  (This can be done with any color ornaments: red and green for Christmas, blue and silver for Hanukah, pastels colors for Easter, browns and golds for the fall etc., let your creativity run wild here and have fun with it!)



After the entire wreath is full of ornaments, play with the ornaments until the all lay close together, trying to fill in all gaps on all sides of the wreath.  I held mine up and gently shook it until the ornaments settled and then went back and fixed a few ornaments, as needed, until they all lay correctly.  (You will be happy you put some smaller size ornaments on the wreath at this point!)






Next comes the hardest part of the entire project.  (I have to confess I enlisted my husband’s help with this part!)  Bend the wire into a circle and twist the opposite side of the hanger-wire back around the hook part until it is secure.  Use your wire cutters to cut off any excess wire left over.

Add a bow and voila! Your ornament wreath is complete!