Friday, June 29, 2012

Chicken Caesar Salad Wrap


Every time we visit Nashville Shelby likes to go to his favorite restaurant, Jackson's Bar and Bistro and he always gets the Chicken Caesar Salad Wrap. Since we don't make it to Tennessee very often, I started recreating this meal at home. It's a good thing too because I don't even see this on their menu anymore. (Don't you hate it when a restaurant cuts your favorite dish?) These wraps are great in the summer because they have a light, fresh taste and are quick and easy to throw together. Enjoy!

Chicken Caesar Salad Wrap

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
3 Chicken Breast Halves, cut into thin strips
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 head of Romaine Lettuce, shredded
8oz Provolone Cheese, shredded
6 large Spinach Tortillas
Classic Caesar Salad Dressing

In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add half of the chicken strips and grind some fresh black pepper over the top. Flip and grind more pepper over the other side. Cook until lightly browned. Turn and lightly brown the other side. Continue cooking until no longer pink in the middle. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining chicken. Add more oil as needed.

In the center of your tortilla fill with a handful of lettuce, some cheese, chicken, dressing, and then a little more lettuce. Roll up like a burrito: fold an inch or two of each end over the filling then fold the sides over that. Cut in half and serve.

Makes: 6 Wraps


 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dinosaur Excavation

If you have a budding archaeologist, why not take them on a fun little dino dig? :)

Of course, if your little one isn't into dinosaurs, the bones could be of whatever animal they like.


Just fill a shoe box with a few cups of uncooked rice and toss in a handful of uncooked macaroni.


Then hand your little one some paint brushes and spoons and let the excavating begin!



Jer had a blast with this project. It kept him busy for about two hours! He got distracted from the digging for awhile and just played in his "sandbox" building mountains.


Once all of the "bones" had been collected, he glued them onto dinosaur printouts that I found at Discovery Education.


This project was really easy to throw together and gave us something fun to do while we were inside waiting out a heat wave.


 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Beer Batter Maple Bacon Cupcakes


My husband and I were watching an episode of 2 Broke Girls the other day and when they made their Beer Batter Maple Bacon Cupcakes we both decided that it was something that we had to try. I searched for a recipe and found a few that had this basic combination but none of them were quite what I was looking for. So I modified some recipes until I came up with my own blend that I am really happy with. I sent them to work with Shelby and while some of the girls were too scared to even try them, the guys LOVED them! My husband says that these are the cupcakes that are served in heaven. :) 

If you aren't a fan of drinking Guinness, you could use the remaining bottles so make some delicious Beef  and Ale Stew. Also, I usually recommend Killian's Irish Red in my Beer Cheese Fondue and Beer Bread recipes but Guinness would probably work well in those too. It is such a great beer to cook with since it is full of coffee and chocolate flavors.


Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes
adapted from Food Network

Ingredients:
3/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa
2 cups Sugar
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
Pinch of Salt
1 bottle Guinness Draught, room temperature
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, melted
1 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
3 Large Eggs
3/4 cup Sour Cream

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda and salt.

In another large mixing bowl, combine the Guinness, melted butter, and vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in sour cream until well blended and smooth. Gradually add the dry mixture into the wet mixture.

Line 24 muffin tins with foil baking cups (I also baked them by just lightly greasing the pan but they didn't bake up as well). Fill each cup 3/4 full. Bake for 12 minutes and then rotate the pans. Bake another 10 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool then remove to a wire rack.

Top with Maple Buttercream Frosting and Bacon. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Maple Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:
1 cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1/2 cup Milk, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Maple Extract
2 pounds Powdered Sugar

Beat butter in large bowl until creamy. Add milk, salt, extract, and 1 cup powdered sugar. Beat until well combined and smooth. Gradually add remaining powdered sugar and beat until creamy.

Bacon "Sprinkles"

Ingredients:
1/2 pound Thick Cut Hardwood Smoked Bacon

Heat large skillet over medium-high heat.* Add a few slices of bacon and cook as desired. (I like mine when it is *just* cooked through and has a chewy jerky texture but I know some people who like theirs extra crispy and almost burnt beyond recognition. Whatever rocks your socks.) Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and press the top with another paper towel to remove excess grease. Repeat with remaining bacon. 

Allow to cool slightly then move to a cutting board and chop to desired size.

*For less mess, try my Oven Baked Bacon.


 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How To Create A Visual Archives Page

I have received several emails from people asking about how to create thumbnail archives like I have on my Project Gallery, Recipes, For The Boys, and Holidays pages:  


Here is the tutorial for how I do it from start to finish.


1. Using the photo editing software of your choice, open the photo that you would like to use in the thumbnail. Since Picnik moved over to Google+ I started using Pixlr which is kind of a combination of Picnik and Photoshop. This is what I will be using for the first part of this tutorial. 

***Check back tomorrow for the recipe for these Chocolate Guinness Maple Bacon Cupcakes! :) ***


2. Crop the photo down to a perfect square. From the cropping menu, choose "aspect ratio" and it will automatically keep your cropping selection in a square shape.


3. Go to the image menu and select "image size" from the drop-down menu.


4. Reduce the image size to 160 pixels and save.


5. For this next part, I like to use the paint program on my computer. Create a new canvas and size to 185 pixels wide and 220 pixels tall.


6. Hover over the paste button and select "paste from" on the drop-down menu.


7. Choose the square photo that you had saved in step four. Move the photo so that there is an even border on the top and sides with a large blank area underneath. Add text underneath the photo with the name of your project or recipe. Save this photo.


8. Create a new page for your archives and add your photo. Click on the photo and then the "link" button. Where it says "To what URL should this  link go?" add the url for the post that you want the archive photo to lead to.


9. To get the frame around your photo, you can either add it using your photo editing software or you can get blogger to add them for you. Go to "Template" then "Customize".


10. Select "Advanced" then "Images" and change the "Border Color" to something that compliments the colors on your page.



All done! Now people visiting your page can easily get a sneak peek of your projects. :)


 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Link Party 66

Welcome back to our link party!!!  I can't wait to see what you all have been up to while I have been away. Since it has been a long time, you are all welcome to share older projects as well as newer ones. That way if I missed a project that you were really excited about, I will be sure to see it. :)  Have fun and check out next week's party for some features!


PARTY ETIQUETTE:
  • Please become a follower of Polish The Stars
  • Link up anything related to the domestic arts: crafts, recipes, photography, cleaning tips, money saving tips, decorating, etc. NO advertising or Etsy shops.
  • In the "Name" spot put the name of your project or recipe.
  • Link directly to your post - not your home page.
  • Add my button or a text link to your post to spread the word.
  • By linking up you give me permission to use content from your post for the purposes of featuring your project.
This party will be open until Friday at Midnight. My favorite projects will be featured at next week's party!


Polish The Stars

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fresh Start

It has been a long, hard six months but we are finally starting to rebuild our life. I am beyond ready to put all of the ugliness behind us and I am excited to see what the future holds.

There will be more detailed posts about the house later on but for now these quick before and afters seem fitting. The ugly, nasty before has been torn down, rebuilt and now the after is clean, bright, and full of color. There are lots of blank walls just begging for something fun to be made especially for them. 


I still can't think about the old house without feeling like I am going to throw up. Both from remembering how horrifying the shootings were and how badly they could have turned out...and thinking about the future of the home that we put so much work into and how it is likely going to end up in foreclosure. I can't even look at pictures of Jer's old room without tearing up. I tried so hard to make that a fun room just for him and I barely even got it finished before we were forced to leave it all behind.


However, like the fresh, blank walls, I am ready to forget about the way things were and start again with a clean slate. I am excited about getting back into a routine and some form of "normal". I had to take a break from the blog for awhile so I could spend some time completing the boring tasks on The List and I am ready to get back into the swing of things around here too.


During this slump I also neglected my email account. I read every single comment and email that came in and it really meant a lot to have all of your support during this tough time. Unfortunately, I didn't have the time and energy to reply to all of them though and when I logged in a few days ago to try to get caught up, there were almost 200 comments/emails that needed responses. I was going to try to respond to each one but it was just too overwhelming so I am wiping that slate clean as well. I am trying to find any that had specific questions so that I can answer those but for the other messages, I am just going to have to give you all a very heartfelt "thank you" from here. :) If you had a question and I missed it, please send it to me again and I promise I will get back to you.


I am looking forward to reopening the shop as well! In the past, I sold primarily through my own web page but I have decided to go strictly through Etsy and see how that goes. It is a lot easier for me to make changes to listings there. I also think it will be better for buyers since you will be able to navigate it easily, get updates for new items, and maybe it will be more comforting for first time buyers since it is a well-known site. I will be listing a few items soon and continue to list new items over the next few weeks. It won't be much longer and my Halloween shop will be going full swing as well!


So that's where we are at now. Starting fresh and moving on. Thank you all for sticking with me through this rough patch. I am beyond excited to start sharing projects with you guys again and I can't wait to see you all at the link party on Monday and check out what you have been up to!