Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dinners for the Week(s)

We've had some crazy weeks lately! Lots of random eating out and, luckily, lots of leftovers. Sorry for all of the text - somehow we keep making recipes I don't have *any* pictures of! The last two weeks we made:

► Onion BBQ Chicken with roasted green beans - Apparently the recipe for this is no longer online, but luckily I made a copy & will have to post that soon. This time we actually forgot to buy the French onions & just used some panko crumbs instead. Not as good, but it will do!

► Jambalaya (2 dinners) - from a mix, with lots of veggies & kielbasa added in

Oven baked chicken fajitas (2 dinners) - After all of her talk of how much better the ingredients are grilled, we decided to cook everything up in a pan instead of in the oven! Justin thought these were incredible. I'm not a huge Mexican fan but enjoy Texas Fajita Nachos - I'd love to make something like this again with some nice white melty cheese & tortilla chips!

► Ritzy Chicken Casserole & roasted broccoli (2 dinners) - Our recipe is similar to this one but I layer 1/2 crackers, chicken, sauce, crackers, and then butter. Really good, but I always feel like it needs a little extra zing & can't figure out what to add? (Lemon? Vinegar?)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Teal Feathers & Abstract Monach Nails

I've been looking for a nice teal polish for a while but I'm pretty picky that it can't be too green or too blue. Looking at pictures online is no help, since the colors vary so much from one pic to the next! I finally saw the lovely ORLY "It's Up to Blue" at the store & snatched it up cheaper online. (Funny thing - the color is *very* similar to the teal polish I mixed up. I guess it really is my perfect teal shade!)

I stamped the teal with Color Club "Wild at Heart", a purple with a slight holo sparkle, and the feather print from Bundle Monster plate BM-212.

Teal Feathers, flat

Unfortunately the extreme glare made it pretty hard to see the print, and it usually looked more like this ~

Teal Feathers, glare

I tried adding a matte coat but the colors were so gorgeous shiny that I was willing to sacrifice the print. (Later in the week I did add the matte coat back to mix things up a little and added a few dots of Klencolor "Metallic Green" for a peacock look.)

For the next manicure I wanted to try stamping over a multi-colored base. I also wanted to avoid blue, purple, and green, since I've been using those a ton lately!

I had trouble finding a few colors that matched well enough & ended up a sheer pink and yellow, overlapping them at the center to create an orange strip. (The polishes are old and partially labeled - Colorbox #63 & "Luscious Lemon".) While this worked pretty well I think using three separate polishes would be much easier, especially when doing touch-ups!

Monarch, colors

Then I stamped over that with Konad special black and a shattered pattern from Bundle Monster plate BM-208.

Monarch, black lines

These nails were so bold, even prettier in person, and they got a lot of compliments! The colors remind me of the 80's, or an abstract Monarch butterfly look. Both of these manicures turned out so nice!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dinners for the Week(s)

Two weeks ago we were either out of town or eating cheap (grilled cheese & soup), but we did make recipes for some visiting friends ~

Pad Thai (pictured below) - I do buy the Taste of Thai sauce, but buy the rice noodles at the Asian store for much cheaper. The sauce is a little pricey too, so I'm hoping to find a good recipe for it too (but cooking for guests is not the time to experiment!). I'd recommend using about 2/3 of the noodles called for so the sauce is not spread so thin. We normally make this with cubed ham (like in the picture) but this time I used shredded rotisserie chicken - good, but a little too monotone.

► Molasses Cookies - Justin's grandmother's recipe! Crispy on the outside, chewy inside, and incredible flavor. We inhaled these. I don't have a recipe link so I'll just paste it below ~

1.5 sticks butter, 1 cups sugar, 1 egg, ¼ cups molasses, 2 cups flour, 2 tsp. baking soda, ¼ tsp. salt, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. ground ginger. Mix dough & chill overnight (or stick in the freezer for a few minutes!). Shape into 1” balls, dip into sugar. Bake 10 min. at 350 F. Makes about 40!

Pad Thai

Last week we tried several new recipes ~

Hashbrown Bites (for breakfasts) - Made these in regular muffin tins filled halfway and they barely crisped at all. Not very impressed, and even eating 3 (1/4 of the batch) left me feeling hungry.

Ranch Pork chops over mashed potatoes with cabbage & applesauce (2 dinners) - Really good! I don't like the texture that chicken gets in the crock pot so it's hard to find any recipes I like but I think we'll make this one again. We doubled the sauce, as recommended, and ended up with enough mashed potatoes for a third meal (forgot to mix in the Parmesan, no loss).

► Steak, (leftover) mashed potatoes, & roasted kale

Skinny Chicken Divan (2 dinners) - This was good but I was hoping for better. I'm not a fan of casseroles that involve a lot of pre-cooking before baking, but I know regular Chicken Divan takes a lot of work too, so I was willing to overlook that.

The chicken already had a lot of flavor from the cheese and being browned while the broccoli was a little bland. Next time I would pour all of the sauce over the broccoli (instead of half there, half on the chicken). We also ended up with a *lot* of water at the bottom of the casserole dish with no idea why.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Bedazzled & a Stamped Franken

Claire's polishes are always on sale 'buy one, get one half off', so I grabbed a glitter top coat called "Bedazzled" when I bought the lovely "Candy Shop". Bedazzled is a copy of Deborah Lippmann's "Happy Birthday" polish, packed full of multi-colored glitter.

Purple with Bedazzled glitter

I layered "Bedazzled" over a dark purple polish but was so underwhelmed with the look that I removed it all right away to make room for a prettier manicure. I don't want to give up on the polish yet though - perhaps it would be prettier over a different color base coat, or maybe used for an accent nail or glitter gradient instead.

The purple polish was Sally Hansen's Hard as Nails in "Rock Bottom". I've been looking for a good purple shade for a while but everything is too blue, red, light, dark, etc. I was pleased to find this one but the polish was way to sheer, taking 3 or 4 slow drying coats which were easily marred. I've since added a few drops of more opaque, dark purples to the bottle to see if that makes it useable.

The next manicure is a special one because it features my first frankened polish! "Frankening" is a term used for mixing a few polishes together to create something new. It's an especially great way to use up a those nearly empty bottles!

I started with a heavily used bottle of Sally Hansen "Marine Scene". Below you can see I marked the bottom line to show how much of it was left, I'll say 3 parts. I then added 2 parts Sinful Colors "Pearl Harbor" (an iridescent green & blue glitter topcoat) and 1 part Pure Ice "Beware" (a silver glitter topcoat). "Marine Scene" is already a very sheer color, so I worried that adding so much clear coat would things worse & added in a few drops of dark blue & green to add in some more pigment and get the darker teal color I was after. The polish turned out really lovely & shimmery!

Teal franken with wavy silver dots (Bundle Monster)

Not wanting to cover up too much of the color, I taped off my nails diagonally & stamped the edge with Pure Ice "Silver Mercedes" and Bundle Monster plate BM-209. I love the look of the pattern but it was a really terrible choice! The stamp was so narrow it would not even cover this small section of my nail and I had to draw in missing areas on most of my nails.

I did not even want to mess with that on my right hand so I used bottom right print from Konad plate M63. This pattern did not match as well but I think it would be pretty if you used a 2nd base color before stamping.

Have you tried frankening yet?