Monday, December 19, 2011


Minnesota girls looove hotdish.  When I was little My favorite was "Katie's Hotdish".  A hotdish, named in honor of my strong affinity... A concoction of elbow mac, cream of mushroom soup, hamburger, and canned corn.  Yum.  I have not had it in years.  I had dissimilar feelings towards "Red Hotdish"- elbow mac, condenced tomatoe soup and hambuger.  I would cry when my parents started making this entree. 

Nowadays, my husband is not open to the idea of hotdish.  I guess I can't blame the guy, I can certainly attest to the love-hate nature of hotdish.  Despite my husband's disinterest, I loooove to make the following hotdish- a modification of the recipe found on the back of the Stove Top stuffing box.
1 cup chopped chicken (I use the froze chicken breast pieces from Schwann's)
1 cups frozen vegetables (I use brocolii)
1/2 a can cream of mushroom soup
1/3 cup light sour cream
1 box Stove Top stuffing mix
1/2  cup mild shredded chedder cheese

1.Make stuffing according to the instructions on the box.
2.Combine remaining ingredients and place in an 8X8 baking dish.
3. Top with prepared stuffing
4. Sprinkle with Cheese
Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Clicks

In college, I kept my baby Christmas tree up year round.  I had two sets of ornaments- Christmas and Easter.  The rest of the year, I celebrated the North woods (like many Minnesotans do)... FYI-if you're from MN, it's okay to have a fake pine tree adorning your home 12 months a year.  It's a lodge theme, I guess.  Anyway, nowadays, I live in MO, so I get to saver  my lovely tree for about a month, but after that it gets tucked under the stairs for the majority of the year.  For this reason, I feel compelled to document the beauty of my tree here, on the blog.  I also want to share some fun tips for making your tree look awesome in pictures!  If you have a DSLR camera, bust out your tri-pod and put that puppy on manual setting.  Make sure it's plenty dark outside and turn out all the lights in your home.  Crank up the camera's ISO AS FAR as it will go, set your aperture at 1.8, and select a shutter speed between 1/30 and 6 seconds (this is a broad range, but it will depend on how much ISO your camera has ).  Tah-dah:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

DIY Christmas Gift: Vanilla Extract

Like most of you, every Christmas I'm on the hunt for a fun handmade gift to make. I scour the Internet (and my memory) for any ideas that are unique, easy, cute and fairly inexpensive.  This year, I came to the conclusion that I would be making vanilla extract.

First I bought 20 4-oz Clear Boston Round Bottles from Specialty Bottles and a 1/2 lb pack of Vanilla Beans from  1/2 lb is roughly 45 beans. I also got a handle of vodka. 

First you'll need to cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and then crosswise and divide them among the bottles. I used 3 beans for each bottle.

Then pull out your funnel and pour roughly 1/2 cup of vodka into each container.

Next - put on the cap and wait!!! Easy-peasy, right?

The steeping effect sets in quickly. The vodka goes from clear to a pretty amber color. Ideally the vanilla should steep for at least a month, till the vanilla is a dark brown. The longer it steeps the stronger the vanilla flavor.

For labels,  I did a google image search for vintage vanilla lables.  I found one right away that I liked and photoshopped a  list of ingredients along with a Christmas note from Joe and I over the physician's information (apperently doctor's distributed vanilla back in the day?)  Regarding word choice, I was utilizing these gifts for business collegues and older family folk, so I listed the ingredients as "Good Tidings, Ethyl Alcohol, and Vanillas Beans".  I also added a few bows with ribbon and raffia.    
  That's it!!! Merry Christmas!