A Fresh Take on Pizza

It took a while for the concept of the Food Chopper to grow on me, and now I can’t imagine not having one. I bought one around 5 years ago because everyone always remarked that the Food Chopper was their favorite Pampered Chef product. In fact the Food Chopper is Pampered Chef’s most popular kitchen tool.

The Food Chopper makes quick work of chopping cooked meats, veggies (especially onions!), and nuts (back in the olden days when I could eat them). There are lots of soup recipes that require chopped this and that, and since I often cook soups in the slow cooker all day, I need to prep the ingredients quickly in the morning. The blades rotate each time the plunger is struck, so you don’t have to continuously rotate it to get even cuts. It also disassembles and washes in the dishwasher well — much better than a food processor.

Here’s my favorite Food-Chopper-related recipe:

Primavera Pizza

  • 1 package pizza dough, prepared (I use the kind that comes dry in an envelope for less than $1)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 T grated Parmesan
  • ½ tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil (or fresh chopped if you have it!)
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 Tbs Ranch dressing (reduced fat is fine)
  • 2 C chopped cooked chicken
  • 1/4 C chopped red onion
  • 1/4 C chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 c chopped fresh baby spinach
  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella

On a sprayed cookie sheet,  spread to edges to form round shape. Lightly brush dough with olive oil. Spread parmesan, basil, and garlic salt over each crust. Bake crust alone for 10 min @ 400. Remove from oven. Spread Ranch dressing on each crust. Layer chicken, bell pepper, onion, spinach, and cheese. Bake 9-12 more minutes or until cheese is melted and browned around the edges.

Lots of tasty vegetables in this surprisingly fresh pizza! And the Food Chopper makes it so much easier to prep! And if you buy one, it will help us with our adoption! Thanks for participating in our online Pampered Chef Party!

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The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Eggs

One of my favorite Pampered Chef products is their Egg Slicer Plus, but not just because it slices eggs.

I love it for slicing strawberries! It can power through a quart of strawberries in minutes for yummy strawberry shortcake.  In fact paired with the Core and More to remove the strawberry stems, and it’s even faster!  But in the wintertime, I still get plenty of use of it slicing mushrooms.

I was never a huge fan of mushrooms until I started cooking with fresh mushrooms, especially portabello mushrooms.

This is one of my favorite mushroom recipes:

Balsamic Chicken and Mushrooms

  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • ¼ C balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbs minced garlic
  • 3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 8 oz mushrooms freshly sliced
  • ½ C chicken broth
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • (Prepared rice, enough for family)

Mix vinegar, mustard, & garlic. Coat chicken with mixture. (Let marinade if you have time.) In a large sauce pan, sauté chicken in olive oil over med heat until done. Remove chicken; keep warm. Sauté mushrooms in same pan for 2 min. Add broth & thyme, scraping bottom of pan; cook mushrooms until browned.   Place chicken on steamed rice. Pour mushroom sauce over chicken.

The Egg Slicer Plus would make a great stocking stuffer or gift for yourself! And a portion of the proceeds helps with our adoption expenses! Thanks for participating in our online Pampered Chef Party!

Tales of an ADHD Crafter

I am an amateur crafter. And probably one of the reasons I’m not really very good at anything is because I rarely do anything twice! I can usually spend just a few hours a week on creative pursuits, and I’m easily distracted by the next project or by wanting to use something in my crafting supply leftovers. Knowing that we’re about to take a rather expensive trip to a country where we can’t use credit cards, I don’t want to spend money on new crafting supplies.

I’ve been loving some of the asymmetrical and mixed media jewelry on Etsy, which are perfect for using up crafting leftovers. I usually fear the asymmetrical, but I thought it might be fun to give it a try with some leftover chain, beads, ribbon, and jump rings.

Paired with a wintertime pastel sweater.

I like it!

 

And next week I’ll be on to my next crafting project! Hopefully I’ll be able to catch up enough on grading to have some crafting time over Thanksgiving break!

Pampered and Frugal Laundry

Today’s favorite Pampered Chef product is the rotary grater.

I have always had a special knack for grating off my fingernails with a traditional grater, and this one has definitely come to the rescue. Great for grating cheese, chocolate, or even carrots — and it can be reversed for left-handed users. It makes quick work of grating!

My favorite use for the grater is actually to make homemade laundry detergent. I used this recipe for laundry detergent for over 2 years, until my washing machine died and I bought a high efficiency machine. Back then, no one knew if it was safe to use homemade detergent in high efficiency machines, but now it looks like enough brave people have tried it with success that I’m going to start using it again. It cleans and removes odors perfectly well, but is not great on stains, so I have to remember to pretreat. But considering that $7 worth of ingredients lasts about 6 months (doing approximately 2 loads per day), I think the cost savings are worth a little pretreating!

There are lots of recipes out there for homemade detergent, but here’s why I chose this one: it’s simple. Lots of recipes ask you to carefully measure ingredients in small batches, or to boil lots of water to dissolve the soap to make liquid detergent — but aren’t you going to be dissolving the soap in the wash anyway?

Homemade Laundry Detergent

  • 1 Box Borax
  • 1 Box Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
  • 3 bars soap, grated. (I recommend Zote, Fels Naptha, or even Ivory. Don’t use soap with lotions or perfumes in them.)

Mix together, and store in airtight container. Use 1-2 Tbs. per load as you would regular detergent.

Sound like strange ingredients? I’ve found them at Kroger and Publix locally. Fels Naptha soap was typically available at Publix. (They must have figured out that there’s a lot of us who make our own detergent.) They are found with the laundry boosters like Oxi Clean. Grating that much soap can be tedious, but the rotary grater makes it much easier!

Don’t forget the ongoing Pampered Chef party  to benefit our adoption as you consider your Christmas shopping!

Adoption Update

Not really for us, but for others who are ahead of us. The court moved forward today on the adoptions for the large group of people who are just ahead of us in the process. The next set of documents to be released should include ours. It could be next week, or it could be four months from now. We’ll hope it’s closer to the former.

The biggest news is that apparently, the court officials are still working during the election campaign period.  We’re still not sure why our court documents weren’t released a month ago, when we passed court, but hopefully we’ll find out soon.

So, we’re not only celebrating small things in our lives, we’re celebrating the steps in others’ processes as well!

Batter Up for Chocolate Chocolate-Chunk Cookies!

Today’s favorite Pampered Chef product is the classic batter bowl and the flour/sugar shaker!

 

I love this bowl when making cookies, when I need to pop the batter in the refrigerator between batches. The lid quickly seals the bowl, and the tapered bottom makes it easier to squeeze in the fridge. I also like to make mashed potatoes in the classic batter bowl bowl as well. It’s safe in the fridge, freezer, dishwasher, and even the oven. Pampered Chef has a lot of neat recipes using the batter bowl, but my favorite recipe is my own:

Chewy Chocolate Chocolate-Chunk Cookies

  • 1 1/4 C butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 C flour
  • 3/4 C cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Cream butter and sugar in classic batter bowl. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in separate bowl. Blend into creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by small tablespoons (use your small scoop!) onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 8-9 minutes, taking care not to overbake. Cool on cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes, then remove to cooling rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar once cooled. The flour/sugar shaker creates a nice even dusting of beautiful powdered sugar.

Makes 4 1/2 dozen . . . but they won’t last long! These are gooey soft chocolatey bits of heaven. Keep stored in airtight container.

And remember to get Pampered for Adoption! The online party closes November 30th!

Aren’t These The Cutest?

I received the cutest gift in the mail yesterday from a friend, Laura, who made these

for our kids! I mean, for our little prince and princess. Aren’t they adorable? What you can’t tell as well from the picture is the quality of the work. They are so nicely stitched, shaped, and held together. I am LOVING these crowns! They’ll be great for their little Congolese heads that have never seen winter!

If you’re wondering why we haven’t posted an update lately about the adoption, it’s because we haven’t heard anything. Not a peep. Neither has anyone else in our program. (We have an online discussion group.) We’re not worried, scared, or impatient. We’re simply trusting in God’s timing. But if we did hear anything, I promise this is the first place we would post the news!

In the mean time, it’s so fun to celebrate things like receiving gifts for our little prince and princess! Thanks so much Laura! You definitely made our day!

The Casserole Too Good NOT To Share

I love Pampered Chef stoneware. Mostly because it’s nearly impossible to burn food when you bake in them (Not that I ever burn anything. Ahem.), but also because it keeps baked food warm through the meal.

One of my friends heats her Pampered Chef pizza stones in her oven when she orders pizza, and when it arrives, she puts the pulls the stone out of the oven and slides the pizza on it, so the pizza stays hot while they eat. 

I love baking cookies on stoneware because the cookies don’t burn if I’m a late getting to the oven because of someone at the door, a ringing phone, or a really cute post on Pinterest. Don’t judge me.

I also love baking casseroles in the rectangular baker, especially cheesy casseroles, when the gooey factor is especially important. I make the following recipe for potluck dinners and even for breakfasts, because it is not only delicious, but way too fattening for two people to eat with a clear conscience. I promise it is delicious! How could it not be?

Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole

  • 1 2-lb bag frozen hash browns, thawed (I like Ore-Ida Potatoes O’Brien with onions and peppers.)
  • 2 C mayonnaise
  • 1/2 pound bacon, fried and crumbled
  • 1 lb Velveeta

Melt Velveeta and mayonnaise together and stir until smooth. Stir in hash browns and bacon pieces. Pour into 9×13 pan. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until top is golden and bubbly.

Don’t forget that I’m having an online Pampered Chef party! Buy yourself or someone you love some stoneware today! They’ll love you for it!

I Haven’t Scrubbed a Pot in Fifteen Years

Well, at least not at home.

I’ve had the Pampered Chef cookware since I was a newlywed, and its nonstick surface and durable quality has lasted 15 years and is going strong! While they were a bit expensive, had I gone with a more inexpensive set, I likely would have had to buy several cookware sets in between. These are a worthwhile investment. I’m reminded whenever I cook with other cookware at church or on trips, that food burns more easily, sticks to the bottom, and is much more difficult to clean when I use other cookware. I have never had to scrub a Pampered Chef pot because even burned-on food just wipes out. (Not that I ever burn food. Ahem.)

The set has changed a bit over the years, but the comparable set is this.

I still love and use them every day!

Here’s a favorite recipe which puts this awesome cookware to use. Ken and I have loved this soup recipe so much! It’s souper easy, and souper delicious!

Tortellini and Sausage Soup

1 lb. ground sausage (We like spicy!)
6-9 oz frozen or fresh cheese tortellini
2 cans 14 oz Italian-seasoned diced tomatoes
1 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 can beef broth
1 1/2 cups water

In large soup pot, brown sausage. Drain. Add remaining ingredients, and heat to boiling. Simmer for 10 minutes, ensuring that tortellini is cooked.

This recipe makes 6 large hearty and delicious servings of soup. Serve with a side salad and some bread, and you’ve got a meal that is perfect for cold rainy nights!

Check out the many great Pampered Chef products online. Between now and November 30th, a portion of the proceeds will go to support our ongoing adoption expenses!

Getting Pampered for Adoption!

Know someone who likes to cook? Looking for a great Christmas gift that makes a difference in the lives of two orphans who will soon be our kids? Look no further than Pampered Chef!

I love Pampered Chef products! Thanks to a generous Pampered Bride shower over 15 years ago, my kitchen was filled with lots of Pampered Chef products, and I have continued to purchase them over the years in between. The products are incredibly durable, and have lasted the 15 year test of time beautifully.

But my favorite reason right now is Pampered Chef is helping me raise funds for our adoption!

I know everyone’s schedule is busy this time of year, and that many of you are many miles away, so I’m hosting a catalogue-only party between now and November 30th. Simply follow this link, select products that you like for yourself or someone else, and select the direct shipping option to have products delivered directly to you — or to someone else. If you live close to Nashville, you can have products shipped to me, if you’d like. Our adoption agency will receive a portion of the sales, which will go directly toward our ongoing adoption expenses.

Not sure what to buy? I can help! I’ll be describing my favorite Pampered Chef products daily until the party closes!

One of my many favorites is the Pampered Chef scoops.

I have them in all three sizes. The largest size is perfect for scooping uniform amounts of cupcake or muffin batter into paper liners, and the small scoop is the perfect size for mini muffins. No more guessing if there’s enough or too much batter.  Before I had these, muffin-making was a drippy and sticky mess! Here’s my favorite small scoop recipe, and here’s where you can get one!

Thanks for continuing to support our adoption!