Thursday, October 29, 2009

Creamy Chicken Gravy and Fluffy Biscuits

This Juicy Rotisserie Style Chicken is truly the best I've ever had. I made this last weekend and tripled the spice mixture to keep on hand in an extra spice jar I had. I've made this Rotisserie Chicken several times before, but my husband still kept raving about it...even 2 days later!

I'm already planning on using the same technique for this year's Thanksgiving turkey!

rotisserie chickenWhenever I cook a whole chicken, I always have plans for the leftovers. Sometimes I make buffalo chicken wraps...YUM! Sometimes, the chicken ends up on a chicken cordon bleu pizza... mmmmmm!

But, this weekend's cluck-cluck was headed for a swim in some rich creamy gravy!

(I'm afraid I don't use a recipe, so don't have one to share. I saute celery and onions in butter until tender. Then, add some flour and spices to make a roux. Then, I whisk in mostly chicken broth and a splash of milk and bring to a boil to thicken).

Then, I made a double batch of Fluffy Biscuits:

fluffy biscuits
The warm, flaky biscuit was then split in half and drenched in creamy, chicken-y goodness. Ahhh, comfort food! Yum!

chicken and biscuits
We've had evangelistic meetings at our church this week, so I haven't taken much time to post. I have been taking time, however, to tidy up my blog here and there. So far, I'm pretty pleased with the tweaking that's going on... someday I'll like the look well enough to stop arranging and rearranging!

What do you like/dislike about the new look? What would you like to see? I'm always happy with constructive feedback!

I should be back to a more regular posting schedule by next week! I'm excited for Saturday's meal! I'm making Mommy's Kitchen's No Peek Beef Tips...they sound fabulous!

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Winners of the Yoplait Less Sugar, More Fun Prize Packs!

Yoplait Kids yogurt
Congratulations to {Annette} and {Jamie and Emily}, who each won a Yoplait Less Sugar, More Fun Prize Pack, courtesy of MyBlogSpark!

{Jamie and Emily}'s kids get to use their tea set to help make snack time fun!

{Annette} sounds much like me in her extent of snacktime fun...she lets her daughter pick the color of her bowl or spoon! (Loved it, made me laugh!) ;-)

Congratulations! I've emailed you both about your win!

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**Disclaimer: I was given a free product for review purposes only. My reviews are not monetarily compensated and have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way, unless otherwise disclosed. Each review is based on the reactions and opinions of myself and/or family.**
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Winner of Janette Oke's Love Comes Softly!

I wrote each name in the order she commented on a numbered sheet of paper (because a couple of the comments weren't entries).

I must admit that I haven't figured out screenshots successfully enough to add one here (tips would be welcome)! But, using random.org, #30 (Gerrie!) WON a copy of Janette Oke's Love Comes Softly.

Congratulations, Gerrie! I have emailed you!

And, thank you to all who participated! I loved seeing your favorite reads!

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Peanut Butter Fudge

Peanut

Butter


Fudge


Mmmmmmmm!


A friend gave me some of this fudge years ago. After my husband and I gobbled it up, she willingly shared the recipe.

This fudge takes only 4 ingredients and is so easy and delicious!

PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE

2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme
1 1/3 cups peanut butter

Boil milk and sugar in a medium saucepan for three minutes over medium-high heat. Immediately stir in the marshmallow creme and peanut butter. Pour and spread into a 9x9 inch glass baking dish. Cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.

Recommend: YES!

*(Any credit for the clever photo progression must be given to all of the other creative blogs I visit. I've seen it done a few times...!)* ;-)
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hamburger Gravy


Hamburger Gravy may not be ranked among the most photogenic meals, but this dish is easy and hearty and filling! Hamburger Gravy is also an easy dish to tweak to your family's likes and dislikes.

After browning 1 pound of ground beef (with chopped onions or minced onions),

Add 1 can of cream of mushroom soup (and dried onion soup mix, if you didn't already add onions and want that stronger, distinct flavor).

Thin gravy with chicken broth or milk and bring to a simmer. I like to plan this meal after this or this so I can use up the leftover chicken broth.

Additions are easy and optional - fresh or canned mushrooms, sour cream (if you're looking for more of a stroganoff taste)...

Season with salt, pepper, and parsley. Spoon Hamburger Gravy over mashed potatoes, noodles, bread, or rice.

Hamburger Gravy is also an easily stretchable meal if you have a large family. Add another can of soup to make more gravy...less meat.


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Monday, October 19, 2009

My Creative Side LOVES Fonts!!

My blog has taken different directions than I'd imagined when I first started and came up with "The Creative Side of Me." I've laughed a bit to myself and wanted to rename my blog "The RANDOM Side of Me!" :-)

Here's a site that appeals to my creative side! I LOVE fonts! When I browse digital scrapbooking forums, I always take note of any fonts mentioned...and then search and download away!

TheMomBlogs.com has launched a new FREE font site - FreeFontFun.com!


With names like Coffee Milk Crazy, Cool Dots, Fabulous 50's, and RabbitEars, you're sure to find a font that's just right for your next creative project!

Don't know how to install a new font? Click [here] for instructions!

Excuse me, I'm off to download a few...or more...

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**Disclaimer: My reviews are not monetarily compensated and have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way, unless otherwise disclosed. Each review is based on the reactions and opinions of myself and/or family.**
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Shortbread Tarts and Microwave Lemon Curd

I made some gingerbread the other night and wanted a lemon sauce for it.

I've looked up Lemon Curd recipes before (it's basically a soft-set lemon sauce/pudding, for those who don't know. You can buy it in the jam section of your grocery store), but I have never wanted to make it.

Why? Lemon Curd is egg-based and most egg-based custards/puddings that I've made have tasted eggy to me. That's why I like this recipe for Lemon Pie.

Anyway, I decided to give the egg-based Lemon Curd a try when I found what looked to be an almost-too-simple-it-couldn't-be-good Microwave Lemon Curd recipe on allrecipes.

Well, it WAS super simple...and it was SUPER good! If you can push the buttons on a microwave and operate a whisk, you can make delicious Lemon Curd! (Oh, and it wasn't eggy at ALL!)

It was yummy while still warm over the gingerbread, but after letting it set in the fridge overnight, I made up some shortbread tarts to use up the rest. (Mom-in-law, have I thanked you for that mini muffin pan?!) :-)

*Note: the Lemon Curd never sets as hard as a typical pudding. Lemon Curd is meant to be a sauce or filling...I don't believe it would work well as an entire pie. Too soft.*

Super easy dessert! The shortbread recipe is going to be my go-to tart recipe! That was super simple, too!



SHORTBREAD TARTS

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add flour; mix well. (I used my electric mixer and continued to beat until the mixture came together...be patient). Shape into 1-in. balls; press onto the bottom and up the sides of greased miniature muffin cups. Bake at 300 degrees F for 17-22 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes; carefully remove from pans. Spoon 1 teaspoon of desired filling into each tart.

MICROWAVE LEMON CURD

1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 cup fresh lemon juice (I used bottled lemon juice)
3 lemons, zested (didn't have and not sure I'd want "bits" in my curd anyway)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until smooth. Stir in lemon juice, lemon zest and butter. Cook in the microwave for one minute intervals, stirring after each minute until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon (Took only 4 minutes in my microwave...it will be like syrup. But, if it coats the back of a metal spoon, it's DONE!). Remove from the microwave, and pour into small sterile jars. Store for up to three weeks in the refrigerator.

Recommend: YES

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Review and GIVEAWAY! Yoplait Kids - Less Sugar, More Fun!

I love going to our mailbox, because lately, it seems to be filled with all kinds of packages and goodies!

Just recently, a special package from MyBlogSpark arrived! Inside the box was a Yoplait Less Sugar, More Fun pack!

Yoplait Fun Pack
The Yoplait Less Sugar, More Fun pack consisted of a cute insulated bag (the perfect size for taking a few snacks for a day at the park), a washable placemat (which my daughter insisted was a Dora "map"), a "Tangle" twisty-puzzle toy, two color-changing spoons, and a coupon for any Yoplait Kids yogurt.

Tangle puzzle toy
I was quite excited that the "DORA! DORA!!" my daughter was yelling about and pointing at just happened to be the Yoplait Kids yogurt I was searching for on my grocery trip!

Yoplait Kids yogurt
Yoplait has always been my preferred yogurt of choice, and although I tend to shy away from food products geared just for kids, I was pleased to see that the Yoplait Kids' yogurt was made with 25% less sugar than other kids' yogurt brands.

Yoplait Kids' yogurt is also made with REAL sugar - not high fructose corn syrup - and did not contain any artificial flavors - just real strawberry puree.

I was also impressed that no artificial coloring was used. The ingredients listed "Beet Juice Concentrate" as a coloring (hm! Clever!)!

It was also a plus - for my child - that Dora (or Diego) were the characters of choice on Yoplait's yogurt! Dora is quite popular in our household at the moment!

My daughter (and son) were so excited to eat "Dora" yogurt. :-) The package contained three of each flavor: Strawberry or Strawberry/Vanilla.

The yogurt was smooth and creamy - no fruity chunks, which can deter picky children - and both of my kids gobbled it up!

Kids eating Yoplait yogurt
Yogurt can be a healthy choice for a snack - and when made with less sugar, Yoplait Kids tops my list!

GIVEAWAY ALERT!

MyBlogSpark has offered to give away TWO Yoplait Less Sugar, More Fun prize packs to two of my readers!!

To enter, tell me how you make snack time fun for your kids! (I've washed out the little Yoplait Dora yogurt cups to put future snacks in...I know my kids will love that!)

For additional entries (must do above to qualify for extra entries!),
  • Follow my blog via a feed reader or subscribe by email. Comment and let me know! If you're already a follower/subscriber, comment and let me know!
  • Blog about my giveaway and leave me a link to your post!
  • Enter my giveaway URL (http://thecreativesideofsteph.blogspot.com/2009/10/review-and-giveaway-yoplait-kids-less.html) into another blog's giveaway McLinky and send me the link so I can see it!
  • Snag my blog button (in the far right column) and leave a comment with the link!
Entries accepted until Monday, October 26.

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**Disclaimer: I was given a free product for review purposes only. My reviews are not monetarily compensated and have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way, unless otherwise disclosed. Each review is based on the reactions and opinions of myself and/or family.**
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Monday, October 12, 2009

Draw and Write Through History by Carylee Gressman


I was given the opportunity to review Draw and Write Through History: Creation Through Jonah, which is written by Carylee Gressman and illustrated by Peggy Dick.

Carylee's Draw and Write series is geared for ages 8 and up, but if your younger child is interested in art and drawing, you can certainly adapt! Although this book was out of my daughter's ability, I can't wait until she CAN use it!

The Draw and Write series is the perfect supplement for your homeschooling curriculum. These books would even be wonderful tools for summer break, because drawing is FUN!

The book begins with an introduction from Professor Doodle who tells each story and gives the child drawing tips and tricks.

Currently, there are four books in the Draw and Write Through History series. I was sent "Creation Through Jonah," which after Professor Doodle's instruction to review our cursive letters, begins with Day 3 of Creation - plants.

Professor Doodle guides the child, step by step, in drawing realistic plants and trees. He then shows the child how to draw a dinosaur and man. At the end of the section, a page of cursive copywork is given, summarizing the history lesson.

After Creation, and besides the images on the cover, you will find instruction on drawing everything from the ark to mummies to Joseph to Jonah's whale. Click here for a sample from the book - the Trojan Horse.

I was thoroughly impressed with the entire book. It was fun! The drawings were based on simple stick figures or sketches and then the child is shown how to fill it out, so that his drawing is realistic.

I really wish I'd had something like this when I was in school. I loved to draw and doodle and trace. I think this would have helped my artistic side! ;-)

I think when my little boy is ready for school, I'll have to get book four, the Pilgrims, Pirates, and Patriots edition!

The other two titles in the Draw and Write series are Greece and Rome and The Vikings, The Middle Ages, and The Renaissance. If you've got a child with an artistic bent (and even if you don't!), I think she would love the Draw and Write Through History books!

Thank you, Carylee and Peggy, through Mama Buzz, for allowing me to review your book!

Recommend: YES

Also reviewed [here] on Christianbook.com and [here] on Amazon.

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**Disclaimer: I was given a free product for review purposes only. My reviews are not monetarily compensated and have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way, unless otherwise disclosed. Each review is based on the reactions and opinions of myself and/or family.**
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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Snickerdoodles!

I really can't recall ever making Snickerdoodles before! Shocking, I know!

I must have...once upon a time? I must have, for I had an opened jar of cream of tartar...and what else do you use cream of tartar for? :-)

Whether this was the first time I made Snickerdoodles or not, this recipe I found on allrecipes was great and resulted in a soft cookie tasting just how I imagined a Snickerdoodle should! The cookies even stayed soft for several days! I love cookies that do that!


SNICKERDOODLES

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cream together butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, the eggs and the vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.

Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon (I ran out and ended up having to double this cinnamon sugar mixture). Roll balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets.

Recommend: YES

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Measure of Mercy by Lauraine Snelling

Another opportunity from CFBA, I anxiously awaited my copy of Lauraine Snelling's A Measure of Mercy.

Having already read this series and this series by Lauraine, I was excited to see that Astrid was the main character in the first book of Lauraine's newest series, Home to Blessing.
_____________________________________
ABOUT THE BOOK:

Eighteen-year-old Astrid Bjorklund has always dreamed of becoming a doctor. She had intended to study medicine in Chicago or Grand Forks, but when a disaster wiped out a major portion of her family's income, Astrid stayed home instead, receiving hands-on training from Dr. Elizabeth.

Joshua Landsverk left Blessing two years ago, but he's never forgotten Astrid. Returning to town, he seeks to court her.

Astrid is attracted to him, and when the opportunity unexpectedly opens for her to go to Chicago for medical training, she finds it difficult to leave. Love blossoms through their letters, but upon arriving back home, she makes a heartbreaking discovery. She learns he's left town--again. Believing Joshua no longer loves her, Astrid makes an impetuous, heart-wrenching decision.

Will she regret the choice she's made? Will she have to give up love to pursue her dream?
_____________________________________

Thank you so much, Lauraine and Bethany House, for sending me a copy of A Measure of Mercy!

You can read the first chapter of A Measure of Mercy below:

A Measure of Mercy

Recommend: YES; if you have enjoyed Lauraine's previous series about Blessing and the Bjorklunds, you'll want to pick up a copy of A Measure of Mercy.

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Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin

I have enjoyed several of Lynn Austin's books and was excited to review her newest title, Though Waters Roar.

The year is 1920, the Eighteenth Amendment has just been passed into law, and the book begins with Harriet in a jail cell for having cases of bootleg liquor in the backseat of her car. The reader is curious and knows there must be more to the story...

Thus, Harriet begins to share the story of her grandmother...

ABOUT THE BOOK

"Thank goodness you're such a plain child. You'll have to rely on your wits."

So went the words of Grandma Bebe. And for all of my growing-up years, I scoffed at the beauty of my sister and what I saw as her meaningless existence. But my wits hadn't served me well in this instance, for here I was, in jail. And while I could have seen it as carrying on the family tradition (for Grandma Bebe landed in jail for her support of Prohibition), the truth is, my reasons for being here would probably break her heart.

So how did I end up becoming a criminal? I've been pondering that question all night. Perhaps the best way to search for an answer is to start at the very beginning.

Harriet Sherwood has always adored her grandmother. But when Harriet decides to follow in her footsteps to fight for social justice, she certainly never expected her efforts to land her in jail. Nor did she expect her childhood enemy and notorious school bully, Tommy O'Reilly, to be the arresting officer.

Languishing in a jail cell, Harriet has plenty of time to sift through the memories of the three generations of women who have preceded her. As each story emerges, the strength of her family--and their deep faith in the God of justice and righteousness--brings Harriet to the discovery of her own goals and motives for pursuing them.

432 pages by Bethany House.

Many thanks to Lynn and Bethany House, through CFBA, for allowing me to review Though Waters Roar!

You can read the first two chapters of Though Waters Roar, below:


Though Waters Roar


Recommend: YES (for now)! Unfortunately, my review copy didn't come in time for me to finish before the tour. So far, I'm enjoying the book. If I finish, and that changes, I'll edit! :-)

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Creamy Cheesy Chicken Stroganoff

Add this dish to the not-so-photogenic... but super yummy!

I've made this dish (without the cream cheese) for years, but the cream cheese added that extra oomph to put it over the top into ultimate comfort food!

The next time I make this (with the cream cheese), I want to try it with ranch dressing seasoning mix!

Creamy Cheesy Chicken Stroganoff
CREAMY CHEESY CHICKEN STROGANOFF

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cubed
1 package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

Place chicken in slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine salad dressing mix and soups. Pour over chicken. Cook on low 5 to 6 hours.

Cube and add cream cheese, during last half hour to hour of cooking time. Cook on high until cream cheese is melted and smooth.

Serve over pasta, rice, or potatoes.

Recommend: YES

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Review and GIVEAWAY: Busy People's Fast & Frugal Cookbook by Dawn Hall


Have you ever thought that cooking with more healthy options was just too expensive? When Dawn Hall realized how difficult it was becoming to stretch her grocery budget just so she could eat healthier, she decided to write the Busy People’s Fast & Frugal Cookbook, for those who were struggling with the same thing.

After I looked through each recipe in Dawn’s cookbook, I thought to myself, “This is like semi-homemade cooking…only healthier!”

Dawn has created every recipe in the Busy People’s Fast & Frugal Cookbook to be seven ingredients or fewer and prepared in 30 minutes or less.

To cut down on prep time, Dawn utilizes many prepackaged products, but specifies the salt-, sugar-, and fat- free versions.

To maximize the grocery budget, Dawn spends money on low fat options of high fat products (such as cheese and butter) and almost always uses egg whites instead of whole eggs, but saves her hard-earned money on things like pasta. The higher cost of whole-wheat pasta, for instance, isn’t worth her benefit, unless on sale.

Each recipe in the Busy People’s Fast & Frugal Cookbook is just as the title says: fast and frugal (IF you’re trying to maintain a more healthy diet).

Here’s an example of one of Dawn’s recipes that you’ll find in the Fast & Frugal Cookbook:

PENNE IN CREAMY ITALIAN SAUCE

Isn’t it nice to know that we can enjoy creamy pasta without all of the fats usually associated with cream sauce?

1 (16-ounce) box penne pasta
1 can pitted ripe (black) olives
1 cup fat-free sour cream
1 (14 ounce) jar pizza sauce
1 (14.5-ounce) can Italian diced tomatoes
½ cup low-fat ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Add 3 quarts of water to a large Dutch oven or soup pan, and bring to a boil over high heat.

Once the water is boiling, add the pasta. Return to a boil and stir occasionally.

Open, drain, and discard the liquid from the can of olives. Place the drained olives in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1 minute; set aside.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pan.

Stir in the sour cream, pizza sauce, tomatoes, ricotta cheese, garlic salt, and the heated olives. Return the pan to medium heat and cook until all ingredients are fully heated.

Alongside each recipe, Dawn also gives nutritional information, an itemized grocery list, and suggested side dishes.

If you’re a cookbook collector or are trying to eat a bit healthier, you’ll like the Busy People’s Fast & Frugal Cookbook!

384 pages by Thomas Nelson.

GIVEAWAY ALERT:
And, if you’re one of my readers, you have a chance to WIN a copy of Dawn’s cookbook!

To enter, leave a comment telling me whether or not eating healthy is important to you and what you do to help cut costs of preparing healthy foods for you or your family.

For additional entries (must do above first to qualify):

Become a follower or subscriber and comment letting me know!

Blog about my giveaway and comment with your link!

Entries accepted until November 7.

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