Saturday, February 5, 2011

Baby Hartweg's Shower

Yea for Baby Hartweg!  We celebrated this little guy with a shower today.  His mom and dad have decided on Kepler as his first name, which is the name of an important astronomer, so it was only fitting that his shower be a star-studded event.

There were games, like guess how big Mommy's belly is (don't worry, it was Mommy's idea!):

and a Starburst guessing game:

Little Kepler is going to be one well-dressed little guy, because he now has 25 onesies to show off.  They were all decorated by Mommy's friends:

There are a lot of options, and lots of schools represented. Maybe Kepler will grow up to be a Horned Frog, or even a Ram:


This little guy got lots of other stuff, too! His momma is one really-loved lady.

There was a lot of food and fellowship at this shindig, too!

The shower ended with a little treat for everyone to take home--a Star Crunch for Kayla's little star!

Congrats to Kayla and Beau--we're excited to meet little Kepler soon!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Little Blue Dutch Oven

I got myself a toy for Christmas:  a sturdy blue Dutch oven.  With my full set of pots and pans, you may be asking why I need a Dutch oven.  I wasn't really sure myself, but after seeing the amazing dishes coming out of them all the time on Food Network I decided I needed one.  I'd had it on my obscure Christmas wish list for a couple of years; you know, the list you kinda throw out when people are exasperated with you because they don't know what to get you for Christmas because you're grown up and buy your own stuff now.  (Surely that doesn't just happen to me!)  I'm afraid they may have only seen the ($200!!) Le Creuset version, which I would not buy for me, either. 

So there I was, wrapping up some Christmas shopping, going to Aldi of all places to buy a chocolate fountain for some friends of ours when next to the stack of chocolate fountains sat the one last blue Dutch oven, which just happened to be on sale for $29.99 that week.  I checked it out for dents and scratches, and picked it up.  I made myself wait until after Christmas to use it, just in case someone happened to get me one.  No one did, so off of the obscure Christmas gift list it went.

Now that I had it, I wasn't sure how to use it.  I didn't think it was like the big pot I cook spaghetti in, and that heavy, tight-fitting lid was supposed to mean something.  I did my research and discovered a website just for Dutch oven recipes named, of all things,  I wanted to try a chicken dish, since that's what they're always cooking on TV.  With the snow day giving me extra time this evening, I tried out the recipe for "Chicken Licken."  The sauce was so delicious I'm excited about the leftovers.  I felt it was worth sharing, so get out your Dutch oven and give it a try.  Happy cooking!

(The picture doesn't do it justice.  The sauce has a wonderful silky look to it.  Mmmm-mmm!)

Chicken Licken
-1/4 cup margarine
-4 large chicken breasts, halved
-1/2 onion, sliced
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 1/2 tsp salt
-1 1/2 tsp paprika
-1 tsp ginger
-1/2 tsp chili powder (preferably homemade)
-1 can crushed tomatoes
-1 cup chicken broth
-1 cup heavy cream

Melt margarine in Dutch oven and brown chicken.  Remove the chicken and saute the onion and garlic.  Add spices, tomatoes, and broth.  Add chicken.  Simmer covered for 40 minutes or until chicken is tender.

Blend cornstarch with cream to a smooth paste (about 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch).  Stir into the sauce.  Simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Pour into bowls.

(The chicken seemed a little awkward in its halved-breast form.  It would be better shredded or cubed.  This recipe would also jazz up spaghetti--the chili powder gives it a kick!)

**Bonus recipe**
Heavy Cream Substitution
(since I never seem to have it)

-3/4 cup milk (nonfat/lowfat is fine)
-1/3 cup butter
-1 Tablepoon flour

Melt butter.  Stir butter, milk, and flour until combined.
(makes 1 cup of heavy cream, but it can't be used for whipping)
A while back I promised a post of my Christmas crafts, but that was before I kinda misplaced the camera with all of the pictures on it.  (That's what happens when you clean!)  Luckily, it's been found, so I have craftiness to share.

The "10 days of Christmas" at work is a favorite event of mine.  For the first nine days you give a $1ish gift to your secret person, and the last day is a $10 gift.  I drew the name of the person I had last year, so I had to work harder this time to be sneaky and not duplicate last year's stuff.  She's a fun lady who is also pretty artsy, so I went in that direction. 

Here are the dangly Asian-inspired earrings I made:

Another day I gave homemade Chex mix in this funky bag:

One final picture of the homemade gifts:  a framed copy of "Dreams" by her favorite poet (she's also an English teacher).  I printed the poem on transparency, laid it over a stamped gold background, and framed it:

I also got crafty on a couple of other presents.  For my favorite two-year-old, Elizabeth, I made a frilly pink tutu:

For Kayla, I made a "nesting" necklace.  I got the idea from a magazine--it's a necklace that resembles a nest with eggs made from wire and beads.  I also added the "love" tag that dangles next to it:

Even the packaging was crafty!  (It's a recycled pineapple can...use a smooth can opener on the opposite end to open, wash it out, fill with the present, and glue back together.)

One final crafty project involves more appliqued shirts.  Kayla is teaching at a new school and wanted to make some unique shirts, so we used their colors as inspiration for these:

That wraps up the Christmas crafts.  Next up in the crafty department:  baby shower pics!