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Posted on: November 26th, 2014 by Darla | No Comments

Even before we have the big meal, there is a mad rush to plan what to do with Thanksgiving Turkey leftovers. Of course you can always slap a little mayo and turkey on some bread. Or you could get just a teensy bit fancier with this super easy and dare I say adorable leftover recipe. Who doesn’t love a muffin, after all?

Turkey Leftover Puff Pastry Muffin Cups Recipe

You might want to add a box of frozen puff pastry to your shopping list this week.

Turkey Leftover Muffin Cups
 
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Use holiday turkey leftovers or chopped chicken for this elegant little plates.
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12 single servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups finely chopped turkey leftovers (can also use chicken)
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup (do not add water)
  • 2 cups (or ½ bag) frozen California mix
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 box (2 sheets) of Frozen Puff Pastry sheets
  • *Optional zucchini, sliced into medallions
  • Shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
Instructions
  1. Thaw the puff pastry sheets per package directions, then cut each sheet into 6 sections.
  2. Finely chop or grind the turkey or chicken meat.
  3. Mix the meat leftovers with remaining ingredients except puff pastry and zucchini and cheese.
  4. Position each puff pastry sheet into a regular-sized muffin cup in a 12-cup muffin pan, lightly pressing down to the bottom of the cup.
  5. Spoon approximately ¼ C meat/veggie mix into each muffin cup.
  6. Loosely turn the pastry flaps over onto the topsof the cups. They will only be partially covered.
  7. Top with roughly a tablespoon of grated cheese.
  8. Bake in a 425 degree oven for aproximately 25 minutes or until the tops are browned.
  9. If puff pastry isn't your thing, an alternative version of this recipe is to alternate layers of sliced zucchini and a tablespoon of meat/veggie mix in each muffin cup, topped with cheese.

 

Layered zucchini alternative:

Turkey Leftover Zucchini Muffin Cups Recipe

Need even more ideas? Checkout these great leftover ideas over at Brandi’s site, Mama Teaches. Makes me wish I’d gotten a bigger bird!

Happy holidays!

Posted on: November 25th, 2014 by Darla | No Comments

If you are lucky enough to have a mudroom, then you know what a challenge it is to keep it organized. It’s a natural drop zone for everyone and everything. It can often look like this.

Mudroom before organizing:

How to organize a mudroom

This little mudroom is right off the garage (right) and also has the laundry off to the left, a pantry and a storage closet. Talk about spaces to collect clutter!

Keeping this organized is a family affair, but usually one person will lead the charge.

Usually it’s mom.

But getting it organized when it gets crazy doesn’t have to be a big deal. A few simple tips is all it takes. Use the SPACE organizing formula I told you about to get through this project quickly.

  • Label cubbies so people know where to find important things stored here, like batteries and light bulbs.
  • Clear out seasonal items each season.
  • Assign a place for shoes.
  • Create collection spots (like these pretty bins below) for items for specific family members, so they can go through them.
  • Keep bags to a minimum. Like hangers, they reproduce when we’re not looking, and become a big part of the clutter problem.

In a very short amount of time (about an hour), we went through all the cabinets and drawers and counter top in this area and came up with this.

How to organize a mudroom (after)

Doesn’t that make you smile when coming in (or going out of) the house?

By the way, if you aren’t lucky enough to have a mudroom, maybe you’ll like this rolling boot tray to organize the front hall closet.

What do you love about this organized mudroom?

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by Darla | No Comments

There are many ways to make guests feel welcome, and one is to have easy access to your wi-fi password as soon as they arrive. You can make this lovely, shimmery memo board in less than an hour and keep the wi-fi password or other information easily accessible for guests or yourself, and still have it be part of your decor.

Mirrored Memo board for wifi code

Gather your supplies:

  • frame with glass
  • Chalk Paint® decorative paint by Annie Sloan
  • fabric remnant
  • FrogTape Shape Tape (I used the chevron shape.)
  • Rust-Olem Mirror Finish Spray
  • Dry erase marker

start your mirrored memo board with a thrift store frame

This project starts with a $1 thrift store frame. This frame is really pathetic, with that tacky plastic metal strip on the inside and corner that don’t quite match up, but I was surprised by how awesome it looks with two coats of Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan. No primer, just two coats, and it looks really nice and crisp.

Then tape up the glass in your choice of patterns. I thunk about this for a long time, but I ultimately made it easy and pain free by going with the Frogtape chevron pattern Shape tape. Just remember to think backwards. Whatever you tape will show the fabric we’re using in the next steps. Whatever you don’t tape will show the shimmer from the mirror finish.

Rust-Oleum Mirror finish and Frogtape Shape tape for mirrored memo board

When you have the glass taped, apply very, super thin coats of the Rust-Oleum Mirror Finish. I can not stress this enough! You do not want heavy coats. You’ll be doing at least 5 thin coats. After spraying each one, lightly dab with a wet paper towel. If you do this on each layer, you’ll end up with a mercury glass effect, which is a huge design trend right now, but it’s very classic, so it’s not going to look dated in a year or so. This is the back of the glass.

Rust-Oleum mirror finish on glass

After the Mirror Finish coat dry, remove the shape tape, and cut a fabric remnant to size. This is a nice place to make a statement and go for a bold fabric choice. I wanted to highlight the mirror effect, so I kept my fabric subtle.

Before reassembling your frame, print out your code in your choice of fonts. You don’t have to set the lines up accurately against your pattern, since you can move the printed page down line by line. I was able to lay my printed page behind the Mirror Effect spray and still see enough of it to trace over in dry erase marker. Or, to make this whole project easier, you could make the clear part of your chevron pattern larger by laying multiple pieces of tape side by side, keep your fabric solid, and just write memos on the clear glass. Yeah, that would be easier. Do that.

print wifi code for mirrored memo board

Then reassemble your whole frame, with the fabric in the middle where a photo would usually be. Then completely fill in the outline of your letters with a dry erase marker.

mirrored memo board shows wifi code

I actually did have this board sitting on my mantle when I hosted a class recently and wanted everyone to be able to hop onto my network. Put yours in the guest room so guests can easily connect. You could use this to post phone numbers or other relevant information. In fact, I think I’ll use it for the next few weeks to help the little ones memorize our phone numbers.

Mirrored Memo board for wifi code

 

 

Posted on: November 18th, 2014 by Darla | 1 Comment

I am bumping a previously scheduled post to bring you this chai-riffic recipe on this cold and blustery day. If you haven’t had chai, which is what we Americans call spiced tea, you are in for a treat. This beverage has none of the bitterness of coffee, and more flavor than bagged teas. You can find powdered and prepared chai on some grocery shelves, and you can pay $5 per cup at your favorite coffee shop, but after trying this, you won’t want either of those.

chai latte recipe

Making one batch of this can save you time and money compared to stopping at your coffee shop.

I’ve spent the last several weeks adjusting this recipe to make a whole batch at a time. There’s just no getting around the fact that it has to be cooked, but by making a good sized batch, I have a cup ready to go each morning for a week.

Chai Latte
 
Prep time
Cook time
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Make a batch of this spiced tea and serve it hot or cold without added sugar.
Author:
Recipe type: Beverage
Cuisine: Indian American
Serves: about 6 cups
Ingredients
  • 4 cups water
  • 12 oz can of evaporated milk
  • ⅓ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ tsp anise seed
  • 2 whole anise stars
  • 1 Tbsp fresh diced ginger*
  • ¼ tsp whole black peppercorns*
  • ¼ tsp whole cloves
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ¼ tsp real vanilla extract
  • 2 tea bags
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine water, evaporated milk, condensed milk, and all spices.
  2. Bring to boil on medium heat.
  3. Reduce heat to simmer, add tea bags, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Before straining, squeeze tea bags a couple of times in the liquid.
  5. Strain the liquid through a fine wire strainer into a jug or jars with lids.
  6. Store for up to a week in the refrigerator.
  7. Garnish with whipped cream if desired.
Notes
* Use fresh ginger and whole peppercorn. I have been known to reach for my spice jars more often than I should, but in this recipe you don't want to cut corners with jar spices or you will definitely taste the difference.

This recipe replaces sweet with spicy. I don't add any sugar or sweetener, and I prefer it to coffee and tea that I tend to load up with cream and sugar. You just don't need it here.

 

Just a few helpful hints as you are preparing this. I’ve already noted in the recipe that you should absolutely use fresh ginger and whole peppercorns, neither of which are part of my normal shopping list. Fresh ginger is in the produce aisle of most regular grocery stores, and you don’t need to peel it since it gets strained out; just finely dice it. Whole peppercorns are in a jar in the spice aisle. I’ve only used black pepper so far, so I’d love to hear if you have a specialty peppercorn that would make this even better.

Giving a shout out to Whole Foods, I recently learned that they have bulk spices that you can buy in very small quantities, as small as just a teaspoon at a time. Some of the spices that I don’t normally have on hand, including anise and anise stars, cost next to nothing in small doses. This is a HUGE cost savings over buying whole jars, which would take me forever to use and would normally be very pricey, if you can even find them.

I’ll be the first to admit that the process of straining the cooked chai is a little bit of a pain, but it’s a worthwhile trade for me. Prep this recipe one day a week and have this yummy treat on hand to warm up in the microwave on cold mornings. (That’s the organizing tip for today.)

preparing chai latte recipe at homeUse either regular tea or decaffeinated tea bags. Your choice.

Did you know that you can use cinnamon sticks more than once? Fish out the cinnamon stick you just used, rinse it and dry it. Then store it to use for next week’s batch, and save even more money.

You can use milk instead of evaporated milk, but I don’t often have milk in the fridge. It’s great to know everything I need for this drink is in the pantry and ready to make a batch anytime.

This drink is also refreshing cooled and blended with ice. Yum!

I’ve made this recipe using as much as 6 cups of water to start (keeping all other ingredients at the same amounts) and it still tastes spiced and full-bodied. Feel free to adjust the ingredients to suit your personal taste.

Chai Latte Recipe Flourish

One last nugget. True story, if I were ordering this at the coffee house, I wouldn’t pass up the whipped cream garnish, but I never add it at home. What would you do?

Posted on: November 16th, 2014 by Darla | No Comments

What would I do if I were to win the lottery? Maybe buy a home like the Design Home presented by Philadelphia Magazine. For a mere $2.9 million, this baby could be mine (or yours). 11/16 is the last day for public tours, so hightail it over to Chestnut Hill if you haven’t already seen this beautiful dream home.

DesignHome PHL 2014

I’d love to show you my favorite parts of this year’s home, which I toured as part of a special Comcast Xfinity blogger tour offered by Real Mom Media. I did receive special consideration for touring the home, but after you see these pictures, you won’t doubt that it is worth the price of admission (all of which goes to this year’s chosen charity of MANNA).

Let’s be honest. Everyone wants to see the master suite, so let’s just start there on this blog tour.

Design Home master bedroom

This gorgeous suite includes twin his and hers walk in closets, a coffee bar alcove, a sauna, and a shower bigger than my first apartment.

master suite shower

 

master suite bathroom

master suite sitting area

This is also one of the places that you can see this home is wired! Comcast Xfinity was kind enough to demonstrate the X1 platform and Xfinity Home automation features, that allow you to use alarms, video, texts, and energy saving features to make your home comfortable, safe, and efficient, all from your remote control or smartphone app.

Xfinity Home automation

My friends and I clustered in the master suite and tried to figure out how we could get the rights to live here. Just in this suite. We don’t really need the whole house, after all. This is heaven, haven, and basically perfect. Let me know if you can figure it out for us.

But on to some other lovely features of the home. The kitchen?

butler's pantry in the DesignHomePHLNope, that’s just the prep kitchen. Or butler’s kitchen. The actual kitchen is gorgeous, with two refrigerators, an over-sized island with Quartzite counters, and really beautiful classic design that can be seen from almost every other room on the main floor. You know how everyone always congregates in the kitchen? That was true on the day of my tour, too, so I don’t have a great shot for you.

DesignHome kitchenThe adjacent dining room has two modern wine cellars juxtaposed with classic coffered ceiling details.

 

design home dining room wine cellarsding room coffered ceilingThe main living room was classic modern with soaring ceilings.

living room fireplace

The sense of space in this room is assisted by the fact that I am taking this picture from OUTSIDE! The entire wall of windows opens up to the patio.

design home living room

Yes, this home is built for entertaining, with a complete outdoor kitchen just steps from the living room.

design home outdoor kitchen

The landscaping was mature, classic, and compact enough to not be overwhelming for a busy family.  So sorry I didn’t get a shot of the patio and outdoor fireplace.

design home pool

Back inside, you get a view of that beautiful pool from the home office outfitted as a family space. I won’t judge you if you claim this space all for your own once you move in.

design home office

The sitting room in this house had lovely details and furnishings, including a fresh teal palette and bookcases that were designed with  another contemporary twist, hung on the walls instead of standing on the floor as most bookcases do.

design home sitting room

The first floor was complete with garage with 2 bays plus a car lift, you know, for your classic car.

design home car liftThe breezeway is one of my favorite parts of this house…

design home breezewaywhich leads into another favorite spot, the mudroom, which contained all of this storage for pets and kids as well as the entrance to the elevator. Yes, the elevator.

design home mudroomThe second floor contained another three bedrooms and two baths, along with the master suite and a hallway laundry room.

design home laundry

The laundry room may not seem like anything too special, until you realize that it is only one of two laundry rooms in this house. As it should be.

The third floor was a huge playroom outfitted stylishly with IKEA. This picture only shows about a quarter of the space.

design home playroom

Somehow I lost steam on the basement level, and missed taking pictures of the large gym, au pair suite, pool changing room, and family room with bar. Comcast was kind enough to demonstrate the X1 platform here, and one of my favorite features was the fact that you can now customize the TV guide menu to include things like your favorite channels or create profiles for each family members. I mean, #XfinityMoms (and moms of all stripes) don’t want to scroll through thousands of channels when we only watch a few.

design home Xfinity features

Whew! What a wirlwind tour! If you make it out to the DesignHomePHL, be sure to wear your walking shoes! Or take the virtual tour after 11/16 on their site. And let me know what you love best about this year’s design home.

design home exterior