Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Shepherdess" Pie

I call this recipe "shepherdess" pie because I tailored it to what I thought my girls would eat.  They don't like regular potatoes, not mashed, not baked- although they won't turn down the occasional french fry... who wouldn't?  They both eat sweet potatoes, so I decided to use those for this recipe instead.  (See pictures below.)

I made this meal for St. Patrick's Day, but it is a great meal year round.  The traditional shepherd's pie was made with random leftovers.  Mine was all original from scratch for a special day!  Hope you'll enjoy this meal with your family.

"Shepherdess" Pie

2 large sweet potatoes
1/2 cup chicken stock

2 Boneless Lamb Chops
2 cups of chopped cabbage (I did 1" sized pieces)
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup chicken stock

Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 2" pieces.  Place in pot and cover with water.  Boil until easily broken with a wooden spoon (consistency for mashing).  Drain and mash, adding the 1/2 cup chicken stock.

While the sweet potatoes are boiling, trim the fat off of the lamb chops.  Lamb is not a lean meat, so you will have a lot to trim.  Chop the remaining meat into 1/2" or smaller bits.  Tip:  Trim right on top of the butcher paper (on your cutting board) which will mean less meat on the cutting board!  Brown in a skillet (no need to add oil) just until you see no red remaining.  Drain and rinse meat.  Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a clean skillet on med-high.  Put cabbage, carrots and celery in the skillet and cook for 5-7 minutes until celery and cabbage soften.  Add flour and mix thoroughly.  Add the chicken stock and stir.  Heat to boiling and allow time for the sauce to thicken.

In a 1.5 quart casserole dish, mix together lamb and cabbage mixture.  Top with mashed sweet potatoes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.  Serves 4-6 depending on appetite and the size of your people! ;)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Eating Healthy- and Feeding Kids Healthy Foods

I have struggled for the last 4 or so years.  With what?  When my oldest daughter started eating [more than just baby food] I began the battle of the school menu, the daycare menu.  I poured my heart and soul into communications regarding the menu- the foods they would be feeding my child.  I have donated food to the daycare for ALL of the children to eat.  I have offered to consult with them on their menu, to make positive changes and keep within budget, which they have never taken me up on.

I send substitutes many times, but many times I'm so busy (I never claimed to be perfect).  I'm a working mom, after all.  But the fact remains that kids learn by doing, and they learn young. 

So anyways, the point of this blog post is that I was VERY excited to watch the new Food Revolution television show, with Jamie Oliver.  I encourage you to check out his web site and start watching the show.  I am encouraged that there is a movement for positive change!  Join me in supporting the campaign!

Recipe coming soon- healthy, whole foods, completely from scratch, and yummy!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Every once in a while I come up with a brilliant idea, LOL

Most of my ideas are okay, I guess.  It's not very often I think up something brilliant, LOL.  This past Christmas I thought of an idea.  I wish I had more time to make it even more beautiful, but it was kind of in the ninth hour.  At least from the perspective that it was a few days before Christmas, lots of stuff going on, yada yada.

Our church has a Christmas Eve Candlelight worship service.  Sounds pretty typical.  This year seemed even more contemporary, which I love.  Our girls are young, but old enough that they would want to have something lit as well, but I can't give them fire, even if they promise to be safe.

So I ran to the candle cabinet, grabbed some fake tea lights, ran upstairs, grabbed a couple of chipboard coasters, some red ribbon, big glue dots, and a powerful hole puncher.

I put 2 holes in each chipboard coaster, try to imagine each coaster now looking like a giant button.  I had a couple of feet of red ribbon for each coaster, and pulled it through the holes.  I took 2 big glue dots to the sides of the fake tea lights and stuck it on top of the "button" over the small section of ribbon, not where the ribbon comes out - rather, where the ribbon went in.

When we got to church, our older daughter got the tea light tied to her wrist with a big red bow.  Her friend got one as well.  The two little ones, our younger daughter and her friend, got to hold just a fake tea light in their hands (they probably wouldn't have tolerated something tied to their arms).

I didn't get any pictures of the kids that night, but I will say that they LOVED this and felt so grown having candlelight in the big church.  That's what made this idea, well, brilliant!   Many people sitting nearby commented on how great the idea was.

Now.  If I had more time to prepare, I would have covered the chipboard with a pretty paper and some Mod Podge before doing any of the other steps.  I'm sure there's more I could also have done to beautify them.  Maybe next Christmas!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wine Bottle Crafts (and other bottles, too!)

I worked on a project this fall for Christmas gifts.  It was slow going, at first, but the end result was amazing.  First, I collected wine bottles of varying shapes, sizes and colors.  I asked friends and family to donate their bottles to me, so I actually had more than enough (great for any mess ups that I need to toss).  

To prep them I had to soak them in very hot water and scrape every last bit of sticky glue from the labels off.

Part 1:  I bought 3 complimentary colors of spray paint that was okay to use on glass.  I chose a copper, gold and shimmery blue.  I sprayed the wine bottles with the colors of spraypaint.  No real patterns, some more than others... until they looked good to me.  I did this in my front yard on a piece of cardboard and let the breeze dry them.  Once they looked good to me, and they were dry, I took them inside for part two.

Prep for Part 2:  I bought a fancy looking foam stamp for a few dollars.  I already had some of the Lumiere acrylic paint (Metallic Copper) that was leftover from some old projects (and was starting to dry up some) and a piece of plastic from a paper pack that would later become trash.

Part two: I took the acrylic paint and put some on the plastic.  I stamped my foam stamp and rolled it on the bottles.  Some areas were tricky, but I wasn't looking for a perfect clear image each time, but instead wanted to get the idea of the image.  The fact that the paint was kind of drying in the jar helped give the image more depth and texture.  I allowed this to dry on the bottles at least overnight.  Then back outside they went to be sealed with a clear acrylic spray, in matte.

Lastly, I bought some different stoppers and pour spouts for the bottles, depending on use.  I found a supplier online that was relatively inexpensive, but where I could tell I was getting a decent product.  Some examples where you might use this with a pour spout: fill with some olive oil, bath gel (or bubble bath), or dish soap!  (You can see the olive oil in the blue bottle above, I gave that one to my brother.)  An example of a use for the stopper: bath salts or powder.

Hope this inspires you to create something for a gift!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Recycling Fun?

First I must say thanks to my readers who have stuck with me while I've been absent.  I've been working hard to be healthy, active, and keep the house up while I work and be mom.  Meanwhile, I thought about sharing this:

Sometimes recycling is just something you have to do.  I don't think we can ever classify it as fun, can we?  But as a mom, I am always trying to find ways to incorporate the things we have to do into something fun that the kids will enjoy.

When recycling bottles and jars, you're always supposed to rinse and throw away the cap or lid (except in the RARE instance that the cap or lid is also recyclable.   Do you take the time to rinse?  I get turned off by rinsing out soap, shampoo and laundry detergent bottles, it just seems to take forever.

SO, instead of rinsing those types of bottles myself, I throw them in the tub with the girls and let them have water playtime for a few days before they make their way to the recycle bag.  Simple, easy, and the kids love it.

Speaking of bottles, I have promised the wine bottle craft for quite some time.  I finally finished pictures, and need to do some final editing of the steps I took.  I hope to have that tutorial completed in the next day or so.

Enjoy this beautiful day!