DIY Ornaments & Home for the Holidays pt.4

This is just another one of those, “you already know about this but maybe you forgot and thanks for the reminder” kinda projects.

Hey, I never claimed to be a genius…just helpful.

Pine cone Ornament


Get dressed. Go outside. Find this:

Actually, you should find more than one..then take them home…
(even though they are beautiful in their natural habitat.)

then you need some of this…
(spray paint. any kind. I buy this because it’s tiny and cheap.)
Gold, silver, white, whatever…


some glue, glitter and some nice ribbon or string.


I mean, I know it’s not rocket science but it doesn’t have to be. When these have pretty little lights surrounding them they will look like you snatched ’em right out of a Pottery Barn catalog. As Ina would say, “How easy is that?”




November 19, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , . Art and Neat stuff. Leave a comment.

DIY Ornaments & Home for the Holidays pt.2

Glittery Ornaments

I am a cliché’ of a woman in one way; I like things that sparkle.
I take that back.
I LOVE things that sparkle.


I especially love sparkly things on Christmas trees surrounded by lights. Here’s to things that glitter and shine.


Get some of these again…

and some spray glue and some glitter…

and some regular glue.
No, you don’t have to give Martha your money.
This seemed just like Elmer’s to me.

And maybe some paintbrushes if you want.

Draw some designs with your glue on the outside…
(You could write names, dates, messages or even use stencils!)

Sprinkle and set aside to dry.


Spray the inside of your ornament with the spray glue…

Errr…That’s a little too much.
If you make a whoopsie, just drop a little bit of water in there.
You’ll swoosh it around and then pour out the excess.
This just thins out your glue a bit.
It will still work.

Pour in some glitter. Tape over the hole and shake. Pour out the excess glitter.

And now you have:

For the ones you set aside, allow those to dry for a day and then take them outside and brush off the excess glitter. I used a soft bristled paintbrush and it worked really well. It’s easy to drop them when you do this so I suggest sticking a finger into the hole at the top as opposed to holding it.

Stay tuned! There’s more!


November 14, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Art and Neat stuff. 1 comment.

Perfect Pizza for the Pack

It doesn’t matter what coast you’re from. Thin and crispy, thin and floppy, thick, deep dish…

Pizza is delicious. Pizza is amazing. It is versatile.
It can be topped with greasy meats or healthy vegetables. It can seem fancy schmancy, funky or classic.

It is also one of the most profitable foods in the food service industry. It’s fun for kids to make.
All of these things mean that it is a good idea to make your own at home. Don’t be scared. You will see the words yeast and rise in the following recipe but don’t run! It’s a single bowl method and I was testing ingredient combinations for this crust before I knew how yeast worked. What’s better?
This recipe can make 3 different styles of crust. Don’t believe me? Just try it. This is a great recipe for those who are afraid of yeast and bread baking because it’s almost foolproof.

Yuh’ welcome.

Perfectly Versatile Pizza Crust
(from Wendi Kent)

you will need:

1 packet (1/4 oz. or 1 1/2 tsp.) Active dry yeast
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour plus some for dusting
(for whole wheat crust: exchange 1/2 cup of white for wheat)
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp olive oil (plus a little for brushing)
1/2 Tbsp honey (or sugar)
3/4 cup 105-110° water
cornmeal or semolina for dusting

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients (including sugar if you’re using it instead of honey) except water and honey. Add the honey to your hot water and then temp it again to be sure it is still the proper temperature. Add water to mix.

(But, Wendi, it looks like a big mess and that’s not how you do it when you make bread and shouldn’t I do the yeast and water different and are you sure this is going to work? Chill out. It will work.)

Combine until dough forms. Once combined, knead 5 to 15 times on a floured surface.  You are kneading JUST until dough becomes resilient unlike bread.
Cover with a light towel and let rest. Choose your style below.

Fresh basil leaves, sauce and fresh balls of mozzarella make a classic Margherita Pizza.

For thin, crispy crust: Preheat your oven to 400°. Let dough rest only 5 minutes. (It still should have risen a bit.) On lightly floured surface, roll dough out with rolling-pin. Sprinkle pan lightly with cornmeal or semolina and lay crust on top. You will likely have some dough left after trimming the edges. I like to make bread sticks from this (below). Brush with olive oil. Perforate dough a few times lightly with fork or pizza cutter. Pre bake 8-15 minutes or just until light golden. Remove and add toppings. Finish baking.

For thin, soft crust: Preheat oven to 400°. Let dough rest only 5 minutes. (It still should have risen a bit.) On lightly floured surface, roll dough out with rolling-pin. Sprinkle pan lightly with cornmeal or semolina and lay crust on top. You will likely have some dough left after trimming the edges. I like to make bread sticks from this (below). Brush with olive oil. Perforate dough a few times lightly with fork or pizza cutter. Add toppings. Bake until crust is golden and toppings are done.

For thicker crust: Preheat oven to 400°. Let dough rest 10 to 15 minutes. (It should have risen quite a bit.) On lightly floured surface, roll dough out with rolling-pin to desired thickness. Sprinkle pan lightly with cornmeal or semolina and lay crust on top. Brush with olive oil. Perforate dough a few times lightly with fork or pizza cutter. Pre bake 8-15 minutes or just until light golden. Remove and add toppings. Finish baking.

For bread sticks: Take excess dough and roll out into long strand(s). (I like to twist two together.) Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic salt, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Bake until golden and serve with sauce. Nummy and no waste!

Print Pizza Crust Recipe!

Fresh basil leaves, sauce and fresh balls of mozzarella make a classic Margherita Pizza.

October 5, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Recipes. 3 comments.

Meatless Mexican Bisque


F.Y.I. This is “meatless” in that you don’t put any meat in the soup, however, the bouillon I recommend has beef fat and dried chicken in it.

♦It is easy, very cheap, and yes, another one of those recipes I swear is delicious, even though it only has a few ingredients. You will start to get it. You won’t believe the flavor that comes from this!♦

You will need:

3 very large Russet potatoes, peeled, chopped
1- 15.25 oz can corn
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 large green onions (with chives)
3 cubes Knorr “Caldo de Tomate” (tomato bouillon with chicken flavor)
1 cup heavy cream
coarse ground pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil

(Makes a large soup pot’s worth.)

Put potatoes in a large pot and fill with water until just over the potatoes. Boil on high for 30 minutes. Reduce to light boil for 10 more minutes. If water amount has reduced, replenish. Repeat two more times. Remove from heat.

Dice green onions (this is the bulb end only, not the chive end) and saute in olive oil. Ladle potatoes, water, (be sure they are not too hot for your blender!) and green onions into food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Transfer back into pot. Heat on low and stir in bouillon and heavy cream. Do NOT allow it to boil after this point. Slowly add more water, one cup at a time, until bisque like consistency. (I don’t have measurements for the water because it will depend on the size of your potatoes.)
*Add your corn and simmer on low for 5 minutes. Stir frequently.

Add diced chives and cilantro. Simmer for 7 more minutes. Top with coarse black pepper. I really recommend serving this with plain, toasted white bread. Not rolls, or anything fancy. You’ll understand when you try it.

March 19, 2010. Tags: , , , . Recipes. Leave a comment.

Southern Onion Rings

I seem to have a hard time convincing people that a recipe will be good when it doesn’t have “fancy” ingredients. I think you’ll start to believe me after you try these. Your family will be impressed and you may be surprised. Takes about 15 minutes @ most.

You will need:

  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 2-3 LARGE sweet onions, sliced 1/4″
  • frying oil (canola,vegetable, or soybean)
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp parsley flakes
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup corn meal

Heat frying oil in skillet. If you have a candy thermometer, you can use that to test to 350°. I usually just test with a sprinkle of batter.
(Take a pinch of your cornmeal mixture and sprinkle a little into the oil. The oil is ready when the mixture sizzles instantly.)

In medium bowl, pour buttermilk over onions. stir well with fork. Put all dry ingredients in another bowl and mix well. Move onions from milk to cornmeal mixture and coat well. Cook onions 8-10 at a time until golden brown.(This won’t take long!!) Place on paper towels until served.


February 20, 2010. Tags: , , . Recipes. 4 comments.

It Made Me “Famous”

My love for blueberry pie began in an unusual way. When my fiancé and I first started dating he asked me if I had ever had blueberry pie. I had not due to not being crazy about blueberries. He continued to talk about how incredible his mother’s pie was. With his mother no longer around, I decided to try to find the perfect blueberry pie recipe. I baked about 4 pies changing little things as I went before I felt like I really nailed it.
Of course there had to be some quality control by yours truly. The first bite of the first pie melted in my mouth. I couldn’t believe what I had done to myself. I couldn’t believe I had doubted this concoction.
I thought, if the first one is this good, the next one will be better and so it began. On the fourth pie, I felt it was perfect and was so excited to see if this would suffice so I eagerly asked him if it was even close to being as good as his mother’s. “She never made blueberry pie. She made apple pie…But this is great!”

So anywhoo, I began baking this at the small diner I was working at and soon had people coming in regularly for blueberry pie. Or they would ask me what day I would make another so they could come in then.

So here it is. I’m not saying it’s the world’s best but I am saying, it’s pretty damn good. And even “non cooks” can make it.

Wendi’s Blueberry Pie

You will need:

3-4 cups blueberries (frozen or fresh. There is an important trick for frozen which I will explain)
2, 9″ pie crusts or shells
2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch salt (1/4 tsp)

Yes. That’s it. Remember, less is more. And if you’re wondering why salt goes into a sweet recipe, stay tuned because I will address this at some point later.

Preheat oven to 425°. If blueberries are fresh, simply rinse and put in a large bowl. A lot of times the fresh ones are simply too expensive. Don’t worry. Frozen ones aren’t terrible.
**If frozen, do NOT thaw ahead of time. You want to thaw them right before you use them. If they thaw ahead of time, the juices will leak out of the berries slowly and then you rinse all the juice away. Also, do not use them frozen. All your ice will melt in your pie and melted ice = water and water and pie don’t mix.**
Pour the frozen berries into a strainer. Put this strainer in a bowl with enough tepid water in it to barely cover the blueberries. Let them sit for about 5 minutes. Stir them around and leave for 5 more minutes. Lift out the strainer and drain berries.

Put berries in large bowl. Zest lemon until you have about 1/2 tsp. and put zest aside. Cut and squeeze the juice from 1/2 a lemon over berries. (If you’ve read my lemon “tip o’ the week”, you’ll know how to avoid dropping seeds in here.)
Stir or toss. Sprinkle cinnamon and stir or toss. Add vanilla and stir.
Now add salt, sugar and flour and stir. Pour this big gooey mess into your pie shell.
Yes, you need the liquid that is there. No more, no less.
Add your top crust. VENT! Do not forget this part or you will be in big trouble. The hot air needs somewhere to escape from.

There are many ways to do this but you need to cover the edge of your crust. Either aluminum crust savers (which you can buy), strips of aluminum foil, or an aluminum pie tin with the middle cut out. If using foil, just wrap the foil around and squish it together. Sprinkle zest on top. You can also add a little sugar to the top of the crust. Bake for 1 hour or until you can see the guts bubbling from in between the flute slits. I always let mine cool overnight but minimum 4 hours is sufficient.

I know you want to dive in now but you must let it cool or all the filling will fall out!

I like to top mine with some home-made whipped cream.

February 4, 2010. Tags: , , , . Cooking tips. 2 comments.

Tex-Mex Pot Pie

(please read disclaimer here)

AKA: King Ranch Chicken
AKA: Mexican Lasagna

Kids love this and so do people who “hate casseroles” (AKA my fiancé)! This will usually feed (with 3 large chicken breasts) 2 adults with a child or leftovers or an adult and 2 kids with leftovers.

You will need:

  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can Ro-tel (read about it here)
  • 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 small to medium green bell pepper
  • 1 small to medium yellow onion
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese (kids usually prefer the cheddar version)
  • 6 corn tortillas

In a large pot, boil enough water for the chicken to be submerged. Boil chicken on medium high for 20 minutes or until done.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F and empty both can of soups into large mixing bowl. Chop onion and bell pepper. Heat 3 TBS. olive oil and sauté onion and bell pepper until tender. Remove from heat and add cooked veggies to soup mixture.

Remove chicken from water (Do not discard this “broth”) and chop and slightly shred chicken and set aside. Take 1/3 cup of broth and mix into soup mixture keeping remaining broth aside. Spray your glass baking dish (I use 9 x 7 x 2½”) with non-stick spray. Soak 3 corn tortillas in reserved chicken broth until soft. (Just a few moments.) Layer on bottom of pan.

Spoon ½ of soup/veggie mixture on top of tortillas. Spread ½ of chicken on top. Drain liquid from Rot-tel and spoon ½ over chicken. Dip 3 more tortillas and layer. Add what’s left of the soup mixture, then chicken, then Ro-tel. Add cheese to top and cover with foil. Bake for 25-30 min. or until bubbly.


January 15, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . Recipes. 2 comments.

Taco Soup

(please read disclaimer)

Yes. Seriously

I cook a lot of very different things. Some are very simple comfort foods that anyone can make and some are bit more extravagant. This is the former. It HAS to be the cheapest dinner recipe ever! I really love this stuff. I got this recipe from my Nana (you’ll hear that often) which means it’s delicious, cheap, and best of all, EASY. Like with knitting patterns, it may sound strange, but you just have to trust the instructions. It’s basically like chili but less time-consuming, easier on your guts and has a few more veggies.


  • 1 to 1½ Lbs. ground beef
  • 1 small (15.25 oz.) can corn
  • 1 small (15.50 oz.) can kidney beans (or pinto, I prefer kidney)
  • 1 small (10 oz.) can Ro-tel
    A little information about Ro-tel: This is just a can of diced tomatoes, green chilies, and spices. If you have ever lived in the south, you know this always goes into queso. If you don’t recognize this, most stores are now carrying their own version of it and it will be near the canned diced tomatoes. It will be a very small can and it will say “diced tomatoes and green chilies”. Same thing.
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 1 pkg. Ranch dressing seasoning mix
    (I know! I know! Just trust me K?!)
  • 1 pkg Taco seasoning (whatever heat you like)
  • saltines

Brown and scramble meat in a skillet and meanwhile in a large pot, combine all cans WITH ALL THE WATER AND JUICES. Add both spice packets. Begin cooking on medium. Drain beef of grease and put it in the pot. Simmer 10 minutes.


*Disclaimer: “5 minute meals” is maybe a teeny, tiny bit of an exaggeration (unless you are a ninja who happens to be jacked up on coffee) but essentially these are very quick, easy, and affordable “home cooking” type recipes whose ingredients are in most average kitchens and are also ideal for those who have convinced themselves they can’t make good food because they are not “good cooks”.

January 10, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . Recipes. Leave a comment.

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