Friday, November 30, 2007

Chicken Fried Steak

BEEF, it's what's for dinner!
It's a regular thing at our ranch house anyway.

My kids are always bugging me for a "real recipe" for the foods I make at home. I usually pull them out of my hat -- add a little of this and a smidge of that which is a recipe that is sometimes hard to follow for the inexperienced. So today I found a "real recipe" that is right in line with my own. We had it for supper tonight along with baked potatoes and corn (sounds really down-home, doesn't it?). I hope you'll enjoy it. And don't forget the gravy -- it's delish!

Chicken Fried Steak
~Alton Brown

2 pounds beef bottom round, trimmed of excess fat
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 whole eggs, beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or dried)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
Cut the meat with the grain into 1/2-inch thick slices. Season each piece on both sides with the salt and pepper. Place the flour into a pie pan. Place the eggs into a separate pie pan. Dredge the meat on both sides in the flour. Tenderize the meat, using a needling device, until each slice is 1/4-inch thick. (I just pound it with the rolling pin or have your butcher tenderize it. ~J)

Once tenderized, dredge the meat again in the flour, followed by the egg and finally in the flour again. Repeat with all the pieces of meat. Place the meat onto a plate and allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking.

Place enough of the vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a 12-inch slope-sided skillet and set over medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the meat in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook each piece on both sides until golden brown, approximately 4 minutes per side. Remove the steaks to a wire rack set in a half sheet pan and place into the oven. Repeat until all of the meat is browned.

Add the remaining vegetable oil, or at least 1 tablespoon, to the pan. (I like a little butter. ~J) Whisk in 3 tablespoons of the flour left over from the dredging. Add the chicken broth and deglaze the pan. Whisk until the gravy comes to a boil and begins to thicken. Add the milk and thyme and whisk until the gravy coats the back of a spoon, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Season to taste, with more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve the gravy over the steaks.
Recipe courtesy of Food Network.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Glitzy Glitter Stars

What you will need:

Star pattern
Card stock
exacto-knife or paring knife
adhesive spray
clear crystal glitter

What to do:

You will want to begin this project by finding a good five-point star
pattern to print and trace. I found three sizes here. Just print stars onto card stock and cut them out or you can cut them out and trace several on a sheet of card stock. As you can see, I have drawn pink lines on the star above to show you where you will score the stars.

Lay your star onto a cutting board. Take a heavy ruler and lay it across the star at each point and angle. Gently score with an exacto-knife or sharp paring knife, making nice,
straight lines through the middle each time. Next, you will gently fold the star on each line and then lay it on the table to squinch up the star so that each point is folded upward and each angle is folded downward. You'll see what I mean when you start to play with your stars.

Now the fun begins! Take your folded stars, newspaper, adhesive spray, and glitter and go to the garage. The smell of the spray is a little strong so you want to do this in a well-ventilated area. Spray a light coat of adhesive onto each star and quickly sprinkle clear crystal glitter over each one. Shake them off and turn them over onto a dry sheet of newspaper to glitter the backside. I like to do each side on a separate piece of newspaper because the glitter won't stick down as much and I like to reuse as much glitter as I can. Allow your stars to dry indoors. Pour your excess glitter back into the bottle.

You can set up your stars on a mantel, or hang them by punching one tip of your star with a needle and thread. Hang in windows at varying lengths for a pretty effect. I have also hung stars on the Christmas tree. I think they'd make a cute gift tag as well. These are every bit as attractive as the tin stars that I have seen in gift shops.

(you may click up images to get a closer look)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Making Napkins

I just thought I'd share another little project I have going -- napkins!

A friend shared these online instructions with me and I'm having a ball sewing these up! So far, I've made plain single-sided, mitered corner napkins and these (pictured) double-sided, mitered napkins. I really love the look of them, don't you? I know they're a little bit LoUd, but the Special Someone I made them for likes bright, bold colors.

Here are a couple other napkin tutorials you may enjoy.
The Purl Bee (scroll down a ways)

Are you handi-crafting Christmas gifts?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Day of Preparation

Tie on your aprons girls!
The Day of Preparation is upon us!

The day before any major holiday has been dubbed by Hubs: "The Day Of Preparation." This is the day that we Daughters of Man work in the kitchen and all around the house to prepare for a smooth holiday where the turkey, potatoes, gravy and the cranberries go forth from the kitchen to a beautifully set table all at the same time...... with grace and charm.

In the home surfaces are dusted, guest beds are freshly washed, bathrooms shine and floors are scrubbed while the rugs are shaken and aired outdoors.

It's business time in the kitchen -- a variety of pies are whacked up and breads are baked while salads are whipped and cranberries are jelled. Oh what a day! It's hard work, it's fun, it smells good, and I can't wait to serve it all up to my loved ones. The college boy arrived this afternoon, and more are to come home tomorrow.

Now.....what shall I make for supper?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

First snow!

SNow !

It is SnowINg!

it snoWEd !

It WiLL Snow aGAiN...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Aprons in the Making

I found The Cutest Apron Pattern at Susan Branch's website. I've made two now, and I hope to do a few more for gifts. The only tricky part is making sure that the bias tape (which joins each piece) is sewn down on both sides. Click here for the FREE printable pattern.

Happy Sewing!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Invisible Woman

If your empty sock drawer is miraculously full when you wake up the next morning......
you might have an Invisible Woman in the house.

If you've put the last 4 ice cubes into your glass and slammed the freezer door shut and opened it again a day later to find a full box of ice.....
you might have an Invisible Woman in the house.

If you have living, thriving geraniums on the front porch.....
you might have an Invisible Woman around the house.

If the dog is always fed.....
you might have an Invisible Woman in the house.

If the sinkful of dirty dishes disappears into thin air.....
you might have an Invisible Woman in the house.

If there's always soap in the soap dish, shampoo and conditioner in the shower, clean towels in the closet, tooth paste and floss in the drawer.....
you might have an Invisible Woman in the house.

If you always find milk in your frig, Cherios in the pantry, and cookies in the jar.....
you might have an Invisible Woman living in your midst.
I just finished reading a thoughtful little book for mothers. If you're a mom like me, I know you've felt unappreciated, walked on, invisible. But fear not! Your Heavenly Father sees every deed you do -- every diaper folded, every toilet scrubbed, every button sewed back on, every nose wiped, every dish washed, every sock picked up -- even if the Dear Ones you live with never ever notice. Author of The Invisible Woman: A Special Story for Mothers, Nicole Johnson, reminds us of the builders of the great cathedrals worked by faith, knowing that they would never see the completed project. They believed in the work that they were doing, and they believed that it was all for God. They carved ornate figures that would be tucked behind walls, never to be seen by a human soul, but knowing that their Heavenly Father could see it was reason enough to do it, and do it well.

May the tasks and chores that you set your hands to be lifted up as an offering of prayer and service to God, knowing that if a sparrow falls to the ground with His notice, surely He sees you. (Matt 10:20)

"To be really great in little things, to be truly noble and heroic in the insipid details of everyday life, is a virtue so rare as to be worthy of canonization."
~Harriet Beecher Stowe

Friday, November 02, 2007

Write it down

Have you ever heard a little child say something so funny or so darn cute and said to the mother, "Now you be sure to write that down"? Well, just yesterday I was cleaning out an old file cabinet and came across three notebooks. I didn't know what they might be so I looked a little bit closer and found that they were notebooks that I had journaled in from the 1990's. This was the time in my life when I had five children spaced two years apart -- all of them under 9 years of age. And can you believe it? I actually wrote something down on paper! We've all been having such fun reading through these notebooks and sharing stories and remembering when. Two of the boys found the entries about the day they were born. I thought you might like to hear a few sweet things my dear children spoke in my hearing back then.


I asked J. to put his shoes on. He didn't want to so I asked, "Are you big or little?" He replied, "Mom, I'm a little big!"

All the children were in trouble today. At prayers this evening J. prayed, "God, please put away our bad day."

"I wish there were lots of moms so each of us could have one."

Hubby was preparing to cut the brownies for dessert and decided to tip the whole pan out first. I yelled at him to put them back into the pan and cut them, but Hubs just smiled and cut a big hunk off and served them as he pleased. The childrens' eyes were big as they watched Dad do it his way. One of them, mezmorized by what he had just witnessed said in awe, "I believe in Dad," as if he were saying, "I believe in Peter Pan."

Before dinner G. and I had a visit. She was telling me, "Mom, when I get big like you, you and Dad will be the Grandma and Grandpa and A. will be my husband. "No," I said, "A. is your brother. You'll have to find a man you love and marry him." "And he can play with the babies!" she exclaimed. "And then when I'm big like you, I'll have a knife and know how to butter my own toast, and I'll wash the dishes and cook the food."

G. told her grandma, "You can keep all my brothers except J., but when he grows up, you can take him too."

Picture: "Bottoms Up" by Michael Coleman at

Marshmallow--M&M Popcorn Balls

These are so good and so easy and so beautiful that they'll think you really fussed! I made them last weekend for a family night with friends.

Marshmallow--M&M Popcorn Balls
3 qts. popped popcorn (plain)
1/4 c. butter
10 oz. bag of marshmallows
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup M&M's (mini's are fun)
extra butter for hands

Put popcorn in a very large roaster or dish pan (leave out old maids).
Melt butter, sugar and marshmallows over low heat, stirring constantly until completely melted and blended. Pour over popcorn and gently, but quickly stir. Just before you begin to shape the balls, add the M&M's. You'll want to wait a few minutes so that the candies don't melt when added to a "too hot" mixture. Stir them in gently. Butter your hands and shape into balls. Place on waxed paper and allow to finish cooling. Makes about 20 nice sized popcorn balls.

*To make a healthier popcorn ball, you may add raisins, craisins, or chopped nuts.


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