Archive for the ‘My Work’ Category

How to Easily Stain Furniture

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

How to Easily Stain Furniture by MomAdvice.com.

Staining furniture seems like a pretty intimidating project if you have never stained before. Today’s tutorial is going to showcase how to easily stain wood furniture and how you can turn a tired piece into that piece of furniture you have been dreaming of with a simple stain technique.

Today I am working with Cabot Wood Stain to share their new Premium Wood Finish, a stain + sealer product that you can use to restore the finish on your furniture. This H2Oil™ formula provides the best of oil and water-based stains and makes for easy clean up with just a little soap and water!

What I really love about it most though is that it conditions, seals and protects in one step and doesn’t require primer or wood conditioner. You can find this stain at your local Lowes store and the stain color I am working with today is their Espresso finish.  Don’t feel like you have to be committed to just the traditional stain though because it can be tinted to nearly thirty different colors including non-traditional colors like teal and purple!

Premium Wood Finish Colors

Let’s get started on our fun project- I can’t wait for you to see the results!

How to Easily Stain Furniture by MomAdvice.com. How to Easily Stain Furniture by MomAdvice.com.

I headed over to our local thrift store and found this beat-up wooden table for $50. I sent a picture of it to my husband and he replied, “Please tell me you didn’t bring that home.” Yes, you know that you have picked the perfect piece if your husband requests that you not bring it home.

As you can see on the top, this was in extremely bad condition. The top of it looked irreparable and the drawers were deeply damaged. I knew that I would have to be creative with this piece, but the legs and pretty drawers made it a piece worth working on for our office. Because this piece is so damaged, my process took a few extra steps, but even with all the damage, I was able to finish it in a mere 24 hours. You won’t believe this transformation.

How to Easily Stain Furniture by MomAdvice.com.

Supplies Needed

Cabot Premium Wood Finish Stain + Sealer (in your color choice- I have used espresso)

Optional : Cabot Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner (I used this because my piece was so incredibly damaged, but it is an unnecessary step if your piece is in better condition)

Wood Filler

Medium & Fine Grit Sandpaper

Sander (or you can do this by hand)

Rags

Gloves

Drop Cloth

Painting Supplies (if adding painted details like me. The drawers are spray painted using this technique here)

New Hardware or Spray Paint for Old Hardware

How to Easily Stain Furniture by MomAdvice.com.

How to Stain Furniture

1. Begin by thoroughly cleaning your piece well with a clean rag. Once the piece has been cleaned, apply stainable wood filler to any gashes you may see on your piece. Allow the wood filler to dry (two hours) and then using your medium grit sanding paper to smooth and make the filler level to the rest of the surface.

2. Using a sander (or you can do this by hand), sand the piece to remove any old stain and any scratches. Due to the damage on my piece, this took a half hour to do which gave me a chance to begin painting the drawers to this piece.  Make sure that you have on gloves and a mask when sanding your piece and once finished that you clean it well with a clean tack cloth to remove any of the sanding particles before staining.

3. Because of the condition of my piece and how uneven the top still looked on this, I decided to brush on some Cabot Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner (be sure to do this with the grain of the wood)  to make sure that my stain really took evenly. If your piece is in better condition though, you can definitely skip this step. 

On larger surfaces, you will want to work quickly in small sections. Saturate wood with a uniform coat of Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner using a clean brush or sponge. Allow no more than 5 minutes for penetration. Then wipe off all excess. Immediately after removal of Conditioner, apply your Cabot Wood Stain If you are pre-conditioning DO NOT allow the Conditioner to dry. Surfaces which are allowed to dry will not accept stain!

How to Easily Stain Furniture by MomAdvice.com.

4. Now we are ready to stain and seal our piece. Before you begin, make sure your piece is clean and free of any debris using a clean tack cloth.  Again, using a foam brush apply the stain with the grain of the wood. Raw wood is very thirsty so it will absorb the stain quickly. After five minutes, using a clean tack cloth, and wipe it down to remove any stain that hasn’t been absorbed.

How to Easily Stain Furniture by MomAdvice.com.Here is what my tabletop looked like after the first coat. You can see that there is definitely still some unevenness to it, but we are off to a good start. Allow this to dry for 2 1/2 hours before applying the next coat.

How to Easily Stain Furniture by MomAdvice.com.

Sand very lightly with 600 grit sandpaper to smooth wood grain. Remove sanding dust with tack cloth and apply a second thin coat. For full color and maximum durability, apply 2 or more coats. For a muted, distressed look apply 1 coat.  For my table, I applied just two coats so I still had the distressed look that I was after. Since I am impatient, I really love that the Cabot Wood Stain is a fast drying formula that dries in 2-1/2 hours between coats and fully dries in only 6 hours.

Since I also have two kiddos that are rough and tough on my furniture, I also love that it offers a durable finish that will hold up to our abuse and that it protects against spills, water rings and even household chemicals like bleach, alcohol, and nail polish remover.

How to Easily Stain Furniture by MomAdvice.com. How to Easily Stain Furniture by MomAdvice.com. How to Easily Stain Furniture by MomAdvice.com. How to Easily Stain Furniture by MomAdvice.com. How to Easily Stain Furniture by MomAdvice.com.

How to Easily Stain Furniture by MomAdvice.com.

Hello beautiful new table of mine! I am absolutely smitten with this piece and I can’t believe the transformation. We updated the hardware with a couple of new drawer handles since the previous handles were falling apart. The drawers were distressed and antiqued up to match their chippy former days and then I applied my decorative glaze over these spray painted drawers to antique them up a bit more.

How to Easily Stain Furniture by MomAdvice.com.

I swear that this new-to-me table looks just like a table I was coveting in my West Elm catalog, but at a fraction of the price. This has become my new favorite corner in our house and I can’t believe the transformation! For other indoor stain ideas, check out Cabot’s Indoor Inspiration Pinterest board and be sure to follow me on Pinterest for more DIY inspiration! 

Have you ever stained furniture before? What are your tips and advice for updating a piece?

This post is sponsored by Cabot Wood Stain.  I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and effort in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

 

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Quick & Easy Knitted Boot Cuffs

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Easy Knitted Boot Cuffs (a 2 hour knit project)  featured on MomAdvice.com.
I love a quick & gratifying quick knitting project and these knitted boot cuffs are so lovely to wear and add to knit. Knitted boot cuffs can be created in any pattern that your heart desires and can be knitted oh-so-quickly thanks to beautifully bulky yarn. I can’t wait to share this fun and easy to create boot topper.

Easy Knitted Boot Cuffs (a 2 hour knit project)  featured on MomAdvice.com.

Walmart asked me to share a fun Fall project that you can tackle using supplies from their store and I instantly thought of knitted boot cuffs to add a beautiful touch to my Fall wardrobe. I discovered after knitting my 6-stitch ruffled scarf project with them this past Spring that their yarn selection and knitting/crochet accessories has really grown.

For bulky yarn choices, I knitted with both the Lion Brand Thick & Quick Wool Ease and the Lion Brand Hometown USA yarn.

After knitting with both, I loved the Lion Brand Thick & Quick for how much sturdier it was and how it held its shape. What I didn’t love was the scratchy feel of the wool through my leggings so these will be just for topping my boots with jeans.

The Hometown USA yarn feels so soft and luxurious, but the fibers can be easier to separate and it won’t have the longevity that the wool does. It’s up to you which one will fit your needs best, however, they are both affordable options.

You need only one ball of yarn to make a set of boot cuffs.

Easy Knitted Boot Cuffs (a 2 hour knit project)  featured on MomAdvice.com. Easy Knitted Boot Cuffs (a 2 hour knit project)  featured on MomAdvice.com. Easy Knitted Boot Cuffs (a 2 hour knit project)  featured on MomAdvice.com. Easy Knitted Boot Cuffs (a 2 hour knit project)  featured on MomAdvice.com.

For those new to cabling, this is a great pattern to practice your cabling on since it is a small and easy to follow cable pattern. I am linking to a great video tutorial that you can watch to see just how easy it is to knit these.

I did knit these in the round (I have some tips over here if you would like to try it), but it was really hard to do because of the small size of these and the cabling you need to do with this bulky yarn. You can just knit them flat and then seam them if you don’t want to attempt the difficulty of knitting these in the round.

Please note, to get the pattern to look like my picture that I have on here, I repeated Row 13-15 two extra times to add a little more length to tuck into the boot. The colors pictured above are the Hometown USA in Las Vegas Yellow & the Wool-Ease in Charcoal.

Scroll to the bottom of this post for a link to the pattern and don’t forget to friend me on Ravelry.

Easy Knitted Boot Cuffs (a 2 hour knit project)  featured on MomAdvice.com.

If you are loving the outfit or boots in this picture, be sure to check out my site sponsor, Flourish Boutique. I am loving my cozy fleece leggings ($16), this adorable rouched top  ($29.50) and even these two-toned boots ($59.50)  for the Fall months. Remember to use my discount code WEB25 for 25% off your shopping!

Easy Knitted Boot Cuffs (a 2 hour knit project)  featured on MomAdvice.com.

As for my beautiful cowl, that one is a Sue Clark exclusive. My mother-in-law is one of my biggest knitting inspirations and she made this for me for my birthday.  I am one lucky girl, I tell you!

Looking for more fun knitting inspiration, be sure to visit the Knitting section of my site! 

Grab the free Boot Cuff Pattern by Joan De Lurio HERE (you need a Ravelry account to access). Please also swing by her beautiful Etsy shop!

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Slow Cooked Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Slow Cooked Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal from MomAdvice.com.

Apple season is one of my favorite produce seasons and one of my favorite snacks in the Fall months. Today I am sharing a recipe for slow cooked honeycrisp apple oatmeal that you are going to love for a warm and satisfying breakfast on these chilly Fall mornings.  The best part about all of this though, is my incredible tip for getting creamy oats that won’t burn or stick to your slow cooker.

Slow Cooked Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal from MomAdvice.com.

Slow Cooked Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal from MomAdvice.com.

I am working with Walmart and they wanted me to share with you that the Apple Fest season is in full swing at the store. You may have noticed the huge display of fun apples, apple totes, and apple treats/dips that are now displayed in your produce section.   One of the things that  you may not have noticed though is that tags on each bin of apples shares exactly what each variety of apple is perfect for- whether it be salads, baking, or just eaten fresh. I found it really helpful when choosing which apples to use in my recipes and it can be a great way to experiment with a new variety of apple you haven’t tried before.

Slow Cooked Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal from MomAdvice.com.

Often when it comes to baking, I reach for a Granny Smith apple. When researching different varieties of apples that are best to bake with, I discovered that the Honeycrisp Apple and the McIntosh apple were both great varieties to choose when baking. I decided to put the Honeycrisp Apple to work in an overnight oatmeal recipe.

Slow Cooked Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal from MomAdvice.com.I admit that I have never had good success with overnight oats. The oats were usually burnt or overcooked and I always had a hard time getting my slow cooker clean after a batch.

That is why I am so excited to share with you this easy technique to create a double boiler right in your slow cooker. Find a oven-proof dish that you can place inside of your slow cooker and spray it well with a little cooking spray. Place your oatmeal ingredients right inside of the the dish and then, using a liquid measuring cup, pour water around the dish to create a water bath. It doesn’t need to be really full, just an inch or so. Set your slow cooker to LOW and you will have perfectly creamy oatmeal with no burnt spots every single time.

I can’t wait for you to try this recipe in your kitchen!

Slow Cooked Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal from MomAdvice.com.

Slow Cooked Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
This recipe can be personalized according to your family’s dietary needs or what variety of apple is on sale at the grocery store. I loved preparing this one with almond milk! Try my technique for creating your own double-boiler to get a creamier oatmeal!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup steel cut oats (NO substitutions)
  • 3½ cups milk (or milk substitute)
  • 1 Honeycrisp apple, diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Spray your slow cooker with cooking spray. Place the steel cut oats, milk, honeycrisp apple, butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and vanilla extract into a slow cooker, and stir to combine and dissolve the sugar.
  2. Cover the cooker, set to Low, and allow to cook 6 to 7 hours (for firm oats) or 8 hours (for softer texture).

Looking for more apple recipes? Try my Baked Apple Pie Doughnuts, my oh-so-famous Cheddar Apple Pie Dip,  add some googly eyes to them for a fun Halloween treat, or try these Simply Delicious Apple Pork Chops for an easy weeknight meal!

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DIY Minecraft Costume Ideas

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

DIY Minecraft Costume IdeasHalloween is just around the corner and today I wanted to share a fun Minecraft Costume you can create for your very own little Minecraft-addict. DIY Minecraft costumes are fun to make with your kids and give you a chance to spend time together.

I am partnering with Walmart on this Halloween project and today’s project is a fun project that you can do with your kiddos for a Halloween costume.

DIY Minecraft Costume IdeasI have two little Minecraft-addicts in this house. My son was excited to craft up this costume with me and I enjoyed getting to do this together. He is so excited to wear his Steve box head and I am excited that this project cost less than $20 to pull off. In fact, if you have any of these supplies at your house, it may cost even less than that!

DIY Minecraft Costume Ideas

Supplies Needed:

1- 11x11x11 box (This size is NOT available at Walmart. We got ours at FedEx, but you can try Kinkos or the UPS store)

Minecraft Steve Printables- PDF’s printed on 11×17 paper (either print at home or have them printed at the same shipping/printing supplies stores that I have listed above)

All the rest of the supplies can be found at Walmart:

Glue Stick and/or glue gun & glue sticks

Paper Trimmer or Scissors

Box Cutter

Packing tape

Hanes T-Shirt in Aqua Blue

DIY Minecraft Costume Ideas

DIY Minecraft Costume Ideas

Directions:

1. Print out your Minecraft Steve Head printables. I put these files on a jump drive and brought them to Kinkos with me and asked them to print the files on 11×17 paper. Read through this comment thread for printing options. It appears that UPS Store is the most affordable of the options. You can also print at home or try printing the files on smaller paper and piecing them together to save on costs. Feel free to also share your own experience with printing these by leaving a comment below!

2. Begin by taping together the bottom of you box. Once the bottom of your box is taped, you can begin folding in the flaps of the box on the other end, to create a hole for your child’s head.

3. Using a paper trimmer or scissors begin trimming off any of the white portions on the printables.

4. Cover the backside of the first printable with glue. We found the glue stick provided a great start and then I reinforced it, using my glue gun, with little dabs of hot glue along the seam underneath.

5. Repeat the above process and finish with Steve’s hair on top, carefully gluing the edges of the hair down around the top of the box with a little hot glue to secure.

6. Have an adult cut the holes out for Steve’s eyes and wear your new Steve head proudly.  Pair it with an aqua t-shirt and blue jeans to complete the look.

DIY Minecraft Costume Ideas

DIY Minecraft Costume IdeasLooking for more fun DIY Minecraft Costume Ideas? Check out these fun ideas!

Easy Painted Steve Head

Iron Sword & Diamond Pickaxe Printables

Telescoping Minecraft Creeper Costume

20 Amazing Minecraft Costume Ideas (for some extra Minecraft-y inspiration)

Glee Costume Ideas Glee Costume Ideas Glee Costume Ideas Glee Costume Ideas Glee Costume Ideas

We sure do love Halloween around here!  Did you see our couple’s costume from last year? My husband sure does make a dashing Sue Sylvester! Yes, we get into it just as much as the kids do. And why shouldn’t we?

And why shouldn’t YOU?

If you are still looking for fun Halloween ideas, you must visit this DIY Halloween Costume Ideas article and this list of 7 More DIY Halloween Costumes to try creating. Happy Halloween, friends!

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A Happy & Healthy Halloween Night Feast

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Googly Eyed Apples for Halloween from MomAdvice.com.

Googly Eyed Apples for Halloween from MomAdvice.com.Who is ready for a happy & healthy Halloween feast? Halloween is just around the corner and this year Kenmore has you covered with an easy Halloween dish and treat that you can enjoy with your family before or after your trick-or-treating has begun. That’s right, there is no need to order a pizza or stress out about festive snacks, at least not this year!  This year I am sharing an easy slow cooker recipe idea and a treat that is not only healthy, but also a festive addition to your dinner offerings!

Head on over to the Kenmore blog to find a recipe and tips for throwing a happy and healthy Halloween feast this year!

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7 New DIY Halloween Costumes

Monday, October 7th, 2013

7 New DIY Halloween Costumes from MomAdvice.comHalloween is just around the corner and today I wanted to showcase even more DIY Halloween Costume Ideas that you can create using commonly found items at your Goodwill Store. Last year I compiled a really great list of Easy DIY Halloween Costumes that were truly a hit with our readers. Luckily, I was able to find seven more DIY Halloween costumes that I think would be easy to pull off and oh-so-affordable thanks to Goodwill.

Head on over to the Goodwill Tips Blog to find out how to make these 7 easy and affordable Halloween Costumes.

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$15 Fabric-Lined Bookcase Makeover

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

$15 Fabric-Lined Bookcase MakeoverThis Fall I am committed to ridding my home of some unnecessary clutter. My bookshelves were in need of some true organization and updating. Today I am sharing a fabric-lined bookcase makeover to update a tired bookcase and some ideas for adding a little budget-friendly seasonal beauty to your bookshelves.

I work with Walmart and this project update can be done with $15 of supplies found at your local Walmart store.

$15 Fabric-Lined Bookcase MakeoverLet’s start with a before picture of my bookshelves. As you can see, they are brimming over with far too many books and clutter than you could ever imagine. One side housed a million books, while the other housed random junk in our house. Since this is the front room in our house, it really embarrassed me that they had gotten this cluttered.

The first step was to remove EVERYTHING from these bookshelves and figure out what to do with them. One pile was to keep, one to donate, and some were relocated into better places (cookbooks in the kitchen, productivity/work books in the office, etc…). Once you have cleared your shelves, it is time to make them pretty with some inexpensive fabric.

Supplies

2 yards of fabric (to cover two bookshelves- definitely measure for your own bookcases. This houndstooth fabric I found was only $4 per yard!)

General All-Purpose Spray Adhesive (I had some leftover from last month’s diy homework stations)

Glue Gun & Glue Sticks

2 Binder Cliips

Optional: Gold Spray Paint & inexpensive items in Seasonal Supplies

$15 Fabric-Lined Bookcase Makeover

Directions

1. Take the back off of your bookcase on top of your fabric. Cut around the bookcase leaving approximately one inch of fabric all away around to tuck on the back.

2. Once the fabric is cut, flip the fabric with the right-side out. Clip the fabric to the bookcase at the top, using two clips. Be sure you double check the front of the fabric to make sure it lines up if it is patterned.  Relocate your project outside to spray it with the spray adhesive.

3. Lifting the fabric up, spray the entire bookcase side with spray adhesive and then carefully lay the fabric back down, doing your best to keep the fabric even and flush to your bookcase.

4. Flip the bookcase back over and using your hot glue gun, add a dab of glue along the seam and pull the fabric tight behind the bookcase. Continue adding the glue down the seam of the fabric until it is all secure. Fold the corners in just as you would wrapping a present, and glue those to secure them.

5. Secure your bookcase back to your bookcase and begin assembling the items for your bookshelves.

$15 Fabric-Lined Bookcase Makeover

I wanted to add a little nod to the season and another little nod to the Gold trend right now so I picked up another can of spray paint and a two little pumpkins and an owl that I found over in the Seasonal supplies for only $2.49 each and gave them a shiny new gold finish.

Did you catch my spray painted side table tutorial I did this summer? I am such a spray paint addict.

$15 Fabric-Lined Bookcase MakeoverHere is a close-up of my, “new-to-me,” shelves for Fall. The books at the top are among my favorite. I read East of Eden this summer for the first time, my childhood copy of Secret Garden from my great-grandma is in the pile, I’m Hemingway obsessed, and each year I am collecting one new reissued pretty classic from Barnes & Noble for a holiday gift to myself. My little $2.49 owl fits perfectly in there next to a few of my very favorite books.

The second shelf is simple with yarn and tiny bamboo needles I rarely use along with a few of my very favorite knitting books.

The bottom shelf is just for my hubby with his Harry Potter books and a golden pumpkin.

$15 Fabric-Lined Bookcase MakeoverThe top shelf in this photo holds a few of my favorite cookbooks, a golden pumpkin, and my little Pie Bird that I think is oh-so-sweet and reminds me how much I love a good piece of pie.

My copy of Wuthering Heights (which I read this winter) rests beneath the beautiful China teapot that my grandfather gave me before he passed away. Behind it is the last picture I took of him with my grandma. That shelf makes my heart ache.

The last shelf holds my galley copy of my first book, a picture of my sweet boy when he was little in the beautiful Tin Man costume my mother-in-law made for him, our Boston Drivers Handbook which was a gift when we moved to Massachusetts and were terrified to drive, and my hubby’s copy of, “Understand Rap,” from his sister. It is always a great conversation piece.

Can you see the theme? They are ALL special and ALL mean something to me.

The mess before…how could we even see the gems in there? 

$15 Fabric-Lined Bookcase MakeoverHere are some shots of my beautiful bookshelves now. It is one of those projects that I sit and look at over and over again because it makes me so happy. The fabric completely transformed these and the clutter removed from them brings a lot more peace and order to the room.

Looking for more bookshelf styling ideas? Check out these ideas for decorating bookshelves and this post for bookshelf styling tips!

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Weeknight Chicken Lo Mein

Monday, September 30th, 2013

weeknight_chicken_lo_mein_1 Chinese takeout is my weakness, but it is also a budget-buster, especially as often as I would like to indulge in it. Today’s recipe is an easy Weeknight Chicken Lo Mein recipe that fills that takeout void beautifully.

I am working with Walmart and for this month’s grocery project they wanted me to share the good news that their rotisserie chickens are now on rollback pricing at just $4.98, regularly $5.98 each.

rotiserrie_chickens_1 rotiserrie_chickens_2 You may not have noticed that they offer chickens over in the cooler of your store, in front of the Deli counters. When I discovered these, I started purchasing them weekly for our favorite Weeknight Chicken Noodle and Lemon Greek Chicken Soup. There are, of course, a million recipes you can create with these, but I thought this would be perfect for my Chicken Lo Mein fix this week and wanted to show you how I create this recipe at home.

weeknight_chicken_lo_mein_3 I keep an arsenal of ingredients in our pantry and fridge for cooking our Asian dishes. You will find most of these items over in the Asian foods aisle of the store. Sesame Seed Oil, Rice Wine Vinegar, Reduced-Sodium Soy Sauce, and Oyster Sauce are all components to many of the sauces that I make in my dishes. I don’t go through fresh ginger very quickly so I love to keep a tube of this in our fridge for our dishes, like our favorite Mongolian Beef recipe!

The star of the show in this sauce is definitely the Oyster Sauce. It takes this sauce to the takeout level with just a tablespoon or two. Once you taste the sauce in this dish, I bet you will agree!

weeknight_chicken_lo_mein_6

In my Chicken Broccoli Lo Mein recipe I simply use linguine noodles for the recipe. You can definitely do this if you want or you can head to your local Asian grocery store to get the real deal. The fresh noodles in the cooler are ideal, but since I make this recipe often, I keep the dried noodles in my pantry. This package has four pounds of noodles in it… or basically one serving.

If you are wanting to experiment with different types of Asian noodles, here is a handy Asian Noodles Cooking Timetable to help figure out how long to cook the noodles. My packaging didn’t have any instructions on it so I used this timetable as a reference for my noodles.

Other than the noodles, all the other ingredients can be found at your local Walmart including an Asian stir-fry blend of shitake mushrooms and even fortune cookies and egg rolls to add an element of fun to your meal.

I hope you enjoy this faux-mein knockoff recipe of my favorite Chinese takeout dish!

weeknight_chicken_lo_mein_5

Weeknight Chicken Lo Mein
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
An easy weeknight chicken lo mein recipe that can be prepared with a rotisserie chicken.
Ingredients
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, cut into thin strips of meat
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1¼ cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 12 ounces of your favorite Asian noodle or linguine (see suggestions above)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 8 ounces Asian stir-fry blend of mushrooms
  • 3 green onions, sliced diagonally into ½
  • inch pieces
  • snow peas or any variety of your favorite veggies that you would like to add to your stir-fry (consider what you need to use up in your fridge for this one!)
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken broth, sesame oil ground black pepper sugar, vinegar, oyster sauce, and soy sauce.
  2. In a separate small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch with some of this mixture and slowly add to the bulk of the mixture, stirring well. Set aside.
  3. Cook the noodles according to package directions, drain and set aside.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a wok or large saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic, mushrooms, any of your other favorite stir fry veggies, and green onions. Stir fry these for 30 seconds.
  5. Add the reserved sauce mixture and then the chicken. Simmer until the sauce begins to thicken, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved noodles and toss gently, coating everything well with the sauce.

 

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Roasted Tomato Bisque

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Roasted Tomato Bisque

There is nothing like a big pot of soup and today I wanted to share with you an easy recipe for Roasted Tomato Bisque. This roasted tomato bisque recipe is so easy and can be made from those garden tomatoes that you might need to put to work in your kitchen or created with whole canned tomatoes that you can keep in your pantry.

Walmart challenged me this month to share an easy weeknight meal strategy with you. I admit that my best weeknight meal strategy is making a big pot of soup on the weekends that we can enjoy all week long. I have gotten so good at making soup that I told my husband that if this blogging gig falls through that I would open my very own little soup kitchen.

True story.

Roasted Tomato Bisque

Have you ever roasted vegetables for a soup? It adds another layer of flavor to your soup that will surprise you. This soup is packed with roasted carrots, tomatoes, and shallots. The soups depth of flavor comes from a few interesting additions that add a beautiful layering when you eat it. First, the veggies are coated in olive oil, salt, pepper, and brown sugar that adds a little sweetness and saltiness to the soup. The second addition that makes this soup so special is a little sherry that adds a real depth of flavor. The third is the finishing of just the tiniest bit of cream. If you have a dairy allergy or are looking for a vegan alternative, you could leave the soup without it or add rice milk to finish the soup.

Weeknight Meal Strategies

I wanted to dive in a little bit more about my weeknight meal strategy. You see, it rarely changes although as my kids get older it does get more challenging in the evenings with our homework and extracurricular activities. On Sunday afternoons I do all my shopping and planning for the week. I purchase a week’s worth of food and I try to plan our dishes around that week’s activities.

Here are the themes I use for menu planning although I never assign a day to them unless it is our weekly pizza night and Sunday brunch. Everything else falls into place depending on the week’s activities.

Weeknight Meal Ideas

Soup Supper

If you are looking for a little soup inspiration, here are six easy soup recipes to try, a delicious white chicken chili, and a Stuffed Green Pepper Soup that is always a slow cooker winner. Serve these with a loaf of crusty bread or find out how to make an easy big batch of toasted cheese sandwiches when cooking for a crowd.

Meat-Free Night

Here are 30 of our absolute favorite meat-free dishes that we try to create in our kitchen once a week. For a new spin on tacos, try this recipe for easy 10 minute tacos for your family.

Slow Cooker Night

I am a HUGE fan of my slow cooker and use it at least once a week. Here are a month of ideas to bookmark for slow cooker creations in your house.

Waffles/Pancake Brunch

Sundays are for brunching in our house. I love to make a variety of waffles and pancake recipes on Sunday to be frozen and eaten for weekday morning breakfasts. Now that it is Fall, our pumpkin pancakes will be in constant rotation.

Pizza Night

Have you tried making pizza dough in your bread machine? I have been making pizza dough in my bread machine for almost a decade now and our Fridays just wouldn’t be the same without our fun pizza night.

Sandwich/Burger Night

Easy dishes like sloppy joes, pulled pork sandwiches, chicken pesto burgers, and Italian beef sandwiches are just a few examples of easy sandwiches/burgers that can be easily doubled for easy lunches and dinners.

Seek And Ye Shall Find Night

It is Biblical. Sunday night you need to seek and ye shall find in the refrigerator.

 

As you plan out your week, I hope you enjoy this soup for your own weekly soup night. Of course, the best part about soup is that it is the perfect dish to share with others. Be sure to share this one with those you love because I know they will love you for it.

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Roasted Tomato Bisque
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
A delicious roasted tomato bisque recipe packed with delicious roasted vegetable flavor and a hint of cream.
Ingredients
  • Two 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes, drained of their juices. If using fresh tomatoes 20-24 fresh tomatoes, washed, cored, & cut in half.
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 4 carrots, peeled, cut in half, and chopped into sections
  • 2 shallots, quartered
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (can increase to ½ teaspoon if more spice is desired)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup heavy cream (or favorite milk substitute)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the drained whole tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes), olive oil, light brown sugar, carrots and shallots, and toss to coat. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the vegetables on a silicone or parchment-lined baking sheet and roast until caramelized, about 30-35 minutes.
  4. Heat a soup pot over medium heat. Add the butter and cook until foaming. Add the crushed red pepper and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Then add the sherry. Cook until all the liquid has evaporated and the alcohol has cooked off, 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Add the roasted vegetables, crushed tomatoes and 1 cup chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Add the heavy cream and, using an immersion blender, puree the soup until uniform in texture.
  7. Add more chicken stock to adjust the consistency to how you like it.

You can find tons more strategies for meal-time planning in my first book, “The Good Life For Less!”  Grab our free weekly calendar printable for your menu planning needs!  What is your strategy for meal planning?

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7 Easy Chalkboard Paint Crafts

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Chalkboard_Paint_Crafts The back-to-school season is in full swing and to honor that oh-so-wonderful time of year, I thought we could talk about fun chalkboard paint crafts today on Goodwill Tips. What could be more fun than chalkboard paint projects and what better time to tackle a project like this then when the kids return to school?

Head on over to the Goodwill Tips blog to get the scoop on 7 EASY Chalkboard Paint Crafts to try with items you often will find at your local Goodwill store! You won’t want to miss this fun post!

I have received compensation from Goodwill  for my time and effort in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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