Chicken Rice Casserole

Ok, I get the message, as I have been told the recipes on my blog are a little dessert heavy.  After all:
My family loves to bake,
And we eat what we make.

Anyway, below is a main dish recipe that my husband got from our friend Angie.  Next to My Chicken Rice Soup or Grandma’s Vegetable Beef Soup, it was one of my Mom’s favorites.  She always loved it when he surprised her with this casserole made with her favorites of bacon, chicken, and rice.  The only dish she loved more was when he made his Corn Sausage Dressing for holidays.

Chicken Rice Casserole recipe

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken cut-up (or 6 split chicken breast pieces)
1 box Uncle Ben’s Original Wild Rice
1 can Cream of Celery soup
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
6 strips of bacon

Directions:
1.       Line bottom of oblong 8”x13” casserole dish with 3 strips of bacon.
2.       Mix rice, soups, and ½ the packet of seasoning (found in rice box).
3.       Pour rice mixture over bacon in dish.
4.       Lay chicken on top of rice mixture.  Sprinkle remaining seasoning packet over chicken.
5.       Lay remaining 3 pieces of bacon over chicken.  Cove dish with foil.
6.       Bake for 1 ½ hours at 350 degrees.


Cleaning Hacks and Infographics

It is time for Spring Cleaning!  My mother was the queen of clean, even from a wheelchair in her eighties! Her baby sister is also the princess of stain-removal!   Me?  My family is shocked by my cleaning almost everything with baking soda!  Below is an infographic to help you 
Cut Your Cleaning Time In Half, click the link at bottom of infographihc to see larger size or download a copy.  For more great infographics to get you started, check for more at 10 Infographics That Will Make You a Pro at Cleaning Anything and another  "poster style" version at the bottom of the detailed text post for 11 Hacks for a Tidy and Clean Home.

Spring Cleaning Life Hacks Infographic – Cut Your Cleaning Time in 1/2 - An Infographic from
Infographic from aspenwindow.com

Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies Recipe

Another popular cookie recipe, discovered by my husband, features chocolate chips and pudding.   This is a favorite of our son and he is really picky when it comes to chocolate chip cookies – he likes his soft rather than crunchy.  Because it makes so-o-o many cookies, it is great for parties and other social gatherings. When my spouse makes these, he uses a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon to drop the cookies so they require a little more of the baking time.  As a result his cookies are larger and we of course get fewer dozens.

Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies
Makes 10 dozen small cookies!

Ingredients:
3 1/3 cups all purpose, unsifted flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups butter or margarine, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 package (6 serving size) vanilla instant pudding*
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
3 cups chocolate chips* (we prefer milk chocolate chips)
1 cup nuts (optional)

Directions:
1.       Mix flour with soda
2.       In separate bowl, combine butter, sugar, pudding mix, vanilla, and eggs.  Beat until smooth and creamy.
3.       Gradually add flour mix to creamy mix.  Batter will be stiff.
4.       Stir in chips (and nuts if desired).
5.       Drop by teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet. 
6.       Bake 8 to 10 minutes (8 min. maximum for chewy cookies) at 375 degrees.

NOTES:
*Other flavors of pudding and/or baking chip varieties may be used depending on tastes or desired color.  For example:  1. To get double-chocolate cookies, use chocolate pudding and standard dark chocolate chips. 2. Use butterscotch pudding and butterscotch chips for caramel-color cookies.  Use seasonal flavors of chips and/or puddings too at Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
*You can also substitute M&Ms candies for the chips to get a more colorful cookie.

                

Naked Knee: Nouveau or Nonsense Fashion?

Jeans with Knee Cut-outs
The cold shoulder look has gone to our knees!  Before fashion designers told us to showed off our sexy shoulders, now they ask everyone to expose our knobby knees!  Denim fashion has gone from the shredded rags look to the not as easy-to-maintain rectangles cut-out over the knees or thighs.  The young people wearing this look think the look is new fashion, actually it is so 90's for cut-outs and around 70's for shreds/rips.  I noticed in an episode of Full House the character Viper was wearing the naked knee look in a re-run of the show.

This answers Yes to the question '"Do old styles become new again?"  What makes this style nonsense.  The history of jeans was to create a long-lasting pair of pants.  If you distress, tear, or cut - then you quickly reduce the strength of the fabric. With weaker fabric comes excessive stretching and tearing, so the good fit is no longer there,  Who does this benefit?   The clothing manufacture now can sell  more of the weak jeans to an unaware public.

So the next question we must ask is "Do nonsense fashions come back, and if so Why?"  Obviously, the answer is Yes to the first part of the question.  Why do they do it and Why do we pay so much for it?  Celebrities is the answer for UK.  Why US does it? Is it the fashion trend, a social statement, just for dollar profits of companies, or blind following of the consumer?   If you have an answer that makes sense, please feel free to add suggestions in comment to this post.

If you want an alternative to the raggedy look, check out Glamour's ideas on 3 Denim Styles to Get Rid of And 3 to Buy.  If you are looking for justification for both good and bad styles, check out Forbe's The Denim Trends You Need To Know About .

Vertical Gardening and Six Healthy Eating Rules

Better Homes & Gardens
March 2018 Cover
In the "Spring Forward"  issue of Better Homes and Gardens, a California couple  is featured in a 6-page photo article.  In it the couple shares tips on growing a vegetable garden in a small space.  They suggest going vertical by growing up a trellis vining veggies like squash, tomato, tomatillos, as well as melons and cucumbers.  Ways to make inexpensive trellis are also given in the same "Plot Twist" article.  Shorter outdoor articles include raised garden beds, houseplants,terrariums, and patio ideas.  So if you like to garden, you might want to pick up this issue since it has lots of growing tips.

The issue also has a few recipes for salads or sides made with fresh vegetable.  Near the end, the magazine offers "6 New Rules for Eating Healthy."  In summary they are to:
  1. Remove 10 calories from your daily intake per pound you want to lose in order  to continue weight loss.
  2. Focus on the good food you can eat on your diet rather than what you can not have.
  3. Weigh yourself weekly so you can adjust diet or exercise plan when needed.
  4. On your diet plan, include a variety of fruits, vegetables, and fiber - rotate them weekly.
  5. In food and drinks, skip artificial sweeteners as they can slow your metabolism.
  6. Eat 1 oz. of dark chocolate daily as it may help lower your body mass and satisfy desire for sweets,


Strawberry Bread and Butter Recipes

Baked Loaf of Strawberry Bread
I shared a recipe for strawberrycake in a prior post.  If you really love strawberries, you may like strawberry bread and butter.  My husband makes the best strawberry bread you ever tasted.  It is sweet, moist, and dark pink.  Every time he makes it, someone asks for the recipe.  The original recipe includes strawberry butter to put on top, when the bread comes out of the oven.  The bread is good enough to eat without the butter so he does not always make that.  However, the strawberry butter is really good for breakfast.  You can put it on biscuits, English muffins, bagels, pancakes, bran muffins, waffles, or toast.

Strawberry Bread
Ingredients:
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
2 (10 oz) packages sliced frozen strawberries, thawed
Directions:
1.       Combine first five dry ingredients in large bowl. Mix well.
2.       In separate bowl, combine eggs, oil, and strawberries.
3.       Add wet mixture to dry mixture. Mix well.
4.       Pour batter into 2 greased and floured load pans.
5.       Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Strawberry Butter
Ingredients:
1 (10 oz) package frozen strawberries, thawed and diced
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
Directions:
1.       Combine all ingredients and mix until smooth.
2.       Store in refrigerator.

FYI: 

Purple Colors of the Year: Violet and Orchid

2018 Color of the Year: Ultra Violet

The color of the year for 2018 is Ultra-Violet according to Pantone .  In previous posts on 2017 color of the year and 2016 colors of the year, I shared a list of gemstones (besides amethyst) that would go with the year’s palate.  This year, below I share some other links on fashion, make-up, and jewelry, as well as home and garden ideas, prior to sharing the chart of gemstones.  Find the chart at the bottom of this post. 

2014 Color of the Year: Radiant Orchid


Earlier in the decade the purple color of the year for 2014 was Radiant Orchid.  I did not do a post that year, so I thought I would share a few photo post links that remain on-line for the orchid color as well since the two would go well together.  You probably will not find the make-up in this exact color, but the ideas will work for the darker color or if you can find a lighter purple too.  Below links are Fashion-related or H&G.



Of course, we should not be surprised if a color palette is repeated, after all the color wheel  used for fashion and design starts with a variation of six of the seven colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo aka denim blue,  and violet) of the rainbow.  


Purple Gemstones
Transparent to Translucent Gems
Semi-translucent to Opaque Stones
Alexite/Zandrite
Garnets: Plum+Rhodolite+Color-change
Rubelite/Tourmaline 
Purple Sapphire (fancy color)
Spodumene/Kunzite
Sugilite/Lavulite

purple sapphire

Jewelry Designer Heidi Daus Offers Scarf, Pin, and Neckline Tips

A few years ago I posted a short video on 25 Ways to Wear a Long Scarf Since wearing a scarf can look either casual or sophisticated, that was a helpful video.  I recently learned of a pin and scarf video series by Heidi Daus, one of the more elaborate fashion jewelry designers on HSN.  You can order her latest jewelry design from her website, HSN, or Amazon.  You can find her older designs on e-bay too.  At the bottom of this post is a video on why Heidi started designing jewelry.

Heidi's YouTube videos are under 1 minute each covering a different scarf and pin look.  The idea here is to make wearing a scarf look more elegant.  Her videos by scarf wearing style titles are:  Bunny Ears,  Loop (aka  Infinity), Norma (1/2 Drap-style pined at 1 shoulder), Slide (back of dressy Wrap-style),  Toss,  and  Waterfall.  

Heidi also offers video styling tips on wearing necklaces for particular necklines: round/jewel, v-neck, u-scoop, and plunging.


Salmon Patties or Loaf Recipes


Whenever I would have lunch with my grandma, she would typically make salmon patties or tuna salad since she knew I liked the way she made both of those.  I asked her secret to the  great taste of her salmon patties.  She told me it was tuna!  She mixed canned tuna in with the salmon.

One time after my grandma had gone to Heaven, I mentioned to my husband how I wish I could have some of her salmon patties again.  So he tried to make me some as a surprise.  He did not know the secret ingredient and discovered he did not like going to the trouble of frying.  So the next time he tried to make it he found a salmon loaf recipe that I ended up liking, even though it is not the same. Below are his loaf recipe and a recipe similar to my grandma’s patties.

Salmon and Tuna Patties Recipe
Ingredients:
1 large can (approx. 15 oz) salmon, drained and flaked
2 small cans (approx. 5 oz) tuna, drained
1 small box (approx. 10 oz) of saltine crackers, crushed
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup flour for dusting
2 Tablespoons cooking oil for frying
Directions:
1.     Mix salmon, tuna, crushed saltines, and egg together with your hands in a large bowl; shape into patties. Lightly dust the patties with flour.
2.     Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
3.     Place patties into the hot oil.  Cover skillet and fry until crispy - between 10 - 15 minutes per side.

Salmon Loaf Recipe
Ingredients:
1 can cream of celery soup
1 large can salmon
1 cup bread crumbs
2 slightly beaten eggs
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup chopped onion
Directions:
1.     Drain salmon and remove bones, skin, etc.
2.     Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix well.
3.     Place mixture into well-greased loaf pan.
4.     Bake at 375 degrees for one hour or until well browned.

5.     Let cool for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and serve.

Christmas Cookies and Pull-apart Bread Tree

Dec.2017 FC
Magazine Cover
Besides Christmas decorating and gift ideas, the Family Circle (FC) magazine for December has lots of Holiday eating ideas – 9 pages of food and 2 pages of cookie recipes.  

I plan to make the pull-apart Christmas Tree bread.  Since I could not get to that recipe page for you without registering on-line for a magazine I already get, click one of these site for a similar recipe plus how to videos: FoodNetwork Christmas Tree Pull-Apart Bread or Delish.comPull-Apart Christmas Tree or EclecticRecipes Cheesy Christmas Tree Pull-Apart Bread The recipes are very similar, except FC only uses basil without other herbs and the sauce is served on the side for dipping, nor does FC use cream cheese like the last version does.

I did get to their recipe for ultimate snowflake sugar cookies though, so you can try that.  Or if you want an easier method for your children to do with you, try my Easy Decorated Christmas Cookies for Kids.