Thursday, February 22, 2018

Holidays 2017

Happy Holidays Everyone!

This post may come a little bit late (as always), but the past holiday sentiment is the same. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.

If you haven't already guessed, I'd rather make gifts for my family than buy them. I  believe they mean much more than a store-bought gift.  Not sure why because it increases my stress factor X a million.

This year I chose to make ornaments for my whole extended family. Do any of you remember Tom and Alice Horton's Christmas specials on the soap, "Day's of Our Lives"? I'm kind of embarrassed to say that I watched that; but yes, before my teaching position at SCSD, I did give into the soaps while my kids were napping.

I particularly was fond of the holiday episodes when the elder couple put ornaments for their entire family on the tree.  (What a sap I am).

So here I was in Nov. 2017, trying to get the birthstones of all of my extended family from my sister. Her hobby is to check the genealogy of our family.  She sent me what she could and I created ornaments for everyone with their name and the color of their birthstone.
These ornaments are for Mary, Peter, Val, Steve, Nick, (I can't make out the rest), except for Amanda and Eddie's grandbaby, Madalyn.


I gave this ornament to my Mom in remembrance of my brother, Frankie, who passed away, way to young.

This ornament is for Shannon's and Austin's cousin, Amanda.

And these are for my fur babies of the past and present: our first pup: Spaarkee; our current pup, Charlie. Another current pup, Howie; and a special therapy pup at MPMS: Rose Merry.  And yes, Beasley is in there somewhere. 



Kim, Tom, Tommy, Kristina, Amanda, and Eddy each received ornaments. 

They were packaged up and sent with my Sis to take on her way down to NC.


I was happy to see a special friend of mine did the same to honor her family. 


Here are a couple more pictures to celebrate the personalized ornaments and the season.









And here are a few more additions to the 2017 holiday season:

I recently purchased a Cricut Maker and a Cricut Heat Press. Both are exceptional products meant to entice us "crafties" to make handmade projects, and a conspiracy to get us to purchase more items to make. :)

These are all the rage of heat press vinyl on Walmart bags. I couldn't help myself and wanted to try it out.


I made one of these for my mother in law for her birthday in January.

These are just a few of the creations for Christmas 2017.

Lessons learned:
1. Start your handmade Christmas gifts, very, very early.
2. Plan on how you will transport your gifts early as well. I don't
    trust the post office.
3. Do it the best you can, and plan accordingly.

Did you create any handmade Christmas gifts in 2017? Would love to hear what you made. Post them in the comments for this blog.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

The New Ninja Purchase - Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

It's been awhile since I've posted, and even longer sinceI've posted a really good recipe for the "Kitchen Delights" section of this blog.
If you've seen some of my posts within Kitchen Delights, you know I'm a fan of Ninja Kitchen Systems. I am not paid to promote anything, I just post things that are fun and delicious.

My daughter and I have been trying various spiralizing recipes.  On a whim, during vacation, we decided to purchase the Veggie Bullet Spiralizer. She loves it, but I like theNinja spiralizer better because it is smaller, I'm familiar with the brand, have had great luck and good customer service with all that I've purchased.


I've never made anything with butternut squash before. I like it when my moms make it, but the squash itself intimidated me. The shell was so hard, it just didn't seem like something worth the time to prepare and wondering if my family would like it.
Because the recipe looked so good, I bit the bullet and did what I needed to make this recipe.  So here we go:

I cut and cleaned the "guts"  out of the squash and peeled the hard outside layer off the squash.

Cut them into smaller pieces to fit into the spiralizer.


Put all the spiralized pieces on a cookie sheet lined with non-stick aluminum foil. Drizzle this with olive oil and bake for 10 minutes on 375 degrees.  
While the squash was baking, I  heated 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small skillet. Sauté garlic for 2 to 3 minutes. Add bread crumbs and thyme. Cook, stirring constantly until crumbs are golden brown. Transfer to a bowl and add Parmesan; set aside.

Next: Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in milk, half & half, mustard, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to medium and simmer 3 to 4 minutes, whisking frequently, until thick and smooth.
Remove mixture from heat and add Gruyère and cheddar cheeses. Stir until melted. Stir sauce with squash noodles and pour into a 3-quart baking dish. Top with the bread crumb topping.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and browned on top
We served this with a salad and a grilled pork tenderloin. A wonderful meal for family and friends.

Recipe

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, bulb end removed, trimmed to 3-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled, minced
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups half & half
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups Gruyère cheese, grated 1 cup extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Position the Spaghetti Blade onto assembled Collecting Bowl and assemble Feed Chute Lid. Place squash into feed chute; secure on Blade Disc pin. Firmly secure Food Pusher in squash. Select START/STOP; process squash.
3.  Place the squash noodles on a large baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Gently toss to coat. Bake 5 to 7 minutes.
4.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small skillet. Sauté garlic for 2 to 3 minutes. Add bread crumbs and thyme. Cook, stirring constantly until crumbs are golden brown. Transfer to a bowl and add Parmesan; set aside.
5.  Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in milk, half & half, mustard, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to medium and simmer 3 to 4 minutes, whisking frequently, until thick and smooth.
6.  Remove mixture from heat and add Gruyère and cheddar cheeses. Stir until melted. Stir sauce with squash noodles and pour into a 3-quart baking dish. Top with the breadcrumb topping.
7.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and browned on top.

Lessons learned:
1.Most kids don't understand the concept of substituting healthy vegetables for pasta. Although our one 'kid" liked the dish, he said, "it is not nearly anything like real macaroni and cheese."
2. The recipe had really good flavor. I did not like the leftovers as much as my husband did.
3. Gruyere cheese is expensive! What can I use as a substitute?
4. This was the first time I've made this recipe. The squash "noodles" should have been roasted a little bit longer.

I'd love to know if you have a favorite spiralizer recipe. Comment below if you would like to share.

Happy and healthy New Year to All.


Monday, September 4, 2017

Auction for Texas

For many who have read my blog, you may have picked up bits and pieces of personal tragedy from "tropical storm" Irene. She swept through Schoharie County destroying many homes.   What is ironic is that Hurricane Harvey has devastated homes in TX on the 6th anniversary of Irene.  It's been a tough week for me having to relive what I  and my family and friends went through. My cousin lives in Orange, TX and, as of Sept. 5, his home still has water inside and out. This is why I feel the need to do something for my "my Texas Family".
I've emailed the staff at my school and others, to see if they would contribute gift cards to the people and animals of Orange, TX.  I've had a wonderful response.  I can't wait to send these cards to my cousin Mark, and his family.
In addition,  I am doing an online auction to raise money for additional cards. All proceeds will go to the people of Orange, TX. So what's the auction?
These "crate seats" have been a popular item for teachers to create customized seating arrangements in their classrooms.  The seating area lifts out so the crate can be used as storage. I personally have a number of these. I put a clipboard in each so when kids choose to sit on them, they have something sturdy to write on. I made 4 two years ago, 10 last year and 30 of these this year.  
The cost of each of these for me to make is $15.  
Charlie was skeptical of these crates, but once I told them what they were for, he jumped on the bandwagon and decided to help with a testimonial of how much he liked them.
He says," If I can sit comfortably on these crates, your students will too." "Woof"

So here's the deal: Charlie needs  $15 a piece for these NY Yankees crates. He says they are great for seating in classrooms, man caves, boys rooms ( or girls), offices, or whatever. Charle will start the auction at 2 for $25.  All you have to do is contact me or Charlie at tstandha@gmail.com, or if we are Facebook friends you can message me there with an offer for the crates. (Local Pickup or delivery only, unless you are willing to pay for shipping).  The winner will be contacted on Sept 16.  If the auction is wildly popular (wouldn't that be nice) I will post what the current high price is.

Thank you to all my friends for following my blog and responding to a worthwhile cause.

Lessons Learned:
1. No one is exempt from nature's fury. It can happen anytime, anyplace.
2. It feels good to help someone who you feel a personal connection with because of unplanned circumstances.
3. My colleagues in Schenectady City Schools are the BEST! They always come through in times of need.