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Kathleen’s Kitchen – Three cheers for the red, white, and glu(ten) free!

imagesBy:  Kathleen Neafsey

You probably wouldn’t think that a Rice Krispie treat would be reason to cheer, but if you haven’t had one in more than two years you may think differently. These treats are just one of many things that I haven’t been able to have for the past couple of years.  It’s not as if I was overly fond of them to begin with, but occasionally I would just have that odd craving for one.  While I always thought that Rice Krispies are safe for those with a gluten allergy or intolerance because they’re made with rice, not wheat, I was wrong!  Regular Rice Krispies are made with barley and malt – both of which contain gluten proteins.  I know, I know, such a learning curve! Just be sure to grab the right box at your grocery store – it’s the tannish / yellow box, not the familiar blue box that we all know and love.

Enough of that, now on to the fun stuff!  The recipe is the standard Rice Krispie treat recipe:

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6 cups of rice krispies

One – 10 ounce bag of marshmallows (about 40)

or 4 cups of mini marshmallows

3 Tablespoons of butter

Before you start, line a 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking dish with wax paper.

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In a large saucepan, over low heat, melt the butter.

When the butter is melted, add the marshmallows and stir until completely melted.

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Remove from heat and all the rice krispies.  Stir until well-coated.

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Using a spoon or spatula, pour the mixture into the lined baking dish – Be careful not to touch it with bare hands as it is very hot and sticky.

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Once it is in the pan, spread it out using a large mixing spoon or an offset spatula if you happen to have one.

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Let cool, and cut into two inch squares……

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DSCF4231……..or you can use cookie cutters to cut them into fun shapes.  I did some stars for the 4th of July, and drizzled them with chocolate.

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What a fun way to bring a treat to a friend’s BBQ!

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Enjoy a wonderful, safe holiday – and all the goodies that go with it!

Kathleen’s Kitchen is a column running on Kate-book.com once a month. It is written by the amazing Kathleen Neafsey, who loves trying new recipes. Follow her on Twitter @dbmomkat. And make sure to look out for her amazingly fun column, Fabri-Kate.

 

Kathleen’s Kitchen: Sweet and spicy, and easy as 1-2-3

By: Kathleen Neafsey

If you’re like me, you don’t like walking into a friend’s home empty handed.  A couple of years ago I was invited to a barbecue and I asked what I could bring – to which they replied, “nothing”. Sorry, that’s not me; I don’t show up with “nothing”. I was taught that if you were visiting someone you should have to ring the doorbell with your elbow (because your hands are so full). I was trying to think of something I could make that was easy, most everyone would eat, and would could be transported with little fuss.

Behold my idea of sweet and spicy chicken:

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Rarely does it get any easier than this.  Literally three ingredients:

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2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts (or thighs, if you prefer)

One bottle (12 ounces) Frank’s Buffalo hot sauce

One (20 ounce) can crushed pineapples

You can do this two ways – I’ve made it both ways with favorable results each time.  First: You can throw all the ingredients in a slow cooker, leaving the chicken cutlets whole. Cook on low for four hours or on high for two hours.  Remove the chicken from the slow cooker onto a cutting board and pull (shred) it using two forks, as I did in this post for pulled pork. Return the chicken to the slow cooker and combine with the remaining ingredients.

OR……

Cut the chicken into bite-size chunks and put it in a large saucepan.

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Add about three-quarters of the bottle of hot sauce to the chicken.  Reserve some of the hot sauce and decide upon first taste if you want to add the remainder, or just leave it on the table so people can add the extra on their own.Drain the juice from the pineapple DSCF4158

and add the pineapple to the chicken and hot sauce. DSCF4162

Stir, and simmer for about one hour, stirring occasionally. Serve  over rice or on a bun, or with a side of cole slaw and potato salad!  It’s pretty versatile and can be paired with so many side dishes!

Considering that this was a recipe created on the fly, it has become one of my family’s favorites! It’s a great take-along dish to a summer barbecue, and offers a little something different than the typical burger and hot dog fare. I’ll meet you back here with another fun recipe just in time for July 4th!  Till then, enjoy this glorious weather, and don’t forget your sunblock!

Kathleen’s Kitchen is a column running on Kate-book.com once a month. It is written by the amazing Kathleen Neafsey, who loves trying new recipes. Follow her on Twitter @dbmomkat. And make sure to look out for her amazingly fun column, Fabri-Kate.

 

Kathleen’s Kitchen: Is it squash? Is it spaghetti? Fear not, it’s both!

By:  Kathleen Neafsey

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Okay, I’ll admit it: I’ve purchase spaghetti squash in the past, with the intention of creating a tasty, healthful meal only to see them get tossed away before I had the opportunity to use them.  Truth is, I was somewhat intimidated by this yellow orb of wonder; but not anymore!  I bought, I baked, I conquered! Turns out, it was one of the easiest, most delicious things I’ve ever made.

Traditionally, spaghetti squash is considered a “winter” squash, harvested mainly in the fall and winter, it is available year round.  You may have to look a little harder for it in the summer months, but it’s well worth it!  Oddly enough the term I would use to describe the flavor of this dish is “fresh and summery”.  Okay, enough chit-chat, let’s get on with this and you can decide for yourself!

Here’s what you’ll need:

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One- two pound spaghetti squash

One- medium onion, thinly sliced

Three- medium plum tomatoes, diced

Olive oil

Salt, pepper, oregano to taste

Shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)

First: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise.

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Next: Remove the seeds and the strings, as you would when carving a pumpkin.

Then: Drizzle the squash with olive oil, and season with salt, pepper, and oregano.

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Place the squash, cut side down, on a baking/cookie sheet and place in the oven.

Bake for 40 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven.  Turn the squash over so the cut side is now facing up.  Using a fork, gently pull the strings of the “spaghetti” toward the middle of the shell.  If it doesn’t pull easily enough you can put it back in the oven for another ten minutes. Fluff up the strings into the middle of each shell.

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Divide the tomatoes and onions between the two shells, and top with the shredded cheese.  Return the cookie sheet to the oven, and broil until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.

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This can be served as a meal in itself, or a side dish.  I left mine in the shells, and served it as a side with grilled chicken.  We passed the dish, and everyone helped themselves to their own serving of squash – and I have to say – it was a huge hit!

This is so incredibly easy and tasty – and just when you thought it couldn’t get any better – it’s fat free, cholesterol free, and gluten free. It’s definitely a winner in my book, and now that I’ve conquered my fear, I’ll be making it often!

Kathleen’s Kitchen is a column running on Kate-book.com once a month. It is written by the amazing Kathleen Neafsey, who loves trying new recipes. Follow her on Twitter @dbmomkat. And make sure to look out for her amazingly fun column, Fabri-Kate.

Kathleen’s Kitchen: Spring has sprung!

By:  Kathleen Neafsey

Spring has sprung…..well barely, weather-wise, but there is a bevy of fresh vegetables just waiting to be brought to the table!  Recently, I was looking to make something that would allow me to combine a load of vegetables and, I wanted to do it using as few pots and pans as necessary.  A trip to the market, a basket of goodies, a little of this, and a little of that, sprinkled with a dash of “hey, let me try this”; and this is what happened:

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Roasted chicken on a bed of vegetables in a white wine sauce!

The first time I made this I didn’t use wine, but chicken broth instead.  It was delicious, but the next time I figured I could tweak it just a bit more.  Very tasty, and it’s just one roasting pan to wash!!  Yay!!!

Here’s what you’ll need:

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Chicken breasts, thighs, and/or legs – on the bone, skin on.

One bunch of asparagus (about one pound)

Two medium zucchini

Two yellow squash

One large white or red onion

Four or five red potatoes

Carrots

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1/4 cup chicken broth or stock

1/4 cup white cooking wine

salt and pepper to taste

One teaspoon sage

One teaspoon poultry seasoning

One teaspoon fresh or dried parsley

First:  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Rinse all the vegetables and the chicken.

Next:  Mix all the spices in a small bowl, and set aside.

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Then:  Combine the wine and chicken broth in a measuring cup, and add half of the combined spices.  Set aside the rest of the spices to be sprinkled on the chicken.

Start by trimming the asparagus, and cutting it into bite size pieces; do the same with the carrots.  Cut the zucchini, squash, and onion into slices about one inch thick. Cut the potatoes into quarters (or smaller, depending on the size of the potatoes).

Place all the vegetables in the bottom of a 9×13 inch roasting pan.  Pour the wine/broth/seasoning mixture over the vegetables.

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Place the chicken on top of the vegetables and sprinkle with the seasonings set aside in the bowl.

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Cover the pan with foil, and place in the oven on the middle rack.

Bake covered for 30 minutes.  Remove foil, turn the heat up to 425 degrees, and continue to bake for another 30 minutes.

Remove from oven, and serve while hot.  This dish is so flavorful, and the chicken is ridiculously moist.  This is now a new favorite in my house, and we’ll be taking full advantage of all the fresh vegetables that Spring and Summer have to offer!

Kathleen’s Kitchen is a column running on Kate-book.com once a month. It is written by the amazing Kathleen Neafsey, who loves trying new recipes. Follow her on Twitter @dbmomkat. And make sure to look out for her amazingly fun column, Fabri-Kate.

 

 

 

 

Kathleen’s kitchen – monkeying around in the kitchen

By:  Kathleen Neafsey

 

I enjoy reading, mostly mysteries, but pretty much just reading in general.  Some of my favorite books are ones that involve bakers, cooks, and caterers that include recipes in their stories.  I have been reading Diane Mott Davidson’s books with her Goldy Schultz, town caterer character for years.  This week I stumbled across Joanne Fluke and her character Hannah Swensen, owner of the town coffee shop and bakery, The Cookie Jar.
Both authors provide fun, quick reads with interesting characters and some great recipes.  In Ms. Fluke’s Red Velvet Cupcake Murder she included a recipe for Monkey Bread.
Monkey Bread has long been a family favorite since my mom started making it back in the 70’s.  Neither my mother nor I have made it in ages, so seeing this recipe in the book made me think that this was the perfect time to try a new recipe and share it with you.

Here’s what you’ll need:

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* 1+1/4 cups of granulated sugar
* 1+1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
* Four  (7.5 ounce) cans unbaked refrigerated biscuits (like Pillsbury)
* 1 cup chopped nuts ( I used pecans) – OPTIONAL
* One (6 ounce) bag chocolate chips – OPTIONAL
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

Let’s get down to business…..monkey business

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
* Spray the inside of a bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Set the pan on a cookie
sheet.
* In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon.
* Open one can of biscuits at a time, and cut each biscuit into quarters.

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* Roll each piece in the cinnamon/sugar mixture, and place them in the bottom of the bundt pan.

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* If you’re using the nuts and/or chocolate chips, sprinkle 1/3 of each on top of the first biscuit layer.
* Open the second can of biscuits and repeat the steps of quartering them and rolling them in sugar.  Place them in the pan, and top with the nuts and chocolate chips.

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* Repeat these steps with the third can of biscuits.
* The fourth can of biscuits should be quartered and rolled in the cinnamon and sugar, and placed on top of the nuts and chocolate chips.  This is the top layer, do not use any more nuts or chips.
* Melt the butter, and add any remaining sugar and cinnamon.  Stir to mix well, and pour over the top of the biscuits in the bundt pan.

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* Bake, on the cookie sheet to avoid any spills, at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown.

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* Remove from oven and cool IN THE PAN on a wire rack for ten minutes.
* Find a plate large enough to fit over the top of the bundt pan.  Using potholders, place the plate over the top and turn the pan upside down to unmold the monkey bread.

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* Cut into slices, or pull the bread apart.  This is best served warm.

My family recipe traditionally doesn’t call for the nuts or chocolate chips, but I wanted to try them and see how it would turn out – While it was absolutely delicious, I probably wouldn’t use the chocolate again because, in my opinion, it put the sweetness factor just over the top. I prefer it as more of a “coffee cake” than a really sweet cake / bread.  Again, that’s just my opinion.

I guess I should also mention that no monkeys were harmed in the baking of this bread…..and where this yummy treat got its’ name is anybody’s guess – I did find this link online that shares a few different theories as to how the name was derived.

Fabri-Kate: give ‘em the brush off

By:  Kathleen Neafsey

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s pointless to keep my makeup brushes in my makeup case.  They get squished, and the bristles get bent.  I don’t own many, but my daughter, Bridget……..well, that’s another story.  This was actually Bridget’s idea to begin with – I just kind of ran with it.  So fasten your seat belts because this is going to be the quickest, easiest Fabri-Kate craft to date; and it only requires two supplies!!  That’s right, only two – unless you count the brushes – in which case, you’re on your own.

Let’s start with our supplies:

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One large, decorative glass bowl – can be found in the craft store or the dollar store.

Decorative accent stones in the color(s) of your choice – they, too, can be found in the craft or dollar store.

Step One: 

Wash and dry bowl to remove any dust or fingerprints.

Step Two:

Open bags of stones and pour into clean, dry bowl. Stand your brushes in the bowl, and you’re done!

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This makes it so much easier than dumping out a makeup case to find the brush you need.  Now they’re all there at your fingertips.

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Fabri-Kate is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Tuesday. It is written by the crafty Kathleen Neafsey, who wields a mean pair of scissors. Follow her on Twitter @dbmomkat and look for a brand new craft next time.

 

 

Kathleen’s kitchen: hearty food for snowy nights

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By:  Kathleen Neafsey

Good morning, and welcome to the kitchen!  Sitting home on a recent snowy day – and there have been lots of those lately – and thinking of what to make for dinner, brought homey, hearty foods to mind.  Aside from soup, which I could probably eat seven days a week, my favorite meal for a winter snowy evening is pot roast.  My kids often ask how I learned to make this food, or that.  “Did Nana teach you to make that?”, is one of their more popular questions.  My mom is a great cook, and baker, and I have total recall for some things that she has taught me in the kitchen – pot roast is not one of them.  I only have vague recollections of having pot roast as a kid.  I do remember that it wasn’t always easy to find one thing that five kids would like for dinner, but she aimed to please each one of us and we surely never went hungry!

Getting back to the pot roast…..I think it was just something that I kind of threw together myself, having a general idea of what goes into it and how to cook it.  For those of you who’d like to try it, here goes:

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Here’s what you’ll need:

One bottom round roast – about two pounds

Two tablespoons olive oil

Prepared horseradish (in bottle)

One tablespoon of minced garlic

One medium onion, chopped

One half – to one pound baby carrots

Salt and pepper to taste

Five cups of water

First things first – In a deep pot, heat oil on medium.

While the oil is heating up, coat the meat in the horseradish, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Carefully place the meat in the pot with the hot oil, you don’t want to get splattered with the hot oil! Turn the heat down, and let the meat get brown on all sides and the horseradish forms a sort of crust.

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Once the meat is browned on all sides, add water to the pot – I start out with about three cups of water.

Add the carrots and onion to the pot, turn the heat up to medium-high and let it come to a full, rolling boil.

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When it has reached a rolling boil, turn the heat down to medium-low, be sure that it’s still simmering, and cover the pot.

Check the progress of the meat every 15 to 20 minutes, and add water accordingly.  The carrots soak up a lot of water, so you’re going to need to replenish it.  Remember though, as you add water you’ll probably want to add more horseradish, salt, and pepper – keep tasting each time you check on it to be sure.

Generally speaking, a two pound piece of meat should be done in about 2 to 2-1/2 hours.  Leaving it in longer will make it even more tender.

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Remove the meat from the pot and put it on a cutting board.  Let it cool for five to ten minutes before slicing.  Serve with the gravy and carrots over potatoes or egg noodles.  Some people even like to cook the potatoes in the same pot as the meat and carrots (I’m not one of them), but by all means, go for it!

Enjoy this hearty meal on a cold, snowy night.  It’s even better as a sandwich the next day!  Stay in, stay warm – there’s more snow headed our way tomorrow!

Kathleen’s Kitchen is a column running on Kate-book.com once a month. It is written by the amazing Kathleen Neafsey, who loves trying new recipes. Follow her on Twitter @dbmomkat. And make sure to look out for her amazingly fun column, Fabri-Kate.

 

Kathleen’s Kitchen: come in, get warm!

By:  Kathleen Neafsey

Oh the weather outside is frightful, but this soup is so delightful!  Chilly temps, snow, and biting winds got you down?  Maybe it’s just the winter blahs?  Whichever the case, this hearty soup will warm you inside and out.  Last week’s bitter chill had me craving something warm and filling – without a lot of fuss.  What started out as one idea, and snowballed (pardon the pun) into another idea may easily have become one of my favorite soups.  I present to you:  Sausage, Spinach, and Potato Soup!  Ta-Dahhhh!

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This soup offers a lot of flavor, without using a lot of ingredients.  While it appears to be a rich, creamy soup, there is no cream or dairy in this recipe.  All you’ll need is:

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One quart of chicken broth or stock

One pound of sausage – pork, turkey, or chicken (already out of it’s casing)

One small onion, chopped

Three large potatoes ( I prefer Yukon Gold), peeled and diced

Half of one 10-ounce box of frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained

Salt and pepper to taste

Let’s begin:  Place sausage and onion in a large pot on top of the stove.  Break apart the sausage, and cook thoroughly till no longer pink.  Remove from the pot and set aside.

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While sausage is cooking, peel and dice the potatoes.  Rinse well under cool water, drain.

Place spinach in a strainer and rinse with cool water to thaw.  Be sure it is drained well, and pat dry with paper towel.

Add potatoes to the pot that you just used to cook the sausage.  Pour in the chicken broth or stock.  Cook on medium heat until almost “mushy”.  Remove about one-quarter of the potatoes, and set aside.

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Remove from the burner, and using either a blender, or an immersion blender, puree the remaining potatoes and broth till nearly smooth.  It’s okay to still have some chunks of potato in there. Season with salt and pepper to taste – I even added about 1/4 teaspoon of sage for flavor – that’s optional on your part.

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Now return the pot to the burner and add the sausage with onion, spinach, and potatoes that you’ve set aside.  Stir the soup till all the ingredients are combined and heated throughout.

This is a soup that eats like a meal, and doesn’t really need any extras – but who am I to deprive you a warm, crusty loaf of bread on the side? Whatever you choose to accompany this soup, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!  Till next time, stay warm!!

Kathleen’s Kitchen is a column running on Kate-book.com once a month. It is written by the amazing Kathleen Neafsey, who loves trying new recipes. Follow her on Twitter @dbmomkat. And make sure to look out for her amazingly fun column, Fabri-Kate.

 

 

 

Fabri-Kate: you say you want a resolution? That’s nothing to “scarf” at!

By:  Kathleen Neafsey

Happy new year’s eve!  Are you one of those people that makes new year’s resolutions?  Are you one of those people that keeps your new year’s resolutions?  I personally don’t make them because I figure I’m just setting myself up for failure; however, there are goals I’d like to achieve throughout the coming year.  One of my goals this year is to be more consistent in my journaling efforts – I have an great incentive in that my niece, Laura, gave me a gratitude journal for Christmas.  I’m quite excited about that.  Another goal for this year is organization!  Not just the kind that I understand, as in “oh, I know where that is” – but no one else would think to look there.
I thought I’d start small by finding a way to keep my beloved scarves hanging in one place; not neatly folded in a pile (that requires ironing every time I reach for one).  My first step was to head over to Pinterest to see what I could find. I found this genius idea that would work for me, and I thought I could pass along to you.
Let me start by saying that not everything on Pinterest is as easy as it looks.  For instance, this project had no tutorial, only a few photos.  The photos looked straightforward enough – but even photos lie.
I thought to myself – this looks easy, and I’m a reasonably intelligent woman; I can figure this out.  Let me say this:  any task that calls to mind one’s reasonable intelligence should probably be abandoned immediately. Never one to shy away from a challenge, I leapt head-on into said task.
Had there been an actual tutorial, the project would have gone a little more quickly.  Having to make it up as I went along took a little more time.  For you, dear reader, it should be a breeze as I have included not only photos, but a tutorial as well.

Supplies needed:
One sturdy plastic hanger
12 plastic shower curtain rings
Yarn
Glue

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I started by wrapping the hanger with the yarn.  I placed a small dot of glue at the start of the yarn, and in random spots along the way just so didn’t slip around too much.  Set aside the hanger.
Now wrap each shower curtain ring with the yarn, using the same method with the glue as used on the hanger.
After each ring has been covered, join two rings together with yarn; looping it two or three times through the rings before knotting it.  Continue to do this until you have three rows: one of five rings, one of four rings, and one of three rings.

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Now join the three rows together, also using the yarn.
Then you can attach it to the hanger, being sure to tie the knots tightly so the rings don’t slip.

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Now it’s up to you:  slip your scarves through the rings, and they’re all neatly stored in one place!

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Have a happy, healthy, and peaceful new year.  If you make resolutions, then I wish you the best in keeping them.  Here’s to a bright, prosperous future for us all! Cheers!

Fabri-Kate is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Tuesday. It is written by the crafty Kathleen Neafsey, who wields a mean pair of scissors. Follow her on Twitter @dbmomkat and look for a brand new craft next time.

 

Kathleen’s Kitchen: a yummy alternative to holiday cookies!

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By: Kathleen Neafsey

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…..there are cookies, candies, and goodies everywhere!  I started my baking some of my Christmas cookies this weekend.  Each year I try to add something new to my old family favorites, and the list is pretty extensive by now.  I was, however, trying to do something a little bit different this year – a break from the cookie norm, if you will.
Everyone loves sweet, buttery cookies but sometimes it’s nice to mix it up with something sweet and salty.  Chocolate covered pretzels!  They’re so easy, and you can get a lot done at one time.  The key is having a rhythm:  melt, dip, decorate, repeat.
Let’s start by gathering the ingredients:

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* Pretzel rods (mainly because they’re the easiest to work with)
* Chocolate morsels (semi-sweet, dark, milk, white – it’s up to you)
* Decorations, sprinkles, colored sugar, red and/or green chocolate melts for drizzling

Kitchen items needed:
* microwave-safe bowl(s)
* baking rack covered with parchment or waxed paper
* spoons

I’ll be honest, I started this project with caramels.  I thought it would be a little different to dip them in caramel before the chocolate.  Needless to say, they were not the success I’d hoped.
First things first:

Melting the chocolate – there are several methods to melting chocolate – one using a double boiler (not my preferred method), and microwaving the chocolate.
Microwaving the chocolate can be tricky, but I’ve found the key is in the timing:  start out slow, and do it in small increments.  Chocolate can go from “almost melted” to “hard, useless rock of chocolate” in a matter of seconds. That’s kind of the purpose of this column; you get to learn from my trials and errors.

Pour half the bag of chocolate chips in a glass, microwave-safe bowl.  Place in microwave and cook for 50 seconds.  Remove from microwave and stir.  Cook for another ten seconds, stir again.  Work in ten second increments after that, until the chocolate is melted.  You may reach a point where you see only a few chips that haven’t melted; stir them around and they will melt without being nuked again.
I like to work with half a bag at a time because the chocolate doesn’t get too cool to work with, and will still flow or swirl easily.  This is especially true of white chocolate – it tends to harden quickly, so it’s much better to work with smaller batches.

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If you use a deep bowl to melt the chocolate, you can dip the pretzel directly into it, holding onto the end of the pretzel.  If you use a more shallow bowl, just hold the pretzel over the bowl and spoon the chocolate onto it, making sure to cover it all around.
If you’re going to decorate the pretzels with sprinkles or sugar now is the time to do it; while the chocolate is still soft and the sprinkles will stick to them easily. If you’re going to drizzle them with the red and/or green melted chocolate, then time isn’t an issue and that can be done after you’re done dipping all the pretzels.
* Place on covered baking rack to cool and let chocolate set.
* Melt the colored chocolate in the microwave using the steps shown above.  Once it’s melted, use the tip of a spoon to drizzle on to the pretzels.

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* Let set for a couple of hours and store in a tightly sealed container until you’re ready to use them.  When storing them, I put a layer of waxed paper or plastic between the layers so they don’t stick to one another.
You can purchase the plastic goody bags in the dollar store and wrap a few together to give as treats, or to set them out with the other desserts and goodies after dinner. I’ve made trays of these to put on tables at birthday parties, and I’ve seen them at bridal and baby showers.  They’re always a hit!

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As the year winds down I wish you all a happy holiday season.  May the new year bring joy and peace to everyone, everywhere.

Fabri-Kate: christmas trees with a twist!

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By Kathleen Neafsey

Can you believe it’s December already?  How is it possible for the year to have passed so quickly?  I’m going to show you a fun, easy craft that doesn’t take much time at all.  You can have several ready for holiday decorations—or gift-giving—in one short afternoon. I did a similar Halloween craft last year, and thought I’d give it a Christmas whirl!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Green or white styrofoam cones
  • Green yarn
  • Ribbons and decorations of your choosing
  • Glue
  • Straight pins

DSCF3799Begin by wrapping the cone with the yarn. I put a thin stripe of clear tacky glue along the bottom edge of the cone, and began to wrap the yarn around it.  As you progress up the cone, after every inch or so, add another thin stripe of glue to keep the yarn in place.

DSCF3802Next, I draped the ribbon on the “tree” using the straight pins to hold it in place.  I tried using glue, but it just wasn’t working right – that’s when I decided to improvise with the pins.

DSCF3805Once the ribbon is in place you can begin to hang your decorations on the tree using glue, a hot glue gun, or pins—whichever works best for you. Of course, no tree would be complete without the star on top. My girls used to take turns putting the star on top of our actual Christmas tree, and because I would forget who did it the year before, I had to write the year and their name on the box so there wouldn’t be any bickering over it the following year!

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There are so many fun ways to this, and to make your own twist on it.  While I’m typing this, I’m thinking, “Oh, I could have done one with red and white yarn — like a candy cane.  Or I could have turned the cone upside down, wrapped it in red yarn and put a black belt across the middle to resemble Santa.” Unfortunately, my brain sometimes works faster than my hands allow, and all the ideas in my head never actually travel down to the tips of my fingers.

This would be a fun way to pass the time with some friends on a weekend afternoon, and to take a break from the holiday hustle and bustle.  Put on some music, mix up some eggnog, relax, and create!

There won’t be another Fabri-Kate post in time for the holidays, so let me take this opportunity to wish you all the happiest of holidays.  May the days ahead be filled with joy and peace.

Fabri-Kate is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Tuesday. It is written by the crafty Kathleen Neafsey, who wields a mean pair of scissors. Follow her on Twitter @dbmomkat and look for a brand new craft next time

Kathleen’s kitchen – applesauce to be thankful for

By:  Kathleen Neafsey

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Nine more days until the biggest gut-busting holiday of the year – Thanksgiving!!  This recipe comes just in time to add a sweet treat to your table.  It came to me as kind of a fluke, actually.  Have you ever noticed in your grocery store’s produce section that they sometimes have fruits and vegetables wrapped up to sell at deep discounts?  Yeah, this was new to me too.  They’re those sad, mismatched baubles of the earth:  the bananas with brown spots, the apples that are not soft – but they will be any day, the peppers that, if used within a day or two, are perfectly fine. Their saving grace is that these are the gems that provide us with the essential ingredients in banana bread, apple pie, apple sauce, stuffed peppers!!  Okay, enough, you get my drift.
Recently I bought such a cello-wrapped tray of apples; I couldn’t even tell you what kinds they were because there were six or seven apples, each unique in their colors and firmness – all for $1.50!  I brought them home and they sat in my kitchen for another few days while I debated what to do with them.  Don’t get me wrong, they were perfectly fine for munching just the way they were.  In fact, my daughter claimed the Granny Smiths that were in there for her own.
On a recent Sunday, with a boneless pork roast in the oven, it came to me……applesauce!  I have this weird history with applesauce; I like it – I buy it – I forget that I bought it – and then I have to throw it away.  This recipe made enough to serve with the pork, with just a bit left over.  I found the recipe on the Pioneer Woman’s website – her’s is much more detailed, while mine is pretty cut and dried, and cuts to the yummy chase.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Two pounds of apples, the variety of your choosing
One cup apple juice, apple cider, or water (basically,one cup of liquid)
1/2 cup brown sugar
One teaspoon cinnamon
*You can use more or less sugar and cinnamon, depending on your preferences.

First things first – Peel and slice the apples.  DSCF3739
Next – Put all ingredients in a medium saucepan DSCF3742
Then – Stir all the ingredients, and cook on medium high till the mixture starts to bubble.  Turn it down to low, and let simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally to be sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot! DSCF3745
Once the apples have become tender and, dare I use the technical term, mushy, put them in the blender (or food processor, or food chopper) and puree to your heart’s content.  DSCF3746

You may want it completely smooth, or you may want to leave some bits of apple in there.  It’s your sauce, you can do what you want. DSCF3747
From start to finish the whole process will take about 30-40 minutes.  Time well spent for such a treat.  It would make a great side dish to bring if you’re visiting for Thanksgiving, or put it in jars to keep for yourself!  Whichever you choose to do I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and remember to count your blessings.

Author’s note:  For all the grammar geeks out there (including moi) I know that the title shouldn’t end in a preposition, and it should read: Applesauce for Which to be Thankful, but that just sounded weird (and pretentious). Kindly pardon my grammar gaffe (Deirdre, this is for you), and I will do my best not to do it in the future.

Kathleen’s Kitchen is a column running on Kate-book.com once a month. It is written by the amazing Kathleen Neafsey, who loves trying new recipes. Follow her on Twitter @dbmomkat. And make sure to look out for her amazingly fun column, Fabri-Kate.

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