Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ruthie's Easy Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

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I LOVE Beef Stroganoff.  I fell in love with it when I was a young girl and am still in love with it todayIt was my birthday dinner every single year.   I grew up with the version of it that uses the seasoning packet.  I think it's McCormick's Beef Stroganoff that we used.  That was easy and delicious.  (Right, Lee Ann?  Inside joke with one of my sisters.)  

My dear husband had been asking for Beef Stroganoff lately so I pulled out my handy dandy cookbook and set to work.  

One year my friend Julie had me over for dinner and she had prepared my favorite dinner.  I was delighted to learn it was a Beef Stroganoff crockpot recipe and was even SIMPLER than the packet version.  She got the recipe from her mom Ruth and when I was compiling our favorite recipes into a cookbook, it definitely made the cut.

This recipe is seriously so simple and takes very little ingredients or time.   Feel free to make your guests feel like you worked harder than you did preparing it though. 

Ruthie's Easy Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

1 Beef Roast
2 cans Cream of Mushroom Soup
2 cans French Onion Soup
Sour Cream
Kluski Noodles

Cut your roast into small bite size pieces. Dredge in flour and brown in skillet with a little oil.

Place browned meat in crockpot.  Add the soups and cook on low for 7 - 8 hours or cook in a casserole dish in oven at 325
degrees for approx. 1-1 1/2 hrs or until meat is tender. 

Approximately, 30 minutes before serving, add sour cream if desired.  Pour over cooked Noodles.

This is a delicious recipe, easy to make and hardly any cleanup!  You don't even have to wait until your birthday to enjoy it. 
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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dumpster Diving Dresser - What Shall I Become? Plus Another Sneak Peek

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Have you ever been dumpster diving?  Admit it.  You probably have dug thru trash in some form or other to claim it as your treasure.  I have seen things laying alongside the curb before and snatched them up quickly.  I've even put things on the curb and had them gone within five minutes of placing them.  Sometimes you have to be at the right place at the right time to stumble across a great find, other times you get a tip.  I prefer tips.  It saves gas

This time I got a tip.  A dear friend of mine sent me a message alerting me to a dumpster full of treasures near her house.  I grabbed my daughter and the two of us went to check it out.

My daughter is a young adult.  I don't want to give anyone the impression that I am boosting a child into a dumpster to dig around for drawers to a dresser.  I did boost her up there, but she's tiny and without fearMe?  I am a huge chicken.  I've always had a fear of falling which is precisely the reason I don't know how to roller skate or ice skate or skateboard.  I think it all goes back to the time. . .oh, sorry.  I also get off track easy.  Anyway, I really really didn't want my obit to read "died climbing out of a dumpster and falling onto her head."  Can ya blame me?

Back to Dumpster Diving 101.  This was a clean dumpster dive.  Even cleaner since it had rained a lot the night before we searched it.  The stuff they were throwing out made me wish I had a trailer attached to my SUV so I could haul it all away.

There were two dressers in there.  We were only able to fit one into my vehicle.  The other was larger and we needed a strong guy to help us lift that one.  My strong guy was at work.  Our plan was to go back later with him.  

Here is the one we took home.
It is solid wood.  It is missing a drawer.  We dug around for that drawer, but, we couldn't find it.  It may have been in there and we missed it.  No worries because I don't need it.  

We were all set to go back for the other dresser when another friend of mine, I call her my "Mini-Me" because she's just like me but 10 years younger, went to check the contents of the dumpster herself and sadly reported the dumpster was empty.  Darn on-time dumpster dumping company and darn Mini Me for not going earlier when I told her to go.  (She's forgiven though because she is super busy with school, kids, husband, volunteering, etc.  Plus, we needed a truck and a strong man to help carry.)  Hearing that it was emptied by the company broke my heart.  The thought of all of it possibly ending up in a landfill made me extremely sad.  

Back to the one we did rescue.  I had thought of turning it into an entertainment center (like the one I showed you back in December) and selling it.  Remember that one?  

Click here to see the tutorial for that totally awesome entertainment console.

I still might do that.  I have a line on a buyer, too.  Part of me wants to do something totally different though.  Well, not totally, because I'd still turn it into an entertainment center.  I'm thinking of something industrial looking though.  It's still a toss-up.  What to do?  What to do?  That is the question.  Any thoughts?  Color suggestions?  Opinions?  I would honestly love your input.  

In the meantime, I DO know what I am going to do with my piano roll cabinet I acquired a few weeks ago.  Here she is in all her beauty. 
Again, excuse my photos.  Remember the Robin?  A robin tried to kill me but got my camera instead. Remember that?

Since I don't have a player piano or know anybody who owns one and needs a place to store their music rolls, I don't feel bad at all about taking this old cabinet, dismantling it a tad, and re-purposing it 

The outside will pretty much look just like it does in the above photo.  I feel good about that.  The only difference is I plan on touching up the scratches on the finish, re-staining the top and adding a key pull knob.  The original lock is still there but the key for it is gone.  The inside is where it is going to change.  Here's a look at that.

I fell in love with all of the shelves. I immediately thought, "Baking sheet storage!". I often think and speak in exclamation. No exaggeration. I do. However, I may have 5 baking sheets but not 13. Then my mind went to, "Microwave storage!" There it stayed.

My Triple H (Handsome Handy Husband) confirmed that he was on board for a little more DIY Re-hab. Whew!  Because I am fearful of a saw in my hand, too.  My husband, too, is afraid of a saw in MY hand.  (That's why any sawing falls in his to-do category.)  If there is anything worse than breaking a hand in a fall, it would be cutting one off in a saw accident.  Can you believe I'm a glass half-full kind of gal?  Well, I AM!!  Just not when it comes to falling or cutting off a limb.

I am going to have him remove some of the upper shelves. Enough to accommodate a small microwave.  The back needs replacing, too.  It is just a thin piece of damaged veneer.  We need to make sure there is plenty of ventilation for the microwave.

I am going to move baking sheets/pans onto the lower shelves.  That should free up my baking sheet storage area that is in a kitchen cupboard and my electric griddle can go there.  Which means less trips to the garage to retrieve it and  more grilled cheese sandwiches.  Did you know that tomorrow, April 12th, is National Grilled Cheese Day?  I didn't either until I looked at my son's school calendar.  

There you have it.  You are all caught up with what we are currently working on.  Go make yourself a grilled cheese sandwich but before you do, let me know what to do with that green dresser and if you have irrational fears, too.  

Oh, one last thing.  Remember the list I had made of projects a few weeks ago?  This list? Well, scratch #2 off the list because I think that project would work better with chairs than counter height stools.  Those stools were set out on our curb and snatched up by a new family practically the second Triple H set them out there.  

#5 is still in the works but I'm waffling on the color choice I had started to use.  I can't commit to applying it to the buffet yet.  I'm rethinking the whole darn color scheme.  I'm thinking of using yellow ochre with a walnut stain instead of the dried fern with espresso stain I have on the hutch.  Which means I'll have to repaint the hutch.  Or finish it depending on which color I do choose.  Give me your input on that one, too, while you are at it.  

And #6, well, I have everything to begin it but haven't quite configured the layout.   

Now, how 'bout that grilled cheese?
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Thursday, April 4, 2013

It's A....Gender Reveal Cupcake

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First, let me begin this post with an apologetic, "I can do better."

Yesterday one of my favorite pregnant people found out whether she was carrying a boy baby or a girl baby.  I saw her before her appointment and her excitement was contagious.  I was swept right up into the anticipation of "What will it be?  I can't wait to find out!"  I suggested she reveal the baby's gender via a cake or cupcakeShe had seen the idea and said she had thought of that.  Well, you know me, I LOVE baking, decorating, crafting, surprises, challenges, the list goes on and on.  You also know I work well under a time deadline.  I piped up, "I'll make it!!" I'm not even sure if I gave her a choice in the matter.  I think if my memory serves, I just took over from that point on

My friend, I'll call her "M" because her name starts with an "M", was going to tell her in town relatives last night with a pink and blue balloon presentationHer out of town relatives will find out tonight.  They are the ones who will be taking a bite out of these "Gender Reveal Cupcakes". 

Here's where my first sentence is explainedIt's been since February since I've made a birthday cake and I had depleted my homemade icing ingredients shelf and hadn't re-stocked.  (I basically only make cookies and cakes for relatives and friends, after having spent many a year taking orders from the general population and getting burned out with it.  That doesn't mean I would turn down your cake or cookie order if you asked, I most likely would do it because I have a problem saying no.So, given the time constraints, we went with store bought frosting and cake mix.  

M dropped off the ingredients and the cupcake liners she had on hand.  Her liners were all boy themed ones because she and her husband are already the very proud parents of an adorable little boy.  I had some cupcake liners but mine were girly ones covered in red hearts.  We went with it.  6 of one, half a dozen of the other.  Literally.  I made six with boy liners, 6 with the girly ones.

This was a last minute less than 24 hours to get it done in scenario.  (That doesn't even make since, does it?  Last minute less than 24 hours?  Oh, well!When a fun event arrives on short notice we roll with it.  We go with what we have on hand and we make it happen.  Thus, the color scheme you see here.  Given more notice my brain would have been consumed with a million different ideas.  I would have thought about it day and night.  I would have planned, gathered and probably used pink and blue and done more of a baby themeI would have used ruffly liners and made baby faces in frosting, or question marks made from chocolate, or pacifiers from fondant, who knows what I would have created.

I baked the cupcakes and while they were cooling, I set about making cupcake picks.  I had long cookie sticks on hand that I had used last year when I tried my hand at making Easter Bunny Face cookies.   Here's a look at those.  Boy, the people I could embarass if I posted their pictures here posing with their cookies.  I'm thinking of my husband and youngest son, in particular.  Instead I'll show my little buddy Liam posing with his.
I cut the sticks in half because they were super long.  I then hopped on my computer program and created a little "What will it be" teaser to attach to the sticks.  I printed those out on regular white paper, but if you have round labels, I'd go that route.  I cut them out by hand and glued them to red cardstock.  It's actually a red file folder, but if you have cardstock, use that.  
Now, had I not started the year trying to be more organized, I would have used my hot glue gun to attach the circles to the sticks.  Instead, I can't remember where I put the glue gun and after spending the better part of an hour hunting for it, I gave up and went with another glue.  If you haven't organized recently and know where your glue gun is, use that.  

Now that the sticks or picks or whatever you want to call them are complete it's time to move onto the cooled cupcakes and fill them with the appropriate color of frosting, pink for a girl, blue for a boy. 

I had seen different ways to make them.  One way was to just stick the frosting tip into a cupcake and fill it with frosting that way.   I had my doubts about that.  I envisioned the tip getting plugged up with cake.  I tried it on one just to see if it worked.  I wouldn't recommend doing it that way.  The frosting tip will get plugged and the cupcake doesn't really hold up well when doing it that way.  Now, that is my opinion.  If you try it that way and like it, then go with it.  

I ended up taking a small paring knife and cutting a cone shape out of each cupcake.  It's really simple to do.  A child could do it if you allowed a child to handle a knife, which I don't.  Unless. . . the child is named Carl and he is holed up in a prison surrounded by walkers, then I'd let him work the knife on this project.  I'm sorry, it's 192 days until The Walking Dead returns and even though the season just ended the other day, I'm going through withdrawals.   

Back on topic.  Cut a little hole in each cupcake, saving the piece you cut.
Tint your frosting if you haven't already.  I tinted mine while the cupcakes were baking.  Fill your pastry bag with the frosting.  You can use a tip or not.  It's up to you.  This part won't be seen so it doesn't have to pretty but it should be neat.  Pipe the frosting into the the cut out area.  Then after trimming the point off of the cupcake plug, place it over the frosting.  
I cut one open to see how they looked and to taste test it.  It passed both tests with flying colors.

Now you are ready to frost the tops.  I dislike frosting cupcakes.  I really want to say hate frosting cupcakes but I try not to hate anything.  I give huge props to those who can frost a cupcake neatly.  I can if I really put some effort into it, but today I was short on time and opted to pipe the frosting on using a star tip.  They seemed a little plain to me so I sprinkled some red dusting sugar on themSince these cupcakes are going to be traveling I did not stick the cupcake picks into them.  M can do that when she arrives at her destination.  
There you have it!  And, yes, it's a girl! 

Might I suggest Stephanie Jo for her name?

See how simple that was?  You don't even have to be super prepared to pull off this very easy but fun cupcake reveal.  It's all about the surprise anyway.  Once they bite into that cupcake and see whether it is blue or pink, they won't even be thinking about what the cupcake looked like.  I think these are cute though. (Re-read first sentence.)

Oh, one last thing. . .remember when I promised my hutch I'd have her doors finished by Easter?  Everything else was painted/stained except for her doors?  Yeah, well, it didn't happen.  I was busy, there weren't enough hours in the day, etc.  You know how it is.  I swear if that hutch had eyes it would be staring daggers at me right now from where it sits, behind me and across the room.   Great, now I'm afraid to turn my head and take a gander at her for fear it's glowing or something.  

Until next time!     

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