Monday, February 21, 2011

Easy Week Night Chicken Enchiladas

I know I know - it's been a while since I've blogged. But what can I say - I'm a busy mom with a deployed hubby....who's coming home in a couple weeks!!! I'm so excited. I've been pretty busy getting things in order and trying to get the house cleaned and our cruise that we'll be taking the end of March in order. SOOO needless to say I haven't been doing much crafting. But I still have to cook dinner for my kids! So today's blog is for a tried (over and over and over) and true delicious Chicken Enchilada recipe I got from my sister many years ago. Thanks Barbie! :)

These are delicious and creamy chicken enchiladas made with green enchilada sauce! They are easy to make and can even be made ahead of time and just put in the oven and baked when you're ready to eat!

Ingredients you'll need -
  • About 3 chicken breast halves cut into 1" cubes
  • 2 (8oz) packages of cream cheese. I like to use 1/3 less fat. The fat free doesn't melt down as nice.
  • 2 (10oz) cans of green enchilada sauce
  • 2 (4oz) cans of mild diced chilis
  • Burrito sized package of flour tortillas. I like to use the 96% fat free, carb balance or light tortillas. I've also used wheat with nice results.
  • Approximately 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese. You can use light cheese if desired.
Preheat your oven to 350ยบ
Spray a nonstick skillet with pan spray and brown your chicken cubes.
Add the cream cheese and chilis cooking until the cream cheese in fully melted. Take off the heat and set aside.

Prepare a 9x13" pan with cooking spray. Open one can of enchilada sauce and pour half of it into the 9x13". Pick up the pan and roll it around until the sauce coats the bottom of the pan.

Place a small amount of chicken mixture on to each tortilla and wrap like a burrito.

I like to leave my ends open and roll each enchilada skinny - but this is totally up to you. Place each enchilada seam side down in the 9x13 until you've made them all and filled up your pan.

Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce (1 1/2 cans) over the enchiladas and sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.

Bake for 30 min or until cheese is melted and enchilada's are thoroughly heated through.
Let stand for 10 min before serving.


They are super yummy and if you make them with 1/3 less cream cheese, lower fat/calorie/carb/wheat tortillas and light cheese they are MUCH healthier than restaurant enchiladas. I've tried them with the wheat tortilla's but I like using the 96% fat free lower carb tortilla's the best. They just seem to taste better and have the same texture as the normal ones. The wheat are good too but have a little different taste/texture.

I hope you like them! :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Delicious Red Velvet Cake Recipe just in time for Valentine's

Of course Red Velvet cake isn't just for Valentine's Day but if you're like most people you generally think about it more near V-Day. So I've been searching for a great scratch red velvet and I think I've found it! I ran across this recipe on Bakerella the other day and gave it a try tonight.

I decided to try mine as cupcakes. I also used the cream cheese icing from that recipe. My oh my!! It was so good. I've never been a huge red velvet fan. I really only like it because of the rich beautiful color but this cake has got to be one of the best's I've ever eaten! Give it a try and you won't be disappointed!

I'm planning on giving these out to my daughters gymnastics coaches and saving some for family so I wanted to make them extra cute. My friend Christy owns ItsyBelle and she's got a great blog. She has free Valentine's printables and that's where I got the adorable little toppers! Check her blog out and get your own free toppers here! You just print out the file on cardstock from your own home printer and cut them out with a circle cutter. I would have liked to have a scalloped look but I only have a 2" round cutter and I was wanting something fast. I've also used fancy scissors to cut these out before (I had some for my kids birthday party) and just cut them in squares. I actually kind of like that look better. So you don't have to go out and get a paper punch, just use what you've got! :)

I added edible glitter and heart sprinkles to my cupcakes before inserting the toppers. They turned out cute and even better they taste amazing!! If you're into red velvet make this cake! You will be so glad you did!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

DIY - Alphabet Photography! Great way to add art to any room on a budget!

 Have you ever seen these awesome words created out of random photography pictures and thought - I want that!!?? Well I did. So I made them! It was really pretty simple and saved me a ton from ordering them online! Here's how I did it -

First off I knew I wanted to add some art to my newly re-designed master bedroom but I was working on a budget. I'd seen these done online and on tv and loved them. So I decided to make some for my room. They are traditionally framed together in one frame and I LOVE that look - but for my purpose I needed them to basically take up a whole wall so I knew I would need them large.

I wanted the word LOVE since it's in our bedroom. And I knew I wanted Black and White because my room design is all black and white with hints of silver. The only color is on the walls and it's DARK purple. I had big ideas (like I always do! lol) in my head about going into the city and finding stop lights (when looked at from the side it looks like a capital E!! So cool!) shadows from railings, graffiti, tree trunks etc...however life/reality kicked in about 3 days later when I was still unable to pack up the kids and get into the city to do this. Yes - my hubby is still deployed so I'm all alone in the kid department. If you are lucky enough to have some help and someone to watch the kids I highly suggest thinking big and going out in the world to find the best options. But like I said before it wasn't working out for me and I wanted to get it done so I thought you know - I bet I can find things around the house that would work just as good! And that's how I got my letters!!

My first letter was L. My son has two guitar vinyl's on his wall in his room and when I saw the handles that are criss crossed I instantly saw the L. This is a photo of the guitars.

This is the original picture I took to crop and turn to get the L you see in the final look. I took this photo and brought it into photoshop. I had some fixing to do because if you look closely my artist son has colored with a crayon on the wall and I didn't clean it off before I took the picture. You DO NOT need to have photoshop to do this project. Any free photo editing program you can find online will work just fine. The only techniques you'll need are changing the color to B&W if you choose being able to crop and being able to turn/transform the photo. You might even be able to do all of those things in Microsoft Paint. Not sure as I don't use that program.

So anyway I cropped this photo in tight around the tops of the two handles leaving enough of the neck of the handles to make the L. I then turned my photo clockwise and changed it B&W. Whalla! An L!!

Next was the O. I knew instantly what I would use for the O. It was actually what inspired me to look around the house for all the letters. I saw my new candle holder in the bathroom and loved the iron look. Near the bottom it looked like an O to me.
As you can see this would be a great S as well! This is the exact photo I took to crop and make the O. I loved that the bottom swirly (the part I was using for the O) reflected a shadow. I thought it would add a little more detail to the picture.

As with the L all I did to this photo was crop it in tight and turn B&W.

Next is the V. This one was a little more difficult for me but I love the final I got. I used this photo hanging in my living room of christmas poppies. The bottom of the flower and the stem together looked like a V to me. However it was upside down. No problem!

Using this exact photo. I brought it into photoshop and turned it almost completely upside down. I then cropped it in tight near the base of the red and white flower on the right side you see here. Turned it B&W and ended up with this.

And finally the E. I had a few options. But I like the way this one turned out. I wasn't sure when I first took the picture since it was an actual E but it ended up being my favorite. I took a picture of this wooden word I have on my mantel.
This is the actual picture I used. I brought the wood word outside onto my patio. I wanted a nice background and as you can see it has the patio, then the grass (yellow as grass gets in Louisiana in the winter - weird) and then the fence. I knew it would blur when I focused the lens on the E and I wanted that. In the end you barely see the background at all so I probably didn't need to make it that difficult. I took this photo and cropped it in tight to the E and turned it B&W. That's it!

Okay so now I have all my photos! Here are a few things you'll need to consider when doing your own.

  • What size do you need them? I wanted mine 8x10 so when cropping I set my aspect ratio (size of the  crop box) to 8x10 so I knew when I had them printed they would print exactly as they showed on the computer.
  • How do you want yours framed? As mentioned above I love the whole word framed together but since my word was small and my wall was big I decided to frame them singley. If I had more money I would have printed them at 10x13 and framed them that size. But frames can get pricey so I stuck with 8x10. I purchased my frames during a 50% off sale at Hobby Lobby (local craft store) so I got all 4 for about $30.
  • Where will you print your photos. You can print them anywhere!! For me I'm pretty addicted to professional photography printing places like H&H or Millers Lab or MPix Pro. I sometimes use MPix if I want a cheaper price that's better than walmart or rite-aid etc. Getting them printed somewhere like walmart is absolutely fine. Since my hubby is a photographer and we do a lot of editing in photoshop I know the colors that should come out. All those fast places seem to print really dark and it just urks me when I have a great photo that comes back from the printer too dark to see everything. So you can take your chances and save money or you can print professionally. I decided to spend the little extra and print professionally since this was going to be wall ART. I think I spent $18 for the 4 prints printed on True B&W photo paper and that includes the shipping.

Some tips and ideas -
  • Ideas for words - your last name (great for an entryway) - your kids names for their rooms - The word Family for a photo collage of your very own lovies - a favorite short quote - a year such as the year you were married. (2003 etc.) 
  • If you like the whole word in one frame print them out on 4x6 then take them to Michaels and have it professionally framed. It will cost a little more sure - but you'll still save over buying the whole letters and frame online. Michaels almost always has coupons you can print online for 50% off your custom framing order. They'll matte and frame your pics and it will look great! I'm thinking of doing this with our last name for our living room...??? not sure yet.
  • Use Chalk on a sidewalk and draw one of your letters. Such a cool idea!
  • Take a picture of an object such as a graffiti heart or red rose or flower you like and add it to the beginning or end of your word. I had a pic of a purple lotus flower my hubby took in Japan I was going to use. But I still haven't made up my mind if I want it up or not. My whole room has no color but the walls and that's kind of the I'm still undecided. I can always add it later if I want though.
  • If you live near a beach make one of your letters out of seashells in the sand. Or draw it in the sand with a stick!
As you can see the possiblities are endless! Use your new found love of Photography - trust me it will happen ;) - to take other photos for your house. Bring your significant other to the beach - draw a heart in the sand with your initials - lay a rose near it and take that pic. Or better yet stand far away from the heart in the sand on opposite sides extend your arms holding hands. You'll cast a shadow of you two holding hands on your heart in the sand. Have a friend take a pic of the heart with your two shadows. Blow it up poster size - frame it and hang it above your bed. Such a cute way to add art to your room that not only should save you money - but you MADE it yourself and YOU'RE in it so it means so much more than just buying a picture from IKEA. (although I do love me some Ikea!!)

Have fun and let me know how you do!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sweet little Valentine's Day "Box of Chocolates" cake!

I must confess this idea was completely NOT mine! I got the idea from If you've never checked that website out I advise you to! She has some of the cutest little baked goods I've ever seen. This "Box of Chocolates Cake" I saw LAST year just after Valentine's Day and I was so sad because I wanted to make it! So this year I remembered and made it early enough to blog about it to all my adoring fans! :) To make your own check out this tutorial from Bakerella.

I purchased a 9" heart shaped pan from my local craft store. I completely cheated on this cake and used a box red velvet cake, Betty Crocker frosting, and Duff fondant!! What can I say I'm a busy mom and I had no other reason to make this cake except that it was so cute I had to try it. I'm bringing this cake to my sister's work tomorrow for all of them to enjoy. I must admit though after tasting one of the red velvet  cake balls I wish I would have made a scratch cake. It would have tasted much better but we can't all be perfect can we!!??

A couple tips I would advise that she doesn't list in her tutuorial - if you have the time and aren't a seasoned cake decorator I would suggest tinting your buttercream/frosting red so if it shows under the fondant it's not stark white. I had that issue on my cake in a few places and it bugged me.

When baking your cake stick a floral nail upside down in the batter to keep the cake from "mounding" too much and you won't have to cut as much off the cake. I usually use the strips but since this pan was heart shaped I stuck a nail in mine and it worked pretty well.

And the only other thing I can say is have your decorating pieces for the chocolates ready. I used the ready to frost sparkle gels from wilton in red and pink, some heart shaped sprinkles, some white cake glitter I already had, some nuts, the left over white frosting from the cake, and some left over red sugar sprinkles I had from Christmas. I think decorating the "chocolates" was my favorite part!

I hope you all give this a try it's really quite easy and so much fun! :) Happy Valentine's Day!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

How to make a simple window valance - as requested :)

I made this cute little valance yesterday in all of maybe 30 min while the kids napped. I used left over fabrics I had in my collection and have a cute new look in my little toilet room! :) Here's how you can do the same.

One little note - please read completely through this tutorial before you begin. The math part will seem super confusing - but I promise you it's NOT hard to make this valance. The math is probably the hardest part and it's simple addition!! :)

First thing you want to do is measure your window. There's quite a bit of simple math in any sewing and this is no exception. You'll measure the width of your window. And you'll measure how far of a drop you want your valance to hang. For example's sake we'll say that your window is 24" wide and you want a 12" drop. (How far down you want it to hang.)

You need your valance DOUBLE the width of your window to get a ruffled look. If you want it straight flat just use the width plus your seam allowances. (We'll get to that in a bit.) So for our 24" window we would need a 48" wide piece of fabric. Write your window measurements down as you go. You'll thank me later! :) You will be placing a hem on each side of the valance and that takes about 1/2" for each hem. So you need to add 1" to your fabric. So now your total width (what you'll cut your fabric) is 49". I hope you're still following me - I ramble. :)

Now for the drop. If you're using one fabric it'll be a tad easier, but in our example we're using two. We want a 12" drop. You'll have a hem on the top and bottom so we'll add 1". (1/2" for top 1/2" for bottom) We're now at 13". The top of the valance will be folded over 3 1/2" to create a curtain rod pocket and a small ruffle on top of the rod. So that is 7" (3 1/2" folded is 7" total fabric) So now we are at 20". That would be your cut measurement if you're using 1 fabric. You'd cut your piece 20" by 49". BUT in our sample we added a strip of fabric near the bottom.

So here's were it gets a little more confusing - I wanted 4" on the bottom but the seam allowance is 1/4". So if you're being super precise you would cut 4 1/4" x 49" for your bottom strip but I just kept it at 4". So you've just added 4" to the bottom you'll need to subtract that from the top fabric. We would cut our top fabric 16" x 49" and our bottom strip 4" x 49". (It will be 1/2" shorter due to the seam allowance but I was fine with that on mine. If you are not you'd cut your's 16 1/4" x49" and 4 1/4" by 49".) If you use a 1/2" seam allowance you'll need to adjust your math for that as well.

Okay now that we've got the math out of the way we'll start with the HOW-TO part. :)

Supplies you'll need -

  • Fabric
  • Rotary Cutter and Mat OR Scissors and fabric pen
  • Pins
  • Iron & Ironing board
  • Sewing Machine

You can use scissors and a ruler to cut or a rotary cutter, mat and ruler. I prefer to use my rotary cutter and mat so I'll be showing you that way. If you use scissors you'd use your ruler and a fabric pen and cut along that line.

Begin with prepared fabric - pre-wash and dry. Then iron it back to smooth fabric. You don't want to cut with any wrinkles in fabric. Cut off the selvages (the ends that have writing from the manufacturer or sometimes they just have little holes).

First you want to square up your fabric for a clean line - then using the ruler and mat figure our your width and cut.

Square off fabric so you're working with a straight edge

Cut to your pre-determined measurements
Cut all pieces to the measurements you've written down. You may have to piece together if you're measurements are longer than the fabric. Most fabric comes off the bolt t 45" so in this case you'd need to piece (sew two pieces together) to get your desired length. When you've got everything pieced and cut it's time to iron!

Iron a hem along the LONG side (49") of the main fabric (in my sample its the white fabric). You do this by folding fabric up 1/4" and ironing - then folding it up again 1/4" and ironing.

To sew the hem down you sew very close the the folded edge as shown in the sample below.

After you have the hem on the top you will add the colored strip to the bottom. To do this you pin right sides together. The right sides of the fabric are the pretty sides. You will be pinning the strip to the unfinished edge of your main fabric. (the end you did not hem.) As pictured.

Use as many pins as you need. More pins will help keep the fabric from slipping. Make sure you take the pins out as you sew. Never sew over pins. It's bad for your machine and you could break your needle. (Talk about frustrating!!) :) Sew together using a 1/4" to 1/2" seam allowance. (I used 1/4".)

After they are sewn together iron the seam down.

You will now create a hem on the small strip. Hem the same way you did the top of the main fabric.

Now hem the short sides of your valance so all 4 sides are hemed.

Okay now you're ready to create the curtain rod pocket. Fold the top of the main fabric down 3 1/2". **Note - if you have a large/wide curtain rod you will need to adjust your math so your pocket is wider to enable the girth of the curtain rod. Use your ruler as you fold down and iron in place. You want to make sure it's 3 1/2" the whole way down. It will look funny if it's uneven.

Iron and sew like you did the hem. Very near the edge.

Once you've sewn it down you will bring that same piece back up and sew about 1" to 1 1/2" from the folded top. This will create the ruffle on top and the pocket for the curtain rod. See below picture.

When your finished it should look like this on the side -

Clip any loose threads (or if you're slightly OCD like me you've probably been doing this as you go along) and hang it up to enjoy!! Happy Sewing! :)

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and it inspires you to make your own! :)