Thursday, July 24, 2014

Swimming By To Say Hi! A Meals on Wheels Treat!



I started making these little felt fish last week. It takes me about a half hour to sew three fish. Whenever I make something for Meals on Wheels - I make at least 50 treats. Often I make around 53 just in case a few more ladies or gentleman decided that they need Meals on Wheels.

To make this project you will need:

Orange felt

Fish cookie cutter or template

Black pen

Scissors

Black embroidery thread

Small black bead

Cotton balls

Cellophane bag

Ribbon

Label

Directions:

Using a fish cookie cutter or template trace the image both forward and backward on the orange felt.


When the two sides are sewn together - the black marked sides should be sewn inward.



My little fish template is something that I was using when teaching Religion class many years ago. I am not sure when and where I bought this little fish that I traced for this project.


First I sew the eye on the top piece of felt - then continue sewing the two pieces together. Before the fish is sewn shut add a few cotton balls.


Once all the fish were made (50+) I started to package them.


I found these cellophane bags at Michael's and they sort of look like a goldfish bowl.


I blew into the cellophane bag and quickly tied it with a ribbon. On the back of the bag is a little label that said "Swimming by...to say hi! This is going to be a late August Meals on Wheels treat.

These little fish would be cute to make for a birthday party with a fishing theme or a Religion class.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Blueberry Lemon Bread



Blueberries have been on sale every where in the last two weeks. I have been putting them in my morning yogurt and in fruit salad.  But today I decided to make some blueberry lemon bread.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

3 tablespoons all purpose flour

2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest

1/3 cup melted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

Glaze:

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons milk


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter and lightly flour a 8x4 loaf pan.

In a small bowl add the blueberries, 3 tablespoons of flour and the lemon zest. Mix and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl beat together butter, sugar, lemon juice and eggs.

In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture alternatively with the milk.

Slowly fold in the blueberries. Add the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for about 60 minutes.


Cool bread on a wire rack for 45 minutes. Run a knife around the parameter of the bread and place it on to a serving platter. I love the cracks on the top of this bread.



Once the bread is on a serving platter - stir up the glaze with the powdered sugar, lemon juice and milk. Drizzle the glaze over the bread. It will take the glaze a good hour to set. After the glaze has set - the bread can be sliced.

Yum! You can really taste the lemon and fresh berries.




Saturday, July 12, 2014

Farmer's Market Corn Chowder


Tonight for dinner I made homemade Corn Chowder. It is so simple to make and served with a salad makes a perfect summer dinner. I always make Corn Chowder in the summer with fresh sweet corn.

I also like to add some fresh toppings. On the Corn Chowder that I made tonight I added some diced red bell pepper, crisp bacon pieces, avocado chucks and sliced green onions.


While the soup is simmering I wash and cut up the vegetables that will be sprinkled on the top of the each bowl of soup.

Ingredients:

6 strips of bacon

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion,  finely chopped

salt and pepper

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

4 medium sized russet potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

5 ears of sweet corn, with the kernels removed

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 pint half and half

Ideas for Toppings:

diced bell peppers

chopped cilantro

chopped flat-leaved parsley

chopped chives

diced avocado

diced jalapeño

shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

In a large soup pot cook the bacon until nice and crispy. Remove the bacon to a plate with a paper towel. Once the bacon has cooled it can be broken into small pieces.

Add the olive oil to the same pan and add the onion and sauté it for 5 to 6 minutes stirring every few minutes  Season the onion with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes.

Now add the potatoes, fresh corn kernels, chicken broth and half and half. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes.


Ladle the soup into individual serving bowls and sprinkle each bowl with some fresh vegetables and herbs and the bacon pieces.



The next time you go to the Farmer's Market - pick up some fresh ears of corn and make this easy Corn Chowder.










Friday, July 11, 2014

Oatmeal Raisin White Chocolate Chip Cookies


My husband really likes Oatmeal Raisin cookies - when we were first married I used to make the Oatmeal cookie recipe from the side of the oatmeal container. Then I started looking around for different Oatmeal cookie recipes. One of my favorites is a super thin Oatmeal cookie without raisins that bakes really thin and looks like lace - but he really doesn't like those as much.  Marriage is a compromise.

I found this recipe on fun and food cafe blog http://www.funandfoodcafe.com and the recipe was really easy and the cookies turned out perfect. Of course I changed the recipe just a little to suit my needs and the ingredients that were in my pantry.

Ingredients:

2 sticks of butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar, packed

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

! tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups raisins

1 cup white chocolate chips

3 cups old fashioned oats

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two large cookie sheets,

In a stand mixer beat the butter until creamy. Add both the brown sugar and granulated sugar. Beat until fluffy for about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla and give the mixture a final mix.

Mix the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and mix the raisins and white chocolate chips with a wooden spoon. Lastly stir in oatmeal.


Spoon large tablespoons of dough onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes.

While the first batch of the cookies are baking - put the bowl of dough in the refrigerator. The dough should stay cold while each batch is baking.


Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes and then place them on a wire rack to finish cooling.


These can be stored an air-tight container for up to a week - although I doubt they will last that long.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Meals on Wheels Party Favors Guidelines and my Craft Ideas

I have decided to write out all of my ideas of my monthly Meals on Wheels party favors. Some months I might make two party favors - but mostly I just make one a month.

Now if you are planning on calling a local Senior Center or Meals on Wheels and offer to make them monthly party favors - here are some simple guidelines:

1. Don't include food items - many seniors are on special diets

2. Don't make religion specific items for the holidays for example in December make a snowman craft

3. Make the party favors - so that they can be given to a gentleman or a lady

4. Package the party favor in a cute way so it seems like a special treat.

These are my Meals on Wheels ideas for the rest of the year - by planning my crafts I be organized and can watch for coupons and sales.

July - 4th of July Necklaces (Done)



July - mini summer themed card with drink umbrella (Done) The umbrellas will be opened up right before the little summer card is delivered. Inside of the card - I wrote "Stay cool this summer!"


August - little baseball paddle game (Done) On card - I wrote "Summertime is also Baseball time"


August - felt fish -  I need a goldfish cookie cutter to use as a tracing template

September - back to school themed treat - I am thinking pencils?

September - magnifying glasses

October - egg carton pumpkin - need 10 egg cartons (I guess I need to start saving them asap!)

October - witches broom pens

November - a turkey themed placemat and/or turkey bookmark

December - snowman or gingerbread man craft. Still deciding.....




Red, White and Blue Table Setting



I started getting ready for the 4th of July - by getting my table ready for dinner. I used a lot of my Christmas red and white items combined with a few blue items from my kitchen.


I use this platter for Flag Day (also my Dad's Birthday), Memorial Day and of course the 4th of July.


Before you go out and buy specific red, white and blue dishes - see what you have in your kitchen. The polka dot placemats are mostly used at Christmas. The red and white silverware I bought one year to use for Valentine's Day.  So checkout your holiday items and you might be able to make a wonderful table with items from your own home!



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Fresh Strawberry Muffins



I made some Fresh Strawberry Muffins for  Breakfast at Wimbledon. Although these muffins would also be a wonderful afternoon snack with a spot of tea.


Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest

1 egg

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, finely chopped

1/2 cup melted butter

3 teaspoons cinnamon 

1/2 cup sugar


Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray your muffin tin with a baking spray.


Cream the butter and sugar in your stand mixer. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until it is incorporated.

In a small bowl whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Alternate adding the flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture while the mixer is on the lowest speed. You don't want to over mix.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently stir the strawberries in with a wooden spoon.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan and bake for 20 minutes.


While the muffins are baking - clean up and melt the butter in a shallow bowl and combine the sugar and cinnamon in another shallow bowl.



Once the muffins have cooled roll the top in the melted butter and cinnamon/sugar mixture.


Yum! Perfect for your Breakfast at Wimbledon! I am sad that Maria lost today. I but am still able to root for Roger!


Monday, June 30, 2014

Red, White and Blue Fruit Tart


I love making fruit tarts! I make them all summer - each fruit tart looks and tastes different depending on the type of fruit that  you use.

This is a simple recipe and you probably have everything that you need in your cupboard and fridge.

Ingredients:

Crust:

3/4 cup confectioner's sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cups butter, room temperature

Filling:

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Topping:

fresh fruit

blueberries

raspberries

watermelon

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the confectioner's sugar, flour and butter until it starts to make a dough. Then press the dough into a round tart pan. Bake the crust for 10 to 12 minutes.

While the dough is baking wash and dry your fruit and cut the watermelon stars.


In order to cut the watermelon stars - cut thin slices of watermelon and use a small star shaped cookie cutter to cut out the stars.

Once the crust is baked - make the filling by combining the cream cheese, granulated star and vanilla. I use an immersion blender. Once the filling is creamy spread it all over the tart.

Starting from the outside start adding the fruit.



Keep adding fruit until the entire tart is covered.


I left a lot of the white filling showing because - the theme for this fruit tart was red, white and blue. Place tart in the refrigerator and take it out about 20 minutes before serving.


This tart can be cut into pizza like wedges. Keep this tart in the fridge for up to three days - although I doubt it will last that long.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

My Summer To Do List

These are the simple things that I hope to accomplish before Labor Day.

1.  Finish decorating my outdoor patio for entertaining

2. Make Strawberry Shortcake - completely from scratch

3. Go to an Angel game

4. Make soft pretzels - completely from scratch

5. Plan my Meals on Wheels party favors from now until December

6. Make Watermelon Mojitos

7. Visit outdoor Farmers Market

8. Make a fresh fruit cobbler

9. Practice making perfect pancakes

10. Take some cooking classes

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tennis Themed Sachets



I made some tennis themed sachets in honor of Wimbledon. My favorite Grand Slam is Wimbledon! I love the white tennis clothing and the grass courts. It just seems so lovely and refined.


I found some tennis themed buttons in my button box!


Isn't this the cutest tennis button?


Or do you like this button better? When I go to craft/fabric stores with large button displays - I always come home with a bunch of buttons to use on craft projects or gift wrap.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Flowers for Noelle's Graduation Party




I almost always buy my flowers at Trader Joe's.


Noelle and I both like a mixed wildflower look in our tin can vases.



Noelle was an Environmental Studies major - so for her party we made vases out of tin cans.


The hot pink Gerber Daisy's look fantastic in the tin can vases.


We simply covered a variety of tin cans with green scrapbook paper, ribbon scraps and little paper flowers. Recycle, Repurpose and Reuse.




We are so proud of our girl!


We feel blessed that we could host a graduation party for our daughter. We so are sad that Katie Cooper didn't get to graduate . Rest in Peace Katie - we think of you everyday. The Steele family will always miss your beautiful smile and bubbly personality.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Little Graduation Hats





A few days ago I made some Graduation Caps for Noelle's Graduation Party. Her party has a floral theme. So we used flower stickers. But you could simply use small round stickers in school colors or a sports sticker.


For this project you will need:

Black construction/scrapbook paper

Sticker 

black embroidery thread

scissors

tape

Rolo'e, mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups


These were so simple to make. Simply cut the black paper into one inch square pieces. Also cut the black thread into two inch long pieces.

Flod the thread inhale and using a small piece of tape adhere it to the middle of the black square. Place the sticker onto of the thread and where the hat to the candy with another piece of tape. So cute and easy!


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Packaging the Necklaces for Meals on Wheels


I finally finished all 50 of the red, white and blue necklaces for Meals on Wheels. I packaged them in pretzel bags that I purchased at Michael's.


I tied each bag with a red or blue ribbon and each plastic bags has a sticker on the back that said "Happy 4th of July."

I post all of my Meals on Wheels projects on this blog - hoping to inspire others to reach out to Meals on Wheels and Senior Centers in other areas. Many Senior Centers and Nursing Homes get activity near the Christmas holiday but very little in the way  treats the rest of the year. There are so many holidays that Girl Scout Troops, National Charity Leagues, Junior Leagues and other service groups could make crafts for the elderly. And many hands make light work.