Monday, January 28, 2013

Pinterest Day: Egg Casserole in a Crock Pot

I am finally back to the world of the living after 2 weeks with the worst cold/cough/horribleness.  I did not move far from my couch during that time, and now it seems like the end of January came out of nowhere!  I am ready to get back into the swing of things!

I saw a recipe via Pinterest for an egg casserole made in a crock pot.  I love any kind of egg casserole, but I never thought of making one in a crock pot before.  It is pure genius; you put it together the night before and wake up to a hot breakfast ready to go! 

You can go to this blog for the recipe I based mine off of.  I tweaked mine a bit; halved the recipe to fit in my smaller crock pot and added some diced green chilies for some New Mexican flair.  It turned out delicious!   I will definitely be making this again.

Here’s the recipe:

½ Onion, diced
½ Green Bell Pepper, diced
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1 Tbsp Diced Green Chilies 
5 slices of Bacon
1 lb bag of frozen Hash Browns
¾ C. Shredded Cheddar Cheese
6 Eggs
Smoked Paprika
Tabasco Sauce

First cook the bacon.  When it is cooled crumble it up.  While that’s cooking, chop up the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and green chilies and mix together.  (The original recipe said to then sauté the veggies, but c’mon, ain’t nobody got time for that!)

Spray the crock pot with cooking spray (even if you’re using a crock pot liner, it will stick to it).  Spread 1/3 of the hash browns on the bottom of the crock pot.  Top that with 1/3 of the veggie mixture, 1/3 of the bacon, and 1/3 C. of the shredded cheese.  Repeat these layers two more times, ending with cheese.

Whisk together the eggs and seasonings.  Add the salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and hot sauce to taste.  (If you haven’t used smoked paprika before, it is the best seasoning ever, I use it on everything.  Note that it is smoked paprika).  Pour the eggs over the other ingredients in the crock pot.

Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

And then have sweet dreams of yumminess!

When you get up in the morning sprinkle on another 1/3 C. of cheese for a nice gooey-cheesy layer.  I also served mine with some salsa on the side.

This turned out really good, but it was a little on the dry side.  I think the next time I make this I will add some milk to the eggs to give it more moisture and fluffiness.  I also slept in and cooked it for the whole 10 hours, maybe at 8 hours it wouldn’t be as dry.

Anyway, this was a super easy and very yummy recipe that has a lot of room for variation!  If you have a bigger crock pot you can easily double it and feed a crowd! Hope you try it!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 18, 2013

DIY Lighted Peace Sign

Let me start off by saying, this lighted peace sign is one of the coolest things I’ve ever made!  I love how it turned out and it was really pretty simple to make!

First, let me share with you my inspiration.  A few months ago I was browsing around on Mod Cloths website when I saw this:

I instantly fell in love, but for $90, no thanks!  But, I did think that I could possibly make something like that.  Then the next day I was in Hobby Lobby and saw that they have unfinished wood peace signs.  And the light bulb turned on! 

I thought, all I have to do is drill some holes, stick some lights in, and I’ll have a groovy peace light all my own!  It took a little more work than just that, but I love my end result!

Want to make your own?  It does require a little bit of woodworking, so you’ll need to have a drill and sandpaper.  Don’t be intimidated by that though, this isn’t hard to make!

Okay, so here is what you need:

Two Wooden Peace Signs:  I got mine at Hobby Lobby.  They had two sizes, 20” diameter and 10” diameter.  I used the 10” for this.  (The Mod Cloth light is 20”). 

Balsa Wood:  Balsa wood is a lightweight, flexible wood commonly used for hobby crafts (model cars, planes, etc.).  I also got this at Hobby Lobby (you won’t find this at a place like Home Depot, if you don’t have a Hobby Lobby around try a hobby store).  The balsa wood I used is thin, about 1/4” thick and 1” wide.  I recommend getting at least 3 strips in case you snap one while bending.
I should also give my husband some credit here, I had never heard of balsa wood but he suggested it for this project, and it took it from meh to awesome!

LED Christmas Lights:  I recommend using battery operated lights so that you aren’t tied to an outlet.  I found that regular Christmas lights were too bulky and wouldn’t tape down well, but the mini-lights I used were very flexible and lightweight.  I got them at Target.  Whatever you use, make sure the lights are LED so they don’t overheat.

Wood Stain or Paint:  I stained my wood a color called Espresso.  Painting this a bright color for a kids room would also be cute.

Other:  Drill, Gorilla Glue, masking tape, clamps, wooden spacers (optional), and a groovy sense of craftiness!

Alright, let’s get started!  First thing to do is mark on one of the wood signs where you want to drill your holes.  I made 19 holes in mine.  Then clamp the sign down to a sturdy surface and start drilling the holes.

Sorry for the poor lighting in these pics, it was 20 degrees outside and I wasn’t about to open the garage door for more light.  Anyway, make sure you use a drill bit that makes a big enough hole for your lights to poke through.  I did not have a big enough drill bit, but I found that after drilling the hole I could push a screwdriver through the hole and get the perfect size.

Using the right drill bit size to begin with would obviously be easier, but this worked for me!  I also made a cut out on the bottom of the other peace sign for the light cord to go through.  I’ll show a picture of that later.

Next, sand down the rough edges and stain both the peace signs.  While those dry, you can get started on shaping the balsa wood.  Balsa wood is very flexible to begin with, but soaking it can get it to bend even further.  I soaked a strip of balsa in hot water for about 2 hours.  I just put it in my bathtub with some weight to hold it down.

Just check on it to make sure the water doesn’t leak out, because I found that once this is soaked and dried, it won’t become flexible again even after another soak.  So, after soaking for two hours the balsa should be flexible enough for you to bend it into a circle.  Do this very carefully, and if you hear the wood cracking put it back in the water for another half hour.  You should be able to get it bent around your peace sign with no cracking.

I bent the balsa around my peace sign and used a clamp to hold it in place.  Let this dry for at least 24 hours.  While that is drying you can get started on the balsa wood for the inside of the peace sign.  You could skip this step if it seems like too much work, but it really gives the finished sign a nice polished look, plus you don’t see any exposed lights.

Measure all the inside parts of the peace sign and cut the right sizes from the balsa wood (this is soft enough to cut with scissors).  For the curved parts I cut the wood to the right size and soaked it, then clamped it to a bowl to give it a soft curve.  Let that dry for 24 hours as well.

Once all that balsa wood is dry, it’s time to do some gluing!  Make sure to glue the balsa pieces to the back peace sign (the side without the holes).  I used Gorilla Glue, it is my trusted companion.  I recommend having a helper for this part, I tried to do this by myself and the wood kept springing away before I could get a book on it to hold it down.  But I managed!  Here is how it will look with all the pieces in place:

As you can see, my pieces aren't perfect, but once it's finished you don't even notice.  Once you have all the pieces glued weigh it down with your strongest book.

Strongest book, get it!?  I know, I’m funny.  You can see in the above picture the cut out I made for the light cord to go through.  Make sure you leave a space like this in the balsa for your light cord to come through!

Let that set for 24 hours as well.  Now it’s time to start placing the lights!  Try to lay the lights out in a way that stretches them so they don’t bulk up.  This makes it easier to tape down.  For example, I put a light in every other hole and went around twice, does that make sense?  Once you start doing it you’ll see what I mean.  Tape it all down with masking tape to hold it in place.  Make sure that the end of the light comes out the bottom.

You can see in that picture that I glued down some wooden spools as spacers, they weren’t necessary though.

When the glue on the other half has finished setting, stain the balsa wood to match.  Let that dry and then glue the whole thing together!  Just put a layer of glue on all the edges and carefully lay the two pieces together.  Lay that heavy book on top again and let the glue dry for 24 hours.  And then be amazed at your awesome craftiness!

All the lights are encased, so you don’t see any wires from the sides.  I did have some glue peep out, and my pieces aren’t perfectly aligned, but that’s part of the homemade-ness of it that I like!  Here’s the cord coming out the bottom:

And here it is in all its groovy glory on my mantel:

I love it!  It turned out better that I had imagined!  And I love the way the lights perk up the mantel.

I hope you try this out!  If you do send me pictures, I’d love to see other versions of this!  You could use this process with wooden letters, animal shapes, ooh the possibilities!  I love possibilities!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Martha Makes: DIY Bath Sachets

This month’s issue of Martha Stewart Magazine was a little low on crafts and high on citrusy recipes (meat and citrus fruit should not go together in my opinion).  But I did spot this little nugget on the bottom of a page and thought it sounded interesting.  DIY bath sachets using eucalyptus plants and tea bags.  Sounded easy and I’d get a nice bath out of it, perfect!

I wanted more than just eucalyptus though, so I went to a local health food store and bought some dried lavender and dried rose petals.  I got the tea bags at Cost Plus World Market (random) but I couldn't find them at a grocery store. 

The process was simple; put the dried stuff in a tea bag and tie with a string.  I made a loop so I could hang it over the bath faucet.

Hang the sachet over the faucet and draw a nice hot bath.  And then be disappointed because instead of the rich, fragrant, bouquet-of-flowers bath you thought you’d have, it smells like water.  The sachets didn’t do anything!  I even hung up two, one with roses and one with eucalyptus. 

Maybe the water was infused with their herbal properties and I just didn’t notice, but overall I have to say this one was a bust Martha!

However, I did have a lovely bath on a cold snowy day, and now I can use the other sachets I made as potpourri, or throw them in my fabric dresser, so it all worked out in the end!  And I just got the February issue of Martha Stewart and it is chock full of great crafts and recipes!

Make sure you check back the end of the week, I have an awesome project to share!

Thanks for reading!