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Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Cook-a-long -- Stuffed Peppers

About three times a year, I make stuffed peppers for Trevor and the guys that work with Trevor.  I invariably get asked if I would be able to teach their wives/girlfriends how to make them.  Here's how I make stuffed peppers.  It is loosely based on the recipe from the red-checkered Betty Crocker Cookbook found in the 'beans, rice, & grains' portion (BCC).  (Please note:  I was making a triple batch of stuffed peppers, so the pictures may be a bit deceiving.  The recipe below is for 6 stuffed peppers.)

Jeanne's Stuffed Peppers
  • 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. hamburger
  • Small onion (or half of a larger onion) diced
  • 1 quart chili sauce or spaghetti sauce--I use our home canned sauce--BCC has directions for using grocery store canned goods
  • 2/3 cup UNCOOKED rice
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese--the stuff in the green can--I've never tried using fresh...
  • 2 cups shredded cheese--I use whatever I have on hand that needs to be used up.  Today I used 1 cup Mozzarella and 1 cup mild cheddar.  I've even just dumped in little bits left in the bottom of several bags of cheese.  A little more/less cheese is okay.
  • 6 pieces of sliced American Cheese
  • 6 nice green peppers
1) Brown the hamburger and onions.  Season as desired.  I put a nice coat of garlic powder, onion powder, season salt and a bit of pepper.  Whatever you usually like will work.

2) While the hamburger is browning:
  • Start a large pot (Dutch Oven works best) of water.  Add 1 Tbsp. of salt to the water and bring to a boil. 
  • Clean the peppers.  Cut off the top--I cut them like a pumpkin that is going to made into a jack-o-lantern...It leaves you with pepper 'bowls'.  Clean out all of the seeds and any soft white flesh from the inside of the pepper that easily comes out.
  • Don't forget to occasionally stir and break up the hamburger while waiting for the water to boil.

This picture is showing 2 things --
1)  How to cut the peppers
2) How to put the peppers into a pan before stuffing them
3)  Once the hamburger is cooked, drain the grease (if desired).  I drain the grease if it is really greasy, but if it isn't too bad, I don't drain off the grease because a reasonable amount of grease does enhance the flavor.  Too much grease, however, is just gross.

4)  In the skillet with the hamburger, stir in the spaghetti/chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, uncooked rice, and oregano.  It should seem pretty soupy; the rice soaks up a lot of sauce!  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the temperature to a simmering boil and cover.  Stir well every 5 minutes or so.  This will need to cook for 20-25 minutes.  (I have never succeeded in NOT scorching this mixture...apparently a little scorch doesn't hurt the flavor, just don't be surprised/horrified if it scorches a little.  As long as you don't scrape the burnt part into the peppers, it seems to be fine.  : )

5)  While the rice mixture (the innards) are cooking, put the prepared peppers into the boiling water and let them sit in the boiling water for 3-5 minutes.  This will soften the peppers a little bit.  When you take them out of the water (I use tongs) put them on a towel upside down so the water can drain out.

You will want to make sure the whole pepper is getting boiled.
These peppers have been they are just chillin' out...waiting to be stuffed!!
6)  About 3 minutes before rice mixture is done, I add the Parmesan cheese.  Mix well.  Put the peppers into a pan so they are ready to be stuffed  (see the second picture on this post--it is how I stand the peppers up to be stuffed in the pan.  I use a 7x11 pan...If you have a deep pan, it works even better!

7)  When the rice mixture is done, remove from the heat.  Add the shredded cheese.  Mix well.

8)  Carefully spoon the mixture into each pepper.  I like to leave 1/2" to 3/4" gap at the top to prevent spilling.

9)  Once all the peppers are stuffed, place a piece of American cheese on top.  If you don't want a big mess, then I suggest you fold the slice and put entirely inside the pepper opening.  If you just lay the cheese on top of the peppers, it tends to drip down the side and fuse to the bottom of the pan.
10)  Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. 

These reheat well in the microwave.  Also, if you don't want the mess of "stuffing" the peppers, I have just cut the green peppers into rings and put into the mixture.  The flavor is the same, but the presentation is different.  Trevor prefers me to stuff them...for what that opinion is worth to you...

I usually serve stuffed peppers with yeasty rolls or garlic bread.

When I bake, I tend to blast my tunes and sing loudly.  Here is Booger saying, "I wish she would stop singing at me...Please make her stop!"

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day, and don't forget to take care of you!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Advice for the space-crunched gardener

I received the book VERTICAL GARDENING by Derek Fell for Christmas,,,thanks Mom & Dad.  There are tons of ideas on how to get ample production from small space gardening.  Trevor and I are trying some of these this year to see how they work.

The author gives you ideas on how to plant, what to plant, and when to plant.  He suggested plants that I did not even realize existed.  Instead of leaf spinach, he suggests vine spinach that can be grown on a trellis.  That is one thing I am trying this year.  We're still planting some leaf spinach because we eat so much of it in the summer.

Another thing I am trying to convince Trevor to try is to build a screen that sits at an angle to protect leaf lettuce from the afternoon sun.  He says to plant cucumbers so that they grow up the screen and absorb the afternoon sun.  This gives the cukes all the sun and heat they love, but protects the leaf lettuce--the idea being that you can harvest leaf lettuce further into the summer season.  Sounds like a winner to me!

I did get the feeling that the author's idea of "small spaced gardening" was bigger than the entire lot that we own, but that doesn't detract from the good ideas and tips given in the book.  Check it out if you want some growing inspiration!

Have a super week, and take care of you!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Projects I'm working on...

Happy Monday!! 

This last weekend was the most fun I've had in a while.  On Friday I had a 4-hour lunch-n-talk with two of my very best girlfriends.  It's always great to have an afternoon with the girls.  It had been way too long since our last fling!  On Friday night we went out to eat with a young couple (the guy works for Trev) and then went to see a band.  It was fun, but I was TIRED!  I also had a sore throat from talking so much.  I don't usually talk that much in a whole week, let alone one day.  On top of all the above fun, the dogs finally got their hair cut...they were getting really bad because Mama forgot to call early they went nine weeks without haircuts instead of the customary six weeks.  Scary Hairy!!

On Saturday we drove 180 miles (each way) to see Grandpa.  I did a little bit of light cleaning, and Trevor stained the deck.  It's always good to see Grandpa.

Sunday was the first action handgun fun shoot for Trevor.  They had great weather--low 80s with a light wind.  Everyone got a little sunburned.  I went out to watch a couple of stages.  After removing the third crawling tick from my leg, I decided to go home.  Ticks freak me out, and I start itching all over.  YUCK!  We ended the weekend by going out with my brother and sister-in-law.  What a BUSY yet FUN weekend!  I hope yours was great, too.

I am working on several projects right now, so I thought I would bring you up to speed on what I'll be bringing you in the next few weeks.

Baby Quilt -- My friend had her baby a little early and I've been procrastinating, so I WILL be getting this quilt done soon.  There will be six blocks with puppies in western scenes.  These embroidery patterns are from an Aunt Martha's DOW set, so I just cut off the "days" and only used six of the designs.  Here's some of the blocks so far:
I have a ways to go, but these come together quickly...I hope....

Primitive Place Mats -- A lady that works with Trevor wanted to know if I could make place mats similar to something she'd seen at the mall.  I went and checked it out, and I think it is totally doable.  I'll share the idea and results with you when they are done.

Dachshund Mobile -- Just trust me...this will be cute!

Dog Shaped Rag Blanket-- I've made these before, but I'll put up a picture when I get this one done.

Nephew's USMC T-Shirt Quilt -- the top is done, but I want to have it professionally quilted.  When it is finished, I'll put up the picture.

Bird Cage Cover -- for the library bird.  Her current cover is in shreds because it was always too small for the cage.

Juice Can Lid Project -- I just have to find some people that drink frozen juice, because I need some lids!

Garden -- This is a big project!  It has been so amazingly nice and warm for March that we decided to go ahead and plant radishes, carrots, leaf lettuce, spinach, and green onions.  Hopefully it doesn't decide to snow.

Lola wanted to be in the middle of whatever I was doing until she saw the dreaded CAMERA!  "No, Mama!  Don't take my picture!!"
What are you working on right now?  Have a wonderful week, and take care of you!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Doodle Stitching Project Update

I'm not having much luck at the thrift win some, you lose some...

However, I have completed my doodle stitching on old denim and made the piece into an eye pillow.
I like how it turned out.  I filled it with rice, so the first few nights I used it I dreamed about Chinese food.  I love that it really does keep out the light from the TV.  I can sleep through noise, but the strobe effect caused by the TV drives me crazy!  Now Trev can watch TV all night if wants to.

I have this weekend off, and it is going to be a busy one.  We are planning on heading west to see my grandpa on Saturday.  My father-in-law wants to ride along because he hasn't seen my grandpa for a long time.  My grandpa and my father-in-law are not very far apart in age, so they like to discuss the weather with each other...???  Anyway, my mother-in-law was so excited to have a whole day without my father-in-law that I guess it's a good break for both of them.  : )

Trevor has his first pistol shoot of the season on Sunday, so he is super excited.  He has so much fun at the shooting park.  As long as he doesn't expect me to sit out there all day and watch him, then all is well.  He only shoots five times, and it usually lasts about 30 seconds.  The other five hours are other people shooting and setting up and you get the picture...NOT a spectator sport as far as I'm concerned!

What exciting things do you have planned for this weekend?  Whatever it is, have a fun weekend and take care of you!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rain Gardens by Lynn Steiner and Robert Domm

I checked out RAIN GARDENS by Lynn Steiner and Robert Domm from the library this week.  There are lots of ideas for gorgeous collections of flowers that come back year after year.  The book also shows how to specifically set up the gardening space in order to take advantage of rain water.  There is also information on rain garden roofs and ponds.

When we moved into our little house, our yard contained many of the flowers suggested in this book--phlox, ferns, lily of the valley, wild onion, and columbine.  While beautiful, we ended up removing these plants due to my extreme phobia of snakes.
I wish I could overcome this phobia because I feel that the rain garden type of yard is better for the environment and is beautiful.  However, the many near heart attacks I had when we were infested with snakes made Trevor decide that I should only have flowers in pots.  He usually does most of the weeding and harvesting in the garden as well.  I help until I see a snake; then I run (screaming) inside and lock the doors.  Real mature--I know.
I know the garter snakes around here are great for the environment and pose no danger to me.  However, rational thought has no place in a phobic mind.
Have you ever overcome a phobia?  How did you do it?
Have a super day, and take care of you!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Finds

Last week I only bought a couple of books on my Friday thrift store rambles.  I had items in my hand to purchase at the second (last) store I was at, but here is why I didn't buy...

Instinct told me to pass up this store and go to the next because even as I pulled into the parking lot, I could see there were LOTS of people inside due to the large number of vehicles parked there.  Next, as I am walking into the store, a woman is dragging a screaming toddler behind her.  Why don't people just go home when their child so obviously needs a nap, a change, some food, something! other than going to a store?  This child proceeded to SCREAM loud enough to be heard throughout the store over the piped in radio noise.  Plus, apparently every adult (other than me) had brought numerous children (that they must have hyped up on sugar and/or caffeine) with them and then abandoned said children to their own devices.  Kids were playing hide-and-seek, pulling items off the hangers, yanking open grab bags, pushing over furniture/bikes, and breaking glass.  MASS MAYHEM!

Through it all, I did find a few things I wanted to purchase.  However, when I went toward the checkouts, I saw a line with SEVEN full carts.  So, I decided I didn't need anything THAT badly.  I was plenty frazzled just from the screaming, running children.  I certainly did not want to spend an hour in the one-and-only check-out line.  Honestly, I've had less traumatic nightmares than that trip to the thrift store.  Moral of the story--Trust those instincts!!!

I went back a few days later to see if I could grab my few items, but they were all gone.  Oh, well!

TGIF and take care of you!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Spring!!!

It has been absolutely BEAUTIFUL in Nebraska this week!  Yesterday I was finally able to ride my bike even though it was windy.  Today is supposed to have very low wind, so Booger and I are going for a ride this afternoon.  YAY!

I've been contemplating my blog, and I have decided that I will only be putting out one or two projects each month.  I want the projects to be well developed.  When I try to do a project every week, sometimes I feel like I'm just throwing something out there without very good directions / pictures / thoughts.  I hope you will all understand.  Plus...I still have to do things like laundry, exercise, laundry, etc.

With that said, I've been looking a book called HANDPRINTING FROM NATURE by Laura Bethmann.

I love the prints and projects in this book; they are beautiful!  She uses fruit, vegetables, starfish, leaves, and other items from nature to print on clothing, furniture, walls, curtains, and other items for the home.  I don't have all of the materials listed in this book, but I may have to see what the investment would be since I really like the projects.  One of my favorite projects was a pillow made from an old men's button-up shirt.  She cut a head of cabbage in half and printed the flat side of the cabbage in a pattern...the cabbage print looks like big flowers.
Check it out at your local library!  Have a wonderful week, and take care of you!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I really need to just buy the book CRAFTCYCLE by Heidi Boyd. 

I've checked it out from our local library 5 or 6 times.  The book is divided into seasons--so there are projects using recycled materials that are appropriate for Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.  This book has a wonderful pattern for a potting bench;  I have asked Trev to build one for me.  If he won't build it this spring, I may have to dig in and try building it myself.  Trevor usually doesn't want me to do anything that involves 'saws' (or any other sharp object) because I have a tendency to hurt myself.  I am a classic KLUTZ!

Anyway...some of my other favorite projects in the book are:
*  Record Bowl -- how to make a bowl from an old record
*  Fused plastic tote bag -- iron plastic bags together to make a sturdy, reusable shopping bag
*  Colored Pencil Watch -- use old colored pencils put together to make a watch band
*  Window Sash Cold Frame -- a miniature greenhouse for seedlings

In addition to the 100+ projects shown, she also includes tips for living green in each season and recipes for each season.  The book is currently less than $10 on (which is cheaper than the Kindle version...go figure!)

Have a great day, and take care of you!

Monday, March 5, 2012

...the best laid plans of mice and men...

I had a GREAT weekend off from work, but I didn't do the things I thought I was going to do.  The auction was a bust, and I didn't  plant any seeds because Trevor said, "It's still way too early!"  So, we agreed to put off planting flower seeds for three weeks.

We did get some work done in the house which is always good.  Plus, we just enjoyed being with each other all weekend, and that is the best!  While doing some cleaning, we about lost Shiloh...literally...We had the cold air return cover off so I could wash it, and Shiloh (who is mostly blind) fell right into the cold air return...disappeared...Trevor was close, so he stuck his arm down the cold air return and grabbed Shiloh's tail.  When he pulled Shiloh out, the poor dog's head was covered with dust bunnies.  Trevor then said we should tie a rope to Shiloh and send him down the return to clean the ducts...ha...ha...  Shiloh was just looking around like "What the heck just happened?!?"  He wouldn't leave my side for the rest of the day.

Now...for the project...a journal least that was the intent!

I planned to make a journal cover using an old pair of jeans and some precious* fabric.  However, I started the project one day and finished the next...apparently I thought one size of seam allowances on day one than I did on day two.  Result?  A journal cover that is 1/2" too short.  EPIC FAIL!! 

My first genius thought--I'll try one of my other journals (I am a hoarder of journals/notebooks), but apparently there is some kind of "industry standard" for journals because they were all about the same length...all too long for my stunted cover!  Go figure!

The change in seam allowance didn't make the width too short because I had added extra length because the point of the journal cover was including a place to carry a few pens (that weren't in a bag...)

SO, I am including a few pictures, but no instructions...I will re-do the project (writing down the measurements & seam allowances as I go) and post in the future.

See the journal's bottom peeking out the end?
Have a super day, and take care of you!

*  Precious Fabric is fabric in your collection that you feel is SOOOO pretty that you feel you shouldn't even cut it just sits in your fabric collection instead of being enjoyed.  I try to remember that 'precious' fabric is exactly what I should use so I can enjoy it more...

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday Find....

I only spent about $3 last Friday at the thrift store, but I found some cute crocheted potholders that I will make into coin purses and an adorable little planter--for $0.99!
I'm super excited for this weekend for several reasons. 
1)  I have the weekend off!
2)  Trev and I are going to an auction on Saturday...YAY!!!
3)  Trev and I are going to work on getting our seeds planted on Sunday.  He doesn't know about that part yet, but he will on Sunday.  : )

I hope you have a wonderful day and fun-filled weekend!  Remember to take care of you!