Friday, February 26, 2010

Cheese Stuffed Shells

Today I have a tasty recipe for Cheese Stuffed Shells to share with you.Ahhhhh........ cheese and pasta.........a great combination. This recipe comes from a friend of mine that is a vegetarian, so no meat in this dish, but you could probably add some ground beef or turkey and it would taste good too. My family and I love it just the way it is with all that cheesy goodness.Get the recipe below.

Cheese Stuffed Shells
12 oz. jumbo shells(their will be more shells than filling)
2 eggs
2 containers (15 oz.) each ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 1/2 c. grated parmesan, divided
1/2c. chopped fresh parsley or 2 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 tsp. salt
3 cups spaghetti sauce

Cook jumbo shells for about 15 mins. Drain. Set aside. In a medium bowl, beat eggs lightly;stir in ricotta, mozzarella, 3/4 c. parmesan, parsley, basil and salt. Cover bottom of 9x13 dish with 1 c. of sauce. Spoon about 1 Tbsp. of cheese mixture into each shell. Arrange filled shells in baking dish;top with remaining sauce and parmesan. Cover with foil. Bake in 350 oven for 25-30 minutes or until heated through. **I adapt the recipe a bit because I always have enough filling and shells for about 1 and 1/2 dishes. So you can use more sauce to your liking.**

Thursday, February 25, 2010

American Village Field Trip

Yesterday was Trent's field trip to American Village in Montevallo, AL and I actually got to go on this one. Yay! American Village is a historical village where they are taught about the American Revolution and government. The kids are taken through the village in different "acts" and get to take part in the acts. The various actors from the village dress in period clothing so that was pretty cool and it was very educational. I forget what this particular building above was called, but it is where they talked about the constitution then moved to a different room to learn some dances of that time from "George Washington's grand daughter."

The kids are getting some training on how to be a soldier to fight against the red coats from the Corporal here in the green. He was so funny! He taught them how to load their muskets ,march and fire them.Their muskets were broom sticks. They had to yell all the steps of loading the musket like tear(tearing off the paper with the gun powder in it), spit (spit out the paper), pour, click, bang. The kids had a lot of fun with this!

The church in the village.

I don't know what you call this thing, but Trent and some of the other kids thought they would try it out.

This is a bronze statue of George Washington. The two actors here explained the statue and the symbolism in it.

Trent and his friends enjoying some lunch.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Robotics Competition 2010

Trent's team with Server Bot

Last Thursday, Trent and I got to spend the day together at Auburn University Montgomery at the Central AL Technology Fair. Trent and his team were in the robotics-hardware competition for their Lego Mindstorms robot.(Lego Mindstorms is an after school club for the gifted education students who are chosen to be in it). They have been working on their robot for sometime after school on Tuesdays.They have to come up with a design, build it and then work on a program to make it actually work. They could finally show off their hard work. Trent's team got 3rd place in their category. Good work guys!!! It was so impressive to see 175 kids there from 3rd to 12th grade in different categories from programming, robotics, media and more.

This is Server Bot. His team's robot. Server Bot was kind of like a waiter. They had a small object they put on the tray part and the robot would move forward and run into a brick and then it turned around and the tray would go forward emptying the small object. Pretty neat! I don't remember anything like this when I was in school. Might have been fun.

We waited,and waited and waited some more at the competition. You had to wait on every group to get set up,wait on your group to be judged and wait on the awards ceremony . I know. A lot of waiting. I felt very non-productive there, but I got to spend the whole day with Trent so that was worth it. While the kids were waiting, their was a lot of gaming going on.I think every one of those kids brought some kind of portable game.

This is both fifth grade teams with their G.E. teacher and sponsor Mrs. Hurst.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Spice It Up

Today I have a great recipe to share with you for Spice Bars. This is a recipe I got from my Aunt Dorene years ago after she brought them to a family function. A few things that I really like about this recipe: they are simple to make, the ingredients are common ones usually found in your pantry, and they taste so good! The name Spice Bars might make them seem like they are bursting with spice, but it is just from the cinnamon in them. It is not overwhelming, so don't let the name keep you from trying them. They have such a good flavor. I can really taste the honey and spice together and it's a tasty combination!

Spice Bars
3/4 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. honey
1 c. sugar
1 egg
2 c. plain flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. chopped pecans ( I used 1/2 c.)

1 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Mix first eight ingredients together with wooden spoon. Add nuts and stir until well blended. Batter will be stiff. Put batter in a 9x13 pan and bake at 350 for 25 minutes. While bars are cooking, mix powdered sugar, vanilla and just enough milk to make mixture smooth. Glaze bars while still hot. Cut into squares when completely cool.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Spanish Moss Topiary Redo

A couple weeks ago I showed you a Spanish moss topiary that I had made and gave you directions to make one. You can find that post here if you want to go take a look. While I did like this project, the black planter it was in just kept bothering me. It just wasn't right. So I painted that little baby with some ivory spray paint and then sanded it to give it a distressed look. Now I love it! It stands out more on my shelf and goes well with the other ivory accent pieces in the room. This is why spray paint is my friend. You can transform just about anything with it!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snow Day

Last Friday was our "Snow Day 2010." I'm calling it that because we usually only see one snow day per year here in central/south Alabama. School was cancelled for the kids so they got to stay home and we all played in the snow for a little while. It's a big deal for them since they rarely see the white stuff.

Our snowman before the face, arms and hat were added. Part of him still hasn't melted. He's holding on strong in our yard.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sealed With A Kiss Centerpiece & Turtle Fudge Cake

Well, I said I would post some last minute Valentine ideas on Saturday, but it just didn't get done. So sorry if anyone came looking for those ideas. I know V-day is over, but I wanted to share this centerpiece I made for our Valentine table and a sweet dessert.

I made a special Valentine's dinner last night for our family and the missionaries from our church. Laci and I set a red and white themed table with this "sealed with a kiss" centerpiece. It's cute and easy. I just filled a vase with Hershey Kisses and then stuck some faux roses down in the center. It was a conversation piece for us, too.

For dinner we had homemade lasagna, salad, garlic bread and this little creation I call Turtle Fudge Cake for dessert. It's somewhat like Pampered Chef's Turtle Fudge Skillet cake, but it's not made in a skillet.... and it's bigger..... and fudgier. Okay, so maybe just a little like it.(I served it on my favorite red scalloped cake plate. It was so cute!) I thought we needed a decadent dessert since it was Valentine's day and this was definitely decadent. Very rich and chocolatey. I think this will have to be a special occasion cake.

To make this Turtle Fudge Cake, just bake a devil's food round cake, torte or cut each layer in half making four layers, and frost between each layer with chocolate icing. Melt 1/2 c. chocolate chips and 1/2 c. caramel ice cream topping in microwave for about 35 seconds, stirring until completely melted. Pour over top of cake. Sprinkle chopped pecans over fudge topping. Drizzle with warm caramel just before serving.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Be My Valentine

Today I'm sharing a couple of ways to say "Be My Valentine." First, with a box of homemade candies for your sweetie. Now my husband would prefer a steak over a sweet any day, which he'll probably get to have this weekend. But, he does love him some coconut. So I made him these Coconut Joys, which taste like an Almond Joy, and I packaged them up in an old Ferrero Rocher candy box. I put them in mini valentine cupcake liners and made a tag to cover the old label. Ca-ute!

These coconut joys are very good and simple to make. Give 'em a try!

Coconut Joys
1/2 c. butter or margarine
2 c. sifted powdered sugar (I did not sift)
3 c. flaked coconut
1/3 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat or in large bowl in the microwave; remove from heat. Stir in sugar and coconut until well blended. Shape into 3/4 inch balls. Chill until firm.
Melt chocolate morsels in a disposable decorating bag in microwave at 30 second intervals, kneading morsels after each time until melted. Snip off tip of bag and drizzle chocolate over balls.You can also melt chips in saucepan over low heat.

This next idea is a great way for kids to say "Be My Valentine." They are Valentine butterflies made with a Tootsie pop. My daughter and I made these for her class mates. I saw this idea on Skip To My Lou. Just checkout her Valentine section for these. She even has printouts for the butterfly . Sweet! Laci's class mates will have to wait until Monday to get their Valentine. We have a snow day today! Yep! It's snowing in sweet home Alabama.

Come back tomorrow for a couple of last minute V-day ideas!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cake Mix Cups With Marshmallow Lollipops

Today I want to share a cute and different treat idea for your Valentine party. Cake mix cups with heart marshmallow lollipops. Let me just say this cake mix does NOT have eggs in it. So, you won't have to worry about getting any kind of food poisoning from eating the raw eggs. I saw this idea in a magazine a while back and they were suggesting it for a movie night, but I thought it would be good for any kind of party. Just mix up your favorite flavor of cake mix, leaving out the eggs, spoon or pipe it into small cups and enjoy. I also stuck one of those cute, pink heart marshmallows on a lollipop stick and put it in the cup. So cute!! And I mean who doesn't like cake mix. I know my kids...... and me too, love to lick the beaters after mixing up a cake. It is a very sweet treat so pace yourselves. BTW, I used a Valentine Funfetti cake mix that I found at Target. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Music Of Love

Ahhh, the music of love. And what says love like chocolate? Well, there are lots of other things. A lot more important than chocolate. But most of us like to eat chocolate and receive it, so why not make your own this Valentine's day. I made these musical chocolates for Laci's piano teacher with a candy mold I purchased from a local store that sells candy and cake decorating supplies. I like to use Wilton's premium candy melts to make my chocolates. Just put a handful in a disposable cake decorating bag and microwave at 30 second intervals. Be sure to knead the chocolate around after each time until they are all melted, cut off the tip of the bag and fill each well. Pat the mold down on the counter to get out all of the air bubbles and to flatten out the chocolates. Then just pop them in the freezer for about 5 minutes. Super easy, but makes a big impression.

I packaged the chocolates in a candy box that you can usually find in the Wilton section at Michael's. A red and white polka dot ribbon added some Valentine cuteness. Laci's piano teacher was thankful to get them and opened them at class last night. She named all the notes and even quizzed Laci on some of them.

I also made some KISS chocolate suckers to give to my special Valentines. Again, these are so, so easy. Really. Go out and get you a cute candy mold (their pretty cheap) and start making some chocolates. It's so fun to make these for different holidays and occasions.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Valentine Fun

Okay, I know I said I would would be showing a Valentine idea each day, but the one I planned on showing today is still not finished, so I'm going to show you an idea from last year and give you a sneak peak of what is not finished. The little container above was Laci's Valentine for her teacher last year. I found the cute container at Hob Lob and filled it with strawberry milkshake whoppers. Then we punched out a scalloped tag, stamped it, and embellished it with a shiny brad and heart. Cute and her teacher liked it!!

Now for the sneak peak. It involves these foil cupcake liners and ribbon. Any ideas?? Hopefully it will turn out cute. I'll show you when it's done.

Also,last night was our family night, so for our activity we all decorated heart shaped sugar cookies with icing and sprinkles. The kids really get into this. Okay, um, the mom and dad do to. It was sprinkles galore!! We had fun decorating and eating our big heart cookies.

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