Swiss Steak

I don’t know why I do this to myself, but I keep picking out slow cooker recipes that have a bunch of pre-cooking prior to throwing everything into the pot.  My favorite part about using the slow cooker is that it is supposed to be little effort and easy clean up for me.  That’s never the case with something like today’s swiss steak.  For this you will need:

  • Steak
  • Mushrooms
  • Red Wine
  • Onions
  • Chicken Stock
  • Flour

Get the full recipe here, or check out my pin on my Yum board.

Swiss Steak

Review

While there was plenty of prep work for this one, it was nice that it could all be done in one pan so there was less clean up.  I’m still a little annoyed at myself for picking something that had prep work before throwing it in the slow cooker, but that’s on me.  Anyway, overall, this recipe was underwhelming.  Even though there’re plenty of items that should add flavor, this was very, very bland.  It could have benefited from some peppercorns or some other spice.  It smelled amazing all day, so it was a real let down to not have the flavor the smell seemed to be promising.

Will I make this again?  No.  There’s too much work for it to get a second try.  I’d still have to prep everything before it went into the slow cooker, and on top of that I would need to play around with seasonings to add some much needed flavor.  I’ll pass on making this again and find something new to try out and potentially be disappointed by.  I’d rather be let down by something new than something I’ve tried before.

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Greek Chicken Bake

I’m a fan of recipes that basically boil down to throw everything in a pan and bake.  That’s what drew me to this Greek chicken recipe.  (Of course, Feta cheese was also a pretty big draw for me.)  I’m a fan of the flavors that are in this recipe, so I was ready to give them a try all together.  For this you will need:

  • Chicken
  • Tomatoes
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Green onions
  • Feta Cheese

Check out the full recipe here, or my pin on my Yum board.

Greek Chicken Bake

Review

This was disappointing, but not necessarily a “never again” recipe.  My problem with this recipe was that there was all this delicious goodness in what I poured on top of the chicken, but the chicken itself was kind of tasteless.  I think, though, that this has a simple solution.  I think that if I modified the recipe to chunk the chicken instead of leaving full breasts it would allow the flavors to mingle better and be absorbed into the chicken on a deeper level.  The idea is that there will be more surface area for the flavors to penetrate, thus an overall tastier experience.

As far as ingredients go, I was good except for the Greek seasoning that the recipe called for.  I couldn’t find anything that was labeled as such, or even anything that was remotely close.  In the end, I picked up a garlic and herb seasoning mix and hoped for the best.  I think it went fine, but I’m curious how much better the final product might have been with the proper seasoning.

Will I make this again?  Yes.  If for no other reason than I want to know if it is possible to add some flavor to that chicken, which was the real letdown of this recipe.

Lavender Lemonade

I love lavender.  It’s such a fun, subtle flavor.  So the other day when I read for a recipe that called for lavender simple syrup, my life was changed.  How had I never thought of this?  Off to the kitchen!

Today I’m going to share how to make lavender simple syrup and how to mix the syrup with lemonade to get a delightful summer drink!  For this you will need:

  • Lemons
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Lavender

Lavender Lemonade

Process

Simple Syrup

  1. Measure out one cup of water, one cup of sugar, and one tablespoon of lavender.  Add all ingredients to a saucepan.
  2. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring regularly.
  3. Make sure the lavender has been well mixed in and let steep for 30 minutes.
  4. Strain out the lavender.  Your simple syrup is ready!

Lemonade

  1. Juice several lemons.  I just juiced a bag and stored the juice until I was ready for it.
  2. In a glass, mix together a ratio of one part simple syrup, one part lemon juice, and 4 parts water.  For me, I made one glass with 2 oz syrup, 2 oz juice, and 8 oz water.
  3. Stir well, otherwise the parts will layer (see picture).
  4. Add some ice (if that’s your thing) and enjoy!

This process is easy and makes for a great summertime drink!  I hope you enjoy it.  Let me know if you come up with some fun uses for your lavender syrup!

Fun Friday: Fabrics on Etsy

It’s been forever since I’ve done a Fun Friday.  Last night I was thinking about my next quilt (which is crazy because I’m still working on the top for my current quilt), and I jumped onto Etsy to look at the offerings. So today’s post is all about fabrics on Etsy!

Living in a tiny town means I don’t have access to many fabrics.  Even when I drive to “the big town,” I really only have box stores to choose from.  Sometimes those places just don’t have the color/pattern/quality you’re looking for.  Etsy to the rescue!  I used Etsy to purchase about half the fabrics I used on my brother’s quilt, and was super happy with the results.  All the fabrics came to me clean, the advertised size, and undamaged-all things I was concerned about with my first time ordering.

Here are a few of the listings I’ve been loving as I think about my next quilt.

Maker by Art Gallery Fabrics - MKR-2885- Make Embroidery Pretty

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I’m a fan of lines (which is an odd thing to say), so I enjoyed this fabric because of the color changing lines and how it looks home-made but well done.  Usually I love bold colors (which you shall soon see), but I can see this being the showcase of a more subdued quilt.

SALE! 1/2 Yard Bundle- Little Ark By Carina Gardner For Riley Blake Designs

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I love blues and greens, and this set is the perfect mix of curves and lines with that color combination.  I like the coordination of this set.  Each piece stands well on its own, but they all belong together, too.

Folk Song by Anna Maria Horner -  FQ Bundle

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I told you I love bold colors, and this set sure does scream bold!  The colors are vibrant and saturated; the patterns striking.  Something about this set makes me feel like it’s luxurious and an extravagance.

So there you go!  Three fabric sets on Etsy that I’m loving right now.  Do you buy fabric on Etsy?  I’d love to hear about what you’ve bought and what you made!

Greek Chicken and Lemon Rice

Back in my hometown there’s this restaurant that isn’t great, but was always open late, had small-budget friendly prices, and had the best lemon rice soup in town.  (To be fair, I’m not sure anyone else even sold lemon rice soup.)  It wasn’t something I always wanted, but when you wanted it, you wanted it.  I’ve never tried to make lemon rice soup, but when I saw this recipe, I had hoped it would capture a lot of the same flavors.  For this you will need:

  • Chicken thighs
  • Rice
  • Lemons
  • Spices
  • Chicken broth

Check out the full recipe here, or my pin on my Yum board.

Greek Chicken with Lemon RIce

Review

This recipe falls into the “glad I tried it” category.  It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t hard, it just wasn’t me.  The ingredients are easy to procure; the directions easy to follow.  It does take some time for everything to marinade and cook, but that just means planning ahead prior to cooking.  I felt like there was too much liquid in the recipe, so if I were to do this again I would cut that down.  It was almost like I was making lemon rice soup instead of just lemon rice.  But the flavors were bold and exactly what you expect when reading the recipe.  No false advertising here!

This recipe was a great date with someone I had zero chemistry with.  Everything went super well.  Everything tasted just fine.  There were no problems during our time together.  It just wasn’t right.  I’m sorry Greek chicken with lemon rice; it’s not you, it’s me.

Final Darbysmart Box

This one has been sitting in my to-do pile for a while now.  I just kept putting it off because I was so sad that the subscription box wasn’t what I had hoped it would be.  I was also a little bit wary of this project because it’s one my husband had tried over a year ago as a gift for me, and he wasn’t all that successful.  Finally, though, I sat down and took the time to do it (which is actually very little time at all).  Here’s my review of my final Darbysmart subscription box.

Final Darbysmart Box

Review

Materials

This box had two 1/4 inch pieces of plywood with holes drilled into the sides, a few print outs on paper, some leather cord for tying the two boards (and any interior pages) together, a foam brush, and the Modge Podge brand transfer medium.  The plywood was the same quality as what you get at the hardware store, and the picture sets were specific to Father’s Day since the craft was intended to be for that if you wished.  (You could print your own pictures for this also, but make sure to follow the directions and use the right type of printer.)

Process

The process here is pretty straightforward and easy to follow.  You trim your paper to the size of your wood piece, slather the medium all over the picture (a nice heavy coat), stick the image onto the wood (image side down, of course), smooth it out, and leave it alone.  Depending on the humidity of where you are, you should leave it for 24-48 hours.  Even though I live in a very dry place, I didn’t want to take any chances, so I waited the full 48.  Once the waiting is done, you take a wet cloth and rub of the paper backing to reveal the picture beneath.  (This is a kind of messy process.)

Problems

I’m not sure if I didn’t do a good job with the initial sticking down, or if I was rubbing too hard, but the image started rubbing off too during the final step.  Once I realized what was happening, I tried very hard to stop the spread of the destroyed image.  It mostly seemed to happen around the edges.  When positioning the image, you only get one shot at it because it sticks like crazy to the wood, so a skewed image is also a potential problem.  Mine turned out a little off kilter, but I don’t think it’s terribly obvious.

Final Product

When it was done, I was annoyed by the final product because it wasn’t something I felt I could give to someone else.  It was too messed up and there’s no way to fix that once it happens.  I’m not against the project itself, but these are the same issues my husband had back when he tried it.  If you know of a way to keep this from happening, I’d be interested to hear.  I’m willing to give this project another try, but I need to do some trouble shooting before I’d consider it.

Cinnamon Roll Smoothie

For a while, I was super into making smoothies.  I would come up with a list of five different recipes and try a different one everyday.  Then I backed way off after a string of disappointments.  Now I’m back on the smoothie train, (as noted by Monday’s post), and it’s time to try one that tastes like my favorite breakfast food:  the cinnamon roll.  For this recipe you will need:

  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Brown Sugar
  • Oats
  • Cinnamon
  • Banana

Check out the full recipe here or my pin on my Drinks on Me board.

Cinnamon Roll Smoothie

Review

Here’s the good news:  This drink was super tasty.  I enjoyed all of it.  Often times I find that banana can be overpowering in smoothies, but this one had a nice balance.  Here’s the bad news:  it didn’t taste like a cinnamon roll.  Not even close.  It maybe tasted like a cinnamon roll in the same way your perfume has “hints of gardenia” in it.  So, while I was disappointed that it didn’t actually taste like I was expecting it to, it actually was a very delicious drink and I would absolutely make it again.  Just, you know, not with the assumption it’s going to taste like one of my favorite breakfast foods.

Vanilla Mint Smoothie

I’ve mentioned before that sometimes things are super expensive out here, more so than I would expect.  Mint is one of those items.  I love mint, both in food and as a plant (even if it does sort of take over wherever it is planted).  So, I decided I needed to grow my own mint so I could have it whenever I wanted.  I put it in a planter all by itself in hopes it would spread out and take over.  Now it’s time to use it!  For this smoothie you will need:

  • Mint
  • Spinach
  • Coconut milk
  • Vanilla
  • Banana

Get the full recipe here, or check out my pin on my Drinks on Me board.

Vanilla Mint Smoothie

Review

This smoothie is made in two parts to give it a layered look, also, one part is vanilla and the other part is mint.  I tried the pour over method to get the green to settle on top of the white, but it just didn’t happen for me.  After I took the picture and my first few sips, I just mixed it all together.  The drink itself was easy enough, though it was annoying to have to mix two sets of ingredients.  I did the white part first so I wouldn’t need to clean in between blends.

Overall this recipe was just okay.  It wasn’t anything special, and you will have coconut milk left over that needs to be stored.  Not a big deal if you decide to make this again tomorrow, but something to be aware of.  I probably won’t make this recipe again (not when that thin mint smoothie exists), but I do think that it has an audience that just isn’t me.  Maybe it’s you?  I think that this recipe is perfect for someone that regularly buys chia seeds.  I didn’t put them in mine because I simply couldn’t find them and didn’t want to order them online.  If that’s you, give this one a try!

Honey Lime Tilapia

When I get sick of salmon, I’ll switch over to tilapia for a bit.  This is mostly because it’s the only other fish I can buy at my store.  In the past, I’ve made the low cholesterol fish and chips with my tilapia, but I wanted something different this time around.  Honey lime sounds like a great combo. so I was excited to give this one a try.  For this recipe you will need:

  • Tilapia
  • Honey
  • Lime juice

Get the full recipe here, or check out my pin on my Yum board.

Honey Lime Tilapia

Review

I don’t know that I’ve ever made a tilapia recipe that didn’t taste like I just added flavor on top of the fish instead of a flavor that melds with the fish.  This was no exception.  The honey lime marinate was nice, but very subtle and didn’t permeate the fish, so it wasn’t a robust flavor.  I know this happens, but every time I cook tilapia I think it’s going to be different.

I’m not sure what I could have done differently.  Maybe marinading overnight would have allowed the flavor to really get deep into the flesh of the fish.  I will probably try this again doing that just to see.  I really wanted this marinate to work, so I’m willing to try again.

June Birchbox

How was everyone’s 4th of July?  Mine was fun!  We had guests, which doesn’t happen a whole lot since we live so far from our friends and family.  I wish I could also say that my June Birchbox was a lot of fun, but this month just wasn’t great for me.  Let’s discuss why.

June Birchbox

  1. Dr. Jart+ BB Night Beauty Balm (Full size:  $38):  I’ve never used a BB cream before, though I’ve read about them, and I was excited to give this a try.  Unfortunately, when I put this on, my face turned red and stayed red for several minutes, so I decided to wash it off.  It didn’t hurt, and the redness went away when I washed my face.  I’m not sure if something in this reacted to something else I had used, or if I had a reaction to something in the product itself, but this was one and done for me.  I didn’t bother trying it again.
  2. Real Chemistry Luminous 3-Minute Peel  (Full size:  $48):  I had no idea what to expect with this product.  A peel is another thing I’ve never used before, but also something I had no real interest in trying.  I’m happy it came in my box, but I have no idea if this product does anything.  To use this peel, you apply it to a clean face, and massage it in until it starts to ball up under your fingers, then simply rinse.  It did do what it said, balling up, but I couldn’t tell a difference when I was done, so I wasn’t sure if I had basically applied rubber cement to my face and then used its gum-like qualities to help remove it.  (Obviously it wasn’t that thick or sticky, but you get the idea).  I didn’t notice any difference to my skin, even though it says you will have instantly softer, smoother, brighter skin.  Another bust for me.
  3. Supergoop Everyday SPF 50 with Cellular Response Technology  (Full size: $19-48):  I was very excited about this product.  I burn pretty easily, and I live in a place that is sunny most of the year.  A quality sunscreen is a must for me.  This was a highlight for this month’s box.  This went on light and wasn’t greasy, effectively dealing with my two biggest pet peeves about sunscreen.  I wore just this sun screen while spending around 2 hours of peak burn time outside.  I didn’t use a hat or anything else.  With how light the lotion was, I was concerned it just couldn’t hold up, but it absolutely did!  I wasn’t even pink when I got back inside.  It also says it is water resistant, but I didn’t really test that.  Will I buy this?  Probably.  But first I need to work my way through all the thick, greasy stuff I have sitting in my cabinets.
  4. Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo  (Full size:  $21):  Dry shampoo is something that sounded lovely for curly hair, but I had never heard of one that the directions didn’t direct you to brush it into your hair (a big fat NOPE for curly hair).  I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are now dry shampoos that are meant for curly hair that don’t look like there’s white powder resting on your hair and don’t require a brush to use properly.  I really enjoyed trying this out.  I can see a ton of benefits to using it, but I’m not sure that I would have a lot of use for it myself.  This is something I might have in my cabinet, but one can would last me a year or two simply because I don’t use it much.  I loved that one of the bonuses of using this shampoo was the added volume.  I’m a sucker for super big hair.
  5. Marcelle Waterproof Eyeliner (Full size:  $11):  WOW.  My sample came in blue, and holy smokes was it blue!  This eyeliner packed a bright, colorful punch.  It was super easy to put on, and lasted all day.  My concern is that I just don’t know how to wear something this bright without looking like myself in high school when I started playing with make-up.  I really liked it, I just didn’t know how to utilize it.
  6. (NOT PICTURED) L. Erickson Barrow Grab & Go Ponytail Holder (Full size:  $12):  Also this month I got a ponytail holder.  While it is not discreet since it’s kind of bulky, it makes up for that with a firm, but not overly tight grip.  My ponytail stayed put all day, even as my thick hair and gravity tried to fight it.  It also doesn’t pull my hair when I take it out.  I don’t need a discreet ponytail holder, so this was actually perfect for me.  I would totally buy this.

Overall, I walked away with zero products I want RIGHT NOW. There’s the sunscreen that I’ll most likely eventually buy, and the dry shampoo that I don’t have a lot of need for now (though I could see my life changing and that shampoo being a much larger part of my needs).  Finally there was a hair tie I loved.  That’s it.  Everything else I wasn’t super excited about (though I will take any tutorial videos on wearing that blue eyeliner).  But, again, for $10 a month, it was super fun to try out all of these items.  Even when I have a box of things I’m not in love with, I still have fun trying them all out.  Think you’d like to try Birchbox?  Here’s my referral link.

Finally, I wanted to say that Birchbox has some AMAZING customer service.  I realized last month that I didn’t get my sample choice email, so I put in a help request asking what was up.  Birchbox has kept me informed while they work on why I didn’t get it, even if their email just says “still working on it” so I don’t go too long without information.  When July’s sample choice came and still no email, they gave me a call and did my choice over the phone.  A+ customer service.

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