Archive | June 2012

Toasted Coconut S’more Cups

Heavenly & sinful at the same time!

I LOVE s’mores….I mean, L – O – V – E, LOVE s’mores! Seriously, graham crackers, chocolate & marshmallows smashed together?! How can you not love s’mores?! This is an adaptation from a recipe I found on my 2nd home, Pinterest! I love this recipe because it keeps the gooeyness in check! It is just so goooooood (yes, it needed that many “o’s”)! AND finally, I have a reason to use my “thingamabob” from Pampered Chef (I think it is officially called a tart press, but in our home we call it the thingamabob)! It’s supposed to get blazing hot by the end of the week (possibly 100 degrees F)! So I thought I better take advantage of our cool night and bake me enough Toasted Coconut S’more Cups to get me through the heat wave!

*Printable Recipe: Toasted Coconut S’More Cups

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of sweetened, shredded coconut

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (easy to find around here, Meijer carries their own brand of it)

  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar

  • 10 tablespoons butter, melted

  • 24 large marshmallows

  • Handful of chocolate chips (whatever you have on hand: mini-morsels, semi-sweet, milk chocolate)

  • 1 bag of Wilton Light Cocoa Candy Melts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. At medium heat, toast your coconut in a frying pan. Stir constantly. It seems like it takes forever but once your coconut starts to turn golden on the edges, it toasts up quickly! So watch it very closely to prevent burning your coconut!

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs and powdered sugar. Add butter and mix well until you have a mushy thick batter. Drop approximately 1.5 teaspoons of the batter into mini muffin pans. Take your thingamambob and smash down the batter to make tart shells. Bake for 5-7 minutes until batter looks dry on top. Remove from oven.

The tarts puff up so I used my thingamabob to smash it back down into a tart shell shape. Drop some chocolate chips into your baked tart shells, just a little. Sprinkle a pinch of toasted coconut on top of the chocolate chips. Cut a large marshmallow in 1/2 and place the cut side down on top of your tart filling. Follow these same steps for the remainder of the tart shells. The chocolate chips act like a glue holding the coconut and marshmallow in place. Return your muffin pans back to your over for another 3-4 minutes until the marshmallow poofs up a bit. Allow your Toasted Coconut S’more Cups to cool in the muffin pan.

While waiting for your s’mores to cool, melt your Wilton light cocoa candy melts. You will only need to use 1/2 a bag. You can melt your chocolate over a double boiler or in a microwave safe bowl at 30 second increments stirring often.

Once cooled, use a butter knife to release the tarts from the muffin pan. Dip the tops of your Toasted Coconut S’more Cups into the melted chocolate. Place on wax paper or tin foil until the chocolate sets. It’s probably best to pop one in your mouth with the melted chocolate to make sure it is cooked just right (this is my excuse because I’m too impatient to wait for the chocolate to set, lol).

This makes 48 Toasted Coconut S’more Cups. Store in an airtight container. How long can you store them? I really don’t know because they never last more than a day or two in our house!

If you love desserts with chocolate, I strongly recommend investing in a candy melter. I received my Wilton Chocolate Melter for Christmas 2 years ago from my husband. Next to my wedding and engagement rings, this is the best thing he has ever bought me! It has 3 fool-proof settings: off, melt & warm. It takes literally just a few minutes to melt an entire bag of candy melts. The warm setting is just the right temperature to keep your chocolate from seizing. The pan has a handle making it convenient to remove the pan from the base. This is nice because you are able to hold the chocolate closer to whatever you are adding it to. Super easy clean up too! Just spray out with hot water and the chocolate comes right off! My Wilton Chocolate Melter was only $20 at Walmart!

Wondering if mini marshmallows would work? Why yes they do! I ran out of the big ones and used up some mini ones I had left-over from Spencer’s popcorn cupcakes (https://craftycreativekathy.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/spencers-sesame-street-birthday-party/). Kinda gives it a Rocky Road appearance and tasted just as great!

Some Treat Giving Ideas:

  • Box up some for your neighbors at Christmas time and attach a note that says “Wish we had s’more neighbors like you!”
  • Send some to a dear friend you haven’t seen in a while and attach a note that says “Wish we were able to spend s’more time together dear friend!”
  • Place some on a plate and give it to family for the New Year with a note attached that says “We hope you have many s’more blessed new years to come!”

Some Recipe Adaptations to Try:

  • Instead of toasted coconut, add a piece of caramel cut in 1/2 between the chocolate & marshmallow.
  • Instead of toasted coconut, add a tiny dollop of peanut butter.
  • After dipping the tops in chocolate, sprinkle chopped up peanuts on top.
  • Recognize that your hubby doesn’t like coconut and your children aren’t big on s’mores (curse them) and make this treat every week just for yourself for the past 5 weeks straight. Oh wait, that was my own evil plan, LOL.

Got to give credit where credit is due, the recipe I changed up into my own recipe came from: http://texascottage.blogspot.ca/2011/08/smore-cups.html. She had found the original recipe on the Pampered Chef website.

Let me know what variations you come up with and what other great gift giving ideas you have!

Balsamic Mozzarella Bruschetta

What makes our Balsamic Mozzarella Bruschetta so fantastic is the flavor combination and the gooey fresh mozzarella cheese! This is a family favorite!

*Printable Recipe: Balsamic Mozzarella Bruschetta

Ingredients:

  • Small dollop of Spiceworld Premium Minced Squeeze Garlic *

  • 2 tsp virgin olive oil

  • French baguette bread cut into diagonal 1/4” thick slices

  • 2 tsp virgin olive oil

  • 1.5 tsp Tastefully Simple Balsamic and Basil Dipping Oil** OR 1 tsp of Balsamic Glaze

  • ¼ tsp salt (or to taste)

  • ¼ tsp pepper (or to taste)

  • ¼ tsp Italian seasoning (or to taste)

  • ¼ tsp of onion powder (or to taste) or 1/2 of a small onion diced

  • Dollop of Spiceworld Premium Minced Squeeze Garlic

  • 1 large, ripe tomato or two small tomatoes cut up into very small chunks (omit as many seeds as possible)

  • Fresh mozzarella cut into 1 x 1″ square that is about a ¼” thick

Directions:

Mix the small dollop of Spiceworld Squeeze Garlic with virgin olive oil in a tiny bowl. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush oil-garlic mix onto bread slices. Put bread slices oil-side down on a cookie sheet. Crisp bread for about 5-6 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Remove from oven and flip bread over.

Place one slice of mozzarella on each slice of bread on the oil-side. Mix remainder of ingredients together in a bowl adding the tomatoes last. Gently toss the tomatoes in the seasoned oil. Spoon the tomato mix on top of mozzarella. Lightly drizzle balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze over bread slices. Bake at same temp for another 5-8 minutes until cheese is melted. Serve immediately out of the oven.

*Spiceworld Squeeze Garlic is garlic that is already minced in a squeeze bottle. A regular garlic clove could be used instead of dollops of squeeze garlic: Mince garlic clove, use 1/3 of minced garlic with butter to brush onto bread slices and use the remainder 2/3 of minced garlic in the seasoned oil.

**We have use Tastefully Simple brand Balsamic and Basil Dipping Oil. When we ran out of that, we found that Balsamic Glaze was just as yummy!

We’ve found that making the tomato mix beforehand and letting it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours also helped bring out all the flavors!

Photo Magnets – Soooo Easy & Soooo Cute!

I made these magnets for both my nephews who graduated this year from high school to give to guests who attended their graduation party. The photos were from their senior pics (be sure to get approval from the photographer if it is copy-righted). They were a huge success at both graduation parties! This was Pinterest inspired and I used the following link as a guide: http://www.elizabethannedesigns.com/living/2010/01/19/easy-diy-marble-magnets/

This post is lengthy, sorry! It’s the nurse in me! I tend to be very detailed when I give directions, lol. Anyhow, most websites that have this magnet craft on it omits the fine details that you learn the hard way after spending time & money on this project! So I thought I would share some tricks/hints I learned from making 300 of these cute magnets and spare you the grief of learning all of it the hard way:

  • Do yourself a favor and purchase a 3/4″ round punch stamp! After about 5 times of trying to cut out a perfect 3/4″ circle you will understand why the punch stamp is a must! I got mine at Michael’s for $7.99. You can find one at any craft store in their scrapbooking section.

  • I couldn’t find the exact glue suggested in the link above and found two different glues that worked fine. Just be sure that it clearly states on the package it is intended for use on glass and will dry clear. I bought my first tube from Flower Factory for $2.99 and the 2nd tube from Michael’s for $3.99.

  • Both Michael’s & Hobby Lobby sell the 3/4″ heavy-duty round magnets in packages of 50 for $6.99. If you are not fortunate enough to have either a Michael’s or Hobby Lobby near you…first off, I’m soooo sorry for you! Secondly, you can go to their websites and order them online 🙂 You will want the heavy duty magnets, the thin sheets of magnets will not hold the weight of the glass rock.

  • I picked the 5 best senior pics (well, the ones I liked the most) and used a photo editing software to crop them into a perfect square around their head. Choose as many different pics or use the same pic! It’s totally up to you 🙂

  • I wanted my magnets to be super glossy so I sent the rows of 3/4″ squares to Walgreens.com to print on an 8×10. I was able to get 130 3/4″ squares on one sheet! The cost was $2.99 but Walgreens always has photo specials! They often have one day only sales in which 8×10 prints are FREE! I can’t really say if pics printed from your home printer (whether laser or jet) would work? Not sure if when you apply the glue if the colors would run? They didn’t run a lick on my pics printed on photo paper by Walgreens 🙂

  • Your pics are square but all you need to do is center your 3/4″ round punch stamp over the picture and “punch” out perfect circles! After cutting about 30 pics out with your punch stamp, you will find that the edges aren’t as crisp. This is because the blade is becoming dull. Oh what to do?! What to do?! Well, don’t fret! This is an easy fix! Take a piece of tin foil from your kitchen and fold it in 1/2. Punch out several pieces of tin foil. The tin foil acts as a blade sharpener and your punch will begin to cut with crisp edges again! So don’t throw out dull punch stamps!

  • I am lucky in that when we invested in TV trays, we really only could afford the cheap, ugly metal ones and not the nice wood ones that have the wood block tops. We aren’t ones to get rid of something just because it is cheesy or out-dated if it remains functional for us. So we still have our ugly metal TV trays and use them daily for everything! They were perfect for this project! I was able to make the magnets and stick them to the tray immediately. This way the magnets would stay put on a flat surface until the glue was dry! You don’t want to hang your magnets on a fridge or any upright metal item, the glass will slip down on the magnet before the glue totally sets!

  • I bought the glass beads/aquarium rocks/flower arrangement glass rocks, whatever you want to call them from Flower Factory. There was approximately 200 glass rocks in one bag and it cost less than $3.00! Be sure to check and make sure the glass beads you purchase are approximately 3/4″ in diameter. There are ones that are smaller or bigger. You also want to make sure that one side is flat so that it will adhere to the picture/magnet.

  • Polish your rocks! The rocks are cut glass and fine dust settles on the surface. This will interfere with the glue! I just took a dry dishcloth and made my 15-year-old polish each rock…oh how happy he was to help out (not!)!

  • In hindsight, the more background, the better! What I mean is that if you size your initial square crop too close to a person’s head, it will look like a big bubble head once the magnet is made! This is what happened when I made photo magnets of our son, Spencer, for his birthday party! Good thing he is cute as a button since they all turned into big bubble heads! LOL

  • Don’t be afraid of the rough flat bottom of your glass rock! Amazingly, when you add glue and press down the glass onto the magnet, the glue gets into all those grooves and the magnets become crystal clear with no ridges! Having said that, those ridges also allow for air so be sure to push down hard for about a minute on each one allowing the glue to set up. Glass glue is not “instant drying” glue. You can expect that it will take truly 24 hours to totally harden so don’t rush it or the glass will move off-center in the end!

  • The reality is that the glass stones are not perfectly 3/4″ and sometimes the pics hang over the edge of the glass (they don’t hang over the magnets because they are exactly 3/4″ in size). Look closely at the pic above and you will see the edges on some magnets appear to be “hanging” out of the glass. I personally believe that imperfections always add to the charm of anything hand-made. It reminds the recipient that it was not machine-made and all items made by hand are made with lots of love 🙂

  • Have fun with this! For one nephew, we used a metal document holder that always was on our desk. We printed his little “thank you” note onto the center of a yellow piece of paper (one of his school colors) and used the magnets to hold the paper to the metal document holder. This created a stand for the magnets and they were placed on the gift/envelope table so that folks dropping off grad goodies were able to get something in return! For our other nephew, we printed another “thank you” message in red on white paper (his school colors were red and white) and put the paper down on a cookie sheet. We then used the magnets to hold the “thank you” note in place. The cookie sheet laid flat on his gift/envelope table for guests to take!

This was really simple to make! AND cheap! How often can you make 100 personal “thank you” gifts for under $18.00?! For those who suck at math like me, that is 0.18 cents a gift! $18 includes the cost of professional printing your pics, the glass rocks, the glue, the magnets and the 3/4″ round punch stamp! So the next time you make magnets, it will be even cheaper because you won’t have to buy a new 3/4″ round punch stamp! Folks at both graduation parties just couldn’t stop talking about how cute the magnets were 🙂

I am really looking forward to making some Christmas magnets to give as gifts! Pick your favorite Christmas sayings, photos and/or clipart! You can then pick a Christmas print cardstock paper (found in your scrapbooking section at any craft store) and cut out a rectangular-sized paper. To get your magnets to stay where you want, place the magnet on the front of your cardstock and use a metal washer behind the cardstock to “lock” the magnet in place! Oh, oh, oh…even better! Cut out a Christmas tree shape and the magnets can be “ornaments” on the tree! I think a set of 6 magnets would be a perfect gift to give! Who doesn’t have magnets all over their fridge?!

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Now you can personalize your OWN set of magnets! What ideas do you have for these photo magnets?? Need ideas on how to package your glass magnets? Check this post out: Packaging Glass Magnets.

Rolo Pretzel Turtles

Chocolate, caramel, pretzel & pecan…of course this is a match made in Heaven!

Got to give a shout out to my dear friend, Cindy Austin, who originally gave me this super EASY & YUMMY Rolo Pretzel Turtles recipe!

*Printable Recipe: Rolo Pretzel Turtles

Ingredients:

  • Roll of Rolos (amount depends on how many you want to make)

  • Bag of Square Waffle Pretzels (see pic)

  • Bag of Pecans

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper (a must if your caramel oozes out like mine did).

Place the pretzel down first, top with a Rolo. These do not spread out far so you can put quite a few on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 5 minutes until Rolo looks “melty”. Remove from oven and smash a pecan down on top of the Rolo. Be careful the caramel and chocolate will be hot. Let cool for a few minutes. Serve immediately.

We used 3 Rolls of Rolo for one batch for a family of 4 and they were all gone within minutes!

This is a great fix for a late night sweets craving!

Spencer’s Sesame Street Birthday Party

Our baby boy, Spencer, turned 3! To celebrate, we rented out a shelter at our local park and had a Sesame Street bash! All the decorations were hand-made. So were the cupcakes & his own special smash cake! This was a very inexpensive themed birthday party! Total cost for 50 goodie bags, 48 cupcakes, 1 smash cake & decorations = approximately $70!

Spencer’s goodie bags turned out fantastic! It was filled with his favorite things: Smarties & crayons. We also included 2 photo magnets of Spencer that we made ourselves. Here’s a great link to how to make these fairly inexpensive magnets: How to Make Magnets. Tip #1: buy a 3/4″ circle punch cutter or you will hate yourself after about 5 picture cutouts! For more tips, check out my post about photo magnets found HERE. Thinking about other ways to package your DIY glass magnets? Check out this post HERE.

To make the goodie bags, I purchased treat bags used for lollipops or suckers (100 count for under $3 at Michael’s). I then made the label using Microsoft Publisher & Microsoft Word and printed it on white cardstock. The size is a standard business card. I created a “tent-fold” so that one side of the goodie bag had the “Thank You” message and the other side had one of my favorite pictures of Spencer on it. I filled the treat bags with 2 magnets, 2 Smarties & 2 crayons. I folded down the treat bags about 1/4″ and then stapled the folded business cards over the bag. All in all, the total cost for 50 goodie bags was around $20.00 (the majority going into the cost of making the magnets)!

A Sesame Street Party is not complete without the “Spencer Street” sign! This was made out of a paper towel cardboard roll, a yellow balloon & a terra cotta pot. Using the computer, I created the “Spencer Street” sign. I laminated the sign to make it more sturdy & also to create an edge to slip into a slit I cut into the carboard role. I just duct-taped the excess laminate to the inside of the cardboard roll! I blew up the yellow balloon (water balloon size) and tied a string to it. I dropped the string down the cardboard roll and pulled it just tight enough so that the balloon was snug against the top of the roll. I then duct-taped the string on the inside at the opposite end of the cardboard roll. I turned over a terra-cotta pot and duct taped the cardboard roll to the pot. I applied several layers of duct tape to ensure the cardboard roll (which is very lightweight) was securely attached to the pot. I took another piece of green cardboard stock and wrapped it around the cardboard roll to hide the duct-tape-work-of-art at the base of the cardboard roll. The cardstock was secured to the cardboard roll by using plain ol’ transparent tape (seam of course was on the back side of the sign post). Next I covered the base with this reflective tape. I don’t know really what it is, lol. Something the hubby got at the home improvement store. It was a bright & shiny silver tape. Silver duct tape would work just as good too! Spencer’s street sign was super easy and it turned out to be a fantastic table centerpiece for the goodie bag table! Total cost: 69 cents for a terra-cotta pot at Walmart, I had the rest of the supplies on hand.

Sesame Street characters are a must for his party! I made tissue balls and applied character faces to it! Really easy to make! I’ve seen online where folks are charging like $10 for each character tissue ball, that is crazy! I made all 8 of these (2 of each one) for less than $6.00!!! I used solid color cardstock to cut out the characters’ faces from. I used all-purpose craft glue to adhere it right onto the tissue balls. The 8 character tissue balls hung from the rafters of the shelter house between balloons…it was really perfect 🙂 Here is a great link on how to make the tissue balls (you will be smacking yourself having not done this before for a party): How to make Tissue Balls.

I made 10 table centerpieces using some supplies I already had on hand! I printed 2 pics of each Sesame Street character (the 2nd pic was a “mirror image” so that the centerpieces were double-sided). I found some old construction paper and glued the characters down to each side. I then glued the characters to a dowel rod that was stuck into a styrofoam cube. I glued down tiny squares of green tissue paper (the old “wrap tissue around eraser end of pencil, dip it in school glue and press the pencil down onto the foam trick”). I adorned each character with some leftover ribbon I had for other projects I had done. These were way cute and now that his party is over, we removed the dowel rods from the terra-cotta pots (oh, which were only 59 cents at Michael’s) and Spencer uses his character pieces as puppets! Total cost for 10 table centerpieces $6.90 (59 cents per pot & $1 for green tissue paper at Hobby Lobby), the rest of the supplies, I had on hand. I’ve had a lot of hits for Sesame Street decorations on my blog. I thought I would add Microsoft Word documents that contains the photos used for the centerpieces. All you have to do is cut out the front and back and put it on construction paper.

Here it is (click on the name and the file should download to your computer): Ernie, Big Bird, Count, Elmo, Oscar, Cookie Monster, Snuffalugasus, Bert & Super Grover.

We provided several character-themed snacks for the party guests! This was a tray of “Grover’s Grapillars”!  I skewered 5 green grapes sideways and applied melted chocolate eyes (dipped the blunt end of a skewer into the chocolate and daubed the eyes onto the grape). I also purchased 240 small condiment cups at GFS for less than $4. In front of each of the snacks, I had printed a picture of the Sesame Character on a sign saying what the snack was:

  • Small cups filled with sunflower seeds for “Big Bird’s Seeds”
  • Small cups filled with pretzel sticks for “Count’s Sticks”
  • Small cups filled with cookies for “Cookie Monster’s Cookies”
  • Small cups filled with gummi worms for “Oscar’s Worms”
  • Small cups filled with goldfish crackers for “Elmo’s Goldie Fish”

Here are printable signs that you can put in front of the treats. There are two signs per Word document. You can fold to create a tent-fold and also a fold across the bottom (so if looking from the side, you created a tall triangle) making it easy to stand up and tape to your table. Serving Signs 1, Serving Signs 2 & Serving Signs 3.

Wish the picture turned out better! The Popcorn Cupcakes were a huge hit! It’s not really popcorn but mini-marshmallows cut up to look like popcorn!

It was really simple to make these Popcorn Cupcakes! First you have to make the sleeves. I printed the word “POPCORN” inside of an oval onto address labels. This part was kinda crappy…I hand cut all the ovals out. Then stick the Popcorn label onto each sleeve. With transparent tape, tape together the sleeve just tight enough that a cupcake sits in it without falling through. I strongly suggest cutting the marshmallows up in advance! For 48 cupcakes, it took almost 3 bags of mini-marshmallows. Many websites say to cut your marshmallows all the way through and smash them back together into random shapes. Turns out if you use FRESH mini-marshmallows and cut a “+” sign into one of the flat sides of the marshmallow (cutting halfway through; NOT all the way through), the four pieces will poof out and it will look like popcorn! I made normal size cupcakes and it took approximately 35 cut-up marshmallows for each cupcake. The white icing is a great filler for the gaps between the marshmallows. To create the buttered look, I added yellow food coloring to a small amount of water. With a pastry brush, I lightly brushed the yellow water over the marshmallows (don’t soak them, just dab on a very small amount of colored water). Everyone loved the cupcakes! Total cost: approximately $14 for 48 cupcakes (22 cents per sheet of scrapbook paper x 10 ~ 1/2 off at Hobby Lobby, $1.50 for each box of cake mix x 2 & for each tub of frosting x 2 & $1 a bag x 3 for generic mini-marshmallows). I had blank address labels and food coloring on hand already.

Spencer had his own special Elmo cake to smash up himself! This was super easy too (because if you haven’t figured it out, that’s how I roll). I baked 3 round cakes (again, Pillsbury Confetti) and layered the cakes. I smacked on a thick layer of white icing. With a flat spatula, I gently smacked the cake all over creating spikes in the frosting (to represent Elmo’s fur). It probably would make more sense to tint the icing with red food coloring gel but it takes just way too long to blend it all together. It just seems like you have to stir and stir and stir and stir and stir for hours to fully blend in food coloring. My lazy self was very happy to find they have this food color spray paint out now! 1 can of the red stuff was more than enough to coat the cake in red (found at Michael’s in the baking section)! I reserved some of the white icing to make two mounds of white frosting for his eyeballs. I also reserved a mound of icing for his nose which I reluctantly tinted with food color gel to make the orange (I really hate tinting frosting, can you tell?). Michael’s also has this too cool fondant thing going on! One large sheet of black fondant that is thinly rolled (less than $5) was what I used to cut out a 1/2 circle for his mouth, the 2 tiny circles for his pupils and the straight trim at the bottom of the cake. Hint: I used the 3/4″ circle paper-cutter to punch out the pupil circles! The first picture was taken shortly after applying the black fondant. After a few hours, the moisture in the icing softened the black giving it a more “icing” texture and less of a flat-black-I-stuck-a-piece-of-construction-paper-on-a-cake-look (as you can see on the next two cake photos). Spencer loved his special cake! Total cost for the cake: approximately $15 ($1.50 for each cake mix x 2, $1.50 for each tub of frosting x 2, $4 for red food coloring spray paint & $5 for one sheet of black fondant).

We also wore our family Captain America tie-dye shirts to Spencer’s party! How we tie-dyed the shirts is for another day! Spencer’s Sesame Street Bash was a HUGE success!

Steve’s Grippos Fried Chicken

If you haven’t had Grippos BBQ Chips yet then you have not lived life to its fullest! Grippos are these amazing potato chips that are heavily (I mean heavily) coated in a sweet, tangy and packed with heat mix of spices! This isn’t a light dusting of tease you into wishing for more flavor…it is a “you’ve-been-punched-in-the-face-and-you-better-have-a-gallon-of-water-next-to-you” flavor packed chip!

They are simply addicting!

While the hubby, Steve, was licking his covered with Grippos’ dust fingers, it hit him! Grippos need crushed up and used as breading for fried chicken! When the hubby comes up with a recipe…everybody stand back because he may be a “rough-n-tough-Harley-riding-I-am-all-man” kind of guy but he is secretly a culinary super hero (with a cape and all)! There are tons of potato chip fried chicken recipes floating around in cyberspace but Grippos take it to a whole other level you won’t ever want to come back from!

So off to the kitchen he went and created the most amazing, tender & heavily flavored fried chicken strips! Just like the chips, you were hit with flavor and after swallowing down on a little piece of heaven…the heat would come back to give you a little kick to remind you that you are still eating Grippos BBQ Chips!

Booyah! I hit the motherload when it comes to AWESOME hubbies! Steve has no enemies and you don’t just “like” Steve when you meet him…you love him and secretly wish he had a brother you could marry since he is already taken! He does have a baby sister though…

Here’s the recipe in a nutshell…all in one pic! How much of each ingredient is up to you! Hope you enjoy Steve’s Grippos Fried Chicken recipe!

Our UPcycled Handicap-accessible Pallet Garden

I love planting but my PH makes it very hard to get up and down…gardening is harder than you ever think it can be when you are physically challenged. I’ve learned with my PH to accept that there are just somethings I just won’t be able to do and every year as the disease progresses, there are more things to add to this dreaded list. I added gardening to this list a few years back.

But don’t despair!

I am blessed with an amazing husband who finds creative ways to ensure I still continue to live life to the fullest! Our weekend warrior project was an UPcycled Handicap-accessible Pallet Garden. We used different ideas from various sources and came up with our own version of a pallet garden!

Total cost  was approximately $30.00 ($16.00 of which was for the plants)!

So this is how we did it:

The hubby, Steve, brought home 2 reclaimed pallets. I found poster paint left over from a prior craft project with our youngest son, Spencer, in my craft supplies. Using a cheap foam brush, I painted what plants each row would have.

Next, Steve flipped over the pallet (after the paint was dry) and began to attach fabric-weed-preventer-black-cover-thingy…ok, so I don’t know exactly what this stuff is called, lol. Normally it is put on top of a garden to prevent weeds from popping up. The fabric-weed-preventer-black-cover-thingy was used to cover the holes and sides up on the pallet so that the dirt doesn’t fall out. The really great thing was that it was fabric so this allows for water drainage. Steve tacked down the fabric in various spots on the back of the pallet. Then he flipped the pallet over.

You can see that Steve and our oldest son, Stevie, folded over the edges and attached it to the wood frame of the pallet (going all the way up the sides).  Yep, we just named our oldest after his daddy…now that he is a teenager, it really sucks calling “Steve” out in the house because both of them answer…actually it isn’t that bad now is it? I would suggest using a staple gun to attach the fabric but the hubby had some old nails he wanted to recycle into the project so our fabric-weed-preventer-black-cover-thingy was tacked onto the wood with good ol’ hammer & nails.

The last 2 open slotted areas will be the 2 rows of tomatoes we will plant. Because tomato plants get tall and heavy, the hubby is attaching a twine support system. In the second to last slate, Steve drilled .25″ holes approximately every 4-5 inches…perfection is not necessary for this project. He drilled the holes all the way across.

Yes, the picture is dark because, well…we got caught up watching Cougar Town on our DVR and lost track of time, lol. Steve took a piece of wood that was 2×3″ and 8′ long. Is it really 2×3″? I don’t know and I don’t think anyone at any hardware store does either, lol. Whenever wood says it is 1×4 or 2×4….actually measure it…you will find it is not the size it says. I really don’t get that? Anyways, he took the wood and cut approximately a 4′ section (he eye-balled it) and then took the remainder 4′ section and cut it in half. He then laid the 4′ piece of wood on the edge of the pallet slate that was drilled with holes. He then marked where he needed to drill the holes on the 4′ wood piece to match. So out comes the power drill and he drills again. I think all men love their power tools, don’t you? After the holes were drilled, he nailed the 4′ piece of wood on top of the 2′ pieces of wood creating an upside down “U”. Next, he hammered the 2′ wood pieces to the side of the pallet so that the holes in the slate were directly below the holes in the 4′ piece of wood. Tying 4 knots to anchor the nylon twine, Steve began stringing the twine through the bottom, through the top, over the top, down the top, down through the bottom, across the bottom, up the bottom…repeat, repeat, repeat several times over until the end is reached. In hindsight, the knot should have been on top because the last hole ended up being on the bottom. It was impossible to tie a knot underneath since the sides were already covered with weed fabric and you couldn’t get your hands in their to tie it taut. You can see in the following pictures how we resolved this issue in our own tacky way.

Steve found a perfect spot for my garden and then used cement blocks to elevate the garden for me. My PH makes it hard for me to bend over, get down and get up…yep, PH sucks. Anyways, he then used another recycled pallet on top of the cement blocks to further elevate my garden. Since we used a fairly thin fabric-weed-preventer-black-cover-thingy, Steve wanted to give it more support to prevent the 240lbs of dirt from falling through. Last year our awning on our pop-up tent went kaput so Steve poked holes in it and laid it between the two pallets. Slowly he added 6 – 40lb bags of cheap ol’ soil into the slate openings shoving the dirt into all the corners. Oh no! All my pretty artwork is covered in dirt! After throwing a fit that would rival our 2 year old’s tantrums, Steve assured me my immaculate letters would not be harmed by all the dirt. After 17 years, I guess I have to trust him…

Now came the fun part! We planted, okay, Steve planted (& I directed) the veggies into their designated rows. After all the veggies were planted, Steve filled in any shallow areas with more dirt.

Then it was time to give those plants their much wanted water while also spray-cleaning the dirt off of the slates!

In this pic you can see the cement blocks and patio pieces used to elevate my garden up approximately 2 feet from the ground! Nope not necessarily pretty…but I wasn’t trying to get published in Landscape Digest. Practicality was the key. Raising it up a couple feet makes it possible for me to garden. What a difference this makes for someone with PH! Two feet may not seem like much but let’s all remember I’m just over 5′ tall, lol (Ok, 5’2″…ok, ok, ok, 5 feet & 1-1/2 inches…so it’s way ok I round up to 5’2″)!

So our Upcycled, Handicap-accessible Garden is complete & I LOVE IT! I’ll be sure to post a pic when the plants start growing in and veggies begin to appear! At the end of summer, we will cut the front fabric and dump the soil into our wheelbarrow. We can reuse the soil next year in another pallet garden. The pallet wood will then be broken up for a good ol’ campfire. Isn’t recycling just grand?! Hope you enjoyed our weekend warrior project!