Sunday, June 26, 2011

Easy and Fun Planting: Green Onions

I had no idea how easy it is to plant green onions, so I'm guessing many of you reading didn't know either. I needed green onions for a recipe this week so I bought some (99 cents a bunch), but then what do you do with the white, rooty ends of the onions? Throw them away? WRONG! You can plant them and they'll grow more green onions. Pretty sweet, huh? I had no idea, I saw this idea on a blog somewhere and decided it was worth a try. I cut each green onion a couple inches above the white part and planted it by burying the white part of the onion. Most have new shoots growing already (the photo above was taken a couple days after planting) and all of the previous shoots have grown significantly. Now you know ..

And if you must have all things green onion, bacon, chicken and cream cheese, then for the love of all things wonderful and delicious, try this recipe. You won't regret it.

My version of Kayotic Kitchen's Katucky Chicken

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Backyard Update

I'm going to tell you right now that this is not going to be a pretty post. It ends in pretty but everything else is really, really dirty. And it's a lot of photos, so if you're a picture person, you're in luck. Over the last month, hubby and I (but let's be honest, mostly I) have been working on our yard to get it exactly the way I want it. I guess since I want it a certain way, I'm the one who has to do most of the work, and that's okay with me. Take a look at the pictures to see how far we've come. First I wanted to show you how I dug out a garden bed on a Saturday afternoon. I was sooo tempted to make raised beds, but I really wanted to see what I have to work with first, before I started building up. If this year isn't as successful, raised beds will come next year.
Remember this? Ew. My plan was to make this into a vegetable garden, but it wasn't nearly as big as I wanted. So I decided to cut out a second area.

This is the second part of the garden laid out with string. I wanted there to be a path between the two so I could walk between. The path opens up on the right side to the house.
I staked it out using leftover wood from my trellis tutorial.
My neighbors don't go out much..
I felt it was significant to document how long it took me to do this. This is one hour in.
Two hours in (I promised myself I wouldn't cheat and get that little piece of sod out before taking the two hour picture)
After mixing bags and bags of manure, peat, and top soil into the clay soil.
This is what it looks like today. I planted the new bed a few weeks ago. We cleared out the jelly bean (the other bed) of the lilies, daisies and yuccas and I just fenced it and planted it two days ago.
That's it! Everything seems to be doing really well, but I still might make some raised beds by using stone for next year.
We relocated the jelly bean plants to next to the carport. They actually survived and are all going to flower this year!
Tornado warnings - it's why you tie down your trellis
I'll finish up this post with one of my favorite photos of the year. These are the roses that are next to our house. It was a great surprise to see what they would look like.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Stuffed Strawberries

These strawberries are the best, and the perfect part about them is you don't need to stick to a recipe (I'll still give you mine, though!). You can make them with just the cream cheese filling or add a chocolate filling too, like I just did for the first time. It's completely up to you. And I won't judge if you eat the leftover filling right out of the bag, it's too good to waste!

Here's what you need, plus two plastic bags to pipe the filling into the strawberries and a teensy bit of milk.
Wash the strawberries and take a knife to the center, cutting out the stems and a little of the insides (be careful!)
Mix together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, strawberry dip, and vanilla. In a separate bowl (not pictured), mix together the chocolate chips and butter. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between intervals until melted and blended. Add a splash of milk and mix well.
Fill a small baggie with the cream cheese mixture. Close the top of the bag, cut a corner of the bag off and squeeze onto one side of the inside of the strawberry as shown below.
Next, spoon chocolate mixture into a separate bag, close the top and cut a corner off.
Squeeze chocolate mixture on top of the cream cheese mixture to fill the rest of the strawberry.
That's it! Soo easy and definitely worth the little time it takes to make these. Here's the full recipe:

Stuffed Strawberries
2 quarts strawberries
1-8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup strawberry dip (you could also try cool whip or yogurt for this)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp milk

1. Wash and hollow out the strawberries. Lay them on their sides to fill.
2. Mix together cream cheese, strawberry dip (or substitute), sugar and vanilla until well blended. Spoon into a plastic bag, seal the bag, then cut a corner off of the bag. Pipe the cream cheese mixture into half of the strawberries.
3. Place chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe dish. Heat in 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval, until melted. Mix in the milk until well blended.
4. Spoon chocolate mixture into a plastic bag, seal the bag and cut a corner off. Pipe the chocolate into the top half of the strawberry.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

DIY - Folding Trellis

I'm sorry .. I promised you a trellis tutorial last week and didn't follow through on it! I ran into so many problems with it, so I kept leaving and coming back to it. Finally it's perfect! Trial and error is the best way to describe it.  I've been keeping busy with other projects (you'll see those soon, too). I've finally gotten around to playing with Camera Raw to edit the photos; it's a sub-application of Photoshop. Camera Raw makes it super easy to make a great difference in the quality of your photos, here's a simple tutorial courtesy of Etsy if you're interested in finding out more. On with the tutorial!

I saw a folding trellis similar to this one at Lowe's for around $20. I am a thrifty person, and didn't want to pay that much for some wood and staples, so I decided to make it myself. Each folding ended up costing around $9.50 for wood and hinges (I borrowed the staple gun and staples). Half price .. not bad! Update: If you cannot find these slats at Lowe's, call around to or check at other home improvement stores with lumber sections (Home Depot, Menard's, etc.). I had a reader comment that she wasn't able to find these at her local Lowe's. 

Here's what you need: a bundle of wooden slats (these are from Lowe's and cost around $13 for fifty, you can make two folding and one single trellis out of this bundle), a pack of rust-resistant hinges (mine are zinc coated) or 4"x8" of heavy duty plastic (see hinge photo below), a staple gun with 1/2" staples, and some type of staple remover for mistakes (scissors, flat head screw driver, etc.). EDIT 3/22/13: You also will want some wood glue.

Make a square with four slats by placing two slats parallel on the ground, then two more on top of them. Glue then staple to secure. I would recommend at least two staples per joint.

Evenly space three slats parallel to your first two slats. Glue and staple in place.

See how the parallel slats all go under the slat they're perpendicular to?

Overlay three evenly spaced slats so they cross over the previous. Glue and staple in place, and glue and staple at each of the center joints. Let the wood glue dry per bottle instructions.

Repeat to make another trellis.

Screw in hinges at the corners of the trellises to join them together. Make sure you screw the hinge on so it will close fully when the trellis is folded. Double check! The hinge will only close completely one way. If you're brave, you can experiment with using a heavy duty plastic in the place of a hinge (think of those annoying packages that can't be opened without scissors). The folding trellis at Lowe's used a heavy duty plastic for a hinge .. in this case, you could staple on the plastic like it's shown below:

Taadaa! What a cute trellis. Here are some tips for keeping it standing up: 1. Make sure the trellis base is spread apart so it'll have a wider base and less chance of blowing over in the wind 2. Dig a trench and bury the bottom slats 3. Cut slats into four-8" pieces to use as stakes and attach to the bottom with zip ties 4. Secure the trellis to a tree or fence using twine or string