Thursday, July 24, 2014

Toasted Coconut and Strawberry Chicken Salad

Salad, like spaghetti, is awesome for several reasons: 1.) It tastes good.  2.) You can make it different each time and it still tastes great.  3.)  It's easy to customize to your own personal tastes.  4.) Quick and easy meal.

This is one of our favorite meals to eat when it's hot outside.  It's so good that my kiddo will gobble it right up and ask for seconds, and my meat-eating man doesn't complain that it's and salad-like.

This is also one of the easiest meals ever.  You can prep ahead of time so that all you have left to do is cook the chicken and make your salad.

Step 1: Toast some almonds.
I used a 4 oz bag of sliced almonds.  Spread them on a cookie sheet.  Set the oven to broil and place the sheet of almonds on the rack in the middle of the oven.  Don't walk away because your almonds can go from toasted to burnt in a matter of seconds.  You may also want a long wooden spoon you can use to stir the almonds to help them toast more evenly.

Pull your almonds out at your desired toastiness.  I think for my oven this only took about 4 minutes.

Step Two: Toast some coconut flake.
I used a 7 oz bag for this and did it the exact same way as the almonds.  You will definitely want to stir the coconut because it will burn fast and toast really unevenly if you don't.

Pull your coconut out of the oven when you're ready.  Do be aware that this toasts up much quicker than the almonds.  If you can help it, don't leave the kitchen.  And stir, stir, stir.  If some bits do get more toasty than you would like, just pick them out.

Step Three: Slice some strawberries.
To feed 4 people, I usually slice up 1 quart.  But if you really love strawberries like we do, feel free to slice up even more.  

Step Four: Cut up your lettuce.
Unless you bought bagged, which is totally OK if you do.  My favorite to use is organic baby spinach, but this week I bought romaine to save a little money.  If you do have to cut your own lettuce, give it a really good wash and let it drain well before serving.  When I don't use the organic baby spinach, I try to cut up 1-2 heads of romaine.

Step Five: Cook some chicken.
However much you want.  Whichever method you prefer.  For 4 people, I would cook at least 3 breasts.  My favorite method is to grill the chicken, but if I'm out of charcoal or energy, then I might slice it up thin and give it a quick pan saute with some herbs or just salt and pepper.

Step Six:  Throw it together and enjoy!
You can toss it all together ahead of time or let each person make their own individual salad.  

Now, if you're wondering about the dressing...this is the dressing of choice.  In fact, this dressing is the reason that I made this salad.  I mean, don't get me wrong, the salad is delicious...but, it's still kind of an excuse to use this dressing.

I haven't played around with trying to imitate this dressing and honestly I don't plan to.  It's $3.12 at Wal-Mart.  And it's so good and perfect that I'm happy with buying it.

So that's it.  This makes a perfect weeknight meal or maybe a Sunday afternoon meal when you don't feel like putting forth too much effort.  It tastes as delicious as it sounds and as wonderful as it looks.  Play around with it, customize it however, and make it your own.  

I don't usually cook by recipes, so measurements here are just approximations.

Yes, it tastes as good as it looks.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Rugs #8 and #9 Complete!

I'm on a rug making spree this past week, mostly because I need to get several made up to put in a store to sell.  I just finished rugs #8 and #9 and feeling awfully proud of myself.   I seem to have the hardest time getting a rug project started - I think because it can be so time consuming.

Before you can even pick up your jumbo hook you have to find sheets that will work for your project.  100% cotton is the best, but a lot of sheets have a cotton/polyester blend which I find to be too thin and stringy.  And then once you've found a set of sheets that will work, you have to tediously rip it into "yarn" and then wind it up into a ball.  That part alone can easily take 1-2 hours.

But once I get started and make it past the first few rounds I am always pleasantly surprised.  It's a very easy project worked with a jumbo hook.  You crochet in the round using single crochet only and you just increase as needed.  Usually each rug will follow a slightly different pattern.

I like to put a crab stitch as the border, as you can see in the photo above, but sometimes I run out before I can do that.

Overall each rug can take anywhere from 5 hours and up.  Not too bad, I guess.   I have 4 in my house that are getting used and after a year they've held up thus far.  

I really love seeing the way that different patterns will translate into a finished rug.  I really enjoy the look on people's faces when they pick one up to take a look at it, and perhaps purchase it to put into their home.  That's really the most satisfying part of all - the end result.

Video Review: Coconut Milk Soap Scented with Coconut & Lemongrass Fragrance

I've been wanting to make some videos for a while now, but I don't have any video recording equipment whatsoever.  Except for my cell phone - yay technology!  So here's the first one in all of its humble glory.

I don't have this one listed for sale yet.  It has another week on the curing rack - but it's coming soon!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I Am My Beloved's & He Is Mine

A few things about me, if you do not know me.  I crochet a lot - not as much as I would like to, because it's so time consuming.  I make soap and other bath and body products.  I like to dabble with making jewelry.  And I love photography.

Here's a photo that I took the day of my wedding - these were my bridesmaids bouquets.  My wedding was pretty much all DIY, down to the invitations, and these bouquets were done by a lady from my church.  They're extremely simple and romantic, just some baby's breath tied together with a big pink satin ribbon.  I took a photo of them while they were resting on top of a piano.  It may not be the most glorious photo, as it certainly is not, but I still like it.  I decided to throw one of my favorite romantic Bible verses on there to add something special to it.

Song of Solomon 6:3

This photo is available as an instant download.  It is for personal use only, but could be used for..well, whatever you would like it to be really.  Have it printed at a lab and framed.  Turn it into a note card, a thank you card.  Open it up in Photoshop and add some text and turn it into a wedding announcement or whatever.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My 30 Day "No Soda" Challenge - Part 2

OK, it's only been 4 days.  Surprisingly, these first 4 days have been pretty easy.  I've only had a few moments where I thought, "Oh man, I could really go for a cold soda right now."  Somehow I managed to stay in line and not give in.  Whew, narrow escape.

So in 4 short days I've noticed  2 pretty big changes:
1.) I'm sweating more.
2.) My face is shinier.

In regards to sweating, you might be thinking, "Well duh, it's July.  Everyone sweats."  Well actually, yes, but at the same time, not so much.  While drinking soda, my body was more than likely so dehydrated that I hardly ever sweated.  Seriously.  Yes, I would get a little sticky while working in the garden, but my body never worked up a really good sweat like you would expect.

I noticed this evening, just while working in the kitchen and cooking dinner, that I was sweating pretty good.  You might think it's gross, but I felt like it was a small victory.  If so inclined, you can Google why sweating is good for your skin.  Some say it flushes toxins from your body.  Some say your pores open up and dirt is released from your body.  Some say it helps increase your metabolism.  I'm not going to go into all of that and cite sources - feel free to look it up for yourself.

On to number face is shinier!  Already!  And also a lot softer, which might go back to sweating a lot more.  And who doesn't want a healthy, shiny face?  I hate wearing make-up, because I hate putting it on and then having to take it all back off.  So when I have healthy, glowing skin that looks good enough to not need make-up, well, that's a self-esteem booster right there.  I can actually say that I feel prettier today.

That's all for now.