Monday, November 23, 2015

Coffee Filter Christmas Craft

Merry Christmas from Pearls and Precious Stones

The old fashioned charm of this Merry Christmas Typography from The Graphics Fairy was the inspiration for this simple little project. Wouldn't these make cute table favors, teacher gifts, or a stocking stuffer? Fill them homemade ornaments, candies or any other small gift.

You'll need:
  •      a cone type coffee filter
  •      paper punch
  •      ribbon, buttons or other decorations
  •      computer printer and paper
  •      masking tape 

  1. Copy and paste your image into a document. I decided to change the color on mine from black to green and resized it to 2.00" x 1.29"  You want to center it in about the middle of the page.
  2. Now print your image on to a regular sheet of printer paper. 
  3. Using masking tape, tape your coffee filter over your image, where you want it to appear on the filter. I just taped the upper edge or opening of the coffee filter. For proper orientation I had to lay my paper and coffee filter face down in the printer, with the filter opening toward the printer. This printing technique is very similar to printing on paper bags as shown on The Graphics Fairy here.
  4.  Fold over the top, punch holes with a paper punch and thread a short piece of ribbon through. So simple! 
Just a side note, these went very easy through the printer. No problem at all. You could probably streamline the process by having several ready to go through the printer, but still feed them one at a time. Then just remove the tape and reuse the sheets for more coffee filters.

That's it for today! Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your family time this week and for the rest of the Holiday season.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Make Ahead Meals: Twice Baked Potatoes with Cheddar and Bacon

Easy, make-ahead, comfort food, is on the list this week with these delicious Twice Baked Potatoes. Few meals will warm up the house, satisfy the hunger of a growing bunch and keep the money in your wallet like this frugal meal.

I walked into a local grocery one day and bought the ingredients to make 5 of these for a little over a $1.00 a serving. I didn’t get the small spuds either. I hand picked some large bakers and adapted this recipe for my teenage boys who quickly ate theirs, asked for seconds and then wondered what we were having for dessert!

I probably shouldn’t bore you with all the nutrient value of a potato, but let’s start with B6 which is important for the brain and nervous system, cardiovascular system and the athletic performance of those teenage kiddos.

If you’re a stay at home mom, you can bake the potatoes while you go about the rest of your work. If you work outside the home, make them in the evening or on the weekend so that you can have them on a busy weeknight. If you need a bit more to call it a meal, just add a veggie, muffin, salad or other side dish.

Make Ahead Twice Baked Potato

with Bacon and Cheddar

Medium Russet Potatoes (7-9 ounces) rubbed, dried and rubbed with olive oil
Slices of bacon
medium yellow onion, minced
ounces sharp cheddar cheese shredded, about 1 ½ cups
cup sour cream
tablespoons butter
green onions, sliced thin

Adjust oven rack to upper middle and heat oven to 400 degrees F. Place potatoes directly on rack and bake until crisp and deep brown, and a skewer pierces through the flesh easily. This takes about an hour (give or take your definition for a medium potato)  Set your timer for about a half hour and flip your potato half-way through baking.

After potatoes are done baking, cool for about 10 minutes before handling.

While potatoes bake (or when your hands are free) fry bacon in skillet until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towel lined plate. Save for crispy bacon bits.  

Add minced onion to bacon grease and saute.

To stuff potatoes:

Cut each potato in half lengthwise, and hold each half with an oven mitt. Scoop out potato into bowl leaving ¼-½ inch of potato around the edge of the skin. You don’t want to scoop it all out or you’ll have a flimsy shell to put your mashed potato mixture back into.

Transfer potato skins to a large baking dish.

Mash the potato flesh until smooth. Stir in 1 cup of the cheddar cheese, sour cream, butter and sauteed onion. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Now comes the fun part. Scoop the potato mixture back into the saved potato skins.
Mounding it up slightly in the center. Sprinkle remaining cheese and crisp bacon on top the potatoes. Bake about 10 minutes (or until heated through) at 475 F.  Sprinkle with green onions before serving.

To store:

Cover dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Bake at 475 F. until heated through, 15-25 minutes.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Cast Iron Cooking

Some of our favorite family memories are eating Saturday morning pancakes, made from scratch and cooked on my favorite cast iron. The morning would start out with kids from all corners of the house, piling in on the end of our bed. Then after lots of giggles and kids begging for breakfast we would make our way downstairs.

That was then. My favorite griddle, having nearly retired from pancake duty is working full time again. I've given up some of my previous notions about them being less than modern, most suitable for pancakes and camping, too hard to maintain...and you get the drift. Some of it has just been lack of education. Yep, still learning.

In short, I've fallen in love with cast iron. Truth be told, it is my oldest son's doing. He's brought home some wonderful old pieces from thrift stores, cleaned them up and made them into amazing work horses that would be sad to part company with. 

How about this loaf of bread? Yep...baked in cast iron. 

Pizza anyone?

Breads, pies, cakes, biscuits, pizza, meats, veggie dishes and a whole host of wonderful foods all cooked in what was almost a forgotten tradition. You'll even find them outside those quaint country style restaurants. Grandma's pans aren't forgotten.

I love frugal and free so I've found a great resource at the public library. Dutch Oven and Cast Iron Cooking, foreword by Colleen Sloan. The recipe for the sourdough bread up above came from that book. It's a great book to start out with.

Another great book is A Skillet Full by Lodge Press. There are lots of main dishes, soups, sides and even desserts found there. 

Here are also few links to get you started.

In case you were wondering about the pizza? Check out the recipe to my Easy Pizza Sauce and the Gluten Free Pizza Crust recipe here

Fall is in the air here in the Midwestern United States. If you have cast iron, pull it out of your cupboard. If not, start looking around for a couple pieces of your own. Warm up your home with the aroma of some delicious comfort food. It is a pleasure you won't want to miss.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Menu Plan Monday

It's Monday! I'm off to a cross country meet this afternoon, so I'm glad I have the menu done and supper ready for when we get back. I'm linking up to Menu Plan Monday and can't wait to see what's posted there because I know I can use some ideas for good healthy comfort foods.  Hope you have a great week and we'll see you later!



Beef Stew
Homemade Bread


Hot Ham and Cheese
Sweet Potato


Breakfast for Supper
Homemade applesauce

Tonight is the busiest night for church activities for both me and my husband, so pancakes and sausage, egg bake or even eggs and toast makes an easy to prepare choice that gets us out the door quickly.


Chicken Tacos


Cast Iron Skillet Pizza using Gluten Free Pizza Crust found Here and Homemade Pizza Sauce Here


Cheddar Cheese Chowder


Beef Roast
Normandy Vegetables

Easy and Inexpensive Pizza Sauce

Years ago we were cured of frozen and takeout pizza when I started making my own. However, it's been even more recent that I started making my own pizza sauce. Here's why:

  • Pizza sauce from a jar at the store is expensive stuff! My homemade costs less than half of the cheaper store brands. Why was I ever buying it in the first place? 
  • It's so easy! You can make your own Italian Seasoning Mix, or just put together your sauce from scratch in a few minutes and you're on your way to an amazing pizza
  • All the added chemicals and sugar are not in the homemade pizza sauce. 
A can of tomato paste will make enough pizza sauce for three large pizzas. I use minced garlic, onion powder or onion flakes, oregano, salt, pepper, parsley, basil and olive oil. The amounts depend upon personal taste really, but for starters try:

1 garlic clove
1 T. dried parsley
2 tsp. onion flakes
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. basil
2 T.  olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup water

Blend ingredients. Stir and bring to a low boil, Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.

Fresh basil and garlic from your garden or the farmers market adds a little extra flavor and zest that is fantastic. Enjoy!