New England Seafood Chowdah (the really good stuff!)

Now that it is finally starting to get warm out, I’m reminded of summers spent sitting on a Newport, Rhode Island wharf having a cup of chowdah (or chowder, if you’re not from New England). Growing up on the shores of Rhode Island, I have had many bowls of clam and seafood chowdah in my life.  I don’t consider myself an expert, but I know what doesn’t taste authentic. That red stuff from NY is a no, no for me!

Below is a recipe I have made many times that has been a proven crowd pleaser, even for those who aren’t really into seafood.  I add additional seafood beyond clams because I’m not into a lot of chewy clam in my chowdah, its a texture thing.

This recipe makes a large quantity – it’s great if New England is in the Super Bowl and you want to make something that fits the theme.  I’ve also made if for Christmas Eve as part of the Feast of the Seven Fishes.  My friends and family always love it and it never goes to waste.  I believe you can freeze it and reheat later, but I’ve never had enough left over to freeze.

Enjoy!

New England Chowdah

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Minnie Quesadilla

Last year my niece had a Minnie Mouse themed birthday party and I wanted to bring an appetizer that fit the party’s theme.  I found a Mickey Mouse cookie cutter on Amazon and thought I would try using it to make some festive Quesadillas. We’re going to pretend it’s Minnie Mouse instead of Mickey.

I bought a few large packages of chicken breast and boiled them. Since I have a bad wrist and there was a lot of chicken to shred, I popped them into my stand mixer.  It shred all the chicken (in small batches) in a few minutes.  Huge time (and wrist) saver! While it was in the mixer, I sprinkled some taco seasoning and spices over the bowl to give the chicken a Mexican flavor.  But because it was going to a kids party, I didn’t want the flavor to be too overpowering, so I only added enough to give a hint of flavor without being too strong.

I shred a few bricks of cheddar and Monterey Jack in the food processor and layered with the chicken in tortilla wraps.  Instead of folding them in half, I used two quesadillas with the filling in between like a sandwich. This allowed more room to cut out Minnies. I spread aluminum foil over some cookie sheets and baked them in the over for a few minutes until I could see the cheese bubbling around the edges.

Then I cut them out with the cookie cutter on a large cutting board.  Even though it was a metal cookie cutter, it did not cut through the quesadillas easily. I traced around the edges of the cookie cutter with a sharp knife to cut through the wrap. I was able to get about eight Minnies from each quesadilla. This part took some time and there were a lot of scraps left over, which my husband had no problem eating!

They were a big hit at the party among the kids and the adults!

Minnie Minnie Quesadilla

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Sea Glass Lamp

It’s almost summer time which mean beach time!  I recently purchased a few bags of beach glass from the Christmas Tree Shop when I saw they were $1.29 per bag last weekend.  I didn’t know what I was going to do with it at the time, but I figured I could find project!  Then I was wandering through Target and came across a fillable lamp for $14.99.  Project found!  I even found a matching shade on clearance at Target for $10!

Assembly took 5 minutes and it came out really cute.  I might go back and get more sea glass to fill the rest of the lamp or leave it the way it is.  The light really bounces off the glass and makes it glow.  The pictures do not do it justice.

Project Cost: $30 ($15 for the lamp, $10 for the shade, $5 for the sea glass)

Sea Glass Lamp

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Easter Treats

Easter is just around the corner so I thought I would post some fun Easter treats I’ve brought to family gatherings.

The first are Peeps Nest Cookies which start with a basic sugar cookie (the pre-made tube you slice and bake work fine).  I use some food coloring and vanilla or cream cheese frosting to make them festive. Then I mix shredded coconut and chocolate frosting in a big bowl. I can’t remember the exact frosting to coconut ratio, but they’re both fairly inexpensive (especially with coupons!) so I pick up a few extra of each. I believe is its 3-4 bags of coconut and one jar of frosting. I just start with the coconut in a bowl and slowly add in a bit of frosting until I get the texture right. Too much frosting and the nest will melt or get a bit soggy.  Once the consistency is right, use your fingers to pinch the mixture into the shape of a ring around the cookies. I usually let them sit uncovered overnight so the frosting hardens a bit. Then place jelly beans and peeps on top and you’re all done!

The second is Spinach Dip Bread Bunny. I use Knorr veggie mix and follow the recipe on the back except I double the sour cream and use half the mayo. Then the bunny was made with a bread boule, sandwich bun, baguette, chives, and olives.

Easter Main Image

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Doggie DNA Test

How Rylee the Beagledor became Rylee the Foxhound, Basenji, Shepherd, Lab Mix

As you can probably tell by the page dedicated to her, I have a mild obsession with my puppy, Rylee. I can’t help it, I’ve always wanted a dog and she wonderful – total sweetie – her favorite things in the whole world are children and carrots!  Once she is a year old, we want to see if she can pass the test to be a children’s hospital visitation dog. Before we adopted her, I took a few “which dog breed is right for you” quizzes and the answers kept popping up Beagle or Lab.She's ours!

I figured we’d strike a perfect match if we could find one that was a beagle lab mix (beagledor?), so off to PetFinder.com I went.  I soon stumbled on the Road Trip Rescues page listing several for 8-week old beagle lab puppies.  Perfect!

After our application was approved, we met the foster family and instantly fell for Rylee.  As she got a little bit bigger, we thought she looked a bit tall and slender for a beagle so we decided to do a DNA test.  It could have come back that she was part giraffe and part Tasmanian devil and it would’t have changed how we much we loved her.  We just wanted to know to satisfy our curiosity and to help get a little insight into what make her tick.

From the test, we learned that since she is a scent hound and needs some “nose work” to keep her mind busy from time to time.  It also explained why she doesn’t bark but make sounds somewhere in between a howl and a yodel.

A lot of people at the dog park ask me about what breed she and then about the NDA test process when I explain what she is.  It was so simple!  We went to Wisdom Panel’s website and ordered a test kit online. They are $80 now, but we got ours for $60 or $65 because I was able to find a coupon code online. I think our vet might have given us coupons for some other brands as well but Wisdom Panel had the best reviews online so we went with that one.

The kit came in the mail and we just had to rub 2 giant q-tips on the inside of her cheek to get some drool, pop it back in the box with some labels, and wait a few days for an email with the results.  It was really fast!  The site said it would be 3 weeks but I think it was 10 days total.  And the results….(click the link for more details from the full report).

Congrats Rylee

DNA Certificate

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Boutique display in a closet (from a China cabinet!)

Last summer when Ryan and I were visiting his family at their shore house, we saw a china cabinet in their backyard and asked why it was out there.  They told us they were planning on throwing it out since they had just purchased two matching cabinets to replace this one.  As they were talking, all I heard was “Free Cabinet!”.  We loaded it in the car and brought it home.  A few days later, I sanded, primed, and painted a bright bluish color – almost like a Tiffany blue.  I also bought some paintable wallpaper at Lowe’s and attached it to the doors using double stick tape incase I didn’t like it. The knobs also came from Lowe’s. It now sits in my closet proudly holding perfumes, purses, jewelry, and boots. I love that it looks like a display case, it makes me feel like I’m shopping in my own closet!

Project Cost: $85 ($40 for paint and primer, $20 for wallpaper, $25 for knobs)

Botique

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Benched

“A throne is only a bench covered with velvet.
– Napoleon Bonaparte

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, we have a spare room that we are trying to decorate as a guest room knowing that it will eventually be a nursery.  I have been trying to pick sea foam and coral shades with bright white furniture to create a fun and sort of beachy feel.  We always need more storage space (I could probably stop buying stuff and then we wouldn’t need to store as many things and be in constant need to storage, but that’s probably not going to happen anytime soon!).  So I started looking on Pinterest for interesting storage ideas that could work in a kid’s room. Here is the final product.

Bench Before and After

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