Magical Lights in the Fairy Garden

Make a little magic using solar LED twinkle lights in your fairy garden. Instructions and recommended plants are included.

I enjoy growing flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruit, but my favorite yearly project is always my fairy garden.  One year, I was installing solar twinkle lights over an arbor and I thought it might be pretty if I could do the same to the arbor in my fairy garden.arbor at night

PREPARATION

Here is a list of the materials you need

Large container with drainage holes (e.g., half whisky barrel, wheelbarrow, tub)

Potting soil with fertilizer

Drip irrigation kit (optional)

Structures (e.g., arbor, gazebo, house)

Decorative elements (e.g., ponds, birdbath, furniturefencing,

Decorative stakes that add height like an oversized solar moon, weathervane or a birdhouse 

Plants

Garden staples

Solar LED wire lights

I initially started with solar lights that looked a lot like the lights you might use at Christmas.   However, I later switched to these solar LED wire string lights and they have been going strong for months now.  I actually have found all kinds of garden uses for these and even have some inside some windows in my house to brighten things up when the sun goes down early in the winter.  I especially love these pink solar lights that intermingle with my culinary herbs inside my kitchen window.

The ones that I bought had 100 lights on the string.  That may seem like a lot, but I thought it was just right.   Here is what they look like when they first arrive:

image2

Once you have all of your materials, fill the container with potting soil until it is just a few inches below the top. You will fill it to the top later when you are almost done.  Lay out all of the larger structures and plants until you have a general idea of where you want everything to be. You will then need to move some items in and out while you install the irrigation and lighting.

IRRIGATION

It is not required, but if you live somewhere hot and dry like me, you might need to water as much as twice a day unless you are using a drip system.  I use drip irrigation on a timer for all of my containers, and I first started with a Drip Irrigation Kit for Containers  which are quite easy to use.  This kit would water several containers, not just your fairy garden.  For more information about drip irrigation, please see The Beginner’s Guide to Using Drip Irrigation in your Container Garden.

With that said, drip irrigation is a must if you want to successfully grow plants in miniature containers like these in a hot climate.  I insert an emitter directly into the bottom of the planters and urns.  This takes some fiddling around to get it right.  I also arrange one emitter such that it will drip into the little pond and therefore stay full of water all summer.  Garden staples are helpful in getting the drip irrigation installed if you want to do some of these extras.  For more information on this, see 6 Creative Uses for Drip Irrigation .

LIGHTING

Install the solar string lights starting  at the end nearest the solar panel.  Unfortunately, the lights are kind of far apart, so it is sometimes necessary to twist or loop the wire around so that the lights are closer together.  I like using the lights in a way that you cannot see a continuous string of lights.  Instead, some are hidden under plants or gravel such that the lighting appears to start and stop in different places. This year, I added solar light strings over a “patio”, which is really an old mosaic stepping stone.

When I’m done, any leftover lights are placed in the house so it looks like the fairies are at home.

PLANTING

Place your plants a little above the soil line, remember that you will add the rest of the soil later.

I especially like alyssum (pink) and lobelia (bright blue) because I can buy them quite reasonably at a flat sale every year.  These light blue ageratum are also nice, but only when they are planted towards the very back because they get tall.

Garden 2013 (9)

Some kind of miniature tree is also a nice addition. My favorite is this mini variegated olive.P1030816

I use Wire Vine over the arbor (left) and Isotoma Laurentia (right) which has tiny little blue flowers.  These two plants are great because they often come back after a mild winter.

If you want a vegetable garden, simply break the tips off the branches of succulents and place them in the soil to mimic tiny cabbages.  They will eventually take root, needing only a little water.

cabbage crop

Lastly, I use some premium annuals such as Baby’s Tears (left) or Leptinella (center) which looks like tiny fern plants.  I also like Irish moss (right) because it looks so much like grass.  

To learn more about fairy garden plants, visit fairygardening.com

DECORATE

Once the plants are planted, add a couple inches of soil to the top covering the drip irrigation and solar lighting.  Add some rocks for decorations or paths.  Here is a path made of expanded shale.

P1030798

Add fun little extras (e.g., furniture, fencing, decorative stakes, etc). I have a lot of trouble restraining myself on this step.  I really tend to junk it up!  For me, that is part of the fun.

MAINTAIN

Keep the garden watered and cut plants back by half when they get tall or scraggly, which is what happened here..

2014-05-26 09.17.11-3

I hope that you enjoy creating your own magical fairy garden!

Make a little magic using solar wire LED twinkle lights in your fairy garden. Instructions and recommended plants are also included.

Some posts on this site include affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that the opinions expressed are entirely our own.

15 Versatile Freezer Foods to Simplify Meal Prep

My journey to easy meal preparation was not an easy one. I started by trying some “dump” recipes where you put all of the ingredients for an entire meal into a bag and then when you are ready to cook, you can just dump the whole thing in your slow cooker.  The problem was some of the foods were overcooked, while others were undercooked.  I eventually decided that any recipe with the word, “dump” was not a recipe for me.

I also tried freezing different casseroles and soups, but while there were some successes, many turned to mush. The other problem was that we like a lot of variety and, after having a meal, I usually didn’t want to repeat it for months.  This is why I eventually learned to just freeze versatile ingredients that I can use in many of our favorite meals.

Why should I consider freezing these ingredients?

  • improves meal quality
  • increases meal variety
  • saves food prep time
  • reduces dirty dishes
  • saves money since you can buy in larger quantities or stock up when items are on sale
  • reduces food waste
  • often helps with portion control

How should I freeze the following items? It varies depending on the amount you expect to use at any one time. One idea is to freeze in portions and then move the frozen portions into zippered plastic bags.

Another space saver is to freeze in a zippered bag and then flatten the bag out before freezing so items can be stacked. Best of all, after the items are frozen, they could be stood upright in plastic bins similar to folders in a filing cabinet if your freezer allows this configuration.

Finally, when you expect to need larger amount, it works well to freeze in plastic or glass freezer containers. If you would like to do this, look for square containers since they use space more efficiently.

Some people prefer taking a day once a month to do all of their meal prep, but that isn’t for everybody. Most of the items listed below can be prepared in large quantities during the regular preparation of a meal and the unused portion frozen for future use.

What should I freeze?

  • Cooked Ground Beef Crumbles
  • Cooked Sausage Crumbles
  • Cooked Shredded Chicken
  • Cooked Shredded Pork Loin
  • Cooked Italian Meatballs
  • Taco Meat
  • Sloppy Joe Meat
  • Italian Meat Sauce
  • Chili
  • Marinara
  • Pesto
  • Condensed Stock
  • Cooked Rice
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Pizza dough

Ground Beef Crumbles
How to prepare: Allow to fully cool and then freeze portions in a flattened zippered bag, making sure to remove all air. You’ve Been Freezing Ground Beef Wrong Your Whole Life
How to use: casseroles, skillets, soups and chilis, loose-meat sandwiches, taco salad or go here for more ideas 50 Easy Dinners that start with Ground Beef

Sausage Crumbles
How to prepare: Cook bulk breakfast or chorizo sausage (i.e., no casing) in a skillet until fully cooked and crumbled. Cool and then freeze in plastic bags in the amounts you are likely to consume.
How to use: pizza, soup, egg dishes, hash skillets, stuffed vegetables, casseroles, pasta, sandwiches or go here for more ideas 25 Best Ground Sausage Recipes

Shredded Chicken
How to prepare: After cooking, shred chicken using the paddle attachment of your mixer or two forks. Freeze in flattened zippered plastic bags. How to Make Shredded Chicken
How to use: soups and chilis, quesadillas, BBQ chicken sandwiches, wraps, burritos, nachos, chicken salad, chicken pot pie, BBQ chicken pizza, salads, bowls or go here for more ideas 50 Shredded Chicken Recipes

Pulled Pork
How to prepare: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Freeze in flattened zippered bags.
How to use: soups and chilis, sandwiches, bowls, tacos, tamales, burritos or go here for more ideas 20 Easy Dinner Ideas Using Pulled Pork,

Italian Meatballs
How to prepare: There are lots of great recipes to choose from. Here is mine: Kenda’s Spaghetti and Meatballs Please note that the marinara and meatballs should be frozen separately.
How to use: spaghetti and meatballs, pizza topping, meatball sub sandwiches, sliders, soups, casseroles, or even shape the meatballs into meatloaf instead. Please go here for more ideas 42 Crazy-Good Dishes That Start with Frozen Meatballs

Taco Meat
How to prepare: Follow directions on your taco spice package. Spanish Gardens makes my family’s favorite. Allow meat to cool completely and then freeze in flattened zippered plastic bags.
How to use: tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, enchiladas, pizza, pastas, casseroles, stuffed vegetables (e.g., zucchini, bell peppers), salad, soups, or go here for more ideas 25 Recipes You Can Make with a Pound of Taco Meat

Sloppy Joe Meat
How to prepare: The BEST Sloppy Joe Recipe sauce described here. Freeze in flattened zippered bags.
How to use: sandwiches, casseroles (e.g., Tater Tot), pasta topping, stuffed vegetables (e.g., peppers or zucchini, top french fries or corn chips, top rice or mashed potatoes, stuffed baked potatoes, or go here for more ideas 36 Ways To Repurpose Sloppy Joes Into Something New

Italian Meat Sauce
How to prepare: Brown ground beef and mix with your favorite homemade marinara. One option is the sauce described here. Simply make without the meatballs and mix with the ground beef crumbles. Freeze in flattened zippered bags.
How to use: pasta sauce, pasta casseroles (e.g., lasagna), pizza sauce, stuff vegetables (e.g., pepper, spaghetti squash, zucchini), mozzarella grilled cheese or go here for more ideas Ways to Use Leftover Pasta Sauce

Chili
How to prepare: If you don’t have a favorite chili recipe already, here is an Easy Chili Recipe to try. My family loves Williams Chili Spice Mix and it makes chili night easy. Freeze in flattened zippered bags or plastic or glass containers.
How to use: Baked potatoes, spaghetti topper with cheddar, chili dogs, crescent roll casserole, wraps, chili mac soup, over fries or corn chips, cornbread casserole, stuffed peppers, or go here for more ideas 20 Ways to Use Leftover Chili

Marinara Sauce
How to prepare: There are so many tasty recipes, but the sauce described here is my favorite. I freeze some in flattened zippered plastic bags and some in muffin tins to use for pizza sauce.
How to use: Cooking your own marinara allows you to create a thicker sauce that can be used for pizza or thinned a little for pasta sauces, casseroles. Marinara can also be used to top chicken parmesan, meatloaf, meatball sandwiches, and stuffed vegetables. Add even more water for soup. Please go here for more ideas 70 Meals that Start with a Jar of Pasta Sauce

Pesto Sauce
How to prepare: Fresh Basil Pesto Freeze in ice cube trays or silicone muffin tins and then store in a zippered plastic bags.
How to use: pizza, pasta topping, pasta casserole, top chicken or salmon, flavor vegetables, sandwich spread, soups, or go here for more ideas: 25 Things to Make with Pesto

Condensed Chicken Stock
How to prepare: I keep a bag in my freezer where I can quickly stuff leftovers such as chicken bones/carcass, dill and parsley stems/leaves, celery, carrots, and onions. This allows me to make a rich chicken stock. Condensed Chicken Stock can be frozen in ice cube trays or muffin tins. Just be sure that you know how much water to add to each cube.
How to use: Soups, gravies, and sauces are obvious, but stock can also be used in casseroles, skillets, chicken pot pies and other ideas listed here 40 Recipes with Chicken Stock to Use up the Box

Cooked Rice
How to prepare: Cook brown or white rice according to package directions, then thoroughly cool. Freeze in zippered plastic bags, removing as much air as possible. Use immediately after removing from the freezer.
How to use: fried rice, topped with stir fry, with beans, soups, casseroles, skillets, stuffed vegetables, topped with etouffee or gumbo or go here for more ideas 35 Ways to Use Leftover Rice

Mashed Potatoes
How to prepare: The most important thing is to use the right kind of recipe. This recipe uses sour cream and cream cheese instead of milk/cream which prevents grainy mashed potatoes upon thawing. Potatoes could be frozen in a flattened zippered bag or in a silicone muffin tin and then transferred to a large zippered bag.
How to use: as a side, topped with meatballs or chicken and gravy, topping Shepard’s pie, casseroles, potato cakes/croquettes, breads, dumplings, waffles, pancakes, soups, gnocchi, pierogi, or go here for more ideas: 35 Easy Ways to Use Leftover Mashed Potatoes

Pizza Dough
How to prepare: How to Freeze Pizza Dough
How to use: pizza, calzone, Stromboli, breadsticks, garlic knots, flatbread, crackers, pot pie or go here for more ideas 31 Things to Make with Pizza Dough

Aromatics
How to prepare: The aromatics to use depends on how you most frequently flavor your meals. For guidance, please see Freezing Aromatic Flavor Cubes for Asian Stir-Fry Suppers and All About Mirepoix, Sofrito, Battuto, and Other Humble Beginnings. Caramelized onions can be frozen in a silicone muffin tin and then transferred to a zippered plastic bag. Roasted garlic can be frozen in an ice cube tray, as can citrus juice, with or without its zest. Herbs can be minced and frozen in an ice cube tray and some butter or oil added, depending on what is most appropriate for each herb (e.g., butter in dill, canola in parsley, olive oil in basil). Garlic and herb cubes can then be transferred to a zippered plastic bag.
How to use: Most work well in a variety of soups and sauces. Here are some additional uses for the different types of aromatics: Asian (stir fry, noodles, fried rice), Mirepoix (chicken pot pie, roasted poultry and dressing), Spanish Sofrito (arroz con pollo, eggs, paella), Holy Trinity (jumbalaya, gumbo, etoufee, red beans and rice), caramelized onions (any recipe that requires you to cook an onion until softened), roasted garlic (any recipe that requires you to cook minced garlic until aromatic), fresh minced herbs (any dish that is finished with fresh herbs like parsley, dill or basil), citrus juice (any dish finished with a bit of fresh citrus).

Some posts on this site include affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that the opinions expressed are entirely our own.

Kenda’s Spaghetti and Meatballs

This is hands down the recipe most preferred by my friends and family. I am pretty sure my husband married me so that I would make him this the rest of his life.

Kenda’s Spaghetti and Meatballs

Freezing:  Freeze meatballs and sauce separately.

Kenda's Spaghetti and Meatballs

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Sauce
olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove minced garlic
28-32 oz tomato sauce
12 oz tomato paste
1 cup water
1 TB sugar
1 tsp (or a little less) salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp oregano

Meatballs
milk
4 slices white or potato bread, dry in a warm oven for an hour or so
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese or a parmesan/Romano mix
2 TB dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb ground round

For sauce:
1. On medium heat, sauté onion in a little olive oil until just turning golden.  Add garlic and sauté another minute. 
2. Add other ingredients and simmer uncovered on medium low for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Add meatballs, cover and simmer on low another 30 minutes.

For meatballs
1. Dip bread in milk and squeeze excess milk out.  Discard leftover milk. 
2. Mix all other ingredients, except beef, well.
3. Finally, gently mix in beef until just combined.
4. Shape into meatballs about the size of ping-pong balls. 
5. Brown meatball in a frying pan with a little olive oil OR bake in oven on a rimmed cookie sheet greased with olive oil for 10 minutes at 450 degrees.  Flip and bake another 10 minutes. 
6. Add meatballs to sauce and cook another 30 minutes. 
7. Serve over spaghetti. 
8. This sauce tastes best the next day

littletudorontheprairie.com

20 Ways to Magically Light Your Home at Christmas (that aren’t a tree)

What types of lights are available?

  • Battery-Operated Metallic String Lights. These are ideal for installations where plug-in lights would be impossible or unsightly. They automatically come on at the same time every day and stay lit for six hours. This means that you can use them almost anywhere AND the battery will last a few weeks. If you buy rechargeable batteries and a charger, you can save money over time.
  • “Outdoor” Solar Lights. These lights work well near a window so the solar panel can be placed against the window pane. They even come in colors such as pink!
  • Battery-Operated Candle Lights. These lights have a sensor which detects outdoor light. This allows them to automatically come on at dusk and stay on for many hours afterwards. This means the batteries last between Thanksgiving and New Years without replacing.
  • Wired Lights. These work well when an outlet is nearby and the lights can be installed without the cord showing.
Glass Vase. These battery-operated metallic string lights intertwine with antique mercury glass ornaments in a large glass vase.
Domed Cake Stand. These battery-operated metallic string lights and boa surround a vignette placed on a cake stand and topped with a glass cloche. The vignette includes a house from World Market and bottle brush tree such as these.
Ornaments in a bowl. Here, battery-operated metallic string lights intertwine with antique ornaments and boa in a large decorative bowl.
Shadow box. To create this shadow box, a Christmas saying was designed, printed and matted to serve as the backing. A crescent moon was hung and some favorite miniatures: a Corvette, an Airstream trailer , and bottle brush trees similar to these, were placed in the bottom, along with some fake snow.
Wreaths. Wreaths are ideal for battery-operated metallic string lights since no unsightly cords will hang below.
Centerpiece. These battery-operated metallic string lights twist around garland, pearls, lace and a boa surrounding candelabras with pink candles.
Chandelier. Battery-operated metallic string lights are ideal for a chandelier Add ornaments, boa and pearls for extra interest. Garland and lace could also work well.
Indoor Plants. Pink solar lights intertwine with herbs planted in a rustic wooden planter on a kitchen windowsill.
Behind a Fireplace Screen. These wired lights are hung behind a stained glass fireplace screen. Please see our tutorial on how to create this screen.
Gingerbread House. Battery-operated metallic string lights are used both inside and surrounding a gingerbread house. For tips on creating this house, please see this post
Christmas Card Display. These battery-operated metallic string lights surround an entry closet door. Decorative clothespins are used to attach Christmas cards as they arrive. The center of the door features an antique card sent by the original owner of the home.
Candle Lights in Windows. These Battery-Operated Candle Lights conserve energy through the light sensor. The candle is surrounded with garland, wire lights, pearls, lace, and a boa. Above the candle lights hangs a crystal snowflake ornament.
Atop a Mantle. These battery-operated metallic string lights illuminate a collection of vintage Santas amongst garland, lace, pearls, and boas. Other decorations include a Santa advent calendar, ivory stockings, and round ornaments placed on candlestick holders.
China Cabinet. These battery-operated metallic string lights help to illuminate Bavarian china, though the glass front of a china cabinet. An ornament hangs on the door.
Garland. Garlands can be created from tree decorations and hung above windows and mirrors. With battery-operated metallic string lights there is no need to be near an outlet.
Front of a Shelf. These battery-operated metallic string lights illuminate a yard-long print and a boa.
Plate Display Rack. Battery-operated metallic string lights front a plant display rack decorated with vintage Santa figurines, boas, and Bavarian china dishes
Bathroom window. “Outdoor” Solar Lights are ideal to surround a bathroom window even indoors since wired lights would be unsafe above a bathtub. These lights are relaxing for warm winter bubble baths. A glittery miniature tree sits in the copper tray on the windowsill. In the spring, seeds will be planted here.
Atop an Armoire. These battery-operated metallic string lights draw attention to the framed Christmas tree created with ornaments.
Headboard. These wired lights pair with a pink boa above a headboard. To learn how to create this headboard, please see this tutorial.


Some posts on this site include affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This commission allows us to avoid banner ads and popups. Please know that the opinions expressed are entirely our own.

Some posts on this site include affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that the opinions expressed are entirely our own.

Layering Details for a Magical Gingerbread House

I have been wanting to build a gingerbread house for literally decades. I decided this was the year. I absolutely underestimated the amount of work, but I ended up being pleased with the final product. I think the key to creating a house that I love was layering inexpensive decorations, mostly purchased from dollar stores and Wal-mart. Let me share with you some specific details and also let you know where I purchased many of the decorations

The house features pink swirl lollipops on either corner of the house. The pastel marshmallows line the roof’s edge. Royal icing is highlighted with dragees in many places. Chocolate sugar wafers form the front stairs.

Where did you find the _____?

Some posts on this site include affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that the opinions expressed are entirely our own.

Making a Door and Mantel Headboard

How to make a headboard from a door and mantel

A while back, I started looking at headboards and fell in love with one that I saw on the Pottery Barn website.  Unfortunately, it was more than I could afford, but I realized that it might be possible to make something similar by attaching a fireplace mantel to an old door that used to be in our old house.  Making headboards out of doors is fairly common, but I used to be hesitant just because I typically thought they looked very much like doors.  By combining a mantel with the door, this problem is diminished.

P1000343

If you are handy, you could make your own mantel, but I am not that handy, so I purchased one from Santa Clara Studio on Etsy.  I requested a custom size and they were happy to accomodate this request.  I specified the dimensions of the door because I wanted the mantel to fit over the door, making it easy to attach.  If you are interested in buying the exact same mantel, here is a listing of the one I asked to be customized to my specifictions:

White Distressed Wall Shelf with Dentil Crown Molding and Wooden Domes – Fireplace Mantel

I think it was also important that it is a mantel installed using a French cleat.  This meant that there was a hollow space behind the shelf where it was easy to install the shelf over the door using a series of L-brackets.

IMG_4070

P1000353 (2)

In addition to screwing the mantel onto the door, it was also necessary to add some boards at the bottom to elevate the headboard and provide a place to secure the headboard to the bed frame.

Once the headboard was secured to the bed frame, it was time for the fun part, decorating the bed!  I used my old Laura Ashley bedding that I have owned since the 1980s.  It has been a long time, but I still love it!

P1000347 (2)

P1000341 (2)

I also added some throw pillows, including a personalized pillow that I also purchased on Etsy.

P1000350

Happy Decorating!

Some posts on this site include affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that the opinions expressed are entirely our own.

Biscuits and Cornbread Thanksgiving Dressing

biscuits-and-cornbread-dressing

Biscuits and Cornbread Thanksgiving Dressing

Can’t decide between cornbread dressing or traditional bread stuffing? Here is a recipe that combines the best of both! Please also see the included printable recipe.

Living in the center of the Heartland can make Thanksgiving a little confusing. Should I make a cornbread dressing like they make in the South or a bread stuffing that is more common in the North? My family has roots on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, so choosing one or the other means somebody isn’t happy.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t just prepare the family recipe because it was no more than a list of ingredients. No quantities were listed. Well, unless you count my grandmother’s not at all helpful “ten cents worth of sausage”…and I don’t.

So, I struck out my own. I researched on-line, asked friends to share their favorites, and made batch after batch of dressing over several years. I am happy to report that I finally perfected my favorite by piecing together components of several different recipes. Everyone who has tasted it raves about the flavor.

The main secret to this dressing recipe is the use of biscuits AND cornbread AND dried stuffing cubes. In a nod to my grandmother, I do use sausage, but not ten cents worth. It turns out that 12 ounces of raw breakfast link sausages works well. Oddly enough, after removing the casings and mixing the raw sausage into the dressing, it is not readily apparent that sausage is even in the dressing, but it adds a LOT of flavor.

I strongly recommend making this as a dressing baked in a dish separate from your turkey. Because this recipe contains both raw sausage and an egg, it cannot cook to a safe temperature when used to stuff a turkey.

Here is a nifty little trick that I learned from my mother and grandmother–start with the minimum amount of salt and poultry seasoning. Then, after you mix the dressing, form a small amount into a little pancake and fry it it in a little butter to cook the egg and sausage. This will allow you to taste it and decide if you prefer more salt and/or poultry seasoning.

This recipe makes an ENORMOUS amount of dressing. I usually fill a 9 x 12 inch dish with the dressing for Thanksgiving day and then use the rest to make some Stuffing Muffins. These freeze exceptionally well. Since I also freeze some cooked turkey, we are all set to enjoy some quick turkey dinners all winter long.

You might also want to save a cup or so of dressing to add to your gravy. It helps gravy to thicken while adding additional flavor. Just be sure to let it simmer until it is dissolved.

Serves 18
Ingredients:
10 ounces refrigerated biscuits, baked according to package directions,
8 1⁄2 ounces Jiffy cornbread mix, baked according to package directions,
1 egg, for cornbread mix,
1⁄3 cup milk, for cornbread mix,
1⁄2 cup butter,
1 onion, minced in food processor,
3-5 stalks celery, chopped fine in food processor,
1/2-1 teaspoon salt,
12 ounces breakfast sausage links, raw (slit casings and remove meat, discard casings),
1 egg,
1.5-2 tablespoons poultry seasoning,
1⁄4 cup dried parsley flakes,
12 ounces herb-seasoned or country-style CUBED stuffing,
4 -6 cups chicken broth,

Instructions:

The day before:
1. Bake cornbread and biscuits using the instructions on the label.
2. Cool and roughly chop biscuits into large cubes.
3. Let biscuits and cornbread sit out uncovered overnight to dry (or put in cooled oven).
The next day:
1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat.
3. Add onions, celery, and salt.
4. Saute, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until soft.
5. Scramble egg in a very large mixing bowl.
6. Add raw sausage with the casings removed, poultry seasoning, and parsley. Mix well.
7. Add cubed stuffing and mix well.
8. Lightly toss with chopped biscuits and cornbread.
9. Add broth and mix again. Avoid over mixing, but incorporate most of broth for a heavier dressing, less for a slightly fluffier dressing.
10. Place in a large baking dish and bake uncovered for about 45 minutes-1 hour at 350. The top should be light brown. Alternatively, portion some or all of the dressing into a muffin tin lined with cupcake liners. Bake for about 30 minutes. If you put half of the dressing in a muffin tin and the other half in a regular baking dish, the dressing in a baking dish will take about 30-40 minutes to bake.

Due to raw egg and pork, do not stuff a turkey with this recipe.

Biscuits and Cornbread Thanksgiving Dressing

  • Servings: 18-24
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

10 ounces refrigerated biscuits, baked according to package directions
8 1⁄2 ounces Jiffy cornbread mix, baked according to package directions
1 egg, for cornbread mix
1⁄3 cup milk, for cornbread mix

1⁄2 cup butter
1 onion, minced in food processor
3-5 stalks celery, chopped fine in food processor
1/2-1 teaspoon salt
12 ounces breakfast sausage links, raw (slit casings and remove meat, discard casings)
1 egg
1.5-2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
1⁄4 cup dried parsley flakes
12 ounces herb-seasoned or country-style CUBED stuffing
4 -6 cups chicken broth

The day before:
1. Bake cornbread and biscuits using the instructions on the label.
2. Cool and roughly chop biscuits into large cubes.
3. Let biscuits and cornbread sit out uncovered overnight to dry (or put in cooled oven).

The next day:
1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat.
3. Add onions, celery, and salt.
4. Saute, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until soft.
5. Scramble egg in a very large mixing bowl.
6. Add raw sausage with the casings removed, poultry seasoning, and parsley. Mix well.
7. Add cubed stuffing and mix well.
8. Lightly toss with chopped biscuits and cornbread.
9. Add broth and mix again. Avoid over mixing, but incorporate most of broth for a heavier dressing, less for a slightly fluffier dressing.
10. Place in a large baking dish and bake uncovered for about 45 minutes-1 hour at 350. The top should be light brown. Alternatively, portion some or all of the dressing into a muffin tin lined with cupcake liners. Bake for about 30 minutes. If you put half of the dressing in a muffin tin and the other half in a regular baking dish, the dressing in a baking dish will take about 30-40 minutes to bake.

Due to raw egg and pork, do not stuff a turkey with this recipe.

littletudorontheprairie.com

I hope that you enjoy this dressing, at Thanksgiving or anytime of the year.

Happy Cooking!

Some posts on this site include affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that the opinions expressed are entirely our own.

Creating a Decorative English Fireplace

Create a Decorative English FireplaceLiving in an old Tudor, I have a special affinity for English decorative elements and I cannot think of anything more English than a cast iron Victorian fireplace in a bedroom.  Unfortunately, these are not easily found in the United States.  The ones I did find cost around $1,000, definitely not in my budget!  Fortunately, I was able to assemble a similar faux fireplace at a greatly reduced cost.  Although we cannot heat the bedroom with this fireplace, it does add decorative warmth and ambiance to our space.

I started by stalking Ebay until I found an antique cast iron fireplace surround for just under $150, this was by far the greatest expense.  I could have purchased one even less expensively if I hadn’t had my heart set on an arched fireplace.  Once I had the surround, I could determine the measurements of the rest of my materials.  I was working with a very narrow space, be sure to adjust all measurements to work with your available space.

Supplies

Cast iron fireplace surround

Picture wire strong enough to hang the surround

Tin ceiling tile or another material to hang behind the surround

Thin lumber cut to the width of the surround

2” thick lumber cut to the width of the surround. to serve as the mantel

2” thick lumber cut larger than the bottom of the surround. to serve as the hearth

4 x 4” post for beneath the hearth

12 x 36” marble tile to sit on the floor

2 thick corbels

1 piece decorative moulding

Glue

Screws

Spray paint

Paint for wood

Sandpaper

Supplies for English bedroom fireplace

Steps

  1. Cut all lumber to size
  2. Glue the moulding to the thin lumber backing.  close up of ornament
  3. Sand, wipe away dust, and paint all wooden materials.
  4. Spray paint the iron surround.
  5. Glue the 2″ hearth on the 4 x 4 lumber.
  6. Attach the tin ceiling tile or other backing to the wall with screws.
  7. Place the marble tile, 4 x 4 lumber and 2″ hearth in the desired position.Hearth of a marble tile, a 4 x 4 post and 2 inch thick lumber
  8. Hang the surround so that it will just rest on the hearth materials.
  9. Screw the thin lumber above the surround, hiding the screws behind the corbels
  10. Hang the corbels on the thin lumber backingclose up of mantel
  11. Glue the 2″ mantel on the corbels, making sure the mantel is pushed back against the wallside view of mantelOnce your fireplace has been assembled, you can decorate the inside with logs, a fireplace screen, Christmas lights, or candles.  The mantle can be decorated with a vase, clock, candles, books, lamps, pictures, or sculptures.

Happy Decorating!

Some posts on this site include affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that the opinions expressed are entirely our own.

Freezing Aromatic Flavor Cubes for Asian Stir Fry Suppers

Freezing Aromatic Flavor Cubes for Asian Stir Fry Suppers

Do you love stir fry, but find the prep work tedious?  I felt the same way until I learned some easy short cuts that not only cut back on my prep time, but also meant less clean up time.  One of those short-cuts involved the mixture of garlic, ginger, scallions, and red pepper flakes that add complex flavors to my stir fries.  No matter what meat or vegetables I cook in my stir fry, I always make a little well in the center and quickly fry some aromatics in it before adding a sauce.  Unfortunately, it takes a long time to mince the aromatics small enough that we don’t end up biting into a big, unappetizing hunk of garlic or ginger. I could use the food processor, but I don’t want to get it dirty for such a small job.  I also don’t want to have to buy ginger every time we have a stir fry and ginger doesn’t  really last all that long.  The solution that works for us is to prepare enough aromatics for several stir fry dinners at once and then freeze them in ice cube trays.

Asian Aromatic Flavor Cubes

Ingredients

4 heads peeled garlic (about 8 oz once peeled or 1 cup minced)

2 oz peeled ginger (about 1/4 cup minced)

Whites of 16-20 scallions

1 TB red pepper flakes (optional, adjust according to heat preferences)

¼ cup sesame oil

Unless you love chopping food into tiny bits, use a food processor to mince the garlic, ginger, scallions, and red pepper flakes.  I try to process until it is just short of a puree. Asian aromatics after mincing

Spoon the mixture into an ice cube tray in 1 TB portions, making about 18 portions.  Press the aromatics in tight and then spread the sesame oil over the top where it can soak in and fill in any holes before freezing.

When you are ready to make a stir fry, get an aromatic flavor cube out as soon as you start cooking.  This will allow it to thaw a little before mixing into your stir fry.  I set the cube near the pan to help the thawing process.  This mixture can also be used to flavor a marinade for grilling meat.

Simplify stir fry with aromatic flavor cubes.  Happy Cooking!

Some posts on this site include affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that the opinions expressed are entirely our own.

Create a Useful Dining Centerpiece

1[1]

I have a minor obsession with centerpieces.  Over the years, I have tried one thing after another, never satisfied with my efforts.  I guess it is important to me because centerpieces are usually the focal point of any dining room, so I want ours to make a statement.  Unfortunately, sometimes that statement was, “I am too tall to have a conversation over” or “I am really easy to knock over”.  More than once it turned out to be, “I looked good on Pinterest, but I don’t work in real life”.  Even when a centerpiece was attractive, the look was always marred by the practical items that needed to stay on the table for meals.  Finally, it occurred to me–why not make those functional items into one centerpiece?  Doing so had the added benefit of allowing us to stop moving items to and from the table every day.

There are many possibilities for a container in which to place your centerpiece items.  The one that I pictured here is technically a condiment server, that is no longer available, but I have also used this copper plant tray.  When I was looking for just the right item, I looked at condiment servers, trough planters, utensil caddies and, wooden toolboxes.  In addition to Amazon, Etsy and Ebay have some great options.

The item that I eventually bought is 18″ long, which allows space for me to place food on either end when we eat.  If you have a long table, you might go as long as 24″ or possibly longer.  As you can see, mine is divided into sections, but I am not sure that I would choose a sectioned centerpiece again unless the sections were at least 7-8 inches wide.  This would have allowed the trivets to fit in without angling them.  Also pay attention to the height of the items that you want to put in there.  These sections are 4″ deep and my salt and pepper shakers are just barely tall enough to easily access.  If you use a shallower container, you might use jelly jars or other containers to hold items upright.

The items to put in your centerpiece depend entirely on what you typically need at the table.  For us, that meant napkins, trivets, salt & pepper shakers, silverware, and the pink-striped tea towels that we use as place mats.  You could also consider other condiments than do not require refrigeration.  Another possibility would be placing all of your serving spoons in your centerpiece.

I hope that you are inspired to design your own useful centerpiece.  Happy Decorating!

Some posts on this site include affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that the opinions expressed are entirely our own.

10 Container Flowers that Bloom All Summer

10 Annual Container Flowers that Bloom All Summer.png

When I first started gardening, I chose flowers ENTIRELY based on looks…I was so superficial back then.  I scoffed at those who bought petunias.  They were so boring..  I was only going to plant the less common flowers.  No impatiens for this girl!  So, I planted those unusual flowers.  Some of them made it and some of them didn’t.  At first I thought it was due to my inconsistent watering. After I improved my watering by using drip irrigation (see here), I realized that it hadn’t been just my poor caretaking, it was also my flower choices.  Turns out, the flowers that  I so readily scoffed at were probably so common because they were much easier to grow than the flowers I was choosing.

Urn with petunias, impatiens, euphorbia, dusty miller, dichondra, spike
Impatiens, Bacopa, Euphorbia, Petunias, Dusty Miller, Dichondra

Cool-Season Annuals.  I realized that I was wasting a lot of money buying plants that didn’t have much of a chance where I live, so I started making a list of the flowers that I bought in the spring and then taking an inventory in August to see what was still blooming.  If a plant didn’t make it to August for two consecutive years, it was downgraded to a “maybe” plant.  I didn’t want to completely stop buying all of the flowers that petered out in the heat, because that would mean giving up some of my favorites. Instead, I bought very limited quantities of flowers such as alyssum, pansies, and lobelia and planned for their demise.  In other words, during the spring, I would enjoy these short bloomers next to longer-blooming flowers.  Once they died or flowering slowed considerably, I would pull them out to make additional room for the flowers that had proven to be longer blooming.  Another option is to wait for cooler weather in the fall when these flowers may bloom again.

Heat Tolerant, but Require Deadheading.  I also noted that, for some flowers, it wasn’t about the heat.  For instance, geraniums and marigolds do well in the heat, but they require deadheading to keep blooming.  I began to also limit these to small quantities, no more than I was willing to deadhead.  Similarly, Cosmos and Zinnias do well in the heat, but require deadheading to keep blooming.  For these, the solution was a cutting garden, the frequent cutting of flower bouquets means an abundance of these flowers for most of the summer.

My Top Ten.  The ten cottage annuals chosen for this list do well in containers, even when temperatures top 100 degrees.  They do not require deadheading, although a few will benefit from being cut back by half midway through the summer.  I usually do this shortly before we go on vacation.  We return to find the flowers blooming even better than before they were cut back.

Torenia and Double Impatiens in a Brick planterTorenia.  It is a mystery to me why torenia, also known as wishbone flower, is not more widely grown.  It is incredibly adaptable, doing well in both sun and shade.  Heat doesn’t seem to affect it one little bit, it just keeps on trucking.  I now only buy the Summer Wave series from Proven Winners.  Any other cultivars have been a disappointment.  The above photo was taken of two Violet Torenia plants and one double impatiens, midway through the summer; they were even larger by fall.

euphorbia, impatiens, petunia, spikeEuphorbia.  These tiny white flowers that resemble baby’s breath are a versatile filler in both sun and shade. Don’t over water, it is drought tolerant.  Euphorbia is exceptionally easy to take cuttings from and some also overwinter this plant indoors.  “Diamond Frost” is a favorite.

 

petunias with bunnyPetunias.  Petunias are known as a flower for full sun, but in my area, they seem to do well even in partial shade.  Although deadheading may increase the number of blooms, I find it sufficient to cut them back about halfway once in the middle of summer. Petunias seem adaptable to a variety of watering conditions.  They come in a rainbow of colors, but I am partial to the pink and purple varieties.  If I could afford to do so, I would love to buy dozens of the expensive cultivars, but I am always satisfied with the less expensive plants that I buy in six packs.

 

Angelonia.  Also known as Summer Snapdragon, Angelonia requires full sun and is fairly drought tolerant.  Most varieties grow over one foot tall.  It is sometimes helpful to cut these back once during the middle of summer.  The Serena series is grown from seed and easiest to find, but I prefer Proven Winner’s Wedgewood Blue when I can find it.

 

bacopa, euphorbia, petunia in urn croppedBacopa.  The little white flowers of this delightful plant continue to bloom in part shade to full sun, as long as they are not allowed to dry out.  If blooming slows, cut back once about halfway during the summer.  Bacopa drapes beautifully over the side of a planter.  In addition to this white, it also comes in pink and purple.

 

Calibrachoa.  Once you have grown this prolific bloomer, it is easy to see how it earned it’s nickname, Million Bells.  Single Calis looks like mini-petunias, while the double Calis look like mini-roses.  It comes in several colors, but I am partial to this Double Pink Calibrachoa.  As pictured here, Calibrachoa fills in the planter, as well as spilling over the edge.  Calibrachoa needs full sun and be careful not to over water.

 

Impatiens.  Of all the flowers I buy, I depend most on lovely impatiens, also known as, “Busy Lizzies”.  There are now some more expensive varieties that do well in sun, but I love the inexpensive varieties that I can afford to buy by the flat to brighten up the shady areas of my garden.  In recent years, I was surprised to realize that my impatiens can also do well in sun.  The above variety is called Blue Pearl, although they are pink.  Impatiens require regular watering.

 

Salvia.  Although these Victoria Blue Salvia were purchased as annuals, many plants often return after a mild winter…or perhaps they just self sow.  Salvia are known for their drought tolerance.  Be sure to check the projected height of any salvia before purchase.  Some grow too tall for smaller containers.  Salvia are best in full sun, but also do well in partial shade.

 

Verbena.  While I love the many shades of verbena, most that I have tried required some cutting back for continued blooming.  Not so with these little Imagination Verbena.  Verbena do well in partial shade to full sun.  Although they tolerate some dry conditions, they seem to flower best when kept continuously moist.  These verbena are especially useful for adding height to containers.

 

VincaVinca. As a beginning gardener, I could not tell the different between impatiens and Vinca to save my life.  Even today, I pay more attention to the foliage, than the flower.  Vinca, also known as periwinkle, does well in full sun and is fairly drought tolerant.  For me, the plants stay relatively small, but still provide a nice pop of color.

 

 

Honorable Mention:  The following flowers also do well in heat and do not require deadheading:  Pentas, Lantana, Scaevola, Begonia, Moss Rose.

Spend less time deadheading and more time relaxing in your garden.

Happy Gardening!