Friday Favorites No. 327

I’m about to embark on the longest trip I’ve ever taken away from home, both in time and distance.  It’s also my first time flying directly out of the country – the other times I’ve been out of the U.S. I was on a cruise ship. I’ve never been to Europe. I’ve never crossed the Atlantic. I’ve never spent an entire day flying. But all that isn’t even the most exciting part.  I get to see my son again! The last time I saw him in person was at the Portland airport last May. I absolutely cannot wait. It's kind of a miracle I'm not already sitting at the airport right now.

Monday is the big day, and I'll be gone until late May. Since I didn't want you left with nothing new to look at all that time, I've scheduled a new Friday Favorites for each week while I'm away. When I return I'll be sharing some photos from my trip (which will hopefully include an Italian fabric shop!) and new projects and ideas that are already waiting in the wings!

This post contains affiliate links.

If you're like me, and love the look of a sliding barn door but don't really have a place to put one, Shanty2Chic has a solution for us. This nightstand has the style without the need for so much square footage.

Necklaces made from yarn can get a little warm to wear, which is why I think this one from Chabe Patterns is a perfect transition piece for spring. 

Fruit pizzas are one of my very favorite desserts (and that's saying a lot). I particularly love that Hungry Happenings used strawberries and kiwi to make this one look like a watermelon.

I've made homemade tortillas before, although not as often as my husband would like. I've never thought to make them flavored, but thanks to Amanda's Cookin', now I know how.

A while back I shared with you how I made notepads using a padding compound I'd found. I recently discovered that Chica and Jo also sell it in colors! As I write this, they only have red available. So many great project possibilities with this! **Edit - Now there's purple too!**

You can find these, and my previous Friday Favorites, on my Crafty Staci’s Friday Favorites Pinterest board!

My Experimental Dinner

If we’re having guests for dinner, I’ll usually make something I’ve been successful with before.  It’s always seemed like a bad idea to use friends as test subjects.  However, for some reason I decided last week to not add just one completely new item to Sunday’s menu for a couple of our good friends, but to fill it with things I’d never attempted.  I was lucky enough to come out of it with only one fail, and even that turned out okay in the end.  Oh, so lucky.

We started off with these Caprese Bites from Budget Savvy Diva.  Simple, pretty and delicious.

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Melinda and I are not huge drinkers, but when we get together we usually find a new cocktail to try.  I recently discovered that DiSaronno, an amaretto liqueur, is pretty tasty, so I wanted something that used it as an ingredient.  I ended up finding a recipe on Top Secret Recipes for the DiSaronno itself.  If you give it a try, be sure to use real almond extract and dark, rather than light, brown sugar.  I also used vanilla vodka instead of regular, because it’s what I happened to have in the house.  We mixed it with some Chai tea concentrate and cream.  Yum.

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I’ve had mixed results making bread from scratch in the past, but it’s never stopped me from trying.  I decided on this Rosemary Peasant Bread from Baking Whole Grains, and it was a winner.  I even made a mistake and used more wheat flour than white instead of the other way around as the recipe instructed.  I would do that intentionally last time.  My husband said he loved the texture.

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For our main dish, you might think I chose something with an Italian feel to coordinate with the other things I’d made.  Nope.  And I’m not even a little bit sorry.  This Cheesy Jalapeño Popper Baked Stuffed Chicken from Skinnytaste was delicious and will go into our regular dinner rotation.

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Now for the fail.  My daughter was going to bring her fiancé over for dessert so he could meet our friends.  John has celiac disease, so that meant I needed to make sure it was something gluten-free.  I found several great options, but decided to go with some fudgy cookies.  Ordinarily, this is where I would link to the recipe for you, but in the four days since I was there the website shut down.  I know, weird.  Anyway, they had lots of chocolate chips and egg whites.  This is what they were supposed to look like:

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The batter looked perfect.  The cookies had been in the oven for about 4 or 5 minutes before I turned the light on to take a peek.  Then I exclaimed “Oh goodness, what happened to my beautiful cookies?”  At least, that’s what it sounded like in my head.  I think what my husband heard was something more like “Ack!  Wha, wha, NO!  Grrrr!”  This is what came out:

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The photo doesn’t even do justice to their complete and utter flatness.  When I tried to remove them from the pan, they were just goo.  Until they cooled, and then they were hard.  I threw the second batch into a square pan and cooked it like a brownie.  You still had to eat them with a spoon, but they tasted good.  I ended up saving dessert by turning a gluten-free shortbread cookie mix into lemon bars.  Whew.

Everything turned out, but I think next time I will mix one or two new recipes with something tried-and-true.  I have enough grey hair as it is.

Homemade Barbeque Sauce

I know Memorial Day is typically opening day for barbeque season, but with the iffy weather forecast we were looking at we went for homemade pizza instead.  My favorite is barbeque chicken, but we were out of barbeque sauce.  I always love making something that my kids think can only be found in a bottle at the grocery store.

After looking at several recipes, I cowboy’d it and just started throwing stuff into the blender.  Lucky for me, it’s good.  Really good.  Some of this in a bottle with a cute label would make a great Father’s Day gift.

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Homemade Barbeque Sauce

1 cup catsup

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon brown deli mustard

1/2 cup molasses

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup corn syrup

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 chopped garlic cloves

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground smokehouse pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon GrillMates Smokehouse Maple seasoning

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon liquid smoke flavoring

1/3 cup water

Throw everything together in the blender. Blend for a couple of minutes, until everything is well-combined and the onions and garlic are chopped into tiny pieces. Pour into a saucepan. Bring to a boil on the stove. Reduce to simmer and cook for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick. Cool.

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This seems very sweet if you taste it right away, but is much better after it’s spent the night in the fridge.  This is another recipe with flexible ingredients.  If you don’t want it as sweet, leave out some of the corn syrup or honey.  Spicer?  More cayenne.  I recently bought some powdered chipotle I’d like to try in it.  The smokehouse maple seasoning is optional.  If you can’t find it, but want the maple flavor, try substituting some maple syrup for the corn syrup.

If I had known it was this easy, I would have made my own barbeque sauce a long time ago.  I may never buy it again!

Jennifer’s Hanukkah Latkes

Today, I’d like to introduce you to a guest.  She is an extremely talented cook, which comes in handy since she’s routinely feeding the nine people who call her house home.  She and her family are gearing up to celebrate Hanukkah, so she’s agreed to share one of her favorite recipes with us.  Meet my sister, Jennifer! My name is Jennifer and I have not only followed Staci’s crafts on her blog since she started, but since I’m her sister I’ve pretty much followed her crafts my whole life. So naturally, I was really excited when she asked me to guest blog for the first day of Hanukkah…

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