Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mother's Day, Cinco de Mayo & May Day

Welcome to the Old Fashioned Living Newsletter

We hope you are enjoying the Old Fashioned Living newsletter! May Day is May 1st, Cinco de Mayo is May 5th and Mother's Day is on May 10th, so we are sharing with you some tasty recipes, fun crafts, helpful tips, and menu ideas. We welcome your feedback and comments, so please feel free to add your two cents at the end of this newsletter by clicking on the word "comment".

In This Issue

Inspiration: Words of Wisdom from the Refrigerator Door
Crafter's Attic: Charming May Day Baskets
Holiday Kitchen: Cinco de Mayo Celebration
Kids: Personalized Mother's Day T-shirts
Kitchen: Special Beverages for Mom

Words of Wisdom from the Refrigerator Door

Every so often something comes along which prompts me to evaluate myself and my life - something which helps open my eyes to some of life's simple truths, and, in doing so, provides me with direction and inspiration. Many times these come quite unexpectedly and from surprising sources.

One such something came just the other day. Alex, our seven-year-old daughter, brought home an assignment she had completed at school. The assignment entailed picking someone she loved and writing down some of the reasons for her affection. Alex's paper was titled, "My Mom is the World's greatest Mom because..."

Too see the entire story, please visit Words of Wisdom from the Refrigerator Door on OFL.

Charming May Day Baskets

May baskets can be given to friends and family, as well as taken to elderly neighbors or nursing homes. While fresh flowers and candy treats are usually left in the baskets, you can put other things as well. I think fresh flowers, a few tea bags and some little tea cookies would be wonderful!

Below are the supplies you will need, please visit OFL for the instructions!

Supplies Needed:

An empty Tuna Helper Box (a cake box would work)
Leftover wall paper border-prepasted
hole punch or very large needle
leftover filler from a gift we had been given
Gifts for your basket

To get the instructions for this craft, click here.

Cinco de Mayo Celebration

Cinco de Mayo is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the Mexican and Mexican-American culture and heritage, even if your background is non-Hispanic. Cinco de Mayo parties and celebrations can be a whole lot of fun, but with the high prevalence of alcohol at these events, they aren't very family friendly. Here is a simple menu of Mexican inspired dishes that the whole family will enjoy that offers a taste of Mexico, without difficult to find ingredients. Best of all, it is kid friendly and many of the recipes are actually easy enough for your children to help prepare. 

Kid Friendly Margarita Punch

Don't leave the kids out of the Fiesta! Make this fun and festive punch for them and other teetotalers. It is a great all-purpose punch that works perfectly with Mexican menus, grilled food, and any outdoor gathering. This is a modernized version of a recipe we have used for years. It used to call for egg whites, but now we use meringue powder or just whites to make sure the punch is safe from any possible contamination with salmonella.

3 ounces frozen lemonade concentrate
3 ounces frozen limeade concentrate
1/4 cup powdered sugar
equivalent of 1 egg white
1 1/2 cups crushed ice
1/2 liter lemon lime soda
1 thinly sliced lime

Combine the concentrates, powdered sugar, egg white, and crushed ice in a large freezer proof container. Cover tightly and freeze for at least one hour and up to a month. Place the frozen mixture into a large punch bowl. Slowly pour in the soda and add the lime and lemon slices. Serve in chilled salt rimmed glasses.

Makes 4 servings. 

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Favorite Chicken Quesadillas

Quesadillas are quick and easy to make and fun to eat. Adults and children love them (although sometimes with different ingredients!) and they make great party fare. Serve them as a main dish or as a great appetizer. They also make wonderful snacks or light lunches.

2 tablespoons oil
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 small minced garlic clove
1/4 cup chopped bell peppers
2 minced chile peppers (to taste) 
3 chopped plum tomatoes
oil for frying
8 flour tortillas
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
11/2 cups cooked chicken
Sour cream

In a medium heavy skillet saute the onions, garlic, and peppers in the 2 tablespoons oil until soft. Add the chile peppers and tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes more. Add the chicken and stir well to combine. Heat a thin layer of oil in a heavy medium sized pan over medium low heat, Place a tortilla in the pan and sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Add about a quarter of the chicken mixture and top with another 1/4 cup cheese. Cover with another tortilla and cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Flip the quesadilla over and cook for an additional two minutes. Remove from the heat and cut into wedges. Keep warm while frying the remaining quesadillas. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Makes 4 Servings. 

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Fiesta Chicken

This is truly a "no-brainer" meal. This is a favorite dish to make in just minutes, especially if you already have chopped green peppers, onions, and chicken pieces on hand. Many grocery stores sell fresh or frozen chopped onions and green peppers in the produce section, freezer section, or even salad bar. In addition, if time is really short, you can buy chopped chicken to save time. The only thing to watch out for when using these convenience food is the typically higher prices.

1 tablespoon canola oil 
4 chicken breast halves, cubed 
1/3 cup chopped green pepper 
1/3 cup chopped onion 
2 cups chunky salsa 
1/2 cup chicken broth 
1 cup quick cooking rice 
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Heat a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil and chicken and sauté until the chicken is lightly browned. Add the green pepper and onion and sauté until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Add the salsa and broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the rice and mix well. Toss the cheese on top of the dish, cover, and remove from the heat. Let rest for five minutes to cook the rice and serve hot.

Makes 4 servings. 

Preparation Time: 5 minutes 
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Corn with Chiles

This is a very easy side dish with a great color that is more savory than hot. Commercial canned green chiles are not hot at all. For those of you that like your dishes with a bit of zing, substitute hot pepper oil for the olive oil. If you cannot find hot pepper oil, use a dash or two of hot pepper sauce.

20 ounces frozen corn
1 bunch sliced scallions
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 ounces canned green chiles
Salt and pepper to taste

Defrost the frozen corn and drain. Sauté the onion in the oil for 2 minutes, then add the corn and peppers. Cook until the corn and onions are tender and hot. Add salt and pepper and serve hot.

Makes 4 servings. 

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Mexican Sundaes

When I was little I only ate two types of ice cream, chocolate vanilla twist and Mexican sundaes. While my appreciation of ice cream has expanded to many other flavors and dishes, this recipe is still a very sentimental favorite. They are always a favorite with guests young and old and make a great summer treat. The chocolate-cinnamon sauce can be made in advance and just gently reheated before serving if desired.

3 ounces semisweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
Dash cinnamon
1 pint vanilla ice cream
2 small sliced bananas
1/3 cup Spanish peanuts
Whipped cream (optional)

Place the chocolate, heavy cream, and cinnamon in a medium heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate melts and the sauce is smooth. Remove from the heat and cool for 10 minutes. Distribute the ice cream and banana slices among four dishes. Top with the cooled sauce and sprinkle the peanuts overtop. Add whipped cream if desired.

Makes 4 servings. 

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Cooling Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes.

Personalized Mother's Day T-Shirts

Why not make Mom a special shirt that is personalized with love? Give it to her first thing Mother's Day morning and she will feel like the World's Greatest Mom all day long! (This also works like a charm for Grandmas)

You will need:

Clean T-shirt in Mom's size and favorite color
Fabric Paint in several different colors
Stiff cardboard
Paintbrushes and sponges
coated paper or plastic plates

Wash and dry your shirt-even if it's new. Be sure to wear an old shirt while doing this project and lay down newspapers or craft paper on your work surface. Practice your design on paper and decide what you are going to do before painting on the shirt. You can draw Mom's favorite flowers or fun designs like dots and zigzags then place one of these sayings in the middle of your design on the very front of the shirt:

World's Greatest Mom

Coolest Mom in Town

World's Best Mom

We love you Mom!

My Mom is Fantastic!

You get the idea, so try coming up with one of your own! Leave room at the bottom of the t-shirt for your name, or if you have brothers and sisters, all of the names. Once you have your design and saying picked out and you have practiced, you are ready to paint your shirt.

Cut a stiff piece of cardboard the size of the shirt. Place it inside between the two sides of the shirt so the paints don't bleed through to the back.

Use the fabric paints with tips to write your saying in the middle of the shirt front. If you have time, let this dry for 24 hours, laying flat, before you paint the designs. If you can't wait, be extra careful not to smear the writing. Squirt fabric paint onto your paper or plastic plates, not mixing the colors. Dip your sponges or brushes lightly into a color and blot them on a piece of paper towel. Now make the designs on the shirt all around the saying.

When the shirt is finished let it lay flat for 24 hours. Turn the shirt inside out and cover with a clean cloth. Iron each section of the shirt using the warm setting. This will help prevent fading of the paint.

Special Beverages for Mom

Treat your mom all day by serving her these special beverages for breakfast, lunch, dinner and an evening treat! She will feel pampered from morning to night!

Mom's Morning Tea

2 cups boiling water
30 mint leaves
sugar to taste
1 tablespoon Earl Grey tea leaves
1 teaspoon English breakfast tea

Boil water, sugar and mint for about five minutes. Place tea leaves into coffee thermos and pour boiled mixture over the tea leaves and allow to infuse for 20 minutes, and enjoy for your morning treat!

Spiced Cocoa

1 1/2 cups sweetened cocoa
2 cups boiling water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 cups milk
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp sugar

Combine cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar in a large saucepan, gradually stir in water, and then add milk. Heat slowly, be careful not to scorch. Serve the cocoa hot with marshmallows or whipped cream.

See more recipes from this feature by visiting Special Beverages for Mom at Old Fashioned Living

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