Smartie Valentine Candy Airplane

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Smartie Candy Valentine Airplane

 I think it’s already been established that I’m OCD. I could have just shopped a local retail store for Valentine cards. But, oh no, not me!! My compulsive disorder kicked into high gear and I decided to make these candy airplanes for my grand son’s third grade classmates. Of course, then the other two grand kids wanted the same.

I had problems with the gum wings drooping. My solution: a wooden spoon (the kind ice cream places use as tasting spoons). You could probably stack multiple pieces of gum for more stability, but I was trying to keep the cost down and the tasting spoon seemed like a better option. I might even consider sending small yogurt cups for the kids to use with the taster spoons. That is to be determined.

I ordered the red rubber bands online at Amazon Marketplace (Christy’s Toy Outlet). A 40 ounce bag was $4.99 plus $3.95 in shipping. You might be able to find them locally, but I didn’t want to spend time and gas driving from store to store. Trust me, you will have enough red bands to make over 100 airplanes… should you so desire.

How to make a Smartie Candy airplane

 I set up an assembly line for making the candy airplanes. Here is what you will need:

  • Lifesaver candies. I purchased a bulk bag of different colors and flavors.
  • Sticks of gum
  • Wooden tasting spoons (optional)
  • Rubber bands (I used red)
  • Smartie candies
  • Curling ribbon (about 8 inches per airplane)
  • Airplane trailer tags (I printed mine here, courtesy of Shabby Chic Crafts)
  • 4 x 8 poly bags (purchased from GoPlanetEarth.com)
  • Printable “FROM” tags that read, “Have a HIGH FLYING Valentine’s Day”
  • Hand-held hole punch
  • Scissors (for curling ribbon and cutting tags)

HOW TO

 Get your assembly line ready if making large quantities. Take the wrappers off the Lifesaver candies. I bought mine in bulk so they were individually wrapped. Thread the rubber band through both inner circles of the Lifesavers. These will be the airplane wheels.

Place gum stick on the wooden spoon. Secure in place with the rubber bands. These are the airplane wings. Next slide a Smartie candy between the Lifesaver wheels.

Tie curling ribbon to end of the Smartie candy and attach the Happy Valentine trailer. Place the prepared airplane in the 4 x 8 bag along with the “FROM” card.

I used clear adhesive circles to close the top of the bag. Scotch tape will work just as well, or, a heat sealing machine (not exactly a household item, but I have a couple for my business).

TIP

You can decorate the gum stick with foam shapes (small hearts). I didn’t want to spend the extra time since I was making quite of number of these guys.

Happy Valentine Smartie Candy Airplane

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

Not only is this easy to prepare, it’s also delicious. The most important part of this recipe is using “corn” tortillas and not “flour”. I tried to substitute flour tortillas (because that’s what I had on hand). They just don’t add the crunch needed to make this dish a hit.

Second Option: Break up plain baked corn chips in place of the corn tortillas. You will want fairly large pieces, so don’t crumble them.

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

The filling is mixed and then spread over sliced, 6-inch corn tortillas. Honestly, this recipe requires only 6 ingredients and you can prep it all within 10 minutes. Casserole bake time is 33 minutes.

I’ll get the recipe uploaded shortly. This makes four servings and I must say the servings are pretty generous and in the neighborhood of 260 calories.

 

Preparing the chicken tortilla casserole

Here is the casserole once it baked in the oven. The smell in the kitchen was sooooo yum-yum-licious. It took a lot of will power to let this cool before cutting into it.

The finished casserole.

Valentine’s Day: 52 Reasons Why I Love You

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Yes, yes, I know. This isn’t food related but I still think it’s pretty cool and worthy of a post.

Valentine's Day: 52 Reasons Why I Love You

I was trying to come up with a fun idea for the grand kids to gift their Mommy on Valentine’s Day. This was it! 52 reasons why I love Mommy.

It took  a few hours to put it all together, but that’s the appeal of gifting something handmade. I printed all the “praise” quips on white paper and mounted to the face of cards with double sided tape. The jokers were used for the first and last pages of the card stack. Sidebar: You can also use spray adhesive for mounting (I didn’t have any available at the time).

Print out your message.

 Loose leaf rings (from Staples) keep all the cards intact. The key is to use interesting font types and add pictures throughout the deck. You want to personalize it and claim ownership.

A few adhesive jewels to the front cover is a nice touch. “THE END” page has a place for each child to sign their name.

In completeing this project, my mind raced with ideas. If a child is old enough, have them hand write their “love you reasons”. Grommets can be used instead of a standard hole punch. I suggest punching only the first and last card when using grommets. It will save both time and money.

52 cards, 52 reasons

Apple Sweet Potato Bake

Apple Sweet Potato Bake

Sometimes “yummy” just doesn’t do justice to a food dish. This is one of those cases. This dish is sweet but without the calories. One cup is only around 255 calories. I was barely able to finish the entire serving.

This was actually a side dish for the beef barley soup the Wine Guy made over the weekend. I’d love to share the soup recipe except every leftover in the fridge was tossed into the soup. Believe it or not, leftover Bloody Mary mix from New Years was added in place of the tomato sauce. I must say, the soup was incredible. However, it was the sweetness of the potato/apple dish that seized my taste buds.

Beef Barley Soup and Apple Sweet Potato Side Dish

The apples and sweet potatoes are cooked in a foil pack. Brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cranberries add just the right amount of sweetness. This dish would also work well over a bed of lettuce. Grab the Recipe

Packaging Idea for Valentine’s Day

Sometimes distractions are advantageous. It’s always nice to be distracted from cleaning the house, scrubbing toilets, doing laundry or avoiding the BBQ potato chips calling my name from the pantry cupboard (OK, I’ll be honest, the chips are screaming my name).

My distraction today was creating a unique packaging idea for chocolates, soaps, or other small gifts for Valentine’s Day. The theme: “SPECIAL DELIVERY” and “AIR MAIL” . Here are the end results.

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Packaging: Valentine's Day Idea

Here’s the scoop on how to make these gift boxes which, BTW, can be used for just about any occasion.

  1. You will need a small box. I used a 1/2 pound candy box and wrapped it in brown Kraft paper (use double sided tape to keep the wrapper nice and clean looking).
  2. The red “Special Delivery” and “Air Mail” tags can be printed here. Cut out and apply to box using double sided tape.
  3. Print and fold the Air Mail airplane (courtesy of Southern Living Magazine). Write your message to the receiver and fill in the To and From areas. Attached to wrapped box using double sided tape.
  4. Final step is to add the raffia ribbon and gift tags. The airplane trailers can be printed here (courtesy of GiversLog.com).
  5. The gift tag sets can be purchased from GoPlanet.

My Daugter’s Lunch: NY Strip Beef Bites

NY Strip Beef Tips in Mushroom Sauce

My daughter has a high-stress job. She is principal at an inner city school. Her typical work day is dealing with behavioral, drug, sexual misconduct and truancy issues. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Wowie! Those issues are both challenging and exhausting. It makes what I do seem like a piece of cake (of course, low-calorie cake).

So, Blimpy Girl Mom, is “Johnny on the Spot” preparing lunches that hopefully soften the rough edges of her day. Today’s lunch is not exactly calorie friendly, but sometimes you have to sneek in a meal just for the sake of …. well, the sake of whatever.

Ribbon Pasta in Tomato Base SauceLunch is bite-size NY strip steak with a mushroom gravy made by the Wine Guy. The side dishes include bow tie pasta in a tomato base sauce and broccoli with cheese.

Beverage choice: A toss up between Rock Star energy drink or Diet Coke. I went with cola since my daughter will likely consume a caffienated drink on her drive to work.

 

Tuna Pastry Puffs & Wedge Salad

Tuna Pastry Puffs

This has to be one of the easiest meals ever. Two cans of crescent rolls, tuna (in water and drained), low-fat cream of mushroom soup, low-fat cheddar cheese (I used 1 cup) and salt & pepper to taste. That’s it, folks.

Just mix up the ingredients in a medium-size bowl, unroll the crescent dough pieces and start filling. I was able to make 16 puffed pastries. I grilled two zucchini with onions and my dinner was complete.

If you want to make this a full blown dinner, add a lettuce wedge salad. Two tuna-filled puffed pastries, a veggie and salad is plentiful. You can actually afford to splurge on a blue cheese dressing for the salad wedge (and a few bacon bits!) with this meal.

Tuna Pastry Puffs

If you buy the Wishbone brand of low-fat blue cheese dressings, you’re only racking up 35 calories per 2 tablespoons. Not bad for the richness blue cheese adds to a wedge salad. I suggest using turkey bacon for the bacon bits, but you can also find low-fat bacon bits (look for the Hormel brand). Red onion, diced tomatoes and shredded carrots… yumm, yumm.

Iceburg Lettuce Wedge Salad

You can add crumbled blue cheese if you really want to splurge. Two tablespoons will cost you an additional 50 calories. Forego dessert and you will still have a full course dinner meal for under 400 calories.

Breakfast Frittata with Asparagus / Bacon

Breakfast Frittata Asparagus & Bacon

The first breakfast of 2012 was this Frittata. A frittata is an egg dish made mainly on the stove. I find them easier than making omelets, and an ideal dish for using up leftover veggies and meats. The wine guy cooked this frittata adding asparagus (left-over from our New Year’s eve dinner), crumbled bacon bits, grilled onion, scallions and cheddar cheese.
Breakfast Frittata
This is a popular dish in Italy and a frittata wedge is often taken to work for a lunchtime meal. The Italian word frittata is derived from the word fritto meaning ‘to fry”. Think of it as an open face omelette.

Since this dish is cooked on the stove top and then baked in the oven, you will need an oven-safe skillet (12 inch diameter is ideal).

Frittata can be served hot or cold. A wedge accompanied by a fresh salad, olives or hard crusted bread is a great lunch. A little vino and you are good to go. Freshly squeezed orange juice is my beverage of choice when serving frittata for breakfast.

Oh, let’s not forget frittatas can be made from egg substitutes or egg whites (add a pinch of turmeric to add yellow coloring). It won’t yield the same richness as real eggs, but using extra spices or strong-flavored fillings will round out the flavor.

A dessert frittata will also score big with friends and family. Mix in custard and fresh fruits, then top with powdered sugar or liqueur. Another idea is to use Gayla apples and white cheese. The variations are endless. Have fun. You really can’t go wrong.

Grab the Recipe

Brownie & Cream Cheese Cupcakes (with Strawberries)

Brownie & Cream Cupcakes

Who says you can’t have cake and eat it too? These brownie cupcakes were served at our New Year Eve dinner party this year for dessert. My good friend, Janelle, made them. She has lost a considerable amount of weight over the last year and, like me, is conscious of her calorie intake. It was so thoughtful of her to bring a guilt-free dessert.

It’s a very simple recipe. One box of No Pudge Fudge brownie mix. You will find it in the baking section of your grocery store. Prepare the mix as directed and bake the brownies in cupcake liners. I strongly urge you to use silicone cupcake liners. The paper liners tend to stick to the brownie mix when using the No Pudge Fudge mix. Probably because of the low fat.

While the brownies are cooling prepare the topping.

  • Low fat cream cheese
  • Fat free/no sugar cheesecake flavor instant jello pudding
  • 2 tablespoons low fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon Splenda or agave nectar
  • Sliced strawberries

How easy is that? Not sure on the exact calories, but I do know that the brownie itself is only 120 calories. My guess is the topping adds another 20  to 30 calories, if that. It’s a low-cal splurge. The cupcake brownie is dense and quite filling (and yummy, too!!).

 Janelle, also brought along some cream filled strawberries. The same low fat cream filling was used in the strawberries. Here’s a great tutorial on how to prep the strawberries from Stephanie at Anna and Blue Paperie.

Strawberries filled with Low Fat Cream Cheese

Simple Holiday Place Settings (Christmas)

New Year's Eve Table Setting

For 10 years, Blimpy Girl and the Wine Guy have hosted a formal New Year’s eve dinner party. The table setting is always festive and table decorations change from year to year. The 2011 finale dinner included a colorful array of place mats and napkins. Sprigs of fresh pine and ribbon dressed each dinner plate.

Fresh Pine Sprigs dressed the Dinner Plates

I love the colorful place mats and napkins. It was a perfect fit when paired with the greenery and ribbon. The main course was New York strip steaks and cod stuffed with garlic spinach. A lemon mint orzo complemented the main course.