Oct 31, 2012

Italian Sausage and Lentil Soup (Carrabba's Copycat)

I went to Carrabba's Italian Restaurant a month or so ago. My daddy is a General Manger for Outback Steakhouse in Albuquerque, and the restaurants are owned by the same company, so when he is in town, we get to eat with him at Carrabba's for free (and Outback too, yum!!) I got this soup before my spaghetti and it was soo good. I liked it even better than my pasta. So I immediately went home and looked for the recipe, and found it over at Food.com. I made it a couple weeks ago and it was just like it. And it made a ton. We had it for dinner two nights and lunch one day, and my husband had it for lunch another day. I should freeze it next time. 
But I made a couple changes to the recipe, but you can find the original HERE.

Italian Sausage and Lentil Soup (Carrabba's Copycat)

1 lb Italian Sausage
1/2 onion, diced
1 butternut squash or zucchini, chopped
1 C butternut squash or zucchini puree (optional) SEE PUREE POST
4 C Chicken Broth
2 C Beef Broth
1-2 C water
1 chicken bullion cube
2 TB chopped garlic
1 Can diced Tomatoes
2 C Dry Lentils
2 tsp Salt
Red Pepper Flakes
Black Pepper

Garlic Powder

Brown Sausage with onions, drain fat. Add garlic, cook about 30 sec. 
In large pot, add all ingredients, including Italian Sausage. 
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat, cover. 
Simmer about 1 hour until lentils are tender.
Sprinkle with parmesan if desired. 

Oct 29, 2012

2 X 4 Pumpkins

This is cheap craft, which I like. It was one of those I made at my Auntie's weekly crafty days. 
I didn't have to buy anything for it. They had everything, down to the wood and the paint ready for me. 

Here is what you need: 
2 X 4 Wood: Cut from biggest to smallest
Orange Paint
Sand Paper
Gel Stain 
3 Nails
Green Fabric or Ribbon

Paint your 2x4 wood. I didn't sand it down. I wanted it to look rustic-y, if you want it more cute-sy then you can sand it, but I hate sanding, it is the devil, so I won't sand if its not necessary. After paint has dried you can sand the edges, I did, for the rustic look. That easy sanding doesn't bother me a ton. Then  use your gel stain to make it rustic. Paint on the gel stain, then use a dry paper towel to rub it in, then get a wet paper towel and wipe off most of the stain. Let it dry. 
Get the nails and hammer one into each of the pumpkins at the top. Wrap a cut piece of fabric around the nail and tie a knot. Done! So easy. 
You could make it a little more different and add glitter paint, or make them jack-o-lanterns by painting black faces on them. 

Oct 27, 2012

Serial Killer Themed Halloween Party

So I am a creep. I love to watch documentaries on serial killers. I know, I am morbid. But they are super interesting. Luckily I have a couple of sister-in-laws who share my gruesome interest. And last year we tried to all watch serial killer documentaries together but there were none on Netflix to watch. This year I was prepared. I bought a DVD set on Amazon called 'Most Evil,' which is a Discovery channel documentary that gives an overview of the serial killers and rates them on a scale of evilness. I also checked a documentary video out at the library in case the DVD set I bought was lame. 
But I had to set the atmosphere, so a little decorating was in order. Like I have said before I am cheap, so I just went to Dollar Tree and got the scariest things they had. Most of the stuff was kinda cutesy, which was soo not my theme. I wanted a severed limb, blood type of theme. And I gotta say, even with the dollar goods, I think I pulled it off pretty well. 
I got some severed fingers and some eyeballs, but they looked so lame just sitting on the table, so I put them in water. I thought, hey some of those serial killers keep the body parts of their victims, so that is what I went with. 

So here are the severed fingers. They were already bloodied, so that was good, the bones looked so fake though, and I was worried that no one could tell what they were without close inspection, so I painted the fingernails. Yes, I painted fake severed finger fingernails. It was weird... Then I got a canister, filled it up halfway with some water and some fake blood. The fingers floated, and then the blood sank at first, but then eventually mixed up with the water and looked gross, it was perfect, and in the water, the bones didn't look as stupid. 

Here is my table scape. I just swirled fake blood all over it, I did it the night before so it would be sure to dry. Its not very bright in my kitchen, so the picture didn't turn out amazing, but I think it looked better in person, with lamps as our only lighting. I had a headstone from the dollar store, I put fake blood all over it. Then I took some kitchen knives and put them on the table, it would have been great if the knives had blood all over them, but I just got those knives and I didn't want to put fake blood on them. I also bought some little skeletons, they were supposed to be a garland, but I had no where to put the garland, so I just put them around the table. They were a favorite actually, everyone ended up playing with them all night. 
Then the food went in that big middle space, so it wasn't so empty. 

This was a liver. Some of the serial killers not only keep pieces of their victims, but eat them as well... I know, its sickening. But I was going for gruesome here folks, so I put a knife and fork by the liver to show it was the serial killer's dinner. 

A lot of these serial killers like to be classy, in their own way. So I put my fake eyeballs in a vase with some fake flowers and water. And like the fingers, they looked much more twisted and gross in the water, the water makes them look so much less lame... 

Fake blood swirls. The only fake blood I could find was fake vampire blood that came in a little tube, it worked fine, but I would have loved for big huge splatters, but I settled for the little smears. I put my thumb prints in some of them to look more gross. The table cloth was just a dollar store one as well, I just threw it away afterwards. 

These are my invitations I made. I only invited three couples, I really wanted a knife dripping blood on them, but when I tried to make a paper knife it looked like a 2nd grader art project and not scary. So I just focused on trying to make blood. I made the blood marks out of red ink that I already had. I ran the ink pad over the paper and then I pressed my thumb in the ink and then made red thumbprints all over too, I dragged my thumb around some parts, to give the appearance of a struggle.

This side I just used some Halloween paper I had on hand and then ribbon and the skulls were made with skull rings that I bought at the dollar store last year. i just cut off the ring part and glued them on. It took a bit for the glue to dry. 

For food I served Chili. I made it in the crock-pot (recipe to come soon). And it fed all of us perfectly. 
I asked everyone to come to bring a appetizer or dessert. 
My lovely sister in law brought mud cups (chocolate pudding, crushed oreos, and gummy worms) but we ate those later so I forgot to take a picture!), The most delicious chips and dip were brought by some family, and then my other sister in law really had some fun with making Halloween themed snacks, which I remembered to take a picture of right when she got there. 

These are bread stick 'bones' 
She said they are crescent rolls with parmesan and poppyseads. They were delicious and spooky. And went great with our chili!

These are ghosts and witches hats cookies.

I forgot to take pictures of the actual party and of our guests, it got busy with food and stuff and I spaced it, which sucks becuase while the table and food were great, the people are the memories I want to keep... Lame Vanessa, real lame. 
But we had a great time eating food and a disturbing time watching our documentaries. 
I just want to note, I am not trying to glorify the serial killers or what they did, they did horrifying and awful things, and I can't imagine what those victim's families went through. But it is interesting to learn about them and think about how someone's mind can get to that state. After watching several, I have learned that those killers usually had a pretty messed up childhood. And just so you know, you cannot watch too much of those documentaries. I bought the dvd set and it has 20 episodes and I have only watched like 5 this whole month. You have to watch them really slowly because if you watch too many  in a night, you feel like crap and won't sleep that night. But if you watch them slowly they can be interesting and scary! 
But we tried to have a spooky night, and it was fun decorating and eating food and watching only two episodes! 

What did you do for Halloween parties??

Oct 25, 2012

Hanging BOO Letters

My auntie has started a craft day every week with me and some friends of hers in her neighborhood. Somedays we scrapbook, sometimes we do crafts. I have to bring little A-Cakes, who never lets me get much done, but its nice to be able to chat and it gets me in the mood to come home and craft.

They planned this little craft and all I had to do was buy the wood letters. It was pretty easy. 
You need: 

Wood letters
(any kind work fine, I would get medium to large ones, and they can be flat or 3-D. Hobby Lobby was out of all their O's in the wood letters, Seriously, all of them in all the wood styles, it was ridiculous.. So I found these cardboard ones in a different aisle and they worked great.
Halloween kind

Its easy enough to figure out what to do. Just paint the wood, I used purple because it seemed fun. Trace the letters on your paper and cut it out, paint mod-podge onto the letters, add the paper and smooth out any bumps. Then once it has dried mod podge over the top of the paper. 
I used ribbons and tulle to hang my letters up, then hung them on my door. I added more ribbon bows on it too.

I love it! Its cute and fun. 
You could also add glitter to yours, or make it scary and add spider webs or fake blood.