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Friday, September 1, 2017

Pasta Broccoli Salad with Bacon

My Favorite Pasta Salad

This  is by far my favorite pasta salad and I fix it when I want to take it to a special event. This recipe makes a huge bowl full. In fact it almost fills up one of those large Tupperware bowls that used to be sold in the 70"s and 80's. You remember. They came in green or yellow. If you never had one chances are your mom or grandmother did.

I have to warn you. This is a sweet salad, but it's not as sickeningly sweet as some of those other sweet broccoli salads. In fact you can control the sweetness. I don't add as much sugar as the original recipe calls for. Also, keep in mind the bacon is essential in this salad. Mozzarella cheese also helps it not taste so sweet.
Everyone who tries this loves it and I hope you do too!

Pasta Broccoli Salad withBacon

1 - 16 oz box Bowtie Pasta (you can substitute gluten free pasta. I like brown rice and quinoa pasta from Trader Joe's or Aldi)

1 large head fresh broccoli, cut into small pieces (can use cauliflower too)

¾ -1 cup sweet red onion or Sweet Vidalia onion, chopped (to take some of the hotness away from the red onion you can soak the chopped onion in ice water for 30 mins - 1 hour)

1 lb pkg Hickory Smoked Bacon, cooked

3 cups Mozzarella cheese, grated

1-1½ cups Hellman's mayonnaise (not salad dressing)
½ cup sour cream
¾ - 1 cup sugar
3-6 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (I use 2-3 at the most)

Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain in cold water rinsing off some of the starch so it won't stick together. Place in large bowl.
In the meantime, place bacon on large cookie sheet that had been sprayed with oil in 375ยบ oven and cook til crisp. Remove from oven and place on paper towels to drain.
Put onions, broccoli and mozzarella cheese in same bowl with the pasta.
Make the sauce snd slowly stir it in with the pasta mixture, small amounts at a time, to make sure you don't get too much. Break up the bacon, but do not add the bacon til right before serving. If I take this to a pot-luck or family holiday dinner, I put the bacon in a baggie, placing it on top of the pasta. If the bacoon is cold from storing it in the refrigerator, heat it up on about 40 seconds in the microwave before adding to the salad. Stir and serve!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Funky Stripes Legwarmers - FREE Crochet Pattern by Mary Jane Hall

Funky Stripes Legwarmers - Free Crochet Pattern by Mary Jane Hall
Now that tne days and nights are getting cooler it might be a good time to start thinking about making these legwarmers for yourself or maybe even for a friend or granddaughters. This is a really fun project. I first designed these to match a sweater my daughter had. I loved the colors and wanted to recreate that color combination to match.

Funky Stripes Legwarmers, Free Crochet Pattern by Mary Jane Hall.
This photo is by nicole02 of Ravelry. Even though I love thecolors of my original leg warmers, I like hers just as much! Thanks for your photo Nicole!
I love makaing Puff Stitches and even if you have never made that stitch before, it's not difficult at all.  See the solid color ones a friend on Ralvery made. I like the bows she added! 

Crochet Legwarmer free pattern by Mary Jane Hall

ltlblonde,   a solid color and I love them! I love the bows too! Thanks Robin for your picture!

Thank you Megan (Yonder22 on Ravelry) for your picture. I love e color yarn you used!

Wine Crochet Shrug - FREE Pattern by Mary Jane Hall

This easy crochet shrug is so cozy with the soft yarn that is used. It was originally published in a book called Top It Off! which is a book of designs by several different designers. I was fortunate enough to get my 2 designs on the front cover! That's always an honor. This pattern is now being offered as a FREE pattern HERE.

Wine Shrug by Mary Jsne Hall - Free Crochet Pattern

The pattern is basicslly a rectangle, so it's pretty quick and easy. This shrug would be a nice addition to your wardrobe for those cool nights and days. 
See the ways below this shrug can be worn. It can be turned into a scarf and a wrap too!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Medallion Belt - Free Crochet Pattern by Mary Jane Hall

This is the FREE pattern of the crochet belt I designed to go with the Newsboy Cap HERE See pattern for Medalluon Belt below.

Medallion Belt - free crochet pattern by Mary Jane Hall

Medallion Belt - free crochet pattern by Mary Jane Hall

Make 16.
  • Rnd 1: With size F hook, ch 3, sl st to join in first ch of ch-3 to form a ring, ch 1, 12 sc in ring, join in beg sc. (12 sc)
  • Rnd 2: Ch 1, sc in same sc as beg ch-1, ch 3, sk next sc, [sc in next sc, ch 3, sk next sc] 5 times, join in beg sc. (6 ch-3 sps)
  • Rnd 3: (Sl st, 2 sc, sl st) in each ch-3 sp around, join in first sl st, fasten off.
    Join Medallions at 2 points of 2 sc groups on each Medallion to previous Medallion until all are joined in a strip.
    Draw ribbon through ch-3 sp at each end of Belt, tie ends in a bow.

Copyright © 2006. House of White Birches. Hooks-Only Crochet From Start to Finish.

Newsboy Cap and Medallion Belt - Free Crochet Pattern by Mary Jane Hall

Newsboy Cap Pattern by Mary Jane Hall - Free Crochet Pattern
This Newsboy Cap pattern I designed was published in a hardback book called Hooks Only Crochet, From Start To Finish, in 2006. It is now being offered as a FREE Crochet Pattern! Link for the free psttern is HERE at Annie's website, who now publishes the ever so famous Crochet! magazine. 

This cap pattern is unique in that you create "pie" shapes and then put them together. Now if you do not like the idea of sewing anything together, this pattern may not appeal to you, but I promise, it will look unique and different from all the others! You have the option of sewing with a large yarn needle or sewing the shapes together with a crochet hook. Instructions are also given to make the button on top. By the way, I designed a belt to match! Free pattern for belt is HERE.
See more photos below.

Pie shapes are crocheted, then sewn together to form a hat.
Newsboy Cap by Mary Jane Hall - Free Crochet Pattern

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Southern Fresh Tomato Pie

Southern Fresh Tomato Pie

If you've never had Tomato Pie and you want to try something different, this is a great recipe. It would be wonderful as a side dish or even as a main meal. Some people add bacon to the top! My brother from Alabama gave me this recipe and it originally had oregano on top too, but I wasn't crazy about that. It called for fresh oregano, so maybe that would have been better than the dried oregano I used. This is great for breakfast too!


    • 1 All-Ready pie shell
    • 3- 4 ripe tomatoes, sliced
    •  1 onion, very thinly sliced
    • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
    • 1/3 cup sour cream
    • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
    • 1/2  cup cheddar cheese, grated
    • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
    • black pepper and salt to taste
    • 2 teaspoons fresh basil

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
    2. Bake the pastry shell for 10 minutes or til browned.
    3. Slice onion and place in the bottom of pastry shell. Slice tomatoes and place evenly over onions. Add black pepper  and salt to taste.
    4. In a bowl, combine mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan, sour cream and mayonnaise. Spread this mixture evenly over tomatoes.
    5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Garnish with fresh basil.

Fat Flush Post # 2 - Products from Trader Joe's for the Diet

If you don't have a Trader Joe's where you live, it is really worth looking for one in a nearby town. My Trader Joe's is about 20 minutes from me and I go there at least once every 2-3 weeks and it's well worth it.

Things I buy at Trader Joe's for the Fat Flush:

1. Flax Seeds - whole, roasted ($2.99 for a 16 oz bag). You can eat them whole (in salads and smoothies) or you can grind them in a coffee grinder, or buy them

already ground. I think they are fresher if I grind them myself, but I do buy the ones already ground too. When I went on the Fat Flush the first time, I didn't grind the seeds. I had no idea at the time that they are more nutritious and beneficial when they are ground, but they helped me lose weight eating them whole anyway. Of course, your teeth grind them up when you are eating them! Sometimes I grind them, but I still like to eat them whole. The roasted ones taste like a nut.

2. Ground Flax Seeds - ($2.99 for a 16 oz bag) I think this is the name on the Trader Joe's
brand, but you can also find it in a pkg called Flaxseed Meal by Bob's Red Mill. They have lots of non gluten flours such as coconut flour, almond flour, corn flour, potato flour, rice flour, tapioca flour and others. Big Lots even has a bunch of these flours.

3. Unsweetened 100% cranberry juice ($2.99 for 32 oz) You dilute it this way: 1 cup unsweetened juice in a half gallon

container, fill the rest with filtered water. You can add stevia or one of the other approved sweeteners. I use stevia. You will drink this during the day, but it's also to be used for your Long Life Cocktail you'll be drinking every morning when you first get up and right before going to bed.

4. Flax Oil - at TraderJoe's it's $8.99, but most other places it's $15-$20 (or more). It's important that this is in a dark container,

because it can go rancid. I
keep it in my refrigerator, but believe me, when I've had it too long it doesn't taste good. But that's only if I'm not on the diet and haven't used it for a while. When I'm on the FF and using it everyday, it doesn't go bad. You are supposed to use flax oil in your salads along with apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice.  (Flax seeds sprinkled on that too) but there are recipes for a viniagrette or other dressings in the book and on Pinterest. You can also put flax oil and flax seeds on your vegetables if you didn't eat a salad for the day. It's important to have at least 2 tablespoons of flax seeds daily and some flax oil. Flax oil and flax seeds are great in smoothies too! In fact, it may be a requirement.

5. Heart of Palms - This is something I put in my salads that I love. It comes in a can, and

you can also buy it at regular grocery stores, but it costs less at Trader Joe's.

6. Ezekiel Bread - Not allowed on Phase 1 of the Fat Flush. This is the sprouted wheat bread I have been buying for about 19 yrs.

When I was tested in 1998 and found out I have a wheat and dairy intolerance, my Dr.told me I could use this instead of regular bread. But the last couple of years I have found out I'm sensitive to the gluten in wheat, and this bread is not gluten free. If you can eat it, though, most grocery stores and health food stores carry it frozen, but Trader Joe's has it fresh - not frozen. I've always kept it in my freezer since I don't use bread that often.

7. Stevia Extract - $9.99. This comes in a small bottle, but it takes just a tiny bit to

sweeten your beverage. The spoon that comes with it is probably less than 1/8th of a teaspoon. This is 100% pure organic stevia extract, and I've never seen this pure extract any place else. Most of the stevia you get in grocery stores contain fillers that are not good for you and are not allowed on the Fat Flush, with the exception of Sweet Leaf Stevia. At Trader Joe's it comes in a liquid ($6.99) as well as packets ($6.99) too. 

8. Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar "with the Mother"

Of course, there are other things I buy at Trader Joe's, but these are the main things I buy for the Fat Flush, since you can find the best prices there.

Let me know if you have questions!