The Shady Porch: 08.11


Chicken Provolone with Wild Rice

Some years ago, Bob Evans restaurants had a Chicken Monterey dish on their menu that we loved. Once they removed the item from their menu, we started fixing our own version. Over time it has changed some, but only for the better! We use Provolone cheese rather than the Monterey Jack most of the time. We prepared the dish tonight as a farewell to the zucchini/squash harvest for the year. 

The dish, as we serve it, is a bed of wild rice with a chicken breast covered in sauteed veggies with a slice of provolone cheese on top. Garnish with diced tomatoes and chopped scallions, as desired. 

Chicken Provolone chicken dinner easy recipe rice vegetables


Pizza Pops aka Pizza Bites

Friday night is usually homemade pizza night at our house, but, this week, we decided to give it a twist. We made Pizza Bites from Annie's Eats. It was a simple recipe to do and we loved the results! We ended up calling them pizza pops at our house since you can just pop one in your mouth. They would also make great appetizers.

Baked Pizza Pops aka Pizza Bites snack appetizer pizza recipe
Pizza Pops aka Pizza Bites


Spice Rack Makeover

In a recent (and successful!) thrift store outing, I found a spice rack with large jars/bottles, with blond wooden stoppers, that nested within in a matching blond wooden rack. The rounded stoppers had thin rubber gaskets around the stems to help seal the tops.

Unfortunately, I have misplaced the original (before) pictures, so what you see is after I had started the makeover. Each stopper gasket had, over time, worn and lost much of their sealing function. So, I had to find a way to restore that. Also, the jars had no previous labels to suggest designed use. I wonder even now if this set wouldn't make a great vinegar rack. If you have the cider, red wine, balsamic, and white vinegars and olive oil for making your own dressings, this could be a lovely, dramatic set to display on your counter or kitchen island.

The blond wood looked tired, so, to add some visual punch, I painted the rack and the lids black. As I said, the seals were in bad shape, so I replaced them with some black o-rings. The spice set / dressing set was looking much better.

Now, I wondered about labels for the bottles...what kind to use and which spices, etc? Then I found a tutorial on a blog called Looks Pretty Good To Me, that showed how to use chalkboard paint on jars! It made so much sense...I could change the "label" anytime I wanted to if I used chalkboard paint! So that is exactly what I did and it was so simple. I taped off the areas I wanted to paint and got out my new bottle of Plaid Chalkboard Paint and, in minutes, the visual transformation of my new spice/dressings/whatever rack was done! 

The entire project cost about $7, including purchasing the set, the o-rings, and the chalkboard paint. The paint for the stoppers and the rack I had on hand already. The toughest part was having to wait for the chalkboard paint to cure for 24 hours before using the chalk on it. I just couldn't wait to show you and tell you about this terrific project using chalkboard paint! Check it out and tell me what you think? What would you store in the bottles...any new ideas?

**UPDATE** I allowed the paint to cure and here is the end result. Unfortunately, all I had was fat sidewalk chalk but you get the idea!

I linked up at ...


Do-It-Yourself Leafy Wall Plaque Set

Two plaques down and two to go....
I was looking for inspiration and ran across a four plaque set featuring leaves at Touch of Class® that I liked, so I thought, "Why not make my own version?" I picked up a package of artist boards at Hobby Lobby, got out the paint bin, and went to work.

There are plenty of leaves on our property here, but I went to the Internet to find ones that I liked and I wanted each plaque to have different kinds leaves. Once I found the images, and decided on colors, it took some time until I was satisfied with my paint job, but finally I ended up with a wall set I like. Although I rarely paint anything but walls or something requiring a spray paint, I enjoyed the project. I've learned when doing this sort of painting, if at any point, you don't like it or you get tired of it...just paint over it and start anew. Paint is pretty forgiving and that is just my kind of project!

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My leafy wall plaque set
I glued jute to the backs of the wall plaques to attach them to each other and then I tied them to tree branches at the top and bottom. I plan to use the branches to help me hang the set. Who knows.... come spring, I may take it down and do a flower set. 

I think I have about $12 tied up in this project and the set I saw on Touch of Class® was around $80. I can't help but smile when I look at this and think of the money I've saved (and the fun I had
doing it)!


Pin It

I  linked up at
Seven Thirty Three


Roasted Tomato-Jalapeño Salsa

We are truly enjoying (and a little overwhelmed by) the Roma tomato crop that is still coming in from the garden. We've been making batches of roasted tomato-jalapeño salsa that beats anything we've ever purchased. I attribute it to the fresh roasted tomatoes and a good recipe.

Roasted Tomato-Jalapeño Salsa recipe
Roasted Tomato-Jalapeño Salsa


Repurposed & Restyled from Crate to Table

In an earlier post, I mentioned finding this wrought iron crate during one of my thrift outings (less than $5). I loved it just the way it was, but couldn't really decide how I wanted to use it.  Later, while working with a pair of ornate candle holders I had also purchased on that same outing, one of them broke into two pieces. I was bummed and for some reason I didn't throw it away immediately and that delay allowed me to find a purpose for the broken candlestick that would also address my issue with the wrought iron crate. 

I decided to use the broken candle holders as legs for my crate, creating a new table for my front porch! I broke the second candle holder in the same place as the first to make the legs even (no small feat)! Then, I painted the candle holders with a creamy-colored spray paint that echoed the color of the crate. Once the 'candleholder' legs were added, I turned the crate on its side so I could use it as storage or display and placed a frosted piece of plexiglass on top to support our beverages or candles.

This crate is my favorite finds of the summer, and it will serve many purposes (and take on many looks) in the future.


I linked up at


Revamped Pineapple Lamp

Welcome ~ Warmth ~ Hospitality!

I picked up a lamp at a local thrift store because I liked its pineapple motif. Pineapples are symbolic of hospitality, and I planned to put this lamp in my guest room. The lamp was in perfect condition and good working order, but I wasn't keen on the way it looked with my current decor. I revamped it in a way that preserved the unique character of the pineapple and better coordinated with my guest room.
These are the before and after pictures.

I washed the lamp, then spray painted it glossy white. Once that had dried, I mixed black acrylic paint with a silver leaf glaze and brushed it on the pineapple and a few other areas of the lamp. I immediately wiped it down with a rag, leaving the crevices darker to highlight the wonderful detail of the lamp.
I'm happy with the results. I have some ideas for the shade, but I'll save that for another time.


Duct Tape Flowers with Feathers & Pearls

Today I was inspired to use my new duct tape! Check out all the neat prints you can get now. If it's possible, duct tape just got cooler! I am sure some Senior is going to make a really awesome prom gown out of this stuff!

Anyway, I ran across a tutorial showing how to make flowers out of duct tape. While working on the flowers, I thought this would be the perfect craft to restyle some knock-off Kate Spade handbags I found at our local Goodwill store. 
Clip-on Duct Tape Flowers  #crafts #fashion #feathers #flowers
Clip-on Duct Tape Flowers with Feathers and Pearls

Duct Tape with prints and patterns
Duct Tape with prints and patterns!
I embellished the duct tape flowers with feathers and pearls to help bling-it-up. I love them! I also added alligator clips to the back so you can clip them to your handbag, hair, backpack, boots, and lapels...anything,
really. You are only limited by your imagination. 

Here's how they turned out!

clip-on patterned Duct Tape Flowers #crafts #fashion #feathers #flowers

By the way the tutorial that I used to craft my flowers was from How Joyful!

Here are some of my other craft projects regarding flowers! -

 Spring Wreath - Paper Napkin Flowers,

Arty Vase of Button Flowers  

 Pine Cone Flowered Napkin Rings

Thankful for the Bounty

Garden Harvest
I've paused several times today just to say, Thank you Lord for your blessings on me. We're not rich in the way the world measures wealth, but we are rich! A wise man once said, "you're rich if you have what another man needs." I think that is a brilliant definition and should remind us to look through the eyes of the man in need...we will see how blessed we truly are.

Cabbage, Cucumbers, Beans & Squash
Our gardens have been such a blessing to us this summer. We've had such a bounty in vegetables and flowers! The garden bounty has been so great that we have a basket hanging from our fence for passersby to select vegetables from. We've also been able to put up for winter too!

This has been the best year for our flowers, too! Some are towering over 6 feet tall and have stalks the size of tree saplings! It has been the most beautiful, colorful summer we've had here and the bees and butterflies have enjoyed themselves, too.
Zinnias, Glads and Butterflies
Some of our bounty pictures are new, and some may have already been shared, but they are my favorites! So much to be thankful for keeps running through my mind and makes me think of the gospel song we sing ...

So Much To Thank Him For 

Here’s the chorus -

The zinnias put on a show this year!
I cannot make a flower bloom or a vegetable grow, so I am aware that I am the one constantly in need. So, how thankful I am to the One who can do those things that I cannot...and does it freely from his riches.


Pasta with Garlic Cream Sauce & Chicken

I'm sure you will hear this a lot...we love pasta! I love it because it's so easy to prepare. I also love the fact that you could literally serve pasta everyday and only change the sauces to make a totally new and delicious recipe.  

Sadly, there was a time when we didn't know if we'd get to eat pasta again without guilt or uneasiness, due to health concerns in our home...but that was before we found low carb pasta!

Dreamfield's is a low-carb (only 5 g carb per serving) pasta that does not spike glucose levels like regular pasta. Even better...we can't taste any difference! This is one time we didn't have to sacrifice anything to make the healthier choice! 
(NOTE- I am not being sponsored or compensated in any way for this Dreamfield's mention).
Pasta with Garlic Cream Sauce & Chicken spaghetti recipe easy dinnerchicken
Garlic Cream Sauce Pasta with Chicken, Scallions & Cherry tomatoes
Now on to this excellent pasta recipe!


Washer Necklaces & Keyrings

This craft project was one of the first I tried when I started blogging.  Simply using metal washers you can create beautiful necklaces and keyrings. There are lots of other craft bloggers that have made these and I think they all look amazing!  Well, I had to try it for myself! It may sound odd, but there are a few things to learn to get them to look good enough to wear. I'll briefly make note of the steps involved and, if anyone has questions, I am happy to answer them.

I purchased my washers at Lowes where they come in a wide variety of sizes and types (and are really cheap!) To convert the plain metal washers to a necklace required selecting some paper (ornamental, notebook, tissue), I think you could use any of these. 
DIY Washer Necklaces  #crafts #DIY #jewelry #washers #necklace #keyring
I think paper selection is the most important step in the process and this is where I made my first mistake. I used paper with writing on it and, once it's cut to fit the washer, the words are now random letters unless you're lucky. (NOTE - You can also use nail polish instead of paper to cover your washer and it looks really pretty, too.)

I used Mod Podge to attach the paper to the washers. Once the paper is affixed to the washer, the range of embellishments is only limited by your imagination. Use glitter glue or crafting gems, whatever strikes your fancy...this is where your creativity can take over! 

DIY Washer Keyring  #crafts #DIY #jewelry #washers #necklace #keyring
Washer Keyring
Once embellished, to add a glassy finish that sealed everything to the washer, I used Dimensional Magic by Plaid (found at Hobby Lobby), but other bloggers have used Liquid Glass. You should follow the directions on the product you purchase...making sure you smooth it to the edges of the washer so the surface is covered completely and to eliminate air bubbles. Adhere to recommended dry times.

To finish off, the edges must be smoothed using a finishing file to remove the edges of excess paper and Mod Podge. Next, choose your cording, ribbon or rings to make your necklace or keyring. Again let your inner designer come out and add beading, feathers or buttons to further enhance your new piece of bling.

Have fun!    


National Smores Day!

I didn't know there was National S'mores Day until yesterday...and I probably wouldn't have noted it except for the fact that my hubby brought home gigantic roaster marshmallows, and it seemed like we had been unconsciously preparing for the day. So in honor of National S'mores Day, we decided to celebrate with a new S'mores recipe. So new in fact, that now, some time after our project is completed, the recipe itself may still be unfinished!  

We made a S'mores Pie. We were hanging our hat on the longstanding belief that - as far as a recipe goes -everyone has their favorite version...and now that this one exists, other versions are welcome!

We started with a chocolate graham cracker pie crust, figuring to combine two classic S'more elements. We cranked it up a notch with a layer of peanut butter ice cream, then a layer of marshmallow cream and topped it with milk chocolate chips. Then, a few minutes in the fridge (freezer, actually...we were afraid the ice cream would soak the crust too much if it melted) and we were ready for a taste test.

It was good, but it would have been nice if one of us had remembered how hard marshmallow cream gets when it is cold...that was the only complaint. In fact, the most memorable comment was, "Can I have S'more pie?"  Hahahaha....Happy S'mores Day, everyone!


In retrospect, I think our recipe can be improved upon and I wanted to share it here in case you don't read the COMMENTS below.

I would put the choc. chips down first on the chocolate graham cracker crust, then I would use real marshmallows (mini or regular). I would then toast it to melt/brown the chocolate and marshmallow combo and then add the ice cream right before serving. This change is needed because I really didn't like how hard the marshmallow cream got on our pie. :)


Lemony Sour Cream Pie

According to HGTV, "chrome yellow" is a hot color now. It's basically school bus yellow (probably because it's back-to-school time again). Did you know eye shadow is now available in chrome yellow? Ewww! Anyway, I digress.
My interest was in another shade of yellow - lemon. This lemon pie isn't as visually vivid as chrome yellow, but it is an awesome lemon pie! Most recipes highlight the sour cream, but I think the lemon deserves first billing, so welcome to Lemony Sour Cream Pie.

This pie is creamy and has a subtle lemon flavor that is a pleasant change from the strong tartness of many lemon pies and bars. It's a simple recipe with rich delights. I am sure this will be a winner whenever and where ever you serve it!
Lemony Sour Cream Pie #lemon dessert recipe
Lemony Sour Cream Pie


Delightful Watermelon-Cucumber Salad

We harvested a couple of small watermelons from the garden the other day. The lack of rain, coupled with the recent high temperatures, caused one to split, so we decided to cut our losses and harvest two of them early. 
Watermelon Cucumber Salad by The Shady Porch
Watermelon-Cucumber Salad with Sweet & Sour Dressing
I wanted to use the melon and some other produce harvested from the garden that day -cucumber and green onions - so I did what so many do... I Googled! And I found that folks use all of these in a salad together! Awesome! So I cubed the 2 little watermelons,* cubed 2 medium cucumbers, and gave a medium chop to a bunch of green onions (about 6). I also chopped up 1/2 of good sized red onion we had in the pantry.
Placed it all in a bowl, gave it a couple of tosses, and Ta-dah! Salad was ready.

But what is a salad without dressing? Among the many salad recipes, I found a dressing that not only sounded good on paper, but actually complemented the sweetness of the watermelon and added a wonderful dimension to the salad. As good as the salad looks raw (and it does!), this dressing should not be skipped. 
Yum-0 (May I borrow that, Ms. Ray?)...nothing tastes as good as summertime!

(*For the garden enthusiast or anyone else curious, we grew Sugar Baby watermelons, Evergreen white bunching onions and Straight Eight cucumbers.) 

 Watermelon Cucumber Salad with Sweet & Sour Dressing

Salad Ingredients
Cubed watermelon, bite-size
2-3 cubed cucumbers
6 green onions, chopped
1 med. chopped red onion, optional

Sweet & Sour Dressing
1/2 cider vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup Splenda Blend (1/2 cup if using sugar)
Salt & Pepper to taste (I used kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.)
(The recipe also called for 1 T. poppy seeds; I didn't have any, so I left them out. 

-Original recipe at My Gourmet Connection.


Our Experiment with Smoke-Dried Tomatoes

Smoke-dried Roma tomatoes by The Shady Porch
Early in the drying process.
Our tomatoes are finally turning red and, as planned, we tried the smoke-dried tomato idea I read about at Boggy Creek Farm. Of course, we had to adapt our process since Larry smokes his tomatoes for 3-5 days in an actual smokehouse...and we don't have a smokehouse (or the inclination to wait nearly a week).

Good news: we were successful in the drying process. We dried some Roma tomatoes, cut in half with the cut-side up. Initially, we put them on indirect heat in the gas grill, then we moved them to the smoker for a while and smoked them using hickory chips. Our smoker, called a 'bullet smoker' on the box (we always thought it was because of its tall, cylindrical shape), has no vents. Therefore, we could not regulate the heat, which is troublesome when you need to smoke-dry the tomatoes using "cool" heat which is 130-165°F.  Our smoker registered 700°F at one point!

Smoked chicken breasts & pork tenderloin by The Shady Porch
Smokin' chicken breasts & pork tenderloin
while we wait for the tomatoes to dry
(Not to waste the smoke or the heat, we threw a small tenderloin and a couple of chicken breasts on the grates. Given the heat we had created, the "bullet" produced its smoked goodness in about 2 hours...faster than a speeding....well, you get the idea.)

Meanwhile, back at the tomatoes... after 6-8 hours between the smoker and grill, our tomatoes were finished. This was our first attempt at drying tomatoes and I had never heard of smoking them until I found the Boggy Creek site. We were thrilled that our tomatoes looked just like Larry's did on the Boggy Creek website.

I wanted to taste one so I placed it in water to reconstitute it, and, when it plumped back up, I tasted it. Well, I did not like the flavor - which was strongly licorice-like - and I have to assume that the flavor is from the smoke process. It may be because we used hickory and Larry's website says they use oak for their smoke, so that could be our big boo-boo.

Smoke-dried Roma tomatoes by The Shady Porch
Smoke-dried Roma tomatoes
We plan to dry the future Roma harvest but skip the smoking. I can see that smoking is a great way to add flavor, but I think the art is in getting the right smoke for the right amount of time. I really don't want to discourage anyone from trying this; there is great potential in smoked-dried tomatoes.

I am going to order some of Larry's smoke-dried tomatoes so I can have a benchmark to work from. In other words, I'm not closing the book on smoke-dried tomatoes, just this chapter.

Happy Harvesting!


Some Things I've Got Going On

I've seen bracelets like this one (I call them 'EYE' jewelry) and
I am creating some of my own. I will be sharing the process
with you soon and putting some at the Etsy shop, too. 
First, it is nearly time for my big guy to go back to school (this will be his 27th year) and I am on "get him ready" detail. We've checked his schedule, bought his school clothes, and I am sure I will end up blogging about his lunches when the time comes, too. There are some school supplies still on the motivational posters (Even after nearly three decades, encouragement is still vital!), pencils, and Post-its. So it is (as usual) another busy time of year here at the ole Kentucky home. 

Today, I thought I would share some of the other projects that I have going on. These are projects that I've started but as with's a process, and these are still..., well, processing.  

On the recipe front,  I will soon be sharing some more recipes using our garden harvest of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, and watermelon. I'll be Smoke-Drying Tomatoes this week and will share that with you, too!

Here are some crafting / re-purposing projects that I'm hoping to wrap up soon!

This is part of a wall decoration project I've been working on for awhile.    

I could not pass up this beauty I found at a roadside thrift shop! It's a heavy wrought iron crate. I  found this treasure for less than $5! I'm pretty sure it's going to end up on my front porch as a table soon!

Here I'm learning to create jewelry from washers I bought at Lowes!
  This is a project I've wanted to try since seeing it over at A Path of Paper.
You should check out Deneen's Washer necklaces and key chains; they are really nice! I will have some of my own on here soon. 

That's a little taste of the things to come in the not-so-distant future, Lord willing. I hope you will be inspired to cook or create something I've shown you here, or to create something on your own.  

I shared my Wrought Iron Crate thrift find at
The Shabby Nest


Chewy Chocolate-Pecan Brownies

One of the things I like most about brownies is the variety. There are cake, turtle, blondies, fudge, peanut butter, cheesecake, and frosted...whew...and that's just to name a few!
I tried this particular recipe because the egg whites are beaten to stiff peak stage and then added to the batter.  I was curious how this  would affect the brownies. I usually make cake-like brownies so this sounded interesting.  

Chewy Chocolate Pecan Brownie Brownies dessert chocolate recipe
 Chewy Chocolate-Pecan Brownie