Month: May 2016

Stylish Napkin Storage from Trash

Taking a Velveeta lid, toilet paper rolls, and some decorative tape, this becomes a caddy to store paper napkins or other items.

    After seeing hundreds of ideas for using empty toilet paper rolls and other cardboard “trash”, and all kinds of crafts using Washi tape, I got the recycling upcycling bug.

Rotel-Velveeta Cheese Dip with Sausage is a once a year calorie-and-fat-filled treat nowadays. That makes the empty Velveeta boxes rarer but very useful. And with two bathrooms and the new sizes of toilet paper, we generate a lot of empty toilet paper rolls. I couldn’t stand tossing that many possible usable materials. Ready to up-cycle!

I priced Washi decorative tape, and Duck Duct tape, as well as 3M. Not the choice for me. At Walmart and Dollar General I found rolls of tape with the same square yards in cute patterns for $1 a roll, so I bought several. I spotted a package of cheap electrical tape with six different colored rolls for $1. Bingo!

The construction is very simple. I chose one of the wide tapes with a blue and red pattern on white. Although my first thought was to use a jumble of colors and patterns, I realized I preferred something coordinated. So I picked out the red and white electrical tapes, which were just as thin and flexible as the larger tape.

1. Wrap the cheese box and 4-6 toilet paper rolls with the tapes in the pattern of your choice. 

2. Place the tape so it goes a little above the top and bottom of the box and rolls. Then you can fold the tape over the edges for a smoother look. 

3. Arrange the rolls inside the box. If you have rolls that slightly flatten, don’t toss them. Just use them in your arrangement. 

4. Fill the rolls with decorative or useful items. Then  enjoy! Here are a few things I think would work:

assorted paper dinner napkins

storage for tall screwdrivers

a place for foam and bristle paint brushes

artificial flowers and greenery

How will you make something out of trash? I love your comments and questions. 



Crispy Ranch Bran Chicken

Crispy Ranch Bran Chicken

Looking for a delicious entre’ for dinner? This one is almost all meat and can be served with many options.

Crispy Ranch Chicken recipes are all over the Internet.  I looked at several, checked my pantry and came up with my variation.

I started with four huge meaty chicken breast halves.  I always buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts. That way there is no waste. I cut the breasts in about three pieces each. If you spread out the breast, you can see where to cut first: just follow the white line separating the tenderloin (tenders) from the large breast. Then I cut the larger part by slicing through the thickest part to make both slices about the same thickness.  The purpose of the smaller pieces is that they have more surface to hold the delicious coatings.

Two casserole dishes about 10″ X 10″ each looked about right since I had about 12-14 large and small pieces of chicken to cook. I melted half a stick of margarine in each dish.  You could melt the margarine in a bowl, but I already had two other coatings in bowls. I dredged each piece of chicken in the melted margarine, and as the cold chicken sat in the warm margarine, the margarine started congealing, but everything got coated just fine.

The next coating was Italian bread crumbs (about a cup) mixed with one package of ranch dressing dry mix.  I often use ranch dressing from a bottle, but I wanted a drier coating.  One by one I dredged the pieces in this coating, then on to the third: one cup of bran flakes, crushed, and 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese.  Why bran flakes? Because I didn’t have corn flakes, of course.

The chicken pieces baked in the casserole dishes at 362 degrees Far. One recipe I found said to use 375, and another 350, so I split the difference, and set my old oven knob between the two temps. After thirty minutes uncovered, I drizzled the tops with olive oil (don’t do this), covered with aluminum sheets which I buy at Dollar Tree, and baked them for fifteen more minutes. After the beautiful breast pieces came out of the oven, I let them sit a few minutes, then I decided to drain the pieces.  The olive oil was not needed–follow the real recipe! I put the same clean foil sheets on the counter with a cooling rack on top.  Ten minutes later, I had about ten gorgeous pieces of Crispy Ranch Bran Chicken and a few small pieces to serve for Mothers Day.

For 8-12 servings:

4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts; I stick of margarine (1/2 cup); 1 package of dry Ranch dressing mix; 1 cup of Italian bread crumbs; 1 cup of bran or corn flakes, crushed; 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.  Coat, bake, enjoy!

Let me know what you think! Is this recipe one you might try? Do you have a better recipe or process? Do you think I ought to keep my nonexistent day job and let others do the cooking?  I would love to hear from you. My regular email is