Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Quiet but busy!

Things have been quiet around the blog lately, I apologize for that! The primary reason is that most of the goodies I've been working on are Christmas presents! So hopefully I'll be doing lots of updating after the holidays, once everyone's received their gifts :-)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gingerbread Minions

Why am I hoarding small (sugar cookie) gingerbread men?

Time will tell..... :-)
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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Upside Down Apple Pecan Pie

My parents came in from Georgia for Thanksgiving, so I didn't have to cook a thing.
But I still wanted to contribute!

I saw this recipe from the TidyMom blog and knew I HAD to try it!  Mine turned out fabulously - eventually.  I think I had an extra cast iron skillet in the bottom of the oven which messed with the cooking time. The FIRST time I took it out, I had flipped it out onto the pan and realized the apples in the bottom weren't fully cooked yet! So I RE-flipped it, put it back in the oven (without the skillet!) and baked a little while longer.

It was fabulous! Not for the faint of heart, the pecan mixture adds a LOT of sweetness to a normally-tart apple pie.

Thanks to my hubby for the beautiful pictures!

 And my little turkey is officially bigger than the one we cook!  (Last time we did this, she wasn't!)

Upside-Down Apple Pecan Pie 

From TidyMom

1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup melted margarine or butter
1 box of Pillsbury All Ready Pie Crust
1 tsp flour
6 cups (6 medium) sliced & peeled apples
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Heat oven to 375°F.

1. In 9" pie plate, combine pecans, brown sugar and margarine; spread evenly over bottom of pan.
2. Prepare pie crust according to package direction for two-crust pie (flouring each side of crust).
Place bottom crust over pecan mixture in pan.
3. press crust down around sides of pan.
4. In large bowl, combine apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. mix lightly.
5. Spoon into pie crust-lined plate.
6. Top with second pie crust, and flute.
7. Cut slits in several places.
8. Place pie plate on cookie sheet and bake at 376° for 40-50 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cool pie upright in pan for 5 minutes
9. Place serving plate over pie (after cooling for 5 mins)
10. Invert pie, Carefully remove pan. Some nuts may remain in pan, replace on pie with a knife
Cool at least 1 hour before serving.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Spread Sunshine!

This card went to a sweet, deserving friend of mine! She's pregnant with a toddler at home, and deserves a nice break!
I used my new Texture Boutique and some Core'dinations cardstock for the yellow sunshine. I couldn't figure out what accent colors I wanted for the LIFE of me! I settled on red because it was a bright, happy color!

I also decided to put small coffee beans on my envelops for RAK. They are adorable!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Welcome Back, RAK!

Inspired by Stacy and her RAK Birthday Project I pulled out the last few Starbucks cards and got them ready to send away!

I love this card. I used an ultra-fine silver embossing powder on the words and it makes ALL the difference! Words look so much better with the ultra-fine powder, IMO. I used my espresso cup and added "whipped cream" (ie, liquid applique pen!) and a few pearls to highlight the elegant simplicity!
The back is simply the gift card holder and a small fork bow!
 Stay tuned! My Christmas cards are in the works and will be sent out early this year (I hope!)

The REST of the cards!

I mentioned before that September/early October had 10 birthdays for us! Here are a few more of the cards I made to celebrate!
This was my "man" card - it went to my dad and my FIL.

This card is probably my favorite from the group I made! These went to my 2 year old niece and a good friend of ours that turned 1 in October! It was made using Once Upon a Princess (OUAP) Cricut cartridge. I also used my edge punch (Threading Water) and some pearls to accent the princess' dress.

Happy birthday to everyone we love!
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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Herb Focaccia Bread

I found this recipe a few years ago and have spent the last few years tweaking it to suit my family's taste.  It's definitely a family favorite! It's also my go-to recipe to send with homemade spaghetti sauce to new moms or as a "get well" meal. 

Here's the cast list (I've added rosemary because I adore it. Feel free to follow the recipe and leave it out!)

Of course, my small helper wanted in on the action. Mommy does the measuring, but E gets to do the fun part - the "mixing"!

I love how the mix looks as the herbs all get added. 

When I have time, I like to follow the "1/2 - 2xs" rule with the yeast.  If you use half the yeast and double the rise time, your flavors develop more and you have a different depth of flavor. Today, I just followed the recipe.  Rise for one hour (or until doubled). I let dough rise under a damp, warm dish towel (one that doesn't have fuzzies, or else you'll be making fuzzy bread!)

I vary the baking methods as well, depending on what I'm looking for that night.  Some nights, I want a more crisp, flatter bread.  Those nights, I roll the dough to about 1" and follow the baking directions (450 for 15 minutes).  However, this bread tastes quite similar (or better, if you ask my hubby!) than Macaroni Grill bread. So on the nights I'm looking for that comforting flavor, I will leave it more of a thick loaf, lower the bake temperature (usually to about 350 bake convection) and lengthen the cook time (I usually just start pressing on the middle around 20 minutes and go by how much it "squishes." Very technical, I know. Sorry!)

Then we enjoy! 

Here's the recipe, copied from My Wooden Spoon

Easy Focaccia Bread

* 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon table salt
* 1 teaspoon white sugar
* 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
* 1 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1 teaspoon dried thyme
* 1 teaspoon dried basil
* cracked black pepper
* kosher salt
* 1 cup + 2 tablespoons water
* 3 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Making by hand:
1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil and a pinch of black pepper. Mix in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and water.
2. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Canvas Bag #1

E's friend Lily turned one in October and part of our gift to her was this canvas library bag!
It's my first attempt at vinyl in my Cricut, adhereing to canvas. I think it turned out pretty well!
I cut the crown from OUAP and the letters are one of the fonts on the Hannah Montana cartridge. I used gems for the top and middle of the crown. The two little bows on the handles are fork bows. (If you've never heard of a fork bow, it's one of my favorite scrapbooking/crafting techniques. Check it out HERE)
There are two other bags that came in the package, so be watching. One already has a future destination (Lily's big sister Maddie also needs a book bag!) but the other is still up for grabs!

If you have a great idea for a personalized bag, send it my way! I'm contemplating making myself a hospital bag for when Broster arrives :-)
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Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Special Gift!

I've known Stef since I was 3 years old. She's is, in fact, my oldest friend (time, not age ;-)) She got married last summer and promptly moved out of the country, so they haven't had a chance to print wedding pictures. For their anniversary, I had some pictures printed and put it in a multi-photo frame.

When a friend mentioned a folded album , I thought "Well, I want to try the album and I have lots of extra wedding pictures!"
And so this album was born.
It took me two hours, start to finish, for the entire album.
It doesn't hurt that they are an incredibly gorgeous couple who picked gorgeous wedding colors!!

I was able to embellish both the front folds and the backs. They had some beautiful photos of their day!

And it just arrived (having been shipped about three weeks ago!!) at their doorstep yesterday! Stef and Nick, I hope you enjoy your pocket album!
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Monday, October 4, 2010

Mmm Recipe time!

The weather here is *finally* getting cooler and that means it's time to bust out the soup and crock pot recipes! Yay!My first choice when we got home from vacation was a recipe a friend told me about awhile ago (Thanks, Stacy!!) Lasagna Stoup!
Start with 1lb ground beef and saute until browned. Mix in onion, carrot (and I added green peppers because nothing is "Italian" to me w/o peppers!).
Saute that for a few minutes with the meat.

Then add in a bit of water and chicken broth.

Add 1 lg can of crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil.

Put in 1lb of broken lasagna noodles (I recommend breaking them smaller than I did - we needed forks to eat that part :-) For some reason I had it in my head they were supposed to be 1" sections -- who knows why :-)
Tear and add 1 cup of fresh basil leaves.

Serve with a dollop of Ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese to top.
Here is the "official" recipe (for those like me that must follow recipes exactly)

 Lasagna Stoup

2 Tbls EVOO
1 lb ground beef sirloin
salt & pepper

1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, grated
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
32oz (4 cups) chicken broth
2 C water
28oz can Italian crushed tomatoes
1lb lasagna noodles, broken in to jagged pieces
1 C basil leaves, torn
1 C whole milk ricotta
grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

1. In a soup pot, heat the EVOO over medium-high heat. Add beef, season with salt and pepper and cook unil browned. 3-4 mins. Stir in onion, carrots and garlic. Cook until softened, 5-7 mins. Stir in 2 cups water, chicken broth and tomatoes. Cover and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 15 mins. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper.

2. Serve in bowls and dollop with ricotta. Pass parm at the table.

All in all, this got rave reviews from my family, except that we all felt there was *some* flavor missing. I will definitely be making this again, so hopefully we can figure out what we were missing this time! Awesome recipe for a cold fall day - comfort food at it's best, that's for sure! Thanks again, Stacy!
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Birthday card barrage!

September is a BUSY month for us, birthday-wise. I had10 birthdays to prepare for! And so I made all the cards ahead of time (which doesn't mean I've sent them OUT on time, but that's another issue for another blog ;-))

Here are two of the designs I'm sending. I have a few more up my sleeve for another day :-)

The "Celebrate" comes from the Celebrations cartridge on the Cricut.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Food Obsession: Chocolate Covered Peanuts

I have a small addiction to chocolate covered peanuts.
Before I got pregnant, I was doing Weight Watchers. I realized I had no way to gauge my peanut treat intake if I didn't strictly measure my peanut clusters. So I bought a mini muffin tin, weighed out my peanuts and put in a precise amount of chocolate/butterscotch mixture. My points value (depending on the methods I used) came out to be between 2-3 pts per cluster. WORTH it :-)

Here's my muffin tin full of peanuts, just waiting for the oozy chocolate/butterscotch mix.

I always melt my chocolate over a double boiler, not in the microwave. I just like the way it turns out better. And if you can get your hands on a *glass* bowl, those work better than metal. If you can't get glass, plastic works too. Metal seems to get too hot and can seize up your chocolate. Be sure when using a double boiler that you don't get ANY WATER in your chips! Mix well while it's melting, because the chips won't change shape until you do - and you risk scorching it!

Filling the cups - almost there!

I pop mine in the deep freezer for a short amount of time (usually because I don't care if they're set before I start eating them ;-)) and then you can just pop them out onto a large cutting board or your counter!

You can make them "prettier" if you mix the chocolate and peanuts together, then put them in the cups. However, as I mentioned, these are the WW version :-)

My Recipe: 

3 oz lightly salted peanuts
10oz chocolate/butterscotch chips - I prefer about a 60/40 mix chocolate to butterscotch, but play with these numbers for yourself (you WILL make them more than once - they are addictive!)

This makes 18-2pt snacks. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I never went apple picking as a kid. It's something that started when my husband and I got married. His favorite dessert is a homemade apple pie and his birthday is late September, so we always go around his birthday to pick our own apples for his birthday pie.

We went earlier this year, because the weather permitted. We left with 15lbs of apples! I made pie a few weeks ago (not a stellar job and I have enough apples, I may just try to redeem myself before his birthday rolls around!) but in my prengnacy haze, I have been CRAVING an apple fritter.

The *best* apple fritters from from Patterson's Fruit Farm in Ohio. However, I live in Missouri now, and that's a LONG drive for what is essentially a doughnut :-) So I scoured the internet for a recipe. I landed on this one from The Picky Apple.

I have LOTS of apples left, and I wanted to use one Jonathan and one Golden Delicious, so I doubled her recipe. I also added WAY more cinnamon than the recipe calls for. Hubby loves cinnamon-apple and preferred it with a bit more "spice".

Here's my bowl of batter (sorry, I'm trying to get better about taking pictures at each step, but I was so excited to eat them, I forgot to take more pictures :-)
Mmmmm wouldn't be a real doughnut/fritter if I didn't fry it.

And a bit of icing. Mmmmmmmm.

And you'll be thrilled to know, they reheat well (toasted in a toaster oven) for dessert that same night ;-)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My new favorite side dish.

A friend told me about this recipe from the Pioneer Woman. And I'm addicted!

Plus, I've found a farmer's market near our house where I can buy the small red potatoes for $0.75/lb! Mmmm. I always use at LEAST 2lbs of potatoes for my family of 2.5 people :-)

Wash your red potatoes.
Boil them until they are tender.
Liberally olive oil a cookie sheet. Put the potatoes down, a few inches apart, and smash. (PW suggests a potato masher. I don't have one *birthday list!* but I've found a metal mallet works best for me. The glass just smashed them too much, with no texture).

Put olive oil, kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper and your choice of herb on top. My kiddo loves to help with the "sprinkling" part!

There's a few steps in between, but I wanted to showcase my fresh-from-the-garden Rosemary! Mmm.
Put them into the oven on 450 degrees for 20-25 min (I usually put mine in for 30 because I like extra crispy potatoes!)

This is always the last step I can get a picture - when they come out of the oven, it's all I can do not to gobble them up straight off of the cookie sheet!

Monday, July 12, 2010

"Recycling" crayons

Do your kids collect restaurant crayons like mine does? Or break her good Crayolas regularly?  I have been hanging onto them for an unknown reason, until I realized we could recycle them!

I decided to melt them down and give them as part of E's "treat bags" for her BFF birthday party!

Some of them were very beautiful on the bottom. 

But I haven't figured out how to make the TOPS beautiful yet :-)

All we did was take the paper off of the crayons and put them in silicone muffin cups (I don't like them to bake with, so they were donated to the arts this week.)  I put them in our toaster oven on 250 until they were all melted (about 25 minutes).  Let them cool and pop them out - voila! Recycled crayons!