Friday, October 29, 2010

Fancy Shmancy

Ever since I got my Canon camera, I love taking pictures.  They just turn out so much better.  I've been trying to learn the different settings, and it works sometimes.  What I've been realizing is that no matter what I do, it doesn't matter.  What I mean is, it all comes down to the editing.  Lately on some of the creative blogs that I read, they've had readers take a picture SOOC {straight out of camera}& have had them edit the picture.  Creativity.  And when I read what some people do to make the picture turn out in the end....confusing.  Maybe that's why you pay professionals to take your pictures....they edit it just right to give you a great product.

Well, I don't have fancy editing software...I use my free Picasa to edit all my pictures.  I mean, eventually one day I would like to get an upgraded software & learn how to use it, but for now, I'm content with what I've got.

It's nice to be able to play around with pictures.  When I saw this one I knew that I wanted to change it to give it a more older feel:

The Black & White w/a little bit of color temp changes the picture for me.  I definitely like the B&W better than the original color.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Corn Bread

I like corn bread.  I like really good corn bread.  Tonight I made corn chowder {courtesy of the Pioneer Woman} & instead of having some crusty bread go with the soup, I decided that I was going to make it a corn-themed night & make cornbread.

Moist...Slightly sweet....Corny.....Whole Wheat corn bread.

This was the first time that I used whole wheat flour {I usually just use all purpose flour}, and again, you never know how a recipe will turn out when you substitute in whole wheat flour.  Tonight, it worked.  I thought that the texture of the whole wheat flour complimented the cornmeal.

Here's what I did:

Corn Bread

1 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour {or all-purpose}
2/3 Cups Sugar
1/2 Cup Yellow Corn Meal
1 T Baking Powder
1/2 t Salt
*Mix these ingredients up in a bowl & set aside

1 1/4 Cups Milk
2 Eggs
1/3 Cup Oil
3 T melted butter
*Whisk these ingredients up until the egg is beaten.
*Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until everything is combined-don't mix it up too much...just enough.
*Pour Batter into a buttered 8x8 baking dish and Bake @ 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
*When you take the cornbread out of the oven, you can either: A, brush honey butter over the top.  B, brush regular butter over the top.  Or C, do nothing.  We chose B tonight:

Now, the corn chowder I made tonight was yummy.....and a little bit too spicy.  That chipotle pepper really adds a kick.  We all agreed that although the chowder was delicious, we would hold off on that pepper the next go-around.  Here's the Recipe for Corn Chowder.

 I loved that every single spoon-full have stuff.....corn, onions, bacon, chilies.  It looked very nice as long as it was stirred up.  Let it sit for awhile and the oil starts separating.  This was the perfect night to have the chowder too.  It was cold today; I don't think that I'm quite ready for the cold weather yet.

Miss Madi

I may not have fancy photo-editing programs; I work with what I've got.  Back when I took my daughter's 10 month pictures, the weather was gloomy & the lighting inside my house was horrible.  I had to work with what I was given.  I love sepia-toned pictures, but with this particular photo, I first used the focal B&W function to get the flower to pop out.  I then decided to "warm" the picture & then add more shadow to get rid of the shadows in the background.  I then cropped the picture to make my girl the focal point.

What a cutie!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Save the Ta-Ta's Shirt

This past weekend I ran in the "Save-A-Sister" race in St. George.  I decided that our group of runners needed to have fun shirts to run in.  I made all the shirts (even my 10 month old daughter got one) using freezer paper stenciling.  Lots of work, but well worth it.

The handprints on the front, I traced myself & cut out. It wasn't till the day of the race that my sister pointed out that the hands should have been facing a different direction.  As they were, the handprints look like somebody else came up to you and put their hands on your chest.  If I had to do it again, I would make sure that the handprints covered the chest like your own hands were doing the job.
 Our team name, I used my Mom's cricut to cut out all the letters.  I don't think that I could have done all those shirts by hand.
Although it took some time, I'm very happy that I was able to produce something unique, to make us stand out in the crowd.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Trick-r-Treat Bags

I decided that I was going to be crafty this year with the boys trick-r-treat bags; something nice and big to collect all their halloween candy.  I went and bought some felt {Joanns had it on sale-plus it's pretty cheap in the first place}and just went at it with a fun attitude.  I cut out sqaures of black felt, sewing them together to make a bag.  I hot-glued neon-green letters for their names.  I cut out pumpkins, and on one I sewed, while the other I hot-glued.  I used puff-paint to give each one an extra little something.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lemon-Banana Bread

So I loved the Coconut-Lime Banana Bread.  So much so that I bought bananas to make another loaf.  As I stood in the kitchen looking at very ripe banana's, I also looked at the bag of lemons I had leftover from making lemon squares and thought, "Why not combine the too together".  So that's what I did.

The whole time it was baking, I was worried about a couple of things: First, the fact that I didn't add any oil or applesauce {to replace the oil}.  I figured since I was adding lemon juice, the moisture factor would be ok.  Second, using just whole wheat.  I always try to cut out white flour when I can, but I know that whole wheat flour can be tricky sometimes.  Third, flavor.  I guess we all hope that our food comes out tasting good, but I wanted to make sure that both the banana & lemon flavors would come through.

When I pulled it out of the oven, it was very hard to just let it rest.  I wanted it to cool down a bit so I could pour a lemon-glaze over the top {like the lime glaze in the Coconut-Lime Bread}.  Although I should have pulled it out a little bit earlier, overall, the bread looked & tasted delicious.  I am a very happy lady.

Here's what I did:
 Lemon-Banana Bread

1/4 C softened butter
1 Cup of Sugar
Lemon Zest from 2 Lemons
-Cream these three ingredients first, then add:
Lemon Juice from 2 Lemons
1 tsp Vanilla
2 Eggs
-Mix together until combined; then add:
3 Bananas {mine were fairly ripe, so I added them right into the mixer, letting the mixer do the mashing.  If your bananas aren't as ripe, just mash them before hand.}
-Mix again until everything is combined; then add:
1/2 tsp Salt
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
-Mix again until combined.  Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50-55 minutes, achieving a nice golden color & cooked center.  After the loaf is done baking, let it cool down on a wire rack & then eat or; after cooling a bit, drizzle over top a lemon glaze made up of lemon juice & powdered sugar.
Eat & Enjoy!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Streusel-Topped Pumpkin Pie

With my family celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving on Sunday, I volunteered to make the desserts: Pumpkin Pie & Lemon squares.  When I took a pie crust out of the freezer {I use the Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts because I have yet been able to make a perfect one} I noticed on the box a recipe for this Streusel-Topped Pumpkin Pie.  It sounded so yummy, and I had all the ingredients {except for pecans, which is ok because my sister is allergic to nuts}so I decided to give it a shot.

Streusel-Topped Pumpkin Pie
{from Pillsbury}
Pie Filling:
16 oz of Pumpkin {just the pumpkin, not the pie filling w/the spices added}
12 oz of Evaporated Milk
1/2 C of Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/4 tsp Salt
2 Eggs
-Mix all the ingredients together-
Pie Crust:
Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts-follow directions on the box to thaw or use your own pie crust.  With Pumpkin Pies you don't cook the crust beforehand; so, lay out your crust over a 9 inch pie plate.
Streusel Topping:
1/4 C of Brown sugar
1/2 C of pecans {optional}
2 T flour
2 T Butter
-If you have a food processor...use it.  I tried to cut the butter by hand & made a big mess.  Anyway, in a food processor, add all the ingredients & pulse until you get the consistency of cornmeal...that crumbly-topping look.
Baking Instructions:
Pour the Pie filling into the pie crust.  I then cut strip of foil & folded those pieces over the edges of the crust so they wouldn't burn {the crust will be in the oven for at least 45 minutes}.  In a 425 degree preheated oven, bake the pie for 15 minutes.  Lower the temperature to 350 degree & bake the pie for another 15 minutes.  Take the Pie out and top it with the streusel & remove the foil strips; bake for another 15-20 Minutes or until the center is set & when you slide a knife out it comes clean.  Cool the pie....slice the the pie.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chicken Wrap w/Peanut Sauce

So Yep, here's another recipe from my Pampered Chef recipe book, except this time, I sort followed/sorta strayed from the recipe.  The actual title of the recipe was "Thai Basil Lettuce Wrap" figuring that it was Thai because of the peanut sauce they used.  My husband loves peanut sauce so I figured that he would enjoy dinner tonight....and he did....I did too.
So here's how I did it:
 Chicken Wrap w/Peanut Sauce
{adapted from Pampered Chef}
Peanut Sauce {make in a food processor}
-4 T of peanuts
-1 clove of garlic
*Pulse a couple of times, chopping the peanuts & garlic
*add the next following ingredients
-1/4 C poppy seed dressing
-1/2 T of Basil {a whole T if using fresh Basil}
-1 T of Water
-2 T of Rice Vinegar
-3/4 t of soy sauce
*Pulse a couple more times combining everything
Wrap Ingredients:
-Roasted Red Bell Peppers {I buy the peppers in the jar & use those}
-Cucumber-peeled, seeded, and julienned
-Shredded lettuce
-Shredded Chicken {I cooked up a 1lb of chicken in the crockpot}; take the chicken & mix it with the Peanut Dressing.
Making the Wrap:
Tortilla, chicken, Veggies.  Roll Up.  Enjoy!


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Curried Chicken w/ Cousous

Another yummy recipe from my Pampered Chef book; actually most of my meals are coming from recipes out of this book.  I do that sometimes; I'll pull one cookbook & picks meals from just that one.  Tonight was also another night of cooking new things.  Ingredients I've never used before: Couscous-if it weren't so pricey, I think I would use it more; Curry powder; golden raisens-I snuck a couple of the raisens to snack on while cooking; & coconut milk.
I don't think I've ever had anything curry, so I kept asking my husband if it tasted good, looked good, etc....I thoroughly enjoyed this meal; from the chicken to the carrots & onions, to the couscous.  Plus, it was very easy to make, especially the couscous. 
Here's how I did it:
 Curried Chicken w/ Couscous:
{from the Pampered Chef}
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast-diced into 1 inch pieces
3/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 carrots-peeled & sliced on the bias
1 onion-sliced
2 tsp Curry Powder
1/2 Cup Golden Raisens
1 Can (13.5 oz) Coconut Milk
2 Cups Chicken Broth
1 1/3 Cups Couscous {or 1 10oz box of plain Couscous}
1 Tbsp Butter
Cilantro or Parsley {we used parsley because I have a thing against cilantro}
In a small bowl, combine the salt & pepper.  Sprinkle some of the seasoning mixture onto the chicken.  In a large skillet, drizzle some EVOO & cook up the chicken for about 4-6 minutes, flipping the chicken half way through.  When the chicken is done cooking, remove chicken from the pan {onto another plate or bowl}and re-drizzle the pan with EVOO.  Add the carrots & onions & cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in curry powder, raisens, chicken, remaining seasoning mixture, & coconut milk.  Combine & let simmer for another 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
Meanwhile, in a microwave safe container, pour the chicken broth & cook on high for 3 minutes.  Stir in couscous & butter.  Cover & let sit for 5 minutes.  Fluff with fork.
Serve the curried chicken over the couscous w/ a couple sprinklings of parsley {or cilantro}.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

BLT Mac & Cheese

Tonight's theme for dinner was vegetarian, and when I saw this recipe, I thought that a little bacon wouldn't hurt the theme.  With this meal I was actually able to buy & use Leeks.  I like leeks.  I really do try to broaden the fruits & veggies that I eat; they've increased much since I've been married.

I'll be honest with this recipe though, I was a little leary when the directions told me to throw these ingredients all together into the pot: water, pasta, cream cheese, & the grated cheese.  Cheese...Water... seemed like a recipe for disaster.  In the end, it worked out, but left a nice mess on the bottom of my dutch oven.

Another confession, I didn't find this recipe awe-inspiring, but I'm posting it because everyone else in my family loved it.  James went back for seconds.

So here's the recipe, & I followed it (cooking time & measurements) more so because I've never cooked cheese & water together before.
 BLT Mac & Cheese
{from the Pampered Chef}
*5 C water
*8 slices of bacon-diced up
*4 oz of Sharp White Cheddar
*1 oz of Parmesan Cheese
*4 oz of Cream Cheese
*1lb of Cellentani Pasta
*1 tsp of Salt
*1/2 tsp of Pepper
*1 large Leek-sliced & cleaned {white & light green portions}
*3 large Plum or Roma tomatoes-diced
In a large pot bring the 5 cups of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, start cooking the bacon until nice & crispy.  When the water comes to a boil, add the pasta, cheeses, & seasonings.  Cover & simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  After the five minutes, stir in the leeks and let it cook uncovered for another 5 minutes {you want the pasta cooked & the sauce to thicken}.  Take the pot off the heat & stir in half of the cooked bacon & the tomatoes {reserving a 1/4 cup for garnish}.  Serve the pasta in a bowl & garnish with the remaining bacon & tomatoes {and parsley if you've got it}.  Enjoy!


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Coconut-Lime Banana Bread

During my daily perusing of crafty blogs, I came upon this: Coconut-Lime Banana Bread.  I knew instantly that I wanted to try it.  Since I was in the baking mood & had boughten some bananas at the commissary, today would be the day.  I of course had to stray, but that's what I do.
 Coconut-Lime Banana Bread (my way)
*In a mixing bowl, cream together:
*1/4 C butter
*1 C of Sugar
*Next mix in:
*1/2 tsp Vanilla
*2 Eggs
*1/4 C plus 2 T of Applesauce {in her recipe she used 1/4 C of yogurt & 2 T applesauce, but I didn't have any yogurt.  So I thought about what the yogurt would be doing in the recipe, I thought that it was replacing the oil in a regular recipe.  Well my using all applesauce worked because the bread turned out yummy.}
*3 Bananas-mashed up
*1/2 C of coconut
*Then mix in:
*1/2 tsp Salt
*3/4 tsp Baking Soda
*2 C Flour
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a greased loaf pan, pour batter mixture in.  Sprinkle more coconut on top.  Bake for 1 hour.  To make the glaze/icing, I added powdered sugar & lime juice.  When I took the bread out of the oven, I poked some holes in the top, so when I pour some of the glaze, it would go into the bread.  I then let the bread cool a bit, then carefully took it out of the pan and put it onto a cooling rack with wax paper on top {to make clean-up easier}.  I then let it cool a little bit more, and then poured more icing on top.  It was after this & I let it cool some more {and to let the frosting stiffen up a bit}that I cut into the bread.  It was very delicious.  The nice moist banana bread with the lime glaze was so good.  I also liked the the coconut; it gave the bread some texture.  I think this will definetly be made again.
Thank You Dana!