Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Autumn {Football Season} Wreath

It's Autumn and time to switch around the wreath on the front door. Each season I have update the colors to reflect how I am feeling.  This time around I used muted Florida Gator colors. I also changed out the "welcome" decal to make it a little larger and POP more.

What do you think?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

{Recipe Experimentation} Choco-nutty-yum Bar?

I recently fell in snack food love with Planters brand energy snack bars. Just as I began to have a normally scheduled craving for the delightful snack bar, I could no longer find them in the grocery store.  It was possibly just my nearby store that stopped carrying and more than likely I could drive a couple more miles to another store to find them... but it was so much more fun to try to make them myself at home.

I started off with peanuts and almonds... the identifiable ingredients in the snack bar.  Since I couldn't get a hand on one to try to actually duplicate, I just winged the rest.  I decided to go with some pretzels and I used marshmallow fluffy as my binding agent.  Of course, I included good old chocolate as well.

I began by chopping the peanuts and almonds in my mini food processor. I left the pieces pretty big by only hitting the "pulse" button a few times.

Since I didn't have a recipe, I placed all the dry ingredients into the "pan" I was going to be using to test for size. 

Next I put some of the chocolate chips into my homemade double-broiler (ceramic bowl in a small put with water underneath - I am pretty sure my mother taught me that when I was pretty young).  **Waiting for the chocolate to melt**

I added the jar of marshmallow fluffy stuff and my melted chocolate chips...

...and got this.

I flattened it out in my "pan" and added a top layer of melted chocolate.

After letting it sit in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, we have this!

The verdict?  My son: "Mommy these are delicious!" My husband: "Very good!" Me: "I cannot believe they actually taste better than what I was trying to accomplish."

Now we just need to name them... I was thinking about, "Choco-nutty Yum Bar" What do you think? Any suggestions?

Finally! My Very Own Camera Strap

When my husband bought me my Canon Rebel DSLR a couple of years ago, the only thing that bothered me about it was the camera strap. It usually rubbed the back of my neck just enough to give my skin a little rash, so I went out in search of a camera strap with a bit of padding.  Every time I found one, I thought the same thing... this is too expensive for a little piece of fabric.  I should make one myself.

Now, a couple of years later, I have finally finished the EASIEST sewing project I have ever done.

All I did was measure out the material, iron the creases & sew the ends. It may have taken me all of 20 minutes... including the ironing.

What do you think of my homemade camera strap?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The cure all... fix all... or at least feel better!

Chicken noodle soup is a cure-all in our home.  Even when it doesn't actually "cure" it sure does make us feel all better.
Chicken noodle soup is pretty each to make. If I need to make a pot rather quickly, I grab a carton of Swanson broth to start off...

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Add the broth and uncooked chicken into a pot and bring it to a boil...
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While that is cooking... dice onions, carrots and celery
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After the chicken comes to a boil... put it on low and add the veggies
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Next comes the noodles... I use extra wide noodles, but you can use any type of noodle you wish... or even rice.
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Add the noodles and allow to simmer until al dente (tender).
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Serve, enjoy and feel better.
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Now for those of you who saw the title Chicken Noodle Soup and got all excited you were going to see some dancing... you know I couldn't leave you out... this is for you...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

{Life Goals} Item #12 :: Make Ravioli from Scratch

I have a very diverse cultural background.  Of everything I am, I am most in touch with my Italian heritage.  Maybe it's my love of Italian food.  Well that love is what got Life Goal #12 on the list :: Making ravioli from scratch.

I watch Iron Chef with my husband on a regular basis. Chef Cat Cora and Chef Mario Batali often prepare fresh pasta and they only have an hour to cook it... so I said to myself, "Self, if the Iron Chef can do this, than we can do this."

Since I cannot seem to follow directions exactly from one recipe alone, I studied several and took the most important pieces and made sure I at least followed those: Flour, Salt and Eggs

Here is how I made my chicken portabella ravioli with a creamy mushroom sauce...

Sift 2 cups of flour and a pinch of salt on a sheet of wax paper

Take 3 eggs and add a touch of salt

Pour the eggs into the center of the flour

Hand knead until it looks like this...

Set it aside in a covered bowl for 30 minutes

Now let's start the filling...

Place ground meat (I used chicken), 1 egg, 2 slices of salami (because I love salami), 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, parsley, 3 ounces of ricotta cheese, and a BUNCH of garlic... into a food processor.  Let it do it's thing.

You then end up with this... set it aside and let's start the sauce

Add a BUNCH of chopped garlic into a well oiled (EVOO) frying pan on medium. Let the oil work it's magic with the garlic, then add about 4 - 5 ounces of portobella mushrooms. Cook them for about 3 minutes.

Add a cup of heavy cream... turn down and let simmer.

About 30 minutes should have passed by now so we can go back to the dough we started.

Now it's time for the most difficult part of the entire dinner... rolling the dough. Let me just tell you this... I made this several hours ago and my arms are still aching.  As a matter of fact, I am resting my arms in my lap and typing. Thank goodness for wireless keyboards.

After you get it rolled out, very thin, you can add your filling on to your dough (about a teaspoon)

Wrap the top of the filling with another layer of dough

Take your handy dandy shamush presser (or you can just cut & press) and make it work!


Repeat a lot more

Boil the ravioli for about 10 minutes and strain

Add your creamy mushroom sauce...

and viola!!!

So what do you think? Are you going to give it a whirl? 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Homemade Pizza :: 3 ways

I must first thank Boboli for having us host such a fun, and yummy House Party.  We love pizza in our family, and making homemade pizza has becoe a tradition in our home.  We personally like going Iron Chef style and doing a toppings bar and everyone gets to try one anothers pizzas.  Winner gets bragging rights for an undetermined amount of time.  I enjoy this because it is usually always me getting to the the bragging!

For the Boboli House Party, we had far too many guests to go Iron Chef style... that would have been hectic trying to cook 12+ pizzas, so I went with our family's favorite pizza - chicken and bacon bbq, a traditional pepperoni and a new recipe that I made up as I went along: white cheese sauce, shrimp and spinach.

All Boboli pizza crusts begin with a nice coating of EVOO.
For the family favorite: Chicken and bacon bbq - I used a sweet bbq sauce to replace the traditional tomato sauce. I diced some pre-grilled chicken that I lightly seasoned with salt & pepper. I sauteed some vadalia onions and chopped garlic. I also fried some bacon... mixed all the toppings, and piled it high on top of the bbq'd Boboli crust. Finally, I topped with cheese, and lots of it. 

The traditional pepperoni pizza was just that... tomato sauce, mozerella cheese, pepperoni & goof old italian seasoning and of course garlic. This was a big hit among the youngsters at the party.
Finally came my materpiece... that I made up as I went along with the help of my son.  I started out by sauteeing mushrooms and onions, then letting them simmer in a white cooking wine reduction.  I coated the Boboli crust with a white alfredo cheese sauce & covered with... you guessed it, garlic!  I steamed both spinach & shrimp separately, then combine them with the onions and mushrooms.  I topped it all off with my favorite, mozeralla cheese.


And for the grand finale... **TADA**

What do you think?