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What’s for dinner?

1 Jul

That use to be a question I’d ask my parents every evening, now that Scott and I have our own place (I know, I know, I haven’t mentioned it much. I will, when I’m ready.), we take turns asking each other.

For those who know me well, my aversion to all things cooking is nearly comical. I’m more of a microwave-it girl. But….since I have to be an adult, I have deciding to give cooking a fair chace, and surprisingly, I am learning to love it!

Last night, I had the answer – Caprese Chicken. A-couple-weeks ago I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed and one of my friends had liked a video quickly demonstrating how the dish is made. After watching it a-couple-times and tracking down the recipe online, I decided this was a meal I could make!

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 c. balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced (I bought a jar of minced garlic, 1 tsp = 2 cloves)

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

2 tbsp. shredded basil (I had dried basil, so I used that instead)

Mozzarella slices

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Start off by halving your tomatoes. This took me roughly 15 minutes. Save in a bowl for later! You’ll be glad you did this ahead of time!

 

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In a large skillet, heat oil on medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook until golden-brown and cooked through – roughly 6-7 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate until later.

 

Add balsamic vinegar to skillet to deglaze, then add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add your halved tomatoes and season with salt. Let simmer until soft, 5-7 minutes. The stir in basil.

I used this time to clean up my workspace a bit. While cooking the chicken, the hot oil had a tendency to spit out of the pan and got all over my stove top and countertop. I also used this time to begin putting used ingredients away and utensils in the sink.

Return chicken to the skillet and nestle in the tomatoes. Cover with a slice of mozzarella and cover skillet with lid to melt cheese.

Spoon tomatoes over chicken and serve.

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I served this meal with some steamed vegetables and it was everything comfort food is supposed to be! Full of flavor, the chicken was juicy, the tomatoes melted in your mouth and the cheese was ooh-gooy delicious! Facebook recipe for the win! This is a meal I know we’ll be making many times!

My little secret

8 Jan

I love wearing an outfit for the first time, and today was one of those super special days. For Christmas, my sister Macayla gave me a mauve/maroon sweater and two scarfs to match and I was waiting for the weather to turn chilly again so I could wear it.

With today’s high being the low 40’s, I couldn’t pass it up! I layered the sweater over a long, lacy black tank top and paired it was jeans and boots. Then I opted for the blue, purple and gold scarf as an accent. Can I take a moment to express my love of jeans Friday – they happen every week at my new job and you don’t even have to donate $5 or wait for payday! It’s the little things in life that excite me!

While I was styling my hair, I remembered a pair of delicate sapphire earrings I had received for my birthday one year hiding in the bottom of a jewelry box. They have slight gold trim around the gems and would match my outfit perfectly and tie everything together! I’m honestly not a big fan of gold, I don’t wear it often because I don’t like the way it looks with my coloring, but I made an exception because I love these earrings.

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When it comes to earrings, I have a love-hate relationship all because of an innocent that happened when I was 4-years-old…

Way back when, when I was in pre-school, it was a few days before Christmas, and this little boy who my mom tells me was my very best friend, gave me a pair of dangly horse earrings. (Side note, my mom had my ears pierced on black Friday when I was a baby.) According to mom, I loved those earrings and wore them all the time, but I also had a tendency to tug on them. Now I don’t know if that’s because I was a little kid and didn’t know better, or if they were hurting my ears because they were heavy than the plactic studs I typically wore of teddy bears, but whatever the reason, I ended up tearing the hole in my right ear. To this day, it’s a little slit and not a nice hole like the left side, but I may be the only one (until now) who has noticed. 

So after I ripped my ear, my mom took out my earrings and let the holes heal and close. I didn’t think anything of it until I was about 10 or 11 when I discovered a pack of earrings in a desk drawer and decided to put them in the random holes in my ears. (For years I had only worn clip-on, pretend earrings.) I remember the sting of pushing through that thin layer of skin that covered over the holes and then the earring was in, and ever since, I’ve worn earrings intermittently depending on my mood. 

To this day, earrings still someetimes bother my right ear if I leave them in too long or if they are made of cheap metal or if they are too heavy. I have to be very careful selecting earrings for this reason. But the adorable sapphire earrings weigh nothing – it would be as if I was wearing no earrings at all, which has been my mood lately, I honestly just can’t be bothered to do my hair and choose cute earrings all before 9 a.m., it’s gotta be one or the other, because I am not, I repeat not, a morning person by any means. But for whatever reason, the need to feel completely put together because of my new outfit, I opted for styled hair and adorable stud earrings. 

These earrings are dainty – you look at them too strickly and I fear they will fall apart on the spot, so I was trying very hard to be careful as I put them in. I started with the right ear and it went in smoothly, I even got the teeny tiny back on on the first try. Time for the left ear….not so smoothly. As I was putting on the earring back, it went on crooked and got stuck. Slightly panicked, I tried to remove the back for 10 minutes and even consider waking up my sister, who was the only other person home at the time, to help me, but I didn’t think she would appreciate that very much, so I lovingly let her continue to sleep.

FINALLY, I got the back off and removed the earring to give my ear a moment to breathe. There was no way I was going to go another round with that earring back and risk the same thing happening all over again. I removed the other earring and started searching for a different set of backs that would work. No such luck. The backs I found wouldn’t fit and I was running out of time before I needed to leave for work.

That’s when I remembered, my mom once told me that she had lost an earring back while at work, and instead of taking out the earrings, she simply used a piece of eraser to hold the earring in place until she got home. GENIUS! I  ran for my desk and found a pencil with an unused eraser that I proceeded to cut into quarters. Taking two of the circles, I used them as makeshift, comfortable and secure earring backs. Best part… no one at work was the wiser! It was my little secret!

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Do you have a hack for creating custom, comfortable and hidden earring backs? Tell me all about it in the comments below!

Cheesy Cauliflower Breadsticks

27 Aug

My family has recently started looking for healthier food options and while wasting time on Pinterest the other night, I happened upon this recipe for Cheesy Cauliflower Breadsticks. They are gluten free, low carb and surprisingly DELICIOUS!

If you’ve got a picky eater in your family, this is the PERFECT recipe – you can’t taste the cauliflower and based on the texture, you’d never guess they have a secret ingredient!

Now I’m not a cook – I honestly HATE cooking, but this was a super simple and quick recipe.

So let’s get cookin’! Full credit for this recipe goes to Jo from the blog Jo Cooks, make sure to check her out, she has some great recipes that I cant wait to try in the future!

What you’ll need:

  • 4 cups of riced cauliflower (about 1 large head of cauliflower)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups of mozzarella cheese
  • 3 tsp oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 to 2 cups mozzarella cheese (for topping)

Here we go fellow cooks!

1. Preheat oven to 425 F degrees. Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Wash and dry cauliflower.

3. Make sure your cauliflower is roughly chopped in florets. Add the florets to your food processor and pulse until cauliflower resembles rice. (I had a medium size cauliflower head and it made about 3 cups of “riced” cauliflower.)

4. Place the cauliflower in a microwavable container and cover with lid. Microwave for 10 minutes. Place the microwaved cauliflower in a large bowl and add the 4 eggs, 2 cups of mozzarella, oregano, garlic and salt and pepper. Mix everything together. (Next time I make these, I think I’ll cut back on the oregano just a bit, personally I thought it overpowered the other flavors.)

5. Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets for the breadsticks. (I used a jellyroll pan. That’s the name my mom just gave me!)

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6. Bake the crust (no topping yet) for about 25 minutes or until nice and golden. (It’ll start smelling DELICIOUS, just be patient and let it bake!)

7. Once golden, sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes or until cheese has melted. (I used the rest of the cheese from the small package we bought – about 2 cups to evenly cover the whole thing. My mom also added some Parmesan shaker cheese just for kicks!)

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8. Slice and serve. (My family ate this up QUICKLY!)

All in all, this one is a SUCCESS! One to save for future use! Give it a try — can’t wait to hear how you like it! Enjoy!

 

 

DIY Earl of Sandwich Holiday Sandwich

1 Dec

One of the things I miss most about living in Florida is Earl of Sandwich and it’s a stop I always make when I go back to visit my friends and coworkers. Before moving down there I’d never heard of this place, but I was hooked after one night out with friends and a delicious ham and cheese sandwich. And then I was introduced to the Holiday Sandwich and it was like a little piece of heaven between a bun!
20131201-121906.jpg I have talked this sandwich up many times, and even introduced it to my family when they came to visit me in Florida. My dad liked it and I tease him by sending home pictures of my sandwich to which he responds with “bring one home for me!” 20131201-122541.jpg And with thanksgiving leftovers currently filling the refrigerator, we decided to give recreating this delicious sandwich at home a try!

You will need:
• Sub Buns
• Turkey (the photo from Earl of Sandwich is thinly sliced, but we used the leftovers from Thanksgiving)
• Stuffing
• Cranberry Sauce
• Gravy 20131201-123323.jpg There’s no exact measurements of science behind building the sandwich. Start with your sub bun and a layer of turkey. Then put a layer of stuffing and on top of that a thin layer of gravy. 20131201-123936.jpg Next add one more layer of turkey, a layer of cranberry sauce and a tad more gravy and you’ve got it! One at home version of Earl’s Holiday Sandwich! 20131201-124412.jpg I wanted mine flatter like the original sandwich, so we put it in the quesadilla makers for a few seconds (this step it optional). 20131201-125105.jpg 20131201-125341.jpg What do you think, pretty similar, right?! Hope you’ll give this a try sometime this holiday season, I promise, you’ll love it! 20131201-125621.jpg

DIY Paint Chip City Silhouettes

5 Oct

**Hello from the past, I’m writing this post on July 31, 2013, but have decided not to post it until October as what I have made today is a birthday surprise for someone special (who I will FINALLY see in person for the first time in 6 months when this finally posts for you to read in 65 days!!)

It’s been a very long time since I’ve A.) been on Pinterest and B.) felt like doing anything crafty. But that all changed today. For a few days now I have been trying to come up with a birthday gift for the special guy in my life when I remembered a pin I had found a few months ago and decided it was worth a try!

So here we go, it was actually pretty easy!

What you’ll need:

  • Paint chips — any color will do! (HIS favorite color is blue and Green is mine, so it was an obvious choice for me!)
  • Picture frame (I choose 8 inches X 10 inches)
  • Print out of the silhouette of the city of your choice — HE’S from Chicago, again obvious choice
  • Tape
  • Paper for the background
  • Scissors
  • Pen/Pencil
  • Glue/Photo splits

Paint chip Skylines1. Start off by taping the paint chips together. For my size frame, it took 5 paint samples across.

IMG_6445aPaint chip Skylines 2. Cut out your skyline and lightly trace it onto the front of your paint chips.

Paint chip Skylines 3. Carefully cut out your paint chip skyline. I had to switch to use very small scissors so I could get some of the details. I also added the Chicago scrip to add some green and a special hidden Mickey (look at the dot on the i)! Then glue it all down onto a solid color background.

IMG_6450a4. Place your new masterpiece into its frame and enjoy!

Paint chip Skylines In all, I really liked how this turned out! And it didn’t take long at all, about an hour total — I probably could have worked faster if I hadn’t also been watching ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars from last night!

This is a project I could see myself recreating many, many times! Many next time I’ll try something with Disney or some of the different places I’ve traveled to on vacation. The possibilities are endless and the paint samples are many!

Happy crafting my friends! Let me know if you decide to make a paint chip skyline of your own, I’d love to know how it turns out!

 

 

 

 

DIY Fabric Birthday Crown

25 Sep

My 25th birthday was on Saturday, September 14th, and to celebrate I decided to do something different. I signed up to run a 5K that morning. More specifically, the Mad Hatter 5K. In the registration, it said that hats were encouraged, but not required. And it got me thinking, if I was going to do this race, I wanted a BIRTHDAY CROWN for my hat! I started looking online for pre-made fabric hats. I found a few that were cute and just what I had in mind. Then I came to my senses and realized a few things:

  1. Those hats were adorable, but they were all the same. I needed something special, something uniquely “me.”
  2. There was NO WAY I was paying $25 PLUS shipping for a fabric crown that MAY OR MAY NOT arrive in time for my race.
  3. Why don’t I use the 10 years of sewing 4H I have under my belt and MAKE MY OWN crown (Genius, I know!)

SOMEONE, QUICK! GET THE CAMERA! AFTER YEARS OF BEING ON SEWING RETIREMENT AND SWEARING SHE WOULD NEVER GO HEAD-TO-HEAD WITH THE SEWING MACHINE AGAIN, SHE’S VOLUNTARILY GOING TO SEW….FOR FUN!  

So here it is ladies and gentlemen, my step by step instructions on how you too can make your one-of-a-kind FABRIC BIRTHDAY CROWN!

You will need (See photo below):

  • Fabric (I used a combination of felt and fleece we had lying around the house from past 4H projects and Halloween costumes)
  • Interfacing (I used a combination of light-weight iron-on and heavy-duty stuff that must be sewn)
  • Cardboard crown from Burger King to use as a sizing template
  • Chalk
  • Printer paper
  • Sewing Machine (unless you are willing to hand sew the whole thing — I sure wasn’t) – Not pictured
  • Straight pins – Not pictured
  • Thread – Not pictured
  • Shape patterns to decorate the crown — pictured further down
  • Ribbon
  • Scissors
  • Puffy Paint — pictured further down

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Step 1 (This is going to seem like a lot, but it’s all pictured below):

Use the cardboard crown from Burger King to measure the circumference of your head.  Tape together computer paper until you have the desired length.  Then draw out the design for your crown on the paper. You are creating a pattern to use when cutting out your fabric.

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Step 2:

When you have a design you are happy with on paper, cut it out. Once again, use this pattern to measure around your head. It never hurts to double or triple check the sizing. It took me two paper patterns before I got the sizing perfect for my crown. When you are satisfied, lay it out on your fabric. You can either trace around it with chalk or use pins to keep it in place while cutting. (I used chalk because I didn’t feel like locating straight pins.) You will need two pieces – a front and a back!

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Step 3:

Using the same paper pattern, cut out your interfacing. To make sure my crown was stiff enough to stand on it’s own while it was on my head, I cut out 4 layers of iron-on interfacing (2 for the inside of the front piece and 2 for the inside of the back piece) and 1 layer of the heavy duty sew-on interfacing for the middle layer.

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Step 4:

Carefully iron-on your pieces of interfacing. Don’t make the same mistake I did many years ago when I was first learning to sew. ALWAYS double check that the bumpy beads of glue are against your fabric and NOT the iron — when they melt and stick to the hot surface of the iron you will have a MAJOR mess on your hands. As I mentioned above, I have 4 pieces of iron-on interfacing. I put two on the inside of the front piece and two on the inside of the back piece. (Note: Make sure the interfacing for the front is on the opposite side of the fabric than those for the back, this way they will be on the inside when you sew everything together,)

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Step 5:

Figure out the designs you want on the outside of your crown. My mom cut me these paper patterns using her Cricket and various Cricket cartridges. Lay everything out so you can get the spacing and sizing right.

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Step 6:

You guessed it! Once you have the pattern pieces for the designs for the outside of your crown, it’s time to pin them to the fabric and cut them out. You could also trace using chalk if you’d like.

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Step 7:

Pin the designs (and ribbon if you chose to include some like I did) to the front piece of your crown. You will sew these down BEFORE you sew all the layers of your crown together.

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Step 8:

Carefully top stitch around the designs. Once again, you should be sewing these to the front piece of your crown ONLY. Word to the wise, if you are going through multiple layers of fabric as you see here with my 25 (pink and black), sew those two pieces together FIRST then sew that one piece to the crown. It will make it easier for you to keep everything lined up and provide an extra layer of stitching as reinforcement.

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Step 9:

Time to sew all the layers of your crown together. As seen below in the picture, I have my front piece with decorative designs already sewn down, the middle piece is that heavy-duty interfacing and the bottom piece is the back piece of my crown with the light-weight interfacing side up (this will go on the inside as the other side is yellow to match the front piece).  You will need to stack these pieces together like a sandwich and then pin them securely in place. (See picture 2)

Picture 1

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Picture 2

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Step 10:

Slowly and carefully, sew these three layers together. You may need to take the pins out one at a time as you come up to them with the sewing machine. To make sharp point turns on your crown, stop at the point where you want the corner with the sewing machine needle all the way down into the fabric. Lift the presser foot (the flat silver piece that slides over the fabric) and turn the fabric until you have reached your desired angle, then put the presser foot down and continue sewing. When you have gone all the way around the crown, I recommend back stitching just to reinforce the seam.

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Step 11:

For my crown, I decided the best way to keep it on my head securely during my race was to use Velcro squares. These squares had a sticky, adhesive back that allowed me to position them just right (this took a couple trial and errors before I had the spacing and proper fit for my head). Make sure the pairs of Velcro are on opposite sides of your crown so that when you go to stick them together they will form a circle with the Velcro pieces meeting in the middle of the front and back pieces of your crown. Then I sewed down each individual square because I didn’t want them falling off during my race.

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Step 12:

Now if you think your crown needs a little extra pizzazz, you can decorate it with puffy paint! (See photo) And that’s it! You have yourself one custom made, totally unique, birthday/celebration/because you are royalty and deserve it fabric crown!

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In all, this took me maybe 10 – 12 hours total to make. I worked on it a few hours each night after work the week leading up to the race. I even had it finished a day early so I could take it to work on Friday to show my coworkers who couldn’t fully grasp the craftiness I was trying so desperately to explain.

I hope you’ll give this a try sometime, and when you do, post a link to your photos so I can see how your special crown turned out!

Happy crafting everyone!  

Adventures in the kitchen: Berry Bread

2 Sep

Here’s what I LOVE about blogging, it connects you with people from all over the world who share similar interests. A few days ago I was poking around on blue sky vitality and discovered she posted a recipe for Berry Bread.  Her photo looked delicious and it seemed simple enough to make, and there it was, a new challenge!

Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE to bake. I can’t cook to save my life, but baking and I are tight! I find it enjoyable and relaxing to mix cookies, brownies, fudge and cakes. And now, for the first time, I’ll be adding bread to that list!

Here’s the ingredient list from blue sky vitality:

Berry Bread

2 cups almond meal/flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs, whisked
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup mixed berries (defrosted if frozen)

Okay, before I started throwing ingredients into the bowl, I had to FIND one key ingredient… almond meal. It took me three different stores before I located it in the organic/gluten-free section of a local grocery store. Let me inform you know, because I was kind of shocked, this stuff isn’t cheap!

Almond Meal/Almond Flour

Since I had today off (Happy Labor Day everyone!), I decided today was the PERFECT day to try this out, and I thought it would make a nice breakfast surprise for my family. So what do you say, care to join me in the kitchen?!

I don’t know if it’s just me, but when I’m baking, I like to have all the ingredients together and waiting from the start. I can think of nothing worse than getting half the ingredients mixed only to discover you are missing something. So here’s everything from the above mentioned list of essentials for this bread!

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Step 1: Preheat oven to 325º F. Mix together almond meal, cinnamon and baking soda.

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Step 2: In a separate bowl mix together all other ingredients (except berries).

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Step 3: Mix together wet and dry ingredients until they are well combine.

IMG_6717aStep 4: Gently fold in the berries. (I used half a cup of blackberries and half a cup of raspberries, but you can use whatever berries you like best! Mix and match, have some fun with different combinations and colors!)

IMG_6719aIMG_6720aStep 5: Pour mixture into a greased loaf tin and cook for 30 to 35 mins. (For my oven, I ended up baking my bread closer to 40 – 42 minutes thanks to the toothpick test – insert a toothpick into the bread and when it comes out clean you know it’s finished baking!)

IMG_6722a IMG_6727aStep 6: Serve warm with butter.

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I am very pleased to report that this was very easy to make and soon had my kitchen smelling delicious!

Now for that all important question – “How did it taste?!” There’s not really a way for me to describe it. The texture was different, which I expected because of the almond meal. It was very moist and the berries were wonderful warm. To be honest, it will take some time for me to get use to the taste because it’s different from regular bread, but I did enjoy it, and what’s better, my family seemed to as well!

All in all, I think we will call this one a success in the books and I’d recommend it to anyone who loves to bake and likes to try different kinds of food!