Friday, December 30, 2011

Superlatives of 2011

Well, its the end of 2011. Compared to other years, 2011 was a pretty calm year. I didn't graduate, move, start a new job, get married or anything else big like that. However, this blog was started this year in June and this past month I have been expanding my Etsy shop too. It has been a blast to do this blog and test my creativity. I have big plans for next year, and look forward to the challenges.

Without any further adieu, here are the superlatives for 2011 from Handmade by Mindy (The Blog).

Most "Google"d: Father's Day Gfits: DIY Wooden Pennants. Apparently, Dad gifts are hard to find.


Most Checked Out: Christmas Tablescape Link up parties really do work! 



Most Life Changing: Kitchen Benches (Here and Here too!) 



Most Entertaining: My post about my love for Planners. 



Most Homemaker-ish: My story about making and canning my own pasta sauce from my backyard garden.


Most Likely to Make your Mouth Water: Homemade Blackberry Ice Cream! YUMMMY! 


Easiest Craft of the Year:  Braided Headbands. Cut, braid, sew - a 15 minute headband.




Most Difficult Craft of the Year: The cushions on the kitchen bench. They took me over 2 months to finish because I kept getting frustrated. Ugghhhh. 

And those are my top posts for this year. I really enjoyed doing all these crafts and making these amazing dishes.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to All!

I am so blessed this year. God is so good and this season of thanksgiving and giving is a great way to praise God for all he has done.

I pray your Christmas was joyous and that the light of God shown around you in some small way.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Quinoa Italian Stuff Peppers


Merry Christmas Eve! I hope everyone is at home or on their way to spend Christmas with their loved ones.  I am spending a week with my lovely family, teaching them how to eat gluten free! :-) Here is one we did the other day!

Ever since I saw my friend Sherri @ Life of  a Wife posted this recipe for stuffed peppers, I have been making and experimenting with this amazing, fun, and delicious dish. And now that I am eating a gluten free lifestyle, I have really enjoyed making these about twice a month.

Quinoa is an amazing little grain. It is like couscous, but crunchier. And its gluten free. If you haven't tired it, you should. Its great with anything you would serve with rice or pasta.

Here is my recipe for Quinoa Italian Stuff Peppers!



Ingredients: (about one bell pepper person, if a main course)
- 3 Large Bell Peppers, sliced in half and de-seeded
- 1/4 pound ground turkey
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 2 or 3 small mushrooms chopped
- 3/4 cup of your favorite pasta sauce
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese (more and less depending on you love for cheese!)
- 1/2 cup dry quinoa (should equal about 1 cup cooked)

1. Place Bell Peppers in a 9x13 pan that has sides.

2. Cook Quinoa according to package directions - while cooking complete next steps
3.  Brown gournd turkey (ground chicken or ground beef would work great - or no meat!)
4. Once browned add chopped onion and mushrooms. Cook until soft.

5. Add the pasta sauce and let simmer until quinoa is finished cooking.

6. Now its time to stuff the peppers! Add a spoon full on qunioa first (you will most likely not use all the qunioa), then add another spoonful or two of sauce - using all the sauce. Then add cheese.

7. Bake in oven uncovered for 20-30 minutes at 350, or until most of the cheese is melted. Broil for 2 minutes at the end if the peppers are soft and the cheese isn't melted.


8. Enjoy!

These are so good! I hope you enjoy them! Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Last Minute Gift: Homemade Cards

Christmas is only a few days away!Its crunch time for gifts and the start of travel for many, too!

If you are like me, you just found out that an unexpected person is coming to a holiday get-together and you need a gift for that person. Or you got invited over to a holiday party and need a quick hostess gift. What to do? The last thing you want to do is go to the store and spend more money - I mean you already went over your gift budget this year!

I was in this very situation over the weekend. I started brainstorming what to do, looking in the craft room and that it came to me! Cards. Not just cards, but embossed homemade cards! Done.


These are so easy to make and make a great gift (whether last minute or not!)


Materials that you need: 


- Cardstock or Blank Cards
- A stamp
- Stamp Pad
- pretty paper- can be plain or designed
 - a heat tool
- embossing  powder (These little jars last forever, too!)

Once you have these tools, making cards is a breeze.

The first step is to cut the paper to a size a little smaller than the card front.


Then rub the stamp ink on the stamp and stamp on the cut paper (my embossing ink is clear).


Add the embossing powder and shake it around until it catches. (Shake over a piece of scrap paper that way its easy to clean up and you can reuse the extra powder).


Then take the heat tool and emboss. You should see a change in the powder - it become glossy and looks like metal.



Let it cool for about one minute.Then glue the embossed sheets to the cards.


And that's it. Wrap it or just tie twine around it. You have a nice handmade gift that is sure to please.


Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Candle Making Christmas

This past weekend has been a flurry of getting some homemade Christmas presents finished as Christmas is THIS WEEK! I feel like we just celebrated Thanksgiving.

Last Christmas my husband got me two very thoughtful and fun gifts. The first one was an amazing craft book called "The Big Ass Book Of Crafts"


 There are some amaizng and very cool craft ideas in there. It is right up my alley!

The other gifts was candle making supplies. He got me wicks, wax, color, scent, and even cool jars from the thrift store. It has been fun experimenting with candle making. My first one turned out miserable- bad coloring, not enough scent, and the wick was off center.



But now after a year, I feel like I am getting the hang of it - enough that I feel comfortable giving them as gifts :-)

So if you are up for the challenge, buy some wicks, get some wax and coloring - find a cool jar and make some candles! Here is the process I use now (this may or may not be the "correct" way to do this, but it seems to be working for me!
 
Gather supplies (wax, color, scent) and a jar (mine was $.50 on a clearance rack at Joann's).

 

Then add the wick to the bottom of jar, and tape to a pen across the top - helps keep the wick stable and centered.

Then in a large tin can add twice the amount of dry wax  flakes that fits in the jar. I added two cups of wax flakes for my jar. Then add the tin can to a pot of simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. (P.S. this is totally the cheap way to melt wax, but hey I use what I have!)




Once melted and smooth (no more flakes), add the coloring. Stir until color melts. Then add scent and pour into the jar.


Then set aside in a place where it can sit for 24 hours. Then arrange wick to about the middle of the jar. Let sit for 24 hours.


After 24 hours you have this:



They are cute little gifts aren't they? I wish I had made some for myself, maybe after the holidays!

I hope your weekend was relaxing and filled with homemade gift making - or at least home-wrapping of gifts for those we love!

P.s. I love using CandleWic.com for my supplies. They are cheap and have a huge selection. Check them out:

Candlewic Candle and Soap Making Supplies


Friday, December 16, 2011

Gluten Free Chicken Piccata


Classic Italian Foods are the thing that most people miss when living a gluten free life style. From the bread to the noddles - all things Italian have gluten in them. So coming up with ways to substitute the Italian classics has been a real challenge for me! 

I was able to make this simple Chicken Piccata using gluten-free flour. It was AMAZING! I wanted to keep eating it all night!

Gluten Free Chicken Piccata 

Ingredients


  • 2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Gluten Free Flour, for dredging ( I used this recipe, but you can use rice flour or your usual flour substitute)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed - if you want. I didn't have any and it still tasted AMAZING!

Directions


Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour.  



In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil. 

When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 5 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 5 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter. When butter starts to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.



Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and wine. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.



Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken. Enjoy over Corn Pasta! 




Adapted for a Gluten Free Diet from Giada's Chicken Piccata

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Tree


There she is! The same tree that I've had since Junior Year of College. She sure is worth the $30 I spent on her.

This is back in 2009 - soon after I got her. Most likely the best picture, ever. (Don't hate me roomies!)

Believe it or not, about 95% of all those ornaments on the tree are mine. Apparently, being born on Christmas entitles you to  lots of ornaments (I even left 15 ornaments in the box this year!).




And yes, that is the Thank-Garland for this year's past thanksgiving. Its a great reminder everyday of how much we have to be thankful for.

Simple tree this year, yet filled with almost 24 years of memories!

Check out other Christmas Trees over at Thrifty Decor Chick too!





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