Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Special Card for Courageous Friend


I have a very special friend who has been fighting the dreaded "C" disease for the past several months.  She is a pillar in our community and loved and respected by all.  But cancer doesn't care how wonderful she is - and that is just one of the MANY things I hate about it. :(

I wanted to send her a little sunny encouragement and I hope this card helped.    I have been stretching to learn new things and/or use techniques that I have not used in a very long time - like distressing.  The Coredinations card stock is great for that because the white core comes through the color when lightly sanded - and I love that look with this card.

The digi image is another beautiful flower from Power Poppy - Climbing Clematis.I used the Spectrum Noir color blend pencils and gamsol to blend the colors together.  I had forgotten how incredible relaxing it is to color with pencils and I am determined to do more of it.  I just need to make more time.  I traced the image in SCAL and cut it out with the Silver Bullet and purposely left a bit of a shadow around it.  The "thinking of you" is a Hero Arts stamp, colored with a Zig Brush Marker to complement the background.


Love the closeup of the butterfly and all of the colors. The rhinestones
give the butterfly that little bit of sparkle and pop!

I highlighted the center of the flowers with Color Technik glitter gel pens.  I love the way they color - so smooth and sparkly. They are my "go to" gel pen because of the wide variety of color choices.  Well, I really love the Sakura gel pens, but they are limited in color - so I use both.




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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Roasted Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

For Easter Brunch this year, I was asked to bring a "fun" ice cream.  I wasn't sure what that meant (isn't ALL ice cream fun?!?) but later it was clarified that strawberry cheesecake ice cream would be great. So that is what I made and it was delicious!






ROASTED STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE ICE CREAM
adapted from Handle the Heat

1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
3/4 c. raw cane sugar, divided (1/4 c for the berries; 1/2 c. for the ice cream mixture)
1 T. balsamic vinegar
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. whole milk
1/2 c. heavy cream
3 tsp. lemon juice
2 T. Lyle's Golden Syrup (or corn syrup)
1/4 t. fine sea salt
2 t. vanilla bean paste
4 whole (rectangle) graham crackers, chopped

Preheat the oven to 300.  Line a half sheet baking pan with parchment paper.

Mix the quartered strawberries with 1/4 c. sugar and the tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.  Spread the strawberries over the parchment paper in one layer.  Roast for about 30-40 minutes, or until they are darker in color, soft and the juices have released. (and they will smell heavenly!)  Transfer the strawberries to a medium bowl and mash until only small pieces of fruit remain.  (I used a hand blender so they were chopped probably a bit more than they should have been.  But it was still delicious!!)  Chill the berry mixture in the refrigerator about 1 hour, till completely chilled.

In the meantime, blend the remaining ice cream ingredients (except the graham crackers) in a food processor until the mixture is smooth.  I pulsed for about 30 seconds. Transfer to a medium bowl and cover tightly. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to one day.

When ready to churn, pour the mixture into an ice cream maker.  Freeze according to manufacture's directions.  During the last 5 minutes of freezing, add most of the roasted strawberries and chopped graham crackers. Pour into an ice cream container and press plastic wrap or parchment against the ice cream.  Freeze until firm, at least 2 hours.




*  I put about half of the ice cream into the container and added a layer of roasted strawberries and then garnished the top with a few more strawberries and chopped graham crackers. 

I let my machine churn a few more minutes so the strawberries blended a bit more than they "should" have, but the end product was delicious and tasted like wonderful strawberry cheesecake..


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Monday, April 9, 2018

Happy Easter - a Little Late!!!

With Spring arriving so late in parts of the country, I figured I might be able to get away with posting a "bleated" Easter card.  This was actually delivered in time, but I was busy packing for a trip to New York so all things got pushed to the bottom of my priority list.  I have returned and am exhausted and jet lagged, but had a GREAT time. Will share more of that trip once I catch up on some posts!

It is hard to believe that Carter just celebrated his third Easter and family gathered around to help him enjoy the festivities with Easter brunch and plenty of Easter Bunny goodies. (post on my ice cream contribution to follow soon!)


I just realized as I am writing this, that his card was a bit more grown up than it should have been.  Not sure what I was thinking, but I definitely could have made it more little boyish - not that he cared. He was definitely more interested in the goodies in the Easter basket that we delivered!

And it was nice for both of the grandmothers to be there along with other family members and share in the fun over brunch.





This was a stamp I got years ago that I have been putting
on the back of the cards made for my grandchildren.

I hope you all had a blessed and happy Easter and are ready to enjoy a beautiful Spring.





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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Shrimp Parmesan with Homemade Bucatini Pasta

I don't cook shrimp often because it can be finicky - ok so I am the one who is the problem here.  Shrimp takes so little time to cook that I often get distracted and end up with a less than delectable rubbery shrimp.  Not a good thing.  So this night I was determined to keep my eye on it and cook it quickly - and lo and behold - it was perfection.  Fear of shrimp - gone - or at least diminished!

I have also been enjoying making my own pasta - not sure I will EVER buy another bagged or boxed pasta unless I need a shape I cannot substitute. What amazes me after all of these years of being afraid to make pasta, is that it is SO easy and so delicious.  There really is nothing like FRESH!!

The recipe called for linguine, but I wanted to try the bucatini die in my Kitchen Aid pasta maker because it looked like fun - no other reason - why not make it all about the fun?!?  So I made the dough in the mixer and ran it through the pasta extruder and let it sit while waiting til it was closer to dinner.  I wanted to have it ready in advance so I could just add it to the sauce easily and not have my timing off.


Just look at those beautiful strings of pasta - so.much.fun.


The pasta strands are resting on a floured sheet of parchment 


So back to the shrimp.  I sautéed it in a mixture of butter and olive oil until it was done (literally about 2-3 minutes) and put it in foil to keep warm.  The rest of the details are below.


CREAMY PARMESAN BUCATINI WITH SHRIMP

adapted from Cooking Classy

8 oz. medium shrimp, peeled and cleaned
3 T. butter
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 c. water
1 c. half and half (or 1/2 c. heavy cream and 1/2 c. whole milk)
1 c. shredded Parmesan cheese (freshly shredded is the BEST)
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
12 oz. pasta (your favorite - recipe for Bucatini below)

Melt 1 T. butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add the shrimp and season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally and watch carefully.  As soon as the shrimp is opaque, transfer it to a piece of foil and wrap it to keep it warm.

Add the remaining 2 T butter to the skillet and melt. Add the chopped onion and cook for 6-8 minutes until the onion is translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Then add the water,hald and half, noodles and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a gentle boil,, stirring frequently until the noodles are cooked.  If using fresh pasta, they will cook in 3-5 minutes. Keep stirring as the sauce will thicken. Remove from heat when the pasta is cooked and add in the shredded Parmesan cheese.  The cheese may clump initially, but continue stirring until the sauce is smooth again.  Thin with a little half and half or milk if needed.  Add the cooked shrimp, toss gently and sprinkle the chopped fresh parsley on top.  Serve immediately.


FRESH PASTA DOUGH - BUCATINI

from the Kitchen Aid website

Love how this photo shows the holes in the bucatini - 
so this pasta can really soak up a sauce!

4 large eggs
1 T. water
3 1/2 c. flour, sifted
1/2 t. salt

Using the flat beater (paddle) of the mixer, mix all of the ingredients in a stand mixer at the speed of two for about 30 seconds.

Exchange the paddle beater for the dough hook and continue mixing on speed 2 for two minutes.  The dough should start to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If not, add 1 tsp of water at a time and knead a bit before adding more. The dough should be pliable, but not sticky.  You should be able to pinch a small piece in between two fingers and it should stay together when pinched, not stick to the fingers or be crumbly and fall apart.

Take the dough out and hand knead it for about 2 minutes. Cover in plastic wrap and let it rest for about 20 minutes.  Follow manufacturer's instructions to make the desired pasta shape.



Good enough to eat??  You bet!!  Try this soon...

I am so glad there were leftovers because it was THAT GOOD!  Sent a serving home with Rob and have enough left over for my dinner tonight.  I usually don't get excited about what's for dinner, especially when I am eating alone, but this dish I am eager to eat again and think it will be on the repeat menu soon!  (Well after I wrote this I took the leftover down to my neighbor.......so SHE enjoyed what was left.  Hence, no beautiful pic of just one serving but will do that next time.)  Will definitely be on the spring and summer menus!

Enjoy!! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup -


I combined two recipes and also changed a few things...... it was delicious!

This recipe caught my eye a few months ago and I continued to see other food bloggers coming up with variations.  I had never had gnocchi (*gasp* - I know) so I wanted to try that, but also wanted to wait for a cold "soup" day.  I love soup, but when I make it, I want the weather to at least be in the low 60s (yes I know - that is spring weather for some of you - but in southern California, that is our winter weather - 50s and 60s).  I am not complaining, and I really love it when it gets cold aka "California cold"!!

We have had a cool March, so I have been making soup a lot which makes me a happy gal.  This is a delicious recipe that I am happy to share - and there are more to come. (homemade pasta next!)

CREAMY CHICKEN GNOCCHI SOUP


16 oz. mini potato gnocchi (you can use regular - I just like the size of the mini)
4 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2-3/4 c. chopped onion
1/2 -2 c. sliced baby carrots (I used about 12-15 baby carrots as I always have those on hand)
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 c. sliced mushrooms (optional - I love the flavor they add)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh chopped thyme
1 tsp. fresh chopped rosemary
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
6 Tbsp. flour
4 c. (1 quart) half and half
4 c. chicken broth  *See Note Below
2 handfuls baby spinach, roughly chopped
2 chicken breast halves, cooked and shredded (poach and reserve the water - perfect broth!)
1-2 tsp. salt to taste
1/2 tsp, ground pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the gnocchi 3-4 minutes.  The gnocchi will float to the top as they are done. Take them out with a slotted spoon and place on a parchment lined baking pan and set aside.  Try to separate them so they don't stick together.


These are mini gnocchi but they worked really well in this recipe.

In a Dutch oven, melt the butter and add the olive oil. .  Add the onion, carrots, celery and cook, stirring occasionally until tender..  Then add the garlic, thyme, rosemary and mushrooms and cook gently for 1-2 minutes. (the mushrooms will finish cooking in the soup).

Stir in the flour, mix well and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
Continue to stir while pouring in the half and half.   Then add the grated nutmeg.

Increase the heat to simmer, stirring until thick.  Then pour in the chicken broth and heat until the soup has thickened slightly, stirring occasionally.

Add the chopped spinach, shredded chicken, cooked gnocchi and salt and pepper.  Cover and cook until the spinach has wilted.

Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

*Measure the reserved liquid from poaching the chicken.  If not 4 cups, add enough water to measure 4 c. and add 1 tsp per cup of powdered instant chicken broth or 1 chicken bouillon cube per cup water).

Enjoy!











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Sunday, March 11, 2018

February Cards

Well here it is March, and I am finally posting some cards from February.  I think I am close to catching up, only because it is taking me so long to get cards made.  I have been trying to push myself to try some new things and it has been fun, but not always successful - hence the extra time to complete a card.

Here is a brief overview of my creative attempts in February...... sympathy cards for a friend who lost her grown daughter and another who lost her husband and birthday cards - one for my grandson and
another for a lifelong friend.



File origin is unknown - it's just titled "Deco Cross" - no clue where it came from, but I love it!
Was printed on standard card stock and foiled with silver glitter foil and the FoilMaster. - 
and then cut out.


You can see the beauty of the luster card stock from Paper Temptress.


This design is from SVG Cuts.  Papers are from PaperTemptress - Mica, vellum and gold luster.
I love the simplicity of it...


Found this image online. Star background is a FoilMate from
Gina K Designs. 


Couldn't resist making this image have some
galactic sparkle!


This beautiful flower is from Graciellie Designs. 
Card stock is Pop Tones from Paper Temptress. 
 I watercolored with Spectrum Noir aqua pens and SN Sparkle pens. 
The raised areas of the embossed background are highlighted with NUVO embossing mousse.

Thanks for reading.  Look forward to sharing some recipes next!

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Sweet Valentine Memories....

I have to say upfront, that this is a bit of an embarrassing post.  I am in my mid-sixties (yes that is enough of an admission) - but wait - there's more.  Can you believe I have never ever - NEVER EVER - piped frosting?!?  I know - what have I been waiting for???  I totally admit that this first attempt is not a work of art - the pictures say it all.  But it was a labor of love and honestly, it was really fun.  Will I do it again??  Yep - because I clearly need to practice - and my efforts made two little boys VERY happy = huge payoff!



I was feeling guilty that I had not made Valentine cards this year - not sure why, but just  had no inspiration.  But I didn't want the day to go by and not do anything for Carter.  Plus, my neighbor's little grandson who is 2 years old, was spending Valentine's Day with them, so I had double motivation to bake something yummy.  And this recipe was just perfect for two adorable little boys.

SUPER MOIST CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES      

from Sally's Baking Addiction            

3/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (I use King Arthur Triple Cocoa Blend)
3/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
2 large eggs
1/2 c. natural cane sugar
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1/3 c. oil (I use Spectrum canola and coconut oil blend)
2 t. pure vanilla extract (I like Mexican vanilla when making a chocolate recipe)
1/2 c. buttermilk, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350.  This makes 14 cupcakes, so line a muffin tin with paper liners and put two liners in a second tin.  Set aside.

Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt in a large bowl and whisk until well combined.  In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, sugars, oil and vanilla together and whisk until smooth and thoroughly combined.  Pour half of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients..  Then add half of the buttermilk.  Whisk gently for a few seconds.  Repeat with the remaining wet ingredients and buttermilk.  Stir until just combined; do NOT overmix.  The batter will be thin.

I used a small ice cream scoop to fill the liners halfway.  It is important to only fill them halfway to prevent the batter from spilling over the sides or sinking.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow them to cool completely before frosting.

These cupcakes can be made a day in advance.  Keep them at room temperature and cover tightly.  They can also be frozen (unfrosted) for up to two months.  Thaw overnight in the fridge and bring to room temperature before frosting.

STRAWBERRY FROSTING
 (also from Sally's Baking  Addiction)

This makes about 3 cups of frosting and is perfect for frosting these chocolate cupcakes.  YUM!

1 c. (12 g) freeze dried strawberries
1 c. (235 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 c. (480 g) powdered sugar
3 T. (45 ml) whole milk
1 t. Tahitian vanilla extract (Tahitian vanilla is great with fruit recipes, but any vanilla is fine)
salt, to taste, if needed

Using a blender or food processor, process the freeze dried strawberries until they become a fine powder.  There should be about 1/2 c. of the powdery strawberries.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter on medium high speed with a stand mixer until it is creamy, about 2 minutes.  Add the powdered sugar, strawberry powder, milk and vanilla.  Beat on low speed for about 30 seconds, and beat on high speed for two minutes.  Taste the frosting and add a pinch of salt if it seems too sweet.    (the frosting will keep up to 5 days in the refrigerator; store in covered container).

This frosting is soooooooooo good and I love that the light pink color is from the freeze dried strawberries - no artificial coloring at all.



Anticipation!


Chocolate and strawberries - a perfect duo!


Mmm....Mmm...Good!  Frosting first - always!

I delivered a plate of cupcakes to Carter the day after Valentine's Day (luckily he is too young to realize Grammy was late!) and I heard that they were used as bribery (I mean rewards) for the rest of the week!!  Multi-purpose cupcakes - even better!

If you have not jumped on the cupcake and piped frosting bandwagon yet - you really must. If I can do it - or at least attempt to do it - so can you!

Enjoy!





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Friday, February 23, 2018

January - A Time to Celebrate and Remember...

Usually, when January rolls around each year, it marks the beginning of a new year and provides a sort of reset, if needed, to begin anew.  But this January was like no other and I am already in need of a reset.

Early in the month,  I celebrated the birthday of a special friend, and had fun making this card.


It is difficult to capture the foil, but what appears black is actually purple and silver foil! 
(The stripes are silver foil and the design in the background and front are purple foil).
All designs are Gina K Foil Mates


This captures the color of the foil a bit better.


Birthdays are wonderful reminders that not only is every year worth celebrating, but each and every day.  That awareness was stronger than ever last month.  Unfortunately, it was necessary to create two sympathy cards as well.  The first one went to a dear friend who lost her wonderful mother after months of illness .  It has been 16 years since I lost my Mother, and I still miss her.  Losing a parent is life changing.  It is part of the cycle, but knowing that does not make the loss easier or more profound.  I hope this card brought her some comfort.


This design was traced from a stencil and cut with the Silver Bullet Pro. 
I love the simplicity of it.


The second sympathy card (below) was the most difficult card I have ever made.  I was full of so many emotions - sadness, anger, disbelief .. and so much more.  I have talked before about my daughter in law's sister, Darcy, who was battling cancer.  In September, Darcy returned to work while still fighting this awful disease.  We were all so hopeful that progress was being made. Unfortunately, the progress was fleeting and the cancer was victorious in the end.  I ached for Scott and Megan and all of the family suffering this incredible loss.  Ours is not to question, but acceptance is certainly not easy.

Before Darcy passed, she asked Megan to tell her daughter, Riley, and her nephew, Carter (my grandson), to know that she was watching over them whenever they saw a ladybug.  So it was clear to me that my card for Megan and her family had to have a ladybug.  I am not an artist, but I can say that this little ladybug was made with love.


The little lady bug was made with Nuvo Drops and the
beautiful rose is a design from Dominic (Crafty  Vectors). 


The end of January marked a celebration of Darcy' life and a lasting reminder that each and every day of our lives is a precious gift, not to be wasted or taken for granted. Pin It Now!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

It's a New Year - a little ...ummmm... LOT belated!!

It is hard to get back into blogging when months have gone by.  I feel like there is so much to share because I wanted to at the time, but life, as it does, got in the way in a variety of ways.  I was reminded time and time again, that my plan or priorities, were not God's plan for me.  So I tried not to fight that battle and worked on letting go.  Sometimes life can feel like a fairly smooth drive from one point to the other with just a few bumps and curves on the road - not too hard to manage.  And then other times, the journey is much more challenging with steeper hills, unexpected detours, even black ice on the road where you have NO idea where you are going and you have to trust.  There have been a lot of detour-filled roads lately on this life path and I am learning to slow down and do my best to navigate them in a more thoughtful and safe way.  Not sure any of this makes sense, but over the next few weeks I will share a little of what some of the challenges have been.

What I continue to learn is that I cannot do anything without family, friends and God. One thing constant about life is change and adapting to that can be difficult.  But all we can do is put one foot in front of the other and move forward....not back.  That is not always easy, but oh so necessary.  And the steps don't have to be at warp speed!  Sometimes just taking a few steps forward is enough because that is all I can handle. And other days, I feel like I can cover miles.  So I try to judge less and accomplish whatever I can and be satisfied with that.  Another tough lesson - how do I be satisfied with less when I want to accomplish soooo much more?!?  It is all ok because if I am doing my best, then that is all I can do and my best is enough.  One of the many mantras running through my head these days.  So whether it is baby steps or giant leaps, it is all just fine.

So onward we go.  Let's close this post out with a few of last year's cards that I made for gifts at Christmas time.  They are basically "money" cards for the people in my life who make things easier for me - from the mailman to the nail lady and house cleaner.  These were fun to make and since I am not crazy about recreating the same card over and over, these all have the same theme, but are a little different from each other. And the recipients were happy to receive them.  Mission accomplished! Enjoy.







And I hope you will stay with me on this year's  blog.  I plan to do lots of cards, more baking (and more variety), some new cooking techniques (like sous vide - so much fun and so delicious), and some new crafts too if I can carve out the time. There are always new things I want to learn, and I am hoping I will be able to have some success and share new ideas with you too.



Thanks for reading!

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Even Sweeter Seventeen!

It is so hard to believe that my oldest granddaughter turned 17 the end of October.  How could that be possible when I still remember the day she was born so clearly??  Where has the time gone?  She is now a senior in high school and making college plans - yikes!

So what do you get a 17 year old for her birthday. For many years, when the girls were little, I got them clothes for their birthdays and toys for Christmas.  But Kendra is too old to have her Grammy picking out her clothes so I had to find something else to do for her that she would like.  She loves mandalas, so I had fun finding some great coloring books for her to enjoy and got her a huge collection of glitter gel pens.  I had started doing a little coloring on cards myself, so I at least had an idea of what products were good.  She was thrilled with the Amazon birthday delivery!

And I used her love of mandalas as inspiration for her birthday card.  I found a cool site - Monday Mandala.  They have a lot of downloadable mandalas and saved quite a few of them.  I like the variety and the one I chose for her.  This one is called Sunny Day - just right for a "happy" birthday card!

I printed it out and did a print and cut to make it a little more interesting on the card.  I did all of the coloring with glitter gel pens (they are addicting so consider yourself warned...) and enjoyed every minute of it.  Every time I color a card like this, I understand the popularity of adult coloring books.  It is relaxing and stress relieving. 


Here is the mandala all ready to be cut. I printed it on Paper Temptress
Cryogen  - it has a beautiful sparkle and is the perfect media for coloring 
with pencils, markers or gel pens and more.


You can see the perfect precision of the print and cut.


Here is the cut out mandala all ready to be colored. 
I tend to cut out first just in case I make a mistake setting
up the print and cut. I don't want to go to all of the work of coloring 
and then make a user error setting up the print and cut.


Almost finished - I like leaving some white for contrast - I think it lets 
the other colors shine be the stars!


I added two shadow layers to compliment the colors in the mandala and used small pearls to accent the outer edges. Foam dots were added to the back of the mandala when mounting it to the card front.

I was really happy to send this to my granddaughter, and happier that she loved it as much as I did!







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About Me

My photo

I am a mother to three and Grammy to two beautiful granddaughters and one very handsome little grandson.  Was born and raised in southern California and am happy to call it home.  I fill my days with volunteer work, paper crafting, needlework of all kinds and cooking and baking.   I am blessed with wonderful family and friends who fill my heart on a daily basis.