Thursday, September 29, 2011

Real Simple Beef Quesadillas

Well it has really been a month of new recipes, I've gotta tell ya. And most of them come from Real Simple. Here's one we made the other night for beef quesadillas. I had to tweak the recipe a tad to make it gluten-free and work with the seasonings that we had. Here is the original recipe, along with a side dish of watercress and corn salad. Yeah, I didn't make the side.

Adapted Real Simple Beef Quesadillas
1 tablespoon plus four teaspoons of canola oil
1/2 pound of ground beef
2 dashes of paprika
2 dashes of onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 corn tortillas (The only ones I could find were small and came in a package of 10.)
1 1/2 cups of Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add beef (preferably defrosted, although I made it with frozen beef and defrosted/cooked in the oil), paprika, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Cook until the beef is no longer pink.
2. Heat broiler. Brush one side of each tortilla with one teaspoon of the remaining oil. Place two tortillas oil-side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Top with beef mixture, Monterey Jack, and remaining tortillas (oil-side up). Broil until crisp and the cheese melts, 1 to 2 minutes per side. (Corn tortillas are a different beast than flour tortillas. It took a little longer to get them crispy.)

You can serve with or without sour cream. I cut each tortilla into fourths to make them bite-sized.

If you're the kind of person who can't work with pinches and dashes of seasoning, well, I'm sorry. I took the seasoning bottle of paprika and dumped two quick swipes over the beef. The same with the onion powder. Feel free to use less or more seasoning depending on your palate. Honestly, I think I got the onion powder right (what a wonderful aroma!) but I would probably use more paprika. And add more cheese. I think I skimped on the cheese. But hey - now we can't wait to make them again!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cranberry Scones

I don't think I've posted this recipe before, and really, I'm too lazy to go back through my 300+ posts to find out, so excuse me if this is a repeat. But it's a good one to repeat.

This is a scone recipe that came on the packaging for my scone dish that my mom gave me. It's supposed to have cranberries in it, but sometimes I make it with chocolate chips because I LOVE chocolate chip scones. (Okay, I love chocolate chips, but...)

And this is the recipe I was telling you about that will use up the buttermilk you have left over from the Crispy Popcorn Chicken recipe. (Because you did make that recipe, right?)

Let's get to it—
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. butter
1 cup of frozen or dried cranberries (or chocolate chips or frozen blueberries)

1. Heat oven to 375. Coat pan with cooking spray. (I coat mine with canola oil.)
2. Beat the egg with the buttermilk and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
4. Add the butter, rubbing it in with fingers. (Yes, this gets messy.)
5. Lightly stir in the sugar and cranberries (or whatever you're using).
6. Stir in the buttermilk/egg mixture with a fork until a soft dough forms.
7. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface (parchment/wax paper works well) and knead five times.
8. Separate into eight pieces and fit into a pan. (This is if you have the special scone pan. If you're just using a baking sheet, separate the dough into eight equal-sized circles.)
9. Bake 20-25 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes in pan.

Oh, these are so delicious. And this time, I sprinkled raw sugar on top for some added sweetness and texture. That was the right move!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

New Badge

You may have noticed a new badge on my blog that looks a little something like this:

That's right! I participated in the Sketchy Thursdays 9.15 sketch challenge and, though I didn't win, my layout was picked as one of the week's faves. :) You can see my layout (look for my name—and me in the picture on the layout) and all the winners and faves here. Yayness!

And don't forget to check out the 9.22 sketch challenge. The winner gets a limited-edition autumn Distress Ink ink pad.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Giant 3 Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies

Kathy says that she loves to bake, and one of her favorite things to bake is a recipe for Giant 3-Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies. "They are huge, not good for you, but completely heavenly," Kathy says. Here's what you need and what to do:

• 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1 bag (12 ounces) chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until combined; mix in vanilla.
3. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture; mix until just incorporated. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in chocolate chips.
4. Drop 1/4-cup mounds of dough onto ungreased baking sheets, at least 4 inches apart and away from edges of pan. Bake until golden, 15 to 18 minutes.
5. Cool 1 to 2 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Kathy says that the key to making these cookies is to have the dough be cold, and not over-handled when you put it in the oven. If it gets too warm, the cookies go flat. Five minutes in the refrigerator before cooking helps. She also rotates the trays halfway through the cooking time.

I tried to make these using all-purpose gluten-free flour and... the result was not good. I did what Kathy said about putting the dough in the fridge first and the cookies still turned out flat. I didn't try it with regular flour because then I would have had to eat the cookies all by myself (not that that's a bad scenario...) so if you use regular flour and have success let me know! Also, if you adapt this to make it gluten-free, let me know, too. I'm sure there are people reading this who are better at the chef know-how than I am. I just assumed that gluten-free flour would do the trick, but sometimes that's not always the case.

And feel free to share with us your favorite cookie recipes (regular and g/f) in the comments section!

Thanks to Kathy for being a part of Cook Scrap Craft this week. Don't forget to visit her blog and gallery for lots more inspiration!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Inspiration from Kathy!

In one of my sketchbooks (yes, I have three), I had two of Kathy's layouts sketched, so I decided to try my hand at both. (I had a lot of time on my hands during the hurricane/tropical storm.) So here's what I got:

This is Kathy's layout "Whoo-ligans", which is just so stinking cute!

I took the cloud-like shape idea and added one to my multi-pic layout.

And the second one I lifted is a two-pager based on Kathy's "Pumpkin Stroll" layout. Blogger won't let me add the actual image, but here is the link to Kathy's layout. And because Kathy said she liked sketches, I've provided the sketch I did based on her layout so you can see what I was working with.

I used a stamp to make the top row of circles.

I'd love to see how Kathy's layouts, be they the ones above or ones from her blog or gallery, inspire you. Post links to your work in the comments! And come back on Friday if you like chocolate chip cookies.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Getting Scrappy with Kathy!

Finally! Getting Scrappy With is back from summer hiatus. Aren't you excited? Of course you are! You get to see more great work from more great scrappers and hopefully get inspired with your scrapping and crafting.

This month's featured scrapper is Kathy aka Ekskou on I came across Kathy last year through perusing the gallery and ended up sketching several of her layouts into my sketch book. I liked them so much that I knew I wanted Kathy to be featured on my blog. Kathy recently started her own blog, My Happy Place, that you'll definitely want to start following because you'll find lots of great scrapbook inspiration there. But first, let's get to know Kathy a bit more, shall we?

What are your favorite scrapbook manufacturers?
Oh, there are just so many. I LOVE Echo Park and Little Yellow Bicycle. They really raised the bar this year! I also love Bo Bunny and Maya Road. My new obsession is from My Favorite Things. Their Die-namics are awesome for die-cutting.

When did you start scrapping?
I’ve always been crafty. In high school I had books that I put some pictures, ticket stubs, etc., in. I also used to make invitations and party favors. I really started scrapbooking in 2003. I had just left my job to stay home and a good friend dragged me to a home party and was convinced I would love scrapbooking. She was right!

click here to see this in Kathy's gallery
How has your style evolved over the years?
My style has morphed significantly over the years. I started out very basic, corner rounders, stickers, border strips. When I started hanging out at my LSS [local scrapbook store] more, I got more into the techniques of things—layering, stitching, distressing, inking. Now I incorporate a whole bunch of techniques—LOVE stitching. You’ll find some on most of my layouts. Layering is a must and I like clusters of embellishments—buttons, chipboard, flowers. I love it all!

What size pages do you normally scrap?
I’m almost exclusively 12x12. I do create some 2 pagers, but mostly for classes I teach.

Where do you get your creative inspiration?
I get inspiration from my friends, fellow DT [design team] members and scanning blogs and galleries. I LOVE sketches. They give you a starting point without requiring you to do something a certain way. I’ve also taken a few technique classes for scrapbook teachers.

What design teams are you on?
I’ve been designing for my LSS Right at Home Scrapbooking in North Attleboro, Mass., for the last two years. I teach a layout class there and also create layouts for another club at the store. I also started on the marketing team at Let’s Capture Our Memories this year, as well as designing for the very cool iPod app Sketches2Scrapbook.

How often do you scrap about yourself?
Practically never. My friends always tease me about my camera shyness. I’ve been asked many times if I actually participated in whatever activity I’ve scrapped. When I do include myself, I make sure to point out that see, there are actually pictures of me, I do exist.

Is there a favorite place or time of day that you like to scrap?

My favorite place to scrap is in my kitchen, in the morning. We remodeled a couple of years ago and have a huge island with wonderful lighting. It also allows me to multitask if I need to!

What does your scrap area look like?
I do have a scrapbooking armoire with some additional shelves to store my scrap supplies, but I really must admit that my dining room table looks like a fire sale at a scrap store. I usually have so many projects going at once that it’s just easier to keep it all out. My goal is to eventually turn the guestroom/toy room/den into a permanent scrap space, but for now, I’m a bit all over.

My current project is to change the way I store paper. For years I did it by color, but I’m slowly switching over to sorting by manufacturer. I have tons of little containers, baggies… I can find everything I need, but not sure if someone else could!

Why do you scrap?
It’s a creative outlet. I also love playing with my scrap supplies. When my daughter was young, I used to do Girl Scouts with her, but now that she’s a teenager, I needed another reason to play with glitter, without looking strange. As a bonus, my family’s memories are saved!

click here to see this in Kathy's gallery
For blog readers who may live in the same area as you, are there any local scrapbook stores that you can recommend?
I live in Massachusetts, and I would highly recommend Right at Home Scrapbooking in North Attleboro, Mass. They have a huge selection of papers, embellishments, you name it. They also have tons of great classes. Lisa and Sharon (the owners) also organize fabulous crops and get-away weekends.

The first day of fall is at the end of this week. What is one thing you will miss about the summer?
The lack of a tight schedule. Don’t get me wrong. We still have places to be, but during the school year it’s so hectic. I only have one child, and no idea how folks with more than one handle it all!! We’re busy every day after school. I will miss the ability to sit and do nothing!

And with the arrival of fall comes holiday preparations! What are some scrapbook items that might appear on your wishlist?
Right now I’m excited for the new Little Yellow Bicycle lines (ALL OF THEM!, but especially Winter Twig) and Maya Road has some fabulous chipboard sets and trims that are on my must-have list!

Thanks for being a part of Cook Scrap Craft this week, Kathy! Don't forget to check out her blog and her gallery, and then come back later this week for more inspiration from Kathy.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Real Simple Crispy Popcorn Chicken

We had this meal the other night for dinner. I saw it in a Real Simple issue and thought, "We haven't had chicken nuggets in a long time." So we tried this recipe! The original recipe can be found here. Here is our gluten-free adapted version for 2 servings:

1.5 chicken breasts, cut up into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
salt and pepper
canola oil

1. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. (Or any other seasonings/herbs you want. Next time we might add some grated parmesan cheese.)
2. Dip the chicken pieces in the buttermilk and then the flour.
3. In batches, fry the chicken in a 1/2 inch canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until golden and cooked through.
4. Drain and season with salt. (Oops, we left out the add more salt thing.)

We served this with french fries and corn, but it would also be good with rice, barbecue sauce or whatever you like to eat chicken with.

I didn't take a picture because our last few batches were getting kind of burnt. We were running out of canola oil in the skillet and I wasn't sure if I should pour more oil on a hot skillet to keep the chicken from going black instead of golden. So if you're making this, maybe keep an extra skillet on hand in case you run into our problem. The first three batches of chicken came out awesome. :)

And if you're wondering what to do with leftover buttermilk, I'll post a very good scone recipe later. That's how I plan on using the rest of our buttermilk.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

National Celiac Disease Awareness Day (2 days late!)

So I kind of missed National Celiac Disease Awareness Day. The U.S. Senate recently passed a resolution designating September 13 as the day. In honor of that day, here are some stats about Celiac Disease culled from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness website:

September 13 is also the birthday of Dr. Samual Gee, a pioneer in Celiac Disease research.

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. Essentially the body attacks itself every time a person with Celiac consumes gluten.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. When people with Celiac Disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging the finger-like villi of the small intestine. When the villi become damaged, the body is unable to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream, which can lead to malnourishment.

As recently as 2000, the average person with Celiac Disease waited 11 years for a correct diagnosis. Celiac Disease can be difficult to diagnose because it can present in a variety of different ways. The only treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet.

Half of all people with Celiac Disease do not show symptoms of the disease.

One in 133 Americans have Celiac Disease.

An estimated 3 million Americans across all races, ages and genders suffer from Celiac.

Delay in the diagnosis of Celiac Disease can result in damage to the small intestine, which leads to an increased risk for malnutrition, anemia, lymphoma, adenocarcinoma, osteoporosis, miscarriage, congenital malformation, short stature, and disorders of the skin and other organs.

Celiac Disease is linked to many autoimmune disorders, including thyroid disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, type 1 diabetes, liver disease, collagen vascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjogren's syndrome.

The burden of the disease over a four-year period per patient:
  • Females: $4,019
  • Males:  $14,191
The Celiac Disease diagnosis rate may reach 50-60 percent by 2019, thanks to efforts to raise public awareness of Celiac Disease. 

Gluten-free sales reached more than $2.6 billion by the end of 2010 and are now expected to exceed more than $5 billion by 2015.

To find out more about Celiac Disease and see if you might have it, visit the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Adina for Life

Just tried a new beverage and it was super yummy! The company is Adina (which "is dedicated to producing great-tasting, better-for-you, fair trade beverages, using only natural and/or USDA organic, directly sourced ingredients from around the world"), and it's got a new product line called Holistic Zero. These are fruit and herbal infusion drinks that are certified gluten-free (hoorah!) and contain no caffeine or calories (double hoorah!). The company was handing out free samples on the sidewalk so I grabbed one because I always take anything that is given to me for free, especially if it's food. Of course, as I walked away with it, I thought, "Hmm, this could be poison from terrorists. BUT I'll drink it anyway because it's free."And boy am I glad I drank it. I had the Mandarin Melon Berry and it was so so so good. You can get the products at Whole Foods and other natural food stores, as well as some gas station convenience stores and grocery stores. The full store locator is on Adina's website. Because I got mine for free, I can't tell you how much these drinks cost, and I'm sure it varies from location to location anyway. I'd like to try the Wild Black Cherry, so maybe next time I'm at Whole Foods buying gluten-free pizza crusts, I'll pick me up a bottle. Yum!

Also got two free Fiber One granola bars the same day! I love free samples in New York.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Were You?

It was a Tuesday. We were just a few weeks into my senior year of high school. We had a scheduled half day due to teachers' meetings in the afternoon. All of our classes were 20 minutes long that day, so I was in my third period class earlier than normal. It was Newspaper, and we were sitting around not doing much work due to the shortened class times. There were TVs mounted to the wall in the newspaper room, but they were never on. Suddenly, my Western Civilization teacher from junior year, Mr. Whelan, came running into our classroom. He tried to get the TVs to turn on but they didn't work. It was either him or another student who told us that on the radio there was a report of a plane crashing into a building in New York. We didn't think much of it, and then the bell rang so we changed classes. My next class was Chamber & Show Choir. By this time, everyone knew something had happened. My choir teacher, Mr. Varwig, let us go into the empty cafeteria to watch the news on the TVs that were stationed there. That's when we learned that a second plane had hit another building in New York, and those buildings were the World Trade Center towers. For the rest of the day, it was all anybody talked about. My Novel teacher told us, "This day is going to be like the day when JFK was assassinated. People are always going to ask, 'Where were you?'" So she (Ms. Jackson was her name. People always sang the Outkast song to her, much to her chagrin.) made us write down where we were so that we would never forget. School let out and I drove home to eat Kraft mac and cheese and watch the news to find out what else had happened - and so much had - since the last time I'd seen the news in fourth period. I lost the paper that Ms. Jackson made me write, but I still remember.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Saint Clare's Foundation Breast Cancer Walk

Hello scrappers, cookers, and crafters. On September 18, I'm going to be doing a breast cancer walk to benefit the Saint Clare's Foundation in New Jersey. The foundation is dedicated to raising funds for services and programs, construction and renovation of facilities, and state-of-the-art technology for the Saint Clare's Health System. This is the 10th year that the Saint Clare's Foundation has sponsored a breast cancer walk. As with all breast cancer walks, the walkers themselves donate money and ask others for monetary donations. If you'd like to donate through me, please visit this my personal walker webpage. You can donate online or print out a form and mail your donation. Thanks for supporting Saint Clare's and helping it put cancer on the run!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


The latest challenge at Once Upon a Sketch is to create a layout based on the provided sketch, use a year for the title, and journal at least two lines about why this year was important to you. I chose to do my layout about the year Jimmy Eat World's Bleed American came out.

My husband and I recently saw the band in concert, and the band played Bleed American in its entirety to celebrate the album's 10th anniversary. The songs still sound amazing, and "The Middle" is still one of my all-time favorite songs. I got some good pictures at the concert - love the top one with the lead singer and the lighter.

Journaling reads: Hard to believe it's been 10 years since Jimmy Eat World released its Bleed American album. I loved that album during my senior year of high school. I still count "The Middle" as one of my most favorite songs, and it still sounded great 10 years later!

What year was important to you? You have until September 14 at midnight (Australian time) to enter! There are two great prizes to win - some Prima flowers and some clear stamps!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sketchy Thursdays 9.1 sketch

I love long weekends! I get so much scrapbooking (and wallpaper removing and housecleaning and paint sample buying) done. Here's one of the latest layouts I made for my June vacation album. It's based on the 9.1 Sketchy Thursdays sketch.

When we were at Martha's Vineyard, we saw the Flying Horses Carousel. It's the oldest operating carousel in the country. I was super psyched to ride it, but when we got there, it was closed. Thanks for not updating your website, Flying Horses Carousel. Because generally when I read "we're open" on the website, I assume it means you're going to be open. Can you tell I was a tad ticked? I really wanted to ride the stinkin' carousel!

How are your vacation scrapbooks coming along? I went to Michael's and got an American Crafts D-ring album for 50% off so I finally have somewhere to put our Florida layouts. Saturday I've gotta go use a 40% off coupon to get more page refills for the album. :) If you go to Michael's this week and make a purchase, you get a 50% off coupon with your receipt that is valid 9-11 through 9-17. Good deal!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I Survived Hurricane Irene

I saw a guy wearing a T-shirt that said that. It looked professionally made, so I'm wondering if it's some type of charity thing. I'll have to look into it.

Anyway, we survived. Not a lot of damage where we lived, which was good. This was about the extent of it:

That tree branch fell over Sunday afternoon. That's the street behind our house. We lost power at midnight Sunday but got it back 10:30 Sunday morning. So not terrible. Can't say the same about other parts of New Jersey. If ever there was a time that I'm glad we moved, it's now. Parts of our old town were evacuated due to flooding, and I'm not sure I would have been able to get to work due to flooded roads along my old bus route. As it was, I was able to go to work every day this week (as were my co-workers), so things are pretty much back to normal for us.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Love You More - Book Review

Jennifer Grant and her husband already had three young biological children. But a tap on the shoulder from God was all it took to realize that they would be adopting a fourth child. Love You More is the true story of the process the Grants went through to finally bring home their new daughter Mia.

Written by Jennifer, the book gives lots of background information on the Grant family and how Jennifer and her husband came to have three children and live in the suburbs of Chicago. This background information helps explain why Jennifer and her husband ultimately decided to bring a fourth child into their family through adoption. It really reiterates the fact that adoption is not an easy or simple decision. The Grants didn't just say, "Hey, let's adopt a kid!" There were many factors that shaped the Grants' decision: past experiences traveling to poor countries and seeing poor children and orphans, friends going through the adoption process, and faith.

Love You More is really an adoption guide as much as it is one family's story of adoption. Grant writes that she doesn't like to give advice about adoption, choosing rather to tell people her story and her experience with the process. I think this book gives a realistic portrayal of what people can expect from the adoption process, not just the paperwork and the waiting, but all the emotions and questions.

At the end of the book, Grant does offer some adoption advice, or tips, and helpful websites for those thinking about adopting a child. There are also discussion questions for book clubs or small groups.

This is a good book for anyone contemplating adoption or in the middle of the process, but even if you have no interest in adopting a child, Love You More will still keep your interest. It's a very well-written, moving story about what makes a family.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”