Friday, March 30, 2012

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

That's right. I love Chili's loaded baked potato soup so much that I took a picture of it the last time we ate there. You see, Chili's took it off the menu for a couple years, and it was really disappointing. But recently, THEY BROUGHT IT BACK. YESSSSSSSSSSS. So I made a layout about it for two challenges. The first is at Burlap & Buttercups. It's a sketch challenge with a twist, the twist being to use a cell phone photo (or in my case, an Instagram'd iPod photo). The second challenge was a food challenge at Studio Calico. Really simple: scrap about food.

What's your favorite restaurant menu food? Anything you love that a restaurant took away? Scrap about it!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Penne with Ricotta Cheese and Greens

I don't remember what magazine I got this recipe out of, but I did find a link to the recipe online at the Williams-Sonoma website, of all places. This is a really easy one-pot dish that is perfect if you like pasta but aren't into heavy sauces. The sauce is just made up of olive oil, lemon juice, grated Parmesan cheese, and Ricotta cheese. It looks yummy and it tastes yummy too. So click on the above link to see the whole recipe.

My adaptations:
1. I used gluten-free pasta, of course. They didn't have penne at the grocery store so I went with fusili.
2. Instead of Tuscan kale, I used spinach.
3. I left out the shallot and thyme.
4. Instead of grated lemon zest, I just poured in some lemon juice.
5. The recipe says to boil the greens until they are tender, 30 seconds to six minutes. For the spinach, I found that three minutes was a good amount of time.

Monday, March 26, 2012

I Think It's Finished

Do you ever start a layout and get it pretty much done, but then you stop and look at it and think, "It needs something." That's what happened with this layout. While I was glad to combine a variety of different papers and embellishments from my stash, once I was "done" I didn't feel like it was done. But I couldn't figure out how to make the layout feel more complete. Well, I let it sit for weeks and weeks, and then the other night I took another look at it. I added the scalloped red border that had been in my Christmas scrap stash underneath the shiny white square (which is actually a calendar tag but you can't tell because of the lighting in the picture - sorry) and called it a day. For some reason, just that one little thing made it seem more complete to me.

These pictures were from a train/flower show at the St. Louis Botanical Gardens, hence the title and use of trains on this layout. My husband, my mom, and I went there over the Christmas holiday.

The trains are actually die-cuts that my mom gave me. I have some extras and I already know how I'm going to use them. This summer, my husband and I are taking a cross-country train trip (Thank you, tax refund!) that, judging by our experiences booking the trip with Amtrak, will either be the most awesome trip ever or the most awful. HA! Either way it's going to be an adventure and something we can tell our future kids child goldfish about some day so we sound cool and worldly. Which we totally are!

Saturday, March 24, 2012


I went to a local garden show the other weekend with some ladies from my women's group/book club. It was a gorgeous day, although not a lot of the exhibits were outside. But we had a good time looking at flowers and chatting over lunch in the flower-themed cafe. I bought me some apple butter from mom-and-pop. SO GOOD. And then I did a layout about the trip.

This layout is based on "Pit Stop" by Mama2Ainslie.(Don't know her real name, but that is her handle.) I also entered this in a challenge over at Burlap & Buttercups. The challenge was to recycle or upcycle something on a layout or project. I cut circles out of Starbucks cup sleeves and placed them on my layout so that the underside of corrugated cardboard showed. Then I placed paper flowers on top. Voila! Homemade embellishments and it's a little bit "green".

If you want to participate in the challenge, head on over to Burlap & Buttercups. You have until the end of the month, and there are other challenges going on that you can participate in.

In other spring news, here are some pretty flowers that have already started blooming in front of our house. Happy spring!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Please, sir. Can I have some more?

You know a meal is good when your husband turns to you and says, "Is there any more?" (And no. There wasn't. We ate it all!)

The meal I'm referring to is a little something called Hamburger Stroganoff. It's in the cookbook Faster! I'm Starving! We received this cookbook in 2009, which was right before my husband was diagnosed with Celiac disease. The one thing I was able to make from the cookbook (Tortellini with Spinach and Goat Cheese) before his diagnosis we were no longer able to make. So I sort of put the cookbook away and let it gather dust. But the other week I was telling someone about the tortellini recipe, and I took the cookbook down from the top of the fridge. I flipped through the pages looking at the recipes I had earmarked long ago, recipes that we thought sounded good and wanted to make. And I thought, "Some of these are naturally gluten-free and others we can make gluten-free." Thus, Hamburger Stroganoff was made in our kitchen last night.

Now, from the picture, it doesn't look like much. But it was good. I think next time, I will serve it over a bed of white rice. (I tried to get my husband to do the brown rice thing, but he wasn't having it.)

Because of copyright issues, I don't think I can print the recipe here on this blog. I didn't have to adapt it at all to make it gluten-free, so I can't share an adapted version with you. But I will tell you what the ingredients are so you can get a idea of what this might taste like:

ground beef
olive oil
garlic powder
black pepper
sour cream
Dijon mustard
Worcestershire sauce

And best of all, it took us about 30 minutes to put together. A perfect weeknight meal!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Real Simple Chicken, Spinach, and Noodle Casserole

I was excited to have time on Sunday to make a nice dinner, even though my husband and I ate separately due to different schedules. I'm so glad that the busyness is over with! I tore this recipe out of the March 2012 Real Simple. Here is the link to the recipe on Real Simple's website. Because I needed to make this gluten-free, I changed it up a bit.

1. Instead of all-purpose flour, I used Bob's Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour.
2. Instead of whole milk, I used 2 percent. (That has nothing to do with being gluten-free. I just didn't feel like buying another thing of milk.)
3. Instead of egg noodles, I used Scharr gluten-free tagliatelle pasta. Tagliatelle sort of has a flat and long egg noodle shape. And because I couldn't find gluten-free egg noodles, the tagliatelle was the best choice.
4. I poached two chicken breasts to use in this recipe.
5. Instead of bread crumbs, I tried a new thing I saw at the grocery store - rice crumbs. They didn't brown up as much as I would have liked, but they were still decent.

6. I sprinkled grated parmesan cheese on top just to give it a little more flavor. This helped, especially because I left out the thyme. I have no thyme (or time - ha ha).

It was very creamy. And apparently it holds up well when reheated in the microwave. That's how my husband ate it when he got home. Can't wait because we're having it as leftovers tomorrow night!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Week Ahead in Food

Here's what we're eating this week:

Chicken, Spinach, and Noodle Casserole*

Penne with Ricotta Cheese and Greens*

Hamburger Stroganoff*

Beef Quesadillas

Bacon and Egg Cups

*= new recipe

What's on your meal plan for this week? I'll share pictures and recipes of the new stuff we make soon!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Time to Play!

I know. I'm behind on my posting. But I don't have a lot of pictures to scrap right now, and our weeknights have been too busy and crazy to make any new food. So I'll get back on track soon! Don't worry.

In the meantime, check out TimetoPlayTV Friday, March 16 (tomorrow!!) at 12 p.m. EST. I'm co-hosting the show! We'll be showing you great Easter toys to put in your kids' Easter baskets instead of giving kids candy. And there will be giveaways! So if you have kids and you like free toys, you definitely want to watch!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dressed for Spring

So I've been cutting out pictures of clothes from magazines and putting them in my little notebook/lookbook as inspiration for creating some outfits. I only cut out stuff that is affordable and available at stores where I like to shop. (So essentially everything in Marie Claire and sometimes Glamour stays in the magazine. Hello Redbook and Real Simple!) Normally I do this and never purchase anything, but I had some gift cards to help me out. So I've already created two new spring outfits that I hope to wear when my husband and I go on a three-day weekend vacation next month. I essentially bought what the magazines told me to buy. Wanna see what I got?

I used a $25 Visa gift card (thanks, credit card reward points) for this boatneck top at Gap. Mine is navy with hot pink stripes.

Then I used a second $25 Visa gift card to pay for a pair of Indigo Rein green jeans from the junior's (gasp) section at Macy's. These are not available online for some reason. I have also seen them at Marshall's, but they didn't have my size. Old Navy just got a bunch of its Rock Star skinny jeans in green back in stock, so you could also try those.

And then to finish off this outfit, I purchased (with my own money) these snakeskin Steve Madden flats at DSW. Only $39.95 compared to $50. And I signed up for DSW's free rewards program. YES.

Because I wanted to make the most out of my green jeans, I also purchased a second top to wear with them. I got this top in yellow at Old Navy in the Clearance section for $5.99 (with some of the money from our change jar). Yes, that is cheaper than what they are selling it for online, and I didn't have to pay shipping.

My next outfit began with some teal pants that a magazine told me were at The Limited, but a quick online search proved that wrong. Luckily, I was looking online at Loft and what did I find? Cropped teal pants! And did I have $75 in gift cards to the Loft? OH YES I DID. So I went and got these pants. I decided that the yellow shirt I got from Old Navy would look cute with these, but I wanted to make sure I had something else to go with them, so I also bought this striped shirt in white and grey-ish. To top it all off, that day the store was giving everyone 30% off their entire order. So I got $74 worth of stuff for $50 and I STILL have money left on a gift card. YES!

Oh and there was a coupon in a magazine for a pair of New York & Company pants for $10. So I went and bought a new pair of black dress/work pants for $10!!!! (Did I mention that was also on the day that I got a free pretzel from Auntie Anne's because it was Free Pretzel Day?)

I love deals!

What are you guys jonesing for this spring? Do you use the same technique as me? I guess you could call it the non-digital form of Pinterest, huh? But I like being able to take my notebook with me so that I can see what it is I'm looking for and then mark it off when I buy it (or when I try it on and it looks terrible, as happened with two dresses at Gap).

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Quilted Look

I've been seeing a lot of "quilted" looks on scrapbook layouts, so I decided to give it a try. I used up some paper from a 6x6 Basic Grey paper pad by cutting it into little squares. Then I placed the squares onto my cardstock. (I made the squares into stickers using my Xyron.) It's a pretty cool look. Cutting the squares was time-consuming, but it makes the time go by faster if you watch TV or a movie while you're doing it. :)

Have you guys tried this technique yet? Is there anything else new out there that you've tried or are hoping to try soon?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Real Simple Eggplant Parmesan Rollatini

baking the eggplant

This is only the second time I've worked with eggplant. The first time didn't turn out so hot. But I know my husband enjoys eggplant parmesan, and when I saw this recipe in Real Simple, I figured I should give it a shot. And we were not disappointed! It was so cheesy and delicious. I would definitely recommend this as a great weekend meal. (The directions say you can make it ahead but only up to four hours ahead or the cheese mixture will separate, so not really something to make Sunday night and have later in the week.) Pair it with some bread, a salad, and you're good to go.
the finished product

Monday, March 5, 2012

Thank you, Rachael Ray

Thank goodness for Sunday morning cooking shows. While I was getting ready to go out grocery shopping, I happened to be watching Rachael Ray's show Week in a Day, which was only on Food Network that morning because it was a special Cooking Channel preview all day. ANYWAY.

I'm sitting there watching Rachael cook stuff and she makes this spinach salad with a homemade mustard-based dressing. I'm thinking, we have spinach in our fridge that needs to be used. We have all the other ingredients necessary for making this dressing. I'm totally making this!

And thus, a delicious Sunday night meal of gluten-free spaghetti in homemade alfredo sauce (I had heavy cream to use up.) with gluten-free Brazilian cheese buns (made from scratch) and Spinach Salad with Dijon Dressing. Yum-O indeed

Has Rachael Ray (or any other TV chef) inspired you at the last minute like this?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Crab Rangoon for Migraine Sufferers

In our house, both of us have to watch what we eat so that we don't get sick. My husband can't eat wheat, and there are a variety of foods that I'm supposed to stay away from so that I don't get migraines. (Although, I usually get migraines anyway for non-food-related reasons.) Soy is one of those foods that I have to watch.

Now, a few weeks ago, someone gave me some Nasoya won ton wrappers for making gluten-free ravioli, but the won ton wrappers were NOT gluten-free. However, the back of the packaging had a recipe on it for crab rangoon, which is something that is pretty much non-existent on the East Coast. I love crab rangoon, so I decided I would make those for myself. BUT, the recipe called for soy sauce. Luckily, I came across the website Migraine-Free Cooking! and its recipe for non-soy soy sauce! It was super easy to make. I did not use beef stock from preparing a beef roast in water. I just went out and bought Kitchen Basics beef stock because it is not made with MSG.

So, if you are interested in making some super easy crab rangoon, check out won ton wrappers! I found them in the produce section next to the tofu, but they may be in a different section of your grocery store.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

White Bean and Kielbasa Stew with Gluten-Free Buttermilk Biscuits

I broke out the slow cooker again for this one. And it was SO easy. Thanks, Real Simple! Here is what I made: Real Simple White Bean and Kielbasa Stew

The recipe calls to serve the stew with some rustic bread. I chose to make my own biscuits because I had a biscuit recipe I'd been meaning to try for a long time. So here is what I made:

Gluten-Free Buttermilk Biscuits (adapted from Katie Lee's Sage Buttermilk Biscuits recipe as published in Ladies Home Journal) - Makes 12

Ingredients (note: This recipe makes 12 biscuits, but I cut it in half to make six biscuits):
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus 4 tbsp. softened
2 1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp heavy cream

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large mixing bowl, cut the butter into the flour, using a pastry blender or two knives, until it resembles a coarse meal. Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar, and stir to combine. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk. Mix with a fork until all of the ingredients are incorporated and the dough just begins to come together.
2. On a lightly floured work surface, form dough into a ball and roll to about 1/2-inch thickness. Flour a three-inch biscuit cutter (or the rim of a glass) and cut out the biscuits. Reshape the leftover dough into a ball, roll it out again, and cut out more biscuits. Repeat until there is no dough remaining.
3. Place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet and brush with cream. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. While the biscuits are still hot, spread some softened butter on top of each one and let melt.

Because of the gluten-free flour, I assume, the biscuits didn't rise and form a traditional biscuit shape. But I thought it just made them look rustic, which is what the stew recipe wanted. And they tasted really good, especially right out of the oven.