July 29, 2011

Patriotic Birthday

     Hello!  While my husband believes I own every stamp set in the Idea Book & Catalog I did find one that I don't own - a current star stamp!  I wanted to make a patriotic birthday card and realized that the only star stamps I own are retired!  Don't tell Aaron but I guess that means that I'll have to place another Stampin' Up order soon! ;)
     This card was pretty simple to create and if it wasn't for the embossing I would consider it "quick and simple".  I embossed the star from Stars & Swirls set with white embossing powder, went over the embossed image with a cotton ball and ink (emboss resist technique) and then punched the image out with a square punch.  
Stamps: Stars & Swirls (retired), Short & Sweet
Ink: Cherry Cobbler, Night of Navy, Going Gray
Paper: Whisper White
Tools & Accessories: Heat tool, embossing powder, 1 3/4" square punch, dimensionals  

July 26, 2011

Homemade Blueberry Pie

     Hello! Looking back through my blog I noticed that I seem to post recipes on Tuesdays. This got me thinking that maybe I should add a new segement to my blog, Recipe Tuesday! My goal is to post a new recipe, either a main dish or dessert, each Tuesday. I'll let you know what works well and what doesn't and add any little tips I've discovered along the way. Here's the first official recipe in my new segment - blueberry pie!
     My husband and I are HUGE fans of blueberry pie and since this is blueberry season I thought I'd try my hand at baking one. I'm not a fan of making pie crust from scratch (although I am a fan of eating it!) so I prefer to use the Pillsbury crusts, it's just so much easier! Here's a super quick recipe that you can make anytime! Unfortunately, because it is so easy to make this summer I've found myself baking this pie at least once a week... and with my husband's help it's usually devoured within 48 hours ;)

Blueberry Pie
2 rolls of pre-made pie crust
2 pints (4 cups) fresh blueberries
1/2 -3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp butter

1. Preheat oven to 375. Toss berries with sugar and cornstarch (I like my pie a little on the sweeter side so I use 3/4 cup of sugar)
2. Unroll bottom crust into pie pan and fill with berries. Cut butter into cubes and place around filling.
3. Top pie with crust and crimp or flute the edges. Cut a few steam vents and sprinkle lightly with sugar (note: raw sugar, the little brown packets you get at coffee shops, looks fabulous on top of the pie).
* To keep the crust from burning I always cover crust with foil before baking and remove the foil during the last 5 minutes of baking.
4. Bake for 30 minutes, then rotate pan and lower oven temp to 350. Bake for an additional 30-35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
5. Cool for 3-4 hours. Enjoy!

July 22, 2011

Sail Away, Sail Away, Sail Away...

     Hello!  Have I mentioned that I {love} the new nautical themed stamps from the Summer Mini?!  I can't put them down!  I grew up minutes from the ocean and spent my summers at the family beach house so these sets remind me of my childhood.
     This card was inspired by Christine Miller's card (here) and my constant need for more masculine birthday cards (man, we've got a lot of men in my family!).  I loved her layout but to make this card more of my own I decided to make it a z-fold and change the main image.
     For my main image I stamped the sail boat once on Sahara Sand in Night of Navy ink and once again on Whisper White.  I cut the sails from the WW card stock and adhered them to the Sahara Sand image.  To give the fold a little bit of interest I tore a piece of Sahara Sand and adhered it to the edge of the fold.
Stamps: Sail Away
Ink: Night of Navy
Paper: Night of Navy, Sahara Sand, Whisper White, Nautical Expedition DSP
Tools & Accessories: Baker's twine, brads

July 19, 2011

THE Best Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies...

     EVER! Seriously, they're addicting.  This recipe is from The Grand Central Baking Cookbook and it contains some of the most delicious recipes I've ever seen! A co-worker let me borrow the book back in May after he learned that I love to bake sweets; I returned it to him after I copied almost every recipe in it!
     What makes these cookies so different is their texture when they're baked, it's almost a sugary-crispy shell that melts in your mouth.  Of course, the cookie dough is pretty good as well, I would know because I ate a ton of it!  Aaron was good enough to wait until after the cookies were baked before he started munching!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs, room temp
2-3/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Measure dry ingredients in bowl and whisk to combine.  Set aside.

2.  Using a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium speed for 3-5 minutes, until lighter in color and fluffy.  Scrape the bottom and sides of bowl several times during the process.

3.  While mixer is running, crack eggs into separate bowl and add vanilla.  Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly pour in eggs.  Scrape sides and bottom of bowl during the process.

4.  Gradually add dry ingredients (in 2 to 3 additions) with mixer on low speed.  Combine oats and chocolate in same bowl used for dry ingredients, then add to dough with mixer on low speed, mixing just until everything is well distributed.  Often, it's easier to finish the mixing by hand using a stiff rubber spatula.

5.  Drop dough by tablespoonful onto prepared cookie sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking time.  The edges of the cookies should be golden brown, while the centers will appear blond and slightly underdone.  Let the cookies cool on wire rack. Makes approximately 3 dz cookies.

Blueberry Pie... coming soon!

July 15, 2011

Oh, Deer!

     Hello!  Nothing is more masculine than a deer!  Today's card was inspired by TrishG's card (here) over at SplitCoast and is the perfect card for quite a few men in my family.  I loved how Trish used color rather than just black ink when stamping the image.  Trish also used the "misting with markers" technique that I've never tried before but now that I've had the chance to experiment with it I love it! 
To learn how to mist with markers check out this video tutorial by Beate or view the printable tutorial here at SCS.  Of course, if you'd like me to personally teach you how to mist with markers you could always host a workshop. 
    Since the jumbo eyelets retired on July 1st (bummer, I loved those little guys!) I decided to skip the hardware and go for the hemp twine instead.  I also opted to stamp the image on Very Vanilla rather than vellum.

Stamps: Nature Silhouettes
Paper: Chocolate Chip, Very Vanilla, Wild Wasabi
Ink: Chocolate Chip, Wild Wasabi
Tools & Accessories: Hemp twine, spray bottle

July 13, 2011

Race Results!

     Hello!  On the 4th of July my family celebrated America's birthday by running a 10k in Foxboro, MA.  My husband is a HUGE fan of the New England Patriots and decided to walk the 6.2 miles (he's still recovering from surgery) so he could experience the thrill of running into Gillette Stadium and onto the field, cheered on by real-live Patriot cheerleaders of course!
     Although I began the race with my father I picked up my pace a bit and ended up finishing with a time of 1:02 - that's 4 minutes faster than last year! Toot, toot! (that's me tooting my own horn!)


                  Coming up to the stadium and through the tunnel.

The finish line!  Can you see the cheerleaders to the right of the helmet?  Go runners, go!  Go runners, go!

July 12, 2011

Easy Chicken Pot Pie

      I think I've found a new hobby - cooking!  I just can't resist trying every recipe in my new Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker cookbook.  Although my husband isn't a fan of chicken pot pies I still wanted to give this recipe a try.  Not to toot my own horn (toot, toot) but is probably the best tasting pot pie I've ever had - it's even better than the store brand that we usually buy!
     There are a few things I'll do differently next time.  First, I would use only half the amount of phyllo dough.  The brand I purchased had 20 sheets per half pack and I think that's a bit too much.  The last few layers on the bottom didn't really cook and were a bit rubbery.
  Ten sheets would be perfect.  Next I would definitely score the pastry sheets a lot better.  This would allow you to cut the pastry easier after it's baked.
    ** Note: After a bit of research I found out that phyllo dough is NOT puff pastry.  I repeat, do not use phyllo dough!  I'm new to this whole cooking thing and phyllo dough is what I assumed was meant...  they are not interchangable.  Humph.  If anyone wants an unopened pack of phyllo just let me know, I have no idea what I'll do with the rest of the box!
     Rather than cook chicken breasts ahead of time I chose to use a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from our local grocery store (Market Basket has the best chickens!).  These are always delicious and saved me a lot of time.

Easy Chicken Pot Pie
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
2 tsp finely chopped thyme leaves
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tsp salt1/2 tsp black pepper
3 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup 2% milk
2 cups frozen peas/carrots
1/2 pkg frozen puff pastry sheets
1 egg
1 tbsp water

1.  Preheat oven to 375. Melt butter and flour on stove, whisking until smooth.  Add chicken broth, whisking constantly until smooth.  Add thyme, pressed garlic, salt and pepper.  Simmer, 6-8 minutes or until sauce is thickened.  Remove from heat.  Stir in chicken and milk.

2. Add finely chopped onion, frozen veggies and chicken mixture to Deep Covered Baker; mix well.  Unfold pastry onto lightly floured surface, seal seams and score to make 8 rectangles.  Lay pastry over filling; press edges against sides of baker and trim excess.  Lightly brush pastry with egg and water mixture.

3. Bake, uncovered, 30-40 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.  Remove baker from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

July 8, 2011

Pretty In Pink DSP

     Hello!  Today's card was inspired by my need for another anniversary card and Andrea Walford's Butterfly Card over at her blog Sunny Stampin', Inc.  One of these days I'll remember to order the En Francais stamp (I've wanted it for 2 years now!) but until then I'll use what I've got.
     To make this card more of my own I decided to change the color combo and use First Edition DSP for the background.  First Edition is one of the most versatile DSP's I ever purchased - it can be used with almost any project and you can change the color with a brayer and an ink pad!  Simply load the brayer with a light color and roll over the DSP.  Try crumpling up the DSP and then smoothing it out for a great textured look. 
     The butterflies were cut out with the Beautiful Wings embosslit die and Big Shot.  I added a tiny pearl to the center of each butterfly and adhered with Tombow Multipurpose glue.

Ink: Pretty In Pink
Paper: Basic Black, Pretty In Pink, Very Vanilla, First Edition DSP
Tools & Accessories: Big Shot, Beautiful Wings embosslits die, pears, dimensionals, brayer  

July 6, 2011

It All Started With a Pampered Chef Party...

      Three months ago I hosted a Pampered Chef party through my friend/consultant Danielle.  I've wanted a deep covered baker ever since my mother ordered one years ago and made a fall-off-the-bone Thanksgiving turkey in it.  Of course, when your order the baker you have to order the cookbook that goes with it ensuring that you'll actually use your new purchase.  And of course, being Pampered Chef, every single recipe looks absolutely delicious!
     My amazing husband christened the baker and made a three-cheese mac & cheese as the first dish (uh...DE-licious!).  Now that he's recuperating from shoulder surgery (a result of a work related injury) I'm in charge of meals - a daunting task when your husband is an excellent cook and has pretty high standards. One Saturday I decided I'd try my hand at making a pot roast.  They make it look so good in the photo and there are just a few ingredients so how hard can it really be?  Right?
     Well, it's actually pretty easy!  I think the hardest part was not lifting off the cover while it was cooking to take a peek.  My husband absolutely loved the roast, says the gravy was savory and the cooked vegetables made the perfect side dish.  I also served it with some homemade sour cream mashed potatoes.   

All-American Post Roast
1 large onion
3 celery stalks
3 carrots
1 boneless beef chuck pot roast (3-3.5 lbs)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup dry red wine (I'm not a fan of red wine so I left this out)
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, pressed
3 stems thyme
2 bay leaves (we didn't have any so I didn't use this)
3 tbsp water
2 tbsp all-purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Dice onion, cut celery & carrots and season roast with salt and pepper; place in deep dish baker.  Whisk together broth, wine, tomato paste and garlic then add broth mixture, thyme stems and bay leaves to baker.  Bake covered 2/12 hours or until beef is tender.  **I purchased a 3lb roast and found that 2 hours was more than enough cooking time.
2.  Remove baker from oven, remove beef from baker to cutting board and tent with foil.  Carefully strain vegetables and drippings.  Allow fat to rise to the surface of the drippings and slowly pour off juices into a skillet.  Discard fat.
3. Bring juices to simmer over medium heat.  Combine water and flour in separate bowl and whisk until smooth.  Add flour mixture to skillet, whisking to incorporate.  Cook, stirring constantly, 2-3 minutes or until gravy is thickened.  Slice beef; serve with gravy and vegetables.  Enjoy!

And then there's the Chicken Pot Pie... coming soon!


July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday America!

We are the land of the free because of the brave so it goes without saying that I offer a big thank you to all the brave men and women who served our country and continue to put their lives in danger each and every day to keep our county safe!  Happy 4th!

July 3, 2011

Patriotic Thank You

     Hello!  When I saw  Princessforj's card on SCS (here) I immediately ordered Engraved Greetings so I could CASE it (true story!).
    To give this card a different twist I brayered the debossed side of a piece of Very Vanilla card stock.  Let me explain... I ran a piece of CS thru the Big Shot with the Perfect Polka Dots embossing folder.  I then turned the CS over (so the bumps were down) and then brayered, oh so gently, with Night of Navy ink.
     To adhere the ribbon I used a strip of Terrifically Tacky Tape and scrunched the ribbon where I wanted it.  The sentiment is cut out with the 2 1/2" circle punch and popped up on dimensionals.
     On a different note, wish me luck!  Tomorrow my family and I are participating in the Harvard Pilgrim 10K road race (6.2miles) at Gillette Stadium (home of the New England Patriots).  You may recall that my family participated last year (here) and we had so much fun we thought we'd do it again. I've
decided not to try and break my time of 1:06 from last year but instead keep pace with my Dad.  It's so much more fun to cross the finish line with someone you can enjoy the experience with!  I'll have photos to share on Tuesday! 
    Have a happy and safe 4th of July!

Stamps: Engraved Greetings
Ink: Night of Navy
Paper: Very Vanilla
Tools & Accessories: Striped grosgrain ribbon (red is retired), 2 1/2" circle punch, Big Shot, Perfect Polka Dots embossing folder, Tacky Tape, dimensionals

July 1, 2011

Simple Sailboat

     Hello!  Today's card was inspired by Mary Brown's Sail Away card over at her blog StamperCamper's Corner.  To make her card more of my own I changed the card base to the traditional 4-1/4 x 5-1/2 and placed the image on the left rather than right side.  Because I decreased the card size I didn't have room for a button, which was a bummer because I had a cute red button all picked out that would have looked perfect :(
    To give the background behind the sailboat a little texture I used the Lattice Embossing folder and the Big Shot

Stamps: Sail Away, Occasional Quotes (hostess)
Ink: Night of Navy
Paper: Whisper White, Night of Navy
Tools & Accessories: Grosgrain ribbon, lattice embossing folder, Big Shot, dimensionals