Monday, December 31, 2012

Nautical Mantel Display



When I was still living in Orange County, I used to drive to the beach and sat on the pier, looking out at the ocean whenever I needed a pick-me-up. There is just something so tranquil about the sea.

Sean and I moved into our new home recently, and it took me awhile to figure out what to do with the fireplace mantel because that was the focal point of our living room. I then thought of mine and Sean's favorite places in the world, which were Huntington Beach, where we went on our first date, and Sandy Beach Park in Hawaii -- a non-touristy beach that was a secret with the locals.

So, I decided to build a nautical mantel display, and here was how I did it:

1. I went to Home Depot and bought the following items: wooden planks; sandpaper; paintbrush; work gloves; rope, and a ball of twine. Then, I had a store employee cut the planks down to the size that I needed.

2. At Michael's, I bought a bag of large shells, sea glass, a glass bottle, along with black and white acrylic paints.

3. Supplies I already had: a hot glue gun; Elmer's Wood Glue (carpenter's grade), and smaller paintbrushes.

Directions:

1. Sand the front, back, top, bottom, and sides down to remove splinters and prepare wood for painting.

2. Assemble the wood pieces together with wood glue, following the instruction on label.

3. Once the glue had dried (I let it dry overnight), paint the entire thing white. Rinse your brush and paint container, and go take a break for 30 minutes. Perhaps you can take this time to plan where each seashell was going to go, and hot glue the twine to the shells that can't be tied on with the string.

4. Mix the black paint with a little bit of white to create a deep gray color. Paint the wood display again.

5. Wait 30 minutes for the paint to dry, and began sanding the areas that would naturally be worn out by the elements, such as the edges. Then, quickly run the sandpaper across the front to roughen the paint job up a bit.

6. Now comes the fun part: Attach the net and rope to your display. Hang up the shells that you want to, and hot glue the others. Lastly, hot glue the sea glass to the display as well.

7. If you have smaller sea glass pieces left over, just put them in a glass bottle and display that. The larger shells can be placed on the mantel as well.





Sunday, December 30, 2012

Gluten-Free Pizza in a Biscuit!



Yesterday, I was talking to Sean about my craving for good gluten-free pizza, and he started singing the jingle for the Pizza Bagels commercial from the 90s. It was then that an idea popped into my head: "What about pizza in a biscuit?"

An idea was born. I decided to really make pizza-in-a-biscuit, and my toppings of choice were sauce, Mozzarella cheese, spicy Italian sausage, and eggplant Parmesan. 

This is a marvelous idea: grease your cupcake pan; line the bottom and wall with a thin layer of biscuit dough made from the recipe below, put in sauce, cheese, and other favorite toppings; cover with a thin layer of the same biscuit dough; and bake according to direction.

These biscuits are so light and buttery; paired with pizza toppings, and they could not be any better!

Other things you can make with this dough: plain biscuits; pie crusts (sweet and savory), and cinnamon-raisin biscuits. Yes, cinnamon-raisin biscuits! Just flatten out the dough, spread softened butter that has been mixed with brown sugar and cinnamon powder, sprinkle some raisins on top, roll it back up, cut into 1-inch slices, and bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees F.

Pizza in a Biscuit

Yields: 9 pizza biscuits if you use a standard cupcake pans

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

For the biscuit dough:

2 cups multipurpose gluten-free flour of your choice; I used Bob's Red Mill
1 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum (I prefer guar because it costs 50% less than xanthan!)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 stick (4 Tablepoons) salted butter, diced into pea-sized cubes and chilled
1 cup milk

Toppings: You will need at least pizza sauce and Mozzarella cheese.

Directions:

Have a bowl of warm water ready because you will need to re-wet your hands constantly.

1. Grease your cupcake pans; I did this with olive oil.

2. Put all of the dry ingredients together, and whisk to combine. Add in the butter and stir with a spoon or your hand to distribute evenly. Your butter doesn't need to melt or soften; it just needs to be coated with the dry mixture evenly.

3. Add in the milk and mix with a spoon until the mixture comes together.

4. With wet hands, line the bottom and sides of each cupcake cup with a layer of dough; it should be thin enough to still leave a cavity for your sauce, but not so thin that it won't rise. I'd say make the dough about 1/4 of an inch. Be sure to leave enough dough behind to cover the top later!

5. Spoon in some pizza sauce, sprinkle in some Mozzarella cheese, and other toppings of your choice.

6. Cover each cupcake cup with a a thin layer of the biscuit dough. It does not need to cover completely because you want the fillings to peak through once they're baked.

7. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

8. Remove from oven and let sit for 15-20 minutes, as the pizza biscuits will be easier to remove when they're not piping hot.

9. Run a sharp knife around each pizza biscuit, remove from pan, and serve.

Enjoy!

Tammy



Saturday, December 29, 2012

Gluten-Free Chocolate Kahlua's Coffee Rum Cupcakes With Toasted Marshmallows




So, last night Sean and I were at Target for groceries, and we stumbled upon the bakery section of the store. Once again, I wanted to nom everything in sight, but knew that I couldn't. It took a lot of willpower to walk away without any of the glutenous goodness.

And then, while cleaning the kitchen this morning, I saw that we had a bottle of Kahlua's Rum & Chocolate Liqueur, and thought to myself, "Hmmm, why not make some 'Pirates Cupcakes'?"

They're chocolate cupcakes made with Kahlua's Rum and Coffee Liqueur, topped with toasted marshmallows with pink sugar sprinkled on top. Coffee, chocolate, and booze -- what more does a girl need?

Note: If you are a non-drinker but want the rum taste, just skip the rum in the ingredients list, add in one 1/2 teaspoon of rum flavoring (start low, and add more if you feel that you need to), and use 1.5 cups of milk instead of just 1 cup.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Ingredients:

For the cake:

1 3/4 cups gluten-free multipurpose flour of your choice; I used Bob's Red Mill.
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum (I prefer guar gum because it costs 50% less than xanthan)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup Kahlua's Rum & Coffee Liqueur
1 cup fat-free milk
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping: 

6 jumbo sized marshmallows, cut evenly in half
Some white sugar mixed with a drop of food coloring of your choice; if you accidentally made it too dark, just lighten it by adding more sugar. Store the excess in a Zip-Loc bag for future use.

Direction: 

1. Put all of the dry ingredients, except the sugar, together in a mixing bowl; whisk together to mix evenly.

2. In another bowl, put the milk, rum, and oil together. Blend on medium until evenly blended. Discard two Tablespoons of this mixture.

3. Add the eggs, sugar, and vanilla to the wet ingredients. Blend on medium until light and evenly blended.

4. With the mixer still on medium, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, half a cup at a time.

5. Beat on medium until evenly mixed. Do not overbeat.

6. Fill each cupcake mold 3/4 of the way.

7. Bake for 18 minutes. Remove from oven, but leave the oven on!

8. Place each piece of marshmallow, sticky side down, on top of each cupcake.

9. Put back into the oven for one minute (or until the marshmallow is as brown as you like).

10. Remove from oven, gently flatten each marshmallow with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the colored sugar on top, or not.

Enjoy!

Tammy

How to Turn Wine Corks Into Coasters



The saying is true -- one man's trash is another man's treasure! I have been collecting discarded wine corks from friends, and was going to make a cork board out of these, but decided to make coasters instead. These are so inexpensive and you can use any trimming you like, or none at all. Did I mention that each one is also one-of-a-kind? These make wonderful gifts and cost pennies to make.

For four coasters, you will need:

32 wine corks (ask your local restaurants and bars for these, too, if you need to)

A hot glue gun, or E-6000 glue (this is industrial strength glue, and can be found at any home improvement store)

Trimming of your choice (I used twine)

Directions:

1. Arrange your corks the way you would want your coasters to look.

2. Apply glue to the sides (make sure that all exposed sides are covered!).

3. Press the corks together and hold them for five seconds or so, be sure that the top surface is level so your glasses will sit securely on the coasters.

4. Once the coasters are secured and dried, apply a thin line of glue to the edges and affix your trimming of choice.

Hints:

The trimmings you use will create specific looks. For example, satin trimmings with lace overlay will have more bridal look. Cotton ribbon trimming with cotton lace overlay will have a more Shabby Chic appeal. Polka dotted grosgrain ribbons will look quite whimsical, while black leather trimming will look more masculine. Play around; the options are endless!

Tammy

Monday, December 24, 2012

How to Host a Stress-Free Holiday Dinner




No matter how you slice it, holiday dinners are stressful. However, there is a way to plan it in a way that, on the day of, all you would have to do is throw everything together and they will be ready in no time.

While this blog entry is about our Christmas-and-housewarming party, the principles are to be applied to all events. They are not even strictly for holiday-related parties, but for any gathering in which a meal hosted at your house is involved.

Last night, Sean and I hosted our very first grown-up dinner in our home, and it was so much fun! Here was how we did it:

Before you go any further, get out a pen and notepad.

Step 1: How many people will be there, including you and your immediate family? Set a budget. Now, I added in $30 worth of "wiggle room," in case something happened.

Step 2: Plan the menu in four categories -- Cocktail/starters, side dishes, main dishes, and desserts. Now, write down the foods that you want to serve for each category. Then, next to each food item, write down how much you will need, how much will the cost for that item be, and which plate or bowl will you serve it in.

Step 3: What utensils, tablecloths, etc., etc., will you use?

Step 4: How will you set up your dinner? Will this be a buffet set up, or will everything be on the table?

Step 5: How much time will you need to prepare everything?

Step 6: Create a shopping list. What do you already have? What do you still need?

I decided to host a buffet dinner, but left the bread and spreads, along with different types of wines, on the table. Also, the table had your usual nice place settings, champagne glasses, etc.

Then, I came up with the master menu; this was for me to follow along as I prepared for our dinner. I baked all of the desserts, and made the sangria, the night before.

So, here was my menu, which was a mixture of gluten-free and "regular" fares.

Cocktail & starters:

  • Sangria
  • Deviled eggs
  • Blue corn chips and salsa.
Sides: 
  • Potato Casserole -- the recipe is here; I skipped using pumpkin this time.
  • Spicy turkey ziti.
  • Brown sugar glazed baby carrots
Main Dish: 
  • Spicy BBQ ribs
Dessert:
  • Funfetti cake with bubblegum frosting.
  • Sugar cookies, topped with caramel and chopped roasted peanuts.
I decided to serve mine buffet style, but still set up the dining table nicely. Sean and I wanted our guests to feel special. After all, this was our Christmas-and-housewarming party; we recently moved and hadn't had the chance to celebrate with our friends.

1. The cocktail-and-appetizer station. Sean and I had enough sangria in the fridge to refill that pitcher at least 10 times! Also, we put out the paper plates and napkins for the guests who arrived early. In fact, this really was what the station was for; it was to keep people busy until everybody had arrived at the party.

The flowers and the cute little vase that looks like Santa's stocking were from my mother-in-law; she also sent Sean the paper plates and napkins years and years ago, and we didn't even know that he had them until we packed things up to move.


2. The side-and-main-dishes station. Just for clarification, my stove was not dusty; the camera caused certain places to look shinier than others. The flowers in the picture are from Sean; I loved them!


3. The dessert station. My friend Kerri brought the chocolate mousse cake, along with the treats to the left of it. She brought a lot, but this picture was taken after a few people had been snacking on them.


4. Me, in my favorite apron. :-)


5. For privacy reasons, I do not want to post pictures of my friends on this blog, so here's a picture of Sean and me. Ignore the things draping over the seat; our guests left their things there and we did not even notice them! Lol.



Overall, the party was a huge success, and everything was a breeze, from setting up to cleaning up.

Please feel free to comment with your favorite time-or-money-saving tips for hosting a dinner!

Have a happy Christmas!

Tammy and Sean

Monday, November 19, 2012

Delicious Gluten Free Yellow Cake Recipe


If you eat gluten-free like I do, you'd know that a lot of gluten-free baked goods out on the market are either barely passable, or just downright depressing.

There is that infamous gluten-free yellow cake recipe on AllRecipes.com, but I just could not bring myself to use it, as it calls for mayonnaise to be used in the batter. I just couldn't.

Anyhow, I came across this recipe from King Arthur's Flour, and used it today, except that instead of using the gluten-free multipurpose flour from that brand, I used Bob's Red Mill version instead because it was all that I had on hand. Also, I used guar gum because it was less costly than xanthan gum. 

It is so delicious and tastes like how a homemade yellow cake is supposed to; it doesn't taste gluten-free at all. It doesn't taste good for a gluten-free cake; it tastes good, period.


The recipe is available here: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2011/07/06/gluten-free-yellow-cake-as-good-as-no-comparisons-necessary/


It is very important that you follow every step, to a T. Don't cut any corners; just follow the instruction exactly, and your cake will turn into a cake.


Instead of frosting my delicious yellow cake with chocolate frosting, I used a fluffy white frosting instead, which tasted like marshmallow.






Tammy

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pumpkin Funeral Potatoes, or Pumpkin Potato Casserole


Funeral Potatoes is a Mormon potato casserole, usually served as a comfort food for families who had lost their loved ones. Of course, the casserole is not served only at funerals; it's also served at pretty much all other get-togethers. As delicious and comforting as it is, I knew that I had to do something about the high-fat recipe if I wanted to eat the dish more often. Also, I wanted to add my own spin on the classic recipe, in order to make it my family recipe. So, last night, Sean and I came up with something called Tammy's Pumpkin Funeral Potatoes, or Tammy's Pumpkin Potato Casserole, and we really would like to share our recipe with you.

Our Pumpkin Funeral Potatoes is extremely delicious, creamy without being high in fat, tasty and comforting without being high in salt or sugar. Also, did we mention that this recipe can easily be made gluten-free?


Servings: 4 - 6

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Ingredients:

8 oz of lean turkey bacon or lean cuts of cured ham
1 bag of shredded hash browns, thawed
1 can of cream of mushroom soup (a gluten-free version is available here, but you may also search online for different brands)
1/2 smaller can of Libby's Pumpkin Puree
1 cup of crushed cornflakes
1/4 cups of fat-free milk
1/3 stick of melted butter
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Melt the butter in a mug, pour in the cornflakes and mix evenly. Set aside. This is the topping mix.

2. Cut the meat up into small squares, and brown over a pan set on low-medium heat. There is no need to use oil because you will be cooking the meat in its own fat. Doing this will keep the fat content down.

3. Mix the meat and all of the ingredients, except the topping mix, together.

4. Pour and spread evenly into a casserole or baking dish. Depending on the size of your baking dish, you may need to use two.

5. Spread the topping mix on top.

6. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. After that, lower the temperature down to 200 degrees F and cook for another 15 minutes.

The casserole should be rich and creamy, and the potato should taste like how cooked potato is supposed to. Your oven may be different from ours, so do use your best judgment and check on your casserole every so often.

Enjoy!

Tammy and Sean

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Stuffed Tomatoes


When I was still living at home, my dad used to make this Mediterranean-inspired dish of stuffed tomato, and it was definitely one of my favorite things to eat. Last night, I made it for Sean, and served it with a caramelized tomato-mushroom glaze over jasmine rice, that was slightly stir fried in garlic, onion, and other spices.

Did I mention that this dish is completely gluten-free? If you have gluten intolerance problems like I do, then you'd understand that not only is having to eat gluten-free difficult enough, it's made even worse when a lot of gluten-free foods out there are just unpleasant, if not downright disgusting. Talk about adding insult to injury!




Servings: 2. Simply double up the ingredients for 4 servings.

Ingredients:

*Have 1 1/2 cups of cooked rice ready. We like to use jasmine rice for its nutty aroma.

1/3 pound of lean ground turkey (we use the 99% fat-free kind)
3 tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped mushroom, set aside in a bowl
1 Tablespoon olive oil for the stuffing; 1 Tablespoon of olive oil for a small pot, used to make caramelized glaze; 2 Tablespoons olive oil for the frying pan.
1.5 teaspoons brown sugar for the stuffing; 2 teaspoons of brown sugar for the glaze
1 teaspoon sea salt for the stuffing; 1 teaspoon of sea salt for the glaze
1/2 teaspoon of dry minced garlic for the stuffing
1/2 teaspoon of dry minced onion
1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper for the stuffing; a few sprinkles of ground black pepper for the glaze.

Directions:

1. Cut each tomato into two, lengthwise, and scoop out the cores. Store the tomato cores in the same bowl as the mushroom. Set aside. This will be used to make the glaze.

2. Mix the meat, 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, brown sugar, sea salt, minced garlic, minced onion, and ground black pepper together.

3. Stuff the meat into the tomato halves, overflowing the tomatoes, for a more aesthetically pleasant appearance.

4. Put the two Tablespoons of olive oil into a frying pan, and put over low heat. Place the stuffed tomatoes, meat side down, on it, cover the pan with a lid (if one is available), and leave it alone.

5. In the mean time, put the last 1/2 cup of water, 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, tomato cores, chopped mushroom, brown sugar, sea salt, and ground black pepper into the pot. Turn on medium heat, and stir until you get a glaze. Place the lid over the pot and off the heat.

6. At this point, the meat sides of your stuffed tomatoes should be golden brown by now. Carefully flip them over, and replace the lid. If you feel you need to add a little more olive oil, feel free to. Let this cook for another 15 minutes. Check on the meat by cutting one piece in half. At this point, it should be cooked through but still juicy. You don't want to overcook the meat because it will be too dry. If it's not cook through yet, cook and check again in 5 minutes.

7. Once the stuffed tomatoes are cooked, place them on a plate, meat side up.

8. In the same pan, add one teaspoon of olive oil, a few sprinkles of dry minced garlic, dry minced onion, sea salt, brown sugar, and ground black pepper. Mix evenly and turn on medium heat. Once the minced onion and garlic are slightly browned, add the cooked rice and stir to mix evenly.

9. Serve everything as pictured.

Enjoy!

Sean and Tammy






The Worst Job Ever

***Last name of the person involved has been omitted, because I do have some compassion left in me.

The worst job that I've ever had was one as a Sales Associate for Athleta, a company owned by GAP, Inc. I worked at their Newport Beach, CA location from August 2011 until late October of the same year.

When I was going through corporate training, I was starry-eyed. Wow, finally a company that respected women! A company that cared about women!

I loved the manager and the team leads that I met. I loved the team of Sales Associates that were hired. Everybody seemed so friendly, the atmosphere was warm and inviting, and I wanted nothing more than to spend as much time working in that store as possible.

The store was set up like this: 1 manager; 3 team leads. Each lead was responsible for a task (scheduling, inventory processing, and the floater who stayed mostly on the sales floor).

Anyhow, the lead in charge of scheduling, a woman named Jenelle, repeatedly gave me only 4 hours a week, while everybody else got a minimum of 20 hours, even though they did not have open schedules (most were college students or had a 2nd job), and they kept on asking me to fill in for them every week, which I didn't mind because I really needed those hours. Did I mention that I had a fully open schedule? 4 hours a week = not much in earnings before taxes, by the way.

I asked the scheduling lead about this, and explained to her that while I understood that it was a part-time position (everybody worked part-time, except for the manager and leads), I needed more than 4 hours. She totally ignored me and consistently scheduled me at only 4 hours a week, which was the bare minimum that she was supposed to give to someone.

Then I began to notice that nobody asked me to fill in for them anymore. In fact, I noticed that they would rather not show up for work at all than call me. One girl told me, "Tammy, I am so sorry but Jenelle told me not to ask you to fill in for me anymore."

I just couldn't understand what Jenelle had against me because I was always friendly; I didn't look so hideous that she couldn't have me on the sales floor (not that that would have been okay either), and I had years of experience in sales. For example, when I showed up for the mid-shift, a lead ran up to me and frantically said, "Okay, it is already 2 PM, and we are not even one-third of the way to our daily sales goal yet!"

There were already 4 other girls working since that morning, and they didn't even seem to care about the goal. Quite a few even told me flat out, "Why should I care? I'm not staying here forever."

Well, just one hour into my shift, and I alone earned for the store roughly $1,000 in sales, all just from assisting only 4 customers, tops.

Despite repeated top-notch performances, I never got more than 4 hours a week. It was disappointing and heartbreaking, because as a Sales Associate, I trusted and relied on my team leaders to do the right things. I told myself that as someone in the leadership position, the team lead in charge of scheduling must have had a good reason for giving me only 4 hours a week; maybe if I worked harder and performed even better, and let her see my accomplishments, she would see that I was an asset to the store. Well, she didn't care.

I was so disillusioned by the end of my employment there that I simply walked out on that job; the only job that I ever walked out on without a notice, because it was very uncomfortable to work in an environment where I knew I was not wanted. Job loyalty goes both ways: dehumanize your employees, and don't expect them to feel an ounce of loyalty toward you.


How about you? What was the worst job that you have ever had?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Welcome, November!


We hope that everybody had a wonderful Halloween! In our household, we prepared a big feast to celebrate the holiday. Well, at least it was big by our standards anyway, since there are only two of us.

We had dinner-in-a-pumpkin (our family recipe is below), butternut squash soup, grilled cheese sandwich that was made to look like a Jack-O-Lantern, and Mexican Coca Cola (made with real sugar, versus high fructose corn syrup). For dessert, we had pumpkin cheesecake parfait! :-)




One of our favorite foods to eat in the Fall is dinner-in-a-pumpkin. It is a great way to get a hearty meal that is also nutritious. There is not one definite recipe, as each family has a different recipe and approach to preparing the meal. The recipe below is ours, with gluten free options in blue, and we think that it's pretty nifty! :-)

Dinner-in-a-Pumpkin Recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1 medium pumpkin
1 1/2 cups of cooked rice (we like jasmine rice for its aromatic scent and rich flavor)
1 teaspoon of dry minced onion
1/2 teaspoon of dry minced garlic
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound lean ground turkey (or lean ground beef, which was what we used because turkey meat was unavailable that day)
3 Tablespoons soy sauce (feel free to use less. Also, a gluten-free soy sauce is available here)
3 Tablespoons brown sugar (feel free to use less)
1 can (15 ounce) of cream of chicken soup (a gluten-free cream of chicken soup mix is available here)
A few sprinkles of ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Wash your pumpkin and cut off the top with the knife held at an angle (so the lid can be placed back and not fall in) instead of straight up and down, and clean out all of the seeds and as much of the pulp as you cam.

2. Saute the dry minced onion and garlic in a large pot with the vegetable oil, until they become a deep gold color, but not exactly brown.

3. Add in the ground meat of your choice and stir until thoroughly cooked. Drain the drippings from the pot, but if you are using lean meat, there probably won't be much to drain (if this is the case, don't bother to try to drain it).

4. Add all of the other ingredients, except the cooked rice, in to the pot and lower heat, let simmer for 5 minutes while stirring constantly.

5. Turn off the heat. Add in the cooked rice and mix evenly.

6. Spoon mixture into the pumpkin and replace the lid. 

7. Place pumpkin onto a baking sheet (we used a pizza pan) and bake in the oven for one hour.

8. Put pumpkin onto a place and serve. Since we used a pizza pan, we just placed the pan directly on to the table.

9. For your vegetable, just scoop out the pumpkin and serve. 

Tammy and Sean


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

An Art Project


A few days ago, I bought a plain wooden frame from Jo-Ann's Fabric. Guess what I did with it!

Before: a plain wooden frame.



















After: A one-of-a-kind 1920s -inspired frame full of glitz and glamour! I just wanted to do something fun with it.






I added some "oomph" to this with glitters. This frame took 7-10 hours to complete, from the beginning to the end.



It is water-resistant, everything is acid-free so the photo that it will one day hold, will never be damaged.


Here was how I did it:

Note: the pictures should already be measured to fit the frame. Do this first.

1. You will need: a wooden frame; scrapbook paper in several different designs; pictures of the subject matters that you want to feature (I printed mine out from the Internet); glitter glue, and water-resistant Collage Pauge with the matte finish.

2. Tear your scrapbook paper up into strips of different lengths and widths, and glue them to the frame using Collage Pauge (CP), and then apply a layer of the CP on top of that.

3. Attach the pictures with CP, and apply another layer on top of that, too.

4. Apply glitters around each picture.

Tips and hints:

The pictures and scrap paper that you use will affect the "tone" of the frame. For instance, 1940s pinup pictures will create the retro bombshell look, while Victorian-era prints can help create a tone of nostalgic elegance.

Tammy

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Banana-Raisin Bread



Is anybody else excited for the upcoming Winter holidays season? I feel that when there is joy in my heart (and a reason to feel that way), the whole world seems to be a lot more magical! One of my most favorite things to bake on cold days is a loaf (or two) of banana-raisins bread. Unfortunately, I can't really eat this anymore because of my gluten problems, but I still bake this for my loved ones. Hence, this recipe is not gluten-free, and I have not attempted to bake this with a gluten-free multipurpose flour yet. Here is the recipe!


Banana Raisin Bread

Yields two loaves. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 overripe bananas, mashed; take the remaining half-banana and cut it into slices and set them aside.
2 cups of multipurpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup of raisins (use more or less, depending on your preference)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 stick of softened butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Mix all dry ingredients together evenly. Add in wet ingredients. Stir just until evenly mixed. Pour equal amounts into two loaf pans. Top with more raisins and the sliced banana. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes. Remove from oven and check by inserting either a toothpick or wooden skewer. If it comes out dry, the bread is ready. If it is still wet in some areas, lower the temperature to 300 degrees, continue to bake the loaves and check on them every 5 minutes.

Enjoy!

Tammy

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Our Winery Tour



Last Thursday, we went on a winery tour in the Temecula wine country, specifically South Coast Winery. Sean took me on a very romantic horse-drawn carriage ride at sunset through the winery, and we also got a bottle of wine to take home. We chose the white wine, since red really isn't our favorite. Our tour guide told us that all of the grapes had just been harvested, hence the barren look of the vineyard.






Tammy and Sean



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Maple-Sesame-Ginger Glazed Chicken





Last night, Sean and I had maple-sesame-ginger glazed chicken, along with roasted asparagus, and everything was amazing! We love to eat boneless, skinless, lean chicken breast (it truly is a great way to get protein, besides lean turkey meat),  so I always try to come up with different ways to spice it up.

The asparagus was pan roasted in olive oil, sea salt, and ground pepper. To prepare it, simply wash the asparagus, cut off one inch of each stem, at an angle, and throw that way. Cut them in half, at an angle. Roasted in the pan with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, a few sprinkles of sea salt and ground black pepper. When it's still crunchy yet tender, it's ready.

For the chicken, you will need:

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2 thawed chicken breasts, washed and set aside

2 Tablespoons of maple syrup

1 teaspoon of sesame oil

1 teaspoon of fine sea salt (if you have only coarse, grind some in a blender)

1/2 teaspoon of either Sriracha or Tapatio hot sauce (feel free to add more)

1/2 teaspoon of dry minced onion

1/2 teaspoon of dry minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon of paprika powder

1/4 teaspoon of Herb-ox sodium-free granulated chicken bouillon (optional, but it does bring out more of the chicken flavor). We really like this brand because not only is it sodium-free, but it's also gluten-free and has no MSG added.

Direction:

Mix all of the seasonings and spices together, rub on both sides of the chicken breasts, and put them in a casserole pan or some other baking pan. If there is any of the seasonings and spices mixture left, pour on top of the meat.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. By now you should see that a lot of the juices and mixtures have gathered in the pan. Scoop the juices up with a spoon and pour back to the top of the meat. Put everything back into the oven for another 5 minutes. Take the meat out and cut a piece; if the juice runs clear, then it's ready. If not, put it back in, lower the heat to 300 degrees, and check every 5 minutes; you do not want chicken to be dry. Serve with the juices poured back on top.

              Tammy and Sean

Friday, September 14, 2012

Shrimp Cocktail Salad




One of our favorite things to make is shrimp cocktail salad; it is so delicious with such complex flavors that one would have to experience this salad to understand exactly what we are talking about.

Interesting bit of information: legend has it that the shrimp cocktail was invented in the United States during Prohibition, because so many bars had no idea what to use the cocktail glasses that they had for, other than to serve non-alcoholic beverages. If you didn't already know, shrimp cocktail is traditionally served in cocktail glasses!

Ingredients: (this is for two servings)

For the shrimps:

16 cooked, peeled and chilled shrimps

3 Tablespoons ketchup

1 teaspoon Tapatio hot sauce (this is perfect because it adds spice to the sauce without changing the flavor), add more or use less depending on your taste

1 teaspoon lime juice (we prefer lime juice over lemon because it has more of a zesty aroma, versus the dull sour scent and taste of lemon)

Mix the ketchup, Tapatio hot sauce, and lime juice together, and then coat the shrimps evenly.

For the vegetables:

Salad vegetables of your choice, enough for two, washed and drained

1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

Fine or powdered sea salt

Brown sugar

Ground pepper

Pour the olive oil all over the vegetable, coat evenly. Sprinkle a few pinches of sea salt, brown sugar, and ground pepper. Toss. Serve as pictured.

Tammy and Sean

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Gluten-Free Multipurpose Flour




Before I begin, I have to give credit where credit is due. The original recipe was found here: Gluten Free on a Shoestring

Like the original author stated, it is very important that you use a food scale, which can be acquired for under $20 on Amazon.com, or almost anywhere else online; I just like to suggest Amazon.com for everything under the sun.

I have taken the liberty of converting the original metric system of measurements to the US customary units. However, if you prefer metric, just go to the link above.

Ingredients
  • 6 ounces superfine brown rice flour
  • 6 ounces superfine white rice flour
  • 3 ounces tapioca starch/flour
  • 3 ounces potato starch
  • 1 ounce potato flour
  • 0.6 ounce xanthan gum
  • 0.5 ounce pure powdered pectin
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a large bowl, and whisk to combine well. The pectin should be used without the calcium packet.
  2. Store in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to use.
  3. The recipe can be halved or used in multiples easily. Just be sure to whisk fully in a large enough container.

Tammy and Sean

Long Time, No Post!





Wow, it has been nine months since I posted anything. The truth is, a lot has happened since I posted that recipe for the buche de Noel. Eleven days after that post, New Year's Eve, to be exact, I went on a first date with the man who was going to be my husband by July. I went into the date not expecting much, not because I had low expectations, but I definitely did not expect to end up engaged so soon after our first meeting, let alone married! But, that was what happened. :-)

Sean and I both run this blog now, although I'm the one who mainly writes both of our contributions. Expect this blog to be updated more regularly from now on!

Tammy