Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Rainy Morning...

I am posting pretty early this morning because I have two babysitting jobs today back to back. When I get home tonight, I will probably be heading straight to bed. Also, it's rainy and yucky outside, and everyone is still asleep except for Harper. I am notorious for being loud in the morning. Let's see if blogging is a quiet enough activity for them. :)

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As you can see, I am still churning out all the thank you cards. I try to send them right after I get the gift, and people have been kind enough to space out their graduation presents throughout the summer. I have not ever been to overwhelmed to stay on top of all the card making.
chicken fajita bake
When it comes to Mexican food, I am a taco type of girl, but sometimes you just have to enjoy a nice fajita. These are made with chicken and popped right under the broiler. After cooking your meat and onions, you can add a variety of other toppings to them like guacamole, cheese, or tomatoes.
chicken fajita bake (2)
Chicken Fajita Bake
serves 4
4 chicken breasts
8 fajita sized flour tortillas
1 cup sliced onion (and a bell pepper if desired)
½ tsp each of ground cumin, salt, garlic powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper powder
 
Set your broiler to high heat. Mix the seasonings together and rub them on to both sides of each chicken breast. Put the chicken and onions on a pan and cook on the top rack for 15 minutes, or until the chicken registers to 165 degrees. Heat the tortillas in the microwave for 10 seconds. Slice the chicken and stuff the tortillas with the chicken and onion. Top with cheese, sour cream, or any other taco topping.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Freiburg Scrapbook

Nothing is better than a piping hot bowl of grits in the morning. Especially now that the weather has been in the fifties when I get up, and my parents think it is a great idea to leave all the windows open. (Our week of warm summer weather already flew past. It's all downhill from here.) Anyway, I couldn't decide between grits and eggs or cheese grits, so I made a combination of the two. The twist is the way you prepare the egg, letting it cook mixed into the grits and using goat cheese instead of your typical cheddar. The results were heavenly.

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Goat Cheese Grits
serves 2
1/2 cup quick cooking grits
2 cups water
2 egg whites
2 ounces chevre
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
butter, to taste

Bring the water to a brisk boil and stir in the grits. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes or so. Once the grits are cooked, whisk in the egg whites until they are fully incorporated. Turn off the heat, stir in the remaining ingredients, and serve.
Speaking of the weather turning colder, I thought it was about time to start harvesting some of my crops. This summer has been a bit too cold for my okra, and they still have not produced any pods. I have little hope for them. My carrots are doing well, though. I enjoyed some today, and was happy that they (on the most part) actually resembled carrots. Last year they were all nubby disasters.
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Last week I left you hanging with the conclusion of the Basel section of my Europe scrapbook and the beginning of Freiburg. I finally finished part 2 today.
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Freiburg was a lovely city that looked like it came right out of a Grimms Brother's fairy tale. We stayed in the neighboring annex building to our hotel with a really key to get in the door. The amount of bikes everywhere surprised us, and we were constantly on the lookout so that we would not get hit. (It was a good warm up for Amsterdam.)
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Freiburg is all modern meets historic, and sometimes it can be a little weird. The old street signs are written in really hard to read script, there is a McDonald's in the 800 year old town tower, and graffiti is written on historic buildings. The city still was beautiful, though, and we enjoyed walking around.  
There is a daily market held outside the Munster (a cathedral). It has everything you can imagine- stalls selling flowers, produce, toys, wood carvings, spices, Middle Eastern food, bratwursts, trinkets, and more. We grabbed lunch there. Mom chose a munsterwurst, hated it, and then ate a bratwurst instead. I tried some of the Middle Eastern food because there is a large Middle Eastern population in Freiburg, and it looked good. We shared some of the best cherries I had ever eaten. We checked out the markings on the cathedral that were used hundreds of years ago to set a standard of bread loaf sizes.
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Next we went to the Tin Figure museum up in one of the old town wall towers. (The one without the McDonald's.) It is a commonly overlooked museum that should be paid more attention to. We watched the old man who sold us our tickets hand paint some of the little tin figurines that were displayed throughout the two floors of the museum. All the figures depicted scenes of struggles for freedom in and around Friburg. They were amazingly detailed.
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The streets of Freiburg are lined with bachle (like little streams). They used to be used to extinguish fires, but now dogs drink out of them, people cool their feet off in them, and kids drag toy boats along them. The rumor is that if you fall in one, you will marry a Freiburger.
We hiked up the Schlossberg hill to get an amazing view of the city. At the top was a fortress used long ago to protect Freiburg. The hike was pleasant and peaceful.
After the hike we grabbed a snack of a pretzel and slice of black forest cake (we were in Germany, after all), and checked out the University. I was disappointed how this page turned out. It was not what I envisioned, but the pictures were too big to fit together the way I wanted them to. Oh well...
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Our dinner that night was the best we had eaten in Europe so far. (The cheapest too.) I fell in love with spaetzle and enjoyed some yummy Black Forest ham stuffed turkey. Mom had pork in gravy.
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After dinner, we went to an organ concert at the Munster. That church was so beautiful inside that we spent most of the concert looking at everything we could see from our back of the church seats. The music was beautiful, and it felt surreal to be listening to it in such a beautiful and ornate old cathedral.For this page's journal, I typed it up and printed it out on card stock paper. I think it makes it look a little neater.

Breakfast the next morning was at the hotel. It beat any hotel breakfast I have ever had in the US. We could choose from a dozen hot drinks, tons of breads, cereals, cheeses, cold cuts, tomatoes and cucumbers, jams, yogurts, and fruit. the Germans eat sandwiches for breakfast. We sampled the meat, but decided to stick with muesli and croissants.

We actually got to walk around and check the inside of the cathedral out after breakfast. Words cannot express how beautiful it was.
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We got to walk up into the bell tower and look out over the city. Mom was not too excited about this, but I convinced her to go up with me. All those steps were quite a work out, but the view was worth it. While we were up there, the bell went off, and we freaked out a bit. It made for good memories.
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The Augustiner museum was really cool. It housed old church relics, sculptures, and paintings. We saw stuff from the 800s along with the stone sculptures that had fallen off the Munster.

We had lunch at a cafe and grabbed some strawberries at the market. Once again, the food of Freiburg did not disappoint.

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Our last activity in Freiburg was the History Museum. It was all in German, so we couldn't really understand it, but the house it was in was cool. The basement looked like a dungeon, and the garden area had interesting sculptures representing the four seasons.

You'll have to wait until next time to hear about our adventures in France. I can't wait to share!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Two Quick and Easy Breakfasts

Before I get into today's actual post, I wanted to share this pancake recipe for a special family friend. One of my mom's closest friends from Georgia called right after I made a batch of these Nutella pancakes. I had the idea for them after the Parade of Pancakes was over, so they are stragglers. Sorry. I wanted to post them anyway because they are just so stinking good.
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Nutella Pancakes with Cream Cheese and Strawberry Jelly
serves 1-2
½ cup flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp oil
½ cup buttermilk
2 egg yolks
4 tsp sugar
3 tbsp Nutella
dash of salt
3 tbsp cream cheese
1 tbsp strawberry jelly

Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. Add in the egg yolks, buttermilk, and oil. Stir well. Swirl in the Nutella. Preheat a nonstick pancake pan to medium heat. Scoop out 3 tablespoons of batter at a time onto the pancake pan. Flip once the tops look dry and bubbles start to form. Cook the other side until golden. Top the pancakes with cream cheese and a dollop of strawberry jelly.

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French toast, bread pudding, homemade bagels... These things are Sunday morning breakfast dishes that will feed the whole family, not meant for early weekday mornings when you are rushed for time and cannot think straight, or for when it is just you.


That is until now. French toast can be made faster than ever, and bread pudding is ready in just minutes. Now how is that for a busy morning? They are also only meant to serve one, so you don't have to eat the same dish of bread pudding every day for a week.

microwaved bread pudding (2)
Microwave Bread Pudding
2 slices bread
1 egg
6 tbsp milk
1 tbsp honey or brown sugar (optional)

Whisk the egg and milk together in a microwave safe mug or bowl. Stir in the sugar or honey if using. Cut the bread into bite sized chunks. Stir it in with the egg and milk mixture until the bread is completely covered. Cover the mug with a towel and microwave for 2 minutes.
 
 
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And as for the bagels, either make them the night before or buy them at Panera on your way to work/ school. I don't think I will ever be able to perfect a two minute bagel recipe. (But they are worth all the time and effort.)
 
peanut butter french toast
 
Peanut Butter Stuffed French Toast for One
1 sandwich thin or two slices of any other bread
2-3 tbsp peanut butter
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp milk

Whisk together the egg yolk and milk. Spread the peanut butter inside the bread to make a sandwich. Soak each side of the sandwich in the egg mixture for 3 minutes. Preheat a pan to medium low heat and oil the bottom. Cook each side of the French toast until it is lightly browned.
 
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I originally had a whole tutorial on video on how to make this card. For some reason the video would not work, so you will just have to live with looking and not making the card. Unless you can figure out how to do it yourself.
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I love how you have to open it twice to get to the card. It's like a hidden message.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sprucing Up an Old Doll Dresser

When I was about seven years old, I got a little white dresser for my dolls. It had a hanger, two drawers, and a place to store an 18" doll. Eleven years later my dresser was a little worse for wear. It was anything but the clean white that it used to be. I thought it still had hope, though, so I fixed it up.
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I took an afternoon to paint it pink and add decals.
 
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Then I painted the drawers blue and wrote the name of the little girl I was giving it to down the side. Once again, it made a wonderful seventh birthday present.

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The other day my sister Sydney ordered spinach artichoke dip at a restaurant. As she was devouring her creamy veggie dip atop crunchy pita chips, it hit me that I have a lack of dip recipes on my blog. I previously had no recipe for spinach artichoke dip at all. I knew something had to change.

Today I present you with a creamy spinach and artichoke dip that leaves you begging for more. It gets its creamy texture from the cream cheese, a bit of a crunch from the breadcrumbs, and its delicious flavor from all that cheese. And all those veggies have to give it some health benefits, right?

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Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
6 tablespoons cream cheese
1 cup frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
3 cups chopped frozen spinach
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp panko bread crumbs

Combine the spinach and artichokes in a microwave safe bowl. Add in a few tablespoons of water and microwave for 3 minutes. Drain off the excess water. Using kitchen scissors, cut the artichokes into small pieces.  Combine the spinach, artichokes, garlic powder, sour cream, mayo, cream cheese, 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, and 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese into a bowl and stir well. Pour the mixture into a baking dish. Top with the bread crumbs and remaining cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees until the mixture is bubbly. Serve with crackers or pita chips.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Spaetzle

I tried spaetzle for the first time in Germany. I fell in love. This Germanic pasta dish is made by grating a tough dough over a pot of simmering water and removing it once it floats to the top. Then you saute the noodles in a little butter and serve. The result is amazing.
I loved the German version of spaetzle so much that I was delighted when it was served along with my coq au Riesling in Strasbourg. I did not like this spaetzle quite as much as its German version, but it was still delicious.
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I knew I had to try making spaetzle for myself once I got home. I researched it, devised the best and most authentic recipe from a lot of research, and tried my hand at making it. My only problem was that I did not have a spaetzle press. The process of grating it was a bit difficult without one, but the results were still good.
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Homemade Spaetzle
serves 1
½ cup flour
½ tsp salt
dash of nutmeg
dash of ground pepper
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
butter, as needed

Mix together the flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Beat in the egg and milk. Stir for a while until there are no lumps. (The longer you stir, the more air will be beaten into the dough.) Let the pasta sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a simmer on medium heat. Use a spaetzle press or a slotted spoon to press the dough into skinny blobs over the water. Once the spaetzle rises to the top of the pot, drain it and let it cool. Heat a pan to medium heat with some melted butter in the bottom. Sautee the spaetzle for a couple of minutes until lightly browned.



Harper decided to decorate the dining room table, and she wanted me to share her idea. She used wrapping paper to spruce up some random candles my mom had, and cut out pictures that she colored to glue on to them. This is her end result.

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Last of all, my grandparents had their 50th anniversary party today. This is the card I made for them. I could not go to the party since my dad had gallbladder surgery yesterday and it was held in Georgia. My thoughts were still with them, though. I am so blessed to had two sets of grandparents and parents who are still happily married after all these years.

 

Friday, July 26, 2013

No Machine Required

I have wanted to make homemade icecream/ frozen yogurt for a long time. The problem is that I do not have an ice cream maker, so it never turns out quite right. I had an idea today to try freezing Greek yogurt in ice trays and then blending it to make "ice cream". I could not find any ice trays, so I had to use a mini muffin pan. The results were still good. When blended, it actually looked like ice cream. My sisters even commented on how they would not be able to tell the difference. I guess I don't need an ice cream maker after all.

Below are the yogurt cubes before I blended them. I ate a few just like this, and they were delicious too.
Frozen Vanilla Greek Yogurt
1 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup banana puree
3 tbsp sugar

Mix together the yogurt, vanilla, sugar, and banana puree. Pour the mixture into ice trays or a mini muffin pan. Freeze for 3 hours. Remove the frozen yogurt cubes from the trays and allow them to thaw for a few minutes. Blend until creamy. Scoop out and enjoy!

The vanilla frozen yogurt was good, but the chocolate was even better. And don't worry, you can barely taste the banana at all. I could eat this stuff all day.

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Frozen Chocolate Greek Yogurt
1 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup banana puree
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2-3 tbsp milk

Mix together the yogurt, vanilla, sugar, cocoa powder, and banana puree. Pour the mixture into ice trays or a mini muffin pan. Freeze for 3 hours. Remove the frozen yogurt cubes from the trays and allow them to thaw for a few minutes. Blend them together with the milk and enjoy!
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My mom needed a thank you card, so I decided to recreate the pinwheel card I made earlier. It is practically the same card, only with different colors. It reminded me how much I love the simplicity and style of pinwheel cards. They make great cards in a hurry.
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Thursday, July 25, 2013

It's Christmas.... In July!!

Happy Christmas in July! Although the weather outside might not be frightful, and you'd be hard pressed to find carolers, I thought it would still be nice to share some holiday cheer. I am being extra generous today, sharing four recipes and four cards. Today is also the last day of the Parade of Pancakes. I put a little Christmas flare to them in celebration of this not-so-popular holiday. (In Australia a lot of people celebrate Christmas in July because it is actually cold outside. They dream of a white Christmas, and all they get is the heat of summer.


As a disclaimer for this card, I would like to say that I liked mustaches way before they were cool. (I am a trend setter.) Now that they are widely popular, I don't like them as much, but who could pass up this cute card? Hairy Christmas!
 
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I am not really sure what happened to these muffins. (Chemical reaction maybe?) But they started off as cherry coconut muffins, and then they turned green in the oven. I don't know what happened, but the results were still good and really cool. The picture does not do the green color justice. You'll have to try it yourself to see how cool they really look.
 
 
Cherry Coconut Muffins (aka Christmas in July Muffins)
makes 10
1 ½ cup pitted cherries
½ cup flour
1 cup oat flour
¼ cup flaxmeal mixed with 1/3 cup of water
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ cup milk
1 tbsp coconut oil
¼ cup shredded coconut
½ cup sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Stir the flaxmeal and water together. Set it aside for 15 minutes. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Puree 1 cup of the cherries in a blender. Mix them with the vanilla, vinegar, oil, and milk. Combine all the ingredients into a bowl, stirring in the remaining cherries last of all. Divide the dough between ten oiled muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
 
I made this next card for my grandma last Christmas. The candy opens up to reveal a gift card. This would also be a cute birthday card if you switched up the colors and patterns of the paper. The gift card is attached with a glue dot.


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This smoothie is more of an idea than a recipe. You can use different combinations of red and green smoothies to make a Christmas treat that is perfect for the summer months. For the red layer my fruity spinach, strawberry orange, and strawberry-peach-banana smoothies work well. The green layer can be made with my green chai smoothie, grapple smoothie, broccoli pineapple smoothie, or almond, kale, and oatmeal smoothie.

Christmas smoothie

This fun card's top picture flips up and the bottom flap flips down to reveal your message. I used stamps for all the trees and just colored them in.
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You will fall in love with this pistachio cherry swirl bananacream. The sweet cherries combine with the nutty pistachios to make the ultimate flavor combination. Choose to eat the bananacreams separately or swirl them together to make it even more fun.
 
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Cherry Pistachio Swirl Bananacream
For the cherry bananacream:
1 cup frozen pitted cherries
1/3 a large frozen banana or ½ a small one
 
For the pistachio bananacream:
1/3 cup shelled pistachios
2/3 a large frozen banana or 1 small one
 
Blend the cherries and banana together to make the cherry bananacream. Scoop it out in a bowl and store it in the freezer while you make the pistachio banancream. Be sure to rinse and dry out your blender before blending the pistachios into a flour. Add the banana and blend until creamy. Either eat the two separately, or swirl them together.

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This cascade card has cute little gingerbread men popping up to give a wave. I love the paper I used for it. One was of gingerbread men and the other was cooking supplies to bake the gingerbread men. I used yet another piece of gingerbread themed paper to cut out the little men.

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Last of all is the final parade of pancakes recipe. Using pistachio flour and pieces of cherries gives it a holiday flare. Don't be too sad, though, I have provided you with enough pancake recipes to last you years and years before you get bored of them. You could have a different pancake every week for over a year!
 
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Pistachio Cherry Pancakes
serves 1
1 tbsp flax meal
2 tbsp of water
½ cup oat flour
½ cup pistachios with the shells still on
½ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp sugar
½ cup milk
dash of salt
handful of pitted cherries

Whisk the flaxmeal with the water and let it sit for 15 minutes. Shell the pistachios and blend them into a flour. Whisk all the ingredients except for the cherries together. Cut the cherries into fourths and stir them into the batter. Preheat a nonstick pancake pan to medium heat. Scoop out a few tablespoons of the batter at a time onto the pan. Flip the pancake over when the top starts to look dried out. Remove the pancakes from the heat once they are done.