Sunday, October 31, 2010

he is a charmer....

This month over at Scrapawhile we were set the task of scraplifting a layout from the gallery as our monthly challenge. Here is the layout that I came up with.
Larsen with his sweet curls and bright vibrant personality is definitely a charmer.
yummy yummy hambly rubons

Till next time...

Slut's Spaghetti

This morning Nigella Lawson opened up her cooking show, Nigella Kitchen, by making a recipe called Slut's Spaghetti. Nigella's Slut's Spaghetti is her take on an Italian classic, Pasta Puttanesca, which Nigella mentions is translated in English as "pasta cooked in a whorish fashion." Nigella explained the reasons behind the name of the dish and went on to say that she preferred to call her version simply "Slut's Spaghetti. When Nigella finished making the spaghetti, she plated it, and took the entire dish to bed with her. I love that woman!

I already had a recipe in mind for this month's Food 'n Flix movie, Mystic Pizza. While watching Nigella I had a change of heart. I stopped writing the post and got up to make Nigella's Slut's Spaghetti. What better reason to make Slut's Spaghetti than for the girls of Mystic Pizza? After all, the movie is all about three young-spirited girls who definitely are crazy about men! A classic 80's movie all about coming of age, learning about yourself, life, and naturally, lots of heartbreak. Typical young girls who I'm sure would love this pasta just about as much as they loved their men.

Nigella Lawson's Slut's Spaghetti - recipe adapted from Food Network
Nigella says:
Well, how could I resist this translation of pasta alla puttanesca, whore's pasta as it usually is described in English? The general consensus seems to be that this is the sort of dish cooked by slatterns who don't go to market to get their ingredients fresh, but are happy to use stuff out of jars and cans. I hold my hands up to that. Or maybe one should just attribute the name gamely to the fiery tang and robust saltiness of the dish? But, anyhow, what better recipe to start off this section devoted to the fruits of the larder.

Please fire up the sauce if you want, but do know that even though the first mouthful might seem not quite hot enough, the heat builds as you eat. I sometimes go a little cross-cultural in my chili-case and use hot pickled jalapenos from a jar found on the Tex-Mex shelves of the supermarket. And while you're there, do look out for the tiny French nonpareil (or nonpareilles) capers: they may be smaller, but they pack more of a pungent punch than the larger capers.
* 3 tablespoons olive oil
* 8 anchovy fillets, drained and finely chopped
* 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced, crushed or grated
* 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or 1 to 2 tablespoons jarred or canned jalapeno peppers (preferably red), drained, sliced, and diced, or to taste
* Salt
* 1 pound spaghetti
* 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
* 1 1/4 cups chopped drained pitted black olives
* 2 tablespoons small capers, well rinsed and drained
* 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish, optional
* Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of water, for the pasta, to a boil over medium heat, though you don't need to get started on the sauce until the water is pretty well boiling.

Pour the oil into a wide, shallowish frying pan, Dutch oven, or wok, and put it over medium heat.

Add the anchovies and cook for about 3 minutes, pressing and pushing with a wooden spoon, until the anchovies have almost "melted". Add the garlic and red pepper flakes or jalapenos and cook, stirring, for another minute.

This is probably the stage at which you will want to salt the boiling water and adding the spaghetti to cook, following the package instructions.

Going back to the sauce, add the tomatoes, olives, and capers to the pot with the anchovies and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every now and again, by which time it will have thickened slightly. Taste for seasoning.

Just before the pasta is ready, remove and reserve about an espresso cupful of cooking water.

When the pasta is cooked as desired, drain and add the spaghetti to the tomato sauce, adding a little reserved pasta water, if needed, to help amalgamate the sauce. Scatter with chopped parsley, if there's some to hand, and serve in slatternly style, preferably with an unfiltered cigarette clamped between crimson-painted lips.

Make Ahead Note:

The sauce can be made 2 days ahead. Transfer the sauce to a nonmetallic bowl to cool, then cover and refrigerate as soon as possible. Reheat gently in large saucepan, frying pan, or wok, stirring occasionally, until piping hot.

Freeze Note:

The cooled sauce can be frozen in a resealable container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat as above.

Notes/Results: Big love to Nigella Lawson and the girls of Mystic Pizza for making me laugh and smile. I enjoyed watching Mystic Pizza back in the day, just as much as I enjoy watching it now. It will always be one of those classic 80's movies. It seemed fitting to combine Nigella with the girls of Mystic Pizza since all of these ladies are good at saying exactly what's on their mind. I did make one change to the recipe, based only on the fact that I was also feeding a male slut. I added one pound of ground beef. Otherwise I kept the recipe the same. It was perfectly vulgar with flavor and a very satisfying dish. A gutsy pasta recipe that best represents both Nigella and the girls of Mystic Falls.

Head on over to Food 'n Flix, a monthly celebration of movies and food. Next month's movie is going to be The Ramen Girl!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

happy halloween!

Here's hoping your Halloween is a "hoot"! (cupcakes are from one charming party.)

around the house

I thought I'd share a bit of Halloween decor from around our house. It's certainly not a designers dream, but it's simple and we love each piece.

I wanted some small sparkly pumpkins for this tall glass jar. I found them at Hobby Lobby--half price for the grand opening.  

I still need to find something to hang on my Halloween tree.

This is where my first Halloween word art ended up.

I usually have white and red plates in this plate holder. I just switched them out with my everyday green ones.

It was actually one of my blog readers who said she was going to print out more than one word art and put them in separate rooms. Don't know why I didn't think of that. Here's where the second one ended up.

I purchased too many of the pumpkins for the jar, so I gathered the rest in some bowls on my kitchen counter. Lynn keeps telling me how much he loves these little pumpkins.

Recognize my other cup and saucer pedestal? I love it with a pie pumpkin on the desk in my front entry.

I found this cup and saucer set at DownEast for $2.99. Haven't glued it together yet, but I love that the saucer is a little more "bowl-like". Candy corn says Halloween and fall to me, so I always have some around in small bowls and containers. They seem to be eaten more quickly these days. Ella keeps getting on the counter to "look" at them. Hmmmm.

Halloween decor just wouldn't be the same without kids' art projects and pumpkins. These are Madi and Ella's pumpkins they painted with Kate and Shane.

This spider was actually a project Ella did last year in preschool, but I love it! Especially the leg growing out of its forehead. :)

This is a preschool project from this year. I hung it from the light over our kitchen table.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Vampire Cosmo

In the mood for a spooky spirit this Halloween weekend? Please head over to Cocktail Puppy, a great blog started by one of my favorite foodies, Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies.

I'm honored to say that I'll be contributing regularly along with Natashya, Heather of girlichef, and Danielle of Cooking for My Peace of Mind.

Time to get the party started!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dennis Swanberg - Bengy and the Zipper

ella's preschool halloween party

The first words I heard Ella yell Tuesday morning were, "It's been two days!" Translation: it's the preschool Halloween party! The first words I yelled were, "Are you kidding me?" Translation: there's six inches of snow on the ground. Dang!

I lucked out on Ella's costume this year. She really wanted to be Tinkerbell and Grandpa McMurphy bought her this outfit back in February. I just bought sparkly shoes and we were done. Grandpa also surprised Ella with a Tinkerbell jewelry making kit this summer, so she wore an authentic Tink necklace and bracelet too.

Ella was so excited to bring her special "treat" for her friends.

We made Halloween play dough and packaged it up with a darling tag that read, "a halloween playdough kit for my friend. boo! love, Ella M." I combined ideas from eighteen25 blog (the play dough) and the thumbprint tag (so love it!) from the Pebbles in my Pocket blog. It turned out the be a much more time-consuming project than I originally thought, but Ella and I had a great time doing it together. She did a lot of it herself and loved it. It was worth the extra time.

Ella took her play dough kit to sewing day at Maggie's, and the kids made spiders and pumpkins together. It kept them busy for quite awhile.

This photo makes me laugh. Ella B. (red hat) and Ella me (that's what Ella calls herself when she's talking about both Ella B. and herself) are both ready and posing for the camera. The other kids are still trying to figure things out. Such girly girls!

We finally got it figured out. Ella B. and Ella me have the same pose/smile in just about every photo I took.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

the strawberry mark...

When Larsen was 6 weeks old we noticed a little strawberry mark on the inside of his top lip. I love that it is his little quirk. I have used this layout for this months Scraptheboys challenge to use fabric on a layout. I have used a handmade organza flower. I am in love with the my minds eye pattern paper, I can't wait to use the other papers I have in the range as well.

YOU still have a little bit more time to enter Lil red rocket's sketch competition, to win a $25 voucher to spend at LRR see all the details here.
Till next time...

Recipe #56 - Stirring the Pot: Tempura Green Beans with Chile, Garlic & Sesame Aioli

I can't even tell you how many times I bought the green beans for this recipe and then ended up using them for something else. I lost track. I wanted to make them while I could still find fresh green beans, yet I was afraid I'd love them too much to stop eating them. I was right! Tyler's Tempura Green Beans with Sesame Aoili are absolutely fantastic. I told myself that I would only eat 5 of them. Yeah, right! One bite of that green bean in a light, crispy, crunchy coating sent me over the edge. Scattered with crispy bits of garlic, ginger, and chile these green beans are beyond fantastic dipped in the sesame aioli. This appetizer is sure to be a hit!

Tempura Green Beans with Chile, Garlic, and Sesame Aioli
Adapted from Stirring the Pot
Serves 2-4
Time: 35 minutes
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced red chile (I used one cayenne pepper)
1/2 cup store-bought mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Tempura Green Beans
1 bunch green beans (about 1lb), root-end trimmed (1 pound usually equals 2 handfuls)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup club soda, chilled
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
Kosher salt
1 lime, cut into wedges, for garnish
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro (about 4 sprigs), for garnish

For the aioli, heat sesame oil in a small pan over low heat. Add ginger, garlic, and chile and saute until fragrant and crispy. Drain ginger, garlic and chile and set aside, reserving the oil.

In a blender combine mayo, sour cream, and the reserved sesame oil. Add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Set aioli aside.

For the Tempura Green Beans, in a large bowl combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and the 1 teaspoon salt. Make a well in the center and add yolk. Gradually whisk in club soda, slowly working your way out from the center to form a smooth batter.

Pour 2-3 inches oil into a large heavy pot and heat to 375F. Dip green beans into batter, shake off excess, and fry a few at a time for 4-5 minutes, until golden and puffy. Drain on paper towels; sprinkle with crispy fried ginger, garlic, and chile. Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro and serve with Aioli.

Notes/Results: These were a huge hit and everyone loved them. The green beans remained somewhat firm, yet tender, and the tempura batter was extremely light and crispy. At times sesame oil can be a bit strong and I was concerned that the aioli would be overpowering, but that was not that case at all. It was a wonderful accompaniment to the beans. The crispy bits of chile, garlic, and ginger really added to the flavor of the dish. We kept trying to sprinkle those bits over our beans and finally decided to add the crispy bits to the aioli so that we wouldn't miss out on the flavor. A total hit all around. I would make these again when I wanted to splurge.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Giada De Laurentiis and Chocolate Rice Pudding

On Saturday afternoon I went to the second annual food show in Lexington. Giada De Laurentiis was the celebrity chef this year and I was so pleased to have the chance to meet her. Giada was very gracious to her fans at the book signing. She took the time to talk, pose for pictures, and give hugs. By the time I arrived to have my book signed, security was ushering her along. I managed to snap this picture while she was signing my copy of Giada's Family Dinners. I had a million questions, or things I wanted to say to her, but I think I got awestruck. She is absolutely radiant in person! I managed to say something silly like "It's so nice to meet you." (Brilliant, right?)

Later in the day, Giada did a cooking demonstration where she pulled members of the audience up on stage to help her cook. She took a lot of questions during the cooking demo and was very open with the audience. She talked about some of her most embarrassing moments, discussed the filming for her show, and also her family. You could really tell that she enjoys talking to her fans.

The highlight of the show, at least for me, was when one gentleman asked her for a knife so he could cut his spaghetti. Giada replied "You can't cut pasta. You suck it!" The audience roared with laughter.

Another member of the audience asked the ultimate food question. "What is your favorite thing to eat?"

Giada replied very quickly. "Dessert. Chocolate to be exact."

I had to chuckle because Chocolate Cravings is our theme this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, where we are celebrating Giada's recipes for the next 6 months. How fitting!

Never having made or ate a rice pudding before, I decided on Giada's Chocolate Rice Pudding. During her cooking demo, Giada talked about how she prefers semisweet chocolate to milk chocolate. She told us that many times she tends to write her recipes to include semisweet chocolate and that we should use whichever chocolate we prefer. I prefer milk chocolate, which is what I used in this recipe. The rice pudding is accented with orange zest and orange liqueur, giving the pudding that fantastic flavor of orange and chocolate. I garnished mine with more orange zest and orange segments on the side. Perfect colors for the Halloween weekend coming up!
Chocolate Rice Pudding
Adapted from Giada at Home
Serves 6-8
5 cups whole milk
2/3 cup Arborio rice
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 tablespoons orange liqueur
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used 3/4 cup milk chocolate, 1/4 cup semisweet)

In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the milk, rice, sugar, and orange zest. Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla bean and add the bean to the saucepan. Bring the milk to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the rice is tender and the mixture thickens, 35-40 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and discard the vanilla bean. Stir the cocoa powder and orange liqueur into the mixture. Add the chocolate chips and stir until melted. Allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Spoon the rice pudding into serving bowls. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2-1/2 to 3 hours or up to 1 day before serving.

Now cooking the recipes of Giada De Laurentiis!

Monday, October 25, 2010


I know I have scrapped this photo before but I was never happy with the layout everytime I looked in my album. I decided to use it again for this weeks Creative Scrappers sketch. I have used some more yummy yummy October Afternoon paper, and some old old old Making Memories metal words.
The sketch

Till next time...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hey I Read a Book this Weekend!!

Hi Everyone!

I had such a great time with the last post that I have been putting off doing another one. Just didn't think I could do a decent follow up to that one, but I guess I have to jump back in here sometime huh?...It is Sunday night and I am typing to the sounds of Sunday Night Football. This is a weekend ritual for me, the last thing that I hear on a Sunday night before finally dragging myself  off to bed. I say that because I hate to go to bed on Sunday nights. At least if it involves getting up for work on Monday morning...Not so much if I have off on Monday morning...But anyway, that is not what this post is about, not really...that could and probably will, be another post some day...I just spent a very enjoyable fall weekend enjoying one of the things that I like to do most with my spare time! I read for a good part of the weekend. The weather was glorious on this fall weekend and so we had the front and back doors open and I could hear the rustle of the leaves and the sounds of the baseball and football games on the TV...Wonderful! Can you picture it?

I have always been an avid reader. I read all kinds of things. When I was younger my concentration was mainly in the romance genre, but I can honestly say that while I can still be seen reading a good romance, I have branched out quite a bit. I have a whole host of favorite authors and it must be said that I am now a steadfast fan of the e-reader, the Amazon Kindle. I simply love it, even though it does not come in pink...mine has a pink cover! Anyway, most of you know that I am an embryologist by trade but what I really wanted to be when I grew up was an archeologist. I am still, and always will be fascinated with history, ancient history, to be exact. I love it when I can find adventure books that combine all of my loves. David Gibbins has written just such a series. These books can stand alone...I just happen to have read all of them so far, and this weekend I read the latest. They feature an underwater marine archeologist named Jack Howard and all of the wonderful supporting characters one could ask for. The stories move from the ancient past to the present and back, are fast paced, and keep you on the edge of your can't wait to find out what happens next and then when the adventure is over you can't wait for the next book to come out...I had to actually read this one in book form as it was not available in kindle form...what the hell?...I mentioned to a friend while on break when she commented on seeing me with an actual book that my thumb was getting sore from holding the cover down! She laughed and commented back that I needed to "get it back in shape" lol...

The author of these incredible books, as I mentioned before, is David Gibbins and he is, himself, an archeologist that does underwater excavation. Thus, much of what he writes is based on his own experiences, although it is fiction. I learn a lot about history through his books and I like that. He, of course, has a website It's a great place to visit. You can get his books anywhere. I got them at! Oh, the name of the book I just finished reading? It is The Mask of Troy!

Hope you had a great weekend too!
Stay Pink!

Symon Sundays meets French Fridays with Dorie

There were some wonderful selections for Symon Sundays this time around. The first one, Crab Tater Tots, was a delicious potato croquette loaded with crab meat, breaded in panko, and deep-fried. OH YEAH! These were delicious sprinkled with a little old bay seasoning and served with homemade tartar sauce. My Mom and I really enjoyed them!
Crab Tater Tots
Serves 6-8
Makes up to 35 tots (I halved the recipe with excellent results)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup a/p flour
1 large egg
1 cup mashed potatoes
canola oil, for deep-frying
1/2 pound lump crab meat
Panko bread crumbs, for breading
kosher salt

In a small saucepan, combine the butter with 1/4 cup water over high heat. When the water comes to a simmer and the butter is melted, add the flour. Reduce the heat to medium and stir until the resulting paste pulls away from the sides of the pan, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Add the egg to the pan and stir vigorously until the egg is incorporated into the flour mixture. Stir in the mashed potatoes and let cool.

Pour enough oil into a medium pot so that the oil comes 3 inches up the sides. Heat the oil to 350F.

While the oil heats, gently fold the crab into the potato mixture; the lumpier the batter the better. Using two soup spoons, shape the mixture into quenelles, or 2-inch footballs. (You should end up with about 35). Roll in the panko. Deep-fry, working in batches and turning once, until crisp, brown, and heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.

The second selection for Symon Sundays was the Ohio Creamed Corn with Bacon. I was still able to find corn on the cob, but I paid a premium for it, $5 for 4 ears. My family and I loved this recipe though, so I have to say that it was worth the inflated price.
Ohio Creamed Corn with Bacon
Adapted from Live To Cook by Michael Symon
Serves 4-6
5 ears of corn
1 teaspoon EVOO
1/4 pound thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch strips
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
1/2 recipe Corn Cob Stock (if you'd like the recipe, leave me a comment)
1/2 cup creme fraiche (I used 2% milk)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Grated zest of 1 lime
Cut the kernels from the cobs and set the kernels aside. (Use the cobs to make the stock).

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and glaze the bottom with the olive oil. Add the bacon and cook, stirring as needed, to render the fat and brown the pieces, 5 minutes. Add the onion and sweat it for about 45 seconds. Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring, for another 30 seconds. Add the reserved corn and the salt and cook for 2 minutes.

Pour in the corn cob stock and bring to a simmer. Cook until the liquid reduces to approximately 1 cup, 10 minutes. Add the creme fraiche (milk, in my case) and simmer until the mixture begins to thicken, about 3 minutes. Stir in the butter. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cilantro and lime zest. Season with salt if needed before serving.

On Friday, I was supposed to post this Hachis Parmentier for French Fridays with Dorie. I tried. I wrote the post. I hit publish. I repeated these actions several times. Without using expletives, let's just say that Blogger had other plans.
Moving on, this is a wonderful French rendition of a meat and mashed potato pie, sans veggies. I opted to make a variation of Dorie's recipe using ground beef and 1/2 pound spicy sausage. The meat filling was exceptionally aromatic and flavorful and the mashed potato topping was light and airy. I topped mine off with a delicious French Comte cheese. Golden brown on the edges with cheese and butter, this was a definite family pleaser when placed on the dinner table.

I am submitting both Michael Symon recipes to both Brenda of Brenda's Canadian Kitchen for her Cookbook Sundays event and also to Ashlee of Veggie by Season who is the host of our wonderful Symon Sundays event.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

out and about: fall break St. George getaway

It's COLD today. I really don't like being cold. I'm wishing we were back here:

We spent our fall break last week in sunny St. George. It was nice and warm--perfect. We pretty much just unplugged from everything--phones, computers and even the camera. I only took 12 shots the entire four days we were there. Okay, truth be told, I kept forgetting the camera at the condo. And we did watch a movie every night. We loved How to Train Your Dragon. So cute! We also watched a few episodes of Disney's Phineas and Ferb. I can't believe we sit and watch it, but we're hooked. The writers are genius and it's very funny if you really listen to all the dialogue.

Ella would have stayed in her swimsuit and gone swimming 24/7 if we let her. She kept saying, "I'm a fish...get me back in that water!"

It was a much needed break. We explored the desert trying to find some crystal rocks our friends showed us, but bombed out. We were pretty determined and figured we spent about five hours looking. We went shopping. We all know mostly I did, but Ella was able the convince Lynn she had to have a pair of Twinkle Toes Sketchers at the Outlet Mall. She hasn't taken them off since. I love the shop Urban Renewal on St. George Blvd. (right down from Ancestor Square) and they have a great TJ Maxx by the Outlet Mall. We ate out a lot. There's a 5 Guys burgers and fries in SG now and a Brick Oven. We also had ice cream day and cupcake day. If you haven't tried the cupcakes at 25 Main, you're missing out. It's a darling restaurant too. We didn't do anything super exciting, but it was very fun and relaxing.

After each of our vacations, I write up a Travel/Vacation Log entry and keep it in a book with information and memorabilia. It's our "travel scrapbook" and it's super simple. I pretty much keep the same format and just fill in the blanks each time. If you read it, please don't hold the potty thing  against Lynn. It's probably one of those times you had to be there, but Ella can be so dramatic and the way she said it was hilarious. She is such a girl!

Here's to hoping for at least a few more warmer weeks until the cold weather stays.

A HUGE SURPRISE and a layout...

Thankyou to the lovely Gail for pointing me in the direction of this..... Top 3 in all areas and featured layout of the day over at 2peas ..... and right next to the fabulous Laura Vegas who was my first scrapping idol , I am on top of the world today.

Back to reality with this layout today, I set the challenge at Scrapawhile again this month, and one of my criteria was to use a handmade embellie, I made my own denim kite. I would love you to join in the fun over there this month.

I finally tracked down that delish Martha Stewart butterfly punch, also Thankyou to the lovely Gilly and Tracey for the bottle tops and cogs....

Till next time...