Monday, September 30, 2013

CAS Colours and Sketches: Peace on Earth

The current sketch at CAS - Colours and Sketches has a nice angled section that I thought would be fun with a Christmas tree!!

Peace on Earth

The embossed background is from Cuttlebug and every time that I use it I get tons of questions about it. Sadly, I don't think it's out there any more.  I think it was called Rain/Snow and I think it was a European exclusive.  A year or so ago, when people asked about it, I could google it and find it - but I'm not finding it anywhere now.  I feel a little bad using it because someone might want it - but not quite bad enough to stop using it!!
  • Stamps: Paper Smooches Christmas Sampler
  • Paper: Simple Stories December Documented, Stampin' Up Garden Green, gold glimmer
  • Ink: Versamark
  • Accessories: Papertrey Ink Merry and Bright die, Cuttlebug embossing folder, misc gingham, May Arts twine, Ranger Gold Tinsel embossing powder, Avery Elle and Neat & Tangled sequins

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Chicken Sofrito with 25 Cloves of Garlic and...My Favorite Yotam Ottolenghi Recipes

Sometimes simple cooking is best.  You know the recipes I'm talking about.  Plain old black and white pages.  No color photos.  Just a handful of ingredients.  Nothing flashy whatsoever. Just everyday common ingredients that are classic and comforting.  

For weeks Ottolenghi's Chicken Sofrito called to me from it's rather boring black and white pages. The promise of this quote kept going through my mind,  "This chicken sofrito requires slow cooking the meat in a pot on the stove top for a long time, in it's own juices, resulting in a very tender texture with a very distinguishably comforting flavor." 

If the description of tender meat cooked in it's own juices didn't win me over than the idea of adding 25 glorious cloves of garlic surely did.  Believe me when I tell you that this recipe didn't disappoint.  It was fabulous.  These few simple ingredients cooked slow over the stovetop combine to make one sexy little dish.  The chicken is fall apart tender, the potatoes are caramelized in the most heavenly way, and the entire dish is laced with the intoxicating flavor of roasted garlic.  It is simply mouthwatering.  We picked the entire chicken clean, leaving only the bones behind.  

Chicken Sofrito
Adapted from Jerusalem
by Yotam Ottolenghi
Serves 4

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 small chicken, about 3-1/4 pounds, butterflied
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2-1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
canola oil, for frying
1-2/3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, washed, and cut into 3/4" dice
25 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
salt and pepper to taste

Pour the oil into a large shallow pan (I prefer cast iron) or Dutch oven and put over medium heat.  Place the chicken flat in the pan, skin side down, and sear for 4 to 5 minutes, until golden brown.  Season all over with the paprika, turmeric, sugar, scant 1/4 teaspoon salt, a good grind of black pepper, and 1-1/2 tablespoons of the lemon juice.  Turn the chicken over so that the skin faces up, add the onion to the pan, and cover with a lid.  Decrease the heat to low and cook for a total of about 1-1/2 hours; this includes the time the chicken is cooked with the potatoes.  Lift the lid every now and then to check the amount of liquid in the bottom of the pan.  The idea is for the chicken to cook and steam in its own juices, but you may need to add a little bit of boiling water, just so that there is always 1/4 inch/5mm of liquid at the bottom of the pan.

After the chicken has been cooking for about 30 minutes, pour canola oil into a medium saucepan to a depth of 1-1/4 inches and place over medium high heat.  Fry the potatoes and garlic together in a few batches over medium-high heat. Fry the potatoes and garlic together in a few batches for about 6 minutes per batch, until they take on some color and crisp up.  Use a slotted spoon to lift each batch away form the oil and onto paper towels, then sprinkle with salt.

After the chicken has been cooking for 1 hour, lift it from the pan and spoon in the fried potatoes and garlic, stirring them with the cooking juices,  Return the chicken to the pan, placing it on top of the potatoes for the remainder of the cooking time, that is, 30 minutes.  The chicken should be falling off the bone and the potatoes should be soaked in the cooking liquid and completely soft.  Drizzle with the remaining lemon juice when serving.

Over at I Heart Cooking Clubs we are saying goodbye to Chef Yotam OttolenghiOh Ottolenghi, I love you so!  I Heart Cooking Clubs has been around for four years now and Yotam Ottolenghi has easily been my favorite chef to cook with.  I love the unique style of his recipes, the crazy flavor combinations, all the components in his recipes, and the way he plays with texture combinations.  I love his dedication to vegetables.  Goodness knows, that man does very sexy things with vegetables.  I also love the stories and history behind his recipes.  I see myself cooking his recipes for years to come and would encourage you to do the same.  He will definitely help you to open up your cooking repertoire and expand your knowledge base.  

There are so many more Ottolenghi recipes I want to try, all in time I suppose!


(If you click on the recipe name you will be directed to my original post and recipe)

As far as I'm concerned, Ottolenghi's Hummus Kwarma (Hummus with Sauteed Lamb, Lemon Sauce, and Buttered and Toasted Pine Nuts) is pretty much the best thing you could ever put in your mouth!  I think I could eat it every single day of my life and not get tired of it! If hummus is your thing you need this in your life!

Another top favorite were these super flavorful and very satisfying Fava Bean Burgers.  Even the meat lovers in my house loved these!  Do yourself a favor and seek out canned fava beans.  They have a wonderful flavor and are different than any other bean out there.

Ottolenghi's Falafel on pita bread with his Spiced Chickpea & Veggie Salad was mouthwatering and delicious.  If you're in the mood for a kitchen project I definitely recommend it!

Of course, this Broccoli and Gorgonzola Pie is out of this world delicious too!  Not only is it brimming with my favorite green veggie, it is also packed with blue cheese, and a lip smackin' mustard sauce.  Throw all that on some puff pastry and you will make your mouth very happy.

If you're looking to make a stunning loaf of bread and/or you need a good host/hostess gift then please consider Ottolenghi's Cheese, Garlic, Veggie and Herb Bread.  Customize it as you wish.  You simply can't go wrong.

These Mini Turkey and Zucchini Burgers with Creamy Sumac Sauce are pretty much a dream come true.  These are pretty much tender, juicy, flavorful bite-sized nuggets of happiness.

I've been thinking about Ottolenghi's recipe for Marinated Buffalo Mozzarella with Tomato ever since the day I first made it.  If you still have fresh tomatoes in your garden then you should make this now!  This was a fun twist on a classic.  I can't seem to get it out of my mind!

If you are a salad fan, please consider trying Ottolenghi's Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds.  This was an extremely popular recipe during our six months with Ottolenghi and I'm pretty sure everyone raved about it!  There are several different components in this salad and they all go together perfectly.  If you can't locate fresh dates then sub out dried cherries or cranberries. 

This recipe for Crispy Couscous with Tomato and Shallots was really fun.  Essentially it's a very flavorful couscous cake.  I see this being a great side dish to practically everything.  We pretty much inhaled it!

These Sweet Potato Cakes were the very first Ottolenghi recipe I tried.  I made them six months ago and I'm still thinking about them. Crispy exterior, creamy interior, tangy sauce, great flavor.  Do yourself a favor and give them a try this fall/winter.

And, last but certainly not least, was this gorgeously caramelized Surprise Tatin.  I can sum this one up in three words: puff pastry, potatoes, and cheese.

Theme: Oh Ottolenghi!

What Fall Means to Me!!

I realized this year that, even though I have about a thousand leaf stamps, I didn't have one that stamped leaves and then the veins.  So I went hunting for the perfect set (and it also had to have dies).  There are a number out there - but I went with My Favorite Thing's Thankful Leaves (I am so very thankful for fall.) There are three leaf shapes in the set - each is a perfect size as they can be tucked in behind as an accent or they can take center stage.

I did two very different looking cards with the set.  The first card uses the solid stamp image along with the veins and the die.  (I love the rich colors of fall.)

So Grateful

This card uses the sketch from Seize the Sketch.

The other reason that I wanted a set that had dies is to be able to cut leaves from patterned paper and then add the veins.  This is the same set as above. (The sentiment is not part of the set.)

Falling for You

This one is for CASology's Autumn challenge.

Did you notice the sequins on both cards?  They are a great mixed set from Neat & Tangled called Festive Fall.  If you like fall colors, this is a must-have!!  Something that I particularly like is the addition of a few clear and a few silver because it reminds me of the cool fall weather. (I love frosty fall mornings!!)

Fall has another meaning for me - one that sort of takes over our lives!!  It's marching band season!!  (I love marching band!)

013 ed

Both of my sons are marching this year!  Do you see the two marchers in the back - a baritone and a trumpet (the tall guy and short guy side by side) - they are mine!!  (I love my boys - most of the time!)

Chaparral High School Marching Band

I'm an old-time marching band geek.  And I have to admit that I don't always totally understand the new style!?  This is actually planned - hiding behind barrels, on the ground, it's fairly strange!!

Chaparral High School Marching Band

But they always come back to the classic, solid-sound, lined up marching band that I love!

Chaparral High School Marching Band

AND...they placed fourth in their class!!!  Last year, they didn't even make finals.  In fairness, there are smaller schools in a different class that actually got more points than they did so probably more like an 8th place finish.   But they were the most proud of the fact that of every school there, their music score was 3rd!!  They are feeling like they have a solid start on the marching season!

I love fall!!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Blog Tour: Secrets of a Hart by Elizabeth James!

Welcome to the book tour for Elizabeth James new release Secrets of a Hart...I have to tell you that I have been waiting for this one for a while! Elizabeth kept teasing us with these little hints about it now and again, and so we are very excited that we now actually have our hot little hands on it! This one is not to be missed:) At least in my humble opinion...She has not disappointed us yet!
The Blurb:
Five years ago, Kendall Hart’s life changed forever. A tragedy forced her to grow up fast and become a responsible adult overnight while her friends were still enjoying high school. She lives and breathes work leaving no time for a social life and her circle of friends is small. She has no room for complications in her life…then Tristan walks in.
Tristan O’Neal is forced to return home when his father becomes terminally ill. Taking care of his parents, dealing with an irresponsible brother, and starting a new job bring challenges to his life. Starting a relationship is the last thing on his mind but when sees Kendall, he finds himself drawn to her...she is so familiar. 
Tristan is what Kendall has always wanted but life isn't always fair. Sometimes you have to let go of the one person you've always loved in order to protect them. Will Tristan be able to break through the wall she’s built around her heart or will Kendall’s secrets consume her and destroy their chance at a life together?

Now here is an Excerpt:
I heard the sirens wailing as I came through the woods. My heart beat a little faster as I realized they were headed toward my end of the street. I sped up but stayed close to the edge of the woods so no one would see me. I certainly didn’t need to get caught when I should’ve been at home in bed. Suddenly, I caught a whiff of smoke and could hear the crackle of fire. As I cleared the tree line, I could see the flames leaping toward the sky and I instantly felt tears spring to my eyes. It was my house! I could barely breathe as my heart hammered in my chest like thunder. Running toward the house, I saw huge hoses snaking across the lawn all pointed toward the upper bedroom windows. My eyes scanned the crowd of people lined up on the sidewalk and I saw my neighbors but no one from my family. With legs feeling like lead, I sprinted toward the back door but a fireman, who was rounding the side of the house with an axe thrown across his shoulder, saw me and intercepted my attempt to go in. I screamed but with no sound. Fighting him by scratching and clawing, I managed to break free but soon another strong pair of arms wrapped around me like a vise. Tears streaming down my face, I finally managed to scream out, “My family! They’re in there! Help them!” I heard one of the firemen call on his radio to alert the others about possible victims and hearing that word caused me to collapse against the man holding me. There was a buzzing in my ears, my tongue felt tingly, then I spiraled into darkness.
“Noooo!” I cried as I thrashed around in my bed, sweat beading on my forehead, damp sheets tangling around my legs. It was that nightmare again, inspired by my own horrible reality. I could feel every emotion, smell every smell, just as if I was there that night almost five years ago. My heart was pounding, my mouth dry as I lay there panting as if I’d just run the same distance I did that night. With a trembling hand, I wiped my tear-dampened cheeks then reached over to click on the lamp beside my bed to chase away the darkness for at least a few minutes. After my eyes adjusted to the brightness, I could see the tiny tattoo on my wrist. Laying back against my pillow, I traced it with my finger remembering every moment of pain the day I’d gotten it done. The pain I’d felt in my skin couldn't erase the emptiness in my heart but would be a constant reminder of my loss and guilt. Turning my head, I glanced over at my nightstand and my eyes locked on the simple silver frame that held the only salvageable photo of my family. A fireman had retrieved it from the rubble. It was water-damaged and scorched on the edges but was the most precious thing to me. It was the only physical proof they’d been alive once and that we’d been a happy family. 
Doesn't that sound fantastic!?!
 And now...About the author...
Elizabeth James is the author of the Design Series. She writes contemporary romance set in her native North Carolina. A life-long reader, she began writing a novel at age fifteen, put it away with no hopes of publication, but now has realized her dream as an adult. Inspired by several bestselling authors she began working as a beta reader and her passion for writing once again surfaced. She embarked on a journey to see if she could complete a novel and Love by Design was born. With warm reception to her first novel she is now making this crazy world a part of her life. Elizabeth believes you're never too late in life to realize your dreams and this has opened up a new world of adventures and meeting new people which she loves to do. Elizabeth lives in North Carolina with her husband and their dogs. She enjoys traveling, exploring North Carolina, and spending time with her friends.
Author Links: Facebook

Buy Links: Amazon
                                        Barnes & Noble

So there you have it...I hope you take the time to check this one out...From what I understand this is the first in the Boardwalk series:) What a treat! Enjoy!

As always...


Merry Monday: Be Very Merry

This week's challenge at Merry Monday is to use snowmen.  I had just gotten a Memory Box die of teeny tiny snowmen so thought I'd create a miniature scene.

Be Very Merry

A word of advice - do not get this little die - unless you happen to have micro-tweezers and the tiniest glue dot/bottle etc.  These snowmen and their itty bitty hats are incredibly difficult to work with!  I'm actually not sure I'll even use this card because I'm not convinced those little guys will stay together in the mail!  (But I had to use them at least once because they were the reason I got that sentiment.  It's a Stampin' Up individual and it was hiding in a corner of the holiday catalog. Once I noticed it, I think it was my favorite thing in the catalog!)

(Also submitting to Simon Says Stamps Anything Goes challenge.)
  • Stamps: Stampin' Up Be Very Merry
  • Paper: Stampin' Up Coastal Cabana, Pool Party and Wisteria Wonder
  • Ink: Stampin' Up Coast Cabana
  • Accessories: Memory Box Mini Snowmen, Stampin' Up Aqua Mist twine, Spellbinders square die, Cuttlebug Embossing, Martha Stewart Fine Crystal Glitter

Friday, September 27, 2013

CAS on Sunday: Oh Happy Day

I got word last night that a lady that I work with through church is pregnant!  And I'm meeting with her this morning so guess what I had to do first thing? This is a no-frills kind of family so CAS was definitely the right way to go.  Plus, I didn't want lace or ruffles or cutesy.  So I went with neutrals and a few baby-ish enamel dots.

Oh Happy Day

I asked earlier in the week if anybody knew a source of stone gray type background papers.  I was wandering through Hobby Lobby yesterday (paper on sale) and found a pad by Becky Higgins Project Life, the Midnight Edition.  It's full of simple stone gray and black/white patterns (plus a few golden yellow).  I used two of the patterns in this card.
I am playing along with the current CAS on Sunday challenge: Oh Baby!

I'm also submitting this to Simon Says Anything Goes.
  • Stamps: Muse (dress), Impress (sentiment) - both are from a decade or so ago!
  • Paper: Becky Higgins Project Life Midnight Edition
  • Ink: Memento Black
  • Accessories: Lil' Inkers Stitched Squares, crochet thread, misc enamel dots

Thursday, September 26, 2013

CAS(E) this Sketch! Happy Birthday Chevrons

This is my second post today.
It's just a short scroll down for the Avery Elle blog hop!!

There's a great sketch today at CAS(E) this Sketch that will allow you to bring out your favorite border stamps or dies.

I settled on my new Peek-a-Boo Chevrons from My Favorite Things.

HB Chevrons

I was recently commenting on another blog about the difficulty of graphic cards.  My comment was about the need to be perfect on a graphic card - everything has to be lined up or it's noticeable.  Sure enough - there's something not perfectly straight on this and it bugs me (not quite enough to go to the work of cutting all of these again - although I do have the new magnetic Sizzix platform and it's awesome!!)  The yellow strip is leaning ever so slightly to the right.  I think if I took a ruler, I wouldn't have increments small enough to measure it - but my eye sees it!
I sure hope you have fun with this one!!  I look forward to seeing what you create!

I'm also submitting this to Simon Says Anything Goes.
  • Stamps: My Favorite Things Birthday Greetings
  • Paper: Stampin' Up Poppy Parade, Summer Sun, Coastal Cabana
  • Ink: Memento black
  • Accessories: My Favorite Things Peek-a-Boo Chevrons, misc MME enamel dots

Avery Elle Blog Hop: Let it Snow, All is Calm

I was beyond thrilled to win the monthly Avery Elle challenge with this card using my new favorite sentiment set!  The great part of winning a challenge is that you get to be the guest designer for the next month.  Today, I am part of the new release blog hop and I have a gorgeous winter set to show you!

Be sure to read all the way to the end of this post because there is a giveaway from this blog hop!  (If you didn't come from Chunyuan Wu's blog - you should definitely start from the beginning at Avery Elle!)

The set that I get to show you today is called Let It Snow.

Let it Snow

The set has the sweetest little sprinkle of snowflakes.  Here's a close-up so you can see the dainty detail.  (The bird is pretty darn cute too - and he even comes with a teeny version so you could line up a whole family of birds!)

All is Calm close

Next on the hop is  Nina Yang.

And here's the official words that tell you how you can win!

To celebrate our October/November Release Blog Hop, Avery Elle is giving away a $25 Gift Certificate to one random winner.  To enter to win just comment on this post.  There is no purchase necessary and you must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  This giveaway is void where prohibited.  You can also do options 2, 3, 4, 5 or all 6 of the following to increase your chances of winning. You have until midnight Sunday, September 29th to enter.  The winner will be announced on the Avery Elle Blog on Monday, September 30th .  All products are available for purchase in the Avery Elle store right now.

To enter to win you can do 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or all 6 of the following to increase your chances:

  1. Comment on any of the design team's posts and/or on the Avery Elle Blog
  2. Follow us on Twitter and tweet the contest (we are @averyellestamps )
  3. Follow us on Facebook (we are ) and share us with your friends - make sure they tell us you sent them.
  4. Follow us on Pinterest
  5. Become a blog follower through Feedly or Blog Lovin' (comment on the Avery Elle blog if you already follow us)
  6. Join our Flickr group (comment on the Avery Elle blog if you already belong)

Here's everybody on the hop.  Have fun!!

I'll be back on Wednesdays throughout October showing you more from this set and also another exciting set called Winter Wreath.

Family Memory album

This week on The Heidi Swapp blog we are sharing projects using the new Mixed Company Memory File kits that are available now. I decided to make a family keepsake album and frame that celebrates my family and our memories. I have a step x step on the  blog that shares how I created the frame using her stencils and Colorshine.

The memory file album lifts out of the frame to be viewed.

 I have combined 6 memory files in total to complete my project. I  have added in photos and stories from the beginning of my husband's relationship, including our wedding, honeymoon and first pregnancy.

The fun flair is from Greatest View.


I documented our family memories after our boys were born to present day.


I plan to have my sons write their thoughts every few years on our family..

 I have created  pages that can be added to in the future as our family continues to create more memories and stories.

I have mixed in older Memory Files from previous collections to show how Mixed Company works so effortlessly with these items.

I love that this project now sits in my lounge room in the frame that all can view and share and that I can add to it  every year with our new memories that are definitely worth saving!