Friday, February 21, 2014

Custom Stationery Cards

We just finished our first Valentine's Day season on Etsy and it was a lot of fun!  I surpassed my goals and sold more Valentine cards than expected.  I even had a brick and mortar shop in Canada order some cards and put them on their own website which was very exciting!  

Since things have slowed down in the shop a bit I've started a new line of custom stationery cards! Here are a few samples of what we have...

These were so fun to create and I can't wait to keep adding more!  These all come packaged in a card box with twine and you can choose your own envelope colors so these will make really fun gifts.

See you online!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Craft Room / Home Studio Organization

This week I decided that I had enough of my dysfunctional studio!  

I had somehow managed to become so disorganized I ended up with only a small corner of working space in a pretty decent size room.  So enough was enough and Tuesday of this week I dragged every single thing out of the room and emptied it into the living room, kitchen, den... you could barely walk through our house!  

My other half got home that evening and we stared at the space trying to think of the best way to configure the furniture we had to give me the most working space and organization.  After about five hours we called it a night and slept on it.  The next day I was back at it again.  Moving things around trying to come up with a usable space without spending any money.

Finally we came up with a plan and I went to work!  

This was no easy task.  I organized every single thing I had into either a box or shelf and tried to put things I use the most within arms reach.   So here's what I ended up with....  It will do for now. 

 My honey do list of course has a custom fit desk and storage cabinets at the top of the list!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Uses for Leftover Candy Corn

I purchased a very large bag of candy corn a few weeks back to take photos for my ‘Too Much Candy’ Halloween card.  It was the only one I could find at the grocery store and I wasn't going to make multiple trips around town just for candy corn.

I’m not a big fan of just eating candy corn for enjoyment.   However, I can’t stand the thought of throwing things out, even if they only cost a couple of dollars.  In an effort to save my candy corn from the trash I started searching the web for leftover candy corn recipes and WOW there are some really interesting things that people do with leftover candy corn! 

Here are some that I found but didn’t try :)
  1. Melt in the microwave and use as a fondue
  2. Fill the center of apples and bake
  3. Melt for cocktails
  4. Fudge
  5. Snack mix
  6. The list goes on and on…. Who knew!

Well I decided to make a homemade candy corn butterfinger recipe that I found on pinterest.  It was really easy to make and I used up all of my candy corn!  

These are really tasty… much better than eating plain candy corn by itself.  It’s amazing how much they taste like real butterfingers… without getting stuck in your teeth!  So… while it was easy to make.  I quickly realized I am not a candy maker!  

Here’s a photo of how my little guys turned out…

Give it a try and send me your photos!  I’d love to see how yours turn out!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Roasted Pepper, Scallion and Sausage Quiche, Lightened Up

We usually don’t make the same recipes over and over unless we've been trying to decide what to make and give up, making an old standby.  However, there is one exception… BREAKFAST!  

For some reason we aren't very creative when it comes to breakfast.  Most of the time we have scrambled eggs, toast and occasionally some hash browns.  So this weekend we ventured out of our norm and made a quiche.  

Our recipe has been adapted from a Food Network Kitchens recipe.  We lightened it up a little and I can tell you we didn't miss a thing.  It was full of flavor and had a great texture. 

Lightened Up Roasted Pepper, Scallion and Sausage Quiche

  • Whole Wheat store-bought 9 inch pie shell (we used frozen)
  • 1/2 cup of chopped jarred roasted peppers
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 3/4 cup frozen turkey sausage crumbles
  • 3/4 shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon of chile powder
  • Couple dashes of sweet paprika

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  • Line a small baking sheet with tinfoil and place the pie shell ontop… just to catch any mess.
  • Make the filling: Put the roasted peppers, scallions, sausage, and cheese in a large bowl. Toss to combine. 

  • In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, lemon zest and chile powder in a large bowl. Stir in the parsley. 
  • Spread the vegetable-cheese mixture in the crust evenly

  • Then pour the egg mixture on top and sprinkle with paprika.

  • Bake until the filling is set, 40 to 50 minutes.
  • Let cool at least 30 minutes before slicing.  This is the hardest part!

So what's your breakfast routine?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Our New Friends... The Pileated Woodpecker

Our mailbox was in desperate need of a makeover so we spent one very hot Saturday recently sprucing it up.  Who cares about the mailbox you say?  Well, the door was hanging on by one hinge.  There was also some pretty green mold creeping up the post.  Plus...considering we do a lot of shipping with our greeting card business we wanted to represent ourselves well!  

One of the downsides of living a mile from the Atlantic Ocean is that the salt air eats through everything.  In this case, it was our metal mailbox.  So it was off to Lowe's to buy our supplies. 

As we were sanding away the mold on mailbox post and banging away trying to take off the old box we looked up and saw two very large birds land on a pine trees trunk about 20 feet away.  The birds were about the size of a crow with red mohawks.  They started hoping around the tree as the pecked at various insects on the bark.  At times they actually looked to be completing a coordinated ballet.  In unison they would take a 1 inch hop to the left, then back to the right, then down 2 inches.  We stood there watching them and snapping pictures for about 15 minutes before we decided to continue with our little project. 

As we walked by them to get supplies out of the garage, one of them flew an landed on a different tree and outstretched it's wings and held them in position to reveal a large set of white marks that made the bird seem twice as big as before.  It was absolutely amazing. 

Ten minutes later, they had seen enough of us and decided to move on to our neighbors house and it was time for us to finish our project. We assumed they were woodpeckers.  After going inside and looking them up we found out they were Pileated Woodpeckers.  We read that it's unusual to get that close as they are shy birds so we felt very privileged.

Our yard is full of various birds due to the vast array of trees and other vegetation in our yard.  However, after this encounter, I have to admit that the Pileated Woodpecker is on my top 5 bird list.  Their synchronized movements and striking features are absolutely amazing.

Here are some photos - taken with a camera phone so they aren't very good...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Classic Bruschetta

I have to admit that Bruschetta may be my favorite food.

OK, that may be a little much but it is definitely in the top ten along with scallops, risotto, pizza, and steak. Not to mention a good juicy bacon cheeseburger. Oh, and nachos! Don't forget clams, bacon, and ham. Did I mention shrimp and grits? Alright, I'll admit it, I like a lot of food but still, Bruschetta remains at the top.

I'm not talking about the Bruschetta in a jar stuff that you can get at the deli or grocery store. I'm talking about homemade, fresh ingredients on top of a piece of crustini. In this day and age of fearing carbs, I'm sure it would be healthier to simply eat this as a salad and skip the bread, but what would be the fun in that?

There are many ways to make bruschetta and the possibility of toppings is mind boggling. I like to stick with the basic tomato and basil. Lisa likes to add anchovies (not one of my top ten foods!). And, the addition of pecorino romano or parmesan is always a nice touch. In the end, it is up to you.  But, there are a few things that you must do to have a great bruschetta. First, don't over or under toast the bread. You want it to be a little crunchy but not too hard. On the other hand, it shouldn't be soft on the inside.

Second, make sure that the bread is rubbed with olive oil on both sides prior to placing it in a 350 degree oven. Time will vary by oven and honestly I check the bread several times to make sure that it is just right

Lightly toasted
After pulling it out of the oven, there is a critical step (in fact, I think THE critical step) that must be completed for good bruschetta. Slice an end off of a clove of garlic and rub the garlic (cut side) all over one side of the toasted bread. This will provide a great underlying complexity of flavor that makes all the difference. A brief word of warning, this should be done when the bread is just pulled out of the oven and therefore it is really hot. You can use tongs to hold the bread as you rub the garlic. Or, you can do like I do and hold the bread with one hand. This method will result in minor first degree burns, but somehow, I do it this way 90% of the time. I think mainly because it keeps me one with the food. A

fter the garlic rub, add your toppings.  The toppings are really up to you.  I prefer the classic with fresh ripe tomatoes and fresh basil.  However, recently we were out of fresh basil and used fresh parsley.  It was different but still very good and fresh tasting.

Fresh Basil, Local Farmer's Market
Fresh Diced Tomato from Local Farmer's Market
Don't go to light on the toppings. You want to be able to taste all of the flavors. Once the toppings have been added, sprinkle with pepper and course salt. In this dish, using course salt is important. I've tried it with table salt and it does not have the same pop. Finally, pour on a little extra virgin olive oil to finish them off.
The first bite is a burst of delicate flavor. All of the simple, clean, fresh flavors come rushing in at once. The subtle nuances of the garlic, basil, salt and fresh tomato combined with the underlying crustini are simply amazing. I have been known to have entire meals of nothing but bruschetta, and this is why. 

Make some bruschetta at home and I guarantee that the biggest issue will be fighting over the last piece. The good news is that you can make more in as little as 20 minutes!

How do you top your bruschetta?

Author:  Kevin

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Classic Roasted Chicken Dinner Kicked Up with Emeril

This is a favorite classic Sunday dinner menu kicked up!  

I say favorite because it's rare that we ever make anything more than once.  We have made this twice and it's very good!  There are just so many interesting recipes to try we find it hard to do repeats.

The menu:  Rosemary Garlic Roasted Chicken, Celery Root Fries and Creamy Cesar Salad with Garlic Croutons. 

Lisa is usually the one who puts together our menu. This time it included roasted garlic, 10 HEADS (not cloves) worth. This garlic was used throughout the various dishes of our dinner menu; chicken, croutons, and in salad dressing.  Needless to say this is not the meal to make for a first date!

Before we start the preparation of any large meal, we first make a critical decision.  What beverage will we enjoy while cooking our feast?  Sometimes this can be as simple as a glass of wine.  Today Lisa opted for a Bloody Mary.  If you've ever searched for Bloody Mary recipes, you know that there are endless twists and tweaks on this classic cocktail.  So, being a traditionalist, I decided on a recipe that claimed to be the "original".  It had all of the key ingredients: Tomato Juice, Vodka, Worcestershire Sauce, Tabasco, Salt, Pepper, and Celery.  The right blend and it should be perfect.  

Unfortunately the "original" is not always the best. In this case, it is probably closer to the worst!  After several tweaks including Old Bay, V8, and a lot more Tabasco, Lisa was almost able to drink it. I opted for a glass of wine!

Now with the beverages prepared, it was time to begin preparation.  Since roasting garlic takes about an hour we started with the garlic!  We simply cut of the tops of the 10 heads, poured on olive oil, added salt and pepper to taste, and flipped them over onto the sheet and placed them in an oven.

Roasted Garlic - Freshly Squeezed from Skin
Roasted Garlic Mashed with Salt and Pepper

Next came the chicken.  Roasted chicken is a simple classic dish with hundreds of variations.  Simply select a flavor combination of your choice.  Fill the cavity, season the skin (either on or under) and place in the oven.  In this case, the flavor combination is Rosemary and Roasted Garlic.  Rosemary is minced and then sprinkled on top of an Olive Oil coated skin with Salt and Pepper.  The Rosemary stems are then placed inside the cavity to add additional flavor. 

Now to place the bird on a vessel.  This brings up a question: Roasting Pan, Roaster, or Sheet Tray?  Everyone remembers their Grandma using a gray Roasting Pan for Thanksgiving Dinner.  But, it seems that most Celebrity Chefs simply use a Sheet Tray.  Since Lisa could provide her Mom's old Chicken Roasting Pan, the decision was easy - stick with tradition.  Based on the results of this recipe, I don't know if there is anything left to discuss. The bird was incredible and the meat fell off the bones.  

Once the Chicken was within 15 minutes of being done, Roasted Garlic was smeared onto the top of the Chicken for the final flavor in the combination.

Chicken Almost Cooked, Smeared with Garlic

Now for the fries!  Celery Root is one of my favorite root vegetables.  But, after talking to several people that like to cook I realized that very few people know what it is, what it looks like, and even fewer know how to describe it's taste.  Its like a cross between Celery and Cauliflower.  It can be used for everything from coleslaw to purees.  In this case, fries!  
Celery Root in Natural Form

Celery Root Peeled and Cut for Fries
We put a basic breading (most of which was left over rolls from the prior week) on the sticks of Celery Root and put them in our new Deep Fryer.  Also known as a Deep Fat Fryer for those of us over the age of 25.  Apparently having fat in the name of a kitchen appliance is not the best marketing tool!  I'll save the "Frying is not that bad" speech for a later date.

Celery Root Fries in the Fryer

To finish off the meal, we wanted a green veggie.  A simple salad would be a great addition to this meal.  Simple and Emeril don't usually go together.  So, this salad was topped with a Creamy Garlic Dressing using some of the Roasted Garlic that we had made earlier.  To top the salad, we made homemade croutons.  These were not the ordinary store purchased variety but instead were slices of some more of the homemade rolls from last week that were then toasted and smeared with Roasted Garlic.  

Salad with Creamy Cesar Dressing and Garlic Crouton

One things for sure, this meal had plenty of flavor.  Something that we require in every good meal!  Unfortunately, due to the rather pungent nature of the flavor, we were forced to opposite corners of the couch for the remainder of the evening!

Recipes Used:  

Authors:  Kevin & Lisa