June 29, 2012

an ONLINE, HANDMADE gift exchange

I posted earlier in the month that I was excited to participate in Craftaholics Anonymous' summer gift exchange.
Linda, from Craftaholics Anonymous, set up about 650 of us into an Elfster account. We were automatically paired up with a "giftee" and a "gifter" on June 7th. We have (had) until June 30th to create & ship the item(s) to the recipient.
My giftee turned out to be Rebecca from Boise. I was able to ask her a couple anonymous questions to formulate my plan of attack:
Oh good! Maybe I'll make a coffee-something design for her kitchen since she likes food.
ugh! Not coffee...
Green, I can work with green.
hmmmmmmm -- perhaps a tea towel with cookie cutter designs & her name?
So, as I'm going through my designs I realize I don't have any suitable cookie cutter-ish files to stitch on a towel. (I had in mind those old-fashioned aluminum ones with the little green wooden handles...)
I then determined I would just appliqué her name onto the towel. In green fabric. Make that alternating green fabrics
(I modified the "Cheri" alphabet from Bunnycup Embroidery)
So I did.
I also made some microwave finger mitts to coordinate.
(I enclosed a card I made with her name, as well.)
I'm still waiting to see what I receive in the mail...

***6/30/2012 -- Saved by the buzzer! Guess what was in the mail this evening? (Guess you'll just have to "stay tuned" for that post...)

June 21, 2012

almond flour crêpes with honey pastry cream & cherries

No sooner had they finished lapping up the ice cream from May's Improv Cooking Challenge; the boys were asking what the ingredients were that Kristen had chosen for June's Challenge. (They love to watch contestants' reactions when emptying the basket ingredients for "Chopped" on the Food Network.)
When I told them cherries & almonds they gave me all kinds of yummy ideas; the youngest pleading for Cherry Almond Biscotti. Because the house heats up when I bake during the summer, I decided to whip up something that didn't use the oven. My thoughts turned to a gluten-free dessert based on crêpes & pastry cream. Because I am avoiding processed sugar, I decided to attempt making each with honey, instead. 

The cherries we found at Sprout's were quite delicious as is, but I knew I needed to make a sauce to "drape" over the filled crêpes.  
After pitting & stemming the fruit, they were cooked slightly on the stove with a little honey & water.

The pastry cream process frightens some people. There's something about not tempering the eggs correctly & ending up with scrambled eggs in a sweet milk sauce that scares me...
(important to whisk the cornstarch & salt in smoothly!)
But I braved it.
honey & milk!
The most difficult part was trying to document the process pictorially with one hand while whisking with the other!

Turned out just fine!
I found my Honey Pastry Cream recipe here. It looked to be quite delish; but I used 2 whole eggs instead of 4 yolks because we don't like things tasting too eggy around here (& we're filling crêpes, for cryin' out loud...) Turned out sweet & creamy -- I'll probably use a little less honey next time (and there will be a next time!) I make it. 

For the crêpe-making I used my vintage crêpe-maker.
 Unbelievable easy!
(sorry for the "steamy" pics...) 
The most difficult part of this process was keeping the almond flour mixed in -- so I stirred the batter in between forming each crêpe.
The flavor of the almond crêpes can be enhanced by adding almond extract, if so desired. I've come to a point in my taste buds' lives where I enjoy natural flavors. (Thus, I added no vanilla flavoring to either my cherry sauce or the pastry cream...)

The almond crêpe does not handle exactly the way regular flour ones do. But I managed to roll them easily enough without too much cracking.
(gotta brown the other side...)

(forgot to stir the pastry cream after it chilled)    :(

Did NOT have a problem eating them, however...


HEY! Check out what the other "Improv-ers" came up with:

June 20, 2012

sew excited

to be participating in Craftaholics Anonymous summer gift exchange!

I've crafted my gift(s) and am waiting for an address to send a package. I sure hope she likes what I made! Here's part of the gift:
(& now I can't wait to see what I get from the person who drew my name!)

June 18, 2012

Chipotlé Tabasco Salt

Several months ago I "pinned" this recipe for Sriracha Salt. When I was at Sprouts last Friday, I bought some bulk sea salt in order to make a little of this for Fathers' Day gifts for the hubs & my daddy. 
After mixing up the Sriracha salt, I thought to myself, "Why couldn't I make some chipotlé tabasco salt?" 
I did make it, & it is delish on popcorn 
& this morning I tried it on my eggs!
Here's how I made my salt with the chipotlé sauce:

2 Tablespoons McIlhenny brand TABASCO® Chipotlé Sauce
1/2 cup sea salt

Mix well & spread a thin layer on a cookie sheet. I put it into the oven with just the light on. It dried in about a day. I ran it through the blender until it was fine enough to go through the shaker.

June 13, 2012


Oh My! What an amazing couple weeks we've had.
What an amazing 18.5 years we've had!
Andrew & Zachary -- God has many times reached down & touched your lives.

As you move on, know that He loves you infinitely more than we ever could.
We are so proud of you!
(I find it hilarious you both chose the same-colored shirt & tie to wear for your ceremonies...)