Friday, December 30, 2011

Thank You!

I'd just like to take a moment and say thank you to all who stop by and see what's going on here.  Remember for those quick thoughts or to just say hey you can find me on Facebook and on Twitter. I also want to thank those sites that have sent some of you here.  :)

Pinterest - Oh my goodness is this not the greatest website ever made?  You can find my pins here. I'd love to connect with you there.
Dollar Store Crafts - I love that site!!  Living in the boondocks sometimes means I only have dollar store to find pieces to a project.
Always Expect Moore - I can't thank this site enough for the love she gave me when the blog started.
Blue Cricket Designs - A great linky party that sends tons of people over.  :)  I'm thankful for that.
Be Different....Act Normal - Lori's so great!  Not only does she host an awesome linky party each week she's taken the time to answer my crazy questions on twitter.  :)
I Heart Nap Time - Another great linky party!  Not only that but I've found some great recipes on the Sundae Scoop and tons of inspiration there.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Personal Goals

Well I survived the holidays.  Thank goodness New Year's Eve is not a holiday in this family.  It'll be a lazy evening of junk food and TV.  It'll be nice.  It's also nice to have this vacation time.  I might actually finish my in-law's Christmas gifts.  (I know bad daughter in law)  I shared my blog goals earlier.  I thought I'd share some of my personal goals with you since the new year is just around the corner.  Where did 2011 go?

1. Get more organized  - I know that this is on most people's lists but I seriously need to do something.  I'm too the point I'm overwhelmed and about to give up.
2. Exercise more - I've given up on loosing weight.  I've weighed the same on the scale no matter how much I work out or how many calories I count.  This year it isn't about the scale but about my over all health.  Maybe I'll start running again.
3. Make more things - Instead of bookmarking or pinning a project I want to actually complete the project.
4. Make things to sell - I need to be generating some more income.  Who doesn't these days?  I really want some major things and I feel since they aren't things that are needed I need to earn the money to buy them.
5. Cook more - It's not that I don't cook every night or close to every night but, lately all I do is slap a meal on the table.  I need to be making more things for my husband.  In order to do that I need to go back to #1.  Gluten-free cooking requires planning.
6. Limit On-Line Time- I'm horrible.  I could live on here.  Really I could.  I need to do more off line.
7. Complete these goals. :)

What are your goals for the upcoming year?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Crab Rangoon Dip and Crack

So it's December and some how that equals loads of dips and chips.  Plus, you eat until you are so stuffed you feel like you shouldn't eat for two weeks.  Oh and don't forget that you have to take stuff to all those parties, who feels like being in the kitchen?  Well these two will get you in and out of the kitchen in no time!  Plus, they are supper yummy.

First up Crab Rangoon Dip
Photo from Reckless Abandon

Recipe as Adapted from Reckless Abandon:

(For great picture step by step and the original recipe be sure to check them out.)

2 cans of crab meat (DO NOT USE THE FAKE STUFF! IT IS NOT GLUTEN FREE) drained
2 8 oz blocks of cream cheese - softened
1/2 cup of sour cream
1/2 tsp onion powder 
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Mix all ingredients together and place in an oven safe dish.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Serve with corn chips.  

I took this to work for pot-luck on Wednesday and brought home an empty dish.

Crack (Hey I didn't name it lol)

Photo From Plain

So yesterday was the boss's birthday and we decided to bring in snacks in to celebrate.  We didn't plan until Wednesday and I forgot that night.  So I needed something that was not only quick but I could also find what I didn't have at Dollar General.  I'm 25 miles from an actual grocery store.  :(  I had seen the potato casserole made from this dip on Pinterest and decided to go for it.

Cheddar Bacon Dip (a.k.a Crack)

16 oz sour cream
1 packet Ranch dressing mix (Hidden Valley is Gluten free)
3 oz bacon bits (in the bag not jar) (Oscar Mayer is gluten free)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Mix together and refrigerate 24 hours. Serve with chips and/or veggies.

OH MY GOODNESS!!!!  This stuff is AMAZING!!  No, really folks this was so good it shouldn't be legal.  I can't wait to make the potato casserole with it now.  Plus it took a whole 5 minutes to mix up.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Rest In Peace Gabe

There is no new craft project today.  Maybe it'll get posted later this week.  Yesterday, the hard decision to put our big boxer to sleep was made.  I am not in the mood to post about something fun this morning.  I miss him.  The house is oddly quite.  The bed last night had too much room in it.  There were no good night slobbers.  No big head flopped on my leg.  My goodness I loved that dog and he, in only the way a dog could, loved me.  My heart is stilling breaking.  This morning, when I woke up there was no snuggle buddy.  No 80 pounds of puppy there to hug on.  I love you Gabe and you'll always be my Gaby Baby.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Torte

Look at this:

I'll wait a minute while you wipe the drool off the keyboard.  Ok, are you back now?  Alright on to the recipe which can be found here.

I know it's not gluten free.  :(  But it can be   Really, really, really easy.  Sub out the brownie recipe for your favorite gluten free brownie mix, our's is Betty Crocker.  Now, while the torte is eye candy it is a pain to do.  So I just baked the brownies according to package directions, topped it with the peanut butter layer and ganache layer.  We skipped the PB cups because too much PB causes the hubs issues. What fun is a gluten free desert that makes your tummy hurt anyway?

Now some tips:
  • If you have a big stand mixer don't use it.  There isn't enough to fill the bowl enough to work right.  
  • Make sure the brownies are cool.  Our PB kind of wanted to slide off our brownies.  Some time in the fridge solved that.
  • I also left the ganache on the side so we could add how much we wanted.  I don't like as much chocolate as my husband.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Local Artist Spotlight: Irie Tribal

Let's get all the legal stuff out of the way before we start.  I was not monetarily compensated nor was I compensated with product.  I have been compensated with a fantastic friendship and a wider view on the world since meeting the artisans behind Irie Tribal.  Oh and they have no clue I'm doing this either.

A little over a year ago my husband and I were photographing an event, remember we have a photography business.  My husband became enthralled with this group of belly dancers.  I became enthralled with their costumes, make-up, and jewelry.  The mastermind behind the troupe is also a costume designer and jewelry maker.

Now I know what you are thinking, umm Mel we aren't belly dancers and we have no need to buy belly dance stuff.  I know that, I get that.  I know not everyone needs a choli.

Some of you though might like to wear one of those as a summer top.  I also get that not everyone needs a pair of pantaloons.  Though I have to admit that I wouldn't mind having a pair of these.  They look super comfy.  These are made with 5 yards, yes you read that right five yards, of fabric.

But I'm pretty sure we all could use a new necklace or have someone on our Christmas shopping list that could.

Isn't that to die for?

Check out the super trendy necklace.  

The inventory is always changing and just because the necklace was there when I wrote this post doesn't mean it's there by the time you get to read it.  To see everything she has to offer check out Irie Tribal on Etsy.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas Crafting

I love doing hand made things for friends and family for Christmas, really anytime.  With December right around the corner, it is time to get into the sewing/crafting room and get started.  I've got lots of projects planned and I want to share with you.  I figure it is safe since none of the recipients follow my blog or my twitter account.

GNO Group:  I have four girlfriends that I go out with on a monthly basis.  We all work together and these girls have become my sisters.  Really, I don't think I've had adult friendships that were this tight that didn't start at birth.  I love these girls and love to spoil them.  One year I did fleece blankets with homemade hot chocolate and marshmallows.  Another time I bought serving trays and filled them with homemade candies that they could eat or take with them to their gathering.  I thought of it as a time saver for them.  Last year I bought them digital frame key chains and filled them with photos of us, them, and their children.  This year they will get......
Click to Enlarge

Now I am debating on what to fill them with.  It is between flavored popcorn lots of different kinds or bath bombs, scrubs, ect.  What do you think?

Work Gift Exchange:  Each year we do a gift exchange at work.  It can become very competitive when they start stealing gifts.  It's fun though and last year my tin of homemade chocolates almost caused a riot.  So I need to do something great again this year.  This one is causing me some trouble.  I'm not sure what to do, it's got to be different then last year and it's got to be amazing.  Got any ideas?

The ladies I work with: We all share small gifts with each other.  This one is causing me issues too.  Not sure what to do for them either. :(

My secret pal: This one I plan on having fun with.  Little gifts each day, like an adult advent.  Some of my ideas are:
 Tutorial found here  (her name is Joy by the way)
Tutorial found here I think it's just a fun idea!
And so on. 

What are your handmade Christmas ideas?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Blog Goals

If you don't follow me on Twitter you've never experienced my feed slam on Monday's during Craftermind's Twitter chat.  This might be a reason for you not to follow, as I know it does annoy some followers however, it has been a wealth of information for me.  This Monday's chat was about our goals for our blogs.  One thing I walked away with was to put them in writing to hold yourself accountable.  So here they are, to share with all of you.

1. Make some money - I know you all think I'm here because I just love doing this.  That's partly true, I love to cook and craft and I love that some find me interesting enough to come here each week and see what I'm up to.  The truth is that I'd like to make a few bucks while I'm at it.  I'm not talking about thousands each month.  I'm talking about enough to pay for a domain and keep a little money in my craft budget.  Let's face it, no one wants to work for free and blogging is a job.

2. Grow my readership - I'd like to have a few more out there reading this stuff.  I'm so thankful for those of you who are here each time a new posts goes up but, one can never have enough friends right?  :)

3. Host Giveaways - When I achieve goal number 2 then, hopefully, I'll be able to give back to all of you by giving away some amazing products.

4. Connect with other bloggers - I want to bring in some new faces to the blog.  Fresh ideas, new sets of eyes will help grow our little group into one rocking group.

5. Use The Blog Frog  - I have a Blog Frog community.  I need to use it more though.  I see the potential of it becoming a way for us to get together on a regular basis.  I just need to figure out how to do all that.

6. Get some perks - I'm insanely jealous of other bloggers who are getting stuff in the mail from some great companies.  The great part is they usually get to share those perks with their readers.  Now, really who of you don't want to get presents on the front door?  (I guess this kind of goes with number 3)

7. Post more - I need/want to post more.  Enough said!

What are your goals?  Either with your blog or in your personal life!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Week of Failure

I came to a realization this week.  It may be next to impossible to give you a new gluten-free convert recipe every Saturday.  Why might you ask?  I can't inflict that much torture on both my stomach and my poor husband's tummy.  I can't keep giving him failure after failure until I hit upon something perfect for dinner.  He's already skinny enough. ;)

Monday I set out to make taquitos.  I'd seen a ton of them on pinterest and none seemed to hard.  I mean really all I had to do was change from a flour tortilla to a corn one.  How hard could that be? I made a yummy filling, fairly basic though, browned hamburger, salt, pepper, onion, and a can of Rotel.  I drained it well to make sure it was a fairly dry filling.  I flashed fried the corn tortillas to soften them up.  They were nice and soft, the filling tasted good, now began the rolling.  I filled them with just a little filling.  I rolled them, pinned them with toothpicks and moved on to the next one.  After doing three of them I got the bright idea to drop them and see how they cooked up.  Welp, the exploded.  I'm talking about blow apart, filling floating in the oil, tortillas flat.  So I scratched it.  I fried the rest of the tortillas to make them crispy and then layered the tortillas and the filling in the pan and put it in the oven.  When it came out the top tortilla was crispy the rest were soggy.  No need for the cheese dipping sauce I had made there was nothing to dip in it.  We did pour some of it over the top, ate our supper of hamburger filling (I let the hubs have the crispy tortilla) and whipped up some Betty Crocker Gluten Free brownies as a I'm sorry treat.

Chicken Fried Steak Photo by Jessica CC picture via Flickr

Tuesday I was going to make gluten free chicken fried steak.  Doesn't that look yummy?  Ok minus the gravy, still not making gluten-free cream gravy.  A start would be a breaded steak though.  I can do this.  I just needed a breading.  Not a problem, I have been successfully breading shrimp for a few months now.  Around here chicken fried steak and fried shrimp have a similar breading.  I remember grandma breading her chicken fries with cornmeal, yep I can do this, or so I thought.  I split the piece of round steak into 3 pieces and tenderized it with my mallet.  Then I dipped it in two beaten eggs with some chipolte hot sauce in it.  Then it was off to be dredged in some cornmeal seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  (Note: I do the same thing with the shrimp, minus garlic powder.)  Then into the fryer they went.  I pulled them when they were golden brown and looking supper yummy.  About 5 minutes.  Then I cut mine.  The breading came off.  It had completely separated from the steak.  The breading came off in two pieces and in between those two pieces was a pieces of beef jerky.  Yeah, needless to say it wasn't supper yummy.

On Wednesday when I called to see what the hubs wanted for supper he said, "Something you know will turn out right."  So I went back to the stand bys.  We had tacos, chili, and pork chops.  Nothing exciting, nothing ground breaking for those who can't have gluten.  I'll try again this week. :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Gluten Free Thanksgiving

'Tis that time of year.  Time for all those holiday gatherings and parties.  I love it.  I'm not kidding, I really do love it.  It was a favorite time of year in my house growing up.  I have fond memories of my mother in the kitchen prepping for the Thanksgiving feat.  I would come home from school, we went a half day on the day before Thanksgiving, and my mother would be in the kitchen cooking, chopping, working away while Christmas carols played over the radio.  The Christmas tree would be up and breathing so it could be decorated the next day.  On the stove there was always a pot of cinnamon sticks, cloves, and oranges to make the house smell just like the holidays feel.

Making that same atmosphere in my house is a must for me.  It's not the holidays without.  There are certain things that must be on the table or it's not Thanksgiving.  Some aren't gluten free but I've figured out most. ;)
Photo from Another Pint Please on Flickr
Turkey Dinner

1.  The Turkey -  Did you know not all Turkeys are gluten free?  They aren't and it is a must that you find one that is.  Be sure to read the label before buying.  I also brine my Turkey the night before.  The brine recipe uses vegetable stock that can contain gluten.  Off brand veggie stock was the only thing I could find that didn't have gluten in it.

2. Gravy - This one has always been gluten free in my house.  :)  I learned how to make gravy with cornstarch.

3. Mashed Potatoes - Again naturally gluten free.  Potatoes, butter, cream, salt, and pepper.  It doesn't get any better.

4. Green Bean Casserole - Get this I hate it.  I don't like it at all.  It's nasty.  It has to be on the table though. lol  I don't know but that's just the way it is.  This recipe is far from gluten free.  Condensed soup, soy sauce, fried onions are all no nos.  But never free we can still have it on the table.  I thinly slice an onion.  I use my mandolin to get them really thin.  Then I toss them with seasoned rice flour, just salt and pepper and drop them in the fryer.  I let them get brown and crunchy and drain them.  Instead of the condensed soup I use Alfredo sauce.  I use Classico Alfredo sauce that is marked gluten free.  I also saute some sliced mushrooms in butter.  I mix half the onions with a package of frozen green beans (the normal size not the huge one), with the Alfredo sauce and mushrooms.  No need for soy sauce!  Season with pepper and salt to taste.  Be careful with the salt though.  Top with the remaining half of the onions and bake until hot and bubbly.

5. Dressing/Stuffing - I haven't tried it yet.  Hubs didn't want any last year but then found out it's one of his moms favorite things.  So this year, I will be attempting it.

6. Pumpkin Pie - This one is super easy.  The recipe on the back of the Libby's can is gluten free.  The crust?  Well, mine of course!  Top with fresh whipped cream and you are in heaven.

What's missing from the table?  Hot dinner rolls and eclairs.  I'm still working on that.  Any suggestions?

What things are missing from your holiday dinner now that you have gone gluten free?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

How to Craft and Decorate on a Budget

I know spending money wisely is a concern for many out there.  We still want to be creative, have wonderful decorations, but we can't spend a fortune for the supplies either.  How do we do it?  Easy!

1. Hit up second hand stores.  Goodwill, Salvation Army, ect are all great places to score great supplies for not much money.  Plus, you are helping them continue all of their good work.

2. Discounts.  Did you know JoAnn's gives educators 15% off their entire purchase, including sale items?  I didn't know until the woman ahead of me in line used her card.  You need a pay stub or your contract.  There are other companies that do similar discounts for military, fire, EMS, police, ect.  If you fall into one of those categories don't let the discounts get away!

3. Coupons.  Hobby Lobby does 40% off a non-sale item every week.  USE IT!  JoAnn's emails, texts, and mails out coupons all the time.  Michael's does coupons too.  Use them!  There's no reason to spend full price on something.

4. Facebook.  Like companies you use their products.  They will give away items, coupons, ect. to their fans.

5. Facebook again.  Search for a local Buy, Sell, Trade page.  Many communities now have one.  You can sell your wares, extras and make some cash.  You can also find great deals on craft items.  I've gotten lots of goodies and to date have spent $14.00.  I got a 20 gallon storage tub full of fabric, 3 Wal-Mart bags full of crochet thread, and 2 idea books.

6. Re-purpose.  If you aren't using it, are there elements you could?  Can you salvage the yarn off that sweater with a hole in it?

7. De-Stash.  Either use it or sell it.  If you aren't going to use it, sell it and use the money to buy things you will use.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gluten Free Saturday - Cheesecake Dip

Ok first off remember back this summer when I lost my nice SD card?  My husband found it, buried on the floor in the craft room.  I'm happy that it's back, I'm still being reminded that he found it after I searched for months.

So with the new schedule I'll be posting on Saturday, cooking, and Sunday, crafting and home.  It'll be easier for me.  It'll make sure you are getting more updates.  So we all win. :)  So on to the recipe.

Photo from Taste of Home

So I saw that picture on Pintrest awhile back.  It looked so yummy.  But graham crackers are a no no for the hubs.  While this would be great to take to work pot-luck it wasn't going to fly here at home.  I had to go to the drawing board.  I tossed around ideas and then it hit me, with the help of the hubs.  We had picked up some white corn tortillas, the soft kind.  He cut some up in wedges, fried them, and hand me one to try.  It sucked as a chip, it was too sweet.  So later I did the same thing only this time I sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar and drizzled honey over them.  TO DIE FOR!  I had it.

So here is the recipe from Taste of Home:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • Graham cracker sticks

I followed the directions the first time subbing gluten free vanilla, regular chocolate chips, and the corn chips from above omitting the honey.  It was good but the chocolate chips did nothing for it.  Seriously, the chocolate addicts here picked the chocolate chips out.  Without the chocolate chips it tasted like cheesecake .  At work we bring our own treats on our birthday.  I made a double batch of this, taking a little out for here at home, and by noon it was gone.  People were begging for the recipe.  Also I made the chips for work too.  We had someone diagnosed gluten intolerant just before my birthday.  I wanted to be able to include her without making her stand out as different.  No one except her and I knew that everything was gluten free, they just thought it was supper yummy.

Linked to:
Be Different Act Normal

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I wanted to give you all fair warning that I'll be back into the swing of things very soon.  Like this weekend soon. :)  I'm finalizing a schedule to squeeze in some crafting time.  I've got some great projects pinned.  The holidays are just around the corner so I'll be sharing tips, tricks, and decor ideas along the way.  You'll want to watch out for my Thanksgiving for a complicated family post.  (2 gluten free eaters, a vegetarian, and me)  Also I've found a use for G+ I think.  I'll be using it along with Facebook to share quick projects or tips along the way.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Finding Focus - Making A Schedule

Life, work, and work have gotten in the way.  Yes, I said work twice it's been that big of a obstacle in my blogging and most importantly my crafting and recipe converting.  I'm tired of it, really I am.  If I don't change something soon I might have a breakdown.  So in order to get things under control, in all aspects of my life, I'm making a new schedule.  I'm making time to do things.  A schedule to keep me sane.  As my sister from another mother has said to me, "Mel you don't have a schedule made?"  JJ has asked me more times then I can count that question, but she knows me and she knows I'm usually obsessed with scheduling.  (I set my iPod alarm to go off when it's time to move on to a new task.)  Even with the schedule I know it'll be awhile before the blog is fully back up and active.  It'll take a while to rebuild a list of projects to keep from having a lull.  But I wanted to let you all know that I'm coming back.  In the mean time you can follow my Pintrest to get a sneak peek at what I have in store. :)

October Calendar/Schedule

Friday, July 22, 2011

Peanut Butter & Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

I remembered just because it's hotter then all get out here (heat index right now 108) it doesn't mean I can't bake.  I just can't use my oven, but I can use my slow cooker!

So out came my favorite slow cooker cookbook Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook: Feasting with Your Slow Cooker [FIX-IT & FORGET-IT CKBK].  I was going to go with my stand by Hot Fudge Cake when I turned page and found Peanut Butter and Hot Fudge Pudding Cake.  So I mixed them together and came up with the following recipe.

Hot Fudge and Peanut Butter Cake
1 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 TBS Almond Flour
2 TBS White Rice Flour
2 TBS Tapioca Flour
3 TBS Potato Flour
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
5 oz can evaporated milk
1/2 tsp almond extract (i'm out of vanilla)
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup boiling water

Mix the first 10 ingredients together.  It will be very thick.  Place in a little greased slow cooker.

Mix cocoa powder and 1/2 cup of sugar together.  Sprinkle over cake mixture.

Pour boiling water over everything.  DO NOT STIR!

Cook on low 2-3 hours.  Serve with ice cream.

Note: If you don't eat gluten free replace the first 5 ingredients with 1 cup of flour.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Where Have I Been?

Oh I wish I could answer with something great like a European vacation or a cooking adventure crisscrossing the country.  The truth is, I've been obsessed with Big Brother.  I watch every year and spend the first week doing nothing but watching the CBS show and the live feeds.  It's a critical time to learn about each house guest.  Ok, So I don't have a life. lol

Anyway, the first week is almost over and life will go into BB mode.  Thursday, Sunday, and Wednesday I'll watch the CBS show.  Sometimes in the afternoon I'll watch the feeds.  You can get your feeds here.  It's my favorite BB site in all of interwebs.  Hamsterwatch is also a favorite of BB HG Adam.  He's got good taste.  I'll spend my late evening in the chat room and watching BBAD on Showtime.  In between, I'll get back to crafting and cooking.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Gluten Free Cooking - It's a way of life not a fad

For those with Celiac disease or non-Celiac gluten intolerance the gluten free diet is the only way to maintain their health.

I'm writing this blog while the butter softens and fruit thaws out for a recipe.  I started with that sentence because I want you to keep that in mind while reading the rest of this post.  This is now my life in the kitchen.  The days of making cookies in 20 minutes or kneading bread to remove frustration are gone.  Replaced are all day cookie recipes, bread that is more like cake batter and numerous non-traditional bags of flour.  Do I want to toss it all in the trash and go back to 3 types of flour? (all purpose, bread, cake)  You bet.  That's my comfort zone.  Will I? Absolutely not!

When I got married my husband told me that he was a Celiac.  I had not clue what that was and hadn't seen anything that he wouldn't eat besides pasta.  I knew what gluten was, there are times you want it, like making breads and pizza crust, and there are times you don't, like making pie crust.  It didn't effect or affect me.  I didn't make pasta for dinner.  Other than that I continued cooking as I had always done.  That would all change in about six months.

My husband had a health episode.  I call it an episode because I can't think of a better word for it.  He collapsed in the yard but I wouldn't find out for a week.  When I finally did find out I drug him to the doctor.  After a battery of blood work the results were in, he had a heart attack.  So off for EKG and stress test.  He passed both which made us all scratch our heads.  There was no heart damage, no blockage, and he beat the stress test with flying colors.  The only other things that could cause the blood work results, muscle damage, was MS or Lou Gehrig's disease.  My heart sank.  How was this happening?  My husband was a fit 41 year old man.  He didn't have any fat, he was muscular, he was active.  After a battery of tests he was diagnosed with extreme exhaustion and  dehydration.  I thought it was a bunch of bull.  There was something wrong with him.  So off to Google I went.

That's where I found the answer.  It was because his Celiac was uncontrolled.  So I started reading, studying, and learning.  About the time I was finding this out my husband told me, "I need to go back on the diet."  I had a lot of learning to do. So I'll flashback so you can learn what I did.

Celiac is an auto immune disorder.  IT IS NOT AN ALLERGY!  It's similar to diabetes.  Gluten is found in all kinds of things that people don't think about.  It takes an average of 13 years to get diagnosed after the first time you go to the doctor.  My husband was lucky it took 3 weeks.  95% of Americans that have Celiac are not diagnosed.  Celiac can lead to cancer and even death.  Joe C. part of Kid Rock's group died from it.  Symptoms very from person to person.  Here is a list of those symptoms.

So what is gluten?  The standard definition is the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.  Oats are sometimes listed but they contaminated.  There are gluten free oats on the market.  I tell people that gluten is what makes bread and pizza chewy and yummy.  It's what holds cookies together.  It's what thickens soups and stews.

Here is a list of UNSAFE foods.  It's really more ingredients.  Look at it and then go look at a few things in your pantry.  I bet you find lots of gluten in things you never thought it was there.  It's not easy to start tossing out staples in your cooking.  No more cream of mushroom soup, no more soy sauce, no more bread crumbs, or crackers.  It took some adjusting and I'm still adjusting and working on it.

My big pet peeve is when people think this diet will be a cure all.  I'll be thinner, prettier, healthier, ect.  That's what makes the general public think this is a fad like no-carb diets.  It's not a fad.  This is a way of life without it people suffer.  There's no concrete proof that it helps any other issues.  Normally people gain weight on the diet.  There's no trying in this diet.  Gluten-free doesn't mean for the most part.  It's all or nothing.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Why I'm Here Part 2 - I'm living out my dream!

Today The whole weekend was really busy.  Shields Photography is showing as part of First Friday Art Walk.  It's also been too hot to even think of baking so that's out the window.  So I thought I would finish my story.

I've never been formally trained in any of the crafts that I do.  Well, unless you count a few classes/lessons here or there.  I have also had a need to create but not the space as I got older.  The need to create something with my own hands is so deep it's almost painful sometimes.  I never buy gifts for friends.  It's always a hand made custom gift for them.  It's more personal that way I believe.  I didn't grab something off a shelf, I took the time to make you something.

My grandmother lived with me for 29 years 11 months and 19 days.  She passed away at the age of 98.  She had seen it all.  She never sewed on a sewing machine, it was all by hand.  She had the most even hand stitching I had ever seen.  She hand stitched the binding on every quilt my mom made.  We didn't have a dishwasher, still don't, because hand washing was better.  No bread machine would ever grace the house while she was alive making bread by hand was the only way.  I don't own a bread machine and I'm not sure I ever will.  Do it with your hands, it'll be better that was her motto.  I believe it, never have had wheat bread turn out right unless it was by hand.  Just before she passed away she told me I should take her bedroom when she was gone and make it a sewing room.  So I would have room to create.  She knew I needed that outlet.

I didn't take over her room.  She had a closet the room we slept in didn't.  So our old bedroom got converted.  It's nothing special, not a lot of storage in there but it's mine.  It's all mine.  I bought a table at Goodwill for 15 bucks and a can of spray paint at Wal-Mart for a buck.  I spray painted the legs glossy black.  I have an old dresser full of fabric, a card table that my sewing machines are set up on, and a small shelf with odds and ends.  I have a couple of tubs things have been tossed in, a floor with piles, and stacks of containers to be upcycled into storage.  But I have my own sewing/crafting/woman cave.

I've got plans and they are going slowing.  But together we'll leave out this dream.  I may never be as famous as Martha Stewart.  I know I'll never be as perfect as she is.  I just want to have fun, help a few people, and maybe even make a buck or two.

Happy 4th of July!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Super Souper Burgers

Ok I promised the recipe but here's the deal.  I didn't take any pictures. :(  I figured though we all know what a burger looks like.

Inspiration: Since my husband can't eat burgers with buns I was on the hunt to make an extra yummy burger patty.  (I know that there are gluten free buns but we haven't found one we like.)

Recipe: Makes 5 1/4 pound patties

1 1/4 pounds ground beef
3 TBSP Heinz Worcestershire Sauce 
3 TBSP Better Than Bouillon Beef Base
1 clove garlic minced
salt and pepper
1 small onion thinly sliced
5 slices of cheese of your choice

Mix beef, Worcestershire sauce, beef base, garlic, salt and pepper to taste together.  Let sit 5-10 minutes while your pan heats up.  This is a must, you have to cook it in a pan.  Make the mixture into patties and place in the hot pan.  Cook until brown on the bottom.  Flip the burgers and turn the heat down to medium low.  Top with onion and cover with a lid.  This allows the juices to mingle in the pan making a broth almost.  Cook until the onions are done.  Turn the heat off top with cheese and put the lid back on to let the cheese melt.

These are really good.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why I'm Here Part 1 - It's Genetic

This is odd writing to such a small audience.  Those on Facebook know my story.  Some on Twitter know parts, but I figure at some point others will show up and want to know.  My crafting/art/cooking story starts way back when.  So grab your favorite cold beverage and a snack this is going to be a long story.

It's in my genes.  It can't be proven with science but I know it's in my blood to do this.  It's as easy to prove as the outward things are.  I have my Mom Paul's hips and my Grandma Green's chest, thankfully that balance each other out.  I didn't have a chance to be over 5'5", my mom was 5'3" and my dad 5'7". I'm 5'2".  I've got the Gragg early graying hair that is coupled with very thick hair that wants to wave in spots and be straight in others. Science can back my claims that all those things have been passed down through genes.  What it can't prove is why I'm here but I know it's because of those same genes.

I didn't stand a chance not to be a creative type.  My mother made lived at her sewing machine, she painted, decorated cakes, arranged flowers, she was Martha.  My dad was an amazing cook and thought every man and woman should be able to sew, cook, and fix a car.  Both my grandmothers sewed and quilted.  My Grandma Green did it all by hand.  My dad's older brother ran a restaurant when I was little.  He and wife then (and still do) made quilts and went to craft shows with my mom and dad.  My dad's little brother is a chef.  This and my photography  is what is in my genes.

I don't remember not a time that I was making something.  One of my earliest memories is making a cake.  A cake for my uncle (the one who had a restaurant).  It was his birthday and we were going to have cake that afternoon at the restaurant. I remember standing on a chair, I was too little to get to the counter otherwise, mixing the cake up with my mom.  The phone rang, in the day before cordless phones, and she walked away to answer it.  I cracked the eggs putting shell and all in the bowl and turned on the mixer.  The shell piece were too small the take out.  She made another cake without my help but I cried until she let me take my to Runcle Rooy (roo then long e).  He was thrilled with the cake, but he doesn't let me live it down.  Thirty years later at a family dinner I walk in with a cake and his first question isn't what kind but, "Did you leave the shells out this time sis?"

Then there are the times that I drove my mom and grandma crazy bugging them.  To solve this issue one of them would hand me two scraps of fabric and a threaded needle.  Off I'd go to "sew" for hours.  I never made anything but I was sewing none the less.  When I was 8 I got an old Kenmore sewing machine.  I had a real sewing machine while my friends got bikes and dolls for their birthdays.  You see I was born to do this!

Then came 4-H.  Oh how I adore 4-H.  Even now 14 years after the last fair I entered in I think 4-H is the greatest youth organization in the world.  4-H is great even if you don't own animals.  I didn't.  What I did was baking, cooking, sewing, painting, ceramics, crochet, floral arrangements, quilting, photography, baseball card collections, stamp collections, jewelry making, and a host of other crafts.

I learned so much.  I learned that baking is a science.  Precise measurements are a must.  I learned that no matter how hard I try I'll never make the perfect biscuit or the perfect pie crust.  I learned the joy of getting a purple ribbon and the low agony of a red.  (Darn biscuits!)  I learned that your family will cringe if you make the same thing for dinner once a week for months on end while you prefect your recipe for the food show.  I learned that sewing an outfit and getting a blue ribbon is better than your mom sewing it and getting a purple ribbon.  I found out that I can't paint on wood or canvas but give me a piece of ceramics and I excel.  I learned granny squares suck but thread crochet is awesome.  Floral arranging wasn't my forte and still isn't.  I found out that no matter how much your mother loves you she will still want to kill you when you break her long arm machine weeks before the big craft show.  I learned that I loved photography and developing my own photographs.  It would be almost 20 years after learning that before I would be able to do it.  I learned that baseball cards and stamps are great when you are 8 but by 12 they are dorky.  (They still live in a box in my basement though.)  I learned I had/have the skills to make jewelry but not the patience.  I burnt myself more than once with a glue gun.  I fell in love with Aleene.  You never toss away pop cans because they can become animals.  I had found my element.  I was born to create.

By high school I was an accomplished seamstress and baker.  I was a freshman making patterns while my friends were making boxers and scrunchies.  I could make puff pastry from scratch but will forever be thankful that you can buy it in the freezer section.  I still couldn't make a biscuit.  I still couldn't make a pie crust but had found the Pillsbury refrigerated crust.  My photography was being featured in 4-H publications.  I was making my own crochet patterns.  I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Martha Stewart.  I was the only person in my high school that was thrilled with a Living subscription for my birthday.  (Thanks Lisa!)

To be continued..................

Monday, June 20, 2011

New Ways to Follow and Connect

I will get the info on the sidebar shortly.  I have made a Facebook page and a Twitter account for this blog!  There is also a new email address for the blog craftingtodo at gmail dot com.

Now you might wonder why and where all this is coming from.  Well, I participated in the craftermind Twitter chat today.  I realized in order to take this all to the next step I needed to do some separation again.  I separated my crafting from my photography but when I did that I just put it on my personal twitter and Facebook.  This blog needs to have the same treatment as my photography business.  It needs it's own home so I can promote others and myself.

So here it goes, a new outlook for this blog.  A venue to achieve dreams.  The dream of being the next Martha Stewart, just less perfect.  ;)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gluten Free Version of Paula Deen's White Chocolate Pie

You can read the whole process of making the pie, with pictures here.

1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup softened butter
2 tsp Xanthan Gum
(Now to make up that 1 cup of rice flour)
1/4 cup of rice flour, I used white because that's what I had open
1/4 cup of potato flour
1/4 cup of tapioca starch
1 TBSP of almond meal (I have a ton of this in the freezer because you only use it a tablespoon or two at a time) in the bottom of a 1/4 cup and then filled with potato starch. 
Ice Cold Water

Mix together, adding cold water 1 tablespoon at a time until a ball forms.  Roll out and place in a deep dish 9" pie pan.  (Metal browns on the bottom better than glass.)  Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 until set.  It doesn't brown well so do not try to bake it until it is brown.

Paula's White Chocolate Pie  (click on the link to make it how she does below is my version of it)


  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


  • 6 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream, plus 3/4 cup, whipped soft
  • 6 1/2 (1-ounce) squares premium white baking chocolate, melted
  • Garnish:
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla


Place chocolate chips in a metal mixing bowl. Bring cream to a simmer over medium heat. Pour simmering cream over chips and stir until melted. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.


Beat cream cheese and sugar with a handheld electric mixer until smooth. Scrape bowl with a spatula and mix in 1/3 cup heavy cream. Add the melted white chocolate, zest, and nuts and stir just until incorporated. Fold in the whipped cream. Spread into pre-baked pie shell and level off using a rubber spatula. Put in freezer until frozen.
To finish pie, place the ganache in the microwave on low for no more than 10 seconds at a time. Stir after each warming, until ganache pours loosely but is not even close to boiling. Be very careful when warming chocolate, as it will burn very quickly when heated in the microwave. Once chocolate is scorched it is unusable. Spread warm ganache over top of frozen pie, smoothing to the edges with a spatula.


Beat cream and confectioners' sugar with a handheld electric mixer to stiff peaks. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe edges of pie with whipped cream. Sprinkle macadamia nuts over top. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Iron Craft Week 24 - Something For Him

I'm back to doing Iron Craft!!!  I'm happy!  Well, since this is for Father's day and my husband has virtually put those years behind him I am not doing anything traditional for him.  (He has two grown children and no grandchildren so it's just not the same.)  I still wanted to do something for him though.  He has Celiac, for those of you who don't know what that is, it's an auto-immune disorder (think diabetes) that doesn't allow his body to process gluten.  He is one of the lucky ones and didn't fight to get diagnosed.  However, he went many years without following the diet like he was suppose to.

So let's have a brief overview of this before we get started.  We all have these little hairs in our intestine.  They suck out all of the nutrients from our food before it gets ready to leave our body.  When he eats something with gluten, those little hairs lay down and nothing gets sucked out it just goes right out.  Not a good thing!  So what's gluten?  You know when you get a really great piece of pizza and it's chewy and just extremely yummy?  That's thanks to gluten.  Gluten is found in wheat, barely and rye.  Because of how oats are harvested and processed they are considered not safe either.  There are some oats that are safe but they are really expensive and hard to find here in the boondocks.  Now on to the gift. lol

Because wheat is not allowed in cooking, baking for me is very hard.  Just before he went back on the gluten-free diet I found this amazing pie recipe.  It's from Paula Deen so you know it's going to be over the top, loaded with calories, and well good. lol  He fell in love with it, well my version of it anyway.  We haven't had it since though. :(  I have decided to give it a try and you are going on the ride with me. So let's jump in the car and go.

I started with this recipe.  Gluten Free Melt In Your Mouth Shortbread Cookies after reading the reviews I saw that it had some issues falling apart so I needed to fix that.  It also used a good hunk of rice flour that we don't care for a lot of.  It tends to be slightly grainy.  So I pulled out all my gluten-free flours and read on the package what they did in baking and went from there.

In my stand mixer I put:
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup softened butter
2 tsp Xanthan Gum
(Now to make up that 1 cup of rice flour)
1/4 cup of rice flour, I used white because that's what I had open
1/4 cup of potato flour
1/4 cup of tapioca starch
1 TBSP of almond meal (I have a ton of this in the freezer because you only use it a tablespoon or two at a time) in the bottom of a 1/4 cup and then filled with potato starch.

I can see all your heads spinning right now.  I know that is a lot of different flours but each one brings something to the table to give us an overall product.  My goal is to produce a pie crust as similar to wheat pie crust as possible.  So let's go through them and the why I added it.

Cornstarch - the original recipe calls for this and it helps to brown and crisp things.
Xanthan Gum - helps hold gluten free foods together.  I don't know why or how but I know from experience if you leave it out things fall apart.
Rice Flour - it lends a light and delicate sponginess
Potato Flour - lends a moist crumb
Tapioca Flour - lends a springy texture, promotes browning, and makes a crispy crust
Potato Starch - produces a tender, moist crust
Almond Flour - lends a moist texture and rich, butter flavor
(all descriptions with the exception of cornstarch and xanthan gum were taken from the Bob's Red Mill package)

My hope was/is that all those individual characteristics would bring about a wonderful crust.  We'll find out!

I mixed all my ingredients together but it didn't form a ball like the cookie recipe said.  :(  But it did look like real pie dough! :)  So I started adding tablespoons of cold water until it formed a ball.  (4 tablespoons is what it took.)  Doesn't look too bad does it?

I sprayed my glass pie plate with non stick spray just to be on the safe side. I patted the pie crust into the pie plate and put it in the freezer to chill.  (Note: I had a little extra dough left over.  I rolled it out, put a little melted butter on it sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.  I rolled it up and baked it without chilling it.  It came out fine so I might skip this step in the future.)

I baked the crust at 350 for about 40 minutes.  I tried my best to get it to brown.  No luck! :(  But something I did learn was, the leftovers browned in an ungreased metal pan at least on the bottom.  It didn't brown on top either.  (For those not in the know, getting gluten free foods to brown can be next to impossible sometimes.)

After it was cooled I just followed Paula's recipe with the following exceptions.  I didn't add the nuts or the orange zest.  I also added vanilla to the whip cream for the topping.

So how did it turn out?  Not half bad.  I over baked the crust trying to brown it so it was kind of tough.  The flavor was good though and it didn't fall apart.  It was a little thick in spots because I patted it in instead of rolling it out.  The crust has great potential.  My husband thought it would make good "Pop Tarts" or single serve pies.  It's going on my list of things to do again!

This post was actually written during the process of making the pie.  It's exactly what was going through my head as I was doing it.  :)  I will get a post of just the recipe up shortly. Here's the recipe!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...javascript:void(0)