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!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Water Bottle Holder

Holy cow it's been a long time since I've been.  I actually have a blog post written but the craft isn't photographed so it kind of defeats putting it up until you can see the end result right?  Anywho, today I whipped up a water bottle tote/holder/carrier whatever you want to call it.  I even snapped the pictures with the good old iPhone just so I could get this one done.

So the colors are off but it at least shows you the finished product.  I wanted to show you the loop that I put on mine.  The point of the tote was to be able to attach it to my camera backpack.  The straps the original tutorial had just weren't going to cut it.  So I cut a 4"x5" piece of my lining fabric, I used 2 fat quarters that I got on clearance for 65 CENTS!!!!  I folded it in half, 4" side, and stitched. I pressed the seam open then turned it right side out and folded it half again, this time from top to bottom.  Then I just continued along with the tutorial.  You can make one yourself by going here.
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