Let’s get crafty.

Since I moved to Tampa a month and a half ago I’ve had large amounts of free time.  I figured I could use at least some of it to fix up our new apartment!  Only problem was that Jon and I had also just spent most of our money on the process of moving and paying all of our final bills, so we were strapped for cash. I needed something to do to fill my time, with supplies that I already had  so I scoured Pinterest and craft sites and decided on doing a mosaic tile on my living room walls. Something that was crafty with a great result and the best part was it was almost free!

I had all of the supplies I needed from a past painting project I did at my last apartment. All I needed to purchase was a disposable paint tray for a grand total of $2.67 for the entire project.  I looked for a few days to try to find the pattern I wanted for the walls.  I was going to spend numerous hours painting the wall and then have to live with the decision so I wanted to make sure that I really liked it and that I could make it look good without many mistakes.

I ended up choosing the stencil  pattern from here, a blog called while they While They Snooze.

Here is the stencil I used:

Moroccan Wall Tile

After I printed this out, it took a few minutes to perfect how big I wanted it.  I ended up choosing the stencil to be the size of one page.   I only had a half wall to do because there was a chair rail in the living room, so something smaller like a page size was manageable for me.  If you are going to do the entire wall , you should definitely do something a little bigger so that it doesn’t take too long.

Step  One – Set down primers paint and drop clothes. (Better safe than sorry!)

Step Two – Paint the background color that you want for the wall.  I chose a light blue that I used for my last apartment.  I had an entire extra gallon of it and I still liked  the color so I’d rather use a free paint than go buy a new color.  Paint and let dry.

Step Three –  Trace the stencil on to a piece of cardboard. This will make it easier to stencil in on the wall.

Step Four –  Start tracing the tile on the wall with a pencil.  Use  light strokes. I found that if I traced too hard on the wall, I had to use a second coat of white to get rid of the line. If your stencil is big enough, tape a level to the cardboard.  This will help you to keep the tiles level.  Unfortunately, my stencil was not big enough for the level that I had so check the tiles with a level every so often.  Overall my tiles were straight, though I hit a rough patch of trying to get it straight  when I reached the corner, it is not so noticeable, so I am not worrying about it.   🙂

Keep on stenciling.  It took me about 6 hours to finish. I did it all on one day, but I suggest that you break it up. After I finished,  I was going a bit loopy.

Step Five –  Choose your stencil paint.  I mixed a white paint that I already had with the blue. This gave me a very light blue.  You can also use  a contrast color, silver or the same color in a high gloss.

Step Six – Choose a small paint brush.  However big you want the lines of the stencil to be. I found that it was easier to use a stiffer brush so that there is less variation in the stroke.

Start Tracing!

Try to keep it as consistent as possible! You are going to make a few mistakes of course.  If you get any drips, try to wipe it away with a wet paper towel as soon as possible.  I had to do a second coat of white paint because some of the pencil marks were showing.

Here is the finished result! 

 I used one of those cheap Wal-Mart  full length mirrors (again, that I had lying around)  and painted it the same blue-white as the stencil for a finishing touch.

I hope you enjoy your wall!  I really liked the end result and the whole project cost me less than $5!

Love,

My next craft is a mirror starburst made out of a cereal box seen below!

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How to roast a chicken.

 


How to Roast a Chicken

I distinctly remember the first time that I roasted a chicken.  I was probably 8 or 9 and my mom had left a whole chicken in the fridge for my babysitter Sarah and I to make for dinner.  We both knew that it takes a while for the chicken to roast, so around 6 pm we took it out of the fridge and  set in on the counter.   Reading the instructions on the little white sticker on the top  the  first thing that we had to do was remove the giblets.  After  Sarah explained to me what exactly giblets were apparently 8 year-old me completely refused to even come close to the chicken now that I knew there was still all of those PARTS in there!   Sarah rolled up her sleeves and after several attempts  of trying to get that little bag out of the cavity we were unsuccessful. I’m not sure how long we debated over it  and did one of those “it’s so gross, get it away from me” dances, I’m pretty sure Sarah’s mom came over to remove the giblets for us.   After that debacle, it took me a while to touch a raw chicken without being grossed out.

One of the great things about cooking a whole chicken instead of buying pre-cut and de-boned  pieces is that it is cheaper.  If you have to feed  more than 3 people, buying a whole chicken is  a few dollars cheaper than  buying it  separated.   In my case, Jon and I eat what we want that night and then use the leftover meat for sandwiches and such.  Also, you  can have both white and dark meat.

Although yes you are going to have to remove the giblets, I have used this recipe several times and the results are a juicy chicken with crispy and flavorful skin.  It is easy and you can make it without a hassle or preparation time in the kitchen.

Here is what you will need: 

1 whole chicken
Salt and Pepper
Thyme
2 cloves of fresh Garlic or 2 tablespoons of minced.
1 Lemon
1/2  Sweet Onion
2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter softened
cooking twine

 

Pre-heat your oven to  425 degrees F.   Unwrap your chicken, remove innards, rinse it with cool water and  pat dry the skin with  a paper towel.  (This helps to remove any juices from the package and makes the skin flavorful.)   Make sure to remove any extra fat from the inside of the cavity.

 

Rub the cavity with salt and pepper and garlic.  Put the springs of thyme inside the cavity.  I prefer to use fresh thyme, but this time I didn’t have any so I used dried herbs. Take the lemon and roll in on the counter for 10 seconds pushing down on the center with your hand.  This will help release the juices in the lemon and give you more flavor.  Slice half way through the lemon so that juices can get out  but not all the way through so that you have two pieces.  Stick the lemon  into the cavity and then tie the legs together. This will help to keep everything inside the cavity and make sure that the drumsticks do not fall off while it is roasting.  I didn’t have any twine yesterday so I used a skewer to keep it shut.  Not as effective, but I wasn’t going to go to the store for twine.

Rub the outside of the chicken with the softened butter and then sprinkle liberally with  salt and pepper. Set the chicken aside.

 

Slice the onion and put them in the bottom of the roasting pan.  If you are like me and do not have a roasting pan, I use my large glass pan and it works just fine.   Once you have spread the onions on the bottom of the pan put the chicken on top of the onions.

Roast the chicken for about 1 1/2  hours.  To make sure that  it’s finished  pierce the breast and thigh meat with a probe thermometer.  The meat has to be over 165 degrees to be finished, so around 170 is safer. Make sure that you are not touching the bone when taking the temperature.  This will give you a higher reading that what it actually is.

Take the chicken out of the oven  and transfer it to a cutting board with indents around the edge to catch any juices.  It is important that you let the chicken sit for 10-15 mins.  This gives it a chance to absorb some of the juices and makes it even tastier.

Congrats on roasting a whole chicken!  I told you it wouldn’t be that hard!

If you have any questions please let me know.

 

Enjoy,

Chicken Saltimbocca with a Sage Cream Sauce


Chicken Saltimbocca with a Sage Cream Sauce


One of my favorite recipes when I am have a few hours on my hands and the need for something rich and very tasty I turn to this recipe.  I learned this method from when I worked at Stonewood Grill in highschool.  The chefs there had a great recipe for veal saltimbocca.  Although I did try the veal and it was pretty good, ( you have to try everything once ) I couldn’t get used to the idea of eating it with a regularity so I modified  the recipe to use chicken instead. I found I enjoyed the chicken even more than the veal and without the guilt of eating a baby calf.

The word saltimbocca  translates in Italian to jumps in the mouth and that is exactly what it does.  This rich dish is sure to be a crowd pleaser.  Traditionally the meat and sage are wrapped around each other but I like to add the sauce to bring the meat and rice together.

Here is what you need for a meal for four.

2 chicken breasts

6-8 slices of prosciutto

1/2 cup of fresh sage (chiffonade)

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

Pinch of Salt

Pinch of Pepper

 Oil for frying  ( I used olive oil but you can use vegetable or grape seed oil )

Mozzarella

Rice Pilaf

Pint of Heavy Cream

 

Now that you have everything together,  I always find in the best to make this one in stages.  The first few times I made it I wanted to save time and get it ready as fast as possible but I found that if I was frying the chicken, making the rice and thickening the cream at the same time, the total result suffered.  Usually the sauce burned or clumped. So I found it better just to take my time and keep the sauce for last.

Phase one:  Chicken and Prosciutto

Take the chicken breast and after giving them a rinse and a pat down with a paper towel so that they are dry. (more about this later)  Cut them with an inch thickness  horizontally across the breast.  You should be able to get 4 or 5 cut out of each breast.

                                                      (Before)

(After)

Now it is time to pound out the chicken so it is nice and thin.  This part is great for anyone with a temper because it takes a few minutes of heavy pounding to get all of the cuts to approximately 1/4 inch in height.  Try to get each slice as even across the piece as possible.  If they are uneven, there will be spots where it didn’t cook enough or spots that get too crispy.

Make sure to use Saran wrap when you are tenderizing the chicken. It is not exactly necessary, but it keeps any bacteria from being spread around the kitchen when you are hitting it.

Mix the flour with salt and pepper. Take the chicken and dredge it through the mixture. I found that when the chicken is drier the flour sticks to the chicken better overall.

Fry the chicken for 3-5 minutes on each side or until it is a light golden brown.  Put finished tenders on a baking sheet and into the oven at 100 degrees F. This will keep the chicken warm while you are finishing the rest. (See below.)

Start the rice pilaf so that it finish about the same time as the sauce.

Drain the leftover oil out of the skillet and quickly lay the slices of prosciutto on the warm pan until they are lightly cooked.   With the heat on low each slice should only take about 20-30 seconds to brown.  Put the prosciutto in the oven with the chicken.

Phase Two: Sage Cream Sauce

The sage cream sauce is really the cherry on the top and brings all the ingredients  together. Set the heavy cream in a medium saucepan  on medium-low and whisk very frequently for about 15-20 minutes  until the sauce has reduced to about half the volume.  It is ESSENTIAL that you do not leave the cream alone for very long so that a film doesn’t cover the top of the sauce and it doesn’t boil.  The sauce should stay just below simmering.

When the sauce is almost done, add the chiffonaded sage to the cream and let it  simmer for about five more minutes.   Turn of the heat and let the sauce thicken for a few minutes. To chiffonade the sage cut the leaf vertically in small strips.  (See below.)


When the cream is thick enough that it sticks to the spoon it is ready.    Layer the pilaf  chicken, prosciutto and cheese and pour the sauce over everything. I use fresh mozzarella, but you can just as easily use pre-shredded cheese.

Now you have a great dinner that will impress your friends and bring you back for seconds.

I hope you enjoy!  I would love to see pictures when you make it for yourself. 

Love,

Recent Photos


This slide show contains just a few moments from the past nine months.  Most of the pictures are from either Gainesville, Fla or from Northern California and they were captured with either my iPhone 4s or my Cannon D3000. Hope you enjoy.  ❤

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Love,

I’m back! (Recap of the last 9 months.)

Hello everyone!  I just wanted to start off this post an apology that it has been so long since I have posted and of course a little bit about that I have been doing these last nine or so months instead of writing here.

To  start it all off,  I graduated from the University of Florida  in May with a B.S. in Public Relations!  It was overwhelming to finish my last semester of school, finish work on Alpha PRoductions and  finish that chapter of my life.  It was very bittersweet to conclude my time at UF by saying goodbye to all of the great friends that I had made throughout my time here and to watch everyone move away and start their new lives and careers.

Image

 Above is one of the many graduation photos that our little group took.                           (From Left to Right)  Kassie (Me) , Liberty, Elise Amanda, Sarah and Haley.

Now that I have graduated from college it is time for me to join the real world (sigh).  So Jon and I have moved to Tampa and are both looking forward to a new chapter.  Jon has just enrolled in culinary school at the Tampa Arts Institute and I am looking for a job in the area.    I am hopeful that I will find something soon. We have a great little apartment here close to the water that has been keeping us busy and I now live closer to some of my family, so it is good to spend time with them.

In between graduating from college and moving to Tampa,  I worked at Chili’s for a while and went on vacation with my family to  California.  I  had a great time in the San Francisco and Monterey Peninsula  area.  It was great to see a landscape and way of living that is so much different from living in Florida.

So that pretty much catches you up on the last nine months of my life.  To follow will be a  short slide show of photos highlighting some of the times and I will be back very soon with a recipe. I’m thinking either chicken saltimbocca  or how to roast a whole chicken. Only time will tell.  😉

Love,