Thursday, April 26, 2012

DIY Gallery Wrapped Photos $6!

I have wanted some large gallery wrapped prints for a long time, but $75-$100 per print is not in the budget.  I figured out how to do these for about $6 each.  Yep.  $6. 

I even have proof.  Each print is 24x36.  They are $2.99 from Staples.  Get the engineering black and white prints.  They do have larger, but for my space I wanted 24x36.  The Polystyrene sheet was 1/2 inches thick and was about $6.50 and I can get 6 canvases out of one sheet.  Then the spray adhesive was $5.99 at Wal-mart. So if you do the math, it comes out to about $6 per print.  Awesome! 

So now we have some supplies.
Mark and measure the 1/2 inch polystyrene insulation.  I used a T-Square to help make things easier.  Draw your lines on the back side of the insulation.  It is super easy to cut.  I just used my serrated paring knife in a gently sawing motion.  The only downside is the little white styrofoam pieces that inevitably ends up on the floor. I cut mine 22x34 because I wanted to wrap the insulation with the print.  You could paint the edges and make it full size if you wanted.
 Next I measured the print in about one inch.  When I do it again I will place the insulation on top of the print, mark it, then make the folds.  One of them didn't turn out exactly perfect by just measuring in 1 inch.
 Make folds along the marks and cut the corners out.  This will give you a clean corner.
 Dry fit the insulation to the print make any adjustments to the folds.
 Take the insulation outside and spray the plain side.  I followed the manufacturers instructions for a permanent bond.  Carefully place the insulation on the print making sure it fits the folds correctly.

 Next I got out my trusty rolling pin to squish out any air bubbles.  Roll it good and hard.
 Spray the edges and press in place.  I had just enough to wrap the back edge too just a little.  Keep pressing to keep the deges in place. 

I let mine dry overnight with some heavy books on top to keep things flat.  I kept getting interrupted with trivial things like homework, dinner, and bedtime.
 Using my scissors, I cut a small line in the edge of the picture about 6 inches down from the top.  Insert a paperclip with the large side inside the insulation.
 I used heavy upostery thread and strung it through the paperclips.  Since this weighs almost nothing you don't need anything heavy duty to hold the picture up.
 I used my scrapbook ink to ink the edges.  That's totally optional.

Mark where you are going to place your prints and hang.  Super easy!

 I love it.  I so miss Washington.  These were taken at the Dungeness Spit Lighthouse in North Western Washington.  The Olympic Mountains will always be my favorite!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

BOPB-B! What?!?

So I had a bunch of bananas that were starting to get spots.  My kids won't eat them unless they are perfectly yellow, no spots. And I wanted something other than banana bread.  I found this recipe at and thought I'd try it.  I did modify it slightly to fit me.  Luckily the kids love them!  It's kind of a mix between banana bread and a granola bar.  Perfect to tuck into lunches or as an afternoon snack.  So here's the recipe.  Sorry there's not as many pics pre-production, but it's really easy.

Banana Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bars

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 3/4 cups butter or margarine
Cream together until light and fluffy with:
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp molasses

Then add in:
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
2 large or 4 small well-ripe bananas broken into pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
Beat until very well mixed.

Stir in 4 cups rolled oats. I used quick oats.
Mix until well blended.

Optional add ins:
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts like walnuts
1 cup raisins
1 cup craisins
Play with the options depending on your kid's tastes.

Grease a 9x13 inch pan.  Pour batter into pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 40-45 minutes.  The recipe says 50-60 minutes but I did 50 the first time and the bottoms were nearly black.  Maybe raise the shelf in the oven to higher and check for done-ness after about 40 minutes.
 Let cool completely, and cut into bars.

 I wrapped each one in plastic wrap.  Now they are ready for lunches or on the go.

Easy, Yummy, and you made your own bars from scratch so no preservatives!  Bonus!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Southwest Quinoa Salad

I'm on a Quinoa kick right now and love to find new ways to eat it.  That little powerhouse grain is so good for you.  Here's a quick and yummy recipe that I love, and wanted to share.

 Southwest Quinoa Salad

In  bowl combine:
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained
1/2 can black olives sliced
1 cup cilantro chopped
2 avocados diced
1 bell pepper, color of your choice, diced
1 small can green chiles
1 bunch green onions chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes sliced
1/2  purple onion chopped
Toss to combine.

 Cook 1 cup quinoa as directed on package.

I served mine with a drizzle of Cafe Rio Tomatillo Dressing.  Here's how.

Cafe Rio Dressing

1 small buttermilk Ranch Dressing package-prepared as directed
2 tomatillos, peeled and washed, and cut into quarters
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno (optional) use the seeds if you want it spicy.
Blend well in a food processor or blender.  Chill and serve.

You can toss the all 3 ingredients or just layer on the plate and serve.

So good and yummy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Artisian Cheezy Bread Sticks

I am so loving Artisian Breads right now.  Super easy!  Super yummy!
The latest is a Savory Brioche dough that is made into Cheezy Bread Sticks.  Heavenly!
I even snuck in some cooked Quinoa to increase the healthy factor.  No one knew except me and they were gobbled all up!  Hooray for sneaky nutrition! So here's the how to:

Savory Brioche

In a container that has a sealable lid combine the following:
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp yeast
1 - 1 1 /2 Tbsp kosher salt
6 eggs lightly beaten
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
6 1/2 cups flour
1 cup cooked quinoa (optional)

Mix until just combined in container with wooden spoon.
 It shouldn't have any dry patches, but don't work too hard.  Just enough to combine the ingredients.

At this point you can use this dough right away, but I'm going to let it rise for a few hours.

 Cover the container with it's lid but don't seal.
 After about 2 hours, seal the lid and put container in the fridge until ready to use.
 When ready, pull out about a 1 lb section of dough.  This batch made 3 - 1 lb pieces.  Roll out on floured surface.  I put mine on parchment to save on clean up.  Roll out to a rectangle or as close as you can.  Mine's kind of oval-ish.

Brush top with olive oil then sprinkle with Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Press cheese into dough.  Flip the dough over and repeat oil and cheese.  Cut with pizza cutter into strips.

 Twist each piece to make sticks.
 Cover with plastic wrap while you pre-heat the oven.  About 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
I baked mine on my pizza stone.  You could also use a cookie sheet, adjust cooking times as needed.
 Bake for 20 minutes, Turn breadsticks over and bake for another 5 minutes.
You could brush with melted butter again if you want, but they can stand on their own.

Let cool slightly and serve.

Light. Flaky. Perfect!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Baked Beans and Brown Bread

I love trying new recipes.  But I usually end up tweaking it to fit my style and tastes.  I'll give you both options.

New England Style Baked Beans

Soak 2 1/2 cups dried white or Navy beans overnight.  Drain off soaking liquid and put in a crock pot.
 Trim and peel 1 medium onion, leave whole. Stud the onion with 4 whole cloves.
(I didn't have any so I left them out)
 Cut up 8 oz bacon or salt pork.

 Add to crock pot along with the following:

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
Kosher salt and pepper to taste.
10 cups of water.

Turn crock pot on high for first hour, then turn it to low for the rest of the day.  Stir occationally. After it was done cooking, I cut up the onion separately and laid the slices over the beans for presentation.  I think I will just cut up the onion and incorporate it into the beans next time.

New England Brown Bread

I liked making this bread because it was totally different than anything I've ever done before.  I'm not a big rye fan so I think I will switch it out for more Whole Wheat flour next time.

This is rye.  It looks close to wheat but longer grains and slightly different color.
 Grind 1/2 cup rye flour and
1/4 cup whole wheat flour

In a mixer combine:
1/2 cup stone-ground cornmeal
1/2 cup rye flour
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda

In another bowl combine:
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup buttermilk  (this can be made with 1/2 cup milk and 1 1/2 tsp vinegar, let sit for about a minute to let the vinegar work)
1 egg slightly beaten

Pour liquid mix over flour mix and stir until just combined.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Clean and grease either a 13oz metal can or a #10 can.  Pour batter into can and cover with tin foil.
 Place can in large oven safe sauce pan with 6 cups water, or enough to hold the can, but not make it float.  Bring water to a boil over high heat.  Transfer can and pan with the water into oven and bake until a toothpick comes out clean.  It's about 2-2 1/2 hours.  A long time for bread, I know, but well worth it.

Remove can from water bath and let cool for 20 minutes.  Uncover and unmold bread from pan. Let cool and slice.  Slather with butter and serve with beans.

 I served it with salad, and some honey on the bread.

 Different from the normal, but very good!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pressuring Chicken

 It's coming into canning season again.  I love it!  Plus my bottled chicken was all gone.  I use it regularly in Chicken Noodle soup.  I just realized I haven't posted that recipe.  I promise I will do that soon.

Anyway, I've discovered that Costco Business is a great resource for bulk chicken.  It's not really cost effective to get it at the grocery store, unless they are having a screamin' deal on boneless chicken.

I've also learned that there are more than 2 Costco Businesses.  One in Lynnwood, WA, one in Phoenix, AZ, one in Las Vegas, NV, and one in San Diego, CA.  There may be more now, but those are the ones I know about.  I've been lucky enough to live reasonably close to 2 of them.

When I tell people about it, they always ask if you have to have a special card to get in. Nope. Just your regular Costco card.  I try to make a trip there between once a month, and once every other month to stock up on bulk things you can't get at a regular Costco.  Try it sometime.  I promise you will like it, but don't be expecting a regular Costco.  It's not. It's designed for businesses.

All that said, I got 40 lbs of Boneless Chicken Breast for about $56.  Just about $1.40 a pound.  They have all kinds of cuts of poultry and beef.  I may try some beef next time, but for now it's Chicken.

The Breast cuts were huge so I trimmed them down.  You can't really tell but I am using a glass cutting board.

Fill each jar with the chicken all the way up to the bottom ring.  Add 1 tsp kosher salt.
Add water to finish filling the jar. I used a chopstick to poke down the sides to release any air pockets.

 Put your lids in a pan of hot water and heat on low until just before boiling.  This softens the rubber on the lids so they will seal properly. When you're ready, fix lids and rings on jars and wipe with a clean cloth to get any raw chicken off the jar or lid.

 Fill your pressure cooker with the jars and hot water.  I can do 9 pints.
Close and screw on your pressure cooker lid.  Follow your manufacturer's instructions for processing.  Mine was for 90 minutes at 10 lbs pressure.  You have to wait until the cooker top weights have a constant movement before you can start the timer.  This takes a while so be prepared.  You also can't leave the pressure cooker alone, so find something else to do in the kitchen for the 2 hours so you can keep an eye on the pressure cooker.  When it reaches pressure, I usually bring down the heat to Medium-Low.

When the time is up, turn off the heat and slide the cooker off the burner. Allow the pressure to come down naturally.  Since it's off the heat, you can leave it alone now.  I ran some errands, then came back and the pressure was gone and I could remove the jars.  Place them on a cooling rack and let rest for about 24 hours.  This makes sure the seals form correctly.  Don't be tempted to touch the lids until after 24 hours. 

Lable the lids with the date and add to your pantry.

I don't know why, but that looks so good in my pantry!

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