Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Polaroid Pictures

I found this website that converts any photo that you have into a Polaroid and gives it that old fashioned look including some of the developing imperfections. Click here to get the link to the website. There is a program available for both MAC and PC users.

POLADROID generates images the same way that a Polaroid™ would do (Polaroid™-like).
It produces high-definition images (400 dpi) with the real aspect of a Polaroid™ and perfectly suitable for printing.
Using Poladroid is straightforward: just drag and drop any JPEG directly on the icon of Poladroid and wait until the image appears... slowly... very slowly.
POLADROID is an unusual software, completely crazy, which reproduces all the strange behaviors of a popular picture camera with its unique result but... so much copied: the Polaroid!
POLADROID is an addictive software (you’ve been warned!) because it is so easy to use and unexpected:
- square frame
- colour shift
- vignetting
- premature aging
Eventually, you’ll be surprised to discover pictures that were thought to know.

Drag and drop the application in the ‘Applications’ folder.

1) Drag and drop one or more JPEG files on the icon of POLADROID.
2) Wait several minutes until the photo gets developed.
Hint: if you want to speed up the process, shake your image from right to left.
3) Once the image is ready, a bell rings and the image is marked up with a red cross.
4) The final file (in JPEG format) will be generated in the same folder than the original image or your ‘Images’ folder, depending on your settings in the pre- ferences. The resulting file name is the original file name with the suffix ‘-pola’ appended.

The resulting images reproduce all imperfections of a real POLAROID photo, such as:
- colour shifting and vignetting
- having to wait to get the result... can you believe this in a fast-running world?
- processing limitation of 10 images in a raw... yes, a Polaroid cardridge only contains 10 films! You’ll have to quit the application and relaunch iit to be able to process 10 more files.
Have fun!

When it is done a red X appears. You can right click on it and it will take you to the high resolution version that has been saved on to your computer! (these settings can be changed -read the manual to see how)

Since it is high resolution this means you can print it out or use it on a digital scrapbook page! How fun is that?

And one last funny Poladroid can only "develop" 10 photos before you have to close the program and reopen it - just like a roll of Polaroid film!

Yakitori Noodle Bowl

Yakitori Noodle Bowls

* Salt
* 1 pound soba noodles (or spaghetti noodles)
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders, cut into bite-size pieces
* 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely minced
* Freshly ground black pepper
* Fresh Snap Peas, about 1 1/2 cup
* 2 bunches scallions, trimmed of roots and cut into 2-inch pieces on an angle
* 1/3 cup chicken stock (eyeball it)
* 1/3 cup tamari (eyeball it) (or soy sauce)
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
* Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Place a large pot of water over high heat for the noodles. Once boiling, add some salt and the noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain thoroughly.

While the water is coming up to a boil, place a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of vegetable oil, about 2 tablespoons. Toss the chicken with the grated ginger and season with some pepper. Add the chicken to the hot skillet, spread it out in an even layer and let it brown up a couple of minutes. Add snap peas to the chicken and cook them for the last few minutes before the chicken is done.

Shake and stir the skillet to turn the chicken pieces then add the scallions, chicken broth, tamari, sugar and sesame oil, bring up to a bubble and simmer one minute.

Add the drained noodles to the skillet and toss to combine. To serve, transfer to serving bowls and sprinkle with some of the toasted sesame seeds. Serve with Asian Cucumber Spinach Salad alongside.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Cutting an Onion

I learned this technique for how to cut an onion while interpreting a cooking class over 10 years ago. I had a friend over at the house the other day and I was showing her what I had learned and she suggested that I add it here so that others could learn if they cared.... It makes cutting an onion so easy whether you want to slice, chop or dice... it cuts them evenly and smoothly...

Step one... Take your onion and place it on your cutting board.

Step Two.... Slice the onion in half... down the center.

Step Three... Take one half of the onion and cut it in half again right down the middle of the roots/end. You can cut up as much of the onion that you need. Store the rest of the onion in a ziploc bag or container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Step Four... Peel off the outer layers of the onion and discard.

Step Five... For dicing the onion, start by cutting the onion in slices, but don't cut all the way to the end of the roots.

It will look like this after you have cut the whole length of the onion. Vary the distance between each slice to get a chopped onion, or if you slice it closer together you will get more diced and for minced, slice these steps even closer together.

Step Six... Now slice down the onion and the chopped or diced pieces will fall away. Again, you can vary the size of your onion pieces by how close or far away you slice the onion.

Step Seven... Here is the quarter of an onion all diced up... Ready to saute, or add to fresh salsa. You can use almost the entire onion and it never slips when you are trying to cut it. Throw away the end piece, and proceed with other sections until you get the amount of onion needed.

For sliced onions instead of diced, skip steps five through seven. Just slice the onion to whatever thickness you desire. Once again with the onion being held together by the end piece, you have more control of cutting the slices.

Try it and see if it is easier to get even pieces of onion.

Also here are some pointers for ways to cry less when you cut the onion....

*Use a Sharp Knife
Use a very sharp knife when cutting onions. The enzymes are released when cells are broken or crushed; using a sharp knife slices through the onion rather than crushing and thus, fewer enzymes are released.

*Chill the Onions
Chill your onions in the freezer before cutting them. This reduces the amount of the acid enzyme released into the air. This was found to be the most effective way to reduce tears by the television program Food Detectives. (I store my onions in the refrigerator)

*Don't get the gas in your eyes
Wear gas-tight goggles or a mask;
Cut the onion next to a strong draft from a fume hood or fan so that the gas is pulled away from your eyes; or
Wear contact lenses (easy enough if you wear them anyway) - they create a barrier between the surface of your eyes and the gas.

*Absorb the gas in water
Cut the onion under water
Cut the onion near running water or a cloud of steam (from a kettle or pan of water)
Breathe through your mouth (to draw the gas over your wet tongue) or stick your tongue out.

*Slow or stop the reaction that makes the gas
Put vinegar on the chopping board (the acid denatures the enzyme);
Soak the onion in water (the enzyme is denatured by the water-air boundary); or
Soak the onion in salt water (the ionic solution denatures the enzyme).

*The Candle Method
Light a candle and set it near the cutting board before cutting the onion. The gas released by the onion is drawn into the flame of a candle.

Chew bread or gum. Many people report that chewing, especially gum, helps avoid tears when cutting onions.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Fun new website tool

I just found this cool website that is great for seeing what kind of cool color combinations you can make with Stampin' Up paper.

This one is good to use for Close To My Heart paper.

You can click on the colors and they will fill into boxes so you can see what the colors look like next to each other. Even if you don't use these companies you can get great ideas on color combinations.

There is a button called "Surprise Me" and it will fill in the 5 boxes with random colors. Sometimes you get colors together that you might not think to use.

Have fun playing with colors!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Made some fun cupcakes for the kids. I have been experimenting with different ways to put the frosting on the cupcakes. Using a disposable decorating bag (easy clean up) and a medium size flower tip I piped on white frosting in a zig zag around the edge and then a circle swirl in the middle. Finally I topped it off with red sugar in the middle to accent the center of the flower instead of changing the color of the frosting. I thought they turned out cute, plus it isn't as messy when I frost cupcakes this way compared to frosting them with a knife.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Everybody LOVES bacon! And I learned a quick and easier way to cook it so it doesn't spit and splatter all over!

Plus it cooks flat and doesn't curl up. So it is easy to use on sandwiches and burgers or on anything that you want to add some bacon to!

Start by turning on the oven to 400 degrees.

Lay the bacon strips on a broiling pan. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes. (I pre-cut this bacon so that it will be ready to go for burgers when it comes out. You can also cook them in whole strips and they still won't curl up!)
The bacon will cook up nice and crisp. These were cut into smaller strips so it would be easy to use on a BLT sandwich! Mmmmm.... and no one got splattered with popping bacon grease!
**If you don't have a broiler pan, use a cookie sheet with a metal cooling rack. Place the bacon on top of that so that the bacon grease drips down.

***Note: You can also cook the bacon directly on the cookie sheet if you want to and it will still cook up nicely, it just cooks a little bit better when you use a broiling pan or the other cookie sheet and cooling rack method.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bajio Green Chile Chicken Salad

This is one of my favorite salads from the Bajio Mexcian Grill Restaurant and when I came across the recipe, I knew I had to try it. There are a lot of steps to make it, but it is well worth it. The dressing is even tasty on a normal green vegetable salad. I had never used tomatillos before so I looked them up on the internet. There is a link to wikipedia that describes them.

BAJIO'S Green Chili Chicken Salad

2 Grilled Chicken Breasts
1 cup Green Chile Chutney (see recipe below)
1 cup of Caramelized Onions
2 cups Fresh Pico De Gallo
1 cup Shredded Cheese (a mix of cheddar and jack cheese)
8 cups of Fresh Lettuce mix (a combination of red and green leaf is optimal)
Crispy Corn Tortilla Chips
Cilantro Lime Dressing (see recipe below)

Marinate Chicken Breasts in 1 cup of lime juice and 1 cup oil, let stand for at least two hours in the refrigerator. On a hot grill, grill the chicken until done and set aside to rest. Once the chicken has had time to rest and cool, shred into small pieces. Slice 1 whole white onion into slices. In a medium saute pan, add 2 TBL spoons of oil and saute the onions until they are translucent. Once the onions are done, add the shredded chicken and cup of Green Chile Chutney, and saute all together until well heated. Slice corn tortillas into strips and saute them in oil until crispy. Drain on a paper towel until ready to serve. On individual plates, pile with mixed greens, add a cup of Fresh Pico De Gallo. Add the warm chicken mixture and top with cheese, a cilantro lime dressing and crispy tortilla strips. Serve.
Green Chile Chutney
3 large anaheim peppers, halved, seeds removed
1 - 2 jalapeno peppers, halved, seeds removed
4 oz. can diced green chiles
5-7 tomatillos, husks removed
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
dash each of chili powder, cumin, salt
1 large sweet onion, halved
Place peppers, tomatillos, and onion on baking sheet/rack. Roast in 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes, or until nicely browned. Place tomatillos and about 1/4 cup onion in blender and process until mostly smooth. Dice peppers. Add all ingredients except the remaining onion into a large pot. Cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes or until thickened and reduced. Add more sugar/peppers to adjust the spiciness/sweetness to taste. Slice the remaining onion and saute with a little bit of the green chile sauce over medium-low heat until carmelized.
Cilantro Salad Dressing
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing (dry mix)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 small jalapeno (remove seed)
1 cup mayo
1 tsp. lime juice
1-2 tomatillos (remove outer papery skin)
1 garlic clove

Blend all ingredients together in a blender.

Turtle Bars

Turtle Bars

Mix together:
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c brown sugar
1 1/2 c oatmeal
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 cubes of butter.

Press 1/2 of the dough into a 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes.

Melt together 1 bag of caramels with 5 Tbsp milk.

When dough is done baking, pour caramel on top.
Then sprinkle 2 c chocolate chips on top of caramel. (M&M's are also really good).
Crumble remaining dough on top and bake for 10 more mins.

Eclair Cake

Eclair Cake

1-1lb box graham crackers
2 small pkgs. instant vanilla pudding mix
3 1/2 c. milk
1-8 oz container Cool Whip

Line bottom of 9x13 pan with graham crackers (they do not need to be broken up, just place them in the pan). Mix pudding with the milk and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Blend in Cool Whip. Pour half of mixture over graham crackers; place second layer of crackers over pudding. Pour remaining pudding mixture over that and cover with more crackers. Refrigerate for at least two hours, then frost.

Frosting for Eclair Cake
2 squares Bakers unsweetened chocolate
2 t. white Karo corn syrup
2 t. vanilla
3 T. butter
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
3 T. milk

Soften chocolate and butter in microwave oven. Careful - burns easily.
Beat all ingredients until smooth. Spread over cake. Must refrigerate at
least 8 hours before serving.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Creme Brulee

Crème Brulee

8 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated white sugar (for the caramelized tops)

Preheat oven to 300ºF. In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Add cream and vanilla, and continue to whisk until well blended. Strain into a large bowl, skimming off any foam or bubbles.

Divide mixture among 6 ramekins or custard cups. Place ramekins in a water bath (large pan filled with 1 or 2 inches of hot water) and bake until set around the edges, but still loose in the center, about 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from oven and leave in the water bath until cooled. Remove cups from water bath and chill for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days. When ready to serve, sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of sugar over each custard. For best results, use a small, hand-held torch to melt sugar. If you don't have a torch, place under the broiler until sugar melts. Re-chill custards for a few minutes before serving.

Serves 6

(The picture shows what they looked like when they came out of the oven. Then I didn't get a picture of them after they had the sugar melted on top. It was so yummy!)

Antiqued Vinyl Sign

Here is a vinyl sign that is also in my living room. The vinyl on this board is not Stampin' Up. I've had this up on my wall above an arch and I have wanted to add something to it. The board had been painted with a cream acrylic paint and then the black vinyl words had been placed on the paint.

I took a DecoArt Gel Stain in the color of Oak and brushed it across the sign, right over the paint and the vinyl. It was just to give the sign a distressed/antiqued look. It gave the sign a bit more depth sitting up there above the high arch.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Vinyl on the wall

I love the new trend in home decor with vinyl. So versatile and so NOT permanent. If I want to change my decor... it is easy and simple. It will all just peel off. These are some vinyl that I put up in my living room. All of these vinyl stickers are made by Stampin' Up and they are fabulous! Great quality and very fun and trendy!

Heart Wreath

Needed something for my front door to decorate for Valentines Day. Found this cute tutorial on how to make this heart wreath! Loved it. First I bought a styrofoam heart using my 40% off coupon at JoAnn's so it was only like $2. I used about one yard of red fabric that I found on the clearance rack at JoAnn's (for $3), cut all the fabric into 2 inch squares.

Then using the tip of a pencil I wrapped the square of fabric around the pencil, dipped the tip into white glue and then pushed it into the styrofoam. Added some ribbon to the top! Voila! Adorable new decoration that only took a few hours.


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