Saturday, March 31, 2012

Self Portrait Saturday

A few weeks ago, one of my favorite blogs, Wonder Forest, started a new link up for Self Portrait Saturdays. At first, I thought I would never join in on the 'fun'. I don't like being in front of the camera, and I have very few photographs of myself. But last week, the weather was nice and I was itching to photograph someone and try a few things. With no takers, I decided to play around with some ideas - on my own. The intention was to link up to Self Portrait Saturday but since Dana decided to make her feature bi-weekly, here they are today. Ironically, you had to see a few awkward portraits of me yesterday but don't worry - I don't see pictures of me becoming a regular occurrence anytime soon.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Here Comes the Sun

Yesterday, I spent a few hours in the spring sun taking portraits of Bella. Isn't her dress just the cutest? I'm looking forward to capturing more of the golden hour light as April ushers in the best of Spring. My spring resolution is to spend more time with my camera. This weekend will be the perfect start as Trevor and I head to Bethany Beach for a quiet weekend away - so quiet that I won't even have a cell phone (but that's a story for another time). We will be enjoying fresh seafood, cool misty mornings, possible thunderstorms, Trevor's favorite champagne, and the stillness of the beach before summer begins. How will you be spending your weekend? 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Look Again, It's Gluten Free

When I first started eating Gluten Free, I was terrified of the bread choices. I remember having to create breads from scratch. Breads made with a bread machine and an oven which couldn't bake evenly. I even remember baking biscuits in tuna fish cans, biscuits which wouldn't rise. The bread choices.. they were dry, dense, had a terrible aftertaste - to put it simply, gluten free bread was inedible.

On the day I stopped eating the foods I was allergic to (wheat, oat, soy, milk and peanuts, at the time), I made a trip to York with my mom. We stopped for my last McDonald's Sausage, Egg & Cheese sandwich and went across the street to Natural Choices, our health food store of choice. The lady at the store quickly recommended Udi's products, she claimed that it was the only bread she could eat. Despite my rolled eyes and doubtful thoughts, she was right. I started eating Udi's products then and haven't looked back since. I even worked for a semester as an intern with their college ambassador's program.

And today? Today I entered their "Look Again, It's Gluten Free" contest with a fabulous recipe that Trevor and I have cleverly named "Twice Baked Red Potato Gratin with Crab". While you will be able to see the recipe on the contest page, I thought I would post it here for everyone, as well. I won't deny that it's an extensive recipe but I will tell you that it is well worth the time and effort. I fall more in love every time we make it.

This recipe will produce ten to twelve servings and will take approximately 30 – 45 minutes to prepare and 1 hour and 40 minutes to bake. Overall, allow two and a half hours to prepare from start to serving time.

You will need the following ingredients:

6 tablespoons of butter
2 teaspoons of bacon grease, if available
1 red onion, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons of cornstarch
1 teaspoon of table salt
½ teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of dried thyme leaves
1 cup of whole milk
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
8 medium-sized red skin potatoes
1 pound of fresh lump crab meat
1/3 cup of grated Parmesan
6 - 8 slices of Udi’s Gluten Free Whole Grain bread
fresh chives, chopped
fresh ground sea salt
fresh ground black pepper
Old Bay seasoning
garlic powder

To Create Gluten Free Breadcrumbs:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Cut 6 – 8 slices of Udi’s Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread into cubes, no larger than ½ inch in size. This can be done straight from the freezer.
3. Place the bread cubes on a plain baking sheet and bake for approximately fifteen to twenty minutes, until the bread is dark and crispy.
4. Immediately after baking, place the bread cubes in a food processor. It is key to do this right after removing the bread from the oven because gluten free bread tends to get softer as it sits.
5. Process the bread until you achieve your desired size and texture of bread crumbs.
6. Season the breadcrumbs with equal parts fresh ground pepper, oregano, garlic powder and thyme.
7. Measure out 1 ½ cups of breadcrumbs and combine with 1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese.
8. Cover the breadcrumbs with plastic wrap and set aside.

To Prepare the Gratin 
1. Oven should be set to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Wash 8 medium sized red skin potatoes and proceed to create thin slices. For best results, a mandolin should be used but this recipe was prepared by hand slicing the potatoes to a similar thickness.
3. Place the potato slices in a large mixing bowl and season with equal parts fresh ground sea salt, fresh ground black pepper and Old Bay seasoning.
4. Mince three cloves of fresh garlic. One minced clove should be added to the potato slices.

5. Spray a 9 x 13 (3 quart) glass baking dish with non- stick spray.
6. In the baking dish, layer your thin sliced potatoes into two overlapping layers covering the bottom of dish completely. On top of this, evenly distribute ½ pound of fresh crabmeat. On top of that crab, place another single layer of sliced potatoes.
7. Melt three tablespoons of butter, careful not to burn.
8. Add two minced garlic cloves and one minced red onion to the hot butter in saucepan and sauté until translucent.

9. To your saucepan with the onion and garlic and melted butter already translucent, add 3 tablespoons of cornstarch, ½ teaspoon of black pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of dried thyme leaves. Stir slowly until ingredients are incorporated. Let this mixture simmer for three minutes.
10. At this point, add one cup of whole milk and one cup of heavy cream to the saucepan, stirring slowly every 30 seconds. Let the mixture return to a boil to thicken. Still stirring occasionally.
11. Add two cups of shredded white and yellow cheddar cheese to the mixture, stirring slowly until cheese is incorporated smoothly into mixture.
12. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
13. Pour ½ of the sauce over your potato and crab layers in baking dish – spread evenly.

14. Repeat the same layering as before; add the rest of the sauce.
15. Layer your remaining potatoes on the top.
16. Cover the gratin with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour covered.
17. About ten minutes before taking the gratin out of oven, melt 3 tablespoons of butter and 2 teaspoons of bacon grease in a small saucepan.
18. Fold the melted butter and bacon grease with the breadcrumbs made earlier.
19. Remove the gratin from the oven and evenly spread the breadcrumb mixture over the top of the gratin.

20. Continue to bake covered for twenty more minutes.
21. Remove the aluminum foil and bake for another twenty minutes until potatoes are fork tender.
22. Let the gratin cool for ten minutes before serving. After plating, sprinkle with fresh chives.

For dinner, I recommend serving the gratin with steamed green asparagus, which is just coming into season. You can also make roasted tomatoes to give your dish some color!

We made these with:
olive oil
fresh chives
lemon pepper
sea salt
fresh ground black pepper

We always seem to have left overs when we make this dish, it's pretty rich. But, the great thing is that the gratin makes the perfect breakfast when topped with a poached egg!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring Fever

It seems that I've got the fever this week. Spring fever, that is. (And maybe one from the newest ailment I seem to have caught but, let's keep it positive.) This week, temperatures in the high seventies have led to crop tops, strappy sandals, afternoons in the hammock and driving with the sunroof open. Plus, did I mention, it's Spring Break? It's been so easy to forget that it's only March, especially when I've had two french vanilla snow cones in the course of one week. (Don't judge me.)

And to top it all off, Trevor made big, juicy bacon cheddar burgers with caramelized onions for dinner, and delicious steak cut sweet potato fries, too. Have I ever mentioned how great it is to have a chef for a boyfriend? Especially one who likes sweet potatoes? Yum.

Anyway, now that I've come out of my food coma, it's on to the point of Spring - I thought I would share with you some of my Spring inspiration for the past week! (Please note, all photographs below belong to their respective owners and you can find the links to the sources in the text section beneath the photos.)

Some Great DIY Inspiration can be found in this how-to for a Floral Antlers Necklace Display over at A Beautiful Mess. And, despite growing sick of looking at spanish moss on our South Carolina trip last week, I'm loving this tiny Flower Pot Necklace from Sincerely, Kinsey - which I must say is my go-to blog of the moment.

Spring is of course known for spring cleaning and this new shop from Dana at Wonder Forest has me inspired to not only clean my own but to add a few new fun clothing pieces and accessories to my collection as well. The first accessory on the list? This gorgeous vintage styled headband from Oh! Sweet Joy.

I've also been constantly inspired by the variety of posts on Jamie Delaine's blog, as usual. In addition to making me want to pick up my camera more, her bedroom makeover has me craving an incredible photo wall like hers. I've been itching for a new look at my apartment and I think this would make a fun addition. I also plan to soon share with you my new vintage camera collection which has finally found a home for display.

And last but not least, I've been, well not inspired, but certainly entertained by a few comedy books over break. I managed to read both My Horizontal Life and Life as I Blow It during the overly long car ride home to Pennsylvania. Sometimes I wish that I led the life of Chelsea Handler but reading her books reminds me of the many reasons why that will never happen. The first, and most important, of which - I'm just not that funny. 

But that being said, it's time to snuggle in on the couch with Trevor and an episode of Big Bang Theory until Chelsea comes on in an hour. I'm learning to like television. I hope you are inspired to do something more creative and productive with your warm spring weather than watching TV!