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New design. New Address.

May 31, 2011

I’ve been working on customizing my blog and it’s finally finished!  Visit belowblueskies.com for all new posts!

Gluten free goodness

May 18, 2011

I know it’s been awhile, again.  Sorry, but I do have a recipe to share with you…that makes up for it, right?

This is for all those people out there who have tummy’s that can’t process gluten. I now know several people who have this issue, so I’ve become more aware of recipes that exclude gluten.  When I saw this particular recipe from Southern Living Magazine’s December 2010 issue, it caught my eye.  My friend Lani, who you’ll remember from this post, recently cut out gluten from her diet, so I wanted to give these cookies a try so that she can still enjoy some chocolate chip cookies on occasion.
I had my doubts, but these are really tasty.  Super moist and chewy, just like any good cookie should be.  So if your tummy is a flour fan or not, you should give these a try.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Southern Living, December 2010

i n g r e d i e n t s :

1 cup reduced fat creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

d i r e c t i o n s :

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine peanut butter, sugar, egg, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl . Stir in chocolate chips.

2.  Drop rounded tablespoons of the dough two inches apart on parchment paper or silpat sheets.

3. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool for 5 minutes before transferring onto a wire rack.  Allow to cool for 15 more minutes.

* * *

PRINT 4 x 6 RECIPE CARD HERE

If chocolate isn’t your thing, the base of this cookie allows you to try any mix in.  Throw in some pecans, or cranberries, or toffee bits.  Whatever suits your taste.  Let me know if you try a variation or if you have more gluten-free recipes for me to try!

Where does the time go?

May 11, 2011

Are my apologies getting old yet?  Blogging is something I was able to do when my day job was slow, but now it’s full steam ahead, which is great for my wallet, but not for dear ‘ol below blue skies.  Pair a super busy work schedule with being out of town every weekend and odds of posting decrease further.  That’s not all.  I’ve found a new web site that fills that last 1% of my remaining time pie…

Pinterest.com

Be careful.  Before you click the above link I’m warning you…you’re going to be addicted.  It’s amazing, so before you decide to journey to the wonderful world of pinterest, make sure you have some time on your hands.  After this web site I don’t even care about facebook…I know, it’s that crazy good.

So what is Pinterest?  It’s a web site that allows you to create cyber-bulletin boards.  So you can make a virtual board for every single category you can imagine: (yellow shirts, beach themed bathrooms, recipes, sewing crafts or whatever tickles your fancy…) and then save any image on the whole wide web that you like into a perfectly suited board.  It creates a link to the original place you found it so no need to make little notes on your saved desktop photos, oh no, that’s already done for you!  PLUS you can see what other people have pinned to find even more!

SO if you want to see what I’ve been up to, follow my pins here.

Have fun pinning!

Easy Chicken Mozzarella

May 5, 2011

It’s been a while.  I have to apologize, but lately I haven’t been doing anything worthy of posting  (aka my day job has gotten busy thankfully, so I’m left with little “free” time).  I’m not certain that this post is “worthy” either, but my hope is it will get me back in the blogging spirit.  So this is a simple post of a simple recipe I threw together for dinner the other night.  It’s inspired by every restaurant’s staple: Chicken Parmesan.  In fact, when I began typing up the recipe, that’s what I named it, until I realized I didn’t use any Parmesan cheese.  I only used Mozzarella, and I’m not sure if restaurants use Parmesan AND mozzarella or not, but I did not.  But it was still delicious. So hope you enjoy, and I hope to have more regular posts soon.

Easy Chicken Mozzarella

i n g r e d i e n t s :

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tbsp milk or water
2 cups Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
2 tsp olive oil
1 jar marinara sauce
1/2 lb whole wheat pasta
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

d i r e c t i o n s :

1. Butterfly each chicken breast.  Cover with plastic wrap and pound to about 1/4 inch thick.  Cover with flour and set aside.  In a large saute pan, heat olive oil to medium high.

2.  In a large plastic bag, combine beaten eggs and water or milk.  On a large plate or shallow dish, pour the bread crumbs into the bottom.  Dip floured chicken filets into the egg mixture, and then coat with bread crumbs.  Cook over medium high for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through.  You may need to cover with a lid to ensure the inside cooks.

3.  In a large pot, bring roughly 5 cups of water to a boil.  Season water with salt.  Once boiling, cook your pasta until al dente.  Directions should be on the package.  Once cooked, drain and reserve.

4. Once chicken is cooked, make a bed of pasta on each plate.  Spoon about 1/2 cup of marinara over the pasta.  Top with a chicken filet.  Spoon a tablespoon of marinara over the chicken and finally finish with a pinch of mozzarella (or two slices).

5. In a broiler, brown the cheese until it begins to bubble, about 3 minutes.

* * *

PRINT 4 x 6 RECIPE CARD HERE

Natural Cream – the winning color

April 29, 2011

Back in this post, I had a cry for help in selecting a color for our downstairs den. I tried several colors as you may remember for this image I posted before:

After several suggestions, I headed back to the Benjamin Store and grabbed as many cream and tan swatches as I could find and forced myself to pick one.  Here’s the result:

We went with Benjamin Moore’s Natural Cream, and I really think it was exactly what I had pictured in my mind.  It’s just a soft neutral which I think is a lovely pair to the terra cotta tiles and brown sectional.  The previously wood stained trim is now sporting a clean coat of white paint, which also helped the room feel larger.  Here’s a larger shot before we painted:

and after (please pardon the mess – our house is a zoo right now)

Pretty big difference, right?  You better say yes, because priming and painting all that trim plus the walls was a beast.  Now I’m working on artwork.  Did you notice the frames on the wall behind the sectional?

I found those frames at Big Lots of all places.  They are just a wooden frame but they have a great mat for 5 x 7s and for only $9/piece.  I haven’t thought of some artwork for them yet, but I’ve got the itch for another diy project.  Thank you all for your help guiding my paint color steps to this perfect shade of cream!

Sissy Love

April 20, 2011

The weekend before last, Scott and I were in Camden for the weekend to visit with his family and find out if we would be the proud aunt and uncle of a baby niece or nephew.  The world will be excited to know that another Spivey gentleman will be coming into the world in September.  While we were in town, we had lots of fun activities…

We went to a yard sale where I got $20 worth of amazing finds that should have easily cost over $75.

We visited the local farmer’s market:

In addition to that tasty pastry I had from Mulberry Bakery, we got two types of cheese from the Happy Cow: Mozzarella and Tomato and Basil Cheddar as well as a tea olive plant.  I proudly planted it in our backyard and Charlie dug it up two days later…

Next we visited Aberdeen.

The girls then went back and dyed Easter eggs and made a cake, but I’ll post about that later.  While we were hanging out around Scott’s parent’s home, I saw two things that I had to capture about my sister-in-laws sissys that depict why I love them and explain the title of this post.

We’ll start with this:

This was made by Caroline:

and it shows her personality perfectly.  She makes the sweetest and most thoughtful gifts and cards.  It’s always fun to get a “Caroline card” in the mail.

Next up I spotted this little gem:

This was by Laura:

I love that she loves a good cook book, especially a slow cooker one. She’s hilarious without trying and I love laughing at-and-or-with her.

I share lots of similarities with my sissys other than being in love with Spivey boys that make me love them, but it is small little things like a card on the fridge and a cookbook flagged up one side and down the other that make me smile.

Macaroon Madness

April 18, 2011

A couple of weeks ago I talked about my introduction to the world of macaroons by my friend Kasi in this post.  Since then, I’ve been checking out a few recipes to learn about how to make them. There are a multitude of variations, but my love for almond flavored anything honed me in on this recipe on Martha Stewart’s web site.  I wanted to bake them of course, but more than that, I was being driven to get to photograph the finished product.  These delicious treats do require a bit of time, and materials – you must have a large size piping bag, large coupler and large round pastry tip.  I didn’t have one so I used the bag only which created more oval-shaped macaroons, but I’ll be buying one for future attempts.  I also didn’t know before, but after piping out the macaroons, dip your finger in a bit of water and push down the little point that is formed to allow for a smoother surface on the top, which will help them sit flat.

Anyway, after baking them, making the Swiss Meringue buttercream icing and assembling the cookies, I got a mini studio set up (which consisted of a kitchen chair with a large drawing pad and tablecloth draped over it) and got to shooting.  I thought a chocolate-brown and pink background would look great, so here are my attempts with food photography…hope you enjoy this feast for your eyes.

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