Thursday, August 12, 2010

Getting Crafty

I like to be crafty...

...not in a sly or cunning way, but in an "I-like-to-make-crafts kind" of way. When I was in high school, I used to be obsessed with taking pictures at every gathering or event. I was convinced that it was my job to collect and organize the memories for everyone. I would do things like take pictures of other people in my class that I didn't even know just to preserve special moments, even if they weren't mine. I made a huge (and I mean busting-at-the-binding) scrap book for each year of high school. These scrap books are the most intense scrap book any high school student has ever made or ever will make in the history of scrap-booking. I challenge anyone to prove my wrong.

These babies are packed full of not only pictures, but ticket stubs, notes, sections of notes, programs, newspaper clippings, restaurant menus, yarn (long story), laminated badges, leaves, flowers and just about anything that would remotely fit between the pages of my books. I spent so many hours of my life over the course of each year collecting and putting together these books. I would sprawl out on the living room floor with my scissors, tape, boxes of pictures/papers and decorating materials and go to work. I would usually have some TBS weekend movie or a Survivor marathon on as I worked. I wouldn't move for hours from that spot; my legs would ache from sitting on the floor for so long. I was just so dedicated. I wish I had them to show you because I would say in a second those albums are worth every second I spent working on them. I not only have such great memories from my high school days, but I can also so easily access those memories by flipping through the pages of those books.

I just love diving into a new craft. I don't do things half-way either. I don't see a huge project as daunting by any means; it is a time to make use of my hands while I watch TV (I consider watching TV studying for me since I am working in the entertainment industry). I have mentioned before that I have started making aprons, a task that has been made much easier since acquiring a classic sewing machine from Zach's mom a few months ago. I even made curtains for my bedroom makeover (which will air on the USA Network's Character Fantasy August 21st - I will keep you posted!). I even had someone buy one of my fancy (or at least I try to be fancy) aprons!

Basically, I always have to have a crafty project going on in my life. I just completed (but am always adding to) my latest venture: a recipe/idea book.

The timeline for how this book came about goes like this:
1. I started to go to the gym regularly
2. I quickly became bored on the cardio machines, and started reading magazines...lots of magazines.
3. I started cooking (and this cooking blog) to save money and help stay healthy.
4. I started becoming really interested in finding new recipes.
5. I stated plowing through food blogs, all recipes and asking friends/family for good ones.
6. I started buying magazines for their recipes and decorating and travel tips instead of for their celebrity gossip and fashion advice.
7. I had stacks and stacks of papers and full magazines which had recipes I had marked as "something I want to try in the future."
8. I started this binder:

It is broken up into sections which include: appetizers, breads/breakfast, beverages, sweets, sides, chicken, beef, seafood and pasta. The papers/magazine tear-outs are all in plastic page protectors; this is great because I can take the page out and have it right on the counter while cooking without having to worry about the pages getting wet or messy.

I also included some sections for non-recipe related things like restaurants, travel, cooking tips and decorating ideas. I subscribe to 3 different magazines: Food Network, Good Housekeeping and Sunset Magazine (a gift from my dad!). Between those and the extra random ones I buy every now and then, my binder is growing faster than I can cook! For that reason, I throw out any recipes or ideas that I have tried and not liked to make room for the new ones. I can also throw out the full magazines (with my recipes ripped out, of course) without feeling like I should save them for just one article.

I turn to this binder when I need some inspiration. Just the other night I made a new recipe I put in that binder a while back from my Food Network Magazine for Skillet Rosemary Chicken. It was a great, low-maintenance dish that was satisfying. I made the recipe for four and then used the leftover chicken to make my Chicken Pita Salad. Success!

Too Easy Rosemary Skillet Chicken
(recipe from Food Network Magazine (slightly adapted) - makes 4 servings)

1 pound small red-skinned potatoes, halved, or quartered if large
Kosher salt
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus 1 tablespoon leaves
1 clove garlic, smashed
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Juice of 2 lemons (squeezed halves reserved)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each)
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved
Fresh Ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450. Cover the potatoes with cold water in a saucepan and salt the water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until tender, about 8 minutes; drain. Sprinkle with kosher salt and some olive oil and set aside.

Pile the rosemary leaves, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt and the red pepper flakes on a cutting board, then mince and mash into a paste using a large knife. Transfer the paste to a bowl. Stir in the juice of 1 lemon and the olive oil. Add the chicken and turn to coat.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin-side down, cover and cook until the skin browns, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken; add the mushrooms and potatoes to the skillet and drizzle with the juice of the remaining lemon. Sprinkle kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste over everything.

Add the rosemary sprigs and the squeezed lemon halves to the skillet; transfer to the oven and roast, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is crisp, 20 to 25 minutes.


The Boston Lady said...

Yummy! You know how much I love the binder idea. I am one of the guilty parties that holds onto the entire magazine until I actually try a recipe (if I remember). When I first saw your binder I knew it was a terrific idea and I will be starting my own soon - if I ever get back home! I think the apron turned out absolutely terrific and look forward to delivering it to the intended customer... As an avid journaler in my middle and high school years, I so understand the value of the scrapbooks you compiled during those special high school years. They will be treasures that will only increase in value as time goes on.

nicky said...

Your blog is looking very good and fun to read and the pictures are great! I love the picture of that other apron; vey pretty apron.
Love ,

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