Monday, May 27, 2019

Remember Why

Remember Why
Reflecting Pool at Normandy American Cemetery in France
Today is a day to remember why.  Why we are able to fly the American Flag.  Why we can worship where we want; read what we want; have a voice and vote; work and travel freely. 
Normandy Beach Memorial
 American cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer in Normandy

USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum

These days we seem to live in divided and angry (we even have that freedom.) But, this day- this Memorial Day let's not argue, fight, and hate.  Let's come together and be Thankful - Thankful for the heroes that have paid the ultimate price and to the heroes that are still giving: active military, firefighters, teachers, doctors, nurses, and the list is endless. 

The National moment to pause, reflect, and remember is 3:00 p.m.
Let's come together
Remember all those
that have sacrificed
their Lives
for our Freedom.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.  John 15:13

Happy Memorial Day
Libby Stephens

Friday, May 24, 2019

Start the Weekend with Ceviche

It's Friday and the start of the weekend.  Why not start the evening off with an easy recipe of ceviche, tortilla chips for dipping, and margaritas.

I love ceviche and it's such an easy recipe to prepare.  It does take a little before hand preparation as the recipe reveals.

serves 6

2 salmon fillets (about 3/4 lb.)
1/2 lb. bay scallops (can use sea scallops, cut into pieces; when I can not find scallops I have used tilapia), 
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 cup of fresh lime juice
1/2 cup of fresh orange juice
4 roma tomatoes, diced
3 jalapeno chiles, seeded and minced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 Tablespoons olive oil
sea salt to taste
1 ripe, slightly firm avocado, diced
Tortilla chips for dipping

Prepare fish:
1.To prepare the salmon fillet, first remove the skin and, using tweezers remove any time bones you might feel.  Cut the fish in to about 1/2 inch cubes.  Place in a glass bowl.  

2. take the scallops (if using the bay scallops) place them in the bowl with the salmon.  If using sea scallops or tilapia cut into cubes and place in bowl with salmon)

3. Add the diced onion, lime juice, and orange juice to the same bowl.

4. Mix the fish, onion and juices together.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate until the fish is opaque through. This should take about 4 hours.

Before serving:
1. Drain the juices from the bowl of fish and discard.
2. Return fish to the bowl and add the diced tomatoes, chiles, chopped cilantro, and olive oil.
3. Mix well and add salt to taste.
4. Last, add the diced avocado and toss gently.
5. Divide the ceviche in martini glasses.  
6. Serve with tortilla chips.
I hope you try this recipe.  Send me a message and let me know how you like it.
Have a wonderful Weekend,

Libby Stephens


Saturday, April 6, 2019

Snacking Plate for Two

I have fallen in love with making these snack plates for my husband and I.  I make larger ones for when we have company. They are so great to have on hand in the frig.  You can just pull the plate out with some dressing or hummus.  It's great when you're hungry and don't know what you want.  The bonus is that you are snacking healthy; leaving behind the junk foods.

This idea is not original to me - I discovered these Ultimate Snack Platters made by Weelicious (this is a link to her blog).  Her platters are amazing.  They are the, in her words, the Ultimate.  You will love her blog and her recipes.  Ever since I found her site I have been hooked.  

I took her wonderful platters and made a much smaller version for two people.  It really works to have these in the frig. ready to go.  It's convenient and keeps you from grabbing chips or candy.   And the fun part is deciding what to put on the plate (or platter) - the ideas are endless - grapes, strawberries, cheeses, meats, carrots, celery, zucchini . .

Try this fun idea and also head on over to Weelicious and check out her fun food ideas. 

Happy Saturday
Libby Stephens

Saturday, March 9, 2019

March is National Craft Month

It is National Craft Month.  And I love to create - to celebrate I thought this rag heart wreath would be a great project to share.  This is an easy project that even the kids will love.

Supplies List:
3 different contrasting colors of cotton fabric (1 yard each)
1 wire frame (mine was a heart shape)

1. Spread your material out on the table. Measure and tear strips of fabric 1" x 8".

2. Take a strip of fabric, make a loop over the wire frame pulling the ends tight through the loop making a hitch knot.  Alternating the different fabrics filling the wire frame.

3. When the wire wreath has been filled with the strips of fabric and there are no gaps, it is finished.
I am making my next wreath for Spring and it's all about the honey bee.

I hope that you will give this easy project a try.  If you do send me a photo in the comments. 

Happy Crafting,
Libby Stephens


Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Rhubarb is a Vegetable

In the past few days I have found out some interesting information:  1. Did you know that October is National Rhubarb Month? Well, it is and I decided to beat the rush by posting early.  2. Rhubarb is a vegetable in the celery family.  (This little tidbit was something I did not realize, but also had never given it much thought as to what food group Rhubarb belonged.  3.  Did you know there is a National Calendar app that lets you know the National whatever for the month? Maybe I am the only person that did not know this information.

Why my interest in rhubarb you might wonder.  While shopping a few days ago I saw  the rhubarb and wanted to try something new.  Never cooking with rhubarb I asked myself the question: What do you make with rhubarb? I was going to need to do some research to answer that question.

While going through my cook books and searching the internet I found there were more recipes in the sweets group than the savory group for this vegetable.  Pulling from several recipes I decided on two different sweets recipes for my rhubarb creations.  

My first recipe was a Strawberry/Rhubarb Pavlova.  It was easy and presentation looked so elegant.  I thought it would be great when having guests.  The Pavlova is light with a crisp crust on the outside and a soft marshmallow center.  then fill the meringue cups with the fruit for a light, sweet dessert.   

Strawberry Rhubarb Pavlovas

Missing from photo are the frozen strawberries

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
(Makes 3 cups)

4 cups rhubarb (chopped)
10 oz. bag whole frozen strawberries
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger (or I grated fresh ginger)

1. In a large sauce pan stir together rhubarb and frozen strawberries. Stir in 1 cup sugar.  Let stand about 10 minutes at room temperature until rhubarb releases some of its liquid.

 2. If using fresh ginger add this to the strawberry/rhubarb mixture (If using ground ginger wait until the end to add.)  Then, bring the strawberry/rhubarb mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce the heat: let simmer stirring occasionally, until the strawberries and the rhubarb has broken down but some whole pieces remain.  This takes about 5 minutes.
3.Remove from heat.  I, then took a potato masher and lightly mashed the mixture (not to much) leave some big pieces.  Stir in the vanilla bean paste and this is the time to add the ground ginger (if you did not use fresh ginger).  Let this cool completely before using.

(makes 6)

3 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar

1.  Preheat oven 250°.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Using a pencil, draw 6 (3-inch) circles on the parchment: turn over and place on the baking sheet.

at soft peak stage

2.  In a large bowl beat the egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form.  Gradually beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, on high until stiff peaks form.
3.  Place meringue mixture in a pastry bag fitted with a large
star tip.  Pipe meringue onto drawn circles of the parchment paper forming the 3-inch meringue cups.

4.  Bake at 250° for 50 minutes or until set and dry.  Turn off the oven and do not open door.  Leave the meringues in the oven for 1 hour.
  5.  After removing from oven.  Fill the centers with the strawberry/rhubarb compote and serve. 

The second recipe was a strawberry-rhubarb crumb pie.  (Rhubarb is very sour and in sweets recipes was paired with a fruit and a good amount of sugar.)  This pie was a winner, sweet and a little tart.  It was difficult to just stop at one slice.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumb Pie

9-inch unbaked pastry shell (unbaked)

Crumb Topping
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup quick-cooling or old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed

In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, and the oats; cut in the butter until the mixture looks like small crumbs.  Set aside.

1 egg, beaten
4 cups of rhubarb, chopped
1 pint of fresh strawberries, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1.  In a large bowl add beaten egg.  Beat in the sugar, flour, vanilla, and lemon juice.  Gently stir in rhubarb and strawberries. 

2. Add this mixture to the pastry shell.  Sprinkle crumb topping over the fruit.

3. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 350° and bake for 35 more minutes until crust and topping are golden brown and the filling is bubbly.  Cool on a wire rack.  

I hope you will try these recipes especially if you have never before created with rhubarb.  It's always fun to try something new.

Happy Baking,
Libby Stephens


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

March is Only . . .

Taken at Gibbs Gardens
In anticipation of Spring
Daffodil is the March Birth Flower
The daffodil symbolizes ' unequaled love (one that can not be rivaled or imitated'.

February is only, as I am writing, has two days until the end.  Then we happily bring in March.  March is the month of many celebrations: the 6th is the beginning of Lent (46 days before Easter), the 10th is daylight savings time (always a welcome time as the days get longer), the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th (the day everyone around the world becomes Irish), and the much anticipated 20th of March – the first day of Spring.  Oh, and March 28th I have down as the day to renew my driver’s license (my birthday is in April).

February was busy, but such a fun month for creating: new items for my shop, special Valentine boxes for my family, and taking on “21 Day Fix Challenge”**.   ** (side note: I recommend this Beachbody Challenge.  The program is easy to follow and my favorite is the portion cups and having a Coach to lean on for support.  Here is a IG of my Coach (be_fit_about_it). Look her up if you are looking for motivation to being healthy and a fun program.)

In February my biggest dilemma was my list of goals.  Even though I started my work earlier in the month and still did not finish at the time I had anticipated.  Why? Is the question I always ask myself, but I already know the answer.

I make my list, set my goals without taking into consideration that I have a life outside of art, photography, and fooding (Is that a word?  I, of course googled it, and it is a word in the Urban Dictionary.  Their meaning: ‘the act to eat food’.   My definition: the act of creating (a recipe), preparing (said recipe), and photographing (the finished product). In addition I am always thinking of things that might make the project even better.  This lengthens the time needed for completion and adds to my list.  Basically I bring it on myself.  Even though I did not finish all my projects on time everything that came out of February was fun and a joy to make.  (As you look at the photos in the captions there are links as to where you can find the hand made items, the cookie cutters, and the sprinkles.)

Enough words, here is my February in pictures. 


New items in my shop

Knotted Fabric Heart Wreath 
made these Valentine Mailboxes and filled them with treats for my family
Cookie Cutters and Sprinkles from The Yum Yum Smile Shop
Decorating technique from
Cupcake Jemma

Happy Coming of Spring


Happy Thanksgiving

  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Many Blessings and Love to All