Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Thought For Today: Invest In Yourself In 2015

Hi There!

Well, the clock is ticking down and soon it will be 2015!  OMG, where did the year go?  I spent some time thinking about all that I accomplished this year and I'm pretty satisfied with myself...lol!!  My biggest accomplishment is becoming a blogger.  I started LOFT101.net in August of this year and I wrote about how I was a "Wanna Be Blogger" but was looking forward to investing in myself and learning about something that I knew absolutely nothing about.  You feel me? 

I truly knew nothing about blogging but I knew that there was something in me that wanted to do more with myself and my gift, than what I was doing.  Who would think, that my becoming a blogger, would bring out that extra fulfillment! I feel like I am in a season that is fitting for me but truly, only time will tell.

I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed sharing all of my home and craft ideas, thoughts for today and real life stories with you, my viewers and followers, over the last half of this year.  Many times, my sharing with you, helped, healed and held me, when I was down, despondent and disgusted with different things I had going on in my own life.  My blog, became my journal, as I wrote endlessly about up, down and in between days I sometimes experienced, in 2014.  I count it all joy that I started this blog because it is now an outlet for me, for so many reasons. 

It's only been 5 months since I launched LOFT101.net, a blog site that I envisioned would introduce others to new things and home ideas for real life.  Hoping to take others out of their comfort zones to try new decorating ideas, organizing by layering, creating and using natural cleansers, learning new recipes, refreshing and changing things in and around your home, using the same old stuff you have but making it all look new again! Thanks for the comments, emails and photos some shared on my DIY crafts you tried out and the awesome outcomes! Thanks for sharing with me how I sparked a "new you", "in you", by my inspiring "thought for today" posts.  I appreciate all of you that now feel like you want to be more creatively crafty, to start dreaming and chasing a passion that you've being holding inside, since forever! 

Thank you for following & for taking the time
to SUBSCRIBE for FREE!  Tell a friend and tell them to tell a friend, so we can all can share our ideas together.  I'm excited to see what's in store for you and for me, as we ring in 2015!

Invest in yourself  this new year!!!
So much more is promised to each of us, we just need to keep believing that it will be provided, sooner than we know....Bless you & and the very best to you, in this New Year!!

Love Ya!
Deb

Thursday, December 25, 2014

8 Day Christmas Menu Day 6, 7 & 8: Tempura Shrimp, Fried Mac & Cheese Balls and Chocolate Covered Strawberries


Shrimp Tempura with Cocktail Sauce
Merry Christmas!

Well, I finally finished the last three items on my Christmas Menu!  The fried mac and cheese balls were a big hit and I used a recipe from Food Network.  The link to make this delicious recipe is http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/fried-mac-and-cheese-balls-recipe.html  It's a three step process that requires freezing for 2 hours and freezing again overnight, after you make the balls.  So, I actually fried mine today!  You can use marinara and/or alfredo sauce for dipping.  They are really good!

The shrimp tempura was simple.  I used my favorite tempura batter mix (Golden Dipt) and canola oil to fry these babies up really quick.  I sprinkled some old bay seasoning on them after I drained the grease off and they were so crunchy and good!  I set them out on a nice serving tray with some cocktail sauce in the center and a stem of fresh rosemary, as garnish!

Last but not least, I took a shortcut when it came to my chocolate covered strawberries.  Usually, I like to use my chocolate fountain but because I didn't  have a large crowd, I decided to use the small melting chocolate cartons that you find in the baking aisle of the grocery store.  They work out beautifully for a small crowd.  I used one carton to cover a dozen of strawberries.  The directions are on the carton and are easy and simple to follow.  After dipping, pop them in the refrigerator to harden and they are ready to be served!

That's it! Hope you enjoyed the recipes I shared with you this week and hopefully you tried to make one or two them but if not, it's all good...I'm just glad to share!  I do appreciate the viewers that have been checking my post out each day, to see what I was going to make or bake next!  Thanks ;-)

Happy Holidays to you and your families, remember the reason for the season and give someone a big hug and kiss!  Let them know that you care about them.  God is love and today, on His birthday, we remember Him and how much He loves each of us.  Merry Christmas!!

xoxo
Deb


Fried Mac & Cheese Balls

Chocolate Covered Strawberries


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

8 Day Christmas Menu: Day 5 - Cheese Log

Hello!

I was so upset today because I could not find an old recipe I had for a cheese log I use to make for family Christmas parties. So, I had to go with another one that I love by Trisha Yearwood.  It's called a Ranch Cheese Log cause it has ranch seasoning in it.  It's really good and so easy to make!  You can get the recipe on line at "Trisha Yearwood Ranch Dressing Cheese Log." The recipe will come right up.  Add some Townhouse Crackers and you have an appetizer that is amazing! I hope I can find the old family recipe for the cheese log I use to make years ago but until then, this recipe is just as good.  Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I'm finishing up the menu, so keep following! 

xoxo
Deb

Monday, December 22, 2014

8 Day Christmas Menu: Day 4 - Cupcakes Palette



Happy Monday!

It's Day 4 and my cupcakes are done!  Yippee!!  So far, I have cookies and cupcakes ready for dessert and my mini quiches are in the freezer and ready to go!  My seasonings and rubs are prepared for the turkey we are going to fry on Christmas Day and tomorrow I'm going to make an appetizer that my father use to love.  It's really easy to make, so keep following! There are only three things left on the menu after the appetizer.....the tempura shrimp, chocolate covered strawberries and fried macaroni and cheese balls....yummy!!
I'm making all of these on Christmas Eve because I want to serve them right away.

Anyway, I made 21 cupcakes and I used three toppings:  heath bar candy chips, green sugar and nonpareils.  I used my baby cakes cupcake machine to bake my mini cupcakes and I was done in less than 2 hours.  I'm sharing another great source with you and if you are a cupcake lover, then you may already own this book!  It's called The Big Book of Cupcakes by Betty Crocker (see below). I made the white cupcakes and cream cheese frosting, from scratch!! This book is another winner to add to your cookbook collection.  There are so many cupcake choices to choose from, you will have fun, just trying to decide!  Enjoy and try not to eat them as you bake them, like I did....lol!!

Check in with me tomorrow for the appetizer I will be preparing ;-)...it's an old family recipe that I will be sharing with you.  All of my finger foods and desserts are just about ready for the family to enjoy on Christmas Eve.  Let's keep going......2 more days left to finish up our Christmas menu (smile)....

xoxo
Deb

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sweet Guest Suites II: DIY101 Quick Holiday Guest Bedroom Refresh


 

Family will be arriving in a few days and we want their holiday visit to be a memorable one, so I'm refreshing our two guest bedrooms quickly, with holiday d├ęcor that is simple and inexpensive!  I won't be replacing anything but adding items to spruce up the bedrooms a little bit, with Christmas cheer.  By adding a Christmas throw, a few decorations, Christmas pillows, a colorful mini tabletop tree, a sheer panel modified into a window scarf, some Christmas garland, and last but not least, a small "welcome" gift box with essential guest items, you have a decorating refresh, that looks amazing! It's crazy how easy this DIY101 refresh was and oh yea, I shopped at Wal-Mart and Target to make this happen! Luxury on a budget...lol!  Check out my refresh photos below and guess what? This only took me 2 hours to complete! 

xoxo 
Deb

 Guest Bedroom #1









Guest Bedroom #2
 ,





Friday, December 19, 2014

8 Day Christmas Menu: Day 3 - Make, Bake & Freeze Miniature Quiche Lorraines



Well, it's Day 3 of our Christmas Menu preparation and it's an egg day because I'm making, baking and freezing some miniature quiche lorraines for Christmas Eve and the family will love them when they arrive for the holidays!  

Hope you are still following and hope you will make these quiche lorraines because they are so good!  The recipe is one that I keep handy from Williams-Sonoma.  It is the best recipe I know for quiche.  It's rich and smooth, with a unique flavoring because of the hint of nutmeg you add to it! 

I can't even put into words how much I love this quiche, so I'll just give you the recipe and share my step by step process of "how to" make these miniature versions of the popular quiche Lorraine, which originated in the northeastern French province of Lorraine.  Please be so kind to share your comments at the end of this post, after you have experienced this awesome treat that not only works for holiday parties but for brunch or lunch too!! 

Tomorrow (Saturday) and Sunday, I'll start baking my cookies from the "Cookies In a Jar" recipes that we prepared on Wednesday. I will be adding the wet ingredients and watch the outcome of preparing these cookie recipes ahead of time! Maybe you will bake yours too, right along with me, this weekend....lol!!

Monday we will continue with item #4 from our Christmas Menu...Cupcakes Palette!!  

Let's get started on the quiches...

xoxo
Deb

Miniature Quiche Lorraines: Williams-Sonoma

*Makes 8 servings

For the pie crusts: 
2 boxes of Pillsbury Pie Crusts (they come 2 in a box)
Olive oil
Unsalted Butter

For the filling: (this is enough filling for eight)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup of milk
6 eggs
2Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
6 cooked bacon slices, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 425 F
2. Follow photos below for preparing pie crusts (steps 1- 8)
3. Follow photos for preparing filling (steps 9-13).  In a bowl, whisk together the cream, milk, eggs, butter, cheese, salt, black pepper, cayenne and nutmeg.  Divide the bacon among the first 4 tart shells, then pour the filling into the shells.  Bake until the filling is set and puffed and the crust is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes before transferring to freezer containers.  Repeat steps to make the next four quiches.

Step 1 - Lay pie crust out flat.

Step 2 - Using tart pan, make four cut outs.  These will be for the crusts for the bottom of the pans. 




Step 3 - I use tart pans with removable bottoms because they work perfectly for making the mini quiches.



Step 4 - Using both the olive oil and unsalted butter, brush bottom and sides of each pan.


Step 5 - Place cut out of pie crust in the bottom of each pan.


Step 6 - With the excess pie crust, you will make 4 skinny rolls, as shown.


Step 7 - Now, using each skinny roll, work roll around the edge of each pan, creating the side crust for each quiche.
Step 8 - This is what your finished pie crust should look like.  Now remove excess crust from the top edge, all the way around, so the crust is aligned with the top edge of the pan.  Lastly, brush butter liberally, on bottom and sides of pie crust.


Step 9 - This is how your filling will look!  It's enough to make your 8 quiches.
Step 10 - Fill your pie tarts with filling, place on cookie sheet and pop them in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until they start to look puffy and golden brown.

Step 11 - OMG!!  How good do these look?  Real good!!!!!!  Let them cool for 10 minutes.  After cooling, remove quiches from tart pans, place on flat cookie sheet for now and make and bake the next four quiches.


Step 12 - After cooling down, place each quiche in a freezer tight container.

Step 13 - That's it...Freeze them!!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

8 Day Christmas Menu: Day 2 - Rubs & Seasonings



Hi ;-)
Ok...here we go again!  Day 2 into our Christmas Menu and we are about to get busy!  Are you with me?  Are you following?  I hope so because I'm keeping everything 101 just like my motto but each day we will kick it up just a little bit.  I'm also using that item again, that I love so much...mason jars!!  I'm using small ones this time.
Today, I have prepared the rubs and seasonings I plan to use on my poultry for Christmas Day.  We will be frying a turkey and the seasonings I'm sharing with you are to die for when rubbing down your bird!  These rubs and seasonings are good with beef, pork, lamb, chicken or turkey.  
I've got another resource that is a winner and keep reading because I'm talking and sharing a lot of good stuff with you today..lol!!!

I have had this little book in my collection for about 5 years or more and I use it all the time.  The recipes for these rubs and seasonings are awesome and as you learn the flavors, you will become created with using them, as I have.
Please purchase this book!!  It's called Gifts in a Bag, Rubs & Seasonings distributed by CQ Products and its another one of those books that works also as a craft resource for me.  I use to make these rubs and package/jar them for gifts.  Sometimes, I would just give them away because people loved the flavorings.  It was too easy to make and a delight to share!  They keep for 6 months after you make them and trust me, they will be gone long before then!  I make a mean spaghetti with extra virgin olive oil and the Cucina Italia Rub mixed in..haha!!  OMG!!!  The flavoring is ridiculous and I don't need meat or sauce to make it taste better because it's just plain old good with the olive oil and the blends of seasonings from this rub (great vegetarian meal).  
Check out the photos below of my favorites from this book and how the ingredients come together as one spice is added after another.  I've provided a photo above also, of everything I used to make these four seasonings and rubs.  Don't forget to wash and air dry your mason jars before you start.  

So, purchase the book, follow the instructions for the rubs and seasonings you choose to make and store them away for 6 months, for use!  We are moving on to item #3 tomorrow and you do not want to miss the recipe I will be sharing for the mini quiches!  We are making, baking and freezing them for the holiday party in a few days, so keep following and keep preparing your menu. 

Hang in there with me!  Come Christmas Day, you will appreciate the extra time you are going have to spend with your family and friends because of the planning & make-ahead efforts you are doing this week.  I promise you....much love!
xoxo


Deb
Greek Seasoning Rub


Cucina Italia Rub
Bayou Blast Rub
 

Ragin' Cajun Rub


Pour dry seasoning/rub into mason jar.
 
Using a P-touch home and hobby label maker, type and print a label and apply it to the jar.  You will need to print 2 labels, one with the name of the seasoning and the other with the date that you prepared it.  Put the label of the seasoning on the front of the jar and apply the label with the date onto the bottom of the jar (shelf life is six months).

 



Lastly, apply your gold "Homemade" sticker and you are done!


Store them away for easy use or make extras and give  away for gifts.  They make great gifts and I guarantee you, someone will want the recipes!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

8 Day Christmas Menu: Day 1 - Cookies In A Jar

 

Hi There!

This is my first make-ahead item on my 8 day Christmas Menu and it is one of the best ideas I discovered, years ago.
I use to spend hours, every Christmas Eve, preparing and baking cookies, from scratch.  Now, by preparing my cookie recipes ahead of time and storing them in mason jars until I'm ready to bake, saves me so much time!  Not only does this save you time, its also a great gift to give to someone else. 
 
Thanks to the "Gifts for the Cookie Jar" book I purchased about 7 years ago, I can always bake Christmas cookies from scratch, without a lot of hassle.  I made four of my favorite cookie recipes from this book and there are many more you can choose from.  I'm introducing you to something that is a "must have" in your cookbook collection, if you like to dabble in stuff like I do! 
 
Everything you need to know to make these cookie jars, is in this book!  Make them ahead of time and when ready to bake, all you have to do is add the wet ingredients.  Dessert is done!  Tomorrow, we will tackle item #2 on the menu.  Keep following....Getting ready for the holiday party!!!!
 
xoxo
Deb
 
(pictured from left to right:  White Chocolate-Macadamia Nut Rounds, Walnut-Cinnamon Balls, Colorful Candy Cookies and Butter Pecan Delights)
 

 
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