Wedding Photographer for a Day! Saturday, Feb 25 2012 

 

 

Yes, that’s right. I did it!  It was never in my plan to be, or even attempt to be, a “pro” photographer, much less one who photographs weddings.  I’ve had this trusty Nikon D3100 for just over a year and prior to that, I really didn’t know much other than point-and-shoot. While I’ve learned a lot in the past year, I have a loooooooooooong way to go but consider myself very lucky to have both a father and father-in-law who have a great deal of experience with photography and have helped me get to where I am today.

So the story goes…a little over a week ago my friend Kori contacted me asking if I could not only make a small cake for her mother’s wedding but also be the photographer.  The cake – no problem! 6″ cakes and cupcakes are my specialty and I was happy to do it.  However, the thought of being the wedding photographer sent me into a nervous panic.  How would I respond? What would I charge – or would I charge at all?  At first I recommended my father-in-law, because if they were were looking for a pro, he would be the guy for the job and I could play apprentice.  After sitting on the idea for a day or two, while Kori did what she could to boost my esteem with her confidence that I would do a great job, I finally agreed.  Then I ran out and picked up an SS-400 flash, figuring I was going to need it and had been wanting one for a while anyway so this was a great excuse! Thanks Kori!

The wedding was on Monday at 3:00, a somewhat casual in-home wedding with about 15 guests.  I arrived at 1:15, after having stopped by my in-laws to borrow a strobe and get a quick tutorial from the pro.  I promptly set up the cake and started in on what would be roughly 5 hours of picture taking. Nearly 700 photos were taken that day!  On the drive home I felt like I’d been hit by a truck, complete exhaustion.  While I never felt stressed during the event, obviously the day had taken its tole.  Of the photos, only about 150 of them were too dark or too blurry to keep, not bad!  Another 200 went into a “2nds” folder so that the family can have everything, just in case there is something in there that might mean something to them. Of the remaining photos, the majority went into Photoshop for editing, cropping, converting to black and white, etc.

As of this morning, I am done editing everything with the exception the group shots. There are about 10 of them.  Now that I see them, I realize I WAS exhausted by 5:00 and I think that my brain might not have been aligned with my eyes. I could have done a much better job organizing people. A few people are squished behind others so you can barely see their faces but I think, all in all, there may be one or two shots of the group that aren’t bad.

I want to personally thank Kori & Dan for having confidence enough in my skills to hire me, Karla and Herb for their trust in allowing me the opportunity and pleasure of photographing their wedding, and to all their family and the minister for putting up with the constant flashing camera in their faces all day!

 

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting Tuesday, Feb 14 2012 

Mmmmmmm…warm, gooey cinnamon rolls!  My husband is so lucky! My waistline, not so much. Regardless, this recipe is a keeper.  As far as I’m concerned, Paula Deen hit the nail on the head with this one.

These take some time, kneading, resting, rolling, more resting, baking…..You’ll want to give yourself a good 3 hour window for total prep time, but it is completely worth the wait.

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Cinnamon Rolls

Source: Paula Deen; FoodNetwork.com

Makes 10-15 Cinnamon Rolls

Dough:

1/4 oz package yeast

1/2 c warm water

1/2 c scalded milk (whole milk)

1/4  c sugar

1/3 c butter or shortening, melted (I used butter, always use butter!)

1 tsp salt

1 egg

3 1/2 to 4 cups all purpose flour

Filling:

1/2 c melted butter, plus more for pan

3/4 c sugar, plus more for pan

2 tbsp ground cinnamon

3/4 c raisins, walnuts or pecans, optional (or if you’re like Oozing Ink, some high quality 70% chocolate, chopped)

Glaze: NOTE: I’m providing you with Paula’s glaze that is included in the recipe as it reads in print, however I did not use this glaze.  In this house we prefer “frosting” as opposed to glaze and I’m partial to cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting.  While I’m sure this glaze is delicious, look to the bottom of this post for the cream cheese frosting glaze recipe that I used for this batch.

4 tbsp butter

2 c powdered sugar

1 tbsp vanilla

3-6 tbsp hot water

Directions:

Heat oven to 350.

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside.  In a large bowl mix milk, sugar, melted butter, salt and egg.  Add 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth.  Add yeast mixture.  Mix in remaining flour until dough is easy to handle (I ended up using all 4 cups). Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 5-10 minutes (I went the full 10, a nice little workout!).  Place in a well-buttered bowl, cover and let rise until dough is doubled in size, usually 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

A note on dough rising: Turning the oven on and leaving the bowl on top or near the warm oven helps it to rise quicker.

When doubled in size, punch down dough.  Roll out on a floured surface into a 15 x 9 rectangle.  Spread the 1/2 cup melted butter all over the dough (if I had used the entire half cup, I would have had a mess on my kitchen floor, I probably used half and reserved the rest for the pan).  Mix sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle evenly over dough.  Sprinkle in walnuts, pecans, raisins (or chocolate) if desired.

Beginning at the 15-inch side, roll up dough and pinch edge together to seal.  Cut into 12-15 even slices.

Coat the bottom and sides of the baking pan with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar (about 1/4 cup).  Place cinnamon rolls slices close together in the pan and let rise until dough is doubled, about 45 minutes.  Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered, until nicely browned.

Meanwhile, mix butter, powdered sugar and vanilla.  Add hot water 1 tbsp at a time until glaz reaches desired consistency.  Spread over slightly cooled rolls.

Oozing Ink’s Cream Cheese Frosting Glaze

8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature

2 c powdered sugar

1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla

With mixer, cream cream cheese and butter  on medium- high speed until smooth.  Add 1 cup sugar and vanilla, mix on low speed until smooth. Add additional 1 cup sugar and mix on low speed until combined.  Increase speed of mixer to high speed and mix for about 30 seconds until very smooth and creamy.

Spread on slightly cooled cinnamon rolls.

For the chocolate cinnamon rolls, I shaved about 1/2 cup high quality 70% chocolate and mixed it into 1 cup of the cream cheese frosting.  Then spread it onto slightly cooled rolls. This makes for a very rich roll, just a warning! 

Crazy Crafty Valentine Card Making Party Tuesday, Feb 14 2012 

Oh the fun of a few gals getting their craft on!  Recently I had some friends over for a card making party, the second card making party I’ve hosted.    This particular event was specific to Valentine’s Day, with all the pinks and reds and hearts and love related stuff that fits the theme…more “stuff” than you can possibly imagine.

If you’ve looked deep within the confines of this blog you are well aware that I have an extensive paper crafting past.  And, because I really don’t make too many cards anymore, like I did for years….I have a lot of supplies!  LOTS! So…party on!

This type of party is a great idea for anyone who likes to craft and has a few friends who want to indulge their creative spirit a little.  Even those who are a little intimidated by arts and crafts..they end up having no problem!  Everyone ends up making something cool and has a great time.   A little food, a little wine, good conversation and some serious card making!

Southern Mac & Cheese Tuesday, Feb 7 2012 

A great Friday night meal….I made this recipe but neglected to take a photo as we were hungry and I was just way too busy getting ready for the plethora of other things I had going on last weekend. For me, photos mean everything when it comes to recipes.  While I’m pretty good at reading a recipe and being able to visualize the end product, there is just something that draws me to a recipe if there is a nice photo that goes along with it.  So, accept my apology for no photo here but know that it was a tasty dish! Looked delic, tasted delic….even for someone who is not a huge mac & cheese fan.

Serve this with a side salad or veggie.  We ate it simply with some peas.

The recipe starts with the following statement, “American cheese gives this classic from Arnold’s its melty consistency.” Arnold’s is a restaurant with rave reviews out of Nashville, TN.  If you’re ever there, well I suppose you should probably check it out.  After all, if a recipe makes it to Bon Appetite….it’s likely to be a great place to eat.

In addition to providing you with this info on Arnold’s I should add that I did not use American cheese.  The thought of American cheese sort of makes my skin crawl.  I don’t like it, I don’t eat it, I had to change it in this recipe.  Now normally I would go for some top shelf, out of this world artisan cheese but I figured since it’s mac & cheese after all, cheddar would have to do.  So I got as local as I could and used the old “cheddar standby” from Tillamook.  Both my husband and I agree that the cheddar was perfect for the recipe.

Southern Mac and Cheese

Source: Bon Appetite Magazine Feb, 2012

Serves 6

8 oz (2c) elbow macaroni

kosher salt

3 tbsp unsalted butter

3 tbsp all-purpose flour

3 c whole milk

3 c coarsely grated American cheese, divided (I used medium cheddar)

3 tbsp finely grated Parmesan

1 1/4 tsp black pepper

1 1/4 tsp mustard powder

1/8 tsp paprika

(I added some whole wheat panko bread crumbs to the top before baking as well….about 3 tbsp)

Preheat oven to 350. Cook macaroni in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until noodles are very tender. Drain; transfer to 3 qt baking dish.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium pot over medium heat.  whisk in flour and cook, whisking, until pale golden, about 2 minutes.  Whisking vigorously and constantly, gradually add milk.  Bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low; add 2 1/2 cups American cheese and whisk until melted.  Whisk in Parmesan, Pepper, and mustard powder.  Season with salt.

Pour cheese sauce over noodles in dish; stir to coat.  Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup American cheese over. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake until cheese is browned on top and bubbling around edges, 40-45 minutes.

 

 

 

 

Savory Buckwheat Crepes with Delicious Fillings Wednesday, Feb 1 2012 

Not a clue where this recipe came from either but it’s an enticing one as it shows you a nice picture of the gooey caramelized onions, creamy mushrooms and bright spinach that you’ll be making to add to these little savory pancakes. It was a delicious dinner! I’m quite sure I’ll be making the mushrooms often, as I could pretty much have eaten them all directly from the pan!

I had a hard time getting a decent picture of this dish, it really was much yummier than the picture makes it out to be!

Buckwheat Crepes with Citrus Shrimp, Sauteed Spinach, Sweet Onion and Creamy MushroomsImage

Serves 6 ( about 12 crepes )

5 tbsp unsalted butter, plus 1 tbsp for skillet

2/3 c buckwheat flour

1/3 c all-purpose flour

1 3/4 c whole milk

3 large eggs

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 c chopped fresh parsley (optional) – I did not add this by the way

Assorted fillings (below)

I recommend making the “filling” ingredients below prior to making the crepes.

Melt 5 tbsp butter and combine with flours, milk, eggs and salt.  Whisk until smooth. Let batter rest at room temperature 1 hour or over night.  Stir in parsley, if desired.

Note: I did not let batter rest at all. I whipped it up and used it within 15 minutes of making it.  Crepes turned out fine.

Heat crepe pan over medium-high heat. Melt remaining 1 tbsp butter in small ramekin and have ready with pastry brush next to crepe pan.  When pan is hot, brush small amount of butter around crepe pan.  Pour 1/3 c crepe batter onto pan, swirl to coat.  Let cook until large bubbles form (about 2 minutes).  Using plastic spatula, flip crepe over and cook second side about 1 minutes.  Remove to plate and continue cooking remainder of crepe batter.

Fill as you like with the below ingredients.

Citrus Shrimp:

Saute 1 1/4 lb shrimp (peeled and halved lengthwise) in 2 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp lemon zest, 2 tarroagon sprigs and salt and pepper until shrimp turn pink, about 3-4 minutes.  Add a squeeze of lemon juice and 1/2 c white wine, simmer 1 minutes.  Remove from heat and add 4 tbsp chopped cold butter and some parsley.

Sauteed Spinach:

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 12 oz spinach and cook until just wilted, about 4 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Sweet Onion:

Heat 2 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add 2 slices onions and 2  sprigs thyme. Season with salt and pepper and cook until onions are lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

Note: I turned the heat up to medium-high about 10 minutes in as the onions were not cooking as fast as they should have been.  They cooked a total of 30 minutes before reduced and browned to my liking.

Creamy Mushroom:

Heat 3 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 lb chopped wild mushrooms (I used half shitake and half oyster) and 2 thyme sprigs; saute until mushrooms are golden, about 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and add 2/3 c heavy cream; toss to warm through.  Remove from heat and add parsley.

Additionally, I made a little mixture of sour cream and heavy cream with lemon juice, lemon zest and chives.  This was a nice addition to the shrimp.