Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Crummy Yummy Mac & Cheese Recipe

As you can see, I have a way with cheese. Yet another creamy cheesy delicious recipe. Im not that good at recipe writing so please excuse my lingo here. It looks like a really big complicated thing but its really not, and it tastes wayyy better than anything i have ever made from a box. Its worth the time to make something tasty for your family. They will thank you!

Preheat Oven to 375 Degrees

2 1/2 Cups Elbow Macaroni
Kosher Salt
1 Egg, scrambled
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Diced Onion
1/2 Tsp Kosher Salt
Red Pepper Flakes to Taste (i do like 4 big shakes)
2 Tbls Flour Heaping
2 Cups Milk (I use 1%)
1 Cup Reserved Cooking liquid from pasta
5-6oz Cheddar Cheese Shredded

Crumb Topping
1/2 Cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs, i like Italian style
3/4 Tsp Chili Powder
1/2 Margarine, Butter or Shortening

Boil your pasta according to package directions, make sure to salt your water if you want your pasta to taste like anything. The general rule is to salt it like the ocean, please use kosher salt for this. Because of the cheese in this recipe i suggest slightly less. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid just before you drain your pasta and set both aside.

The Sauce: Put in a small saucepan the olive oil or other oil. heat on medium to medium hi temp and add your diced onions and red pepper flakes and 1/2tsp kosher salt, saute till the onions are softened up for the most part. For this next part i recommend using one of those rubber scraper type spatula deals. We are gonna make a ROUX!! I think that's what it's called officially but don't let it scare you away from this recipe. To your oily situation you are going to add your 2 heaping Tbls of flour. You are going to mix it all around with your rubber scraper and you are going to mash down those little flour lumps with your spatula. mixing mixing mixing, smoothing smoothing smoothing. At first you will notice that uncooked floury smell, once you cook it for a couple minutes and incorporate all the flour into all the oil mixture you will notice that smell will dissipate. Now add your milk about a little at a time. Add a little and mix it all really well together, cook for a minute till bubbly (at this point i get out my whisk) mix mix, add, mix mix add. When you have about half of it in there it will look like your making mashed potatoes, this is totally normal. Keep mixing. Once all your milk is added let it bubble along a couple minutes and add your cheese choice. mix mix mix. it will get really thick, add about a 1/2 cup of your reserved cooking liquid (or the same amount in milk if you don't mind) Work quickly here and be very attentive. Kick that temp back to medium once this all bubbles up. Make sure to stir every couple minutes.
Crumb Topping: Now this works like making any crumb topping for pies etc. Mix all your crumb ingredients into a bowl and fork around it to create crumbs.

Add your sauce to pasta and mix really really well. Right at the end add your scrambled egg and stir really vigorously so it doesn't cook. Pour your pasta and sauce mixture into a semi flat dish (mine was 8 1/4 inch Pyrex) even it out and sprinkle on your crumble topping. Place in your oven at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or till the crumb topping darkens up a bit and the sauce gets bubbly. Enjoy! About 8 side dish servings or 4 main dish portions.

I like to do the red pepper flake and chili combo for this but if you like a savory 'situation' you might try and add some thyme instead. Get creative with things you know you like and you will not be disappointed. You could skip the red pepper flakes and chili powder all together and sub the cheddar cheese for pepper jack! That would be spicy and delicious!

I hope you will all try this recipe and let me know how it is, if you have any questions just shoot me an email and i will try and clear up any confusion.

Make sure you all join my mailing list so when i start my February giveaway and send out the months coupons you can get the exclusive scoop!


Monday, January 26, 2009

Tuesday's Finds- V-Day Gifts for Friends and Family

I always like to get a little something special for special friends and family members. Just a little something to let them know your thinking of them. Here are a couple of my favorite finds for this occasion.

nuvonova's Pink Deco Doll - blank notebook

Love this one. 120 pages to draw, journal or doodle on. The cover is a drawing of a doll made entirely from shapes. Get some photo corners, i think this one would also make a great scrapbook. Measures 6x4 inches.

novonova also has many other sketchbooks in her shop.

Flameworks' Black Raspberry Vanilla Vegan Soap.

The best gifts in the world are the most luxurious. Flameworks soaps are so fragrant and lather amazingly. I have purchased from this shop on many occasions before for gifts, whoever your buying for, they will thank you. Simple as that. All of the scents in this shop are amazing, black raspberry vanilla is my absolute favorite though.

Just buy the whole shop, it's all awesome.

Jenngee's Coffee Corset
A stylish way to be Eco friendly. Friends don't let friends use ugly paper cuffs. Such a creative idea originated by Jenn. Just use and reuse, keep your hands protected and help the planet a little. (every little bit counts) This shop is also offering free shipping for a limited time. This shop make coffee corsets for anything them you could imagine. Check out this entire shop.

Thecupcakemint's Chocolate Covered Strawberry Vegan Cupcakes
OH MY GOSH. I just had to say it. How is it possible these look so delicious and are vegan too? Im not sure how thecupcakemint does it but they do. Share these with friends and family or better yet give one to your object of affection and tell him or her you made them, you know what they say about hearts and bellies, right? Maybe not a wise idea there actually, i could never make anything that pretty. Even better if you live within 25 miles of the seller, they will deliver for free. Located in NJ.

Just check out the whole shop for delicious gift ideas, and stop drooling.

I hope you all enjoyed today's finds!


And The Winner is!

With 68% of the vote, Jillian of EternalImages ! Congratulations Jillian you are the winner of the first pair of Winter Blossom Earrings. Thanks so much for the winning name. These earrings are available for purchase by clicking here.

Thanks also to everyone who submitted entries to my January Blog Giveaway Contest. All of them were really good and it was hard enough to pick two finalists.

February's contest will be starting up soon, so make sure to join my mailing list so you can be notified on how to get in on it. All mailing list members are also the first to be notified of sales, and get free coupons too! So sign up using my mailing list widget to the right.

Julia Catherine

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Quick Recipe- 3 Bean Salad

One of my favorite quick, easy and healthy recipes of all time. 3-4 bean salad. Normally eaten cold, it makes a great topping for salads or just snacking throughout the day. In my house this does not last very long at all. I have recently found that this recipe is even more amazing when made with organic canned beans. Also tastes best when you let it sit and marinate for a couple hours or more.

1 Can red kidney beans
1 Can green beans
1 Can Chick/ Garbanzo beans

1/2 medium onion diced
1/2 green or red bell pepper diced
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 cup oil
1/2-3/4 cup apple cider vinegar (depending on your taste)
1 1/2 Tbls sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Open all your cans and rinse all your beans in a colander, set aside to drain.
Dice up your onion, pepper and garlic, add to a large bowl.
Add oil,vinegar and sugar, mix. Add your rinsed and drained beans. Wait a couple hours. Enjoy.

As i always say, mix in whatever you like to this recipe to make it your own. Use whatever beans you like, most of the time i make this with a yellow wax bean too. Salt and pepper to your taste, as well as vinegar.

Let me know how you like this one!
Julia Catherine

Friday, January 23, 2009

Executive decision! New 50% off section

In an attempt to avoid overcrowding in my etsy shop I have made the decision to mark down selected pieces 50%. Currently there is about 20 items in this section. Clearing out these items will make room for many new items and bring a cleaner more cohesive look to my shop. I will be letting these items expire and will not be renewing them, so act now. Click here to visit my 50% sale section.

Thanks for checking in!
Julia Catherine

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tuesday's Finds- How Presidental

I thought I would do today's finds in honor of our new President Obama. History making day for America!

palomasnest's BE THE CHANGE tiny text bowl
A little ceramic trinket bowl that measures 3 1/2 inches in diameter and has the words "Be The Change" stamped on the inside. I think this is perfect because you are reminded of this message every time you go to put your rings or other small items in it. Palomasnest ships this item within 2 days. I dare you to be the change today.

Other items tagged "obama" in Palomasnest.

Ohyeahstudios' President Obama 11'' x 8'' mixed media art print
A limited edition blue and red President Obama mixed media print on heavyweight textured paper. It is ink and oil based enamel paint. It is signed by the artist and ready to be framed and hung on your wall. I love this one in particular because it is in Red White and Blue. Ohyeahstudios ships within 24 hours, so you can having this hanging on your wall in just a few days. Be sure to check out all the other amazing work by this artist.

Other items tagged 'obama' from ohyeahstudios.

eplaidaunt's Michelle and Barack Hair Barrettes
What and amazing idea. Photos of the couple have been edited by this seller and printed on 100% cotton buttons. A portion of the proceeds for this item go to Americans for the Arts Council.

Other items tagged "obama" from oneplaidaunt's shop.

Have any ideas for my tuesday finds? email me . Be sure to check out my tuesday finds on the Awesome Chicks of Etsy blog today with an MLK/Obama Theme.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Zucchini Fettuccine Penne...mmmm

Sort of a funny name. I made this delicious dish tonight for dinner. The idea came from taking a couple of my favorite things and combining them for something really amazing. Has anyone noticed I love sharing what i cook?

Zucchini Fettuccine Penne
1 box of Dreamfields or Barilla plus Penne Pasta
1 1/2 cups cooking liquid from pasta reserved (more for thinner consistency)
3 tiny Zucchinis or 1 Large
1/2 Cup diced sweet onion
5 Cloves Garlic diced (average size)
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon dried oregano
1 Tbls minced fresh flat leaf parsley
3-4 Cranks of the Pepper Grinder
1 Cup Parmesan Cheese (from the jar, fresh never works for this)
2 Egg Yolks

Kosher Salt

Start your pasta in a large pot. The average cooking time of Penne is 11 minutes, salt your pasta water with KOSHER salt. This is very important if you would like your dish to have any flavor. Feel free to omit for health reasons but its very important otherwise. You want to salt the water to the taste of seawater. About a half a handful of kosher salt does the trick for me.

Put your olive oil in a large frying pan and heat on medium - high heat. Chop your onions and dice your garlic-put aside. Chop your Zucchini into quarters. Once your oil is a bit hot, add your onions then Zucchini then garlic. This order is important so you dont burn your garlic (its nasty if it burns) Stir it all up. Add like a teaspoon of your kosher salt to this. If not much is going on kick the heat up a bit. Separate your eggs-put aside.

Before you strain your pasta be sure to reserve your 1 1/2 or more cups of liquid-put aside. Pour your pasta back into your large pot you boiled it in. Your zucchini onion and garlic mixture will be ready when the onions turn a bit translucent and everything is slightly soft. not mush, soft. Add oil, zucchini, garlic, and onion mixture to pasta. Add also your Parsley, Oregano and Fresh Cracked pepper. Mix well till pasta is completly coated with everything.

Add the Parmesan cheese and approx 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Put back over medium heat. Stir Vigourously for 3-5mins!! Add the yolks and STIR VERY VIGOROUSLY! You do not want to scramble your eggs. The dish will become very thick at this point, add the rest of the water, keep stirring and over medium heat for another 3 mins and you will end up with a lovely dish.
I hope you all will try this out. Feel free to add whatever spices you like, more or less. Cooking is fun! Experiment! If your a meat eater i guess you could add like chicken?

Julia Catherine

Don't forget to vote for the january giveaway to the right>

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Just Lou...

I took this sweet photo tonight and just wanted to share. It's my little-love-of-a-cat Big Lou. Caught during his favorite activity "sniffing". The thing he is sniffing is a little toy. You press the button on the head and it plays like circus music, moves in circles then meows 3 times.

Don't forget to vote on the winner for January's Blog Giveaway to the left.
Sign up for my newsletter too, that way you can be notified of future sales, giveaways and COUPONS!

Julia Catherine

Thursday, January 15, 2009

January Giveaway Finalists

So last night I printed off all the names and consulted my 'associates' on the best name for these earrings. Click here to read more on my January Giveaway. My Favorites are the following

Winter Blossom Earrings -Submitted by Jillian of Eternal Images

Le Jardin de Monet (The Garden of Monet)- Submitted by Jules of Whimsical Peacock Arts

Please cast your votes using the 'widget' to the right of this blog post on my blog sidebar. Voting will continue till January 26th, then the winner of the earrings will be announced. So keep checking back and make sure your favorite stays on top! Don't forget to also join my mailing list so you can be notified each month of sales and giveaways!
Julia Catherine

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tuesday's Finds-Oh Deer!

Just for the fun of themes, today im featuring Deer themed items that I have found on etsy.

ShoopTiles32 Deer Coaster Set of 4.

Im a big fan of coasters, this shop has tons of amazing tile coasters. They are made from vinyl then placed onto the tiles and sealed with 3 layers of sealant. They also have cork 'feet' so nothing scratches your coffee table. This shop is really amazing. Only 10 items sold so far, but i can see a promising future. I better not see any rings on those coffee tables!

bluetricycle Printable, Giftable-Fawns Stationery and Mini Cards

What an amazing idea. bluetricycle offers many downloadable and printable graphics that you can use over and over again. When your order is recieved the shop owner just emails the graphics to you and you can print them in the size of your choosing on your own cardstock. I can see these being great for thank you notes and just about anything. Formatted to print in different sizes and even comes with templates for creating envelopes. Very economical and since they are .pdf files you don't have any shipping costs at all. Im eyeing a couple of bluetricycle's items for my own use.

sewluckygirl-Peppermint Pink-Sweet Little Baby Deer-Throw Pillow

Gorgeous 10" deer pillow made from handmade appliques, upcycled vintage fabrics and other materials. I could never resist puffball fringe a day of my life. This shop has just a ton of interesting originally designed pillows.

Have any ideas for my tuesday finds? email me . Be sure to check out my tuesday finds on the Awesome Chicks of Etsy blog today- Theme "chicks"

Don't forget there is only a couple days left to submit your names for my january giveaway.


Mmm Java Chocolate Chunk Cookies :)

Another snowy day yesterday. One of my top ten snowy day activities is baking! Around Christmas time my neighbor had given me this recipe for these awesome Java Chocolate Chunk cookies and I haven't had time to make them for myself till yesterday. The recipe makes about 4 dozen, give or take depending on how big or small you make them. Completely delish! enjoy!
Java Chocolate Chunk Cookies
¾ cup butter
2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 (11.5) oz package semisweet chocolate chunks (I would have used a bit less.)
1 cup walnut halves, toasted

Combine butter and coffee granules in small saucepan. Cook over med.-low heat until
Butter melts and coffee disolves, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and let set
Until room temperature. (don’t let it resolidify)
Combine flour,soda,and salt; stir well.
Combine butter mixture, sugars, egg, and egg yolk in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed
w/ electric mixer until blended.
Gradually add flour mixture, beating @ low speed until just blended. Stir in walnuts and
Chocolate chunks.
Drop dough by heaping teaspoons 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets.
Bake @ 325 for 12-14 minutes.( more depending on oven) Let cool slightly on sheets; then
transfer unto wire rack to cool completely.

Don't forget to enter my January Blog Giveaway Contest. Just enter what you think they should be named and win the earrings! I will be collecting names till the 15th. Good luck everyone!


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Awesome Chicks Of Etsy

So it's prettymuch official. Im part of "Awesome Chicks Of Etsy" Here's my initiation photo. It's me in my Pj's. Why did our group leader pick that as our initiation. I think its because we are etsy sellers and most of our time is spent sipping coffee in our PJ's while we list, chat and promote online. I guess it's sort of a sorority of etsy sellers, that do fun things to promote and entertain each other and our followers. We are not an official etsy team, just a group of sellers with common interests. So head on over to our blog and see what its all about. Don't forget to follow, it will be worth your while. Stay tuned.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Big Lou in Pet Wars and Circle Circle Dot Dot Earrings

Last night my neighbor turned me on to this social networking site for pet owners. It's like myspace for pet owners. I love it. Head on over to and get your vote on. If you see this guy (big lou). Make sure you vote him cuter! When you join you can also collect points for your favorite animal shelter.

Another new item today. Yeesh im on a roll here. 2 new items listed in 2 days. These I call 'circle circle dot dot earrings' I had to. These earrings are made from 2 circles. The first is a highly polished flattened circle and the second is a highly polished and slightly hammered dotted circle hoop. Both measure 1/2 inch and are forged from solid sterling silver. The earwires are handmade sterling silver kidney wires. The entire earring dangles 2 1/2 inches or 6.35cm. Very chic and classy. Perfect for everyday wear, with a twist. Love love love these. Might have to make a pair for myself.

Julia Catherine

Thursday, January 8, 2009

New Sweetheart Necklace and Ice!

This morning I posted my new sweetheart necklace for '09. A perfect size floating heart pendant. Handcrafted from sterling silver. This design is similar to a heart pendant I have created before. The overlap at the clef of the heart makes it unique and gives it a bit of dimension. This heart is a free floating heart so it may hang at times from either arch of the heart or sometimes even up side down. The necklace is completed with a 16 inch sterling silver cable link chain. Chain closes with a spring ring closure, all jump rings have been soldered closed. Really gorgeous! thinking of making one for myself. head on over and check it out.

We had a bit of rain and ice yesterday. Not nearly as bad as the ice storm last winter but the trees were hanging pretty low. Luckily we did not have any power outages in the area that I have heard. I took a photo of our poor butterfly bush encased in ice. Although there is a sort of beauty in this photo, I can't wait till spring...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tuesday's Finds-UniqueDichroic

Today my Christmas gift arrived in the mail from Australia. I purchased a Tree of Life Etched Glass Pendant in rainbow colors from The seller, Deborah is extremely talented at what she does. She hand etches every one of her tree of life pendants. So although some are similar, no two are ever exactly alike. The pendant I purchased was the one below with the colors of a beautiful sunset in the background.

My buying experience was a total pleasure with Deborah. She was very prompt in answering conversations. She let me know that she received my order and when it was shipped. Another big plus was that her shipping rates were fair too. Free shipping to Australia and just $2.50 to the US and all other countries. The necklace arrived in a nice little pouch with a business card and a nice note handwritten from Deborah. All necklace from come with a neoprene rubber necklace cord that can be customized to any length you need, so you can wear it right away! The photos do not even do this necklace justice, it's even more beautiful in person.

Hope you will all check out her shop :)


P.S. Don't forget to name my earrings in the contest below to win them! And join my mailing list to receive monthly coupons>>

Monday, January 5, 2009

January Blog Giveaway Kickoff

This month's contest is a 'Name that piece' contest. The pair of earrings below are the ones that need a name! They are faceted amazonite quartz roundels with cranberry czech glass flower accents atop each. The ball end headpins and earwires are both sterling silver and handmade by me. These earrings dangle 1 1/8 inch. I see lots of possibilities for names but im going to leave it up to you all.

It will go like this. Leave your name/title suggestions (up to 5 names) as a comment on this post along with your email address. On the 15th i will take all the entries and pick my favorite from the bunch. Those few will be posted to be voted on in the form of a poll right here on my blog. Readers of this blog, and your friends and family will have till January 26th to vote. Make sure you give them the link! Then i will take a tally of all the votes and the winner will be selected. Soon after i will post the winner right here on my blog. (PLEASE make sure you leave your email, etsy shop URL or Flickr URL so i may contact you!)

The winner will win the earrings they named, and free shipping on any other purchases they would like to make in my shop. (don't forget to sign up for my mailing list to the right so you can get discounts too!) The earrings will be posted using the winning title/name and the winner will also be given proper credit in the listing also. "proper credit" in this case also includes a link to your etsy shop right in my description. Here they are! Good luck everyone! If you have not already also make sure to join my mailing list to the right of my blog posts, this way you will be notified of these giveaways, coupons and sales before anyone else!