Love you to the Moon

Love you to the moon art print | Home Again Creative

Sometimes, a design lives in my sketchbook a long time before it makes it out into the world. 

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I started this sketch on a plane, headed to Dallas TWO YEARS ago. 

I loved it, but didn't have a complete vision in my mind of how it should look, so it got pushed aside by ideas that were more complete. 

Recently, I saw something that rekindled the idea and made me know just what this design was supposed to look like! I am so tickled with how it turned out — especially since it's so different from my first vague thoughts, and yet parts are exactly the same!

I enjoyed creating To the Moon so much that I just couldn't stop with just one! I love the idea of the two of them hanging together in a kid's room! 

Both designs are available as 8x10 and 11x14 art prints, and have added To the Moon to my greeting card line up!! 

I hope you love these as much as I do and can't wait to see them hanging in your little one's room!! 

xoxo Lori Danelle

How to Salt and Brine Poultry

Salting or brining poultry in a saltwater solution is a great way to boost the flavor and juiciness of the meat. However, before you go anywhere near your chicken with salt, there's an important question that needs to be asked first: 

What type of kosher salt do you use?

Believe it or not, but there's a big difference between Diamond Crystal & Morton Salt brands – sorry Morton Salt girl – it affects how much salt you should use! 

How to salt and brine poultry

Morton Kosher Salt (as well as most other store brands) is made by flattening salt granules into large thin flakes while Diamond Crystal uses a 100-year old proprietary evaporation process in which upside-down pyramids are stacked one over the next to form a crystal. Diamond Crystal's method results in a hollow pyramid-shaped grain. This hollow structure accounts for the salt’s lightness, & crush-ability. Because of the hollow pyramid's shape, each teaspoon of Diamond Crystal Salt has less salt than Morton Salt, thus you are less likely to over salt (you can always add more salt).

If you're not already using it, I recommend making a switch to Diamond Crystals, if only because it's much more forgiving in the kitchen. Also, most recipe writers don't specify which salt they use in their recipes, but I have a hunch since most chefs (at least that I know) use Diamond & most cook books are at least co-written with a chef, Diamond Crystal are being used in the recipes.   

We use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt in our kitchen, so if you're using Morton's simply reduce the measurement by 1/3. For example, 1 tsp Diamond Crystal = 2/3 tsp Morton Salt.

ADD SALT TO POULTRY BY EITHER BRINING OR SALTING

WHY IT WORKS

Salting Poultry is a great way to keep lean proteins juicy. When salt is added to the surface of poultry it draws the moisture out. The salt then dissolves in the juices forming a brine that is eventually reabsorbed. When the salt is reabsorbed it changes the structure of the cells making it more tender and allowing it to hold on to more of it's natural moisture by about 10%. Most unsalted meat will loose about 20% of it's moisture during cooking, so by adding the salt you basically cut the moisture loss by half. (Sorry I can't explain further than that — I wasn't that great of a chemistry student.) Salting does take more time, but it won't keep you from getting crispy skin when cooked, if desired. 

Brining poultry works in pretty much the same way by changing the structure of the cell wall, tenderizing, and giving the cell the ability to retain moisture. The differences are brining is faster, & will add moisture to the meat, not just retain it, resulting in super juicy poultry. The downside is, with all the extra moisture, achieving a crispy skin becomes more difficult. Another complication to brining is space, as you need a container big enough & the fridge space to store the bird. I use a huge soup pot and have our fridge shelves situated so that it the pot fits. In the past I have also placed the birds and salt solution in a cooler with ice – just make sure to add ice as needed.

So, in short, if you want a pretty juicy bird with crispy skin, salt the poultry; but, if you want a super juicy bird and don't care about the skin, brine the bird.

Regardless, only salt or brine poultry that HASN'T been pre-basted, koshered, treated, or seasoned. It has already been salted. 

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SALTING POULTRY

When salting, apply kosher salt evenly inside the cavity and under the skin of the breasts and legs. Let sit on an elevated surface, such as a wire rack placed in a cookie sheet, and place in the refrigerator. If salting for longer than 12 hours, you'll need to wrap the poultry tightly in plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. 

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BRINING POULTRY

When brining, I do use table salt instead of kosher salt as it dissolves more quickly. Make sure to fully submerge the chicken or turkey with water.

For chicken, the ratio is 1/4 cup salt for every 1 quart of water. 
For turkey, use 1/2 cup salt for every 1 gallon of water. 

Use the chart below as a guide.

Be sure to plan accordingly this method takes time to brine and air dry. 

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After brining to achieve the most crisp skin possible you'll need to air dry the bird. First, pat the bird dry inside and out with paper towels. Then set it on a wire rack placed on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 8 hours up to overnight.

 
How to Salt & Brine Poultry  |  Home Again Creative

So glad for Octobers!

Free October Desktop Wallpaper  |  Home Again Creative

I'm a little leery of Fall. 

I like cardigans, cider, and boots, but Fall comes a little too close to Winter to make me truly comfortable.

That said, I'm a big fan of Halloween. 

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the creativity and imagination that goes with Halloween. A single day, every year that we collectively decide to be who or whatever it is that we dare to dream up. 

Also. What other day of the year does your entire neighborhood come to your doorstep and ring your doorbell?

We live in a cookie cutter neighborhood that I have a love/hate relationship with. On the one hand, I went to ART SCHOOL. I like original. I don't do planned neighborhoods. The fact that my house looks like my next-door-neighbor's, and the one across the street AND the one 2 houses down, etc., etc., etc., really bothers me — even though our brick and shutters ARE different colors. As if we those changes would make us forget. . . 

On the other hand, there are kids EVERYWHERE. We have a neighborhood pool. There's a greenway and creek that run alongside our neighborhood. We have sidewalks and a big yard. It is really quite perfect for our family right now. 

And yet, I know only the few families who live 2 or 3 houses to the left and right of my own. I realize no great lasting friendships are going to emerge from this one night, but I still think it's pretty amazing that despite all the junk going on in this world, on October 31st, I will have 300+ stranger/neighbors come to my house, while my own daughters giggle their way to each of their houses. 

I think we could use a little more of that all year long. 


So tonight, I got to doodling. I've been thinking of making a desktop wallpaper for some time, but never knew what to make. I wasn't going to do anything for October, but this ghost that has been haunting my sketchbooks for years finally showed me where he belonged.  :) 

Perhaps this will be the start of something fun I do every month. Would you like to see a new one next month?   

I hope you enjoy!! 

Click the buttons below to download:

Feel free to give me a virtual high-five by tagging me on Instagram if you want to share your workspace (I love seeing them!) or sharing on Pinterest!

xoxo, Lori Danelle

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

It's mid-October. The leaves on the trees are falling, but the temperature is finding a way to hang out around 75 – 80 degrees here in Nashville. 

I shouldn't still be making salsa, but I am.

This summer I decided to plant 5 tomatillo plants. I love having tomatillos in my garden! The way they grow is the coolest thing ever with their lantern husks! The past couple of years I only planted 2, but as the flowers cannot be pollinated from flowers on the same plant, I've never had what you would call a bumper crop. 

So this year, I went crazy and planted 5. 

So far, I've made & frozen at least 40 cups of tomatillo salsa, plus the sauces that we've made and eaten right away. Of my 5 tomatillo plants, 3 of them are still going strong with flowers, bees and ripening fruit. There's no stopping them. 

Seriously. I just brought in another 10 - 15 tomatillos today. 

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The great thing about tomatillos salsa is it's easy to make, REALLY REALLY REALLY good, and very versatile. You can eat it with chips, on tacos, and the normal fare, but equally amazing on grilled chicken, pork, steak, or fish. Another way I love to use it is adding it to my salad, along with my homemade ranch dressing. Earlier this week, I even added it to a late night bowl of egg drop soup when I didn't have green onions or cilantro to mix in and it was wonderful!  

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INGREDIENTS

3 jalapeno or serrano chiles
6 medium tomatillos
2 bunches fresh cilantro
1 small white onion - quartered
6 garlic cloves
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
1/4 cup grapeseed oil

DIRECTIONS

Cut the chiles into quarters and remove seeds. For a spicier salsa, leave a few of the seeds in. Husk and quarter the tomatillos.

Cut off the bottom 2 - 3 inches of tough stems from each cilantro bunch. Set aside the leaves and tender stems. 

Nate and I have an ongoing debate regarding the correct way to prepare cilantro. He tends to take the pile of cilantro and remove each and every leaf, stem-by-stem. There's a very good chance that he's correct and this is the proper way to work with cilantro — he knows a lot more than me when it comes to cooking — but I just can't. Many of my favorite recipes to cook include cilantro and I have never once heard a complaint or regretted just chopping off the bottom of the stems. 

You do whatever you want, but I think I'll stick to my way. 

In a food processor, throw in the chiles, tomatillos, cilantro, onion, garlic, 1 tablespoon each of salt and pepper, and 2 tablespoons lime juice. Pulse several times until combines, but still fairly chunky. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and lime juice as needed. The salsa should be a vibrant green color. 

Serve right away, or tightly cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. If you've made a large batch, freezing it works well. 

Enjoy!

xoxo, Lori Danelle

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Introducing: Holiday Photo Cards!

Every year I have grand plans for offering Holiday photo cards, but for one reason or another, it doesn't happen. 

UNTIL THIS YEAR!!! 

I'm so excited to have these cards ready for you!

To order, head over to the shop, pick your design, send me your photos & I'll send you the files needed to print with your preferred printer — whether it's mpix, Costco, or even your home desktop printer!!! 

Paleo/Gluten Free Waffles

Switching to a Paleo diet has been hard in some ways. But generally just when I'm being a whiner and don't want to stretch myself or think outside of what I've always known. 

Growing up, I had a favorite waffle recipe that until a couple of months ago, I even had taped to the inside of one of my cupboard doors. Waffles were my second favorite breakfast food ever, falling just shy of chicken fried chicken with biscuits and gravy. 

When we decided to adopt Paleo for the whole family, I thought I was saying goodbye to many of my favorite foods, waffles included. 

But as we go farther and farther on our Paleo journey, I'm discovering that I haven't left anything behind and have started viewing this as an adventure rather than a forced march! (This week we made pulled pork tamales. . . without corn and they were uh-mazing. I can't wait to share them with you.) I'm just having to retrain my brain to think about the food I eat differently and develop a new normal. 

So waffles. 

I somehow managed to hit the jackpot on the very first try. We even fed these to one of C's 10-year-old friends and she asked for seconds, never knowing that they were grain free. 

I've incorporated a couple of things from my childhood recipe into this one and am excited to share these with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as my girls and I do & maybe even give you hope that eating well doesn't have to mean eating cardboard!! 

Also, this only makes about 4 waffles. . . so you may want to double it. :) 

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INGREDIENTS

(I've added links within the ingredient list to what we use at our house for those just venturing into Paleo/gluten free/grain free cooking. I know it can be a bit daunting setting up your pantry & a little advice can be helpful!) 

1 cup blanched almond flour
1 cup tapioca flour
2 Tablespoons coconut flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup melted ghee
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup almond milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

DIRECTIONS

Preheat waffle iron

Mix all liquid ingredients in a mixing bowl until fully blended.

In a separate bowl, mix together all dry ingredients.

While whisking liquid ingredients on low, slowly add dry mixture. Whisk for 2 minutes or until batter has thickened. Batter will be similar to a thin pancake batter. 

Fill waffle iron with batter and follow manufacturers instructions, baking until crisp and slightly browned. 

Serve immediately with ghee, maple syrup or any other toppings of your choice.
But most of all, ENJOY! 

Ghee: Paleo Butter

When our family first adopted a Paleo diet, there were several things I thought I could not possibly live without. 

Like butter. 

Turns out, I didn't have to. I just needed to look at things differently and learn a new way to do things. 

You can purchase Ghee at the store, but it so easy to make at home, I really don't know why you would. Plus, it can be a bit pricey and I haven't heard good reports regarding the taste. 

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INGREDIENTS

1 pound of unsalted butter

(yup. that's it.)

DIRECTIONS

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 250 degrees. Put the butter into a Dutch oven and bake uncovered until all the water evaporates and the milk solids turn golden brown —  about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours. It is important to allow the solids to become well toasted as it gives the ghee its nutty flavor. 

We use this gravy/fat separator with strainer, but you could line a fine-mesh strainer with 3 layers of cheesecloth that overhang the edges and set over a large bowl instead. 

Let the ghee cool slightly, then pour into the strainer and let sit until all the ghee is extracted. You don't want any of the milk solids to slip through, as this would compromise both the flavor and the shelf life.  Throw out the solids — leaving it dairy free — and pour ghee into a storage container. 

All my research tells me that cooled ghee can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 months (always use a clean spoon/knife) or refrigerated for up to 1 year. 

*******

I usually buy butter in bulk at either Costco or Sam's Club and throw it all in the Dutch oven at one time, lengthening the time in the oven if needed. Then I store it in lidded glass jars and keep one on the counter to use and store the rest in the refrigerator for later. 

We use it just like butter on sweet potatoes, waffles (grain-free of course!), and in baking. 

Enjoy!!

Kool-Aid Hair Dye

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To be honest, I love this dip dyed hair trend. In college, I often was sporting streaks of pink, purple, or blue. I think this dip dye approach looks a whole lot better than what I used to put my hair through! 

I'm of the opinion, that my kids can do WHATEVER they want to with their hair. 

It's hair. 

It will grow back. 

And now that we're homeschooling & don't have to worry about school dress code rules, we decided to give the kool-aid trend a try. 

See below for instructions!  :) 

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How to Dip Dye your hair with Kool-Aid

Make sure your hair is completely dry, brushed, and in a low ponytail.

Boil 1.5 cups of water + 2 packets of Kool-Aid – we used cherry for my daughter with dark brown hair & raspberry lemonade for my daughter with dark blonde hair. The blue did not turn out at all, even though standard hair color has worked for her much better in the past. If you're set on trying blue, I would add more packets, and perhaps lengthen the time as well. Otherwise, I'd pick a red, or maybe purple. :) 

Once boiling, pour into a heat safe mug or cup & submerge the end of your ponytail is soon as possible. THE WATER IS VERY HOT. BE INCREDIBLY CAREFUL!! 

I just had the girls sit in chairs backed up to the kitchen counter & watch a movie on their iPads. Periodically, I would swish their hair around & break up any clumps to make sure all of the hair was getting saturated. 

After 30 minutes, use an old towel to squeeze or blot excess water out, then let hair dry COMPLETELY. We used a blow dryer to speed up the process. Wash as normal. 

The results is beautiful, vibrant & fun color that is theoretically temporary.. . .  :) We're going on about a month with it in P's hair & have seen very little fading. 

What do you think? Should I do mine next?  :) 

xoxo Lori Danelle

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