Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Winter Survival Kit Gift Baskets

"Winter Survival Kit"

This craft is super easy, takes only a few minutes, and costs only about $25 dollars to make!  I made one for each of my friends this Christmas, as well as one for my work party!  Perfect for the person who likes a little of everything!

This basket is full of things that anyone could need for a long winter ahead!  I made my baskets with virtually the same stuff, with a few variations. 

You'll Need:
1 Medium seasonal basket 
1 Throw Blanket
1 Pair of Cozy Socks
1 Mug (cocoa optional)
Lip Balm
Hand Sanitizer
A Game of some sort (I chose Uno, Scrabble Slam, and even a Hello Kitty Coloring book with crayons!)
You'll Also need a pair of scissors, colored construction paper, string, and a metallic permanent marker.

Here's what to do:
Cut the paper into square tags.  
Next, take your marker and write cute and clever things on the tags to describe the things in the basket. (i.e. "For when you're snowed in" for the games, and "To keep the winter bug away" on the sanitizer).
Then, attach the tags to each item and place them in the basket.  
Give them to someone you love!

Next time you're in a pinch and need a gift idea, just get them everything!

Merry Christmas to you and yours!
<3 Love, Lura <3

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Homemade Pumpkin Roll

Growing up, my grandma always made the best pumpkin roll... It was always around for thanksgiving and Christmas, and was always just as much a tradition as trimming the tree and letters to Santa.  I remember making a mess of my hands while deconstructing my slice so I could lick off the cream cheese filling before scarfing down the moist pumpkin cake.  Two years ago, I had my dad email me grandma's recipe.  It's become somewhat of a new tradition to make it in my house and take to work and family gatherings here in Ohio.  I know I will carry on this tradition and pass it on to my future family...

The Holidays are upon us once again!  Of course, the star of any holiday meal is the turkey or ham, but the winner for supporting role will always be dessert!  This recipe has been a much coveted one, as it is by FAR the **BEST** pumpkin roll ever!

The best thing about this recipe? Once you make it the first time, you'll be able to recreate it over and over again.  This is why I make 3 or 4 at a time.  The downside?  You have to make it batch by batch, so you can't just make one big bowl of batter; otherwise you'll end up with one cake too thick and one cake that's mostly filling... (Not that that's a bad thing...) Anyway, the batter is the first part.  get it smooth, and get the pumpkin mixed well with the egg.


The most important tool in this recipe is definitely your tea towels.  Sometimes you can find them under the name "flour sack towels".   Luckily, the Landoll family threw Darren and I a wedding shower last month so we have a wealth of them around the house!  Make sure they are LINEN towels, not terrycloth (there's nothing worse than a lint-filled cake!)...

This recipe has a very short cooking time, which makes up for the amount of steps involved.  Grease the pan, lay the wax paper, grease the wax paper, yadda yadda... In the short 15 minute baking time, you won't have time to mix the filling until the cake is rolled!!  Although the steps seem silly, it makes perfect sense when you're trying to get the cake out of the jelly roll pan!

Cooling time in the towels will give you ample opportunity to make the filling.  **Beware of one thing: DO NOT OVERWORK THE FILLING!  This will make it soupy!!**  The rolling in the towel is very important; have you ever tried to roll a cool cake?  Not pretty. Once it's cool, unroll it, fill it, and roll it back up! (without the towel, of course!)

Grandma's Homemade Pumpkin Roll 
3 eggs
1c sugar
2/3c canned pumpkin (solid pack)
3/4c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon

8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp margarine, softened
3/4 tsp vanilla
1c powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a jelly roll pan, line with wax paper, and grease again.  Mix cake ingredients.  Pour and spread evenly in pan.  Bake for 15 minutes, until browned.  Remove from oven, turn over onto LINEN tea towel.  Remove wax paper, roll up in towel.  Allow to cool for 45-60 minutes.  
(Keep filling refrigerated until ready to use) Mix filling well, taking care not to over work it.  Unroll cake and spread on filling.  Re-roll cake and chill or freeze to allow the filling to set.  Keep refrigerated until ready to eat.

& Betty Abbott

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Family Recipe Mac 'n' Cheese

Mom's Famous Mac 'n' Cheese

Eating this pasta makes me think of home.  It makes me think of growing up and having it with fish sticks or hot dogs carved out to look like little puppies with mustard eyes and macaroni ears.  Food is something I feel needs to be shared, to be passed on throughout the generations.  Share this recipe with your family, just like my great grandmother taught her daughter, who taught her daughter, who taught me...

Mom came to town to visit this week and decided she would make my brother's favorite dish of hers (and one of mine as well), macaroni and cheese.  I know, sounds simple, right?  But there's just something that says home about melted cheese over starchy pasta with just a bit of crusty crunch on top.  (Mmmmm... drool...)  She revealed to me that this recipe was taught to her mother by my namesake, my great grandma Lura. Also, apparently, the only thing my grandma could cook properly!!  Of course, I just HAD to put it into the blog.  

So overall, this is a pretty easy dish to make.  Cook some pasta *I like rotini, mom likes the old fashioned stuff* Put some cheese in, pour milk, garnish, and bake until it's done. or in my case, until the top burns just a little... mmmmmm, brown pasta....

Two Cheese Macaroni And Cheese Bake

1 1/2 lbs Pasta, cooked
1 c Colby Cheese, cut into 1" cubes
1 c Velveeta Cheese, cut into 1" cubes
2 c Milk, heated
Salt and Pepper, to taste
8 tbsp Butter or Margarine

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a large casserole dish, spray nonstick cooking spray.  Cook pasta and drain well.  Pour pasta into prepared dish.  Take the cheese cubes and push them slightly into the pasta, so they're not just sitting on top.  Heat the milk in the microwave, and pour into the bottom of the casserole dish.  Season the top with salt and pepper.  Using the flour, create a heavy dusting on top of the pasta.  Dollop the butter on, about a tablespoon at a time.  (This makes the top crunchy!)  Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the top is golden brown and crispy and the cheese is melted and bubbling.  


Lura A.,
Paula D.,
Grace W., and
Lura P.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

O'Charley's Loaded Baked Potato Soup

 O'Charley's Loaded Baked Potato Soup

t's Halloween today, and it's a dreary, nasty, cold day outside... What better than to make some hot, hearty soup!  My bestie Casey came over this week, I haven't spent any real quality time with her since her wedding last month! She's been trying to get more into cooking lately and I thought it was far time I made this soup with her.  

Everyone knows what you order when you go to any O'Charleys.  Answer?  LOADED BAKED POTATO SOUP!!!  I love this soup and I was so happy when my mom sent me the recipe.  It's super easy and I did find a way to make it healthier and just as tasty!

This soup is great on it's own, as a side, or as I serve it, with a barbecue stuffed croissant!  It freezes well, and as any other soup, gets better overnight.  It makes a whole lot of soup so it's perfect for a big family or any fall celebration!

O'Charley's Baked Potato Soup
3 lbs whole red potatoes, dices to 1/2 in cubes
1/4 C butter, melted
1/4 cup flour
2 quarts half and half (fat free works)
1 lb block Velveeta, melted
white pepper, to taste
garlic powder, to taste
Tobasco Sauce, to taste
1/2 lb bacon (or turkey bacon), fried crisply
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c chopped fresh chives
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley

In a large dutch oven, cover diced unpeeled potatoes with water.  Bring to a boil and let boil for 10 minutes, until al dente.  In separate large dutch oven, add melted butter and flour.  Whisk until smooth.  Slowly add half and half, stirring constantly.  Continute to stir until liquid heats and starts to thicken.  Add melted Velveeta.  Stir until well incorporated.  Drain potatoes and add to cream mixture.  Stir in pepper, garlic pepper, and Tobasco.  Cover and cook over low heat, about 30 minutes until Thick and incorporated.  Top with crumbled bacon, chopped parsley and chives, and cheese.  


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Freakin awesome taco chicken

Pretty good  Freakin Awesome Taco Chicken (Not your storebought stuff!)

Last weekend, Darren's friend Jason came to visit from Salt Lake City.  It was bittersweet because he was coming to close on his house, meaning we won't see them again until the wedding.  I decided to make a special dinner that day to give him a good send off.  Unfortunately, I had a lot to do, including going to look at bridesmaid and flower girl dresses.  So, on with the slow cooker!

I love Mexican food, maybe a little too much.  I have been known to go to breakfast at First Watch and order a chicken quesadilla!  I just find the store bought pre-made taco seasoning to be too salty and artificial.    I decided to go ahead and make my own.  I have tweaked it a few times and done it with shredded chicken and ground turkey, even with Boca meatless crumbles!  This is a perfect recipe for the slow cooker because it cooks with the seasoning on so it's juicy and flavorful!

I would like to take a moment to talk about a seasoning that I can't live without.  It's called southwestern seasoning.  You can usually find it at your cooking specialty stores and it's a blend of spices that includes Ancho Peppers, Onion, Chipotle, Cayenne, and lots of other good stuff.  It's great for seasoning burgers, fish, jerk rubbing for chicken, and makes a great flavor boost for chili!  I get my Trail Dust from Cooks 'Wares in Harpers Point.  Don't have it?  Get it!

So, this is one of the easiest recipes in the whole world!  You can make a large amount of the seasoning ahead of time or do like I do, just throw it all in at once.  Mix it up in your chicken, let it cook all day, and poof!  Delicious shredded chicken that's melt in your mouth and is worthy of sending off a good friend.  

Homemade Taco Seasoning (shredded chicken slow cooker edition)

1-1 1/4 lbs raw boneless, sinless chicken breast tenderloins
1/4 c salsa (any kind works)

Taco Seasoning:

2 tsp southwestern seasoning
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp black pepper

Mix all ingredients in small slow cooker.  Cook on High for 1 hour.  Reduce heat to low and cook for 3 more hours, until chicken is fully cooked and easily shredded by stirring with a fork.  Serve in tortillas, topped with salsa and cilantro.  Cheers!


Friday, October 19, 2012

Flat Tops and Yak Hair

Ont thing I've always wanted to try is teaching.  In the past, I've taught clipper cuts at local schools but I wanted to do something a little more official.  So, I packed up  my gear and headed to the Great Clips Training Center for Academy day 3.  I needed my CEU hours to renew my license for next year, so I was happy to help!

The training center is one smallish room that's decorated like the salons are.  I have attended plenty of meetings in this space, and it's much more comfortable being one of 8 people in the room rather than one of 100.  I also helped to teach an up-do class here earlier this year.  This class is strictly for newbies to Great Clips who need to learn a little more about how the company works.  It's a fun way to become a part of the company as well as a chance to learn some new techniques.  I took the class 7 years ago when I started with Great Clips in 2005.

Today is the clipper class day.  Students performed fades and the dreaded flat top.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the cut, it's basically a style for men where all the hair stands up and is cut to the same lever and looks like a big square on the head (think GI Joe or Jersey Shore's Pauley D, only less like a douche bag).  It's by far the hardest men's cut, and requires a large comb that has a bubble level on it.  Checking the cuts, these guys did really well considering it being their first time performing this cut, and mannequins really stink for cutting anything.
Now there's some sexy flat tops! LOL :)  I was so proud of these 6 students!  Three of them have been doing hair for a year or two, but the other three were brand new stylists!  I have to give a shout out to miss Andie, the third one back, who's a new stylist at my store.  She rocked it out!

Lastly, I got the opportunity to teach the students a higher difficulty cut, done strictly with a feather razor.  This is a cut that is wispy, fun, and funky.  I did this cut for the first time on a girl who was headed to Papua New Guinea and would be bathing in a river, so she wanted all of her hair cut off.  She pulled out a picture of  Mandy Moore and I was like, Are you sure you want this much cut off?!  I guess she liked it because she still has me cut it like this!

Unfortunately it didn't look as good on the mannequin.  I found out that while most mannequin heads are made with human hair, our supplier had switched to a head of YAK HAIR!  This is not how a person's hair looks!
I think she needs to find a new stylist...

I was, however, so happy to be a part of this class and to have the opportunity to pass on my experiences and advice to another group of Great Clips stylists!  I'm sure that they will do nothing but good things in the future, and I hope I get to see them again!

So, my first big teaching gig went really well, and I think I am going to be having the opportunity to have a bigger role in some classes in the second quarter next year!  Stay tuned!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Landoll Family Creamy Corn Dip

It's Halloween Party season and what sounds more like fall than corn??  I had this dip for the first time when I went to Kansas to visit Darren's family for the first time.  We went to a tailgate party for the Kansas State vs. Baylor game (RG3 years).  I tried a bite of it and was like, woah, this stuff rocks!!  I later found out that Darren had it in a family cookbook.  Since that day, I have made this dip for many occasions including Super Bowl parties and New Years Eve.  It's super easy, super tasty, and easy cleanup. Why? There will be no leftovers when you leave the party!! LOL

It's pretty simple, really.  This dip can easily be made an hour before the event (just in case you forget or procrastinate like I tend to do).  It's all measuring, draining, and chopping.  Aside from that, it's just a matter of seasoning (although I usually don't since it's DELICIOUS on it's own).  Corn with vegetables in a creamy mixture that has just a hint of spice... Yummy!

I usually opt for the low-to-reduced fat options in making this since I like to eat a lot of it.  It can be made with full fat sour cream and regular mayo or low to no fat sour cream and Miracle Whip.  Thanks to Janeen for introducing me to this party hit!

Corn Dip:
1 c Sour Cream
1 c Mayo or Miracle Whip
1-10 oz can of Ro-Tel Canned Tomatoes with Green Chilis, drained
2-11 oz cans Green Giant Mexicorn, drained
1 Bunch Green Onions, chopped
6 to 8 oz shredded cheese (I like Sharp Cheddar)

Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.  Chill and serve with lots of Tortilla Chips... Bring a lot, or you won't get any!!  


Friday, October 12, 2012

First Date Pasta Sauce


I call this dish "First Date Pasta Sauce" because it brings back great memories.  It was the first thing I cooked for my fiance Darren when we started dating.  It only took another 2 years for him to finally pop the question!  Of course he still loves it when I cook (although I think he would prefer I make scalloped potatoes every night).  The full recipe is at the bottom of this post...

It's fall and there's nothing better after a cool day than sitting down to a hearty meal with lots of vegetables.  I love the flavors of this sauce; the acid from the tomatoes and the crisp of squash with the bite from the pepper and onion.  Basil and oregano are the main spice notes in this dish.
First off, I prep my veggies.  Chop the herbs pretty finely.  Dice the pepper and onion into small pieces (Hint from mom: if onions make you cry, place an unlit match in your mouth, the sulfur wafting under your face keeps the onion from burning your eyes).  Chop the tomatoes and squash into bite sized chunks.  I use a lot of minced garlic out of the jar, but you can mince your own.
Next, put a stock pot on medium high heat on the stove.  Heat the oil and simmer your minced garlic until browned, about a minute.

Time for your aromatics and vegetables.  Dump in your pepper, onion, squash, and half of your basil and oregano.  Add the wine.  Bring it to a simmer and reduce your heat to low/medium.  Cover the dish and let it simmer until the squash is slightly tender, about 15 minutes.  
Mix in your tomatoes.  Add some sea salt and ground pepper to taste and let it simmer, still covered, for another 15 minutes.  This will give it time to extract the juices from the tomatoes so they will soak into the squash.
Once it's good and juicy add a small can of tomato paste.  This will give the watery stew more of a "saucy" texture.  Add the rest of your herbs and taste.  Add salt and pepper as needed.  Stir it in and let it simmer for about 40 minutes to let all the flavors to soak in.  It's just that easy!  
I like to serve my sauce over thin whole grain spaghetti with turkey sausage and herb salad with homemade balsamic dressing.  We also enjoyed a great white wine from Darren's aunt and uncle in Kansas.  Thanks Roger and Phyllis!! 

--First Date Pasta Sauce--

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
2 small zuchinni, chopped
2 small yellow squash, chopped
1/2 of a large yellow vidalia onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/3 c oregano, finely chopped
1/3 c basil, finely chopped
1/3 c red primivito wine (Italian)
6 vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
1-6 oz can tomato paste
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Heat stock pot on medium-high heat. Pour in oil and heat.  Add garlic, simmer for 1 minute, until the garlic is browned.  Add the bell pepper, onion, zuchinni, yellow squash, half of the basil and oregano, and pour in the wine.  Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low-medium.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until squash is slightly tender.  Add the tomatoes and simmer 15 minutes, until juice is extracted and mixture is soupy.  Fold in tomato paste and season with salt and pepper.  Simmer for 40 minutes more.  Check for taste, season as needed.  Serve over pasta, on sandwiches, or as a hearty side.  Wait for Darren to show up hungry :)

With Love,

Thursday, October 11, 2012

So Here It Is

Well, I am taking my fiancee's advice and starting a blog.  (aren't you proud, Darren?  It's on Google!)  A little about me.  My name's Lura. <--- not a misprint... I am 25 years old.  I live around Cincinnati, OH.  I love football, but not the Bengals...  My occupation, as you can guess, is a hairdresser.  I manage a Great Clips and LOVE my job.  I hate it sometimes, but it's rewarding.  In my free time, I love to cook.  That'll be the majority of what I will be posting.  Not that I expect anyone to actually read this thing.  But maybe I'll get some looks from the Pinterest followers.

I will also post any cool hair/fashion/makeup stuff I find fitting, since obviously that's big part of my life.  I love photography too even though I don't have a good camera.  So if I like a picture, I'll post it.  Just about everything is going to be on this thing... A blog about everything, and nothing...

So here it is, my blog, it is what it is... This is me 

This is Harpo... He's a Butthead
This is my office... I'm lucky, I get to play with hair for a living!
We'll see what comes of this thing... here goes something!