Uppin’ That #selfie Game

While cruisin’ arount Pinterest this morning, looking through all the photography tips and tricks, I came across a pin entitled:

101 Extraordinary Self-Portrait Ideas to Spice Up Your Facebook Profile

It intrigued me. While “spicing up my facebook profile” is not my primary concern, I was interested in seeing other photographers’ “selfies.” (Check out the link above).  Being overly self critical, it’s not often I take (or anyone takes) a photo of myself that I deem “post-worthy.” “DELETE!!!!” I usually scream.

I would like to be able to take better photos of myself for my blog. Looking through the photos, I thought- “ok- I have the tools to do this, too. I can at least get one decent shot.”  1. I have a camera. 2. I have a tripod. 3. I have a self timer. “What the hell. . .” I thought. I’m going to give it a whirl.

I went upstairs to my make-shift studio (a spare bedroom) and set the tripod up in the window seat. I cant stress enough how much easier taking photos can be when you have NATURAL LIGHT!!! ( I took these at about 2:30 in the afternoon, next to a West facing window). Find a window! I am embarrassed to admit that I don’t know how many photos I took- because I deleted them as I went. Sneering at a lazy eye here, growling at my nose in others. I’m willing to bet I took at least 50? And out of those 50 I only “approved” three. WAH WAH WAH. . .

Anywhoo- here they are:

Canon Rebel T3: 50 mm f 3.2, ss 1/100, ISO 200
Canon Rebel T3: 50 mm f 3.2, ss 1/100, ISO 200

I did minimal adjustments in Lightroom 5. I did a teensy bit of eye enhancement and and upped the exposure to 1.10. I also added a tad of airbrushing in Picmonkey. Pick monkey is uber user friendly and I like to use it for portrait “touch ups” on the face. Of course you can use lightroom or photoshop, but if you’re a beginner I think Picmonkey is an easier route.

I also found  a link on Pinterest for 100 Free Presets, from Camera Stupid, that I’ve been playing with. I used them on these photos.

I’ve really been eyeballing the packages from Pretty Presets for Lightroom. Literally drooling. It’s like any minute, I’ll give in and press the button! Has anyone purchased from them? What are your thoughts?

50 mm, f 3.2, ISO 200 ss 1/100
50 mm, f 3.2, ISO 200 ss 1/100

selfie 3 Obviously, the composition on this last photo isn’t great. I just wanted to see if I could actually use the self time and produce some results that I liked. All in all, I think I’m slowly but surely improving- and having fun along the way!

Until my next camera project, bloggin’ friends. . .

xo Kelli

Inside the Studio 2014: A Holiday Recap

baby collage holiday 2December kicked off my first real efforts at photography- and I have to say- not too shabby! I’ve learned a lot about lighting, composition, and the ins and outs of my camera itself.

I can’t wait until Spring and warmer weather to get a bit more creative with the outdoors, but for now I’m ready to start booking for Valentine’s Day shoots, babies and boudoir!

Here are a few photos of the holiday shoots with these adorable cutie patooties. (Thanks mommies for putting your trust in me and letting me be the lucky lady to capture their smiles!)

davis CollageFirst we have Davis. I am absolutely in love with his Santa photos, and who doesn’t love a blue eyed babe in IU coveralls? He was such an angel the entire time!

rya collageIt took us a while to get Rya warmed up, but after we bribed her with a few M&M’s and sat her up in the window seat, she was happy as a clam. I loved her enthusiasm for the photo booth props! I find that the natural light from this window is much more preferable than the studio lighting I have in that room. While I have a decent little set up, natural light is where it’s at!

reign CollageI CANNOT wait to photograph this babe again! Her momma and I have already talked about a whimsical meadow set up with lots of adorable props for the Spring. Reign was super curious about all the props, but we finally got a few smiles out of her. I’ve captioned the one on the right “Santa brought me what!?!”

Last but not least, click here to see inside Lola’s Holiday shoot with a few more photos!

If anyone is interested in shooting with me or have some creative ideas for a shoot, please email me at kebastin@gmail.com. If  interested in seeing the props used or the set up for the holiday shoots, let me know!

Scalloped Pineapple. . What is it? (Delicious, that’s what!)

scalloped pineapple 4This is one of my favorite holiday dishes EVER. Grandma used to make it every Thanksgiving and every Christmas, and it was a side dish staple. Pineapple as a side dish? Say wuh? Yep. The closest thing I can compare it to is bread pudding. Served warm, I supposed you could adorn it with a scoop of vanilla, or some fantastic bourbon cream sauce or something of the sort, but I thin that would give it more of a dessert feel (not an all together bad idea- for I do love my bread pudding.)

The past few years, my mom sister and I have made collaborative efforts towards the holiday meal, each of us bringing a few to the get together to lessen the work load for the hostess.

scalloped pineapple 2I also recently made this for my boyfriends birthday party- we invited his mom, sister and grandparents over as they had never been to/seen our house before. His grandma and grandma were so sweet and complimentary, but especially seemed to like this dish out of everything I made. So, I told her I’d made it to bring to their holiday get together.

Well, I made it yesterday and as his family went through the buffet line- I heard “what is this?”. “Some sort of dressing I think.” Another person,  “no, I think it’s potatoes.” Someone else- ” Kelli said it was pineapple.” And finally, “no it’s not pineapple.”

Yep! It’s pineapple! I’ll have to admit the name itself is somewhat confusing to me now that I’ve thought about it. I usually associate the word “scalloped” with cheesy potatoes- I think as most people do. So I looked it up. The word “scalloped” when associated with cooking is derived from the French word “escalloped” :escallopedSo, I suppose it does make sense, but could be misleading. We can call it pineapple bread pudding if it makes anyone feel better. Whatever it’s called- it was a hit and I got lots of compliments. AND- it’s CRAZY easy.

Below is Grandma Mary’s original recipe- I have no idea where she got it from but she’s been making this for 20 years. And after that I have a “party size” recipe that I typically make for large groups, or you can divide it into two pans and take more than one get together. This also freezes well.

Grandma Mary’s Scalloped Pineapple

Ingredients:

  • 1- 20 oz can crushed pineapple
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 c bread cubes (about 8 slices)
  • 1 cup melted butter

Mix and bake in greased casserole dish (she uses an 8×8). Turn in oven to bake evenly. Bake one hour at 350 F.

Party portion:

  • 1.5 loaf white bread, cubed
  • 1.5 c butter (3 sticks)
  • 3 -20 oz cans crushed pineapple
  • 6 eggs beaten
  • 2 tbsp vanilla
  • 3 cups sugar

Prepare the same way. I use a 9 x 13 aluminum roaster pan (these are slightly larger and have a wider dimension at the top of the pan that a regular 9×13 baking dish.) If you choose to use your regular 9×13 baking dish, you might want to dole out some and put in another smaller dish- as I did for the photo. I took the large pan to the bf’s family get together, and the smaller one to mine- my family is considerably smaller.

scalloped pineapple 3

I hope you enjoy! This will be something no one at the party has had before! Remember, you can also serve it as a dessert with ice cram or a cream sauce. Serve warm!

  • xo Kelli

Balsamic Parmasean & Portobello Risotto

Parmasean and Mushroom Risotto wordsThe holidays are finally here, and while I didn’t have to commit to whippin’ up the whole dinner spread (we have too many places to go),  I like to have several options up my sleeve that I can make a day or two ahead of time and taste just as good when reheated right before the meal. For Christmas dinner at my Grandma’s tomorrow, I’ll be bringing this baked risotto- recipe made up a few days ago.  I wanted to bring something that my Grandma doesn’t traditionally make, and something I was sure no other family members would make. Easy -and I’m guessing it’ll be just as good warmed over. I mean, anything with balsamic reduction can’t be bad, right?

Another little tip of mine for holiday pitch-ins, or parties where I’m asked to bring a dish: I generally like to buy aluminum roasting pans to take. That way, I can leave the rest of the dish for the host, and not have to worry about emptying my glass dish out and taking it with me right away. The host can either throw the pan away, or re-use it, whatever they choose! I buy the 9×13 roasting pans- they come in a set of two and also include plastic lids for easy transport.

Parmasean and Mushroom Risotto2

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz (2 packages) portobellos, minced
  • 2 large shallots, peeled and minced
  • 1 heaping Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 8 oz brick cream cheese, cubed and softened
  • 2 c white or jasmine rice
  • 3 c vegetable broth
  • 1 c shredded parmasean (plus 1/4 c for topping)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 Tbsp balsamic reduction
  1. In a rice cooker (pressure cooker, or on the stove) Add vegetable stock and rice, and cook according to directions on package.
  2. In medium skillet, sautee shallots in butter. Stir until they began to carmelize.
  3. Add portobellos and garlic. Sautee for about 3 more minutes.
  4. Add cubed cream cheese, stir until completely melted into mushroom/shallot mixture.
  5.  Add cream of mushroom soup.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Mix cooked rice and mushroom mixture.
  8. Add shredded parmasean to mixture.
  9. Spread in 9×13 pan.
  10. Top with additional shredded cheese and balsamic redution. Broil until cheese is bubbly.

If you’re making this ahead of time, let completely cool before you put the lid on and pop it in the fridge. Reheat in oven at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes before serving.

Tomorrow I’ll be making “Scalloped Pineapple”, one of my favorite holiday side dishes that my Grandma Mary has always made. It’s similar to a bread pudding, but served as a side, with no-sauce. I can’t wait!

Happy Holidays y’all!

xo Kelli

Garlic and Ginger Mongolian Beef With Snow Peas

mongolian beef_-blog photoFriday night, I decided to stay in and cook dinner for the bf and my parents. Bf requested Mongolian beef- similar to that of PF Chang’s. So I scoured the internet, and added a few flairs of my own to this dish. Turned out really good although a tad sweet! If you would like spicy I would recommend adding a bit of hot pepper, or even just some crushed red pepper flakes.

This is the start of my second week of (trying) to count macros. While this dish isn’t the healthiest, I measured out my portions and was able to enjoy it all the same!

The beef in this dish was tender and flavorful- I was careful not to over cook the beef- I hate when I order an Asian beef dish (that sounds dirty to me some how?) and the meat comes out tough and overcooked- almost rubbery. Be sure to follow the cooking directions below to avoid this.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb flank steak (sliced thin- about 1/4″ against the grain)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh minced ginger
  • 3 Tbsp fresh minced or pressed garlic
  • 3-4 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Oyster sauce
  • 1/4 c Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 c water
  • 2 c snow peas
  1. Lightly dredge sliced flank steak in cornstarch.
  2. Heat oil in HOT skillet. Drop the steak in and stir around until steak is cooked just to about medium rare.
  3. Take steak out, lightly toss in remaining cornstarch.
  4. In same skillet, sautee ginger and olive oil. Add water, oyster sauce, fish sauce soy sauce and brown sugar. Whisk until sugar is disolved and let simmer for approximately 2 minutes.
  5. Add beef and snow peas in. Sautee for about 3 more minutes- sauce should thicken and beef should just be turning brown. (You are adding the beef back in here so it hasn’t been sitting in the wok, overcooking. Overcooking this cut of beef will yeild a rubbery, tough product- especially since it has been sliced thin!)

Serve over white rice.

You can also make a vegetarian version of this dish: my parents are vegetarian so I made two versions tonight.  AND, my mom doesn’t eat sugar. SO- the sauce was out. I subbed out the beef for cubed egg plant, and used extra ginger, garlic, soy in her version. She had seconds (which is very usual for her!) I tasted the vegan version, but I myself prefer the beef.

If you don’t have oyster sauce and/or fish sauce (you can find both of these in the Asian section at the grocery, or the “world foods” section”) you can add a bit more soy.

And, if you don’t think you’d want to buy  Fish Sauce or Oyster Sauce because you wouldn’t ever use it again and it would go to waste-that’s not the case! Both of these sauces go GREAT with veggies ( i.e. green beans, asparagus and broccoli) as well as any stir fry. You can pair it with soy sauce, and use it on almost any meat for an Asian style dish. Beware there is quite a bit of sugar in both sauces- so if you’re watching your sugar intake be sure to measure out the portions properly.

xo Kelli

Hot Buttered Rum Cake

Hot Buttered Rum Cake 1-tagLet’s start this post off by saying, I am a dessert maker, not eater. While I enjoy dessert, I just want a few bites. (I’d rather have a big plate of cheese fries or a salty snack.)  I typically might have one serving and force feed the rest to my boytoy, dad and coworkers.

However- this cake- well it takes the cake. I first had this cake about 6 years ago. One of my regulars at the bar would bring an entire cake in for us bartenders. I may or may not have been the first to take the cake, cut half off and hide it all for myself. I literally would eat the entire half I hid. . . in one evening. It is that good. It doesn’t really look like anything special- but let me impress upon you- YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS.

Also, I would like to say: I despise  (well maybe not despise- but I scoff at them behind their backs) people who use box cake mixes and then say “oh this is home made”. No it is not. You made that from a box!!! You did not make it from scratch and put lots of love, sweat and possibly cat hairs into it. (Rant over). So- this is my disclaimer. This cake IS made with a box mix. However, it is so good I’m not ashamed to share it. Just this once.

Hot Buttered Rum Cake 2-tag

 Cake Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c chopped pecans
  • 1 box Duncan Hines Butter Recipe cake mix
  • 1 box vanilla Jello pudding and pie filling
  • 1/2 c spiced or dark rum ( I used Captain Morgan)
  • 1/2 oil
  • 1/2 c water
  • 4 eggs
  1.  Sprinkle pecans in bottom of greased bundt pan.
  2. Combine dry cake ingredients. Then add oil, water and rum.
  3. Beat on high for 3-5 minutes until most clumps are gone. Pour over pecans in bundt pan.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes, or until toothpick comes out almost clean. Don’t overcook- keep your eye on it!
  5.   Let cake completely cool

Hot Buttered Rum Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1/4 c rum
  1. In sauce pan, add water and butter. Whisk continuously as butter melts.  Add sugar and rum. Continuously whisk until frothy.
  2.  Poke holes all over the COOLED cake.
  3.  Pour the hot buttered rum mixture down the sides of the cake in the pan, and all over cake. (This will look like there is too much sauce- but use it all! Don’t skimp on the sauce! This is what makes this cake AMAZING!)

Let cake sit for at least an hour before you invert it. This cake is so. .  moist (it killed me to just type that) but really there’s no other way to describe it. I’m so glad I found the recipe in my email inbox from all those years ago! I plan on making it one of my holiday staples!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

xo Kelli

Inside the studio: Lola’s Holiday Shoot 2014

Lola  cover photo

As my photography journey continues, I’ve decided I need some good lookin’ people to practice on and who better than this little angel? I’ve been working on a small studio in a spare bedroom in my home, and thought I could possibly do some photos with little Miss Lola. Her mother is one of my best friends, and I hadn’t seen any holiday photos of Lola thus far into the season-so, I took the opportunity and asked her momma if I could be the one to do the shoot.

Poor Lola was teething and a little confused as to why we were shaking a stuffed moose, making fart noises and draping her in Christmas lights- but she was a good sport. Bless her little heart! Here are a few photos from the shoot.

 

Seriously- How adorable is she?!
Seriously- How adorable is she?!
Those baby blues!
Those baby blues!

Lola 2

And last but not least. . . (I thought the one with the garland would be cute for a Christmas card- leaving enough room in between the garland and the baby’s head for some text!)

lola 4

My Next photo-related post will be on some DIY Christmas backdrops. Get ready to have your kitchen table strewn with craft supplies! (Not all of them are shown in this post because I didn’t chose to share any of the photos that included them!) Hopefully I’ll have some more photos of these little holiday babes in which you can see them soon!

So, while I know there is room for improvement, I’m happy considering this is one of my first shoots. (But then again it’s easing photography some one so cute!)

Happy Holiday’s ya patooties!

Let me know if you or anyone you know is interested in photos. kebastin@gmail.com