Tutorial Tuesday | Digital Mini Albums (Part 3)

It’s time for another edition of our Tutorial Tuesday series here on The Digital Press blog! Today’s post is Part 3 in a series on creating a digital mini album (you can find Part 1, from March 2018, HERE and Part 2, from April 2018 HERE on the blog).

In that first part of the series, I shared that mini albums are handy for…

  • Scrapping a family vacation
  • Creating a special gift for someone
  • Marking a special holiday
  • Documenting a specific family tradition
  • Capturing a sports season
  • Life Events such as adoption, graduation, birthday, wedding, birth, or death

I also shared that I have found there to be four main steps in the process of creating a mini album…

  1. Planning
  2. Organizing
  3. Filling & Finishing
  4. Printing

  In Part 1 we looked at the first step: PLANNING. Part 2 I shared with you 4 different areas you could ORGANIZE to make the creation portion more streamlined.  And TODAY we get to do the fun part  . . .

Step 3: Filling and Finishing

Filling and Finishing is where all the magic happens.  This is where you get to see your pages take shape and fill in all the little details you have been wanting to add.  IT can be daunting, especially if you have a LOT of pictures to use and pages to make (can you say Baby Album??!!)

However, if you have taken care of all the prep-work in Steps 1 & 2 that we talked about, you should have everything right at hand and ready to go.

In reality, there is NO wrong way to do Step 3, as most of it comes down to your own personal scrapping style.  Some people like to completely finish on page, from photo to shadow treatment, before going on to the next.  However, if you are feeling a little overwhelmed, or the project looks daunting, having a plan and batching your work can help break things up for you and make the process go smoother.

In batching, you do a series of activities or jobs that are all similar at the same time.  This creates a work flow that actually saves you time in the end because you are not having to transition from one task to the next, which (in my case) wastes valuable brain activity.  So when I batch the tasks for my mini album, I do a single task all at once for every page in my album.  This is the method I use.

Start with your PHOTOS

You have already organized your photos into folders so why not start there.

In step 2 we created some BASE PAGES, or templates that we will use over and over for our mini album.  Open up some of these and pull your photos onto pages or templates and save them as Page 1, Page 2, etc.  (Or if you would rather, you can give them actual names.)  This will allow you to make sure you have all the pages you need and also show you if you need to condense some pages, “fix” or create a few additional pages to complete your book, or if there are any other problems you did not expect.  Some people like to do this page by page in the same order the mini album will be in once finished, but that is not necessary.

Here is what one of my pages looked like after filling the photos for the page.

Decide on Two Page Spreads

Since you are already working on your photos and numbering pages, go ahead and figure out your page spreads.

Sometimes this will be easy, for example, when you have a number of photos for one event, you will need both pages.  However, other times you only have one photo, and you will need to decide if you want to pair it with another topic/event or perhaps create a journaling or decorative page to go with it instead.  Make sure you keep in mind how many total pages you planned for during this stage.  You don’t want your mini album growing into a novel!

Also, consider diversifying your pages a bit to create interest.  Here I have combined a full page photo with a journaling page, because there is quite a story behind all the events leading up to this photo, and I wanted my sister to have room to tell it.

Paper and Backgrounds

After I have all my photos in and all my pages made up and ready to go, I start adding my background papers.

I wait to add papers because I often end up switching some pages around during the above two steps.  Adding the papers now makes sure that my double page spreads still compliment each other, and I don’t have to waste time switching out papers that no longer work well together because of page moves.

Elements

Once the backgrounds are settled I go to town adding my elements.

As mentioned in Step 2, I try to stick to a certain set of elements that I have already chosen as this creates cohesion and balance in my mini album.  Also, I don’t want to add too many elements, as this will be a smaller than normal book and can easlily get cluttered, but I do want enough to highlght my photos and rerally tell my story.

If you like to tweak your shadows you can also go ahead do that here, or you can wait to the very end if you prefer.

Journaling

Don’t forget to add your journaling.

It can be as simple as names and dates, or as detailed as whole page stories.  If you have already written and compiled your journaling you can simply copy and paste it in.  If you still need to write your journaling, let your own journaling style shine through here.  If you run out of ideas – look through the blog.  There have been some amazing inspiration and tutorial posts about journaling that can give you some ideas.

Finishing Touches

And finally add your finishing touches.

Maybe you like to tweak your shadows, or create a cover or dedication.  Any of those little things that really FINISH off your mini album should be done now.  Take time to flip through your pages in order and make sure they flow.  Look for events, or pages that got left out, or maybe pages that don’t fit.  See if there are certain elements you should repeat in a few more places to really bring everything together.

Once you have done all that, you are almost finished.  All that is left if to make sure it is print ready and have those pages printed out.  We will talk about that next month.

In the meantime, happy scrapping, and keep an eye out for our final installment – PRINTING!!

See you next time!


ErinErin is an artsy crafty kind of girl who is currently dabbling in far too many things, but is working hard to enjoy every moment of it, while avoiding the rain, which is difficult due to living in the land of many rains. She is slowly learning to use her smart phone to capture all the fun little bits of life that would otherwise go unremembered in the busy craziness that is raising a family!

Tutorial Tuesday | Transforming Templates

BlogHeaderTemplate

Welcome to another edition of Tutorial Tuesday here on The Digital Press blog! Today, I thought it would be helpful if I shared a few ways that you can creatively transform templates to fit your scrapbooking needs! These tips and tricks will help you get the most bang for your buck when purchasing and using templates!

More often than not I find I have more photos that I want to scrapbook, than the template allows for. To remedy this I often add in more photos in places on the template that are suggested to be papers. For this layout I use Anita Designs Quick Scraps Vol. 17:

ad_quickscraps17_preview

I altered the bottom left template by rotating & adding a photo to the spot that could have been background paper. I love the look of the larger unframed bottom photo behind the three framed photos. It gives the layout more dimension, helps tell the story & visually leads your eye across the page.

wicked-awesome_webJH

For this layout I used another template from the same pack (the top right template) and added a large photo underneath the layers of the template. Large photos help showcase the subject of a page and  are a a great way to catch the eye of the reader.

young-wild-and-free_web

Another way to use templates is to break up your single photo to fit multiple spots. For this layout I used another template by Anita Designs A December Story Captured (template 21)

ad_adecstorycapt2016_tp21

I placed a single photo in the three photo slots in the template. To get this look I merged the three photo layers (Command +E) in the template and then placed my photo on top of that layout and clipped it (Command +G) to the frames.  A super easy and unique look to make a template work to tell your story!

crazy_webJH

You can also rotate and delete parts of a template to make them work for your layout. I did exactly that with the bottom left template by Dunia Designs:_dunia_soco_springdays_templates

Again a large photo takes center stage of the layout. I rotated the entire template and moved everything to the bottom quarter to make more room to showcase the large photo. You can always move and tweak a template to make it work. Start with the end in mind and you can make your vision come to life with a few little changes!

candid-photograph_web

Remember just because a template is set up one way by a designer, it doesn’t mean you have to keep it that way! Change those templates up and make them work for you and your personal style! Happy Scrapbooking!


JenniferHigniteJennifer Hignite is a mom of three boys and new homeowner with her fiance in the mitten state of Michigan. When she is not scrapbooking, she enjoys photography, watching her boys play sports, decorating, and shopping at Target.

Summer Camp 2017 | Mess Hall | WEEK #4

Hello, and welcome to the fourth and final edition of our weekly “Mess Hall” feature during The Digital Press’s big SUMMER CAMP 2017 event that has been taking place throughout July!

If you haven’t already checked out the other “Mess Hall” meals that have been a part of SUMMER CAMP 2017 (and/or any of the other fun activities)… definitely swing through the forum, grab yourself a badge tracking card, and join the fun! We’ve got one week left in this month-long event, and there’s actually still plenty of time to jump in and earn a chance at some prizes! We’ve got events, challenges, tutorials, and more lined up throughout the final week of July! 🙂

As for today’s “Mess Hall” …as you know, throughout the month of July the members of our team have been here on the blog sharing a weekly meal with you — a main course, side dish, and dessert (or cocktail!) that are each tried-and-true (tested personally by members of our team!). Give any of this week’s meal items a try, and you could earn a SUMMER CAMP 2017 badge! Get the full details HERE.

So… let’s jump right into this week’s meal!

The WEEK #4 meal comes to you from TDP creative team member Carolyn, who hails from the Sunshine Coast of Australia… and you can definitely tell where she’s from by the tropical/beachy vibe you get from the meal she’s whipped up for us! Whereas our first week’s meal (WEEK #1, found HERE) was Italian-inspired… and the second week’s meal (WEEK #2, found HERE) was Mexican-inspired… and last week’s meal (WEEK #3, found HERE) was very comfort-food-inspired… this final meal is very island-inspired! And can we just say? …we think you’re going to love it. YUM!

photo credits for [1] [2] and [3] to TDP creative team member Carolyn

What is that up there, you ask?

  • Rice Paper Wraps with Chicken or Prawns
  • Quinoa Salad with Roasted Vegetables
  • Mini Pavlovas

We keep saying it every week, and even though we might sound like a broken record… we’ll say it again — YUM! You truly won’t be disappointed if you give any of these recipes a try.


RICE PAPER WRAPS WITH CHICKEN OR PRAWNS

Carolyn had the following to say about this recipe: “We try to eat as healthy as possible and always cook from scratch. This, however, does not mean that we spend hours in the kitchen everyday… as no one has time for this. This recipe is wonderful to serve on a hot summer’s day and can either be prepped ahead of time*, or made at the table with your family. We find that it is a fun family dinner, as children just love rolling up their own wrappers. You can use a variety of fillings so just select ingredients that are familiar to your family..”

INGREDIENTS NEEDED

—1 packet of Vietnamese rice paper wraps (see prep photo HERE)
—1 cup shredded barbecued chicken
—1 cup of peeled and de-veined prawns
—1 carrot (cut into short thin strips or shredded)
—1 small cucumber (cut into thin strips)
—1 cup bean shoots or sprouts
—1/2 cup fresh mint (or other herbs as desired)
—a few cabbage leaves (sliced finely)
—sweet chili sauce

INSTRUCTIONS

*these wraps should be made as close as possible to the time they are to be eaten; if preparing ahead of time, however, store on plastic wrap in fridge.

—Prepare all of the filling ingredients first (as noted above) by arranging each individually on separate plates or one very large plate.
—Fill a large bowl with hot water.
—Take one of the rice paper wrappers and dunk it into the water for a few seconds (just enough to soften it; do not soak the wrappers).
—Select desired filling ingredients and place in center of wet softened wrap (do not overfill).
—Add approximately 1 teaspoon of chili sauce over ingredients.
—Fold up the base of wrapper over ingredients; fold in both sides; and then roll it up (see prep photo HERE). Serve.

*TIP* I will often use a wet tea towel as my plate to do the wrapping, as I have found that it is easier to roll the wraps on the wet towel.


QUINOA SALAD WITH ROASTED VEGETABLES

Carolyn had the following to say about this recipe: “This is one of our favourite recipes, which we are lucky to make largely from fresh ingredients straight out of our garden. This salad is so easy, and a great way to use leftover vegetables and salad greens. It is perfect for summer, as you can prepare it a day ahead and keep it in the fridge. It is also gluten-free and vegan.”

INGREDIENTS NEEDED

—1 cup quinoa (dark or white)
—2 cups water
—mixed vegetables for roasting (I used 1 beetroot, 1 large sweet potato, and 1 parsnip [see prep photo HERE]… but you can use just about any vegetable you have available)
—olive oil
—1 colander of mixed salad greens (I used rocket, parsley and lettuce)
—DRESSING: 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper (I also usually add grated lemon rind; a.k.a. lemon zest)

INSTRUCTIONS

—Combine quinoa with water in a saucepan on stove and bring to boil; once boiling, put lid on saucepan and reduce heat to low; simmer for 10 minutes.
—Remove saucepan from heat, and leave lid on for approximately 30 minutes for quinoa to finish steaming; then, fluff up quinoa with a fork.
—Prepare vegetables for roasting by peeling and dicing into small pieces. You will need approximately 2 trays for roasting. Drizzle veggies with olive oil. You can add herbs if you like (I also added some fresh thyme and oregano; see prep photo HERE).
—Bake vegetables at 190 degrees C (375 F) for about 25 minutes.
—Meanwhile, prepare the salad greens by cutting into strips.
—Prepare salad dressing by whisking together all of the “DRESSING” ingredients (listed above).
—Place the cooked quinoa into large salad bowl, add prepared greens, and mix in the dressing. Add roasted vegetables as the last ingredient. Serve.


MINI PAVLOVAS

Carolyn had the following to say about this recipe: “I had to include this recipe, as it is a traditional Australian recipe — although it is usually served as a large Pavlova, rather than as minis. You can use whatever fruit is in season. This recipe should make 6-8 minis.”

INGREDIENTS NEEDED

—4 egg whites (at room temperature)
—1 cup caster sugar (very fine granular sugar; otherwise you can use standard granular sugar but it will just take a little longer)
—fresh cream (approximately 1/2 cup)
—mixed fresh fruit, sliced (I used a combination of blueberries, strawberries and passionfruit; see photo, above, of the final product)

INSTRUCTIONS

—Cover oven tray with baking paper (a.k.a. parchment paper).
—If using whole eggs, separate the whites from yolk and beat egg whites in a bowl at medium speed with electric mixer until soft peaks form (see prep photo HERE).
—Gradually add sugar, 1 Tbsp at a time, beating until dissolved between additions. Once the last of the sugar is dissolved, your mixture should be glossy and thick.
—To make the minis, you can use a cookie cutter as a shape guide. Add approximately 2 Tbsp of meringue mixture to inside of shape mounding more on the outer edges. Lift cutter for next shape.
—Bake at 150 degrees C (300 F) for 30 minutes. Then, turn off oven and leave in oven to dry and cool.
—Whip the fresh cream (I do not feel sugar is needed… but add if you prefer; I usually flavour the cream with rose water).
—Once cool, decorate the minis with whipped cream and fresh fruit. Serve.

* Per Carolyn: you will see in my photos that these mini pavlovas were a little flat; this can occur if you beat the egg whites too quickly / at too high a speed. They still tasted fantastic!

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Want to give one of these recipes a try and earn your WEEK #4 MESS HALL BADGE for TDP’s SUMMER CAMP 2017? Come get the details in the forum —> HERE.

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Laura Passage

About the Author  Laura Passage is the owner of The Digital Press, and also the designer behind Wishing Well Creations by Laura Passage (WWC). She works now as a graphic designer in both the digital and paper scrapbooking industries, but previously spent over a decade working as a college soccer coach. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two young sons (affectionately referred to as The Tiny Terrorists), and will rationalize eating coffee ice cream for breakfast to anyone who questions it.

Summer Camp 2017 | Mess Hall | WEEK #3

Hello, and welcome to the third edition of our weekly “Mess Hall” feature — part of The Digital Press’s big SUMMER CAMP 2017 event this July!

If you haven’t already checked out our lineup of activities for SUMMER CAMP 2017… definitely swing through the forum, grab yourself a badge tracking card, and join the fun! We’re only halfway through the month, and there’s still plenty of time to jump in! We’ve got events, challenges, tutorials, and more lined up throughout the month of July… including a weekly FOOD article, like this one! 🙂

Each Sunday throughout the first 4 weeks of July, members of our team will be here on the blog sharing a meal with you — a main course, side dish, and dessert (or cocktail!) that are each tried-and-true (tested personally by members of our team!). Give any of the meal items a try, and you could earn a SUMMER CAMP 2017 badge! Get the full details HERE.

So… let’s jump right into this week’s meal!

Whereas our first week’s meal (WEEK #1, found HERE) was Italian-inspired… and the second week’s meal (WEEK #2, found HERE) was Mexican-inspired… this third week’s meal by TDP designer Kristen Magee of k.becca is very comfort-food-inspired! I mean, who doesn’t love themselves a flavorful slow-cooker masterpiece, and some good old-fashioned mac-n-cheese?! YUMMM!

photo credits to [1] and [2] TDP Designer Kristen Magee and [3] Gluten-Free on a Shoestring

What is that up there, you ask?

  • Slow Cooker Italian Chicken & Peppers
  • Kristen’s Favorite Stove Top Mac-&-Cheese
  • Gluten-Free Chocolate Chunk Quick Bread

We keep saying it every week, and we’ll say it again — just YUM, about all of it! You truly won’t be disappointed if you give any of these recipes a try.


SLOW COOKER ITALIAN CHICKEN & PEPPERS

Kristen had the following to say about this recipe: “Slow cooker recipes are so great when you’re short on time or on hot days when you don’t feel like turning on the oven. I love that this recipe is so flexible. Serve it over pasta or rice, or spoon some onto sandwich buns for a slightly messy but super tasty meal.”

INGREDIENTS NEEDED

—3 bell peppers (any color)
—1 medium onion
—24 oz (1.5 lbs) boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
—1 tsp basil
—1 tsp oregano
—3 cloves of garlic, minced
—1/2 – 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional – if you want the sauce to have a bit of a spicy kick)
—24 oz jar marinara sauce
—salt & pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

—Slice the bell peppers and onions into 1/4 inch wide strips. Lay half of the cut onion and peppers in the bottom of a 4 quart / large slow cooker.
—Place the chicken breasts on top of the onions and peppers and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the basil, oregano, minced garlic, and (if using) crushed red pepper flakes over the chicken.
—Cover the chicken with the remaining onion and peppers, and pour the marinara sauce over top.
—Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours or low for eight hours.
—After cooking, remove the lid and use tongs or two forks to shred the chicken. The chicken should be so tender that it just about falls apart on its own.
—Stir everything together after shredding the chicken and serve over pasta or rice. Or you can do what I did : grab some rolls and make sandwiches with it!

[recipe adapted slightly from an original recipe found on Budget Bytes]

KRISTEN’S FAVORITE STOVE TOP MAC-&-CHEESE

Kristen had the following to say about this recipe: “Mac & cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods, and this recipe is incredibly cheesy, creamy, and delicious. Plus, you can make it in one pot on the stove top! On several occasions, I’ve sprinkled crumbled bacon on top and served it as a main dish with a side of broccoli or mixed vegetables. So good!”

INGREDIENTS NEEDED

—8 oz (1/2 lb) elbow macaroni
—4 Tbsp butter
—2 eggs
—6 oz evaporated milk (or, I’ve also tried this recipe with half-&-half, a mix of cream and 2% milk, and whole milk… and it’s always turned out great!)
—1 tsp kosher salt
—1/4 tsp fresh black pepper
—1/2 tsp hot sauce
—1/2 tsp yellow or Dijon mustard
—10 oz mild or sharp cheddar cheese, grated (the original recipe calls for sharp cheddar, but I prefer mild cheddar so that’s what I use. You can even mix both!)

INSTRUCTIONS

—In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente and drain.
—Return the pasta to the pot and melt in the butter. Toss to coat.
—In a mixing bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, mustard, salt, and pepper.
—Stir into the pasta and add the cheese. Over low heat, stir continuously for 3-5 minutes or until creamy. For the first few minutes, it might not look like it’s going to come together, but once the cheese starts to melt, everything becomes creamy very quickly.

[recipe adapted slightly from an original recipe by Alton Brown]

GLUTEN-FREE CHOCOLATE CHUNK QUICK BREAD

Kristen had the following to say about this recipe: “A moist and tender, not-too-sweet quick bread that is so yummy no one will guess it’s gluten free!”

INGREDIENTS NEEDED

—1-3/4 cups (245g) all-purpose gluten free flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill 1 To 1 Baking Flour)
—6 Tbsp (54g) cornstarch
—1 tsp xanthan gum (omit if your flour blend already contains it)
—1 tsp vanilla
—1-1/2 tsp baking powder
—1/2 tsp baking soda
—1/2 tsp kosher salt
—3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
—6 Tbsp (84g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
—1 cup (227g) plain yogurt, at room temperature
—2 eggs (120g, out of shell), at room temperature
—4 oz. chopped milk or dark chocolate (chocolate chips work great, too!)

INSTRUCTIONS

—Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a standard 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan with non-stick spray and set it aside.
—In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl with a hand mixer), place the gluten free flour blend, cornstarch, xanthan gum (if needed), baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Whisk to combine well with a separate, handheld whisk or a fork.
—Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients. In a measuring cup, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, and vanilla. Add the butter and the yogurt/egg/vanilla mixture into the well in the center of the dry ingredients.
—Mix on medium speed with the paddle attachment of your stand mixer (or a handheld mixer) for 2-3 minutes, or until the batter is combined and smooth. The batter will be thick.
—Fold the chopped chocolate into the batter with a spatula until the chocolate is evenly distributed throughout the batter. Scrape into the prepared baking pan. To create a dome shape, run a wet spatula along the edges of the pan and pull the batter toward the center.
—Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F, and continue to bake for another 20-35 minutes*, or until the top of the loaf springs back when pressed lightly and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with, at most, a few crumbs attached.
—Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the loaf pan for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, slice and serve.

* Per Kristen: the original recipe states to continue baking for 20 minutes after reducing the oven temperature, but in my oven it always takes about 30-35 minutes to finish baking. So, I’d suggest checking with a toothpick at 20 minutes to see if it’s done. If not, continue baking for a little longer.

[recipe adapted slightly from an original recipe found on Gluten-Free on a Shoestring]

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Want to give one of these recipes a try and earn your WEEK #3 MESS HALL BADGE for TDP’s SUMMER CAMP 2017? Come get the details in the forum —> HERE.

.


Laura Passage

About the Author  Laura Passage is the owner of The Digital Press, and also the designer behind Wishing Well Creations by Laura Passage (WWC). She works now as a graphic designer in both the digital and paper scrapbooking industries, but previously spent over a decade working as a college soccer coach. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two young sons (affectionately referred to as The Tiny Terrorists), and will rationalize eating coffee ice cream for breakfast to anyone who questions it.

Summer Camp 2017 | Mess Hall | WEEK #2

Hello, and welcome to the second edition of our weekly “Mess Hall” feature — part of The Digital Press’s big SUMMER CAMP 2017 event this July!

If you haven’t already checked out our lineup of activities for SUMMER CAMP 2017… definitely swing through the forum, grab yourself a badge tracking card, and join the fun! There’s still time to jump in! We’ve got events, challenges, tutorials, and more lined up throughout the month of July… including a weekly FOOD article, like this one! 🙂

Each Sunday throughout the first 4 weeks of July, members of our team will be here on the blog sharing a meal with you — a main course, side dish, and dessert (or cocktail!) that are each tried-and-true (tested personally by members of our team!). Give any of the meal items a try, and you could earn a SUMMER CAMP 2017 badge! Get the full details HERE.

So… let’s jump right into this week’s meal!

Whereas last week’s meal (WEEK #1, found HERE) was very Italian-inspired… the WEEK #2 meal is every bit as Mexican-inspired! The main course, in particular, is pretty unique and fun (but again, sooooo quick & easy!)… and the food we’ve accompanied it with is just YUMMMM!

photo credits to [1] Hello Fresh [2] TDP Designer Rachel Hodge and [3] TDP creative team member Carrie

What is that up there, you ask?

  • Grilled Cheese Tacos (w/ Avocado, Sweet Potato, & Tomato Salsa)
  • Rachel’s Bean Dip & Chips
  • Carrie’s Frozen Coconut Limeade

We said this last week, and we’ll say it again — just YUM, about all of it! You truly won’t be disappointed if you give any of these recipes a try.


GRILLED CHEESE TACOS

This recipe has become a once-every-other-week thing in our household in the past few of months, ever since the first time we tried it. It’s sincerely that good (and easy!). And to think… the first time I saw the recipe, I thought it sounded a little bit too weird. Well, if weird = delicious, then yes.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED

—6 flour tortillas
—6-8 oz “grilling cheese” (otherwise known as Halloumi cheese; I buy mine at Trader Joe’s and it comes in a package that looks like THIS)
—1-2 medium tomatoes (orig. recipe calls for “1 roma” but I usually use the equivalent of 2, and not just roma — even a cup of grape tomatoes works fine!)
—1 avocado
—1 sweet potato
—1 medium shallot
—1 lime
—1/4–1/2 oz fresh cilantro (because I use slightly more tomato, I also use more cilantro)
—olive oil OR vegetable oil (your preference; I use olive), salt, and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

—Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees & wash/dry all produce items; quarter the lime and juice half of it
—Peel the sweet potato & dice into 1/2-inch cubes; toss w/ a small amount of oil, salt, and pepper on a foil-lined baking pan (for easy clean-up)
—Bake the sweet potato for about 20-25 minutes (toss around on the pan at about the 15 minute mark)
—Finely dice the shallot (orig. recipe calls for 1 Tbsp; but again, I use the whole shallot because I am using extra tomato & because I like shallot!)
—Dice the tomato, and chop about half of the cilantro leaves into small pieces (save the rest for garnish)
—Mix the tomato, chopped cilantro, shallot, and juice of half a lime in a bowl; season w/ salt & pepper to taste & set aside
—Peel & pit the avocado and cut it into slices; set aside
—When the sweet potato is almost finished roasting, heat about 1 Tbsp of oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat
—Fry the grilling cheese slices about 1-2 min per side (the Trader Joe’s variety comes pre-sliced in 6 slices; or, slice yours first into about 1/4-inch thick slices)
—Once the cheese slices are golden brown and warmed up, fold a damp paper towel around the tortillas and microwave for about 30 seconds (or if you prefer not to microwave, you can heat them in a damp paper towel that is covered completely in foil for about 5 min in the oven before you turn the oven off)
—Fill each tortilla with cheese, sweet potato, avocado slices, spoonfuls of tomato salsa, and some of the leftover cilantro garnish; serve w/ remaining lime wedges

[recipe adapted slightly from an original recipe found on Hello Fresh]

RACHEL’S BEAN DIP & CHIPS

Is there anything more satisfying than a warm, gooey, bean dip served with corn chips when you’re throwing together a quick-&-easy Mexican-inspired dinner night? TDP Designer Rachel Hodge has just the recipe to fill that need! YUM.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED

—250g (8oz) block cream cheese (at room temperature)
—300g (2 cups) sour cream
—½ bunch spring onions (chopped)
—1 jar mild or medium salsa
—1 packet taco mix
—1 can refried beans
—1 green chili (finely diced)
—sprinkle of dried oregano
—sprinkle of cheese
—corn chips

INSTRUCTIONS

—Mix all the ingredients together EXCEPT for the cheese & corn chips, and place mixture in a baking dish
—Bake at 180 C (350 F) for 1 hour
—Remove from oven & immediately sprinkle cheese over dish; bake for another 5 mins (or until cheese is melted)
—Serve with corn chips!


CARRIE’S FROZEN COCONUT LIMEADE

This last recipe is a fun one because it can be served kind of like a dessert, after your meal… or as a cocktail, before your meal… or both! TDP creative team member Carrie loves to make this recipe in 2 stages — her kids get a serving from Stage 1 (pre-rum)… and the adults get a serving from Stage 2 (with rum added). It’s a fun way to let everyone in the family enjoy cocktail hour!

INGREDIENTS NEEDED

—5 cups of ice
—3/4 cup original (not lite) coconut milk
—4-6 Tbsp frozen limeade concentrate
—3 Tbsp water (or Malibu rum) 😉

INSTRUCTIONS

—Blend the first 3 ingredients first (mixing in a blender on high until smooth)
—If serving to kids, too, pour out glasses for the kids before adding the rum (and then add rum & another cup or so of ice cubes & blend again)
—Can be served with lime slices on the glass (and/or in frozen mugs/glasses/etc. to keep it colder!)

[recipe adapted slightly from an original recipe found on dessertnowdinnerlater.com]

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Want to give one of these recipes a try and earn your WEEK #2 MESS HALL BADGE for TDP’s SUMMER CAMP 2017? Come get the details in the forum —> HERE.

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Laura Passage

About the Author  Laura Passage is the owner of The Digital Press, and also the designer behind Wishing Well Creations by Laura Passage (WWC). She works now as a graphic designer in both the digital and paper scrapbooking industries, but previously spent over a decade working as a college soccer coach. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two young sons (affectionately referred to as The Tiny Terrorists), and will rationalize eating coffee ice cream for breakfast to anyone who questions it.

Summer Camp 2017 | Mess Hall | WEEK #1

Hello, and welcome to the first edition of our weekly “Mess Hall” feature — part of The Digital Press’s big SUMMER CAMP 2017 event this July!

If you haven’t already checked out our lineup of activities for SUMMER CAMP 2017… definitely swing through the forum, grab yourself a badge tracking card, and join the fun! We’ve got events, challenges, tutorials, and more lined up throughout the month of July… including a weekly FOOD article! 🙂

Each Sunday throughout the first 4 weeks of July, members of our team will be here on the blog sharing a meal with you — a main course, side dish, and dessert that are each tried-and-true (tested personally by members of our team!). Give any of the meal items a try, and you could earn a SUMMER CAMP 2017 badge! Get the full details HERE.

The WEEK #1 meal is very, very worth a little time in the kitchen, folks. Trust us on this (and it’s actually sooooo quick & easy!).

photo credits to [1] [2] Marley Spoon and [3] Sugar Spun Run

What is that up there, you ask?

  • Skillet Ravioli Lasagna
  • Salad with Homemade Croutons
  • The World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Seriously, just YUM. To all of it. You won’t be disappointed if you give any of these recipes a try.


SKILLET RAVIOLI LASAGNA

I’ve made this recipe 3 times in the past few weeks. It’s that good (and easy!). Every time we eat it for dinner, my husband and I sit and try to figure out how the sauce could possibly be so flavorful and delicious… because seriously, it doesn’t seem like there’s anything in it other than tomatoes and tomato paste… and… shallot. BOOM. I never realized what an amazing little onion a shallot could be (and I cook with them all the time, folks, seriously)… until this recipe. This pasta sauce is living proof that a single shallot can season a tomato sauce like nobody’s business (and probably lead to world peace, and also, yes, I know that the sauce isn’t living proof of anything because it’s not alive. It’s an expression, and we’re going to roll with it).

INGREDIENTS NEEDED

—1 package of store-bought fresh cheese raviloi (I use the “RANA” 4-cheese variety, but really any will do; that’s simply my definite favorite)
—1  14oz can of tomatoes (I use diced… but again, anything works; the original recipe calls for whole/peeled, and my way cuts down on the work of smashing them up)
—1 Tbsp tomato paste
—1 medium-to-large shallot*
—1 ball of fresh mozzarella cheese (recipe actually calls for about half this amount, but I use the whole ball so I don’t end up with weird portions of leftover cheese in my fridge)
—fresh basil (I use 2-3 stems’ worth; equivalent to just under one of the small plastic containers you get in the fresh herb section of your grocery)
—olive oil, salt, and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

*if you’ll be making the salad, below, as well… cut your shallot in half and use half for this pasta recipe, and half for the salad. If you’re only making the pasta, you can use a slightly smaller shallot OR you can just throw it all in the pan because it won’t hurt anything! mmmm mmmm good

—Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees
—Pick the basil leaves from stems and tear leaves into bite-size pieces; divide into 2 portions
—Cut the fresh mozzarella ball into bite-sized pieces (about 1/2″ to 3/4″ cubes)
—Finely dice the shallot
—Heat about 1 Tbsp olive oil on medium-high in an oven-proof skillet; once shimmery and hot, throw in the shallot and cook until softened and fragrant (1-3 min)
—Stir in about 1 Tbsp of tomato paste and mix into the shallot/oil for about 1 min
—Add the can of tomatoes and half of the basil leaves; season with salt and pepper to taste; cook for 3-5 min, until heated through
—Add 1 cup of water and the ravioli pasta; stir to combine, and then continue cooking for about 5 min until the sauce is bubbling and pasta is softening
—Remove from heat, add half of the mozzarella pieces, and stir to combine
—Add the rest of the mozzarella pieces to the top, and then place the entire skillet (again, as long as it’s oven-proof) in oven to bake for about 8 min

[recipe adapted slightly from an original recipe found on Marley Spoon]

SALAD WITH HOMEMADE CROUTONS

Salad is salad is salad, right? Usually, yes. Except for when the salad uses fresh, warm, homemade croutons… and the dressing is a simple oil and vinegar with shallots that is, once again, inexplicably delicious.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED

—1 ciabatta roll (my grocery store carries them in bulk in the bakery section, right next to the bagels)
—1 small head of romaine lettuce (or you can also use pre-cut/bagged romaine heart lettuce)
—1 small-or-medium shallot*
—1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
—1-1/2 Tbsp olive oil
—salt and pepper (and about 1 extra tsp of olive oil for baking the croutons; optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

*if you also made the pasta, above… you likely have half of a medium-to-large shallot leftover for this salad recipe; if not, however, you can just use one small-to-medium-sized shallot instead

—Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees (if you are also making the pasta, you can bake the croutons at the same time you bake the pasta)
—Thinly slice the shallot and then add it into a large bowl with the vinegar and the olive oil; season with salt and pepper to taste; whisk together
—Cut the ciabatta roll into 3/4″ to 1″ cubes
—Toss the ciabatta with a teaspoon or two of olive oil (optional; you an also bake them dry) and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper
—Bake the ciabatta pieces in the oven for about 6-8 min, until they’re starting to toast slightly
—While the croutons are baking, cut or tear the lettuce into bite-sized pieces and add into the bowl with the salad dressing
—Once the croutons have cooled slightly, add them to the salad
—You can also add other ingredients, if desired (in our house, we occasionally also use grape tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, and more)

[recipe adapted slightly from an original recipe found on Marley Spoon]

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

These are, hands-down, the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made. They are totally delicious — and they come out chewy and gooey, but also with a slightly “crispy outer shell” (there’s really no other way to describe that, although I know it sounds ridiculous). They’re so good I often make a double-batch and then keep the dough in a tupperware container in our fridge for a week or two so we can bake up a few fresh, hot cookies every night for dessert.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED

—1 cup butter (use the real stuff; melt it and let it cool off for a few minutes before mixing it, so it won’t melt the sugar too much)
—1-1/2 cups light brown sugar
—1/2 cup granulated white sugar
—2 eggs (or equivalent amount of egg substitute, which is preferred if you like to eat raw dough) 😉
—1/4 cup maple syrup
—1 tsp vanilla extract
—3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
—2 tsp cornstarch
—1 tsp baking powder
—1 tsp baking soda
—1 tsp salt
—at least 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use half regular-sized chips and half mini-chips, per recommendation of the original author of the recipe)

INSTRUCTIONS

—Once the melted butter has cooled slightly, mix it completely in a very large mixing bowl with the brown sugar and the granulated white sugar
—Add the eggs and mix completely
—Add the maple syrup and the vanilla extract and mix completely
—In another large bowl, combine the following ingredients: flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
—After whisking together the dry ingredients completely, gradually add (in about 3-4 batches) the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in the other bowl
—The more flour mixture you add, the harder it will get to stir… so pat yourself on the back for your “upper body workout” and pour yourself a glass of wine
—Finally, add the chocolate chips (I usually add about 1/2 a package of the big chips, and 1/2 a package of the mini chips — if making a regular batch)
—Once combined, you’ll probably want to eat a spoonful or two of raw dough (sooooo good)… and then put the rest into the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes
—While the dough is chilling, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees
—Place dough onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets about 2+ Tbsp at a time in balls that are a bit taller than they are wide
—Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes (keep an eye on your first couple batches until you know how hot your oven is and how long it takes to bake)
—Cookies are done once they start to turn golden brown around the edges
—You’ll probably want to do a few taste tests to figure out if the cookies are better warm & fresh out of the oven, or cooled completely with a slightly crispy outside and a soft inside. This will require eating at least 2 or 3 cookies from every batch. This is normal; just enjoy.

[recipe adapted slightly from an original recipe found on Sugar Spun Run, where you’ll find a bunch of other amazing & desserty recipes, as well]

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Want to give one of these recipes a try and earn your WEEK #1 MESS HALL BADGE for TDP’s SUMMER CAMP 2017? Come get the details in the forum —> HERE.

.


Laura Passage

About the Author  Laura Passage is the owner of The Digital Press, and also the designer behind Wishing Well Creations by Laura Passage (WWC). She works now as a graphic designer in both the digital and paper scrapbooking industries, but previously spent over a decade working as a college soccer coach. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two young sons (affectionately referred to as The Tiny Terrorists), and will rationalize eating coffee ice cream for breakfast to anyone who questions it.