• December 28, 2016

    December Round Up

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    Whelp, looks like I managed to miss most of December, huh?  *sigh*  My goal was to have a homemade Christmas, which we did… but I totally underestimated how much time that would consume!  So, here we are with the monthly round  up and I’ll try to touch on everything we enjoyed this past month!

    dining-room

    nativity

    As soon as Thanksgiving was over (ok, ok, ok… a little, teensy bit before it was really over) I pulled out all of my Christmas decorations and went to town on our house.  And since I felt like we needed a little extra cheer this year, I found a pencil tree to put in our entry way too!  So.  Two trees.  I threatened to put up a third, but lost the oomph to do it.  Ah, well, there’s always next year, eh?

    little-tree

    big-tree

    2015

    Then it was time to get started on my Homemade Christmas goal from my 30 before 30 list!

    ornaments-in-progress

    stitches

    The first craft I started was these beautiful Nordic inspired ornaments.  These became gifts for family and friends and were a lot of fun to make!  We also decorated our own home with them – we tried to stick to a red and white theme this year and they added something really special on the tree.

    cookies

    In addition to ornaments, we gave friends and family Christmas cookies.  I made so. many. cookies.  And I learned how to use a cookie press (I think I need one of my own now…) for Danish vanilla cookies.  Oh, and the bread!  I made eggnog bread  and monkey bread for Christmas morning!  I was in the kitchen a lot this December!  *nods*  So glad my folks took care of us for Christmas dinner!

    crafty-nativity

    Another craft project I worked on was this beautiful nativity.  I’ve always been frustrated that I can’t find a realistic nativity with Middle Eastern people – Jesus was not white, ya’ll!  Anyway, I loved the concept of the silhouettes, so that solved it all for me!  :)  Click here for full instructions and info on where to get the vinyl designs.  The last step is to spray the glass with Frosted Glass spray paint stuff… but it’s been so cold this December, I was afraid the temperatures would ruin the paint.  Next year, it’ll be frosty glass!

    socks

    Another favorite thing I did this month was the Secret Santa at work.  I always get too into it, but it’s really fun to spoil one of the amazing women I work with and let her know how much I appreciate her!  And I’ll admit, I kind of like being spoiled by someone else too!  Anyway, the most hilarious gift I received this year was socks with bandanna wearing corgi’s on them.  So silly – I really love them!  I think Ollie approves too…

    ollie

    I didn’t have a lot of time for things other than all the crazy Christmas shenanigans, so I didn’t really consume much media.  I did make it out to see Fantastic Beasts  and Where to Find Them early in the month and Rogue One the weekend it came out.  I also caught Hairspray Live on NBC and I read one book for book club – Yes Chef, by Marcus Samuelsson.  We stayed home a lot and watched old Christmas movies while I worked on crafts too, so that was fun.

    frosty

    And there you have it!  I’m pretty sure that’s all I’ve got for this month!  Sure felt busier than it looks like it was… but I learned my lesson!  I will start Christmas crafts way earlier next year!  I hope you enjoyed your holidays this year and felt the love of friends and family.  Best wishes for a safe and happy new year – see you in 2017!

  • September 14, 2016

    Tabbouleh Inspired Quinoa Salad

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    Now that summer is winding down and fall is nearly upon us, I’ve gotten a little obsessed with this simple, hearty meal.  Using tons of veggies right out of the garden with a little quiona and feta… this has to be one of the best things I’ve come up with so far!  And the great thing is, you can use this alone for a lunch or light dinner or you can serve it alongside a nice steak or pork chop!  It’s easy, versatile, and super healthy… what more could you want?  *grin*  I hope you love it as much as I do!

    Tabbouleh Inspired Quinoa Salad Recipe

    By Erin Published: September 14, 2016

      Now that summer is winding down and fall is nearly upon us, I've gotten a little obsessed with this simple, hearty meal.  Using tons …

      Ingredients

      Instructions

      1. suppliesGather Ingredients.
      2. Cook the quinoa (Rinse 1 cup quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, then put in pot with 2 cups water (or 2 cups broth if you prefer) and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes. When done, remove from heat at let stand 5 minutes.)
      3. Cook the edamame according to the packaging and cut the other veggies.
      4. When the quinoa is done, add the edamame, chickpeas, tomatoes, green onion, parsley, mint and feta to the pot. Toss to combine.
      5. 4. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour into the bowl with the quinoa and toss until combined. Season with additional salt to taste if desired.
        yum
    • July 6, 2016

      Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

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      I’m an emotional eater.  I always like desserts, but I especially crave sugars when I’m sad or stressed.  I’ve eaten a lot of ice cream lately, partly because it’s been rough going for a while and partly because my recipe is delicious.  I’m experimenting with new and different flavors, but if you want the tried and true, all-American vanilla, here is my favorite recipe:

      Supplies

      1 pint Heavy Whipping Cream

      1 pint Half and Half

      1 cup Sugar

      1 Tablespoon Vanilla

      Toss it all in your ice cream maker, following the instructions for your device, and wait.  My ice cream maker requires that I combine the ingredients and chill in the freezer before starting.  Once it’s chilled, I can transfer it to the ice cream maker bowl and turn it on.  After it’s done, I pour the ice cream into a new storage container and then freeze it for a while to set.  Yours may be different, but it’s pretty easy-peasy!

      Pour

      If you want to add pieces of fruit or chocolate chips or whatever, you can do that when you transfer it into the storage container – just make sure to stir it up well enough that you don’t end up with everything on top or bottom.  I think you can also add it while the machine is stirring, but double check what your machine requires.

      Yummy

    • March 16, 2016

      Easter Eggs

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      Dying eggs is my most favorite Easter tradition and reminds me of quality time I had with my mom and a good friend of ours while I was growing up.  I don’t remember how my mom’s friend got involved, probably because her boys had outgrown the tradition, but she became an integral part of our celebration.  It has now been years since I last dyed an Easter Egg, but it’s such a beautiful tradition, so I decided to learn a little more about the history behind it all and try my had at naturally coloring some eggs!

      My research has shown me that, like Christmas, many Easter traditions were borrowed from pagan celebrations and repurposed into something new.  Eggs symbolize fertility and rebirth, so early Christians adopted them as a symbol for Christ’s resurrection.

      Understanding the coloring part of the tradition is a little less obvious as there are many different theories as to how it all got started.  Some believe eggs were decorated simply to beautify them in celebration of Lent coming to an end – eggs were not allowed during Lent.  Other’s believe Mary had eggs at the crucifixion and Jesus’ blood dripped on them – coloring them red – and so we color eggs red in remembrance of his sacrifice.  Other legends claim that Mary had the eggs with her and they miraculously turned red when she saw the risen Christ or, alternatively, when she told someone he had risen and he replied that Christ had no more risen than her eggs were red, so they turned red.

      Whatever the historical reason, I enjoy the tradition because it reminds me of home, of simple joys, and of familial closeness.

      Now, on the “show” part of this little show and tell!  *grin*  Because we try to eat cleanly and don’t buy dyes or foods containing dyes, we were determined to try and color some eggs naturally this year!  I didn’t have the time or desire to test lots of different recipes – frankly, I don’t even really like hard boiled eggs all that much – so we’re going to try good old Martha Stewarts recipes out and see what happens!  *grin*

      We decided to try to achieve pale yellow, light blue and chartreuse for our eggs.  There are a lot of other colors that require different ingredients and techniques listed on the website, so I would encourage you to check it out!

      Following the instructions given, we simplified them a bit and came up with the following:

      Pale Yellow: Bring 1 quart water, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, and 3 tablespoons turmeric to a boil.  Once it has boiled, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain dye into a bowl and place already hard boiled eggs into solution and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

      Turmeric

       

      Light Blue: Bring 1 quart water, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, and 4 cups chopped cabbage to a boil (add more water and vinegar in their correct proportions if needed to cover the cabbage).  Once it has boiled, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain dye into a bowl and place already hard boiled eggs into solution and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

      Cabbage

       

      Chartreuse: Use the dyes already used for pale yellow and light blue.  Soak eggs in the turmeric dye for 30 minutes and remove.  Then, place in the cabbage dye briefly – about 5 minutes.

      Coloring-Eggs

       

      Eggs

      Pro Tip: When removing the eggs from the color, pat them dry with a paper towel – don’t rub!  If you rub too much, the color will come off!

      Expect a bit of variation with your eggs.  I don’t know what makes the color stick or not stick, but some defiantly turned out better than others and they were all done the same.

      Cabbage, turmeric, eggs, and vinegar all stink, so try to plan your egg dying time for when you can have an open window!  Otherwise your house will stink and everyone will wonder what kind of mess you’re making for dinner!

      I hope ya’ll give this little project a try!  I was very pleasantly surprised by the vibrancy of the colors and how easy it all actually was.  Way more interesting and fun (as an adult at least… though, you could totally turn this into a mini science lesson for your kids) than the little kits you can buy!

      Easter-Eggs

    • September 2, 2015

      Blueberry Buckle

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      The following recipe was adapted from a recipe my Grandmother’s dear friend, Gwen, gave to her many years ago.  This recipe has been a family favorite since I can remember and definitely takes me back to sunny summer days with my aunt.  I always fancied myself an elegant pastry maker whenever I was in my aunt’s kitchen and I’m so glad to have those fun memories now.

      I hope this recipe brings you and those you share it with great happiness and that you might build your own fond memories with it.

      Blueberry Buckle Recipe

      By Erin Published: September 2, 2015

        The following recipe was adapted from a recipe my Grandmother's dear friend, Gwen, gave to her many years ago.  This recipe has been …

        Ingredients

        Instructions

        1. IngredientsGather ingredients and set oven to 375 degrees.
        2. DoughMix first 4 ingredients completely. Stir in flour, salt, baking powder.
        3. Fold-in-BlueberriesFold in berries taking care not to smash them in the process.
        4. Ready-to-BakeSpread in a 9" pan.
        5. Topping-IngredientsCombine topping ingredients to create a crumbly topping.
        6. Crumble-ToppingTop cake mixture with crumble mixture and bake for 45 - 50 minutes.

         

        Pro-Tip: Try not to over blend your crumb topping.  Ultimately, what you really want is chunky bits of butter covered in sugar.  This is not a health food.  *grin*

      • March 4, 2015

        Simple Hummus

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        I just got my first ever food processor and let me tell you, It. Is. Magical.  The first thing I made in it was this hummus because I’ve been making it for months with a teeny-tiny blender and it was a nightmare every single time.  The food processor has solved all that and now I can make it in minutes!  This is such a blessing and help in my quest to eat clean foods and to be as healthy as I can.

         

        Simple Hummus

        By Erin Published: March 4, 2015

          I just got my first ever food processor and let me tell you, It. Is. Magical.  The first thing I made in it was this hummus because …

          Ingredients

          Instructions

          1. IngredientsGather Ingredients.
          2. BlendedIn a food processor, combine all ingredients. Add 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil to start, adding more if needed. Blend together until smooth.
          3. HummusServe with raw veggies, chips, or pita bread.

           

          Pro-Tip:

          This is the most basic hummus that it is possible to make, so feel free to add to it and experiment.  Try herbs, red peppers, garlic, jalapenos…. the list could go on forever!  *grin*

        • December 10, 2014

          Chocolate Candy Cane Popcorn

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          You know what I’ve noticed about holiday treats?  Most of them are difficult to make.  And they are expensive.  Also, calories.  And sugar.

          So.  Much.  Sugar.

          So, I set out on a quest to make a semi-healthy, inexpensive, beautiful treat that is easy to whip up.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is it:

           

          Chocolate Candy Cane Popcorn Recipe

          By Erin Published: December 10, 2014

              You know what I've noticed about holiday treats?  Most of them are difficult to make.  And they are expensive.  Also, …

            Ingredients

            Instructions

            1. IngredientsGather ingredients.
            2. PopcornCover 2 cookie sheets with wax paper. Spread the popcorn out over the prepared cookie sheets in a single layer.
            3. Chocolate-DrizzleUse a double broiler to melt the chocolate. Drizzle melted chocolate over the popcorn.
            4. CandySprinkle the smashed candy cane on top before the chocolate cools.

             

            Pro Tips:

            If  you can’t get the candy cane to stick to your chocolate, go ahead and just mix the candy in with the chocolate before pouring it on the popcorn.  It might not look quite as pretty, but it will taste great!

            Use kettle corn instead of regular popcorn for added sweetness.

            Try different types of chocolate too!

             

          • November 19, 2014

            Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread

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            Baby, it’s cold outside!  And let me tell you, there is nothing like snow on the ground and ice in the air to make me want to spend all day in my kitchen making lovely treats!  So, today you’re in luck, because it’s freezing outside!

            While I love to bake, I have very little talent and even less patience for rolling dough and other time consuming things like that.  This makes monkey bread one of my favorite things to make… tastes just like cinnamon rolls, but without all the hassle!

            This recipe for monkey bread is special for fall, though, with the addition of pumpkin and pumpkin spice!  I hope you love it as much as I do… maybe even enough to make for Thanksgiving breakfast?  *hint hint*

             

            Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread Recipe

            By Erin Published: November 19, 2014

              Baby, it's cold outside!  And let me tell you, there is nothing like snow on the ground and ice in the air to make me want to spend …

              Ingredients

              Instructions

              1. Gather Ingredients.
              2. Heat Oven to 350. For the Dough: Combine butter and sugar. Add 3 egg whites and beat until frothy. Add pumpkin puree, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, xanthan gum, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla. Mix well.
              3. For the filling: Combine final three ingredients in a separate bowl until crumbly.
              4. Put rounded tablespoons of the dough in a baking pan, sprinkle in the filling. Continue until all dough and filling is used.
              5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until bread tests cleanly with toothpick. Enjoy!
               

            • August 6, 2014

              Pico de Gallo

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              It’s recipe time again!  Woohoo!

              *grin*

              Today’s recipe is brought to you fresh from my little backyard garden!  I’m pretty sure there isn’t anything much more satisfying than being able to grow your own food and then turn it in to something delicious!

              Pico de Gallo

              By Erin Published: August 6, 2014

                It’s recipe time again!  Woohoo! *grin* Today’s recipe is brought to you fresh from my little backyard garden!  I’m …

                Ingredients

                Instructions

                1. IMG_6590Gather ingredients.
                2. IMG_6595Chop up all ingredients and mix together in a large bowl.
                3. IMG_6601Add seasonings and lime juice. Combine.
                4. IMG_6608Refrigerate until you are ready to enjoy!

                ProTips:

                Let it sit overnight and you’ll find your pico de gallo is more flavorful (although also more juicy) then when first made.

                Add more jalapeno’s to suit your level of spicy hotness.

              • April 30, 2014

                Guacamole

                You know what I hate?

                When my computer is still broken.

                Yup.

                So, there’s that.  That means no pictures for you.  And no desktop for me.  I have been assured that there is a solution, though.  We just need to find it.  And afford it.  When that happens, I’ll add some pictures.

                But for now, I think it’s time to get down to business.  Business, today, means the best guacamole you will ever put in your mouth.

                Guacamole

                By Erin Published: April 30, 2014

                  You know what I hate? When my computer is still broken. Yup. So, there’s that.  That means no pictures for you.  And no …

                  Ingredients

                  Instructions

                  1. IngredientsGather Ingredients.
                  2. MixCombine ingredients with a mixer until mostly smooth.
                  3. DoneServe with tortilla chips or as a special addition to your favorite Mexican dish.

                  *ta-da* 

                  How easy was that?!  I don’t like my guacamole too smooth, so I leave some good lumps in it.  You, however, can do whatever makes you happy.  See?  So easy!

                  Another great thing about this guacamole?  Avocados were at the top of the Clean 15 this year!  For those of us who try to eat organically but can’t always afford an organic grocery bill, the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists are a super helpful guide to help you decide what you should spring for in the organic isles and what you can get away with from the non-organic produce.

                  So, there you have it.  Eating fresh, delicious snacks doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming.  And if you really wanted to make it healthy, swap out the cream cheese for Greek yogurt.  It won’t be quite as thick, but it will still be delicious!