Saturday, December 14, 2013

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

After a fun evening of wine and fried things from the local Chinese delivery place, I ended up going to bed super early. As a result, I woke up at 6:00 fully refreshed and ready to start my day. My first thought upon awakening was "what is that amazing smell??" As it turned out, my houseguest had also arisen particularly early and had, while I still slumbered, browned a beef brisket and put it in the crockpot, where it is currently still making me crazy as it cooks. 

I decided I wanted to get in on the productive early morning cooking from scratch train and realized I had all the right ingredients to make muffins. 

I used a recipe I found online but tweaked it so I'll put what I did here:

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
(Mix these ingredients together and set aside)

In a separate bowl:

Beat 1 large egg
Add 1 cup of milk (I used vanilla almond milk)
Add 1/4 cup oil or melted butter (I used melted coconut oil)
1 tsp lemon extract
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Whisk all together

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add wet ingredients. Fold all ingredients together carefully with a rubber spatula. Add about half a pint of fresh blueberries. Don't over mix or they will be tough!

Spoon batter into muffin tin or silicon or foil cups until about 3/4 full. Bake 25 minutes in a 400F oven. 

These muffins turned out beautifully...light and chewy on the inside, sweet and slightly crunchy on the top. The lemon is a little strong, so I might not use the lemon juice next time. And they're not too sweet, like store bought muffins can be.

I imagine they smell great. But I can't smell them over the scent of that brisket...oh my. We're going to have the best French dips for lunch!



Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Vegetarian Chili Mac

Time for another non-wearable post (unless you're my 7-year-old son, who is currently wearing this particular handmade on his shirt)!

I like macaroni and cheese. I really, really like macaroni and cheese. I would venture so far as to say that it is my favorite food. Even the stuff in the blue box. And my kids, being kids and all, absolutely love it. That being said, I have kids now, which means I am saddled with the sometimes depressing and often challenging task of providing them with mostly healthy meals most of the time. Macaroni and cheese doesn't typically fall into that category.

But oh! The convenience! The frugality! How can I possibly turn down a 50-cent box of creamy delicious mac and cheese?

So I use it, but I add to it. Sometimes it's just peas, sometimes it's something more elaborate. Take a healthy thing, stir it into some mac and cheese, and generally kids will eat it. It's a time-honored tradition among busy moms to do just this kind of thing.

Today, whilst tooling around the city with a good friend in tow, I mused, "What should I make my kids for dinner tonight?" His immediate response: "Chili mac."

Now, my kids are vegetarians, so at first the idea of chili mac didn't make a lot of sense. Until I remembered, of course, that vegetarian chili is not only possible, but delicious. And I happened to have a variety of delicious potential chili ingredients in my house. It couldn't have been more perfect. I made the chili (TONS of leftovers - TONS!), made the mac, and stirred them together to make...oh my dayum. Just look:

Hummuna hummuna nom nom nom nom...

And now, the recipe:

Vegetarian Chili Mac
(serves 4)

Ingredients:
Olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 medium cucumber, diced
1 cup brown lentils
1 cup hot water
1 cup vegetable broth
1 can black beans
1 20-oz can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 Tsp chili powder (or to taste - I made mine mild for the kids)
1 Tbsp chili sauce
salt and pepper
1 box macaroni and cheese
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp. butter

Instructions:
1. Heat olive oil in the bottom of a large sauce pot.
2. Add chopped garlic, onion, bell pepper, carrots, and cucumber, and saute until onion is translucent.
3. Add lentils and saute for 1 minute.
4. Add hot water, vegetable broth, black beans, and tomatoes.
5. Bring pot to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
6. Add entire can of tomato paste and seasonings.
7. Simmer for 45 minutes, covered with lid tilted for ventilation.
8. During last 10 minutes of chili cooktime, cook mac and cheese according to package directions.
9. Once chili and mac and cheese are done, add chili to mac and cheese a spoonful at a time, stirring constantly to mix thoroughly. Stop when the mixture appears to be 50-50, or whenever you want really.

My kids gobbled this up, and I had a second helping. The creaminess of the macaroni and cheese really mellows out the intensity of the chili, making this a highly accessible, remarkably edible, pretty darn healthy version of a classic favorite. I THINK SO ANYWAY SO THERE.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Superest Salad Ever

It's been a while since I've posted, and although I have had inspiration and have even made a thing or two, I'm not quite ready to expose them to the universe yet. However, I made a hell of a great salad today so I thought I'd share that with you.

The other day I placed an order through Greenling.com, a sort of multi-farm coop plus health food grocery website, where you can order food, particularly local and organic produce, to be delivered to your door. While I can see why this would be a terrific service for some, I don't think it's really right for my family. I prefer selecting my own produce, and I would rather support my local area farmers more directly by buying from them at the farmer's market.

That said, I did get a pretty cool assortment of veggies, none of which were quite enough to feed me, my kids, and my parents this weekend, but many of which came together in a pretty beautiful way.

Ingredients:

1 small head of Romaine lettuce
2 cups loosely packed baby spinach
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 orange bell pepper
5-6 medium sized carrots
2 large radishes
1/4 head cauliflower
1 cup micro greens
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can kernel corn
Parsley to taste
1/4 cup bottled raspberry vinaigrette

Chop the greens, peppers, radishes, cauliflower, and parsley roughly (I diced them so the pieces would be small and easy to eat). Shred the carrots. Mix all ingredients together, including the drained cans of garbanzo beans and corn. Toss with dressing and serve.

This was delicious, filling, and entirely vegan, and very very healthy. Even my kids liked it! Well, my daughter did. My son balked a little, but not too much.

Of course, this is just what I had on hand, so obviously it'll be different every time. It's hardly a recipe at all, but I loved it. All the different textures and fresh flavors came together really made it special, and the garbanzo beans gave it a protein boost that made it filling and a whole meal by itself. It's been a long time since I've been so satisfied by a single salad!


Friday, April 12, 2013

A cabinet for filing things!

So this isn't a wearable, which is kinda sorta against the rules, but I have been wanting to fix up an old filing cabinet for so long that when I finally got a chance this week, I realized I had to share it with the world! (I don't actually think anybody reads this blog but me.)

I found this beauty at a garage sale for the absurdly and hilariously low price of $3:


Here it is in my trunk, all happy because someone bought it (and on the last day of the sale too!) While it was the striking color that first caught my eye, after close inspection I learned that the drawers sat properly in their rails, the handles were solid, there didn't appear to be any rust (I found some on there later, but only a tiny bit), and it had the little metal dividers in both drawers. A great find for only $3!!

I took it home and started to work on getting that awful contact paper off. I used a combination of Vinegar Multisurface Windex, a plastic scraper, and patience to get every scrap of it off:




Worse than the contact paper though was the duct tape. EEEEWWWWW. (I have a weird phobic issue with sticky stuff.) I wasn't able to get all the adhesive off, but you can hardly tell now.

When I finally got all the contact paper off, I realized why they had put it there to begin with. The paint on top was in lousy shape:



And I began to notice other places on the sides and front of the cabinet that had chips and scratches in the paint as well:


I was sad because I'd hoped that I could salvage the paint job. But I couldn't, so I bucked up, put on my big girl panties, and sanded the crap out of every surface to get off the dirt, rust, and to rough up the texture a little so it would take new paint better. Then I ran to Home Depot and came home with this:


Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch in Paprika and Sage Green. They were literally the first two colors I saw that I fell in love with, so I grabbed them for less than $4 apiece (I had no idea spraypaint was so inexpensive!! I am in trouble.) and ran back home with some sort of plan in my head.

After consulting with my 9-year-old, who is the real artist in the family, I decided to paint the main body of the cabinet green and use the paprika as the "accent" on the drawer facings.

First coat:



I touched up the drawer pulls with some black paint I had laying around, reassembled the whole thing (after letting it dry of course) and here is the result:


Yes, I loved the orange, but frankly, these colors work better with my decor, with my life, with my taste, and with my happiness factor. I couldn't be more pleased with how this turned out, and even though it isn't wearable, it is yet another item that goes on my list of things I will be leaving hell with.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Last Sweaters for a While I SWEAR!

So look.

I love sweaters.

I really do.

SUE ME.

Problem is, sweaters don't work well in a place that's basically just hot all the time. Sure, there are a few months a year during which having a little extra warmth cuddling around you is pretty useful, but then the sweaters get tucked away into Rubbermaids or back closets, sleeping with the moth balls until we find use for them again.

Right around now, in this part of the country, sweaters go on major sale at Goodwill and other thrift stores. It's very exciting but a little sad to see them all, because we really don't have a good way to show them off to the world until it gets chilly again. Plus, you never know when you'll spot the perfect sweater from across the store, only to discover that it has holes, stains, or spots that have worn through.

So I've compiled a little list of things you can make from sweaters that are not, well, other sweaters.

First on the program is this juicy little number that actually made me gasp out loud when I saw it:


It's a sweater purse! A Lemon Squeezy Home has put together a brilliant and easy-to-follow tutorial for this adorable little thing and I can NOT wait to make one. And I'm serious. I even have a purse with awesome handles that I'd be willing to cannibalize for something like this. I could even see picking up a bigger sweater and turning it into a laptop sleeve.

Here's another awesome example of a good idea:


Found on the always fabulous Make It Love It blog, also with a super easy tutorial, this adorable little sling bag could be stitched up in a couple of hours and made in a variety of colors. One for every day of the week, I'm thinking. And people told me I had too many purses before! Hahahahahaha. Hahaha. Haha. Oh my. I'll show them. I'll show them all.

Here's another cute idea, not wearable but totally doable:


Featured in a post on the Schmath blog, but not linked to a tutorial, I can't see how these would be that hard. Pick up a cardigan with an interesting texture, cut out the pieces, sew them together, stuff a pillow form in there...and done! This could really cozy up a cold living room in no time flat.

Here's a simple but effective recon:


This Mama Makes Stuff made this stuff right here - a cashmere baby blanket, ooh la la! Only for the babies with the most sophisticated and high class taste.

Finally, this one made my heart stop and then I immediately started making insane plans:


I just oh my god I don't even.

Yes please.

(From Country Living.)

Okay I promise I won't cover sweaters anymore. For at least...a month. Two. Maybe.

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