Sunday, September 26, 2010

Curried Butternut Dip: Spontaneous Cooking FTW

"Necessity breeds creativity" is probably something I should just tattoo on myself somewhere.

So about once a month my job has a potluck. We pick a theme, people bring a dish, TA DA. Half the time I forget about it and don't bring anything, which is never a problem because we always have way too much food anyway. But THIS time I did remember! Only I remembered about half way out to the car, which means I wasn't really that prepared. But it's ok, because I'm not afraid of the randomness. I embrace it.

The theme was "Fall." So I thought "Butternut Squash Soup" which would have been great if I had remembered to bring my slow cooker to work. Heating up that much soup for about twenty people is not easily done in a microwave. Thus, I had a dilemma and I headed to the nearest Trader Joe's to try and solve it.

The first thing that came to mind was this recipe my mom had used last Thanksgiving. It was a butternut squash soup and somehow cayenne pepper whipped cream was involved, and it was a big hit but I didn't remember much else about it. Still, it occurred to me that spicing it up could be good, so of course curry came to mind. And then it occurred to me that one way to have it cold would be to make it a nice thick dip to go with some pita chips.  And THAT is how the Curried Butternut Dip was born.

Yay for camera phones making this moment possible
So the end result was a whole 1/2 quart container of the Greek style plain yogurt, 1/3 a box of butternut squash soup, about a teaspoon of the curry powder and then cayenne pepper to taste.

The butternut flavor is pretty light, unless you add more of the soup and then the dip is then more liquid than cream.  I served it with some garlic naan bread and plain pita chips (wasn't sure which would go better). It went over great, people really liked it with the naan bread. Chalk another one up for creativity!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Winging It: Two meals made and randomness?

The hubster and I are living small at the moment, until we hear from a couple of people about jobs. In the mean time we are spending as little money as possible, which means I am buying a lot of things in cans. As much as I love organic etc. its kinda expensive so we are taking a sabbatical and just trying to eat as healthy as canned goods allow.

Hence the Meatloaf and the Chorizo Quiche.

Last week, we were living off taco salad so my husband got a four pound discount thing of ground beef. We didn't use it all so I was looking at using up about two pounds fast. Why not make a dish I have never made before?! Sure, sounds great. Oh and lets go to store without looking at a recipe first! Totally the right thing to do.

So yeah, I called my mom, she lists off some usual ingredients for a meatloaf and I ask for some general quantities and we go from there. In other words, I winged it. Turns out we don't have a loaf pan at home either (we are staying with my parents for a month so i am totally reliant on mom's kitchen things). So i used a nine inch round cake pan. Turned out fine! Looks like a meat bundt cake....but it's edible! The only thing is, I dunno if it's "good" as far at meatloaf goes. I wasn't really raised on it, it gave both my parents heart burn, i guess. Tastes fine to me! Needs ketchup though... but that's normal right?

In that same shopping trip I bought some breakfast stuff, the Man of the House (MOTH? hmmm i need a nickname for him.... MOTH is....well it's weird) had asked for Chorizo. Another thing I have never made ever. Seemed pretty easy though! Which is why I decided to make it complicated:

  • Right side of my Brain: You can make quiche in the oven too, right?
  • Left side of my Brain: Well yeah but you don't even know what goes in quiche, its been like six years since you made it last. 
  • Right side of my Brain: Whats your point? I'm sure it will be fine, just buy a whole lot of eggs, what could go wrong?
  • Left side of my Brain: Can't we look up a recipe? 
  • Right side of my Brain: Sure! (looks up about four recipes) Ok, I think i have the general idea, lets do this!
That's about how most of my cooking projects go actually....Anyway, I winged it. I put a whole thing of chorizo, six eggs, some cheese and some beans all mixed together and then poured it into the other cake pan. I didn't use a crust because I don't generally do gluten. The only thing that went wrong was the chorizo got greasy and dripped so the oven got a little smokey towards the end. Other than that, looks great. The plan is to take that mixture, heat it up and put it into some corn crunchy taco shells. TA DA! Breakfast Tacos. nom :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I R Special!

I got tagged with this:

and I feel all kinds of sunshiny happiness from it so I am going to do as requested.  It's a blogger award, I dunno that I actually earned it yet though...i was a little confused... so this is what Mama says:

In order to post this on my blog I have to answer ten questions and then have six of you do the same. Then you have to answer the questions...tag...etc...etc....
Here goes nothing....

1. If you blog anonymously, are you happy doing it that way; if you are not anonymous do you wish you had started out anonymously so you could be anonymous now?
I am actually still just starting and so still just anonymous, which makes me kinda giggle that I am even doing this right now :) I am still on the fence about it.

2. Describe one incident that shows your inner stubborn side.
Yeah I wouldn't call it "inner"....more like "obvious"... How about my time and how I insist on having it to myself on a regular basis. /rawr 

3. What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?
Someone finally getting around to being themselves and really enjoying the feeling.

4. What is your favorite summer cold drink?

 Strawberry Lemonade, light on the sugar

5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?
 I like to write or draw or create somehow.

6. Is there something you still want to accomplish in your life? What is it?
 Oh man! What don't I want to do?! Travel to a myriad of places, have kids, raise them in a happy little home with my happy hubby who is working in a job he loves, getting to write and craft and create, help the millions of children suffering all over the globe...And yet I am pretty happy doing whatever I am doing now. I think the Lord gave me all these dreams for a reason, even if I don't accomplish them all, something good will come of me trying. That thought helps me enjoy the journey.

7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever, the class shy person, or always ditching school?
 I was a shy nerd and pretty socially awkward until my senior year. Not much has changed really.... I am just ok with it now! lol! Ironically, that kinda helps me be a little less shy too.  

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment in your life, what do you see?
Standing with my family to get our pictures taken at my wedding. Everyone is actually happy.  

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events?
Yes and No. I think because I have suppressed so much for so long and really, really wanted to write that its just kind of all spilling out right now, some of it has nothing to do with my feelings and some of it does. I dunno that I am bearing my entire soul, per say, there's just a lot of things I am interested in and some of them are so close to my heart you cannot help but say as much.

10. If you had the choice to sit and read or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?
Depends on my mood, how drained I am and who I am talking to. If it's my cousins or my family in Georgia, I can talk for HOURS because I never see them and they are so much fun, its invigorating to talk to them. Otherwise, I usually have to have a purpose. I am a get-to-the-point type. I rather suck as small talk, at least on the phone. Remember that socially awkward thing? yeah......

Ok so this should be interesting since I am still not "out" in the blogging world yet. So I am going to tag people I think you all should check out:

Lilac Berries
Stamp Away With Me
So Many Veggies, So Little Time
Embellish Magazine Blog

Thursday, September 16, 2010

One reason to love crafting: Flexibility!

SO, the hubbykins just found out that the big job he was going for isn't going to hire him. Sadface. Not too sadface, we are blessed to have jobs and that's awesome. But in Cali, especially this area, we aren't going to be able to own a home anytime soon with rent being so high. So now the plans are changing and it makes me think of how nice it is to have a passion for something that is not so determined by surroundings.

Sure there are a lot of things that can fall into this category. Art in general, really....ummmmm oh writing! And lets see.....philosophy.... uh....i am sure there are others but I am tired. Anyway, my point is that creativity is not in the situation or the surroundings but the person.

You are a creative being, wherever you go, you create. The only thing that can limit you is your own mindset that anything is limiting you at all. If you don't have an art/craft room, make a table. If you don't have a table, then make a tray. If you don't have a tray, use the floor. Don't let anything get in the way of expressing yourself.

Can you run a business while moving from one state to another...well maybe not so much, especially when that business is not even off the ground yet. Its just a twinkle in the eye. BUT that's not as important as the expression! At least when I am talking about myself its not.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fabric Wedding Flowers

This was another wedding craft that came about with the wedding. I actually got a LOT of great reviews on them, I cannot tell you how many guests told me that they couldn't even tell they were fabric! That was so cool :) So if you are looking to save some money on flowers or just love that vintage handmade look, I recommend it. 

Now, surprisingly, though I found pictures of the roses the way I wanted them I could not for the life of me find a tutorial for them. SO me and Ma improvised. Are you seeing a trend here? Yeah, she's pretty awesome for just giving things a go, we can make a good team most of the time. 

These are the pictures we started out with. I thought I got these off etsy but I gave it another look and I can't find them for sale on there anywhere. So I completely apologize in advance for not being able to give the original creators their proper attribution. I am going to keep looking though, hopefully I can find them again. They are just amazing though, right? And mine didn't quite come out as good but they still looked awesome. *UPDATE! I found them! see it might take a few months but I am as good as my word: Looks like they don't care them any longer though. Sad :(
Fabric Shopping  was probably my favorite part, I spent HOURS looking at all the yellow fabric. I actually did a good amount of shopping on Etsy. I went all out with mixing up the shades of yellow and the textures of the fabric. 

For the stems I used the bamboo sticks they sell at craft stores as fillers for vases. We wanted something wide enough to attach the base of the flower head to it. Plus it has a nice light green tint to it, which went well with the blue and yellow shades of the wedding.

When the fabric came in, mom went to work making it into strips. She then folded the strips in half , did a sort of triangle fold and started winding from the middle. She then hand stitched the base to keep it all in place. She used screws to help keep the flower heads attached to the stems and quite a bit of glue. She is all about the hot glue but I am not a fan. I found this fabric glue that was just as amazing yet didn't give me six thumb blisters in one day and I was hooked. (Still trying to convert Ma though...)

Here is the end result: 
All the roses bunched together
The Bridesmaid Bouquets
Bridal Bouquet

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Straining Infused Olive Oil

So! Short but nifty trick. Another wedding project I took on was infusing the olive oil. When I researched it, I found short ways and long ways. Since I didn't have time for a long way, I decided to try the short one out. Again, I made a variation that I am thinking others might find handy :) Not mention it worked!

Always a plus when experimenting....

Anyway :) As often happens when I am doing something new or a million things at once, I was missing a key tool for the olive oil. Since I was planning to serve this oil to a lot of people I didn't want all the little chunks of herbs still in it, so I really needed a strainer of some kind. Another piece of the puzzle was that I wasn't using my own kitchen, since I was living with my parents and they were in between places themselves. So there we were, my mom and I, in a bachelor's kitchen with only a few of our familiar cooking tools and a need for a very fine strainer.

My first thought, I admit, was to try some paper towels and a funnel. I really don't recommend it. Instead, you should do what my genius mother though to do! Grab the french press!

Yeah, she is pretty amazing. If you ever need to know where I get my Macgyver-esque creativity, this is the parent to look at. This thing really rocked AND it was easy to clean. If you're a big geeky coffee purist (like our friend David...Hi David!) and cannot stand the possible infection of herbs in your coffee ( moment of truth: I don't blame you) then scourer the thrift stores for an extra. That's where we got ours (Thanks Goodwill!) Man, I love parentheses....

Friday, September 3, 2010

Tiered Cake Stand

So here is my first post about a craft, oh so awesome, but not exactly an original idea. My wedding was almost entirely DIY (it was a little hectic) but I had a lot of fun with it and those who do DIY projects themselves were the most appreciative of the more awesome results. One that got the most attention was the multi-tiered cake stand, which is actually a twist on this sweet idea from Design*Sponge. The basic summary is this: take a vase, take a plate, take some proper glue and put them together! Design*Sponge explains more so check that out for more.

So Step One: Check out instructions at Design*Sponge

Step Two: Go Higher
 I decided to get adventurous and make more than one tier because I had limited table space and lots of food to put out. The tricky part that i didn't really want to deal with was making the colors match. SO instead of looking for pieces that match in color, i just looked for unique shapes that fit the need. When I got home, I played around with them like puzzle pieces till they went together in a way that functioned and looked good.
Step Three: Painting
Before gluing anything, I painted all the pieces and let them dry for a few days. (Nice view, yeah? Its not mine, it's my friends)
Nice view, yeah? Its not mine, it's my friends
Step Four: Glue
I used Epoxy glue and took my time, gluing plate to vase as instructed. Once those pieces were dry i glued them to another set to make the multiple tier. I did not think ahead and take a picture. It was helpful to have a second person to stabilize as the glue dried but not necessary.  The trickiest part is making sure they lined up properly. I was going to just eye ball it but that is tricky so we measured and drew intersecting lines with a pencil on the lower part of the plate to determine the middle.

Step Five: Countertop Paint
Now if you were wondering about food safety back in Step Two here is were I address your fears. There are couple of different options. First, you can use doilies or only put lined food, like cupcakes, on the stand.  Second, you could coat the paint with a food safe sealer like these guys would do for painting a countertop. Third, you could buy countertop paint from the hardware store, like I did. It was fate that brought us together since i just kind of found it one day while hopping at Home Depot. Yay! It would serve my purpose (you can't use doilies under wet fruit, you just can't). I left it white, which wasn't ideal but i was doing so many colors it would have been more expensive to buy and color multiple cans of the stuff. And white was one of my colors so it worked out :) Here is the end result:

Since the white really stood out, i tried to incorporate some design to blend it a little, like the stripes, dots etc.
 I did do one other that I got away with not painting because it was all from milk glass items:

So there you have it, those five tiers probably cost me....$30? They were a blast to make too! I got all kind of messy :) go try it out!

Oh! and i came across this awesome stand too whilst browsing and while I wasn't going rustic, I thought this was just beautiful

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