Tag Archives: homemade

Hearts in a Tree

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I made these hearts for Valentine’s Day and hung them up in the tree in front our apartment to surprise Rem.

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The tree already looked pretty even before I added the hearts, covered in blossoms. It snows down white petals if you give a branch a little shake.

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People driving by smiled and some waved or gave me a thumbs-up.

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Rem thought I was out taking a walk in the neighborhood.

He was amazed when he saw all the hearts.

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Here’s some of my favorite hearts:

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Next January I’ll put up a post on how to make these hearts.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Rosemary Gruyere Crackers with Sea Salt

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While Rem and I were on vacation, we enjoyed trying out some new recipes. These tasty little nibbles are from The Smitten Kitchen cookbook and they’re delicious. Deb Perelman calls these crisps but I think cracker is more clear.  They’re really a grown up Cheez-It.

I made a second batch earlier this week to take to a party and they were a big hit. When I made them at Sea Ranch I only had a plain pizza cutter  to cut the dough but I used a fluted pastry wheel to cut them at home which makes for a prettier, more decorative edge.  Sadly, I didn’t get any pictures of those ones.

Rosemary Gruyere and Sea Salt Crackers (or Crisps)

From The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, Deb Perelman

1.5 cups coarsely grated Gruyere cheese (6 oz.)
4 tablespoons (or 1/2 stick) butter
3/4 cup all purpose flour plus more for rolling out
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary (I think I used closer to 2 teaspoons)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt plus more for sprinkling (I didn’t add any salt to the dough, just sprinkled it on top)
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Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine ingredients in food processor pulse and until mixtures becomes coarse, craggy crumbs (I thought it looked kind of like cooked cous-cous).

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Dump it onto a big piece of plastic wrap, press it together into a ball, then flatten into loose, thick square.
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Chill for 15 to 20 minutes so it is slightly firmed up.
On floured surface roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thick.  The shape doesn’t matter.
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Cut into about a 1 inch by 1 inch grid using a fluted pastry wheel.  You can also cut with a pizza cutter a knife.
Dock each cracker in the center with a skewer or knife point.
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Dab with water and sprinkle with sea salt. When I baked my second batch I used flaky Maldon sea salt which worked beautifully.
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Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until light brown on ends (I put parchment paper on baking sheets)
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Put baking sheets on rack to cool.
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These keep well in a cookie tin.
Thanks for stopping by.

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Birthday Dinner Recipe: Fresh Pasta

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When Rem and I were on vacation, we celebrated my 55th birthday with a delicious home-cooked dinner.  I haven’t made pasta for years and years but love the slightly irregular, slightly chewy fresh noodles and knew it was part of my desired menu.  We also had flat roasted chicken, asparagus, and a yummy chocolate cake for dessert.

This was a fresh spinach and herb pasta which made beautiful, springy, green noodles but the flavor was pretty mild.  I will try it again with more herbs next time.

Here is a little slide show made from pictures of mixing the dough, rolling it out, cutting the pasta, and cooking it (some of the same photos are throughout the recipe as well).

Fresh Spinach & Herb Pasta

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

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3 cups fresh spinach and herbs (any combination of spinach, arugula, green onion, chive, basil, green onions or other fresh greens and/or herbs will work fine – we used mostly spinach,  with some very finely minced rosemary, thyme and some dried basil because we didn’t have fresh)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus additional flour for rolling out pasta

2 large eggs, room temperature

You may need 1 or 2 Tablespoons water

Optional: Cornmeal for rolling out pasta

Directions:

Wash and dry your fresh greens and/or herbs.

Coarsely chop the greens and herbs and place in a sturdy bowl and sprinkle with the coarse salt.

Use a pestle, dowel or other implement to grind the salt and herbs together into a wet paste. (I used a metal spoon) and set aside.

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Mound the flour on your work surface.  Make a well in the flour with your fingers and crack eggs into well.  You can start with a fork but I just used my fingers to start mixing the eggs and flour together.

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Add the herb paste to the flour and egg mixture and continue mixing.  You may need to add a tablespoon or two of cold water to form a rough dough with no dry flour left on the counter.  However, I didn’t need any water.  The dough will be fairly stiff.

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Knead dough for 8 to 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and springy.

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Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes. Note: you may also choose to do this in a stand mixer, or in your bread machine set on the dough cycle. If you use your bread machine, cancel the cycle after about 10 minutes of kneading, and remove the dough.

Divide dough into 4 pieces.  With a rolling pin, roll out 1 portion of dough at a time on a large cutting board lightly sprinkled with flour or cornmeal, rolling dough quite thin, about 1/16th of an inch, although I don’t think mine was that thin.

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Cut into narrow strips, or roll up the whole sheet and then cut.

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In these pictures, when I rolled the whole sheet of pasta before cutting, it should have been in a looser roll.  Be sure to unroll the cut pasta.

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Toss strips lightly with a little flour or cornmeal and allow to dry for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking.

If you aren’t going to use all the pasta, you should dry it for a few hours before storing.  I tried making nests, but my pasta was on the thick side and ended up sticking to itself.  I should have left it just spread out (or maybe hanging over a broom handle!)

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Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil.  Drop the pasta in and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, testing for doneness after 3 minutes.

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Drain the pasta, add a simple sauce or just butter and Parmesan cheese and serve.  We used a splash of heavy cream (left over from another recipe), some butter, Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper.

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Mangia!

Thanks for your visit.  Still to come: flat roasted (or spatchcocked) chicken and chocolate cake.

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O Henry Bars (Two Ways)

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I saw these bars mentioned on a friend’s Facebook status.  Andy had baked a batch using her friend Leanne’s recipe which turned out to be the recipe of Leanne’s cousin, Megan! It is an oatmeal bar topped with a combination of peanut butter and chocolate. They are pretty easy to make and they are delicious.  The recipe looked like the best one of many I saw online and once I made a batch I didn’t need to try any others.

They would make a wonderful, sweet Valentine for someone special.  The first time I cut them into average brownie-sized bars and when I made them again, I cut them smaller, more like a piece of fudge.  They’re very rich and the small size makes them less guilt-inducing.  I also put them in candy papers for giving.

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Rem and I make holiday treats for our neighbors after Christmas and one family is vegan. I read a few articles and blog posts about replacing butter with an equal measure of extra virgin coconut oil. By subbing coconut oil for the butter, this recipe worked beautifully.  The oil adds a mild coconut flavor that works well with the other ingredients.  I found organic, extra virgin coconut oil at Trader Joe’s.

Here is my slightly adapted recipe:

O Henry Bars

Ingredients

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Bars:

2/3 cup softened butter * (1 stick + 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons)

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup corn syrup (I had light corn syrup in the cupboard and used it, but I think dark corn syrup would work fine too)

1 tablespoon vanilla

4 cups rolled oats (I’ve made it successfully with quick oats)

Topping:

6 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips

2/3 cup creamy peanut butter

pinch of salt, optional (I use unsalted peanut butter and thought the salt helped balance the sweetness in the bar)

* You can substitute 2/3 cup of extra virgin coconut oil for the butter.

Directions:

Set oven temperature to 375 degrees.

Beat together butter and sugar until well-combined and creamy.  Beat in corn syrup and vanilla.

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Stir in oats.

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Press mixture into a well-buttered (or sprayed with non-stick spray) baking dish.  I used a glass 9 x 13 inch Pyrex dish but it could be a little larger and still work, just watch the baking time because it will be thinner.

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Bake 12 to 15 minutes – err on the side of underdone rather than overdone.  I found that I slightly over-baked the pan with the coconut oil and they were a real challenge to get out of the pan.  Delicious but I learned that I should have taken them from the oven sooner.

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This picture is the butter version and it looks a little gooey and soft still.  The coconut oil version was more toasty and dry looking.

Let bars cool in baking dish.

Once they’re cooled, make the topping: in a medium/small, microwave-safe bowl combine the chocolate chips and peanut butter, and salt, if using.

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Heat on high in microwave for 1 minute, remove from microwave and stir.

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Continue to heat for 15 second intervals, stirring after each, until chocolate and peanut butter are melted and you can stir them together into a smooth mixture.

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Spread chocolate-peanut butter mixture on oat bars.

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Chill until set before cutting.

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Store in a airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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12 Ideas for Christmas

Clothespin Doll Elves

Here are links to 12 past posts I’ve written with some of my favorite (Christmas) things. No girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, but recipes, gift ideas, ornaments, a card and wrapping paper you can make.

These Glass Tile Pendants use beautiful scraps of paper.  A link to an Etsy site has beautiful tiles, jewelry bails (the little loop), glaze and chains.

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Another necklace idea are these Hand Stamped Washer Pendants.  I gave them out last year and still love and wear the one I made for myself.

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Ornaments are some of my favorite gifts to make and these are some of my favorite ornaments.

Vellum Ornaments are like miniature works of stained glass made with vellum paper, stickers, colored markers and stick on jewels.

Since I said I was going to share 12 things, I’m not going to give you the link, but if you click on the link for the Vellum Ornaments, you can go to the next post and find Easy Paper Heart Ornaments for a simpler project.

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Last year I made a whole bunch of these Little Clothespin Doll Ornaments.  They are really fun to make and I really enjoyed the details that gave each little doll her character.

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If you like to make your wrapping extra special, here are two ideas.

First is Vegetable Printed Wrapping Paper.  It is really easy and looks great.

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This is a way of scrunching tissue paper while wrapping for a ruched effect.  Take a look at  Scrunched Tissue Paper Wrapping to see how to do it yourself and also how to make the tissue paper roses.

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I used to make and send LOADS of Christmas cards.  It started to feel like a chore that I no longer enjoyed.  After a few years of sending no cards, I make a handful and I’m happier.

This is the card I made two years ago.  The Half Circle Christmas Tree (or Angel) Card is made using two-sided paper and embellishments.  It’s a fairly easy technique and the results are really cute.  Do the same fold and make it into an angel.

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Always popular are food gifts.  I made this easy and delicious Infused Oil after receiving some as a gift myself and I decided to reuse the bottle.

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How about a gift of fudge or truffles?  This Chocolate Nutella Fudge & Truffles recipe makes creamy and delicious treats.

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Christmas Crunch is a sweet salty combination of cereal, M&M’s, pretzels, nuts and melted white and peanut butter morsels.  Make a batch for a party or potluck.

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These Cheese Wafers are a big hit.  My niece, Caitlin, often requests I bring them to our family Christmas Eve party.  They’re made just like drop cookies but are loaded with sharp cheddar cheese, butter, Rice Krispies and a little flour.

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My twelfth and final Christmas idea is the ever-popular and oh-so-delicious Cracker Toffee made with Saltines, butter, brown sugar, vanilla, chocolate chips and pecans or almonds.  I LOVE this stuff.

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I would be delighted to hear if you use any of these crafts or recipes this Christmas.

Thank you for your visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rain Reigns Supreme

Rain Hat

Here is my Halloween costume for 2014.  Yes, it looks like rain. It IS rain.  In fact, a colleague said I was the Raining Queen!

I was inspired by this picture on Pinterest and I’m very pleased with the results.

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Once I found this beaded curtain online, I was off and running.

I bought a large wire wreath form at Joann Fabric and Crafts (I made three visits to the store, which was crazy this time of year) and used that to start my hat.  Duct tape, nylon mesh and some hot glue gave me the rest of the structure and then I piled on the nylon net and tulle to form the big cloud.

Grey chiffon which my mom and I fashioned into a capelet, was worn over a black chiffon skirt, grey t-shirt and boots that I already had in my closet.  My sister Sarah helped with sewing and loaned me silver raindrop earrings.  I added some stick-on sequins to the capelet and used some on my face as well.

Close Up Rain

With California in a state of drought, rain seemed like just what we need.  We’re supposed to get it tomorrow, but I’m not sure I want to take credit or blame if it messes up the Giants World Series Victory Parade or trick-or-treating.

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I enjoyed the many lovely compliments I received and was pleased that all my hard work on this costume resulted in a prize at our Halloween fundraiser lunch event.  I won the “Black & White” category (costume could be black, white or black and white).

There were other creative costumes, including a plethora of different Dorothy’s in gingham and ruby slippers for one department’s hilarious group entry: 50 Shades of Dorothy – each with a different take on the classic. Scary costumes were also represented like this frightening creature with wings that opened and closed.  Great work, Jon!

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Wishing you a very happy, safe and yes, even soggy Halloween.

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Baked Kale Chips

Crispy Baked Kale Chips

I think these crispy seasoned Baked Kale Chips are my response to all the Thin Mint cookies I’ve been snarfing down.  As soon as I open one of those sleeves, it is really only a matter of time before I consume all the cookies in it.

I’ve tasted some commercial kale chips before and they were really good. I tried making them myself and had really uneven results.  The mixture to coat the chips was too heavy, the chips were too crowded on the baking sheet so some were soggy and limp. The ones that were crisp were good, but I was disappointed and didn’t want to share the recipe.

After reading a few different recipes (many use a dehydrator, but I don’t have one), I blended two for my hybrid recipe and made a batch of blog-worthy Baked Kale Chips.  They aren’t very beautiful, but they are crisp and tasty.

Kale Chip Ingredients

Baked Kale Chips

Adapted from A Spicy Perspective, and Oh She Glows.

Ingredients

1 large bunch Tuscan (or Lacinto) Kale (I think curly Kale would work too but might be a little more difficult to dry and then to coat with the cashew butter/olive oil and spice mixtures.

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons Cashew Butter

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon each smoked paprika, garlic powder, chili powder and cumin

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash the kale and dry it well. I don’t have a salad spinner but that would be a great way to get as much moisture off the leaves as possible.  I rolled the leaves between two dish towels and still blotted some water off with paper towels.

Pull the thick stems from each kale leaf.  If you fold the leaf in half along the length of the rib or stem and hold the leaf with one hand, you can pull the stem with the other hand and zip it right out of the leaf.

Zip stems from leaves

The leaves will shrink, so you can tear them into pieces, but keep them fairly large. Put the pieces of kale in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine cashew butter, olive oil and lemon juice.

Scrape the cashew butter mixture over the leaves and massage the leaves so all the leaves become well coated.

In another small bowl, combine the nutritional yeast flakes, salt, smoked paprika, garlic powder, chili powder and cumin.  Sprinkle this mixture over the kale leaves and toss together to coat.

Arrange leaves on two large baking sheets so they are not overlapping or wadded up and stuck together with the cashew butter mixture.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes, checking after about 10 minutes.  If leaves aren’t completely crisp but still seem limp or soggy, bake another minute or two.

When kale leaves are finished baking, let them cool than carefully remove from baking sheets and store in an airtight container.  I found my metal dough scraper to be an excellent stand-in for a spatula when I was removing them from the pan.  They will crumble and shatter fairly easily so use care.

Baked Kale Chips

I served them when crafting with friends and got some nice compliments but I admit that when someone brought out the guacamole and tortilla chips, the Kale Chips were relegated to second place.  Guacamole is hard to compete with.  I did feel better about snacking on Baked Kale Chips and managed to avoid the Thin Mint cookies for an afternoon.

Bowl O' Kale Chips

Thank you for visiting.

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