Category Archives: Food

Blog Post Compilations

Standard

I’m trying to weed out a blog I don’t post on often, so I’ll put up some of the crafts that I blogged about on there. Here they are:

Fraternity Formal Cooler

So living in the south during college is definitely an interesting experience. Greek life seems to be all the rage, and while I may not be in a sorority, my boyfriend’s fraternity loves the southern traditions. When I heard we were going to Nashville for formal, I knew I needed to step up and make a cooler. It was my first time making a cooler, so I went online for ideas and instructions.

It took me some time to get all my designs finished, but using the helpful instructions from Life in Pines blog I was able to make a fairly successful cooler!

See images below:

20130419_172033 20130417_180840 20130417_180906 20130417_180926 20130417_180951 20130419_172527

 

Card Making!

We’ve all had this experience– the day of a party or dinner you realize you have forgotten to get a gift for a birthday or graduation. You run to the store intent to find that perfect card, only to spend half an hour looking and finding NOTHING that says the right thing, that looks like something you’d be happy to present to the birthday/anniversary/celebration special someone. On top of that, lately you can’t even find a card without half naked men or women, a crude message, loud annoying songs, or a snide comment about age, let alone anything costing less than about $5.

Well, here’s the solution I came up with after time and time again of giving a substandard, expensive card: if you don’t like your options, MAKE IT YOURSELF! And that’s exactly what I did.

Making cards by hand is not only easy and fun, but it gives the cards a much more personal feel that tells the recipient that you care enough about them and their special day to spend your hard-earned free time to make something nice for them. They’ll love it to see the care and effort you put in to making their day that much more amazing!

To start out, you’ll need a ruler, sharpies/pens/crayons/paint/colored pencils/etc., scissors, and paper. I use scrapbooking paper, but you can use printer paper, card stock, anything you have on hand. Want more flare? Use different kinds of paper (thin sketching or tissue paper to decorate inside), ribbons, bows, or pictures.

Step 1: Shape.

Starting with a rectangular piece of paper, you can cut it down to make any shape or size card. Just make sure it’s folded and ready before designing. Be careful and try to fold it evenly– you don’t want your inside decorations to be seen before you want them to!

Step 2: Design.

Go crazy! I try to do borders on the inside and outside, then decorate with colors, shapes, etc. Take into account what kind of paper you have and what materials you are using to decorate– if the paper is thin, know that sharpie will bleed through to the other side. This can have a nice effect if purposeful; here is a Mother’s Day card that I made with the bleeding effect:

I always do a signature on the back as well, but it is up to you if you want to do that.

And that’s it! This is a simple and meaningful gift that is totally unique! With a little imagination and some bright colors, you can have a fun gift that will be appreciated and remembered!

Just a bit of crafty fun!

I am a swim coach in the summer, so working with kids can be… tough. But, one thing a fellow coach has taught me is that a surefire way to get kids to learn to behave well is to reward them. And with something big, flashy, and unique. As we are a swim team, a bit of sportsmanship is needed; cheering and a positive attitude during swim meets and practice is hard to come by. But for those kids that ditch the video games and cheer on their fellow team mates, try their hardest, and just smile, we like to show our support!

Every week we give out what we like to call a “Spirit Stick” to the two kids that were the most spirited and most positive at meets and practice. This reward, of course, can’t be some little toy that can be bought at a toy store. Since we need them in bulk, the easiest thing to do is make them ourselves!

To make:

2 ft long pvc pipe (one per stick needed) and end caps

Spray paint (whatever colors you want, we use our team’s colors: red and black)

Ribbon (again, color is up to you)

Dry beans

Leather cord

Colored beads

Feathers

strong glue

Stickers, stick on gems, other decorations

Puff paint

So assemble your sticks by attaching the end caps to the pvc pipe, making sure to load the beans inside before sealing. Spray paint and let dry. Once dry, string beads on the ends of three long pieces of leather cord, then set aside. Using one color of ribbon, braid three long pieces together. Leave about three inches of ribbon at the bottom unbraided, then string with about 6 beads each and tie off the ends. Tie the ends of the leather cords around a small piece of ribbon, then tie it around the top of the pvc pipe, securing the braided ribbon underneath. Use the glue to secure the ribbon, let dry. While that is drying, cut three long pieces of another color ribbon. Tie them together at the top, tying into it two or three small “tight” feathers. Glue many “puffy” feathers to the back of the knot, and secure “tight” feathers with the glue. Once both the glue already on the stick and the glue on the feather decoration is dry, glue them together, using the feather decoration to cover the leather where it attaches to the stick.

Once completely assembled add dried, write the winner’s name on the stick in puffy paint and then attach the decorative stickers for a personalized, fun award!

Enchiladas, yes Please!

As a swim coach of a country club league, there is a week that I both anticipate and dread– Coaches’ Appreciation Week. After a few days of tons and tons of brownies, donuts, cookies, and bagels, I don’t know what to do with all the food! Well, this year I took home about a few 1/2 pound cartons of cream cheese with some bagels, and didn’t know what to do with all the schmear. So what does one do with 3 cartons of flavored and unflavored cream cheese? Well, after doing a bit of research online with the keywords “cream cheese recipes”, I found you can do a lot, actually. After sorting through the sweets (after a weeks worth of brownies and cookies I wasn’t really wanting to bake anything…), I found a promising recipe– Beef Cream Cheese Enchiladas. Well, I am a vegetarian, so the beef was out, but the idea stuck. From cooks.com, I found a vegetarian recipe so here goes!

I replaced the enchilada sauce with home-made salsa, used a can of tomatoes and a tablespoon of garlic chili sauce as a replacement for the canned chilies, and a bit of onion powder and frozen onions as a replacement for a fresh onion.

Home-made Salsa

1 small can chilies and tomatoes

2 tbsp garlic powder

1 cup seasoning blend frozen vegetables

1 cup frozen corn

olive oil

2 tbsp garlic chili sauce

lime juice

Saute frozen veggies and spice (incl. garlic chili sauce) with 1 tbsp olive oil. Add can of chilies with juices, then fill empty can 1/4 full with water. Turn heat to med-high and add the water. Cover and let sit until cooked down (5-10 minutes). Add in lime juice to taste, then stir and let coo;. Refrigerate.

I followed the directions from the recipe along with my substitutions. The cream cheese was a mixture of plain and veggie. I noticed that cream cheese was a little strong to taste before baking, so I might use less of the cream cheese in future batches.

Projects: Cooking, drinks, and writing

Standard

I’ve been asked a lot lately what I’ve been doing since I graduated while I wait to leave for Belize. My usual answer: “Just sitting around.” In all honesty though, that’s not true (it’s just way easier than an actual explanation). I’m always doing something, whether it’s learning a new recipe, researching Belize, writing my story, or any number of the projects I cook up in my brain. There’s hardly a day when I’m not trying to get something done. And really, isn’t that the way it should be?

So lately I’ve been working on my April Camp NaNoWri Mo writing project. It’s going REALLY REALLY slowly. But I haven’t forced myself to sit down and write as often as I should, so it’s really my fault. I’ve gotten close to 9k words so far. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch up 11000 words in the next ten days, but I doubt it.

On the other hand, another project I’ve been working on IS successful. Since I’ll be gone and my boyfriend will have to teach himself to cook, he asked me to write up a recipe book for him that can help give him ideas and pointers. So, after only about 4 total days of working on it, it’s over 9k words (longer than the NaNo project I’ve been working on for 20 days…) and around 70 pages of recipes. I’m excited to give it to him!

Finally, since I’ve been making a cookbook, I have been finding a bunch of new recipes that I want to try. So today I made Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars. They’re in the freezer solidifying right now, but the warm melty bite I got was delicious! Take a look:

PB&J Bars. After freezing them I’m still not super happy with the jelly texture– too liquidy. Need something a bit more substantial to hold bars together. Also needed to grease foil a lot more, took a lot of work to get them out.

And after dinner, I decided to make a big-kid drink (because… I can). This is my ‘Cup o’ Candy’; 1 1/2 cups cranberry juice, 1/8 cup lemon juice, and 2 jiggers of white rum blended with ice in a shaker, poured over 1/2 jigger of rum in a glass rimmed with chia seeds and brown sugar, drizzled with grenadine syrup and topped with 1/2 jigger of rum. You know those delicious dark red gummy lifesavers? It tastes exactly like that. This drink is dangerous!

Tasted amazing, especially chia seeds 🙂

By the way, be looking out for more baby shower crafts– a friend is having her baby shower next month! I’ll also be thinking up graduation crafts (presents and party ideas) for my boyfriend’s graduation in a few weeks!

Photos of projects

Standard

I promised some photo updates of the projects I’ve been up to, so here they are:

Jello Shots in Clementine Peels

Made with peach flavored jello and 1/2 cup of silver rum.

  • Jello mix made according to package instructions (replace 1/2 cup of cold water with 1/2 cup of rum or vodka)
  • 6 clementines, halved and insides removed
  • Place clementine halves in a muffin tray cups, then fill with jello mixture
  • Refrigerate until solid, then slice in half

 

Jalapeno Poppers

Jalapeno Poppers

  • Followed recipe from culinaryconfessional.
  • Substituted cream cheese for herb goat cheese and didn’t use bacon.

Inside of the jalapeno poppers.

Pizza

The “House Party” Pizza

  • Easy to make– get Publix (or any grocery store that does it) pre-made pizza dough from the deli/bakery section, your choice of meat/veggie toppings, your choice of meltable cheese, and pasta/tomato sauce.
  • Refrigerate dough, follow instructions on preparation.
  • Prepare toppings- I chopped up onions, bell peppers, spinach, tomatoes, and pre-cooked Canadian bacon.
  • Stretch the dough and form to a well greased pan. Preset oven to temp specified on dough instructions.
  • Put a LIGHT layer of sauce on the dough, then put in the oven to pre-bake for 10 minutes.
  • Get pre-baked crust out of the oven, spread toppings. Cover with a light layer of shredded cheese, then bake until cheese is melted and crust turns golden brown.
  • Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting.

Towel Robe

Towel Robe

  • Reverse-engineered the robe my mom made me a few years ago (not nearly as well).
  • Used 4 oversized towels (from Walmart).
  • Towel 1: back. Cut a slant at the top for shoulders and half-circles on each side for half the arm circles.
  • Towel 2: Cut in half (long way). Cut one arm hole half-circle in each half, as well as one shoulder slant. Match with the back, each half should be the front sides.
  • Sew the front pieces (towel 2) on to the back piece (towel 1) leaving the arm holes open.
  • Towel 3: Cut one 3 in strip on the long side. This will be the belt once folded in half and sewed. Cut the remaining towel bit in half (long way). These are the arms.
  • Cut arms to length desired, then sew the sides of each arm piece together to create the sleeve. How sew the cuff of the arm, then attach to the armholes of the robe.
  • Towel 4: Pockets and collar. *This is the part I had trouble with*. Matching the right length between chest level on the front of the robe on one side, around the back of the neck and to the same point on the other side, cut from the 4th towel the collar. it should be curved on one side and flat on another, thicker around the back of the neck and thinner at the chest. Attach this carefully to the correct places on the robe.
  • *Optional*: Cut 2 pockets (about 3in square). Attach to robe.

Update on the Pizza

Standard

My pizza turned out really good! The dough didn’t turn out as crunchy as I like, but I think pre-baking and using a pizza stone would be the only way to fix that. The crust was supposed to make two pizzas, so I cut it in half and made bread sticks with one half and the pizza with the other. I should have taken pictures after I baked them, but I took pictures of the leftovers today! They were very yummy!

Projects: Pizza dough?

Standard

The past few days I’ve had a huge craving for pizza. But being the frugal person I am, I’m not about to order out or go to a restaurant for pizza. I also don’t feel like going to the grocery store: I have pasta sauce, I have veggies, I have cheese. The only thing I need is pizza dough. I’ve been teaching myself how to bake, and I can make a mean bread dough if I do say so myself… So I decided to try making my own.

So right now, I’m waiting for the yeast to set with the water, I’m writing up this blog.

I found a very simple recipe from Pioneer Woman for pizza dough you can find here. But of course, I’ve got my own adjustments that I’ll talk about here.

Ingredients: 1 tsp Active Dry Yeast, 4 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, 1/3 cup EVOO.

So of course, I had to spice the recipe up a bit. Instead of normal salt, I used 1 tsp smoked Sriracha salt. It’s a specialty salt I got for Christmas (because I LOVE sriracha), and I’ve been using it as a general replacement for salt in all my recipes. It’s not really spicy, but it does have a bit of a smokey, chili kick that I like.

Then, I added 1 tbsp of flax seeds. I love the flavor they give to bread, and the health benefits are great. Consider getting a bag like this and adding flax seeds to a TON of different recipes whether they’re baked, raw, stove-cooked, or smoothies. You can also buy flax-seed meal, which I’ve used to make really great bread and bagels. For more on flax seeds and their health benefits, see the entry on WebMD.

20140207_121711

Finally, I love having herbs in my bread. I had some leftover garlic-infused olive oil in the fridge, so I used that instead of the EVOO, and then I added in basil paste. I can’t tell you how amazing this smells right now!

Thanks to Sybaritica for the photo!

I combined everything except the water/ yeast in my stand mixer.

Then added in the water and yeast.

The recipe had me use the paddle instead of the dough hook attachment. I thought that was strange, but followed what it said. I think next time I’ll try to use the dough hook; the times I’ve made bread, it seems like it is easier to remove the finished dough from the hook than the paddle. This is the finished dough.

Anyway, the dough is now covered in a bowl in the fridge, and will use it for fajita chicken pizza for dinner! (Pizza recipe here. BTW- raw chicken is disgusting. It was an ordeal to marinate it, or more so to CLEAN after working with the raw stuff.) Later tonight I’ll put together the pizza and post some photos of the final product!

Projects: Cooking Adventures

Standard

I haven’t made dinner in a while, my parents and I were out-of-town last weekend and we had a LOT of leftovers before that, so not much cooking has been happening around here. But last night I decided it was about time to cook– the choices of leftovers was very limited, and since I’ll be home alone for a while with my parents out-of-town, I figured it time to make more food not only so that I’ll have a good stockpile of leftovers for the week, but also so that my parents could have some good home-cooked food before they leave and have nothing but restaurant food.

I had a craving for kimchi (Korean, fermented vegetables, usually cabbage), and remembered we had an old, unopened jar in the refrigerator. I didn’t want to just eat it straight, especially since it was kind of old, so I looked up recipes that use kimchi. What I found was awesome: a website dedicated to all things Korean food related, “Beyond Kimchee”. While I found what I wanted, a recipe for kimchi fried rice, the recipe wasn’t exactly what I had hoped (kimchi bacon fried rice doesn’t really fly with a vegetarian family) and I didn’t have all the ingredients anyway. (Here is the Kimchi Bacon Fried Rice recipe if you’re interested)

However, a quick Google search found me another great site with an article titled “Trader Joe’s Has Kimchi! Here Are 6 Ways to Use It“. Among those recipes was another fried rice recipe:

From Weeknight Recipe: Kimchi Fried Rice with Extra Greens. Doesn’t that look delicious?

I didn’t have any greens, so I decided to use chopped vegetables that we keep around the kitchen as substitute. Everything else, minus the gochujang and the sesame oil, we had stocked. I threw out the sesame oil and subbed sweet chili paste and sriracha for the gochujang, and got cooking.

First off, I made WAY too much rice. When the recipe says 2 cups COOKED rice, don’t cook two cups of uncooked rice or you get about 3x as much as you need! However, I can always use leftover rice , so I took out two cups once it was cooked and put the rest in a container to store for later. The recipe, linked in the image but which can also be found here, is pretty straightforward and simple. I only altered the aforementioned ingredients, and kept the procedure the same. I used mushrooms, green bell peppers, and broccoli as the vegetable, and they were delicious!

For a simple, quick recipe with authentic taste and adventurous ingredients, I definitely suggest this recipe. Here’s how mine turned out:

In addition to the kimchi, I decided to make a Big Girl Drink. My parents were out at yoga, it was just me, the cats and TV. Here’s what I did:


Ingredients: 1.5 cups cold water, 1 crystal light Mojito mix single serve package, 1 jigger silver rum (or coconut/fruit flavored rum), 1 glug (not really the official term…) of Blue Curacao, ice.

Tools: You’ll need a cup (duh), a shaker (or a slightly smaller cup to make a shaker-like system), a jigger (or a shot glass works), and a long-stemmed spoon. I have everything I need in a cocktail-making kit my boyfriend got me, but you can substitute most things.

To make it, mix the water, crystal light, and rum in your cup and stir. DO NOT put the Blue Curacao in until later or it won’t settle right and give you that great color separation. Put your ice in the shaker and then dump in your drink mixture, making sure to taste it and make sure the liquid to crystal light powder ratio is right. Close the shaker and shake to chill. Carefully pour the chilled mixture back into your glass. Once it’s settled, pour in your glug of Blue Curacao so it fills the cup about halfway. DO NOT STIR, DO NOT SHAKE. Stick a straw in it, slice up some limes if you like decorations in your drinks, and have at it!

Also, if you’re interested in exploring Korean food made professionally, the various Tofu House restaurants are great; I especially recommend So Kong Dong. Here is a list of Tofu Houses on Buford Highway in Atlanta. If you like authentic Asian food, this is the place to go! There is also a great Farmers Market and H Mart where you can get authentic ingredients as well as fully cooked food. And in London, I haven’t been but would love to try Kimchee.

Projects: New recipes

Standard

Today’s blog isn’t well planned or thought out, but I wanted to share the new recipe I made for dinner. Since I’m in the middle of the “Snowjam ’14” in Atlanta, I wanted some comfort food. Luckily my mom and I didn’t get caught out yesterday afternoon when traffic got hellish and the roads turned to ice… but my dad wasn’t so lucky. He decided to stay at work, thankfully, so he didn’t get caught in the awful traffic/ absolutely blocked and impassable roads, but he did have to spend the night at his office. When he was finally able to come home this afternoon, I wanted to make sure we had some good, warm food ready for him.

The recipe for today was: Creamy Rotel Dip Mac & Cheese

I started with a recipe I found via Pinterest (because who can do better than Pinterest for recipes, right?) The recipe can be found here. However, I modified it quite a bit, so I’ll go through it.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups cooked pasta (I used a cup of tri-color rotini and a cup of penne)
  • 3 Cups milk (the recipe calls for whole milk, but I used 1%)
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 5 tbsp flour
  • Sriracha salt to taste (just because I have it around. plain salt is just fine)
  • 1 2/3 Cup Velveeta cheese cut in chunks
  • Red pepper flakes (the recipe calls for black pepper, but I prefer the heat of red pepper)
  • 1/2 bag (about 1 1/2 Cups) of frozen seasoning blend vegetables (onion, bell peppers, celery)
  • 1 Can Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies
  • 1/2 Cup shredded cheese to top

Steps:

  • Cook the pasta to al dente and drain
  • Pre-heat your oven. The recipe says 350, but since my mom already had veggies going at 425 I just used that and decreased the time I kept the pasta in for.
  • Make the roux: While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour one tbsp at a time and then stir until smooth. Let the flour/ butter mixture cook; stir it while it simmers, if you need to turn up the heat some.  Add the salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat to medium and start adding the mile one cup at a time. After you add each cup, stir and allow the mixture to thicken. Don’t worry if it’s a bit lumpy, just stir to keep it from scorching. Once all the milk is in, allow to heat up while you stir until it becomes smooth and thick.
  • Stir in the chunks of Velveeta and the frozen vegetables. Stir as the cheese melts. Once everything is melted, stir in the can of Rotel. If you don’t like spicy, use the Original Rotel Tomatoes.
  • Once everything is incorporated and the vegetables are warmed through, put your pasta in a casserole dish (mine was about 9×9, the recipe calls for 9×13). Pour or ladle your cheese mixture over the pasta, using a spoon to move the pasta around so all the cheese can sink around the noodles. You may not need all the cheese mixture. I had about 1 Cup left over, so I’m saving it for regular cheese dip for another time!
  • Put the mac&cheese in the oven for 18-20 minutes. Then top with shredded cheese, and let cook another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit until cook enough to eat.

My mom made a side of baked Zucchini and Sweet Potatoes, and we had a great dinner! My dad even went back for thirds 🙂

Also Job Search Update: Due to the awful weather and sketchy road conditions, my interview for tomorrow morning got rescheduled to next Wednesday morning. I also have a phone ‘interview’, more of an informational update, tomorrow afternoon for my applications with the Peace Corps. I’m in the final stages of placement with the Peace Corps, something I’m considering as an alternative to employment.