Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rambutan Martini Recipe

I went to Jungle Jim's today, and got some more rambutans.  Last time I only got the one, but I decided to really go crazy and get a whole sack.

I also found a recipe for a Rambutan martini, and it turns out that it's pretty delicious. 

It calls for ginger flavored vodka.  Did you know that existed?  It does.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Indiana State Fair

We went to the Indiana State Fair this weekend, which I think is the first time I've been to a state fair. A staple of fairs, of course, is fried food, and I wanted to try the latest craze: Fried Kool-Aid.

It really tastes exactly like fried kool-aid.  That's not necessarily a good thing.  They gave us six of them, but one was really enough to check that experience off of my list.

At this same place, they had also sorts of fried stuff that is bad for you even when it isn't fried.  I figured I should try at least one other thing, so I also got fried oreos.

Fried oreos do not taste like fried oreos.  It tasted like fried mush.  I think if the dough had been a dough that gets crunchy when it is fried (like a hush puppy) rather than soft (like a doughnut), then it might have been better.  I also only needed one of those.  Check!

Here is something that I do not need to try.  Yuck.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Beef (Turkey) Empanadas & Steffie Salsa

I made what were supposed to be Beef Empanadas, but I made them with turkey. The recipe is from Bon Appétit.  The one with that insufferable creature named Gwyneth Paltrow on the front.  (If you are confused about her insufferable qualities and don't mind bad language, may I recommend some reading materials.)

Empanadas Ingredients
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 lb. ground beef (turkey was tasty)
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbs tomato paste
1. tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt & pepper
1.5 packages frozen puff pastry (3 sheets), thawed
3 large egg yolks, beaten (for glaze)

Dipping Sauce Ingredients & Directions
1 15-oz. can black beans, drained, rinsed
1 cup sour cream
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded, chopped, divided
2 large scallions, chopped, divided
salt & pepper

While the empanada filling is cooling (see below), purée beans and sour cream in a blender until smooth.  Transfer to a medium bowl.  Stir in half of tomatoes and scallions.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle remaining tomatoes and scallions over.

Empanadas Directions
Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add beef (turkey) and garlic; cook, stirring often and breaking into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until beef is cooked, about 3 minutes.

Add tomato paste, cumin, and cayenne. Reduce heat to medium; cook, stirring often, to let flavors meld (I personally prefer when they marry), about 4 minutes.  (Look how much better it looks with colorful spice on it.)  Add cilantro; season to taste with salt and pepper.  Let filling cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Cut each pastry sheet into four 4.5" squares for a total of 12 squares.  Lightly brush edges of squares with glaze.  Spoon filling into center of each, dividing equally.  Fold edges over, forming triangles, and press to seal.  Crimp edges with tines of fork.  Divide triangles between prepared sheets.  Brush tops with glaze. 

Bake until tops are puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Voilá!  Steffie's Salsa in on the far left, and is in the Gracewood Cookbook, but also listed below.  All in all, I thought it was tasty and not hard to make.

2 medium tomatoes chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
1/4 cup diced red onions
1 Avocado sliced (optional)
1 tsp minced jalapeño (optional)
1/3 cup cilantro chopped
1 can black beans rinsed
1 can corn rinsed
1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 limes)
1 tsp salt

Cooking Instructions:
Mix ingredients together :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Art on the Walls

I haven't done any more painting on my living room, but I did finally put some art on the walls.

Above the couch, I hung two prints that I bought from artists on Etsy. I'd like to own originals at some point, but prints are so much more affordable, and I think they still look nice.

The print on the left was purchased from Beautiful Messy By Emma.

The print on the right was purchased from Jessica Illustration, which has a lot of prints that I liked.  The actual print that I received was much darker than this picture, which you can kind of tell above, but I still liked it.

You really can't see any of the art in this picture, but I couldn't do much better than this. The picture on the right is the chalk drawing of the woman that I did.  The one in the middle is just something I bought at Meijer, but I can't find a picture of it online.

This is the print that is on the left. The original was encaustic, and the print was purchased from Sue Simpson.

More fun with art supplies

I decided to play with my art supplies again this weekend. I also organized all my art supplies, which included dumping out all of my PrismaColor pencils and organizing them by product number.  I'm pretty sure that was a valuable use of my time.

The first picture is encaustics (painting with wax) again, but I didn't do it this weekend. I made my friend Sarah paint with me when I went to visit her. I didn't take a picture of hers, otherwise I would post it here, with or without permission.

This one I actually kind of like, besides the fact that it was fun. I mean, you shouldn't look to closely or you might notice her oven mitt hands or the fact that her body doesn't exactly follow the law of physics. But if you squint, I think it's OK. =) I actually started it in high school, but only got to the face and part of the arm. It's done with really nice chalk pastels that just feel nice to use -- they are so smooth.

And this is just done with acrylic paint. The paints weren't too terrible, although they had separated some. But I used gesso to prime the canvas and oooooweeee, that was some chemically, stinky stuff. It probably always smelled a little of chemicals, but leave it there for 10 years, and it really has time to fester. I almost fell off my chair.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dining Room/Living Room (In Progress)

I am continuing to work on my living room/dining room.  I know this yellow won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I enjoy it.  I really need to get some art for the walls though, that is for sure.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chicken Tacos with Mango-Avocado Salsa

This recipe from Cooking Light was AMAZING. Brandon and I loved it.

Instead of typing the recipe out, I just hyper-linked the recipe to the picture of the tacos.

The only change I made was to use flour tortillas instead of corn. (I also only used 2 chicken breast because it was just the two of us).

I also made guacamole with my leftover ingredients.
I used the same recipe I posted on the blog in Feb 2010 (hyperlinked to the picture too). I didn't use the exact proportions because I just used what I had leftover. I think what I like best in this recipe is the addition of tomatoes and cilantro.

Because pictures make food more fun to read about, I posted a picture of me making the tacos as well. I look great... probably because these tacos were from the cooking light website. Forgive my weird expression... I wasn't expecting Brandon to take the picture right then. :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dining Room/Living Room (In Progress)

I am working on painting my living room & dining room.  It will probably take me forever to paint the whole thing, so I figured I would post in progress pictures.  Since I already started, I'm going to use the same paint on the whole thing, but in the future, I will invest better paint.  It has taken a gajillion coats, and I'm just covering cream paint!  Anyway, here is the dining room area.


I was impressed with myself for this french manicure I did myself.  It's fun pretending to be a girl sometimes.

Window Mirror

As discussed previously, I inherited a tendency to pick up "treasures" that other people might refer to as "trash."  Several years ago, a few windows were picked up, by me or my mom or somebody -- I don't remember.  Anyway, I've had them, and I've had various half-formed ideas about what to do with them.

I decided it was finally time to do something, and I discovered this paint spray that creates a mirror-like surface.  (And in case you haven't noticed, I'm really into spray paint right now.)

I forgot to take pictures of my progress, but you spray the paint on the opposite side of the glass that is going to be the "mirror," and once the several coats have dried, it looks like an old mirror.  I sanded the surface and painted it.  I decided not to tape -- I scraped instead.  I find razoring off the paint to be oddly enjoyable. You probably can't tell, but the window mechanism at the top is spray painted silver, like my kitchen hardware.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Food Travels

Food Travels!

When I go on vacation I like to take more pictures of my food than anything else. Here are a few pictures of the delicious food I had in Montreal and San Francisco.


This is a Sweet Flammekueche. It had banana with vanilla ice cream on it. I wanted it flambeed but I didn't want to pay $2.25 (Canadian Dollars). I contemplated setting it on fire myself.

This is from a cafe in Montreal. I think it was a brie and chicken pesto sandwich. The description was in French so I am not positive. My favorite thing was the tiny little bowls for the pasta salad. They are so cute!

This was my seafood risotto. Again, everything was in French and I am bad at making decisions when menus are in English. I think I had the waiter read the menu to me 10 times, but I think I made the right decision. It was delicious.

Fourth of July Cake Pops

These tasty little treats are supposedly easy -- but it was not until after one major burn, 10 minutes of tears, 5 hours spent picking out the red, white, and blue and sprinkles out of a rainbow sprinkle jar, and one husband's last minute trip to the grocery store for more chocolate to replace the chocolate I burned later, I finished these things.

These probably took about 10 hours if you include the baking, cooling, and sprinkle selecting.

Melting Chocolate (I used melting chips at first, and then I switched to chocolate almond bark)

Make a cake using the cake recipe of your choice. I used a box cake (Half of them were red velvet, and the other half were strawberry).
After you make the cake, let it cool in the fridge for about an hour.
Then mix in whatever icing you want. I was going to make homemade icing, but instead I bought icing. For the red velvet I mixed in cream cheese icing, and for the strawberry I mixed in rainbow chip.
I mixed in about 3/4 of the jar. The constancy should be pretty doughy.
After you mix it, place the bowl in the fridge for an hour or two.

Then roll the cake into balls, and place in fridge for an hour or two. I would then place the sticks in the dough in the balls, and put back into the fridge for a minute.

Then melt chocolate. This is when Brandon saved the day. My family makes candy every Christmas, and we made truffles for my wedding, yet we can never get chocolate to melt right when we dip stuff in it.

I started with melting chips, and I used the microwave directions. This worked alright for the first three cake pops, but then the chocolate got too clumpy. So the chocolate did not go on smoothly, and it took so long to try it melted the cake pops into blobs.

So at this stage of the game the cake pops were melting everywhere and chocolate was bumpy and ugly.

I decided to reheat the chocolate, which ended up burning the chocolate and burning my hand badly. I then threw a few melted bumpy chocolate balls on the ground in frustration because this was about 8 hours into make cake pop making experience, and I had no more milk chocolate and they looked awful. So, I went to Brandon in tears with my burned hands asking him to buy more chocolate. He went to the store as I pouted on the couch... not one of my finer moments.

I still had not tried the white chocolate, so I got out my double boiler, and melted the white chocolate. I made sure the water did not touch the top pan, and turned the heat to low once it started simmering. You are supposed to take it all the way off the heat, but from previous experience it gets too lumpy with no heat.

I then started to dip the pops into the white chocolate, but it took me too long, so the pops still melted off the stick. At this point Brandon returned with more milk chocolate, and asked if he could try dipping them. Of course, he has no problems dipping the pops, and every pop comes out covered and silky smooth.

I then put the sprinkles on every pop.
At this point it is appropriate to take a detour, so I can tell you about the 5 hours I spent working on the sprinkles while the cake cooked and cooled. I wanted to make these cake pops Fourth of July appropriate, but I only found a small jar of red, white, and blue cylinder shaped sprinkles. I really wanted the tiny ball sprinkles, but I could only find rainbow. I thought, "Hey, it will take no time to pick out the red, white, and blue ones." FAMOUS LAST WORDS! Brandon walked in after I had tried picking out the correct colors with a tweezers for an hour, and I had about 10 sprinkles of each color. He returned 4 hours later, and I was still sitting on the couch sorting the colors. I finally, quit after he laughed at me and I realized I only had enough for maybe 15 cake pops. I should never have tried this, but once I started sorting the sprinkles, I felt pot committed... or make sprinkle committed. :) I think without this step, these cake pops would not have taken me all day.

Back to the dipping in chocolate stage. I placed the cake pops on Styrofoam to cool, but noticed the were slipping down the stick. We lost about 5 pop sticks in this process, and I was worried we would lose our labor of love. We have no AC and the kitchen was hot, so I started putting the Styrofoam tray in the fridge to let them cool, right after I got the sprinkles on them. This fixed the problem.

After they cooled, I tied an appropriately colored bow on the sticks to up the cuteness factor.

They are pretty rich, so I was worried they would be too sweet, but luckily everyone loved them.

What I learned from this process.
1. It is hard to make food cute... These things started to feel like a craft.
2. From this point on, Brandon will always dip things in chocolate. (I am making chocolate wands for my Harry Potter party this week, and Brandon may have to stay home from work to help).
3. Do NOT ever sort sprinkles.
4. It is easier to make cake balls over cake sticks... don't have to worry about getting them to stay on the stick)

Oh, and please comment about how you really like the cake pops with the ball shaped sprinkles over the regular sprinkles. :)

My Only Attempt at Crafts

I hope your past year has not been too hard without the joys of my posting! To restart my hugely successful blogging career I am posting my only attempt at crafts you will see from me in years. :) For most people gluing rope on a jar doesn't count as a craft, but for me this is going all out.

So to make these beautiful things glue twine on a jar. :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Kitchen Before-and-After

As most of you know, I love a red kitchen. And I really do like the red I chose for my kitchen. Unfortunately, it's really for some other kitchen. Some larger, more airy kitchen. I think it would be a definite fail if I had painted the cabinets the color I intended. As it is, I think the white off-sets some of the darkness. It's still a little dark for the kitchen, but it's OK. I think I'm going to get some rope lights and put them on top of cabinets to cast more light on the red.