December 9, 2010

House Warming Gift and Custom Recipe Cards



My friend recently moved into her first place and found herself without some basic kitchen essentials. It can be overwhelming to furnish a new home so I decided to put together a little care package for her.

I made recipe cards using Word and then just typed the recipes in and printed them on cardstock. I chose recipes that are quick, easy and require only a few ingredients so that my friend wouldn’t need too many supplies.  I also tried to pick recipes that used the same dishes and utensils.




Then I purchased measuring cups and spoons, dish towels, hot pads, oven mitts, spatulas and wooden spoons. I tucked it all into a 9”x13” glass baking dish along with the recipe cards and a few jars of spice mixes (recipes coming soon).



December 6, 2010

Vegetarian Spaghetti for Meat Lovers


This spaghetti sauce doesn’t have any meat in it. In fact it’s vegan. But I have served it to many a carnivore and never had any complaints. The hearty flavors from the mushrooms and wine make it seem meatier. If you aren’t a meat eater, consider it just a really good veggie sauce.



1 Tbs olive oil

12-15 medium crimini or button mushrooms, stems removed, halved and then sliced (about 3 cups)

1 medium onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

2 medium zucchinis, diced

1 medium broccoli crown, cut into bite sized florets

3 Tbs Italian seasoning

1 cup of red wine

2 cans diced tomatoes

2 cans tomato sauce

1 can tomato paste

1 tsp pepper

1 pound dried pasta


In a large soup kettle, heat olive oil over medium heat. When it looks shimmery, add mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are browned. About 5- 7 minutes.

Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the veggies and the Italian seasoning. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in the wine, scraping the browned goodness off of the bottom of the pan. Let the wine reduce until it’s almost completely absorbed by the vegetables.

Stir in the tomatoes, sauce, paste and pepper. Bring to a boil and then cover with the lid ajar and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Serve sauce over hot pasta.



December 1, 2010

Ribbon Advent Calendar


I decided to make an advent calendar for my boyfriend to help get us in the holiday spirit. However, I couldn’t find a container to hold the gifts I had purchased. Then I saw a bible verse advent calendar on and adapted their idea.


First I bought 24 small gifts and rounded up matching wrapping paper, cardstock and ribbon.


I wrapped all of the presents.


Then I cut a piece of ribbon about 5’ long and 24 pieces about 18” long.


I attached the shorter strips of ribbon to the long one with hot glue. I spaced them about 1” apart in order to fit all 24 gifts on one ribbon.


While the glue was cooling, I cut 24 2” circles out of cardstock and the numbers 1-24 with my Cricut. You could also use number stickers if you don’t have a Cricut. I glued the numbers onto the circles.


Then I punched a hole in the top of each circle to thread the ribbons through.


Ok, time to assemble. I tied each present onto the main ribbon and then threaded the number tag on and tied a bow.



After all of the presents were attached I made a big bow out of wired ribbon and tied it onto the top of the advent calendar.


Isn’t it festive?


November 30, 2010

Spiced Cranberry Orange Relish


Just in time for Thanksgiving (barely), here is my recipe for homemade cranberry relish. It’s tart, spicy, citrusy, sweet and, most importantly, kicks that goo that comes in a can’s booty. As, I suppose, most any homemade cranberry relish does. And it’s really easy. Honestly, it takes about 5 more minutes than opening a can.


1 12oz bag fresh cranberries (about 4 cups)

1 large orange

1 cup sugar

ginger root

1 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp of nutmeg

1/8 tsp of cloves

1 tsp vanilla


Place cranberries in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Zest the orange into the pan with a microplane.


Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into the pan. Grate about 1/2” from the ginger root into the pan (1 tsp). Stir in the sugar, spices and vanilla.


Cook the cranberries, stirring frequently, until most of them have burst. It should take about 5 minutes.


Let the cranberries cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for up to a week.

November 26, 2010

Quick and Easy Kimchee


Kimchi is traditionally a Korean fermented cabbage dish. This version is isn’t fermented but still has the spicy tang of the original. It’s similar to vinaigrette based coleslaw.

Kimchi isn’t for everyone. Honestly, it’s a little spicy for me. However, my boyfriend loves it, especially with rice and a fried egg. The yoke from the egg makes a bit of a sauce and its richness helps to cut some of the heat from the kimchi.




1 head of cabbage (I used savoy because it came in my CSA last week but any will work), cut into 1” strips


1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped

2” piece of ginger root

3 medium cloves garlic

1 tsp Sriracha sauce

2 Tbs fish sauce

3 Tbs rice vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

3 Tbs red chili flakes


Place cabbage in a colander and sprinkle liberally with salt. Toss a few times to mix. Let the cabbage sit for at least an hour, mixing occasionally. This helps to remove some of the liquid from the cabbage.


Press the cabbage against the bottom of the colander to get any remaining liquid out and transfer into a gallon resealable bag.

Grate the ginger and garlic into the bag with a microplane or small grater.


Add in the rest of the ingredients and seal the bag. Double check to make sure it’s sealed!

Squish the cabbage around until it’s coated with the sauce. Refrigerate at least 24 hours or up to a month. The flavor will get stronger the longer it sits.


Serve over rice, with a stir fry or with an egg.



November 24, 2010

Glass Leaf and Swarovski Crystal Bracelet



Last time I was at my favorite bead shop on the coast I found a strand of red, yellow and orange shimmery glass leaves and thought they would make the perfect Christmas present for my mom. She loves sparkly jewelry and is one of the few women I know that truly looks good in orange. You can find similar beads here.


I bought a dozen or so packages of Swarovski crystals in fall colors to go with the leaves. Swarovski crystals are a little spendy but you can sometimes find them on sale at Michael’s or JoAnn’s. Or better yet, you can buy them in bulk here and here. Plus, I found that even though the boxes were tiny the beads actually went a long ways and I could probably make another bracelet out of what I have left.


First, I cut three pieces of bead stringing wire long enough to go around my wrist plus a few inches. Then I threaded one wire through one side of a three-way spreader and back through a crimping bead.



I smashed the crimping bead with pliers to keep the wire in place. When using crimping beads, there is fine line between smashing them so hard that they break (instead of just flatten out) and not hard enough so that the wires slip. You might want to practice on some wire scraps. Trust me, it’s extremely frustrating when your almost finished bracelet comes apart and spills beads all over the floor.


I trimmed off the short piece of wire and started stringing beads.



Once enough beads were strung to go around my wrist, I attached the other speader in the same way I put on the first one.


I repeated this method for the other two strands and then attached the clasp with jump rings.



November 23, 2010

Stress Free Gravy


When asked what stresses cooks out the most about holiday cooking, most seem to say over cooking the turkey or lumpy, greasy gravy. There are plenty of sites devoted to turkey perfection right now. has a whole section on cooking a delectable turkey.  However, I haven’t seen much on gravy.  So, here is my fool proof, super quick method for making gravy.


These pictures aren’t exactly pretty. Consider yourself warned.

1. I usually rub the turkey down with a mix of oil or butter and fresh herbs, salt and pepper. For this method a butter rub makes much better gravy than oil because butter is solid at room temperature and will be easier to remove from the drippings.

2. Before you put your bird in the oven, add 1 1/2 cups or so of water to the roasting pan. This will help to stretch the drippings a little and prevent them from burning.

3. When the turkey is done remove it from the roasting pan to rest under a nice foil tent.  Let the drippings cool for a few minutes.

4. Put a few big handfuls of ice cubes into the roasting pan with the drippings. Slowly stir them around with a large slotted spoon.


5. The fat in the drippings will harden and stick to the ice cubes. After most of the fat is congealed. Scoop the ice cubes and fat out of the pan with a slotted spoon. Throw the ice and fat away in the trash. It can clog your drain.


6. Put the roasting pan back on the stove over two burners on medium heat. Alternatively, you can pour the drippings into a sauce pan.

7. Stir in 3-4 cups of broth or stock depending on how much gravy you need.


8. Stir the broth and drippings, scraping the bits of goodness from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil.

9. In a small bowl or cup mix 3 tbs. of cornstarch with 1/2 cup of room temperature broth. Stir into boiling broth. Simmer until thickened and then remove from heat. You made need to add more of the corn starch and broth mixture depending on how thick you want the gravy to be. If it becomes too thick just add a little more broth.


10. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Even if your turkey is dry at least you know you will have good gravy to spoon over it.