July 21, 2011

Caramelized Onion Dip


It’s summer! Go make yourself some onion dip. Not the salty, fake onion flavored one made out of soup mix, but one made from cooking loads of onions in butter and olive oil until they are sweet and caramelized and then swirling them into sour cream and cream cheese.


I made this onion dip when I had some friends over the other day and served it with crackers, cut up vegetables and smoked salmon. Everyone kept scooping up the dip and salmon on the same cracker (Yup, right out of the bowl. We’re classy like that.). I would have never thought of mixing the two but it was really good. I think next time I might make the dip with some smoked salmon mixed in as a variation on the typical cream cheese based smoked salmon dip.

What makes this dip so good is the deeply caramelized onions. It takes a bit of time but it’s worth it.




2 Tbs butter

1 Tbs olive oil

2 large yellow or sweet onions, finely diced

1 tsp black pepper (I like this dip with a peppery kick. Use less if pepper isn’t your thing)

1/2 tsp salt

a pinch of red chili flakes

8 oz cream cheese

16 oz sour cream

1 Tbs fresh lemon juice

1 tsp soy sauce


Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, salt, pepper and chili flakes and sauté until onions are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let onions cool completely.

Puree 1/2 of the onion mixture in a food processor. Add cream cheese, sour cream, lemon juice and soy sauce and process until combined and smooth. You can also use an electric hand mixer but the dip won’t be as smooth.

Spoon dip into a container. Stir in remaining onions and taste for salt and pepper. Chill for at least an hour but over night is better.


July 19, 2011

Tear Off Cleaning Checklist Tablets


A friend of mine is struggling to get his roommates to clean up after themselves. This seems to be a common problem, whether it’s with roommates, a significant other or kids. I once had a roommate that hosed everything down with Lysol and called it clean.

I made some tablets of cleaning checklists for my friend to try. One version is a little more sarcastic and pushy and the other is more cordial (the one above). I sewed across the top of the tablet pages which worked well because it holds everything together but perforates each page so it can be easily torn out if needed.


If you want to make your own cleaning checklist tablets click here . Then click on export and select Word.
Open the document once it has downloaded and edit it to fit your needs. (I haven’t used this particular program before so if you have any issues please email me or let me know in the comments and I will fix it)

The pages print four to a sheet. I printed two sheets so each tablet would have eight pages. Make sure when you cut them out that you leave room at the top for binding.

Line up the pages and then sew across the top with a an 1/8” seam allowance. Backstitch on the ends.


Cut a 3/4”x4” (or the width of the pages, depending on how small you cut them) of scrapbook paper. Fold it in half and glue it over the top of the tablet, making sure the tablet is tucked all the way into the fold.


Buy some candy bars to use for bribing rewards and you’re all set.

July 17, 2011

Blueberry, Lemon and Ginger Bread Pudding


Lest you think I’m completely crazy for baking in the middle of July, this is what the sky currently looks like here in Portland:


I’m actually wearing a sweater and jeans at the moment and I’m still a little cold. It’s ridiculous. However, it’s been great for baking with all of the berries that are still going strong in this wet, cool summer.


I picked a bag full of huge, super sweet blueberries at my friend’s house the other day and whipped up a citrusy blueberry bread pudding.


I think the key to good bread pudding is to start with high-quality, day old bread, butter it liberally and then toast it so it absorbs all of the creamy custard.


I used a French batard this time but have also had good luck with regular French bread and ciabatta. If you like a softer, more custard-like bread pudding use a softer bread.

6-7 large, thick slices of bread
3 Tbs butter + more for pan, softened
3 whole eggs + 3 egg yokes
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
1/2 cup sugar + 1 Tbs for sprinkling
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs lemon zest
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup blueberry jam
1/4 cup candied ginger, finely chopped

Preheat broiler. Butter a 9”x13” baking dish.

Butter both sides of bread slices. Cut into 1” cubes and broil until barely toasted, turning occasionally. Watch them. They burn fast. Reduce oven to 325.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl beat eggs, yokes, milk, cream, vanilla, salt, lemon and grated ginger.
Let bread cool for a few minutes and then stir into egg mixture. Let the bread and egg rest for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour 1/2 of the bread mixture into buttered dish and top with half of the blueberries. Spoon the jam over the bread in teaspoon sized dollops. Add the rest of the bread and blueberries. Gently press bread into the dish. Sprinkle the top with 1 tablespoon of sugar and the candied ginger.

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until custard is set and top is brown. You can broil it for a few additional minutes to caramelize the sugar and ginger if you like.

Serve warm with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.


July 14, 2011

Serger Cover


My mom got me a serger for Christmas last year and, so far, it’s been amazing. However, it didn’t come with any kind of cover and I noticed today that it was looking pretty dusty. So I made a cover for it out of two placemats and two cloth napkins that I found on clearance at Target.



Unlike my regular sewing machine that is a nice uniform rectangle, my serger has all sorts of wonky corners and whatnot jutting out of it. I wanted the cover to be as streamlined as possible so I opted for a rectangular front and back and trapezoids for the sides.

I also created an opening in the top for the handle since I’m constantly moving it to make way for other projects.



July 10, 2011

Jump Ring Necklace


The theme for this summer seems to be quick and simple projects. There are just too many other fun things to do that don’t involve staying inside. This necklace, made from jump rings, is no exception.


The other day my friend Rachel took a break from unpacking so we could spend a lazy afternoon making jewelry.


I made this jump ring necklace, along with a couple of other pieces. It’s always more fun to craft with friends.

I used a bag of large jump rings (50?), a length of chain long enough to go around my neck, a clasp, small jump rings (20), head pins (20) and assorted glass and stone beads (20).


I strung the jump rings onto the chain, attaching one to a link in the chain every 10 jump rings  so that when I put it on my neck all of the jump rings wouldn’t sink into the middle.

I made an eye loop through each bead by threading it onto a head pin, cutting it off about 1/3” from the bead, bending the head pin at a right angle and then looping the head pin in the opposite direction around round-nosed pliers. I realize that’s a bit unclear and I didn’t take any pictures, so here's a video.


I attached the beads to the large jump rings with small jump rings at random intervals, added a clasp and that’s it.




As I was making this necklace I was thinking that it would be the perfect project for a jewelry making get together. It requires minimal skill and supplies. Plus it’s the kind of project that can easily be finished in a evening even with ample breaks for wine and chatting.

July 6, 2011

Apple Crisp

Mmm…apple crisp. Yes, I’m aware it’s July. But I had a bunch of apples (and a couple of pears) left over from camping that needed to be used pronto. And, really, apple crisp is always good. Right?
Filling -
6 or so medium apples, peeled and sliced (I used 4 apples and 2 pears)
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp clove
2 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into tiny cubes
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped
Topping -
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tbs butter
Preheat oven to 350. Butter an 8”x8” baking dish.
Mix apples, lemon juice, sugar, flour, spices, salt and butter. Gently mix in pecans. Scoop apples into prepared pan.
Make topping by mixing flour, sugar and butter with your fingers until it resembles wet sand. Spoon mixture onto apples, pressing it in a bit.
Bake 45-50 minutes, or until the top is crispy and caramelized and the apples are bubbling and cooked through. Keep in mind that different apples cook faster than others.

July 4, 2011

Semi-patriotic Turquoise and Red Necklace


It was more happenstance than planning that led to the color scheme of this necklace. However, since it is the 4th of July and it is red, silver and blue, I can say it was on purpose, right?


Honestly, though, I fell in love with the red bone flowers as soon as I saw them. They’re bright, light weight, hand-carved, and they were on sale!


I added some turquoise carved wood beads and some tiny silver filigrees. The whole shebang took about 10 minutes.


To those of you living in the states, Happy Independence Day!

July 3, 2011

Vegetable Green Curry


I love curry. All curries. Last night I opted for Thai green curry cut with rich coconut milk and covering pan-browned tofu and loads of summer vegetables.


I used super firm, high protein tofu. I like it better than regular extra firm tofu because it comes vacuum packed as opposed to swimming in a container of water so it’s less messy to deal with. Also, it has a great, non-squishy texture that holds up well when cooked. If you’re not into tofu you could use fish or shrimp, chicken, beef, or just vegetables – really anything. On that note, you can use any veggies as well. This a great “clean out the fridge” recipe.



Marinade for tofu -

1 Tbs fresh lime juice

1 Tbs brown sugar

1 Tbs rice wine vinegar

1 Tbs soy sauce

1 tsp fresh ginger, grated or finely minced

1 tsp chili flakes (or to taste)

1 clove garlic, minced

Curry -

2 Tbs canola oil, divided

10 oz super firm tofu, cut into 1” x 1/2” strips

1 small onion, sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1” pieces

1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 1” pieces

4 scallions, cut into 1” pieces

1 small crown of broccoli, cut into florets

5 spears of asparagus, cut into 1” pieces

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2-3 Tbs green curry paste (taste and then add more if needed)

1 can coconut milk

1 cup water

the juice of 1 lime

1 Tbs brown sugar

1 tsp chili flakes (or to taste)

salt to taste


Note: Curry paste varies greatly in heat and salt content, even within the same brand. Start with a little and add more to taste.

Mix all marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Add tofu, stir and set aside for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove tofu from marinade and cook in hot oil until browned on both sides. Remove tofu from pan.

Add second tablespoon of oil to pan. Add vegetables to pan and cook until onions are barely translucent, 3-4 minutes.

Add curry and garlic to pan. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in coconut, water, lime juice, brown sugar, chili flakes and salt. Add tofu back to pan. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce to simmer. Taste for salt and spiciness. Add salt or curry as needed. Cook until vegetables are cooked through and sauce has thickened slightly.  Serve over jasmine rice.