beautiful dreamer

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The other day I got the DIY itch and headed to the craft store to get inspired. Dream Catchers just stuck in my head, so I decided to have a go at one. Usually before I try something new I will google tutorials to get an idea of what I am getting myself into, but there really were not many detailed or helpful tutorials for dream catchers. And I thought to myself, what kind of person would I be if I didn’t fix that problem? 

First a little background on dream catchers: Dream catchers originated with the Ojibwe people and slowly, through marriage, spread through other nations over time. As the stories goes, there was a Spider Woman that watched over all of the children, but as the people spread farther away, she could not longer take care of all the children. Soon the mothers and grandmothers started making dream catchers that would catch all the bad dreams and never allow them to reach the children. Children would have only good dreams and the bad dreams would vanish in the morning. I think it is an amazingly sweet and happy story.

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Here’s what you’ll need:

8′ of twine
Metal ring
Super Glue
7′ of wax cotton thread
Assorted beads, feathers, and ribbon

Step 1: Wrapping the hoop

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The first step is to wrap the hoop with twine. Begin by putting a dab of super glue (quick drying) on the hoop and giving it a moment to dry. Once it is dry you will have a foundation to begin wrapping. Once you get the hang of this, it will go pretty fast. Every several wraps, push what you’ve done so far together, so you can’t see the hoop underneath the twine.

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When you (finally) get to the end, you can either end the twine with a bit of super glue OR you can make a loop with the excess twine. This way you will have a way to hang your beautiful creation at the end.

Step 2: Making the web

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Begin by tying the end of the thread at the top of the hoop. I usually go ahead and string my beads at this point because it is easier than trying to do it in the middle of stringing the web. Use a dab of super glue on the knot, so that there isn’t a risk of it coming untied.

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Wrap the thread all the way around the loop until you come back to the top. Make sure each of the wraps are evenly spaced around the loop because this will be the base of your pattern.

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Continue making your way around the circle looping the thread through the bottom of each triangle. It is important that the thread you choose is heavy duty because you will be pulling it taut along the way.

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Drop the beads in wherever your crafty heart desires. If you went ahead and threaded them before you began, you’ll be thanking yourself right now. If you didn’t…well, you’ll be getting creative.

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You can choose how small you want the inner circle to be. If you leave it larger, you can even add a feather or something in the middle. You can also continue until the circle is almost closed. Whenever you decide you’re done, you’ll want to tie the end of the string off and use a dab of super glue to secure it.

Step 3: Embellish

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This is the fun part! You can decorate your catcher in whatever way you desire.

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Since we live by the sea, I added shells into mine. I also love a little sparkle, so I added crystal beads. Feathers are a very traditional way to go and also add the light movement that I associate with dream catchers.

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I added a feather to the web of the last one I made and I wrapped the hoop with lace ribbon.

The sky is the limit with the way you can decorate your dream catcher – you’ll never make the same one twice, which is what is so great about this project. Be creative and let your dream catcher reflect all of your favorite things. This would be a fantastic project for kids and teens. If I did it with kids I would probably pre-wrap the loops and just let them decorate.

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There you have it! I hope you enjoy your dream catcher and it serves you well to keep the bad dreams away!

farmers market eats

Summer in pretty much in full swing in these parts. While summer brings oppressive heat, mosquitoes, and humidity, it also brings one my favorite things in the world: Farmer’s Markets. We used to live in a small rural town before our relocation to the sunshine state and the farmer’s market there was epic. There were so many choices of delicious produce from farms that were right around the corner and the cakes, oh the cakes. I even used to sell dog treats there once upon a time. Ah, memories…

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But I digress… So when we moved to a larger cities in a less rural area, I was concerned that finding a decent farmer’s market would be difficult. I could not have been more wrong. There is a massive arts market that happens every week, with a large farmer’s market incorporated with it. Better yet, we have our own market out here at the beach.

So, what to do with all the delicious food that you can pick up at the farmer’s market? I’m so glad you asked! I present to you, a few of my favorite farmer’s market dishes:

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Corn Chowder

This is such an easy recipe and you can get just about all of the ingredients at the farmers market. Better yet, make a large batch and freeze some to eat later on in the summer!

1 yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 pound of potatoes, quartered
1 cup of peas, fresh or frozen
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 ears of corn, kernels cut off
4 cups of vegetable stock (or chicken)
1 cup of cream (or whole milk)
salt and pepper to taste

In olive oil, saute onions until translucent, add garlic and saute for about a minute. Add potatoes and stock, bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add in corn, peas, and milk and bring back to simmer for another 5 minutes. Season with fresh herds and ENJOY!

I love the corn chowder recipe because it is so easy. Throw everything into a pot and cook, can’t get any better than that, and I love a creamy soup.

The next recipe I want to mention is one that I found on The Kitchn. They take a potatoes au gratin and cross it with a ratatouille, which is sheer genius! I’m a little jealous I didn’t think of it.

Potato, Squash, and Goat Cheese Gratin

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And last, but not least, a little something sweet.

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Lemon Cake

Batter
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 lemons, juice and zest

Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
4 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8X8 pan with butter. Cream together butter and sugar. Mix in flour and salt. In a separate bowl beat together eggs, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat until creamy, about 2 minutes. Pour in pan and bake for 20 minutes.

For the glaze, add sifted powdered sugar to lemon juice and zest and mix until combined and smooth. Once cake comes out of the oven, let sit until completely cool. With a fork, pierce top of the cake, this will allow the glaze to soak through the cake. Let the cake sit for a little while to soak up all the glaze-y goodness and then cut and serve.

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Gotta love some fresh veggies – Zoey sure does! But, really, if you haven’t already, I hope that you will go check out your local market! Not only does it help support local farmers and local business owners, but you can get some really great produce that you can rest assured is natural and locally grown. Support local!

 

sour cream pound cake

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This recipe is pretty nostalgic for me. It is a combination of my mom’s recipe with the addition of some of my grandmother’s recipe. My mom’s recipe is pretty cryptic and, since I can’t ask her to clarify, I was kind of left to figure some parts of it out myself. My grandmother used to add sour cream to her recipe (which is a relatively common occurrence in the south), so I’ve added that into the original recipe as well.

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While I still have no idea what “1 Box 10X Sugar” means, it’s still really awesome to have this recipe book from my mom.

Step 1: Prep

There isn’t a whole lot of prepping for this recipe, but the few things that need to be done are super important. First, the butter must be at room temperature. I emphasize this, not because I think you’ll ignore me, but because I am so bad at this part. I’ll decide to make a cake and then have to convince myself to not just microwave the butter for an easy fix. It really is better if you just give it a little while to be come up to room temperature… The eggs also need to be room temp, but that doesn’t take nearly as long.

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The other very important step is to butter and flour the pan. Take the wrapper from the butter you are using for the recipe and grease down the inside of the pan. Then add a little flour and dust it around until the pan it is completely coated.

TIP: This method is better to use when baking, especially if you use nonstick pans, because it won’t leave residue like cooking spray.

Step 2: Mixing

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One of the great things about pound cake recipes is that they are incredibly easy to make and don’t take too much time. Because there are only a few ingredients, you’ll want to make sure you use quality products for each one.

Put the softened butter in the bowl and cream it together with the sugar until it is smooth. Once those two ingredients are well mixed, add the sour cream and mix on medium speed until it is incorporated. Next you’ll want to turn the speed to low and alternate adding one egg and a third of the flour until you have mixed all the ingredients.

I made a few different versions with this batter, so I separated the batter equally into three bowls. I added cocoa powder (about a tablespoon) to one bowl, cocoa powder (1 tbsp) and chocolate chips to another, and just chocolate chips to the last bowl. You can add whatever flavors you want to this recipe. That’s what I love about a good base pound cake recipe. Get creative!

Step 3: Bake

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I put the flavored batters into three smaller tins (3″X5″) for baking. I also made a larger vanilla cake in a 5″X10″ pan.

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The correct baking time is critical for pound cake. If you bake it too long, it becomes dry and doesn’t have that buttery, melt-in- your-mouth texture. If you don’t cook them long enough they’re still raw in the middle and will just end up being mushy. Cooking times will vary for the pan size, but you’ll want to keep an eye on them. When they start browning on the top and smell delicious, they are probably done. I know it sounds weird, but the smell is really important. You can always use the tried and true toothpick test to make sure as well.

Step 4: Enjoy!

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Once the cakes come out of the oven, you’ll want to let them sit for a few minutes and then transfer them to a cooling rack. If they stay in the pans for too long they will continue to cook from the heat and you will risk a dry cake.

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My very favorite way to enjoy pound cake is with a little heavy cream and fruit. My grandmother used to eat it this way and one of my very few vivid childhood memories is of eating pound cake just like this with her. Whipped cream and ice cream are two other wonderful ways to enjoy this yummy dessert.

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I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do, it makes me warm all over thinking of the memories I have attached to this cake.

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This recipe is Zoey-Approved!

SOUR CREAM POUND CAKE RECIPE

2 sticks of butter, softened
1 cup of sour cream
3 cups of sugar
6 eggs, room temperature
2 3/4 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour baking pan. Cream together the softened butter and sugar, then add the sour cream and mix until combined. Turn mixer speed to low and alternate adding one egg and 1/6 of the mixture, until you have combined all the ingredients. Transfer mixture to pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Then moved cake to cooling rack and let cool completely before cutting.

Enjoy!

 

eggs – you’re doing it wrong

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Okay, that’s not totally fair. With a bajillion of ways you can cook an egg, we’re all doing it wrong at some point. I’d never really given eggs a lot of thought. Until now, I thought of them as a yummy protein for breakfast and really helpful when making cupcakes, but that was about it. It’s almost like I just discovered the real egg – I guess this could be called my Ode to the Egg.

While there are a MILLION ways to cook an egg, I will be focusing on the humble scrambled egg. When done right, this is probably my favorite way to enjoy eggs, although I do have a soft spot for them over easy too. (soft spot, over easy…ha. get it?)

Step 1: Prep

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First, put the pan (I use a simply nonstick pan) on the stove and turn the heat to just higher than medium. Low and slow is the name of the game, you don’t want to burn them, but we also don’t want to wait 45 minutes for breakfast either. Once the pan heats up, add a little pad of butter and swirl it around until it coats the bottom of the pan. Mmmmm butter…

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When I scramble eggs, I generally use 3 or 4, depending on how hungry we are that morning. I always use a blender bottle to “whisk” the eggs. I cook eggs so much that I actually have a blender bottle dedicated to just shaking eggs. In a previous life, I would add water, salt, and pepper into the bottle while shaking them up, but I don’t do that anymore. Just good ole egg, the rest will come later.

Step 2: Cooking

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Once the pan is warm and the butter has melted, add the eggs. Resist the urge to jump in and start stirring from the beginning, give them a few seconds to start cooking on the bottom. While you’re giving them those seconds sprinkle over a pinch of salt, then start stirring gently with a spatula, just enough to break up the curds. Once they are about half way cooked, pour in about 2 tablespoons of heavy cream and continue stirring. You can adjust the heavy cream to your taste, it really is a personal thing. The more you add the creamier they will be.

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We are looking for a really creamy texture, so don’t over cook them. Once they’re done cooking, remove them from the heat and grate some fresh pepper over the top and fold it in.

Step 3: Plate and serve

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We dig fruit in this household, as you can see. I also love avocado with eggs, something about that avocado creaminess and the creamy eggs…just divine! My other favorite thing to have in the morning is an english muffin with almond (or peanut) butter, honey, and bananas. I always add chia seeds to the muffin. Sometimes the chia seeds will even find their way into the eggs before they get cooked too. I am completely in to chia seeds right now, but we’ll save that for a different blog.

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There you have it, the “secret” to delicious scrambled eggs every time.

Enjoy!

 

refrigerator overhaul

So, I had a bit of an OCD moment yesterday and I thought I would share it with you guys. Our fridge…it is amazing to me. There are only two of us, but it always looks like a food bomb has gone off in our ice box. I can’t imagine what it would be like with kids constantly opening the door and riffling around in there.

I want to go ahead and apologies for the lame pictures in this post, definitely not my usual quality, but I haven’t figured out refrigerator photography yet…

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Here it is in all its scary-ness… The first thing you’ll want to do is declutter and get rid of all the expired stuff in there. I think it goes without saying that you’ll want to do this quickly, so things don’t sit out at room temperature for too long.

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As you can see in these ‘before’ pictures, things were basically all over the place with no home. There were actually eggs in the door AND in the main part, all varieties of cheese (I love cheese) all over the place, leftovers just strewn about, and veggies and fruit everywhere.

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The funny thing is that the drawers at the bottom weren’t really being used at all. It is no wonder we were throwing out expired food all the time. I had no idea what was in there!

Step 1: Declutter and clean

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This part is a little sad for me, I hate throwing out food. It is so wasteful and yet we do it all the time because I have no idea what is actually in the refrigerator. I pulled everything out of the fridge and separated it by category on the counter. I then measured the shelves and made a quick trip to Bed Bath and Beyond to get these super fancy containers. I even got one for the eggs, which I always thought was pointless, until I realized I can now stack things on that container too. Brilliant.

I also went by Target and picked up some labels for each of the bins and got a dry erase board that we’ll talk about later.

TIP: This is a fantastic time to deep clean and get all the gross out. I’ve read that keeping activated carbon in your refrigerator will help if you have issues with smelly odors. Also, if you hate cleaning, put cling wrap down on all the shelves for easy clean up later. Wiping up spills when they happen will also save you a lot of heartache in the end.

Step 2: Categorize and organize

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You know your family and food needs best, so you’ll have to make the category choices for yourself. On the top shelf I went with Condiments and Milks/Juices.

TIP: Apparently, milk shouldn’t be kept in the door because the temperature fluctuates too much. This is also true about eggs. They should both be on the inside of the fridge.

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The next level consisted of another Condiments bin and a Snacks bin. The cool thing about these bins is that you can take them out and put them back in, all in one little neat package.

TIP: Make sandwiches a lot? Make a bin for sandwiches and keep all the sandwich fixin’s in it. That way you can grab it out of the fridge, make those sandwiches and then just return it.

Next is a drawer that is now dedicated to cheese. Yup. Cheese. I think there might be a roll of croissant rolls in there too. But mostly cheese.

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We have an obscene amount of jelly, jams and butters. Obscene. So the next level has a bin dedicated just to those. The eggs are also on this level, now inside the fridge and not in the door.

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Next are the sodas, teas, and leftovers. There are two levels of soda holders, but it is hard to see that in this picture, since I need to go and buy some more. The teas in the back are sitting on a lazy susan (where did that name even come from?), so we can turn it around and find what we want. I also left some room for leftovers on this shelf.

TIP: If you have raw meat in your refrigerator, this is where it should to go. You always want raw meats and seafood to be on the bottom shelf to avoid contamination.

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Now the drawers are actually being used – the top for fruit and the bottom for vegetables.

TIP: The vegetable drawer should be humid. News to me. Also, I found a really helpful article about keeping your fruits and veggies fresh for longer.

Step 3: The door

So, you’ve moved all your milk and eggs out of the door…what goes there now? Well, I added another Snacks shelf and a Misc. shelf for all that random stuff that shows up from time to time. It is currently holding a pitcher of lemon-infused water. Yum. The last two shelves house Wine and Beer because they need their own space too. Remember all that butter I was mentioning? Well I have a separate place for the butter I use specifically for baking. It now lives in what was once the egg holder in the door. Genius, I know.

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And there it is, in all its organized glory. Kind of nice, huh? And it really didn’t take that long from start to finish. Maybe a couple of hours, tops. Looks like I need to go grocery stopping…

Step 4: The dry erase board

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Now, for all of you fellow OCDers out there, I present to you (dramatic pause) the dry erase board. Whether or not this will stay updated at our house is questionable, but it is a great idea in theory. This way I can keep track of what’s in the fridge, what’s going to expire soon, what leftovers we need to consume, and what I desperately need to purchase on my next trip to the grocer. I’m also going to try and plan weekly meals ahead of time… try.

So there you have it, a nice organized fridge in only a few hours. Definitely an afternoon well spent!

 

lasagna cupcakes

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Finally! I am writing a blog about the lasagna cupcake recipe. It is such a fun dinner – and super easy to boot! The cool thing about this recipe is that you can really change the flavors to suit whatever mood you are in. For example, I used some leftover roasted vegetables from dinner the other night. (more about that later)

This is an awesome, kid-friendly dinner and they can even help make it!

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Here’s what you need:

Wonton Wrappers
Tomato Sauce
Ricotta
Shredded Cheese (some italian combination)
Vegetables or Meat
Cupcake Pan
Nonstick stray

Step 1: Prep

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As I mentioned above, I had some leftover roasted veggies from a couple of dinners ago. I decided I wanted to try them in these cupcakes, so I threw them in the food processor and let it do its thing. Since I cooked these with plenty of salt, pepper, and olive oil, I didn’t need to add any extra seasoning to them.

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Next you’ll want to spray your cupcake pan with nonstick spray and place the wonton wrappers in them. I have found that two in each cup works best and if you place them with one corner in the bottom, they will cover most of the cup.

Step 2: Assembly

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Assembly of the cupcakes is wicked easy. It’s all about the layers. This is where you can get creative and use any flavors you want. You can also add meat to the recipe if you would like, just brown it beforehand and mix it in with the sauce or ricotta.

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First, start with the tomato sauce. You could make your own sauce from scratch, but who has time for that mess? There are so many great natural and organic choices that it would be crazy to waste the time. I think.

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Second is the toss-up layer. I used the aforementioned veggies. I tossed onions, zucchini, mushroom, and tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper and then roasted them in the oven. You could go with some sort of meat or fresh veggies. I usually use fresh zucchini and squash, but I thought the roasted veggies would add a nice depth of flavor. I was not disappointed!

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Third layer is the ricotta cheese. YUM. I could eat this out of the cup. By the spoonful. Just a little tip, I put a dollop down, and then once you put the shredded cheese on top, you can press it flat rather than trying to unsuccessfully spread it with the spoon.

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Last layer is the cheese. Just sprinkle some on top of the ricotta and press the layers down to compact it a little.

Next, you’ll want to repeat the four layers one more time in the same order. Put a little more cheese on top at the end, so you have a nice final layer of delicious melted cheese.

Step 3: Bake and serve!

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Into the oven they go! This is the hardest part…waiting. I usually wash dishes, so I can enjoy the meal afterwards with little clean up.

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Don’t they just look delicious?

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The final product is so wonderful.

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They get even better with time too. Try them cold out of the fridge the next day – divine!

LASAGNA CUPCAKES

24 wonton wrappers
1 cup tomato sauce
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup roasted veggies (or other filling)
1/2 shredded cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray cupcake pan with nonstick spray. Overlap two wonton wrappers in each cupcake cup, making sure they cover the sides thoroughly. Evenly distribute half of the tomato sauce between cup, next evenly distribute half of the roasted veggies between each cup. Continue doing this with the ricotta cheese and the shredded cheese. Slightly compact the layers and then repeat the other half of the tomato sauce, roast veggies, ricotta, and shredded cheese layers.

Put the pan into the oven and cook for 20 minutes or until the wonton wrappers are browned.

Let the cupcakes cool for about 5 minutes and then ENJOY!

chocolate cupcakes for two

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Today is a very special day for mothers, but this year it also happens to be my amazing bf’s birthday. Since it is just the two of us, it doesn’t make much sense to make an entire cake or a full batch of cupcakes, so I decided to just make a couple. This is a super quick and easy recipe if you just need a couple of cupcakes for a special quiet birthday in or need a chocolate cupcake fix in the middle of the night. No judgements here!

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Here’s what you’ll need:

Flour
Sugar
Cocoa Powder
Salt
Baking Soda
Milk
Canola Oil (or vegetable oil)
Vanilla Extract
Butter
Powdered Sugar
Peanut Butter

Step 1: Mix dry and wet ingredients.

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You’ll want to start by whisking together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda. The great thing about this recipe is that chances are pretty good that you’ll have all the ingredients in your pantry and fridge already. And if you decided you’re not really feeling the chocolate, leave out the cocoa powder and substitute in a little more flour. Easy-peasy.

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Next you’ll want to add in the wet ingredients: milk, oil, vanilla extract. I used a whisk, you could use a hand mixer if you want, but it seemed like over kill to me. A fork would work well too in lieu of a whisk.

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It will be pretty a quick whisk. Make sure you get all the lumps out, no one wants a lumpy batter!

Step 2: Fill and bake.

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You’ll want to put two liners in a cupcake pan. I don’t know if I have a weird sized pan or odd sized liners, but they never fit… bummer. Fill both the liners about half way up the side. It should use all of the batter, leaving just enough to lick the bowl and not hate yourself in the morning. They will take around 20 minutes to bake. So now would be a good time to clean up a little or start on the peanut butter icing!

Step 3: Making the icing.

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For the icing, I used a hand mixer since it requires a little more mixing to get it all incorporated. Start with the room temperature butter (which happens to be the only thing I took a picture of…sorry!) and cream it together with the peanut butter and milk. Next add the powdered sugar, a little at a time unless you want it to snow in your kitchen. Make sure the butter is actually room temperature or you will end up with lumps in your icing…no bueno.

I chose peanut butter for this icing because it is a favorite of the bf. The beauty of this icing is that you can substitute just about anything for the PB, for example, nutella. Mmmmmm. Or you could use cream cheese. If you opt for the cream cheese route you could also add some jam to it to make it all fruity. If you decided to go with a vanilla cake, take the PB out all together and add in more butter and vanilla extract for a vanilla butter cream.

Step 4: Icing the cupcakes.

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This is not a shining example of my icing skills, but I made due with what I had! I usually use a plastic bag full of icing with a piping tip on the end, but I couldn’t locate my piping tip today… So I just used the bag with a hole cut in the corner. I also happened to have some decorating sugar that matched perfectly – score!

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My biggest regret with this recipe is that I didn’t make more of them…but then it would defeat the point of cupcakes for two, wouldn’t it?

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES FOR TWO

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE

3 tbsp of flour
2 tbsp of sugar
1 tbsp of cocoa powder
1/4 tsp of baking soda
1/4 tsp of salt
3 tbsp of milk
1 tbsp of canola oil
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 and put two cupcake liners in a cupcake tin. Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Once combined, whisk in milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Separate batter between the two liners. Place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

PEANUT BUTTER ICING

2 tbsp room temperature butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2-1 tsp milk (for consistency)

With an electric mixer, cream together butter, milk, and peanut butter. Slow add in powdered sugar until fully combined. Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, split the icing between the two little cupcakes.

ENJOY!