Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas for Squirrels

Christmas morning entertainment in New Hampshire. These photos are not very good but I could not resist posting this cute little guy eating corn off the cob. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Persimmon Pudding

Around the holidays my grandmother used to always make persimmon pudding. As a child I never really appreciated it. Recently I have been feeling very sentimental about it and wanted to try to make it myself. As it turns out she took the recipe from the Joy of Cooking and it is really easy.  I made a few adjustments based on what I had on hand.

2 overly ripe persimmons (Diospyros Virginiana variety) 
1 egg
generous 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 Tablespoons melted salted butter
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 325
Press the persimmon pulp through a strainer then add all your other ingredients to that and mix until well combined. Grease a baking dish, or in my case I used muffin tins, and pour batter in to bake until firm, about 45 minutes in the muffin tins. Serve with fresh whipped cream. 

This lovely desert is also reminiscent of an English pudding which as a child I did not appreciate as I do now that I have spent time in England. 

I ended up freezing most of these little pudding to enjoy later. They'll be easy to heat up as a quick desert. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Knitter Christmas Ornaments

I've tried knitting a few times in my life. The first time my grandmother taught me. I took it up again for a bit in college. I've never made more than a scarf although I often think of taking it up again… An easier task however was making this little ornament.

Here's what I used:
styrofoam ball
wooden dowels

Here's what I did:
Prepared the dowels - cut them, whittled points, painted them and waited for them to dry
Put the dowels through the styrofoam ball
Tie a loop by one end of the yarn, use a pin to secure the knot to the styrofoam, wrap in yarn
and that's it!

Don't want to do it yourself? You can find it in my etsy shop for the holidays.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Green Smoothie Breakfast

My latest breakfast obsession is this green smoothie I heard about from my sister that she had found here.

It's quick and easy in the morning just put the following in a blender or use an emersion blender:

strawberries (fresh or frozen)
peanut butter
coconut water

blend until smooth and enjoy!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ramen Revisited

Ramen has been a staple in my diet and different points in my life, unfortunately not a beautiful freshly made ramen but the cheap Maruchan ramen from the grocery store. I even have some in my pantry now so I decided to try to dress it up a little

Instead of using the seasoning package I made a little sauce in a pot on the stove over low heat I combined
fresh ginger
coconut oil
sesame oil
peanut butter
soy sauce
rice vinegar
juice from half a lime

while that was warming, whisking it together periodically
I started the water to cook the ramen and washed and cut up vegetables
red pepper
poblano pepper

I also heated up coconut oil and cubed firm tofu and sautéed that in the oil until golden brown
I cooked the noodles and when they were about cooked I added the vegetables so they would soften slightly but I didn't want them to stay crisp.

Then I removed the ramen and vegetables and tossed with the sauce and garnished with bean sprouts,
scallions and the tofu.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Snow Globes

Last year I stopped in at an Anthropologie around the holidays and saw that they were selling 'dry' snow globes, mason jars and salt shakers with little winter scenes and glitter for snow and I thought, I could do that! So this year I decided to attempt it. 

I gathered up the following
some old jars - from salsa, peanut butter, whatever I had around
the tops of some bottles I cut
glitter - white and silver
small trees
little animals
small sled
small ornaments to use in the tops of cut bottles and to hold tree in salt shaker
styrofoam balls 
glue gun
mat board to be the bottom on cut bottles 
spray paint

first I spray painted the jar lids to cover up the branding on them, these will become the bottom of the snow globe that the winter scene will be attached to
I cut mat board to be the bottom of the cut bottles
then I laid out all the bottles and their bottoms and put together scenes for each of them
once the scenes were assembled I used the glue gun to secure them 
for the jars I added glitter and then screwed the bottoms on
for the cut bottles I used the glue gun to attach the mat board to the bottom then poured the glitter in through the hole on the top then glued an ornament in place on top to hold the glitter in

For this simple one I used a cut styrofoam  ball and two penguins

For the salt shaker I used a christmas ornament to hold a tree which adds an fun little tipsy element

Monday, November 11, 2013

Cleaning up a Cut Coke Bottle

I like the look of Coke bottles. I've repurposed them as glasses and they're up in my etsy shop  but the top of the Coke bottles is hard to use because it's got the logo on there. I tried nail polish remover and paint thinner but they had no effect.

The only thing I had luck with was scraping. Using warm water seemed to help a bit too.

Now to decide that to do with these bottle tops! 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Salt Dough Ornaments

Christmas is coming so I decided to try this old classic for Christmas tree ornaments.
I've seen a few variations on recipe for these, not in the proportions but mostly in the bake time

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water 
3 Tablespoons cinnamon, optional to give a nice scent to the ornaments but it does also turn them brown 

Mix together ingredients, make dough and roll out on a floured board. Cut into whatever shapes you like and use a toothpick to poke a hole so after they're cooked you can add a string to hang them. 
Bake 325 for 1 hour 
They came out kind of puffy which I think could have been baking them at 325 for an hour instead of 250 for 2 hours. 

Once they're cooked and cooled you can decorate them however you'd like! I love that there's so much flexibility and creativity in this!

Simple rounds can be turned in to anything.

Before you cook the dough you can even try using a rubber stamp (dab it in flour first so it doesn't stick to the dough). Once it was cooked I hand colored the stamped part using paint pens. These are also a great add to the top of holiday presents.

For this "major award" I uses a cookie cutter and painted with gold nail polish and used a sharpie for the black details. 

I experimented with whatever I had on hand to paint, from left over paints to nail polish to pens… 

 I had a lot of fun with this! So much space for experiments and creativity and so inexpensive!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pork Tamales

We still had left over pork so I was trying to think of another way to use and it decided I'd try my hand at tamales again. 

I cut the pork up into small cubes and put it in a pot on the stove with a small can of salsa verde poured in and let it simmer for awhile.                 While that was cooking I made the dough following the directions on the masa package and spread it thinly on the corn husks then put a scoop of pork in each, then rolled up the tamales and folded the ends over. I then steamed them for about half an hour. 

I served the tamales with roasted zucchini, summer squash and mushrooms. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Pork and Apple Sandwich

Left over smoked pork from the weekend became a delicious sandwich for lunch. 
Spread dijon mustard on rye bread, place a layer of sliced apples, layer of pickles, swiss cheese then pork. Lightly butter the bread and put it in a frying pan, flipping it once. When it's heated through and the cheese has melted it's time to enjoy! 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Smoking Tamales for Dia de Los Muertos

Feliz Dia de Los Muertos. I've always been drawn to the art and images surrounding this day and am still relatively uneducated about it but always feel drawn to this day. My assignment before next year will to get more education about it.

My husband decided it would be a good day to use the smoker. I decided it would be a good day to repurpose the red kuri squash I cooked on Halloween. Thinking about the Day of the Dead I decided it would be a good day to try cooking some Mexican inspired dishes.

I started with some horchata. I used this recipe I found and incorporated some of the suggestions in the comments to make it.
In the morning I blended
1 cup of uncooked white rice until it began to break up
I put it in a pitcher with 5 cups of water
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
When I had dinner cooking, in the evening I pour it through a strainer to strain out the rice pieces and cinnamon sticks then I added

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup almond milk

and put it in the fridge to chill. When dinner was ready I served it over ice.

Squash Tamales 
First get the corn husks in warm water to soak so they'll be soft enough to wrap
I used left over red kuri squash I mixed with sliced poblano and padrone peppers 
and spices - paprika, onion powder, garlic poswer, oregano, salt, pepper
Then I followed the directions on the masa for the dough, spread it thinly on the corn husks and put a scoop of the squash in the middle. I also had some queso fresco so I added some of that too and then rolled up the tamales and folded in the top and bottom and steamed them for about a half hour. 

We ate them with a little avocado on top, beans on the side and some smoked pork. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Festive Fall Dinner for Halloween

Happy Halloween! Growing up the tradition in my family was to have cheese fondue for dinner on Halloween and although it's a tradition that would be fun to cary forward I was feeling like what I really needed today was some vegetables so I'll postpone have fondue for a bit and decided to work with some seasonal flavors and colors of fall instead.  

I started by looking up how to cook this lovely red kuri squash I had. It seemed similar to a kabocha squash to me so I ended up using this recipe from Nom Nom Paleo. Which was also interesting to me because I have coconut oil but haven't really figured out when to use it yet...  I sliced the squash tossed it in coconut oil seasoned with salt and pepper and roasted it in the oven at 400 for 30 minutes. 
I had harvested the last two kohlrabi bulbs from my garden and decided to try a kind of latke fritter type thing with it. I grated the kohlrabi and squeezed as much liquid out of it as I could. I added diced onion, garlic powder, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs and a scrambled egg. Then I heated up some oil in a frying pan and when it was hot put scoops of the kohlrabi mixture in to fry.

I also picked some kale from the garden and sautéed that with garlic and picked some beet greens too for garnish. Lastly I sliced up a watermelon radish I had for a little extra color on the plate.

Since the trick-or-treaters shouldn't be the only ones getting a treat we also had miniature pumpkin whoopie pie mini muffins. I cheated a bit here. I had found a box of Trader Joe's Pumpkin Bread Mix in my pantry so I baked the mix in mini muffin tins. Right when I removed them from the oven I stuck a chocolate chip on top so they'd look like little pumpkins with a stem on top. While those were cooling I made  whoopie pie filling: beat 1 stick of butter with 1 2/3 cups of powdered sugar, then add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 2 cup of Fluff (since it was invented right down the road). I sliced the mini muffins in half and put a scoop of fluffy filling in. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Cool Night, Hot Toddy

I'm trying to fight off a cold on this lovely fall night.
Sounds like the perfect time for a Hot Toddy!

Put about a tablespoon of honey in the bottom of a mug with one clove, a cinnamon stick, a teaspoon lemon juice and a tea bag, heat water and pour into mug to make tea, when tea is ready, remove the tea bag, add a shot of bourbon and a lemon wedge for garnish

Monday, October 21, 2013

Potato Soup

The weather's starting to get colder and feel like fall. So it seemed like a good day to make soup. I happen to have potatoes and leeks on hand so that's where I started... there and with a little help from Simply Recipes.

Heat a tablespoon of butter and toss in chopped leeks 
add some chopped fennel let cook down a bit
I chopped up and added some fresh herbs from the garden and chopped and added an apple
I had frozen chicken stock I'd made so I threw that in and let it melt 
peeled, cut and added the potatoes and then let it cook until the potatoes were soft. Lastly I tossed in some Tabasco and salt and pepper. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

some cooking with Cashew Cheese

I used to be a vegetarian. That was many years ago now but I still tend not to cook meat. I really admire people that can take that a step further and make amazing vegan food. I've been following Wholly Vegan, mostly on Instagram, and always find myself thinking "that looks delicious!" I had been curious about cashew cheese. I like cashews and cheese... how could this be bad? And the basic recipe for it sounded easy to do, so I made some cashew cheese

Soak 1 cup of raw cashews for at least and hour
strain then blend with 1/4 cup of water
add juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/2 teaspoon of salt
clove of garlic
blend it all together

Now that I had this cheese what would I do with it? I'm not sure how long it will last before it goes bad.

The first day I tried a stacked caprese salad with fresh tomato and basil from my garden. 

I layered a slice of tomato put a little salt and pepper, cashew cheese and fresh basil. 

I tried stuffing a small poblano pepper, I sliced it in half, filled it with cashew cheese and baked it then topped with some fresh tomato

The last thing I tried was stuffing a cucumber. I sliced it in rounds, removed the seeds, placed the cucumber on a slice of watermelon radish then filled the whole where the seeds were with the cashew cheese and topped with a slice of avocado, some watermelon radish slices, salt, pepper and pomegranate seeds. 

I had a lot of fun with the cashew cheese and look forward to doing more experimenting with it. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Raspberry Mint Tea

I haven't been able to keep up with the raspberries in my garden so I've been trying to think of other things I can do with them. Today I made some fresh tea, I picked raspberries and mint from my garden and poured boiling water on top. The raspberries ended up making it a little bitter but a bit of honey sweetened it right up.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Muffin ginger chocolate

I came across this Gingerbread Chocolate Chunk muffin recipe from Coconut and Berries and it sounded delicious, so I gave it a try and am glad that I did. I made a few adjustments to the recipe based on what I already had in my kitchen. Here's what I did:

Mix together the dry ingredients:
1 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
Mix together the wet ingredients
1/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons Greek yogurt
2Tablespoons vegetable oil
2Tablespoons molasses
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix together then add:
handful of dark chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons crystalized ginger cut into small pieces

Should make about six regular sized muffins
Bake at 350 for 12 minutes or longer if needed