Thursday, May 23, 2013

Week 22 Recipe: Crispy Fish Tacos

You all know how much my hubby loves his fish tacos and this week's recipe actually comes from him!  Crispy fish tacos with spicy chili sauce.

1 pound of a firm white fish (mahi or tilapia work great)
1 egg beaten
1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs
corn tortillas

Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of your pan to medium heat.  
Cut your fish into pieces approximately 1" by 3"
Season with salt to taste
Run your fish through the beaten egg and then dredge through the panko bread crumbs.
Fry your fish for about three minutes per side and drain on paper towels.

Chili sauce recipe:
1/4 cup of light mayo
1/4 cup of light sour cream
Juice of 1/2 of lime
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce minced (you can find these in the Mexican food aisle of your market)

combine all ingredients.

While your fish is draining warm your tortillas in a dry skillet.

Load your warmed tortillas with cheese, lettuce, avocado, and some chili sauce.  Don't forget to add the fish!  Enjoy.

Week 22 Craft: Patriotic Wreath

When I was young one of my favorite toys was the "flatsy" doll.  Don't know why, but I was fascinated by the idea of the flat profile.  

So, flatsy's were the inspiration for this week's craft project - a patriotic wreath.

Here's what you need:
Four 2" styrofoam balls
1/2 yard of white flannel
1/4 yard of blue fabric of your choice
1/4 yard of red fabric of your choice
1/4 yard of navy flannel
9" flat floral craft ring (I got mine at Michaels)
Glue gun
Wire for hanging wreath
Needle and thread

Start by cutting your styrofoam balls in half.  Take some strong thread, wrap it around the ball at the mid point and pull tight; it's easier and less messy than using a knife.

Cut your blue and red fabrics into 1/2" strips.  Make sure you cut them across the width of the fabric so the strips are at least 45" long.

Wrap the fabric around the balls making sure you cover all the styrofoam and tack the end in place with a dot of glue from your glue gun.  I made four of each color.

Cut Your white flannel into 4" by 24" pieces.  Fold the pieces in half long ways and run a gathering stitch close to the raw edge - but don't pull the gather tight.  with sharp scissors cut strips that come close to the gather stitches; my cuts are about 1/3" wide.  

Make sure your fabric doesn't turn (I lay mine on a flat surface) and slowly pull the gathering thread.

Take your time doing this.  There is nothing more frustrating than getting everything halfway tightened up and having your thread break.  Probably good advice for plastic surgeons as well....

Thread your needle through the other end forming your loop.  I usually run the needle through multiple layers before tying off the thread.  Voila!  Flower petals.

Next glue your fabric covered ball to the flower petal base.  Feel free to fluff your petals.

I think these would be so cute glued to small dowels (or straws) and put into a flower pot!

Cut two strips of your navy flannel 6" by 24" and sew the short ends together.  

Run a gather stitch in the middle of this strip and pull until it fits the wreath form.  At this point I ran my flannel strip through a wash to get a rough edge.

My wreath had holes spaced evenly around.  I used these holes to run some wire through to make a hanging loop; I also used them as a guide to place my flowers.

Glue the flannel to the wreath form using your gather stitch as a guide to find the middle.  Make sure you glue securely so your fabric doesn't sag when you glue your flowers to it.

Time to glue on your flowers!  Don't worry if your wreath doesn't have holes, eight flowers pretty much match end to end on the wreath form.

Time to hang it on your door.  It's a nice, full wreath, but has a nice and low profile.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Week 20 Craft/Recipe/How to Make Yourself Clean Your Kitchen

This week's post turned out to be quite the learning experience.  Who knew that wanting to "expand your horizons" could be such a challenge?  The inspiration looked innocent enough.  How to make homemade butter.  It's a sweet little post found on the Living Well Spending Less blog.

Make your own butter?  This was a chance to TRULY get my Martha Stewart on.  The recipe is easy enough: a quart of heavy cream, 3/4 teaspoon of fine kosher salt and a stand mixer.  Oh, and don't forget to cover the mixer with a towel because it can get messy.  

It sounded so innocent; it sounded so fun.  I placed the ingredients in the mixer, I put my kitchen towel over the mixer.  Feeling smug with my steaming cup of coffee in hand I turned my mixer on.  Tra la la, I'm making butter.  All is well as I hum a happy tune.  Three minutes in I have whipped cream; life is good.  I wander into the next that I make my own butter maybe I should try a bigger project like re-upholstering my couch.  Suddenly I hear what sounds like my washing machine freaking out except it's coming from my kitchen.  AAAUUUGGHHH!!!!  I have butter - and bits of butter and buttermilk all over my counter - and all over my floor - and even on my cabinets.  My recommendation is to take a large bath towel, place it under the mixer and wrap it over the top.  At least that way the chaos will be limited to the towel.  Here's the mixer in the aftermath; half of the kitchen looked much the same.  

Somewhere deep down I envision the blogger from Living Well laughing maniacally as she imagines how many reader's kitchens will be turned into combat zones.  

That said...I made butter and it only took about seven minutes.  As per the recipe I ended up with about a pound of butter.  Instead of 2 1/2 cups of buttermilk I ended up with about a cup; the other cup and a half was splayed about my kitchen like brains from a zombie apocalypse.

One thing I noticed is even after squeezing I seemed to have a lot of liquid in the butter.  I split it into two bowls and mixed it well with a fork.  This seemed to bring out the moisture and I drained it off.  So now what to do with a pound of butter?  I made some compound butter -one sweet and one savory.

  Cinnamon Sugar Orange Butter
8 oz butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 - 3 Tablespoons of raw organic sugar
1/4 teaspoon of orange zest

Combine ingredients, place in airtight container and store in refrigerator.  The zest adds a nice bite and keeps this butter from being overly sweet.

Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Butter
8 oz butter
3 cloves of roasted garlic 
1 teaspoon of rosemary minced 

Combine ingredients, place in an airtight container and store in refrigerator.  

Both these butters are quite delicious.  Would they be equally delicious if they were made with store bought butter?  My guess is yes, but then you wouldn't be able to tell anyone you actually made the butter, and where's the fun in that?  

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Week 19 Recipe: Green Enchilada Casserole

I love, love, love Mexican food.  I could literally eat it every day and sometimes it seems like I do.  SO I am always trying to find new recipes.  This is definitely one of those easy recipes that can be adapted a hundred different ways.  Enchilada casserole with green sauce.

Makes four to six servings
1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 cup of chopped onion
1 clove of garlic minced
2T chili powder
1 tsp cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 16 oz can of green enchilada sauce
white corn tortillas
1 cup of shredded cheese

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a skillet combine the onion, garlic and ground beef and brown.  Add the chili powder, cumin, cayenne and oregano.  

Stir and reduce the heat to a simmer  and cook for an additional five minutes.  Drain the excess fat.

Grease the bottom of an 8" by 8" casserole dish.  Place a layer of white corn tortillas and place half of the meat mixture on top.

Next add 1/3 of the enchilada sauce and 1/3 of the cheese.


Finish by placing a layer of corn tortillas on top, spreading the remaining sauce and cheese over that.  
Place in the oven and cook for 35 to 45 minutes - until it's nice a bubbly on top.

Remove from the oven and let rest for five minutes.  Plate it up and add your favorite condiments: black olives, sour cream, cilantro, salsa.  mmmmmmmmmm......

You can easily mix this up by using red sauce instead of green, or your favorite taco mix packet instead of the spices I used.  Ground turkey works as a healthier substitute for the ground beef.

Week 19 Craft: Decorative Box

This week's craft inspiration if from one of my very first pins.  It's a decorative planter box from Woman's Day magazine.  I always thought this box was so cute, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Fun and functional, right?  We LOVE fun and functional!  Here's my interpretation:

And here's how you do it. 

1.  For box dimensions and construction details click here.   Full disclaimer: my hubby was sweet enough to put this box together for me.  However, he said it was super easy and only took him about half an hour.  

2. Once your box is put together you can fill the nail holes with wood putty and sand smooth.  Or not...I won't judge.

3. Decide what design you want to put on your box.  I liked the idea of stars and stripes, but wanted something a little more muted than the red white and blue, so I went with shades of ecru and bluish grey.  

4. Paint your entire box in the color your want your star to be (I just used leftover paint from our baseboard trim).  I did two coats and let the paint dry thoroughly.

5. Using painters tape mark off the area where your star (or whatever shape you choose) will be.  Do this on both sides.

6. Mark your star shape with a sharpie.  I used a ruler with an exacto knife to make sure I kept my lines straight.  

7. Remove the excess tape.

8. Next you want to measure down three inches and place tape at that mark all the way around the box (including over the star).

9. I was going for a weathered look so I used a dry brush to paint the lighter color above the tape line.  Remove the tape, but make sure you do NOT remove the star tape.

10. Tape again only this time on the other side of the three inch mark all the way around the box and paint on the darker color.  

11. Remove the tape, this time removing the star tape as well.

12. If you are looking for an even more distressed look feel free to take some sandpaper to the box and sand in some additional "distress"; it's also fun to take both sides of a hammer to the wood in random spots.  It really gives your box a timeworn look and helps get out some pent up aggression. 

13. On your box ends mark the spot where your handles should go; I chose the intersection of the stripes.

14. Drill your holes and add your handles.  Place rubber stops on the bottom of the box so it won't scratch your surface.

You are now ready to add whatever you like to your box.  Use it as a utensil caddy, place some herbs in it (in pots and make sure you remove them to water them)...whatever you like.

Imagine the possibilities with this, paint it in baby room colors and fill with onesies for a shower gift, or use Christmas colors and fill it with cider and cookies for a hostess gift.  

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Week 18 Craft: Sweet Coffee Body Scrub

Summer will be here before you know it.  Technically, not for almost two more months says the girl who has had the AC running for the last three weeks.  With summer comes skirts without tights (oh my), shorts (eek!), and sandals (oh, the humanity!).

It's time to prepare our bodies to be exposed to sunlight and there is no better way to do that than with a good exfoliation.  Get rid of that dead, dry winter skin and start anew.  Tempting as it may be to reach for some sandpaper, it's more enjoyable - and just as effective - to use a body scrub.  Inspiration came from these great scrubs from

Looks almost good enough to eat!  Then I got to reading about how much the caffeine in coffee helps reduce the appearance of cellulite AND supposedly inhibits hair growth.  That did it; I knew a coffee scrub was for me.

Here's what you need:
1/4 cup of your favorite coffee ground
1/4 cup of organic sugar
1/4 cup of almond oil (vegetable oil and olive oil work as well) 

In a bowl combine the coffee and sugar
Mix in the oil until you have a consistency you like
Place in an airtight container

Use the mixture in a hot, steamy shower; a little goes a long way.  This smells heavenly, and feels even better.  The jury is still out on whether or not it helps reduce hair growth, but it does give your skin a nice healthy glow.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Week 18 Recipe: Ricotta and Spinach Gnocchi

Special shout out out to Scott Conant this week!  He totally needs to win Celebrity Chopped.  He is so darn cocky, but then proves he's got what it takes.  AND he has a family member suffering with Alzheimer's?  He holds a special place in my heart.  Go, Scott!!!!

Back to this week's recipe which comes from  Anne Burrell.  She is an amazing woman and I love the enthusiasm she shows in whatever she does.  This is my version of her spinach and ricotta gnocchi.

Makes approximately 18 1" gnocchi

1 pound part skim ricotta cheese well drained
2 oz frozen spinach, defrosted and well drained
1 egg, beaten
1 cup grated parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
Kosher salt
1/8 to 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the outside of the gnocchi
1/4 cup Semolina flour
I'm not sure what the official difference is between regular and semolina flour is, but it's not up to me to question, I just use it.  It almost has a cornmeal appearance.

Make sure the ricotta is very dry.  I start by lining a strainer with cheese cloth or paper towels putting in the cheese and then weighting it down.   Leave it overnight in the refrigerator. 

Bring a saucepan full of salted water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  
Mix the ricotta, drained spinach and parmesan in a bowl.  Add in the egg, a pinch of salt and 1/8 cup of flour mixing until combined.  
Form into 1" balls.  
Grab two shallow pans, placing the all purpose flour in one and the semolina flour in the other.  Roll the gnocchi in the all purpose flour first and then in the semolina flour.  Note: make a trial gnocchi and toss it in the water.  If it falls apart as it cooks you need to add more flour to your mixture before proceeding.

Place four to five of the gnocchi at a time in the saucepan and simmer until they float (about three minutes).  
Use a large slotted spoon (or a spider) to remove the gnocchi from the water and place on a plate with a paper towel to remove excess water.

Serve with your favorite sauce.

These are wonderful and surprisingly filling.  I can eat three; hubby can eat five.