Monday, January 28, 2013

My Handmade Holiday

In the past few years I have started to make the majority of the holiday gifts. For my family of parents and grandparents, they get to enjoy a family year calendar, canned yumminess, and a little something from the girls'.

For my nieces and nephews I try to do a little something for them. This year, they each got a personally designed coffee mug and a sweater hat emblelished with something they love.

Now for my girls' and husband the homemade gifts are more. JP and I try to limit the amount we spend on each other, this leaves a great opportunity to create gifts.

Here are the majority of their gifts:

For my little one, she got a embroidered shirt of the recycle symbol. She'll be my little activist :) This was made from felt that I glue to the shirt in the middle of the shape then used floss around the edges.

I also knitted a hat and matching crowl. Although she really likes using a scraf so I'll keep that in mind for next year.

Not pictured: I made a Sonya ABC book. I took photos of objects that reflect items around our house and lifestyle. So "C" is for chicken and "G" is for Garden. She likes it.

For my oldest, she is a stranger lover of Kale. Kale anything, to get her to eat a meal, I'll I have to do is put Kale in it. So I made her two shirts; one made as a KALE University style shirt. And the I heart Kale shirt. Both are made like the recycle shirt above. All you need is the patience to cut it all out and sew them all on.

A personalized coffee mug. I've seen this gift idea all over pinterest, so I tried it. I illustrated a image of her, added some kale, horse, horse riding quote and her name.

Now this mug did come form the Dollar Store. And used sharpie markers, and baked the 30 minutes in and preheated oven at 350°. We have had a problem with the marker coming off, with hand washing??? I also did this with some mugs from Garden Ridge and they came off really easily. So if you done this craft and have some suggestions I would love to hear from you.

Not pictured: She also got a sweater hat with hot pink mustuche on it, their trendy if you haven't noticed...hahaha.

For JP, these are hand warmers. My hubby is a lover of frisbee golf and winter time is no exception. They do lessen the trips out to the course. So these are made from a wool sweater with a lining of felt. They are filled with flax seeds. All you have to do is pop them into the microwave and heat for 45 seconds to 1 minute. And they stay warm for about a hour.

Not pictured: He got a blue sweater hat with the Star Wars rebel symbol on it. Yes, I married a Star Wars Nerd. I also made him a set of mugs with the profile of Han Solo and Princess Leia, her saying "i love you" and him saying "i know". They were very cute and then the accident and they fell from the counter and I have a do-over to do.

My plans this year is to start sooner and get all my handmade gifts completed before the end of October. Well see how that works out.....

Thursday, January 24, 2013

This past weekend, I sat down with a nice hot cup of tea looked out the window into the winter cold and thought of my garden. Since I have a greenhouse this year, I can get my seedlings started early and not take over the dining area in the house.

So I got out my graph paper to draw out my current garden of raised boxes. Took out of the cupboard my stash of seeds and seed catalog, now I can begin to plan. This year I plan on adding zucchini and summer squash to the list, dropping the peas because I did not get a lot with the space I have. And mini bell peppers, I still need to find a place to order these from.

So this year I’ll be planting green beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, mini bell peppers, pumpkins, carrots, greens, spinach, broccoli (one more time), melons (watermelon and cantaloupe), onions, zucchini, summer squash, and cucumbers. I also still have the strawberry patch in the back, along with the herb garden. The blueberries and raspberries, and hoping to add blackberries this year. Lastly, I hope to add two apple trees, I want a small orchard in our back yard!

Now I need to purchase some soil, finishing placing everything on the garden layout so I can figure out how many seedlings to start. Order a few seeds. Then in mid-February, I’ll get the seeds planted and set out in the greenhouse.
What are you planning to grow this year?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"Healthy in a Hurry" Cooking Demo

So I'm slowing trying to get back into my blog, it has been neglected...but the tide is slowly turning.

Last night I ventured out in to the cold to my local Whole Foods, attending a $5 cooking demo. Plus it gave me a reason to wonder the aisles looking at all the yummyness!

The class was instructed by two lovely ladies Amanda and Heather. Now I've taking this classes before, its actually where I learned about canning and sparked my desire to preserve my own food. Tonight, following their healthly living, all the recipes are vegan.

First, was the Sweet Potato Chipotle Black Bean Taquitos. These were very simple to make and assemble, plus I love the idea that they can be frozen.
It was served with salsa, very yummy. Second, was the Orange rice and black bean salad. This tasted a little bland to me and I'm not crazy about celery. However, I think that I would add some orange juice to the dressing and some salt. The walnuts suggested in the recipe would also be fantastic.

Then came the Pasta con Broccoli, which is an adapted recipe from "Appetite for Reduction: 125 Fast and Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes". This was a very tasty, garlicky dish, plus it is perfect to add different or more vegetables to the dish.

Lastly was dessert, Mango-Lime Sorbet....oh ya. This was really good and super fast to make. You could also make and put into popsicle containers.

Overall it was a great class and left me excited to attend the now once a month class, next time I won't eat dinner before hand.

Now I'm sure that everyone is craving the food from by beautiful phone photos... well here they are. Enjoy and let me know what you think.

Sweet Potato Chipotle Black Bean Taquitos
Makes 12
1 baked sweet potato, skin removed
½ tsp. chipotle chili powder (or to taste)
Pinch of each: cinnamon and cumin
1 c. cooked black beans
1 pkg of corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium-mixing bowl, using a potato masher, mash sweet potato with chili powder, cinnamon, and cumin. Add black beans to bowl and fold into the sweet potato mixture with rubber spatula. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Heat a small non-stick skillet on the stovetop on medium high heat. Warm corn tortillas flipping often until they are warm and flexible, but not crispy. Use tortilla immediately. Spoon about 3 to 4 tablespoons of the filling into the middle of the tortilla and roll up. Place seam side down on baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas.
Bake taquitos in the oven for 10-15 minutes until crispy. Let cool for a few minutes before serving with salsa.
Note: These will freeze well to save for a quick snack later. After baking place taquitos on a cookie sheet in the freezer and freeze over night. Place in ziplock bags and store for later. Reheat in microwave for 30-45 seconds.

Orange Rice and Black Bean Salad
½ c. canned black beans
¾ c. cooked brown rice
½ c. finely chopped celery (about 1 stalk)
½ c. peeled and sliced orange
¼ c. chopped scallion
1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
Salt (optional) and pepper
1 Tbsp chopped walnuts (optional)

¼ c. plus ½ tsp orange juice
1 Tbsp cider or balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
In medium bowl, combine the beans, rice, celery, orange, scallion, and cilantro.
In a small bowl, combine orange juice, vinegar and cinnamon.
Pour dressing over the rice salad and stir thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with walnuts

1 serving.

Pasta con Broccoli
Serves 4
½ lb. whole-wheat linguine
Few tbsp of veggie broth or water for sautéing
¼ c. thinly sliced garlic
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried thyme
1 c. vegetable broth
½ c. dry white wine
4 c. broccoli, tops cut into florets, stalks sliced thinly
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prep all your ingredients while the water boils, because the dish comes together in no time. Once the boiling, add pasta and cook according to package directions, usually for about 10 minutes.
Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic, red pepper flakes, and thyme with veggie broth or water (add more as needed) for about a minute, be careful not to burn them. Stir in veggie broth and wine. Add the broccoli, turn up the heat and simmer and cover the pan. Cook for 8 to 13 minutes, depending on how soft or firm you like your broccoli, stirring occasionally.
When pasta is done cooking, drain and add it to the pan using a pasta spoon to toss it around for about 3 minutes, making sure to get everything coated. Mix in balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
Note: this is also fantastic with a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts on top.
Recipe Adapted from : Appetite for Reduction: 125 Fast And Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes; by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Mango-Lime Sorbet
4 c. frozen mango chunks
½ c. honey (optional)
¼ c. fresh lime juice
Fresh raspberries to garnish

 Thaw mango chunks for 15 minutes, Place in blender or food processor and puree with honey and lime juice. Transfer to shallow glass or metal bowl, and place in freezer. Freeze 30 minutes, stir puree 15 minutes until ready to use.