Sunday, December 30, 2012

Guest Post – Hey, Turkey Soup!

I’m back! We took a nice little blogging break in this house for the holidays but now that Christmas is all said and done (hope yours was great!) it’s time for some new posts. We’re starting today with a recipe from One Hungry Dude, perfect for those turkey dinner leftovers.

It's after Christmas, and if you've cooked a turkey, you're likely looking for something to do with the leftovers. So don't throw out the bones, they can form the base of a delicious and easy to prepare soup. Feel free to improvise on the amount of turkey meat and pasta. I prefer a heavier soup, with plenty of meat and pasta to sop up the broth; but there is so much flavour in this recipe, a lighter hand would also suffice.

turkey soup 1
• 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
• 2 Onions, each cut in half
• 2 Cups Baby Carrots
• 5 or 6 Garlic Cloves
• Salt and Pepper
• 4 Dried Bay Leaves
• 2 Tsp Dried Rosemary
• Leftover turkey, bones and meat
• Zest and Juice from half a Lemon
• 3 Cups Fusilli
• 2 Tsp Dried Parsley

Start by separating the meat from the turkey bones. Then in a stock pot, add the olive oil, onions, one cup of the baby carrots, and garlic, and heat over medium-high. Cook until the onions just begin to brown, then add the salt and pepper, bay leaves and rosemary. Continue cooking for another two to three minutes, then add the bones. Cook for another five minutes, then add the lemon and 12 cups of water.  Reduce the heat and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for anywhere between two to four hours, depending on the amount of time you have available. The longer you simmer the broth, the more depth it develops.

Strain the broth and discard the solid material. Return the broth to a simmer and thinly slice the remaining baby carrots. Add the carrots to the broth, and continue simmering for another 15 to 20 minutes. Then add the turkey meat and Fusilli, and simmer for another 30 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with fresh bread or grilled cheese.

This recipe serves five to six people.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Crafty Christmas – DIY Gift Tags

Have you seen the price of gift tags lately? Unless you’re buying the little stickers then you’re probably paying an arm and a leg for them so why not make your own? These tags were so easy to make but are really cute and unique enough that your gift recipient will take notice.

Christmas Tree Tags

The measurements for these will vary depending on the size of tag you use but the method will stay the same. Cut three strips from a piece of double sided paper making each strip a little shorter than the last. Score each strip along even intervals and then fold them accordion style. Pinch the longest strip together a bit at the top and hot glue it on to your tag. Repeat with the remaining strips being sure that the middle strip is flipped over so you can see the coordinating pattern. The last step is to glue little paper stars to the top (I cut mine out with my Silhouette).

Simple, cute and you can make them on the cheap because, let’s be honest, they’re probably getting thrown out with the wrapping paper! I made some of these for my craft sale that were about 5 inches tall. I priced them at $2 each and sold 6 of them.

So, how’s your gift wrapping going?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Guest Post – Roasted Potatoes and Carrots

Still planning your holiday menu? Consider including this delicious new recipe from One Hungry Dude!

I love to watch holiday cooking specials at this time of the year, and Food Network is fully satisfying my craving. It seems every celebrity chef has their own take on holiday food. A few weeks ago, I saw Jamie Oliver make a roasted potato recipe, and was inspired to create my own. These potatoes were amazing, and I fully intend to add them into my regular food rotation. They are easy to make, but look and taste quite impressive. Best of all, they'll take some stress out of your holiday cooking.

roasted carrots and potatoes

• 2 Cups of Baby Carrots
• 8 Yellow Potatoes, peeled and cut in half
• Olive Oil
• 5 to 6 cloves of garlic
• 2 Tsp Dried Rosemary
• 4 to 5 Tbsp Margarine or Butter
• Zest and Juice from 1/2 a Lemon
• Salt and Pepper

In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add the potatoes and carrots, reduce the temperature to medium, and parboil for about 10 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 F. In a large roasting pan, add enough olive oil to thinly cover the bottom. Drain the vegetables, but leave the element on. Place the pan on the element, and heat the olive oil. Then add the rosemary and garlic, and cook for about two to three minutes, or until the rosemary becomes fragrant. Stir in the vegetables, making sure they sit in a single layer and are coated with the seasoned oil. Drop the margarine or butter, one tablespoon at a time, on top of the vegetables. Then top the vegetables with the lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper.

Place in the oven and cook for about 30 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the oven, stir, then use a masher to gently squash each potato. Return the vegetables to the oven for another 20 to 25 minutes, until they reach your preferred tenderness.

Remove from the oven and consider transferring the vegetables to a plate covered with paper towel, to drain some of the excess oil. Then serve.

This recipe yields about 8 to 10 servings.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Crafty Christmas – Upcycled Wine Bottle Vases

Popping in with a quick post before getting the weekend started. And by that I totally mean putting on my pajamas and catching up on Grey’s Anatomy ;) But first, I wanted to show you these easy, pretty winter vases made from wine bottles. I pinned these last winter but, since we don’t drink wine, I wasn’t able to try them until someone donated some bottles to the cause this year.

Upcycled Winter Wine Bottle Vases

Start by cleaning off any labels and giving the bottles a good scrub with some hot, soapy water. Once they’re dry give them a coat of white spray-paint. I found that one coat was enough but don’t be afraid to add a second if you can see through to the glass. Once the paint is dry give the bottles a quick blast of spray adhesive (don’t spray the necks) and then roll them in Epsom salts. Done! Since taking this picture I’ve added a few glittery flower sprigs that I originally bought to put on a wreath. I think they look beautiful and I can leave them out all winter.

These were part of my inventory at my craft sale and I sold two of them at $10 each.

A quick warning – if your cat is anything like mine you’re going to want to keep these bottles somewhere he can’t get to. My cat licked some patches bare the first night I left these out. Luckily they were easy to repair :)

Have a great weekend!

Pinned It – Did It Count: 4

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Easy Hanukkah Toddler Crafts

I hope everyone celebrating the festival of lights has been enjoying themselves so far! I’ve mentioned before that while we’re not religious, my husband is Jewish on his father’s side so we acknowledge Hanukkah each year. This is Nathan’s first holiday season so I was searching for ways to get him involved in celebrating and came up with two simple toddler crafts that we did together.

The first is the handprint menorah. I’ve seen this done before but with paint. Since Nathan is only 9 months old the idea of spreading paint all over his hands and hoping he didn’t touch EVERYTHING within reach didn’t really appeal to me! So instead I traced his hands and cut them out of blue paper. I glued them together with one thumb on top of the other to make the shamos and then I cut out little yellow flames. I glued all the flames on myself but if your child is a bit older they can enjoy gluing a flame on each night when you light the menorah!

Handprint Menorah

Our second craft was a simple paper chain. Nathan has just discovered colouring so I gave him a yellow and a blue crayon and had him scribble all over some cream coloured cardstock.

Paper Chain Supplies

I cut the cardstock and some patterned blue paper into strips and then made them into a paper chain. If you’ve never made a paper chain before I explained them in a little more detail here. I hung the finished chain over one of the bigger pictures we have hanging in the living room though I take it down now and again so Nathan can shake it – it makes a great noise ;)

Hanukkah Paper Chain

Hanukkah Paper Chain_ 

Happy Hanukkah!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Guest Post – Rosemary Bread

Well the first Hanukkah present has been opened and our Christmas tree is now up and decorated – what a fun weekend! It sure did go by quickly though. On this lovely Sunday afternoon One Hungry Dude is dropping by with another delicious recipe. Since I’m a vegetarian I don’t taste a lot of what he creates in our kitchen but I have definitely sampled this Rosemary Bread and am fairly certain I could eat an entire loaf prepared this way! Seriously, you should give it a try.

There's something about rosemary that gives off a great holiday vibe. It's a strong herb, but works incredibly well with a number of festive, savory foods. This bread is a perfect compliment to a holiday dinner, especially since it's so quick to make. You may even consider using the bread as an appetizer at a party, by cutting it into wedges or halves once cooked, and serving it with vegetables or a cheese spread.

Rosemary Bread
• 3 Tbsp Margarine
• 2 Tsp Dried Rosemary
• 1 Tsp Dried Basil
• A Pinch of Garlic Powder
• Salt and Pepper, to taste
• Four slices of your favourite thinly-sliced bread (I typically use Rye)

Place the rack in the middle of the oven, then set to broil. Meanwhile, put the margarine, rosemary, basil, garlic, salt and pepper in a large frying pan on the stove top, and heat over medium. Once the margarine begins to melt, stir to ensure all the ingredients blend together, and the mixture covers the entire base of the pan. When the margarine begins to bubble, place the bread on the pan. Press down lightly using your fingers, allowing the bread to soak up the mixture. After a few seconds, take the bread out of the pan, and place it in the oven. Broil until the bread begins to brown, then take it out of the oven and serve.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Crafty Christmas - $2 Tinsel Garland Done Two Ways

Is it just me or are Christmas decorations really shiny this year? Tinsel trees seem to be everywhere! I love the retro vibe that tinsel can have so when I found $2 strands of tinsel garland at Walmart I knew I could make them into something great. I bought two strands for a total of $4 and made two different projects. The first is my tinsel tree set.

Tinsel Trees 

These were really easy to make! I created tree forms with a pizza box (the kind that you cook in your oven, not a delivery box) because it was sturdy but not so thick that I couldn’t roll it. Once the hot glue had dried on the forms I used some more to glue on the tinsel. I started at the top and that way, if I ran out, I could just cut off the bottom of my tree form. The last step was to take some mini ornaments that I bought for $1 at the dollar store and hot glue those onto the trees. So easy and so cute with a real vintage feel. These cost me less than $3 to make (I had leftover ornaments) and I sold the set for $15 :)

Next I took my second garland and started wrapping it around a wire wreath form. My plan was to cover the whole wreath but I obviously hadn’t guesstimated the correct length of garland I’d need as it only made it about half way around.

Tinsel & Yarn Wreath

Not to be discouraged I rummaged through my stash and found the pretty blue yarn that I used on last year’s Yarn Winter Wreath and wrapped it around the other side. I went back over with some random strands to try and give it a more natural look. I tied a bow with some silver ribbon and hot glued that onto the tinsel side and then added all the silver ornaments from my $1 pack onto the yarn side. I wasn’t sure about this wreath at first but I really like the way it turned out. I love the way the yarn is in such contrast to the tinsel. I was asking $20 for it and it got a lot of compliments but didn’t sell. I can’t be too upset about it though since it only cost me about $3 to make (not counting the materials that I already had).

So what do you think of tinsel? Vintage or tacky? Or maybe just trendy? While you ponder that I’ll be off working on some toddler Hanukkah crafts that I’ll be sharing next week!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Crafty Christmas – Dry Erase Christmas Countdown

Today I’m sharing another one of the projects I did for my craft sale – dry erase Christmas countdowns. I’d seen the idea for writing on glass with a dry erase marker on a few blogs recently and I thought it would be the perfect way to keep track of the days leading up to Christmas!

DIY Christmas Countdown

I started with some 8x10 black frames that I bought at Good Will for a few dollars each. I removed the glass and the ugly bathroom art and sprayed two with Nickel and one with Red paint. Painting only one coat allowed the black to show through a bit which gave the frames a kind of vintage feel.

DIY Christmas Countdown v2

While the paint dried I used my Silhouette to cut out “Days Until Christmas” and the little dashes to write the numbers on top. I glued my letters down on some Christmas paper and arranged some additional paper elements. Then I popped the glass and the paper back into the frames.

 DIY Christmas Countdown v3

And it was as easy as that! I was selling these for $20 each and including a dry erase marker with each one. I thought that was pretty reasonable for decently sized Christmas decor that can be used year after year and I think they would have sold at that price in a different setting. Unfortunately, I didn’t sell any of them. If you like one of them and you’re local or you’d be willing to pay for shipping just let me know :). Otherwise, give this craft a try yourself – there’s still 18 days until Christmas!

P.S. Linking up with Clean & Scentsible, Free Pretty Things For You, Someday Crafts

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Guest Post – Mushroom & Potato Soup

This post from One Hungry Dude may be late but it sure is appropriate for the rainy and grey weather we’re having here today. All of our snow has melted away and I’ve had to keep the lights on all day because it’s so dark outside. Curling up with a bowl of this yummy soups sounds pretty good right about now!

Once the weather gets cooler, I love to experiment with soups. I find very few meals are as satisfying as a rich, hearty bowl of soup on a cold late fall or winter day. So I often make soup in batches, because the leftovers always become a tasty and quick meal option for a busy day.

Mushroom and Potato Soup

• 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
• 6 Tbsp Margarine
• 2 Onions, diced
• 1 Cup Baby Carrots, diced
• 4 Cloves Garlic, diced
• 15 Cremini Mushrooms, roughly chopped
• 4 Bay Leaves
• 2 Tsp Thyme
• 2 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
• 4 Cups Vegetable Broth
• 10 Yellow Potatoes, peeled and chopped into one-inch cubes
• 2 Cups Milk
• Shredded Cheddar Cheese and Parsley, for garnish

In a large pot, heat the olive oil and margarine over medium-high. Add the onions and carrots, and cook for about four to five minutes, then reduce heat by about half, add the garlic, mushrooms, Bay leaves, thyme and Worcestershire, stir, then cover. Meanwhile, warm the vegetable broth in a separate pot. Cook the vegetables until they begin to soften, and the onions become translucent.

Add the broth to the large pot, then add the potatoes. Cook until the potatoes become soft. Use an immersion blender, and puree until smooth. Gradually stir the milk into the soup, so it doesn't curdle. Let the soup simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes to an hour, then ladle into bowls, top with cheese and parsley and serve.

This recipe yields 10 to 12 servings.