25.7.14

How to Peel a Melon (Plus a recipe!)





Back in the day, I worked in a snazzy deli where I made lots of salads. Pasta salad, fruit salad, rice salad, bean salad, pea salad, cold salads, and hot salads. Just about every salad you can imagine. We always had freshly made fruit salad, so as you can imagine I had to prep a lot of fruit including melons. If you are in a hurry to make salad, or feed a crowd with a melon, this is a great way to get it peeled and served up in a hurry. It's simple, and you can get it done in just a few minutes. Observe!

Rinse your melon if it's farm fresh. I cut my melon in half because I was only going to use half for my recipe. Clean the seeds out.

Cut off the end. Lay it on your cutting board, flat side down. Start to slice the rind off, with straight downward cuts. 


Ta-da! Easy peasy. If there are little bits of rind, just cut them off. 


Chop it up into cubes for a salad, or slices just to eat by themselves. 
When we get a melon I like clean it right away, and cut it into cubes or slices so the kids can go right to the fridge and get a piece without my having to cut it each time. (Healthy snack!) Store it in a rubbermaid container, or in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. Experience has shown me that the melon gets used up more efficiently this way as well. When it's left whole, I find that I never really get around to cutting up the rest of the melon and often times it will just end up in the trash from sitting too long.

This half of my melon I used for the following recipe!

Cantaloupe and Cucumber Salad with Mint

2 cups of cubed Cantaloupe
1 cup of seeded and cubed Cucumber
1/4 cup of sliced Red Onion
1 tsp of mint Chiffinade

Dressing

Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
1 tsp of Lemon Zest
1/2 cup of Greek Yogurt
2 Tbl of Mayonnaise
1 tsp Wild Honey

Stir together all your dressing ingredients in a bowl and pour it in a larger bowl with your fruit, cucumber, and onions. Mix gently to coat. Sprinkle with mint. Serve cooled, the same day.









Say G'Day Saturday

20.7.14

Cloth-eez Review


A few years ago I was a cloth diaper making machine. With lots of changes in our family dynamic and the birth of a new baby, therapy appointments multiple times a week, and general running of a household the opportunity to do much sewing or crafting has had to be put to the side. If I do much it's at night. And honestly I'm just too tired by the end of the day these days. That's the main reason why I chose to purchase cloth diapers this time around. I knew that I wanted to do simple and inexpensive. For us, that meant doing covers and prefolds or flat diapers.

I was lucky enough to purchase back from someone some prefolds that I had converted to fitted diapers. Those lasted us quite a while! My little one is just about 6 months now, and just over 11 lbs. She's itty bitty. But she's growing, slow and steady! She's out of her Newborn sizes finally. I knew I could stretch them a but longer, by just laying them flat in her covers, but that wouldn't last long. The first brand new cloth diapers I ever purchased--- OsoCozy. Sadly, the experience didn't leave me feeling warm and cozy. In fact, they shrank so much that I couldn't use them at all and ended up returning. (Thank you Amazon!)

My most recent experience with Green Mountain Diaper Co., however, has been great. The diapers were shipped out the same day I ordered. Talk about fantastic! They arrived only a few days later. Super fast shipping!

On the left if when they arrived, still in the package. One the right, the next day, after I had washed and dried them. There was very little shrinkage. I was stoked! This was a good sign.

 I should mention that I ordered a size bigger than the chart indicated in anticipation of shrinkage, etc. My thought was that even if they were too big I could still fold then down enough to fit, and thus they'd last longer as well. Which ended up being the case. They are a bit large on her, but it just means more absorbancy! You can see below that I just fold over the extra and put the Snappi on.
My daughter sleeps through the night and she can wear one of these without any booster insert, without any leaks. It's great.
And just "because"...
 
Check out the rolls! I know she's still tiny, and the rolls aren't much yet, but...Oh my, she's just so squishy and fun!

19.7.14

Moroccan Quinoa in Roasted Acorn Squash


This weekend is a busy one with my sister here to visit, and lots of outings. This quick Moroccan Quinoa in Roasted Acorn squash is perfect for a meal after a long day of fun with family. Pair it with some lamb, or even by itself, it makes a great light meal.





 Moroccan Quinoa in Roasted Acorn Squash
Serves 2
Ingredients:

1 Acorn Squash, halved and clean of seeds

1 cup of tri-colored Quinoa
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/8 cup Roasted Sunflower seeds
1 Tbsp chopped Flat Leaf Parsley
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup of onions, diced and sauteed in a little olive oil
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp Thyme
1/4 tsp Turmeric
dash of Cinnamon
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Lay your Acorn squash cut sides down on a lightly oiled pan. Cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until tender when stabbed with a fork.

While your squash cooks, prepare your Quinoa. In a pot, bring your stock to a boil, then add your Quinoa. Bring back to a boil, covering the pot with a lid. Let cook covered for 15 minutes, or until the stock is absorbed. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl. When the Quinoa is finished cooking, let it cool slightly and fluff it with a fork. Add it to the bowl with your seasonings and stir to combine. Taste, and season with salt and pepper to your preferences.
When the squash is done baking, place each half on a dish and split your Quinoa between your two squash bowls. Serve immediately.



Here's to a great weekend!

17.7.14

Lemon Thyme Cake


 Lemon-aide. Lemon bars. Lemon cookies. Lemon Chicken Pasta.(Oh.my.goodness.) Lemon Drops. Lemon Souffle! Oh Lemons...You are lovely. Give me an excuse to use lemons, any excuse.

I have a huge fondness for Starbucks Lemon Loaf. Who doesn't? That stuff is awesome.

Lemon sugar is amazing. You zest your lemon, and rub the sugar and lemon zest together until it looks wet. Just let it sit for a while. It's good in Iced Tea. Use it in your sugar cookies. Or cakes. Or pies. Or on your toast.


There is this daydream that floats through my mind every now and then of making these sweet little lemon Tea Cakes and inviting people over to Tea with crazy hats, in my gloriously lush garden (definitely a dream), and we'd all snack on yummy Lemon Tea Cakes and chit-chat about completely unimportant things like the weather and why Shakespeare should still be read in school, and how sad it makes me that cursive handwriting has fallen out of popularity. You see, totally non-essential things. I think we should instill siestas, as well, because after tea and conversation you definitely could use a nap.  There I go daydreaming again.

Anyway, you can't just give me lemons and expect me to just slice them and stick them in a glass of water. Even though that is tasty, too. I have to do something. And since we are going for original, (we are, aren't we?), lets add something new and different like Thyme.


Not too much, just a smidge so that it adds a little hint of flavor to my favorite cake. Lemon Cake, of course. 


When I make my Lemon Cake I also use either Sour Cream or Yogurt. Lately, because I've been making lots of my own yogurt, I've been using it in my baked goods. It adds a really lovely tangy flavor and makes your end result quite moist.


 

 The result was a really moist, very lemony cake with a hint of the essence of flowery Thyme. Drizzled with a simple Lemon Glaze was the perfect finish. It's not tiny tea cakes like I imagine in my mind, but the end result was wonderful with a mug of coffee and some cool morning air. And it was quite pretty before my youngest boy got to it and licked all the glaze off. But whatever. It was delicious. You'll find the recipe below!



Lemon Thyme Cake

Ingredients

1 Lemon, zested and juice reserved separately
2/3 cup of Sugar
3/4 cup of Plain Yogurt
2 eggs
1/2 cup of Butter softened
2 cups of All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Fresh Thyme, or 1/4 tsp dry

For the Glaze
1/2 Lemon, juiced
1 cup Powdered Sugar

 Butter a 9 inch loaf pan. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 

 In a medium sized bowl, mix together your Sugar and Lemon zest until it looks wet. Add your butter, and mix until it is creamy. Add the Yogurt and eggs and stir until combined. In a separate bowl mix together your dry ingredients including the Thyme. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix thoroughly. Add the lemon juice and stir again to combine. Spread your batter evenly in your pan. Bake it for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Let it cool.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl place your powdered sugar and add a tsp of lemon juice at a time to get the consistency of glaze that you like. I like mine thicker, so I add less lemon juice. Drizzle it over the top of your cake, and serve. 

Will keep for a day or two, covered or in a tupperware container. 



 

15.7.14

Picture love.

rus*tic : constructed or made in a plain and simple fashion.


 

 handwork : work done with the hands.



A weed is but an unloved flower. ~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox 

11.7.14

Another year under my belt.

Today was my birthday! I turned the big 35. It feels good on me. 
 I keep looking at that number and wondering how it happened that 35 came so soon. And then I look around me and see what's been keeping me distracted. The years go by so quickly. 

I love feeling free to be me in my 30's. You come into your own, you start to feel comfortable in your own skin despite what may be going on all around you. It's a good feeling. I'm happy here. 




We kept it simple today, which is just how I like things. We watched a couple movies, had pizza and a fruit tart for dessert. My 4 yr old sang me a special birthday song. It might have been to the tune of Jingle Bells and included something like, "Mom laid an egg! She's the best, more than all the rest. And we really love her so!" Best. Song. Ever. Nothing better than your little ones serenading you.

These are the days!
Wishing you sweet & simple days, too!

10.7.14

Epic Errors turned to Recipe Success.


 This past week, when I read through the list of produce I'd be getting from Backyard Produce I saw that I'd be getting a bunch of Russian Red Kale. The first thing I thought I'd do was make some Kale Chips! Yum! Have you had them? If you haven't you should give it a go!

When my produce arrived I happily opened it up and took a look at my Kale and thought maybe they had made a mistake, or replaced the Kale with something else. But, that wasn't the case! Russian Red Kale is more like a Collard than the curly Kale that I am used to.The leaves are very thick and leathery, and the stalks are this beautiful purpley-red.



I was excited to jump in and try something new. So, first lets start with my epic fail! Yes, I failed.. Red Russian Kale is not compatible with making chips. Because it's so thick, and the stalks are so tough, the Kale went from raw to shriveled and burnt edges in no time at all! 
My suggestion-- Don't make Kale chips with Red Russian Kale. However, I do have something that turned my Kale-Fail back to success. I learned it needed a low and slow cook, and so that is where I started. Lets put the Kale chips idea aside and try something different instead. How about Quiche? 

I gave my Kale a good chop and tossed in some garlic. Sauteed, low and slow, the flavors developed and it smelled delicious!


My opinion is that if you add garlic to just about anything, it's good. Garlic enhances flavors. Throw in some Pancetta (or ham), and some caramalized onions, and you just have something delectable.

 
And cheese. You have to have cheese. 


My kids were a little disappointed that they wouldn't get Kale chips, but they loved this quiche. In fact, that's what we brunched on this morning. Plates were cleaned!
 
Here is the recipe. 

For the crust I used this recipe from The Pioneer Woman. 

For the filling you need

1 bunch of Red Russian Kale, cleaned and chopped
1 good sized clove of garlic, minced
1 medium sized Onion, diced
Olive Oil
1/4 cup of Pancetta or diced Ham
3 Eggs
1 1/2 cups of Milk
1 Cup of Cheese (Mozzarella, or Swiss for a tangy flavor) 

Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees. 

Prepare your crust according to the instructions on Pioneer Woman's website. I also par-baked my 9 inch crust just until it was firm, but not golden yet at 350 degrees. Set it aside while you prep your filling. 

Saute in a skillet with a tablespoon of Olive Oil the Kale and garlic. Cook it until it is limp. If you need to add a tablespoon of water to your skillet and cover with a lid for a few minutes. Set the Kale aside so that you can caramelize your onion in a little oil. This will take a few minutes to get a nice golden color. Once they are done set them aside. To prepare the custard simply whisk your eggs with your milk. 

In your prepped crust, layer the Kale, Onion and Pancetta/Ham. Slowly pour in your custard, and top it with you cheese. Place the pie on a sheet pan and put it in the oven for 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. It will puff slightly in the middle when it's done. 

Enjoy it warm, or at room temp. Will keep for two days in the fridge. (If you don't eat it all at once!)

Let me know if you give this recipe a try and how you liked it!
 




4.7.14

A Happy Peaceful 4th of July


My hope is that your 4th of July is a wonderful day!
My little ones and I are spending a quiet and peaceful day at home. We spent the greater part of the day watching Dirty Jobs, baking cupcakes, watching a Cicada emerge from it's "old skin", and just spending time at home together. We'll enjoy our own little fireworks display this evening before bed out on the patio, with sparklers & watermelon to wrap it all up. Maybe a glass of Sangria for Mom before bed. And a movie. And maybe another cupcake.


May Freedom Ring!

1.7.14

Easy Peasy Geoboard




 My addiction to Pinterest is getting a little out of control. After the kids go to bed it's like a secret stash of chocolate. Except minus the calories. And it doesn't draw attention with noisy packaging. I'm usually on there trying to get ideas for projects to do with and for the kids. Yesterday, my four year old was sitting with me chatting away and every once in a while he'd ask me to look something up for him online like green Tarantulas. (Ick! Don't Google spiders-->Creepy, crawly, yucky-shiver inducing!) So after the spider investigation, he moved on to discovering new and painful ways to shoot with rubber bands. I buy them in bulk from the Dollar Store. You can never have enough rubber bands.
Ok, maybe you can...but whatever. We go through them like crazy. I have boys. You know, rubber band guns and such.
So that got me to thinking of what other ways I could use them creatively. GEOBOARD! Fabulous idea. This is so simple. You don't need anything fancy. Just a piece of wood and some nails, or even push pins.

Space your nails evenly across the board and start pounding. But not all the way through. I used small nails that came with a picture hanging kit.
If you have a big kid (like 6 yrs or older) you could even have them help you out with it. Push pins would definitely be safer if you are going to involve the littles in the process of making this.
 
The more evenly you place the nails, the better (and neater) it will look when the kids start to use it. I think next time I will use a square board so that it's easier to measure and mark for the nails. But this will do just fine. My little guy and even the bigger kids have been enjoying it all day.  
I'm super excited about getting my little guy to work with this more. I found a tutorial to go with the Geoboard to help kids learn their letters. That's something we'll be working on in the year ahead for him. It's very hands on, which is right up his alley! 
What are some favorite DIY's that you've made for your little ones? If you have a Pinterest account comment with your profile name so I can follow you! 

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