I apologize for the lack of posts… I’m in the midst of trying to move and I’m still getting over my illness from last week (turns out I’m really, really allergic to penicillin…)
I promise to continue posting as soon as things settle down for me! High-res

I apologize for the lack of posts… I’m in the midst of trying to move and I’m still getting over my illness from last week (turns out I’m really, really allergic to penicillin…)

I promise to continue posting as soon as things settle down for me!

Pie crust, three ways

One of my favorite things to make - and easiest things, fortunately - is pie crust. A really good pie crust is versatile and, well, really good

My all time favorite pie crust comes from Martha Stewart and is so easy to make that I have the recipe memorized. Actually, I don’t even have to think to make it. Sometimes I’ll just find myself in the kitchen and a few minutes later, I have delicious pie crust… 

The great thing about it is that you don’t have to make just pies with your pie crust. And you don’t even have to make it from scratch - store bought will work just fine. (However, if you DO want to - it’s super easy and the recipe I use is below).

Here are three pretty easy things to do with this flaky decadence:

1. Create lattice biscuits. It’s reminiscent of pie, but in smaller bite-sized pieces and no filling.

I take my dough, roll it out pretty thin, use a knife or pizza cutter to cut long 1/2”-1” strips, and then weave the strips into a lattice pattern. Then take a cookie or biscuit cutter (I used a 2-inch round one) to cut your shapes from the dough. You have to be somewhat careful that your intricate lattice work doesn’t fall apart - I’ve seen some people do the lattice work on the parchment paper, cut out shapes, then remove the excess dough. That way you don’t have to transfer your cookies; they’re already on parchment paper ready to go. Once you have all of your biscuits, use melted butter or an egg wash to brush on each cookie, and finish by sprinkling cinnamon sugar on top. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 15-20 minutes (keep an eye on them; golden brown is perfect). The biscuits themselves are more on the salty side, so I usually serve them with something sweeter, like ice cream, jam, or mango mousse. Fresh fruit would probably be really good, too!

2. Make jar pies. Okay, so these are technically pies. But they’re so easy and cute! And the best thing is, you can hold off on baking and store them in the freezer - that way you can have fresh pie whenever you crave it.

Line a small canning jar (it must be oven-safe! You don’t want it shattering in the oven!) with your dough. Fill it with whatever fresh fruit you desire, or use canned pie filling. I chopped up half of a Fuji apple for my pie, and I made another with fresh, chopped peaches. Mix cinnamon sugar with your fruit, and fill your pie. I used the lid of the jar as a cookie cutter for the top of the pie, placed that dough over the fruit, and used a fork to crimp the edges. Cut slits in the dough to ventilate and either bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes (again, keep an eye on it, as ovens differ) or put the jar lid on and freeze.

3. Make toaster pastries. I grew up on pop-tarts, so it makes sense that I would gravitate toward them as an adult. Homemade is always better, though, and with pie crust, you can easily make them!

Roll out the dough as thinly as you can and cut into rectangles using a knife or pizza cutter. Mine were about the size of a 3x5 card, so you could probably use those as a template if you wanted. I just eye-balled mine.

On your bottom pieces, fill with about a tablespoon or two of whichever filling you desire; pie filling, fresh fruit, jam, Nutella… you really have a lot of options! I opted for Nutella. Obviously. Keep the edges clear of any filling so you can seal the pastry.

Use an egg wash (I’ve seen some people use milk? I’ve never tried it) to brush around the edges of the bottom layer, and then place the top layer over everything. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal, and brush the top with the egg wash again. Use a knife to cut slits for ventilation, and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on the top (optional).

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Mmm!

Our Favorite Pie Crust (via Martha Stewart):

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 stick (8 teaspoons) butter, cold and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons ice water

Directions:

  1. Combine your dry ingredients in a bowl, and then add butter. Mix until it resembles a coarse meal with only a few pea-sized pieces remaining.
  2. Sprinkle in the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Mix well. The dough is ready when it is still crumbly, but will hold together when squeezed in your hand. Add more ice water if necessary, up to 2 more tablespoons.
  3. Transfer dough to your work surface and form into a 3/4” round disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour (until firm).
  4. When ready to use, unwrap dough and roll out on floured wax paper.

Happy baking!

THIRTY. Part Two.

As of Aug. 14th, I am officially 30! A little while ago, I posted an article of 30 things every woman should have and know, and I promised I would post my own to-do list… Well, here it is! It is my “30 things to do when I’m 30” list.

The secret to making a lengthy to-do list is to keep it realistic. I am not saying not to dream big… There are a lot of things I’d like to accomplish in my lifetime, but may not be able to do within the time constraints of the next year.

I’ll admit, some of the items on this list even feel a little like impossibilities, but it’s important for me to keep dreaming while making goals attainable. I think that as I cross off some of the “easier” accomplishments, I’ll be inspired to conquer the bigger ones! 

There is something deeply satisfying about crossing things off of a to-do list, isn’t there?

So here it is, in no particular order:

  1. Attend WWDC or Comic Con (I’ve never been to a convention and it just seems fun)
  2. Ride in a hot air balloon
  3. Sell a work of art
  4. Add a stamp to my passport
  5. Kinfolk style dinner party
  6. Road trip somewhere out of state
  7. Bake a French macaroon
  8. Ride on a train
  9. Sing on a stage
  10. Learn Final Cut or Logic Pro (or other pro-app)
  11. Keep an “emergency fund” savings account in full
  12. Harvest honey
  13. Sell something on Etsy
  14. Learn to swim
  15. Release floating sky lanterns
  16. Go on a picnic
  17. Grow my hair out & donate it (I admit I’ve already done this several times, but it’s important to me)
  18. Buy a camera and learn how to use it
  19. Have an outdoor movie night
  20. Make my own vanilla extract
  21. Open a CD or IRA account
  22. Pay off my credit card
  23. Record a song that means something to me
  24. Complete at least 3 “creative” projects on my idea list
  25. Make a new friend
  26. Redesign my resume and bio
  27. Volunteer
  28. Sleep under the stars
  29. Find/attend a church
  30. Read at least 3 books on my “must read” list

And there you have it. Perhaps one of the most romantic lists I’ve ever seen. Think I can do it? The race against time begins now (or 3 days ago, technically)!

Update: Re-grow Celery and Romaine
I hate to fail. I will fully admit it. But I guess in this case, we can learn from my failure, right?
That said, a word of advice for anyone growing indoor plants like I am: Avoid putting your celery in a window when it is 110-degrees outside. 
I’m sure you can imagine what happened… My celery wilted and shriveled and my attempts to revive it after the fact, well, failed. RIP little celery plants! Your deaths were untimely! 
Guess I have to start again! But hey - some good news! My romaine lettuce is doing JUST FINE. What a trooper!
(See the original “re-grow celery” post here!) High-res

Update: Re-grow Celery and Romaine

I hate to fail. I will fully admit it. But I guess in this case, we can learn from my failure, right?

That said, a word of advice for anyone growing indoor plants like I am: Avoid putting your celery in a window when it is 110-degrees outside. 

I’m sure you can imagine what happened… My celery wilted and shriveled and my attempts to revive it after the fact, well, failed. RIP little celery plants! Your deaths were untimely! 

Guess I have to start again! But hey - some good news! My romaine lettuce is doing JUST FINE. What a trooper!

(See the original “re-grow celery” post here!)

raspberry syrup & jam fresh raspberries syrup in the making jam in the making finished jam

Raspberry Syrup and Raspberry Jam!

I like soda. I hate to admit it, but there is nothing more refreshing than an ice-cold, carbonated beverage. But I don’t like not knowing what kinds of chemicals I’m putting into my body. I already have a soda stream machine, which means I can make carbonated water any time I want - so I decided to try to make my own soda syrup! 

To make my raspberry syrup, I used:

  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar

I simmered all of the ingredients in a sauce pan over low-medium heat, and used my spoon to “smoosh” or mash the berries lightly while they cooked. After about 15-20 minutes (I tasted the syrup to determine if it was ready), I strained the berry mixture using one of my tea makers (like these) into my storage jar. All I have to do for a refreshing raspberry soda is mix 1 part syrup and 3 parts carbonated water!

I can also use the syrup over ice cream, to mix into coffee or hot chocolate, maybe even on pancakes! Your syrup should last 2-3 weeks when refrigerated, or 3-4 months in the freezer.

Now, I don’t like wasting food. And left in my tea strainer was all the seeds and pulp from my syrup-making. I thought I’d see if I could make jam with the leftover pulp. (Hint: I CAN!)

I returned all of the pulp and seeds back into my sauce pan, added the juice of half of a small lemon (when I say small, I mean small - maybe use a third if your lemon is larger), and added one more spoonful of sugar (I used brown sugar because I ran out of my granulated raw sugar; it still turned out!). I turned the heat higher so the mixture was almost boiling, and let it cook down another 20 minutes or so. It will thicken up a lot at this point, since I didn’t add much liquid. I could tell it was done when I passed my spoon through the middle of the pan and the sauce took a second or two to flow back together. Then I just poured my mixture into a small canning jar and let it cool. It thickened up a little more after it cooled. 

I ate some on my bread with dinner tonight - delicious!

I’ve been told, since I didn’t heat-seal my jar, that the jam should be consumed in about a week or so. Luckily I didn’t make much! But I will be making some mini pop-tarts with the jam, I think…

Chocolate Banana Cookie …Milkshake?
I struggle calling this recipe a milkshake because it contains no milk or ice cream, but I can’t really call it a smoothie, either, because well, it’s not totally healthy…
Delicious? YES.
The taste reminds me of chocolate chip banana bread or chocolate banana cream pie, including the crust. It’s so good!
Here’s the recipe:
1 frozen medium-sized banana
1 heaping teaspoon of chocolate milk powder or syrup (I used Nesquik powder, it’s pre-sweetened so you don’t need to add additional sweetener)
1 teaspoon of Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter (also sweet)
1 cup of almond milk (I used plain, I’m sure vanilla would taste good, too)
Blend it all together until smooth, serve in a tall glass.
Like I said, no milk or ice cream, but tastes like there is! Not sure if the cookie butter and chocolate milk mix keep it healthy, but at least there’s fruit in it… Redeeming quality? High-res

Chocolate Banana Cookie …Milkshake?

I struggle calling this recipe a milkshake because it contains no milk or ice cream, but I can’t really call it a smoothie, either, because well, it’s not totally healthy…

Delicious? YES.

The taste reminds me of chocolate chip banana bread or chocolate banana cream pie, including the crust. It’s so good!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 frozen medium-sized banana
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of chocolate milk powder or syrup (I used Nesquik powder, it’s pre-sweetened so you don’t need to add additional sweetener)
  • 1 teaspoon of Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter (also sweet)
  • 1 cup of almond milk (I used plain, I’m sure vanilla would taste good, too)

Blend it all together until smooth, serve in a tall glass.

Like I said, no milk or ice cream, but tastes like there is! Not sure if the cookie butter and chocolate milk mix keep it healthy, but at least there’s fruit in it… Redeeming quality?

Potatoes with Bell Peppers, and Spinach with Garlic & Feta

Occasionally, my life gets busy and I run out of time to do essential things, like, oh, grocery shop… In which case I’m left to be creative with what I’ve got.

This week was definitely one of those busier weeks. I did, however, manage to make myself a savory breakfast with leftovers in my fridge (quite literally the bare-bones of what I have. My fridge is now empty, unless you count condiments).

First, I made some potatoes that I had sliced and frozen before they went bad. I used one of my basil-in-olive-oil cubes (see that post here), chopped one garlic clove, and then stir-fried my potatoes in the olive oil/basil/garlic mixture. My mom had given me some of her baby bell peppers, so I cut those up and threw them in, as well. When the potatoes had been thoroughly cooked, I plated my food and topped with crumbled feta cheese.

For the spinach, I chopped another clove of garlic and threw it in the pan with a little olive oil. When the oil had warmed up a little, I added about half of a bag of fresh baby spinach. I let that cook down (it shrinks up a LOT so I usually add more spinach than I think I’ll need), and then also served it with crumbled feta cheese. Yum!

Honestly, there’s nothing quite like the combination of garlic and feta…