April, 2012

  1. vegetable lasagna

    April 27, 2012 by Angie

    A homemade lasagna is a labor of love.  The good news is that I’m getting faster at making it. This is my (relatively) lower fat and lower carb vegetable lasagna made with part skim ricotta, reduced-fat shredded Italian cheese, and Dreamfields lasagna noodles.  It’s just as cheesy and delicious as any “naughty” lasagna and packed with zucchini, spinach, and fresh tomatoes.

    You’ll need a big rectangular pan for this.  I use a 9×13 Pyrex that came with a clip-on storage lid for the top.  Three Dreamfields lasagna noodles fit perfectly side by side in there.  I sprayed the pan with olive oil before assembling the lasagna.

    Makes about six servings.

    Ingredients

    Olive oil
    Olive oil spray for the lasagna pan
    1 box of Dreamfields lasagna noodles
    24 oz jar of spaghetti sauce (We openly profess our love for Gia Russa’s Tomato & Basil.)
    15 oz container of part skim ricotta cheese (Sorrento brand was the lowest fat option at my grocery store.)
    Reduced fat shredded parmesan (…if you can find it.)
    Reduced fat shredded Italian cheese
    3 zucchini, sliced
    4 oz of fresh spinach
    1-2 vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
    Any other vegetables you want to add – we’re striving for roughly 4 cups of vegetables total
    Minced garlic
    Dried basil
    Dried oregano
    Dried parsley
    Garlic powder

    Directions

    1.  Start boiling the water to prepare the Dreamfields lasagna noodles according to the package directions.  Unlike some varieties, you do have to boil these noodles before assembling the lasagna.

    2.  While you’re waiting for the water to boil, chop up the zucchini and tomato and any other veggies you’d like to add.  Also, snap the stems of the spinach leaves if that sort of thing offends you.  In a big pan, saute the minced garlic and zucchini in olive oil.  Add in the spinach just until it’s somewhat wilted.  Don’t cook the vegetables very long.  You might be able to skip this step but I think it cuts down on the amount of water the vegetables produce inside the lasagna.

    Cooked Vegetables

    3.  The water should be boiling by now.  Go ahead and make the noodles. While you’re waiting for them to cook, pour the entire tub of ricotta cheese into a medium-sized bowl and mix in 3-4 ounces of the parmesan cheese and the dried spices.  I don’t measure the amount of basil, oregano, parsley, and garlic powder I add to the ricotta mixture and I apologize for that.  I do know that the amount I use is in the order they’re listed – I go pretty nuts with the basil and easy on the garlic powder.  You want the mixture to smell flavorful and to be able to see spices throughout.

    4.  Once the noodles are ready, drain them.  It’s time to preheat the oven to 400 degrees and assemble the lasagna.  Start with a layer of noodles side by side (three should do it).  Follow that with a third of the spaghetti sauce, a third of the ricotta mixture, a third of the vegetables, and a third of the shredded Italian cheese.  Repeat this two more times ending with the shredded Italian cheese.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for an hour.  When the hour is up, take the aluminum foil off and bake for another five minutes or so until the cheese on top is slightly browned.

    First layer: noodles, sauce, ricotta, vegetables, shredded cheese.

    Finished lasagna!

    A serving of lasagna.

    We both got seconds, wiping out half the lasagna between the two of us.  Mmmmm, mmmmm.


  2. homemade pizza with whole wheat crust

    April 25, 2012 by Angie

    Robbie tells me that the moment he realized he loved me was when I joked that it takes all of my willpower not to have pizza in my mouth at all times.  We are dedicated pizza connoisseurs and have enjoyed pizza with our favorite toppings (that’s garlic, tomatoes, spinach and sometimes basil or artichoke hearts) in every city we’ve visited together.  We even served pizza at our wedding.

    We also love to make our own at home with our favorite spaghetti sauce: Gia Russa’s Tomato & Basil.

    Here is the recipe for our most successful homemade pizza.  It has a whole wheat crust.  It requires some planning ahead so that the dough can rise for at least an hour but it makes two large thin crust pies so it’s worth the time commitment.  Here’s the crust recipe:

    Ingredients
    1 cup warm water
    1 tablespoon honey
    1 packet of active dry yeast
    1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    cornmeal for dusting the pizza pan
    extra all-purpose flour to get the consistency just right
    extra olive oil for oiling the bowl

    Directions

    1. Heat a cup of water in the microwave for 20-30 seconds to warm it up.  Pour the water into a small bowl.  Stir the tablespoon of honey into the water.  Empty the entire packet of yeast into the water mixture and gently stir to mix.  Let the yeast mixture sit and gather a foamy layer on top while you move onto the next step.

    2. In a large bowl, combine the flours and salt.  Once the yeast mixture has sat for five minutes, make a well in the center of the flour and pour the yeast mixture and the three tablespoons of olive oil into the well.  Mix the ingredients together with a spoon and add more flour if needed until a dough forms and the dough can be pulled away from the bowl without sticking.

    3. Knead the dough for about eight minutes.  The bowl I use is big enough to allow me to flour my hands and knead it right in the bowl.

    4. Shape the dough into a ball.  Hold the ball in one hand while you oil the same bowl with the other hand.  Place the dough ball back in the bowl and cover it tightly with plastic wrap.  Let the dough rise for an hour.  It should double in size.

    5. When the hour is up and your dough is gigantic, knead it for a few more minutes.  Now divide the dough evenly into two balls.  If you’re only making one pizza today, wrap one of the balls in the plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.  If I make it within the next 1-2 days it tastes just as good as the first pizza.

    6. Dust a 12″ pizza pan with cornmeal.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Work one of the dough balls in your hands, pulling and stretching it gently to make it into a thinner, flatter disc.  Put the dough disc on the pizza pan and begin pushing it into the pan and spreading it so that it covers the pan evenly.  Brush the top of the dough with olive oil and parbake for about 5 minutes at 425 degrees.

    The crust is ready to go!  Now here are the ingredients and steps for topping the pizza.

    Ingredients
    24 0z jar of Gia Russa brand Tomato & Basil spaghetti sauce
    minced garlic
    garlic powder
    reduced fat shredded Italian cheese
    16 oz block of part skim mozzarella (We like the Sorrento brand.)
    2-3 vine ripened tomatoes
    fresh spinach leaves (about an ounce)
    jar of artichoke hearts

    Directions

    1. We pour a jar of Gia Russo Tomato & Basil sauce into a saucepan.  Add a generous scope of minced garlic and a sprinkle of garlic powder to the sauce.  Heat over low and stir occasionally while preparing the other ingredients.  This sauce is delicious but is sometimes too runny so this step thickens it up and makes it garlicky.

    2. Cut small chunks of part skim mozzarella.  I use about a quarter of the 16 oz package on one pizza.

    3. Wash the tomatoes and cut thin slices.  Select the nicest fresh spinach leaves from the bag and set them aside.  I like artichoke hearts of my half of the pizza so I take 3-5 artichoke hearts from the jar and press them in a paper towel to get some of the oil off.  Chop those into smaller pieces.

    4.  Once the sauce is ready, top the pizza with that first making sure to leave a crust around the edges. Then top with a light layer of reduced fat shredded Italian cheese.  After that I place the tomatoes followed by the artichoke hearts then the spinach.  Put a slice of mozzarella on each spinach leaf and try to space it evenly.  The mozzarella chunks spread a lot during baking.  Top with another light layer of the shredded cheese.

    5. Bake the pizza pie for about 15 minutes, or until the crust is starting to brown and the cheese is melted, at 450 degrees.


  3. Key West, FL – Part 2

    April 22, 2012 by Angie

    Key West Part 2: Everything Else

    We went to Key West last week to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary.  We had a great time.  I’ve already covered all the restaurants and bars we visited in Key West Part 1.  Now on to everything else!

    We boarded the Key West Express in Ft. Myers at about 7:00 am.  The boat took off around 8:30 am and the party began.  We hung out and talked for a while then we ordered a couple of strong drinks and played poker on Robbie’s phone.  It was really fun…until I got seasick.  I really didn’t expect that to happen.  I laid with my head down on a table and took a nap while Robbie made friends with the older gentleman sitting next to us.

    The boat itself is pretty cool.  It’s a giant catamaran with a bar/snack cafe and a huge open deck on top.  I definitely recommend this method of transportation to Key West if you live anywhere near Ft. Myers and are not prone to seasickness.  Here’s some photos of the boat from the trip back where we got to see the sunset from one of the upper decks.

    We stayed all three nights in Key West at the Lighthouse Court Hotel on Whitehead Street just a few blocks from the Southernmost Point.

    The hotel wasn’t awful but we can’t recommend it either.  The price was right and the location was good.  It’s close enough to walk to everything in Old Town but far enough from Duval Street to make it peaceful.  The room itself was not great though.  I kinda felt like we were staying in a shed.  The carpet was a little gross and they seemed to be losing the battle against mold and mildew, which I realize is a tough battle in that climate.  There were no bugs at least! The highlights were the grounds and the pool area where breakfast was served.

    Our room was on the right.

    Breakfast Buffet

    A rooster had gotten into the patio area.  We welcomed our breakfast companion until he got uppity and forward.  Then we had to make noises and stomp our feet to get him to stop trying to steal our bagels. He is kinda cute, isn’t he?

    For Sunday we had booked a snorkeling trip on the reef through Sebago.  It was really windy that day so the trip got cancelled.  I wanted to swim but I was starting to get freaked out by tales of barracuda and nurse sharks so the cancellation wasn’t terribly disappointing.

    Probably the best thing about Key West is that if you stay in Old Town you don’t need a car at all.  We left our car at the dock back in Ft. Myers and walked everywhere.  It’s so nice not to have to deal with finding parking and we were able to really enjoy the laid-back pace of the island on foot.  We’d stop at a bar to get a drink here and there with no worries about needing to drive later.

    After we were told about the snorkeling cancellation we walked from the docks toward what everyone told us is the best beach.  We stopped for some drinks and saw this gigantic statue on the way.

    We went to the locals’ favorite beach, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park.  The beach is pretty.  The park is well-maintained and has a snack bar that sells a good array of food and drinks.  I tested the water with my feet and it was too cold and seaweedy for my taste so we just hung out on the beach for a while then made our way back to the hotel.

    On Sunday night we went to check out the nightly Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square Docks. We were most interested in seeing the Cat Man.  He’s a nutty character but, man, has he got those cats trained!  They jumped through flaming hoops and walked on a tight-rope.

    On Monday we walked down to the Southernmost Point.  There was a long line of tourists waiting to take photos with the monument.  We snapped a few ourselves.

    Monday was our last full day on the island so we went shopping for souvenirs.  Our favorite shops were Cuba Cuba and Montage on Duval Street.  We got this little plaque for our kitchen at Montage.

    We also stopped in at the Key West Toy Factory to get something for the nieces and nephew. Very cool toy shop.  I would have gone nuts over that place when I was a kid.


  4. chai latte cupcakes with cinnamon frosting

    April 21, 2012 by Angie

    This week’s Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Baking Challenge is flower decoration.  I made these chai latte cupcakes I’ve been eyeing for a while.  I attempted some flower decorations on top using cinnamon vanilla buttercream frosting.

    I followed this recipe from the vegan cupcake bible, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  The author is a genius.  I never would have thought I could put tea in a cupcake!  I didn’t have any soy yogurt in the house so I used a 1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce instead and that seemed to work out just fine.  I followed this recipe for buttercream frosting that I’ve used before and added a 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to the confectioner’s sugar to complement the spices in the cupcake.

    That’s supposed to be a rose, guys.

    A daisy?

    These cupcakes taste wonderful.  I love the cinnamon frosting and I’m really picky about frosting.  If you like the spices in a chai latte, you’ll think these are a real treat.

    I decorated them this morning, ate one (for quality control purposes, of course), and brought the rest to poor Cute Husband and his coworkers who are stuck at work on a Saturday.  They rated the cupcakes two thumbs up!

    Look at me! I’m getting better at piping.  Still got a ways to go…


  5. Key West, FL – Part 1

    April 20, 2012 by Angie

    Key West Part 1: Restaurants and Bars

    We went to Key West, FL this past weekend for our First Wedding Anniversary.  Happy Anniversary to us!

    We had so much fun!  Neither of us have been to Key West since we were kids.  It’s a totally different experience when you’re of drinking age!  We did a lot of walking and sightseeing in this tropical paradise.  We also did a lot of eating and drinking.  Here’s a rundown of all the restaurants and bars we enjoyed (and didn’t) in Key West.

    When we arrived in Key West we dropped our bags off at our hotel’s office and walked down Duval Street looking for a suitable place to enjoy a tropical drink.  We stopped at a restaurant called Grand with a nice, big porch.

    Mmm, strawberry daiquiri and a glass of 12 year old Glenfiddich.

    After that, we got some lunch at The Cafe on Southard Street.  This place is amazing!  It’s so good that we came back again on the last day of our trip.  It’s a mostly vegetarian place with very nice, knowledgeable staff.

    The Cafe

    We ordered the BBQ Un-Wing Dings both times.  So good!  The sauce is a spicy sweet Thai chili kind of BBQ sauce.  I will spend the rest of my life trying to recreate that.

    BBQ Un-Wing Dings

    On our first visit I got the falafel pita and Cute Husband got a mozzarella and pesto sandwich. The second time we split a house-made veggie burger with smoked gouda and sweet potato fries.  It’s in the top five veggie burgers I’ve ever eaten.  They even have wine and a good beer selection!  We can’t recommend this place enough.

    Robbie enjoying a Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA on draft.

    On our first night in town we did our own Off-Duval Crawl.  The first stop was Finnegan’s Wake.  Finnegan’s Wake is our favorite bar in Key West.  We drank and ate there three times. It’s a dimly-lit Irish bar and restaurant. It’s away from Duval Street so it seemed to attract more locals than tourists.  They have an awesome separate vegetarian menu.  On our first visit we ate the colcannonballs appetizer – awesome!  The second time we split a very cheesy eggplant dish – also awesome!  And on our last visit just before getting on the ferry to go back home we had the “supernatural” wrap with a side of soy sauce baked edamame. Everything was really tasty.  The drinks were good too.  The waitresses are very nice and know the menu well. They have a good jukebox which Robbie loaded up with weird songs prompting the owner to come chat with us.  He’s a good guy and even gave us the locals discount!

    Our next stop was the Rum Barrel not far from Finnegan’s Wake.  It’s a pretty typical Florida place.  The building is newer and they have a nice rooftop bar.  There was a band playing covers (meh) on the quarter deck but we were already pretty drunk and happy to play Photo Hunt at the bar so the bad music didn’t bother us.

    The next day when we were down by the docks to go on our snorkeling excursion (more about that in Key West Part 2) we stopped at Turtle Kraals.  It’s another typical Florida style restaurant/bar but boasts a nice oceanfront location, a full bar, and a good selection of beers on draft.  There weren’t many vegetarian food options there though.

    Cool sign outside of Turtle Kraals

    Sloppy Joe’s Bar and the attached Joe’s Tap Room are definitely worth a visit.  The main bar, Sloppy Joe’s, was a little on the crowded and crazy side for us.  There was someone playing piano in there every time we walked by and that combined with the crowd of people made it just too loud.  We each had one drink and were not treated very well by the bartender but the bar itself is neat.

    Inside at Sloppy Joe’s

    We stopped in next door at the affiliated Joe’s Tap Room twice.  It’s another Key West favorite for us.  The bartender was very friendly and pulled up a chair on the porch to chat with us on our second trip there.  Robbie was impressed with the beers on tap and I enjoyed their lovely (and quite strong) signature drink, the Sloppy Rita.

    Sloppy Rita at Joe’s Tap Room

    On our last day in town we visited the Green Parrot Bar.  It was near our hotel so we walked by many times but it was always packed and a little on the rowdy side.  On a Tuesday morning it was finally our speed.  It’s a cute, kitschy, older place.  The bartender was great and attentive. We had a good time talking with her.  We definitely recommend this bar when it’s slower.

    Tasty drinks at the Green Parrot

    And the last bar I’ll mention here is the Hard Rock Cafe.  We would normally skip the Hard Rock but this one is in a lovingly restored Old Florida mansion with a great front porch.  We each ordered a big fancy margarita and shared some nachos with pinto beans and guacamole on them.  The nachos and drinks were really good but this was by far the most expensive place we ate or drank at in Key West.  Only other downside is that we found the other tourists there to be demanding and annoying.  The porch really is lovely and we did enjoy having a look at the Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love memorabilia inside.

    Margaritas at the Hard Rock Cafe

    Continuing with restaurants, in the good but not amazing range was Bobalu’s.  Bobalu’s was pretty good.  It’s a pizza place with an outside bar.  We ordered our usual pizza: thin crust with spinach, garlic, fresh tomatoes, and an extra side of tomato sauce.  It was good except that the crust was pretty badly burnt.  It was probably a fluke and I would give them another try. Our waiter was a hilarious older guy and was very attentive.

    Also a tad disappointing was Sugar Apple.  Sugar Apple is a health food store with a small deli/smoothie shop inside.  I had read a review that warned they only have four chairs so we ordered our food to go and ate it by the pool at our hotel.  They were knowledgeable about what was in their food and helped me to successfully placate my nut allergy but they still messed up my order.  I ordered a veggie sausage sub and got a container full of rice with tomato sauce and slices of fake sausage on top.  I don’t think tomato sauce and rice really go together so I was confused as to how I ended up with that.  The cook was rude bordering on angry when Robbie told her I ordered a sandwich and she didn’t remedy the situation.  On a positive note, Robbie ordered a fakin’ bacon BLT and he absolutely loved it.

    The Sugar Apple is in a cute little building.

    And now for the brutally honest segment.  Considering all the great restaurants available in Key West, we recommend that you avoid Angelina’s Pizza on Duval Street and Help Yourself on Fleming Street.  We went to Angelina’s late on Saturday night when we were krunk and most restaurants were closed.  The place was crowded which we took as a good sign. It wasn’t a good sign.  Their pizza is atrociously bad and it’s pretty difficult to mess up pizza.

    The only other truly disappointing place we went to was Help Yourself.  It’s a little shack of a place with some health food store items in the back, a kitchen to the side, and a tiny counter to order your food or smoothies.  They have one small seating area in front similar to a waiting area you’d find outside an Outback Steakhouse or something which was occupied and just two stools near the counter where everyone was piling up their dirty plates.  We had to stand to eat our lunch 🙁  Also, there was no water for us to drink and only one fork remaining.

    The staff was on the rude side and unsure of the ingredients in their food which is very scary for those of us who carry EpiPens.  We both ended up ordering the TLT wrap – that’s tempeh, lettuce, and tomato.  Robbie got his with spicy almond mayo and mine was without, as requested – phew!  I thought it was okay but nothing special.  Robbie hated his wrap and said the spicy mayo ruined it.  They did say they had just made some changes to their building so I hope that means they’re in flux and they’ll get it together soon.  In the meantime, we recommend going to The Cafe or Finnegan’s Wake instead.

    Read about the rest of our trip here including our boat ride on the Key West Express, sightseeing, beach-going, and shopping.


  6. guacamole

    April 19, 2012 by Angie

    We are big fans of guacamole.  I make a batch just about every week.  It’s so easy and delicious. The only trick is getting the avocados just right.  If they’re not ripe enough then they’ll be too hard to squish with a fork but if you let them sit around the kitchen too long they get black and scary on the inside.  I buy the ones that look the least bruised and let them hang out on my baking rack in my kitchen for 2-3 days before I use them.

    Ingredients:
    2 Haas avocados
    1/4 of a red onion, diced
    1 small tomato, diced
    juice of half a lime
    sea salt
    freshly ground pepper
    chili powder
    garlic powder

    Directions:
    Wash the avocados, tomato, and lime.  Dice the red onion and tomato and place the diced pieces in a bowl.  Cut your lime in half to get it ready to go.  Cut lengthwise down the avocado to cut it in half.  Yank out the seed.  Dump the insides of each half of the avocado into a second bowl.  Repeat with avocado number two.

    Mash the avocado halves with a fork until it’s just a little lumpy.  Add the diced onion and tomato to the bowl with the mashed avocados.  Stir.  Squeeze the lime half so that the juice covers the guacamole mixture.  Stir the mixture and add sea salt, freshly ground pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder to taste.  Eat immediately.

    We like to eat our guacamole with Beanitos chips or as part of a black bean bowl.  I heat up two cans of El Ebro black beans with olive oil and some of the diced red onion.  To assemble, start by scooping some of the cooked black beans into a small bowl then add a generous serving of guacamole topped with shredded Mexican cheese and salsa.


  7. snickerdoodles

    April 12, 2012 by Angie

    This week’s 52 Weeks of Baking Challenge is Kids.  We’re allowed to interpret the theme pretty widely so I chose a recipe I liked to make when I was a kid.  I used to love to make sugar cookies with my mom and brother at Christmastime. I also remember making snickerdoodles at my friend’s house in 5th grade. I thought rolling the cookie dough balls in the cinnamon sugar was so fun. Snickerdoodles are still one of my favorite cookies – simple and fun to make like a sugar cookie but fluffy with a sweet cinnamony outside.

    Adapted from the My Favourite Snickerdoodles recipe from the blog Oh She Glows.

    Ingredients:

    1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax mixed with 3 tbsp water)
    1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine (one stick)
    2/3 cup sugar
    1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    1 tbsp unsweetened soy milk
    1 cup whole wheat flour
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1/2 tsp cream of tartar
    1 tsp baking soda
    pinch of cinnamon
    For the cinnamon sugar: 1 1/2 tbsp sugar mixed with 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

    Directions:

    1. Take the Earth Balance out of the fridge to get it to room temperature.

    2. Make a flax “egg” by mixing the ground flax with water in a small bowl.  Set aside to let it get goopy.

    3. Cream the Earth Balance, sugar, vanilla extract, and soy milk in a large bowl.

    4. Beat the flax egg into the Earth Balance mixture.

    5. In a separate small bowl whisk together both flours, baking soda, cream of tartar, and cinnamon.

    6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir them together well.

    7. Use your hands to mix the dough together and form it into a ball.  Place the ball on some plastic wrap, flatten into a disc, and cover with the plastic wrap.  Let the dough chill in the refrigerator for an hour.

    8. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease two cookies sheets. Roll the dough into ping pong sized balls. I got 17 cookies out of my dough.

    9. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Roll each dough ball in the cinnamon sugar then place them spaced apart on the prepared cookie sheets.

    Weeeee!

    10. Use a fork to smoosh the balls. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

    These cookies are so tasty!  They’re soft and pillowy with just the right amount of crunch on top.  They’re not very sweet but the cinnamon sugar on the outside makes it just right.


  8. tempeh étouffée

    April 12, 2012 by Angie

    This is a slow-cooked vegan interpretation of the popular Cajun seafood dish usually made with shrimp or crawfish.  My family is from New Orleans and they love seafood.  Being allergic to seafood (and a vegetarian for the past decade), I’ve missed out on a lot of traditional foods and am trying to catch up with this recipe.  For an authentic Nawlins feel, serve it over a bowl of white rice.

    Adapted from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson.

    Ingredients:
    2 tbsp olive oil
    12 oz (one and a half packages) tempeh
    1 medium-size yellow onion, finely chopped
    1 green bell pepper, chopped
    2-3 ribs of celery, chopped
    1-2 tsp minced garlic
    26 oz Pomi brand chopped tomatoes
    1 c water
    1 tsp salt
    1 1/2 tsp parsley flakes
    1/2 tsp ground thyme
    1/2 tsp chili powder
    a tiny pinch of ground cayenne pepper

    Instructions:
    1. Wash and chop the onion, bell pepper, and celery.  Cut the tempeh into small cubes.


    2. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a pan (with a lid).  Brown the tempeh on all sides.
    3. While the tempeh is browning, mix the chopped tomatoes, water, salt, parsley, thyme, chili powder, and cayenne pepper together inside the crock pot.
    4. Once the tempeh is browned, add it to the tomato mixture in the crock pot.


    5. Keep the skillet over medium heat and add another tablespoon of olive oil.  Sauté the garlic, onion, bell pepper, and celery. Put a lid on the pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened.
    6. Add the vegetable mixture to the crock pot and stir.
    7. Put the lid on the crock pot and set it to low. Let it cook for 6-8 hours. I like to stir it a couple times over the course of the day to prevent sticking if I’m home.
    8. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over rice or with a slice of toast.

     


  9. quilted modern circle pillow

    April 10, 2012 by Angie

    This is the first sewing project I have completed in over three years.  I want to learn to quilt so while making this pillow I gathered the supplies, tools, and (some of the) techniques needed to get the basics down.   I figured it would be best to start small with a pillow before trying to conquer a queen-sized quilt.  I had never used a rotary cutter before.  It was a little frustrating at first and, yes, I did cut myself.  It was also my first time basting and trying to hand quilt.

    I followed this pattern created by Alissa Haight Carlton who runs a great quilting blog.  Here are some photos of the piecing stage.

    After the pillow top was sewn, it was time to layer the quilt pieces and baste them together.  I used the curved safety pin method.  I started to hand quilt it but I wasn’t getting the modern look I wanted by hand and gave up pretty quickly.  I plan to try hand quilting again in the future but I was anxious to get this finished.  I quilted the pillow top using the sewing machine and prefer that look for this project.

    After the quilting, it was smooth sailing.  Just sewed the backing pieces on, cut off the excess stuff around the edges, turned it right side out, and stuffed the pillow form in there.  Voila!  It looks pretty awesome on our couch, if I do say so myself.

     


  10. banana muffins

    April 5, 2012 by Angie

    I used up the rest of my bananas on this recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen.

    It calls for a 8″x4″ loaf pan.  Mine is 9″x5″.  I had a problem previously with my quick breads not baking all the way through in the middle.  I wasn’t willing to risk these precious bananas on the wrong size pan so I made muffins.

    I followed the directions exactly except I only had to bake for about 20 minutes at 350 for the muffins.  They are delicious.


    Cute Husband took them to work where I hear they are are hit!