Friday, August 31, 2012

September Book Club

"The Lackses challenged everything I thought I knew about faith, science, journalism, and race. Ultimately, this book is the result.  It's not only the story of HeLa cells and Henrietta Lacks, but of Henrietta's family - particularly Deborah - and their lifelong struggle to make peace with the existence of those cells, and the science that made them possible." -The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Sloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Our September book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Book club was so fun last week.  I got to see good friends, have some good eats, and have some great conversation.  I made cucumber feta dip and bacon cream cheese puffs, and I ate entirely too much.:)

Rebecca was a great read, and for next month I think we picked another great book.  It's completely different from the gothic-romantic style of Rebecca - it's a true story about an amazing case.  Henrietta Lacks died 60 years ago from cervical cancer, but her cells lived on.  Numerous scientific discoveries have been made using her cells, but her family has never seen a penny of the profits.  This book traces the life of Lacks' cells, her family today, the scientific discoveries made, and the implications they hold.  I am so excited to read this book!

Got my copy! :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pesto Pasta


 YUM!!  I could eat this everyday.

You will need:
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup grated parmesan (plus extra for garnish)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 pound of angel hair (or any kind) pasta
Toast the walnuts at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes.  Meanwhile, wash the kale, removing the thick stems and tearing the kale into pieces.

Boil the kale until it is bright green (this happens really quickly).

Drain the kale, running cold water over it to cool it.

Squeeze the water out of the kale.

Add the kale, 1/3 cup of the toasted walnuts, and parmesan to a processor and run until completely blended.

While the processor is running, add the olive oil through the feeding tube until the mixture is creamy.

Spoon the pesto into a bowl and add the ricotta, stirring until well mixed.

Boil your pasta according to the boxed directions.  Drain and return to the pot.  Toss with the pesto mixture. 
Serve immediately, topped with extra parmesan and walnuts.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Crock Pot Chicken

 This is super simple and really yummy.  I got the recipe from The Larson Lingo, and it lives up to it's name as the easiest dinner ever.  I served it last week when my mother- and sister-in-law came over for dinner.

You will need:
  • 3-4 frozen chicken breasts
  • 1 can of rotel
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 package of cream cheese
Simply toss all the ingredients into the crock pot, and cook on low heat for 8 hours.  Stir it up (the chicken will shred at this point), and serve over rice.  Yum!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Autumn Updates: Art

A while back, I made an art project inspired by BHG.  I really love how it turned out, but some of the colors and prints looked a little too spring/summer time to carry over into fall and winter.  So, I made a few changes to update the look for the new season:

For colors, I thought the orange, purple and teal would transition well.  But, I picked up a crimson, a forest green, and a grey to replace the yellow, pink, and light blue.

For the objects, I re-used the ferns and one of the foliage.  I also picked up some oak leaves and some maple leaves, which had to be weighted down with little stones when I did the spray painting.

Again, I'm so happy with how they turned out and I love the jewel tones!  Bring on the fall weather!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

DIY Wine Glass Charms

Book club is tomorrow!  I'm so excited.  Friends are coming over to my house for eats, drinks, and some chatting about Rebecca.

I felt like I wanted to make something fun and crafty for the occasion.  Wine glass charms seemed to be the perfect solution.  Useful and cute, you can make these to fit any theme you want.

I used cold press paper (left over from my autumn art project that you'll see Friday), some beads, colored pencils, and paper clips.

Simply doodle out whatever design you want and cut it out.  Poke a hole through the charm and string it onto your paperclip.  I used a round tip pliers to shape the paper clip into a circle to go around the stem of the glass.

If you have the time to pick them up, earring hoops work perfectly.  But, I was short on time and high on office supplies :)


Monday, August 20, 2012

DIY Tostadas

I was really wanting to make tostadas the other night- with guacamole instead of refried beans as the base (I want to make it again, now... mmmm).  But, the problem I've found is that the tostadas at the grocery store are always smashed to bits.  Even if you manage to find a package that is intact, good luck getting it home without breaking!

Then, I had an ah-ha moment.  I couldn't believe I'd never thought of it before, but why not fry tortillas and make my own tostadas?  My cousins in Arizona have done it for years, but it somehow slipped my mind.  So, I decided to give it a whirl, and they turned out great!

You will need:
  • Store bought corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil
First, preheat your oven to 250.  Line the tortillas up on a baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes.  This helps to dry out/firm up the tortillas before you fry them.

Then, heat a frying pan full of oil over medium-high heat.  You'll want enough vegetable oil in the pan to be able to submerge the tortilla completely (about a quarter inch thickness was enough for me).

Once the oil is piping hot, slip a tortilla in to fry.  If your oil is nice and hot, this should only take about 10-20 seconds on each side.
Remove the tortilla (now a tostada!) with tongs and set on a paper towel to drain and cool.  Repeat until you have as many tortillas as you need.

So sorry for the lack of pictures today!  My camera pooped out mid-project :(  But I can assure you that the guacamole made a great base in place of refried beans!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Tomato Pesto Tart


Okay, I promise this will be the last of the tart posts . . . for a while.  They're just so delicious and simple to make!  I stole this idea from Macarons and Pearls.  The tart is made from puff pastry, ricotta, and pesto.  You can check out her recipes for the tomato tart and homemade pesto.  Here's how mine turned out:

So delicious!  A little soggy though; I'd recommend pre-baking the puff pastry
Enjoy!  And have a happy weekend! :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ham and Cheese Pastry


These pastries are so yummy and make a great bite for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

You will need:
  • 1 puff pastry sheet
  • Sliced ham
  • Sliced cheddar cheese
  • Jam (for a different pastry, I promise!)
  • Large cookie cutters
Let your puff pastry thaw on a baking sheet.  Once it is fully thawed, cut two shapes for each pastry.

Stack up your ham and cheese on the pastry

Top with another piece of pastry, sealing the edges by crimping with a fork.

Bake for 15-18 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.

 For a fun variation, you can really put anything inside.  I did a dollop of jam to make a homemade toaster strudel :)  Delicious!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Good Natured Goodies

I won a fantastic giveaway and I got my goodies in the mail the other day.  So exciting!
A cute yellow poppy brooch

Another brooch that will be so pretty in the fall

These little squares are origami!

A needle felted Inga!!  This is so cute and looks hilariously like Inga.  Dani does customized pet portraits- what a great idea!
Check out her shop!  So many cute things :)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Eggplant Feta Tart


I seriously cannot get enough of these tarts.  I might be addicted to puff pastry... This is another great combination of flavors.

You will need:
  • 1 puff pastry sheet
  • 1 eggplant
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta
  • Olive oil for frying
Pull the puff pastry out of the freezer and allow it to thaw.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Meanwhile, you will need to precook the eggplant so that it can be tender enough in the tart.  I peeled part of the skin off of my eggplant and then sliced it into coins.  Don't worry if your eggplant has lots of little seeds in it- they're edible!

Fry the eggplant over medium heat.  Make sure the olive oil is very hot before putting the eggplant into the pan.  Also, be sure to go light on the oil- eggplant will soak it up like a sponge.

Cook the eggplant until it is very tender and golden brown.

Score and poke your pastry sheet and pre-bake according to the package directions.  Then, top with the cheese and eggplant, bake for another 12-15 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.  Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Cucumber Greek Yogurt Dip


In an earlier post, I made some cucumber subs with a Greek yogurt dip I bought at the store.  It is a seriously delicious dip, but I couldn't help but think that I could make it myself.  So... I did!

You will need:
  • 16 ounces Greek yogurt
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and finely diced
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
Combine all of the ingredients and enjoy!  This dip is delicious with chips and veggies alike, or use it in a cucumber sub! :)
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