Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thrift Store Frames Redesigned - Project 1 of 2

I totally scored at the thrift shop this weekend!  I'm typically a Value Village shopper, but drove past Goodwill and swung in to take a look.  The clothing aisles were packed, so I headed straight back to the furniture and frames section where I stumbled upon these beautiful cherry frames for only $2.99 each.  A total steal for being so sturdy and having no visable dings or dents!

I immediately had two projects in mind.  The first, and the one I will show you here, was a place to hang my earrings.  I've seen frames adorned with mesh in a couple of stores and at the Fremont Market, and have always wanted to make one.  There's one vendor who sells them at the Fremont Market for $30, but there's no way I'm paying that much for something I can do on my own. So, after explaining my project to some poor guy at Home Depot (he obviously did not understand the struggle that comes with having multiple pairs of chandelier earrings in the same box and getting all tangled), he directed me to a couple of different places.  What I ended up going with was screen door mesh in a dark charcoal color.

Once I got home, I cut out a square the same size of the frame inset.  Then I realized I had never thought through how I was going to secure this thing...hmmm...

Thankfully, I have a glue gun that I just love (everyone must ahve a glue gun; you can fix just anything with it).  After gluing down one of the longer sides, I stretched the mesh across the frame and secured with pins to keep it tight while I glued down the other three sides.

And, PRESTO!  An organized and beautiful way to hang my earrings.  I'm thinking about adding hooks to the side for small necklaces, but we'll see.

Project #2: Corkboard made from real wine corks!  Coming soon...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Season for Vegetables Has Ended

This weekend, I finally had to accept that winter is on its way and that my urban garden would soon be gone.  Both my tomotoes and peppers were still growing, but if they froze, all of my hard work over the summer would have been for nothing.  So, I swallowed the fear of chopping up my plants that I worked so hard to grow and did it.  Here's what I have left of summer:

I'm so happy that my peppers are actually turning yellow.  They were green all summer (I purposely picked yellow because they are sweeter), and I was at the point of thinking someone had swtiched the tags on the plants at Home Depot. I also have a ton of green tomatoes, that are slowly but surely turning red.  It will be nice to have a little flavor of summer left for the coming weeks.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Recipe of the Week - Sweet Potato Gnocchi

I have been trying to more creative with my cooking as of late and to help, signed up for the 'Daily Dish' newsletter from AllRecipes.com. There was one that came across last week for Sweet Potato Gnocchi and I just had to try it. I randomly get obessed with foods and sweet potatoes typically fall on my obsession list list for fall (during the spring, it's usually pears; corn in the summer; butternut squash in the winter).
First, I will tell you that it was SO good and totally worth the effort. Secondly, unless you have made gnocchi many times before, prepare for a rather lengthy preparation process. The rolling process took quite a bit longer than I orginially anticipated. You will find the recipe below, courtesy of Allrecipes.com. I've included my additions to the recipe in red:

3 2 (8 ounce) sweet potatoes
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake sweet potatoes for 30 minutes, or until soft to the touch. Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool.

2. Once the potatoes are cool enough to work with, remove the peels, and mash them, or press them through a ricer into a large bowl. Blend in the garlic, salt, nutmeg, and egg. Mix in the flour a little at a time until you have soft dough. Use more or less flour as needed.

3. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. While you wait for the water, make the gnocchi. On a floured surface, roll the dough out in several long snakes, and cut into 1-inch sections. Drop the pieces into the boiling water, and allow them to cook until they float to the surface. Remove the floating pieces with a slotted spoon, and keep warm in a serving dish. Serve with butter or cream sauce.

The key to making the gnocchi is adding the flour in slowly.  My additions and changes were made to help the sweet potato stand out more. Cinnamon and brown sugar are classic pairings with sweet potato and it just made sense. As for the salt...I just like a little more salt in my food. The night we made this, we paired the gnocchi with an alfredo sause and it was amazing. Thankfully, we had leftovers, which I ate today. I needed something a little lighter for lunch than alfredo sauce, so tossed the gnocchi with a little olive oil and garlic salt. It was just as delicious, and the taste of sweet potato stood out more.

While the effort was well worth the end product, I was thinking about how nice it would be to cook a big batch of the gnochhi and freeze it. This would not only cut down production time in the future, but also provide me with a quick and easy dinner. After a little research, it turns out you can freeze it! But before you go dumping a whole bunch of gnocchi into a bag and throwing it into the freeze, a couple of things to note:
  • After cooking the gnocchi, drain it and lay out on a cookie sheet to cool.
  • Put the cookie sheet in the freezer with gnocchi spaced out so they don't freeze into one big clump
  • After about 20 minutes, dump the gnocchi into a freeze bag!
Let me know if you make this recipe and how it goes!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lincoln Park in West Seattle - A Hidden Gem

A couple of weekends ago, Jon and I decided to explore a part of Seattle that we had not yet seen.  People are constantly going out of town when there is so much to be seen in their own backyard, and I'm trying to not be one of those people.  So, we narrowed it down to Golden Gardens beach or Lincoln Park in West Seattle.  Since Jon recently attended a wedding at the Golden Gardens Bath House, we opted for West Seattle and were so pleased with what we found.

On a nice day, almost everyone thinks of heading to Alki Beach (and almost everyone does).  But on the other side of West Seattle, Lincoln Park has beautiful scenery without the crowd. We wandered the beach - finding sea glass along the way - and enjoying the cool fall day.

And of course, we can't go anywhere without having a little fun :)

I highly recommend Lincoln Beach to Alki Beach if you are looking for a more serene setting with out the fear of getting run over by skateboarders. 

Saturday, October 3, 2009

All the makings of an amazing (yet HOT) homemade salsa

There's nothing better than homemade salsa using tomatoes straight
from the garden. We made some today an while spicy, it was amazing.

If you like it spicy, dice up six tomatoes (add more if you like your
salsa more in the mild side), half a white onion, three tablespoons
lime juice and two Serrano peppers (again, if you like it mild, only
add one).

Serve with corn tortilla chips and you're good to go!!