Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone!  This might be my favorite holiday.  Very well could be.  What's not fun about dressing up and being something totally random and goofy for one night of the year.  Unfortunately this year, we did nothing to celebrate Halloween.  Oh well.  I keep dreaming of the day we live in Western Washington again and I can throw costume parties and our friends can actually come!  Someday.  I thought I would share a few photos of my all time favorite halloween costumes that Kam and I have worn twice and will wear again.  My mom made them for her and my dad back when I was a little girl.  Kam and I actually won a costume party wearing these babies one year and it was AWESOME.  Raggedy Ann and Andy!!!!

Have a happy day of spooks, pumpkins and candy!  Trick or treat!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Clam Chowder

Tomorrow is our friend's Julie's birthday so we are having them over for some birthday fun.  I've been planning on making chowder this weekend for a few weeks now, so that's what Julie is getting for her Kam & Bren hang out birthday dinner.  That and a pie thing I made, beer bread, and champagne cocktails!  I kind of made this chowder recipe up, I don't think traditional chowder calls for Old Bay or oregano, but what the heck!  

Clam Chowder
1 1/2 cups bacon
3 cups celery
3 cups carrots
6 cups potatoes
1 tablespoon butter
4 14.5oz cans chicken stock
1 Costco Giant Can Clams (51oz)
4 or 5 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon ground oregano
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon old bay
3 teaspoons fresh cracked pepper
2 cups half and half
2 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley

Cut bacon into small pieces using kitchen scissors and fry in a large pot.  Once bacon is crispy, remove some of the bacon fat so you have about 2 tablespoons remaining and add butter, onion, celery, carrots and potatoes.  Sweat veggies for about 10 minutes over medium low.  Add chicken stock, clams and juice, bay leaves, salt, oregano, old bay, pepper and 1 cup half and half.  Over medium low bring to a boil then reduce and let simmer until veggies are cooked through. About an hour.

In a small bowl whisk flour with one and half cups milk until smooth and add to chowder with remaining milk and half and half.  Return to a boil stirring fairly often, reduce and eat when ready!  Top with extra bacon and parsley or oyster crackers.

I haven't made chowder in so long, and I know I've never added Old Bay to it. That stuff is becoming one of my favorite on hand flavor boost spices.  So good on popcorn!  Also, this made a giant pot of soup.  I wanted enough to feed 4 people, send some home with Eric and Julie and have left overs for us.  So I you don't want that much chowder, half the recipe.  Hope everyone is having a fun Halloween weekend!  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pallet Furniture

Pallet Furniture
A few weeks ago I was searching craigslist for a new couch, just looking to see what was out there.  Instead of a couch, I came across this really cool armoire that the owner had made from recycled pallets.  I have been noticing all sorts of awesome pallet furniture around the internet lately, and thought this armoire might just be the thing I need to organize our "catch all" bedroom.  So we looked, we liked, we bought!  Is anyone else as in love with homemade pallet furniture as I am?
I am in love with that planter planter! How amazing would it be to have that full of fresh herbs on your back porch? Here are a few photos of my pallet armoire!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Inspired

Love these bikes!

Any 80's kids remember this and this?

I feel like these need to come live with me.

Halloween costume anyone?

I love reading these.

I am going to do this!

I want to cook with this.

Looking for some fall wardrobe ideas? Check here on Wednesdays!

How cute are these pumpkin cupcakes?

Awesome pillow anyone?

In love with these clocks!

It's Wednesday!  Time to start planning the weekend.  We are just relaxing and hanging out after our last weekend extravaganza of Seattle, shopping, family and DEATH CAB!!!  Amazing show, I feel so lucky to have the memories to log away.  Have something extra yummy for dinner tonight! Kam mentioned wing wednesday, I know, I'm a lucky lady.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Turkey Brine and Left over Turkey Casserole

We've had a turkey in our freezer for just about a year.  It needed to be cooked.  I have been wanting to try a bird brine (haha) for a while now, so I thought this would be a good opportunity.  I screwed it up in one way but all and all it was awesome and I will totally do it again.  Maybe next I will do it right.  How did I screw it up you ask?  I didn't leave it in the brine long enough.  Doh!  So, I kinda thought since Thanksgiving is rounding the corner, I would give the whole turkey brine thing a shot and maybe inspire a few people to try something new with the T-day bird this year.

Turkey Brine and Left Over Turkey Casserole

What you'll need:

For the Brine
8 pints cold water
3/4 cup sugar
Juice from 2 lemons
Juice from 2 oranges
1/4 cup old bay
5 or 6 bay leaves
1/2 cup salt
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon all spice

Add everything into a large large large soup pot (make sure its big enough to submerge your turkey). Mix until sugar and salt has dissolved.  Place washed turkey into brine and place in fridge for 8-24 hours.  Longer the better.  Remove from brine and bring to room temp.  The normal rule of turkey cooking is 20 minutes per pound at 350 degrees.  I did mine at 450 for 30 minutes than kicked the oven down to 325 for 3 hours.  It was done just shy of the timer.

For the Turkey Casserole
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced celery
3 diced carrots (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 yam peeled and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 sweet potato peeled and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup diced onion
1 parsnip diced (about a cup. I'm new to the parsnip family.  It was white, if that matters.)
1 small head of broccoli cut into bite size pieces
1 cup frozen peas
3-4 cups turkey or chicken (cooked)
2 can cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups biscuit mix
1 cup water

Preheat oven to 350. In a pan heat oil over medium heat and add onion, carrots, parsnip and potatoes.  While you prepare everything else let these cook moving every so often.  In a medium bowl whisk together mushroom soup, milk, salt and pepper.  Set aside.  In another bowl, prepare your biscuit dough.  Mix 4 cups biscuit mix with one cup water, it will seem dry but thats how you want it.  Read the directions on your mix's box and make sure its not telling you to add something mine didn't.  Follow those instructions.  Set dough aside.

After your carrot/potatoes have been cooking for about 15 minutes and are about half cooked add them into a 9x13 baking dish.  To that add peas, broccoli and turkey and mix together.  Pour soup mix over everything.  Plop 6 to 9 dough balls on top, just make sure they have a little space between then to rise.  I had 6 biscuits, I would probably stretch it to 8 if I made this again.  Bake in oven for 30-40 minutes or until biscuits are brown on to and no long doughy underneath when you slightly lift them up.  Grab a bowl, and if your Kameron, some sriracha, and eat up!

I had more turkey photos from the brine and whatnot, but I lost them. This this is what I've got. One.

So, I can't tell you any time if my life that I have eaten a parsnip.  So a while back I decided I would start buying produce that I have never really eaten before and learn to cook with it. One of those ingredients would be the beets I made with the orange glaze a while back.  So, turnips are awesome! You should try them if you haven't already!  This dinner is so simple and so fall weather appropriate.  You could really make any sort of gravy or pot pie type filling and bake biscuits or even corn bread on top and have a equally awesome dinner.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How Genetics Work

I came across this photo and thought it was really clever, in a simple way. It's titled How Genetics Work.  

Also, check out this toaster.  awesome.

How cute is this little kid coat?

Kameron and I cannot get enough of these two videos.

Hello tights in every color!  I'm in love.

This cracked me up.  Well most things on this blog crack me up.

Love her bags.

Air plants are so cool.  If you don't know about them, watering them is really cool! Read a little here.

Week is half over.  I hope you all are looking forward to this weekend as much as I am!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cake Pops without Sticks Revisited!

It is time to revisit the cake pop.  I have made literally hundreds of these since my first attempt.  They were one of the deserts that I made for our wedding.  After about the 5th or 6th cake I started to experiment a little more with flavors.  The coffee one was my biggest success.  I also found an easier way of dipping them in the chocolate with out having the sucker stick, so I thought that would be a good tip to share.  My original cake pop post is by far my most visited post to date, so time to out due myself.

Supreme Coffee Cake Pops (without sticks)
What you'll need:
1 chocolate cake mix
1/2 container chocolate frosting
2 tablespoons freeze dried coffee
1 teaspoon water
chocolate melting chocolate (if I had to guess, I'd say 4 cups but be sure and have extra.)
chocolate covered coffee beans for garnish (you could use slivered almonds or anything here)

You can make homemade cake or frosting if you'd like.  I'm just being lazy, and I'm not sure it would make a huge difference.

Bake cake according to directions.  Once tooth pick comes out clean, allow to cool then use a fork and crumble until there is no more chunks.  Place frosting in a microwave safe dish and heat for 20 seconds.  Mix freeze dried coffee with water to dissolve, add to warm frosting and combine.  Now pour frosting into cake and mix until evenly distributed and cake is now just one big dense ball.  Shape into golf ball sized balls.  Set aside.

Heat chocolate either in a double boiler or microwave, your choice.  The double boiler is safer, chocolate will burn in microwave quicker. Here is the new tip, take a chop stick and stick half way into ball then use the stick to dip into chocolate.  Set the ball into the chocolate on one end then pull through, then turn half a turn and do again until the ball is covered.  Gently bob to remove excess chocolate, then place onto wax paper and lightly twist remove stick.  Now place a chocolate covered coffee bean over the hole in the top where stick was.  Done.  Allow to cool.  You can place in freezer to speed up the process, just be sure to not to freeze.

I ran out of wax paper so I covered my pizza stone with cling wrap.  Make due with what ya got!

If you don't want that many cake balls laying around, you can freeze them before you dip them in chocolate.  Then when you are ready to dip, take them out the night before and let the return to room temperature.  They will be perfect.  Just don't freeze after you have dipped them.  Now share with everyone you know.  Enjoy!

by the way...if you are unsure of where to buy the sticks and thats why you want to skip that step, Michaels sells them for a good price in their cake decorating section.