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Friday, November 10, 2017

Tamale Pie

It has been really cold here lately.  We even had snow (twice!) in the last week, which is pretty out of the ordinary for the PNW.  I was craving some tamale pie the other day, and discovered a bag of masa hiding out in my cupboard.  I searched through every cookbook that I had for something mildly authentic, and realized... yeah, tamale pie is probably made up by white people.  :)  Regardless, I persevered!

Tamale Pie: 

1 bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 c. frozen corn
1 can diced tomatoes
Half of a bag of Morningstar Farms crumbles/other fake meat (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 c. grated cheddar cheese
2 c. dry masa
1 3/4 c. water
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. salt

In a large pan, heat about 2 tsp. olive oil, or spray the pan with cooking spray.  Cook the onion, pepper, garlic, until they are cooked through and the onion is translucent.  Add the spices, beans, crumbles, tomatoes, and corn, and cook for 10 minutes. 

While the vegetables are cooking, mix together the masa, water, oil, and salt in a small bowl.  Take the pan off of the heat, and add some water if it seems dry, about half a cup.  Sprinkle the cheese on top, and then spoon the masa mixture on top of that.  Try to spread it out a little.  Cook at 350* for 30 minutes, until all of the topping is brown and cooked through.  

Serve with avocado, sour cream. or salsa.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Halloween Candy Houses

Z decided that she wanted to make some houses out of her Halloween candy.  After perusing the internet for some ideas, we decided that the best route was to use graham crackers as the base of the house. and use frosting for glue.  (I wasn't against the idea of using cardboard, but she really wanted to be able to eat everything.)  She drew out a whole plan, and gathered up the ingredients.

First, I made some chocolate frosting with melted chocolate chips, butter, coconut milk, and powdered sugar. (We just did a small amount, so probably about 2 handfuls of chocolate chips and about 2 1/2 Tbsp. of butter.)  Then I experimented with a few ways to get the house to stand up.  I ended up using frosting as cement on the plate, then using a cracker as the base of the house, smushed the 4 sides around it.  It took more effort than I expected!  Then, I let Z start on her house, mostly with decorations.

 After carefully getting the roofs (rooves?) on, they needed a bit more to stay stabilized.  Since we had already unwrapped so much candy, we used some Twix to hold them on.  I threw some sprinkles on mine, and Z looked for ways to make lollipop trees stand up.


Peppermint patties were the perfect size and consistency to act as tree bases.  (and since none of us really like them, it wasn't such a loss.)  The M&Ms were a little too heavy to stay on as decorations, but we persevered!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Breakfast Polenta

I am sick of oatmeal.  I will eat it if I'm starving and everyone else is asleep, but in general, it just doesn't fill me up like it used to.  Enter Breakfast Polenta!  Inspired by an old post by Joy the Baker, I've been making this at least once or twice a week for breakfast around here.  I prefer the savory type, with onions, cheese, and soysages. (and sometimes a rogue avocado or two!)

Here's how we do it:

Breakfast Polenta (serves 2)

1/2 small onion, diced
2 tsp. olive oil
1 c. dry polenta
2 1/2 c. veggie broth
1/2 c. milk
1/2 Tbsp.ish butter
1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese
2 soysages (I use Morningstar Farms)
a couple handfuls of raw spinach, rinsed
1 avocado (if you like), or diced tomato
Salt and pepper
Smoked Paprika

Heat a small pot to medium high heat.  Add the olive oil and the onions, and cook until they are translucent.  Turn down the heat if they start to burn, and add a little water.  (My secret? Throw an ice cube or two in there.)

Once the onions seem done, add the vegetable broth.  Slowly drizzle/whisk in the dry polenta.  (Don't want any lumps around here!)  Turn down the heat to medium low.  Keep the milk at the ready, in case the polenta starts spitting everywhere in a dangerous fashion.  Stir!  Once it starts to thicken, stir in the milk and the butter.  Cover it with a screen, if you have one (just to protect yourself and/or your stovetop).  Stir in the spinach and grate your cheese.  Turn down the heat when it starts to get thick again and the spinach has wilted, and mix in the cheese.

If you want to get another pan dirty, you can heat up the soysages in a frying pan.  If you are like me, you will microwave them for 90 seconds.  Once they're hot, chop them up into tiny bits.  Ladle the polenta into bowls, and throw some soysages on top.  Add veggies if you like, and a bit of salt/pepper/smoked paprika to taste.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Little Red Zizi Hood

I set out to make Z a Little Red Riding Hood cloak when she was really little; like 2.  But, the pattern proved to be very high maintenance, and by the time I was actually ready to try again, she had changed sizes, so the I didn't have enough of the original red fabric.  Enter Try #2!  I decided to use fleece this time, and just use the really cute lining material for the hood and pockets.  

I had this pattern (McCall's 6431) in my stash, so I decided to Frankenstein together the parts that I liked.  We opted for the version with the hood and no zipper, and throw in the heart pockets too.

I think it turned out pretty cute!

This is where she started flapping her arms like a chicken.

She really loves it!  She's wearing it all the time now, and I think after cutting out everything, it took me 2 days to put it together. Here are some of my favorite bits:

Pocket detail- how cute are those fairytale bunnies?

Heart clasp detail
Now I'm trying to justify making a cloak for Sage... maybe with a wolf tail? Or bear ears?

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Z's 2nd Birthday! (3 years later...)

I can't even, you guys.

I just started looking at my "drafts" folder, and this was in there.

Zizi's 2nd birthday party.. The Hungry Little Caterpillar! I never even published this!!  I made cute dot garlands and pom pom balloons... (and discovered that you can use hot glue on balloons, and they won't pop!)

I also made some cute caterpillar skewers, and we had lots of fruit, like in the story...

And my girl was so little.  A few months later, I was pregnant with Sage, and things like writing got put on the back burner.  Well, at least we can enjoy them now!!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Raising Produce-filled Kids

My kids eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. Like A LOT.  I've been asked how I've gotten them to this point, and really, it's just a couple of things.

1.) Exposure: I put veggies in most of our foods, sometimes in excessive amounts.  We have cut up veggies and fruit for snacks, usually with a string cheese or some nuts.  I've read that people need up to 30 exposures to a food in order to like it, so we try lots of different things.  In our morning eggs, we typically have mushrooms, spinach, and some veggie sausage.  Today we had some leeks, so I put those in too. (Soo good!)  Once in a while, I add broccoli or bell pepper, but those get mixed reviews from Zizi.  
Our morning veggies today
2.) Cook with them.  When kids make the food, they are more likely to try it.  My guys are really interested in cooking, and want to help most of the time.  This morning, Sage stole an egg before Zizi could crack it, and cracked it himself... all over the counter.  I think he'll be ready to learn for real in about 6 months, but I admire the effort!  Sometimes I wear him on my back when I'm making dinner, so he can see the stove, but is still safe. He loves that!

They don't always want to cook with me, but I give them lots of opportunities to help or just watch.  When Sage was smaller, I would wheel his highchair into the kitchen so he could see what was happening, and he would be contained.

These are a few books we've used this year:

Pretend Soup has lots of step-by-step pictures, so kids can see what to do next, along with parent-friendly instructions all on one page. (I got it at Half-Priced Books for around $5.) Z got it for her birthday a few weeks ago, and we went through it before bed one night.  The next day, she decided to make her own salad, and cut up most of the veggies on her own.  Then she demanded to make lemonade from scratch, since we had some lemons.  I wasn't really in the mood for lemonade, but she squeezed the lemon and added water herself.  

C is for Cooking is a relatively old kids' cookbook that is super cheap on Amazon. ($2 as of this writing).  It's got tons of pictures and has cute names for recipes using the character's names, like "Cookie Monster's 'Me Stuffed' Potatoes" or "Oscar's Quick Dip in the Mud" (chocolate-fruit dip).  We've made a few things from it, including some delicious blueberry bar cookies.

3.) Play with food.  There are TONS of recipes and pictures out there of fun animals/monsters/scenes you can make with vegetables and fruit. We sometimes even do science experiments with food!  Once, we tested out celery and colored water, to see how it sucked up the water. (Honestly, that one didn't work so well.) Amazing (Mostly) Edible Science has some really great experiments, usually with sweet foods.

4.) Give them access to snack foods.  When Zizi is hungry, she gets in the fridge.  Usually the first thing she wants is a pickle or olives.  (She has eaten half a jar of olives in one sitting before.)  I keep leftover chickpeas and beans in jars in the fridge, and the veggie drawers always have things they might eat in them.  Right now, I have: apples (Sage's favorite thing), mushrooms, carrots, celery, and spinach.  Yesterday, I left the room for a few minutes.  When I came back, Sage had put some old sugar snap peas in the stroller, and was walking them around the room.  (My house is kind of a ridiculous place sometimes.)

5.) Give lots of choices: When we try a new food, I give each kid just a little bit.  It doesn't always work, but sometimes they like it right away.  Winter squash is still a hard sell around here, but after I got a spiralizer this summer, they both will eat zucchini if it is cut into zoodles!  Sage is a real fruit lover, but still doesn't eat that many veggies on their own. But, after lots of tries, he now will eat raw carrots, sugar snap peas, and sometimes cucumber or celery.  Don't give up!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


So much has happened in the last 6 months!  We finished a ginormous redecoration of our downstairs, moving John's office space into my old office, and creating a huge playroom/craftroom in the other space!  I was planning an update with lots of pictures, but we still have to move my sewing table downstairs, so it's not 100% done, but done enough to play. :)  Also, we started homeschooling with Zephyr- she's almost 4 and really wants to learn to read.  Who am I to stop her?  Then baby Sage turned a year old, and we were all sick for pretty much the entire month of August.  

We were pretty much recovered, and I sprained my ankle (so I thought).  I really didn't do anything to injure it, but after a few days, it just kept getting worse and worse.  I went to urgent care to get some crutches, and they ran some blood tests.  One of them suggested that I might have a blood clot, so I ended up referred to the E.R.  When they asked why I was there, I jokingly said, "Overreaction."  But, after a lot more tests and meeting with a doctor, I found myself admitted to the hospital.  For almost a week, I was there.  The upside is that the food at Overlake Hospital is pretty great.  That was pretty much the only upside.  In the end, they diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis, and sent me home on Friday.  We're still working out whether or not that is actually what is going on, but in the meantime, I'm trying out some anti-inflammatory foods along with all of my medications.

This has been my favorite book so far

I'm trying to limit sugar and cut back on white flour-based foods.  I'm also adding in some fish oil supplements and as many seeds as I can manage.  I bought the above book several months ago, and it really has a lot of great recipes in it.  Today for lunch, I made a version of the soup on the cover.

Black-Eyed Pea and Greens Soup(adapted from Anti-inflammatory Eating Made Easy)

2 c. black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 c. butternut squash, diced into small cubes
1 small onion, diced
4 ribs celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 c. frozen chopped spinach (can also use fresh swiss chard, but I was out)
1/2 tsp. salt
6-8 c. vegetable broth
2 c. cooked brown rice (I use frozen rice from Trader Joe's)

Soak the black-eyed peas in a pot of water, at least overnight.  (For speedier cooking time, I cooked them a day later while I was making some other food, then stored them in the fridge again.)

In a large stockpot, melt the coconut oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, squash, celery, and garlic.  Sprinkle with salt.  Let it cook until the onions are translucent, then add the spices.  Drain the liquid from the cooked peas, then add them to the soup.  (If you didn't precook the peas, follow the same directions, but don't add the squash until the peas are mostly cooked, about 20 minutes.) Add the vegetable broth, and bring to a simmer.  After about 15 minutes, add the frozen spinach and rice, and salt and pepper to taste.  

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Coming soon...

Very exciting new house project is starting today! We've been planning it for a couple of months now, so really excited that it's actually on the road.  :) More updates to come by the end of the week!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

It's been a long time...

I have several things in the works, but thought I'd do a quick update, since it's been so long since I've posted.  I don't know if it's related to sleep deprivation/general winter malaise/new baby stress or a desire to get things in order that has lead to blogging falling down the list of activities to the bottom, but I think I'm finally getting it back together.  Should I even attempt to do a recap of things I've made in the past few months?  (Z got a super awesome Dinosaur Playland for Christmas)  Or should I just move forward?

I've got some new recipes to share, along with a gardening challenge, and a Super Secret Side Project that will interest any crafty peeps who also like sci-fi/nerdy things.  Oh, and the Gardening Show is next week! (Zizi is SO EXCITED!  Really, more excited than I would expect a 3-year-old to be.)  Anyway, good things are in the future!!

And this little guy just turned 6 months old.  What?!?!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fighting the Good Fight

It's been a bit rough around here lately. Between some unforeseen/foreseen stresses and general malaise, we seem to be in a constant state of partially having a cold.  Last week, I fought these things with chocolate cake and Indian food.  The Indian food seemed to knock out the cold impulses, at least for a day or two.  And the cake?  Pretty damn good, Joy the Baker!  (It was pretty similar to this recipe, minus the cream cheese and orange, and adding in some cocoa powder.)  But I digress.

Cold-Busting Indian Chili

(adapted from Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness)

1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can of diced tomatoes
1/2 can tomato paste (about 3-4 Tbsp.)
1 onion (optional- I was out, but I'm sure it would have been good with it)

3 Tbsp. olive or canola oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. whole cloves
1/4 tsp. peppercorns
1/2 tsp. chili pepper flakes
1" piece of cinnamon stick
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. garam masala
1 1/2 c. water

Don't be put off by the long spice list; you probably have most of those things already, except for maybe the garam masala and the cardamom pods.  

In a large pan, heat the oil.  Add the first set of spices, and let it cook until the seeds start to pop. (You may want to use a cooking screen to protect yourself from flying oil!- I got one from the dollar store a million years ago.)
Add your onion (if using) and garlic to the hot spices.  Cook until the onion is translucent, or until the garlic stops smelling raw.  Then add your canned tomatoes and drained beans.  Evenly disburse the second set of spices and mix them in.  Pour in the water, and cook for 15 minutes.  Just before serving, add the tomato paste to thicken the sauce.  Serve over rice, with plain yogurt to temper the spice.

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