A home for all things crafty, health-conscious, cake-related, or in need of a wagon!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Monica's Waterfront Bakery

Every time I visit my family in Kitsap County, I stop by the Waterfront Bakery for lunch.  

They have a variety of soups and sandwiches-I usually get half a sandwich and a cup of whatever soup they have that's veggie. 

And then comes the best part, the sweets! 

Because why bother going to a bakery if you're not going to get any sweets?  (btw, these cookies are probably some of the best I've ever had- peanut butter chocolate chip, with extra whole peanuts, topped with a little bit of large-grained sugar.  Delicious!)

These also look amazing.

In the fall and winter, they have my absolute favorite- they're called fruit bars, but they're really more like a carrot cake-type soft biscotti with orange frosting.  I could dive into a vat of that frosting!

And then we have the quiche and fancy food case.  Do you see what I see?

Giant carrot cake!  Man, I love this place.  If you're ever in Silverdale, you should totally check it out!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Amazing Double Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I made some cookies the other night when we were out of sweets.  I usually try to make them really healthy. These are quasi-healthy.

Do they look healthier now?  (or at least slightly happier?!)

Cra-mazing Double Chip Oatmeal Cookies
½ cup (1 stick) margarine or butter, at room temperature
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 Tbsp. molasses
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
½ cup oatmeal
½ cup raisins 
1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips (I used a mix of white and regular, since that's what I had... and it turned out really great!)

Preheat oven to 350°.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until fluffy.  Add molasses and vanilla, and mix.  Add baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Mix in the flour in small batches, until it is well incorporated.   Add the oatmeal, raisins, and chocolate chips.  Drop by large spoonfuls onto a parchment-covered cookie sheet.  Bake for 12-14 minutes, until they are slightly browned. Cool on a cooling rack, and enjoy with milk!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Meal Planning and Organizing

When I was in high school, my mom would use index cards to help us know what was for dinner.  She would put one on the fridge, and my dad would know what to start before she got home.  It didn't actually have the recipe on it (although some did, if they were new recipes), but it was an easy way to decide what to make with whatever was defrosting in the fridge.  Thinking about our October delivery, I decided that this could be a good trick for weekly meal planning for us.   I started by busting out a recipe file and some index cards.

I then wrote down every dinner idea I could think of, one per card.

On the back, I put on the left side, foods we are likely to already have in the house.  On the right side, I put other ingredients that we may need in order to make this dish.  This way, if we are tired of some foods, we can just pull out a card, see if it sounds appealing, and plan a shopping list without too much effort.  (I am all about saving effort, especially when I am anticipating sleep deprivation!)  These are all just for dinner ideas, and an easy way to make sure we're eating different foods.  Yet another glimpse into my organization madness!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Tofu Cacciatore

This recipe is brought to you, slightly adapted from the South Beach Diet!

Tofu Cacciatore:

1 pound firm tofu, cut into slices
2 zucchini, cut into rounds
1 bell pepper, cut into strips (or 1/2 each of two different colored ones)
1/2 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 can stewed tomatoes (they called for 28 oz, I used 14 oz.)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
rosemary for garnish

Start by cooking the onions and pepper in a large frying pan.  Add in the zucchini, tomatoes, spices, and tomato paste.  Add a little water if necessary.  Place into a large baking dish.

Preheat the oven to 350*.  Take your sliced tofu, and gently fry it with some cooking oil spray.  Turn after a couple of minutes, when it is a light brown.

Add the tofu to the vegetables, and cover with the sauce.  Bake, covered for about 45 minutes to an hour. 

Meanwhile, you can make some quinoa.  Rinse it, and cook it in water for about 20 minutes, until it is soft and separated.  I added in some tomato paste and the same spices as the dish, to give it flavor and waste less tomato paste!  I also added some veggie bouillon for extra flavor. 

Garnish with rosemary, and parmesan cheese if you like.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Baby Clothes!

In case you were wondering, here are some of the baby clothes that I have made so far!

Cute kimono-style robe made from flannel, made from this book:

I seem to have a habit of buying fabric to make things for friends' future babies, and then not making them.  That's where the next two prints are from, (we won't mention how those kids are now 8 and 2).

Turtle print long-sleeved tee

Close up of pattern

And, my absolute favorite... Ninja Monkeys!  (Ninja Monkey may become one of our future daughter's nicknames.  We'll see how it sticks!)  I tried forever to find some banana-shaped buttons for the shoulders of these overalls, but so far no luck.  If you see any cute ones, let me know!  (most of them are just too big or kind of weird- I'm envisioning something that looks like a Runt candy.)

So great!  I love the action words and the bananas on this print!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

PW's Pecan Scones, again!

I made these scones again last week.  The amount of butter in them may make you want to just give up hope of ever having clear arteries again, but they are SO FREAKING GOOD.  Some tips if you want to make them even tastier (and ever so slightly healthier):

1.) Toast the pecans before you mix them in and bake them.  I cannot stress this enough!  You can do it in a frying pan on the stove, or in the oven, 350* x 10 minutes or so. Do not miss this step!


2.) This time, I did 1 c. whole wheat flour, and 2 c. regular white flour.  Slightly healthier, and you can't even taste the difference!!

3.) You can also make them smaller.  Much smaller.  She says this recipe makes 8 scones.  Maybe she means 8 scones for Shaquille O'Neal.  The first time I made this, it made 22 scones.  The last 2 times, I've saved half for later, and it made about 32 scones.  Make them smaller and feel less guilty for dipping them straight up into the icing.  :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Grilled Tomatoes

Have you ever heard of such a thing before?  In this month's Whole Living magazine, they do a "burger" of just grilled tomatoes and cheddar cheese.  I decided to one-up them.  (Also, it doesn't show this in the online version, but in the magazine they have pictures of someone grilling veggies straight up on the grill, including onions in rings.  That drives me freaking crazy! No one can do that!  I use foil or a basket every time, and I don't lose anything through the cracks.  But, I digress...)

I decided to do regular veggie burgers with grilled tomatoes, cheddar, and then my lovely husband brought home some rosemary foccacia bread on a whim, so we used that for buns.

Insanity, your name is this burger.

To grill some tomatoes yourself, it is pretty easy.  Start by getting a large, firm tomato, and cutting it into slices.

If you don't work as a magazine food stylist, get a piece of foil, and spray it with some cooking spray.  Spread out your tomatoes in one layer.

BBQ over medium high heat for 5-7 minutes, checking for doneness.  Add to burger and enjoy! 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tomato Growing Tips

I recently got all of my tomato plants out of the seedling area and into the yard, and thought I would gather up some tips to help those who are new to the field of tomato growing.  (At last count, I have 23 plants this year... here's hoping for tomatoes before November this time!)

1.) Plant them somewhere that they will get a lot of sun

2.) Plant them DEEP in the soil.  Take off the lower leaves, and if there are white hair-like bits on the stem, those will turn into roots.  Stronger roots= stronger plants and more tomatoes!!
Image from: http://fredgonsowskigardenhome.com
3.) Water deeply and less frequently, if possible.  This causes the roots to work better, and supposedly will also increase your tomato yield.  I discovered that having uneven periods of watering is what causes "splits" in large tomatoes.  You can still eat them, but they go bad more quickly.  

4.) If, in the fall, you still have green tomatoes on your plants, you can pick them and they will ripen indoors.  It works best if you put them in a paper bag, and they're not quite as tasty as ones ripened on the vine.. but it's worth it if they never ripened outside!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Product Review: Journey to the Center of the Cookie

When I read Trader Joe's flyer about these cookies, I knew I had to try them.  But, at 400+ calories each, they were for sure a special occasion treat.  Enter our anniversary last week...

They are billed as a chocolate chip cookie with a molten chocolate "magma" filling.  They were not wrong!  This is them before heating in the toaster oven:

And after:

Even though they were a tiny bit over cooked, they were still pretty delicious.  The filling was the best part, all oozy and chocolatey.  If you were trying to be health-conscious, you could probably share one.. but once you started eating it, you wouldn't want to!  All in all, I give it 4.5/5 stars.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mini Quiches To Go

In an effort to eat more healthily, I have recently revisited this school of thinking:  (thank you, public library!)

I have started making these tiny crustless quiches, that you can keep in the fridge or freezer, and heat up for a quick breakfast.  They are less than 100 calories each, so you can have 3 of them and call it good! 

Mini Crustless Quiches, adapted from The South Beach Diet:

1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
greens- either 8 oz or so thawed frozen spinach, or 1 c. or so fresh kale
3/4 c. shredded cheese (today I used 2 oz. goat cheese, + 2 oz grated mozzerella)
3 eggs
1/4 tsp. thyme
2 shakes of red pepper flakes

In a frying pan, cook up the onions and peppers.  When they are almost done, add the kale.  (If using frozen spinach, just thaw it, drain it, and put it in your mixing bowl.)

In a large mixing bowl, whip up the eggs, and add the veggies and cheeses (of your choice).  

Preheat the oven to 350*.  Scoop mixture into baking tin.  (Disregard picture and do NOT use paper liners. Totally not worth it- everything sticks to them and you get maybe 2 bites out of it.  The things we learn from experimenting!)

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until they are solid.  You can also broil them for 2-3 minutes at the end to get the tops nice and brown.

That's it!  Refrigerate any leftovers, or freeze them if you've made a big batch; Reheat for about a minute in the microwave.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Making a mobile

I thought that this would be an easy project, and be done in a couple of hours.  Oh, how wrong I was!!
I had this idea that I wanted to make a mobile for the baby's room, and have it look sort of like this, but with less things and more colors.  I busted out my Cricut, and made some fun shapes:

I also had this wreath form leftover from Christmas, so I thought that would be perfect.  I'm now planning to make it thinner, and wrap it with white ribbon.  Somehow, I will also affix some spokes through the center to hang more butterflies from.

I thought, Hmm... these things could use some....


2 hours later, I'd glittered most of the items, only to realize that they were now stuck to the newspaper.  Oh, and the glitter did not look as even as I would have liked.  So, I made some more clouds and leaves, and left the butterflies alone.  

Yesterday, I started gluing ribbon to the pieces, only to discover that they were totally hanging wrong.  GAH!!  My new plan is to punch tiny holes in the center, and hang the pieces with some fishing line and a tiny bead on the end to secure it.  This may be a few more days/week's worth of work....

Stay tuned for the final product!

Monday, June 11, 2012

ZOMG Homemade Ice Cream!!

Last year, I got this book:

It is, without a doubt, the most amazing ice cream cookbook I've ever read.  Jeni has created a completely different way for making ice cream, involving a small amount of cream cheese, and a bit of cornstarch to make ridiculously delicious ice creams, without the creepiness of eggs.  Today, I tackled the completely decadent and borderline crazy Honeyed Peanut Ice Cream, with Dark Chocolate Freckles.

Are you ready for this?

(I haven't adapted this recipe at all, so I'm not going to post the real thing here; but if you check out the book, it's on page 104.  Here are the steps that I took to get us to Tasty Town though...)

Mix together the cornstarch and 2 Tbsp. of milk

Get ready to measure peanut butter, by spraying measuring cup with cooking spray

Mix together peanut butter and cream cheese  (I used honey roasted peanut butter from the fun grinder machines at Whole Foods- totally worth it!)

Heat the rest of the milk, along with heavy cream, sugar, honey, and corn syrup.  Bring to a boil, and cook for 4 minutes.

Then add in the cornstarch mixture (through a fine sieve... a trick I've discovered myself), stir, and boil again for another minute.

Whisk together the cream and the peanut butter mixture.  Then cool for 30 minutes in an ice bath.  (She tells you to put it in a ziplock bag, then immerse it in ice water, but I do it this way.  More dishes, but less plastic. And the bowl will spin in there, to stir it and cool evenly!)

Then pour into the bowl of your ice cream maker.  Spin for about 20 minutes, until it's almost done.  

Melt 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate.... and pour into the machine while it's running.  Pour slowly, so that it breaks up into tiny pieces.

Mmm mmm mmm!

Scrape it into a freezer safe container (I used a tupperware) and top it with some parchment paper.  Press down on the paper to keep the air out.  Freeze for 4+ hours before serving.  Take many tastes, just to make sure that it is good!

Pile up dishes for your husband to wash later.