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

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Goat Cheese and Squash Pasta

Some days, you are running out of food in your house.  Like the other day when I wanted pasta for lunch.  But we really didn't have any pasta to speak of, just a few lasagne noodles.  So, I measured them out with my scale, broke them into pieces, and started cooking.

Thrown Together Lunch Special!
5 lasagne noodles
1/2 zucchini
1 patty pan squash (my grandpa used to call them "sputniks")
4 kale leaves, cut into ribbons
2 oz. goat cheese
parmesan for on top

In a large pot, boil some water for your noodles.  Chop up your squash into bite-sized pieces.  Boil the noodles and the squash together, until they both are done.  Throw in the kale at the last minute, and cook for another minute.  Drain.

Decide that instead of boring marinara sauce, you want to see what other things are in your fridge.  Discover some goat cheese.  Put the hot drained pasta and veggies back into your pot, and add about 2 oz. of the goat cheese.  Stir to melt it.  Add a little pepper.  Stir.  Serve with grated parmesan on top.

Be happy that you were able to use up random things in your house for a delicious lunch!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Update from the Twins' Garden

We were at the Twins' house a couple of weeks ago, and I'm pleased to show you how great everything is growing!

Box #1: Kale, chard, basil, and squash

Box #2: Tomatoes, beans, peas and CORN!  (well, not technically yet, but it's coming along!)

Here are the beans and peas

And tomato forest!


They also have several jealousy-inducing fruit trees around.  Here are the apples that will be ready in a few months.

Pear tree that's possibly the neighbor's. 

And another apple tree!  There's also a giant Italian plum in the front yard that I neglected to get a picture of. All in all, good eating!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Haul from the farmer's market

Last Saturday, I finally managed to make it to the Redmond Farmer's Market.  It's kind of ridiculous really- it's been open since May, and mid-July was the first time I got there on time?  But it was totally worth it...

Piles of berries!

That part was expensive ($18; but I love the vendor), but this part wasn't:
Golden beets, $2
Onions, $1
Rainbow Chard, $2
2 kinds of potatoes, $5 total
Zucchini, 2 kinds of cherries, and peaches- I forgot, but it was less than $10 total

Now, what to make with everything? So far, I used the greens from one onion and half the chard in my favorite summer salad (recipe tomorrow!), and have had peaches with my breakfast for several days.  I froze most of the raspberries, since they were ultra ripe- but I'm thinking of doing some mini pies with the blackberries + 1 peach. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sweet peas!

I planted 4 different types of sweet peas this year, in a sweet peas contest, if you will. So far, this is the majority of my harvest. (i.e. not so much)  I've read that if you cut them back, they will keep flowering, so here's hoping!!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Weekends are for waffles

This morning I woke up, and I knew what I wanted to make... blueberry waffles!  I braved the ankle-scratching juniper/crap bushes in our front yard to successfully ravage the one large blueberry bush that we have, and got about a half a cup of blueberries.  The rest is history.

Blueberry Waffles, cast and crew: (most of them)

1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
1 c. oatmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg 
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. brown sugar, unpacked
3 Tbsp. canola oil
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 c. soy milk

Mix together the dry ingredients, then add the wet ones and mix well.  Let it sit for a few minutes for the oatmeal to absorb some of the liquid.  Then add...

1/2 c. blueberries
1/3 c. walnuts, broken into small pieces

Mix again, lightly, to avoid smashing up the berries.  Then set up your waffle iron, and cook according to your directions.  (Pretty much, plug it in, spray with some cooking spray, pour in some batter, close, and wait for the bell.)

Then enjoy some waffley goodness!

Friday, July 13, 2012


When it's hot out, I have 3 different go-to types of food to make.  1.) BBQ things 2.) Salads and 3.) Greek food.  This dish fits into 2 out of the 3!


1 c. bulghur
2 tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lemon's worth of juice
3-4 green onions
a handful of flat leaf parsley, leaves finely chopped
12-15 mint leaves, chopped finely
1/2 cucumber, diced

Optional ingredients:
feta cheese
1 c. garbanzo beans
other chopped veggies you'd like to add, like carrots or sugar peas

Add your uncooked bulghur to a salad bowl.  Either in the microwave or on the stovetop, boil some water.  When it is boiling, add enough to cover the bulghur (about 1 1/2 cups).  Add the garlic, stir, and cover with a towel and set aside until the water is absorbed.  Then put in the fridge or freezer to chill.

Chop up your veggies, including onions and herbs.

Mix together with the bulghur, and the lemon juice.  Salt and pepper to taste.  You can also add some olive oil if you feel like it, but I don't always do this, so I didn't put it in.  Serve with olives, hummus, and pitas!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

An Open Letter To Redmond Hummingbirds

I have been trying, rather unsuccessfully, for over a month now to attract you to my back deck.  The squirrels? They love it.  Many other birds are visiting often.  But you, elusive creature that you are, avoid my nectar feeder and all of the other plants I put back there, that supposedly you love.

What is up with you, hummingbirds?

My agastache is blooming, and the fuschias are almost ready.

See?  Don't you want to go to there? 

And my sweet peas are just starting to bloom, looong after they've been gone from the farmer's markets.  (Let's be honest though, I grew these for myself, hummingbirds.  They smell like summertime, and my childhood, and tea parties, all rolled into one.  I don't care if you like them or not!)

Any ideas? I will try some other plants, short of bringing up a whole bed of flowers!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My favorite summer cupcake

"Could there really be such a thing?," you ask.  How could Dana possibly choose a favorite cupcake?

Trust me, this one is easy

Normally, I really like Trophy Cupcakes- but to be honest, I have another bakery that is my go-to cupcakery.  But this cupcake?  Defies all rules.

It is the Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcake

I first had one a couple of summers ago, at U Village.  The surprising thing about this cupcake is not the delicious cake (although it is delicious) or the cheesecake topping (although that is also delicious).  It is the GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST AT THE BOTTOM OF THE CUPCAKE.  Who can believe it?

Oh yeah, and there are strawberries in the middle too.  I was saying, "I'm sure that I could make something like this.. but it would take 4 times as long as any regular cupcake."  Sometimes you just have to get the thing that you want, and not make everything all the time.  This is one of those times.  (also, can you beat those ridiculously cute boxes? The answer is no. No you cannot.)  Trophy has these cupcakes throughout the month of July, and it is totally worth your time and effort to seek one out.

Trust me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Spiced Coconut Date Bars

Last week, before my gestational diabetes test, I decided to have a sugar blowout.  Who wouldn't?  (btw, as far as I know, I don't have it.. so the sugary summer continues!)  I made these coconut date bars from Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates, with only a few minor changes.  I've made them before for holidays, and always forget how crumbly the crust is.  I think the next time I try them, I'll add 1/2 c. of applesauce to the crumb layer, just to make it stay together a bit more (and not have a bunch of it falling off while eating!)

Spiced Coconut Date Bars
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
1/4 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. butter
2 c. dried dates
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
3/4 c. unbleached white flour
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. rolled oats
2 Tbsp. orange zest (I just did the amount from one orange)
4 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice, divided
1/2 c. grated coconut

Preheat the oven to 350*.  Oil a square baking pan (8" is good).

Toast your nuts.  I use a toaster oven, 350* for about 10 minutes, but you can also do it in a dry frying pan on the stove- you just need to watch it!

Toasting nuts makes them taste SO MUCH BETTER.  Any recipe with nuts, esp. pecans, I always do this!

In a large food processor, blend together the butter, brown sugar, spices, and baking powder together.  Add the flour in small amounts at a time, then add the oats last.  Add in 2 Tbsp. of the orange juice, and here is where I would also add in the applesauce next time.

I don't have a picture of this, but here is my secret: I don't like chopping dried dates.  They are sticky, and usually very dried out and annoying.  The next step in the recipe is chopping them, then cooking them on the stove in a cup of water until they are tender.  Since my food processor was already dirty, I cooked them, took the crumb layer of the bars out of the processor bowl, and whirled up the dates.  No one ever needs to know. :)  If you do this, add the orange zest, remaining orange juice, blend them up, and then add the coconut to the dates.

In your pan, press about 2/3 of the dough into the bottom.  Carefully spread the date/coconut mixture on top.  Use a spatula for best results.  Then top with the remainder of the crumbly bits.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until the topping is golden and dark brown around the edges.  Cool for as long as you can manage (around 30 minutes more) before cutting them into bars and eating them over the sink. (oh, wait, that's just me.)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Into the Wild

Despite the large quantities of rain and general gloominess of the last month, some things are completely thriving in my yard. 

Hydrangeas, for one. 

And this is the garden on the side of the driveway.  I remember when things were tiny and manageable...

Ok, maybe not quite as tiny as I remember (this was last summer)...

The mint and lavender are totally taking over.

So are the strawberries and crazy hidden succulents.  In the back? Is this oregano that looks like a Dr. Seuss plant to me.  There is so much of it, you can smell it when you walk by.

This is a mystery flower that I got last year, and is obviously happy in its new spot. 

Did you know that carrots look like Queen Anne's Lace when they go to seed?

We also had a handful of peas today!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lemony Tortellini Salad

I really don't like mayonnaise.  I will tolerate it on occasion in a sandwich, but as a base for anything pasta-salad-related... um...no.  I will do pesto, or Italian dressing-type things, but oily mayonnaise just doesn't do it for me.  So, I invented a really great deconstructed lemon-pesto type of dressing for this salad.

For those hot summer days, when you don't really feel like cooking...you should totally try it! 

Lemony Tortellini Salad

1 package fresh tortellini pasta
6 basil leaves
1/2 lemon, juiced and zested
1 Tbsp. olive oil
shredded parmesan cheese (about 1/4 c.)
1 tomato, diced

Cook pasta according to directions, drain, and toss with the olive oil so that it doesn't stick together.  Cool in the fridge for about 30 minutes.  Cut the basil into small ribbons (chiffonade!).  Remove from fridge and drizzle with the lemon juice.  Add the tomatoes, lemon zest, and basil.  Shred some parmesan over the top to taste, and call it good!
You could also add any other assortment of veggies that you would like, for instance green beans that you cook lightly with the pasta, or serve it over some spinach.  Totally up to you.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake!

 What 4th of July is complete without some strawberry shortcake? Not mine!  As far as the cake goes, I'm still searching for the perfect shortcake recipe, but yesterday I came pretty close.  This original recipe requires a cast iron pan- which I do not have- so I melted about a tablespoon of butter into a round cake pan, and then baked the biscuits in that.  They all melded together (which is totally fine) and were so light and fluffy, it was really amazing!

Whole Wheat Shortcakes, adapted from Joy the Baker
(her book? is awesome, btw.)

1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. unbleached white flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 c. vanilla soymilk + 1 tsp. vinegar, mixed together to sour
2 Tbsp. honey

In a large bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Using your fingers or a pastry blender, crumble in the butter.  You want it to be in tiny pieces, incorporated with the flour, to make it flaky.  Then mix up the sour soymilk, and add the honey to that.  It's ok if there are some lumps.  Add the milk to the dry ingredients, and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 400*, and put a cake pan with 1Tbsp. additional butter in it.  Wait.  When it has melted, take it out with a potholder, swirl it around, and then drop the biscuit dough by large spoonfulls into it.  It's ok if they touch, or are pretty close to touching.  I think I made about 10 biscuits.  Bake for about 18-20 minutes, until the tops are golden, and the biscuits are done all the way through.  (Use our friend, the toothpick, to check.)

While they are baking, you can chop up many strawberries, or prep whatever other fruit you might be eating instead.  I did about 1.5 pounds of strawberries, and refrigerated them with about 2 tsp. of brown sugar on top, to get more juices.

Now, the extra magical part... we are going to make homemade whipped cream!

What's that? You say you've never made homemade whipped cream before? Well, you are in for a treat.

Start with some heavy cream.  I used about 3/4 of a cup for 2 of us.  Put it into a small bowl or a large mug; something that will hold about 2-3x the amount of cream you're starting with.  Then add a teaspoon of sugar.  You can always add more later if it's not sweet enough for you, but I tend to start on the small side.  Also add 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract.  Then, I bust out my hand blender- that thing is amazing!  If you don't have one, you can do this by hand, but it takes much much longer- or if you are impatient and don't have one, you can use a blender.  See how versatile this is?  Whatever you're using, blend, blend, blend away, until the cream starts to make firm peaks and look like whipped cream.  (With a hand blender, it's about 90 seconds)  Taste it to see if it is sweet enough. Taste it again, just to make sure.  Avoid cutting yourself on the blades during the tasting process.

By this time, the biscuits should be done.  Take them out and cool for a few minutes, then layer with berries and whipped cream for a lovely summer treat!