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Thursday, May 24, 2012

picture frame dry erase board

As I am packing my life away into boxes (good-bye scrapbooking and craft supplies!) I've realized what we use often. Our dry erase boards---a calendar and a blank one we write our weekly menu on. These are things that are still left on the fridge as the rest of the apartment is quite frankly, a mess.

I know things become popular through the crafting and online world, but I honestly never saw dry erase boards made using picture frames. It wasn't until my sister did this project that I realized these existed, and that the dry erase board could now be cute!

(Here's mine!)

As I was packing up my dining room to paint it back to white (good-bye roasted pepper red), I had these two brown frames that housed Italy pictures from when I studied abroad. Although smaller, they were perfect for this project. 


I picked up 2 sheets of 8 1/2 by 11 scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby, measured it, and cut it to fit inside the frame. 


Once the basics were in place, I wanted a little something extra. I searched through my scrapbooking supplies to see if I could find the right embellishments. 


After making selections and measuring everything out, voila!




Simple, beautiful looking all on their own, and cheap to create! I used everything I had, minus the paper (which was far below $1). If I picked something from my stash, this would've been a free project. I'm even using the dry erase markers that went with the old dry erase boards. 


I can't wait to hang these up in our future apartment!


Thursday, May 17, 2012

lemon poppy seed muffins

I once said we were a muffin household. I wasn't kidding. Remember those Elvis inspired muffins I made with banana and peanut butter and a touch of chocolate chips here and there? So good. The household favorite is banana, usually with a few chocolate chips. I love all kinds. I especially love lemon poppy seed, but have never made them myself. I gave it a go, and they were good! Perfect for the spring season. 

(And considering today is blue skies, sunshine, and warmth, these muffins were on my mind!)


They were incredibly tasty, with the true, natural lemon flavor really shining through. 

Here's the recipe:

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Yield: 12 muffins

What You Need:
2/3 cup sugar
The zest and juice of one lemon
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons poppyseeds. 

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Fill regular-size muffin tin with paper liners or spray (I did paper liners, but next time I think I'd try spray). 


2. In a large bowl, mix the sugar and the lemon zest with your fingertips. The sugar will become moist and you will really smell the lemon scent after doing this. 



3. Into the sugar mixture, whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, and butter. 

5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together gently. Stir in the poppy seeds. (A spatula worked best from this point out.)




6. Fill the muffin tins almost to their tops. Bake for approximately 18 minutes, but check beginning around 15 minutes. 






7. Let muffins cool for five minutes in the tin, then transfer to cooling rack to finish cooling. 


So tasty. I would either take them out of their liners right away after baking and store them in an airtight container, or I would cook them without liners in a tin that has been sprayed. (My muffins stuck to the liners just a bit.)

These were the perfect morning treat---even perfect as an afternoon snack! Light, moist, and refreshing. 





Thursday, May 10, 2012

cowboy cookies (gifts in a jar!)


Delicious, scrumptious, packs perfectly into a jar and into my mouth.

I'm not going to lie though---this is a "stockpile" post. Why do I have a stockpile of posts? Because this has been my life lately:


Painting (boo! I miss my roasted pepper red and cobalt blue walls), packing, cleaning, organizing. And evidently using Girl Scout cookie boxes. Which I actually didn't eat. Except maybe a box. But I digress. 

And trying to do anything "crafty"? Out of the question. Unless you want to deal with this mess:


(I see all my gorgeous projects that were on the walls all laying hopelessly--like my tissue rosette wreath, my personalized canvas, my twine wrapped mason jars, and my spring diy scrap banner.)

I have a pile of projects I want to work on, but this takes priority. Me and the mister are packing up our lives in Michigan and working on making the big move to the Big Apple. It's been a dream of mine (and ours) forever. Now that it's becoming a reality...it's difficult and exciting and stressful and amazing! 

We have a mini anniversary vacation planned to go to Chicago this weekend and right after that we are headed to NYC on an apartment (and job) hunting trip. Good thing I love him and we like adventuring together, because otherwise we'd be miserable in a 12+ hour car ride. 

In any case, don't be offended by the stockpile post on cowboy cookies. They are quite delicious, and kind of perfect for Mother's Day or as a teacher gift as the end of the year approaches. 

Enjoy!

**********

This recipe bounced around online for awhile, and I finally saw it on Pintrest. I saw this recipe last fall, and knew it would be perfect to adapt for the upcoming holidays, and to use as gifts for friends afar.

The recipe itself is fairly easy. The ingredients pack perfectly in a mason jar.

Here's the recipe, and how to assemble it:

Cowboy Cookies (at holiday time, I named them Cookies for Santa, which is how we refer to them)

What You Need:

Dry ingredients:
1 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup oats
3/4 cup M&M's (being that it was at Christmas, the red and green package were perfect!)
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Wet ingredients:
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup of butter, slightly melted
1 teaspoon vanilla


Directions for baking:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and use a spatula to combine well. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and roll cookie mixture into small 1-inch balls. Place cookie sheets into your preheated oven for approximately 10 minutes. 

That's it! Simple, and oh so good. 


Directions for gift in a jar version:

You essentially are assembling all the dry ingredients together for someone (or yourself!) in a jar. All they will have to do is add the wet ingredients and bake!

Here are the layers of ingredients, starting from the bottom up:
  • First: flour, baking power, baking soda, and salt
  • Second: oats
  • Third: M&M's--I used a holiday Christmas package because of the season, but any will do
  • Fourth: chocolate chips 
  • Fifth: brown sugar
  • Sixth: white sugar
  • Seventh: toasted, chopped pecans. 


The ingredients fit perfectly in a quart Ball mason jar. I made this for my dear friend in Chicago, and it was the perfect "extra" thing to add to her gift. I used a bit of holiday fabric on the top to finish the look. 

Include a small tag along with the jar so the recipient knows what needs to be added! 

I titled my tag "Cookies for Santa" because of the season, and then the following:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Take all dry ingredients from the jar and pour into a large mixing bowl. Add 1 slightly beaten egg, 1/2 cup of slightly melted butter, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Use a spatula to combine well. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and roll cookie mixture into small 1-inch balls. Place cookie sheets into your preheated oven for approximately 10 minutes. 


That's it! Gifts in a jar is something I never considered before, but these "Cookies for Santa" are divine. Sharing them with others is such an easy and thoughtful treat!

Monday, May 7, 2012

beef, bean, and cheese burritos (freezer-friendly!)

Cinco de Mayo week is here at The One Where She Dreams and today we have bee, bean, and cheese burritos that happen to be very freezer-friendly. 


A blog I love to follow (The Frugal Find) made similar burritos that were perfect for freezing. Easy to pop in the oven and make every night Cinco de Mayo.

There is no formal recipe, but we tested this out a couple weeks ago. The awesome thing is you can decide what you want in your burritos (the original recipe didn't use beef to save on costs and had Mexican rice instead).

We cooked up some beef we had leftover with some diced onion and some of our homemade fajita seasoning


We simply used this beef/onion mixture, a can of refried beans (you could make your own) and some shredded Mexican cheese. 

We set up a little station (complete with holiday tin foil...). We took a couple spoonfuls of refried beans and spread it on the bottom third to bottom half of the warmed tortilla shells (we used 8 inch ones). Then a couple spoonfuls of beef/onions. Topped with a sprinkling of cheese and you're good to go!



Simply roll it up about half way, fold over the edges, and finish rolling it up all the way. 





Good to go! We got about 6 made in the 8 inch size with what we used, but making a huge batch of these would be such a time-saver when you want a quick dinner. I cooked these in a 350 degree F oven for about 20 minutes. 

We cooked three and froze the other three. The ones you freeze just need to be wrapped up in tin foil and we stored them in a freezer bag. Again, cooked in a 350 degree F oven for about 20-25 minutes. 


Serve with guacamole, sour cream, or even some of that secret special sauce we make to pair with Mexican food. Easy, super filling, and perfect for Cinco de Mayo celebrations! Or just another Monday night. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

taco soup

My Aunt Vicky introduced to me this filling, cheap soup years ago, and it's been a favorite ever since. I often make it towards the beginning of the week so I can eat it for lunches and have leftovers for the entire week.


It's flavorful and comforting. So simple.

Here's the recipe:

Taco Soup

What You Need:
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of northern beans
1 can of black beans
1 can of corn (I didn't have a can, so instead used a can to measure out frozen which worked fine)
1/2 a packet of taco seasoning
1/2 a packet of ranch seasoning


Directions:

So easy! You can make this in your crock pot and let the flavors meld together on low for awhile or you can make it stove top. I was painting my walls back to white (oh the joys of moving) today, so crock pot it was. 

Toss all the canned ingredients in your crock pot and judge if you need more liquid or not. (I usually just add a bit more water.) Once the consistency is something you're happy with, add 1/2 of both packets of seasoning. And let it warm through. 


That's really it. It costs maybe $5-6 to make, and it literally lasts forever. My can of diced tomatoes happened to have green chilies in it, which gives it an even spicier kick. You can go this route or avoid them, or even add in diced jalapeno pepper. I always top mine with some shredded Mexican cheese and a dollop of sour cream. It adds the perfect coolness to the dish.


Eat many bowls (no need to feel bad!) and make sure you have some tortilla chips---you'll want to scoop up some of that soup. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

homemade guacamole

Cinco de Mayo is upon us (how is already May?!?), so I'm going to treat it as "Cinco de Mayo" week here at The One Where She Dreams. Lots of yummy recipes coming your way...guacamole, taco soup, and beef, bean, and cheese burritos. Perfect for a Mexican fiesta I think! (Just add some beer or tequila and it's officially a party.)


The truth is I am selfish when it comes to guacamole. I order it keep it entirely for my own. I've never made it, but with Mexican-style food on the menu this week, it sounded so good. Pair that with good sales at the grocery store for the items and I was sold. 



I based my recipe off of the famous Alton Brown's. His recipe makes one "batch"---essentially he uses three avocados. I used one, and had enough for 2-3 decent servings. You can refer to his if you wish, but I'll tell you how I did it.

Here's the recipe:

Guacamole

What You Need:
1 avocado
1 lime (you'll use half of it's juice)
1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 tomato, seeded and diced
1/2 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1/2 clove of garlic, minced



Directions:

Start with the avocado. You want a ripe avocado if you are making this dip right away. You'll know if you can give it a bit of a squeeze at the store and it's not too firm. Essentially, you cut the avocado and scoop all its insides out. I'd never bought one to cut myself, so after some research this is what I did. 

Take a sharp knife and cut all the way around the avocado in half. The pit inside keeps you from cutting straight through, but do your best so you have two halves. 



Once you have your two halves, take the half with the pit and carefully cut that in half. This will make getting the pit out easier. I used my fingers, but you could certainly use a spoon to get it out. 


With the pit removed you'll "score" the inside of the avocado with a knife. Then with a spoon it's easy to scoop out all the bits. 



With the avocado scooped out and in a bowl, squeeze the juice from one half of the lime in the bowl to coat the avocado. 


Then add in the salt and the cumin. 



Use a potato masher to combine all together.


Next you'll add in the diced tomato, diced red onion, cilantro and minced garlic. You'll fold all of these ingredients into the avocado. (Note, the masher is still in my photo below. I forgot to take it out. Opps!)



I should also make a note about cilantro. I've never bought or used it fresh, I researched how to clean it, cut it, and store it. 

Frankly, cilantro is dirty. I was kind of shocked how muddy and sandy looking my produce bag was. The easiest thing to do is to fill a bowl with water and swish the cilantro around in it (like below). This allowed the grit to get out of there. I did this about three times (with new water in the bowl after each rinse) and then laid the cilantro on some paper towels to pat dry. 


For cutting and storage, I learned that it is easiest to keep the cilantro whole, as it will keep longer in the fridge. You simple squeeze the herb together to chop off a bit (I didn't need too much) and then you finely cut what you do need. To store the cilantro you place it whole wrapped in that damp paper towel you used to dry it with in a ziploc bag in the fridge. This should last a couple days. 



And all the ingredients are here and just need to be folded in. Once combined, let sit at room temperature for about an hour. 



So good, so colorful, and so fresh! That's something I noticed that was so different than when you order it at a restaurant. 



I ate some of this homemade guacamole with tortilla chips alongside some taco soup (recipe to come!). I ate maybe half of what was there.


I did save it in hopes of it still being good the next day.

It was. 

I kept it in the same bowl and put cling wrap directly onto the guacamole to keep air out. I had it for lunch the next day and it was perfect. 


Making a huge batch of this to add to your Cinco de Mayo fiesta should happen. In fact, make sure you make enough!

Wondering what I'm doing with the other half of the lime and other half of the tomato? I bought another avocado. I think I'll come up with something.