Saturday, December 12, 2009

Holiday Preparations

 Our tree

In the spirit of all the blogs I've been reading about decorating for the holidays, I thought I'd take a few photos of our holiday preparations to share with whoever's reading this blog.....just me? maybe....

here's me, decorating our tree

I snipped a few small branches, these are on the windowsill above my sink

I made this creation for my dining room table centerpiece. (sorry for the poor photo) It's branches some leftover, some got when we got our tree :) in a huge vase with some plastic ornaments in the bottom (with rocks for weight), lights, bows, and some wooden bead garland

More leftover branches in a simple vase in our room

I love garland.  There's some on most windows, and archways

Even a small piece leftover from a gift I got gets used on my kitchen window.  
An ornament hanging from the center is nice too.
I never throw out garland, it can always be used for something.

Two matching pieces on our dining room windows, 
they're so beautifully tall.
A painted wooden bead garland from my childhood 
adorns the painting by my great grandmother 

 Garland on the studio windows-with mandolin ornaments on the corners!
I did this one a little differently and looped it around and around the curtain rod

 Poinsettia garland on a framed poster

Garland on the family room window with some lights on it, 
and music note ornaments hanging from the swags.

Ornaments aren't just for trees anymore! 
I use them everywhere, so nice to hang from garland, 
fill a vase with, or scatter around:

The Santa and the Tricycle are both ornaments...

This long ribbon (with Santa print) was also used to wrap a gift I was given.  
It's beautiful over this double doorway, with a bow in the center
The door on the left has small plaques that read:

"Joy" and "Believe"

Don't neglect the bathroom-
Bows on the sconces.  
I also have a fun toilet seat cover and holiday towels.

 I tried out the cookie press I was given for my birthday.
These are molasses spritz cookies,
in the shape of camels.

In the spirit of Hanukkah, I made Latkes for supper last night.
With either applesauce or sour cream, DELICIOUS!
We intend on honoring Hanukkah each year this way.
I used the recipe in the Joy of Cooking.

How are you preparing for the holidays?  We're hosting my department party this week, so I have a few more decorations than in past years, but it wasn't that much extra effort, so I intend on continuing this tradition each year.  Next, I'll try to take and post photos of the Christmas lights I'm using....

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pantry Cooking...

I was starving tonight...and didn't have a thing planned for supper.  I haven't grocery shopped since before Thanksgiving, and we are out of supper-able leftovers.  So, I turned to my well stocked pantry, intending on making tomato soup with pastina and white beans (a variation on a soup they make at work)...only to find that we are out of white beans (cannellini beans). 

Change of plans:

How about Mexican-style tomato soup with corn and black beans?

Cook up some pastina (I used star-shaped...maybe 1/2 cup?  It was the end of the box...) in a pot of water.  Pastina is tiny balls of pasta that are great in soups...or for when I'm sick.  Cook until tender and drain, reserving 2 cups of the cooking water.  Sweat half an onion and a clove of garlic, both minced, until tender and translucent.  Add 1 can of drained (not rinsed) black beans, add a pinch of salt, and cook for a minute.  Add one can of creamed corn, and one 28 oz can of tomato puree.  To the 2 cups reserved cooking water, add whatever bouillon you have on hand, I used a scant teaspoon of vegetable bouillon paste.  Add to soup.  Simmer until all components are warmed through.  Stir in cooked pastina, hot sauce to taste, a dash of apple cider vinegar, and a pinch (maybe a tablespoon?) of dried parsley flakes.  Bring to boil, thicken to desired consistency.  It's delicious with or without crushed tortilla chips on top!

What do you make when you rely on your pantry for a quick supper??

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Leftover Potato Gnocchi

What to do with all the leftover mashed potatoes that *magically* ended up in my fridge?

After I saw this over at Angry Chicken, I knew. I love gnocchi. Rather, I adore gnocchi. I've made it before once or twice with my Grandma. I can do this? Then, I got home from work, and saw this on Angry Chicken, and I was convinced...and starving.

Recipe? Who needs a stinkin' recipe? I am domestic goddess, and part Italian to boot, I can do this by feel. Right. It feels very sticky.

Well, I took the mashed 'taters and mashed them a bit more with a fork, because there were a few lumps (I wasn't in charge of the original mashing, or there wouldn't have been any...)

Then I added salt, an egg, and some flour to the mound I had on the cutting board. Then I began to smush them together, and bits went everywhere. Then I got out a large shallow bowl. This was better. Added flour until I thought I had a good consistency and divided the dough. Too sticky. Add more flour. Make ropes, cut into bits, form gnocchi on fork. Gnocchi too large. Re-knead potato dough. Re-form gnocchi. Repeat 10,000 times.

While I'm doing this, I made a sauce: leftover plain creamer thickened with a roux and mixed with leftover tomato pasta sauce.

Cook the gnocchi in boiling salted water, a few at a time, until they float.

Skim out, and add to bowl with sauce. Parmesan cheese on top, and:

They were good! Some were better textured in others because I added flour to each eighth of the dough separately because it was easier to work with that way. All in all, a delicious, successful leftover meal!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Local Thanksgiving Menu

We're hosting Thanksgiving this year. 20 people...EEK!!! Thankfully, I'm not doing all the cooking, as I have to work until 2pm Thanksgiving Day. We're having supper at 5 or 6, and my Mom and Sister will be at my house while I'm at work to get things going. I wanted to share our *mostly* local menu with you:

Turkey-ordered from nearby Plainville Farms

Local Mashed Potatoes- with local butter and sour cream

Sausage stuffing- using locally-made Gianelli sausage

Stuffed squash- using locally grown turban squashes, local apples, home-made bread, and local walnuts (just found these at the co-op, super excited about them!)

Sauteed Spinach-will try to find local, but if I can't then organic at least

Salad, with local greens

Applesauce-with local apples

Homemade Rolls

Pies-Grandma's in charge, but probably made with local fruit she picked this summer and froze


Deviled eggs-local free-range eggs

Onion dip- local onions, with locally-made potato chips

Salsa-homemade with local produce, and organic corn chips.

It's not perfect, but I think it's a pretty good stab at our first conscious effort to have a local Thanksgiving feast, especially with family members who are not always on our local bandwagon. Look for photos of our feast sometime this weekend!!

Monday, November 16, 2009


Off and on now, I've been making bread at home using this recipe for "Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day" I originally read about it in Mother Earth News online. So, when we want bread at home, this is the recipe I use, because it's fast, and also because kneading bothers my wrists (this is a no-knead recipe).

Now, normally, I don't experiment when I bake, thinking that any deviation from the recipe will ruin the result, and I don't like wasting food. But when I cook, I don't measure hardly at all....

Yesterday, I got brave and experimented with the bread recipe. Before mixing the bread together, I threw some oatmeal, wheat bran, dry kamut cereal, walnuts, flax seed, and sunflower seeds into the food processor. I pulverized it, and replaced it for the same volume of flour. The rest of the flour I used half white flour and half wheat flour. I set the bread to rise, and held my breath.

Put it in to bake, and VOILA!!!

There it is!

It was hard to wait for it to cool to slice it, but I did....lookin' good...

I was worried the texture would be too dense, but it's not really, sort of the texture of a muffin inside.....and DELICIOUS!!!

Needless to say, I'm very proud of myself. Now I only have to duplicate it.....great.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I will be a domestic goddess...

I had big plans for today. I was going to get a ton of things done-cleaning the bathroom, canning salsa, making bread, making some Christmas gifts, laundry, pick up bunny supplies for the bunny at work, make ginger ale syrup, pick up some stuff from work so I could finish some of that on time for once.....

I made (a ton of!) salsa and barbecue sauce and mixed the bread dough, which is rising in the fridge. I may get to it today. I may not.
canned salsa

salsa to use soon and freeze

the beginning of my delicious barbecue sauce-
some for this weekend, some to freeze

Why are weekends so difficult to cram everything into? Tomorrow's a wash because I have a gig out of town, and I'll be gone from 10am until at least 7pm...

Also, although I love my stove with the gas cooktop, built in grill, and electric oven, it's too small. I rarely grill indoors because it's uneven heat, and it's a real pain when I can because I can't do anything else. My new (to me) canner is also too large for the burner, and my other pot feels crowded. This one is the smaller one that I had on while the salsa was processing, the big one with the salsa in it was a real squeeze!

Sorry to do so much unloading, it's what happens when my brain gets to much alone time....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Someone stop the world...

...I want to get off!

What a busy Halloween season we had around here! Also, I've been slacking on posting because there were photos of my wedding dress on my camera and I didn't want to accidentally upload them to our computer. But, photos are now safely on a work computer, and this week is less busy.

So, without further delay, here are some photos of my busy Halloween season:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tastes like chicken!

I made a delicious chicken salad last night, and wanted to share the recipe with you. You can find it here: I originally found the recipe in an old "Cooking Light" magazine my Grandma gave me. It was delicious on toasted 7 grain bread for a light supper after working late. Try it!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Soup, etc...

I just cobbled together the most delicious soup! I was going for an Italian-flavored vegetable soup, but ended up with one that tastes sort of Mexican flavored-it's just crying out for some crispy tortilla strips on top. I want to chronicle what I did so that perhaps I can duplicate it.

Delicious pantry/freezer vegetable soup:

1 Onion, minced
2 small cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, scrubbed, with skins on, chopped
1 orange pepper, diced
2 dry bay leaves
pinch dried rosemary
pinch salt

Sweat the above ingredients for 10-15 minutes, until tender. Add:

1- 28oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1- 14oz can kidney beans, undrained

approx. 4-6 cups homemade chicken (or vegetable) stock.

2 cups shredded frozen zucchini
1 zip-top bag full frozen corn kernels.

Simmer and enjoy!

(My plan was to cook pasta separately and mix it in all week for lunch, but this would go well with rice, mashed potatoes or tortilla strips!)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I did it!

I bought my wedding dress!

No, I won't put photos of it here because I don't want Mike to have any clue what it looks like until I walk down that aisle. I will tell you that it's beautiful, perfect for th
e kind of wedding we're having, and comfortable (at least, it will be once it's altered) It also has some unique little details that I just love!

It was half off of the price, and I bought it at a locally owned wedding boutique called "Something Old, Something New." So while it's not the eco-friendly dress I had hoped for, it's just what I wanted (without even knowing what I wanted until I put it on), and since I purchased it from a local store, that alleviates some of the guilt.

I'm so excited, I want to just put it on and wear it around! I even asked the salesgirl if i could wear it home, like in grade school when you wear your new shoes home.....

Only 342 Days to go!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Everyday Beauty-part 1

There's so much beauty in the things I see everyday, I have been collecting photos to share with you! Some of these photos are recent, others are from my collection of photos I have taken. You may have seen some of these elsewhere in cyberspace, like on my facebook or myspace page, or on my fiance's band's pages. Enjoy, and remember to see the beauty in what's around you each day!

This last one is the design in the caramel latte I had last night: it looks kind of like a mushroom. Aside from being made by the coolest barista in Syracuse at Freedom of Espresso, it was easily one of the best lattes I have ever had. Yummy!