Thursday, January 11, 2018

Quinoa Vegetable Salad

I try to eat well throughout the year, and I know that at the beginning of every year, many people try to do the same,so I thought I'd share this easy,healthy recipe today.
   For this salad I used tri color quinoa , but regular quinoa can be used..Quinoa is a healthy grain that is a wonderful source of protein. The quinoa and vegetables can easily be made a few days ahead,and assembled when you are ready to serve. Feel free to use whatever vegetables you have.Today, I sauteed the veggies, but you can roast them if you prefer. This is a great recipe to add to a buffet table or to serve at a luncheon.

1 c, quinoa,rinsed
1-1/2-2 c. chicken stock( I prefer homemade,but in a pinch,store-bought is fine)
1 small onion ,diced
1-2 carrots,peeled and diced
1 large zucchini,diced
1 bell pepper,chopped(I used half of a red and half of a yellow)
olive oil
baby arugula
freshly grated parmesan

   In a medium sauce pan, heat the chicken stock and add the quinoa. Boil until the "little tails" of the grain become visible and the liquid is absorbed. Set aside.
If you are roasting your veggies, place them on a baking sheet,drizzle with olive oil and roast at 375 degrees until slightly brown,set aside and cool. If you are sauteing the veggies, place 1-2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a pan,a pinch of salt and pepper, and saute them on a low-medium heat until tender-crisp.
Combine the veggies,quinoa,some baby arugula,and crispy chips ,if desired. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan.

  If you want to get a little fancy as I did above, just spread the quinoa on a serving dish, layer the vegetables on top, sprinkle arugula or the greens of your choice around the edges and add some crackers for color. I used beet and sweet potato chips that I found at Trader Joe's, love them!


Monday, January 8, 2018

Christmas Recap

2018! I always love the thought of a fresh start,whether it be the typical purging of the home after Christmas,  the beginning of a new fitness regimen or even just a blank calendar waiting to be filled with important events,appointments and celebrations. It fills my heart with hope and excitement!
   As the new year begins, one can't help but reflect on the year before,so with that in mind,today I am sharing some things from December,rather than the entire year. Lots of pics to share, so here we go...

I started off the season with decor in mind. Picked up this adorable and useful rosemary tree at Trader Joe's.
I also ordered some amaryllis bulbs to add a splash of color around the house. This one bloomed a week before Christmas,but I still have three others I am waiting on! I never did this before,but now I realize it may take much longer than I had anticipated. Still, they will brighten my rooms while everything outside is covered in white.
One of my favorite new purchases this year was this list...isn't it adorable? I added the ribbon and greenery to the top. I purchased this from zoandjordan on Etsy. Love it!
My hubby and I also teamed up this year to make holiday signs for our Etsy shop. This was a fun project for us. Here are just a few of them...

Naturally, cookies played a big part of my life in December. The season started with some Elf on the Shelf cookies.

Then the rest of the month was all about the holiday cookie platters.

In the midst of all things Christmas,I made this birthday platter  for a sweet 2 year old!
Hope he and his friends enjoyed the sweets!

I also put together a few boxes of cookies,which make great gifts for teacher,hostesses and friends.

I just love these boxes from BRP Box Company.

    These little kits from It's Written on the Wall were fun to put together.. Her Etsy shop has so many great designs! I used them as advent calendar gifts for my boys, but they make great stocking stuffers or party favors as well.
Another cool thing I discovered this season was Becky Higgins' Stone Wrap. This gift wrap is made from limestone(hence the name) rather than trees. It feels a bit different,more of a dull finish, but it cuts like butter,is waterproof and does not tear at all when wrapping items with sharp corners. I love it! Wrapped many large gifts with no tears,wrinkles or problems. I highly recommend this, and she has a variety of patterns for all occasions. This is available online and at Jo-Ann Fabric Stores.

Such fun holiday patterns.

 Etsy is one of my favorite places for online shopping. I love the variety and unique gifts I am able to find. This was one that I thought was special. I bought this for one of my boys and filled it with art supplies and treats that he loves. It was a big hit. It is from Cufflinksgalore.
  Just as the holiday season came to a close, I had a request for a "smash cake" for a photo shoot for a one year old girl. The family braved a blizzard to pick up the cake and head to the photographer.They managed to make the trip safely and have the photos taken. I heard it was a success and am looking forward to seeing the pictures! Here is the cake!
We had a very nice holiday and I hope you and your family did as well. Now ,it is back to real life. I do miss the lights and the trees, but am looking forward to Valentine's Day and planning our spring garden.
   This year on the blog, I am going to change things a bit. I will continue to share photos of my creations as well as recipes, but also will be adding a bit more about life in general, gardening, projects, great books to read and products that I love and think you will too. Please stop by often and see what is new!

Have a sweet day!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Freezing Fresh Carrots

In the fall, I take a little time out of my regular schedule to prepare and freeze vegetables to use later in the winter. Today, I am working with carrots. I have grown quite a few in my garden and also purchased some at my local farmer's market. Since we are a family that loves roasted carrots,I try to stock up on the fresh ones and freeze them so I have them on hand whenever needed. It is really a simple process. Today,I am preparing a small batch ,but will prepare many more over the course of the next few weeks.

You will need:

Vegetable peeler
freezer bags
boiling water
Bowl with ice water

   As you can see, this is a dirty bunch of carrots. Cut off a small piece from each end,then peel each carrot.After peeling,wash them,then slice into the desired size.

Nice and clean.

Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, carefully drop in a bunch of the carrots for one minute. Immediately remove them with a strainer and place in a bowl of ice water(this will halt the cooking process). Remove them from the ice water and place in a colander to drain.

I like to blanch each color separately because the darker ones tend to bleed as you can see here. I now have purple water.I start with the lightest color and end with the darkest.
Once they have drained, spread them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment and freeze them for about 15 minutes. Remove from the freezer and  place them in freezer bags that have been labeled and dated.

As you can see, the carrots retained their vibrant colors.They are now ready to freeze until needed. This is really an easy way to make sure you are eating fresh food all year long. Enjoy!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Herb Butter


 It may only be the end of October, but now is a great time to start preparing for the holidays. If you visit local farmer's markets or have a garden of your own, you may have noticed that they are filled with vegetables and beautiful herbs. I like to make and freeze herb butter now to use later on my Thanksgiving turkey as well as for other holiday and winter meals. It is easy to make,and will save you some time,as well as money since the price of herbs tends to increase closer to the holidays. Feel free to use whatever herbs you prefer,or even combine a few of your favorites. I like to use parsley,rosemary,thyme and sage.Sometimes I throw in minced garlic,salt,pepper and/or lemon zest as well. Not only can you use the butter in or on your turkey, it is a great shortcut for your stuffing,mashed potatoes or even a roast chicken.Store the butter in your freezer and thaw in the refrigerator a day before you need it. You can also let it sit on your counter for a few hours before using. Please keep in mind these are approximate can adjust them according to your own taste.

1/2 c. of fresh herbs(parsley,rosemary,thyme,basil,sage,chives,dill)
1 stick of unsalted butter

The first butter I made was rosemary because I have numerous  plants in my garden. It is one of my favorite herbs.

Chop the herbs. Place in a small bowl along with one stick of softened butter. Mix until the herbs are incorporated well throughout the butter.

-Wrap well in plastic or store in ramekins or mini storage containers ,then cover or seal with plastic wrap.

Once I roll the butter in the plastic, I like to use a Sharpie to label each one.
When they are all wrapped, they are ready to freeze. One less thing to worry about come holiday time! Check that off your To-Do list!
   Stop by often as I will be sharing more tips to make your holidays a bit easier! Enjoy your day!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Carrot Soup

While everyone has pumpkin on the brain ,I am thinking about carrots! The farmer's markets are overflowing with beautiful produce right now....everything from tomatoes to carrots. I purchased a bunch of carrots this past Sunday and had quite a few in my garden, so I decided it was time to make some soup. I made a large pot and then froze it so we will have a quick lunch or dinner option throughout the cooler months. Once the soup cools, it can be stored in mason jars, freezer bags or any other air tight container and frozen.When you need it, pull it out,heat it up and enjoy.

1 large onion,chopped
2 cloves of garlic,chopped
4 lbs. of carrots,chopped (approx 1 inch pieces)
8 c. chicken stock
2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 c. sour cream
salt & pepper to taste

     In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute until tender,approximately 5-7 minutes.Add carrots,stock and rosemary. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer and cover. Let it simmer approximately 45 minutes to one hour.Remove from the heat when carrots are tender and set aside to cool.Add the sour cream and stir well. Puree the soup in a few batches using either a food processor or blender, until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This soup can also be served on tasting vessels as shown in the picture above. It is a delicious addition to any meal or party.

The soup will be thick. You can thin it with a bit more stock when you plan to eat it. Divide the soup into freezer containers,seal well and freeze.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Graduations and Summertime!

Today I am sharing the last of of the graduation and summer cookies.In the picture above, I made ten platters for a high school graduation! Congrats to this young man for all of his achievements!
I also put together 200 cookies for another graduation party.This family was celebrating multiple graduations at the same time. Lots of cookies for a lot of people!
  After all of the graduations were over, the cookie theme turned to birthdays. I made these minecraft cupcakes and a cookies platter to celebrate the eighth birthday of my friend's twin boys.

The last of the celebrations was a dual themed party for a brother and sister. The theme was Mermaids and Sailors. Isn't that such a cute idea? Loved making these.
Everyone enjoyed their treats,and I enjoyed making them. Now I will be taking a little break for the summer and spending time with my family. I will be posting some new summer recipes as well as updates on our garden. We seem to be  doing well so far with all the rain we've had. I also have some new projects in the works that I will be announcing in the very near future. Stay tuned!
  Have a great week!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Springtime Celebrations

 Springtime is always a fun,busy time. Here are a few of the goodies I made for friends for Easter,Communions,Baptisms and  a few birthday parties..

   Here is a special carton of egg cookies.So cute.
I made many.many of these jellybeans.
Quite a few of these were made. The peep cookies are always a fun addition to the platters.
The next platter was for a special little guy who loves art. I was pleased with this one!
 These Disney themed Oreos went all the way to Orlando for Easter.
 This nice assortment of linzer tarts and madelines went to a fun gathering.

 This platter was sent to school with one of my boys for Teacher Appreciation Day.

The next two platters were for Communion celebrations.

I also made many cookie favors for Communion parties.

The favors below were made for a beautiful baby girl's baptism.
This platter of crowns was made to celebrate the 60th birthday of a mom who refers to herself as a princess!

This assortment was made for a Star Wars themed party for a young boy. Not bad for someone who has never watched any of the Star Wars movies. Oh well, not a sci-fi/fantasy fan,what can I say? I will be back tomorrow with the last set of cookie creations for graduations and summer fun!