Friday, January 22, 2010

i have loved the blog tartelette for a long time. she makes gorgeous food and takes insanely beautiful photos. when i see her blog, and others of her caliber, i know that my little old thing is just for fun and that i have years of practice (and possibly some schooling and maybe some time, like a childhood's worth, in france...) before i reach that level of either of her talents.

that being said, for as much admiring as i do, i've never once tried a recipe. many because i just don't want to be let down when mine doesn't come out looking like hers. many others because i would be 200 pounds bigger (she posts a lot of delicious desserts and i don't have many people around me with which to share...).

so this white tea jelly appealed to me. it's easy to make with very few steps and i happened to have all ingredients on hand when i read the post.

for the recipe, here is the direct link. i had less grapefruit than she used, but i think the fruit part is a general idea rather than specific amounts. i just layered as much as i had into the little white bowls (more than the picture on the bottom left shows).

this was so refreshing. a perfect, light dessert that i enjoyed at midnight the day i made it. it was so good, in fact, that i made it again while i was home for christmas. my family was pleasantly surprised by this grown-up version of "fruit and jello salad".

and speaking of jello "salad", stay tuned. i have more gelatin up my sleeve...though the next one uses j-e-l-l-o right from the box ;)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

my palate has been a bit limited during pregnancy. i haven't really been into chicken lately and i can't stand most asian foods with sweet/sour/spicy sauces. in fact, i pretty much only want beef. but i can't have that everyday, so i've been on a mission to find new recipes to mix into my meal planning that don't include chicken (thats hard to do, you know). i also try to find a few healthy options, as i'm on no diet and eat treats far too often. fish usually seems to come to mind and husband loves it. we've had scallops and salmon and shrimp (no, not all fish) in the past week or so and this recipe topped the pack.

salmon with cucumber salad and dill sauce (adapted from cooking light august 2007)
3 tbsp fat-free sour cream
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp finely chopped fresh dill, divided
2 tbsp rice vinegar, divided
3/4 tbsp finely chopped shallots
1/4 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1-2 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
salt and pepper
1/4 cc dry white wine
1 english cucumber

1. combine sour cream, 1 tbsp dill, 1 tbsp vinegar, shallots, rind, juice, and garlic in a bowl, stirring well; cover and chill
2. season fish with salt and pepper
3. heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add fish to pan, cooking for 3 minutes
4. turn fish and cook 1 additional minute
5. remove from heat, add wine, and cover
6. let stand for 3 minutes or until desired doneness
7. using a vegetable peeler, shave cucumber lengthwise into ribbons
8. combine cucumber, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, and 1 tsp dill in a bowl; toss gently
9. to serve, place cucumber mixture on plates and top with fish and dill sauce

mm, so tasty! it's very summery and fresh. i love the tangy dill sauce (dill and salmon are a match made in heaven and i really don't eat the fish without it) and the crunchy cucumber salad. i didn't even take pictures of the process because it's so fast and easy there just wasn't time between start to finish (eating).

i don't have new year's resolutions this year, but if healthy eating is one of yours, try this easy dinner. or, if you already ate a bag of candy by yourself and you'd like to level the playing field (salads cancel out sweet calories, fyi), this is a great option.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

i've been searching for these elusive hershey's cinnamon chips for nearly 6 months. i never found any in pittsburgh and i hadn't found any in evanston (3 chain stores checked). but i went to appleton, wi for thanksgiving and wouldn't you know it, a random grocery store had more cinnamon chips than i could ever use. i bought two bags (and not on sale) and practically peed my pants in excitement.

if you haven't heard of them, please go out, find them, and put them in your cart. they aren't spicy cinnamon, more like cinnamon white chocolate, but also not like white chocolate. if you can't find the hershey's brand, i did see that king arthur flower sells mini cinnamon chips - i can't vouch for them, but it might be worth a try. and hello, they have cappuccino baking chips there, too.

i made the cookies from the back of the hershey's bag. i'll include it here in case you get the online kind and don't have access to this basic recipe.

oatmeal cinnamon chip cookies (hershey's)
1 c butter, softened (2 sticks)
1 c packed light brown sugar
1/3 c sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 c quick cook oats
1 2/3 c cinnamon chips
3/4 c raisins (i had, like, 13 raisins and threw them in - more would be better, but they are fine without)

1. beat butter, brown sugar, and sugar until creamy
2. add eggs and vanilla and combine
3. add flour and baking soda to butter mixture, beating well
4. stir in oats, chips, and raisins
5. drop spoonfuls of batter onto cookie sheet (i used a small cookie scoop), a few inches apart
6. bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned
7. cool 1 minutes, transfer from cookie sheet to wire rack
8. eat 4 dozen

seeeriously. cinnamon chips in oatmeal raisin cookies are amazing. i am pretty sure i had 4 right out of the oven. at once. husband shared with his coworkers and they also raved about them. people like cinnamon chips! you hear that, dominick's...jewel-osco? stock the chips!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

while browsing a few stores recently, my friend kristin and i spotted some adorable flower pouf headbands and hair clips. upon checking the price tag, something like $12 for adult version and $8 for the childrens', we decided it was a no go. i told her i'd make some for a fraction of the price. i know you can find these at teen stores for less, but why not just try your hand at it?

pack of clips (i found 12 for $2 at walmart)
tulle (1/4 yd for about $1 at joann's)
needle and embroidery thread
hot glue or super glue
flower shapes (free hand or use my templates - after directions)

(sorry i don't have pictures to demonstrate)

1. fold tulle repeatedly in half until it is about 3 inches wide (like making paper dolls)
2. cut to create a stack of 3x3" squares, connected at folds
3. pin in place and cut out a flower shape through all layers of tulle
4. knot thread and sew a few stitches through center of flower, connecting layers
5. bunch flower tips in hand and randomly sew through layers (near center stitches) to create a more 3d shape
6. tie off thread and cut
7. place paper or card stock between hair clip and add a dab of glue to hinged end
8. affix flower to clip at underside stitches, arranging petals to create a uniform pouf

9. allow to dry, then remove paper from clip (tearing off any pieces glued to metal)

the directions make it sound confusing, but i promise i made four of these in about 30 minutes once i figured out the first one.
i free handed my flowers as i cut, so each one i made was individual, but using the template takes any guess work out of the process.

in the first photo, you can see i added a small pearl to the center of the flower. you could try other beads of findings in the center, especially if you need to hide stitches (mine matched the purple and brown tulle i used). i imagine drawing a thin line in glitter on the edges of some of the petals would also be cute (though, your hair would be covered in sparkles). layering more tulle or a variety of colors could also change the look. imagine the possibilities!

here's me modeling a brown round flower clip. small enough to wear during the day, but pretty enough to dress up with, too. i liked these so much i gave one each to kristin and my sisters for christmas, just for fun.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

happy new year! it's not too late to blog about peppermint things, right? still least it is here.

and speaking of here, i'm in my new place! after a move at 28 weeks pregnant, across town, i live in my "home" for now, a condo on lake michigan. and after a week without internet, i am connected again and can resume blogging. for once, i've got posts ready to go and am starting the new year fresh. my biggest change, besides actually blogging on a regular basis, is no more rounded corners. did you notice? it just takes too much time to edit every photo and then go in and do the 5 step process of rounding the corners on each one. i have had so many people email me about them so i felt like i had to keep doing it, but it got to be too much...and isn't this interesting? this topic of rounded or square corners? more so than meringues? no.

i love meringues and i make them every december. i wanted peppermint this year and found this simple recipe to try out.

peppermint meringues (slightly adapted from
2 egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 c white sugar
2 peppermint candy canes, crushed

1. preheat oven to 225F and line 2 cookie sheets with foil
2. in a glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar to soft peaks
3. gradually add sugar, continuing to beat until whites form stiff peaks
4. fold in crushed candy canes
5. fill a piping bag (or ziplock bag) with mixture and pipe 3-swirl dollops 1 inch apart onto cookie sheets

bake for 1 1/2 hours, until meringues are completely dry on the inside
*do not allow them to brown*
7. turn off oven, keep door ajar, and let meringues sit in the oven until completely cool

yum! these were just as i had hoped. crunchy, light, and airy and full of peppermint flavor. you do need to make sure they are completely cooked, so test one (by peeling it off the foil and checking the under/inside) before shutting off the heat. they'll continue to dry out in the cooling oven, but sometimes the insides stay sticky and you don't want that.

husband brought some of these into work and it seems his coworkers enjoyed them. many had not had meringues before, so it's nice to introduce new foods to people.