Monday, November 14, 2011

Kale Chips

Kale seems to be popping up everywhere.  Once a garnish on restaurant dishes, it is now becoming a highlight in dishes in restaurants.  Nutritionally, it is fantastic with various vitamins and minerals.
After seeing kale chips in two different medias, I knew I had to try it.
It is so simple and different it is worth a try!  You will probably want to experiment with various flavors to season them with.

For the basic version you will need kale, olive oil, salt and pepper.  I found a large bunch of kale at our local supercenter grocery area for around $2.00.

 1) Prep the kale by taking it off the hard stem.  The best way to prep the kale is by holding the stem in one hand and rub your other hand up the stem so that you gather the leaves with you as you go up the stem.

2) Wash the leaves in a colander and dry well.

3) Tear into bite sized pieces

4) Place leaves on a cookie sheet.

5) Lightly coat with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

6) Bake on 350 for about 10 minutes.

You are wanting to have crisp leaves but not to over cook them so watch them carefully around the 10 minute mark.

The possibilities are endless for adding flavor to your chips.  Some options may include (but definitely not limited too) seasoning salt, Old Bay seasoning and lemon juice. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

2 Ingredient Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake

When the sweet (but wanting to be slightly healthy) craving hits, desperation strikes!  This occurred one night when the kids were in bed and I was wanting something with carbs and sugar.  I had recently discovered that you can take a can of pumpkin and mix in a cake mix to make a pumpkin cake.  So, why can't you mix pumpkin with a coffee cake mix and make pumpkin coffee cake?
What a wonderful discovery!!!

It is very easy and the streusel addition can be adjusted to your liking.   I followed the oven temperature and baking instruction from a Martha White streusel coffee cake mix I already had on hand from a coupon deal a while back.

All you need is a coffee cake mix (with or without the streusel) and a standard size can of pumpkin (not the canned pumpkin pie mix).  Combine the two cake mix and pumpkin.  The batter will be thick.  Pour into the appropriate sized pan for your mix and follow the baking instructions.
Since my mix came with the streusel, I followed the instructions on how to add the streusel but I did cut back the amount by at least half.
I found that my mix needed the max amount of baking time suggested but it will also depend on your oven.  Just insert a toothpick to check that it is baked through in the center.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Snack for Momma and Baby, Too!

Since my youngest is almost 10 months old, she is loving all the solid foods that she can get her hands and teeth on!  I hate buying little jars of baby food.  I also hate having to make food that she can eat and then, make myself something.
That is why the following recipe was created.  It is a snack that is nutritious for baby but can be enjoyed by momma.  Mommy can eat it as is or can make some modifications to enhance the flavor.

Avocado Hummus 

1- Medium Ripe Avocado
1- 15.5 oz can Drained Garbanzo (aka Chickpeas) Beans
3- Tablespoons Lemon Juice
3- Teaspoons Olive Oil

1) Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and scoop out the flesh.
2) Place avocado, chickpeas and lemon juice in blender.
3) Blend until combined. 
4) Stream in olive oil while blending. 
5) Puree until smooth.

Momma can add 1 teaspoon of tahini paste to every 4 tablespoons of the hummus to boost the hummus flavor.  Eat with tortilla chips, pita wedges or vegetables.

Optional: You can freeze the hummus by pouring it into ice cube trays and freeze.  Once frozen, store cubes in a gallon freezer bag. (Each cube equals 2 Tablespoons)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mossy Letters

Thanks again to Pottery Barn and multiple blogs, we have a new door decoration!  Pottery Barn is selling these mossy letters for $79.  But why spend that much when you can make it for $4?
Live Moss Letters
 I already had plywood that I cut to size to make each leg and stapled them to make our "K".  I bought the smaller package of sheet moss from the fabric store using my 40% off coupon for a total price of $4.  I wasn't willing to spend more for the largest roll of moss- figured I could make the smaller package work!
After the wood letter was formed, I cut and pieced the moss on the legs and stapled it on putting the staples on the back of the letter.  I used all of my moss with just enough for the letter to be covered on the front and sides.
Staple a ribbon on the back of the letter and hang!

If I find a cheap white satin ribbon, I will probably replace the current one (I already had that one) to give it a little more contrast.

From carpet to hardwood... our new stairs!

I saw an idea a few months back on a blog, Thrifty Decor Chick, where she had taken the carpet off of her stairs, stained the treads and painted the risers.  Given that our house is a very standard builder-grade home, we have carpeted stairs but I doubted that we would have anything of quality under the carpet to work with.  I inspected the stairs further by feeling through the carpet and found that we had bull-nosed treads...hmmm... maybe we do have more than plywood or something even cheaper for stairs!  Finally broke down and pulled up a little corner of carpet to see what was really under the nasty 10 year old carpet.  Well, there was no turning back... we now have a wooden staircase!

If you could have only seen the dirt and dust under the carpet!  It is so easy to keep the stairs clean now!
The following is an idea of the work, time, cost and lessons learned from the process!
1.  Expect it to take a few days- especially if you have kids and / or dogs.
Ripping up the carpet, the tack strips and padding took about 30 minutes.  Another hour was taken by finding and pulling up the staples and nails left.

The most painstaking task was scraping and sanding the treads to prep for the stain.  The treads were covered with paint overspray, spackling and debris from the builder finishing the walls before they installed the carpet.  Sanding took a few days of working on it for an hour or two at a time.  The worse part was trying to sand the paint that was at the edges of each tread.  A hand sander and a mouse sander helped but we still had some paint left that we couldn't remove without us going crazy! 

Once the stairs are cleaned of the paint/ debris, you need to sweep, wipe with damp rag, sweep and wipe again.  You need them to be as clean as possible!  Then you tape.  You will be taping a lot.  We went through one roll of Frog Tape.  (By the way, it is an okay tape but I didn't think it was much better than the blue tape.  Frog tape also sticks to itself and makes it harder to work with.)  I painted the risers first.  The taping and two coats of paint took about two naptimes (4 hours).  Let it cure a day or two then tape the risers so you can stain the treads.  I didn't tape the edges of the stairs (left and right sides) because I knew I would be painting those later.  
We stained the treads going bottom to top which took about 2 hours so we could go to bed while it dried.  MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED FROM THE FIRST FLOOR BEFORE BEGINNING!  That includes a hammer to close the stain jar, rags for cleaning messes, etc.  
A new staircase was waiting for us in the morning!  It was awesome seeing the stained stairs.  
It took about another one to two hours to touch up our mistakes on the paint and to paint the left and right sides.  
We did not put another coat of stain or poly on the treads since we liked the color and the stain had the poly mixed in.  We will probably do a poly coat later on to get a glossier look.  Right now they are matte.

2.  Be prepared for a mess!
 The sanding created dust.  Dust travels.  Close all the doors that you can.  Cover / remove what you can.  Try to seal off the area if possible.  Where a mask, old clothes and glasses.  
I am still finding dust in weird places.  Even in rooms upstairs that had the doors closed!  

3.  If you have dogs, they may not like the new stairs!
It took some time for our Great Dane to go up and down the stairs.  They are NOT slick.  They are a different feel and sound.  Our dachshund will not go up the stairs and will only go down if there is food to be eaten!

4.  They will be nosier.  
Our daughter likes the echo that has developed without the carpet to absorb the noise.  The dog's nails will click on them and footsteps will be heard.

5.  If you are obsessive compulsive, you may not want to do this!
The stairs are not perfect.  They probably would only be perfect if we replaced all the stairs!  We have some paint and stain bleed.  We still have paint on the treads but the darker stain covered them well.
Be reasonable about how "new" you can make these old stairs look.

6.  It will cost little but make a big impact!
We had to buy the following: Frog Tape, one container of stain, sand paper for Mouse and palm sander, hand sander to hold sandpaper to do the edges.  It was about $35 for everything.  We had white paint and most of the tools.  I also bought one piece of molding to continue the toe molding and the bottom of the stairs and to hide the edge of the carpet at the top.
We had to borrow the following:  a palm sander (1/4 sheet sander)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cheap Table Centerpiece

I'm sure you have seen all the fantastic tablescapes featured in catalogs, magazines and show homes.  When you look at your own table it can be daunting to think of ways to create your own cool tablescape that doesn't cost a fortune or take up the table making it unusable.   
Here are some ideas to dress up your own table.

1.  Look at a picture of a table that you like how it was dressed up.  What are the key elements that you like?  Do you have something similar to those things in any area of your house?  

2.  Use live plants or clippings from your yard (or someone else's with their permission).  House plants can be transformed just by transferring them into a new container that may work better with your dining room decor.  Simple clippings like budding branches and single flowers can make great statements as well as add some color.  

3.  Candles.  What else needs to be said?  Pick different heights to make it more interesting but try to stick with the same color palette.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day lanterns

Here is an easy way to transform Ikea lanterns!  I made these for Valentine's day but after the holiday, you can keep the ribbon on to dress them up a little.

Just take the glass off of the metal holder and hot glue the ribbon either around the top or bottom of the glass.
Hot glue Valentine heart candy on the ribbon.

Quick Valentine's craft!