Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Recap

Jack and I had a wonderful Christmas in Seattle. Jack's sister and mother joined us for dinner and gifts. I prepared a standing rib roast and Jack made a pumpkin tart. I love being married to a man who takes on baking--baking a tart no less. Here are some highlights:

Jack's tart is Vanilla-Bourbon Pumpkin Tart from Cooking Light. I think he was particularly inspired to make this because of the bourbon. Nothing mans up a tart like bourbon! It was very tasty, click here for the recipe.

My Standing Rib Roast turned out well. Roasting is really an easy way to feed a crowd. I based my roast on Paula Dean's recipe: "Foolproof Standing Rib Roast". I had a smaller roast, so I adjusted the roasting time. I learned that, depending on preferred doneness, a rib roast should be in the oven 22 to 25 minutes per pound. And now for some present pictures:

Karen and her new "Hot Firefighter" potholder. I think he can handle her hot dishes.

Annabelle took care of her squeaker toy gift right away. I hope you and yours had a wonderful Christmas! In the spirit of the season, I have a link to a post on one of my favorite blogs; Mochimochi. Here are some little random acts of kindness - enjoy!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Summer Food


It's time for a big food post! Jack and I have had a busy summer. The kitchen is coming along slowly as a result, but Seattle has had such a wonderful, nearly rainless summer, it's hard to stay inside. We spent part of July in Michigan with my family and there was a potluck family reunion involved. Here is what I brought:

Quinoa Tabbouleh

5 servings (serving size: 1 cup)


  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped seeded tomato
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint or parsley
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Combine water and quinoa in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork. Stir in tomato and remaining ingredients. Cover; let stand 1 hour. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Cooking Light, OCTOBER 1999

This recipe is healthy, easy, and filling; perfect for a summer potluck. A few weeks after making it in Michigan, I brought it to my company picnic. (Don't worry, I made a fresh batch.)

While in Michigan, Jack and I were treated to a very delicious French Onion Soup made by my Aunt Mary and Uncle Eric, behold:

I don't have a recipe for this, but I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to track one down. I wish that I had gotten a picture of all of the amazing homemade food we had on the trip. My Aunt Laura specializes in soup and we were lucky enough to have her Lemongrass Chicken Soup with Cilantro our first night in Michigan. My Uncle Joe also has a expertise; pies. Oh, it's good to be a part of this family. Sadly, I have no pictures of these delights, but I did snag a photo of my Aunt Kaye's Blueberry Galette... it tasted like summer.

Are you sick of scrolling yet? There's one more recipe I'd like to share. Saturday night I made a stir fry.

That shrimp is trying to escape!

Jack wasn't sure he liked stir fry, but he's come around. He also isn't sure about sesame, but he didn't mention anything as he ate dinner. He may not know about the sesame oil ingredient until he reads this...we'll see how long it takes for him to mention it to me. Jack, do you read my blog?

Sesame-Orange Shrimp and Chicken Stir-Fry

Rachel Spear, Casper, Wyoming, Cooking Light, JUNE 2009

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: about 1 cup chicken mixture and 1/2 cup rice)


  • Sauce:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

  • Stir-fry:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped broccoli florets
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 cup mushrooms, halved
  • 1 cup snow peas, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, cooked and peeled
  • 3 cups hot cooked long-grain rice


1. To prepare sauce, combine the first 11 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Set aside.

2. To prepare stir-fry, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan, and stir-fry for 4 minutes or until done. Remove chicken from pan, and keep warm. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan. Add chopped broccoli and the next 5 ingredients (through garlic) to the pan; stir-fry for 4 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Return chicken to pan, and stir in shrimp. Add sauce, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Serve over rice.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 06, 2009


The kitchen remodel is on hold as we wait for the cabinets to arrive, but there is good news on the laundry room! The marmoleum flooring had been installed, a few coats of new paint are on the walls and ceiling (the shade of white we picked is called marshmallow, how fun), a new cabinet is in, and the washer and dryer were moved back into place. Jack was able to install some trim before we left for our Michigan vacation. This little utility room now has a fresh feel which is pretty nice when you are trying to get things clean.

This sign came with the house, pretty classy huh?

Next step, receiving the kitchen cabinets!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

One Kitchen Down...

We hope to have our new kitchen up soon, yet I am preparing myself for a long haul. Last week my parents took a break from their retirement to help us demolish the kitchen. My dad then proceeded to put up new drywall and even improved the lighting - Thanks dad! My mom helped clear out some evil weeds in my garden - Thanks mom! Here are a few pictures:

No garden pictures...maybe soon. Here is one of three layers of flooring, it's the ugliest one:

Ugh! How was this ever stylish?!?!?

This weekend we will be working on sanding the drywall seems, getting our cabinet order together, and picking up paint and flooring for the laundry room. (Yup, that's being remodeled too) Our oven is currently hooked up, but it's been pretty hot in Seattle this past week. That means grilling time. Jack cooked up some burgers that other night - summer is here!

I have been so busy lately, I hope I find more time to post soon. We are fostering a new batch of kittens (mom is included), they are 5 weeks old and so sweet. I recently went to New Orleans with my friend Kathryn, plenty of food pictures to share! The music was another highlight, I highly recommend a trip to New Orleans. This Friday and Saturday my buddy Heather and I will be taking part in the Indie Banditas Bazaar on Bainbridge Island. We will be camping overnight. They set up a great blog that features many of the 50 vendors, check it out:

I'll try to have more pictures up soon!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Free to a Good Noggin

Just a little Monday post....
Most of us are going through tough times, but there is always something we can do to help others. The smallest act can inspire hope. I came across a story about a man in Grand Rapids, Michigan who crochets hats and gives them away to people in need in a most interesting way. (The way he gives being interesting, not the way in which people are in need - right.) I love that t
his story comes out of Michigan, the state currently with the highest percentage of unemployment.

One of my aunts sent me a link to an article about a website called ABC recently covered the back-story of this website. It offers the opportunities to help a neighbor, an example from the article:
"Heroes have sent a World War II veteran back to Pearl Harbor for his 90th birthday. Several people chipped in to get a bike for a boy with down syndrome. For a girl whose house burned down, heroes gave her a dress and shoes for her senior prom. A boy with terminal cancer got a chance to meet his basketball idols."

Some people request simple things that might brighten the spirits of a loved one. I found a post from a woman requesting cards or sugar free candy to be sent to her elderly mother. Sometimes the smallest things count in big ways.

I hope this funny picture gave you a smile. I think that dog has a good head deserving of a hat. Actually, it's amazing how contemplative that dog looks as it wears such a funny hat. I'm impressed. You can find this hat and more dog items (even some people items), at BeanTownHandmade's etsy shop.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

A few green things in honor of St. Patrick's Day...

A necklace I made for my etsy shop, but ended up keeping for myself.

My first "real" finished knitting project.

My husband Jack and our dog Annabelle on a green lawn...a stretch I know.
It can be hard to get everyone to smile in group pictures.

I am so excited to have finished my first knitted dishcloth! I learned to purl, purl 3 together, and yarn on. The website, was so very helpful to me! I've also had a few friends help me along the way. I have been addicted to the knitting and crochet community, - it's where I found the free pattern for the dishcloth. It's called Little Shells Dishcloth #019.

I did goof up along the way by somehow switching the "right" side with the "wrong" side. I tried to repeat this at the end to create a similar border and make it look symmetrical. I'm constantly learning from mistakes.

Here is the dishcloth in it's natural habitat. Shhhhh, be careful not to disturb it......

In a pizza dough update, we finally got away from calzones and made actual pizza with my home made dough. What a breakthrough! I discovered that spreading the dough to a circular shape is more challenging than I expected. I don't know who first introduced the term rustic to food, but I owe them a big "Thank you!" We used canned pizza sauce, broccoli and mushrooms on my side and sausage and mushrooms on Jack's side. Broccoli on pizza is one of my favorite things!

I just may make another double batch of dough today. I love that it can be left in the fridge overnight, or frozen for up to a month. I have been trying to get better at meal planning and so far, pizza dough has been very motivating. Those carbs get me every time! The recipe can be found in a previous post and here.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Etsy Updates

I know I usually write about food and cooking, but I have been excited about some crafty things lately. To give a brief update on the topic of food, I made another batch of pizza dough, doubling it this time. Half went to a chicken basil calzone recipe which my husband Jack tried out, and the other half went into the freezer for a future pizza - maybe this weekend. If it's good, I'll be sure to write about it. In the meantime, here is a picture of a crocheted pizza from skymagenta.

Some of you know that I have been making beaded jewelry and selling it on an online marketplace called etsy. This is a site that specializes in handmade and vintage items. It's a community that I enjoy being a part of and love to support through my purchases. It's like going to an art/craft/antique show anytime you like - what could be better?

I am almost ready to post a new necklace and I thought I would show it here first just for fun. Terrariums are really popular on etsy right now and that was my inspiration.
I found some fuzzy green beads that I couldn't resist buying. A woodland theme emerged from there. The necklace is about 38" long. I need to make a shorter version with a little gnome pendant. Ha!

I need to play around with the mushrooms a little more before I'm ready to list it in our shop, StasiaTart.
I share the shop with my friend Heather, she has some amazing vintage inspired pieces. Here is a link to our wares on etsy.

I guess my cat was feeling a little neglected during the "photo shoot".

Yesterday something very exciting happened, One of my pieces was on the front page of etsy! I have a cropped picture of what the featured sellers section on the front page looked like. My avocado green necklace is in the first column, third row down.
This really helped improve the traffic to our shop. Yesterday we received 279 visits, many from other countries including Israel, Finland, Russia, Latvia, Argentina, Kenya and more. A tool called google analytics provides this fascinating information for us. I have much to learn about how to use it.

In other crafty news, I am learning to knit. I tried very hard to resist learning a new hobby, but failed.
Do I really have time for another hobby? I guess I'm about to find out. With a little help from friends, I have picked up some needles and inexpensive yarn and brought a little more fiber into my life. Thank you to Becky for lending me "Vogue Knitting: Quick Reference" and thanks to Kathryn for introducing me to your amazing knitting aunt and her fabulous craft night. Oh and you also introduced me to Thank you!

I am about to start a scarf, wish me luck on this next adventure..

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fermentation Facination

Sometime last week (last week was a blur), I made a yeast bread. It was a pizza dough so there wasn't a dramatic rise in the oven, but I did have to allow it to rise in a covered bowl a few times before it was ready. Oh yes, I put in my time. Mixing, kneading, allowing it to rise for 90 to 120 minutes, kneading again, and finally allowing it to rise for 45 minutes takes some planning! I loved the thought of working with something that is alive; I feed it, and eventually it will feed me. It's amazing how much the dough changes physically, becoming more elastic as I knead it, then softening up as it's left to rise. I made the dough one night while Jack cooked dinner and we used the dough for calzones the next night. They were quite yummy, I must say. I think it was the cheese and broccoli mixture - and the homemade bread. I'll post the pizza dough recipe first:

Pizza Dough

* Recipe by Johanne Killeen and George Germon from Food & Wine

* SERVINGS: Makes enough for six 8-inch pizzas


1. 1 envelope active dry yeast
2. 1 cup warm water
3. Pinch of sugar
4. 2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
5. 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
6. Extra-virgin olive oil

7. 2 1/2 to 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour


1. In a large bowl, mix the yeast with the water and sugar and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the salt, whole wheat flour and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Gradually add 2 cups of the all-purpose flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until the dough is fairly stiff. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and knead, gradually adding as much of the remaining all-purpose flour as necessary, until it is smooth, elastic and no longer tacky, 5 to 6 minutes.
2. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and brush the surface with olive oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
3. Punch down the dough and knead it lightly, then return it to the bowl. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise again until doubled in bulk, about 45 minute
s. Punch down the dough again and use or refrigerate.

Make Ahead

The Pizza Dough can be refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to 1 month. Let the dough return to room temperature before using.

I really should have made more and thrown a portion in the freezer. I know for next time. So go make some pizza, or maybe a batch calzones.

Corn and Broccoli Calzones
From EatingWell Magazine July/August 2007

Makes 6 calzones

ACTIVE TIME: 30 minutes

TOTAL TIME: 45 minutes


1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli florets
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears; see Tip)
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
All-purpose flour for dusting
20 ounces prepared whole-wheat pizza dough (see Tip), thawed if frozen
2 teaspoons canola oil

1. Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 475°F. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray.
2. Combine broccoli, corn, mozzarella, ricotta, scallions, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
3. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into an 8-inch circle. Place a generous 3/4 cup filling on one half of each circle, leaving a 1-inch border of dough. Brush the border with water and fold the top half over the filling. Fold the edges over and crimp with a fork to seal. Make several small slits in the top to vent steam; brush each calzone with oil. Transfer the calzones to the prepared baking sheets.

My friend Ben is currently reading Wild Fermentation and I am excited to see how he likes it. I would love to learn more about fermentation. I need to read up on beer too, but that is another post...

I didn't take a picture of my calzones, but no matter, I will simply share two of my favorite food related items on etsy: The colorful cards by TommyMamma featuring everyone's favorite kitchen tool can be found by clicking here.

Perhaps you prefer a smaller version of the mixer. CupCakeTree makes the cutest stamps, click here to see were you can buy this hand mixer stamp and if you roam around her shop, you'll find other wonderful kitchen item stamps too.

Now this is not related to food, but I found a fun give-a-way on another blog. All you have to do is leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a handmade clutch purse. The drawing will be on Friday, the 27th and there are only 3 entries so far. That's good odds! Click here to check it out. The author of the blog has an etsy shop with handmade bags.

Whew! That's all I've got for now - thanks for reading!