Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Caramalized pecans

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter
½ cup pecan halves
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Directions:

Melt butter in small frying pan over low heat.
Add pecans and brown sugar.
Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly until mixture is caramelized.
Spread out on wax paper and let it cool.

Ready to be added to your dish... YUM!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pecans

Miss V came home with a giant bag of pecans she picked up at a friend's house. Just for giggles, I wanted to show you how they decided to get the pecan meat out of the shell (since we do not have a nutcracker)

Isn't it funny?

I spent a couple of hours in front of the TV cracking the rest of the pecans (with a nut cracker, of course). What are we going to do with all those pecans, you ask? Well, the husband already made a batch of granola (see his recipe here)

I have been eating this

Spinach salad with caramelized pecans... Yummy!

Come back tomorrow. I'll tell you how to make caramelized pecans

Monday, March 26, 2012

You deserve to have beautiful pictures of yourself

This is my friend Kim. She is a sweet friend I met while training to do the 2 Day Walk for Breast Cancer... And yes, she is a breast cancer survivor herself... She is an amazing lady...

She contacted me to schedule a photoshoot and gave the pictures to her valentine for Vday... Isn't that a great gift idea? Here are some of her favorites.



Everybody should have beautiful pictures of themselves, don't you agree? So, go ahead - schedule a solo photoshoot and gift it to yourself or a loved one... Or make it even more special and have a couples photoshoot to commemorate a special day or event. You will love it!

Contact me to schedule a photoshoot at planandplay1{at}gmail{dot}com

Thursday, March 22, 2012

2 more knitting projects

Two more cowls. One simple, with a little bit of sparkle...
One a little more complicated - I created my own weave pattern. Whoo hoo... I'm living dangerously here!
The love affair continues... Just in time for warmer weather :(

See my other knitting projects here and here

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Nut milk bag

In all the blogs I've seen instructions to make nut milk, they recommend using a nut milk bag. You can find them here for $15 (plus shipping) or you can make your own for about a dollar in material and 10 minutes of your time:

unbleached/organic muslin
Thread

This project is so easy and fast to do that I did not think to take any pictures of the process. I hope you can follow along with my instructions:

Cut a piece of muslin (30 x 11), zigzag the edges to prevent fraying. Fold in half and sew the two long edges - twice to reinforce the edges. Turn over and fold the top edge and sew around the edge.

All done. Ready to be used to make a batch of nut milk. Easy, right?...
So if you are into the vegan lifestyle, lactose intolerant or just want to decrease your milk compsumption (like me), nut milks are a great alternative. I hope you give this a try

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Almond Milk

I  have seen many recipes for nut milks around the web... I decided I need to do it once and for all... The reason, you ask? It just sounds so delicious in smoothies and with coffee. I just wanted to try it so bad.

I made my very own nut milk bag (more on that tomorrow), bought my self a bag of almonds and followed this recipe with a minor adjustment:
Ingredients:

1 cup raw almonds
4 cups filtered water + more for soaking almonds

Optional:

Sweetener of choice – maple syrup, agave, cinnamon, etc
A tiny splash of vanilla extract

Items needed:

A nut milk bag - I made my own (I'll show you tomorrow) but you can find it here
A blender

Directions:

Soak 1 cup of almonds overnight (or all day) in a bowl of filtered water. Strain and rinse soaked almonds. Dump them into your blender with the 4 cups of filtered water. Blend on high for 5 minutes. Place the nut milk bag in a bowl (preferably in the sink), and empty the blender into the nut milk bag. Squeeze the milk through the bag into the bowl. The almond pulp will stay in the bag and you’ll be left with just the yummy milk (I am saving the almond pulp in the freezer to make Rugelach - You can find my recipe here). Now rinse the blender and the lid. Pour the milk back into the blender and add the sweetener of your choice (I used agave plus a touch of vanilla). Next time I'll try 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, or even a pinch of sea salt. Blend again for a minute.
Cereal... Here we come...

Recipe from here

Monday, March 19, 2012

Seeing green

Very excited to announce this year's vacation and it seems appropriate since we just celebrated St. Patrick's day. This year's trip is taking us to Scotland, Northern England and the Emerald isle...

Looking forward to {the food, the scenery, the beer, the whisky, the cream tea} all of it.

Although exchange rates are not favorable to go to Europe, there are some great deals to be had as far as lodging goes... We found some beautiful cottages to stay that are very reasonably priced... {Insert happy dance here}...

If you have any recommendations feel free to pass them along. I'd love to hear from you!

And to get us in the spirit of travel I will share these beautiful videos with you. I know they have been around the web many times... But nothing gets you in the mood for travel like seeing it... If you have not seen it yet... Enjoy it



This one is for you Mark:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Menu for the week

Seafood Pasta/Salad
Soca - Find my recipe here/Ratatouille
Cabbage Rolls/Pan roasted veggies
Broccoli and Cauliflower soup/Crostini/Salad

Breakdown:

Aldi $19
Kroger $29
Super H $6

This weekend we'll be doing among other things: Hanging out at our neighbour's house christening a brand new bar (so looking forward to that), listening to U2 (and the Cranberries), watching a Leap Year (me), drinking Guinness (mostly him - at a said friend's house) and baking and eating soda bread for breakfast. Why so much Irishness, you ask? I'll tell you Monday...

Also, this week will be full of amazing moments: getting together with two of my favorite people in the world and meeting... Wait for it... Rick Steves, in the flesh... Life just doesn't get better than this (and a sure sign that we are getting old...)

Have a great weekend friends and happy St Patrick's day!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rescuing an old t-shirt - Ombre dyeing

A dingy old T-shirt gets a new life by doing an Ombre dye.

Ombre dyeing is all the rage these days... This white t-shirt I had was looking so sad... The white color had turned off-white and it had a stain. I decided to dye it and try this Ombre technique... Here is how you do it.:

Launder t-shirt to remove any finishes that may prevent absorption of dyes.
Follow package instructions to prepare the dye (I used RIT dye; Color: Golden yellow)
Wet t-shirt and squeeze out excess water. Immerse the bottom one fourth of the t-shirt in dye bath for 3 minutes, gently moving it back and forth and up and down.

Then dip the second fourth of the t-shirt in dye bath for 2 minutes, gently lifting and lowering it to create lighter and darker shades or until desired shade is achieved.
Do the same with the third quarter of the t-shirt for one minute.
Then, wearing rubber gloves, quickly dip t-shirt in dye bath just long enough to achieve a very light shade.
Remove fabric from dye bath and wring out excess dye. Rinse fabric under cool running water, holding the lightest color at the top. This allows the dye to flow through to the darkest area. Then rinse fabric in warm water, until water runs clear.
Wash fabric in warm water with detergent. Rinse thoroughly and wring out excess water. Machine dry or hang to dry.

It looks like the sunshine, right? That's what Miss V said when she saw it... I think I love it! I may try it again with another shirt, you know, for good measure.

See my other attempts to save t-shirts here, and here

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Empanadas Argentinas

Treat Alert!!! You are going to love this! My friend Maria - who is from Argentina (hi friend! I know you are reading!!!) shared this recipe with me. You must know, this is not an exact recipe... I am recreating it to the best of my ability. They turned out great, though. I now want to share it with you all:

1 large onion, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 cup pitted green olives, chopped
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
Salt to taste (you can use adobo)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 package of empanada discs, thawed in the refrigerator (Brand recommended: La Saltena - Hojaldrada)

Note> This recipe makes more meat than needed for a pack of empanada discs. You can freeze it for future empanada making or add it to spaghetti sauce, also yummy.

Directions:

Cook chopped onions in a little bit of vegetable oil until just before they begin to turn golden. Add the gound beef, sweet paprika, crushed red pepper flakes (if decided) and salt (or adobo) to taste. Cook throughly. Set aside and allow to cool. Add chopped eggs and green olives.

Place a spoonful of the meat mixture on each round (don't over fill), fold in two and stick edges together. The shape should resemble that of a half-moon. You should have a 2/3 to 1/2 inch flat edge of pastry to work with. Seal by twisting edge, step by step, between thumb and index finger, making sure to add pressure before releasing the pinch and moving on to the next curl.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place empanadas on a parchment paper lined baking sheet (I use my Silpat). Cook according to empanada disc's package directions.

The edge folding requires practice to get it right...
The way I see it, if the filling doesn't come out... You are golden :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pictures from the weekend

A brunch outing worth documenting









Having fun with my point and shoot nostalgic setting. Cool right?

Other than our little outing, I had a very productive weekend. The house is in order. Laundry is all done. Did a lot of food prepping for the week. The kids played until they had enough. I'm ready to start a new week... Mission accomplished.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Menu for the week

Turkey burgers with hot sauce and blue cheese crumbles - I made them before, they are delicious. Recipe from here/Baked beans
Pesto bean soup - A new favorite - Recipe from here/Salad
Cuban Sandwiches/Vegetable chips
Pasta Primavera/Salad

Breakdown:

Aldi $23
Kroger $16
Costco $12
GW of GA $8
Publix $8

This weekend I am looking forward to:

Breakfast out in a place I am dying to try.
Drinks and after dinner snacks with like minded friends while watching HBO.
Working some more on the "Great Guestroom Makeover" we have been working on for the past few months... Will reveal soon.

How about you? Anything fun planned for the weekend? Spring like weather is fast approaching, enjoy it while it lasts...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Adding elbow patches to an old sweater

Patches have been on my mind recently (see proof here). I decided to add some patches to an old sweater. The process is really simple, in theory (see disclaimer below). You can buy suede elbow patches already cut. All you have to do is hand sew them... However, I wanted to make it even easier on myself. I did not want to deal with dry cleaning (suede requires dry cleaning) so I decided to make my very own patches with corduroy. Here is what I did:

Make a pattern out of paper
Cut fabric
Unravel sweater sleeves (to make it easier to sew)
Hand stick (baste) to make sure the piece of fabric is in place (basting here works better than pins due to the location of the patch).
Sew around the edge. Make sure to sew as even as possible.
Sew sleeves back together
Now, you are ready to wear your improved sweater.
In the spirit of keeping things real, I am not 100% in love with the way the sweater came out. Keeping the patches even proved to be more difficult than I thought. I was patient but I think they are still a little crooked... Oh well... I still paid nothing and gave an old sweater a whole new look, so I'm at peace with it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Salted butter caramel sauce

Oh delicious sauce, let me count the ways I could use you:

On crepes and pancakes
Over vanilla ice cream
Spread between cookies
Over a piece of toast
On everything else that is edible, really...

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) salted butter, the better you can get, the better it will taste
1/2 cup plus two tablespoons heavy cream, at room temperature

Preparation:

Melt the sugar over medium to moderately high heat (use a larger pot than you think you’ll need) whisking or stirring the sugar as it melts to ensure it heats evenly. Cook the liquefied sugar to a nice, dark copper color. Add the butter all at once and stir it in, before turning off the stove, pour the heavy cream (The sauce will foam up quite a bit when you add it - this is why you want the larger pot), whisking it until you get a smooth sauce. All done.
You can use it right away or pour it into a jar and store it in the fridge for up to two weeks. When you take it out, it will likely have thickened a bit but, 60 seconds in the microwave brings it right back to pouring consistency.

Recipe from here.