Saturday, May 16, 2009

Free Recipe Cards!

This recent cooking frenzy got me in the mood to finally try to organize some of the amazing recipes I've come across over the years. I also have the challenge of incorporating two recipe collections into one, my boyfriend's and my own. This is an especially daunting task, considering how very different his palette and penchant for food is from mine. We've been able to muddle through so far, but we came across the problem of storing our recipes in a useful yet pleasing manner. I needed something simple and clean yet striking and adaptable in a small, sometimes very messy kitchen. I'm also pretty particular when it comes to the design aesthetic pretty much everything in our apartment - form and function rule this roost.

Solution: Design my own Recipe Cards and Recipe Book!

Using a 4x6 photo album, I've embellished and crafted my way to a chic yet convenient way to display and store all of our favorite recipes. The album itself used vintage travel labels and vintage postcards as decoration for the cover and blank pages. Keeping true to this vintage feel, I used distressed cardboard as the foundation for my bohemian inspired recipe cards you see picture above. Mixed media was scanned and photoshopped on the computer to give these cards a collage-like look that is most apparent in printed versions of the cards. Fabric, Scrabble tiles, metallic brads, and ribbon create this eclectic effect and are enhanced by layering and detailing done on the computer.

If you simply adore these cards like I do, you can download a pdf file of them for you to use in your fabulous kitchen at home. Look for more recipe card designs in the future!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Penne Bell Pepper Bake

With free time on my unemployed hands, I've become some what of a burgeoning chef. (My old roommate will be sorry she ran off to law school after she sees this post!) I've taken to experimenting in the kitchen, trying new recipes, and revamping old ones. Pasta has been my first foray into wild recipe revamping. I updated a recipe for Baked Penne I found in the book The Working Stiff Cookbook by Bob Sloan and illustrated by Michael Klein. The book's recipe uses mushrooms which my boyfriend isn't very fond of, so I've made a new version using some of the veggies he does like.

And for anyone who knows me personally, don't worry! I haven't changed that much... I still won't eat pasta with sauce. It's still buttered noodles with parmesan cheese for me!

My adapted recipe is given below. Go on and give it a try. Let me know how you like it!

Penne Bell Pepper Bake
1 lb. dried Penne
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
(Recommended: Roundy's Organic Crushed Tomatoes with Basil)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 medium Red Bell pepper - diced
1 medium Green Bell pepper - diced
2 cups shredded Mozzarella
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons salt
a dash of black pepper
1 cup Ricotta

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 casserole dish. Prepare Penne according to directions on the box.
While waiting for the water to boil, stir together the following ingredients in a separate bowl: tomatoes, cream, red and green peppers, mozzarella, garlic, salt, and black pepper. Save a handful of the diced bell pepper and a pinch of the shredded mozzarella as a garnish to be added later.
After the Penne is cooked through, drain the pasta in a colander and add pasta into the tomato mixture. Stir together slowly, making sure the pasta is well distributed. Carefully pour the mixture into the casserole dish using a spatula. Spoon and spread the ricotta cheese on top. Bake in center rack of the the oven for 15-20 minutes. Once the sauce begins to bubble, you know you're done.
Remove from oven and allow the dish to cool a few moments before serving. Add bell pepper and mozzarella garnish and serve! Makes 6-8 servings. Leftovers keep very well in the refrigerator too!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

"No one in the world can take the place of your mother. Right or wrong, from her viewpoint you are always right. She may scold you for little things, but never for the big ones." - Harry S. Truman

I made sure to get started on my Mother's Day gift to my mom early. I even let her pick out the fabric for it, so I was sure it would appeal to her. I found a super simple yet super practical idea in Martha Stewart's Good Things for Organizing for making a fabric plastic bag organizer.

This unique design is a fashionable alternative to some of the other options on the market. Unlike it's counterparts available in stores and online, making your own allows you to customize the design to suit your kitchen's or bathroom's color scheme and decor. I embellished what Martha designed by using satin ribbon in a contrasting color at the top in addition to the bias tape. You have the option of using wider bias tape and wider ribbon too. Elastic gets threaded through a loop of fabric at the bottom so that the organizer acts as a bag dispenser only when you give a tug on the bottom bag. Ingenious.

Although everyone in my family is making an effort to utilize reusable fabric bags for our shopping needs, plastic bags still find a way to multiply like bunnies in the back of our closets and in the bottom of our kitchen drawers when we're not looking. Now we have an eye-catching way to save them up for recycling or for reuse. They can cleverly hang in the kitchen, hang in the bathroom, or hide away in a closet. What Mother wouldn't want something as clever as this?!?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Craft Quick Fix: Mail Holder

When you can't find quite what you're looking for in stores when it comes to home decor, why not design your own? Found at a local thrift store, this unfinished particle board box was probably a homemade donation. More than likely, its creator intended it to be used as a napkin holder, but the slots cut into two of its sides make for a great mail holder in our hallway instead.

Because it was unfinished, we could design and decorate the box any which way we pleased. Using craft paint in a mushroom brown taupe and dark mocha, this easy project was completed overnight. Contact paper was used to create a stencil and a spray lacquer gives it a protective coat and lustrous shine. Simple tricks and a little patience can turn any simple project into a piece you may come to cherish!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It's Confirmed: A Jewel of a Cake

Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel. -Proverbs 20:15

This past weekend I had the unique pleasure of decorating a cake for my cousin Emily's confirmation. My aunt baked two Half Sheet cakes and frosted them with luscious white buttercream icing. Playing on the theme of Emily's confirmation bible passage, I chose deep jewel-toned hues and even found a jewel-shaped candy mold to make white chocolate gemstones to scatter around the cake. I made roses, daisies, and drop flowers from royal icing and used tinted buttercream icing for the scroll-work ivy and leaves.

As a centerpiece for the second cake, I crafted a three-dimensional floral arrangement to add depth, flair, and a little bling to the cake. Cotton wound floral wire and colored royal icing make for vivid sprays of color on this white cake. Edible glitter and pearl dust add even more sparkle to this lustrous cake.

Emily got to have her cake and eat it too on her special day!