Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Chickpea Salad with Balsamic / Dijon Vinaigrette

Love this salad, especially with the vinaigrette. All the tastes blend well and with the chickpeas in it, for me it makes a whole meal. Sometimes I might add a little ground flaxseed or nutritional yeast to it but it does not really need it.

Salad Ingredients

13 ¾ oz can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed. (or use dry beans and prep according to package directions).
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup diced celery stalks
1 cup diced carrots
½ cup fresh parsley, minced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced (optional, original recipe did not call for it but I use it)
1 cup seeded and diced cucumber
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger (optional, original recipe did not call for it but I like it)

Combine all ingredients and toss with vinaigrette. Cover, and chill for 1 hour before serving

Vinaigrette Ingredients

1 garlic clove, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons flaxseed oil (or add in a little more olive oil or other oil)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
Ground pepper to taste                         
                         Combine all ingredients and blend well (I use a protein shaker cup to mix it)

Mexican Casserole

This recipe is super easy. I genuinely cannot remember the name of the cookbook I originally got this recipe from. I have probably been making this dish at least a decade. I first made this because we had gotten some cans of corn at a case lot sale and I was trying to find recipes I could use corn in. The original recipe did not even call for corn but when I saw this recipe I thought it would go well in it and the rest is history! My husband loved it the first time I made it and it has been a favorite in our household ever since.  I make it for pot lucks, special occasions and just because. My son likes to put in flour tortillas and make it into a burrito.  My daughter eats it just as is and likes it.


1 can corn
1 lb. lean ground beef
2 cans pinto beans, drained
1 can(8ounces) tomato sauce
½ cup mild chunky salsa
1 tsp chili powder
1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese


Heat oven to 375

Cook beef in 10 inch skillet over medium heat 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown, drain. Mix beef, beans, tomato sauce, salsa and chili powdered in ungreased 2 quart casserole dish.
Cover and bake 40-45 minutes, stirring once or twice, until hot and bubbly. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

DIY Key hanger / letter holder from old shutter

If you saw my previous post about the picture hanger / dislplay made out of a small old shutter I picked up at the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store you may have noticed that there were two pieces to the old shutter.  Well this is what I used the second piece for. Again I was not blogging at the time so I do not have a step by step picture instructional to it but feel free to ask me any questions.

I did have to strip the paint off this one to then be able to stain it.  Let me tell you, stripping this was a huge pain because of how close the slats were. My recommendation would be to use one that was not painted if you come across one. Regardless, I am happy with how it turned out.
     First I cut the slats to have the desired opening at the top. Then I stripped the paint off. After that I put wood putty in the holes the slats came out of, let it dry and sanded it down. Then I stained it, let it dry and spray lacquered it. I had an old thin piece of wood from a previous project that I used for the back, sprayed it with chalkboard paint and nailed it to the back of the shutter. The hooks I think I picked up at Lowes.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Alsatian Apple Tart

     This post is a little longer than normal, for the recipe scroll down to the bottom.    
     I have never made traditional apple pie but instead make this Alsatian Apple Tart for all the holidays and other events throughout the year and it is always a big hit.
     When we lived in Heidelberg, Germany we often went to Strasburg which is in the Alsace region of France. This area of France over the centuries has gone back and forth between belonging to Germany or France so much that they kind of formed their own culture including type of food. It is usually very rich, creamy and delicious. I truly enjoyed this area of France. 
     We always knew that my grandfathers side of the family came from Alsace Lorraine and while I was in Germany my mom did some bonifide geneology tracing our ancestry and even got in touch with some distant relatives. So a few months after my son was born my mom, aunt, cousin and I took a road trip tracing our roots and ancestry to Bitschwiller les Thann in Alsace, eating our way into oblivion along the way. 
     Keep in mind this is before I started actually cooking for real. This was also before the internet is what it is today. Not to date myself but lets just say at the time AOL was one of the only e-mail providers, we had no pinterest and no gazillion recipes to go through online.
     I liked the food so much I started looking for a cookbook specific to Alsace. I found plenty in French but none in English. I went as far as buying one in French thinking I could make do. Again though I was not the cook I am today. At the time besides making all my son's baby food, if it did not come out of a box or freezer package my husband and I did not make it.  I do not know how but my mom found this out of print cookbook in English from 1981 and gave it to me. 

     I think the first thing I made out of the cookbook was Kugelhopf which is like a sweet bread baked in a pan that is like a bundt pan. I will have to make it and post pictures another time. This Alsatian Apple Tart was soon to follow though. I loved it in the bakeries in Alsace and the recipe seemed farely straightforward to me.
     I think this is when my love of cooking started although it did not kick in, in full swing until after my son had to go on a special diet. I will have to say it was not only about cooking for me though. I really did love Alsace and this was a way of keeping a piece of it with me and brings back fond memories every time I open the cookbook. Who knows maybe my relatives generations ago also made some variation of some of the dishes I cook out of it. :).           
The recipe calls for creme fraiche or heavy cream.  If you can find creme fraiche, I highly recommend you use it. The custard sets better and quicker that way. If not though, the heavy cream works fine.
Pie dough (found here pie crust, just make the dough and follow the directions in this recipe)
2 ¼ lbs cooking apples, approx. 5 apples
1 1/3 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 eggs
½ cup of milk
½ cup crème fraiche or heavy cream
Ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Core and peel the apples and cut in half. Place apple halves cut side down on a work surface and cut straight down into ¼ inch thick slices. Keep the slices together. Roll out the dough and use it to line a buttered 11-inch tart pan.

Place 9 of the apple halves slices together in the shell. Use the tenth half, separated, to fill in empty spaces.  Sprinkle with 1/3 cup of the sugar. Bake in a hot oven for 25-30 minutes. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the remaining sugar, then add the milk and cream. Pour cream mixture over the apples and put back into hot oven for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until custard is set (this may take longer of using heavy cream instead of crem fraiche). I kind of stick a fork in the top of the custard poking through the top to see if the custard is cooked through. When tart is cooked, sprinkle lightly with the cinnamon. Remove sides and serve warm.

On a side note during out trip to Bitschwiller les Thann we saw this coat of arms above their version of City Hall.

So soon after our trip I made this one out of wood to give to my family. If I can get a better picture of it from them, I will. This was taken a long time ago, before blogging.


Pie Crust

This is my go to pie crust recipe for pies, quiches, tarts and anything that calls for a crust. and it works well.

Pie Crust

2 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, in small pieces
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup water

Mix flour with salt. Cut butter into the flour until mixture is of particles like small peas. Add the egg yolk and water. Mix well with a fork. Knead the dough a few times until it forms a smooth ball. Wrap in wax paper and chill until ready to use, at least 2 hours. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out dough on a floured surface to the desired size, making the dough about ¼ inch thick and 2 inches wider than the bottom of the tart pan. Line baking pan with dough and prick the bottom with a fork. Line shell with cheesecloth and fill it with dried beans or rice. Bake crust in hot oven until lightly browned – about 10 – 12 minutes for larger crusts and less time for smaller ones. If it is for quiche only bake 7 – 8 minutes.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Crock Pot Ribs

I have never made ribs before but came across this recipe for the crock pot and thought I would give it a try.    I am so glad I did!! They turned out so well and everyone in the family loves them! Plus it was really easy to make. Took little time and effort in the morning and had a great meal in the evening.

P.S. Check out her 100 Days of No Processed Foods Crock Pot Style    You will not be dissappointed!

Easy Crock Pot Ribs

5 lbs ribs
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons sucanat or brown sugar
5 tablespoons ketchup
¼ cup water
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Combine garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder and 1 teaspoon salt. Rub into meat. Lay ribs in the bottom of a 5-6 quart greased crock pot. Layer if necessary.  In small bowl combine sucanat (brown sugar), ketchup, water,  Worcestershire sauce, mustard, paprika, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Pour over ribs. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until meat reaches 170 degrees. Remove meat from crock pot and serve.
You can use the remaining juices to make sauce for it, the original recipe calls for you to do so but my family liked it without the sauce so I do not bother with it.  If you want to though, leave the juices in the crock pot, add some flour to it to thicken it up and cook for about 30 minutes on high. The original recipe called to add corn starch but we did not like the taste of it.

Peanut Noodles


     I found this recipe in a Weight Watchers cookbook and instantly fell in love with it. I love pasta and I love peanut sauce, so knew I had to make this. Due to being gluten free I used quinoa noodles, plus they are high in protein. This is a great meal to make when you need a carb and protein boost. I made it when I was working hard getting my scuba certification and needed the extra umpf for my dives. I also added chia seed and ground flax seed for extra protein, anti-oxidants and omega-3. This is one that is hard for me to use portion control on! You do not have to use tofu if you do not want to, you could use any other pre-cooked meat. I think pork or chicken would work well. I use the tofu though. :)

Makes 4 servings, yields 6 cups, 495 calories per serving, 10 WW points per serving

1/2 lb of spaghetti noodles
2 carrots, sliced
1/4 lb fresh snow peas (I did not have any so used fresh green beans)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1/3 cup natural peanut butter (I used more, depends on how you like it)
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons packed brown sugar (I used 2 1/2 tablespoons honey instead)
1 1/2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon canola oil
1 tablespoon minced, peeled fresh ginger (I used more)
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 lb low fat firm tofu, cut into 1/4 inch cubes (or any other pre-cooked meat.)
2 tablespoons chopped unsalted peanuts
1 scallion, chopped
1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, adding carrots, snow peas, and bell pepper during last 2 minutes of cooking; reserve 1/2 cup pasta water and drain.
2. Combine peanut butter, hoisin sauce, brown sugar (or honey), soy sauce, and vinegar in a bowl.
3. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add ginger, garlic, and crushed red pepper; cook 30 seconds. Stir in peanut butter mixture and the reserved pasta water. Cook 3 minutes, stir in tofu, and continue to cook until hot, about 3 minutes longer. Toss in large bowl with the pasta and vegetables, then transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with the peanuts and scallion.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Upcycling used shutters to hang / display pictures


Here again you can see my love of using old shutters for upcycling projects. :) My three year old loves pictures and wanted some hung in her room. I remembered seeing ideas like this on Pinterest and picked up these shutters at the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store. The hardware on the top I also found at the Re-Store and I think were old cabinet hardware. The paint I found on the clearance section at Wal-mart and are the colors of my daughter's curtains. I also used the same paint to paint an old dresser I put in her room. I used binder clips to clip the pictures. I wanted to use clothespins and even bought the mini ones to use with this but this was a small shutter, probably for a cabinet or something and the slats were too close together to fit the clothespins. I also used contact paper to "laminate" the pictures so if my daughter pulled them down she would not ruin the pictures. We can change out the pictures as she gets older and want more recent ones up and I can see this being something she keeps in her room for years. This measures 25 inches high and 10 inches wide.

I did not strip the paint because I learned from a previous project what a huge pain that is, especially with these close together slats. I just did kind of a cursory sanding of it, painted it, and spray lacquered it. This is a rather small one and so I just used some picture hanging hooks on the back of it.
A before picture

Before picture of the hardware



DIY Headboard from Old Door

As far as final product, out of all the DIY projects I have done, this is probably my favorite. We have needed a new headboard for many years but I did not ever really like what I found or if I did like it I did not want to pay the high price. I went through tons, and I mean tons of Pinterest pictures for DIY headboards and toyed with the idea in my head for a couple years before finally just doing it. I picked up an old door from the local Habitat for Humanity Re-Use store for $25 and the crown molding and paint from Lowes. I chose the color paint based on the colors of some wall hangings we have hung above the headboard (not pictured here). I do not really have how I did it step by step because I was not blogging at the time but I got the idea from this website which does have step by step. Of course I made a few changes as I went due to available supplies, time, tools and style.   I did have a before shot but for some reason cannot get it to load. The door was just a used plain white bedroom door. I did not strip the paint off the door but did sand it down a bit to help the paint I put on stick better. I also used pre-fabbed crown molding corners because it just seemed easier. :)

Tabouli Salad

Tabouli is something else I have been eating since I was a kid. It is a popular middle eastern salad and I think super yummy. I ate it a lot when we lived in Egypt when I was growing up. It is normally made with bulgar and some make it with couscous but because I eat wheat and gluten free I make it with quinoa OR grated cauliflower. An added bonus is that quinoa is high in protein. This is a recipe based on one I found in , however I did make a couple revisions.

2 cups water or chicken stock or vegetable stock (I use vegetable stock)
1 cup quinoa, or couscous, or bulgar, or barley or grain of choice OR grated cauliflower.
1 tomato diced
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
1/2 cup green onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup parsley, minced
1/2 cup fresh mint, minced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
Ground pepper to taste
Cilantro to taste (Cilantro is not in any Tabouli recipe but I like it and found it worked well in this dish, I put about 1/3 of a cup in it.)

Cook quinoa or other grain and water or stock according to package directions. Once cooked add the vegetables and chopped herbs and toss to mix. Combine oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper; add to quinoa / vegetable mixture and mix well. Chill for a couple hours or overnight for best results.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


     Sooo, I know it has been a super long time since I have posted anything. About two years I guess. Too much has happened for me to be able to recap all of it but lets just say through all the ups and downs God has been faithful and continues to bless us. I continue to find and make new recipes and thought I would finally bite the bullet and start blogging them again. As far as crochet. I do still enjoy it and it continues to be a stress reliever for me but now that we have moved from Alaska to Hawaii I do not do it as much as I used to. Not to mention my time is kind of filled with kid stuff like homeschooling, dance recitals, taekwondo being an army wife and more island type hobbies (more on that later.)  I still love up-cycling and repurposing old things and will post a few of the projects I have done. For now I will start out small and post a recipe. 
     I do not know when I was first introduced to Gazpacho. I know it was as a kid on one of our many travels and I loved it. From then on, whenever I saw it in a restaurant, I ordered it. Not too long ago I was looking at soup recipes, just wanting a light meal, but again being in Hawaii did not want something hot. I thought of Gazpacho since it is a cold soup and went through several recipes, finally decided on this one and I love it. Not only that my oldest loves it too and asks for it about weekly. I do not make it weekly but he does ask for it.   I agree with this author that gazpacho is supposed to be a little thicker, not soupy and does not need added tomato juice. Refrain from grabbing the tomato juice!

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 10 minutes
2 pounds tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, roughly chopped
½ medium cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped (I do not peel it)
½ red onion, roughly chopped
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
⅓ cup almonds (or almond flour)
One ½-inch slice white bread, torn into 1-inch pieces (gluten free if you need to)
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 medium fresh jalapeño, seeded and roughly chopped (I love this but leave it out if my son is going to be eating it)
2 garlic cloves
Salt and black pepper
1 avocado, thinly sliced (optional)

1. Put the tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, onion, olive oil, almonds, bread, vinegar, jalapeño, and garlic in a blender; season with salt and pepper. Process until smooth, adding up to ½ cup water if necessary. (Work in batches if not all the ingredients fit in your blender at once.)
2. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Refrigerate for up to a few hours before serving or serve immediately, garnished with the avocado if desired.