Feb 262013

Every Friday night is Movie Night at our house. We rotate who’s turn it is to pick the movie and the rules are that the person choosing the movie gets to choose dinner too. Right now that means that we’re eating french fries at least two Fridays a month and we’re lucky if its not Dino chicken nuggets twice a month as well.

This past Friday night was our little guy’s turn to pick, and my husband steered him in the direction of Salchipapas. Salchi-whatas you might say? They’re hotdogs (salchichas in Spanish) and french fries (papas fritas) mixed on a plate together – the ultimate low-brow Peruvian street food. We should have been eating them out of a little cardboard boat but plates worked much better for our living-room picnic.

Thinking of salchipapas and movies reminds me of a sign I saw on the door of a movie theater in Trujillo, Peru years ago. It admonished the patrons No esta permitida la entrada con comida ni salchipaps – No entrance permitted with food or salchipapas. I guess it was a popular contraband item at that theater.

The recipe couldn’t be simpler – bake french fries in the oven following the directions on the package (or cut up potatoes and deep fry your own – but I think that might defeat the purpose of this simple dish). Meanwhile slice hotdogs into rounds about 1/2-inch think and saute them in a skillet over medium high heat until they’re warmed through and toasty brown on the edges. Mix the fries and dogs together on a plate or in a small bowl and serve with ketchup and mustard for dipping (if you want the real authentic experience eat them with a toothpick).

This post has been shared at this great link party – check it out! Miz Helen’s Country Cottage,  

Feb 242013

Easter’s coming up and I’m starting to think about how I’ll decorate this year. Its still a bit early to hang up our Easter eggs in the trees outside, but I came up with a cute little scene in a flower pot to put on our bookcase that’s whimsical and fun. Here’s a tutorial for an Easter Bunny planter with little signs pointing out the way for cute bunnies.

Here’s what you’ll need: A flower pot, moss (real or artificial), something to fill the pot with (dirt or styrofoam/filler), a branch or dowel, craft sticks, acrylic craft paint, a craft knife or small saw, a paintbrush or two, a hot-glue gun and some little bunny or Easter egg figures.

 First measure your branch against the size of your pot and trim it so that its not too tall – it should be about double the size of the pot. Next, trim your craft sticks so that they’ve got a pointed end and a flat end – they don’t have to be perfect, it will look better if its rustic.

I trimmed my craft sticks using a craft knife and I had to score the wood and then break it off – the knife wasn’t quite strong enough to cut cleanly through.

Next paint the sticks in whichever colors you’d like – paint both sides of the sticks and the edges too.

Once you’ve painted the sticks you’ll need to paint the destinations on them – I used rabbit literary references for ours. I painted the words on both sides of the sticks so I could decide afterwards which side looked better and still be able to alternate the arrows.

The Briar Patch = Br’er Rabbit, Mr. McGregor’s Garden = Peter Rabbit, Toon Town = Roger Rabbit, Bunny Hill = where the Easter Bunny skis.

Next, you’ll need to use a hot-glue gun to glue the signs to the branch or dowel. Once the glue’s dried you can put the branch in the pot and then fill it with your fill material. I used real moss from my garden so I filled my pot with soil, but if you’re using artificial moss you could fill the pot with anything under the moss. You will want a bit of weight though to balance out the weight of the branch and keep the pot and branch upright.

Finally you can add whatever little figure you’d like to the pot – I used these sisal bunnies but tiny easter eggs would be cute too, or little birds, tulips or daffodils, or . . ? The possibilities are endless.

This post was linked up to these great link parties – check ’em out! Flamingo Toes, Nifty Thrifty Things, LambAround, Twigg Studios, Sunny Simple LifeCuddlebug CutiesI Heart NaptimeLife on Lakeshore Drive, Craft-O-ManiacSumo’s Sweet StuffHomemaker on a Dime, Keeping It Simple, C.R.A.F.T., Lil’ LunaSew Much Ado, Creations by KaraGingersnap Crafts, Lady Behind the Curtain, My Girlish Whims, Not Just a Housewife, Osie Moats, Clean & Scentsible, My World Made By HandSomeday Crafts, The Busy Bees, The Crafty Blog Stalker, Chocolate Chocolate and More, House of Hepworths, 733 Blog, Momnivore’s Dilemma, Katie’s Nesting Spot, One Creative Procrastinating Gal, Seven Alive, Madcap Frenzy, Beyond the Picket FenceCreate Craft Love, The Shabby Nest, Romantic Home, Finding Fabuous, Simply Sweet Home, Ladybird Ln, Diana Rambles, A Vision To Remember, Funky Junk Interiors, Six Sisters’ Stuff, Angels Homestead, Serenity Now, Today’s Creative Blog., Bear Rabbit Bear, Artsy-Fartsy Mama, Fireflies and Jellybeans, 504 Main,                                                                                 

Feb 202013

As part of my ongoing effort to save money on groceries plus feed my family good real food, we ate spaghetti with vegetables and meatballs for dinner. The vegetables were again courtesy of my grocery-gleaning neighbor, the pasta was from the pantry and the meatballs were Trader Joe’s turkey version.

I sauteed the chopped onions, green and yellow peppers, zucchini and tomatoes in olive oil until they started to soften; added salt, pepper, garlic powder and dried basil and waited until the tomatoes gave up some of their juice, and added the meatballs to heat through. Then served the sauce and meatballs over cooked pasta and topped it off with fresh grated Parmesan This was a fun dinner because the kids helped me chop the veggies using butter knives – I think they eat better at dinner when they’ve helped make it.

Feb 192013
This is the same Amish Friendship Bread recipe that I last saw when my neighbor passed me a baggie of bread starter in 2007, and before that when I got it from a co-worker in 2003, and before that from a friend way back sometime in the 1990s. I have no idea who invented it, as its always been passed on via slightly blurry photocopies without any attribution. If you are reading this and you happen to be the original creator of this friendship bread recipe please contact me – I’d love to know who you are!!
The recipe works just fine and the bread that it makes is very good – its a sweet bread similar to banana or zucchini bread – and this time I made it exactly from the recipe (with one very slight variation). Next time, however, I’ll make a few more variations to see how it turns out. Mainly I think I’ll skip the pudding mix because I’m not sure what it even adds to the bread. 
Thanks so much to Alma for sending some friendship bread starter my way. Also, I’ve re-homed two of my bags of starter but one’s still up for grabs so if I know you in real life let me know if you’d like some! If you’d like to make this bread and don’t have a friendly bag of starter handy, I’ve posted the recipe for the starter here.
Amish Friendship Bread

Do not use a metal spoon (using metal with your starter will cause an acidic reaction that will ruin it) and do not refrigerate the starter. Let air out of the plastic bag occasionally or it could explode.

Day 1: You received fermented batter (starter) in a one-gallon bag. Do nothing but place the bag on the kitchen counter. If you didn’t receive the starter on Day 1, go by the date on the bag.
Day 2: Squeeze the bag.
Day 3: Squeeze the bag.
Day 4: Squeeze the bag.
Day 5: Squeeze the bag.
Day 6: Add 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of milk to the bag and squeeze several times.
Day 7: Squeeze the bag and let some air out.
Day 8: Squeeze the bag and let some air out.
Day 9: Squeeze the bag and let some air out.
Day 10:  Today is the day to make the bread and divide the starter for your friends. In a large non-metallic bowl combine the starter with 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1 1/2 cups milk. Mix with a wooden spoon. Pour four 1-cup starters (don’t use a metal measuring cup!) into 4 one-gallon Ziplock bags. Write the Day 1 date on the bag (today’s date) and the Day 6 and Day 10 dates as well. Pass out to your friends with a copy of these instructions.

the remaining starter
1 cup oil (or 2 cups applesauce)
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 small or 1 large box instant vanilla pudding
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
optional: 1 cup chopped nuts or 1/2 cup raisins, chocolate chips or blueberries.

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and grease two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans. Mix 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 3 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle it over the bottom of the two pans.

2. Add all of the ingredients to the remaining batter in the bowl and mix well.

3. Pour the batter into the loaf pans and bake in the oven for 1 hour. The bread is done when a skewer or cake tester comes out clean from the middle.

I’ve shared this post at these great link parties – check ’em out! Sew Much Ado, Creations By Kara, My World – Made By Hand, Sugar and Dots, Buns In My Oven, Fireflies and Jellybeans, House of Hepworths, Yesterday on Tuesday, Miz Helen’s Country KitchenMomnivore’s DilemmaThe Busy Bee’s, Chocolate Chocolate and More, Not Your Ordinary Recipes, Fingerprints on the Fridge, Rattlebridge Farm, A Little Knick Knack, Addicted to RecipesJam HandsMake Ahead Meals for Busy Moms,                     

Feb 192013

Just in case you wanted to make up a batch of Amish Friendship Bread but none of your friends has any starter handy, here is the recipe to make up the starter from scratch. Now you can start the chain bread amongst your group!

Amish Friendship Bread Starter
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110 F)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup warm milk (110 F)

Important: Do not use metal at all for this recipe – no metal bowls, spoons or measuring cups. 
1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
2. Stir the flour and sugar together in a bowl.
3. Add the milk and yeast/water mixture into the flour and sugar and stir well to dissolve the lumps.
4. Transfer the starter into a ziplock bag, do not refrigerate it, and follow the recipe for Amish Friendship Bread, starting at Day 1.

Feb 172013

We went downtown to the Seattle Art Museum yesterday (me, the kids and their Ama) to see the show Elles: SAM before it closes tomorrow. We especially wanted to see the work by Yayoi Kusama because my daughter’s art class had watched a video about her and made pictures inspired by her work.

One of her signatures is using polka dots, and the kids really enjoyed her paintings (especially the giant five panel pink one!) but the favorite piece was a rowboat completely covered with stuffed work gloves and painted silver. Nestled in amongst the gloves were pieces of fruit, also painted, and the longer we looked at the piece the more fruit we saw.

We took a quick look through the other galleries and then headed down to the small kids’ play area on the first floor. On our way we passed an alcove with a creativity station – tables with paper and colored pencils for people to use. Viv and I both made drawings inspired by what we’d seen upstairs.

 Posted by at 1:52 am
Feb 132013

This past weekend we had a family get-together where we celebrated the Lunar New Year with a Chinese takeout feast. We had two sets of kids’ chopsticks (the kind that are joined at the top to make it easier for kids to use them) but with three little kids at dinner there was trouble brewing. Then, my brilliant sister shared this easy trick using takeout chopsticks – its so quick and simple I wish I had known it years ago! Now, this might be one of those things that everyone else in the world knew about besides me, but just in case its not I thought I’d share the how-to here.

Step 1: All you need to make this work are two things: a pair of wooden takeout chopsticks with their paper wrapper and a rubber band or hair elastic.

Step 2: Separate the chopsticks.

Step 3: Fold the paper wrapper in half horizontally (the long way).

Step 4: Roll up the paper wrapper into a thick little tube.

Step 5: Stick the rolled up wrapper between the chopsticks about two inches from the top and then wrap the rubber band around both chopsticks above the roll.

 Step 6: Eat up all that yummy Chinese food like a boss!

This post is linked up at this great blog party – check it out! Diana Rambles, House of Hepworths, Yesterday on Tuesday, The Busy Bee’s, Fingerprints on the FridgeA Little Knick Knack, Cuddlebug Cuties, Creative Jewish Mom,         

Feb 102013

I made these easy (really super easy) felt Valentine’s drink coasters the other day, as part of my “spruce up the house for holidays other than Christmas” plan for this year. I was browsing blogs last week and came across some cute felt coasters that were sewn and embroidered. They were super cute, but I wanted something even easier and that could be done by my five-year-old as well. I happen to have a bit of a felt stockpile right now, so I came up with these!

Follow along with these 5 simple steps:

1. Cut two (or more) colors of felt into equal squares – you’ll want three squares for each coaster (I made four coasters so I cut out 12 squares). I used three layers so they would protect the furniture better from hot and cold liquids, so if the coasters are solely for decoration you could use two layers.

2. Stack the felt into piles, alternating colors of the top two layers for a better effect.

3. Cut heart shapes or other designs into the top layer of felt (I used pinking shears and regular scissors) and save the cut-out pieces to use as well.

4. Use regular old white glue to glue the layers and cutouts together.

5. Trim the edges of each coaster – I used pinking shears for this for a scalloped edge, but regular scissors would work as well.

My daughter really enjoyed this craft as well; she needed a bit of help cutting out some of the shapes but designed and glued her own coasters.

I’ve linked up to these great link parties – check ’em out! Your Thriving Family, I Heart Naptime, Homemaker On A Dime, Tumbleweed Contessa, Sew Much Ado,    

Feb 052013

Apparently pound cake lends itself to endless variations: here is the third iteration of this recipe, and its also pretty dang good.

I had a request to make Raspberry Lime Pound Cake for a birthday gathering this past weekend, but when I went to the store to get the ingredients they didn’t have raspberries. The produce manager gave me kind of a hard time for even asking for them since it’s mid-winter – of course I bought raspberries there two weeks ago so its not that strange of a request. I decided to use blueberries, and thought lemon would go better with the blueberries than lime would. Of course then I needed to substitute something for the raspberry liqueur so I used vanilla extract. It all worked – I wonder how I will tweak it next time!

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake

1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 ¼ cup (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
5 large eggs
1 Tbs vanilla extract
2 tsp lemon zest (from 3 small lemons – save the lemon juice for the glaze)
2 cups plus 8 Tbs all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
3 cups blueberries

Lemon Syrup
1/3 cup lemon juice (from 3 small lemons)
1/3 cup granulated sugar

11/2 cups confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
zest and juice from one small lemon
Prepare a 9-cup bundt pan by greasing and flouring the pan. 

Rinse the berries, toss them with two tablespoons of flour and set them aside.

Cream the sugar and butter in a large bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed until they are light and fluffy. Add the eggs, beating after each egg until combined, then add the vanilla extract and lemon zest and beat for another minute or so on medium speed until they are well mixed.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and then add the dry ingredients to the egg/sugar/butter mixture in the large bowl and beat briefly just to combine. Then fold in the floured berries to the mix and pour/scrape the batter into the prepared bundt pan.

Put the pan into a cold oven and turn the oven on to 300 degrees F (I used convection) and bake the cake for 70 minutes – test it at that point and if a skewer or toothpick comes out clean the cake is done. 

While the cake is baking mix the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan and heat over low heat until the sugar dissolves completely. Let the cake cool for five minutes in the pan, and then invert it onto a plate or rack and brush the lemon syrup over the cake, letting it absorb into the cake. Then let the cake cool completely before glazing it.

For the glaze, sift the powdered sugar into a bowl, then zest a small lemon into the sugar. Squeeze about half the lemon into the sugar and whisk well, then add more lemon juice if needed to make a glaze.