Sunday, 24 July 2011 18:27

A Simple Recipe for a Relaxing Vacation

Today we are embarking on week two of Vacation Week.  Last week we learned how to make drawstring bags from Jennifer Wiese of Workroom Social (along with a special giveaway! congrats Janice!), ate a summery grilled shrimp dinner, made our Travel Spice Rack, gathered our favorite vacation crafts, and ended the week with a special Staycation home project from Sara Lowman.  On this cloudy Monday morning, we are focusing on the vacation grocery list.  Growing up my family and I took vacations at Sanibel Island and Kiawah Island where we stayed in condos and had a full kitchen and a grill at our fingertips.  When we were younger, my sisters and I would pick out all of our favorite treats at the local grocery store (Piggly Willgly anyone?!) without any real logic or worry for nutrition.  These days we go to the market with a plan for our recipes for the week.  With my youngest sister nearly 22 years old and my middle sister 26, we have become quite the cooks in the kitchen. Its become really fun to hang out with everyone as we compare notes on recipes and catch up in the kitchen.  Its like having Thursday Night Dinner (with my step-dad as an excellent addition!) when we're on vacation.  

Grocery shopping on vacation can be a bit tricky, if you don't go with a plan.  You can end up with way too much and spending far too much money that you could be spending on those super cute shoes you saw in town.  The key is to overlap ingredients and to pick recipes that are simple and absolutely scrumptious.  Try and make a trip to the local farmers market for a lot of your shopping.  This is a great way to get to know your destination spot a bit, have super fresh food, and to save a few bucks. Go here to find a listing of the nearest farmers markets in your vacation area. Today I am sharing a very simple snack recipe, Pineapple with Cilantro on a Stick.  Pineapple has become one of my favorite hot weather snacks.  Its so juicy and sweet and the cilantro adds the perfect little something to mix it up a bit.  Pack it in a cooler to take to the beach or lay it out on the table before dinner.  You can use the fresh cilantro throughout the week in our Chunky Monkey Avocado Dip and our Fresh Fish Tacos.  Use the remainder of the pineapple for Shoko's Grilled Pineapple Sundaes.  

 Pineapple with Cilantro on a Stick pineapple-7122
by Stephania Stanley

What you need: 

  • For salad:
    ¼ lb arugula
    Fresh parmesan, sliced with cheese grater (amount varies to taste)
    pineapple
  • fresh cilantro
  • skewers
Note: Keep your cilantro fresh all week by keeping a damp paper towel wrapped around the bunch.

What to do:

Cut the skin off the pineapple and make 1/4" horizontal sliced pieces (so you have round disc shaped pieces).  Cut the slices into triangles and put three to five pieces on each skewer.  Rinse and roughly chop the cilantro.  Sprinkle each skewer with pineapple with cilantro and serve.  

 

Published in THURSDAYS Blog
Thursday, 21 July 2011 08:31

THURSDAYS-Spacecraft Workshop Followup!

After a very crazed few days, I am very excited to finally show you guys the photos from our first ever crafting workshop!!! Last Sunday we collaborated with the super cool crafting boutique, Spacecraft, and had a garden party themed workshop.  We planned the workshop to have a Thursdays vibe with crafts, food, and girl-time and I am happy to say that it turned out beautifully! We made tin-can planters and fabric garden markers.  We snacked on mozzarella and tomato salad, pineapple, and strawberry shortcake and drank mimosas.  Once our crafts were made we completed them with seeds and soil. It was a fantastic afternoon! I can't wait until my herbs begin to sprout!

Cristina, owner of Spacecraft, and I are currently brainstorming ideas for our August workshop.  Have a craft that you would love to do in a workshop?  Leave a comment and we'll consider it for our next workshop!  

 

staining...

workshopIMG_0944

 

spraying...

workshopIMG_0951

 

cutting...

workshopIMG_0959

workshopIMG_0955

 

Our Fabric Garden Markers...

workshopIMG_0963

 

Our Tin-can Planters...

workshopIMG_0969

workshop

Published in THURSDAYS Blog
Wednesday, 20 July 2011 11:20

Vacation Week: Travel Spice Rack

As I've gotten older and have become one of the primary cooks in my family (my mom still takes the cake!), I have grown to love vacation destinations that include kitchens.  I love to go out to eat, but it's really nice to be able to come in from the beach or lake and make myself a healthy lunch (rather than spending the $15 for a house salad...totally absurd!).  One little hiccup we seem to run into each year is the lack of spices and herbs in the kitchens.  My sister, Meredith, gave me this craft idea a few months ago to take on our family vacation.  This little Travel Spice Rack is the perfect solution to bringing a few ingredients with you, without having to pack a bunch of glass spice jars.  Its super cheap to make and you can simply change the stickers up with each vacation.    

Happy cooking, crafting, & traveling! 

stephania

 Travel Spice Racktravel_spice_rackBIMG_7088
by Stephania Stanley

What you need: 

  • 1 weekly pill dispenser (you can find this at most drug stores)
  • white stickers
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • printer (optional)

 

What to do:

First measure out the lid of the dispenser.  I chose to use Photoshop and a printer to make my stickers, but feel free to use paint, markers, or pens to simply write the names of the spices and herbs as well.  Cut the stickers out and carefully apply each spice/herb over the day of the week.  

Published in THURSDAYS Blog
Monday, 11 July 2011 17:27

Picnic Week: Paper Crafts with Julie Dye

Welcome to day two of Picnic Week! Today I am pleased feature and share a DIY bookmark craft from the super talented paper crafter, Julie Dye.  I first discovered Julie in Florida at the St. Petes Farmer's market. Julie is one handy girl when it comes to paper craft making! frontpage

I knew that she would be perfect for THURSDAYS and her DIY Origami Bookmark would be just the thing you need for any picnic.  

Check out what Miss Julie Dye is all about!

 

1. Your crafts are seriously cute! How did you decide to start a crafting business?
I’ve always been a pretty crafty girl.  Growing up, my mom was always working on knitting or sewing projects.  Taking after her lead me to discover my love of always keeping my hands busy at a young age.  When I was in art school at the Ringling College of Art and Design, I took a bookbinding class for the first time.  I became fascinated with the art form and continued to make all kinds of handmade journals.  A couple of years ago, I decided to try opening an online shop on Etsy, with the intention of trying to sell all the handmade journals I love creating so much.  When I first started, I was selling only journals made with Japanese paper covers, but felt like I wasn’t reaching as large of an audience as I could.  So, I began coming up with ideas for other items I could create with the same beautiful Japanese papers.  I now create many different items including jewelry, accessories, and home accents all made with Japanese paper. 

2.  I imagine these are a labor of love! Do you have a favorite?
I’d have to say that my favorite item to create is constantly changing.  Recently, it would probably be my Kusudama origami flower balls.  They have 60 sheets of paper in each one and are very time consuming to create, but are so beautiful and rewarding when they are finally complete.  I also love that origami is the kind of craft that I don’t need to be at my desk to create.

3.  We've now seen you at the St. Pete’s farmers market and the Brooklyn Renegade Craft fair.  How beneficial do you find having booths at a weekly event such as the farmer's market? What about annual craft fairs? Do you have a favorite crafting event?
I really love participating in weekly farmer’s markets like The Saturday Morning Market in St Pete!  I feel like the farmer’s market is a great way to promote my business locally and it’s always great to experience the public’s reaction to my work.  I also love the community of crafters that I meet when I participate in shows.

My favorite event that I have been involved in is the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn, NY.  This year was my first time participating and it was a lot of work to get ready for, with producing inventory and planning the travel arrangements, but it was definitely worth it in the end.  There was such a great energy at the fair and it was so exciting to see all the different crafts being created by crafters from all over the US.

4.  Running a small business and being in school must be challenging! How do you stay organized?
I’m pursuing a second undergraduate degree in Graphic and Web Design.  I am in school full time during the year and it can be intense sometimes to get everything done.  I find it easiest to stay organized if I focus on one thing at a time.  For example, each week I spend a day or two concentrating on homework.  I try to get it all done at once so I can spend the rest of the week working on my crafts. 

5.  When you're able to squeeze in some downtime, what's your favorite thing to do with your girlfriends? Do you guys have any traditions to help you stay in touch?
I am a big fan of craft beers.  My favorite thing to do with my girlfriends is to go to a local craft beer bar and try something new.  I especially like dark beers that taste like chocolate or coffee.  I am lucky to have a few girlfriends that live close by and we always make a point to get together every couple of weeks to catch up and enjoy some good beer.

DIY Origami Bookmark
by Julie Dye

julie_dyebook

What you need: 

  • one sheet of origami paper

What to do:

 Tutorial

  1. What you’ll need:  One sheet of origami paper
  2. Fold the paper in half diagonally, with the patterned side facing out
  3. Fold the sides of triangle into the center
  4. Unfold the sides of the triangle, and fold the top point of the triangle down to fit into the creases you just made
  5. Fold the sides of the triangle up and tuck the point into the pocket you just made
  6. Use your new bookmark on the corner of a page in your book to hold your place!
Published in THURSDAYS Blog
Monday, 11 July 2011 09:22

Thursdays-Spacecraft Crafting Workshop!

THURSAYS-SPACECRAFT Crafting Workshop! 

photo-9

We are so excited to announce the first ever collaborative workshop with the fabulous craft-making and supply boutique, Spacecraft!  The workshop will be an afternoon full of our favorite Thursdays activities: food, wine, crafting, and friends.  In celebration of summertime gardening, we have chosen to make DIY Tin-can Planters and Fabric Garden Markers.  The workshop will take place on Sunday, July 17th from 1:00 - 4:00pm at Spacecraft.  Sound enticing? It gets better! We are running a special deal for our very first workshop!  Bring a friend  and we'll knock of $10 for each of you, making the fee $15/person (regular $25).  The price includes delicious snacks, wine, and crafting supplies (if you have a coffee tin-can handy we encourage you to bring it!).  

Email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to hold your spot.

Published in THURSDAYS Blog
Tuesday, 07 June 2011 13:31

DIY Summer Hosting Tips

Whether you're having a birthday party or just a celebration of summer, larger gatherings take some planning.  We suggest beginning to plan your summer party about a month in advance to give you plenty of time to determine the invitations, location, menu, and decor.  We like to keep things low-stress around here, so that we can enjoy our parties as much as our guests and don't spend a fortune putting it together.    

1. Location, Location, Location

Picture_5

Choosing the location is key to any summertime gathering.  We typically go for parks nearby or our own backyards/rooftops.  If you decide on a park, make sure that there is a restroom nearby for your guests.  We had Ryder's 5th birthday party at Ft. Greene Park and chose a location in the park that was close enough to the house so that the kiddos wouldn't have to travel too far.

2. Invitations 

launch_party_invite2smaller ryder_invitation
cards Thursdays_invitation

We love making our own invites.  Whether you're design savvy or just scissor savvy, making your own invites is a great way to enhance any theme that you may have for the party (knight and princess anyone?!)  and adds that perfect personal touch.  Ry wanted his invitation to match our knight's colors from Medieval Times (best time ever).  Use your crafting card stock paper, stamps, Photoshop, buttons, ribbon to make your perfect invites.  

3. Menu

cheese_plate-3690 pomegranate_vodka_cockail-2
cherry_bbq_chicken IMG_4918brownie

Remember that it's your party too! Get most of the prep work done the day before so that you have time to relax and hang out with your friends and family as well.  We suggest asking a few of your friends to pitch in as well.  Assign apps, salads, and dessert to your friends so that you can focus on the entree.  Keep costs down and buy your wine at Trader Joe's.   

4. Music Mix

Picture_6

Since flying a New Orleans band to your city is just a tad bit over budget, make a super cool music mix.  Remember the key is to also enjoy the party so rather than trying to decide on the music during the party, put together a couple of different mixes together on your ipod.  Give it some variety and make sure to keep your guests in mind! We don't want Grammy Alice to be forced to listen to Jay-Z's 99 Problems (or for your six year old to start singing the lyrics around your apartment).

5. Decor

flower_pom_pom-2972 flowers_place_settingIMG_3175
r-g_fabric_flags bbq_napkinsIMG_3811

Simplicity is key when it comes to decor.  Here are some of our favorite DIY decor ideas that we use for our parties. These are great ways to make your party feel more inviting and festive.  

Published in THURSDAYS Blog
Wednesday, 01 June 2011 18:14

Crisp Rose and Cucumber Stacks of Summer

Well it is hot, hot, hot in this city and I am seriously looking forward to some time with the ladies.  Colleen and I having been working all week to get the site ready for the big update and having some much deserved downtime with girls is exactly what I need.  Caitlin is officially on summer break and I have been making my transition to freelance photography/food styling and to focusing more on our site.  We have new routines (or lack there of), so our weekly dinner seems especially needed this week.  There is just something comforting about the reliability of a tradition, don't you think?

Today I'm thinking crisp and satisfying for dinner tonight.  I'm looking forward to a nice Rose, Cucumber Stacks of Summer and Ginger Shrimp Stir-Fry.  For the craft, I am going to be making more of our Spiral Hair Clips.  I've been wearing my hair in one of those low side buns recently and want to have a few more accessories for it.  I'm going to try and make it more pouffy or add in a few more layers this time to work with the bun.  

Happy cooking & crafting! 

Stephania

Cucumber Stacks of Summercucumber_stacks_of_summer-5706
by emily ross

What you need:

  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 5 raw walnuts, chopped finely
  • 12 basil leaves
  • 1 red chili pepper, diced
  • 1 cucumber, sliced to 1/8” pieces

What to do:

On a large serving plate, lay out a single layer of cucumbers.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, mash together the avocado, diced tomato, walnut, chili pepper (to taste), and four finely ripped basil leaves.  Lay ½ of a basil leaf over each cucumber round and then spoon a dollop of avocado mixture over each stack.

 


Ginger Shrimp Stir-fry
by Colleen and Stephania

What you need:

Cooked rice (there will be three or four of us, so we will do 4 cups water, and 2 cups dry rice; cooked to package instruction. we currently have long grain white rice at the house)

  • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sherry (dry white wine is ok)
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 garlic glove, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped ginger (1/2 tsp ground ginger)
  • ¾ pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 tbsp peanut oil
  • ½ pound asparagus cut into ½” long pieces
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 4 oz mushrooms sliced (if Colleen’s in charge of cooking she usually “forgets” to add the mushrooms)

What to do:

Note: We make this recipe a lot because we tend to have most of the ingredients around the house and we love stir-fries because they are like main dish and side all in one.  We often will add other veggies we have around like peppers and zucchini to give the dish more volume.

Whisk together thoroughly soy sauce, sherry, garlic, cornstarch and ginger in a medium bowl. Add shrimp and coat with sauce. Set aside for 10 minutes.

In your biggest skillet, heat 1 ½ tbsp peanut oil over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, remove shrimp with slotted spoon and add to skillet. Set aside the rest of the sauce. Stir-fry until shrimp turns pink, about a minute on each side. Place shrimp on a plate.

Add the other 1 ½ tbsp peanut oil to skillet. When the oil is hot, add asparagus, scallions, mushrooms and stir-fry until veggies are tender. This will be 5-7 minutes. Return shrimp to skillet and add the rest of the sauce and stir fry until heated through and sauce is thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Serve over rice immediately.

Veggie option:

If there are veg heads in your midst, microwave fake chicken patties for about 45 seconds so they are soft enough to cut into bite size cubes. Let stand in sauce for 10 minutes like you would with the shrimp. Sauté chicken pieces for 3-5 minutes, flipping occasionally. Transfer to plate and cook the veggies for 5-7 minutes.  Add the chicken and stir fry with the veggies for about 3 minutes.

Story:

We made the mistake only once of buying shrimp that weren’t already de-gutted. After a lot of disgusted groans and about 30 minutes, Caitlin, Stephanie and Kyra finally got all the little guys de-veined.  We’ve decided the little bit of extra cost will always be worth it in this case.

and the craft...

Spiral Broche and Hairclip

by Stephania

What you need:

  • 1 8 x 2 ½” piece of fabric
  • 1 1  x ¼” piece of fabric
  • Thread
  • Needle
  • Safety pin
  • Bobby pin
IMG_5133

What to do:

Begin by tightly twisting the 8 x 2 ½” piece of fabric. As you twist, circle the fabric around, creating a spiral. On one side of the spiral, sew together each row about ¼” at a time so that you are twisting and circling and then securing by sewing. Repeat until your pin has reached your desired size. To finish sew at each end (vertically) the remaining piece of fabric across the same side that you just sewed. This will hold your Bobby pin or safety pin. Cut off any extra ends of fabric and you are all done!

Published in THURSDAYS Blog
Thursday, 12 May 2011 19:39

Our Favorite Warm Weather Recipes and Crafts

It is officially Friday and I am ready for the weekend.  As Ryder's birthday festivities continue through the weekend, we'll be busy with Harry Potter and Star Wars Lego, vanilla cupcakes with vanilla icing, his new super cute Star Wars chefs apron (pics to come later!), and Night at the Museum: 2 (Ry's new favorite movie).  It should be quite the extravaganza! This Friday we're going to leave you with our current favorite warm weather recipes and crafts to enjoy throughout the weekend.  

Happy cooking & crafting! 

Stephania

Spicy California Roll

What You Need:_MG_1843

For the rice:

  • 2 cups sushi or short grain rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

For the rolls:

  • 1 cup prepared sushi rice
  • ½ avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 4 crab sticks or real king crabmeat
  • ½ cucumber, cut vertically and peeled
  • 1 sheet of nori seaweed
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 3 drops hot pepper sauce (preferably Japanese hot pepper sauce)
  • Bamboo rolling mat (optional)

What to Do:

For the rice:

Rinse rice thoroughly in cold water.  Over medium heat, combine water and rice in a medium pot.  Keeping the lid off, bring water to boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes.  Keep the lid on.

 While the rice is standing, combine the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium-high heat for two minutes, or until sugar is dissolved; stir often.  Take out a 13” x 9” glass baking dish and, when the rice is ready, scoop the rice into the baking dish.  Use a spatula to spread the rice evenly so that there is a nice, even layer of rice.  Next, pour the vinegar mixture evenly over the rice.  Using a spatula, gently fold the rice so that the vinegar mixture is spread thoroughly throughout the rice.  Let the rice cool to room temperature before making your rolls.

 For the rolls:

Slice the avocado into ¼” thick pieces.  Next, cut the halved cucumber in half again, vertically.  Cut ¼” thick slices and set aside.  Spread plastic wrap over the bamboo rolling mat or on a flat surface.  Lay the sheet of nori on the plastic sheet and spread the rice over the nori sheet.  Sprinkle sesame seeds over the rice, pat down with spatula, and gently flip over the rice and nori layers together.  Coat the nori sheet with mayonnaise and hot pepper sauce.  Place avocado, cucumber, and crabmeat in the center of the nori sheet.  Tightly roll the bamboo mat and ingredients into a cylinder.  Make sure not to roll the bamboo mat inside the roll, but use it as a guide to make the cylinder shape.  Cut roll horizontally into six pieces.

Serve with ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce on the side.

Veggie Option:

Double the amount of cucumber and avocado and omit the crabmeat.  If you want a plain cucumber or avocado roll, simply triple the amount of whichever kind of roll you want and omit the crabmeat and the other ingredient.

 

Lemony Shrimp Pasta
by colleen and stephania

What you need:

          For the lemon oil:
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zested
         For the pasta:
  • 1 lb linguine or angel hair pasta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 16 oz frozen shrimp
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 oz arugula (about 3 packed cups)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano (or parsley or basil)

What to do:

For the lemon oil:pasta-arugula-shrimp-ck-l

Combine the olive oil and the lemon zest in a small bowl and reserve.

For the pasta:

Bring water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

While water is boiling, heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked linguine, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine. Turn off the heat and add the arugula. Using a slotted spoon, strain the lemon zest out of the reserved lemon olive oil and add the oil to the pasta. The zest can be discarded. Add some of the cooking water to desired consistency. Add the chopped oregano to the pasta and toss to combine. Serve immediately. This will yield 4-6 servings, so cut in half if necessary. I'm also going to throw some of the parmesan from the beans on top before serving.

(photo from find.myrecipes.com)

Cucumber Stacks of Summer
by emily ross

What you need:

  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 5 raw walnuts, chopped finely
  • 12 basil leaves
  • 1 red chili pepper, diced
  • 1 cucumber, sliced to 1/8” pieces

What to do:

On a large serving plate, lay out a single layer of cucumbers.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, mash together the avocado, diced tomato, walnut, chili pepper (to taste), and four finely ripped basil leaves.  Lay ½ of a basil leaf over each cucumber round and then spoon a dollop of avocado mixture over each stack.

And the crafts...


Homemade Bubbles
by Colleen

What you need:

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp light karo syrup or 2 tbsp glycerin
  • 4 tbsp dishwashing liquid

What to do:bubbles_2

Mix together and have at it!
 

Sweet Seashell Candles
by Colleen

What you need:

  • Seashells, gather them yourself or buy at a craft store if you're landlocked; deep seashells such as clams work best
  • Parrafin wax or existing candles
  • Double boiler
  • Wicks, cut to 2-3"
  • Metal wick holders

What to do:seashells

 

If you gathered your own shells, clean them well; you can use water alone or a weak mixture of bleach and water. Let them dry completely. Melt paraffin or existing candles in the top of double boiler. Use wax that makes a nice complement to the color of your shells—mauve, pink, yellow and white usually look really nice. Put cut wick into metal holders and set aside. Once the wax has melted, carefully pour into the shell and place the wick and holder in the bottom of the shell; be careful not to burn your little fingers! Trim the wick if it’s drooping at all. Let cool for 30 minutes. Keep in mind, the wax on top dries the fastest.

If you want to use these outside as insect repellent, simply stir in a ½ teaspoon of citronella oil after the wax melts in the double boiler.  Perfect to create an ambience for your outdoor Thursday!

Fun Flip-Flops
by Colleen & Stephania

What you need:

  • A pair of plain rubber flip-flops
  • 2 yards seam binding or ribbon
  • Fabric glue
  • Embellishments (beads, buttons, rhinestones, etc)
  • Scissors

What to do:

Cut approximately one yard of seam binding or ribbon. Wrap the ribbon or binding around one side of the flip-flop strap, starting from the back and working your way up to the toe divider. Secure the binding or ribbon at both ends with a dab of fabric glue.  Repeat on the other side of the strap.  You can leave the flip-flop as it is, or glue embellishments onto the top of the newly ribboned strap for a more festive look.  Repeat for the second flip-flop.

Story:
As soon as the weather warms, we are sock-less for the entirety of the summer, but your average flip flops are a bit too boring for us. This is an easy way to turn an ordinary pair of rubber flip-flops into some seriously fun summer foot wear.

Published in THURSDAYS Blog
Tuesday, 03 May 2011 19:20

Thursday Night Dinner: Cinco de Mayo Style

In honor of Cinco de Mayo we are doing a special Thursday Night Dinner this evening.  Tonight we’re going to have skirt steak tacos and then for the craft we get to smack our bird piñata with a baseball bat (kids don’t always get to have all of the fun!).  This should be a pretty good night! However, before making your tacos, let me first recommend to you my new favorite hot sauce: See Jane Burn (they all have very silly names).  To back up a bit my youngest sister, Meredith, goes to Tulane University down in New Orleans.  New Orleans has got to be one of my all time favorite cities.  If I had to describe New Orleans’ food in one word it would be: immaculate.  I just can’t get enough of the duck and the oysters and the shrimp po’ boys! I think I leave that city a few pounds heavier after every visit.  One of my new favorite things to do in New Orleans is to buy and then try all of the different hot sauces.  There is a little shop down in the French Quarter that sells dozens and dozens of different kinds of hot sauce.  Last time I bought See Jane Burn (they also had See Dick Burn), Ass Kickin' Hot Sauce, and some kind of Obama (yes, even Obama) hot sauce.  I've only scratched the surface and I can't wait to go down and try some more.  I highly recommend topping off your skirt steak taco with a dash of hot sauce. 

Happy Cinco de Mayo to all of you! 

stephania 

 Skirt Steak Tacos
by stephania stanley

What you need: 

  • 1 lb skirt steak (sliced into ¾” strips)
  • 1 clove of garlic (minced)
  • 2 cups of red cabbage (diced)
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup sliced Gruyer
  • ½ cup cilantro (chopped)
  • 1 tbs. of butter
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 dash chili powder
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1 dash ground black pepper
  • 6 – 10 corn tortillas
Note: This recipe comes together quickly. We recommend having almost everything chopped and ready to go before you start cooking the steak. We suggest serving this with our Chunky Monkey Avocado Dip, hot sauce, and diced jalapeños (for some extra heat).  

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.  Place your tortillas in the oven and let them sit until you are ready to serve.  Take out a large skillet and put it over medium-high heat.  Add butter and once the butter is melted throw the garlic into the pan.  Saute the garlic for about two to three minutes and then add the steak.  Add the cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper.  Cook the steak for about 7 minutes for medium rare (leave it on for another minute or two if you like your steak more cooked) and remove from heat.

Squeeze ½ a lemon over the steak and divide the remaining ingredients to make your tacos.

 Chunky Monkey Avocado Dip
by Colleen Reilly

What you need:avocado339B2582

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic (finely diced)
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (finely chopped)
  • 1 lime
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
Note:Serve with blue tortilla chips and salsa as a snack while you’re preparing the rest of your meal or as a side with burritos or tacos.

What to do:

In a small mixing bowl, add diced onion and garlic. Slice roma tomatoes in half. Over a trash can, squeeze out their guts. Do this for each half. Dice what is left of the tomato into very small pieces and add to the bowl. With a sharp knife, slice each avocado in half long ways. Hold the avocado in both hands and turn each half away from the other to separate the halves. Run your knife around the pit to loosen. Using a spoon, gently scoop out the pit. If the avocado is ripe, the pit will pop right out. Slicing between the skin and the avocado’s insides with your knife, plop the insides into the bowl.

Using your (washed!) fingers or the back of a spoon or a potato masher, mash up the avocado mixture carefully so you don’t crush up the tomatoes. Because you aren’t using a food processor, this dip will be chunky. Once the dip is to the desired consistency, grind or sprinkle on pepper and add a tiny dash of salt and a dash of cayenne pepper. Slice the lime in half and squeeze one half over the mixture, seed side up so the deeds don’t fall into the bowl. Mix all ingredients with a spoon until they are evenly distributed and you’re ready to go!

This will make about 2 cups of dip. Easily doubled or tripled—just add more of everything!

 Cuckoo-Ca-Choo Pinata
by stephania stanley

What you need:cuckoo-ca-choo2

  • 2 balloons (one big and one small, size will depend on how big you want your bird)
  • 8x10” sheet of card stock
  • At least 4 large sheets of tissue paper (3 colors for beak, body, and wings)
  • Newspaper (at least 5 sheets)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup flour
  • Glue
  • Paintbrush for glue
  • Scissors
  • Scotch tape
  • Pencil
  • Exacto knife
  • Thread
  • Strong needle

What to do:

Blow up both balloons and secure with knot.  Tape the smaller balloon to the top end of the large balloon.  This will be the head and the body of the bird.  Now its time for the paper mache! In a small mixing bowl, combine flour and water.  Stir until well blended and set aside. Tear newspaper sheets into 2x 5” strips.  Submerge one strip into the flour mixture.  Wipe off the excess flour mixture between your index and middle finger; this will prevent a longer drying time. Lay strip flat over balloon and repeat until you have covered the entire bird two times.  If you want the piñata to be a bit more challenging to break open, we suggest making three to four layers of newspaper strips.  Set bird on a plastic surface and let it dry over night.

Cut the colored tissue paper that you have chosen for the body into 2x 2” squares. Once the paper mache is dry, dab a thin strip of glue with the paintbrush at the back end of the bird. We suggest working from the back to the front so that the tissue paper pieces layer nicely.  Repeat with glue and tissue paper around the bird in a circular motion.  Begin a second row of tissue paper gluing just ¼” above the first row so that the tissue paper pieces layer (this will prevent the newspaper from showing through).  Repeat until the bird’s body and head are completely covered with tissue paper.

For the wings, cut slightly longer strips of tissue paper of the body and wing colors you have picked out.  We cut ours to be about 2 x 4” long.  We find it easier to establish the shape of the wing by starting at the top of the bird this time.  The rows that you make for the wings can be made slightly further apart (about ½”) than the rows of tissue paper for the body.  Make sure to glue each row underneath the previous row while you work towards the bottom of the body.  Use the colors in a 4:1 ratio so that the primary color used is the one you have chosen for the wings.  It’s helpful to look at a photo of a bird to get the shape of the wings correct.

Next, it’s time to make the beak.  Draw a curved triangle shape that is about 2” long on the cardstock.  Cut out the triangle with your scissors and then trace and cut a second triangle so that that you have two rounded triangles cut.  Using the cardstock as a template, trace and cut two rounded triangles from the tissue paper you’ve put aside for the beak.  Apply a thin layer of glue to one side of each cardstock triangle and glue down the tissue paper.  Cut and trace another two rounded triangles from the tissue paper you used for the body and glue those pieces to the other sides of the cardstock triangles.  At this point you should have two triangles with one side the beak color and the other side the body color.  Layer triangles together so that the body color is on the inside and the beak color is on the outside.  Use your hands to curve the triangles, forming a beak shape.  While holding the beak shape with one hand, hold it up to the bird where you want the beak to go and trace each side with a pencil.  Use an exacto knife and cut a thin slit on each line you traced and fit the beak snuggly into the slits.

For the eyes, trace a quarter and cut two circles from the cardstock and two circles from the tissue paper used for the body.  Using your paintbrush, apply a thin layer of glue and affix one circle of tissue paper to each cardstock circle.  Dab two small circles of glue where the eyes should be on the piñata and glue down the cardstock.

Using your exacto knife again, cut a three-sided opening on the top of the body,  which will be the opening for the candy.  Don’t be surprised if you pop the balloon here.  Going through the candy opening, thread one long loop of thread through the top of the body so that you can hang our piñata.  Secure thread tying a knot; hang that bird up, and smack away!
Published in THURSDAYS Blog
Thursday, 12 August 2010 10:58

Back to the Midwest

Back Home Again in Indiana...

This week I'm back home visiting my family.  My mom will be doing the cooking this week, which is such a treat! Colleen is driving in for a visit and we'll be making Pretty Pretty Flower Pots for my mom's backyard.

 

Enjoy!

stephaniaCherry BBQ Chicken

Cherry BBQ Chicken

by Pam Christy

What you need:

  • 6 chicken legs/breasts
  • Cherry BBQ Sauce (we bought American Spoon)

What to do: 

In a large baking dish, marinate chicken with Cherry BBQ Sauce about two hours before grilling.  If you can’t find Cheery BBQ Sauce premade, pick up about ½ cup of red tart cherries at the grocery store.  Mash them up using a food processor so that they are nearly liquefied and mix it with a jar of regular BBQ sauce.

Grill chicken for about six or seven minutes on each side, or until the chicken is cooked.

Remove from heat and serve.

Story:

My mom is a master at the grill. It is a goal of mine to one day become as talented as she is at the grill. Every time I come home she grills out nearly every night and her BBQ chicken is one of my favorites. The Cheery BBQ sauce was a new try this time and it was delish! She serves it with corn on the cob, salad, and green beans.

 

 

 


Pretty Pretty Flower PotPretty Pretty Flower Pot

by Colleen Reilly

What you need:

  • Terra-cotta flower pot
  • Sandpaper
  • Polyurethane
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brushes or sponges

What to do: 

Seal the inside of your terra-cotta flower pot with 2 to 3 coats of polyurethane and let dry completely. Clean the outside of the pot, sanding away any rough spots so you have a smooth surface for painting. Using a paintbrush or a sponge, apply a base coat of acrylic paint to the outside of the pot. Using white or a light color is your best bet so you can decorate over it with bright colors. Once the base coat has dried, decorate the outside of the flower pot to your desire. Stripes and polka dots are particularly striking. Let the paint dry completely. Seal the outside of the flower pot with at least 2 coats of polyurethane.


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