Thursday, July 21, 2016

Coconut Chia Pudding

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I've been wanting to try the chia pudding trend--the images on Pinterest all look so tasty, but I was worried that looks would be deceiving and I'd be sad to waste good ingredients.  As luck would have it, I was waiting for a flight and the cafe near my gate was a place called Naked Food with all kinds of whole food choices, including a chia pudding with mangoes. It was a worthy purchase--it was so tasty!  So I headed home to replicate it at home with great success.

This stuff is super simple, and while I've only tried it with the coconut milk, other recipes around the internet use all kinds of milks.

2 C. coconut milk (I used canned full fat Thai coconut milk, not the box kind)
1/2 C. chia seed
1 tsp. vanilla
1 packet of stevia

Whisk it all together and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.  The seeds swell and gel the liquid, but mine stayed a bit crunchy.  Top with fruit and enjoy.  I divided it into 6 servings. I hear that if you have a super blender, you can puree the mix before refrigerating and you'll end up with a smooth pudding.  Maybe I'll try that (and maybe I'll try the box coconut milk and some chocolate).

Sunday, June 12, 2016

It will come-Inspirational printable

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I like a good inspirational quote to hang up where I'm sure to see it around my house.  The bathroom mirror, the door out to the garage, the mantle in the living room.  This quote is from runner Meb Keflezighi, the guy who won the Boston Marathon in 2014 (the first American male to do so in about 30 years, and at age 39 one of the oldest).  No doubt, its a good quote for marathon running inspiration--but I think it works for the day-to-day stuff too.

The link should take you directly to a downloadable file. I generally print mine up to fit an 8x10 frame.

Maybe Tomorrow Quote

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Blueberry Sour Cream Custard Pie with Olive Oil Crust

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 For my birthday this year, I had a delicious dinner at a fun restaurant called The DoDo.  They have very tasty food options, but they are well known for their great dessert menu.  I chose to be particularly indulgent that night (hey, it was my birthday!) and got the Sour Cream Blueberry pie. I was expecting something like a lemon meringue with a blueberry topping, but it was completely different...and really, really good!  Instead, it was somewhere between a blueberry pie and a cheesecake, all mixed together with a nut topping.

Some searching around the internet showed something that resembled it called a blueberry custard pie--so I thought I'd give it a shot to see if it was like the dessert in my memory.  I'm happy to say that this version is a pretty good facsimile!  Its not hard to make--not fussy or temperamental, and the ingredients are not exotic either.  You do want to give yourself about 20 minutes of hands on time, 40 minutes for baking and at least 2 hours to refrigerate before serving (try making it before bed and it will be ready for the next day).

I love pie--but I'm really lousy at pie crust.  I usually buy it ready made.  At a large Sunday dinner at my friend's home a few weeks ago, pie was served with a flaky, delicious crust.  I asked the baker what the secret was and she said the crust was "no fail" and the secret ingredient was olive oil.  Yup, olive oil.  I had never heard of such a thing.  She also didn't roll out the dough, instead, she pressed it straight into the pie pan.  Hmmm, intriguing.  Well, I have to say, success!  I tried it today and it was very tender and delicious (and the olive oil flavor was extremely mild and not noticeable when combined with the filling).  I altered Sherry's crust recipe (partly because I didn't write it down completely when I talked with her, and because I thought adding sugar sounded like it would make more of a cookie style crust).

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Pie Crust
1 1/2 C. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 T. sugar
1/2 C. olive oil (frozen for about 30 minutes)
2 T. cold water (can sub milk if desired)

In a food processor add the dry ingredients and pulse to mix.  Now scoop in the cold olive oil (it becomes a thick liquid when partially frozen) and water.  Pulse until you have combined the ingredients and it looks like a wet sand.  Pour the mixture into the pie pan and press up the sides and the base (I used a 9" pie pan, so I had more dough than I needed).  Pop the crust into the freezer for about 15 minutes while you make the filling.

3/4 C. sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T. all purpose flour
1 C. sour cream
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 C. blueberries (fresh or frozen)

In the KitchenAid, mix the egg, sugar and salt.  Add the flour and then the sour cream and vanilla.  Mix for about 2-3 minutes until its all incorporated.  Add the blueberries and stir by hand.  Pour the mixture into the pie pan.  Bake for 25 minutes, then add the topping, then bake an additional 10-15 minutes.

4 T. pecans
3 T. flour
3 T. sugar
2 T. cold butter

Put all the ingredients in the food processor and pulse until the nuts are chopped and the flour/sugar/butter are combined (looks like sand with pebbles of pecans).

This dessert lasted about 5 minutes at dinner--and got great reviews.  Its particularly good chilled and served with whipped cream.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

One night baby quilt

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I've done many baby quilts in the past--usually a pieced block quilt that I then hand quilt using my lap frame.  I haven't done one in a long time because...they take a long time!  My mom has taken up serious quilting and I wondered if maybe I could get back into it a bit, but in a way that wouldn't add another "not-yet-complete" project to my pile.  A quick internet search of baby strip quilts will yielded lots of inspiration. 

I have a very basic Singer sewing machine, and I didn't hold out much hope that it would be able to do quilting, but with the addition of a $10 Even Feed (Walking) Foot from Amazon, it handled it like a champ! Wow, buy one!

This quilt took me just under 5 hours from cutting to binding--maybe a bit less since I did take a break for dinner and to do a load of laundry. 

I followed the excellent instructions at Thirty Handmade Days and I had zero trouble with the pattern.  I won't put the tutorial here since you can use hers.  I did use my serger to sew all the strips together (no pins!)  instead of my sewing machine.  Also, next time I do this quilt, I would just quilt the along the seam one time.  The double line of quilting took about 90 minutes and my back was tired of leaning over the machine.

This is a good project to use up some of your fabric stash--the owl and alphabet prints I bought new, but the rest were fabrics that I needed to use up.  I'd say this quilt is a casual quilt, with plenty of crooked lines--but its still pretty cute.

The backing will need the most fabric, all the rest you can get away with about 1/3 a yard or less of each kind.  I used 6 different fabrics.  I also used the "cheater binding" method where the you cut the backing about 4 inches bigger than the finished top and then just fold over the back to make the binding.  I managed to not have quite enough backing, so rather than trim down my quilt front (42 inches across)  I made a 4 x 58 inch  strip with 3 of the leftover fabrics and sewed it to the edge of the backing so that my backing was 46x60.  My finished quilt is 42x54 inches.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Teacher Appreciation Day

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My career is in the field of education--and I work with really wonderful teachers!  Today is teacher appreciation day (part of Teacher Appreciation Week).  In my department, we "try" to not do edible items and since there are so many teachers, we keep it really low cost.  We are giving our teachers a highlighter with this little tag at our staff meeting.  If you have a great teacher who needs an extra "thank you"--maybe this will work for you too!  Actually, the tags are generic enough that it works for lots of other people too!

Sincere thanks, no matter how simply given, are always appreciated!

To grab the full size file, click the link and look for the file named Highlight Tag.
Download File HERE

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Appreciation Marquee for Administrative Assistant Day

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Marquee clip art found here.  Font is Rockwell Extra Bold

This week is designated as Administrative Professional's week (formerly known as Secretary's week).  As a thank you to the many wonderful folks in my office who help me get my job done, I wanted to take in a small gift and note.  I thought I'd print up these theater marquee style notes, sign a quick thank you and attach them to a bag of microwave popcorn.  Could work for teacher appreciation week, boss's day or any other thank you!  You could add it to a large tub and make it a movie night gift too.

To grab the file (4 cards on a sheet), just click and look for the file titled Appreciation Marquee

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Thai Mango Sticky Rice

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If you like Thai food as I do, then for sure you've ordered the sweet mango sticky rice as a tasty dessert. Never tried mango sticky rice?  Do you like rice pudding? Then you will like this. It isn't terribly difficult, but it does take some time to prep. If you have an Asian grocery, head there to pick up the rice and the coconut milk (it will cost less and be more authentic).

To serve 2-4 people

1 c. Thai sweet sticky rice (glutinous rice)
2/3 c. Coconut milk (full fat variety)
1/2 c. Sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2-3 ripe mangoes

1. Start by rinsing the dry rice. Place the rice in a bowl and cover with water, swish with your hand til water is cloudy with starch, then drain and repeat 4-5 times until water stays pretty clear. This rice just smells so delicious--a nutty, sweet smell.  I bought mine at the Asian market because my grocery store didn't have it.  Its really different than regular long grain rice (or minute rice)--so look for the real deal. 

2. Soak the rice in water for at least 4 hours, but overnight is better. 

3. Drain the soaked rice and cook it. You can do it on the stovetop like regular rice, use a rice cooker, or go authentic by steaming the rice. I used my pressure cooker and put the rice in a flour dish towel on top of the steam tray. I steamed it for 17 minutes, but wish I had gone a bit longer since my rice was still a bit al dente. I saw some online suggestions on using your frying spatter screen as the steam tray and put the rice directly on it (and then cover with an inverted bowl). I don't have a splatter screen, but it looked like a less messy option than the dishtowel method.

4. Make the sweet coconut sauce. While the rice is steaming, mix the coconut milk, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a low simmer. You just want it to dissolve all the sugar--you don't want to reduce or thicken the sauce.  Turn off heat and wait for rice to finish.

5. As soon as the rice is cooked, quickly transfer the hot rice to a bowl and pour the warm coconut sauce over it and stir. It will look really runny, but the hot rice will absorb the sauce.

6. After about 35 minutes, the rice will be thick and ready to be topped with fresh, sliced mangoes.  You can take a bit of extra coconut milk and sweeten it and drizzle it over the top.


I prefer the ataulfo (honey) mango, but the red mango tastes great too!