Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Nana's Christmas Napkins

Happy Almost New Year! My mom created these cloth napkins, which she coined as Nana's Christmas Napkins, for our Christmas dinner.  She used various festive fabrics, like gingerbread men, peppermint candies, and golden zigzag trees on green.  There were ten of us this Christmas and the assortment of Nana's handmade napkins were sprinkled around my parents' table. So cheerful!

This is the same pattern I shared here for my back-to-school napkins.
I'm sure we both will be sewing-up and sharing other holiday 
and special occasion napkins in 2014!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Vegetarian Fiery Tofu and Coconut Curry Soup

Happy Holidays! The other day M made this delicious vegetarian soup.  It was the perfect balance of creamy and spicy with the right amount of tofu and vegetables.  The inspiration for this recipe can be found here.  He also added red and yellow bell peppers and mushrooms.

Thanks to The Museum Scout for the picture and for inspiring me to "get back on my blog."

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Leek Potato Soup with Bacon

Last year I posted a recipe for Leek Potato Soup with Coconut Milk.  This is essentially the same recipe, but with some organic ingredients, crispy bacon, and melted cheese.

For this recipe you'll need:
a few tablespoons of organic extra virgin olive oil 
3 cloves of garlic, minced
small onion, chopped
2-3 stalks of organic celery, chopped
3 organic leeks, cleaned and chopped
1 32-ounce container of organic chicken broth
6-8 ounces light coconut milk (I used what I had leftover from another recipe)
salt and pepper, to taste
2 potatoes, chopped in bite-size pieces, cooked
4-6 slices slices of crispy bacon
favorite shredded or grated organic cheese

Servings: Makes 6-8 bowls  

1. In a stock pot, add the olive oil and sauté the onion, garlic, and celery for several minutes.  Salt and pepper this layer. 

2. Add the chopped leeks and sauté until they wither down. Again, add salt and pepper.

3. Next add the broth, coconut milk, cooked potatoes, and another dash of salt and pepper.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Remembering to stir often so the coconut milk does not burn or stick to the bottom of the stock pot.

4. Remove from heat and stir in a few bacon slices.

5. Just before serving, top with some additional chopped bacon and your favorite shredded cheese.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Organic Kale Chips

Whenever possible, M and I have been buying organic produce, meat, and dairy.  There are certain fruits and vegetables that you should always eat organic.  Rule of thumb, if you peel the skin before you eat it, you don't need to buy organic, like oranges and bananas.  However, everything else, from greens to berries to apples should be organic.  And organic milk tastes soooo much better, right Mom and Sister?

Kale - before placing in the oven

With that said, we have a suffice supply of organic produce in our fridge - especially kale.  It's been on sale for $0.99 at our local grocery store, so we keep purchasing it and adding this leafy green to different dishes, soups, and drinks. My latest kale creation - kale chips.  
You'll need:
1 bunch of organic kale
1-2 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil
1 gallon-size Ziploc bag
cooking spray and cookie sheet 
salt to taste

Kale chips - after cooking in the oven

1. Preheat the oven to 275°F and spray the cookie sheet with cooking spray.
2. Wash the kale and remove the leaves from the stock.  Chop the kale into bite-size pieces.
3. Add the chopped kale and olive oil to the Ziploc bag.
4. Close and shake the bag so the olive oil is evenly distributed on all the kale leaves.
5. Add salt. Close and shake again.
6. Spread out the kale on the cookie sheet and cook for 15-25 minutes, depending on your oven.  Kale chips should be crispy, but not burned. 

Note - I checked the kale at 15 minutes and stirred and continued to check it every 5 minutes thereafter, until the edges were crunchy like a chip.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Miso Soup

This miso soup recipe is super simple, so simple that I made it before work on Friday morning.  You only need four ingredients: Trader Joe's miso ginger broth, Trader Joe's roasted seaweed snack, organic tofu, and organic green onions. 


1. Add the 32 ounces of miso ginger broth to a sauce pan. 

2. Cut about 4 ounces of tofu into bite-size cubes. Then add the tofu to the broth. 

3. With a pair of kitchen scissors, cut about 0.2 ounces (half of the seaweed snack pack) into small rectangular pieces. Then add to the broth.

4. Heat these three ingredients.

5. Remove from heat and scoop into bowls. 

6. Top with diced green onions.

This recipe makes 4 servings, which I happily enjoyed and ate all by myself for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Friday and finished the last serving over the weekend.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Organic Milk and Honey

Natalie Merchant's lyrics for "San Andreas Fault" are in my head as I write this:
"Go west, paradise is there, 
you'll have all that you can drink of milk and honey over there." 

I have been sipping on warm organic milk and honey for the last few weeks.  It's an Ayurvedic sleep remedy that's calming and soothing before bed.  I also find it warming in the morning and perfect whenever I need to relax.  Heat 8 ounces of organic milk in a saucepan or a microwave-safe mug and then stir in a teaspoon of honey.  Sip and slow down with this sweet treat.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Lemon Shrimp Over Cheesy Polenta

I cleaned and de-veined my first wild-caught Alaskan colossal shrimp. Yay, Me! It was super easy and actually entertaining.  Not to gross anyone out, but it reminded me of a science lab dissection.  I know you can't eat your dissection, but you see my comparison, right?  M gave me a tutorial; and here's one you can follow.  Hands down, I would much rather devein shrimp, than handle and cut raw chicken. 

After the "dissection," I seasoned the shrimp and added freshly squeezed lemon juice, while M cooked polenta and topped it with grated cheddar cheese.  We served our lemon shrimp over cheesy polenta with Brussels sprouts. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Mint Tea

I have been reading Ayurveda recipes and cookbooks.  My body type - vata -  prefers warm/hot foods and drinks.  This homemade mint tea is a hot and simple green drink for you to try this fall; it's perfect for vata and kapha constitutions when served hot.   Pittas will probably like this drink cold.  You can learn more about Ayurveda here

There are lots of ayuvedic tea recipes online and in cookbooks; I have been enjoying Eat Taste Heal: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living.

For mint tea: You'll need about 5-10 fresh mint leaves (from your garden or grocery market), 1 cup filtered water, and honey.  Place the filtered water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil.  Then remove from heat and add the mint leaves. Steep for 10 minutes.  You can strain the mint leaves if you prefer, but I don't.  I actually eat some of them. Pour into your favorite mug - my favorites are my Polish pottery mugs - and add honey.  Sip and enjoy!

Note - While writing this post, I had two cups of this warming, calming mint tea.  

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Matryoshka Love

Yesterday I attended a baby shower for a friend/colleague who fancies nesting dolls as much as I do. This was the perfect opportunity to make a matryoshka baby gift for Baby B.  Onesies seem to be my go-to baby shower gift because they are adorable, inexpensive, do not require me to lug out my sewing machine, and can be personalized for the baby and baby shower theme.  These are my favorite onesies thus far, and are just too cute!

For the Matryoshka Love onesies, I used the felt heart pattern and the matryoshka template was a combination of the nesting doll cards and the felt nesting doll ornament

Baby B, sending you and your parents lots of matryoshka love.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Brain Breaks

Everyday we do a few brain breaks in class.  Brain breaks are easy, short movements that help children and adults re-activate their brains so they can think, learn, re-focus, do, work, etc.

My teaching philosophy - if your bottom is asleep, your brain is too.  Therefore, you need to get up and move - even if it's only for a few seconds or minutes. 

The Brain Break Popsicle Sticks I created with colored Popsicle Sticks and a label maker are a combination of yoga poses, breathing techniques, Brain Gym exercises, and sensory activities. The sticks are all color coded. For instance:

Blue = breathing exercises 
Green = exercises you can do at your seat 
Orange = balancing poses 
Purple = Tighten and release your muscles 
Yellow = Crossing the midline of the body 
Red = Active movements 

When I notice the class could benefit from a Brain Break or two, I stop what we are doing and have a student pick a stick.  I may ask the student to pick a particular color (like if they need to move - I will suggest a red stick), or I may let the student select a stick or two. 

We keep the sticks in a Rubbermaid bento storage box. It's the beginning of the year, so I am still teaching the students how to do the movements.  In order to remember which ones I have taught them, we place all the "new" sticks in one section of the bento box and the "taught" ones in another section. Once we have learned all the breaks, I am sure the Brain Break box won't be so organized. 

I highly recommend you incorporate Brain Breaks into your day - whether you are work with children, or not...

Stay Awake, Take a Brain Break. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Ginger Garlic Tea

I survived the first week of school and Back to School Night with the parents.  However, Saturday morning I was feeling a little tickle in my throat.  I don't know if it was the new "germs," the air conditioning that has been blowing non-stop, an allergy, or what, but I refuse to be sick for the long weekend and the second week of school.

When my Baci A. was dying, my family hired a Hospice caretaker, named Sheila, to be with her 24-7.  Sheila was this kind, soft-spoken woman from Trinidad who made ginger garlic tea.  I don't remember if the tea was intended for my Baci or for someone who was starting to feel ill by my Baci's bedside. Anyway, the tea Sheila concocted for us many years ago is still a family home remedy whenever we begin to feel sick.  I will warn you, it's potent.  It may even border on the line of offensive in smell, taste, and from the burning sensation you may experience as it is going down, but it works.

For ginger garlic tea: boil a 1" piece of chopped ginger and a few cloves of diced garlic in water for about 20 minutes.  Then strain the tea and serve the hot liquid immediately with honey. You will need the honey to cut into the potency of the ginger and garlic.  Besides, honey is good for you when you are feeling under the weather. 

Needless to say, I made and drank several cups of this pungent tea Saturday and Sunday and I no longer have that tickle in my throat.  I am not saying this tea will cure everything, but it sure seems to help at the first sign of an itchy, scratchy throat, or at the beginning of a cold for my family.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Lobster Mac and Cheese

This summer lobster mac and cheese has been all the rave on the food shows M and I have been watching on the Food Network and Travel Channel.  So....we finally made lobster mac and cheese Barefoot Contessa style.

You can't go wrong with butter, cheese, and lobster tails all in one dish.  Personally the nutmeg was a perfect addition to this side dish, which we cut in half, baked in one dish (opposed to Ina's suggestion of individual ramekins), and ate all week.  I highly, highly recommend you try this dish!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Back-to-School Cloth Napkins

This afternoon I whipped up these charming cloth napkins for my school lunchbox.  Yes, I am a teacher and yes, they complement my lime green lunch bag.  (My Mom will tell you - ever since I was in kindergarten I needed everything to match - from my rainbow belt to my undergarments to my shoes.  Some things never change.)

I used fabric scraps, so all my napkins are different size squares, but I am okay with that, I wanted to practice sewing mitered corners. The tutorial from Buddy and Buggy has step-by-step directions with pictures, making it super easy to follow; she gives you instructions for sewing napkins with or without mitered corners.  I can't wait to bring these to school, or should I say work!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Beet, Berry, and Almond Smoothie

 My picture does not do this smoothie justice. It's a deeper color in person.  Let's call it very-mixed-berry and it was yummy! 

I have a list of smoothies I want to sample, many of which are on my Na zdrowie Pinterest board (Pronounced: Naz-droh-vee-ay, which means cheers, or drink to your health in Polish.)

Since I had some steamed beets in the fridge, I thought I'd give this one a try.  I added 2 small steamed beets (cut in half), some frozen mixed berries, honey, milk, mint, and slivered almonds.  I eyeballed the ingredients, but here's a similar, more detailed recipe

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Turmeric: Tea and Sore Throat Remedy

I've been learning about Ayurveda - the sister science of yoga - through my yoga classes, readings, and have been perusing some Ayurveda cookbooks from the local library. Turmeric is used in many Indian dishes and is an Ayurvedic ingredient.  One yoga instructor stated that turmeric is also very healing; turmeric is said to be anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral, it may prevent Alzheimer's disease and some cancers. There are several studies and articles on this spice. Here's one

When I get a sore throat I usually gargle with salt water (thanks Mom) but I have also gargled with turmeric and salt (thanks to Pinterest).  For this Ayurvedic natural sore throat remedy you'll need: 1/2 cup of warm water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon powdered turmeric.

In the last week, I have made a warming turmeric tea with fat-free milk several times. When mixed well, it has a lovely yellowish mustard hue. Turmeric IS the ingredient that makes our mustard yellow. The recipe suggests almond milk (I am sure that has some Ayurvedic benefit too, but I just used what we had in the fridge.)

For turmeric tea, you'll need:
1 cup milk - heated on the stove
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon honey

Heat the milk in a saucepan, stirring often so you do not burn the milk.  When the milk is hot enough for your liking, add the dry ingredients to the milk and mix well.  Transfer to a mug and add the honey. 

NOTE - If the milk is not hot enough, the spices will not be incorporated into a tea; instead, they will settle to the bottom leaving you with a strong mud-like concoction.  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Marinara Sauce with Pappardelle


In memory of James Gandolfini - homemade marinara sauce with homemade meatballs and pappardelle. M used this recipe for a starting point.  We purchased the pappardelle at Trader Joe's.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer Drinks

M and I have been making drinks in our mason jars.  His drink is a Mississippi Queen and mine is a Ginger Babushka Mule. The Mississippi Queen is an ode to M's dad.  

Ginger Babuska Mule (left), Mississippi Queen (right)

For a Mississippi Queen you'll need: a 16 ounce mason jar and straw because drinks look cooler and even taste better in them (trust me), 6 ounces of lemonade, 4 ounces of an ale/lager, 2 ounces of bourbon, and ice. 

Directions for a Mississippi Queen:

1. Place the lemonade, beer, bourbon, and ice in a shaker or thermos (like us).  Shake well.

2. Add ice to the mason jar and add your shaken drink.

3. Top with a Maraschino cherry (optional).  Of course, you can adjust the liquids to your taste. 

The Ginger Babushka is our version of a Moscow Mule, since we are Polish.  Okay, okay, I cannot take credit for the name, I had a similar drink with the same name at a local restaurant recently. This green-herb  drink has alcohol, but I'm sure you could make it non-alcoholic. 

For a Ginger Babushka Mule you'll need: a 16 ounce mason jar and straw, 2-3 ounces of vodka, a few sprigs of mint (we used fresh mint from our garden), 12 ounces non-alcoholic ginger beer (you need non-alcoholic ginger beer NOT ginger ale), 1 teaspoon of bitters (the liquid in the olive jar), and ice.

Directions for a Ginger Babushka Mule:

1.Combine a handful of ice, 2-3 shots of vodka, 3 ounces of ginger beer, the mint, and bitters in a shaker. Shake well - in a shaker or thermos. 

2. Fill the mason jar with more ice.  Pour your shaken drink into the mason jar. 

3. Top with the remaining ginger beer.  Stir and add a straw.  

 Na zdrowie! 
(Pronounced: Naz-droh-vee-ay, which means cheers or drink to your health in Polish.)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Stick Hearts

My Mom and I saw this stick heart and decided to make our own for our outdoor spaces.  She covered her heart with red spray paint and attached the sticks with floral wire.

I painted each stick a different color with acrylic paint 
and used 18 gauge jewelry wire to attach it.  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Heart Postcards

Below are my latest postcards for my postcard project and Baci and Dziadziu, respectively.  I used a Martha Stewart Crafts Heart Punch, paint chips and an old note card for the hearts (and the little birdie in the right-hand corner), scrapbook paper for the state of California and background, and Modge Podge.

Paint chip heart postcard - paint chips and old note card

California Love - too bad Baci and Dziadziu won't understand the Tupac reference.  
The state flag has a bear on it,  so I added one here too.  Can you find it?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

bacon chocolate chip cookies

What's not to love about a bacon chocolate chip cookie?  It's sweet and savory in each bite.  First I placed six slices of bacon on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and sprinkled fresh ground black pepper and brown sugar on each piece. I baked the bacon at 350°F for about 15 minutes - checking every few minutes to ensure that I did not burn it. Next I followed the directions on the Nestle Toll House box, which stated it made four dozen cookies. However, I only had enough dough for two dozen; I made one dozen with bacon (using three strips of bacon). I usually pat the bacon dry with paper towels; but, for this dessert I added some bacon grease to the batter.  They were soft and chewy and much better than the "plain" chocolate chip cookies. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Caprese Salad Bites

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start to the summer. Yesterday we attended a holiday potluck party by the bay and these Caprese Salad Bites were easy to assemble at home and then consume in an outdoor setting.  Plus they were fresh and delicious and only add to our Italian food obsession. (I wonder what T and friends would think.)

There are several recipes on Pinterest for this appetizer; I found one here.  This recipe makes 24 bites. 
24 sugar plum tomatoes, cut in half
12 mini-mozzarella balls, sliced in half and patted dry
24 pieces of fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
24 sword picks
a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar 

To assemble:
1. Salt and pepper the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. 

2. Place one piece of tomato, mozzarella, basil, and then another tomato on each sword.

3. Repeat Step 1, twenty-four times.

4. When ready to serve, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  

Buno appetito!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Salted Purple Cabbage

Here's a simple salted cabbage recipe you can add to your fish tacos or have as a side dish. Gwyneth Paltrow has a similar recipe with green cabbage in her cookbook - my father's daughter

You'll need:
1/4 small purple cabbage, shredded
juice of 1/2 lemon
sea salt, to taste

Combine the three ingredients and chill for at least 20 minutes in the fridge.  The cabbage will wilt slightly, but will stay crunchy.

Note - This was enough cabbage for six fish tacos and we still had extra.   Two days later, we ate the leftover cabbage and it was still firm.

Monday, May 20, 2013

To Boston With Love Flags

On Saturday my Mom and I completed and mailed our flags for the To Boston With Love flag project.  Hundreds of quilters from around the world created flags to shower the Boston community with peace and love.  Thanks to the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild for organizing this amazing project, which will be displayed at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston from May 25th through July 7th.

Showering Boston with Love...

Heart - back side of the above flag

My Mom's flag - Patriotic Heart

Friday, May 17, 2013

Biscotti Dipped in Chocolate

M and I are watching "The Sopranos."  We are only on season 2, but we've had a hankering for all foods Italian lately - from sfogliatelle (pronounced shfooyadell - our new favorite Italian word and dessert) to cannoli to homemade biscotti dipped in chocolate for my Mom for Mother's Day. 

I found the biscotti recipe in The Sopranos Family Cookbook I checked out of the library. It was easy to follow and the anise cookies tasted and looked like mini store-bought biscotti.  They were a bit softer than your traditional biscotti and could be eaten without dunking in tea or coffee. I added milk chocolate for my Mom, but will dip them in dark chocolate - my favorite - next time. 

Then I packaged them in a Ziploc bag with scrapbook paper and ribbon - a gift wrapping idea I found on Pinterest. My Mom truly thought I bought them. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Vrksasana Dot Art Postcard

In Honor of Arbor Day and my yogi friend, I created this Vrksasana - tree pose - postcard for our April postcard project.  I traced my vrksasana cookie cutter and painted the dots with Q-tips; the technique is similar to this heart.

Advice From A Tree

Stand tall and proud
Go out on a limb
Remember your roots
Drink plenty of water
Be content with your natural beauty
Enjoy the view

~Ilan Shamir

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Aduki Bean Burgers

I had some leftover aduki beans from my smoothie, so tonight I made Aduki Bean Burgers.  We had enough for dinner and my lunch later on this week.  These vegetarian patties are a combination of a Weight Watchers recipe my Mom gave me years ago and this aduki bean recipe. Makes 4 patties. 

You'll need:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 cloves of garlic, minced 
1/2 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup aduki beans
3" piece of soft tofu
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup tomato sauce
palmful fresh chopped cilantro
palmful fresh chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
cooking spray 

1. Over medium heat, add the oil to a sauté pan. Then add the onions, celery, and garlic.  Cook until the veggies are soft and the moisture has evaporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let cool.

2. In a bowl, mash the tofu.  Blend in the beans, bread crumbs, and tomato sauce.  Add the cooled veggies.  Mix thoroughly.

3. Shape into 4 balls*, cover, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

4. Cook on a George Foreman Grill. Making sure to use cooking spray first so the patties do not stick. 

NOTE - the tofu package stated that one serving of tofu is a 1" piece; I figured a 3" for 4 servings with all the other ingredients seemed accurate.

The veggie balls* will flatten into patties on the Foreman Grill.  The cooked patties are very delicate, not like store-bought veggie burgers, so handle with care.  :)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sassy Water

My Mom celebrated her birthday this weekend.  Happy Birthday, Mom!  She's not a drinker - never has.  At parties, she'll just have water, tea, or coffee.  Why not jazz things up and add a little sassy water as a refreshing, non-alcoholic drink option at your next birthday party or summer soiree?
I've been filling a glass sun tea pitcher at night with: filtered water, half a sliced cucumber, a 1" piece of diced fresh ginger, a palmful of fresh chopped mint, and one sliced lemon.  Then I chill it in the fridge overnight. In the morning, the sassy water is ready to drink up. This magic water as M calls it, is delicious and SASSY, which is helping me to drink more fluid-ounces of H2O daily. 

 Sto Lat, Mom! Na zdrowie!
 Polish for:
May you live 100 years, Mom!  Drink to your health!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

To Boston With Love

To Boston With Love: New Deadline May 21

The Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild is organizing the "To Boston With Love" flag project. They are encouraging quilters to make a flag, or two, or three - a perfect Saturday afternoon project - which can be completed by a guild, group, with friends, or solo.

The detailed directions and tutorials can be found on their site.  VMQG offers tons of suggestions and pictures for inspiration.  All flags are due in Boston by May 21, 2013 so they can be displayed this summer.

Off to look through my fabric stash.  Happy sewing!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Spaghetti Squash with Shrimp and Sauce

My Dad retired this fall and has been cooking up a storm.  When we were visiting this spring he made many tasty dishes including this one. For my Dad's spaghetti squash with shrimp and homemade sauce you'll need:

1 spaghetti squash
1 16 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1/2 lb raw shrimp, cleaned and de-veined 
1 clove fresh garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
dash of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon oregano
4 ounces of mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter or oil to sauté mushrooms, onions, and garlic

Serves 4.  

1. Cut squash in half and discard seeds.  Cook the squash face down in a 13x9 pan with about 1/4 inch of water. Bake for approximately 45 minutes at 425°F.  ( I have also cooked my squash in vegetable and chicken broth and those both work well.) 
2. Let the cooked squash cool. Then use a fork and scrape the "spaghetti" into a serving dish.
3. In a frying pan, melt the butter or oil.  Add mushrooms and pepper flakes. After about 2-3 minutes add onions, garlic, salt and pepper, and oregano.  
4. When the onions and garlic are translucent, add tomatoes. Simmer for at least 5 minutes. 
5. Add the raw shrimp.  Cook for 3-4 minutes.  Do not overcook the shrimp, or you'll have rubbery shrimp.  
6. Serve on top of squash. Enjoy!

NOTE - I like to use more garlic, like 3-4 cloves, but I wanted to share the recipe my Dad gave me.  Also, M and I usually don't buy raw shrimp.  Instead, we purchase already cooked shrimp from the fish counter, but still only warm up the cooked shrimp in the last few minutes of cooking.  I cannot stress enough NOT to overcook the shrimp.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

What Do You See? Quilt

I purchased this Brown Bear fabric at the Eric Carle Museum.  Then my Mom and I turned this panel into a quilt for my nephew; he enjoys listening to his Eric Carle board books, especially Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? so we knew he'd appreciate this quilt.

We added a green polka-dot border to the four sides of the panel.  Next we attached the three pieces (the front, batting, and a yellow paw-print fabric for the back) by stitching in-the-ditch on all the green inside lines.  It was like sewing the lines for one enormous tic-tac-toe board.  Finally we sewed the edges together. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Pear and Cucumber Smoothie

Juicing is great! We have had our juicer for years, but you lose all the fiber when you juice....so M and I have been blending.  With a blender, you keep all the ingredients you throw into it and receive all the yummy nutrients and fiber.  

In a blender combine the following ingredients and liquify for a super green pear and cucumber smoothie.  Just another green drink suggestion!

1 pear, cubed
1 cucumber, cubed with skin on
handful of parsley
a few tablespoons of chia seeds
1/4 cup frozen mango
1" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1-2 cups of water, depending on how smooth or thick you want your smoothie 

Serves 2-4 people.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Pysanky Cross Stitch

I cross stitched this pysanky - Polish or Ukrainian Easter egg - for M's Bapchi last Easter.  However, I accidentally erased all my pictures before backing them up or blogging about them. This Easter we visited with Bapchi and I was able to take a new picture.

For decades M's Bapchi cross stitched Ukrainian items, including doilies, table runners, pillows, even veils for brides.  Our house is decorated with all her beautiful Ukrainian cross stitch doilies and pillows.  When M's parents visited us for the first time, they took pictures of all her handiwork to show Bapchi that we really are using her gifts. 

Now she no longer sits and stitches - a craft that both her and I find very meditative - because she has difficulty seeing the small stitches and cloth.  Last year when we visited Bapchi,  she graciously gave me a bagful of her threads and cloths.   As a small token of my appreciation, I stitched this Easter pysanky for her.  This 3" egg took me almost 30 hours, so I now have a better appreciation for all her embroidery. 

The pysanky pattern was from the Cross-Stitch Plus, March 1992.  An oldie, but goodie my Mom let me borrow. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

White Cannellini Bean Soup

This white bean soup was absolutely, positively, M's favorite soup thus far!  I didn't think I could top the mushroom and kale soup, but I did, thanks to Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook: my father's daughter

Paltrow suggests making white bean soup two ways: one with kale and the other like French onion soup with a baguette and melted cheese on top.  However, I combined both soups into one. Other than the chicken broth instead of her homemade vegetable stock and a Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago Cheese blend from Trader Joe's, I actually followed this recipe to a T...something I rarely do in the kitchen.

Her recipe can be found here

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Aduki Bean Smoothie with Spinach and Strawberries

I read about azuki beans, also spelled adzuki or aduki beans, a few months ago.  They are small red beans typically used in Japanese cooking.  Yesterday I found canned organic aduki beans at the market and decided to make an aduki bean smoothie thanks to this smoothie recipe.  I pinned a few other aduki bean recipes on Pinterest and will be making them soon.  Check back soon!

Aduki Bean Smoothie:
1 banana
1/2 cup canned aduki beans
handful of spinach
1/2 cup frozen mango
5 strawberries
1 cup strawberry kefir
1 cup milk 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pysanky Part 2

Pysanky from previous years

Happy Easter!  Below are some pysanky, Polish Easter eggs, I decorated this week for Easter.  It is a Polish Easter tradition to decorate eggs with bee's wax and dye.  However, I was disappointed that after laboring over these eggs the color did not stick. 

Today at church I spoke to other pysanky decorators and learned that: 1.) Dziadziu and I might need newer dye and 2.) we should wash the eggs with vinegar before applying the wax designs.  Next time I am willing to try farm-fresh eggs instead of store-bought ones because all the finished eggs had two-rings around them.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Mushroom and Kale Soup

M and I have been on a soup-kick this winter/early spring and this one was AMAZING!  We had leftover mushrooms from some previous dishes, like our chicken fried rice and Tom Kha Gai, so we included them in this one-pot meal.  I was inspired to make mushroom and kale soup after I sampled it at a recent yoga workshop and also from reading this blog

We included: straw mushrooms, dried mushrooms - which we re-hydrated, shiitake mushrooms, 2 bay leaves, a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, 1 can of beef broth, 1 beef bouillon cube, 1 can of water, butter, olive oil, chopped kale, onions, carrots, celery, and about a 1/4 cup of coconut milk at the end. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Beet and Pepita Seed Salad with a Grapefruit Dressing

Mill City Tavern Beet Salad

Last summer M and I had a layover in Minnesota; we ate at the Mill City Tavern at the airport.  I had their roasted beet salad which was my inspiration for this afternoon's salad.  Theirs included pepita or pumpkin seeds, cherries, winter squash, yogurt dressing, and microgreens.  I omitted the squash (see below) and substituted dried cranberries for the cherries, and made my own citrus dressing. 

My Beet and Pepita Seed Salad with a Grapefruit Dressing

Earlier this week I made pumpkin muffins and while the oven was on, I roasted four beets (chopped into bite-size pieces) for about an hour at 350 degrees.  Then I placed them in the fridge to cool.  Today I tossed one 10 ounce package of watercress (also known as microgreens), 1 ounce of pepita seeds, a few handfuls of dried cranberries, and of course the roasted beets in a large Polish pottery bowl with a homemade grapefruit dressing.  I crumbled some goat cheese on the side and let folks add their own cheese to the tossed beet salad.  I didn't want the soft cheese to stick to the bowl or turn pink from the beets.  I had hoped to include roasted butternut squash, like the Mill City recipe, but the squash was soggy when I removed it from the package. 

For the grapefruit dressing, I whisked the following ingredients together:
about 1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 Tbs. white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

My family all seemed to enjoy this salad - even some of the finicky eaters. The dressing was super yummy - I will definitely make it again for this beet salad and use it for other tossed salads.  It was similar to this dressing.  Also I would like to make a yogurt dressing for this beet and pepita seed salad similar to the Mill City one.  My family thought baby spinach or arugula would work instead of the watercress and I concur.