Fall Harvest Curry

When it’s fall, there is no shortage of fall-flavored meals around our house.  The cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger are at the front of the spice cabinet.  I always have sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, and pumpkin on hand.  This is something I threw together the other day for a one (or two) pot meal.

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Ingredients:

1 large (or 2 medium) sweet potato

1 onion

3 medium carrots

1 green pepper

1 red pepper

1 yellow pepper

1 apple, peeled and diced

1-2 cups of shredded or diced and cooked chicken

5 cloves fresh garlic, chopped

1 Tbsp yellow curry (or more if you like it strong)

1 Tbsp garam masala

1 tsp ginger

2 tsp salt

1 can pumpkin

1 can coconut milk

1 beer

splash of olive oil

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Preheat oven to 450 F

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Toss all chopped veggies and chicken in oil and spices

 
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Put in your dish

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Mix your pumpkin and your coconut milk together and pour it over the veggie mixture IMG_2355 IMG_2356

Pour the beer over all of that and give it a lazy stir. IMG_2357 IMG_2358 I baked this til it was done, probably about 40-45 minutes.  Poke the sweet potatoes with a fork to make sure they are tender.  Serve over rice.  What are some of your favorite one-pot fall meals?

 

Weekend and Puff Pastry

Yesterday was the first perfect fall day.  I had a really busy weekend and even a very busy Sunday, but I took some time to sit in the backyard and drink some coffee with cinnamon and read a book.

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This book is gonna be good for me.  I seem to be on again, off again with contentment.  I’ll have a few months of being very grateful, and then I get frustrated and wish things were different.  When I was 20 I thought for sure I’d be settled and financially successful by age 30.  Not so.  My husband is in law school and I have 3 small children.  We never wanted to get into debt but we did for law school and now we are here whether we like it or not.  For the record, we do like it, or I should say we still feel like this was the right direction for us.  But it’s hard to have a family and things be so tight.  We are currently reevaluating our finances so we can better tell our money where to go (Dave Ramsey style).

IMG_2381 I started this blog as a way to enjoy and record the pretty and finer things in life.  So it’s about enjoying the good life on a dime, I guess.  I don’t always want to be waiting for the next best thing.  I want to enjoy the here and now, and I know it can be done.  First, with a heart full of gratitude and contentment, and without a doubt, some creativity.

Which brings me to homemade puff pastry.  If you want to buy good, all butter puff pastry with simple ingredients then you have to spend about $10 at Whole Foods for just ONE!  Using 2 1/2 sticks of butter, a little flour, salt, and water I made my own which yielded two good size savory tartes, plus a sweet one for dessert.

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This is the tutorial I followed.  I did just what she said, and it was so easy.  But instead of mixing the initial dough on my counter like she does, I used my Cuisinart food processor.  Which I use for everything.

People complain about it taking half a day to make but most of that time is passive.  You just have to let it refrigerate between rolling it out.  Rolling it out twice takes about 5 minutes max.  At the end of the day, you are left with a world of possibilities.  You can top it with anything!  I used goat cheese, ham, dubliner cheese, tomatoes, caramelized onions and dijon mustard (as a base) on one.  On the other I used, a pesto base with the same toppings.

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And dessert looked something like this.  Buttery goodness for maybe $2.50 if you priced it out?  Strictly speaking of the dough here. IMG_2405

This will be a regular around here.  I love to serve dinner with just a spread of hor d’ouvres and this fits just right.

Buffet Renovation

It started like this.  About 2 years ago a friend’s mom was cleaning out her garage and needed to get rid of a bunch of nice furniture.  We could have anything as long as we took it all.  So we hauled it all off and kept a few items and gave away a few items.  This is one that I kept and I love it and use it every single day.  It’s in our dining room and the drawers hold napkins, placemats, a few board games, pens and such, and the cabinets faithfully hold bigger things like bowls, an appliance or two and wine.

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It’s a nice solid piece, but needed to be revamped.  I had heard about chalk paint for a few years and only just now decided I have the time and motivation to try it.  So I did.  And I like it!  Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint boasts that you can use the paint with no prep work (sanding, priming…) but that’s not true for furniture from this buffet’s time.  Annie Sloan lets you know this and she recommends a coat of clear shelac.  So I did that but should have put 2 coats on because there is still a little pink bleeding through.  Not enough to bug me though.  I may just redo this in a year or two if I get tired of the white.  But I probably won’t because I think it looks beautiful!

buffetafter I distressed it only a little bit because I like the clean white look.  I am contemplating adding a glaze to it to give it an older look with more depth but for now I am happy with this.

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If I had used a color I would not have had to put on 3-4 coats of this paint.  Because the Old White has such little color pigment it doesn’t cover as well over really dark furniture.  If I had painted birch or some other light wood, I think 2 coats would have been fine.  I have more projects in mind so I’ll get to test this.

Speaking of more projects, I did some research and discovered that DIYers are making their own chalk paint with great success.  There are a few different recipes out there but the one that has the best reviews is one made with calcium carbonate found here.  You just use 1 part calcium carbonate to 2 parts paint.  Mix well and use.  Supposedly it behaves exactly like name brand chalk paint.  That’s for another post after I’ve tested it myself.
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And with my pretty things back on it.

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Thanks mom for the lavender.

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This piece is from my late Uncle Steve. I enjoy looking at it every day.

Have you used chalk paint?

Fall Harvest Chicken

I made that up, but it seems appropriate considering what’s in the dish.

Start with Chicken thighs (drumsticks would work just fine), lightly season the chicken with garlic powder, salt, chipotle, cinnamon, ginger powder.  Add pearl or sliced onions.

In a separate bowl, toss together sweet potatoes, carrots, celery, mushrooms in some olive oil.  I lightly seasoned with salt and cinnamon.

Pour that on top of chicken.  Then I added this sassy apple salsa.

If I didn’t have that on hand, I would just leave it off, perhaps add some chopped up apple to the veggie mixture, and probably pour a beer over the whole dish.  Beer can transform a dish like this.  I often use beer in soups and plenty of meat dishes.  Try it some time.

We served this over rice.

Easy Gourmet Sandwich

When you are done with this open-faced sandwich, you’ll be looking at the clock as you eagerly await the dinner-time hours so you can make another one.
Thanks to Julia Child, I’ve been introduced to homemade mayonaise and aioli.
This is even made with olive oil (I use a more refined olive oil for mayo so the flavor isn’t too overwhelming).  After making the mayo, I roasted two bulbs of garlic, mashed them into a paste, added a few tablespoons of capers, some pepper and voila, the best aioli on the block.
My favorite restaurant back home makes a sandwich much like the one above.  This is just my DIY version since I can’t get that sandwich here.
I made mine with my homemade bread, but you can use your favorite bread.  I recommend white bread.
I brush each side with olive oil, toast it in the oven a few minutes on each side, then layer in the following order:
aioli
roast beef
smoked gouda cheese slices
Broil that and you’re done.  So much flavor, so little effort.
As far as Julia Child is concerned I would go ahead and buy her cookbook: The Art of French Cooking 
You won’t regret it.

Eating Fine on a Dime

Freshly baked bread, crackling and making my mouth water.  This isn’t from a bakery.  My mom always made homemade bread growing up, and she taught me well.  Break off a piece of this, spread on some brie or camembert, pour a glass of red wine and you are set for the evening.

I went to Aldi today and had a very full cart of groceries that cost me just over $100.  Even though I wish it was way cheaper than that, I try to maintain perspective and remind myself that the same load of groceries purchased from Kroger would have cost way more.  And I can really stretch that food out over the next two weeks.  We usually have to make at least one more stop at Kroger during the week for things we run out of like milk and eggs, but besides that, I think we eat very well on very little.  I even bought a wedge of brie cheese for 2.99.

Not everything is cheap there, but I just try to stick to sale items.  For example, this time I bought a lot of broccoli, cauliflower, and green peppers.   They were each .99 cents (the green peppers came in a 3 pack).  We also eat a lot of carrots and onions because they are always cheap.  It’s amazing how many different ways you can spice up very simple vegetables.  It’s never boring!  I also keep celery on hand (it was .69 cents for a pack) because it’s great for flavoring soup, which we also eat a lot of.

Other things in my cart included:  smoked gouda cheese, goat cheese, chicken thighs and tenders, extra virgin olive oil, fresh spinach, artisan lettuce, and a few other “nicer things” that you might not expect to see at Aldi.

The following is a rough explanation of the bread mentioned above:

This is with sourdough starter, but I used to make it with yeast and it turns out exactly the same (I keep a sourdough going cuz I think it’s healthier, but it’s not sour at all.  I hate sour sourdough). I don’t know exact measurements, but the ingredients are approximately:
2 cups warm water
2 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
4-6 cups of bread flour (start with 4, then see how much more you need to get a non-sticky ball of dough)
Dissolve the yeast and salt in the water, then knead in the flour until you get a firm/ non-sticky ball of dough ( I use a kitchen aid stand mixer with the dough hook to knead the bread). Let rise for 5 hours or more (even over night if you want) covered with plastic wrap, so it doesn’t dry out dough, then form into loafs.  I put mine on a silicone sheet or parchment paper.  Rub top of shaped loaf with flour, let rise another 1-2 hours in a big huge ziplock bag or trash bag to hold in moisture. Bake at 500 F for a crusty moist loaf. You can bake at 450 F but I find that it does’t have that crusty characteristic of a french loaf unless cooked at a high temperature. It’s done when it’s a dark golden brown.

A Beautiful Day at Home

It was in the mid 70’s today.  I know some get annoyed at weather like that in December, but I sure don’t.  I like it!  We spent most of the morning outside.  We picked hydrangeas.

We played in the leaves.

And after a tasty lunch, I put the kids down for a nap and enjoyed a cup of coffee.

This is one way I enjoy something refined in a day full of not-so-refined things.  I almost always put my tea or coffee on a tray, my cream in a (cream pourer?  anyone?) and try to just enjoy the moment.

I can’t help it; presentation changes the feel of everything.  A cup of coffee in Josh’s Army mug doesn’t taste as good as coffee in a pretty homemade mug (or my Ikea cup and saucer).

How do you take your coffee?

 

 

 

Hello World

I figured the default post title for wordpress was appropriate since this is my first post ever on this blog.  So, hello world.  Read my about me page to find out more.  Other than that I’m just going to jump right in.  This sight is going to be under construction for a while so excuse the mess.

Let’s start with some Christmas spirit.  Here the kids enjoyed decorating the tree.

I didn’t know it at the time, but apparently clustering is “in”.  Guess my kids have a knack for style.

Pretty, no?

Christmas season never lasts long enough for my taste.  I just love this season and I draw it out as long as possible.  You might find Christmas music playing in late October at my house.  Why not?

I’m wanting to be more festive/traditional this year as a family.  The past few years have felt more like survival mode, but this year seems peaceful (comparatively speaking).  We always do Christmas-y stuff, but we don’t have any family traditions set in stone yet.

What traditions do you do?