Monday, January 31, 2011

Renovation Realities

The time has come. We're gutting the bathroom that is original to the house. I have a feeling this project is going to be very similar to the reality shows on DIY, where from the comfort of my couch, I can snicker and chuckle at those clowns flailing about, trying to install flooring. I think it's going to be my turn to flail about. So why not share it with the world! It absolutely has to be done.

Here is the bathroom in it's original-vintage-horrible condition:

I mean, that's just bad, man. It makes me cringe. Not only are those tiles pink (double cringe), but they're fake. They're freakin' plastic! So here's what's going to happen. It's all going. Every single thing except for the bathtub is going to be thrown out that window and hauled outta here. I cannot wait!

Now, this is a hallway bathroom, but it's also Homey's bathroom. I want it to be "hers" but not necessarily overly juvenile since the rest of the world will mainly be using that bathroom. So here's my inspiration for the final product:

Vintage enamel bucket from the Fair, sand colored basket and new shower curtain from World Market, concrete mermaid (also from the Fair), and recently found mermaid hook. Adorable, no? So this clearly lends the bathroom to lean towards a beach-y feel. I don't mind a beach-y feel, I just do not plan on plastering beach scenes and shells everywhere. A subtle nod to ocean-ish stuff, with the mermaids (and NOT Ariel, bless her heart. I do love Ariel...just not as decor!) as a whimsical touch since it is a tiny person's bathroom.

Okay what else do I have for in there? Ah yes, one Homey beach picture for good measure. It's just a pretty picture.

A pretty seahorse ornament to go matches the shower curtain!

Oh, and Homey's step stool that JMom made. So cute.

That's it! That's my jumping off point. Now to just get in there and demo!

Stay tuned for updates and polls as we try to finish this room! I will need tons of opinions to get it finished!

Broccoli Soup

I promise to move on from recipes and onto other thrills of domesticity soon, but I just made broccoli soup. And it is so freakin' good. And easy. It's not one of those soups that has to sit and simmer forever. Probably only takes 20 minutes from start to finish. You actually probably already have most of this stuff in your kitchen:

(These pictures are totally not the greatest...dinner was late that night, so the lighting was less than fabulous)

32 oz chicken broth
2-10 oz boxes of frozen broccoli. (Florets or bust, baby. I don't deal with broccoli stems. Or as Thing 2 calls them "broccoli bones".)
1/2 an onion, diced
1/2 cup milk (whole...don't play around with percentages of milk!)
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp nutmeg
salt/pepper to taste

Now go ahead and start to saute the onion in the butter:

Nothing smells better than onion cooking in butter.

Once they're nice and soft, stir in the flour to coat the onion. Then add all of the broth and both boxes of broccoli.

Just let this cook for about 10 minutes at about medium heat. You just want it to simmer for a while to cook the broccoli. Turn the heat up a tad if the natives are getting restless...

You don't want this girl to get overly hungry...

Now pull out your food process, blender, or whatever you use to process and blend things. I pull out the biggest pieces of broccoli and a little broth, and puree it. I do like to leave some whole pieces of broccoli in there, just not all of it.

Now, let the newly pureed broccoli rejoin the group.

Slowly pour in the milk. Let it heat up

Crap, you can see the time! I told you it was getting a little late! Oops...

While you're letting the milk warm up in there, add in the nutmeg and plenty of black pepper. Start tasting as you may not want to add salt, or maybe you will. You may even want more nutmeg...I did.

Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese. Throw a twice baked potato with it...perfect meal for a cold rainy night!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011's not that hard!!

Ok, let's talk about this. So maybe making homemade spanakopita is not on the top of your list. And yes, phyllo dough is terrifying. But listen. This recipe is not that hard. Once you have the “set up” down pat, this is super easy. But I'm not going to lie, it does require some effort. After all, it sure does beat rolling out cookie dough that has it out for you. Thank goodness Cookie Rolling Out season is over! this. Expect it to be a pain in your neck the first time, but then you'll get the rhythm down. Double it because they freeze beautifully before they're baked. You can just pull them out as you need them! And how cool are you going to be the next time someone pops over, and you over them a fresh batch of homemade spanakopita...I love being overly prepared!

Grab these things:

10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained

olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

4 oz feta cheese, crumbled

2 eggs, lightly beaten

salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 (16 ounce) packages phyllo dough

about a stick and a half butter, melted

So let's making the filling. Spinach tends to need a good bit of seasoning so feel free to be liberal with your salt and pepper here. But remember that feta is a salty cheese, so don't get out of control.

Saute the onion in about 2 tablespoons of EVOO.

Add in the flour and spinach.

Once this is mixed, take this off the heat and add in the eggs, feta, and salt/pepper.

Ok, now is when you want to take a deep breath and put a straw in your cocktail because your hands are going to be busy and phyllo-y for the next 20 minutes are so. You will want that straw in your cup, I promise.

Let's get set up...this is so much easier if you havea station ready. You need:

Parchment paper, phyllo, and butter (melt it...)

You need saran wrap, a damp towel, a sharp knive or pizza cutter and a pastry brush.

Set up the phyllo on your right (Jmom, just switch the left/right here...) with saran wrap over it and a damp towel over that. In the middle you want a length of parchment paper. To your left you want a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silpat (I got one for Christmas so I can feel fancy and professional).

Another deep breath. Let's do it!

If you have never worked with phyllo this is what you're working with. I am holding 2 thin sheets in that picture. It is very delicate, and if you let it dry out, it just crumbles all over the place and is useless. That's why we need a damp towel (but word the wise, make sure you have saran wrap between the dough and the towel. If it's too damp, the phyllo gets gummy...rendering it, yet again, useless. Finicky dough.

Pull out 2 sheets and put them in the middle of your work station. Brush evenly with butter (but not too much!). Add a third layer, brush it with butter also.

Cut the phyllo into thirds with the pizza cutter.

Add a spoonful of the spinach mixture to the end of the phyllo strip.

Fold it up diagonally.

Then keep folding...

Keep folding...

This is what you'll end up with...

Lather, rinse, repeat...

Then brush the tops of each triangle with butter.

(Now is when you would freeze any to save for later—leave off the last brush of butter).

Bake at 350, for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown:

Delicious! Now to bake previously frozen spanakopita, let them thaw in the fridge overnight, then do the same thing. Brush them with butter then bake.

Perfect appetizer or side dish. Pair with pastichio and dolmades for an awesome Greek Extravanza!

Why, oh why, did I blog this when I don't have any spanakopita on hand. Guess I know what I'll be making this weekend!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sandra's Pork Pie

There are several reasons to try this recipe.

1. It's pork.

2. It's pie.

3. It's Sandra's recipe, and that girl can cook. Always make the stuff Sandra tells you to cook. It's just a good rule of thumb.

Here's what we need:
1lb. Of ground pork
1/2 lb. Ground beef (mine is already cooked from a previous meal)
About 2 or 3 potatoes, mashed (Sandra calls for dry mashed potatoes which is what I did tonight, but I've also used leftover mashed potatoes--full of salt, pepper, and butter)
A double pie crust

Preheat your oven to 375.

Shout out to the friendly jadeite salt and pepper shakers!

Brown both meats and drain them. Then return the meat to the pan. Add about 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, and about 1/4 teaspoon of cloves. You want the meat mixture to be quite fragrant.
Add in your mashed potatoes, and stir it all up.

Now, we surely remember my usual pie crust drama. So, Pillsbury it is! Put one crust in the pie plate.Hello, Homey!

Add the fragrantly delicious meat mixture.

Top it with the other crust and crimp the edges (the edges probably need to be trimmed before you crimp them). Cut a few slits in the top crust, then pop that bad boy in the oven for about 45 minutes.

Keep your eye on it to make sure it doesn't get overly brown.

Happiness is a pie crust that doesn't explode in your oven. (Wouldn't that look lovely painted on a canvas to hang in the kitchen?)

Serve this with a side of mustard for dipping and a green salad. Delicious. Then call Sandra, and tell her she rocks!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Happy New Year!

So, let's just pick up right where we left off, shall we?! It's winter, it's cold. And while those are my two least favorite things, like, evah...there is a silver lining! I can't quit cooking, and I don't want to go out in the world. That combination is sure to produce an onslaught of domestic ridiculousness.
Doesn't that sound delightful?! Well, I think it does, too. Grab a cocktail and get ready for domesticity gone mad...