1. Wednesday, March 27, 2013

    How To: Sweet and Sour Tofu

    The other night I was craving a sweet and sour dish and searched for the perfect recipe that didn’t involve ridiculous amounts of brown sugar. I pieced this one together and now have a new favorite dinner!

    I realize tofu isn’t for everyone and get that the taste and consistency can be pretty off putting. But, this recipe is a great example of the amazing things you can do with tofu to create great flavor. Another amazing thing about this recipe? Just sub the tofu for chicken if tofu isn’t your thing.

    What You Need:

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    1. 1/4 cup honey
    2. 2 T sunflower seed oil
    3. 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
    4. 1/4 cup whole wheat white flour
    5. Sriracha (or as much of your favorite hot sauce as you like)
    6. 1 T grated ginger
    7. 3 cloves grated garlic
    8. 3 scallions
    9. 2 bunches bok choy
    10. Lemon juice
    11. 14 oz package of firm tofu

    What You Do:

    1) Mix together the honey, soy sauce, sriracha, ginger, garlic, and lemon juice. Set aside for later. Add 1-2 T of water.

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    2) Slice the tofu into one inch squares and toss with the quarter cup flour until all tofu pieces are coated.

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    3) Chop the bok choy and scallions, keeping the white and green parts of each separated. Mash the garlic cloves and ginger too.

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    4) Heat the sunflower oil in a large pan, and saute floured tofu pieces until browned. About 3-4 minutes each side.

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    5) Add the white and light green parts of the bok choy and scallions and saute for about 3 minutes. Then, add the leafy green part of the bok choy and saute another minute.

    Add the sauce mixture to the pan. Let the sauce come to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer until sauce thickens.

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    6) The sauce should reduce by about half and coat the tofu pieces.

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    7) I served over brown rice and topped the green part of the scallions.

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    Next time I will probably double the recipe so there are more left overs for lunch the next day!

  2. Sunday, March 17, 2013

    How To: Transforming Vases

    Sometimes I have a habit of rescuing things from being thrown in the trash. Like these vases. My mom was ready to pitch them until I swooped in, seeing great potential, and saved these three. I also conveniently asked my mom to store them for me at her house until I had a plan. She was kind enough to save her trash for me for a year, when I took them home with me a few weekends ago.

    I decided to transform them to a crisp white. This “how to” really isn’t very difficult, which is why I wanted to post this project. Sometimes, it’s amazing what just a little effort and paint can do!

    What You Need:

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    • Spray paint primer
    • Spray paint - I used gloss white
    • Sand paper

    What You Do:

    1) Rough up the surface with sandpaper, this will help in applying the primer, and give it something to stick to.

    When finished sanding, rinse and dry thoroughly. You don’t want any dust remaining on the surface, as it will get stuck under the paint and leave impressions. Wiping down with rubbing alcohol is a great way to clean too.

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    2) In a well ventilate area, spray two coats of primer. After the primer the yellow flowers were still showing a bit. Don’t worry if you still see a shadow of something.

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    3) Once the primer is dry, spray with 2 coats of the paint. Let the first coat dry before applying the second.

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    And, now you have something totally different. Really, this is such an easy and inexpensive project. It’s amazing what a coat of paint can do, and great to remember when you’re on a budget.

    After spending about 40 minutes to achieve such dramatic results, I felt a little silly for leaving these at my mom’s for a few years!

  3. Monday, February 25, 2013

    How to Make: Pumpkin Muffins

    l have to thank my mom for this recipe. A few weeks ago she sent us home with homemade pumpkin muffins that we gobbled up. We made it a week without pumpkin muffins in our lives. As of Sunday, 2/25 at 1:30 pm we had 34 mini pumpkin muffins. As of Monday, 2/25 at 9:30 pm we have zero pumpkin muffins. And, Trader Joe’s told me they won’t have pumpkin puree until Thanksgiving. We might have a problem.

    I love this recipe because it’s super simple and can easily be made vegan by using egg substitutes and the right oil. Also, you could probably pour the muffin batter into a load pan to make some delicious pumpkin bread.

    What You Need:

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    • 3 egg whites (or egg substitute), beaten
    • 1/4 cup oil (I used smart balance with omega)
    • 1 cup whole wheat white flour
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 1 can all natural pumpkin puree
    • 1/2 t baking soda
    • 1/2 t baking powder
    • 1 t pumpkin pie spice
    • 1/4 t salt
    • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

    1) In a small bowl, mix together all dry ingredients (except for walnuts). In a larger bowl, mix together the brown sugar and oil.

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    2) Add the can of pumpkin puree and beaten eggs to the brown sugar mixture. Then, slowly fold in the dry ingredients little by little. You’ll end up with a mixture that looks something like this…

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    3) Spoon the mixture into muffin tins. I went with mini pumpkin muffins because who doesn’t love a mini muffin? Top each with some chopped walnuts, pressing them into the top a little.

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    4) Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes and finished!

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    It’s really that simple! Now, I’m going to have to find the Trader Joe’s all natural pumpkin puree black market.

  4. Tuesday, February 5, 2013

    How to Make: Fabric Plastic Bag Holder

    You know too much time has gone by between posts when you log into Tumblr and everything looks different! Really, I won’t even mention the date of my last post.


    Over Christmas vacation (that’s right, these pics have been sitting in my camera since December) I went on a major organizing spree. After pulling everything out of one of our closets, I decided I needed a better solution for storing plastic bags. So, in the midst of of an organization tornado,  I pulled out my sewing machine to make a fabric plastic bag holder. That’s right, I needed a fabric plastic holder right then, not later (like when the mess I made was put away).

    What You Need:

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    • 3- 20 x 8 1/4 pieces of fabric (or 1 20 x 24.75” piece)
    • 2 pieces of elastic, one measuring 11” and one 6.5”
    • Thread

    What You Do:

    1) Pin together the 3 pieces of fabric length wise. My strips are actually all the same fabric, I just flipped one side so it shows the non-polka dot side.

    Here, we’re looking at the “wrong” side pinned. When finished, the top and bottom will be polka dot and the middle solid.

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    2) Sew the strips together with a quarter inch seam. Here’s a view of the “wrong” side again.

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    And the right side.

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    3) Cut the elastic into a 6.5” and 11” piece.

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    4) Iron a hem at the top and bottom, making sure both are a little wider than the elastic.

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    5) Sew the top and bottom hems down.

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    6) The elastic needs to be “fed” through the top and bottom hems. For anyone that’s attempted something like this, you know that feeding a 6.5” and 11” elastic through 20” of fabric can be pretty frustrating.

    I had the genius idea to tape one end of the elastic to a chop stick, and then scrunched my way to the other end. Be sure to end up with pieces of elastic at each end!

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    7) Sew over each elastic end at the top and bottom to secure the elastic and fabric.

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    8) From the “wrong” side sew, sew a quarter inch seam lengthwise so you have an elastic opening at the top and bottom. The wide opening is the top.

    At this point I realized I forgot a handle, so I just stitched some wide ribbon at the top. Next time, I’d probably put the handle in when sewing the top seam.

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    And, look at how organized our plastic bags are now! I hadn’t pulled out my sewing machine for a while and this was actually a great project for getting back into sewing mode. Nothing complicated or intimidating.

    I’m also happy to report that I managed to get the contents of our closet back in place on the same day too. I avoided the disaster of not feeling like putting it all back!

  5. Saturday, December 29, 2012

    How to Make: Turkey & Quinoa Meatloaf

    After feasting (ok, gourging) on holiday treats for the past few weeks, a healthy meal was a must. Something without eggnog, chocolate, butter, cookies, cheese, cream, pie, gravy, or cupcakes. My excessive holiday eating (yes, I’ll have a third glass of eggnog) left me too lazy to walk to the grocery store, so I set out to whip up a meal with ingredients in the apartment….ground turkey and quinoa.

    After some googling, ground turkey and quinoa meatloaf kept popping up. Interesting, because meatloaf is typically the opposite of healthy! Oh, meatloaf reminds me of the movie “Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss”. Anyone seen this? Often times, people have no idea what I’m talking about with this one. I think it’s the “Christmas Story" family years later.

    Here’s what I cobbled together…

    What You Need:

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    • 1 package lean ground turkey
    • 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa
    • 1 T tomato paste
    • 3 T worcestershire sauce
    • 1 t olive oil
    • 1/2 t salt
    • 1 t pepper
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 (or 1/2) T chili or hot sauce
    • 2 egg whites
    • 1 T brown sugar
    • 1 T water

    What You Do:

    1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

    Bring the 1/4 cup of quinoa to a boil in 1/2 cup water. Once boiling, lower heat to medium, cover pot and let sit about 15 minutes until all the water is absorbed.

    While the quinoa is cooking, chop the onion and garlic.

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    2) Heat the olive oil in a pan and saute the onion and garlic until the onion is just translucent.

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    3) Once the quinoa and onion/garlic are ready, combine all ingredients in a bowl EXCEPT for 1 T of the worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and 1 T of water.

    Mix together well.

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    4) In a small bowl, whisk together the 1 T of worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and water. Set aside.

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    5) Form the meat mixture into a loaf shape and place on a baking sheet lined with foil. Brush the sauce over the top.

    Bake at 350 for 50 minutes, or until cooked through.

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    And, 50 minutes later you have a tasty loaf of (healthy) meat packed with protein.

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    We ate it with broccoli and a spinach, tomato and feta salad.

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    How was it? Amazing! I was a little skeptical of this as is just seemed like a big mess when I was preparing everything, but the result is really flavorful and a great winter meal. I guess this is fancy meatloaf?

  6. Thursday, December 6, 2012

    How to Make: Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crust

    These pictures have been hanging out on my computer since Thanksgiving. After sorting through them, I’m craving pumpkin pie right now! Some of you know my feelings on pie. Not a fan. However, in my book, pumpkin pie is amazing because the crust situation is totally different. Pumpkin pie is more about the pumpkin filling than the crust, making it the perfect pie.

    I cobbled this recipe together from a few I came across, it’s a keeper!

    What You Need:

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    Crust:

    • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat white flour
    • 1/4 t salt
    • 1/3 cup pecans
    • 6 T Smart Balance, in pieces
    • 2-4 T ice water

    Filling:

    • 4 egg whites
    • 3/4 cup skim milk
    • 1/2 t salt
    • 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree 
    • 2 t pumpkin pie spice
    • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar

    Whipped Cream:

    • 1/2 t cinnamon
    • 2 T confectioners’ sugar
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 t vanilla extract

    What You Do:

    1) Toast the pecans by baking on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes. Toasting brings the flavor out.

    After toasting, turn the oven temperature up to 425 for later.

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    2) Thrown the pecans in a food processor and pulse until finely ground.

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    3) Add the flour, Smart Balance, and salt. Pulse until blended.

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    4) Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add 1 T of ice water at a time. Mix and continue adding water until the dough starts to come together in crumbles. Once crumbles start to form, scoop up the dough and form into a ball.

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    5) Flatten the dough into a disk. Refrigerate for at least a half hour.

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    6) Mix together the egg whites, milk, pumpkin pie spice, brown sugar, and salt.

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    7) Add the entire can of pumpkin pie puree and mix until blended.

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    8) Roll the pie dough out into a 13 - 14” circle — you want it to be a little bigger than your pie pan. Don’t have a rolling pin? Use anything you have hanging around like a wine bottle or glass. Just dust lightly with flour.

    Place the dough in your pie pan, patting down to fit all around.

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    9) You should have about 1/2” to 1” of dough hanging all around. Go around, and fold under the dough so it lines up with the edge of your pie plate.

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    10) Now it’s time to crimp, this is so much easier than you might expect! Take a look at the picture below, you just go around the perimeter pinching the dough — two fingers pinching from the outside and one inside making the dent.

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    11) Line the pie shell with pie weights. Yeah, I don’t have pie weights either…but don’t panic. Just line with foil and throw in some dried beans. I used dried chickpeas. The weight keeps the dough from rising while baking.

    Bake with the weights/dried beans for 12 minutes at 425 degrees. Remove the weights and foil and bake for another 10-12 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

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    12) Pour in the pumpkin mixture and bake for 1 hour until the edges are set and middle is slightly jiggly.

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    13) Next, I went all out (it is the holidays) and made some whipped cream with (you’re not going to believe this) heavy cream. Whoa.

    I didn’t get pictures, but using a mixer, whip 1 cup of heavy cream until it forms peaks. Add 1/2 t cinnamon, 2 T confectioners’ sugar, and 1 t vanilla and blend together. I’m really not a fan of whipped cream, but everyone loved it!

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    This was amazing, the pecan crust was perfect. I wish I had some now!

  7. Wednesday, November 21, 2012

    Holidays: Time to Enjoy!

    Last year, the holidays snuck up on me. It was a sneak attack, and I found myself running around at the last minute trying to get ready. I couldn’t find gift tags or ribbon anywhere and witnessed arguments at the grocery store over items like the last bag of walnuts. I never really enjoyed any holiday cheer.

    A few weeks ago, while running errands, I decided to embrace the early November Christmas music and aisles of holiday supplies. I found myself humming Christmas tunes and stocking up on tissue paper, gift bags, lights, and Christmas cards. Oh, and this year we have gift tags. I’m glad I succumbed to the early holiday cheer because now I’m ready to enjoy the little moments that make the holidays special. While the last bags of confectioners sugar and pecans trigger grocery store fist fights,  I’ll be sitting by our Christmas tree watching Elf :)

    What am I looking forward to?

    1) Holiday baking. Normally, I’m not a huge baker…too much precise measuring for me. Yet, over the past few years I’ve started a few baking traditions I look forward to like my brownie thin pistachio cookies and….

    mini cheesecake bites.


    2) Making handmade gifts. I love giving gifts and there’s nothing better than creating something special for friends and family. This year, I even opened an Etsy shop where I can build out my ideas and collection and offer pieces to everyone!


    3) Getting and decorating our Christmas tree! When my husband and I travel we bring home a Christmas ornament from each place. Sometimes this ends up being a key chain from the airport strung on a pretty ribbon :) This year, we have ornaments from Aruba and Austin, Texas to add. There’s also a stuffed moose from Canada and cable car from San Fransisco somewhere too. 

    4) Sending Christmas cards. As old fashioned as it is, I love writing and sending Christmas cards! The past few years I’ve made my own , but this year our apartment doesn’t have room for another project so I bought some.

    What’s everyone looking forward to?

  8. Monday, November 5, 2012

    How to Make: Lemon Roasted Chicken w/ Green Beans & Potatoes

    The weather is getting chillier, which means it’s time for cozy meals! This recipe is similar to a crock pot meal, meaning all the ingredients are thrown together and cooked at once. Best part? This doesn’t take six to eight hours like a crockpot does, so you’re not tortured by delicious smells to realize you have five hours to wait.

    What You Need:

    • 3-4 chicken breasts
    • 3/4 lbs green beans
    • 6-8 red potatoes, quartered
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 4-6 T olive oil
    • 2 lemons, one sliced and one juiced
    • Salt and pepper

    What You Do:

    1) Preheat the over to 450. Wash and quarter the potatoes, leaving the skins on.

    2) Slice one lemon, cutting thin slices.


    3) Drizzle some olive oil in the bottom of a large baking dish and spread a layer of the lemon slices.


    4) In a bowl, toss together the quartered potatoes, green beans, and garlic, salt and pepper and remaining olive oil.

    5) Layer the green beans over the lemon slices, and the potatoes over the green beans.


    6) Toss the chicken breasts in the same bowl, coating with any extra olive oil and garlic. Place the chicken over the potatoes. Drizzle the chicken with lemon juice and bake for about 50 minutes.


    7) Enjoy!

    This was super easy and looks like you’ve made three different elements once on a plate. Next time, I’ll probably use a little less lemon juice, or make an effort to spread the lemon juice evenly. There were a few patches of intense lemon in there!

  9. Monday, October 29, 2012

    How to Make: Apple Pie in an Apple

    The other day I did some baking while trapped in our apartment by hurricane Sandy. We were fortunate to not loose power…good thing because we never did any hurricane prep like digging out all our candles and matches or buying gallons of milk. Really, why do stores sell out of milk when there’s a weather disaster?

    Have I ever told you how I feel about pie? I realize this is going to sound crazy, and I may loose friends and readers after saying this, but I don’t care for pie. I typically like pie filling. It’s the dough and crust I have an issue with and I can’t explain why. I just don’t like it. However, I’ve found the perfect solution with this apple pie recipe.

    What You Need:

    Filling Ingredients..

    • 2 granny smith apples
    • 1 other type of apple of your choice
    • 1 t cinnamon
    • 1/2 t organic sugar
    • 1/2 t organic brown sugar

    Dough Ingredients…

    • 3/4 cup whole wheat white flour
    • 1/8 t salt
    • 4 T Smart Balance or Earth Balance
    • 3 T ice water
    • 1/2 T sugar

    What You Do:

    1) I made the dough first. To start, mix together the flour, salt and sugar.


    2) Cut in the Smart Balance using a mixer or by hand. Since I was making such a small amount, I opted to not pull out my mixer. Mix in the Smart Balance until the mixture forms small clumps like below.

    3) Add the water and mix until the dough forms a ball. If the dough isn’t forming into a ball, just add a little more water.

    4) Flatten the dough into a disk, cover, and refrigerate for a half hour.

    5) Now, start with the apples! Cut off the tops of the two granny smith apples.

    6) Scoop out the insides of the apples, leaving about a 1/4” border all the way around. I found using a melon baller here did the job pretty well.

    7) Chop up the apple you just scooped out, being sure to throw out the cores and seeds. Also chop up the other type of apple you’ve chosen. Throw the chopped apples, cinnamon, sugar, and brown sugar in a bowl and combine well.

    8) Stuff each apple with the mixture.

    9) Roll out the dough and cut some strips. I used my pizza cutter to cut the strips —- marking the first time using my pizza cutter!

    I also cut out a few leaf shapes to add to the top with a mini cookie cutter. In case you were wondering, that is a fall leaf cookie cutter, not a holiday holly leaf cookie cutter. In a few months it will magically transform into a holly leaf :)

    10) Lay the dough strips on top of the apples in a lattice pattern, topping with a leaf.

    11) Pour a little water in the bottom of your baking pan, cover, and bake for 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees.

    I’m in love with this and looking back, can’t figure out why I only made two. I can handle eating this amount of pie dough. Also, this is a healthier alternative to regular pie that tastes amazing and is a great sweet treat. Next time, I’ll serve with a little vanilla icecream. Of course, the icecream won’t be allowed to touch my apple pie. Guess I just have some overall pie issues!

    Wonder if I could pull this off with a peach?

  10. Tuesday, October 9, 2012

    How To: Open an Etsy Shop

    Who doesn’t love Etsy? I spend hours getting lost on Etsy. In fact, between Etsy and Pinterst it’s amazing I get anything done. This past weekend I tore myself away from both to do something I’ve been talking about for years….I opened my own Etsy shop, Court Collects! Really, this is just an excuse for me to spend more time on Etsy.

    I’ve been making my own jewelry for years and love everything about it. From thinking about designs, to hunting for the perfect materials, to sitting down and creating (aka making a mess), to giving jewelry as gifts. Here’s a few things I learned while working away this weekend:

    • If you spill a package of seed beads you’ll never find all them. They’ll continue to appear in unexpected places such as your glass of water.
    • Our bathroom is the best place for lighting while taking jewelry photos…I might need to paint another room white.
    • No matter how many I have, I always want more beads!

    Here’s a peak at what I’ve listed, check out my shop for more!

About me

A collection of everything Courtney...from my clearance rack style, to creative projects, to things I just like.

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