Friday, May 31, 2013

Afternoon Craft Project - Jewelry Organization for Under $3

So it all started last week when my husband, who was diligently vacuuming in our bedroom, came "thisclose" to sucking up a the necklace he'd purchased for me as a Valentine's Day gift.  I'm not really a jewelry girl, so the pieces I have are usually sentimental or practical - a few hoop earrings, some chunky necklaces, and a bunch of heirlooms from my mother and grandmothers. 

And the necklace from my husband.

Because I don't have a lot of jewelry, I don't really "organize" it. The necklaces were hanging on command hooks attached to the side of my dresser (and apparently fall off onto the carpet), the bracelets and brooches were tucked in a box in the closet, and the earrings were jumbled with bobby pins and hair ties on my dresser. 

So today I decided I needed to organize my jewelry in a way that was convenient and cute. I had a three-drawer particleboard cabinet that I purchased about five years ago at Dollar General. It was accumulating random makeup/medicine/hair product and wasn't really meeting its full potential. 

I went to Michael's and looked through the felt. It was 29 cents per sheet and came in lots of nice colors. I picked out a pretty blue that caught my eye and, lucky me, it fit perfectly inside the drawers! 

I also found this really cute tea pot dish for $1 (also at Michael's - who knew?!). It's perfect for holding my little rosette earrings! I lined all my hoop earrings up, and because of the felt they stay in place really well. No shifting around when I open or close the drawer. 

I found old jewelry gift boxes to hold bracelets, and I used double-sided tape to make sure they didn't shift around too much, applying it to the sides that touched the drawer, and a little in between the two boxes. 

For my necklaces, I just laid them on the felt, looping them a few times to make them fit. 

I'm so happy with my new jewelry chest! It's perfect!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

(Vegan) Kabocha Squash Soup

I went to Sprouts a few weeks ago (have you been to Sprouts?! It's amazing!) and saw that some of the winter varieties of squash were on sale. I'd used butternut squash before in soups and in roasted medleys with carrots and onions, and I am not unfamiliar with the acorn squash either. 

But there was a third squash present. Kabocha. At first I assumed this was the squash from which that weird fermented health drink is made (I later learned this is kombucha and not connected to winter squash at all), but at the sale price, it was worth trying. So I grabbed one and put it in the cart. 

For a solid week the little hard-skinned squash sat on top of the microwave, mocking me with its inability to be thoroughly Googled. Few recipes or health facts exist for the kabocha squash. Eventually, I just decided to bake it, puree it, and make a soup. If it turned out awful, I'd just feed it to the garbage disposal. 

But I was in luck. Using a recipe I had for butternut squash soup, I substituted the kabocha and added a little more garlic. Not only was the texture like velvet, but the flavor was amazing. Definitely one of my favorite soup recipes ever.

Vegan/Gluten-Free/ Dairy-Free Kabocha Squash Soup

1 kabocha squash, peeled and cubed (you chould also use butternut or acorn squash)
5 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 bag baby carrots or 1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups GF vegetable broth (more if needed)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp basil 
1 Tbsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste
plain yogurt (optional)

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add in olive oil, onion, and garlic. Saute until translucent. 

Add in squash, carrots, and broth. Bring to boil, then cover and simmer on low until carrots break apart easily with a fork (about 45 minutes). 

Add in basil, oregano, and salt, then cook for 5 more minutes to allow the herbs to blend in. 

Turn off heat and, using whatever blending method you choose (immersion, upright blender, food processor, etc.), blend until smooth. 

Serve warm with a dollop of plain yogurt on top (optional).

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Clean[er] Eating: Week 3

Week 3

Cauliflower curry. Brown rice and vegetables. Vegetable lasagna. Asian stir-fry. Sweet potato fries. It's been a good week.

I made this cauliflower curry under the suggestion of my sister, Katy, and it was quite tasty. I served it over brown rice, and there was enough left over for lunch the next day. I want to make a few more Indian and Thai dishes over the next month...I really like the combination of flavors and textures in the ones I've tried. I found a great Thai Sweet Potato and Lentil recipe I may try this weekend. We'll see...

While I did cook a lot, I didn't have a chance to bake any gluten-free bread. I'm making some gluten-free banana yogurt muffins this afternoon, and if they turn out well I'll post a recipe next week. I did have a chance to sprout some lentils that I'll use in a salad this evening, a stir-fry for lunch tomorrow, and a brown rice and veggie mix this weekend. They are so good and soooooo easy to make! Why sprouted lentils? Well, for some reason sprouting lentils makes the protein and vitamins more digestable, and decreases the number of calories per cup from 678 to 82. No, seriously.

Next week is the last week of our Clean[er] Eating challenge, but I think John and I both plan to keep going. We're set to save about $100 on groceries (that includes spending a bit more this month on a select number of gluten-free items), the food we're eating is healthy and delicious, and we feel great. It's the real deal.

Sprouting Lentils (makes a lot!)

You will need:

  • 3/4 cup brown lentils
  • a small colander
  • a bowl that the colander can easily fit inside
  • a thin dish towel

Step 1: Rinse the lentils well and put them in a bowl with water about 3 inches above the top of the lentils. Let sit for 12 hours (I typically do this while I'm preparing dinner, and then drain them the next morning).

Step 2: Pour the water and the lentils into a small colander. Rinse well (at least a full minute). Let drain for another minute. Put the colander into the larger bowl and cover with a thin dish towel. Set somewhere out of direct sunlight and at room temperature.

Step 3: 12 hours later, rinse the lentils again, let dry, and put back in the larger bowl, covering it all with the thin dish towel. Place back in a location out of sunlight and at room temperature.

Step 4: Repeat step 3 at least twice more.

When your lentils have sprouted 1/4 - 1/2 inch, you're done! Do not rinse again, simply put in a Tupperware container and transfer to the fridge until use. You can steam them, saute them, or use them raw in salads.They are delicious, cheap, and ridiculously healthy!!!

Sprouted Lentils!!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Clean[er] Eating - Week 2

John: "Why do I have so much energy?!?!!"
Me: (half-asleep) "Mmmmfffrpmm..."
John: "This is amazing! I'm not even a little bit tired!!!"
Me: .....
John: "I'm gonna read Hunger Games for a while, because I AM NOT TIRED!!!"
Me: "MmmmmrrrrrKatniss...."

it was once my book to read....


This has been a pretty typical scene at the Peterson household lately. Two months ago, we were both in bed and asleep by 9:30 (don't judge), exhausted from work and life and general lack of energy. Now, John comes home smiling and energetic and joyful and talkative and ohmygoodness it's awesome.

Why do I mention this? Because the only change we've made is eating cleaner. We haven't been taking new super-expensive vitamins or getting up at 5am to strike some awesome yoga poses or downing protein shakes every two hours. We've just been eating cleaner, and John specifically has been eating gluten-free. 

So what do we eat? Well, because we're participating in Rice & Beans month (learn more about it here) we eat a lot of....rice and beans (both are gluten-free). We also eat a lot of veggies and fruits. For example:

Sunday: Pinto beans and rice with tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, garlic, basil, and oregano
Monday: Baked sweet potatoes with garlicky lentils and a side of brown rice and broccoli
Tuesday: Corn tortilla tacos with refried pinto beans and Spanish rice
Wednesday: Sweet potato chili w/ kidney and pinto beans
Thursday: (community group night) Chili dogs w/ gluten free hot dog buns
Friday:  a stop at Chick-fil-a (they have GF salads, and their waffle fries are GF!)
Saturday: whatever's leftover from the week....

(By the way, most of these recipes were vastly improved by the addition of cheese. Ya just can't tell a guy raised in Wisconsin that he can't have cheese...)

In addition to Pinterest and Google, I'm also taking advantage of the recipes you all have sent me, as well as the recipes posted by some of my favorite bloggers! My sister sent me an Indian cauliflower curry recipe that I'm planning to try out next week, and my dear friend Jen sent me a bean soup recipe that is going to be GREAT for the stormy weather coming up next week. And, of course, my friend Heidi over at The Busy Nothings has TONS of resources for gluten-free eating. 

Next week, a post about sprouting your own lentils, attempting GF bread, and what John thinks of The Hunger Games....