Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Black Bean Lime Salad

This stuff is super popular at our house. As soon as I make it, we eat it. It's so fresh and light tasting, what isn't to love? Here is what you'll need:

(1) 15-ounce can of black beans--drained and rinsed
(1) can corn--drained and rinsed
(1) Red bell pepper, diced
(2) Garlic cloves, minced
(1) Shallot, minced (or can use a red onion if you prefer)
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon lime zest
4 Tablespoons fresh lime juice

Simply mix everything together in bowl. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours before serving, or even over night. Stir and serve!

My husband likes to add tomatoes or avocados to his sometimes. They taste great, but only add if you're planning on eating the entire container because they get kind of funky! If you leave them out the salad will be good for a few days, that is if it doesn't all get eaten before then! Enjoy! :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Using Crates for Shelves

  This is a simple, quick, and cheap project that anyone can do in an afternoon. Most of us can always use an extra shelf or two and this is an inexpensive way to get some. Depending on how you hang the crate, you will either have a solid bottom shelf or one with slats, such as in my photo above. If you need a flat bottom, you can always add a piece of wood, plastic, or anything else you can find. :)

  Okay, to get this project started! You will need a crate of your choice. My local Michaels Crafts sells full size crates (approx $13 I believe), 1/2 size crates (around $7 ish), and 1/4 size crates like the one above ($5?). I can't remember the exact prices, so I could be off by a dollar or two! Don't forget to bring your 40% coupon with you to make them even cheaper!

  When you purchase them, the crates are unfinished so you'll need something to make them beautiful.....unless you like this look of course. I personally used spray paint for this round because I wanted them to match my freshly painted photo frames. Simply take the crates outside and spray them down...easy! 

  It took me three coats of a quick drying spray paint to get them how I wanted them. Also, since I'm hanging mine I did not paint the "bottom"of the crate (which goes against the wall). 

  Now all you have to do is simply screw them into the wall. I just run the screws through the crate and straight into the wall. 

  If you don't want to use spray paint you have other options. If you want them to have a more "wood" look, then I would suggest staining them. My local craft store sells stains directly next to the crates and other unfinished wood projects. You can also use wall paint. If you do though, I would suggest watering the paint down some so that it isn't so thick. This way it'll go on easier and turn out much nicer!

  There are so many things that you can do with these crates. You can put multiple of them together on the wall to create a larger shelving area. Or screw a bunch of them together and create a bookshelf. They don't have to be shelves either, you can decorate them and use them for anything that you want. I love their versatility. And their price too!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spray Paint Addiction

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I have an addiction to spray paint....using it only in the way it is supposed to be used. :)

I've been repainting an endless pile of items (new and old)to use in our new house. I posted previously about making 'wordy wine bottles' here but wanted to share my new ones.

Notice the beach theme? :) I love this project because it's so versatile. You can use any words or designs that you want and any color. You can combine the words with chalkboard spray paint or just do a color by itself. And of course you don't have to stick to wine bottles, the small ones here are beer bottles and any glass will do. You can make some fantastic accent vases with any glass you can find, and for next to nothing.

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Recycled Picture Frames

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Every time I move or redo a room, I end up with a stack of photo frames that I can't use for various reasons. Usually they're the wrong color. This time, I ended up with a large stack of black frames with white mats. Previously they'd been used around the house, but in the new "fresh" house we no longer wanted black frames. Instead of tossing them out or donating them, I decided to repurpose them into the white frames we wanted.

First I pulled out the glass and the mats. Then I simply laid the frames on a cloth (outside!) and sprayed them with white spray paint. 

I let them dry and then sprayed them again. Next I decided since the frames were now white, I no longer wanted the mats to be white. So I picked up some spray paint in shades similar to what I'm using to decorate the room. And I sprayed the mats their new color. And viola! Frames that look brand new and match my room.

I ended up needing more frames through out the house than I already had, so I had to pick up some more. I buy the vast majority of my frames at Michael's Craft store. This is because not only do they constantly have them on sale for 40% off, but they also always have "bonus" coupons for an additional 25% off your entire purchase of frames! I also gave the new frames a new color mat with my spray paint to make them more colorful and pretty.

The moral of the post is, try redoing your old frames before you give up on them! A quick (and cheap) dose of spray paint makes them look like brand new frames. This is also an easy way to make mismatched frames look as if they go together. If you frames of different colors and sizes, make them all the same for consistency. 

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Herb Bread Rounds

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Before you run away, bread is not scary!!! I used to be terrified of the mere thought of baking bread. Until I tried it. And succeeded. So, give it a try. Just follow the directions and you'll be fine.

This is a recipe to make two round loaves of bread. You can use any type of dried herbs in it that you want, or just make it plain.

8 cups of flour (I use a bread flour, but wheat or an all purpose white flour will work too!)
1 package of dried yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon rosemary
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon garlic
1/4 teaspoon paprika
dash of cayenne pepper
2 1/2 cups warm water
3 Tablespoons olive oil (plus extra for top of bread)

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

*Please note, all items in italics are optional and can be switched around to your taste*

Mix together your yeast, flour, salt, and herbs until well blended. Mix in the 3 Tbl olive oil. Gradually add your water, mixing well. I like to use either a small wooden spoon or my hands. 

Lightly flour the counter or another surface to work on. Put the dough on the counter and knead it for 10 minutes. It should be pretty smooth and well mixed together. 

Move your dough to a new bowl and cover it with a damp dish towel so it can rise. It will need to rise for about 1 hour until it is twice the starting size.

After the hour, move your dough back to your work surface and knead it so that the air comes out of it. This shouldn't take very long at all. Now you want to divide your dough in half. Take each half and work it into a round. The sides should be mostly smooth.

Spray a cookie sheet with non stick spray or put a light coating of oil on it. Place your rounds of dough onto the cookie sheet and cover them again with a dish towel. Let them rise for another 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Take your rounds and cut "stripes" across the top of them. Not too deep! Brush the top of the round with some olive oil and then sprinkle your sesame seeds onto it. 

Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Then (without removing the bread) reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake for 25 minutes longer. You can tell it's done because it'll be a nice brown color. If you pick up a round and tap the bottom with a knife or spoon, it should sound hollow when it's done. 

That is it! Your bread is done and ready to eat!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Hummus Night

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Tonight was a night for making hummus. I have a fun and exciting new recipe that calls for it that I'm making tomorrow. And of course I waited until the last minute to make it. :) I made both a plain hummus and a roasted red pepper spicy hummus!

The thing with hummus is that the flavors you can make are endless. So if you know how to make a basic hummus, you can adjust it from there. Don't be scared, hummus is actually pretty easy. And a lot of it is your own taste. These are suggestions for amounts, but play with it and add/subtract to make it how you want it.

Basic Hummus

1 Can Chick Peas (mine are usually 16 oz)
2 Tablespoons Tahini
4 Cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons Lemon juice
1/4 Teaspoon sea salt
1/4 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tablespoon Cumin
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons water

Mix all of the ingredients together in your food processor and blend very well. Depending on how good your food processor is, this could take a few minutes. If you want the hummus to be thinner, then add a little more water. Now, it's ready to eat.

Now, for the next recipe. As you'll notice, other than adding ingredients, the only difference is in the amount of liquids and garlic. For a basic hummus I add more garlic to give it extra flavor. Also, when you're using something (such as roasted red peppers), they contain a lot of liquid within them and so you don't need to add as much liquid to the hummus mixture. Okay, here we go.

Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

1 Can Chick Peas
3/4 Tablespoon Red Pepper Flakes (as I've said before, we like hot! Use less if you don't or none!)
2 Tablespoons Tahini 
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tablespoons Lemon juice
1/4 Teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon Cumin
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Roasted Red Peppers (there are only two in the jars that I buy)
Put all of the ingredients into your food processor and (like above), process until very smooth. 

Check your consistency and if you're happy with it then you're ready to go! Enjoy!

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

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This recipe has become a regular (and favorite) in our household. I love that he loves it because it is super easy! Who doesn't love crock pot recipes where you can just dump ingredients in and walk away??!!

2-3 Chicken Breasts (2 big ones is plenty!)
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can Kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can corn (drained and rinsed)
1 can diced tomatoes (drained and rinsed)
1-2 jalapenos, diced
1 large red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, diced
2 (14 oz) cans chicken broth (add one if you like more broth for your soup!)
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne powder (optional)
1 tsp ground pepper
2 1/2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
Toppings: (all are optional, get what you want!)
Green onions
Sour cream
Shredded cheddar cheese
Tortilla chips

Now comes the easy part. Mix together (in crock pot) the beans, tomatoes, jalapenos, onion, garlic, corn, and chicken broth. Stir in the seasoning next. Then just toss the chicken breasts in on top. 

Put the lid on, set crock pot to low and walk away for 8 hours. If you need it quicker, it will cook in about 6 hours on high. 

A few minutes before you're going to eat, chop up your cilantro and green onions for the toppings. Also, slice your lime! 

The chicken breasts should be falling apart, go ahead and shred them up completely

  Now, the good part! :) Fill your bowl with soup and top with cheddar cheese, onions, cilantro, and sour cream. Then take a slice of lime and squeeze it over the top. If you want, you may also serve with tortilla chips. A lot of people do, we personally don't in an effort to keep it slightly healthier. Enjoy!

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