Friday, June 29, 2007

Veggie BLTs

I made these on Wednesday night with a batch of homemade tomato soup. They're super easy, not objectionalbe nutritionally and, to someone who hasn't had bacon in a decade, they even taste pretty authentic! The boy seemed to like them too, so maybe there's a bit of truth to that last bit :)

Veggie BLTs (2):

- Toast 4 slices of good wheat bread (I use Milton's wholegrain)
- prepare 6-8 slices of veggie bacon acording to package
- dice and seed tomatoes and clean lettuce
- assemble 2 sandwiches

If you'd like you can add mayo of course, but I don't so I didn't.

Listening:  Longwave- "Tidal Wave"

Thursday, June 28, 2007

New Convertible Strap Purses

I've been hard at work on a series of convertible strap purses for my Etsy shop. I have three listed so far. All feature a strap that can be worn either on the shoulder or the wrist, interior pockets and special detailing on the exterior (ie: embroidery, applique or buttons!). I absolutely adore them all and they're getting a bunch of views (and one heart even!). No sales quite yet, but I'm confident that these purses will sell in time! I've got one myself (of course!) and I love it to bits!

Listening:  Yes- "Owner Of A Lonely Heart"

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Trader Joes last weekend had the most gorgeous huge packages of fresh rosemary . . . seriously, like enormous, humongous, gigantic wads of fresh, fragrant rosemary. For $1.29. I'm almost burned out on rosemary now since I've put it in just about everything I've made for the last week (and I still have about half the package left! Yikes!), but these potatoes were by far the most successful item I made. I served them with veggie riblets and baked broccoliflower with a homemade white cheddar sauce.

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes:
1 lb white creamer potatoes, cut into quarters
1 large onion, cut into large chunks
3-4 tblsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
2 tblsp olive oil
2 tblsp flour

-mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until flour and rosemary lightly coat all potatoes
-cover and bake at 400 for 25 minutes
-uncover, stir well, and bake uncovered for another 10-15 minutes

The flour is a trick I picked up at a beautiful little country restaurant in England one year. It crisps up a bit on the outside of the potatoes, almost giving them a fried texture, but obviously without all the fat and calories.

Listening:  Def Leppard- "Pour Some Sugar On Me"

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Fruits of my Swapping

A few days ago I sent out my first Etsy order that included a promo item package put together from the lovely items I recieved in the Craftster "Business Card and Promo Item Swap". I got such a wide variety of items from buttons from The Happy Dinosaur to stickers from The Promo Shop to "build your own owl" kits from Modus Operandi . . . I'm so excited to be able to include these with my orders! I know if I were a buyer, I'd positively SQUEAL with delight to find a little baggie of fun included with the items I'd bought! I've sent one out so far and the buyer mentioned it in her feedback, so I think its safe to say these are going to be a big hit!

Listening:  DJ Shadow- "You Made It"

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sublime Stitching

I got my Sublime Stitching Stitch-It Kit on Friday and spent a good part of the weekend with a needle in hand! Sublime Stitching makes embroidery patterns for people who would rather have a jolly roger on their hand towel than a bonnet clad duckling. For my first attempt I picked a tiki god flanked by palm trees and astro-stars. I think it came out nicely! I expected this to be more of a test project but I'm actually using it in my bathroom as a decorative towel. I learned a lot while working on this and I can't wait to start adding embroidered touches to my purses . . . actually, by "can't wait" I mean "I stayed up until 12:30 last night embroidering pieces for a new bag that I intend to finish tonight" . . . so stay tuned!

Listening:  Hum - "Invisible Sun (Live)"

Friday, June 22, 2007

I've discovered pockets!!!

Last night I finally got around to two projects that have been on my to do list forEVER! Firstly, I wanted to make a Purse out of the lovely Kent themed tea towel my Int'l swap partner sent to me (see! here!) and secondly, I wanted to experiment with making a purse with a convertible wrist/shoulder strap. I looooveee my wristlets, don't get me wrong, but sometimes over the course of an afternoon I acquire enough bags to make the one more in my hand a bit of a hassle. I thought having a convertible strap would be a great way to have the best of both worlds.
As I was making my first purse, I ended up with an itty bitty square of fabric and thought "Gee . . .that looks just like a pocket. In fact . . .I think it really really wants to be a pocket and I should help it become one". So I did!! In the end, I wound up with two purses (one for me, one for Etsy!) both with pockety goodness wrapped up inside. A very successful night!

Listening:  The Jealous Sound- "Hope For Us"

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Daytrip Society, Kennebunkport ME

I am officially stocked in my first brick and mortar store!!! Daytrip Society in Kennebunport, ME is a new gift store that carries sporting equipment by Olif, Jorg, Deadly Squire and Jaques of London as well as items by Orla Kiely, Ivana Helsinki, Gamma Go, Fred Flare, and Thomas Paul and stationery and notebooks by Jill Bliss, Lotta Jansdotter and Sukie. Oh, and of course, bags by Mixtape!
I just finished up a big batch of moose wristlets and crocheted clutches for the store. I'm really excited to have items stocked there, since until now my only outlet for my bags and jewelry has been Etsy. I hope they do well!! Daytrip Society isn't online yet, but they will be in January so stay tuned for a link then!

Listening:  Stars- "Sleep Tonight"

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Part 2: Enchilada Casserole

So . . . if you're making black bean salad for father's day anyways, you might as well make a double batch and cook up an enchilada casserole too. Right? Right.

Enchilada Casserole:
-1 recipe (or 1/2 a double batch) of Black Bean Salad as detailed below
-10-11 corn tortillas
-1 jar of enchilada sauce (yes, I'm sure there's a better way to handle the sauce situation than buying a jar and YES I know nothing out of a jar is ever authentic but I'm going for easy and yummy here, not authentic. It is a CASSEROLE after all.)
-2 cups of shredded white cheddar cheese, or whatever cheese you like or have on hand

-spray a round casserole w/ olive oil spray and spoon in a bit of the sauce to coat
-add a layer of tortillas (ripping them in half when necessary to cover the bottom evenly)
-spoon on a layer of black bean salad, then a few plops of sauce, then cheese, then tortillas
-top with sauce (you'll want to use about 1/2 of your sauce on top of the casserole, it will sink down between the layers) and cheese
-bake at 375 for about 20-30 minutes or until cheese browns on top
-freezes just fine!

Listening:  Mighty Lemon Drops- "Inside Out"

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Part 1: Black Bean Salad

I took a batch of this salad over to my dad's for father's day, per his request. I'm also planning to make a big batch next weekend for the boyfriend's family reunion picnic. Its a quick, easy salad that works great for pot lucks and bbqs since it doesn't involve any mayonnaise. It also uses salsa as a dressing, which is a little trick I devised since I absolutely abhor salad dressings. Really. With a passion.

Black Bean Salad:

1 large onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
olive oil
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed well
1 can of white corn, drained
3 roma tomatoes, seeded and cut into chunks
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 small can of salsa verde (about 1/4-1/3 cup)
salt and pepper to taste

-saute onion and pepper in olive oil until onions begin to caramelize
-meanwhile, mix: beans, corn, tomatoes, jalapeno, green onions and cilantro in a large bowl
-add caramelized onions and peppers, lime, salsa and salt and mix well
-chill for up to 3 days

Listening:   Morrissey- "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out"

Monday, June 18, 2007

A New Etsy Item

I love these and nobody else does. Fine! More for me! I do honestly think they're gorgeous, but the one I've put up so far hasn't gotten much attention on Etsy and the boyfriend admitted that he doesn't really "get" them. I'm a bit pouty about it, in case you hadn't noticed.
They're little stuffed vinyl circles sewn with assorted vintage buttons and bound up the sides in a blanket stitched edging. A bar pin is sewn to the back side for attaching to a jacket, bag, whatever.
I love vintage buttons. I have jars of them displayed all over my apartment and a big pyrex casserole dish full living on my dining table. I use them to make pendants or earrings or to accent my crocheted pieces . . . but this new idea lets me use buttons that I like just because I like them, regardless of whether they have mates or whether they "go with" my yarn or my fabric. I love being able to pick buttons for these brooches simply because I think they're pretty. Hand sewing is also one of my favorite things to do in the evening while I watch The History Channel, so it works out :)
I'm going to try making a star shaped brooch soon . . . maybe that will attract a bit more Etsy love.

Listening:  Ryan Ferguson- "On Elvira Street"

Friday, June 15, 2007

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffing pretty much anything makes it better, and green peppers are no exception! This dinner was simple, filling and really really really tasty. Leftovers were good having been refridgerated . . . but the jury is still out on whether these freeze (ie: I still have one in my freezer)

Veggie Stuffed Peppers:

-4 large green peppers, tops cut off, seeded and washed (stickers removed!)
-1 package fake ground meat (I used Yves brand)
-1 24 oz can of tomatoes, drained with liquid reserved
-1 large onion cut in small dice
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-olive oil
-1 package of precooked microwave brown rice
-1 large handfull basil cut into ribbons
-salt and pepper
-about 1 cup grated mozzerella cheese

-heat the oven to 375 and toss in your cleaned, topped peppers in a casserole dish
-meanwhile, sautee onions in olive oil unitl they begin to caramelize
-add fake meat and garlic and sautee a few minutes more
-microwave rice and pop that in the pan as well, along with drained tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper
-sautte for about 5 minutes just to blend flavors a bit
-remove peppers from oven and stuff each one as full as possible with fake meat/rice/tomato mixture
-return peppers to casserole dish, lining the bottom of the dish with any stuffing that didnt' fit inside the peppers
-pour reserved tomato liquid over peppers
-top with mozzerella and bake about 20-25 minutes, or until cheese is browned

So. Damn. Good.

Listening:  Tom Vek- "If You Want"

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What to do with leftover bruschetta

Since I've made bruschetta the last 2 Friday nights, I've realized that my recipe makes a tad too many tomatoes to go with the toasts. Since that miscalculation leaves me with a baggie of tomatoes and basil on Saturday mornings, using them with eggs was a logical solution.

Tomato and Basil Mini Frittatas:

-about 1/4 cup of chopped, seeded tomatoes and basil with olive oil and salt
-olive oil cooking spray
-3 eggs
-1/4 cup or so milk
-1/4 cup of grated (powdery) Parmesan cheese
-1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
-shredded or shaved Parmesan for topping

-preheat your oven to 350
-distribute the tomatoes evenly between the 12 cups of a sprayed mini muffin tin
-in a bowl with a spout, beat the eggs, grated parm, milk and pepper
-pour the egg mixture evenly over the 12 muffin cups
-top each cup with a few shreds of Parmesan
-bake for 10-12 minutes and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from the tin. You can use a teaspoon to ease the frittatas out if they're stuck.

Pretty darn easy . . .and "easy" is a good thing for a Saturday morning!

Listening:  Dogs- "London Bridge"

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wistful Thinking

Wists are online, community-style wishlists that are very popular with the Craftster community. Craftsters use them most when participating in swaps . . . because of the community aspect, I can log into a swap partner's Wist and see all of the items they've admired online. I can use this info to get a good idea of their sense of style, or even of specific items I might be able to make or buy for them.
Since I'm participating in a swap right now (the Magic Yarn Ball Swap!!! Stay tuned for a blog entry on that when its all done!) I've been updating my Wist for my partner . . . and MAN have I found some amazing items lately!!! From gothic themed melamine plates to a candle that casts tree shaped shadows on the wall . . there are some seriously awesome goodies out there in internet-land! Click the link above and see below for some of my favorites!

Listening:  Failure- "Stuck On You"

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I kind of scared myself with this one

So, I'm sewing moose wristlets for my first ever wholesale order via Etsy on Sunday night and the boyfriend calls out of the blue and I ask him over for dinner. He's 20 minutes away. So, I crank my oven up and throw in some of our favorite bird's nests from Trader Joes then whip up a fresh batch of veggie pot stickers to make kind of a dim sum themed dinner. I even had a few cans of Asahi in the fridge to go with. I was finishing up literally as he walked in the door . . . so 20 minutes and absolutley no advance planning = actaully, a pretty darn cool dinner!

Super Fast Veggie Potstickers:

-2 small carrots, shredded
-about 1/4 cup celery and celery greens, chopped finely (seriously, chop as finely as you can manage, you aren't going to precook the veggies)
-1/2 a medium onion, chopped finely
-"stuff to flavor your veggies", soy sauce being the big ingredient here, but I also used some garlic powder, cracked black pepper and ginger powder. You can use whatever you've got on hand, including fresh ginger or garlic (although all that mincing might take you more than 20 minutes)
-30 potsticker wrappers
-about 1/2 a cup of water, spiked with soy sauce

-mix all the veggies and seasonings together in a small bowl
-place about a tsp full of veggie mix in the center of each circular wrapper, fold in half and press the edges with a little water to seal.
-wipe the bottom of a large, non-non stick skillet with a little olive oil, just enough to leave a thin film on the bottom of the pan, and allow to heat up over high heat
-place the potstickers in a single layer on the bottom of the skillet (my skillet holds about 15 each, so this recipe is 2 batches worth for me. I made one batch on Sunday then a second batch the next night.)
-set a timer for 2 minutes. Yes, your potstickers will stick to the bottom of the pan. Don't worry, thats why they're called potstickers. The next step will lift them back off again.
-after 2 minutes, dup about 1/4 cup of soy/water mixture in the pot, slam a lid on your skillet and set the timer for another 2 minutes.
-remove from heat and transfer carefully to a plate, they're delicate! top w/ a sprinkle of soy sauce.
-try not to gloat.

Listening:  Belly- "Feed The Tree"

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Wearable Item Of Clothing!!!!

And I took pictures of the whole sewing process! So this special edition of IndieHomEc will feature a relatively complete "how to make this skirt" tutorial! Materials you will need are: 2 fabrics (about 2 yards of each), a length of 1/4 inch elastic to go around your waist, 2 packages of quilt binding and thread. Oh, and an iron and your handy dandy sewing machine, of course.
1) I started with a skirt that already fits me well. I folded it carefully in half and laid it on top of my underskirt fabric which was also folded in half.

2) then I cut around my skirt, leaving about a 2 inch margin for seams and mistakes. The resulting cutout was then my "pattern". 3) I laid my "pattern on top of a second piece of yellow fabric, also folded in half, and cut a second shape.

4)I folded my secondary fabric in half height wise, then laid my "pattern" over, folded the bottom edge up about 3 inches and cut. twice. Note that I cut directly on the edge of the "pattern" for the second set of fabrics, as I had already built the "ease" into the "pattern" piece.

5) I ironed my pieces. I tried to avoid ironing my fingers.

6) I then launched an all out, tearing through the apartment style hunt for my black thread. I finally found it lying under my sewing (dining) table in the corner under the window. See, there it is. You can skip this step by keeping better tabs on your own thread. Some sort of thread filing system might be useful.

7) I placed my longer skirt halves together, right sides facing, then pinned in 3 places on each side and seamed them up. Since the resulting piece vaguely resembled a skirt, I tried it on to make sure it fit. It did!

8) so I pinked my loose edges, pressed open my seams, and repeated step 7 with my secondary "outer" skirt fabric.

9) Then I slipped my under skirt into my over skirt with right sides both facing outwards and sewed a little turned under hem across the waistband top to attach the two skirts.
10) After which I sewed in a second waistband hem covering the first and wide enough to contain my 1/4 inch elastic.

11) I used a seam ripper to open up one side of the skirt waistband for threading my elastic (which I measured simply by wrapping it around my waist)

12) I machine stitched the elastic ends together and tucked them in to my waistband.

13) Lastly I went around both bottom hems encasing the raw edges in quilt binding. The quilt binding was really just a cheap trick to avoid having to struggle with hemming the sheer fabric of my outer skirt, but I think it worked well! When I hit the point where my quilt binding would double back on itself, I ironed it inward as above to hide the raw edge.

So, finally, LOOK!!! It is a wearable skirt!!! So wearable, in fact, that I am going to wear it to my friend Tara's wedding in Vegas next month!!! I'm pretty darn proud of my skirt. It isn't often that I make actual items of clothing to wear . . . and when I do those items are usually part of a Halloween costume. I love how this skirt turned out and I'll definitely be using my new quilt binding trick again soon!

Listening:  Aberdeen- "Drive"

Friday, June 8, 2007

Quorn Cacciatore

Someone started a thread on Craftster the other day about whether other vegetarians ever miss meat (yeah, Craftster does have a vegetarian section. Cooking is crafty. So?). Incidentally, just a few days earlier I cooked this supper which is inspired by one of my favorite old meat containing recipes. I do sometimes miss the comfort foods of my non-vegetarian youth, but I find that using meat substitutes I can replicate them closely enough to satisfy those cravings. It isn't really the meat I miss, its my grandma's meatloaf or my dad's chicken stir fry or, in this case, my mom's chicken cacciatore. As long as I can fake them effectively, the meat is a non-issue.
For a long time, vegetarian chicken substitutes were crap. However, with FDA approval of Quorn in the US that has all changed. This long-time favorite in the UK has been here for about 2 years and it honestly is the most amazing replacement for chicken ever (keep in mind, I haven't had chicken for a decade, but it DOES fully fool me). It also has the added benefit of being so low in calories its almost negative and insanely high in fiber and protien. This stuff is amazing. Go buy some.

Quorn Cacciatore:

-1 package of quorn "chicken" pieces (pictured above)
-1 28oz can of diced tomatoes
-a huge handfull each fresh basil, sliced in ribbons and fresh oregano, chopped
-2 large garlic cloves, crushed and minced
-salt and pepper
-1 large onion, diced roughly
-1 large green pepper, diced roughly
-a few cups cooked brown rice (i use the pre-cooked microwave variety)
-mozzerella and parmesan for topping

-sautee the green onions and peppers with the garlic in a bit of olive oil until they begin to brown
-add quorn and sautee until defrosted
-add tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until tomato liquid begins to reduce
-serve over brown rice topped with cheeses

(yes, leftovers will freeze just fine)

Listening:  Wallpaper- "The Remix"

Thursday, June 7, 2007

A Third Promo Item

Last week, at pretty much the last minute, I got it in my head that I needed to add felt bulls eye brooches to my Craftster promo item swap repertoire. I got 30 of them done in time for mailing off my packages yesterday. In addition to 60 mix tape pendants and 30 pairs of vintage button earrings (see below!) for a grand total of 120 promo items handmade by me! I sent 10 packages out for the swap total, some bigger than others just based on how many sales the shops I sent to had and how many items I thought they'd "need" to add to orders over the next few months. I also kept a handful of promos to send out to my own Etsy customers with their orders.
Of course, now that I've sent, I'm experiencing major swap anxiety, as per usual. I hope my promo items are up to par!!! I feel that they look pretty darn good . . . but then if someone sends me a stack of totally professional looking perfect promos I'm going to be ashamed of every little misplaced glue blob and/or snarkily cut edge on my promos. Thats the nature of handmade items though, I suppose. It would be impossible for me to produce perfectly done, mass produced quality items (although 120 seems a pretty massive number to me!) and the people who shop on Etsy aren't looking for that kind of plasticky perfection anyhow. Right? Right.
In any event, I can't wait to receive my packages and start sending other shops' promos out with my orders!!! I think this will be a really fun way for us all to promote, and a great added bonus to my own customers! Who doesn't love a freebie?

Listening:  Stars- "Do You Trust Your Friends?"

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Stuffed Potatoes

Such an easy way to use up whatever random bits of veg you have lying around in your fridge. As with pretty much all of my recipes, these freeze really well (hence I made four of them here to freeze three for lunches later in the month). Stuffed potatoes in a restaurant can be a dicey option fat and calorie wise, but when you make them at home and can be sure what exactly goes into them, they can be a very healthy and sensible meal.

Stuffed Potatoes:
4 medium sized (not football sized) baking potatoes
about 2-4 cups chopped and/or frozen veggies (here I used frozen peas and corn, chopped carrots, onions and broccoli. Other veggies that work well are green onions, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes (seeded), celery, sliced snap peas, etc.)
about 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese and an additional 1/2 cup for topping
about 1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

-bake potatoes as per usual (clean, rub with olive oil and kosher salt, poke holes w/ a fork and bake at 400 for an hour
-meanwhile, steam veggies on stove top until still slightly crisp
-cut an oval into the top of each baked potato and remove oval of skin
-scoop out potato insides into a mixing bowl w/ a tablespoon
-add 1 cup cheese, veg, milk, salt and pepper to potato insides and stir/mash until combined
-use tablespoon to scoop potato mixture back into skins, mounding the top to accommodate the extra volume
-top with extra cheese and bake 10-15 minutes more or until cheese begins to brown

The best way to freeze these is to wait for them to fully cool then wrap them first in plastic wrap and secondly in foil. They will keep for about a month frozen.

Listening:  Built to Spill- "Car"

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


Bruschetta is one of the easiest snacks or appetizers you can make. Its perfect for parties or pre-dinner and best of all, almost all of the prep work can be done well in advance. Its a lot of bang for a short time in the kitchen!

Bruschetta (for 2 or 3):
1 mini baugette, sliced about 1cm thick (about 12 slices)
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced finely
a handful of basil leaves, cut into ribbons
about 1 tblsp olive oil
a big pinch of kosher salt
another big pinch of crushed black pepper
1 whole clove garlic, peeled

-preheat your oven to 400 degrees and place baugette rounds on a cookie sheet to toast (about 5 minutes, you don't want them browned necissarialy, just crispy around the middle)
-meanwhile (this can be done well in advance) mix chopped tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper and olive oil together
-when toasts are done, rub one side of each with the whole garilc clove. If you're really into garlic, rub both sides! This trick gives the toasts a great garlic flavor without danger of any big garlic pieces finding their way into your tomato mixture.
-serve toasts alongside tomatoes. graciously accept praise.

Listening:  Duran Duran- "Save A Prayer"

Monday, June 4, 2007

Baked Peaches And Cream

. . . yes Virginia . . . when you put hot peaches on top of whipped cream, the cream melts. Odd looking picture aside, this dessert was AMAZING! In the grocery store on Friday, I could literally smell the peaches from about 2 aisles away (even with my "bad" sinuses!). So I picked up two and did this with them:

Baked Peaches and Cream:
2 peaches
1 tblsp butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp raw sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
whipped cream

-cut peaches into small cubes and place in a covered baking dish with butter and sugar
-bake covered for 10-15 minutes and uncovered 10-15 more
-stir in vanilla and serve over whipped cream (wait for the peaches to cool for a bit if you don't want soupy cream)

Absolute heaven . . . and I don't even really like fruit.

Listening:  Idlewild- "When I Argue I See Shapes"

Friday, June 1, 2007

Incredible Cheeseburger Pie

As the name suggests, this retro recipe was pretty incredible! I found the recipe in a thread on Craftster about "what to do with fake ground meat?". Its browned (fake) meat topped with Bisquick and tomatoes. The Bisquick sinks down in between the crevices made by the (fake) meat and makes a pancake-y (well, it IS Bisquick) crust. Pretty darn good, and VERY fast.

Incredible Cheeseburger Pie
1 package fake meat
1 medium onion, diced finely
salt to taste
3/4 cup bisquick
1 1/2 cups milk
3 eggs
1 can diced tomatoes, drained*
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

-brown fake meat and onion in a frying pan, in a bit of olive oil if desired
-in a seperate bowl, mix together eggs, Bisquick and milk
-transfer meat to a round casserole and pour Bisquick mixture over
-bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes
-top with tomatoes and cheese and bake 10-15 minutes more, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean

* fun fact: did you know that when you drain a can of tomatoes, it looks as though there's been a murder in your kitchen sink?

Listening:  Failure- "The Nurse Who Loved Me"