Monday, February 28, 2011

Music for a Monday


I'm trying my best to keep this blog strictly dedicated to crafts, cooking, and DIYs but it's hard not to throw in a few personal posts once in a while.

I'll keep it short. Many times, I discover new (to me) music, listen to it too much, and eventually grow tired of it. I started listening to Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros a while ago and they never got old. They were probably my favorite part of Coachella last year.

Here's my fave (of course)...


Product Packaging

I'm starting to realize that if a craft fair is in my near future, I'm going to have to step up my product packaging game. My items currently come packaged in crystal clear boxes and cellophane sealed bags.


The next step is labels.

Here are some inspirational packaging ideas...

[1] brown paper envelopes

[2] paper ribbon

[3] lined paper, string, and gift tags

[4] patterned cellophane bag toppers

source: one. two. three. four.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Coming Soon...

The Please Note shop will soon be featuring customizable cupcake toppers and goodie bag stickers! Here's a sneak peek at the dinosaur themed items... they match the Roarin' Party invitations perfectly!


The cupcake toppers can be personalized with names and ages.


The goodie bag stickers make it easy to keep the party theme going... all the way home!


These items (and more) will be hitting the shop soon!

Save the Dates - Jessica and Lorne

When Jessica and Lorne asked me to create some Save the Dates with a soda bottle theme, I was more than happy to oblige. 


Jessica and Lorne each chose their favorite soda (him - RC, her - Squirt) and I designed the labels with their names to match.


I'm thrilled with how these turned out... (and to have such cool friends)!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Rainy Friday


Sometimes all you need is a big bowl of mac n cheese, some tea, and an old dog.



This is Pete. She'll be 16 in a couple of months... and she's the world's coolest dog.

Happy Friday!

Chiles Rellenos

My very first attempt at chiles rellenos proved successful! I'm thrilled to share my experience/recipes with you! So here goes...

I started by roasting my chiles. I used both poblano and anaheim chiles.


Once they started to roast, I flipped them frequently to make sure they didn't blacken too much.


After roasting them, I put the chiles back into their produce bags to sweat. This makes the skin easier to peel.


I then cut some monterey jack cheese into thick wedges.


Peeling chiles isn't my strong point. Letting them sweat for about 30 minutes was definitely helpful.


I removed all the seeds and veins and rinsed the chiles... (rinsing them is an easy way to make sure they are clean but you can lose flavor when you do this).
Let them dry.

Instead of cutting them open with a knife, I found a place where they were already torn or thin. There's no sense in creating multiple openings. I then stuffed the chiles with cheese and used toothpicks to secure them... (I used thick wedges of cheese so I could stick the toothpicks in them).



Now, it's time to prepare the egg batter. I used one egg for every two chiles. Separate the eggs and beat the whites.


Once the whites were nice and fluffy, I folded in about half of the yolks.


I then coated the chiles in the egg batter and fried them in hot oil.


They all came out nice! Once I fried them all, I put them in the oven for about 5 minutes to make sure they were all nice and hot.


The sauce for the chiles rellenos is very simple.

First, I sauteed 1 yellow onion and some garlic.


I let them cool and blended them with a 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes. I probably should have used fresh tomatoes but I didn't have any. I also added salt and pepper.


I then heated the sauce on the stove until I was ready to use it.

For this meal, I also prepared beans and Mexican rice.

The beans are simple. I soaked them overnight and then cooked them for about 4 hours. About 2 hours into the cooking process, I added some chopped garlic and when they were finished, I added salt.

Here they are about halfway done...


For the Mexican rice, I used a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks... The Art of Mexican Cooking by Diana Kennedy. My mom got me this book for Christmas after we took a tamale making class and the teacher recommended it. It's excellent. 

Mexican Rice
Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain rice
  • 1 cup unskinned tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons white onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/3 cup safflower oil
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • salt to taste
Put the rice in a bowl or large measuring cup and cover with very hot water. Stir and leave to soak for about 10 minutes.


Drain, rinse in cold water, and drain again. Put the tomatoes, garlic, and onion in a blender and blend until smooth... just like the sauce.



Heat the oil and stir in the rice. Fry the rice until it turns a light golden brown.
Before:

After:

Strain the excess oil and stir in the tomato puree. Fry until the puree is absorbed. 


Once all the puree is absorbed, stir in the broth.


The chicken broth will also absorb and the rice will look like this when it's finished...


I made sure that the rice was soft, and the beans, sauce, and chiles were hot... then we were ready to eat!

This might just be one of my best meals yet!


If you read this entire post, thank you and I'm impressed! 

Also... I've been playing around in Photoshop to try and get a softer/vintage look to my photos. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wrap It Up

There are a couple of birthdays this week so I've been doing some gift wrapping. Here's a look at my first two presents. I'm really starting to love the look of brown paper because you can decorate it however you want.



Good ol' Martha always has the best gift wrapping ideas. My favorites are the newspaper and the fabric. I'll be trying those two next.


Check out her gift wrap slide shows here.

Orange Chocolate Cake

My Dad and I are both chocolate fanatics... my Mom, not so much. So when she said she would like an orange cake for her birthday, I knew it was going to be a little bit of a challenge. We decided a chocolate glaze would really compliment the orange. It came out great!


ORANGE CAKE
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a bundt pan. 

In a bowl or large measuring cup, combine milk, 1/2 cup orange juice, oil, extract, and beaten eggs.


It would probably be even better with fresh squeezed orange juice. I had a full carton so I didn't even think about it.

Zest one or two oranges (depending on how much flavor you want... I say, the more the better). Add this to the milk mixture.


Sift flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl. Mix in sugar.


Make a well in the center and pour in the milk mixture.


Stir until completely combined.


Add the batter to your pre-greased bundt pan and bake for about 30 - 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

SIMPLE CHOCOLATE GLAZE
Ingredients:
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
In a small saucepan, combine sugar, butter, and milk. Boil, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in chocolate chips until smooth. Immediately pour over partially cooled cake.

The finished product...


Not too shabby.

Cake adapted from this recipe.
Glaze found here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Guilty Pleasure


I'll admit it... I'm OBSESSED with Roseanne. Besides I Love Lucy of course, Roseanne is my absolute favorite TV show. I only know a handful of people who agree with me on this one.

Now, I must explain... I ONLY own and love Seasons 1 through 4. After Season 4, it really starts to go downhill, but that's ok, 4 great seasons are good enough for me.


I think I just really love the reality of the show. Nothing in Roseanne is glamorized. There's something about it that's comforting for me.

What I'm saying is, if you are quick to judge this show, you have to give the first few seasons a chance.

Here's a peak at Season 2 (the best, in my opinion).