For dinner I like to experiment regularly with new recipes, but when it comes to breakfast I tend to rely on favorites I can roll out of bed and make. I’ve made all of these for lazy weekend days and also morning entertaining with great success.
Multigrain Waffles - I have made these 5 times the past month. They are that good. Easy, not too sweet, filling, and sturdy enough to save and reheat another day. I’ve been topping with bananas and maple syrup (or just butter and jam on work days), but will certainly be branching out once more spring and summer fruit ripens. As to the flours I usually use a mix of whatever I have on hand, and at the most basic use a 1:1 ratio of white:wheat.
Baked Oatmeal - In the winter I made this with apples, cranberries and bananas. This month I would definitely go with rhubarb and strawberries! It is heavenly topped with a little maple syrup and saves well to be reheated.
Rhubarb Streusel Muffins - After discovering its virtues last year, I’ve been looking forward to the appearance of rhubarb in the market for months. These muffins are wholesome and just a bit sweet. If you are looking for something a bit more indulgent and picnic worthy though, this rhubarb snacking cake is also excellent.
The Best Buttermilk Pancakes – These pancakes are truly fantastic. My only warning is that the recipe makes a small batch, about enough for two people.
I’ve always loved chili, but as I have been cutting down the amount of meat in my diet I needed a good vegetarian substitute to get through the winter. I couldn’t find a recipe that I loved, so I developed this one with a mix of textures, plus the heft and spice that really define chili.
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2” cubes
- 7 cups of cooked beans. I used equal amounts of black beans and kidney beans, which I soaked and cooked beforehand. If you’re using canned, this is equal to 4 (15.5oz) cans on beans (which you should drain and rinse).
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (15.5oz) can tomato sauce
- 1 (15.5oz) can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
- 2 cups frozen corn
- 2 tbsp cumin
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp cayenne pepper (omit if you want a milder chili)
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups vegetable broth
Saute onion for 5 minutes to soften. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper and stir and let them work for 3 minutes. Add all your beans, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and their juice, corn, sweet potatoes and vegetable broth, then stir everything together. Bring to boil, then simmer for 45 min partially covered and stirring occasionally. By then the sweet potatoes should have cooked through and the base will be nice and thick (if you like yours a bit thinner, go with 3 cups of veg broth). Taste and increase the salt and spiciness to your liking. Serve with a little shredded cheese, a plop of sour cream, and corn bread. Avocado or some chopped up jalapeños are also great additions (and a nice dose of color).
We moved into a new house last September. With it came a new roommate and the mishmash of furniture that happens when six people live together. While the living room has certainly been functional, the lack of color and design has bothered me and I’ve been slowly working to add more to the room. I started by spray painting half of the basket that holds our multitude of blankets red. Then I switched up the art and made a very crude gallery wall, with a giant Labyrinth poster as the centerpiece (Haven’t seen the movie? You’re missing out). I saw a rug painting tutorial on Apartment Therapy, and knew it was the perfect way to improve our Ikea via Craigslist rug. It is definitely bold, but I love the results. The other tutorial still left me to noodle out many of the details on my own, so I wanted to provide some additional instruction.
- rug (Mine is Ikea via Craigslist, but I can’t find the exact one online. It’s cheap for sure)
- duct tape
- paint (I used Valspar Cherry Red Latex Paint)
- throw cloth
- X-acto knife
- paint brush
- measuring tape
1. I started by measuring the rug and determining the pattern I wanted. My rug was 7.5′ x 5′, and I wanted to repeat the criss cross pattern 5 times. I found the center of the rug, broke the rug up into 15 .5′ sections, then made my crosses 1.5′ each.
2. After planning the pattern out on paper, I went to the rug. I measured the sides and marked the spots where each one of the lines would start/end. On the paper pattern below you can see that is the .5′ mark, 1′ mark, 2′ mark, 2.5′ mark, and on for the left and right sides, plus the middle mark for the top and bottom.
3. After the sides were marked I used big pieces of duct tape to make the pattern. I started by sticking the end to the left side of the rug, rolling out enough to make it across, and then finding the correct marker on the right side of the rug. So for instance the first line started at the .5′ mark on the left side of the rug, and ended at the 2′ mark on the other side of the rug. Once it was oriented I went back and really pressed the duct tape down.
4. Once the whole X pattern was taped down I made the inner diamonds. I used about 1′ of duct tape as my measure, put it down against the X, and then taped out the 4 sides of the diamond.
5. With the diamonds in place I went over the corners of each one and used the X-acto knife to clean them up. Be careful not to cut too deep, you just want to cut your tape not the rug fibers. Make sure one last time that all your tape is firmly pressed down.
6. Now….painting! I used latex paint (Valspar Cherry Red) leftover from another project. I did one coat, let it dry overnight, then did a second in the morning. Then it dried for another 12 hours and I took off the tape. Just to be safe I waited until the following morning to put it back in the room.
This is definitely not the kind of project to spend a lot or money on, but it has a big impact. Now, on to making throw pillows for that monstrous couch we inherited with the house.
Farmer’s markets are currently crammed with perfect produce (especially here in Seattle, where the growing season runs late). It is the time for simple, fruit and vegetable heavy meals. While roasting isn’t the first cooking method that comes to mind for cooking summer veg, sometimes it’s so much easier to forgo lighting the grill.
Sweet Cherry Tomato and Sausage Bake – This dish really is as easy as tossing tomatoes and sausage with balsamic vinegar and putting them in the oven, but tastes complex and rich. The sweet tomatoes pop and their juices reduce with the balsamic vinegar to make a thick glaze. I served it with a loaf of rustic bread and a summer beer.
Roasted Zucchini, Black Bean, and Goat Cheese Enchiladas – Enchiladas are my favorite leftover meal. They are filling and wonderful reheated. I added roasted corn to mine as well (Katie’s genius idea), and dipped the tortillas in enchilada sauce before filling instead of charring them, which makes for an almost creamy tortilla as the end product.
Falafel Stuffed Eggplant – A food processor certainly makes this process easier, but before my grandmother generously gave me her old one I used a potato masher for such projects. I made about 3 times more of the relish than was called for, so it was more like a tomato side salad.
This is a simple way to make a hummingbird feeder out of a glass bottle with minimal supplies.
- 1 clean glass bottle with a small neck/opening (mine once contained Star White Wine Vinegar)
- 4ft of jack chain (or more, if you have a larger bottle, or want to have a longer chain for the feeder to hang from). Jack chain is sold by the foot at hardware stores. I bought one with a brass finish, but also saw nickel. This chain is best because you can open and close the links with pliers, eliminating the need for other hardware to cut/connect the pieces of chain.
- hummingbird feeder tubes (I was unable to find any at craft stores in my area, so I purchased these)
- optional: glass paint, beads, extra wire, or anything else you want to decorate with. Hummingbirds are especially drawn to red!
1. Start by checking that the cork of your hummingbird feeder tube fits snugly into the mouth of your bottle. In the finished product the bottle is upside-down and full of liquid, so this is very important.
2. Measure a length of chain that fits around the base of the neck of the bottle. Use pliers to open the appropriate link in the chain, and then refasten to the other end to create a ring that fits around the neck of the bottle.
3. Determine how long the 4 chains that secure the sides of the bottle will be. The bulb of my bottle is fairly small, so mine were about 6″ long. Use pliers to open links and make 4 equal lengths of chain. Attach one end of each length to the chain ring, equally spacing them around and using pliers to close the links back up.
4. Decide how long you want the chain that will hang between the hook and the bottle to be, then use pliers to make a chain the appropriate length. Attach each of the 4 support chains to the bottom of the hanging chain, then tightly close the link.
5. Make the hummingbird solution by mixing a 4:1 ratio of water:sugar and heating until the sugar dissolves. Let cool, then using a funnel pour into the bird feeder and tightly cap with the feeder tube.
My feeder is very basic, but I have grand plans of painting the glass. The minimalist decoration doesn’t keep me from enjoying the daily visits from hummingbirds on my porch!
With summer comes barbecues, pool parties, picnics, and casual dinners outside. The only thing that makes these events better is delicious desserts that highlight the plentiful fruit now available.
Lemon Blueberry Cobbler: This is so quick to pull together, and perfect for any summer berry!
Cherry Cornmeal Upside-down Cake: This cake is just barely sweet and piled with fruit, which in this house makes it appropriate for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Just make sure not to use a leaky spring-form pan, otherwise you will loose are the delicious cherry balsamic juices!
Lemon Meringue Pie: OK you got me, lemons aren’t exactly seasonal. But bright, refreshing pies are, and this one is divine. Very few ingredients, easy to make, and quite impressive looking.
It’s taken longer than I would like to admit, but I have finally found a solution to my canned bean problem. I wanted to switch from using canned beans because dried beans are cheaper, not commercially processed, much more likely to be locally sourced, and do not come in a pesky package that needs to be recycled. The issue was I had become too accustomed to the convenience of canned beans, and I was never good at remembering to soak dried beans the day before cooking. Finally I realized that I could cook a massive amount of beans and then freeze them! I found this tutorial and made a mess of black beans, the beans used most often in my kitchen. I ended up soaking them over night so they cooked very quickly, and then I left them unsalted. I also stored them in a variety of container sizes, so I can grab the appropriate amount for any recipe. Black beans are just the beginning though, and when I find time I’m going to start adding more varieties to my frozen pantry.
Also, I did really do this project on the 4th of July. Not because I’m entirely insane, but because I wanted to bring this quinoa salad to a barbecue! It’s easy, vegan, and perfect for hot days and crowds of people.
Quinoa Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Serves 4 as a side dish.
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 2 cups black beans
- 1 cup frozen corn, thawed under hot water (or fresh corn if it’s in season!)
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped (about half a bunch)
- 2 lemons, juiced (need 1/4 cup juice)
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon of agave (or sugar, or honey)
- salt & pepper
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- salt & pepper
Cook quinoa according to package directions and set aside to cool. Mix the lemon juice, garlic, agave, salt and pepper into a small bowl and whisk in oil. Combine cooled quinoa with red onion, beans, corn, and cilantro. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and stir to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.