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Kale Pesto

October 1, 2013

While I’ve been on maternity leave I’ve really been enjoying going to the farmers’ market on Wednesday mornings. It’s something I normally can never do because I have to be at work. Big brother goes to parents’ day out on Wednesdays, so I drop him off and then head over to the market with the little one.

The mid-week market is a lot less crowded than the Saturday market so it is very relaxing. I can push the stroller up and down the aisle perusing the veggies at my leisure. This past Wednesday the fall produce was really starting to come out. I picked up a butternut squash and some sweet potatoes. I also grabbed a zucchini and a couple of cucumbers. And at every stall there were beautiful bunches of fresh kale. They were so pretty I had to get one.

I originally thought I would make Baltimorean style rice and beans with the kale but then I remembered that you can make pesto out of kale. Our basil plants have already gone to seed, a result of inattention due to a newborn, and I don’t have quite enough pesto stockpiled in the freezer for the off season. Kale is plentiful in the fall and kale pesto just might fill in the gap.

There are quite a few kale pesto recipes out there on the interwebs. Some with just kale and some with kale and basil combined. I originally was going to follow this recipe:

Kale & Walnut Pesto @ Love and Lemons

I wasn’t sure of the proportions of ingredients as I was reading through it so I ended up using my old stand-by recipe and subbing kale for the basil. Here is the finished product tossed with pasta and cherry tomatoes from our garden.

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Kale Pesto
Makes 1 – 1 1/2 cups

1 bunch kale (mine was 6 leaves, some big some small)
1/2 cup walnuts
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large garlic clove
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2/3 cup+ olive oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a full rolling boil. Meanwhile wash kale and trim the leaves from the large stems. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Once water is boiling, blanch kale leaves in boiling water for approximately 30 seconds. Immediately place kale leaves in ice bath to stop the cooking. Lay kale leaves out on a towel and pat dry.

With food processor running, add peeled garlic clove to finely chop. Add all remaining ingredients and process until combined, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. I found that I needed a couple extra drizzles of olive oil to get the pesto to the consistency I desired.

The pesto turned out great! We all really enjoyed it, including the two year old. I wonder if kale pesto counts as a vegetable? Honestly though it mostly tastes like garlic, cheese and oil. Not that that’s a bad thing!

I am planning on making a few more batches to freeze while kale is still in season this fall. Pesto is so good on everything. In fact I’m considering making pesto egg sandwiches for breakfast this morning!

Baked Spaghetti Squash, Margarita Style

September 21, 2013

Ran across this recipe on Pinterest last week. When I saw spaghetti squash at the market on Wednesday I knew what dinner would be that night!

Baked Margarita Spaghetti Squash @ Hoopfinity’s Happenings

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The recipe was really easy and had few ingredients. Benzo and I both really liked it. And we even got our 2 year old to try it by conveniently leaving out the word “squash” and just calling it spaghetti. He ate a few bites which I was happy with.

Next time I would add more tomatoes and basil. Also the spaghetti squash on its own was not enough dinner for either of us. We were both a little hungry afterwards. I would definitely serve a big green salad with lots of fixings alongside next time. Or maybe some quinoa bites.

Overall though the recipe made me want to eat spaghetti squash more often. I’m going to search for other recipes to try. If anyone has a favorite please share!

Curtain Tie Backs

September 17, 2013
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I suddenly have a bit of time to myself this morning and thought I would write up this blog that’s been sitting in my head for awhile. Benzo took the big kid to an art class and the little one is asleep in the swing next to me. I should probably clean up the pile of dishes sitting in front of me but blogging is a lot more appealing. I’m feeling much more rested this week but only because I’ve made sleep a high priority. Which means almost everything else is not a priority – dishes, laundry, cleaning have all fallen by the wayside. I’m trying to be cool about it because I know it’s only for a short while and spending time with my family while I’m off work is a lot more important!

So today’s post is on another craft project I did for the nursery. The first one I wrote about was the whale canvas nursery art project where I used my painting skills. Well I also dusted off my sewing skills for the nursery and was quite pleased with the result!

I originally was going to make curtains for the nursery. But the nursery has three windows which means I would’ve had to sew six curtain panels. See I have this problem of thinking I can do everything, including sewing six curtain panels in the last month of pregnancy, among other projects. For possibly the first time I was realistic with myself and decided I would not sew the curtain panels. Instead I bought cheap panels at target and sewed simple tie-backs for said curtains. The end result:

20130831-081434.jpgI started out using the following blog as a guide:

How to Make Curtain Tie Backs @ Homemade Ginger

I didn’t read the instructions correctly so my end result is a bit different. The first set I made as written in the blog except I did not top stitch around the entire strip after turning right side out. This was the part I read incorrectly. I turned my strip inside out and folded in the open edge. Then I just slip stitched the open side closed. I think I actually like it this way better.

After the first set I decided I wanted them shorter in length. I learned that the length is going to depend on your curtains. If you have thick or fluffy curtains you may need a longer tie back. Or if you don’t want your curtains pulled back very far. After hanging up the first set I wanted my windows to let in more light when pulled back so I shortened the length of the strip from 22 inches to 19 inches, pre-sewing. That worked out great. So I would recommend testing out the tie back with a measuring tape or string to see if the length is appropriate, before you start sewing.

The curtain tie backs were super simple to make and they really add a special touch to plain cheap curtains. It was the perfect compromise for me. If you have basic sewing skills you can make these!

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Lentil Tomato Salad

September 10, 2013
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I made this recipe twice in one week so it must be good.

I originally found it when I was looking for a vegetarian main dish/side dish to take to dinner at my dad’s house on Labor Day. My step mom asked me to bring a side so I wanted something veg-friendly that everyone could sample while also working as a main dish for me. This dish fit the bill.

Lentil Salad with Tomato and Dill @ Epicurious

Bonus that I could use tomatoes and basil from my garden.

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At the Labor Day dinner I served it as is. We had a lot of leftovers as usual. My family is funny about food. They will happily eat processed food without question but are always wary of whatever I bring because its “vegetarian”.

Benzo and I didn’t mind the leftovers though because we both loved this dish. It made a really delicious and light lunch for us both for the next two days. We ate it as a wrap with lettuce and chopped cucumber on a whole wheat tortilla (pictured above). Highly recommend the wrap version!

The first time I made this dish I made it as written using approximately 3/4 cup of small French green lentils (all I had leftover from another recipe) and approximately 1/4 cup of regular brown lentils. The second time I made this dish was last Sunday for a church pot luck. I used all regular brown lentils. I thought it was great both ways.

As I made this lentil dish on Sunday I thought how nice it would be to have the leftovers for lunch this week. So wouldn’t you know it there were NO leftovers! I was sad to not have leftovers but happy that the church liked it!

Paleo Flourless Zucchini Brownies

September 7, 2013

Sleep deprived. That’s me.

I was doing fairly well for the first couple of weeks. I kept thinking “this is amazing!” and “I can’t believe I’m not that tired!” Then it all caught up with me this week. And when I’m tired I crave all manner of sweets.

I saw this recipe fly by on my Facebook feed and was instantly intrigued. For one I had a zucchini that I was intending to use to make muffins. But brownies sounded a lot better. And two, I had no idea how this recipe would work without flour. I had to try it.

Flourless Zucchini Brownies @ Delighted Momma

The finished product:

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Not the most picture-perfect brownies that’s for sure.  But they tasted amazing!  I couldn’t believe it!  I have no idea how it works without flour but who cares as long as it tastes good.

I made them almost exactly as written including using a real egg, which I rarely do in baked goods.  I’ll try the flax egg next time.  I read through a lot of the comments on the recipe and a lot of people said it turned out really good but that the chocolate didn’t melt enough to turn them into brownies.  It was more like chocolate chip zucchini cake.  I was in the mood for real, fudgy brownies so I melted the chocolate chips in the microwave and then folded the melted chocolate into the batter as the very last step.

The other difference is I baked mine in an 8×8 square pan instead of 9×9.  The brownies rose all the way to the top of the pan while they were baking!  So mine were a little thicker, but I did not need to bake them any longer.

One other note I will add is that the egg I used was very big and it actually surprised me with two yolks when I cracked it into the bowl.  The eggs we buy from a local farmer at the market are ENORMOUS.  They are so big you can’t close the egg container.

20130831-081312.jpgThe brownies were extremely tasty.  They were very moist and fudge-like.  They were actually even better the next day.  I would definitely make these again and recommend them as a good way to use up extra zucchini you may have from your garden.  They only downside I see is that they use up a half a $6 jar of almond butter, so they are not exactly cheap to make.  I need to start making my own almond butter for sure!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies

September 2, 2013

One of the lactation consultants gave me this recipe during our hospital stay after I delivered Little Brother.  I made them within a couple days of coming home. Nursing has gone pretty smoothly for me this time (knock on wood) but I still thought it couldn’t hurt to get a boost from the right foods.  The recipe includes oats, brewer’s yeast and ground flax which all supposedly help increase milk supply.

Even though they are called “lactation cookies” they are actually just really good cookies.  Benzo and Big Brother liked them a lot so I thought I might as well post about them.  You don’t need to be a nursing mother to enjoy these cookies!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies @ Food.com

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Modifications:

  • White whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose
  • Eliminated white sugar entirely and just used one cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tsp of brewers’ yeast

I ended up with just shy of 4 dozen cookies, so I must have made them a little big.  I left about a dozen out and stuck the rest in the freezer.  They turned out really delicious.  I love oatmeal cookies.  The texture is nice and chewy and I thought they were plenty sweet.  I can’t imagine adding another entire cup of sugar.  I will make these again and may experiment with honey as the sweetener instead of sugar.

The cookies froze really well.  I take a couple out each day to enjoy.  I plan to stock my freezer with these when I go back to work to help keep my milk supply up when I’m pumping a lot more.  The lactation consultant also gave me a recipe for pumpkin cookies.  I’ll definitely be trying them soon once the weather starts to cool off!

Whale Canvas Nursery Art

August 30, 2013

The past few months my main house projects have been putting together the nursery and a big boy room for my older son. I haven’t been much of a decorator in the past but this time I really enjoyed it!

I did a few crafty projects for both rooms and the one I wanted to post about today was some painted canvas art for the nursery. I saw the idea on the blog Simply Stavish when I was searching for whale nursery ideas. Then I googled the whale art a bit more and found another version on Full Plate Living. I loved the idea and thought it looked easy enough so I decided to go for it.

Here is how it turned out:

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I actually painted that! Can you believe it? It really was simple too.  I started with three blank 9×12 canvases.  I bought two 2 packs at Michael’s when they were 40% off.  Here is a similar item on Amazon: Artist Canvas 9×12.

Then I picked up some acrylic paint and paint brushes at Hobby Lobby.  The colors are phthalocyanine blue, pale blue and neutral grey.

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The brushes were a three pack of different sizes on sale.  I don’t know the first thing about brushes or paints so I just picked something that looked decent and wasn’t too costly.

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There was no way I was going to free hand draw the whale.  I know my drawing skills and they are terrible.  I asked Benzo to make me a stencil that coordinates with the wall decals we had purchased and he obliged.  He made me a stencil of the whale and the water spout in Photoshop, which I printed and then traced onto the canvas.  I did have to free hand the long line of the water on the middle canvas to extend the water up higher than in the decals.

The actual painting was quick and easy.  I just laid out some newspaper and went to work painting around the outside of what I had traced on each one.  I left the white part the color of the canvas, as in I did not paint it with white paint.

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I did the whole project in two evenings after my son went to bed, spending about an hour each night.  I absolutely love the way it turned out.  I had so much fun painting it, now I want to paint more canvases for our house.  I was thinking it would be fun to make different canvas paintings for different holidays and have a place in the house where I can switch them out periodically.  For fall I thought some falling leaves or a tree would be fun with shades of orange, red or yellow.  There are a lot of possibilities!

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