Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Piña-Fried Rice

For the month after I was married, I wasn't working, so I had lots of free time to try new recipes, experiment with some ingredients,  and prepare grand meals. Piña-Fried Rice was probably one of my favorite that came from that time, and the beautiful thing is that it takes no time to make! Its amazing and the presentation is sweet too!



Ingredients: (for 4 servings)

  • 1 Pineapple

  • 2 Green Onions, chopped

  • 1/2 Tablespoon of Red Pepper Flakes

  • 2 cups Rice (brown or white)

  • 1 garlic clove, diced

  • 1 Chile or Jalapeno (optional), seeded and diced

  • Oil

  • Cilantro (for garnish)


1. Cook rice as directed. While cooking, begin work on the pineapple. What you want to do is slice the Pineapple in half, length wise (like a hot dog). Then remove the inside goodness (while leaving the shell intact). Chop up the pinapple peices into bite size chunks.

2. In a wok or large pan heat oil and add onions, garlic,  pepper flakes, and Chile or Jalapeno. Saute until soft. Add pineapple pieces saute for 5-ish minutes.  Then add finished rice. Stir around and let it all heat up.

3. Add cilanto for topping and serve in the pineapple shell! EAT!

This is a serious fave of mine, and its so easy and beautiful. Sometimes I add some chicken in there that is already cooked or even some shrimp. Also if you like it spicy add some chile sauce!  It can easily become a main dish.

What is your favorite way to eat pineapple?

-Mindy

Monday, June 27, 2011

Before & After: The Home!

This week I am on Vacation in Michigan, a much needed vacation. So for this post, I thought I would share where I live. The hubby and I have been in this house for just over a year now. It is no where near done, but it has definitely improved and feels a heck of a lot more homey to me!

Check out the Before & After Pictures:

The Master Bedroom





The Bathroom



The Living Room



The Guest Room/ Office/ Craft Room

The house still needs lots of work! But after a year, I'd say its looking pretty good!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Father's Day Gfits: DIY Wooden Pennants

This was my first father's day having two fathers (one a father-in-law)! So I wanted to do something special for these guys. I need something that I could make (for cheap) and something that was manly enough for these fathers in my life. While I was reading my daily blogs I came across this awesome idea: How to: Make a DIY Wooden Pennant .


I knew this would be perfect for the fathers in my life. The only problem was the authors (probably men) who wrote this post used a screen printer. Yeah, I have one of those in my spare closet, not... So I had to figure out a way to do it without using a screen printer. And I did, and it came out GREAT! The dads loved it.(And on top of that it was 100 % FREE to make!)

First step is to cut the size pennant you want from spare wood or ply wood. We had some leftover plywood  from a previous project, so I used that (FREE!). I also had to ship these, so I had to make sure I had a box that would fit both of them. I chose 15'' x 18''for my size, since the box was 16'' x 20''.



Then stain the wood (if you want).

The next part is to tape the entire thing with painters tape (this will act as your stencil). Print out what you want your font and print to look like and say (I used Publisher, sorry no Photoshop here). Print it out and place it on top of the taped wood.



Use your EXACTO or craft knife and cut around the letters. After you finish it, you should be able to pull the letters right off and have a perfect space to paint.



Paint the letters what you want and then allow to dry a bit (I had to use a couple of coats to make it look nice).



Once it is dry peel off the rest of the tape and then embellish. I painted a boarder on my dads. And put some coats of polyurethane on there, and hang it!



The big part of this project to be creative! The best part of this, is that we had all the materials on hand. The wood, the paint, the paper, the tape, everything! So the total project cost is free.

What kinda gifts did you get your dad for Father's day?

- Mindy

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Campfire Fajitas

Last weekend my Husband and I went camping. Well...kinda. What happened was, it rained. So we went home. But nonetheless, we had a great time!  I didn't grow up camping. In fact, I never went until after I graduated high school. So preparing for camping and knowing how to pack for it has been an adjustment.

So now that I have gone camping 3 times in the past 8 months, I have learned what is important to bring: Good Food. If you have good food, you'll have a good time. So that is my goal when we go camping.  It is great to have a delicious and satisfying meal after a day of hiking and what not. The following is by far my favorite camping food. And it smells amazing while it is cooking!

Campfire Fajitas


Ingredients:


  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (for two people about 1 and half breasts)

  • 1 large green bell pepper

  • 1 large red bell pepper

  • 1 medium yellow onion

  • 5 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

  • 2 Tablespoons cilantro

  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke

  • 1 lime

  • flour tortillas (or whole wheat!)

  • sour cream

  • shredded cheese

  • shredded lettuce


Preparation:

At home: Slice chicken into 2-3 inch strips, place in a large zipper bag, add olive oil, garlic, lime juice,  liquid smoke and spices, and refrigerate. De-seed and core the peppers, slice them into 2-3 inch strips as well, then do the same with the onion. Place all of these together in an air-tight container and refrigerate. (Ideally this is done the night before, it makes the chicken incredibly flavorful)

[caption id="attachment_75" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Chicken and Onions after marinating overnight"][/caption]

At camp: Get a hot fire going (since we got rained out, I did it in our kitchen) and in a large skillet or cast iron pan melt the butter or oil and add the vegetables, saute over medium heat, until the onions become translucent.  Then set onions aside and put chicken in the cast iron pan. Chicken is done in about 15 min (or less depending on heat).  Combine everything in a flour tortilla and enjoy!



What are your go-to camping foods?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Take It To The Bank (How To Save Money Everytime You Shop!)

I love telling people about my bank. I know that sounds weird, but its true.

Nate and I use his bank called PerkStreet*. It is awesome. Here is the deal, you get 2% cash back on EVERY credit purchase you make with your debit card. And each month there are "power perks" categories, where you get 5% cash back on those purchases (they have been craft stores, clothing stores, gas, and restaurants!). And its a debit card, so you don't have to worry about having a credit card!


Anyway, its is a great way to get some cash back and use it towards something special :-). Nate an I have gotten back almost $300 and we haven't even had it for a year yet - AMAZING.

If you are looking for a way to save some extra bucks, then open up a PerkStreet* account. And beautiful thing is that you can link this account to your traditional bank, and just transfer money as you need it!

Another quick way to save some money is something I mentioned previously, EBATES.com.  If you go through their website and then onto another store to buy something online, you get a percentage back on your purchase (usually between 3- 6%). Think of the savings!

For Example, say you go buy something at Nordstrom for $80.00.
With PerkStreet you get 2% back -  $1.60
With Ebates you get 5% back - $4.00
You just saved 7% or  $5.60. I know its not alot, but it is $5 you can spend on something else. So if you love online shopping - use E- Bates! Plus you get $5 for just signing up!



So get shopping! :-)

- Mindy

*They did not pay me for this blog, I love sharing things to you that can help you save money everyday, and this way is amazing!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The World Plastic Bag Holder: An Upcycled Porject

The truth is that that I really do try to recycle and be "green" and bring in the reusable shopping bags every-time I head to the store- and I have like 100 reusable bags in my trunk of my car so I do remember (I ended up inheriting all my college roommates bags when we graduated!) - Alas, I still forget. I still don't remember and ending up getting those stupid plastic ones when I check out. I hate using them because of where the end up - in trash dumps for ages. (Like in Nicaragua dump, they were everywhere. And kids play with them, and animals eat them).

Anyway, I digress.

So when I do get these bags, I don't want to throw them away (And I of course forget to take them with me when I go to the recycling center). I created this nifty and chic plastic bag holder. That way when I need a bag for storage, or for transportation, or something like that - they are neatly stored away.

Here is what I used

A MAP

I got this map from a mailing-gone-wrong from Docotors without boarders. I am not a doctor, I don't know why they tried to recruit me, but thanks for the free map!

A TUBE

I got this tube from when I ordered a poster for E-bay! Of course I kept it to use it again.

Thats it. I cut the map in half, and then decoupage the heck out of it. And here is how it turned out:

Excuse the bad picture. But doesn't it look cool?

I admit, I still haven't hung it. It is sitting on the kitchen floor, but I do use it! Plastic Bags go in easily and come out easily now. Plus I love traveling and would love to see the world, so this reminds me of my passion and how amazing the world is.  (Not mention this is an up-cycled project. You are welcome future children of mine)  :-)

How do you store your plastic bags?

- Mindy

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Veggie Empanadas

For those of you who don't know, I am participating in a CSA this year. (To find out more about CSAs check out here). Being a part of a CSA is very very challenging for me.  I grew up on meat, potatoes, and pasta. Rarely did we have any vegetable that wasn't salad or green beans. So, to have veggies like chard, kale, collard greens,  leeks, kohlrabi, and more is a trip and half for me every single week

Each week after I get my CSA, I sit down and list all the veggies I have, then I go right to allrecipes.com and find some meals to make.  Last week I made this unique meal about this one: Veggie Empanadas - based off of an Argentinean recipe.

I have had some good empanadas in my life. Almost a year ago my Husband and I were on our honeymoon  in Costa Rica. While in Costa Rice we found this awesome bakery about twenty minutes from our rental house (which is available to rent online too). One of my favorite things to get was their empanadas. We would buy them (for $0.50 a piece) after a day at the beach, go back to our rental house, heat them up and have like 3 or 4 for dinner. They were AMAZING.

So when I saw this recipe (and it uses my mushrooms, kohlrabi,  spring onions, and squash) and I knew I had to try it.

So here is the version that I made: Veggie Empanadas* 



Time:  about 1 hour

Ingredients: 



1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 kohlrabi bulb, peeled and cubed (small cubes)
salt and pepper to taste
1 medium yellow squash, cubed
1/2 large spring onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach
3 small mushrooms, chopped
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 egg
1 teaspoon water
1 (15 ounce) package pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie

Steps: 

  1. Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in garlic; cook and stir until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in kohlrabi, and season with salt and pepper. Cook and stir until kohrabi has softened, 5-8 minutes. Toss in yellow squash and mushrooms  and continue to cook until squash is tender for 5 more minutes. Stir in the spring onion, spinach, and nutmeg. Add more salt and pepper, as needed. Cook until the spinach has wilted, about 4 minutes. Set mixture in freezer to cool.

  2. Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or with foil and grease well). Beat the egg with water in a small bowl; set aside.

  3. Roll out the pie crusts and thin with rolling pin. Cut out about 10 6-inch circles using a large cookie cutter or cereal bowl.

    Fill the center of each circle with about 2 Tablespoons of the kohlrabi mixture. Brush the edges of the pastry with water, then fold the dough in half. Crimp the edge of the dough with a fork to seal, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pastry and vegetable filling. Prick each empanada with a fork, then brush with the egg wash.

  4. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown and flaky,10-12 minutes. Serve hot from the oven.


       

 Tips: 
- Don't make the crust too thin, they break easily
- Make sure the filling is at LEAST room temp, if not colder - if it is too hot it will break the shell (TRUST me on this one)
- Be creative and have fun!
- For add delicious-amazing-ness try making your own pie/empanada crust!
- Use any kind of veggies in season or even try some crumbled beef or ground turkey!

What do you think? Did this work out for you? 

-Mindy

* altered from this recipe: Veggie Empanadas

Monday, June 13, 2011

Stationary, Why Are You Expensive?

Lately I have been obsessed with cute flat stationary, I mean really really obsessed. I constantly find myself on websites that specialize in custom stationary. And you know what? They NEVER go on sale! Ever.

Recently, I was ordering $0.99 Father's Days cards at tinyprints (a super great greeting card website), and I thought hey, that's cheap - why not check and see what else they have. Long and behold I found this :



Isn't it beautiful?I feel in love when I saw our names on there, yet at $1.59 a piece that was WAY outside of my budget.  Plus when I add shipping and handling costs - $45 for 25 cards! That is like $1.80 a card. Way too much for me! (not to mention the $0.44 it costs to send a letter these days)

After being bummed for a few days, I came across a VistaPrint sale. They were offering  free postcards - exactly 100 of them . All I had to pay for was shipping. I thought to my self, "hey self, postcards are just like the flat stationary that I have been lusting after looking for."

After some searching and rearranging I came up with this:





Isn't it cool? I like it, and it is a little more manly, so that the hubby will be comfortable using them if he needs to.... (like that will ever happen!). Not to mention it happens to be Hokie colors! And since 100 post cards where free, I splurged for the matte finish and 100% recycled material (that way I can write on both sides)... total cost : $18.48. That is right, only $0.18 a card. :-) AMAZING! Now all I have to do is find some 4x6 envelopes and we are good to go! I can't wait to get these in the mail (I do have to wait 15-20 days, thanks to the lowest shipping possible!).

Tiny Prints cost for 100 cards: $126.95
Vistaprint cost for 100 cards:   $18.48*
TOTAL SAVINGS:             $108. 47 ( 86%)

*plus I used e-bates, so I am getting 5% back or $0.92 back! Every little bit helps. And if you don't use e-bates, you should. (You get $5 for just signing up!)

Now that is what I call a deal! Check out VISTAPRINT's sale today!

-Mindy

Friday, June 10, 2011

Stop, Blog Time



So after a while of complaining to my husband about how I wish my ideal job was writing a blog in my PJs while I pop out  have some kids (no lie)  - I finally decided to take a step towards my dream and give it a try.

So that is why I am starting this blog: to learn, be challenged, and to share my creativity with you!  I love doing DIY projects and cooking. I also, like most women, love a great sale.

First post goes up Monday and its about a really-totally-awesome-can't-wait-to-get-it-in-the-mail sale that I got this past week! :-) ( and you can get it too!)

Until Monday!

- Mindy

 
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