sweet potato nacho poutine

April 30, 2011 § 4 Comments

It’s a very, very big night here in Toronto — UFC is here for the first time (after a drawn out political battle) and our national fighting hero, GSP, is defending his title.  I made this for snacking during the fight and to celebrate Georges St.-Pierre’s Quebecois roots.  Poutine is a pride of Canada, specifically, our French speaking province of Quebec, where GSP was born and raised.  I know you can always simply look for authentic poutine recipes online (it’s quite simple — fries, gravy, and cheese curds), so as expected, I am throwing in a twist.  Sweet potatoes were a staple in my childhood and make for a slightly more exotic version of poutine.  Latin flavors are among my favorites, so out go the gravy and curds and in come the pico de gallo, sour cream, green onions, and cheddar.  Here’s my not-so-Quebecois version of poutine.  (Pardon, mes amis québécois).

Sweet potato fries:

2 large sweet potatoes

2 tbsp corn starch

1/4 tsp red ground pepper

1/4 tsp Spanish paprika

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

I prefer narrow-cut fries, almost shoestring.  After cutting, dry out the fries for half an hour to an hour.  The less moisture in the fries, the crispier.  Toss in starch, paprika, ground red pepper, salt and pepper until coated.  Fry in oil, a quarter batch at a time, between 5-7 minutes or until golden.

Toppings:

1/2 pound ground beef

1/4 tsp Spanish paprika

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 Roma tomatoes, finely chopped

1/4 c cilantro

half lime, juiced

1 c sour cream

1/4 c chopped green onions

salt and pepper, to taste

hot sauce, to taste

3/4 c grated cheddar cheese

Ground beef topping: Take half of the onions and saute in oil.  Add ground beef, paprika, salt and pepper, and a quarter cup of chopped tomatoes.  Brown ground beef.

Pico de gallo: In a food processor, process the remaining chopped onions and chopped tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, hot sauce, and salt and pepper.

Top your fries with ground beef topping, pico de gallo, sour cream, green onions, and cheese.  Place in preheated 350F oven for five minutes until cheese is melted.  Enjoy a very unconventional take on poutine!

gold bean bangles

April 28, 2011 § 8 Comments

Yes, a few strips of paper, a small handful of beans, and the golden touch of paint can make quite some fashionista cuff bangles.

 

I was hoping this would be my third installment of my bean-by-number series (the first being the Turkish tiles back in November and the second, Venetian masks, for mardi gras in February).  However, the concept is so simple, there is no need to bean-by-number.  Just a few straight lines of beans do the trick.

You will need some beans, a sheet of cardstock, white glue, self-adhesive velcro (I got mine at the dollar store), and gold paint.  PLEASE NOTE: I wore my gold bean bangles to work today and small parts of the paint have chipped off.  If you are going to use spray paint, as I did, perhaps the problem would be negated by a bit of primer.  Or, what I would best suggest: use acrylic paint and a paint brush instead.  The finish would be quite different, however, the end result would look like brushed metal, which has as much impact.

1.. Cut cardboard to preferred width and length, taking into account the extra space required by the velcro.  Adhere velcro.

2. Bean away.  You don’t have to follow the straight patterns you see here.  You can create all sorts of shapes and curves, which I’d like to try, too.

3. Paint one side.  Let dry.  Paint other side.  Let dry.

I’d love to hear if you try this out and how you’ve managed to negate the issue of paint chipping.

basket weave vases

April 21, 2011 § 45 Comments

Tomorrow is Earth Day!  In order to celebrate and honor our planet, I’ve salvaged some cartons and jars from being thrown into the landfill and woven the cartons into this pair of bright vases.

I made them in theme of the beautiful colors of our globe: the warp and weft are in cool blue and vivid green hues, and the vases are topped off with beautiful white clouds of hydrangeas.  Just the kind of décor my kitchen table needs this spring!

For each vase, you will need two milk or juice cartons of the same size and a jar, some paint and a hot glue gun.

1. Cut the cartons to preferred height, making sure that they are taller than the jar for containing the water for your bouquet.  Paint the cartons.  If you want your vases to be a single color, you may skip this step for now and paint after the cartons are woven.

2. For each vase: cut one carton into 1/2″ strips vertically, making sure not to cut out the bottom, and cut the second carton into 1/2″ strips horizontally.

3. Start weaving by sliding the horizontal strips into alternating vertical strips.

4. Continue weaving until you reach the top and glue the top pieces together so the basket weave does not come undone.

5. Fill your jar with water and place inside the woven carton and arrange your favorite spring blooms.

Happy Earth Day!

carrot easter basket

April 19, 2011 § 8 Comments

Today, I’m crafting over at Canadian Living’s The Craft Blog.  The photo I posted in my sneak peek yesterday is actually that of a carrot Easter basket.  What I didn’t mention is the totally random and unlikely craft item it’s made of, which is…a pylon!  Quickly hop over to your local dollar store to pick up your pylon before the holiday weekend (of course, I got mine at my favorite, Dollarama).  Then read my super simple tutorial to magically turn your pylon into a carrot Easter basket in three easy steps! 

sneak peek!

April 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

Tomorrow, I will be crafting on Canadian Living‘s The Craft Blog and of course, I would like you to be the first to have a peek here.   Clue: it’s a basket for your Easter eggs, however it’s crafted using a rather unlikely craft item I picked up at the dollar store.  You’ll find the project on their site tomorrow —  stay tuned!

ric rac eggs

April 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

If your Easter eggs are looking for some style, but do not want to don all the frills of the previous ruffled eggs, they may want to look into fashioning some of our favorite notions: ric rac.

It’s as simple as hot gluing small scraps of colorful ric rac around your egg.

Ric rac is so much like the traditional Easter egg zig zag pattern, it couldn’t be more perfect.

ruffled eggs

April 17, 2011 § 11 Comments

Here’s one way to dress up those plain plastic eggs — ruffles.   Easter eggs fashion all sorts of decorations but rarely don this type of three-dimensional frill.  I thought to dress mine up for their big day.  Besides, they only get the chance once a year.

It takes a bit of time, a long length of ribbon, and a hot glue gun.

For each half an egg: Ruffle the ribbon by dotting some glue along the way and pleating back and forth.  Ruffle until you make it around the circumference, cut, and start another layer above, then repeat.

peanut butter and jelly baklava

April 17, 2011 § 6 Comments

I knew that sooner rather than later, my love of all things Turkish would converge with all things familiar and North American.  If you’ve followed my delightful adventures in Turkish gastronomy, I’m sure you’ve come to know my weakness for their fare.  There is one thing Turkish, though, that I happen to like but cannot love with wholehearted abandon — baklava.  The mere thought of it makes my cheeks cave in and my blood sugar spike like a knee-jerk reaction.  Baklava is simply too sweet for some.  But it doesn’t have to be.

I happen to love making the odd cultural food fusion like my red bean and green tea tiramisu (Japan meet Italy; Italy, Japan).  I figured, why not offset some of baklava’s sweetness with the flavoring of good old North American PB&J?

If you want to try it out, you’ll need:

1 box of phyllo pastry

3/4 c of butter, melted

1/2 c of peanut butter

1/2 c of jam (I prefer raspberry because it is tart and less sweet)

1 c of crushed peanuts

1 c water

2/3 c sugar

1 tbsp lime cordial or key lime juice

1. Cut phyllo pastry in half.  You will have two stacks of phyllo.  Grease a rectangular baking dish.  Place one phyllo pastry sheet in the baking dish and brush with butter.  Repeat until you have used half the number of sheets from one stack.

2. Warm peanut butter in microwave for 30 seconds.  Spread 1/4 c of peanut butter on the pastry.

3. Spread 1/4 c of jam on the peanut butter.

4. Layer the remaining number of sheets from the first stack of phyllo pastry, one sheet at a time, brushing each sheet with butter.

5. Take the remaining peanut butter and spread on the pastry.  Repeat with jam.  Sprinkle crushed peanuts.

6. Layer the second stack of phyllo pastry one sheet at a time, brushing each sheet with butter.  Cut into squares followed by diagonal cuts into triangles.  Pour the rest of the butter on the pastry, making sure the butter seeps in between the cuts.  Bake in preheated oven at 350 F for 40 minutes, until golden.  While the pastry is baking, place water, sugar, and key lime juice in a sauce pan and boil for 10 minutes until the mixture turns into a light syrup.  Remove from heat.  When the pastry is baked, remove from oven and immediately pour the light syrup on top of the pastry.  Let cool.

I was due to meet with some friends yesterday and thought to take advantage of the perfect opportunity to make this little experiment so I could have others try it and, just as importantly, so I’m not left with a tray of experimental baklava at home for my sole consumption.  I packaged the slices in boxes and quickly whipped up some labels before giving them away.  The verdict?  This is not the first and only time I will be making these to give away.

crystal crowns

April 10, 2011 § 101 Comments

Okay, perhaps not exactly crystal.  More like plastic soda pop bottles and glitter  glue — that’s really all these glistening crowns are made of.

Make them in celebration of this month’s highly anticipated royal wedding or for your little princesses in waiting.  Though I wish I could say this is a craft for your princessholic kindergarteners to make, I can’t.  It is a project which requires the manual acuity of a seasoned glitter gluer — eight to eleven year olds would enjoy and be able to handle the accuracy of creating these crowns.

You can design your own crowns or use the templates I specifically designed for tracing — download the crystal crown templates here.

You will need:

a. A 2-liter plastic soda pop bottle.

b. Glitter glue.

c. A sharp pair of scissors and a little bit of tape.

1. Cut a 3″ high cylindrical piece of the plastic soda pop bottle.  Using two or three pieces of folded tape, affix your template behind the plastic, along the inside part of the bottle.  Using a marker, trace the outer lines of the template only.  Do not trace the details of the design.

2. Using a sharp pair of scissors, cut just inside of the lines you traced, making sure the lines are not left behind, as well as making sure to cut all around the circumference of the bottle.  You are left with the shape of a crown that is ready to be designed.

3. Again, using two or three pieces of folded tape, affix your template behind the plastic.  Using glitter glue, trace the design details.

4. Remove the template.  Let glitter glue dry for approximately two hours.

Place on the hair with bobby pins and feel like royalty!

everything on my plate

April 9, 2011 § 17 Comments

A slice of guilt.  A dash of fear.  Complemented by a healthy serving of optimism.

While waiting at the check-out at the drug store this afternoon, the latest issue of Toronto Life magazine caught my eye.  It’s their annual issue devoted entirely to weddings.  I picked it up, flipped through the pages and found a very brief (nevertheless, blissfully becoming) blurb about me and my recently euthanized business, out-of-the-box ideas.  I fought back the tears.

I’ve succeeded at fighting back the tears for a long time now.  There’s really no need to cry over failure.  Was it even failure?  Clearly, it couldn’t have been failure if the business (no longer in existence) is still being recommended by this city’s chic magazine, no?

Toronto Life Wedding Guide 2011, cover and page 107. "...one part Anna Wintour" just made my year! Maybe even my lifetime.

This made me re-evaluate the reasons why I threw in the towel and why, as of three weeks ago, I began full-time employment in a civil engineering office (a phenomenon I hadn’t experienced since 2006).  Perhaps it will take much longer than three weeks to mourn the past four and a half years I toiled as a business owner.  But I am moving on.

So, why did I throw away a sky-high limit, a flexible schedule, a pajama dress code, and a potential for greatness in my life?  Because:

-Sometimes, the sky is not the limit.  The limit is gravity.  No matter how high I reached, I was pulled down — grounded — by the things that are more seemingly real than what I was reaching for.  Sadly, those real things are mostly monetary.  Things like rent, a business loan, material and advertising expenses, a fluctuating revenue, and a seasonal market.

-Sometimes, a flexible schedule meant a three-hour lunch with a good friend followed by three consecutive days of three hours of sleep a night (or make that three consecutive weeks).  It meant working until three in the morning on many nights and being reduced to mental and emotional vacancy for long periods.

-Sometimes, pajamas were mandatory all day because there wasn’t even time to eat a proper meal, take a shower, let alone get out of sleeping clothes.  There were days it was work the microsecond I got out of bed.

I was afraid that leaving my business behind meant throwing away all potential for greatness in my life.  But it was no reason to fear.  Because I will never be rid of my own potential, no matter the obstacle.  I never threw away, will never throw away, the promise of being the best version of me I can be.  It’s a promise I make to myself daily.

Since I wrote my recent post about all the goings-on in my life, things changed dramatically in a matter of weeks and I am now getting over the shock of returning to the work force.  Yes, the best decision, among several choices I’ve been dealt, is full-time employment doing utility coordination at a civil engineering firm.  I do still work with children on weekends because, well, I need to work with children to feel sane and inspired and whole.

My reinstatement into daily cubicle life has enlightened me with a newfound reality.  The reality is: what I do from 9-5 does not dictate my capacity to be everything I can be after 5.   What you see right here, on this blog, is everything that makes me happy.  A hundred times more happy than making wedding invitations.  Thank you so much for being here to validate that purpose, for always reading and following along, despite life’s many changes.  There is more, so much more, in this life to create!  ♥

carrot treat boxes

April 5, 2011 § 8 Comments

Today, you will find me crafting over at CRAFT. Head right over to their site and check out my super simple tutorial with free printable, so you can make and give away these cute carrot treat boxes this coming Easter (or any day this sunny spring season!).  Enjoy!

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