Five Things Friday

Five little things that made my week.
1. I laughed, a lot. Television shows, celebrity interviews, memes, friends, husband, dogs, my clumsy self, with, at…I didn’t discriminate. I was out of control.
2. Went to the NC Museum of Art with my husband to see the O’Keeffe exhibit The Beyond. Delightful doesn’t even begin to describe it.
3. Had breakfast at my favorite little place, The Famous Toastery. I walk in, sit in my spot, and coffee magically appears, who doesn’t love that.
4. My sister in law headed home on Tuesday. Even thought I was bummed to see her head home I reflected back on an enjoyable time with family.
5. Found a pair of boots for my up and coming trip to PA. This made my week because they are warm, cute and they were $30.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

A few nights ago we had company and I was looking for an easy dinner. We started with hummus, moved to grilled chicken and orzo salad. Finished it up with homemade baklava. I made everything ahead of time, except the chicken which I tossed on the grill when we were ready to settle down and eat. Being able to visit with company instead of buzzing around the kitchen was wonderful.

Since the menu included apps and a desert I decided having a side that doubles as the veggie and the starch was in order. Which brings us to the orzo salad.

There is nothing in this recipe that can’t be eyeballed, you really don’t have to measure anything, honest. Start by cooking the orzo al dente, it’s going to keep cooking a little and if it’s over cooked it won’t soak up all the flavors. While it’s still warm dress it with lemon juice, lemon zest and olive oil. Set this aside to meld the flavors and let it cool a little.

The next part is terribly hard (sarcasm) cut up all the veggies and herbs. Slice the grape tomatoes length wise. Chop the spinach but don’t go all wild with the knife, bruise it and wreck it, in fact if you have the patience; chiffonade. Do the same to the basil, bruised basil is ugly. Thinly slice the onion, green and white parts. Chop the dill, I had fresh the first time I made this but dry is perfectly fine.


Once the pasta has cooled slightly mix all of the veggies, herbs and feta cheese with the orzo. If you make it the day of it’s perfectly fine to let it sit on the counter until it’s time to eat. The salad does taste better if it’s allowed to rest overnight in the fridge, allowing the flavors to mush together, and then come to room temperature to serve. This can be made two days ahead of time – however, wait until serving to add the basil, otherwise it will brown in the fridge.

Spectacular served with grilled chicken or fish. Enjoy!

Print Recipe
Mediterranean Orzo Salad
Lemony, herby and pretty.
Prep Time 20 min
Servings
4 servings
Prep Time 20 min
Servings
4 servings
Instructions
  1. Cook the orzo al dente, it should yield about four cups
  2. While the orzo is still warm add the lemon juice, zest and olive oil. Stir to combine. Let the orzo sit aside and soak up all the flavors.
  3. Slice the maters length wise, chop the spinach (but try not to brutalize it), chiffonade the basil, finely chop the dill and slice the onion (white part too).
  4. Gently mix the orzo, veggies, herbs and feta together. Season to taste
Recipe Notes

Let the salad sit overnight in the fridge.  Since it's best served at room temperature or with a slight chill plan ahead; pull it out a few hours before it's time to serve.  

Five Things Friday

Five little things that made my week

1. Being recognized and a valuable team member at work. Who doesn’t get the warm fuzzies from that.
2. I cooked; a lot! I made stir fry, baked chicken, ahhhhmazing roasted taters and a Tuscan pasta chicken casserole bake something.
3. My sister in law came to visit. She is the she to my nanigans, so you know we are having fun.
4. Booked tickets to go to PA for my Gram’s 92 Birthday!! I don’t think I have to explain why that is exciting.
5. The weather, although cold now was gorgeous and in the 70s at the beginning of the week. Sunny, warm and clear.

Peach Mocktail

My mom’s birthday is New Year’s eve so we always have dinner and celebrate. This year I decided instead of just soda or sweet tea, I was going to serve a mocktail. The great thing about this mocktail is it can easily get boozy.


This is obviously really simple and forgiving.

For the tea I like to use orange pekot, 5 bags steeped in 3 cups of makes it plenty strong enough. Mix together the tea, peach nectar, and simple syrup. If you don’t want to bother with the simple syrup, instead try make 3 1/2 cups of tea dissolving 1/2 cup of sugar in it.

After all that has chilled and loved on each other it’s time to serve. Fill a glass with ice, about two thirds of the peach tea yummies then top off with a little club soda. Feeling fancy, add a sprig of mint or my favorite basil -the fresh peppery-ness makes me happy.

If we’re gonna make it boozy, I pick spiced rum every time. My favorite is Maggie’s Farm made in Pittsburgh PA! The husband – he picks whiskey.

Other fun things I want to try; switch out the one of the black tea bags for mint, peach, cinnamon or other flavors.

So happy mocktailing!

Print Recipe
Peach Mocktail
Fruity, slightly sweet with bubbles - perfect recipe for a refreshing sip.
Course Drinks
Prep Time 10 min
Passive Time 2 hours (to chill)
Servings
6-8 glasses
Ingredients
Course Drinks
Prep Time 10 min
Passive Time 2 hours (to chill)
Servings
6-8 glasses
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Mix together peach nectar, brewed tea, and simple syrup.
  2. Place in the fridge to chill slightly.
  3. Fill a glass with ice, 2/3 full with the peach tea, and top off with club soda.
  4. Optional but guaranteed to take it over the top - add a sprig of mint or my favorite basil.

7 Hostess Gifts Under $30

 

So last week I looked at hostess gifts for under $15, but if you are feeling a tad more generous knowing the hostess went above and beyond (which ones don’t really) then this might be the list for you.   Here is a list cultivated with that amazing hostess in mind and all under $30.

Not sure why but there is a bit of a running joke with my sister-in-law concerning unicorn themed gifts.  For Christmas I got her Sprinkles the Unicorn, rainbow sprinkles come out of his bottom.  Here is something with the same whimsy but much more practical, unicorn kitchen storage.

I would hate for the unicorns to get lonely, frolicking hedgehogs to the rescue. Much like the beer towel from last week this one is just to pretty to use.  I hope your hostess agrees.

Looking for slightly more, um … refinement, how about the gift of tea from Tea Runners.  I personally had a monthly subscription to the Original Box, which I now updated to Herbal.  For the novice or enthusiast alike, this is sure to please.

It’s no secret that kitchen linens are the way to my heart, aprons included.  I think giving your hostess a delightful apron really says I appreciate your effort.  Never disappointed with the selection at Anthropologie, love the spring colors on this one.

Does your hostess enjoy perusing the local farmers markets, beach days or picnics in the park?  How about an insulated collapsible tote (okay so this is probably on my wish list).  Try this one with simple stripes and spring colors…. swoonable and sure to please.

Your hostess will love you for this one… looks like a heavy ceramic serving plate but its melamine!  This truly had me doing a double take, durability and what a lovely color.

What about something that she won’t find off the shelf in just any store?  For a unique twist try searching “vintage drinkware” on etsy.  Personally I love the funky look of mid century Culver glassware, regardless you will find something suitable.

Well I hope you found something extra special for your hostess.  If you are still looking for more ideas, check out my Amazon list!

Said it last time but repatition can be good, all of these ideas and opinions are my own; no one paid me to list an item.  For photo credits follow the links.

Five Things Friday

Just five little things that made my week.

1.  So technically this was last week on Saturday but it was after my last five things so I’m saying it anyway.  Monthly we go to a B Cinema Movie night at a friends house, complete with a mini screening room.  This month was classic fantasy, we watched  The Golden Voyage of Sinbad  and The Land that Time Forgot.  It was pure 70s cinema.

2. We had tacos, twice.  They were epic.

3. I talked with my Gram for an hour yesterday, she repeated herself a lot but it was still lovely to hear her voice.  Listen to her stories.  She turned 91 in February, I got to visit her for her birthday.

4.  It’s spring.  Yippie!  I put out my hanging ferns and there already are birds makings nests all about the yard.  The deck is freshly stained, the greenhouse will be emptied out shortly and spring will be everywhere.

5.  Last night my husband declared “I want Indian food”.  I thought we would get take out or something, but what he really meant.  I want to cook Indian food.  OOOOO

7 Hostess Gifts Under $15

My daffodils are up so as far as I’m considered, spring has started!  Which means the social events of the season are right around the corner, like Easter brunch, sweet little garden parties,  ladies tea, cookouts in the park and just about any other event ushered in by warm air and green grass.

Typically manners dictate to ask “what can I bring” in an effort to lighten the load for our hostess, but a small thank you gift can’t hurt.   So here are 7 delightful hostess gifts all under $15 (be on the lookout of an under $30 coming soon)

These flour sack towels, in fresh spring colors, are a welcome addition to any kitchen.  For this price, get a few sets and keep them around just in case.  (If my husband is reading this, yes I know I have an addiction to kitchen towels.)

So other than having an addiction to kitchen towels, I also love cute little bowls.  Just good for anything especially a hostess gift, and even more so if the vestment is this lovely mint color.

When the soiree has come to a close will your hostess sit down for a hot cup of tea, or collapse in a heap until morning coffee is brewed?  Either way show your appreciation with this cheery mug of llamas .  I just love their faces, kinda squinched up like they are giving the stank eye!

Does your hostess like beer, getting her learn on or both?  This towel is so awesome with it’s funky colors and every square inch filled with information and history about – yes beer.  To pretty to use if you ask me.

If you want to be more personal  try a vinyl decal from Salt and Grace Designs.  Wouldn’t the hostess’s stand mixer look adorable with this anchor decal , after all she did make the best hummingbird cake you’ve ever tasted.

Thinking simple and practical, how about charmingly wrapped hand soaps.  For an even bigger impact, tie a stack together with gingham ribbon or bakers twine.  A personal favorite of mine, Gardeners from C & E, but with all they offer I’m sure you can find your favorite too.

Finally, one of the sweetest hostess gifts I ever received was a small wicker basket filled with live herbs and scissors for snipping.  Coming from a local nursery specializing in herbs they were beautiful and ready to plant.

Well, hopefully this list has made it’s appearance perfectly timed for your spring time social going ons.   Be on the look out for the under $30 list coming soon.

In the mean time what is your favorite hostess gift to give/receive?

(btw – as always these are my own opinions no one paid me to say anything, and for photo credit follow the link)

Five Things Friday

Just five little things that made my week.

1.  Every moment I have been in my office this week, and I do mean every moment,  I’ve been listening to 80s music.  I can’t go back to the days of being a kid, where we drank from the garden hose, skinned our everything climbing trees or playing kick ball until we couldn’t see ….. but I’m sure gonna try one song at a time.

2.   Marinated grilled chicken with mango salsa and cilantro lime rice,  steak pinwheel doodads with ranch mushrooms, red beans and rice.  I was in a cooking whirlwind, and no one around here seemed to complain.


3.  It’s another week of sampling tea from tearunners.com.  This really is the best gift subscription ever.   Yesterday I opened the English breakfast and it’s delightful.   Last week was a raspberry honeybush.  Today I ordered more of the cinnamon orange red.

4.  As many exercised their 1st amendment right on Wend I was also reminded that we live in a great democracy.  I had jury duty, yes an inconvenience, but an absolute reminder that we have due process, freedom of speech and a lengthy list of rights and freedoms.

5.    I get asked a lot “what do you do?” and I always stumble through an explanation.  Well I’m self employee and contracted, project management, or sometimes product/feature management with a little QA testing for a database companies client base, but sometimes not for them….. oh man it’s confusing.  Knowing that the jury selection process would no doubt ask me that question I knew I needed to revolutionize my explanation.  Contract IT, that’s what I do.

Herb Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed mushrooms are these little squishy juicy flavor packets of happiness, that will burn the mess out of your tongue if you’re impatient and  greedy.   I use herb cheese spread to do the heavy lifting for big flavor and easy prep.  Start with one container of mushrooms, whatever kind you like as long as they are stuffable.  There are two kinds of people when it comes to using mushrooms, those who wash them and those who don’t, I’m a don’t.  Sorry all you washers, I just assume take a towel and wipe them clean.  Either way once you are satisfied with the state of your mushrooms, pop the stems out, and set the caps aside. Roughly chop the stems, onion and mince the garlic.  This is a good point to go ahead and start pre heating the oven to 350C. This is just saying “stuff me” Next grab your favorite oven proof skillet, personally I’m still super happy to reach for the cast iron one I blabbed about here.  Heat over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Just as this concoction gets a little bubbly add onion and saute until lightly browned,  about 2 min or so.   Follow with the chopped mushroom stems, continuing to saute until everything is golden, an additional 3-5 depending on your pan and heat.  If you are so inclined; this is a good spot to add a splash of wine, waiting for it to cook off before moving on.  Add the minced garlic, stirring constantly until fragrant.  Don’t burn the garlic – keep it moving and cook for a min or less.  Scrape everything out into a small bowl to cool. Blurry action shot! Once the mushroom/onion/garlic mixture of golden goodness has cooled a bit add half a container of herb cheese spread, about 4 oz.  Stir until combined, the trick here is you want the mixture to be warm enough that the cheese melts but isn’t runny.  Sometimes I add a little grated Parmesan cheese too. Now stuff those waiting patiently on the side lines mushrooms with a heaping pile of cheesy goodness.   In the same skillet you were using to saute, melt the last of the butter and add the stuffed mushrooms.  Heat them over a med heat until the bottoms are just turning golden.  You really don’t have to do this, I just think it gives them a running start before they go in the oven.   Carefully add a bit of white wine, or chicken broth – water will do just fine to.  Just enough to cover the bottom of the skillet.  Then if desired (you really should desire this part) sprinkle the tops of the ‘shrooms with panko crumbs and/or Parmesan cheese. If you look close you can see an extra bit of butter I felt like they needed, hehe. Put them in the oven for about 5 – 7 min making sure the tops don’t burn.    Let them stand for a few min when they come out of the oven or you will experience an inferno of epic proportions and burn your lips, tongue mouth fingers etc.   Once cool consume freely. Gracious me, look at that toasted cheesy goodness.  


Print Recipe


Herb Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Mushrooms stuffed with creamy herb cheese and sauteed onions.

Course Appetizer

Prep Time 10 min
Cook Time 20 min total

Servings
4 people


Ingredients

Course Appetizer

Prep Time 10 min
Cook Time 20 min total

Servings
4 people


Ingredients


Instructions
  1. Pre heat the oven to 350

  2. Wipe the mushrooms clean and remove the stems. Set the caps aside and chop the stems.

  3. In a heavy oven proof skillet melt the butter and olive oil until bubbly. Once this is ready saute the onion for 2-3 min, then add the mushrooms stems and saute until golden. about another 3 - 5 min.

  4. optional - If you have a little white wine or chicken broth add it to the skillet and let it reduce before moving on.

  5. Working quickly saute the garlic with out burning it. Just a quick swoosh around the hot pan then scrape it all into a bowl and let it cool.

  6. Once cooled add the cheese spread, and mix until combined. Using a spoon carefully stuff the mushrooms with the cheese filling.

  7. In the same skillet melt the remaining butter and add the stuffed caps. Heat them for a few min over medium heat until there bottoms are golden.

  8. With out spilling on the caps add a little white wine, chicken broth or even just water. You want enough to just cover the bottom of the skillet.

  9. Top with a sprinkling of panko bread crumbs or Parmesan cheese.

  10. Bake in the oven at 350 C for about 5 - 7 min. You want the mushrooms to be soft, a little shriveled around the edges and the cheese to be slightly brown on top. Let them suckers cool before you dig in.

Ice Cream Sundae Kit

How clever are these ice cream sundae kits?  Little bowls, spoons, lots of topping choices and a scoop.  Like it says – just add ice cream.

I made and gave these for Christmas gifts.  I think they would be super cute for Valentines day given to the neighbors, kid’s teachers, grandparents …. I think you get the idea.

Not only were they fun, but simple enough that they came together with ease even during the holiday crazy.  The disposable bowls and spoons came from amazon, what wasn’t already in my stash I picked up at the wally.

Ice_1850
Ice_1845

Treat bags and scrap book paper dressed up the sprinkles, gummy bears and mini M&Ms.   Washi tape (a crafter’s bestie) added a little something extra to the wooden spoons and tags.  If I wasn’t worried about shelf life in the mail I probably would have made homemade chocolate and caramel sauce, but the store bought worked just fine.  Tie a  ‘just add ice cream’ note to the scoop and done.