DIY: little details, big impact

I didn’t feel like cooking this week because I’ve been sick with the flu and the thought of food makes my stomach turn. So I decided to share with you all what I’ve been working on around the house. My house is a never ending project, always changing and adding stuff. My husband thinks I have a problem, but I beg to differ. I wanted to finally work on the little details around the house since I’ve been busy getting the things that matter done¬†like bedding and furniture. In the bathroom we had this really ugly towel rail across the door and a towel hook that was barely functional. So I decided to rip it off one day and give the door a makeover.

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before
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After

I found this shabby chic frame around the hook at hobby lobby for about $15 and I found the hook from Cost Plus World Market for only $6.99. The frame hangs like a picture so my smart husband put some wood glue on the bottom to stop it from swinging every time we open and shut the door. Worked like a charm! Next I replaced some of the light switch plates with these FullSizeRender (40) Also from Cost Plus for $6.99-$9.99 I would insert a direct link but I’m not very tech savvy. I’ll ask my I.T. husband how to for next time. ūüėČ The little touches I did around the house made a big impact and I didn’t spend much money. I really like that shabby chic rustic look and my house is slowly coming together. My next project is my kitchen table! has anyone ever re finished an Ikea table???

On to another project I did…

The kiddos room: We used to have a table with a train track on it but we decided to pull it off and make it more functional as a craft table. It was ruined from the wood glue that was used to glue down the train track so I decided to paint it with chalk board paint.

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the mess before

IMG_3327IMG_3330 This was such an easy fix and a fun way for my son to play and draw on the table with chalk!¬†I lightly sanded the table before and¬†used two coats of paint and taped off the edges with painters tape. IMG_3396IMG_3681 I added some bins from Home Goods and cute little buckets for his chalk from the dollar bin at Target. Also made his book shelf with spice racks from Ikea. My sister shared this great idea with me ūüôā Hope you enjoyed my DIY projects and hopefully you got some ideas on how to create little details that make a big impact in your home. Thanks for reading!!! ‚̧ J

Salted Caramel French Macarons

French Macarons have to be one of the hardest desserts I have ever tried to make. Me and my sous baker, Lemise have spent the past few weeks trying to uncover the mystery of how to make these delicate little pastries. Let me tell you, the French really put some time and effort in their pastries, they’re not messing around. After 3 trial and errors of trying different recipes and techniques we finally got those babies to rise.

Don’t be discouraged by what we went through, I’ll tell you the do’s and don’t and hopefully it’ll make your macaron experience better than ours!

For our 3rd try at these macarons, we followed this video  from Brittany Mota, very closely. http://youtu.be/lnDp151B4yo If you plan on making these, I would advise to follow this video, but I will show you how we did it and what we changed.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 cup almond meal¬†flour (found at target)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 egg whites (let the eggs sit out to be room temp. I didn’t do this. Don’t be like me)
  • food coloring (we used gel)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Sifter
  • parchment paper
  • piping bags

First we combined the almond flour and powdered sugar, then sifted them into another bowl. discard the hard chunks of almonds.

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While I was sifting, Lemise blended 3 egg whites with a hand mixer on high.

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Blend until your arm hurts and until it is shiny and has stiff peaks. It should look like this.

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Then add in your cream of tartar and sugar a little at a time while still mixing. Once mixed, add in your food color of choice and blend. We went with a blue to go with our sea salt theme. Add in your flour and powdered sugar mixture and fold in gently with a spatula. We added the food coloring while folding in the mixture, but the youtube girl did it while still blending. Either way works.

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Fold until combined and mixture drips off your spatula.

Then get a piping bag with a small hole and our mixture into bag. We found it easy to set bag into a tall cup to hold the bag while we poured in the mixture. You can see how in video. Then line baking sheets with parchment paper and pipe small circles.

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Try to keep them as circular as possible. I’m not that good at it. I heard there’s a macaron baking sheet at Michael’s with circles on it. I need that!

Once you have finished your circles, bang the tray on the counter a few times to get the bubbles out. Let the macarons set out about 30 minutes prior to baking. They should form a skin. If you do not get this skin, I’m sorry my friend, but your macarons have failed. This happened to us the first time we made them. Might of been because I thought I could whisk the flour mixture really well instead of sifting. So sifting is really important!!!!! Also, these things are so sensitive, climate and temperatures¬†are a big factor. Not a good idea to make them if its humid or rainy.

While you are waiting for that magical skin to happen, set your oven to 300 degrees. Bake for about 10 minutes.The youtube girl told us to bake for 2o minutes and the macarons came out crispy. So maybe it just depends on your oven and trial and error to figure out the best time.

also, bake one sheet at a time. These macarons don’t like to share baking time.

Bake and they might look like this…

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They should rise and have legs. Legs are those creature looking things that are coming out around them. Only some of ours came out perfectly. We might have to lower the heat after the first batch. But once we got the baking down they tasted better than any we have over paid for from the store. Melts in your mouth and slightly chewy.

We made a salted caramel flavor. Used caramel sauce we used for the alfajores. (can of dulce de leche) and added sea salt on top, adhered with a brush of water.

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You can also package them up really cute for your Valentine ‚̧

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This is the batch we made on our 2nd try that didn’t over cook.

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Just added purple food coloring and buttercream frosting in the middle.

And a very proud picture of our accomplishments..

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Hope you enjoyed reading as much as we enjoyed eating them!

xoxo,

J

Healthy Spinach Lasagna Rolls

I’ve been packing it on pretty heavy with the heavy cream and cheese so I decided I literally needed to take a load off and come up with a healthy, but still tasty meal. I did a little health food search and this looked good enough to feed my boys. These were simple and fast to make. Even though I forgot to turn on the oven for the first 20 minutes of baking (blonde moment) once everyone finally got to eat,¬†they enjoyed their dinner and even got seconds! score! Maybe I’ll start a meatless Monday?

I made this as close as possible to the recipe so the nutrition facts would match up.

Serving size: 1 roll calories: 224 calories; 6ww points plus

adjust calories and points if you add chicken.

Ingredients:

  • 9 lasagna noodles (health it up even more and use whole wheat)
  • 1¬†(10 ounce) package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1(15 ounce) container of fat free ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasonings
  • 1/2 dried oregano
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • tomato sauce (I used Trader Joe’s fat free tomato basil marinara)
  • 9 table spoons part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 egg
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • (optional) 1 chicken breast, cooked and diced

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Don’t forget this very important part of cooking like I did!

Boil pasta, al dente and add salt and olive oil to water.

Drain spinach and add to a bowl with ricotta, parmesan cheese, egg, garlic, Italian seasonings, oregano, chicken and salt and pepper and combine. Pour about 1 cup of sauce on bottom of your baking dish. Lay out pasta on a non stick surface and spread cheese mixture evenly on each piece and roll carefully with seam facing down onto baking dish. Repeat with the remaining pastas.

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Ladle sauce over the pasta rolls in the baking dish and top each one with 1 tablespoon of mozzarella cheese. Cover baking dish lightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes or until cheese is melted. Makes 9 rolls.

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To serve, ladle a little sauce on plate and place roll on top.

Hope you all enjoy this guilt free meal!

xoxo,

J

Recipe adapted from http://www.skinnytaste.com/2010/02/spinach-lasagna-rolls.html?m=1

Simple creamy pesto pasta

I made this pasta last night for my family and I just had to share with you all. I found a recipe¬†that is for homemade pesto. I would love to make my own but my blender broke on me while making my enchilada sauce ūüė¶ so I picked up some already made pesto sauce instead. I struggle so much coming up with meals for my picky eaters and it’s hard to get a meal to stick in the normal weekly rotation. My husband and¬†2 year old¬†really loved this pasta, so I’m thinking it’s a keeper! yay!! I’m excited because it was really easy!

Ingredients:

  • pasta (angel hair, bow tie, penne, tortellini or macaroni. I used bow tie and cheese tortellini)
  • Buitoni basil pesto sauce
  • 1/2 pint of heavy whipping cream
  • tbsp. of butter
  • 1/4 of shredded parmesan cheese

*optional ingredients- you can add broccoli or chicken.

Instructions:

Get your water boiling for your pasta. if you’re doing tortellini and bow tie like I did, I just threw it all in the pot together. Add salt for flavor and a lil olive oil so it doesn’t all stick together.

Boil up some broccoli in a separate pot.

I cubed up some chicken and seasoned them with Italian seasonings and Lawry salts and fried them up in a pan.

Now let’s get to the good stuff, the sauce. Heat up a half pint of whipping cream on medium, once heated to a simmer, add butter. I just put in a glob, but it was about a tbsp. stir til butter is melted with a whisk. Add container of pesto sauce and whisk to combine. Once everything is whisked really well, add parmesan cheese and whisk to combine until melted. about 5-10 mins. Now add it to your pasta and enjoy!

This sauce was like gold, I saved the left overs and added it to some whole wheat angel hair for lunch. Pesto always taste better to me the next day.

Thanks for stopping by!

J

Refer to original recipe if you want to make the pesto from scratch: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/06/pasta-with-pesto-cream-sauce/

BAKED BRIE WITH TOASTED PECANS AND HONEY

I know most of you are all on your health kicks for the new year, but I have an appetizer that is worth cheating on your diet for. This recipe originated from my Aunt Kathy, she would make it with Kahlua, which is very good and decadent. I opted for honey because I don’t¬†always have the liquor on hand.¬†¬†I like to use simple ingredients that most people would have in their kitchens.

What you will need:

  • wheel of Brie cheese (I heard Costco has a giant one)
  • about a 1/4 cup of honey
  • Pecans (I used glazed pecans, but candied, roasted or plain are also great)
  • Crackers (I used baked Ritz crackers)

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Instructions:

Pre bake oven for 350 degrees and cut off top layer of cheese, place in an oven safe dish. Cover the cheese with pecans then drizzle a generous amount of honey all over cheese and pecans. Bake for about 20 mins or until cheese is melted and oozing. Eat with crackers or slice up a baguette and enjoy!

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Thanks for stopping by ūüôā

J