Tuesday, October 28, 2014

KALE SALAD WITH QUINOA, POMEGRANATE SEEDS & ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH

Hi Everyone! So, since I've made this salad three times in the past couple of days now, I thought it was about time to share it with you all! If you've been following my blog for the past couple of weeks, you may know that I've been on a serious salad kick this fall (don't worry, there's been plenty of comfort food and dessert to supplement all the salad eating! Ha!) and I have another salad recipe to share with you today! Salads are one of my favorite things to make, not only because they are good for you (unless topped with too much bacon that will cancel out all the nutrients in the rest of the ingredients!) but because you can get so creative with them, and because it's one of the best ways to eat seasonal ingredients! This is a super hearty salad; the baby kale and Swiss chard leaves are a great source of iron, the quinoa and chicken make it really satisfying and the sweet roasted butternut squash works so well with the juicy pomegranate seeds (don't they just look like little jewels sprinkled over the salad?!) If you're looking for a great salad recipe, I think you might like this one!

KALE SALAD WITH QUINOA, POMEGRANATE SEEDS & ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH

YOU WILL NEED
SALAD
Baby Kale leaves
Baby Swiss Chard leaves
Cooked quinoa
Roasted butternut squash
Pomegranate seeds
Shredded chicken
VINAIGRETTE
(1 Portion)
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 tbs balsamic vinegar
Honey
Salt & Pepper


DIRECTIONS
1. First, prepare the butternut squash. Peel and halve it lengthwise, then scoop out all the seeds and cut it up into about 1 inch cubes. In a large bowl, toss it with about a teaspoon or so of olive oil, and season it well with salt and pepper. Preheat your oven to 400 deg F, and spread the butternut squash cubes on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for about 30 minutes, until soft. 

2. In the meantime, prepare the rest of your ingredients. Shred or slice your (poached or roasted) chicken (of course you can leave the chicken out to keep the salad vegetarian), and cook your quinoa according to the directions on the packaging (you want about 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa per salad portion). Make your salad dressing by whisking together 2 parts olive oil with one part balsamic vinegar, drizzle in some honey for some sweetness and season with salt and pepper (I almost always use this vinaigrette, you can change up the proportions of the ingredients to suit your taste). 

3. Now it's time to assemble your salad! In a large salad bowl, gently toss your greens with the vinaigrette (I used baby kale leaves and Swiss chard leaves, but you could also use spinach). Add in the chicken, butternut squash and quinoa and plate the salad, then sprinkle with (a generous amount!) of pomegranate seeds!
And for more salad ideas, check out my other salad recipes!

Left: Fall Quinoa Salad (recipe HERE), Middle: Fall Salad with Roasted Acorn Squash (recipe HERE), Right: Pear, Goat Cheese and Walnut Fall Salad (recipe HERE)


Happy Cooking, Everyone!
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Saturday, October 25, 2014

PUMPKIN ICE-CREAM SANDWICHES

Hello Everyone! I hope you are all enjoying your weekend so far! This fall is flying by so fast, I can't believe that November is only a week away now! It's a beautiful fall day here today, and I wanted to share a fun little fall-inspired sweet treat with you! It involves two of my favorite things: cookies and ice-cream. You can never go wrong with those two put together! These Pumpkin Ice-cream Sandwiches are so easy to make and assemble, and would be a fun little festive treat for Halloween or pumpkin carving night!

PUMPKIN ICE-CREAM SANDWICHES

YOU WILL NEED
Sugar cookies (store bought or homemade)
Ice-cream of your choice
Fall/Halloween sprinkles


DIRECTIONS
1. Begin with your cookies; you can either use store-bought sugar cookies, or make your own (find my favorite recipe HERE). I used my pumpkin cookie cutter to make these pumpkin shaped cookies, but you can make whatever shape cookies you want for your little sandwiches! Let the cookies cool completely.

2. Next, soften your ice-cream just a little bit, so it's just slightly spreadable. (You could use pumpkin flavored ice-cream to go with the pumpkin theme here, but any other ice-cream will be just fine, of course!) Get two large pieces of wax paper or parchment paper and spread a thick layer of the softened ice-cream on top of one sheet, the cover it with the second sheet, fold over the edges and place it in the freezer for a couple of minutes, until hardened.

3. Take out the ice-cream again, carefully take off the top wax or parchment paper sheet and using the same cookie cutter you used for your sugar cookies, cut out shapes out of the ice-cream! Quickly place the ice-cream shapes on top of your cookies, then top with another cookie to make a sandwich, pressing down gently. If you want a little extra sweetness and decoration, coat the edges in fun Halloween/fall themed sprinkles!


And for other cookie sandwiches, check out some of my other recipes!

Left: Oatmeal Cookie Sandwiches with a Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling (recipe HERE) Right: Homemade Ice-Cream Sandwiches (recipe HERE)


Happy Baking, Everyone!
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

FALL FLOWER ARRANGEMENT

Hi Everyone! With the holiday season quickly approaching, I wanted to show you this quick and easy fall flower arrangement for some inspiration for decorating with fresh flowers! If you are having friends and family stay with you this holiday season, or are hosting a holiday dinner or party, or you just want some pretty flowers around the house, small fresh flower arrangements like this can make all the difference. I like making low arrangements like this because a couple of them down the center of the table alongside some candles or small pumpkins will add a festive touch to your holiday table, and just one of these will instantly make the spare bedroom your guests are staying in more welcoming!


I'm not a professional florist by any means, but I love fresh flowers (and love when my sweet husband comes home with a bouquet for me!) and have learned a couple little tricks for how to make your own arrangements at home! If you're making a seasonal arrangement like this, you can either pick out different kinds of flowers from the florist, use flowers from your garden (one day I will have my own custom designed English flower garden... one day!) or just buy seasonal inexpensive grocery store flowers and transform them into your own arrangement! You can find all my tips & tricks for creating a beautiful flower arrangement HERE!


For another fall flower arrangement, check this out!

See how to create this Pumpkin Flower Centerpiece HERE!

Happy flower arranging, Everyone!
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Monday, October 20, 2014

DIY GLITTERED PICTURE MATS

Hey Everyone! I have a super easy craft idea to share with you that would be a fun way to add some touches of sparkle around the house for the holiday season... or any other time of year! I am a little bit of a picture frame hoarder... because you can never have enough cute framed pictures hanging on your walls! And this is a cute way to change them up a little bit, and add some fun sparkle!

DIY GLITTERED PICTURE MATS

YOU WILL NEED
Plain picture mats
Mod Podge
Glitter
Paintbrush

DIRECTIONS
To make these glittered picture mats, first, cover about a quarter of the surface of your plain picture mat with a thin, even layer of Mod Podge using your paint brush (you could cover the whole surface but I think it's easier to do in sections). Then sprinkle your glitter on top of it and let it sit for a couple seconds, then shake off the excess glitter onto a piece of paper (so you can re-use it). Keep doing this until you cover the entire surface of the mat with glitter! (*Note: if you use fine glitter, you will only need one layer of it, and it will be more even without any gaps.)

For a similar idea, check these out!

DIY Patterned Picture Mats (tutorial HERE)

Happy Crafting, Everyone!
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Saturday, October 18, 2014

SQUIRREL SUGAR COOKIES

Hey Everyone! I hope you're having a good weekend! I wanted to stop by and share a cute and super simple sugar cookie idea with you today! I feel like this is the best time of year for all kinds of cookie baking... you can package them nicely and give away as little gifts, make them for holiday parties or enjoy them with some hot chocolate on a cold night like this! I have so many cookie cutters; I have many that my mom has given me over the years, some that belonged to my grandma, and some that I've added to my collection every holiday season. I have a cute set of woodland animal cookie cutters which is where this squirrel one is from, and I thought they would make for fun fall sugar cookies, especially decorated with chocolate sprinkles to make the squirrel's fluffy tail! They are super easy to make (you only need one color of royal icing!) and are so delicious too! Here's how I made them...

SQUIRREL SUGAR COOKIES

YOU WILL NEED
Sugar cookie recipe (like THIS one)
Royal icing recipe (like THIS one)
Chocolate sprinkles


DIRECTIONS
First, make your sugar cookies, either following your favorite sugar cookie recipe or you can use my favorite sugar cookie recipe which you can find here! Let the cookies cool completely, then prepare your royal icing (recipe here). To make brown royal icing, I added a couple drops of red gel food coloring and about twice as many green drops of green gel food coloring to the royal icing, but you can experiment with the proportions of the food coloring to make it the exact brown color you want! Once you have the right consistency and color of icing, fill a clear piping bag with it and cut off the tip. Then, first decorate the tail; outline and flood the tail with icing, then immediately sprinkle it with chocolate sprinkles. Let sit for a couple seconds, then shake off the excess sprinkles, and using a toothpick, make sure the sprinkles adhere to the icing well and reposition any if you need to. Then, outline and flood the rest of the squirrel's body with icing and use one sprinkle for its eye. Let the icing dry completely before eating.


For more of my sugar cookies, check these out!

 Left: Snowy Tree Sugar Cookies (recipe HERE) Middle: Simple Iced Gingerbread Man Cookies (recipe HERE) Right: Plaid Sugar Cookies (recipe HERE)

 Left: Pumpkin Sugar Cookies (recipe HERE) Right: Daisy Sugar Cookies (recipe HERE)

Happy Baking, Everyone!
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

PEAR, GOAT CHEESE & WALNUT FALL SALAD

Hello Everyone! Fall is definitely in full swing here... last weekend we took a trip to our favorite pumpkin farm in Pennsylvania and got our pumpkins, the first apple pie of the season has been baked, there's a big jug of apple cider in the fridge and the leaves outside are looking more and more colorful every day! I wanted to share another fall salad recipe with you today, a couple of weeks ago I shared this Fall Quinoa Salad and this Fall Salad with Roasted Acorn Squash with you, and this Pear, Goat Cheese & Walnut Salad is so delicious too! I've been on a serious salad kick this fall if you can't tell (and a soup one too! Scroll down for some of my soup recipes). I hope you're all enjoying the fall season so far!

PEAR, GOAT CHEESE & WALNUT FALL SALAD

YOU WILL NEED
Greens of your choice (I used a baby spinach mix)
Sliced pears
Chopped walnuts (or pecans)
Shredded chicken
Goat cheese
Vinaigrette of your choice (I used a honey mustard one)


DIRECTIONS
This salad really doesn't require any directions, simply toss your greens with your vinaigrette and add in the shredded chicken (warm or cold), chopped nuts, sliced pears and goat cheese! You can use plain goat cheese, or if you're looking for a little extra flavor use a store-bought flavored one like I did, or buy a plain one and add in some flavor yourself! I used plain goat cheese coated in chopped dried cranberries, orange zest and cinnamon (perfect for fall!), but you could coat it in herbs or anything else you prefer!

For other fall salads, check these recipes out!


Left: Fall Salad with Roasted Acorn Squash (recipe HERE) Right: Fall Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash (recipe HERE)
Happy Cooking, Everyone!
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Thursday, October 9, 2014

HOW TO CREATE A FLOWER ARRANGEMENT USING GROCERY STORE FLOWERS

Hello Everyone! I have a fun little flower arrangement to share with you today, as well as a couple tips & tricks for how to create a pretty arrangement using grocery store flowers! I absolutely love fresh cut flowers, and I love having them around the house; nothing will freshen up a room like a bouquet of flowers. That being said, you don't always have to have huge, sophisticated arrangements for this, because you can use pretty much any flowers to create something beautiful! I love how colorful this arrangement is, and how it brightens up the room as it sits on the coffee table. Here's how I created it, and how you can make your own!

TIPS & TRICKS FOR ARRANGING GROCERY STORE FLOWERS

1. You are probably starting with a bouquet of flowers that looks a little bit like the picture below. So the first thing you want to do is separate all the flowers and lay them all out. Grocery store bouquets will usually have a couple different kinds of flowers which is nice, because it will make your arrangement look bigger and fuller. By separating all the flowers, you can see how many of each you have, and think about how you want to group them together.


2. Next, pick the container that you will arrange your flowers in. I like using a low, round glass container for my arrangements, because it doesn't "drown" the flowers or make the arrangement look sparse. Instead, the low height of the vase makes it look fuller.


3. Once you have your container, you can begin arranging the flowers. You can either go ahead and start cutting the stems and arranging the flowers directly in the vase, or arrange it in your hand like a bouquet first, which is what I prefer doing. I like to start with the larger flowers and the ones you have fewer of in the middle, and work my way around them with the smaller flowers, leaving a couple of small flowers out to use later.


4. Once you've created a bouquet in your hand and you're happy with it, cut the stems to the approximate length you need to fit the vase, and place them inside it. If some are too long, this is when you can trim them. Rearrange them if you need to, and fill in the gaps with the smaller flowers that you set aside earlier. 


I like to use arrangements like this on my coffee table, placing them on stacks of books or magazines, or adding them to a large decorative tray. But a couple of arrangements like this would also be great for your dinner table, parties, or even wedding receptions if you're trying to keep things within a budget! 

For other flower arrangement ideas, check these out!


Left: Simple Carnation Flower Arrangement (find it HERE) Middle: Teapot Flower Arrangement (find it HERE) Right: Repurposed Tea Tin Flower Arrangement (find it HERE)

Have a great week, Everyone!
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